There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins | 1 Minute Reviews

My past experience with Stephanie Perkins has been solid, having fully enjoyed her third romance YA Isla and the Happily Ever After for its sweet romance and great autism representation, so I was really intrigued when My Kinda Books announced her new horror novel There’s Someone Inside Your House.

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When I say it’s a horror novel, what I mean is this is a novel version of cheesy old slasher movies. You know what I mean – the couple kissing in the car hear something weird outside, someone in a cornfield thinks they are being followed. As someone who hit their teenage years when Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, I found this positively nostalgic.

Makani Young arrives in Nebraska from Hawaii, leaving behind a mysterious past along with her original surname, somewhat baffled by the lack of sea. She made some new friends – Alex and Darby (trans boy rep, whoo!) – and after a summer kissing fling with aloof, strangely beautiful Ollie, she feels like she is starting to settle in.

That is until someone starts murdering all the teenagers. Who is the one killing all her peers in increasingly gruesome ways? Who will be next? Is her new boyfriend the one to blame?

What I admire most ardently about Perkins’ writing is her ability to make you care intently for characters within one page, people who she is ultimately about to bump off in a few more. Several of them crop up at various points in the novel, and it is only when you get to their point of view chapter that you suddenly care deeply for them. Then someone murders them really, really brutally. This cycle pops up quite a few times, meaning you know when you get to a non-Makani pov chapter that they are about to die – I really enjoyed this in the end as I started worrying about who was cropping up.

Alongside this is Makani’s blossoming romance with strange kid Ollie, which occupies a larger part of the narrative than you’d expect necessarily in a horror but which makes sense for Perkins, given romance is her bread and butter. It is great, and a little steamy.

There’s Someone Inside Your House is a very fun, gruesome little novel, best read in a couple of sittings to enjoy the tension hiking up as everyone scrambles to catch the killer before they kill more kids. Tremendously fun stuff.

Interested? Get it here.

What to read next:

Thank you to My Kinda Books for sharing this copy with me at YALC.

Shattered Minds by Laura Lam | 1 Minute Reviews

This summer, my love affair with Laura Lam began. I first came across her essay in Nasty Women, then discovered a proof of Shattered Minds in my bookmail. Realising it was somewhat of a sequel to False Hearts, I decided to go back and read that first – I recommend you do the same too.

Picking up around a year after the events of False Hearts, Shattered Minds follows ex-Sudice employee and former neuroscientist Carina, a woman destroyed by the company she worked for. Carina is thirsty for murder, desperate to kill people, a desire born of tinkering in her brain which she can only temper with an addiction to Zeal.

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Nearing the end of her life, Carina receives a vision of a dead girl, an image planted by an old colleague determined to expose Sudice’s secrets, beginning a chase across San Francisco as Carina realises she has to bring down Sudice before they can get her first.

Carina is marketed as a female Dexter, a serial killer with a conscience who battles their most primal urges to remain as much as a good person (within their own rule systems) as they can. The parallels are certainly there, though Carina always seemed more tragic and desperate to hide or control this side of her, hence her fall into the world of Zeal.

The novel is told through multi-points of view, split between Carina, her former boss and antagonist Roz and lovely Dax, part of the underground hacker group that Carina seeks help from. I have more than a soft spot for Dax, torn between the loss of their sister and a need to do the right thing, to expose those who harm.

I loved this book just as much as False Hearts, which I was positively screaming about. Lam’s prose, pacing and characterisation are always so on point.

Shattered Minds is not necessarily a direct sequel to False Hearts, though a number of characters do spill over into this book. This reminds me of Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer series or even Becky Albertalli’s novels – connected books all set within a singular universe that have a logical order to read them in, but wouldn’t fall apart if you hadn’t read any previous books. I’m hoping that we will get to see more novels set in the Pacifica universe, but in the mean time I’m going to dive into Lam’s much lauded Micah Gray series.

Shattered Minds is a fast paced, cyber-punk novel set in future utopian San Francisco, following the murky underbelly of the city, advanced neuroscience and plug-in drugs. If you’re looking for smart, addictive speculative fiction then I strongly recommend you give Laura Lam your hard earned money.

Interested? Get it here in Hardback or preorder the paperback, out in 2018.

What to read next:

Thank you kindly to Pan Macmillan for sending through a proof for me to read.

Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart | 1 Minute Reviews

At the Young Adult Literature Conference (YALC) this year, Hot Key Books pulled off a stunt where a number of people swanned around in identical wigs and sunglasses passing out samplers for Genuine Fraud. I was immediately intrigued by this story of dual identities.

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Hot off the heel of finishing We Were Liars, I was determined to spend some quality time with Genuine Fraud. The day of my PIP assessment, I decided that I should spend the afternoon with some escapism, and it seemed that a novel rooted in the main character’s desire for escapism was the sort of meta level I needed.

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Jule is living in a hotel in Mexico, working out and drinking diet coke with a shot of vanilla syrup which is the grossest sounding drink I’ve ever heard of. It’s only when someone called Nao shows up, suddenly befriends her on a treadmill, that things start to slip. Jule introduces herself as Imogen, encourages Donovan the bartender to help her escape and flees the hotel. But who is Jule? Who is Imogen? And why is she so afraid of being found.

Genuine Fraud is a novel told in reverse. Earlier this year I thoroughly enjoyed Julie Cohen’s Together, which also employs this structure to reveal secrets. Having spoken to Julie about it, I can appreciate the artistry and sheer amount of post its it takes to write a narrative in reverse that reveals secrets to the reader that the characters have known up until this point.

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I daren’t explain any more than this for fear of giving away any plot; I went into this novel fairly dark and chose to not even read the blurb, with only my knowledge of the Hot Key Books stunt giving away any inkling of the book’s plot. However, Lockhart has an excerpt of the book available to read here.

E. Lockhart’s thrillers demand attention and are best read over a couple of hours, preferably somewhere quiet so you can loudly swear when key plot twists are just casually brought up with increasing intensity as the novel progresses. Genuine Fraud is a rollercoaster of a novel littered with literary references, unreliable narrators, privilege and orphans.

Interested? Get it here.

What to read next:

Thank you to Reader’s First and Hot Key Books for sharing this copy with me.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | 1 Minute Reviews

I rediscovered reading in the last few years. Being in University and studying sciences really knocked my love of literature out of me – there was no time for escapist literature when you spent all day reading scientific papers and trying to drum some joy out of interpreting statistics. I’d always read on research trips, or on the rare occasions that I went on holiday. It was only when I moved to London really that I started reading just for the love of it, and that spiralled with intensity to the point where GoodReads is informing me I’ve read 187 books this year.

This means that there’s a number of stalwarts of young adult fiction in particular that have slipped me by. I’m still catching up on the last 15 years or so. We Were Liars always seemed to be emblematic of the genre, or at least so widely known that everyone read it.

At the Young Adult Literature Con (YALC) this year, I was lucky enough to see one of my fave authors lovely Holly Bourne interview Emily Lockhart. Holly’s passion was infectious and Emily’s thoughts on narrative, structure and storytelling were fascinating.

Luckily, Hot Key Books had sent me a copy of the beautiful new hardback edition of We Were Liars, brought out this year with more letters, recipes and book group content than in the previously released paperback.

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Deluxe Hardback edition of We Were Liars

We Were Liars is set on a private island off Martha’s Vineyard, a playground for the wealthy and established. The story primarily follows The Sinclair family and is told from the perspective of Cadence, a girl with migraines who happens also to be the heiress for the Sinclair family fortune. Cadence, her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and outsider Gat form the Liars, the group of teenagers that stuck together, shunning the feuds of the older Sinclair generation.

But something is wrong. Cadence’s crushing migraines have started to affect her reality – has something bad happened, and if so, why won’t anyone tell her what it is?

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I went into reading We Were Liars with a bit of skepticism. It’s not often that I don’t immediately guess the twist in popular thrillers, but it all evaded me until the end. Lockhart’s writing is sumptuous, literary but not inaccessible, and plays around with the structure in subtle ways you don’t recognise until near the end. I’ve since read her newest book Genuine Fraud, another stunning thriller that is even more twisting and turning than We Were Liars is.

Taking many a cue from King Lear and Wuthering Heights, We Were Liars is a thrilling novel that follows the warring of the Sinclair family, with an interesting investigation in the way pain alters our perceptions of reality.

Interested? Get the beautiful Waterstones Exclusive special edition hardback here, or go for paperback here.

What to read next:

Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me this stunning copy.

