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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Dead of Winter

Books, Pink in Ink

Nicola Upson

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Also known as ‘Secrets of Winter’


December 1938, and storm clouds hover once again over Europe. Josephine Tey and Archie Penrose gather with friends for a Cornish Christmas, but two strange and brutal deaths on St Michael’s Mount – and the unexpected arrival of a world famous film star, in need of sanctuary – interrupt the festivities. Cut off by the sea and a relentless blizzard, the hunt for a murderer begins. Pivoting on a real moment in history, the ninth novel in the ‘Josephine Tey’ series draws on all the much-loved conventions of the Golden Age Christmas mystery, whilst giving them a thrilling contemporary twist

Despite this being a tale from the Josephine Tey series, and not actually reading any of the previous works; this can be read as a stand-alone.

Why are all festive murders set in the countryside?! I love the beautiful language that can be used to describe the picturesque surroundings but I doubt that there are that many horrific murders in small communities!

On a serious note; this was a really well written, gruesome depiction of historical events. Yes, our leading lady Josephine Tey and her counterpart are fiction but the main scenarios were based on actual people. If you’ve seen my other reviews, I love crime/thrillers. I love watching and reading true-crime and learning the techniques used to uncover the truths of some grizzly events. When I’m reading any crime novel, I make mental notes of the characters inconsistencies, motives and means.

With this one, I did manage to figure out the plot-point but it was still a great read! It also shed light on personal histories of those that are referenced and past, forgotten crimes and their victims… The more I review books the more I notice how strange my mind is!

Though this was a fun read, I struggled to remember who was who in the story, it felt as though further research and mapping was needed to really sell these interpretations. Despite that, I will be looking into more of this authors works, hopefully in the near(ish) future!


Hardcover

320 pages

Published – 5th November 2020

Publishing Company – Faber Faber

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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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The Other Passenger

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Louise Candlish

Rating: 3 out of 5.

From the bestselling author of Our House, winner of the Crime and Thriller Book of the Year Award.            You’re feeling pretty smug about your commute to work by riverboat. No more traffic gridlock or getting stuck on the tube in tunnels (you’re claustrophobic); now you’ve got an iconic Thames view, fresh air ?— a whole lifestyle upgrade. You’ve made new friends onboard — led by your hedonistic young neighbour, Kit ?— and just had your first ‘water rats’ Christmas drinks.          But the first day back after Christmas, Kit isn’t on the morning boat. The river landmarks are all the same, but something’s off. You disembark to find the police waiting. Kit’s wife, Melia, has reported him missing and another passenger witnessed the two of you arguing on the last boat home after your drinks. Police say you had a reason to lash out at him. To kill him.          You protest. You and Kit are friends ?— ask Melia, she’ll vouch for you. And who exactly is this other passenger pointing the finger? What do they know about your private lives? No, whatever coincidences might have occurred that night, you are innocent, totally innocent.          Aren’t you?

I was so excited when this finally arrived at my door!

We follow our protagonist, Jamie, when, on his regular boat-commute, is stopped by police officers with news that his friend and fellow commuter, Kit, goes missing and is suspected murdered. But, as we are guided through his recollections from meeting Kit, his wife Melia and Jamie’s relationship with 10-year partner, Clare, we learn that nothing is as it seems.

Jamie, the honest, loyal man is not as honest or loyal, Clare is not as devoted, Kit is not just a boisterous, fun-loving man and Melia is not as young and naïve as she likes to show.

The characters in this were well developed and had their own voices. There were some unexpected twists but the main focus was on character development.

I found that after the first 100 pages the story-development slowed to a snails pace, but I think this was intentional so we can see all the events and foreshadowing to what ultimately happens in the last 100 pages.

I thought that this was a fun read but just didn’t quite meet my personal tastes, it was just a little too predictable for me. That said, I would highly recommend this to readers that are driven by character development in contemporary settings.


