Saturday, 27 February 2021

Five Most Anticipated YA Audiobook Releases in March 2021

Audiobook Releases March 2021 | Superior Young Adult Fiction

I genuinely can't believe it's almost March already. I know that years begin to accelerate as you grow older but lockdown seems to be making time speed by. January and February were okay but we had a lot of snow and that means I didn't go for my usual runs or walks. I've made a promise to myself to correct that now that spring is on the way and that means I'll hopefully be listening to more audiobooks. I'm hesitant because I'm still listening to last months reads! Never mind, there is time to be found in your day if you just make the time to find it.

Here are the UK YA audiobook releases I’m most looking forward to in March 2021.

The Lake by Natasha Preston

Narrated by: Lillie Ricciardi
Length: 9 hrs and 2 mins
Release date: 02-03-21
Publisher: Listening Library


Hot on the heels of The Twin, the undisputed queen of YA thrillers is back with a scary and suspenseful listen about a summer camp filled with dark secrets.

Esme and Kayla once were campers at Camp Pine Lake. They're excited to be back this year as CITs (counsellors in training). Esme loves the little girls in her cabin and thinks it's funny how scared they are of everything - spiders, the surly head counsellor, the dark, boys... even swimming in the lake! It reminds her a little of how she and Kayla used to be, once. Before... it happened.

This sounds delightfully creepy and I love the cover. That's enough for me!

Pre-order The Lake

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Narrated by: Dion Graham
Series: Dear Martin, Book 1
Length: 4 hrs and 33 mins
Release date: 04-03-21
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio UK


Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League – but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighbourhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr Martin Luther King Jr for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr King to find out.

We've been waiting three long, arduous years for the audiobook of Dear Martin to be released in the UK, so long, in fact, that the sequel Dear Justyce is being released the same day. This is crazy, book publishers. You need to realise that we don't see nationality or location on Goodreads or Bookstagram and withholding rights in certain countries is stupid. Obviously, I'm pre-ordering this one after waiting so long to read it!

Pre-order Dear Martin or pre-order Dear Justyce.

A Better Bad Idea by Laurie Devore

Narrated by: Ann Marie Gideon, Catherine Taber
Length: 8 hrs
Release date: 16-03-21
Publisher: Listening Library


Laurie Devore's new YA novel is a searing look at a forgotten girl who has no good choices left, but one better bad idea....

Evelyn Peters is desperate. Desperate for a way out of McNair Falls, the dying southern town that's held her captive since the day she was born. Desperate to protect her little sister from her mother's terrifying and abusive boyfriend. And desperate to connect with anyone, even fallen golden boy Ashton Harper, longtime boyfriend of the girl Evelyn can never stop thinking about - beautiful, volatile, tragically dead Reid Brewer.

I'm getting strong Courtney Summers vibes from this one so of course I'm going to listen to it.

Pre-order A Better Bad Idea

The Cost Of Knowing by Brittney Morris

Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
Length: 9 hrs and 30 mins
Release date: 22-03-21
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books


Sixteen year old Alex Rufus lives with his younger brother, Isaiah, in a quiet neighbourhood in Chicago. But recently, the neighbours are on high alert - whenever they see someone they don't think looks safe, they take matters into their own hands, often calling the cops without reason.

Alex starts taking on more shifts at the local ice-cream shop, Scoops, and spending time with his girlfriend, Talia. But then Alex starts experiencing visions of the future whenever he touches objects or the people around him. And when he picks up a family photo, he has a vision that his younger brother, Isaiah, is going to die - he can't tell how, but he knows it will be soon.

I loved Brittney Morris's debut novel Slay and have been waiting for 18 long months to see what she'd release next. This sounds fascinating and a definite yes from me.

Pre-order The Cost of Knowing

A Time of Fear: America in the Era of Red Scares and Cold War by Albert Marrin

Narrated by: Jason Culp
Length: 5 hrs and 30 mins
Release date: 30-03-21
Publisher: Listening Library


From National Book Award Finalist and Sibert Honor Author Albert Marrin, a timely examination of Red Scares in the United States, including the Rosenbergs, the Hollywood Ten, and the McCarthy era.

In 20th-century America, no power - and no threat - loomed larger than the communist superpower of the Soviet Union. America saw in the dreams of the Soviet Union the overthrow of the US government, and the end of democracy and freedom. Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the United States attempted to use deep economic and racial disparities in American culture to win over members and sympathizers.

I was surprised to see this title at first - you don't see enough non-fiction YA titles but I can confirm that Marrin has written this specifically for a teen audience and it sounds fascinating. I'm all for history that isn't dry or boring.

