Book Review: Maresi – Maria Turtschaninoff

Book Review: Maresi – Maria Turtschaninoff

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Series:
The Red Abbey Chronicles #1
Release Date: January 5th 2017
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Pages: 256
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Maresi came to the Red Abbey when she was thirteen, in the Hunger Winter. Before then, she had only heard rumours of its existence in secret folk tales. In a world where girls aren’t allowed to learn or do as they please, an island inhabited solely by women sounded like a fantasy. But now Maresi is here, and she knows it is real. She is safe.

Then one day Jai tangled fair hair, clothes stiff with dirt, scars on her back arrives on a ship. She has fled to the island to escape terrible danger and unimaginable cruelty. And the men who hurt her will stop at nothing to find her.

Now the women and girls of the Red Abbey must use all their powers and ancient knowledge to combat the forces that wish to destroy them. And Maresi, haunted by her own nightmares, must confront her very deepest, darkest fears.

A story of friendship and survival, magic and wonder, beauty and terror, Maresi will grip you and hold you spellbound.

Review

Copy of book cover (2)Maresi is an enchanting read which follows a young girl who lives at the Red Abbey. This gorgeous island is home to a group of women and girls, who work for themselves and forbid men to come to the island. When their world is threatened Maresi and the sisters must use all their knowledge and power to save everything that they know.

This was such a fascinating little book. It sucks you in deeper and deeper and leaves you desperate for more of this stunning world. I completely fell in love with the island setting and I loved the way the author brought it to life. The abbey and the nature surrounding it was vividly painted on each page and it definitely brought the story to life.

The plot is a bit more of a slow burn, giving you time to get to know the characters and the world before ramping up the action in the latter half of the book. I enjoyed getting to know Maresi and Jay. They were multi-layered characters with dark pasts and it was lovely watching their friendship bloom.

Maresi is an incredibly unique feminist fantasy tale. This is a coming of age story, full to the brim with the themes of friendship, family and the strength of women. This is a beautifully told story and I’m so looking forward to going back to this world in books two and three.
4 stars

Book Review: What Lies Around Us – Andrew Crofts

Book Review: What Lies Around Us – Andrew Crofts

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Release Date:
13th June 2019
Publisher: Red Door Books
Pages: 256
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

It is possible that since this book’s publication you will have heard that I have died in ‘suspicious circumstances’. Obviously I hope that will not be the case, but I believe it is worth taking the risk in order to get this story out there.

Why would one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful billionaires offer a British ghostwriter a million dollars to write the autobiography of Hollywood’s biggest star?

Only once he is living and working among the world’s richest and most beautiful people does the ghost realise that there is way more than a publishing deal at stake.

The ghostwriter must face the dark underbelly of the tech industry. He must face corruption and manipulation, come to blows with people who will do anything to remain at the top of their game and uncover the dark truth behind what it really means to be an influencer . . .

What Lies Around Us takes the reader into a world of myth-makers and power-brokers and reveals who is really running the world. Who is telling the stories and controlling the way we all think with a mixture of old media, social media and fake media?

Review

Copy of book cover (1)I read and loved The Secret of the Italian Gardner by Andrew Crofts a while ago, so when I was contacted about What Lies Around Us I jumped at the chance to read it. If it’s possible this book was even more gripping and addictive and I could not put it down.

Andrew is a British ghostwriter and is contacted out of the blue by Roger, a Silicon Valley tech giant about ghost writing a new book. The book isn’t about him, but about a leading actress of blockbuster films and reality television. So why is Roger so interested in getting this book published? He’s willing to pay a million dollars for Andrew to write it, but he’s very specific about what he wants. As Andrew gets to know his subject a devastating set of events occur and Andrew begins to wonder is it mere coincidence that he was writing the book – or has somebody planned this?

This might be a small book but it really packed a punch! There were so many mysteries going on and I just had no idea how it was going to end. When I turned the last few pages I was so surprised. The plot is brilliantly executed and definitely kept me guessing.

