Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Paranormal M/M Comedy Romance
Series/Standalone: Medium Trouble #1
How I got this book: Bought via Audible
Though I was born with the ability to see the dead, I struggled with it until my brother was killed and his ghost was left behind. Now, I’m determined to figure out who is responsible for his death… the problem is that Detective Maddox Booker, the one working the case, is a grumpy and stubborn man who wants nothing to do with me and definitely doesn’t believe in ghosts. It doesn’t help that I keep finding myself looking ridiculous in front of the detective, thanks to interfering ghosts who enjoy laughing at my expense. Still, the more I’m around Maddox, the more I realize that beneath that surly exterior is a kind and caring man who will do anything to help.
When another man dies, I know we have a serial killer on our hands—the same murderer who has remained elusive for a year and a half. To add to my frustration, I keep running into Hiro at crime scenes only to hear him claim that he can talk to ghosts. The words of the dead could lead us to the serial killer and even tell us who is next, but ghosts? There’s no such thing as ghosts. Hiro is determined and charming, and no matter what I do, I can’t stop letting him get involved. He's definitely snagged my attention, but when he nearly winds up dead, I know he's getting closer to the truth—and if I don’t do something soon, he might be next.
TW: Murder, attempted murder
Ever since listening to A Villain for Christmas by Alice Winters, narrated by Michael Lesley, I've been meaning to listen to more of this author's books. So, when Audible recommended Ghost of Lies, I was instantly intrigued. I seem to be on a bit of a paranormal kick just lately and a funny rom-com with a ghost-y twist sounded perfect.
Ghost of Lies is narrated by Greg Boudreaux, who I don't think I've listened to before, though I can't be sure because he has an extensive catalogue, also narrating under the name Greg Tremblay. It was actually the narration that fully sold me on the book and I loved (almost) every moment of it.
This book was so much fun! It starts with a really great scene where we meet both characters. Hiro is in the middle of a dangerous situation, which he seems to have a penchant for, as he tries to help a murder victim find peace. Then, in walks grumpy Maddox to "arrest" Hiro for tampering with yet another crime scene, and the fun ensues.
The characters of Hiro and Maddox, and the supporting characters all have very distinct and different voices. I love how the narration really brought them all to life, and I particularly loved the sarcastic banter between all of the characters.
The chemistry between the two main characters was sweet and sort of a grump meets cinnamon roll kind of trope. I liked how the relationship built in a bit of a slow burn but found the sex scenes a little more cringy than steamy. Honestly, there's only so many times I can hear the word 'cock' in the space of around 2-3 paragraphs 😅
The pacing was great and kept the story moving forward as I tried to guess who was behind the string of murders, and I enjoyed not being able to figure it out. I love it when a book surprises me...even though, in this case I felt it was a bit of an odd choice.
I really enjoyed how the author blended the paranormal with reality, but overall I felt the humour was the strongest part of the story. It's a story that isn't meant to be taken seriously and is instead an over-the-top romp perfect for fans of A Villain for Christmas by Alice Winters and The Lightning Struck Heart by TJ Klune.
Welcome back to the Turn The Page podcast.
This month, our episode is all about Thrillers. Sophie is a big thriller reader, but thrillers haven't always been my cup of tea, or so I thought. But after chatting about different books, and seeing what falls under the 'thriller' category on Goodreads, this month, we're asking the question, 'What exactly makes a thriller a thriller?'
To help us out, I'll be chatting to two thriller/mystery authors, Kathryn Foxfield and Maya MacGregor about their latest books and asking them what goes into writing a gripping thriller/mystery.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
How I got this book: Gifted by the publisher
In this queer contemporary YA mystery, a nonbinary teen with autism realizes they must not only solve a 30-year-old mystery but also face the demons lurking in their past in order to live a satisfying life.
Sam Sylvester's not overly optimistic about their recent move to the small town of Astoria, Oregon after a traumatic experience in their last home in the rural Midwest.
