Beauty Queens

Teen beauty queens. A lost island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives deep in the heart of every girl, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror!

When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island’s other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

As a child, I really enjoyed Lord of the Flies and often wondered how the things would have turned out if the castaways were girls. This book didn’t exactly answer that question as the castaways were teenage US beauty queens, a far cry from preteen public school boys. This book was satire which I think resulted in me absolutely loving this book.

Initially, the book lets the reader know that this world is not our world. There is a somewhat dystopian world with a powerful corporation taking charge. In this world, women seem to exist purely to be beautiful and misogyny is the expectation.

I was the introduced to a whole gang of teenage beauty queens who were someone one dimensional with each taking a very distinct role and a scuffle for power occurred. Miss Texas ended up taking control of the Beauty Queens and was insistant on continuing with their training for the contest. Now, this is where I have to admit that the only name/title that I remember was Miss Texas. Instantly I disliked her because the others wanted to build shelters, find food and water, try to find a way off of the island…but Miss Texas wanted to practice the dance number. I found this annoying initially but it worked as the book was satirical.

I really enjoyed seeing the girls bond after being fierce rivals. A sisterhood was created. I enjoyed reading about the girls growing and gaining confidence in themselves.

There was a discovery on the island that showed the reader that this was no ordinary remote island. Things were a bit off and dangers galore.

Half way through the book, a pirate ship showed up. On this ship we’re the stars of a reality tv show, they were on the run and crashed upon the Beauty Queens’ island. These pirates were arrogant and misogynistic and I hated them. Some later redeemed themselves but this was my least favourite part of the book.

This was such a wild ride of a book. An adventure! It was silly and fun but had a lot of heart. There were some very wise moments hidden between talk of lipgloss and boys. I think I will reread this book when I want a chuckle, I’d like to find more books by this author too.

I wish I knew about this book years ago! I only learned about it recently after reading (and loving) Patricia Wants to Cuddle. I do want to warn that this book includes weights, the weights of the contestants. As a person who received treatment for disordered eating from the ages of 12-30, I found this to take my brain to a bad place despite being 6 years out of treatment. So please be aware of this if you think that this may be harmful to you

Book Recommendation of the Month, Reviews

The Writing Retreat

A book deal to die for.

Five attendees are selected for a month-long writing retreat at the remote estate of Roza Vallo, the controversial high priestess of feminist horror. Alex, a struggling writer, is thrilled.

Upon arrival, they discover they must complete an entire novel from scratch, and the best one will receive a seven-figure publishing deal. Alex’s long-extinguished dream now seems within reach.

But then the women begin to die.

Trapped, terrified yet still desperately writing, it is clear there is more than a publishing deal at stake at Blackbriar Estate. Alex must confront her own demons – and finish her novel – to save herself.

This unhinged, propulsive, claustrophobic closed-door thriller will pull you in and spit you out…

I bought this book earlier this month and just kept thinking about it and how much I wanted to read it but I was saving it for May. I then had a horrible time so I decided to listen to my heart and pick up that book that I was saving because I wanted to read it now (April is my worst month, I’m never in a good place in April). Please do not make the mistake I made; if you want to read a book, just read it. Picking up this book was the right move because I devoured it within 24 hours. I did not want to put it down!

This book is super new, it’s a 2023 release and for once, I got to a book before anyone else I knew. I know I wasn’t the first person to read this but I don’t know/follow anyone else who had featured this book other than in hauls or TBR lists. This meant that I went into this book with no real expectations other than based on the blurb. How weird it felt to read a book without being able to gauge my future enjoyment of a book based on how other people reacted to it!

I loved this book! To the point where I didn’t need to think about my rating because it was a solid 5/5. This book gave me everything I’d hoped for: strong female characters, flawed characters, drama, secluded location, murder mystery, and drama (so much drama that I wrote it twice).

This book was split into four distinct parts which I felt right. The additional part at the end worked!

Part one was the initial set up. The main character was introduced. Alex was struggling in her life, she’d had a friendship breakup and was feeling lost. I loved getting to see her and her ex bestie have a little drama because I love the drama! The writing retreat was introduced and I just thought how lovely it sounded and if my writing ever got anywhere, how much I’d love to go to a writing retreat (not this one though, no retreats with murder! Maybe I just stay at home with my wee pink keyboard?). All of the characters were introduced and I really enjoyed them. I got some spidey sense tingling from a few of them and I was excited to find out whether I was right or not.

Part two had the writing retreat in full swing. The retreat wasn’t exactly what the attendees were expecting. The location was developed and was delightfully creepy and exactly what I wanted! I love a creepy and secluded location with shadows in every corner. This is where it all started to get scary and somebody went missing.