Pre-order A Time of Fear

Click on any of the audiobook covers or links above to go straight to Amazon to pre-order. Alternatively, support local bookshops and visit the Addicted to Media YA Fiction Bookshop to see my recommendations.

All links above are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission from your purchase at no extra cost to you.


Saturday, 20 February 2021

Julie Kagawa returns with 'The Iron Raven' (Iron Fey: Evenfall #1) ★★★★☆

The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa | Superior YA Fiction | Book Review

This year is all about comfort and kindness for me. It's snowed for most of January and February, cutting me off from my usual runs and walks, and I've taken every opportunity to curl up with my cats, Kindle and a cup of tea. I was also able to reconnect with an old friend in the form of Julie Kagawa's brand new book in her Iron Fey series, The Iron Raven.

I can't believe I started reading the Iron Fey series a decade ago. It seems like yesterday and the characters feel so alive to me. Part of the reason for that is because I began listening to the series again on audiobook last year, starting with The Iron King. I'm probably exactly the kind of fan Kagawa was aiming at when she revisited the the world of the Iron Fey - I don't think I've said 'yes' to a Netgalley invitation so quickly in my life!

So it's obvious that I'm a fan and yes, I received an advanced copy of the book in exchange for a review, but can I give an objective review? I think I can.

The original Iron Fey trilogy focused on the rise of the Iron Queen, Meghan Chase, with a fourth book The Iron Knight focusing on Meghan's soulmate Winter Prince Ash embarking on a quest so that he could be with Meghan forevermore.

The second trilogy Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten moved the spotlight to Meghan's brother Ethan, whose kidnap into the NeverNever sparked events at the beginning of the series. Let's just agree that he is not enamoured with anything Faery and his trials lead him into confrontation with Meghan and Ash's son Keirran.

The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa | Superior YA Fiction | Book ReviewThe Iron Raven is the first book in the third trilogy, Iron Fey: Evenfall. The events in The Iron Raven take place many years after the previous trilogy and this time the narrator is Puck, world famous Summer faery and star of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. He is also best friends to Meghan and Ash and once mortal enemy to Ash.

After a chance encounter with Keirran, his Forgotten Fey servant Nyx and the cait smith Grimalkin, Puck joins them on a journey to the Town that Isn't There, a lost place on the border of the NeverNever and the Between, where faeries go to die. Their mission is to discover why all the town's fey have disappeared but what they discover there is more horrifying than they could ever have imagined. And so begins another quest, one where Puck must travel to the Iron Realm and beyond to warn Queen Meghan of the threat and to ultimately confront the evil.

The only problem is that following events in the Town that Isn't There, Puck is at risk of succumbing to the darkness within himself.

Puck was not always my favourite character in the Iron Fey series, in fact, it was quite easy to dislike him; his sense of entitlement towards Meghan was anything but endearing. Kagawa takes that to the next level in Iron Raven, examining Puck through the mirror of his faults and his deeper, darker side. I shouldn't have enjoyed it but somehow it worked, knowing that Puck is anything but perfect and that he has to tackle his weaknesses head on.

Puck isn't the only character on a journey of redemption in this book, and both Keirran and Nyx are on their own paths towards becoming whole again.

An enduring theme throughout the Iron Fey series to date was the threat of technology and the uneasy relationship between progress and the loss of traditional values. Something darker is at play in The Iron Raven; darkness, decay, destruction and the role of humans in destroying both the planet and the NeverNever. Evenfall is coming but Kagawa is just getting started and I can't wait for the rest of the series to see the true nature of the threat.

I give The Iron Raven an excellent four out of five stars. Quest and journey books are not my best but there was sufficient character development in The Iron Raven to keep me interested and ultimately leave me hungry for more. In fact, I'm definitely going to continue listening to the whole series on audiobook. Recommended if you like paranormal, YA fiction.


I received an electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley. I will always provide an honest review, whether books are provided to me or purchased by me.

Support local bookshops and buy The Iron Raven at You can also visit the Addicted to Media YA Fiction Bookshop to see my recommendations (note: both these links are affiliate links; I will receive a small commission if you purchase using these links at no extra cost to you).


Saturday, 30 January 2021

Keep or Delete: What's On My Playlist - January 2021 #NewMusicAlert

Keep or Delete | Brand new indie music discoveries | January 2021

Back in November, I made an early New Year's resolution to discover new music. That's going really well and far exceeding my ability to write about it. I've realised how music consumption has changed since the 90s. It used to be that you bought an entire album for one track and the rest might or might not be good. (I lived in South Africa in those days; singles were rare and expensive, albums imported and astronomical in price). These days, you really get the chance to explore an album before committing to physical media.

Keep or Delete

In homage to the track from the criminally underrated band The Whip, I'm embarking on what I hope will be a monthly series in 2021 called Keep or Delete. The concept is simple, I'm looking for those albums and artists that are keepers, the ones that will make it onto my permanent playlist of new and new-to-me music.

Brand new music

"Mad World" - Smallpox

I'll admit, it's entirely possible that I'm going to like any "Mad World" cover but this one is especially good. "Mad World" is the first single from Smallpox's The Covers Album which will be released on Dromedary Records. The band will releasing a new single every other week throughout 2021.

"Martha's Vineyard" - Mackenzie Shivers

I'm always excited for new material from Mackenzie Shivers and Rejection Letter, Shivers’ third full length album, will be released on April 2nd, 2021. Martha's Vineyard is the first single from the new album - how beautiful is that cover?

Ghost Smoke - League of the Black Rabbit

I love ensemble bands with vagabond sounds and when Tom Quarrelle's sister recommended her brother's band to me, she was spot on. League of the Black Rabbit hail from Bristol and I absolutely love this debut EP. Definitely a keeper.

Sketches and Ephemera - Eli August

Eli August is another artist I'm always excited to hear new music from, I love his narrative songs and heartbreaking lyrics, not to mention his voice. Sketches and Ephemera is a collection of mostly solo tracks and has the most beautiful cover. My favourite tracks are "Couplet", Baltimore" and "Dust".

"Careful Now My Son" - Anders / O'Bitz

I think a lot of music coming out in the near future will focus on lockdown, coronavirus and loss, not to mention the dying days of Trump's reign of terror. "Careful Now My Son" is the first track from singer-songwriter Eric Anders and guitarist-composer Mark O'Bitz from their collection "music in the time of coronavirus".

#WhatWeDoAtNight2 - Blank & Jones

The main reason for this project was to discover new indie and alternative music given that just about all I discovered in 2020 was prog house and trance albums to run to. I would be completely remiss if I didn't include this excellent album, follow up to 2017's equally brilliant #WhatWeDoAtNight. If the last time you listened to Blank & Jones was 1999, definitely give this album a listen. Oh, and it's great to run to.

New to me music

Ultra Mono - IDLES

IDLES were probably my biggest discovery in 2020 and I told anyone who'd listen that they needed to get their hands on Joy as an Act of Resistance. I love this post-punk band with their very noisy tracks and anarchic lyrics. Ultra Mono released in September and it is 12 non-stop bangers. "Ne Touche Pas Moi" needs to become the women's festival anthem. Just don't f-ing touch me!

Moral Panic - Nothing But Thieves

I'm not the biggest radio listener but that's become even more pronounced since I broke up with Radio X when they had a mid-life crisis in 2015 and became decidedly lad-centric. My other half still listens to Radio X - he is in their target demographic after all - and I'd heard them harping on about Nothing But Thieves in their 700 ad breaks an hour. Sadly, it took me way too long to check Nothing But Thieves out but I absolutely love Moral Panic, released in October 2020. My favourite track is Phobia but really, the whole album is brilliant to listen to on repeat, along with both Royal Blood albums.

Bunker Buds - Walter Alice Sickert

Remember how I said I love ensemble bands with a vagabond sound? I love Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys and Soft Time Traveler is one of my favourite albums (check out "Pornival"). The band have a distinctive 'steamcrunk' sound and ring leader Walter Sickert brought out a lockdown album in May. It's a remarkable snapshot of a very weird period in time and was written and recorded in a 24 hour time-span on the 29th and 30th of April 2020 for the RPM Challenge.

What are your discoveries of 2021 so far? Check out my review policy if you'd like me to listen to your track.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Horror Film Review: The Queen of Black Magic (2019) ★★★★★

The mark of a great film is when you swear fealty to the director, knowing that you will forevermore be a fan and follower of their work. I felt that way about Joko Anwar's Impetigore and was absolutely thrilled when I heard about his involvement in The Queen of Black Magic.

A Shudder Original, The Queen of Black Magic (original title Ratu Ilmu Hitam) is based on the classic 1981 Indonesian horror of the same name and was brought to life by two of Indonesia's modern masters of horror: director Kimo Stamboel and writer Joko Anwar.

The Queen of the Damned | Horror Film Review

In modern day Indonesia, a family forego their usual vacation in Bali and head instead to the orphanage where their father Hanif (Ario Bayu, Impetigore) grew up along with his friends Jefri (Miller Khan) and Anton (Tanta Ginting). The man who raised them is dying and the men want to pay their respects. Soon Hanif, Jefri, Anton and their families will learn that the sins of the past will not remain buried and that someone wants them dead.

The Queen of Black Magic is breathtaking. There is so much story crammed into this film that the various threads tumbled around in my head for days afterwards; it shouldn't have worked but it did. Stamboel and Anwar managed to carefully craft together a complex supernatural horror with devastating references to childhood abandonment and abuse; in the hands of lesser filmmakers, this film might have collapsed under the weight of its themes but The Queen of Black Magic triumphed.

The Queen of the Damned | Horror Film Review

Horror isn't always monsters and gore, sometimes it is crafted from memories and pain. The Queen of Black Magic captured perfectly the horror of returning to an orphanage, illustrating the visceral, almost palpable feeling of desperation, despair and sadness, the trauma of being left behind and the fear of never escaping. It is a sad, heavy feeling, especially going back and realising you've been running on empty ever since, trying to escape those humble beginnings.

Deeper than that, The Queen of Black Magic tackles the devastating impacts of childhood sexual abuse, the children who are forced to be complicit in those events and the life sentence cast on the victims.

At no point do the filmmakers attempt to shy away from the weight of these themes. Instead they look to horror to paint a lurid visual picture of these events.

The Queen of the Damned | Horror Film ReviewThe Queen of Black Magic is a bug horror. I have a real-world phobia of cockroaches and Parktown prawns (think giant, blood-red king crickets), so I usually find it difficult to enjoy bug horror. Not here. This was some of the best bug horror I've ever seen, authentically produced and very creepy. Sure, I was cringing like hell and watching between my fingers but it was very well done and absolutely necessary in the telling of the tale.

It is also about voodoo and black magic. I won't give anything away, but that climax was terrifying, reminiscent of Dante's Inferno as hell rains down on earth. It could have gone any way really and I'm dying to discuss those scenes with others who've seen the film.

The Queen of Black Magic is a creepy, scary horror that blends bugs, voodoo and the horrors of childhood trauma to deliver a powerful and unexpected ending. The performances are superb across the cast, especially in the host of young actors. I give it a superb five out of five stars and recommend it to fans of Train to Busan and Satan's Slaves. I am definitely a fan of Joko Anwar now, and of Kimo Stamboel too.


A Shudder original, The Queen of Black Magic releases 28 January 2021 on Shudder US, Shudder UK, Shudder Canada and Shudder ANZ.

The Queen of the Damned | Horror Film Review

The Queen of Black Magic Trailer


Saturday, 23 January 2021

Five YA Audiobook Releases I Can't Wait For in February 2021

I can’t believe we’re almost at the end of January. I'm writing from my home in sunny Kent and it's beginning to look like lockdown will be with us until at least mid-February, if not Easter. One of the things that is keeping me sane at the moment is long walks in the marshes near my house with just me, the creek and an audiobook for company. So without further ado, here are the 5 YA audiobooks I’m most looking forward to in February 2021.

The Library of the DEad by T. L. Huchu

Narrated by:Tinashe Warikandwa
Series: Edinburgh Nights, Book 1
Length: 9 hrs  
Release date: 02-02-21   
Publisher: Tor

When ghosts talk, she will listen....

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghost talker - and she now speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children - leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honour-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

They had me at the word ‘ghost’. This sounds very much like Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts (it’s even set in Edinburgh) and this is a definite listen for me. The author also just happens to have my favourite Zimbabwean name: Tendai.

Pre-order The Library of the Dead

The Project by Courtney Summers

Narrated by: Emily Shaffer, Therese Plummer
Length: 9 hrs and 52 mins
Release date: 02-02-21
Publisher: Macmillan Audio


From Courtney Summers, the New York Times best-selling author of the 2019 Edgar Award Winner and breakout hit, Sadie, comes a sensational follow-up - another pulls-no-punches thriller about an aspiring young journalist determined to save her sister from a cult.

I love Courtney Summers and her previous book Sadie was my Book of the Year in 2019. To say I’m excited for this one is an understatement.

Pre-order The Project

Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

Narrated by: Andrew Eiden, Jennifer Jill Araya
Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
Release date: 09-02-21
Publisher: HarperAudio


An explosive new novel by the author of the National Book Award-winning Challenger Deep and the New York Times best-selling Arc of a Scythe series, about the limited ways we see our world - and how a jolt out of the ordinary can upend the universe.

I have an embarrassing and heart-breaking confession to make: I haven’t yet read any of Neal Shusterman’s books, despite knowing that I really should. I tried to read Dry in March 2020 but those familiar with the story might understand why that wasn’t the best timing. Hopefully his latest release will be a game changer for me (sorry, not sorry).

Pre-order Game Changer

We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire by Joy McCullough

Narrated by: Frankie Corzo
Length: 7 hrs
Release date: 09-02-21
Publisher: Listening Library


From the author of the acclaimed Blood Water Paint, a new contemporary YA novel in prose and verse about a girl struggling with guilt and a desire for revenge after her sister's rapist escapes with no prison time.

This one looks really powerful and I'll make an early prediction that this could be up for Printz Award consideration.

Pre-order We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire

The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa

Narrated by: Josh Hurley
Length: 16 hrs
Release date: 09-02-21
Publisher: HQ Young Adult


‘You may have heard of me….'

Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Prankster, joker, raven, fool...King Oberon’s right-hand jester from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The legends are many, but the truth will now be known as never before, as Puck finally tells his own story and faces a threat unlike any before. A threat that brings him face-to-face with a new enemy...himself.

I love Julie Kagawa and have read all seven previous Iron Fey books plus accompanying novellas. I was also missing the Iron Fey series so much that I had begun consuming them again on audiobook last year. I can’t begin to express how excited I was to note that a brand new book is out in the Iron Fey universe, part of a planned trilogy based on Puck’s adventures.

Pre-order The Iron Raven

Click on any of the audiobook covers or links above to go straight to Amazon to pre-order. These are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission from your purchase at no extra cost to you.


Thursday, 14 January 2021

Horror Film Review: Hunted (2020) ★★★☆☆

This year came with no promises, so I'm preparing to bunker down with an endless supply of horror films. My first for 2021 is also my first from French director Vincent Paronnaud, Shudder original Hunted.

Hunted begins in a bar in Belgium where French contractor Eve is trying to have a good time, despite the uninvited attention of certain men in the bar. Her knight-in-shining-armour turns wicked wolf and suddenly Eve finds herself lost in a forest in a life-or-death battle for survival.

Lucie Debay is Eve | Hunted (2020) | Horror Film Review

Two maniac killers. The woods. Eve.

Hunted is a gory retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood story with onscreen violence and off-screen sexual assault. It is also the story of wolves and what one woman will do to survive and get her revenge.

Ariel Worthalter | Hunted (2020) | Horror Film Review

Belgian actress Lucie Debay (The Confession) shines as Eve, our intrepid survivor. Ariel Worthalter (Girl) is the absolutely psychopathic, unhinged wolf and Ciaran O'Brien (Misfits) is his feckless accomplice. It's a testament to Worthalter and O'Brien's performances that I detested them so much, not everyone can play such a convincing antagonist.

When the focus isn't on the wolf and his sick film hobby, Hunted is a beautiful film to watch. I loved the forest setting juxtaposed against the modern, soulless houses that Eve builds. The forest, with its perils and frozen rivers, made for a very atmospheric setting, disturbed by ample use of the colour red.

Hunted (2020) | Horror Film Review

There was also the fairytale element, more grim than glitter, and a fantastic cameo from Simone Milsdochter as The Huntress. I would definitely like to have seen more of her story explored. In fact, I'd have liked to have seen a different outcome, one where The Huntress played a greater role, where Eve had more agency than luck, and where our antagonists' fortunes were infinitely more unfortunate. That could just be me though, I'm not a great fan of Grindhouse or exploitation horror.

Nevertheless, Hunted was a fun film to kick of the year and I give it an okay three out of five stars.


Hunted premieres on Shudder tonight, 14 January 2021.

Hunted 2020 Trailer


Sunday, 13 December 2020

Unique Gifts for Music Lovers, Writers and Cat People

I've been following Surface Pattern Designer & Illustrator Gail Myerscough on Twitter for some time now. Not only does she have the cutest cat - Pete - I also love her work. So, in the hopes that one of my family spot this post, I'm going to highlight unique ideas from Gail's website that would be perfect for that difficult-to-buy-for music lover, writer or cat person in your life. There is also a handy 10% off voucher at the bottom!

Acknowledge Their Love of Vintage Record Players and Cassettes

Recognise Their Love of Soul With A Pam Print

Personalise A Typewriter Print

Realise That They Love Cats More Than People

Order by 16 December for Christmas delivery and use the code CHRISTMAS10 to get 10% off everything in Gail's online shop.

© 2005 - Mandy Southgate | Addicted to Media

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