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3 Books I’ve Read Recently: Mountains, Cults & Memoirs

March 3, 2022 in Book Reviews
March Reviews: Breathless by Amy McCulloch, Messy Roots by Laura Gao & This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel

AD • I received copies of these books from the publishers either directly or via NetGalley. My reviews are voluntary and opinions are entirely my own.

Hey there book fans and happy World Book Day! To celebrate the occasion, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about some of the books I’ve read recently that I haven’t had a chance to review yet.

First up, we’ve got a thriller! How does a murderer loose on one of the tallest mountains in the world sound? Add in a novice mountaineer who is desperate to reach the summit in order to get the story that will launch her career and you’ve got high stakes, atmosphere and danger at every turn. If I’ve piqued your interest so far, read on to find out what I thought of Breathless by Amy McCulloch.

Breathless
by Amy McCulloch

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Date of Publication: 17th February 2022
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: n/a
Format: eBook (395 pages)
Source: Review copy via NetGalley

Available Formats:
Hardcover • eBook • Audiobook

As I’ve said, this one follows a journalist who went viral after sharing a story about a harrowing experience she had while mountaineering with her boyfriend. She’s then contacted by this famous mountaineer and invited to join a climb where she will, after reaching the summit, get the story of the lifetime. So she pushes her anxieties down and accepts the invitation. And then the bodies start piling up. She quickly realises that there might be another story to tell and starts digging which ultimately puts her in even more danger than she was already in, being on a mountain and all.

This was an absolutely breathtaking read and a phenomenal debut from McCulloch. It gripped me from the start. I could relate deeply with Cecily and genuinely found myself rooting for her which I think really helped to up the stakes. There’s a little bit of body horror in here and a LOT of deaths. But overall, I thought this was an incredible thriller that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.


Next up is a graphic memoir for the YA audience. This one is called Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese-American by Laura Gao. It follows Laura, a Wuhanese-American, through her teenage years and into adulthood.

Messy Roots
by Laura Gao

Publisher: Balzer & Bray / Harperteen
Date of Publication: 8th March 2022
Genre: Graphic Novel – YA
Series: n/a
Format: Paperback (272 pages)
Source: Review copy from publishers

Available Formats:
Hardcover • eBook

This one is very much a coming-of-age story but it’s so much more than that. It’s a poignant discussion of what it means to belong when you fit into multiple identity labels and even more specifically, how it feels when one of those identities becomes the target for hate crimes.

I really enjoyed how the author shared their journey, blending together their Chinese and American culture, as they make sense of who they are – as part of their heritage and as an individual. There’s a lot of questioning involved across the board. It’s not just about race or cultural heritage but also Laura’s sexuality and personality as a whole. And yeah, I just thought that it really got across the complexities of human identity and that critical period as a young adult when you’re trying to figure it all out.

*Content warnings for racism and homophobia.


And finally, another thriller. This one was high on my anticipated releases having heard so much praise for the author’s previous novel, The Recovery of Rose Gold. (Which I still haven’t read!) You’ve guessed it – my next review is This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel.

This Might Hurt
by Stephanie Wrobel

Publisher: Penguin
Date of Publication: 3rd March 2022
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: n/a
Format: eBook (373 pages)
Source: Review copy via NetGalley

Available Formats:
Hardcover • eBook • Audiobook

This follows Natalie who receives a mysterious and threatening email from the self-help retreat where her sister is currently staying. She immediately heads to Wisewood – a remote island where visitors surrender access to the outside world and their own personal privacy. As you’d expect, nothing is quite what it seems and Wisewood comes across as very cultish. Beyond the mystery, This Might Hurt is very much about how far we can bend and what lengths we might be willing to go to.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this as much as I’d hoped. There were multiple POVs, multiple timelines and it didn’t really work for me. I also found that I couldn’t connect with any of the characters which meant that I didn’t care what happened to them and I do think that’s an important factor for me.

While there’s a lot of suspense, I’m not entirely sure that I’d call this a mystery or a thriller. The mysteries contained in the story were more uncovering secrets than anything else and the most thrilling thing was the remote and somewhat claustrophobic setting.

However, I do think that the way that Wrobel built up the main characters from childhood well into adulthood was masterfully executed. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t what I expected or hoped to get out of this book.

So there you have it – three brand new releases reviewed by yours truly! Have any of these piqued your interest? Will you be adding any to your TBR? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Hayley @ Cosy Chapters

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Hayley

I'm Hayley (she/her) and I'm more than a little bit bookish. Cosy Chapters is where I share all things book-related plus the occasional post about the cosy lifestyle. When I'm not reading, you'll find me spending time with my little family, rewatching sitcoms, planning the now somewhat elusive trip to Disneyland Paris and losing entire days playing ACNH.

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Welcome to Cosy Chapters!

I'm Hayley (she/her) and I'm more than a little bit bookish.

Cosy Chapters is where I share all things book-related plus the occasional post about the cosy lifestyle.

When I'm not reading, you'll find me spending time with my little family, rewatching sitcoms, planning the now somewhat elusive trip to Disneyland Paris and losing entire days playing ACNH.

Follow Cosy Chapters on WordPress.com

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