Part three was just pure drama and I loved it! It all happened. Reveals were unearthed ane I did not see these twists coming. I audibly gasped multiple times. This book kept me guessing! There was a finale and part three is where the book could have ended but instead, decisions were made and while I was a bit confused at the time, these decisions made sense!

Part four had even more drama and the extra big finale came. This was not the ending I expected but it was the one I needed.

This book kept me uncomfortably tense just waiting to find out what happened next. I loved everything about this book and I can’t understand how it fit so much into a 300 page book!

In addition to the creepy events of the house, there were toxic relationships galore in addition to genuine friendship. I cannot recommend this book enough! It felt like it mixed together elements from multiple books that I adore (Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth, Bunny by Mona Awad, and Other People’s Clothes by Calla Hankel). I know this book wasn’t made for me but it felt like it was.

Book Recommendation of the Month, Reviews, Scottish Reads, Vlogs

Strong Female Character

I preordered Fern Brady’s non fiction book over a year before it was released, I didn’t even know what it was going to be about but I knew that I loved this comedian and I was excited to see what they wrote. Let me say that this book did not disappoint!

This book deserved a dedicated vlog

This was a memoir that included multiple tales from their youth, their time working in a strip club, their early comedy career as well as Fern’s autism diagnosis.

I didn’t know a great deal about autism when I started this book and I feel like I learned a lot. I also want to go on and learn more. I feel like this is the mark of a wonderful piece of non fiction, it makes you think but also that it makes you want to go on and learn more.

I read this book with the audiobook too, like a book on tape! I feel like this was an excellent way to consume this book and is my preferred way of reading memoirs. I like to hear the book literally in the author’s own words.

I laughed, I cried, I went down google rabbit holes. This was a very easy 5 star rating!

Book Recommendation of the Month, Reviews


Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England’s Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny,” and seem to move and speak as one.

But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salon,” and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door–ditching her only friend, Ava, in the process. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the Bunnies’ sinister yet saccharine world, beginning to take part in the ritualistic off-campus “Workshop” where they conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur. Soon, her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies will be brought into deadly collision.

The spellbinding new novel from one of our most fearless chroniclers of the female experience, Bunny is a down-the-rabbit-hole tale of loneliness and belonging, friendship and desire, and the fantastic and terrible power of the imagination.

Wow! Just…wow! This book was absolutely spectacular.

The characters were so interesting and unpredictable. Samantha was on the outside and seemed pretty content to be on the outside. She had a couple of friends but not in her class. I thought she was a little bit lonely and lost. The bunnies were so creepy! They had their own individual personalities yet functioned more as one singular unit. The bunnies wore twee/cutesy clothing (I own a few garments mentioned in this book. Should I be offended or scared?).

I love a creepy girl gang. This is my favourite trope! The bunnies were almost cult like. They gave and they took away. Just when I felt that they might just be an intense symbiotic group, things escalated pretty dramatically.

I really enjoyed the bleak university setting. A grand and historical campus surrounded by streets filled with danger. This enhanced the isolation that Samantha found herself to be in.

The Smut Salon genuinely had me aghast! I don’t know what I had expected from this book but I hadn’t expected that.

There were points where it wasn’t clear whether events were happening in the reality of the book or just in the characters’ minds. I am a fan of an unreliable narrator where it’s sort of left up to the reader to determine whether things actually happened.

Every single character in this book was dodgy. They were all hiding something and I just loved trying to work out the characters and get to the bottom of what was going on.

I feel like this book had me on edge the entire time! I feel like I just didn’t know what was going to happen next and I kind of loved that.

This was such a hauntingly chilling book. The atmosphere was so creepy, the characters were so interesting, and the plot just kept me guessing! I also loved the subtle nods throughout the book to the film Heathers, which is one of my favourite films! It gave me almost some nostalgia and I just love this sort of dark and creepy book. It reminded me a little of Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth and Other People’s Clothes by Calla Henkel. Not necessarily in plot but the general vibes and in the way that I loved them all.


Killers of a Certain Age

They’ve spent their lives as the deadliest assassins in a clandestine international organization, but now that they’re sixty years old, four women friends can’t just retire – it’s kill or be killed in this action-packed thriller.

Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have worked for the Museum, an elite network of assassins, for forty years. Now their talents are considered old-school and no one appreciates what they have to offer in an age that relies more on technology than people skills.

When the foursome is sent on an all-expenses paid vacation to mark their retirement, they are targeted by one of their own. Only the Board, the top-level members of the Museum, can order the termination of field agents, and the women realize they’ve been marked for death.

Now to get out alive they have to turn against their own organization, relying on experience and each other to get the job done, knowing that working together is the secret to their survival. They’re about to teach the Board what it really means to be a woman–and a killer–of a certain age.

I was originally a little bit apprehensive going into this book. I love a book with strong female characters but I don’t read a lot of assassin/secret agency books. I was very pleasantly surprised and I had a great time with this one!