Yet Sam's life seems to be on the upswing after meeting several new friends and a potential love interest in Shep, the pretty neighbor. However, Sam can't seem to let go of what might have been, and is drawn to investigate the death of a teenage boy in 1980s Astoria. Sam's convinced he was murdered--especially since Sam's investigation seems to resurrect some ghosts in the town.
Threatening notes and figures hidden in shadows begin to disrupt Sam's life. Yet Sam continues to search for the truth. When Sam discovers that they may be closer to a killer than previously known, Sam has a difficult decision to make. Would they risk their new life for a half-lived one?
TW: Homophobia, transphobia, hate crimes, murder, attempted murder
This is another one of those times where, because I enjoyed a book, I don't have a great deal to say about it...but I'll do my best.
It has made me desperately want to pull out all of my Queen and David Bowie records and just space out listening to them because of this book! The author did such a great job bringing the story and the characters to life in such a visceral way that I now can't get certain songs, and scents, out of my head. This book is definitely an experience.
The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester has everything - it has neurodivergent rep, non-binary rep, trans rep, bisexual rep, gay rep, adoption rep - there's so much diversity, I love it!
Then there's the plot which is part contemporary YA mixed with a dash of romance and then a paranormal-esque mystery/thriller that gave me chills.
I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this book, and the mystery element kept me guessing until the final reveal.
I love Sam, they're a unique character with a great voice and lots of heart. I love how the author portrays Sam and keeps their actions and responses feeling true to the character while adding in a cast of side characters that both compliment Sam and highlight their uniqueness.
I really enjoyed how all of the different layers of this story intertwined. Some books have the characters constantly focused on a single main objective with no interruptions, but I love how the author keeps the pacing fresh and moving by having lots of issues and tension constantly building and circling Sam and their friends.
To sum up, this book gave me major The Extraordinaries meets One of Us Is Lying vibes and would be perfect for fans of both of those books who love being kept on the edge of their seat.
I'm in a bit of a book slump...and it blows!
It's been a slow quarter for me in terms of reading, I seem to keep starting books but not finishing them and I'm feeling in a bit of a funk.
My personal life has been a bit all over the place as well lately so I'm blaming that for now. You might have also noticed that there was no Turn The Page podcast episode in July as Sophie and I struggled to get our calendars to match up and find a recording date that worked.
In good news, I'm excited to announce that our next author interview is coming very soon! This time, I'll be chatting with two fantastic thriller/mystery authors about their newest releases and asking them, what exactly makes a good thriller?
For now, I'm going to do a quick wrap-up of the books I've read in the second quarter of 2022.
As always, click on the title to read the review or to visit Goodreads:
It's time for our June 2022 episode of the Turn The Page podcast!
This month, we hit the road and visited the Northern Young Adult Literary Festival (NYALitFest) in Preston, England for a day of bookish fun!
We enjoyed a panel on witchcraft in YA that led to a discussion on female rage, women's rights, and feminism in young adult literature, followed by a panel on diversity and inclusion in YA that demonstrated why young adult novels are so important for readers of all ages.
In the panels, we heard from Ciannon Smart, Mary Watson, Finbar Hawkins, Jennifer Lane, Simon James Green, Sita Brahmachari, Cynthia So, and Kate Weston.
We also caught up with YA author, Rab Ferguson, who stopped to chat with us about his debut YA novel, Landfill Mountains, a magical YA adventure that highlights the impacts of climate change.
Sophie and I also share our thoughts on the panels, talk about the books we bought, and give you our slightly chaotic top tips for attending a book festival!
Quick note: This is our very first attempt at recording a podcast "in the field" so we apologise in advance for any sound inconsistencies as we trial new technology and equipment which might not produce our usual recording quality.
See below for a full list of the books we mentioned in this episode.
As this is a longer than usual episode, if you're interested in a particular panel/interview, feel free to jump to the timestamps below - although we hope you enjoy the whole episode!
