Title: The Betrayals

Author: Bridget Collins

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

There’s a silence, like the gap between two ticks of a clock.

Then she turns away, unable to look at his face.

Léo was once a student at Montverre, an exclusive academy tucked away in the mountains, where students learn an arcane and mysterious game. Now he returns in disgrace, exiled to his old place of learning.

Claire is the first woman to serve as Montverre’s Magister Ludi. When Léo first sees Claire he senses a connection with her, though he’s sure they have never met before.

As secrets whisper in the walls and the legendary Midsummer Game, the climax of the year, draws closer, will Léo discover the truth about Claire – and will that truth destroy them both?

The Review

Reading a story in which initially you think the main character in the novel is a rat could have turned this reader right off this book. However, having loved The Binding I persevered with Bridget Collins second novel The Betrayals and it was a good thing I did because much like The Binding I found myself loving this sophomore release.

The reasons I enjoyed it are two fold. Firstly, I love a good mystery and I love the moment the penny drops. The later the better for me, I want to be shocked by events and I totally was by The Betrayals. The twists, the turns, the sense of injustice. I loved it all. Secondly, it was a campus novel. For me, that it usually enough.

Add into the mix a bit of romance, a bit of class division and a dollop of a corrupt government and I am sold. If you like these things too then you should make The Betrayals your next read.

The Betrayals by Bridget Collins is available now.

For more information regarding Bridget Collins (@Br1dgetCollins) please visit www.thebindingbook.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit the Twitter account.

Title: Cuts Both Ways

Author: Candice Braithwaite

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

The Blurb

Love is never just black and white…

A sharp and authentic love story about 16-year-old Cynthia, who finds herself caught between two brothers: one who is Black and the other who is white. Tackling the complexities of growing up Black and British, Cuts Both Ways is the first fiction title from the Sunday Times best-selling Candice Brathwaite, author of I Am Not Your Baby Mother.

London is everything to Cynthia, so when her parents move her to a place where there is only one bus an hour and the faint smell of horse manure continuously permeates the air, it’s a culture shock, to say the least. As is transitioning to a private school.

At her new school, Cynthia immediately finds herself caught between two brothers – head boy Thomas, who is white, and his adopted Black brother, Isaac. There is something about Isaac she cannot quite get enough of … but her father wants her to partner up with someone like Thomas, someone who will be ‘better for her future prospects’.

When it turns out the brothers have been keeping secrets from her, secrets that link back to the life Cynthia thought she had left behind in London, she realises that not everything is as it seems.

How can Cynthia follow her heart when it’s being torn in two?

An exploration of race, class, love and the complexities of growing up as a Black British teen, from bestselling author Candice Brathwaite.

The Review

Wow. Where do I even begin with this book. Cuts Both Ways is like an onion. There are layers. On the surface level it is about a boy and a girl who fall in love. On a deeper level it is a Romeo and Juliet tale with a basis in crime. On a deeper level it is about the socio-political and economic values and expectations that the BPOC community face on a daily basis.

It is the story about Cynthia. She is starting a new school and leaving her old life in London behind. The murder of her older brother has had her family moving away from the living memory of the crime but Cynthia struggles when it comes to her new way of life.

In her school she meets a plethora of new people some kind and some not so much. However, it is when she meets brothers Thomas and Isaac that things really start to unravel.

When Cynthia discovers a shocking secret about one of the brothers her whole new life begins to unfold once again. Cynthia is torn between feelings of love and feelings of loyalty.

Cuts Both Ways was a really powerful read and its ending – whilst not ambiguous – certainly allows for more of the story to be told and I really home that Candice Braithwaite turns it into a series.

Cuts Both Ways by Candice Braithwaite is available now.

For more information regarding Candice Braithwaite (@candicebraithwaite) please visit her Instagram account.

For more information regarding Hachette Children’s Group (@HachetteKids) please visit www.hachettechildrens.co.uk.

Title: Stargazer

Author: Laurie Petrou

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Verve Books

The Blurb

It’s a fine line between admiration and envy.

Diana Martin has lived her life in the shadow of her sadistic older brother. She quietly watches the family next door, enthralled by celebrity fashion designer Marianne Taylor and her feted daughter, Aurelle.

She wishes she were a ‘Taylor girl’.

By the summer of 1995, the two girls are at university together, bonded by a mutual desire to escape their wealthy families and personal tragedies and forge new identities.

They are closer than lovers, intoxicated by their own bond, falling into the hedonistic seduction of the woods and the water at a remote university that is more summer camp than campus.

But when burgeoning artist Diana has a chance at fame, cracks start to appear in their friendship. To what lengths is Diana willing to go to secure her own stardom?

