Review: Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Force of Nature (Aaron Falk #2)
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Panda Rating:


FIVE WOMEN GO ON A HIKE.
ONLY FOUR RETURN.


When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the nuddy path. After all, this retreat is supposed to take the office workers out of their air-conditioned comfort zone. It’s supposed to be abonding experience. It’s supposed to be a bonding experience. It’s supposed to build trust.
But it doesn’t work out that way.
One of the women doesn’t come out of the woods. And each of her companions tellsa slightly different story about what happened.
Federal Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case–and in just a matter of weeks, she was supposed to help him bring down both the company she works for and the people she works with.
In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated bushland, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains and a tangled web of personal friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?

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Blog Tour Review: Ignite the Sun by Hanna Howard

Hello, friends! I’m so excited to be back with another blog tour and this time it’s with the lovely TBR & Beyond Tours for Ignite the Sun by Hanna Howard. Thanks to ladies behind TBR & Beyond for organising this blog tour and to the author for providing the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Ignite the Sun
Publisher: Blink
Publication Date: 18 August 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Panda Rating:

Once upon a time, there was something called the sun… In a kingdom ruled by an evil witch, the sun is just part of a legend about light-filled days of old. Luckily for everybody in the kingdom, Siria Nightingale is headed to the heart of the darkness to try and restore the light–or she will lose everything trying.

Sixteen year-old Siria Nightingale has never seen the sun. The light is dangerous, according to Queen Iyzabel, an evil witch who has shrouded the kingdom in shadow.

Siria has always hated the darkness and revels in the stories of the light-filled old days that she hears from her best friend and his grandfather. Besides them, nobody else understands her fascination with the sun, especially not her strict and demanding parents. Siria’s need to please them is greater even than her fear of the dark. So she heads to the royal city–the very center of the darkness–for a chance at a place in Queen Iyzabel’s court.

But what Siria discovers at the Choosing Ball sends her on a quest toward the last vestiges of the sun with a ragtag group of rebels who could help her bring back the Light … or doom the kingdom to shadow forever.

Buy: Amazon (US) |Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo

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Blog Tour: A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens – Review & Favourite Quotes

Hello, friends! I’m so excited to be back with another blog tour and this time it’s with the lovely TBR & Beyond Tours for A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens. This is the tour company’s first blog tour and I’m so happy that I got to be part of it 😃 Thanks to ladies behind TBR & Beyond for organising this blog tour and to the author, Sasha Laurens, for providing the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: A Wicked Magic
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: 28 July 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Paranormal
Panda Rating:

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft when modern witches must save teens stolen by an ancient demon in this YA fantasy-thriller debut.

Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless. During a spell gone wrong, Liss’s boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss’s friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured?

Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of The Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss’s orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she’s hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with. When another teenager disappears, the girls know it’s no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen?

Set in the atmospheric wilds of California’s northern coast, Sasha Laurens’s thrilling debut novel is about the complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within us all.

Buy: Amazon (US) |Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

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Blog Tour Review: The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana

I’m back with another blog tour and it’s my first one with The Storytellers on Tour for The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana. Thanks to the Timy & Justine for organising this tour and thanks to Parliament House Press and A.J. Vrana for the free copy in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Duology #1)
Publisher: The Parliament House
Publication Date: 28 July 2020
Genre: Paranormal Horror, Fantasy, New Adult
Panda Rating:

A perfect story for contemporary fantasy readers who love their narratives razor-sharp and their secrets dark and deadly.

Black Hollow is a town with a dark secret.
For centuries, residents have foretold the return of the Dreamwalker—an ominous figure from local folklore said to lure young women into the woods and possess them. Yet the boundary between fact and fable is blurred by a troubling statistic: occasionally, women do go missing. And after they return, they almost always end up dead.

When Kai wakes up next to the lifeless body of a recently missing girl, his memory blank, he struggles to clear his already threadbare conscience.
Miya, a floundering university student, experiences signs that she may be the Dreamwalker’s next victim. Can she trust Kai as their paths collide, or does he herald her demise?
And after losing a young patient, crestfallen oncologist, Mason, embarks on a quest to debunk the town’s superstitions, only to find his sanity tested.

A maelstrom of ancient grudges, forgotten traumas, and deadly secrets loom in the foggy forests of Black Hollow. Can three unlikely heroes put aside their fears and unite to confront a centuries-old evil? Will they uncover the truth behind the fable, or will the cycle repeat?

