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#ReindeerReadathon
review
OutsmartYourShelf
Good Girls Don't Die | Christina Henry
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Mehso-so

Celia wakes up in a house with a husband & a daughter she doesn't recognise. When a nasty neighbour, who lives next door to the restaurant Celia supposedly owns, is murdered it looks like Celia is being primed to take the blame. Can she work out who she really is & who the killer is?

Allie has arranged to go to the beach for her birthday with friends Madison & Cam, however when the two friends' boyfriends tag along, Allie is annoyed. (Continued)

OutsmartYourShelf She falls asleep on the way there & when she wakes up they are not at the beach - Brad (Cam's bf) has driven them to an isolated cabin in the woods. Horror movie fan Allie is already uneasy & when a stranger starts trying to break into the cabin that night, it looks like big screen horror has become real.

6mo
OutsmartYourShelf Maggie wakes up in a shipping container with a group of women. None of them know each other or where they are, but they are all wearing t-shirts with a number on the back. They are finally released into The Maze, a deadly obstacle course, where they are told that if they want to see their loved ones alive again, they have to complete the course within 12 hours.

6mo
OutsmartYourShelf The synopsis sold me on this one & it was one of my few pre-orders for 2023. Maybe I was expecting too much, but it was a bit of a let-down. I didn't really care for the Celia storyline which was rather boring, the Allie & Maggie storylines were much better in my opinion, but it was the final reveal which was the worst - it was all a bit pedestrian. It was good but not great & left me feeling a bit unsatisfied really.
3⭐

6mo
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TheAromaofBooks At least it's off the list!! 6mo
DieAReader 🥳🥳🥳 6mo
Andrew65 Well done 👏👏👏 6mo
Catsandbooks ❄️🍭❤️ 6mo
18 likes8 comments
review
OutsmartYourShelf
Fir | Sharon Gosling
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Pickpick

The Stromberg family suddenly pick up & move from their comfortable life to an isolated house, surrounded by pine forests, in northern Sweden. Although their mother & father seem happy enough, the youngest Stromberg is angry at being torn away from their old life. At first the surprisingly large house is part-occupied by a group of children on conservation work, but when they leave, the Strombergs are left alone with just the weird housekeeper.

OutsmartYourShelf This is quite an atmospheric read. The author conveys the sense of isolation & feeling surrounded by malevolence quite well. The reader never learns the narrator's first name or anything else about them really, & maybe it's personal bias, but I felt as if it was a teenage girl. Not that it really matters. I enjoyed it & an extra star for choosing that ending. The author could have wrapped it all up nicely but the actual ending is rather bleak.
(edited) 6mo
OutsmartYourShelf A book that I will probably re-read at some point. 4🌟

TWs: animal death, gore, blood, mention of miscarriage.

Sorry to my team #HollyJollyReaders for going missing for the last week or so, but I tested positive for Covid on Christmas Eve & had been feeling a bit off before. Still not back to normal but I do have some reviews to catch up on.

Full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3161110984
Read 17th-21st Dec 2023

#WinterGames
(edited) 6mo
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TheAromaofBooks Great progress!! 6mo
BookmarkTavern Love this cover! 🖤 6mo
Texreader Also works for #foodandlit 6mo
Andrew65 Excellent 🎄🎄🎄 6mo
DieAReader 🥳🥳🥳 6mo
Catsandbooks 🍭❄️❤️ 6mo
27 likes9 comments
review
OutsmartYourShelf
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Pickpick

BFFs Sam & Ally reunite with new friend, Sandy, (whom they met in Book 2 Camp Whispering Pines), when she invites the two friends to spend the weekend before Christmas at her family's house on Orcas Island. It doesn't take long before Sam manages to sniff out the rumour of a ghost at a nearby mansion, but this time, it seems the living may be the real danger. (continued)

OutsmartYourShelf The sixth book in the series serves up another fun helping of Sam & Ally's antics. As Ally says, the mysteries just seem to find Sam, she doesn't need to go looking. This series of modern-day 'Nancy Drew' adventures continues to deliver & readers 8-12 years of age will love it. 4🌟

Full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/193069793
Read 19th-20th Dec 2023

Holiday Read - 25
Readathons - 150
Words - 1070
Post - 1

Total - 1246 pts
6mo
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 6mo
See All 7 Comments
Ruthiella Sounds like a fun one! 🎄💀🔪🎅🏻 6mo
DieAReader 🥳🥳🥳 6mo
Catsandbooks 🍭❄️❤️ 6mo
BookmarkTavern Wow! 🎉🎉 6mo
25 likes7 comments
review
OutsmartYourShelf
Malice | Keigo Higashino
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Pickpick

Osamu Nonoguchi visits his friend, bestselling novelist Kunihiko Hidaka, the day before Hidaka is due to emigrate to Canada with his new wife. Later that evening, Nonoguchi receives a telephone call from Hidaka asking him to return to his home as he needs to see him again urgently. When Nonoguchi reaches the house, all the lights are off & Hidaka doesn't answer the door, so he raises the alarm & Police Detective Kyochiro Kaga is given the case.