The lines between love, envy and obsession blur in Laurie Petrou’s utterly enthralling, unceasingly tense novel. A darkly compelling coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, and Emma Cline’s The Girls.

The Review

Oooh two of the tropes I love are Toxic Friendships and Campus Novels. I love them. Love, love, love them and so I was thrilled when I read Stargazer because it combined the two. A little bit Single White Female, Stargazer focuses on the friendship between Diana and Aurelle. Whilst they have been friends for a relatively short time the relationship takes place during that period of discovery, when friendships mean the absolute world to you. However, Diane becomes very envious of everything Aurelle has and wants a bit of that for herself. The more time the spend together, the more Diane infringes on Aurelle’s life.

This is when the novel takes its creepy turn.

Stargazer is a book that creeps up and down your body making you have a visceral reaction to what is happening. When a novel can have you looking over your shoulder in fear then you know you have written something good.

Stargazer by Laurie Petrou is available now.

For more information regarding Laurie Petrou (@lauriepetrou) please visit www.lauriepetrou.com.

For more information regarding Verve Books (@VERVE_Books) please visit their Twitter account.

Title: Plain Bad Heroines

Author: Emily M Danforth

Pages: 640 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

⚠️ WARNING: keep this book away from impressionable female readers⚠️

🐝🐝🐝

1902, Brookhants School for Girls: students Flo and Clara are madly in love with each other, as well as completely obsessed with The Story of Mary MacLane, the scandalous debut memoir by 19 year old MacLane. A few months later they are found dead in the woods, after a horrific wasp, the book lying next to their intertwined bodies. Within five years The Brookhants School for Girls is closed. But not before three more people died on the property, each in a troubling way.

Over a hundred years later, Brookhants opens its doors once more, when a crew of young actresses arrive to film a high-profile movie about the rumoured Brookhants curse. And as past and present become grimly entangled, it’s soon impossible to tell quite where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins…

🐝🐝🐝

For fans of Sarah Waters, Curtis Sittenfeld and Shirley Jackson, Plain Bad Heroines is by turns sharply witty and deeply unsettling: a modern gothic novel that is utterly immersive and hugely compelling.

The Review

A sapphic campus mystery chunkster of a novel. Plain Bad Heroines is exactly the kind of novel that I needed in my life.

The dual timeline story focuses on the deaths of two young girls at Brookhants School for Girls and the impact of that event throughout the proceeding years. We focus on the lives of the teachers in the school at that time along with the actors playing those parts in a movie interpretation during modern day. However, curious things start happening on set which suggests that the Brookhants curse is still ongoing.

Plain Bad Heroines was a beast of a novel and I flipping loved it. I loved the story within a story and the voices where so distinct and I felt completely immersed in the novel. It highlights the historical attitude to lesbian relationships and the institutions that tried to keep girls separate. It was just so multilayered and even though it was 640 pages long I kind of felt like I wanted more. For a novel to leave your feeling that way you know it is something good.

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth is available now.

For more information regarding Emily M Danforth (@emdanforth) please visit www.emdanforth.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Madam

Author: Phoebe Wynne

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Quercus

The Blurb

For 150 years, Caldonbrae Hall has loomed high above the Scottish cliffs as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises that its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’.

Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher and new head of department. Rose is overwhelmed by the institution: its arcane traditions, unrivalled prestige, and terrifyingly cool, vindictive students. Her classroom becomes her haven, where the stories of fearless women from ancient Greek and Roman history ignite the curiosity of the girls she teaches and, unknowingly, the suspicions of the powers that be.

But as Rose uncovers the darkness that beats at the very heart of Caldonbrae, the lines between myth and reality grow ever more blurred. It will be up to Rose – and the fierce young women she has come to love – to find a way to escape the fate the school has in store for them, before it is too late.

The Review

Madam by Phoebe Wynne was one of my most anticipated books of 2021. I love campus novels especially when there are unsettling undertones and mysterious elements involved and Madam has both of these things in spades.

It is the story of Rose, a young Classics teacher who has seemingly hit the occupational jackpot by being given the opportunity to work at an elite academy for young girls. However, things are not all that they seem. Pertinent information is kept from Rose as she is initially put on a probationary period. Rose is constantly on the backfoot from the teachers and from the students who know the ways and traditions of Caldonbrae. As Rose discovers the truth she has to come to a decision about the kind of teacher she wishes to be.

Phoebe Wynne has created a deeply unsettling novel. As my suspicions grew and as Iearned more about the academy alongside Rose I felt more and more uncomfortable. When a writer manages to get a visceral response from a reader you know that they have done a great job.

Madam by Phoebe Wynne will be released 13th May 2021.

For more information regarding Phoebe Wynne (@phoebewynne) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Quercus (@QuercusBoks) please visit www.quercusbooks.co.uk.