shitbookreviews's reviews
121 reviews

Reprieve, by James Han Mattson

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Did not finish book. Stopped at 29%.
[DNF @29%]

I hate not finishing a book and this is one of the only ones I've had to tuck away in my Kindle folder of shame this year. 

The premises sounded amazing - an escape room (I love those damn mind-fuck rooms) where you have to find little red envelopes and someone gets murdered. I never made it to that part. The characters drove me insane and everything chugs along at a snail's pace. 

I have honestly no idea what's going on and for that very dull reason, I'm giving up.
Girl A, by Abigail Dean

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dark slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.0

All of Us Villains, by Christine Lynn Herman, Amanda Foody

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adventurous dark medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75

TL;DR

Hunger Games meets Maze Runner. A mind-fuck of a book filled with mayhem with a side chaos and magic.

I dislike saying this is like magical Hunger Games because it deserves to be its own thing, but fuck it. It’s magical Hunger Games with a splash of Maze Runner and I am here for it. This is what you can expect:

✨ Shitty families
✨ A curse the shitty families refuse to do anything about
✨ Magical rings
✨ BllooooooOOOod moons 🌚

Every 20 years, the blood moon falls and seven shitlordy and powerful families send one teenager on what can only be described as a suicide mission to make sure they secure Ilvernarth’s supply of high magick.

Except for this year, one nice human decides that perhaps they should try to break the curse instead of constantly flinging six kids off to their death. A novel concept in this city.

So who’ve you got? We’ll you’ve got the Lowe (and low do they go) family who are like Regina George from Mean Girls. Not a fan of sharing, love power and very rarely lose meaning they’ve had their fingers in the high magick pie for some time.

Isobel Macaslan. Loves running around a lot and was basically outed as the champion before her family got to tell her about her demise face to face.

Briony Thorburn. Really wants to go into the death pit. Gets mad when the government comes in and wiggles everything around. Typical government behaviour IMO.

And then there’s Gavin Grieve. Wee Gav. Gavvy boy. Doesn’t stand a chance as he’s from the bad-egg family. Usually first to pop their clogs so everyone avoids him like the plague. Ready to stick it to the blood moon man.

The mathematical genuine among you may have noticed that wasn’t 7 families and you’d be right. I just can’t remember anything about those other three and they are the definition of cannon fodder.


SoooOoo I liked this book but didn’t have me screaming from the rooftops. The magical world is amazing BUT it just didn’t suck me in and I found myself skimming over bits that were probably pretty important.

That being said, the concept is pretty solid and unique. Just wish there was a bit more villainy and corruption but that probably says more about me than anything else.

I’m off to grab some rings and pretend I’m magical.

p.s Blood ain’t all that. Find your own family – it’s way better.

All of Us Villains is out on 11th November and it needs a home on your shelf.

[copy via netgalley]
Our Violent Ends, by Chloe Gong

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adventurous hopeful inspiring reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

TL;DR:

An emotion-wrenching rollercoaster that I wasn’t ready to get off of. Dark, compelling & unputdownable. You’re going to love it.

Chloe. Pal. Buddy. We need to chat when I’ve recovered emotionally from what you just put me through.

BEFORE YOU GO ANY FURTHER, I need to check that you’ve read These Violent Delights because if you ain’t then GTFO outta here and absorb that gem of a book.

If you’ve got this far, then this is what you’re in for:

✨ Still the roaring 20s but make it Shanghai
✨ A monster plague thingy that’s being controlled by some mysterious blackmailer
✨ Lovers turned to haters
✨ A whole bundle of destroyed emotions

So who’ve you got? Well, the main gang is back – Juliette Cai is still a badass babe slapping down the patriarchy one idiot at a time and Roma (love you) is still in love with his mortal enemy. She’s moved up on the Roma Hates You scale after she ‘kills’ his bestie.

Whilst they’re off doing gang things, two major risks are wafting about in the background threatening to cause absolute chaos. On one hand, you got the Nationalists uprising with a threat of civil war and on the other, you’ve got some walloper unleashing The Madness at every opportune whim. Imagine what would happen if the two came to fruition at once? Hmmm, imagine indeed.


This book is up there with my favourite 2021 reads. It had everything I could possibly want in a sequel – characters that actually seem like genuine people, a non-conventional love story, a plot to die for and a setting that I could see in my own noggin.

*chef’s kiss*

And you know what? I’m glad it ended when it did. A sucker-punch straight to the gut. Perfection.

I am a Chloe Gong convert. Hook any future book straight into my veins, please.

Our Violent Ends is on bookshelves right now so you best hop to it, you slacker.

[copy via netgalley]
Jade Fire Gold, by June C.L. Tan

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adventurous hopeful slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.75

Copy via Netgalley.

TL;DR:

A slow burn that was dead easy to read. Just didn’t fall in love with it.

I feel like a shitlord for saying this, but I’m struggling to remember what happened. I know I enjoyed this book in some way, shape or form (I rate things straight afterwards), but my poor brain has booked a one-way ticket to Forgotsville. After a bit of re-reading, this is what you’re in for:

✨ ~forbidden~ magic
✨ a wee thorn reclaiming job
✨ rags to riches vibes
✨ motherfucking REVENGE

Our main gal is Ahn. Like most in the YA world, her life has been anything but rosy. Ditched as a child and adopted by a nice older lady, Ahn is on the bottom rung of the poverty ladder. Naturally (as most do when they’re desperate), she dabbled in a wee bit of thievery which landed her down shit alley. Trying to escape with the sword she’d yoinked, her ~forbidden~ magic wooshes out her fingies and causes a chunk of chaos.

Whilst Ahn is wreaking havoc in the background, Atlan is lording it up as a secret prince whilst mourning the loss of his mother and sister. I’m also pretty sure he loses an eye at some point (?!) – maybe…
Anyway, this lad is dead keen to get his stolen throne back from his uncle and has no qualm about using nice people to get what he wants.

Basically two separate stories on a collision path that will bounce from ‘I’m going to straight-up murder you’, to ‘we could maybe be pals’ right to ‘ohh we could do the no pants dance’.


I loved the premise of this book so hard that I slammed the request button on Netgalley but this is a very slow burn with characters I just didn’t fall in love with.

Would I yell about this book to everyone I meet in the street? Probably not.

Will I read more in this world/by this nice author? Yes.
Little Thieves, by Margaret Owen

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adventurous funny hopeful slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

TL;DR

Slow burn to start with, but keep going! One of my favourites from 2021. PROTECT RAGNE AT ALL COSTS.

I need to get this out of my system right now but when I heard the main character was called Vanja, my dyslexic noggin automatically thought of this:

[gif of Vanjie from Ru Paul's Drag Race]

And now that’s probably stuck in your head as well, this is what you’re in for with Little Thieves:

✨ Imposters 👀
✨ Parents of the mythical variety
✨ Sticky fingers a la Robin Hood
✨ Gemstones. Gemstones EVERYWHERE

Our main pal, Vanja, has had a shite life. Abandoned by her mother in the forest after it becomes apparent that she’s a little bit too unlucky for them, Death and Fortune adopt the little nipper. Now I have no idea what they’d be like as parents. Would Death make weird predictions about mates you brought round for tea? Would Fortune ruin all the surprises by telling you if something was going to go your way or not? Do they both like coffee?

Anyway, this arrangement comes with one major complication – when she turns 13, she must pick one of them to serve forever. Vanja ain’t all about that pops off to work as Princess Gisele’s personal maid in a last-ditch attempt to buy her freedom.

The one thing you should know about Vanja (and it’s probs a bit obvious given the title) is that she’s an excellent thief. Gifted with both powers and deft fingers, she spots a perfect opportunity to turn her fortunes around. And with that, she yoinks Gisele’s enchanted pearls and proceeds to take on the role of Princess herself, casting her pal Gisele aside to live as a commoner.

This is Vanja’s chance to make a tidy profit except there’s one major inconvenience in the form of Junior Prefect Emeric who ruins everything by investigating the robberies. You’d think that would be enough to deal with, but to add to Vanja’s stress, she gets cursed to become her greed. If she doesn’t break it by the next full moon, she’s a goner.

I’m going to be honest – I didn’t like this book at the start. Something about it just didn’t grab me and perhaps it’s because it’s a brand new story or perhaps my attention span was just in the bin that day however it took me a good 40-45% to get into it properly. And then I was unstoppable.

Characters are proper shitlords which we need more of and the world is complex but holy fuck is this a beautiful book once it gets crackin’.

Also massive shoutout to the LGBTQ+ rep which was so fluid and natural I barely noticed. Perfection.

This is a Robin Hood meets magic story and I reckon it will grip many a heart out there.

‘Little thieves steal gold, and great ones steal kingdoms, but only one goes to the gallows.’

Oh, and I hope Ragne has a wonderful, peaceful life.
Iron Widow, by Xiran Jay Zhao

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adventurous challenging sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

[copy via netgalley]

TL;DR

LOVED. Got a lot of time for this little gem.

Polyamorous triangle wielding qì-powered mech suits take down the patriarchy.

Honestly, if that didn’t get your attention then we’re a little bit screwed.

I don’t like doing this but I feel it’s the only way I can describe shit right now – if you were to smush Handmaids Tale with Pacific Rim and sprinkle it with The Hunger Games, you’d get Iron Widow. And that, my dearest pals, creates quite the read. Here’s what you’re in for:

✨ Inspired by China’s only women emperor – Wu Zeitan
✨ FUCKING MECH SUITS
✨ Patriarchy smashing
✨ Polyamous relationships that will bring a big ol’ grin to your face

Zeitan has one hell of a rough life so far and she’s only 18. Living on the wrong side of the poverty wall, Zeitan lives at the end of her family’s abusive ways enduring her father’s wrath and her grandmother cruelty in form of Lotus Feet (Googling and watching videos about this at 1am is not recommended) all whilst trying to stay alive. On top of that, her sister has been recruited into the war against the Hunduns. Like most women who get sold by their families, she didn’t survive.

The main reason for her death? The mech suits require both a male and female pilot (Ying and Yang) for balance except it’s anything but. The only way they can work successfully is to sacrifice a women’s qì (or life force) and very, very few break through to see the light of day again.

On a path of revenge, Zeitan quickly discovered she’s more powerful than most of the men who surround her and that she can break this cycle.


This is an absolutely WILD story and I’m quite frankly here for it. The story will enrage you to your very core and whilst that makes Zeitan an understandable angry character, I totally fell for her and her fuck-this-noise way of smashing the dumb systems of a patriarchal world.

By the time I got to the end, I had forgotten this was a sci-fi book and then got slapped in the face with a twisty-twist I did not see coming. Cannot wait for the second book.

Iron Widow is out 7th October 2021 and you should hook it right into your veins.
The Dark Remains, by William McIlvanney, Ian Rankin

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challenging dark mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.5

[copy via netgalley]

I have never read any of William McIlvenney’s stuff.
And even though we nearly share a last name and I buy my mum his books religiously every Christmas, I’ve also never read any of Ian Rankin’s.
Your gal went in blind with this one. Here’s what you’re in for with The Dark Remains:

✨ Scottish AF
✨ 1972 detective grit
✨ GANG LOOOORDS partaking in fisty-cuffs with knives
✨ Tartan Noir (which is a thing apaz)

Right so you’ve got this one guy, Jack Laidlaw, who keeps getting chucked from police station to station because he rubs people up the wrong way. Something about his mannerisms just don’t match up with the 1970s lad vibes which causes a few issues on cases. As a chaotic force of nature who very much likes to work on his tod, he can often be found flapping away somewhere leaving his partner Bob Lilley in the dust trying to figure out wtf just happened.

So what are these wee scamps investigating? A dodgy as hell lawyer going by the name of Bobby Carter has just been found stabbed (and very dead) down a dirty alleyway. Whilst most people are probably thinking ‘ah one less asshole on the streets’, it comes with a slightly bigger issue. The dumping of the body will lead to an all-out gang war if they don’t solve it as quickly as their little crime-solving fingers will let them.


I found this hard to get into – I like a good thriller but something didn’t quite gel for me. Perhaps it’s the Scot in me that finds reading Scottish words hard (only a thing in my head), but I’m also very aware that I am very much in the minority here.

Now this book is a little different – it was started by McIlvanney who sadly died in 2015. Ian Rankin was asked to pick up the mantle (and the manuscript) and pull the story to life. Not something I’d ever want to do because screw trying to match someone else’s style, but if I didn’t know it was written by two people, I’d honestly have no idea.

Perhaps die-hard McIlvanney/Rankin fans can, but eejit mcplebface over here was none the wiser
The Gilded Cage, by Lynette Noni

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adventurous mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

[copy via netgalley]

TL;DR Recommendation:

READ THIS SERIES RIGHT NOW, YOU PLONKER.

I CANNOT DEAL WITH ALL THESE CLIFFS.

If you read The Prison Healer then this is the book you’ve been waiting for and let me just tell you right now – your emotions probably won’t be able to handle this one either. Here’s what you’re in for:

✨ More Kiva
✨ More complications
✨ Family hell-bent on ruining all the fun
✨ An ending that will absolutely fling you sideways

Kiva is free. After escaping the shithole otherwise known as Zalindov, she’s off to live her new life as the love interest of Jaren and (probably the more important part) a rebel spy from the other royal family. Before she knows it, she’s knocked over the noggin and dragged away to chat with her real family which sets the royal family into overdrive trying to find her.

Before long, Kiva has become part of their family which causes a few problems as you can imagine.

She has to pick – them or her heart. Which let’s face it, sucks.

Honestly, I love this book. It’s so hard to put it into words with gushing as the screen which no one wants to read. The twists and turns will cause you whiplash, tension that will cause you to shift in your seat and a grin that will end up plastered all over your face.

This is a ridiculously easy read that you’ll devour in a weekend. You should absolutely read this series and then console me whilst I wait for the next one.

Oh, and I will protect Tipp with my life and Caldon is my new bestie. Kill off either of them, Ms Noni, then you’ll have a sobbing mess on your hands.
The Man Who Died Twice, by Richard Osman

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adventurous challenging funny sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

[copy via netgalley]

TL;DR Recommendation:

The perfect book to escape shitty reality. The dose of humour we all need right now. Read it.

I bought the Thursday Murder Club from Goldsboro Books purely because it had foxes on the edges. Literally judged a book by its cover and then it lived on my shelf.

I regret not reading it sooner.

HOWEVER, it meant that I was closer to the sequel coming out so the sadness was shoved to the side pretty damn quickly.

In a nutshell: if you loved Thursday Murder Club, then you absolutely need to get The Man Who Died Twice. It’s more of the same and let’s face it – we all need a stupid, chaotic and downright daft story these days. Here’s what you’re in for:

✨ Return of the senior citizen crime-busting gang
✨ Missing diamonds
✨ THE MOB
✨ Chaos

Elizabeth’s ex-colleague turns up. Who also happens to be her ex-husband. Who was also supposed to be dead, so that throws a bit of a spanner into the works. Turns out the wee lad is in a big ol’ pile of shit because of some sparkly stones and is in desperate need of her help.

Whilst that’s going on, there’s also a double murder to solve as well as a mugging, a dabble on Instagram and a drug overlord. Basically, these old-timers have their hands full which is handy ’cause they ain’t got much else to keep them busy these days.

This will be a short review for the main fact I refuse to give away any more of the plot.

Whilst this is very much a wonderful sequel to the first book, it’s another page-turner that you won’t be able to put down.

HOWEVERRRRR – This book probably won’t be for everyone – its humour is drier than the Sahara and some plot lines are so out there that you’re just like what the fuck was that. But you know what? I really don’t care. We live in a world that’s not a lot of fun right now and I need a bit of chaos via a book to brighten it up.