The characters are really fascinating and Andrew really gives you the opportunity to get to know them – Roger the seemingly nice business man with ruthless ambition, Jo-Jo the beautiful actress with her perfect husband and family. As the story goes deeper the curtain is peeled back to see there’s so much more going on underneath.

I loved the gorgeous setting of the story – it really came to life in this book. I also really liked the writing style and found myself wanting to read more and more just to find out how it was going to end. I ended up reading the book in two sittings because I just couldn’t get enough. The story focuses on a whole range of themes but is most notably about power and ambition, and just what you’ll do to get it. The story also broaches the subject of social media and the influence it has on the world – I found this aspect really interesting and overall thought it was a thoroughly engaging read.

If you’re looking for an exciting, fast read, What Lies Around Us is a must read. It’s an engaging, thought provoking thriller and I’m so looking forward to reading more books from Andrew Crofts.
4 stars

Book Review: Two Can Keep A Secret – Karen M. McManus

Book Review: Two Can Keep A Secret – Karen M. McManus

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Release Date:
January 10th 2019
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this in Sainsbury’s
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-17T113630.477I really enjoyed Karen M McManus’s debut novel – One of Us Is Lying, so I was excited to give her new book a shot. The story follows twins Ezra and Ellery who are sent to live with their grandmother whilst their mother is in rehab. The small little town is famous for the murder/disappearance of two Homecoming Queens – one of which is the twin’s aunt. Whilst getting acquainted with the town strange things start happening and the mysterious killer claims to have returned – but will Ellery be able to uncover the truth about her aunt’s disappearance?

Two Can Keep A Secret is the sort of book you take on a plane ride or pick up on a quiet afternoon to while away a few hours. You start off reading a few pages and it immediately sucks you in – hours later you’re still sitting there, desperate to know how it’s going to end. That was definitely my experience of reading this book. It’s a twisty, turny read and definitely lots of fun.

I really liked the setting in this story, the creepy little town filled with secrets really gave me Riverdale kind of vibes and I loved that the twins take jobs in an odd, creepy theme park. The characters are interesting ones too although at times I did feel like they could be more fleshed out. The story gives us alternating points of view between Ellery and Malcolm, a local boy who ends up involved in the mystery. Both characters give interesting perspectives and I liked seeing things from different points of view, particularly as the intensity heightening and the mystery was revealed.

The story is a multi-layered one and there are quite a lot of themes and ideas within the novel, covering topics like family, friendship, understanding yourself and lots more in between. It’s an engaging story that’s executed well. I enjoyed the overall story and definitely felt surprised at some of the shock twists. One or two of the twists were a little predictable but even though I knew what was coming, I still enjoyed the way it was revealed and tied into the rest of the story.

If you’re looking for a fast paced and engaging read, Two Can Keep a Secret should definitely be on your list. If you’ve read One of Us Is Lying, I’d absolutely recommend picking this up because this will definitely be a new favourite in the YA-thriller world.
4 stars

Waiting on Wednesday: Here There Are Monsters – Amelinda Berube

Waiting on Wednesday: Here There Are Monsters – Amelinda Berube

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Synopsis

The Blair Witch Project meets Imaginary Girls in this story of codependent sisterhood, the struggle to claim one’s own space, and the power of secrets

Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. Moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over.

In their isolated new neighborhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.

Then Deirdre disappears.

And when something awful comes scratching at Skye’s window in the middle of the night, claiming she’s the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.

Thoughts

Copy of book coverThis waiting on Wednesday I thought I would talk about Here There Are Monsters, which really caught my eye recently and I’m so excited to pick it up! The cover really caught my eye and when I saw the comparison to The Blair Witch project I was pretty much sold. It sounds like a really fascinating story about sisterhood and I love a good horror novel. I haven’t read anything by this author but she also has another book called The Death Beneath the Ice that also sounds really intriguing, so I might pick that up to get a feel for her writing. I’ve seen some kind of mixed reviews for Here There Are Monsters already, some saying they were kind of disappointed with it but I’m excited to give the book a go and find out for myself if it’s worth the wait. Here There Are Monsters is publishing August 1st 2019 from Sourcebooks Fire.

