Three Thrillers to Get Your Blood Pumping This January

I’ve read a few thrillers/suspense novels recently as a foil to my YA romantic fantasy edits (The Solitary King comes out 31 Jan!!), so I thought I’d round up all of my reviews into one post. After all, if you’re a thriller fan you’d probably rather read one post about three (very different) books to see which sounds like your cup of tea, than three separate review posts, right?

Great, let’s go.

The Cottage by Lisa Stone – 3.5 stars

Jan needs a fresh start, she’s just lost her job and split from her boyfriend, so when she sees an ad looking for someone to house sit a remote cottage and look after the owner’s dog while she’s working abroad, Jan jumps at the chance. But before long, strange noises start to disturb her at night, and when someone dismantles the fence she puts up to stop foxes getting into the garden, she knows it can’t be an animal.

The Cottage sucked me in with the creepy cover and blurb, but it didn’t turn out to be as dark and thrilling as I’d hoped. It was definitely tense and I wanted to know what was really going on, but it was one of those stories where there’s a reasonable explanation for everything, and I had gone in wanting something a bit darker.

I guessed a few of the plot twists (occupational hazard of being a true crime obsessive), but some of them were genuine surprises and the story did keep me reading just to see what would happen in the end.

I know the author also writes non-fiction/true crime books and this did read almost like a memoir, I could believe everything that was happening was possible, which did make it all the more fascinating.

I’d recommend it if you’re looking for an easy, lighter read with a really interesting premise and a few shock twists, but it won’t keep you awake at night.


The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell – 4.5 stars

Libby just turned twenty-five and inherited a multi-million pound property, but more importantly she’s just discovered the truth – her parents were found dead in very suspicious circumstances, and she is the baby that was found happy and healthy in the cot while three bodies lay on the kitchen floor. Desperate to know what happened, she finds the journalist who wrote a recent article about the unsolved murders and together they dig into a history that only becomes more twisted and shocking the closer they get to the truth.

The Family Upstairs is told from three points of view, Libby and Lucy in the here and now, and Henry describing the events that led up to the three bodies being found in the house he shared with his sister (the aforementioned Lucy), their parents, and another family who came to stay and never left.

I loved the slow build up of tension in this book, I couldn’t take my eyes of Henry’s chapters as the happy family life he enjoyed as a child became increasingly strange and frightening, under the oppressive control of David Thomsen, a house guest who gradually took control over the entire household.

Between unreliable narrators and the slow, drip feed of information building the suspense throughout the book, I was absolutely glued to my seat, especially for the final few chapters. I was a little bit disappointed by the conclusion, but now there’s a sequel coming this summer, The Family Remains (which can apparently be read as standalone) and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Without giving too much away, I highly recommend this book if you love true crime, particularly podcasts and documentaries about cults.


The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley – 5 stars

Seven friends go to a remote Scottish hunting lodge for New Year, and only six of them survive. Every single one of them is hiding something, including the staff, but who is the body at the bottom of the waterfall, and how did they end up dead?

Told over three days and five POVs, The Hunting Party is a fast-paced whodunit (and who-was-it-done-to) that kept me guessing until the very last page. Every character was a possible victim and a potential killer, they were all full-formed and believably complex (read: awful) people.

I flew through the last hundred pages, I desperately needed to know who had been killed and why, even more so than who had done it. Some of the red herrings Foley threw out to distract us and keep us off the right trail were so good, I did spot one of the reveals from early on, but I genuinely couldn’t guess the full truth until it was written on the page.

This is a definite five star read for me, and I’ll be snapping up all of Foley’s other domestic thrillers. I recommend this book to absolutely everyone who likes a good, twisty thriller, you won’t be able to see it coming, I can guarantee it!


There you go, I hope you liked the sound of one or all of these. I actually borrowed them from the library, and now I’ve got C.L. Taylor’s Strangers waiting for me when I finish my edits. Back to the edit cave, Batgirl!

Lyndsey

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Review: Feathers of Snow by Alice Ivinya

Welcome back friends! I’ve got another book review for you today, this time it’s a fantasy fairytale retelling that’s perfect for these frosty, winter days. It’s Feathers of Snow by Alice Ivinya, book one in the Kingdom of Birds and Beasts series.

I bought the ebook of this story as soon as I saw the cover (I mean, just look at it!), but I was actually given a signed copy by Alice when we met in person last July, so of course I read that! And I was so honoured and emotional to see my name in the acknowledgements when I finished.

This was a gorgeously gripping read, keep scrolling to see what I thought of it…

Blurb

In Brianna’s new world of ice and snow, the coldest things by far are the eyes of her betrothed…

Brianna bears a deadly secret: she’s not the princess she is pretending to be. If the prince finds out, her life will be forfeit and her country plunged into war. But there is more to the icy prince than meets the eye, and Brianna slowly unravels the secrets of his dark past while surviving in a strange culture.

However her goodness and wit will only get her so far. Terrifying beasts stalk the border and a murderer is at work in the town. They know the truth of Brianna’s identity and will stop at nothing to destroy all she has fought for.


Review

Title: Feathers of Snow: A Goose Girl Retelling (Kingdom of Birds and Beasts #1)

Author: Alice Ivinya

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Feathers-Snow-retelling-Kingdom-Beasts-ebook/dp/B08MZ69K29/

Rating: 5 fairytale stars!



This book swept me away to a snow-covered castle and made me fall in love with a frosty prince. I loved the unique world Ivinya created, especially the snippets of history, myth and folklore we were treated to.

