Review: What We Harvest by Ann Fraistat

What We HarvestWhat We Harvest by Ann Fraistat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


What We Harvest, a 2022-debut from Ann Fraistat, is a YA-EcoHorror novel set in the farming town of Hollow’s End.

We follow Wren, a teenager, whose family descends from one of the founding families of the town and is well known for their rainbow wheat fields.

Each of the founding families has their own unique, somewhat magical crop. For decades Hollow’s End has flourished. Tourists come from miles around to marvel at the miracle crops. That is until 5-months ago, when the blight set in, ruining crops, animals and people alike.

Now the town is at the edge of total destruction, with curfews and quarantines in place, there’s no more marveling at the crops. It’s all running and hiding for your life.

After Wren’s parents fail to return from helping at a neighbor’s farm, and Wren gets herself in a bit of a pickle, she needs help. She ends up having to call the last person she wants to reach out to, her ex-boyfriend, Derek.

Unfortunately, Wren and Derek will have to put past issues behind them in order to survive. In fact, the teens may be the last hope for Hollow’s End. Will they be able to stop the blight before it gets them as well?

What We Harvest is a cracking debut. I love small towns filled with big secrets, and not only did this town harbor a lot of secrets, they were also very dark and dangerous ones.

This story kicks off very quickly, with the blight already having been taking over the town for a while. I liked Wren’s perspective right away and learning about the blight, as well as the history and dynamics of Hollow’s End.

You know right away that something very dangerous lurks here, hiding in the woods during the day, but you don’t really know what. I loved the ominous tone this sets. Right from the start, you know to be on edge.

Scattered amongst the more dangerous scenes, we also get some quieter moments, reflecting on Wren and Derek, and the various relationships in their lives. It was a nice balance between those more personal moments and the intensity of what is going on with the blight.

I enjoyed Wren and Derek’s relationship a lot, as we got to the bottom of what was really going on between them. I also liked learning about the founding families and the lore that surrounds how the town came to be.

Those elements did remind me of The Devouring Gray. If you enjoyed that book, I do think that you could really enjoy this. Another one with similar vibes would be Burn Our Bodies Down, although I did enjoy this story more.

The entire drama of this narrative played out so well. I feel like it was paced brilliantly and did have some super intense, edge-of-your-seat, nail-biter moments.

The Horror elements were well executed too, particularly in regards to the effects of the blight. There were definitely moments I was truly scared for these characters that I had grown attached to.

Overall, this was a great reading experience and I’m sure glad that I finally made time for it.

If you are a fan of any sort of Eco-Horror, YA or Adult, I think this one is worth giving a try. There’s some interesting elements in here that could keep you up at night. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author!

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Review: Let Him In by William Friend

Let Him InLet Him In by William Friend
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With a cover that immediately grabbed by attention, Let Him In impressed me with its exploration of some really complicated family dynamics.

In this story, we meet Dad, Alfie, and his twin daughters, Cassia and Sylvie. Nine months ago, the girls’ Mum, and Alfie’s long-time partner, Pippa, died suddenly and unexpectedly in their home.

Alfie, battling his own grief, is struggling to parent the girls alone. In spite of the challenges, Alfie feels like overall, they’re doing okay. At least as well as could be expected.

Things take a turn though when the girls wake Alfie one night stating, ‘Daddy, there’s a man in our room…’

Cue eyebrow raise, jaw drop and shiver running up spine.

That starts the girls’ new found obsession with their imaginary friend, Black Mamba, who they describe as a man who can shape-shift into any animal. He protects them and also takes them on fabulous adventures.

Alfie calls in Pippa’s sister, the girls’ Aunt Julia, for help with the Black Mamba situation. As a psychiatrist, he feels Julia is probably much more qualified to navigate this situation than he is.

The Reader gets both Alfie and Julia’s perspectives as the drama with the girls’ new friend escalates.

What they both assume is just a coping mechanism following Pippa’s untimely death begins to feel like more, however, as a series of increasingly disturbing events occurs. This includes both Alfie and Julia having visions that could possibly be linked to the mysterious Black Mamba.

Will Julia and Alfie be able to exorcise this hostile presence from their lives? Their family has already been shattered by tragedy, but it seems this being, the hold he has over the girls, could end up causing even further irreparable harm.

