These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1)

These Witches Don't Burn

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans. 

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

Thoughts:

I went into this book not really knowing much about it. I didn’t read any reviews or anything. Just went into it which is the best way to be I think. I really enjoyed reading this book. I don’t think it necessarily did anything different with the witch trope, but it was still a highly enjoyable read that I’m pleased I made time for over summer.

It follows an Elemental witch called Hannah. She lives in Salem, hoping to avoid her ex-girlfriend Veronica over summer. However, dark magic pops up around town and Hannah wonders whether her past has come back to haunt her.

The plot is full of mystery and I thoroughly enjoyed following Hannah and her coven as the story twisted and turned. They had to find out the identity of the person or people behind the dark magic and try to stop it once and for all. Hannah’s also dealing with a crush on Morgan, a new girl in town. I think you’d enjoy this book if you love contemporary. It definitely has a contemporary vibe to it with magical elements which is ideal if you don’t want full on fantasy.

Hannah is a great character. I immediately warmed to her. She’s always trying to do the right thing. For me, she was a perfect balance of being incredibly caring towards others but she definitely had a feisty side to her. I loved seeing that side of her. I loved that there was a really strong friendship between Hannah and Gemma too. I loved reading their interactions. I’m all for strong female friendships in stories.

The only reason I haven’t rated this book any higher, is because despite the ending, I’m fine with not knowing how things end up in future books. There’s something about it that doesn’t compel me to continue the series. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m into standalones at the moment. It is probably a personal thing, so please don’t let that put you off if you’re on the lookout for a magical contemporary read.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic debut! 

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Again, But Better

Again, but Better

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless. 

Thoughts:

I have to admit that I haven’t watched or followed this author on YouTube, although I’ve always been aware of her. I was intrigued to see what this book would be like after reading the synopsis. I thought it was important to put it out there that I’m not a follower of this author, so my review is completely unbiased.

Again, but Better centres around a girl called Shane. Shane has pretty much had her future dictated to her by what her parents want her to do. They want her to become a doctor even though Shane’s desires lie with writing. Shane lies to her parents and ends up spending some time aboard in the UK studying creative writing and interning at a travel magazine. Shane wants a ‘do-over’ with her college experience. She wants to be more outgoing, make friends and truly experience college life. The book is told in two parts. One where Shane is 20 and is studying in the UK and the next set 6 years later.

I thought Again, but Better had an interesting story line. There’s a magical element to this story, which I wasn’t expecting. I hadn’t read about the book or read any reviews before reading the story for myself. I liked the characters even though some of them had silly names. Babe? Pilot Penn? I felt like our main character, Shane, really developed as a character. She felt different in the two time frames and I think that’s so important.

The reason why I haven’t rated this book any higher, is because I had a real issue with the relationship between Shane and Pilot. I felt like it was borderline cheating and further into the book… their relationship just didn’t sit right with me. I also didn’t like the way Pilot’s girlfriend was treated.  I also felt like Shane’s parents were the worst. I know she lies to them and that’s awful, but the way they reacted when the truth was revealed was very uncomfortable for me.

I did like how this book encourages you to live your life your own way, despite what others may think. Such an important message. It also didn’t take me long to read at all. I may not have agreed with the relationship, but I was invested enough to continue reading.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A promising debut!

Little Darlings

Little Darlings

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to HQ

Synopsis:

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley―to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

Thoughts:

I have to admit that I hadn’t heard much about Little Darlings. I do think it’s one that’s going to be everywhere soon though and deservedly so! Even though it took me longer to read than I wanted it to (super busy teacher here!) if I had the time, I could’ve devoured it easily in one sitting. It’s gripping, creepy and so, so easy to read.

It centres around Lauren Tranter who has recently had twins. She’s understandably exhausted but she’s not going mad. Everyone around her thinks that she is, because they believe she imagined a woman trying to exchange her twins for…creatures. Lauren is certain that the woman was there and won’t let it go. After a month or so, Lauren’s babies (Morgan and Riley) disappear from Lauren’s side as she falls asleep. After a while, the babies are returned to Lauren, but although they may look like Morgan and Riley… Lauren is insistent that they certainly aren’t. She is determined to get her real children back, no matter what it takes.