The Craft panel - 00:01:16
The World We Live In panel - 00:55:13
Interview with Rab Ferguson - 01:47:00
Photos from the 2022 NYALitFest:
Here's a list of all the books we mentioned in this episode:
The Craft Panel
The World We Live In Panel
Rating: 4.5 Stars!
Genre: Contemporary MM Romance/Romantic Comedy
Series/Standalone: Signs of Love #6 (Can be read as a standalone)
How I got this book: Bought via Kindle Unlimited
True love is on the horizon, Sagittarius. It’s a good time to step out of your routine and into the unknown.
Jason Lyall wants someone to come home to, someone he can be his most ridiculous self with. Someone who loves him regardless. But no matter how hard he tries, he can never quite make that connection, and now his last girlfriend has moved on—she’s engaged.
So when his identical twin begs him to swap lives for a few weeks, Jason can see the appeal. Suddenly he’s living another life in a tiny Australian town, contending with weird, wild, and wonderful things the likes of which he’s never encountered before. Like spiders. Like snakes.
Like his new neighbour, Sergeant Owen Stirling, who is all kinds of . . . suspicious.
Prepare to be caught in a merry mix-up, Libra. It’s a dance of side-stepping and seduction.
TW: Teen pregnancy, adoption, siblings/parent and child separated at birth.
Tropes: Opposites attract, fake identity, twin shenanigans, slow burn, small town.
I downloaded this book at around 10:30pm last night on a whim and didn't stop reading until 2am. This book was exactly the injection of fun and shenanigans that I'd been missing.
When it comes to writing clueless characters, slow-burn/insta-connection, and ridiculous misunderstandings, Anyta Sunday knocks it out of the park every time, and the Signs of Love series is one of my absolute favourites.
In the latest instalment, Sagittarius Saves Libra, we meet Jason, an adopted pianist suffering from a bad case of loneliness. A few years ago he accidentally discovered the identical twin brother he was separated from at birth and the story starts with Jason and Carl deciding to switch lives for three weeks to help Carl escape his ex-boyfriends wedding, and to give Jason the chance to meet his birth family.
But Jason doesn't expect the disarming man, Owen, who lives next door, or how difficult it is to pretend to be someone else, especially when Carl's small town starts to feel like home he's always craved.
As with all of Anyta's Signs of Love characters, Jason is completely oblivious when it comes to what, or who, is standing right in front of him, which leads to some hilarious innuendo, misunderstandings, and frustration (on Owen's part).
And, as always, the romance is sweet, the sex scenes steamy, and the found family element really beautifully done.
I might just have to go back and re-read the entire series since this one was too good to put down!
Filled with laugh out loud moments, sizzling chemistry, and an oblivious MC, Sagittarius Saves Libra is a fun-filled romantic comedy with a few surprises.
Rating: 4 Stars!
Genre: LGBT+/Contemporary YA/Mystery Thriller
How I got this book: eARC via NetGalley from Simon & Schuster Children's UK
Gossip Girl but make it royal – a Black LGBTQ+ royal reimagining full of scandalous secrets, rollercoaster romances and one hell of a mystery.
James has been a prince all of his life, and since he was born, he's been thrust into the spotlight as the first Black heir to the throne. But when his father unexpectedly dies, James is crowned king at seventeen. Now, the secrets he could keep as a prince with no real responsibility - namely, his sexuality and hidden relationship - are rocked as his life irrevocably changes.
When his boyfriend suddenly goes missing, the royal secrets and scandals that only he knows start to leak online. And when it becomes clear that whoever is behind the messages isn't going to stop anytime soon, James begins to question everyone around him.
TW: Death of a parent, forced coming out, racism, homophobia, terrorism.
I honestly don't know where to even begin with this review. I just have so much I want to say and talk about but at the same time, know that I can't spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it. So, I think the first thing I should say is, please go and read this book so that I can talk about it some more!!
The story starts with James, our protagonist. He's the teenage son of the King of England, and we meet him at the moment he finds out his father is dead and as the realisation hits that he is now the King. James is seventeen years old and very much not feeling up to the task of being King, or of facing the grief of losing his dad. His only solace comes from his very secret relationship with his boyfriend, but when he mysteriously disappears, James is left floundering and not knowing who he can put his trust in.