OutsmartYourShelf The police find Hidaka dead on the floor of his office, with both the door to the office & the front door to the house locked from the inside. Both Nonoguchi & Hidaka's wife have alibis for the time of death. Who killed the author & why?

The reader is kept at arms length from the investigation & the characters really as the murder & circumstances are told from written confessions, notes, or interview transcriptions.
6mo
OutsmartYourShelf It is a writing style that takes a little getting used to. The story starts slowly but as the twists & turns of the case started to reveal themselves, I found myself needing to know what happened next. There's no gore & most of the TWs below are not graphic. 3.5🌟

TWs: murder, infidelity, sexual assault, animal cruelty/death, bullying.

#WinterGames #HollyJollyReaders @Laughterhp
(edited) 6mo
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TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 6mo
Ruthiella Sounds interesting! I‘m really interested in exploring crime fiction from other parts of the world! 🎄🔪💀🎅🏻 6mo
BarbaraBB I really like these series too 6mo
DieAReader 🥳🥳🥳 6mo
Catsandbooks 🍭❄️❤️ 6mo
Andrew65 Excellent 🎄🎅🏼🎄 6mo
21 likes10 comments
review
OutsmartYourShelf
In a Holidaze | Christina Lauren
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Pickpick

Now, I think it's fair to say that I'm not a reader of rom-coms so I approached this one with a bit of trepidation. I am surprised by just how much I enjoyed this. I think the time loop premise helped, but it also had some funny moments & some rather steamy ones. (continued)

OutsmartYourShelf The only real issue I had was that Andrew is almost 30 & Mae is 26, yet I had to keep reminding myself that they weren't older teenagers or early twenties as they both seemed kind of immature at times. Minor quibble though. Can't say I'm in a rush to read more rom-coms but this was a good one. 4🌟

Full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4390446192
Read 11th-13th Dec 2023

#WinterGames #HollyJollyReaders @Laughterhp
6mo
PuddleJumper ❄️💙❄️ 6mo
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Laughterhp I read this one a couple years ago. It wasn‘t my favorite either. 6mo
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 6mo
DieAReader 🥳🥳🥳 6mo
BookmarkTavern Cute! 💖 6mo
Emilymdxn I thought this one was fun too! 6mo
Catsandbooks 🍭❄️❤️ 6mo
27 likes9 comments
review
OutsmartYourShelf
What January Remembers | Faith Gardner
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Mehso-so

Julianna, Josiah, Jesse, & Jada all return to the family home for Christmas. Following their mother's death, the family grew apart & the last Christmas they were together two years ago, erupted into violence when Jesse attacked his father's companion bot, January. January has been repaired & her memory wiped, but when Julianna sees her flinch in Jesse's presence, she wonders if January remembers after all. (continued)

OutsmartYourShelf It may not be all she remembers as all the Jagger children received an anonymous note before they arrived telling them that their mother was murdered.

I was looking forward to reading this one as the author's first book 'Amen Maxine' was excellent whilst novella 'Eve in Overdrive' was very good. I'm a bit meh on this one though. All the family are dysfunctional in some way & I didn't really like any of them.
6mo
OutsmartYourShelf The most realistic friendship was the one between January & the-bot-next-door, June (Six) who is being mistreated by her owner. There's some elements which examines what it means to be human, how humans are viewed by the bots, & how they view their version of death (being recycled). For me, it just didn't have the impact that Amen Maxine had though. 3⭐

Full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5020127951
Read 8th-11th Dec 2023
6mo
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DieAReader 🥳🥳🥳 6mo
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 6mo
BookmarkTavern Sounds interesting! 6mo
Catsandbooks 🍭❄️❤️ 6mo
21 likes7 comments
review
OutsmartYourShelf
Secret Santa | Andrew Shaffer
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Pickpick

Ever since Lussi Meyer lost her job in a restructuring of the publishing house where she worked, she has been desperate to find another. Last hope is prestigious, yet decidedly staid, Blackwood-Patterson. Still beggars can't be choosers & Lussi vows to knock them dead. Literally as it turns out, when old Mr Blackwood keels over during the interview. Still at least Lussi manages to get a job out of the tragic situation (continued)

OutsmartYourShelf however, her colleagues are a strange lot. At the office Secret Santa gift exchange, Lussi is surprised to see a gift with her name on it, but when she opens it, it's a small demonic looking doll, a percht - similar to one that she remembers her grandmother owning. It's an odd gift but never mind, but then accidents start happening to her colleagues, & Lussi becomes convinced that the doll is behind them. 6mo
OutsmartYourShelf This was a quick, fun read set in the 1980s. I enjoyed it although it was a little tame for a horror read & personally I thought some elements such as the doll were underused. If you like your horror to not take itself too seriously rather than being dark & ominous, then you'll probably like this one. 3.5 stars (rounded up)

TWs: murder, death, blood.

