February 2021 Mini Reviews

Luster by Raven Leilani
Published: 21st January 2021 by Picador
I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my review.

Leilani's debut novel is one of the most highly anticipated of 2021, so I was very excited to get into it. While I did enjoy Luster overall, I think I may have failed to connect to the writing style as much as many others seem to have, or maybe it was just less relatable for me, as I didn't really find the book to be funny. I thought it was brutally relatable, but I never laughed out loud. That being said, I appreciated how brutally real and messy the whole book felt - not a glamourised portrayal of an open relationship at all, which is an easy trap to fall into. I found the interactions between Rebecca and Edie very interesting, with their familiarity being more plausible and realistic than you might initially assume. In general, the curiosity of all the characters in their own ways is really important to the story. However, the dynamic changes and becomes quite extreme in the sharp change from distance to closeness and I felt this helped the book to pick itself back up in the second half.
4 stars

Tales From the Hinterland by Melissa Albert
Published: 14th January 2021 by Penguin Random House 
I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my review.

I actually didn't realise this was part of The Hazel Wood series written by Albert, or even set in the same world, but I saw they were separate fairy tales, so I decided to read them! Some of the stories definitely stood out to me more than others, so I've decided to highlight those rather than talking about every individual one.
Hansa the Traveller - I really enjoyed the concept of this story, with the daughter taking on the protective role over her mother and the personification of the moon was nice too.
The Clockwork Bride - this one was by far my favourite; I loved it! It really reminded me of The Infernal Devices series, very creepy in the best way.
The House Under the Stairwell - I really liked this one, and not just because the main character is also called Isobel! This story flowed particularly well.
3.5 stars

Rescue Me by Sarra Manning
Published: 21st January 2021 by Hodder & Stoughton
I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my review.

I feel like this book already holds a bit of a soft spot in my heart - I can definitely see myself returning to it! Part of that does come from the North London setting, which was especially nice to be reading about home while I'm away at uni. However, I do have to say this book was possibly the worst thing to read while my puppy fever is currently at its highest! Going into this, I already suspected I would be a big fan of Rescue Me because I absolutely adored Manning's YA novel London Belongs to Us, and I was right. One thing I really liked in particular was the lack of focus on appearances - it was so refreshing not to have to constantly endure descriptions of outfits and how the characters looked being focal points of the story. Margot was mentioned as being a size 16 once and wasn't constantly brought up after. Also, the romance in this was real and not perfect, but I was rooting for them the whole time. A great little gem of a book.
4.5 stars

Published: 12th January 2017 by Penguin Random House
I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my review.

I have such a backlog of galleys that I want to get to, but I feel such pressure to read all the new releases first! This was one that had interested me for a while but unfortunately it fell just a bit flat in the end. At times this was quite difficult to read because of the nature of Flora's memories (or lack of); I found it jarring to never really know what was true and what wasn't. Most of the time while reading I could guess what was going to happen next but I have to say I was genuinely surprised by some of the twists at the end which was impressive. The pacing of the story was mostly good, but I do think too much time was spent abroad and more of a buildup could have been created towards her time after. I did initially think that the whole premise revolving around Flora holding onto a kiss with a boy was a bit childish, but Barr did exceed my expectations with the whole overall story.
3.5 stars

Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic
Published: 28th January 2021 by Bloomsbury
I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my review.

I have to admit, as much as I was intrigued by the premise of Asylum Road, I did also partially request a galley of this because of Sudjic's surname sounding Eastern-European and us having that in common! I feel like I definitely don't see enough Balkans getting published, or at least not with any huge publicity, so I wanted to support by reading. It was interesting to read from Anya's perspective, especially in how unsure she was in every aspect of her life. This was particularly shown in relation to her relationship with Luke and how dependent she is on him. It did feel like being pulled along, bearing witness to her life without any assertiveness from her. However, her passivity didn't annoy me like I thought it might, because her thoughts and feelings were portrayed so realistically. I obviously enjoyed the portion set in Croatia, because it was nice to recognise names of places. I also really liked the ending and its ambiguity - it felt very fitting with Anya's characterisation and the novel as a whole.
4 stars


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