Buy: Parliament House Press | Author | Amazon (US) | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Google | Indigo

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Blog Tour Review: Resurrection Men by David Craig

I’m back with another blog tour and this time it’s for Resurrection Men by David Craig. Thanks to Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources for organising this blog tour and to the author for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Resurrection Men (Sooty Feathers #1)
Release Date: 31 August 2018
Genre: Gothic Horror, Fantasy, Paranormal
Panda Rating:

Glasgow 1893. Wilton Hunt, a student, and Tam Foley, a laudanum-addicted pharmacist, are pursuing extra-curricular careers as body snatchers, or ‘resurrection men’, under cover of darkness. They exhume a girl’s corpse, only for it to disappear while their backs are turned. Confused and in need of the money the body would have earnt them, they investigate the corpse’s disappearance. They discover that bodies have started to turn up in the area with ripped-out throats and severe loss of blood, although not the one they lost. The police are being encouraged by powerful people to look the other way, and the deaths are going unreported by the press. As Hunt and Foley delve beneath the veneer of respectable society, they find themselves entangled in a dangerous underworld that is protected from scrutiny by the rich and powerful members of the elite but secretive Sooty Feathers Club.

Meanwhile, a mysterious circus arrives in the middle of the night, summoned as allies to help avenge a betrayal two centuries old…

Buy: Elsewhen Press | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)

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I Killed Zoe Spanos Review and Favourite Quotes

Thanks to NetGalley, McElderry Books and Kit Frick for providing the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

I Killed Zoe Spanos
Publisher: McElderry Books
Release date: 30 June 2020
Genre: Young Adult Mystery, Thriller

Panda Rating:



“The YA thriller of the summer.” —Bustle
For fans of Sadie and Serial, this gripping thriller follows two teens whose lives become inextricably linked when one confesses to murder and the other becomes determined to uncover the real truth no matter the cost.

What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…
When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected—and that she knows what happened to her.
Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth? Inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Kit Frick weaves a thrilling story of psychological suspense that twists and turns until the final page

Amazon (US) | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Book Depository | Kobo | Google Books

Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.

“I have something better to do this summer, someone better to become.”

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Review: The Ruins by Scott Smith

Note: I wrote this review in October 2018 but since this Top 5 Saturday was about plants/flowers on the book covers, I decided to share my review for this book (I honestly thought I’d already shared it before)!

Goodreads: The Ruins
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Panda Rating:


Trapped in the Mexican jungle, a group of friends stumble upon a creeping horror unlike anything they could ever imagine.Two young couples are on a lazy Mexican vacation–sun-drenched days, drunken nights, making friends with fellow tourists. When the brother of one of those friends disappears, they decide to venture into the jungle to look for him. What started out as a fun day-trip slowly spirals into a nightmare when they find an ancient ruins site . . . and the terrifying presence that lurks there.

*minor spoilers ahead*

We all know how much of a chicken I am, so while I did enjoy reading it, I know this isn’t something that I’ll be reading again! I’m writing this review directly after finishing it so I think I’m still feeling the lingering effects of the horror and nausea that were my constant companions for at least a good 50% of the book. I still find myself looking around in paranoia for any cracks in the wall and I’m keeping my feet lifted and well away from dark spaces, such as the one under my bed. Ya know, just in case there’s a killer plant/tree with acidic sap in its vines that will grab my legs and pull me under there to devour me.

I wanted to sprint through this book but the level of detail just wouldn’t let me. I would find myself trying to skim ahead but worried that I’d miss some important detail and so I’d force myself to slow down. I thought the pace at the start was good but towards the latter half of the book, as there was less “action” involved, the pace slowed down considerably. I also didn’t particularly latch on to any of the characters. I don’t know if it was intentional as the characters were on a beach holiday but I found that the characters were either extremes of passive and lazy or neurotic and overthinking and it didn’t make it easy to lend any sympathy. Although several times I did question how I’d react if I were in their shoes… Would I be the complainer? The proactive leader? The joker or the drunk? Or would I be the quiet one that decides that enough is enough and “get things over with” as quickly as possible? What would be my instinctive reaction?

While Scott Smith writes in a very simple and straightforward way, I found that sometimes his writing was unnecessarily detailed, to the point where I found myself really fighting not to skip ahead. I understand that Smith was trying to expand on the characters’ thoughts and how they were coping with their situation – the thoughts, rationalisations and emotions of a human facing imminent death (but being in denial about it) – but I feel that if much of this content was taken out, the story would still flow and you wouldn’t miss out on any crucial details. I have to admit that when we got to the end and still got no further information about this killer thing – how did it get there and how long has it been there? where did it come from? how many people had it killed? – I felt frustrated. Almost like I was robbed of this information with no chance of ever learning more. But I guess maybe that’s the appeal of these horrors?

I am personally not the biggest fan of horrors. I read this as a way to get into the “Spooky/Horror October” that many monthly reading challenges have centered on this month. I don’t dislike the genre but I just have a very, very overactive imagination that does not do me any favors when I’m trying to sleep at night. So although I don’t read them that often, I guess this book was filled with everything you’d expect from a horror – including plenty of blood and gore. I know that I’ll be imagining the scenes that played out in my head for at least days to come… Will I read another horror after this? Nope! Will I (eventually) read another Scott Smith book? Probably, yes.