Full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3690726856
Read 8-10th Dec 2023
6mo
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TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 6mo
DieAReader 🥳🥳🥳 6mo
BookmarkTavern Saw this cover and immediately thought of Goosebumps. 😅 6mo
Catsandbooks 🍭❄️❤️ 6mo
24 likes7 comments
review
OutsmartYourShelf
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Pickpick

The prequel to The Hunger Games- disappointing or surprisingly good? For me, it's definitely the latter. This book focuses on young Coriolanus Snow who has been picked to be a mentor to one of the unfortunates selected for the 10th Hunger Games.

I thought it was an interesting addition to the HG canon, & it has made me want to re-read the whole series. As we know, there is no redemption arc for Snow, (continued)

OutsmartYourShelf but it was intriguing to see him slowly become more & more the Snow of later years. I did think the ending was rather abrupt though, it came out of nowhere with a sudden 180 on what had happened just before. 4.5 🌟

TWs: violence, child death, death of a parent, blood, animal cruelty/death.

Full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4791389946
Read 4th-8th Dec 2023

#WinterGames #HollyJollyReaders @Laughterhp
(edited) 6mo
DieAReader 🥳🥳🥳 6mo
See All 7 Comments
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 6mo
BookmarkTavern I‘ve heard good things about this one! 6mo
Emilymdxn I really liked this one too! 6mo
Catsandbooks I enjoyed this one too! 6mo
28 likes7 comments
review
OutsmartYourShelf
The Escape | Ruth Kelly
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Pickpick

Two sisters: Erin, older sister who struggles to take care of their mother when she develops cancer, & has felt overshadowed by her younger sister for most of her life - Adele, younger sister who has always felt judged by her older sibling, longs to be able to reach out & tell her that things aren't as great as they seem, but it never seems the right time. (Continued)

OutsmartYourShelf Adele is a struggling influencer/vlogger but when she posts a crowdfunding video online to help finance a move to Chateau Bellay in France, she is shocked when a mysterious benefactor reaches out & offers to buy it & let Adele & boyfriend, Jack, move in. They just have to agree to a few stipulations.

Erin is furious that Adele up & left to France, leaving her to deal with their mother's illness, but when she takes a turn for the worst,
6mo
OutsmartYourShelf Erin sets out to find Adele & bring her home. When she reaches Chateau Bellay, however, no-one is home. Breaking a window to get in, Erin finds that none of Adele or Jack's things are inside & the chateau itself feels strangely unwelcoming. Neither Adele or Jack have been seen since New Year's Eve, & the people in the local village seem reluctant to talk to Erin about them both. What happened to her sister? 6mo
OutsmartYourShelf The first half of the book was very good, with Adele soon finding out that life at the Chateau is not all she dreamed it would be, as the cracks in her relationship with Jack are magnified. The uneasy atmosphere & tension are ramped up with the reader anxious to find out what is going on. The second half became a little over the top in places & Erin turned into that most annoying of female character tropes where they go off to confront a suspect 6mo
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OutsmartYourShelf without telling anyone where they are going, & promptly get into trouble. Overall though it was a good read even if very dark in content. 3.5🌟

TWs: infidelity, sexual content, kidnapping, paedophilia, torture, murder, blood, death, stalking, terminal illness.

My thanks to NetGalley & publisher, Pan Macmillan, for the opportunity to read an ARC.

Full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/5761906575
Read 3rd-6th Dec 2023
6mo
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 6mo
DieAReader 🥳🥳🥳 6mo
BookmarkTavern Woo! 🎉🎉🎉 6mo
Catsandbooks 🍭❄️❤️ 6mo
Andrew65 An excellent review 🎄🎄🎄 6mo
28 likes10 comments
review
OutsmartYourShelf
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Mehso-so

DI James Walker & wife, Annie, move to a sleepy Cumbrian village called Kirkby Abbey where Annie grew up as a child. They move there after James receives a threat from a recently released ex-con with a grudge against him. Life is quiet at first, but when James opens a Christmas present left on their doorstep, the gruesome contents & the attached card which warns of a season of ill-will with 12 murders to come. (continued)

OutsmartYourShelf When the weather turns & cuts off the village from outside help, James has to catch a killer or has his past caught up with him?

It was ok but it all seemed kind of forced or stilted - the writing didn't flow naturally & it was awkward to read in parts. The plot was again, ok, but I found it very easy to work out who the killer was so there wasn't much suspense.
6mo
OutsmartYourShelf As this seems like it was the author's first published book though, it's probable that their subsequent books will improve so I plan on reading the next in the series. 3⭐

TWs: murder, infidelity, animal death, paedophilia, abortion, alcohol.

Full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3661047553
Read 2nd-4th Dec 2023

Holiday Read - 25 pts
Readathons - 525 points
Word Challenge - 4080 pts
Post - 1 pt

Total - 4631 points

(edited) 6mo
Andrew65 A couple of years since I read this but I enjoyed it. Well done on finishing it 🎄🎄🎄 6mo
32 likes4 comments