The Starless Sea

Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Erin Morgenstern

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them. Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is. A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea

After ten years of waiting for fans of Erin Morngenstern’s hugely successful debut The Night Circus, we’re transported to another wonderfully fantastical world of magic doors, mythical libraries and legendary stories.

We follow Zachary Ezra, our protagonist. During his regular visit to the local library, he stumbles upon a book full of fantastical short stories that looks to be very old. As he flicks through this mysterious book of tales, the is a tale of romance involving what is called the starless sea in an underground world. But as he continues reading, he finds one that reads like a very unusual moment in his life. In perfect detail. Can he find out who wrote about this moment in his life? Will he find the starless sea?

I loved The Night Circus and became a die-hard fan of Morgenstern’s from its last page. So, when I saw she was finally coming out with another title, I was beyond excited!

As I began to read, I discovered why it took so long between publications. This book is impeccably crafted. Not only do we have a wonderful, beautiful and captivating main plot with excellent character-building, but we find that this is just book-inception. The short fairy tales are published inside the main story, giving it even more unique qualities. But these extra tales aren’t rushed, far from it. They are immersive in-and-of themselves. If she published a book with just the short tales, I’d be throwing my money everywhere!

I loved her descriptive writing of this world and the magical painted doors, I really felt I could see everything and just wanted, desperately, for someone to invent a way to travel to these fictional worlds, to hear, see and smell the surroundings.

Despite all that, I became a little annoyed at the amount of filler-words there were (more specifically the word ‘and’). I ended up skipping over these words so often because they really were over-used and took me away from the story. This AND this, AND this… it just got annoying.

But for a negative, it’s a pretty minor one which I can easily look past (literally) because the level of craftsmanship was staggering.

This really made me feel festive, for some reason. Maybe something to do with when I ordered it? I can’t recommend this more and Erin Morgenstern remains one of my all-time favourite authors.


Hardcover

498 pages

Published – 5th February 2020

Publishing Company – Doubleday Books

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The Guest List

Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Lucy Foley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body        On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.          But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.          And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

I may have stayed up until 3am to finish this book… it’s only taken me a day to read.

I first came across Lucy Foley’s writing with The Hunting Party that was gifted to my better-half for Christmas and had to read it as soon as possible… I read it first (sorry, honey!) and I instantly fell in love with her writing and immersive storytelling with the tang that this could really be real life.

Needless to say, after I read her first book I immediately jumped online to see if there were any new books on the horizon. Sure enough there was. INSTANTLY PRESSED THE PRE-ORDER BUTTON! (Yes I’m using capital letters to get across my child-like excitement).

I was nervous once I received my copy in fear that it wouldn’t match the excitement and suspense of her first book… I WAS SO WRONG! (it’s tempting to use multiple exclamation marks to try and drive home my excitement a little more, but I’ll stick to the capital letters for now).
I don’t know how but it was better than I could have ever expected. It had the same formula as The Hunting Party but it didn’t feel like a formula at all. I was (literally) hooked from the first page. The only time I put down my book was to eat.

The descriptive writing about this perfect island away from the rest of the world with beautiful places to explore and staying in a grand hotel. Similarly to The Hunting Party, we follow multiple perspectives and jump a few days into the future until it all collides at the apex of the book.

Every character was so well fleshed out and our key players were exceptionally crafted. Some I loved, some I hated, envied or didn’t trust. The very last chapter just left me clawing for more!

It’s now 4am while I’m writing this because I just can’t help but want to rave about this book. I cannot contain my excitement and adoration until morning.

Needless to say, I will be keeping a very close eye out for any new books to be released by this extraordinarily, talented writer. (Do you think my partner elbowing me in the face while he’s sleeping is a hint to go to sleep?)


Hardcover

320 pages

Published – 20th February 2020

Publishing Company – Harper Collins

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Come Again

Audiobooks, Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Robert Webb

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Kate’s husband Luke – the man she loved from the moment she met him twenty-eight years ago – died suddenly. Since then she has pushed away her friends, lost her job and everything is starting to fall apart. One day, she wakes up in the wrong room and in the wrong body. She is eighteen again but remembers everything. This is her college room in 1992. This is the first day of Freshers’ Week. And this was the day she first met Luke. But he is not the man that she lost: he’s still a boy – the annoying nineteen-year-old English student she first met. Kate knows how he died and that he’s already ill. If they can fall in love again she might just be able to save him. She’s going to try to do everything exactly the same…

When I first saw this, I thought it sounded like such a bittersweet story. A take on the throws of grief, loss and depression.

After I learned it was written by Robert Webb, quite a well-known name in our home for his comedy, I was even more intrigued to see the whit that would come up. Despite it sounding like a rather sad tale, it did make me audibly laugh more times than I ever have while reading!

