July Wrap Up!

July Wrap Up!

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I’m a bit behind on posting wrap ups so I thought I would do a quick post of all the books I read in July! I moved house in July and things were a bit manic so I only managed to read a few books.

book cover - 2019-03-11T211035.2501. The Furies – Katie Lowe
The Furies follows a girl named Violet who is starting at the elite Elm Hollow Academy. There she is befriended by a group of girls who attend a study group focusing on Witch trials and the occult. The girls start to believe that magic is real, but when a former member of the group turns up dead, Violet starts to wonder if she can trust these girls, and what really happened to Robin. I adored this book so much. It’s definitely a favourite of the year it was dark and intense and I completely fell in love with the characters. I can’t wait to read more from Katie Lowe. Full review can be found here! (5/5 stars)

Copy of book cover (30)2. Aphrodite Made Me Do It – Trista Mateer
My quest to broaden my reading and try and read things outwith my comfort zone meant I picked up this gorgeous little book of poetry. Poetry isn’t something I read much of but I found myself really enjoying this powerful collection mixing feminism and Greek mythology. I definitely found some of the passages quite inspiring and I really want to try and read more poetry in the future. I love the eye-catching cover too and if you want to read my full thoughts you can check out my review here. (4/5 stars)

Copy of book cover (70)3. Wanderers – Chuck Wendig
Chuck Wendig is an author I’ve always wanted to check out so I jumped at the opportunity to read his laterest book Wanderers. This story was completely unlike anything I had read before and it had me hooked from the outset. The story a group of people who wake up one morning and just start walking. Nothing will stop them from walking and if they are restrained things start to go wrong. The story follows the loved ones of the walkers, attempting to stay with their family and keep them safe. This story was so addictive and even though it’s a tomb I raced through it. I can’t recommend it highly enough and I’ve already forced several family members to read it. (4.5/5 stars)

Copy of book cover (56)4. Night Film – Marisha Peshl
This is without a doubt my favourite thriller of all time. I got this book for Christmas and picked it up on a whim, but I’m so glad that I did. The story follows the murder of a young woman who’s father is a famous and reclusive film director. Disgraced investigative journalist Scott McGrath starts looking into the case after his previous investigation into the Cordova family cost him his job. As he delves into the mysteries surrounding the family he starts to wonder if there’s more to them than meets the eye. I honestly couldn’t put this book down, I loved it so much. I was constantly questioning what was real and what wasn’t. There are tons of really spine tingling moments and I genuinely had to google to see if Cordova was a real person because the story felt so real. Night Film is a brilliant brilliant read. (5/5 stars)

Copy of book cover (69)5. Lies You Never Told Me – Jennifer Donaldson
Lies You Never Told Me is a fun and fast paced YA thriller. The story follows two seemingly unconnected characters and the relationships they develop – one a young girl with her drama teacher and another a young boy with a manipulative and controlling girl. As both try to escape from their relationships things get more and more out of control. The story is interesting, with quite a few plot twists but felt very much like your typical YA thriller. The characters were quite one dimensional and I guessed the ending quite early on. (3/5 stars) 

So those are the five books I read in July! Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought and what books you’ve been reading and loving recently!

Book Review: Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

Book Review: Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

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Series:
Strange the Dreamer #1
Release Date: March 28th 2017
Publisher: Hodder Books
Pages: 536
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

Review

Copy of book cover (68)Strange the Dreamer is without a doubt one of my favourite books of 2017. I always feel a bit of trepidation when I start a book that is as hyped up as this one, but it absolutely lived up to expectation, it’s a stunning book from beginning to end.

The world building in this book is just astounding. Everything is mapped out and there’s so much depth that I sunk into the story immediately. This is the kind of book I want to carry around with me all the time, it’s fantastically written with the most beautiful prose. Strange the Dreamer isn’t a crazy action packed story – it’s much more of a slow burner – but I enjoyed it all the more for that reason. It gave you the opportunity to really get to know the world you’re in, and of course the exceptional characters.

