Mini Review Monday #55

I’m sharing another instalment of my Mini Review Mondays, the most recent of which was last week. In case you haven’t seen any of my previous posts, I do ‘mini’ reviews of books that I’ve previously read and am now ready to share my full thoughts about.

First up, I’d like to talk about The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling. Thank you so much to Kate Keehan at Hodderscape for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Death drew them together. Life could tear them apart.

Elise is cursed. Every time she touches someone, she experiences how they will die. And when she predicts, but is unable to prevent, her brother’s death, Elise is desperate to escape her terrible gift.

Then she meets Claire, a vampire tasked with helping Elise master her rare powers – and recruiting her to the Veil, a secret organisation determined to protect the paranormal world at all cost.

At first, Elise is reluctant to work with a vampire, but when she predicts a teacher’s imminent murder, she’s determined to stop the violent death.

As Elise and Claire grow closer, Elise begins to wonder – can she really trust someone tasked with securing her loyalty? Someone who could so easily kill her? Someone who might hold the key to unravelling her brother’s mysterious death?

Publication Date: 9th December

TW: death, grief, drowning, murder, mind control

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

I mean, Sterling had me at sapphic vampires.

When you add into that genuinely interesting supernatural powers and a thrilling murder mystery packed full of excellent twists and turns, well you have a smash hit on your hands.

I love the opening, it felt so literary and unexpected. Sterling cleverly weaves in teenage angst with vampirism, along with plenty of hints of danger and deceit. Instantly, it’s so intriguing and leaving you wanting to know more. It also effectively sets up interplay with main characters and their mission immediately. From there on, the story is wonderfully imaginative and driven. It’s also very character focused, which I absolutely adored. Strongly written, three-dimensional characters are a surefire way to make me fall in love with a book. Here both Elise and Claire stole my heart with their distinctive, caring and layered narrative voices. 

Yet again, Sterling provides a superb murder mystery packed full of twists and turns. I really enjoy the rapid pace and constant tension that fills every page. These are devious twists as well that really pull at your heartstrings. For me, they were also genuinely shocking. I never quite knew where the story would go next and just knuckled down for the ride. Good mysteries should be surprising and stimulating at every turn and Sterling definitely pulls that off here.

For me, one of the best elements of the book was the use of the supernatural. In particular, I loved the death oracle power and how it was explored. This was such a fascinating and tragic concept that is fully utilised and the nuances of which are really dug into. The sense of isolation and constant misery associated with the power really characterises Elise’s journey as she starts to control her powers and find a way to live with them. 

The Coldest Touch is a stellar hybrid of the supernatural and murder mystery genres, providing a refreshing, original and wonderful story. 

Next up, I’d like to talk about Dead Lucky by Andreina Cordani. Thank you to Atom Books for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Lucky to be rich. Lucky to be famous. Lucky to be alive.

Xav, Ed, Leni, Maxine.

They are the influencers, the lucky ones. Gifted, gilded people who have everything – fame, respect, adulation, more freebies than they can ever unbox. Their lives, loves and feuds are shared with millions of fans on the streaming platform PlayMii, and they are living the dream.

But it’s broken Ed’s heart.

It’s crushing Maxine.

It’s destroying Leni’s friendships.

And it’s gone to Xav’s head.

Then, a masked figure walks into Xav’s apartment and murders him on camera.

As the world reels with shock, Maxine discovers Xav was sitting on a file of secrets about his fellow creators – career-destroying secrets that they’d do anything to keep hidden. And if she doesn’t find the file, she could be next . . .

Publication Date: 13th January 2022

TW: death, violence, murder, bullying, arson, abuse, homophobia

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

Dead Lucky is one of those books that you can’t tear yourself away from. Cordani holds you in her iron grip and refuses to let you go.

As I read the first page, I was hooked instantly. Even just the first sentence was impactful and left me wanting more. It was so pulse-pounding and gripping. You really felt as though you were on that deadly livestream. It’s that slow realisation that something is very, very wrong. From then on, that uneasy sense of distrust never goes away. I found myself doubting every single character that appeared and wanting to discover their true motivations. All this made for a genuinely captivating story that I read in almost one sitting. 

Cordani really delves into the dark side of Internet fame in this book. The toxicity that permeates a lot of online fandoms is exhibited here, particularly with pranks that escalate. There’s a constant sense of danger and being watched at all times. In that way, there’s a lot to play with in terms of perception and reputation. However Cordani also powerfully emphasises the joy and passion communities can form, with it being like a found family feel. 

This is an excellent murder mystery. I really enjoyed the pacing and constant suspense Cordani kept throwing at us. In particular, the twists are really well done. Cordani deliberately leads you down one path, only to pull the floor out from under your feet. Cleverly, she utilises the two distinctive narrative voices in order to fully achieve that sense of paranoia and buried secrets. It’s no surprise that these voices fascinated me and formed some really well-developed, nuanced characters. No one here is perfect, fractured by their insecurities and actions in the past. 

Dead Lucky is a deep dive into modern fame and the cost of celebrity, told through a superb narrative lens and containing a thrilling mystery.

Finally, I’d like to delve into Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan. Thank you to Harper Voyager UK for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the powerful Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when her magic flares and her existence is discovered, Xingyin is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to train in the Crown Prince’s service, learning to master archery and magic, despite the passion which flames between her and the emperor’s son.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies, across the earth and skies.

But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream -striking a dangerous bargain, where she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Publication Date: 20th January 2022

TW: attempted sexual assault, blood, death, violence

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

Daughter of the Moon Goddess is a stunning book in every way. 

I don’t think I can exaggerate just how gorgeous the writing in this book is. It is genuinely delectable and stunning in every possible way. The word choice and structure was just wonderful, with so much layered meaning and consideration behind it. I think I spent a while pouring over every page, just appreciating every literary detail. 

I felt so immersed and captivated by Tan’s meticulously woven world. This has spectacular worldbuilding and a gripping plot that will keep you glued to the pages. For me, great worldbuilding is rich and detailed, allowing you to vividly imagine these new worlds and mythologies. Here, I feel like this is achieved and so much more. In addition to this, the character work is superb. These deftly drawn characters fill your imagination. In particular, Xingyin grows so much over the course of the book, coming into her own strength and power. This is fundamentally a book about her growth and skills, cementing her legacy and relationships along the way. 

Also, the plot is so expansive and all-consuming. You feel lost within the pages as you join Xingyin’s journey. This is a story about love, family and political power. In that way, this combines elements of adventure stories, fantasy and a gorgeous romance thread that sits at the heart of the book. I loved the various twists and turns, all of which were well-executed. All of this combined made for a gripping plot and I read most of the book in one sitting. I was so entranced by the sheer beauty and power that time seemed to stop around me. 

Daughter of the Moon Goddess is a jam-packed book, full to the brim with beauty, wonder and mystery. It’s the type of book you cannot let slip past you. 

4 thoughts on “Mini Review Monday #55

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