This book is so incredibly well written. It’s astounding to me that this is a debut. It’s so creepy. I was seriously freaked out every single time changelings were mentioned. Honestly, there are some moments in the story that sent a shiver down my spine. I would’ve loved to have filmed my reaction to reading this book as I’m pretty sure I made some very expressive faces. I imagine I looked like this at many points:

The characters in this story are phenomenal. Lauren was a wonderful unreliable narrator. Did she really see what she did? Was she mentally ill? Her husband seemed super shady. I just didn’t trust anyone. It was really interesting to read the police procedural element to this story. Harper was a fantastic addition to the story and I felt like she really pushed the story on.

Being a fan of the fairy tale, I adored the dark nature of this story. Changelings are terrifying. I was so impressed with this debut.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A cracking debut novel! I’m so impressed and look forward to more from Melanie Golding!

A Version Of The Truth

A Version of the Truth

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Avon Books

Synopsis:

2019: Julianne is preparing a family dinner when her son comes to her and says he’s found something on his iPad. Something so terrible, it will turn Julianne’s world into a nightmare and make her question everything about her marriage and what type of man her husband is or is pretending to be.

1990: Holly is a fresher student at Oxford University. Out of her depth and nervous about her surroundings, she falls into an uneasy friendship with a group of older students from the upper echelons of society and begins to develop feelings for one in particular. He’s confident, quiet, attractive and seems to like her too. But as the year progresses, her friends’ behaviour grows steadily more disconcerting and Holly begins to realise she might just be a disposable pawn in a very sinister game.

A devastating secret has simmered beneath the surface for over twenty-five years. Now it’s time to discover the truth. But what if you’re afraid of what you might find?

Thoughts:

I didn’t know much about this book before I picked it up. The synopsis sold it for me, so I took up the opportunity to read it. I meant to have finished it way before now, but unfortunately work was incredibly hectic, so I couldn’t get this book out as anticipated on its release day. I’m always up for discovering new authors, especially debut authors. There’s no denying that this book is well written. I just found it to be very intense.

It centres around Julianne who is preparing dinner when her son Stephen comes to tell her that he’s found something awful. He was on the home computer when he found something among his dad’s files. Julianne is nervous to see exactly what it was. After she sees it, she realises life won’t be the same again. Her marriage starts to unravel as a secret from the past comes back to haunt them.

What I liked about this book was that it was told in a dual narrative that really worked. We heard from 1991 and the current 2019. Julianne’s story was told alongside Holly. Both girls were students at Oxford University. They weren’t particularly good friends, but they knew of each other and both wanted to keep something that happened back in 2019.

I would warn that there is some incredibly sensitive content within its pages. There’s rape and homophobia to name a few themes. Yet, there’s something about this book that keeps you turning its pages. I found it incredibly difficult to read at points. It also used some quite strong language that always makes me cringe. The writer deals with these subjects incredibly well and creates a story that’s quite the page turner!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Worth a read! Just beware of the subject matter!

The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Orion Publishing

Synopsis:

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

Thoughts:

Ahhh this book. I had seen it absolutely everywhere and I held off until February to read it, as I had an ARC. The struggle to wait for it. The struggle. I can confidently say that I’m so pleased I waited. It was an amazing read. I’m absolutely blown away that this is a debut novel. It was incredible. I really should stop gushing now and get into my review.

This has a really exciting premise. It’s about a woman named Alicia Berenson who is accused of murdering her husband. The trouble is, since the crime, Alicia hasn’t spoken. For six years she’s been living in a mental health unit called The Grove. The Grove is for very dangerous people with serious mental health issues. Readers then meet Theo Faber, who has had a tough childhood. He’s now a psychotherapist. He’s intrigued by Alicia and wants to be the one to ‘cure’ her and getting her to speak again. He wants to help solve the mystery as to why she murdered her husband.

This is one of those reviews where I’m going to be terribly vague because I don’t want to ruin the story. I will say that it’s an incredibly well written story. It’s so compulsive. I desperately wanted to find out what was going on. I absolutely loved the inclusion of Alicia’s diary. Argh. I want to say so much but I can’t because of spoilers. It is a bit of a slow burner, which I don’t usually enjoy, but this one had me from the very beginning.

I have to admit that I didn’t see the twist coming. I know many people will do, but for me I was quite shocked which is why I had to give it a 5 star rating. I think this will be an excellent book club read. It truly deserves all of the praise it’s getting.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A truly excellent 2019 debut. Alex Michaelides is truly one to watch!