It’s a truly original adaptation of The Goose Girl fairy tale, with a strong, steady heroine who faces danger and heartbreak head on, and a stoic, brooding prince who’ll do whatever it takes to protect his people from the threats over the wall.

If you love clean but still swoon worthy romantic fantasy, fairytale retellings and lush, richly detailed world building, you’ll love Feathers of Snow. 

I adored Brianna from the beginning, Ivinya has such skill with character creation, she really makes you identify with her protagonists, hate her villains (ooh I really wanted bad things to happen to the baddie in this book!) and fall for her love interests. Plus, her side characters are fully-formed and have their own back stories and motivations that inform the plot and make the whole story feel very well-rounded – I have such a soft spot for Jeremiah and may have messaged Alice at the halfway mark threatening our friendship if anything bad happened to my sweet cinnamon roll of a guard.

In a nutshell, Feathers of Snow is the book for you this Christmas if you love:
  • Sweet, clean but swoon worthy romance
  • Fairytale retellings
  • Rich world building with unique magic
  • Quietly strong, independent heroines (badass but in a subtle way)
  • Brooding, reluctant heroes who don’t soften easily
  • A villain you will LOVE to hate
  • Mind-talking animal familiars
  • Tense whodunnit murder mysteries
  • Fantasy series you can really get sucked into and fall in love with

Find it on Amazon and read the sample:

Add it to your Goodreads shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55858962-feathers-of-snow


Ready for book two? Check out my blog on Feathers of Blood‘s release here.

Happy reading!

Lyndsey x

Review: Of Shadow and Ember by Shana Vernon

I’ve been waiting forever (OK, two weeks) to be able to fangirl over this book with you all. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy, and I’d already preordered it because it sounded amazing, but now I’m going to need it in paperback too so I can admire it on my shelf on a daily basis.

I interviewed the author, Shana Vernon, last week, so when you’re done reading this review pop over and have a read about Shana’s other books and the upcoming sequel!

Right, let’s get into it.

Review

Title: Of Shadow and Ember (The Heirs of Elaerys #1)

Author: Shana Vernon

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Ember-Heirs-Elaerys-Book-ebook/dp/B092TF6196/

Rating: 5/5


Where do I start? This book had my jaw on the floor at several moments, and kept my pulse racing from start to finish, whether it was a fierce action scene, a steamy sex scene or a shocking plot twist. I read Of Shadow and Ember quicker than any other book this year, I just couldn’t put it down!

The story follows three sisters, heiresses to a desert kingdom, as they each face the very different expectations of being a princess. Calida is the eldest and heir to the throne, with all of the responsibilities that entails. Zari is the spare and lives a life of luxury and boredom while waiting to see if she’ll be needed. Arianna is the youngest and has been trained as Sentinel, the kingdom’s secret assassin who takes care of any threat under cover of darkness, so as not to spark war.

The kingdom of Kalamia is in a precarious position and in order to sign peace treaties with its neighbours, the two younger daughters are to be sent away to marry foreign heirs. But moments after Arianna – the only one trained for battle – has left, the kingdom is invaded by brutal fae from a kingdom long forgotten, the home of beasts that are responsible for the murder of Arianna’s lover years earlier and whom she’s on a warpath to seek revenge against. Except, she’s on the other side of the world with no idea what’s happening at home, while her sisters try to save their kingdom.

I loved all three of the sisters, but Arianna definitely became my favourite, with her total self-confidence and strong sense of what’s right and wrong. She also had a wicked sense of humour and was a complete badass. The story is told from several POVs, including Arianna’s new mate and one of the brutes who invaded the kingdom of Kalamia (although everything is not as it seems and there are secrets and truths that we discover through his internal monologue).

When I first saw the contents page with several names, I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to keep track of who was who, but the author was able to set the scene in each change of POV so quickly and smoothly that I never found myself struggling to keep up. Even though the story was one of the most fast-paced I’ve read in ages. It swept me away and kept me turning the pages until the very last one, desperate to know what happened next in each POV.

There wasn’t one POV that I found boring or didn’t want to see at the top of the next chapter. If I had to choose a least favourite it would probably be Calida’s, but that’s only because being kept prisoner in your own castle isn’t quite as exciting as adventuring on the high seas or being far from home in a kingdom with completely different values as you search for information on the beast that killed your lover – whilst also slowly falling for the man you’ve been sent to marry, despite his reputation as the Scourge of Vale.

The world building was fantastic, I loved discovering more about each place and the people who inhabited it, and the romance was a real slow burn in one case, and a sort of ‘fated mates’ irrepressible collision in another. The steamy scenes all took place after the 75% mark, which I really appreciated as I prefer to see the build up of tension towards a love scene, it feels more credible to me – there’s definitely no insta-love here!

I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book if you like any of the following:

  • fae,
  • elemental magic,
  • strong women (not just physically strong, these sisters are three very different types of strong),
  • winged fae males,
  • sexy shifters,
  • arranged marriage,
  • fated mates,
  • sass, snark and banter,
  • incredible world-building,
  • excellent character development,
  • a complex, fast-moving plot with lots of action,
  • steamy romance with actual meaning,
  • CLIFFHANGERS. Because I’m still reeling from that last chapter!!

It’s perfect for fans of Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood, or anything by Sarah J. Maas really, and Jennifer L. Armentrout. Can book two be out now please??

Happy release day to Of Shadow and Ember! Buy your copy now, and then preorder book two, Of Earth and Bone, coming March 2022!

Lyndsey

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