Have you read The Ruins or is it on your TBR?

Harrow Lake Blog Tour Review

I’m back with another blog tour with The WriteReads gang and this time it’s for the paranormal horror thriller Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis. And I mean, I know–Dini, reading horror? Who am I even, right!? Yep. I’m a masochist but we’ll come back to this one later 😉 Special thanks to Dave @ TheWriteReads for organising this amazing blog tour and to the publisher and author for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

Don’t forget to check out the other bloggers who are also on this tour!

Goodreads: Harrow Lake
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s Penguin
Release Date: 09 July 2020
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Panda Rating:

Welcome to Harrow Lake. Someone’s expecting you . . .

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker – she thinks nothing can scare her. But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she’s swiftly packed off to live with a grandmother she’s never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father’s most iconic horror movie was shot. The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map – and there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away.

And there’s someone – or something – stalking her every move.

The more Lola discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola’s got secrets of her own. And if she can’t find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her. 

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eARC Review: To Kill A Mocking Girl (A Bookbinding Mystery #1) by Harper Kincaid

Goodreads: To Kill A Mocking Girl (A Bookbinding Mystery #1)
Publish date: 12 May 2020
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Cosy Mystery
Panda Rating:

Bookbinder Quinn finds herself in trouble when her ex’s fiance turns up dead and if she’s not careful, her days might be numbered in this debut perfect for fans of Kate Carlisle and Eva Gates.

Quinn Victoria Caine is back in her quirky town of Vienna, Virginia, starting her new life as a bookbinder in her family-owned, charm-for-days bookshop, Prose & Scones. With her trusty German Shephard RBG-‘Ruff Barker’ Ginsburg by her side, what can go wrong? Okay, sure, bumping into her ex, Scott, or her former high school nemesis, Tricia, is a drag. It certainly doesn’t help they have acquired the new hobby of shoving their recent engagement in her face every chance they get. But that doesn’t mean Quinn wanted to find Tricia dead in the road. So why does half the town think she may have done it?

Quinn is determined to find Tricia’s killer, even if it means partnering with her cousin-turned-nun, Sister Daria, and Detective Aiden Harrington, her older brother’s too-movie-star-handsome-for-his-own good, best friend. They believe she’s innocent, but of course that doesn’t influence the police, who peg her as their prime suspect. Or, at least until she’s poisoned.

But there is no way Quinn is going to stop now. Vienna is her town and-for better or worse-Tricia was one of their own. Someone may have killed the mocking girl, but no one’s going to stop the notorious QVC.

This is my first cozy mystery and I’m wondering why I’ve never read one of these before because what didn’t I like about it?! Right now I’m coming up blank because I enjoyed every single moment of this fast-paced murder mystery set in the small close-knit community of Vienna, Virginia. I can’t believe this is Kincaid’s first cosy mystery because she had me reeled in from the first page! Is it too early to be chanting for more when this book hasn’t even been published yet?

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Auxiliary: London 2039 Blog Tour Review

I’m back with another blog tour and this time it’s for Auxiliary: London 2039 by Jon Richter. Special thanks to Heather @LifeBookish for inviting me to join this blog tour and to the author and publisher for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Don’t forget to check out the other bloggers who are also on this tour!

Goodreads: Auxiliary: London 2039
Publisher: TCK Publishing
Release Date: 01 May 2020
Genre: Science Fiction, Dark Fiction
Panda Rating:

The silicon revolution left Dremmler behind, but a good detective is never obsolete. London is quiet in 2039—thanks to the machines. People stay indoors, communicating through high-tech glasses and gorging on simulated reality while 3D printers and scuttling robots cater to their every whim. Mammoth corporations wage war for dominance in a world where human augmentation blurs the line between flesh and steel.

And at the center of it all lurks The Imagination Machine: the hyper-advanced, omnipresent AI that drives our cars, flies our planes, cooks our food, and plans our lives. Servile, patient, tireless … TIM has everything humanity requires. Everything except a soul. Through this silicon jungle prowls Carl Dremmler, police detective—one of the few professions better suited to meat than machine. His latest case: a grisly murder seemingly perpetrated by the victim’s boyfriend. Dremmler’s boss wants a quick end to the case, but the tech-wary detective can’t help but believe the accused’s bizarre story: that his robotic arm committed the heinous crime, not him. An advanced prosthetic, controlled by a chip in his skull.

A chip controlled by TIM.

Dremmler smells blood: the seeds of a conspiracy that could burn London to ash unless he exposes the truth. His investigation pits him against desperate criminals, scheming businesswomen, deadly automatons—and the nightmares of his own past. And when Dremmler finds himself questioning even TIM’s inscrutable motives, he’s forced to stare into the blank soul of the machine.

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