Normally for me there’s always one or two characters that stick out as my favourite, but with Strange the Dreamer I loved them all – Lazlo, Sarai, Eril-Fane and Ruby, they’re all expertly crafted and fully rounded out characters. Each one is dealing with a complex past and I loved getting to know each and every one of them, I honestly cannot praise this book highly enough. If you only read one book in 2017, it should be Strange the Dreamer.

This book has pretty much everything a reader could want – there’s magic and mystery, action and explosions and of course a dash of romance. As well as all that the story is wrapped around the young characters coming of age and learning their place in this magical world. This book gave me one hell of a book hangover, and now I am (not so patiently) waiting for book two in this fantastic series. I also have to confess that somehow, despite owning several of Laini Taylor’s books, this is the first of her books that I’ve read. I am now away to barricade myself in a room, to catch up on the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series.
5 stars

Book Review: Suicide Club – Rachel Heng

Book Review: Suicide Club – Rachel Heng

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Release Date:
March 21st 2019
Publisher: Sceptre
Pages: 372
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

In this debut set in near future NYC—where lives last 300 years and the pursuit of immortality is all-consuming—Lea must choose between her estranged father and her chance to live forever.

Lea Kirino is a “Lifer,” which means that a roll of the genetic dice has given her the potential to live forever—if she does everything right. And Lea is an overachiever. She’s a successful trader on the New York exchange—where instead of stocks, human organs are now bought and sold—she has a beautiful apartment, and a fiancé who rivals her in genetic perfection. And with the right balance of HealthTech™, rigorous juicing, and low-impact exercise, she might never die.

But Lea’s perfect life is turned upside down when she spots her estranged father on a crowded sidewalk. His return marks the beginning of her downfall as she is drawn into his mysterious world of the Suicide Club, a network of powerful individuals and rebels who reject society’s pursuit of immortality, and instead chose to live—and die—on their own terms. In this future world, death is not only taboo; it’s also highly illegal. Soon Lea is forced to choose between a sanitized immortal existence and a short, bittersweet time with a man she has never really known, but who is the only family she has left in the world.

Review

book cover - 2019-04-28T204859.244Suicide Club is a really fascinating concept – with a world that has gone health mad, the ultimate goal is to live forever. With falling birth rates and the desire to live as long as possible, the city and its inhabitants are closely monitored for any signs of rebellion. When Lea’s father walks back into her perfect world her life begins to crumble around her. She soon becomes involved with the Suicide Club – a group of people who go against everything this new immortal world stands for.

I really loved the idea of this book. It was so unique and really made some fascinating comments on the way we live as a society, constantly obsessed with having the image of this perfect life. I enjoyed the sinister Big Brother-esque feel of the story, as Lea tries to prove that she isn’t trying to kill herself.

It was quite a slow burn book and it took a while for me to get into the story. There was quite a lot of technical information explaining the developments that allowed people to live longer and the ways that society had evolved. I struggled a little getting my head around all of this but once the story picked up the pace a little more I really enjoyed it.

Lea is an interesting protagonist but I found myself more interested in some of the secondary characters. I would really have loved the opportunity to get to know some of them a bit more. I found Lea to be a bit bland, and that was my main reason for not rating the book higher.

Overall for me Suicide Club is a fantastic concept that falls down a little in execution. I would definitely be interested to read more of Heng’s work, and if you’re a fan of speculative fiction this will definitely appeal to you.
3 stars

Blog Tour: A Shadow on the Lens – Sam Hurcom

Blog Tour: A Shadow on the Lens – Sam Hurcom

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Release Date:
September 5th 2019
Publisher: Orion Books
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

The Postmaster looked over my shoulder. As I turned to look I saw a flicker of movement from across the street. I felt unseen eyes peer at me.
He walked away without another word. I watched as he climbed onto his bicycle and sped away down the street. I turned back and looked over my shoulder.
Someone had been watching us.

1904. Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland – her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worse still: the locals are reluctant to help.

As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs; a face hovering around the body of the dead girl – the face of Betsan Tilny.

Review

Copy of book cover (55)This is the dark and creepy tale of Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers who is sent to Dinas Powys in Wales after the body of a young woman is discovered in the woods. Her body is found bound, mutilated and burnt, so the police turn to Bexley to solve the case. As Thomas begins to uncover the case, he finds the locals reluctant to help and a growing sense of unease in the village – could there be more to this brutal murder than Thomas first thought?

