It’s Been a While… (+ Some Short Reviews)

I haven’t posted on this blog for… quite a long time now. I’ve spent the last year studying for a Masters’ in Publishing Studies — so it’s been a hectic twelve months! However, I finally submitted my dissertation in September, and graduated this week, so I’m hoping to use some of my free time to start blogging again.

I’ve managed to read a fair few books over summer due to lockdown — and that, coupled with the fact I am extremely rusty, means I’ve decided to start off with a few mini-reviews of some of those books, rather than jumping straight in with full reviews!

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson



Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was the most enjoyable out of the several YA mystery/thriller titles that I binge-read over the space of a month earlier this year. The story was very engaging, and I loved how extra details in Pip’s investigation were presented with notes, interviews and various other appendices. I’m a big fan of this kind of content in YA titles, as I think it really improves the readability. AGGGTM also had a great cast of characters, which really added to how enjoyable it was overall.




Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall


I am an absolute sucker for the fake dating trope, so as soon as I read the synopsis for this one, I knew I’d be picking it up.

Boyfriend Material was an absolute joy to read. Hall’s writing elicited as many laughs as it did feels, and I could barely put it down from the second I started reading. The characters were also fantastic. Every character in this book was so well-written that they were almost tangible — with Hall making sure each character had their own little quirks and qualities that made them, them.

I liked this book a lot, and am really looking forward to picking up more titles by Alexis Hall in the future.



Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover


Colleen Hoover titles tend to be very hit-or-miss for me — albeit, mostly hit. However, after being utterly engrossed by Verity late last year, Heart Bones failed to inspire much of the same interest. In fact, if it hadn’t been such a short read, I likely wouldn’t have finished it.

Generally, Hoover writes very compelling characters with heart-wrenching back stories, but, although Beyah’s childhood was awful, I really failed to connect much with her, or any of the other characters, which left this story lacking.

It felt like something was missing in Heart Bones — almost as if Hoover was following her usual romance novel formula, but without any of her usual substance. I hope her next release isn’t quite so disappointing.


The Last Secret You’ll Ever Keep by Laurie Faria Stolarz


This was one of those books that, a few chapters in, I felt like I was going to love. Unfortunately, it ended up falling short of my expectations.

The most enjoyable aspect, for me, was the fact that Terra was an unreliable narrator, as it added to the tension in the story and made it difficult to predict the ending. However, the ending itself felt quite rushed, and I found it particularly difficult to grasp the motivations of certain characters, which left the story feeling somewhat lacking. Furthermore, although this title had an interesting enough plot to keep me turning pages — overall, the book fell pretty flat. I found the writing to be awkward in a lot of places, with attempts at metaphors and similes that felt quite try-hard, which really impacted my reading experience.

I really wish I could have liked this one more. Maybe with some more polish, it would be a better read. However, as it stands, it just wasn’t the book I hoped it would be.


(Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the free review copy.) 


The Night Swim by Megan Goldin


I’d seen a few people posted positive reviews of this on Goodreads recently, and it had been a few months since I’d picked up a good thriller, so when I saw this was on Kindle Unlimited, I downloaded it and started it immediately.

However, although I felt the subjects dealt with in The Night Swim were extremely relevant and important, the novel as a whole fell pretty flat for me. I really felt for the characters in the title, but something about Megan Goldin’s writing style just didn’t work for me, and that made the experience of reading The Night Swim significantly less enjoyable.

I think a lot of people will enjoy this one — but it just wasn’t for me.



The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang


The Poppy War is one of the best fantasy titles I’ve read in recent years. Kuang has intertwined Chinese history and culture with fantasy to craft a compelling – and often, devastating – story.

One thing that really struck me when reading The Poppy War was that, although the content is very harrowing, Kuang’s writing style was always extremely accessible, meaning I never got lost in the details, and found it really hard to put down after I’d started reading, often staying up a lot later than I should have to read the next chapter!

I have since read the sequel, The Dragon Republic, and am currently reading the finale, The Burning God – and although I’m looking forward to seeing where Kuang takes her characters, I am absolutely not ready to be finished with this incredible series.

I have recommended this title to so many people since finishing it, and I’ll continue to recommend it for as long as people will listen.

(However – please Google the list of trigger warnings as there is a lot of upsetting, triggering and extremely graphic content in this series!!)




Anyway, it’s good to be back — and to have some time to actually get some reading and reviewing done again! Maybe I can start working through my embarrassingly big TBR now… Or just buy even more books instead (which is far more likely).


What have you read lately?

— Shaunna x


29 year old book blogger from Scotland. Probably nervous.

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