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.

Genre: YA Fiction/LGBTQIA+

The Gist: A group of friends head off to university. Whilst they begin to lose each other, they also begin to find themselves.  

Short Review: Loveless is the story of friendship that falls apart when they all discover themselves at university. Love, new social groups and dealing with sexuality are all things that impact this story.

Long Review: Georgia and her friends Pip and Jason are off to Durham University. Whilst her friends are off meeting people and having new adventures Georgia realises that she doesn’t feel the same as they do when it comes to new relationships. 

Whilst everyone is pairing off Georgia struggles to find anyone. She starts to question her sexuality. She doesn’t think that she is a lesbian like her best friend Pip; she tries to go out with other best friend Jason but that relationship repulses her. Georgia doesn’t know why she is feeling this way and it is making her miserable. 

I absolutely loved Loveless. For me, Alice Oseman really is the leading voice in talking to teens about sexuality. I learned so much from this book and I know that when I was a teenager my friends and I would have appreciated a book like this that answers questions that we didn’t even know we had.

Loveless is a brilliant book, one that has friendship at the heart and one that is ironically full of love. It was fantastic.

Loveless by Alice Oseman is available now.

For more information regarding Alice Oseman (@AliceOseman) please visit www.aliceoseman.com.

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

Title: The Letting Go

Author: Deborah Markus

Pages: 360 Pages

Publisher: Sky Pony

The Blurb

Everyone Emily has ever loved has been brutally murdered. The killer has never been caught, but Emily knows who’s responsible.

She is.

It’s the only possible explanation. Emily is the one thing all the victims have in common, which can only mean that someone—or something—is killing them to make her suffer.

Determined never to subject another person to the same horrible fate as her parents, friends, and pets, Emily sequesters herself at a private boarding school, keeping her classmates at a distance with well-timed insults and an unapproachable air. Day after day, she loses herself in the writing of Emily Dickinson—the poet makes a perfect friend, since she’s already dead.

Emily’s life is lonely, but it’s finally peaceful. That is, until two things happen. A corpse appears on the steps of the school. And a new girl insists on getting close to Emily—unknowingly setting herself up to become the killer’s next victim.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

The Letting Go is a campus novel. Our protagonist, Emily, has an obsession with Emily Dickinson – who history has recorded as having an obsession with death – much like our protagonist, Emily. Confused?

I really thought I would enjoy The Letting Go. Yes, I bought it on the strength of the book cover – an act that has burned me many times before. However, the story is told in a really disorienting choppy way that made me feel like I couldn’t keep up with what was going on. When the main dramatic moments happened I was so lost and confused that I honestly thought I hav accidentally read ahead.

For a story which seemed to have a lot of potential…based on the cover…it had a really disappointing execution.

The Letting Go by Deborah Markus is available now.

For more information regarding Sky Pony Press (@skyponypress) please visit www.skyhrse.com.