I had been very excited to read this one as I am a sucker for a female led story and female friendship.

I really enjoyed the characters. The main characters were 60 year old women and I felt that their interactions were so reminiscent of when I’d see my mum chat to her friends. I really appreciated that the characters weren’t described as being wee old ladies! They had known each other for 40 years and when they got together they somewhat regressed and silly in jokes and their dynamic felt very realistic. I was so worried that they’d be described as being a bit doddery and delicate as so often happens when people write older characters but these characters worked for me.

I do feel like I kept forgetting one of the main characters as there was a bit of development that I felt was lacking. There was the main character, there was the woman who was mourning her husband and was ready to retire, the other two characters merged into one. I kept forgetting there were four main characters and not three.

The story was told through dual timeline. I love a dual timeline! We flipped between a modern day setting where the women were being hunted down and were unsure who to trust and 1979/80. In the flashback sections, I got to learn about the society and how the women were recruited and trained.

I could have happily read an entire book about the founding of the Sphinxes! I wish there were more flashbacks.

There was a betrayal on this book and it felt very obvious who was behind it. I also felt that I saw the twist coming very early on. This disappointed me a little as I think the book could have gone down a different route and done something shocking to the plot.

I really enjoyed this though. I enjoyed the characters, mature female friendship, and women using their skills to win the day. I enjoyed the way that they put their years of work to good use and were forced to work without their usual resources. I highly recommend this one!



The Earth is in environmental collapse. The future of humanity hangs in the balance. But a team of women are preparing to save it. Even if they’ll need to steal a spaceship to do it.

Despite increasing restrictions on the freedoms of women on Earth, Valerie Black is spearheading the first all-female mission to a planet in the Goldilocks Zone, where conditions are just right for human habitation.

The team is humanity’s last hope for survival, and Valerie has gathered the best women for the mission: an ace pilot who is one of the only astronauts ever to have gone to Mars; a brilliant engineer tasked with keeping the ship fully operational; and an experienced doctor to keep the crew alive. And then there’s Naomi Lovelace, Valerie’s surrogate daughter and the ship’s botanist, who has been waiting her whole life for an opportunity to step out of Valerie’s shadow and make a difference.

The problem is that they’re not the authorized crew, even if Valerie was the one to fully plan the voyage. When their mission is stolen from them, they steal the ship bound for the new planet.

But when things start going wrong on board, Naomi begins to suspect that someone is concealing a terrible secret — and realizes time for life on Earth may be running out faster than they feared . . .

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so I am so happy that it finally got a time to shine. This book did indeed shine! I gave this book five stars and I was so sad that there is no 6/5 rating or a wee gold star I can add because five stars felt inadequate.

I have been saying for so long that I want to read more sci-fi. Sci-fi and fantasy are my favourite genres (along with Murder mysteries) but for whatever reason, I haven’t found myself reaching for a sci-fi book for a long time. I know the reason, I read a bad one and I got scared of reading another unfulfilling space romp. This book was the perfect reintroduction to sci-fi. This was more a sci-fi thriller than pure sci-fi, which I wasn’t expecting but it was a pleasant surprise.

I felt instantly drawn into the action. From the first chapter I was hooked and felt invested in the mission. This was a very fast paced story and it felt like no words were wasted, everything felt relevant.

I loved the characters. Of the characters on the ship; there were five of them and they were all strong, smart, and capable women. If there’s one thing I want in my novels, it’s a strong female character. These women were the best in their fields but because of the way the world was, they lost out due purely to being female. We got a look into the characters’ backstories and I really felt like I got to know them all and care about them.

Straight away there was an element of doubt. I wasn’t sure if there was someone being sneaky or whether it was the whole space ship thing that made me suspicious. I loved not being sure!

The stakes in this plot were high. As a human, what could be higher than the fate of the earth and humanity itself? The world didn’t feel too unrealistic a version of our own. This book really gave a picture of what could happen to the world if we don’t start treating her better. This book also came out around about the time of the current pandemic so it was really interesting having a book that referenced it. This may be the first novel I’ve read that mentioned it.

I was so excited reading about the theft of the spaceship and about space travel. This was more of a realistic space travel story than I’m used to so it was really interesting to learn some things along the way.

The attitude of the world towards women made me so angry! That women were to just make one baby and not have any career just infuriated me. If this is your choice then I wholeheartedly support that but it was the fact that choice had been removed, that is what annoyed me. This book actually had some foreshadowing to events happening right now. Maybe I read a psychic book?

The chapters flitted between times and locations but this didn’t feel disorienting. While one chapter could be in space and the next in Scotland, they tied in really well or provided an explanation. This aided to the fast pace of the novel.

I absolutely loved this book and it’s reignited my love of sci-fi! I also have heard that this author has written some fantasy which I will be looking up. I’m so happy to have found this book. It was so scary to think that this could happen!