Our leading lady, Kate was such a character! She was so well crafted, I began to really feel like she was a friend of my own; trying to help her see that people love her and grief doesn’t take centre-stage forever.

I think my favourite part of this was when Kate wakes up to find she’s in her dorm room at uni on the day she met her future husband. With every change of history she made, I couldn’t help but think “has the world imploded? Or has a huge nuclear explosion wiped out the human race because of the changes?”

I really enjoyed this story. For a debut with such heavy expectation, it was so enjoyable and I just loved the ease and flow of it and I loved the retake on the butterfly effect.

This was an audiobook listen for me. Olivia Colman is a great actress, on screen, and just as great on audio. Her emotions she showed were so easy to connect with. The annunciation at perfect points in the dialogues were spot on. I would highly recommend to listen to the audiobook, it gives such a wonderful extra-layer to the already excellent writing.

Did I mention I loved it?


Audiobook

13 hours 08 minutes

Published – 12th November 2020

Publishing Company – Penguin Audio

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One by One

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Ruth Ware

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them? When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?

One of the most talked-about authors, Ruth Ware, is back again with another cracking novel!

With her previous publication, The Turn of the Key, (which I loved!) I was so excited when I saw she was coming out with another title. I loved her writing style in the last book, so I had a high expectation that it would leave me feeling the same.

Set in a picturesque ski resort in the French Alps, we’re given a story of dual-perspective, following Liz, a shy and mysterious ex-employee of an up-and-coming media app named ‘Snoop’, and Erin, the chalet’s attendant with secrets of her own.

As events begin to unfold, one by one, share-holders of the start-up company begin to go missing or are found dead under suspicious circumstances all while the surviving members of the party work to keep safe after an avalanche devastates the surrounding resorts and facilities. With no telling how long they have to wait for rescue, can they find out who killed their friends before its too late?

I really enjoyed this. It was, as expected, well written with enough mystery where the reader doesn’t quite know who can be trusted and who can’t. The misdirection moving the readers attention to the interactions between the cast was really well done, and in doing so, we see the craftsmanship of each character, learning their flaws and secrets right up to the last page.

I’m struggling to find any critique with this, personally. I feel like I’d liked to have known more about the smaller roles in this, delving into more company secrets, and what happened to lead them to where they are now. I’d have liked the final part of the book to have told us more about what happened after the doomed company holiday.

I also part-listened to this on audiobook. The voice actor was really well-suited to both Liz and Erin and portrayed the suspense, confusion and fear well.

This book is worth every ounce of hype, it’s another whopper from one of the best crime/mystery/thriller writers of our day.


Hardcover

374 pages

Published – 12th November 2020

Publishing Company – Harvill Secker


Audiobook

13 hours 8 minutes

Published – 12th November 2020

Publishing Company – Penguin Audio

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The Tinderbox

Books, Pink in Ink

Laura Elliot

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Set in the picturesque Irish countryside, we follow Sophy and her two daughters, Isobel and Julie as they set out a new life after Sophy starts her job as the live-in nurse for ‘the recluse’ Jack Hyland in the once-beautiful family estate, Hyland Hall. But there are secrets between Sophy’s patient, Jack, and his Nephew, Victor. While trying to build a life for her daughters, face her estranged husband Luke after lies and deceit surfaced, causing them to separate, and keeping her children safe- will Lady Luck be on her side?

 Content Warning – contains reference of gambling, death, and threat.

This book took me by surprise from the very first chapter… So much so, this turned into a single-sitting read!

I’ve not read any of Laura Elliot’s previous publications but, clearly, I’ve been missing out!

We follow a dual perspective of Sophy and her eldest daughter Isobel as they discover that not everything is as it seems. The cast of characters were well crafted with their own distinct voices throughout the novel. I loved the emotion that was portrayed by each one, from the small, brief rolls, to our leading-ladies and the third person dialogue was a great choice to reveal the inner turmoil of the characters. I very rapidly became invested in Sophy and Isobel as they continued to butt heads with each other.

The plot was something that has been done before but felt so original in its execution. I felt the shock and fear as each piece of the puzzle was slotted in to place but was kept on the edge of my seat as more questions were raised.

I struggled to find issue with the title, but the romance felt like more of an insta-love with only hints of the building flirtation, then suddenly its more. However, I think this was intentional giving you pause to the intentions and if it was purely personal gain or love.

I really would recommend this to anyone who enjoys great thriller/mysteries with an emotional twist.

A huge thank-you to NetGalley and the publisher, Bookouture, for the advanced copy to review. This title will be available to download on the 1st December 2020.


eBook

ISBN – 9781800190849

Published – 1st December 202

Publishing Company – Bookouture

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