This is quite a short book, but it absolutely packs a punch. It’s really dark and eerie, a murder mystery with just that hint of the supernatural. If I hadn’t read this already I would definitely have read this on Halloween because it’s that perfect spooky story. I loved the setting of this story. This sleepy little village where everyone knows each other. As Bexley tries to uncover the secrets behind the murder I loved the way the tension climbed as that feeling of unease grew and grew.

Thomas was a really interesting character and I found the Victorian forensic photography so interesting. It was something I didn’t know much about so I really liked seeing him carry out his work. The author has a gorgeous writing style and some of the scenes (particularly the one in the basement!) really sent a shiver up my spine.

There are plenty of twists in this that I didn’t see coming, and a fair few scary moments. It’s a quick read because it’s so easy to fall into the story and I am really looking forward to reading more from this author. A Shadow on the Lens is a fantastic debut, a chilling read that fans of Gothic horror will absolutely adore!
4 stars

Blog Tour: Kingdom of Souls – Rena Barron

Blog Tour: Kingdom of Souls – Rena Barron

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Series:
Kingdom of Souls #1
Release Date: September 3rd 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 496
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received an E-ARC of this through Netgalley
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.

Review

Copy of book cover (67)Kingdom of Souls follows Arrah, the daughter of two incredibly powerful witch doctors. She has a lot to live up to, and things are made worse by the fact that she doesn’t seem to be able to use magic at all. As she returns to the Kingdom she hears that children have been mysteriously vanishing and when she uncovers the reason why she discovers she might have to pay the ultimate price to stop an ancient evil being released.

I’ve really been loving dark, addictive fantasy books so this sounded right up my street. I was hooked straight away and this book ended up being a whole lot darker and grittier than I was expecting. It’s full to the brim with magic, sacrifice, demons and power. It does also contain quite a few trigger warnings, so please bear that in mind before reading.

The story is quite a complex one, there are quite a lot of characters and at times I found myself getting a bit lost with who was who. Our main protagonist Arrah is brilliant though, I really liked her perspective and she undergoes lots of character development as she goes from being a young girl desperate for magic to trying to stop the demon king at any cost.

The world building is also fascinating, the author has steeped the whole world in magic and lore and there’s so much detail surrounding the magic system, the gods and the demons. I really love when stories really built an in depth world and it really felt easy to fall into the world of Kingdom of Souls.

I really enjoyed the story in this one, it was gripping and engaging. I think this book would have been a five stars for me but I just felt the pacing was a little off in the second half of the book, losing its edge a little toward the end. Despite that I still thoroughly enjoyed Kingdom of Souls – it’s a dark, vivid tale of family, magic and sacrifice and it’s definitely worth checking out and I’m so looking forward to book two!
4 stars

What’s On My Netgalley Shelf? #2

What’s On My Netgalley Shelf? #2

When I did this post a few months ago I thought it would be a way for me to try and increase my terrible Netgalley ratio as well as highlight some of the Netgalley books I’m excited to be reading. I have been struggling reading ebooks recently so instead of improving my ratio has gone down from 48% to 44%. I’ve been trying to limit my requesting, only asking for books that I really really want to read. I am determined to get this increased over the next few months and get some of these checked off my TBR!

1. The Black Hawks – David Wragg
Copy of book cover (62)I’ve seen a bit of buzz about this one on Twitter so when a Netgalley widget appeared in my inbox I was unable to resist the temptation to download a copy.

Life as a knight is not what Vedren Chel imagined. Bound by oath to a dead-end job in the service of a lazy step-uncle, Chel no longer dreams of glory – he dreams of going home.

When invaders throw the kingdom into turmoil, Chel finds opportunity in the chaos: if he escorts a stranded prince to safety, Chel will be released from his oath.

All he has to do is drag the brat from one side of the country to the other, through war and wilderness, chased all the way by ruthless assassins.

With killers on your trail, you need killers watching your back. You need the Black Hawk Company – mercenaries, fighters without equal, a squabbling, scrapping pack of rogues.

Prepare to join the Black Hawks.
2. Angel Mage – Garth Nix
Copy of book cover (63)I am so so excited for this book. Garth Nix is one of my favourite authors and I’ve read so many of his wonderful books. Angel Mage sounds brilliant and it’s definitely a high priority read.

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

3. Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chobsky
Copy of book cover (64)I really enjoyed The Perks of Being A Wallflower and read it a few times growing up so I’m really intrigued to be try his latest novel. I’ve been putting it off a little because it’s so huge (700+ pages) but I’m hoping to get to it soon.

Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend. The epic work of literary horror from the #1 bestselling author of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.

4. The Bone Ships – R. J. Barker
Copy of book cover (65)R.J. Barker is an author who I’m dying to read and just haven’t had the chance to pick up yet. I own the Age of Assassin books and think they look right up my alley, but I just haven’t read them yet. The Bone Ships sounds even more incredible, so I couldn’t resist clicking the request button.

A brilliantly imagined saga of honor, glory, and warfare, The Bone Ships is the epic laugh of a new fantasy from David Gemmell Award-nominated RJ Barker.

Two nations at war. A prize beyond compare.

For generations, the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war.

The dragons disappeared, but the battles for supremacy persisted.

Now the first dragon in centuries has been spotted in far-off waters, and both sides see a chance to shift the balance of power in their favour. Because whoever catches it will win not only glory, but the war.

5. Wild Savage Stars – Kristina Perez
Copy of book cover (66)I bought Sweet Black Waves at YALC last year and ended up completely devouring it on the train back to Scotland. I’m not normally one for romanc-y type fantasy novels but I really enjoyed this and I’m honestly just dying to find out what happens to Branwen next.

Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Iseult, Wild Savage Stars is the spellbinding sequel to Sweet Black Waves.

Branwen has a secret powerful enough to destroy two kingdoms.

Her ancient magic led to a terrible betrayal by both her best friend, the princess Essy, and her first love, Tristan. Now this same magic is changing Branwen. Adrift in a rival court, Branwen must hide the truth from the enemy king by protecting the lovers who broke her heart―and finds herself considering a darker path.

Not everyone wants the alliance with Branwen’s kingdom to succeed―peace is balanced on a knife’s edge, and her only chance may be to embrace the darkness within…

So those are some of the books on my Netgalley shelf! If you’ve read any of them I’d love to know what you thought, and if you use Netgalley what books you have on your shelf!

Book Review: Tunnel of Bones – Victoria Schwab

Book Review: Tunnel of Bones – Victoria Schwab

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Series:
Cassidy Blake #2 (See my review of book one here!)
Release Date: 5th September 2019
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 272
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this from my local Waterstones
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.

Review

tunnelI absolutely fell in love with Cassidy and her ghost best friend when I read City of Ghosts last year. A spooky tale set in Edinburgh, I was so eager for more. Tunnel of Bones was definitely high on my most anticipated releases list, and I ended up reading it in a single sitting.

We’re back following Cassidy as she goes with her parents to film a new episode of The Inspecters, and this time they’re in Paris. They visit all the iconic places, heading up the Eiffel Tower and descending into the eerie Catacombs. As she explores Cassidy awakens a spirit much stronger than those she’s faced before. Hellbent on all kinds of mischief and mayhem, Cass and Jacob have to find a way to send him back before he ends up haunting Paris forever.

This story is so fun, it’s a wonderful spooky read and it’s absolutely perfect to cuddle up with on a dark autumn night. It has plenty of spine tingling moments, and I loved seeing the dark and eerie spin that Schwab puts on those infamous landmarks. The setting is fascinating and really comes alive in the story (I honestly can’t wait to see where Cass and the gang jet off to next!)

Tunnel of Bones also features a bit more character development, we learn more about best friend Jacob, and Cassidy starts exploring her powers as a ghost hunter. I enjoyed seeing plenty of familiar faces from book one as well as the introduction of some new characters, I particularly liked little Adele.

If you’re a fan of Victoria Schwab or you’re read the first book in the series, you’re going to absolutely love this one. If you haven’t had a chance to pick the first instalment up yet, these will make perfect Halloween binge reads.
5 stars