Mini Review Monday #60

I’m sharing another instalment of my Mini Review Mondays, the most recent of which was a couple of weeks ago. 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 All’s Well by Mona Awad. Thank you so much to Simon and Schuster UK for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Miranda Fitch’s life is a waking nightmare. The accident that ended her burgeoning acting career left her with excruciating, chronic back pain, a failed marriage, and a deepening dependence on painkillers. And now she’s on the verge of losing her job as a college theater director. Determined to put on Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, the play that promised, and cost, her everything, she faces a mutinous cast hellbent on staging Macbeth instead. Miranda sees her chance at redemption slip through her fingers.

That’s when she meets three strange benefactors who have an eerie knowledge of Miranda’s past and a tantalizing promise for her future: one where the show goes on, her rebellious students get what’s coming to them, and the invisible, doubted pain that’s kept her from the spotlight is made known.

Publication Date: 3rd February

TW: violence, abuse, ableism, suicide ideation, substance abuse, light gore, alcoholism, descriptions of chronic pain, medical trauma and panic attacks/disorders

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

All’s Well was a wonderfully weird book that completely captured me. It may have been my first Awad book, but I know I will pick up more of her work. 

I was initially drawn to that intriguing promise, blending some dark academia with a supernatural twist and a psychological hellride. Awad delivers all of this and so much more. This is a very, very clever book that plays with those little doubts in your head. The entire headspace of Miranda is a darkly comic, bleak and horrifically suffocating space to inhabit. Awad ensures that you are just as caught up in her misery and struggles, leading to a richly nuanced and painfully honest depiction of chronic pain. You feel as bogged down as Miranda in everything, so when a glimpse of hope appears, you follow the rabbit all the way down.

I really loved the way Awad explored the traditional temptation narrative. The meta touch of the play within a play felt inspired, as did all of the Macbeth references due to it being the choice preferred by the students. I can only describe the plot as something akin to a mixture of Macbeth and Doctor Faustus, with its hellish landscape and superbly executed touches of horror. There’s also threads of magic and something more beneath the surface. Awad leaves everything through a foggy haze, with plenty of ambiguity and things left unsaid. Narratively, this is a bizarre and confusing book that offers itself up to the reader to untangle and interpret as they wish. I love that ability to go back through and just tear through the story, adding together your own inferences and implications. It makes the story that much richer and tempting to sink your teeth into.

All’s Well was one hell of a wild ride, with its trippy, dark aesthetic probing the realities of living with a chronic condition and a treacherous tale of temptation.

Next up, I’d like to talk about Rock Paper Killers by Alexia Mason. Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK Children’s for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The rock she fell from… 
The paper she clutched…
The killers she thought were friends…

When five Dublin teenagers arrive at a rural coastal college to cram for their final exams, their most pressing concern is the prospect of a month with no partying.

Little do they know that one of them will never make it back home…

A page-turning and gripping thriller with a shocking twist, Rock Paper Killers is perfect for fans of Riverdale, One of Us is Lying and We Were Liars.

Publication Date: 17th February

TW: murder, blood, death violence, parental death, reference to child death, bullying, homophobia

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

Rock Paper Killers is a bold, brash new addition to the YA murder mystery genre.

That synopsis really doesn’t give anything away, but it still had enough for me to desperately want more. I mean, an isolated setting, some secrets and a touch of murder and you’ve got me hooked. 

Mason wastes no time in setting the scene with an intriguing and mysterious opening. It’s dramatic, tense and suspenseful. From there, she keeps up this shadowy, secretive atmosphere with some interesting time jumps. These little flashforwards work to build the suspense and drop some clues into the wider narrative. Similarly, she oftens switches who the narrator is focusing on, to keep you on your toes and throw you slightly off kilter. Everyone here has hidden motivations and things they’re trying to keep buried, so of course, it will all come to the surface in an explosive fashion. This only pays off if you’re invested in the characters, which Mason succeeds in doing. They’re well-sketched, three-dimensional people who you find yourself rooting for. 

I spent much of the book trying to decide between two characters for the identity of the victim. This is a book that is essentially a masterclass in manipulation. The entire time, you are not quite sure who to believe and Mason keeps throwing you off with diversions and extra details. All of this builds such a complex and interesting storyline, with plenty of good twists and turns in store. For me, this made it such a quick, pacy and thoroughly readable story. It is no exaggeration to say I sped through it in practically one sitting. The pacing was so well-executed and made the pages just fly by. 

Rock Paper Killers is a tricksy book that keeps you second guessing everyone, even yourself.

Finally, I’d like to delve into The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley. Thank you to Harper Fiction for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Welcome to No.12 rue des Amants

A beautiful old apartment block, far from the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower and the bustling banks of the Seine.

Where nothing goes unseen, and everyone has a story to unlock.

The watchful concierge
The scorned lover
The prying journalist
The naive student
The unwanted guest

There was a murder here last night.
A mystery lies behind the door of apartment three.

Who holds the key?

Publication Date: 3rd March

TW: violence, blood, murder, kidnapping, death, physical abuse, sexual abuse, obsession, homophobia

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

Lucy Foley is becoming one of those authors who I just have to pick up their new books. This is another atmospheric, stylish and smart thriller that I literally tore through. 

Foley is exceptional at creating that breakneck tension and pacing that keeps you hooked until the very end. Instantly, you are thrust into that tension and atmosphere. The pacing is nothing short of excellent, constantly keeping you moving and guessing as more pieces of the puzzle are unveiled. The entire plot really reminded me of a classic whodunnit and had shades of Knives Out running through the book. It just had that classic, slick feel to it that made it almost cinematic. So many of the scenes just completely catch you by surprise and of course, are packed with shocking twists and turns lurking. All of this meant that I raced through this book. 

I would recommend going into this book knowing absolutely as little as possible. Trust me, it just adds so much more to the book if you do not know what is about to unfold. It’s very similar to Foley’s previous works in that sense and that trademark mastery of tension and atmosphere is felt here once more. She also slips back into the multiple narrative strands, all of which undermine and undercut each other. This firmly places the reader in the role of detective, as you get to see a lot of glimpses into the truth way before the rest of the characters. For me, this makes for a lot more of an immersive reading experience and makes it that much more enjoyable as you try and work out the secrets. 

The Paris Apartment is another conniving gem from Lucy Foley, packed full of thrilling twists and turns. If she isn’t already on your must-buy list, this book will place her there.

5 thoughts on “Mini Review Monday #60

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