Hardcover

401 pages

Published – 25th June 2020

Publishing Company – Simon and Schuster

The Devil and the Dark Water

Books, Pink in Ink

Stuart Turton

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent.          But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered.          And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.          Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?          With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

In typical fashion for Stuart Turton, we’re met with an eclectic mix of genre’s; historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, crime/thriller, mystery and a dash of horror. In all honesty, there should be an entirely new genre for this book because I can put this in so many but they just don’t do it justice!”

The Devil and the Dark Water is Turton’s second novel, and after the roaring success that The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle gave, there was a fair amount of expectation, anticipation and trepidation.

Set in the 1634, Turton showed he did a lot of research into his set but wasn’t afraid to take creative liberty, which is something many authors are tentative to do, putting their minds in a tunnel for historical accuracy. Turtons description of the ship, the Saardam, setting sail from the Dutch island Batavia to Amsterdam, was good. I had no issue imagining such a monstrous beauty of a ship with the stark contrasts between the noble’s cabins, the other passengers’ quarters, and the ships crews.

During the novel we meet quite a mixed bag of characters, our main focus’ are Arent Hayes, a soldier with a mysterious past and his long-time friend, Samual Pipps, the famous detective (thank’s to the reports published by Arent) and Sara Wessel, a woman of high status, married to an abusive husband, knowledge in healing and mother to her highly intelligent daughter, Lia.                  As Turton has previously done, each character, big or small, was so well fleshed-out and had their own backstory, giving you the feeling that you knew them all.

The main plot was yet another example of Turton’s incredible writing by giving you the answers to what the novel is leading to but misdirecting the readers attention to follow a different trail-of-thought. You feel like you’re following the characters as they are trying to make sense of the happenings until you both finally put it all together.

I felt like the conclusion wasn’t as original or shocking as his previous novel (7-deaths) but was just as mysterious and mind-boggling in its craftmanship. At the book’s conclusion, we’re left to sit and wonder what happened after.

As Stuart Turton explained in his note at the end of the book, each reader reads a story differently. If you have, or are thinking of picking this book up, you’ll be surprised at different elements than I was. I don’t feel like this book had any particular audience in mind, allowing for a vast readership, which it definitely achieved.

Have you read this title? What were your thoughts and do you agree with the genre’s I mentioned? Let me know in the comments below!

"Courage isn't an absence of fear. It's the light we find when fear is all there is."

Hardcover

576 pages

Published – 1st October 2020

Publishing Company – Raven Books

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Murder Most Festive

Books, Pink in Ink

Ada Moncrieff

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Situated in Christmas of 1938, we join a group of high-class characters in the luxurious Westbury Manor with Lord and Lady Westbury hosting this extravagant celebration. But, on Christmas morning, Lord Westbury’s oldest friend, David Campbell-Scott is discovered with crimson tarnishing the fresh-winter snow. They all know that something is amiss with the circumstances surrounding his demise, but can they discover the truth before all depart from their hosts home?

This had me sold just from the time-setting. I just love reading of this era in our history and imagining the absolute luxe that came with high-status.

The writing style was excellent, using the language that was very reminiscent of the time and the social interactions between each of the characters. Ada Moncrieff didn’t shy away from the obvious divide between men and women and the sexism that very much happened throughout our history and the changes that began to occur after the first world-war.

The plot had a air of similarity to Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan-Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and can’t deny that throughout reading it I pictured the estate and characters of Downton Abbey… Need I say, I wasn’t mad about it! It added more adoration of this tale for me.

Throughout the book, we are from a third-person perspective, giving insight into all the key-players thoughts and characteristics. It lent itself to a real feel of detective work where you are, just as much as the characters, trying to unravel the mystery. At the books climax, I was also in disbelief at the reveal and found myself eagerly reading on to find out why and how!

For Ada Moncrieff’s debut novel, she really did an amazing job. Having a setting during Christmas, as we know, leads to countless cheesy movies being played on Channel 4 from the end of October (until we all go mad!), and some very typical ‘Christmas Miracle’ tales… But this had none of that. It had enough festivity for it to feel like it was the big day but it didn’t take away anything of the drama and intrigue.

Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more publications by this author.

A huge thank-you to NetGalley and the publisher, Vintage, for the advanced copy to sink my teeth into!

Murder Most Festive is available now available as a physical book and e-Book.


Paperback

336 pages

Published – 05/11/2020

Publishing Company – Vintage


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Burn Our Bodies Down

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Rory Power

Rating: 3 out of 5.

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Wilder Girls comes a new twisty thriller about a girl whose past has always been a mystery—until she decides to return to her mother’s hometown . . . where history has a tendency to repeat itself.          Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.          But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.          Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?          The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.

This is the first YA horror I’ve read. With more experience with horrors from Susan Hill and Laura Purcell, I kept my mind open to any and every possibility this would bring.

I’ve not read Rory Powers other popular title, Wilder Girls but is on that I hope to pick up soon.

A paranormal thriller with elements of crime-mystery, we find ourselves in the small town of Phalene after Margot finds her mother has been keeping secrets; of her extended family, how Margot came to be, her father and her mothers own past.

Margot, a seventeen-year-old desperate for her mum, Jo, to notice her, care for her… love her. And after a particularly difficult argument, she went to a pawn shop to buy Jo a gift in apology. When she finds a small bible with a white cover and beautiful gold page-edges, she peers behind the cover to find it was her mothers, gifted by Margot’s grandmother that she never knew existed. A small inscription and an old picture that confirms that it’s definitely her mothers. She decides she has to run away from home to try and find this long-lost grandmother and unearth the truths of why her mother was hiding her from their past. But all is not as it seems. When she finds where her grandmother, Vera, lives she sees her farm is on fire and a girl is trapped in the path of the blaze. She goes to save her, moving this girl from the fires path and, once they’re safe, she sees that they look exactly the same. Every detail of this mysterious girl is a mirror of her own. But she’s never heard of her before.

The underlying theme seems to be of mistakes, forgiveness and understanding. Does it mean forgiveness when you understand or can you still not forgive.

Powers writing style flows well through the novel really using the written-word to create a lyrical piece. But I found that some of the narration needed more use of punctuation to help convey the inner-turmoil and emotion Margot was feeling.

That said, I was left asking myself what I’d do in the same situations and how I would feel if I found my lineage hiding history from me.

I do think that, for a YA paranormal thriller that it gave enough suspense and shock without overselling the plot.

I had fun reading this. Though it wasn’t great, or a favourite, it is a sold three-star read. I flew through it with ease and am quite excited to pick up Wilder Girls. If you want a soft-horror that will leave you able to sleep at night and look at the cover without recoiling in terror (…*cough* Stew! *cough*) then this might be worth your time to take a look at.


Hardcover

352 pages

Published – 7th July 2020

Publishing Company – Delacorte Press

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The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Audiobooks, Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Stuart Turton

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Seven 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle


At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem.          Deeply atmospheric and ingeniously plotted, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a highly original debut that will appeal to fans of Kate Atkinson and Agatha Christie.

Set in an illusive mansion in the deep countryside, we follow a man who has no memory of how or why he is there.

I don’t know how to explain the mastery of crossing fantasy, science fiction, crime and mystery. It is a marriage like no other I’ve read before. It’s set, in a way, following different characters of entirely different backgrounds that reveal ghastly secrets and the many twists and turns to finally reveal who killed Evelyn Hardcastle.

Despite it being written from different perspectives, each character has intentionally been written to seem like the same point of view. However, each character has their own ways of speaking and thinking so is easy to follow along. To add to the suspense, it is written from different points of time. It’s impossible to make a clear review without spoilers! All I can say is, it is a plot that is unmatched in it’s execution and each twist leaves you with more questions. Stuart Turton is an author to watch. I can’t wait to see what worlds he creates next.


Hardcover

505 pages

Published – 8th February 2018

Publishing Company – Raven Books

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