ARC REVIEW: As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson

First of all, the biggest thank you in the world to Electric Monkey for the eARC. Words cannot express how excited I was when my request got accepted, and how excited I was while reading it, and how excited I was when reviewing it. So… thank you!

As Good As Dead follows Pip, Little Kilton’s resident teenage detective-slash-genius, as her life descends into chaos once again following the events of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and Good Girl, Bad Blood.

This time, though, instead of the focus of her investigation being on her friends, neighbours and acquaintances, Pip’s latest case is all about her, and it’s proving to be much darker and much more dangerous than anyone could have imagined.

It’s difficult to put into words just how much I adored this book. I loved books one and two and have been recommending them constantly since they came out, but this book is in a whole new league. It’s so, so much darker than I expected it to be and so terrifyingly clever that it was completely impossible to put down.

Pip’s character is fascinating as ever, but she’s so different now than the cheerful wannabe-detective that she was in the first book that exploring her character is even more gripping. Over the course of the series, she’s become stressed, scared and much less strait-laced, as expected from someone with her track record of getting tied up in murder investigations, but she’s still somehow so recognisable that it really felt like I went through the whole dark, terrifying journey right alongside her. After so many books and so much time getting to know them, I was just as captivated by the growth of Ravi’s character, Pip’s friends and fellow victims, and even the villains of the story as well.

I’ve mentioned how clever this book is, but it’s so important to highlight just how scarily intelligent Holly Jackson must be to write this. It’s a long book at 570 pages, but every single page tied together perfectly and all details seemed well-researched and unnervingly believable. Every time I thought I was ahead of the plot twists, I found myself being tricked and pulled into a different story entirely, until I just gave up guessing in an attempt to get through the story even quicker.

I can quite honestly say that this is one of the best thrillers I have ever read, and absolutely the most gripping book I’ve read this year. It’s fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat scary, clever, dark and somehow sprinkled with comedy at the same time. I haven’t been this captivated by a story in such a long time and am certain that I will read absolutely anything that Holly Jackson comes out with next.

Basically, please please please pick up this series! 1) because I need someone to talk to about it!!! and 2) because you absolutely 100% will not regret it.

Rating: 5/5

ARC REVIEW: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

First of all, a huge thank you to Hodder for the eARC of this beautiful book, and HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY to Elizabeth Lim! I’ve become so obsessed with Spin the Dawn in the last few months that I was desperate to get my hands on a copy of this, and I’m so glad I got the chance to read and review.

Six Crimson Cranes tells the story of the magical princess Shiori as she finds herself thrown out of her palace home on discovering that her stepmother isn’t who she says she is. In a beautiful YA fantasy take on the classic tale ‘The Six Swans,’ Shiori is cursed and forced to live as a voiceless, unknown peasant girl, whilst her six brothers suffer their own kind of curse by being turned into cranes, unable to return home.

As Shiori works to break her curse, she embarks on a dangerous adventure that takes her into the North, where she encounters danger in so many forms that it’s hard to keep track. From cruel royals to magical creatures, Shiori must face numerous challenges as she fights to find her way home and protect her brothers, and the kingdom, from the dangers that they suddenly face.

As I’ve come to expect from Elizabeth Lim’s books in the past few months, Six Crimson Cranes is a beautifully written, magical book. The setting is described in perfect detail and the magic throughout, both in Shiori and in some of the creatures that she encounters, is so believable that it’s really easy to get sucked into their world and find yourself adventuring right alongside Shiori.

Shiori is a fascinating protagonist and her growth throughout the story is really well done. She begins as an entitled, spoiled princess, but as she faces struggle after struggle, the change in her is evident. Character growth is so important to this story and it was amazing to be able to root for Shiori as she fought to become a better person. Other characters that I adored were Takkan (obviously), Megari, Sheryu and, most surprisingly, Kiki, Shiori’s paper bird companion who I was rooting for just as much as Shiori.

I loved this book so much and it’s definitely solidified Elizabeth Lim’s position as one of my new favourite authors. Her writing has a magical quality that I’ve found to be quite rare, and Six Crimson Cranes is a story so beautifully told that I’m already desperately awaiting its sequel.

Rating: 5/5

BLOG TOUR STOP: THE ISLAND HOME by Libby Page

First of all, a HUGE thank you to Orion for gifting me a beautiful copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and a spot on this blog tour! If you want to hear more about this wonderful book, I fully recommend checking out the rest of the tour 🙂

The Island Home follows two women, Alice and Lorna, as they are thrown together during Lorna’s visit to her childhood home.

Alice, a yoga instructor and farm-owner on the Isle of Kip, has loved island life since the day she first moved, and very voluntarily got wrapped up in its sense of community and the comfort of knowing that all of her neighbours are there to support her. Lorna, meanwhile, is visiting from London out of obligation and wishes nothing more than to get in and out of Kip, the island she grew up on, full of former neighbours and lost family, as soon as possible.

When Lorna reaches the Isle, though, she starts to remember the good as well as the bad, and decides to use the time to make amends with her brother (Alice’s husband) and some old friends that she left behind. What follows is a moving, heart-warming story about community, belonging and friendship.

The majority of books I read have very dark content and themes, so it was so refreshing to get completely sucked into such a moving, heart-warming book. It wasn’t always happy and some quite difficult themes were explored, but Libby Page’s writing is so consistently positive and uplifting that, despite some of the tougher content, the book had an overall really heart-warming and comforting tone. So many characters were just so kind and good that it was hard not to feel like I was part of their lovely community and feel supported as Alice and Lorna did when things got slightly tough.

Alice and Lorna had fairly similar voices, making it difficult at times to differentiate between the two, but this also made it easy to love and root for both of them on their individual journeys. At the beginning, Alice is a welcoming and kind character who embodies community spirit wholly in a way that I rarely read, whilst Lorna is a strong, independent, self-reliant woman who shows just what you can be capable of alone. As the story went on, however, it was lovely to read about how their mindsets started to become more similar and watch as they formed a really sweet bond.

This book is the definition of summer reading and would be so perfect as both a beach read and a book to cheer you up on a miserable day. I certainly found myself getting absorbed in the lifestyle of the characters on the Isle of Kip, and would absolutely recommend you do the same.

Rating: 4/5

The Island Home published in HB and ebook on 24th June, by Orion.