James is an interesting character, and Benjamin Dean has done a fantastic job of making him utterly captivating from the very first page. Instantly James is a character I empathise with, who I connect with, and I want to see him succeed.
One thing I had no idea of, from the blurb of The King is Dead, was how much of a mystery-thriller it would turn out to be. I was on the edge of my seat, trying my hardest to figure out who the 'big bad' was behind all the drama, but I just did not see those twists coming, and if there's one thing I love more than anything, it's a book that surprises me, and then keeps on doing it, and Benjamin Dean delivered this in spades.
As more secrets and scandals come into the light, and as James has little time to deal with his own grief and his sudden plunge into the firing line, the author does a great job of conveying that feeling of barely keeping your head above water and sheer overwhelm, which only serves to make James more compelling.
The thing that I was most conflicted about in this book, which ultimately led to my 4-star rating, was the ending...WHICH I CAN'T TALK ABOUT!!! 😬😬😬😬😬
Without giving anything away, it was an ending that shocked me because it was the first moment in the book where I really lost faith in James, our protagonist, and in some of the characters surrounding him. I also didn't particularly like how the romance element played out. BUT saying all of that, I can understand why the author chose that ending, and I did enjoy the fact that this book is a standalone with a clear ending that leaves just enough to your imagination.
For me, this book felt like One of Us is Lying meets Red, White & Royal Blue, but British. It has the pacing and mystery of a really gripping thriller, with enough teen shenanigans and royal politics to inject just the right amount of humour and help juxtapose the darker themes of racism and homophobia.
The King is Dead by Benjamin Dean comes out in the UK on 7th July 2022.
Rating: 4 Stars
How I got this book: Bought
When the Superflu wipes out most of the population, Jamie finds himself completely alone in a cabin in the woods - until an injured stranger crosses his path.
Life is dangerous now and, armed with a gun, Jamie goes to pull the trigger. But there's something about Andrew ... something that stops Jamie in his tracks. Jamie takes him in, and as Andrew heals and they eventually step out into the strange new world, their relationship starts to feel like more than just friendship ...
But trouble isn't far behind. As the boys make a perilous journey south, they'll come face to face with a world torn apart and society in ruins. And who, or what, will they find waiting for them at the end of it all?
TW: Pandemic, illness, murder, gun violence, injury depiction, loss.
Review by Sophie.
Ok, so I really didn’t think this book would be my cup of coffee, mainly because of the whole post-apocalyptic "super flu" setting, but I was intrigued as I don’t think I’ve read anything similar, and I’ll be the first to tell myself that I need to try new things… and truth be told, I’m really glad I did.
Also, just look at the front cover!
Andrew and Jamison have managed to survive the super flu and collide into each other’s lives, and we start our journey with them. Andrew stumbles across the cabin where Jamie resides after being injured in a bear trap.
“I’ve been hobbling through the woods for the past day and a half looking for some shelter and a way to clean my wounds. Finding some medical supplies, a pantry full of food and Tom Holland wouldn’t hurt either. Instead, here we are. And not a Tom Holland in sight."
They’re both very untrusting and wary of each other at first, but after spending weeks isolated together we start to learn about the struggles that both have endured since the start of the flu, and how it’s practically wiped out the human race. An altercation with a hostile group then forces Andrew and Jamie to leave the cabin.
Andrew and Jamie are two very different people. Andrew is openly gay and a full-on sarcastic film fanatic, while Jamie, who's very strong minded and responsible is just figuring out that he’s Bi, and we see him struggle with that too.
The world building throughout was good and really helped me to submerge myself in this post-apocalyptic world. I had no trouble at all in getting lost in this book. The pacing was quite fast and with the build up of tension that happens quite quickly, I found myself flying through it.
I absolutely love Andrew and Jamie’s journey. Reading about how they grow, overcome their pasts, and how they face difficult situations side by side really pulled on my heart strings. I loved how their relationship developed from untrusting strangers, to friends, to more than friends, and I loved the banter in between.