I really enjoyed my time with this story. I did end up listening to the audiobook and appreciate that it included the use of dual narration. Having a different voice for both Alfie and Julia helped to bring the story to life.

I thought the family dynamics were fascinating, not just amongst our main characters, but the backstory of Pippa and Julia’s family as well.

This is a debut novel for William Friend and I feel like it’s definitely impressive in that regard. The story has a ominous, haunting feel throughout that succeeded in getting under my skin.

There were a couple places towards the end where I got a little lost, but that could totally just be my own issue. Wandering mind and all that. Besides those couple of spots though, overall, I was extremely invested in this.

One of my favorite Horror tropes is the creepy kid trope. Friend definitely nailed that. Bonus points for them being twins and for the super-disturbing imaginary friend.

I’m not going to say anything else about this one, because I feel it’s best served if you go in knowing just the basics. Settle in and go along for the ride. This is the perfect read to kick off your October Spooky Season TBR.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press and Dreamscape Media, for providing me with copies to read and review. I’m looking forward to more from William Friend!

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Review: Suddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz

Suddenly a MurderSuddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Suddenly a Murder is a fun and engaging YA Mystery from debut author, Lauren Muñoz.

As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to pick it up. The setting is a 1920s-theme party that ends in murder…on an island! This was screaming Classic Mystery feel to me, and that’s something I have soooo been into this year.

This story follows a group of teens who have just graduated from high school. Before they go their separate ways, their queen bee, Kassidy, plans an OTT-all expenses paid, 1920s-themed week at the lavish, Ashwood Manor, set on Sparrow Island, off the coast of Maine.

Frankly, if that alone doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what else to say.

I suppose I should give you a little more though. So, basically, Kassidy is the organizer of the entire weekend.

She’s super wealthy and is footing the bill for the entire event. Not only does this include the rental of the extravagant, and completely secluded island property, but it also includes all the 1920s-themed wardrobes and accoutrements for the guests.

All is going well, I mean except for the occasional teen drama, or spat, obviously to be expected, until the very unexpected happens.

Before dinner one night, Kassidy’s boyfriend, Blaine, is discovered dead in his room. Desperate and afraid, the teens call the authorities, who make it just in time, before a ferocious storm stops ferry travel to-and-from the island.

Murder, they say. But can that possibly be true? Who of the group of friends could possibly commit murder, and why?

Y’all, this was a fantastic set-up by Muñoz. I love how she brought that classic feel we all know and love, whilst seamlessly making it modern and engaging enough for the next generation of Mystery Readers.

I was pulled in right from the very start, as our group of characters is making their way out to the island. We begin to learn a bit about each of the guests for the week, as well the relationships and history they have amongst themselves.

Isadora, Izzy, is our main character that we come to know and love, or at least I did, over the course of the story. She is a bit of an outsider with this group, even though Kassidy is her tried-and-true best friend.

Izzy’s Mom is a teacher at the prestigious academy from which the teens just graduated. Izzy was able to attend due to scholarship, unlike all of her other friends, whose parents could more than afford the pricey tuition.

Because of this, and other experiences, Izzy provides a bit of a different insight into the events than the other teens.

There are some hints dropped in this one where I was like, could this be the answer? But honestly, I didn’t figure this one out until about 80% of the way through, and even then, I didn’t figure it all out. Some aspects I still needed the characters to fill in the blanks for me.

I thought this was a ton a fun. I feel like Muñoz plotted the murder mystery aspects so well, while also including some more heavy-hitting topics for consideration.

In my opinion. the story overall was really well balanced and it definitely kept me engaged throughout.

I definitely recommend this to any Reader who enjoys a YA Mystery/Thriller with well-developed characters, lush atmosphere and rich people behaving badly. Bonus points if you enjoy reading about private school students and drama.

Thank you so much to the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a ton of fun with this and cannot wait to read more from this author!!

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Review: The September House by Carissa Orlando

The September HouseThe September House by Carissa Orlando
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The September House, a debut novel from Carissa Orlando, is delightfully dark, entertaining and unique. Perfect for fans of Rachel Harrison and T. Kingfisher.

I was blown away and completely impressed by this!!!

Having received a copy of this month ago, by the time I got around to it, I had forgotten what it was about. Instead of re-reading the synopsis, I decided to jump straight in.

That was a great decision and I highly recommend going into this knowing as little as possible. Clear your mind and just dive in. You won’t be disappointed.

In fact, I am so committed in this belief that even I, the over-sharer that I am, am going to say as little as possible about this plot. I will say that it follows a woman, Margaret, and you get told the story fully from her perspective.

Margaret is living in her dream home. From the curb, it’s enviable, but things have slowly gotten out of hand. Mainly in September. Septembers are hell. Fed up with the living situation, Margaret’s husband, Hal, leaves.

Surprised by her Dad’s sudden absence, their daughter, Katherine, who has never visited the home her parents have lived in for the past four years, decides to pay a visit. She’s determined to figure out why her Dad left.

Katherine is suspicious as heck. Why would her Dad just leave, and why won’t her Mom provide her with any substantive information? What happened?

I absolutely love how Orlando chose to write this story. Being inside Margaret’s head as you learn the truth about the house and the things happening there was completely engaging. I was surprised how quickly it kicked off, dropping us right into the heart of it.

Additionally, I loved Margaret’s narrative voice. There was such nuance to it; it was funny, charming and completely heartbreaking at the same time, as all is revealed.

The introduction of Katherine into the house was an absolute delight as well.

I always find mother-daughter relationships interesting, but this one felt particularly well done. They are completely different people and at first, I thought, well, I can see why they really haven’t visited much in the past four years.

Katherine can seem a bit abrasive and honestly, at times, Margaret’s a bit doormat-ish for my tastes, but as the story evolves, and you learn their history, the true nature of their relationship was laid bare.

I was moved by it. Their relationship felt real to me. I became completely invested in them. It’s funny, even with all the horror elements, the truth behind Margaret and Katherine’s lives was the thing that almost broke me.

So yeah, the horror. Let’s discuss. This is a Horror novel, after all and boy, did Orlando impress me with her grasp of horror imagery and her ability to bring it to the page.

If this is Orlando’s debut, I cannot way to read her next book, and her next and her next, and so on and so forth, for what I know will be a long and successful career.

If you love haunted house stories, but are looking for something fresh, powerful and also slightly humorous, you absolutely, positively, definitely need to pick this up.

You might be wondering why I didn’t give it a full 5-star rating if I am swooning about it this much. My only slight nit-pick criticism is that somewhere, around the middle, there were times it felt slightly repetitive and dragged just a wee bit for me personally.

Nevertheless, a sensational debut. I am super stoked to read more from Carissa Orlando. I hope she stays in this lane, the deep, Cozy Horror vibe of this story is something I always enjoy and seek out.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This will remain in my mind for a long time to come!

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Review: The Girls from Hush Cabin by Marie Hoy-Kenny

The Girls from Hush CabinThe Girls from Hush Cabin by Marie Hoy-Kenny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The moment I heard about this YA Thriller involving a sleepaway camp and featuring a gorgeously ominous cover, I knew that I needed to read it ASAP.

A bonus for me was that The Girls from Hush Cabin is a debut for Marie Hoy-Kenny and we all know, I love checking out author debuts. It’s such an exciting moment!

In this story we meet a group of four teens, Holly, Zoe, Denise and Calista, who have been friends since they used to bunk together at Camp Bellwood Lake. Unfortunately, after the closure of the camp, the girls drifted apart a bit.

They’re brought together again unexpectedly after the tragic death of their beloved counselor, Violet. They all want to attend her services to pay their respects, so they decide it would be best to go together.

Since Zoe lives in the same town that Violet did, the other girls travel to Zoe’s to stay for the duration of events.

The girls have definitely changed over the years, but if there is one thing they can agree on it’s that Violet’s death is suspicious as heck.

They believe she could have been murdered and that her death could be related to the incident that caused the closing of the camp. The thing is, each one of the girls is keeping her own secrets about that particular summer and may know more about the incident than they’re letting on.

If someone was willing to kill Violet over it, could they all be in danger too?

The girls want to uncover the truth, whatever the risks. They feel like they owe it to Violet, even if it means exposing some hurtful truths of their own.

I had so much fun with this. I don’t care what anyone says, this is a dramatic, OTT page-turner. Hoy-Kenny delivered exactly what I wanted and expected.

I thought the story was well told. I liked the structure of it, starting with how we met each of the girls and then also, that we got all of their perspectives.

As mentioned, they each had their own secrets, memories and experiences with Violet and learning all that stuff helped to build out the substance of the story.

This is super dramatic. The girls make every scene a dramatic scene, but they’re teens who just lost a good friend. Only one of them had really ever experienced that kind of loss before, so this is a whole new experience for them.

I think for characters this age, it all made sense. Not only was there external drama, there was also a lot of drama just amongst the four girls.

Ultimately though, I liked how they worked together and ended up evolving through a lot of their disputes. Some of the things, I personally would have found hard to forgive, so good on them.

There were also some side characters bringing a lot of intrigue and dramatic flair as well. Violet’s Mom, Mrs. Williams, was a particular favorite of mine.

If you read this, you’ll easily understand why. All I could picture while reading her was Jennifer Coolidge, who I absolutely adore.

As this gets closer to the conclusion, things really amp up. This definitely went places I wasn’t expecting. My jaw dropped more than once; such a thrill ride.

Overall, I just think this is a fun time. It might not make my top 10 list, out of the 100s of books I read this year, but I still think it is a great freaking debut and I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Blackstone Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I think Marie Hoy-Kenny is a great addition to the YA Thriller space. I’m looking forward to her next release!

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Review: I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me by Jamison Shea

I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is MeI Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me by Jamison Shea
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me is a debut YA Horror novel from Jamison Shea.

This story explores the uber-competitive world of professional dance; specifically, ballet. The setting is Paris and our MC, Laure Mesny, is just finishing up her training and is beginning her professional career.

Even though she has consistently been top in her class, Laure is constantly overlooked and she feels like she can never stop proving herself.

As a Black girl in a vastly White girl profession, Laure doesn’t fit the mold of what society expects its ballerinas to look like. Because of this, she has to fight extra hard for every achievement. She’s used to it, but that doesn’t make it less emotionally draining.

Unbeknownst to her, Laure is about to find a way to change her position. She’s going to gain a power that will help her achieve everything she’s ever dreamed of.

Lured by a new friend, Laure ventures deep into the heart of the infamous Paris Catacombs and strikes a deal with a primordial river of blood.

((Cue Danse Macabre))

As she passes her bitter peers is status and fame, Laure keeps in mind the way they treated her before. She hasn’t forgotten and trust, she certainly hasn’t forgiven.

She’s not the only one with claws though and these dancers are willing to fight back. How far will Laure go, and what price is she willing to pay, to achieve ultimate power?

I liked this. I think as a debut this shows a lot of promise. The topics explored were compelling and the level of creativity was impressive.

I did find some areas of the narrative to be a little confusing, particularly in the second half and there were moments that slowed way down, which I didn’t find quite as interesting.

Overall, I do think this is a strong debut though. The descriptions were vivid and I enjoyed going along with Laure on her journey. She did undergo quite a transformation over the course of the story.

There is a romantic subplot that I could have done without as well. I would have preferred if it had remained focused on ambition and the relationship dynamics between the female characters, but that is 100%-personal taste.

I would be interested to see, if there is another book, where it goes from here. There’s definitely a lot of possibilities following this ending.

Thank you to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m looking forward to reading more from Jamison Shea!!

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Review: Their Vicious Games by Joelle Wellington

Their Vicious GamesTheir Vicious Games by Joelle Wellington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Applause for days. Wellington knocked this out of the park.

Let’s talk about it, shall we?

In Their Vicious Games we follow Adina Walker, a Black teen, who has just graduated from Edgewater Academy, a prestigious private high school in New England, attended by super-rich, mostly white, students.

Adina’s parents both work at Edgewater and she was able to attend via scholarships. Because of this, she’s always known she had to work twice as hard as the other students to keep herself above reproach. Her life under a microscope.

All her work seemed to be paying off when she received her acceptance letter to Yale. Unfortunately, another student with her sights on Yale wasn’t accepted and decides to take out her failure on Adina. A fight ensues, which gets blamed, of course, on Adina.

Just like that, Adina watches her future slip away. Her acceptance to Yale is revoked, along with her chance to enter any other Ivy. Adina is devastated, she’s furious, she’s shocked, she’s a lot of things, but a quitter isn’t one of them.

There’s one more chance. An extremely-mysterious competition called The Finish, hosted by the wealthiest of the Edgewater families, the Remingtons.

Twelve girls, hand-selected by the family, are brought together at the family estate to compete in three different challenges. These girls must show exceptional promise to even be picked, as the winner is granted entry into the Remington family, where all doors are opened to them.

Adina, catching the eye of the Remington’s youngest son, is granted an invitation. This is it. Her one chance to get her life back. Adina will stop at nothing to win, or at least that’s what she thinks going into the competition.

The truth is, Adina could have never imagined how high the stakes are, or how vicious the play would actually be. Look out Mean Girls, you’ve got nothing on Their Vicious Games!!

Y’all, I can’t even express to you how much I loved this. I am probably doing a terrible job at even trying to sum it up, because I’m just so excited about it.

I feel like Wellington absolutely nailed what she was trying to achieve here. I was hooked from the very first chapter, invested in Adina and her future like she was my own darned child. I loved how quickly this kicked off and I feel like it was really easy to get into it.

The whole set-up was fantastic. I loved how the girls actually got to live at the estate. They had no contact with the outside world while there. Literally, all rules, laws, and social conventions had gone right out the window.

Adina had a roommate, Saint, who ended up being one of the highlights of the story for me. I loved her character so much and the relationship that developed between Saint and Adina was hero/sidekick gold.

I also loved the actual competition elements. Wellington wasn’t pulling any punches with this one. It got brutal and I was there for every toe-curling minute of it.

I love how Wellington committed to the concept and took it all the way. She didn’t try to make the Reader comfortable. I respect that so much.

In my opinion, this was also really well-constructed just in its general story-telling quality. It was completely engaging, intense and the biting social commentary was chef’s kiss level good.

I loved it. I’m not sure what else to say.

If you enjoy brutal, cunning, manipulative characters hell bent on destroying one another via an organized competition, than this one is for you. Maybe you love Social Horror, or books that have something to say, than this one is also for you.

I had a blast with it and am so impressed with this as a debut novel. Well done, Joelle Wellington. I certainly hope this book gets all the praise it deserves!!!

Thank you so, so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. I have a strong feeling this is going to find its way onto my Best Books of the Year list.

I cannot wait to read more from this author!!!

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Review: The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei

The Deep SkyThe Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The Deep Sky is a recently-released SF-Thriller debut from Yume Kitasei. This story features a deep space mission where a lethal explosion causes the survivors to question the loyalty of their fellow crew members.

We follow Asuka, one of the crew and sole surviving witness to the explosion that killed three mission members and knocked their ship, The Phoenix, off course.

The set-up was interesting and scarily plausible. With Earth on the brink of an planet-altering environmental disaster, the countries of the world nominate individuals to compete for a spot on a humanity-saving mission.

As with any interstellar mission, space is limited. Asuka is selected as a contender to represent her mother’s native-Japan. Although not initially chosen, Asuka earns a spot as an alternate due to unforeseen circumstances.

Because of this, Asuka can’t help but feel like an outsider.

When the explosion happens, and Asuka is nearby and survives, she becomes a bit of a suspect in the eyes of some of the other crew members.

Asuka feels like she needs to get to the bottom of what caused the explosion. She can clear her name and find out what is actually going on with the rest of the crew. Thus, a mystery twist unfolds.

This was really good actually. I was a bit on the fence at first. The story wasn’t fully able to capture my attention until around the halfway mark. I was very pleased that Kitasei was eventually able to pull me in through the intensity of the storyline and completely pulled it off in the end.

The story is quite thoughtfully-written and the SF-elements provided plenty of interesting possibilities for our future. This would make a great one to discuss with friends, a book club, or other SF-readers in general.

I did feel like the idea of the mission, the way it was initiated was well-developed and thought out. I feel like when you are writing something futuristic like this, you can really go anywhere with it. Kitasei’s take was creative and frankly, believable in a frightening way.

The aspects of this that didn’t work as well for me were the story construction, especially in the beginning, and some of the character work.

The narrative jumps around from present to the past frequently and I felt like, for me, those transitions weren’t smooth enough. They were quite jarring and I kept feeling out of touch with what was happening because of it. Additionally, as far as the characters go, I had a hard time remembering anyone besides our main, Asuka.

None of them felt distinct to me like Asuka did. In spite of that though, I still appreciate what the author developed here. I think this story shows a lot of great creativity and thoughtfulness about the potential future of humanity.

Overall, I was impressed with this as a debut story. It’s complex, multifaceted and thought-provoking. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I would definitely recommend the audio version. The narration fit the story very well.

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Review: At the End of Every Day by Arianna Reiche

At the End of Every DayAt the End of Every Day by Arianna Reiche
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, I was warned. I should have listened.

After reading a couple not so promising reviews for this book, I was going to skip it. There are so many new releases crowding up shelves right now, a Reader has to be selective.

Ultimately, curiosity got to me. I had to know, what was it people weren’t connecting with. I had to find out for myself.

Indeed, now I know. Normally, I would start a review by giving you a brief synopsis of the overall story. I know when I read reviews, I look for certain buzzwords and scenarios that sound like the story could be a good fit for me.

Unfortunately, in this case, I don’t think I could give you even a 20-word description of what this book is actually about. In fact, I can’t even recall what the main character’s name is and I finished this about 2-hours ago.

It does follow a girl, who wears gloves all the time, who works at a theme park that is clearly, though unnamed, supposed to represent Disneyland.

An actress died on a park ride and I think I was supposed to care about that, it was mentioned numerous times, but I didn’t. I wasn’t given enough coherent info to care.

At the end of the day, for me, this book felt like it had no point. If there was a plot buried deep within here somewhere, I never stumbled across it. There were a lot of words, but none of them seemed to make sense in the order in which they were presented.

I don’t even know who to recommend this to. Maybe, based on the vibes, if you are one of the few people who enjoyed The Tenth Girl, you might enjoy this. Also, perhaps if you enjoyed the HBO-series, Westworld, you might like this.

That’s a stretch though. I never actually watched Westworld, besides the first episode I couldn’t make it through, so take this comparison with a grain of salt.

I would actually be interested in hearing this author talk about the intent and ideas behind this story. While it wouldn’t be likely to change my opinion on it, I would definitely be interested in hearing the inspiration, and honestly, the point.

With this being said, just because this book didn’t work for me, if you think it sounds interesting, you should absolutely give it a go.

I would never want my opinion to discourage anyone from picking a book up. After all, it’s just my opinion, and what the heck do I know anyway?

Thank you to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me a copy to read and review.

Even though this didn’t work for me, I wish the author the best luck with its release!

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Review: She Started It by Sian Gilbert

She Started ItShe Started It by Sian Gilbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

If one of your closest friends asked you to be her bridesmaid and then extended an invitation to an all-expenses paid trip to the Bahamas for the Hen Party, you would accept, right?

What if someone you were only slightly close friends with, but had grown apart over the years, did the same? You might accept, but think it was odd they were asking you, right?

Now what if someone who you weren’t close with and may not have always been kind to asked? Would you still say yes?

Personally, I would say, hell yes in the first instance, a kind, I’ll pass, for the second instance, and hide under a rock from the third, because that seems entirely off to me.

For Annabel, Esther, Tanya and Chloe, best friends since childhood, instance three becomes their reality when they are invited by Poppy Greer to attend her extravagant Hen Party in paradise.

The women are taken aback. They weren’t that close with Poppy. None of them have seen her in years, but it is a free trip to the Bahamas. They may not have been best friends with her before, but if she wants to take them on lavish vacations, they could always change that, right?

I mean, honestly, what’s the worst than could happen?

Traveling to the private island, the group are in good spirits. They’re meeting their hostess there and the trip is off to a jubilant start. They’re anxious to discover what Poppy is like after all these years. They couldn’t even find a picture of her on her socials.

Upon reaching the island they find a new and approved Poppy. She’s not the mousy-artist they remember, but a confident, beautiful woman. This could get interesting.

There’s no doubt that She Started It is a propulsive read. I’m always here for the drama and what better setting than a remote island in the Caribbean.

We get everyone’s perspective in this, including a past perspective via Poppy’s diary entries. There were times I felt it was hard to distinguish between the various women’s perspectives; they’re all quite similar, but I did start to get used to it as the story progressed.

Additionally, I could have done with a bit more intrigue. It all seemed fairly obvious quite quickly what was going on and I wish that initial suspense could have been drawn out longer.

With this being said, those are small nit-picky things and may not bother other Readers in the slightest. At the end of the day, this is an entertaining read and strong debut.

My recommendation: Grab your popcorn, grab a cocktail, sit back, relax and enjoy the shit-show!

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