Fellside by M. R. Carey | 1 Minute Reviews

M. R. Carey is one of those authors that I’m always on the lookout for. He writes such brilliant characters in impressive high concept novels and comic book series (under Mike Carey). My first introduction to him was the fantastic Girl With All the Gifts, a heart tugging thrilling zombie adventure that was recently adapted to a film.

Fellside, his second novel released last year, doesn’t disappoint and will likely appeal to a wider audience.

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Jess Moulson is sent to Fellside maximum security prison after starting a fire while high that killed a small boy. But once she arrives, that same small but very much dead boy starts to talk to her. Is he real or is she just hallucinating? Can she ever recover from the guilt of killing him?

Alongside Jess’ haunting storyline is an excellent corrupt prison narrative – think ALL the darkest bits of Orange is the New Black.

Carey is able to weave full bodied stories thick with grey scale characters and their separate motivations and viewpoints into a heart-wrenching thriller. The last 100 pages sped up in such a wondrous fury I couldn’t stop!

Creepy, eerie, unsettling and riotous, Fellside is a pacy novel that you’ll rip through.

Interested? Get it here.

What to read next:

Thank you to Orbit for the review copy!

False Hearts by Laura Lam | 1 Minute Reviews

When I opened the draft of this post expecting some past wisdom, I found “Cults! Cyber-punks! Drugs”. To be honest with you, I probably don’t need to say much more, except that

I think Laura Lam is my new favourite author

There I said it.

I had a sneaking suspicion once I started the sequel to False Hearts that this was the case, and now after meeting her at YALC and discussing her essay from Nasty Women I’m sure of it.

So, let’s talk about False Hearts. As I said before it does involve cults, cyber punks and drugs, but I can be a little more specific.

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Twins Tila and Taema are living in future utopian San Francisco, after leaving the anti-technology cult of Mana’s Hearth as teenagers. One night, Tila is arrested for murder after being found covered in blood, with the police saying the drug Verve is involved. Taema is offered a deal to prevent Tila’s unfair conviction and a life in stasis by going undercover as Tila to infiltrate and bring down the crime syndicate supplying Verve.

Once connected physically, Taema must now reconnect with Tila by taking on her identity, returning to a past where she once saw her sister’s face in the mirror.

Yeah, right? It’s a lot. And boy is it an exciting novel. The book is told in alternating first person POVs of the twin sisters, with Tila recounting how she got into the situation she is in and revealing piecemeal how and why they escaped Mana’s Hearth. As soon as I finished it, I picked up the sequel Shattered Minds, set in the same universe with some cross over characters.

One of the things that stuck out to me was how much work Laura Lam had clearly done researching the lives of sex workers to represent Tila’s profession. Never did I feel it was used as a shocking device or a way to denigrate Tila, as is so often the case in literature. Bravo Laura! If you want to find out more about sex worker’s rights and why decriminalisation is what sex workers want, please visit SWARM’s website.

While not technically YA due to the age of the characters and some of the sexier scenes, I think that many of the SFF arm of the YA community will really enjoy this book.

False Hearts is smart, pacy, dark and rife with heart-in-your-mouth moments. Lam straddles the boundaries of thriller and SFF with aplomb, creating a glorious novel that questions utopian possibilities and the power of corporations. This is easily one of my favourite books of the year and I implore you to investigate it if you’re even remotely curious.

Get it here.

What to read next:

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell | 1 Minute Reviews

Help, I’ve still not recovered from reading this dark little book.

Ellie Mack disappears one day after going to the library, never to be found. Ten years later, her mother Laurel is struggling to find closure on Ellie’s disappearance, even though the police chalk it up to her being a runaway.

A chance meeting with a handsome man in a cafe leads to a whirlwind romance, where Laurel comes face to face with Ellie’s doppleganger in a nine year old girl called Poppy.

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Unsettlingly creepy and heart-wrenching, Then She Was Gone follows Laurel as she reopens her own investigation to try and find out what happened to Ellie. This is a real tour de force of writing, as Jewell leads us down a decade old path and into the mind of a number of crucial characters.

Jewell’s characters leap from the page with such a strength of voice that blew me away. There are some really quite shocking and gruesome moments in this book, which jumps around the timeline of Ellie disappearing. The mystery reveals itself piece by piece and Jewell leaves you questioning yourself at every turn.

If you love thrillers, you must pick up this book. You will not be disappointed by this strange book from bestseller Lisa Jewell.

Get it here!

What to read next:

Thank you to the team at Century and Penguin Random House for sharing this book with me.