I think that Erik J. Brown does a fantastic job of having you as the reader laughing on one page, to sitting on the edge of your seat with the worst feeling of tension and dread for a character’s wellbeing on the next. It was a bit of a roller-coaster that was very touch and go!
I think that anyone that reads All That’s left in the World will ultimately relate it to how extreme COVID could have been, but I know that Erik J Brown didn’t intend for it to be that way; it was originally written in 2015 and he hoped that it would be its own fictional creature, but for me, I think it added to the intensity of the setting, like with Covid and the initial fear of when it was announced, I think a lot of people thought that this could be the beginning of an apocalypse.
“But then I look at him; I hear his laugh, I see his smile, and the darkness melts away. Then I do have hope--even just for a little while--because I know that there is something in this world I can fight for. Something I will fight for if I have to.”
All in all, I thought this was a great read, I actually read it with in a day or two, and really didn’t want to put it down. It was very easy to read, and is probably one of the cutest, but nail-biting, love stories that I’ve read so far.
So, if you currently have All That's Left in the World on your TBR, I'd highly recommend that you give it a go!
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Adult Fantasy
How I got this book: Bought
A dark and compelling fantasy about sisterhood, impossible tasks and the price of power, from award-winning author T. Kingfisher
After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra―the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter―has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself.
Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince―if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.
On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra's family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last.
TW: Domestic Violence, Cannibalism (mentioned), Infant Death, Murder
This book took a left-turn right from the beginning when it casually threw cannibalism into the mix - I honestly had no idea what to expect as I'd heard nothing about the book or the author other than the blurb above, and honestly, I only picked it up because of the demon-possessed chicken.
I admit that at the beginning I was worried I wasn't going to enjoy the book. I'm not sure what it was, I felt a little lost in the plot early on and I didn't feel any connection or great love for Marra, our main character. She seemed a bit dull and uninteresting at first and I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy her story.
But then along came Bonedog, and the dust-wife, and Agnes, and Fenris, and the hen, and Finder, and they make for such a brilliantly fun cast of characters that the pace all of a sudden picked up and I couldn't tear myself away.
“How did you get a demon in your chicken?'
'The usual way. Couldn't put it in the rooster. That's how you get basilisks.”
One of things I really love about this book is that Marra is 30, or in her thirties, which I found really refreshing. I read so many fantasy books where the characters are super young and sexy, and here we have an almost nun who turns to magic and necromancy to help save her family from an evil prince. Her inner monologue adds a modern, fresh take on a medieval-style fantasy, and when paired with the rest of the characters in this book she really comes to life.
The dust-wife and Agnes are my two favourite characters, I'm firmly shipping them as a couple, whether it's canon or not, and I love their back and forth which really livens up the plot.
The magic in Nettle and Bone is really great, and at times super creepy. The goblin market gave me such Hellboy vibes and it was so vivid, I felt like I was there. The author then throws out left turn after left turn that are both hysterically funny and intensely sinister.
“Still, I have to admit I didn’t see the chicken or the puppet coming.”
The whole thing is a darkly magic adventure, featuring an unlikely band of characters who only make each other better the more the story progresses. The magic is surprising and the dialogue witty with satirical fairytale undertones that make it a great choice for fans of Gallant and Six of Crows.
The Turn The Page podcast is BACK!
After a year-long hiatus, Sophie and I are bringing back our monthly book recommendation chats!
Alongside our usual YA, LGBTQIA+, Fantasy, and Romance book recs, and monthly topics, we'll be chatting to authors and audiobook narrators about their latest books and projects!
This month, we're talking about the YA (Young Adult) books that we love, looking at Netflix's adaptation of Alice Oseman's Heartstopper, and chatting to Simon James Green about his newest YA novel, Gay Club!
Never miss a post!
About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
THIS BLOG IS SPOILER FREE!
5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
Upcoming Blog Tours: