Review + Q&A: “Foul is Fair” by Hannah Capin

42595554Title: Foul is Fair
Author: Hannah Capin
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content warning: Sexual assault, rape, physical violence, murder, suicide, transphobic bullying
(For a more comprehensive list of CWs please visit the author’s site.)
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

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ARC provided by the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Dark and gritty, Hannah Capin tells a tale of burning rage and bloody vengeance in her sophomore offering Foul is Fair.

Elle and her friends Mads, Jenney, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Revenge and murder, these two words seem to always draw my attention, and it’s those same words that brought me to this book.

Foul is Fair is vicious, bloody and unapologetically angry. Capin channels the Bard’s Macbeth putting her own twists to it supplanting power-grabbing, murderous Scottish nobles and prophesying witches with entitled rich kids from an elite prep school and a group of knife-sharp girls bonded by their pact of vengeance.

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This book doesn’t hold anything back but consider yourselves forewarned: a good chunk of what happens in this book is implausible so suspend your disbelief, leave it at the doorstep before delving in.

This book was just impossible to put down. The story is fast-paced; the writing is crisp and sharp. Capin tackles rape culture and privilege head on, no frills, no social commentary buried in complex prose. Manipulative, diabolic, and so full of dark, deadly secrets, her characters in this story are not ones you usually see or even want to root for. These characters are shallowly drawn, almost like a caricature – something that usually turns me off but for this story, it works.

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It may not be for everyone, Foul is Fair is grim, even more grim than I thought it would be. At several points, the story could be too much that’s it’s hard to continue pushing back your disbelief, but there is certainly something freeing reading something that puts into words some of the deepest and darkest thoughts you’ve had. If you’ve enjoyed Sadie (Courtney Summers,) The Female of the Species (Mindy McGinnis,) and Sawkill Girls (Claire Legrand,) this book is for you.

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Though it was tough at times, I enjoyed reading Foul is Fair. It was filled to the brim with heedless, reckless rage, which was just so deliciously gratifying.  So, I’m happy to have a chance to ask Hannah Capin a few short questions about her new book.

What inspired you to write Foul is Fair?

For a very long time, I’ve wanted to write a story that subverts the expected narrative of a sexual assault survivor. FOUL IS FAIR centers a girl who seizes her power back by any means necessary. She isn’t a “good girl,” she doesn’t do what she “should” do, and she absolutely never apologizes.

What would you like readers to take away after finishing this book?

That’s up to the reader! Books should *make* you think, not tell you *what* to think.

In 2 GIFs or emojis, sum up Foul is Fair.

about the authorHannah Capin

HANNAH CAPIN is the author of Foul is Fair and The Dead Queens Club, a feminist retelling of the wives of Henry VIII. When she isn’t writing, she can be found singing, sailing, or pulling marathon gossip sessions with her girl squad. She lives in Tidewater, Virginia.

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Special thanks go out to Meghan Harrington and Wednesday Books for inviting me to this tour and giving me the chance to read Foul is Fair in advance.

Review: “Before We Were Strangers” by Brenda Novak

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Title: Before We Were Strangers
Author: Brenda Novak
Publisher: MIRA/HarperCollins
Publication Date: December 4, 2018
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

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ARC provided by publisher through Edelweiss.

 

A young woman returns to her hometown in search of answers to the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. Suspenseful from start to finish, Brenda Novak’s newest Before We Were Strangers deals with small-town intrigue, deadly family secrets and one daughter’s righteous quest to give her mother the justice she deserves.

Something happened to her mother that night. Something no one wants to talk about. But she’s determined to uncover her family’s dark secrets, even if they bury her.

Five-year-old Sloane McBride couldn’t sleep that night. Her parents were arguing again, their harsh words heating the cool autumn air. And then there was that other sound–the ominous thump before all went quiet.

In the morning, her mother was gone. The official story was that she left. Her loving, devoted mother! That hadn’t sat any better at the time than it did when Sloane moved out at eighteen, anxious to leave her small Texas hometown in search of anywhere else. But not even a fresh start working as a model in New York could keep the nightmares at bay. Or her fears that the domineering father she grew up with wasn’t just difficult–he was deadly.

Now another traumatic loss forces Sloane to realize she owes it to her mother to find out the truth, even if it means returning to a small town full of secrets and lies, a jilted ex-boyfriend and a father and brother who’d rather see her silenced. But as Sloane starts digging into the past, the question isn’t whether she can uncover what really happened that night…it’s what will remain of her family if she does?

Brenda Novak, though she has over 50 titles under her name, is a new author to me, so I didn’t know what to expect when I finally picked up this book. All I had going for me was the enticing summary and that lovely, lovely cover.

I flew through the pages and finished it in record time.

Before We Were Strangers took me by surprise in all the good ways. From a protagonist I instantly rooted for to dubious characters and a despicable villain, and, of course, a second-chance romance that hits the heart — this book just had everything I’m looking for in a romantic mystery. It sucked me in, took me for a ride, and, oh my goodness, I loved every bit of it.

It was so easy to empathize with Sloane. Though she is far from perfect (and she did make several decisions that made me want to scream Stop, babe. Please, let’s just think this through) she was easy to like. She got me cheering for her instantly, and when Micah entered the picture, I immediately got on that wagon, too, as complicated as their situation was with Paige still waiting in the wings for a reconciliation that’s never happening. Sloane, as the protagonist of this story, got me invested on her from the beginning and I think that’s part of what made this book flow so easily.

But credit must be given where it is due and I would be remiss to not praise Brenda Novak’s writing. She artfully balanced romance and mystery, never letting the other take over the other element. She gave me these fully-realized characters (yes, that includes the bad guy who I love to hate) who just drew me into the story and got me turning page after page.

Though I figured who the big bad is early on, it did not lessen my enjoyment of this story. I still savored watching Sloane reach her end goal, peeling back the layers of long-buried family secrets, distill truth out of the misleading pieces she gathered, and, finally, uncovering the truth. Her and Micah’s side story was just a bonus to an already more than satisfying story.

With the exception of that one plot twist near the end that threw me off a bit and the long dialogue exchange during an intimate scene which got me giggling (because how are you two still talking!) this book was solid on all fronts. It was definitely a pleasure closing the year with this book as one of my last reads. You can be sure I’m going to get my hands on all those other books by this author.

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About the Author:

IMG_5103-195x300 New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author BRENDA NOVAK has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she’s won The National Reader’s Choice, The Bookseller’s Best, The Bookbuyer’s Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at http://www.brendanovak.com. To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

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