Book Review: Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Book Review: Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

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Release Date:
April 4th 2019
Publisher: Ink Road
Pages: 375
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this at NYALitFest
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

Review

book cover - 2019-04-03T110806.863Last year I read Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman and completely fell in love with the characters and the beautifully written tale. When I heard Summer Bird Blue was going to be published in the UK I snapped up a copy straight away. The story follows Rumi, a young girl who loses her sister in a car crash. Her mother, consumed with grief sends her to live with her aunt in Hawaii over the summer and there Rumi has to learn to cope with her grief and find the music that was so important to her and her sister.

This is such a unique, beautifully told story about family, friendship and grief. The story very much focuses in on Rumi as she tries to figure out how to live her life without her sister. It was well executed and I enjoyed seeing Rumi make friends with next door neighbour Kai and find a way back to the music that she loves so much.

Starfish was a five star read for me and part of the reason for that was the realistic characters. The characters in Summer Bird Blue are very realistic and well fleshed out, but I didn’t connect with them in the same way I did with Starfish. I really enjoyed the story, but it didn’t take my breath away like the previous book.

The story is incredibly emotional and I love the beautiful Hawaiian setting. I also loved that Bowman could so easily have introduced a romance between Rumi and Kai and instead have them remain friends. The story touches on a lot of incredibly important issues – not just grief but finding yourself, relationships and what it means to be a family. It isn’t a particularly light book, the story is quite a heavy one, but it’s executed extremely well.

While I really enjoyed it this book just didn’t blow me away, but I know Akemi Dawn Bowman fans will be overjoyed to read another gorgeous book from her. If you’re looking for a story that will keep you turning the pages but will also give you a lump in your throat, you should definitely pick up Summer Bird Blue.

3 stars

Waiting on Wednesday: Angel Mage – Garth Nix

Waiting on Wednesday: Angel Mage – Garth Nix

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Synopsis

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. . .

Thoughts

41951611I CANNOT WAIT TO READ THIS BOOK. Garth Nix is definitely an author that I don’t talk about enough on this blog – but that’s all going to change now. I’d pretty much credit Garth Nix and J.K. Rowling with my love of reading. I read the Abhorsen Series when I was young and that pretty much started my life long love with fantasy. Shade’s Children is one of my absolute favourite books and I’ve read Sabriel so many times my copy is barely still in one piece. I’ve been lucky enough to have been to a couple of signings that Garth Nix has done and he was always lovely and my signed copies are some of my most prized possessions. I’m so excited to read his first take on adult fantasy and this story just sounds brilliant. This has definitely become one of my most anticipated releases for 2019 and I’m obsessed with the cover. Angel Mage is publishing October 1st 2019 from Gollancz.

Interview: Adrienne Young Author of Sky in the Deep

Interview: Adrienne Young Author of Sky in the Deep

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Release Date:
April 1st 2019
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.

Synopsis

grhwoigwPart Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Interview

1. For those who haven’t read Sky in the Deep yet can you sum it up in three words?

Stark. Brutal. Emotional.

2. What inspired you to write a book about Vikings?

The original inspiration for SKY IN THE DEEP was the sibling story, but after I started writing it, it began to take on this very Nordic vibe. I really loved the direction it was going but hadn’t really planned on it. It was like a kind of surprise even to me.

3. What was the writing process like for the book, and how did it compare to writing The Girl the Sea Gave Back?

I wrote SKY IN THE DEEP in a feverish sprint, so inspired by the characters that I literally worked around the clock until I had a draft of it. It was a really fast, easy story for me to tell which is not how it always goes and TGTSGB is a great example of that. I really struggled with SEA for a lot of reasons and had to push through a lot of challenges that I didn’t meet with SKY. It was really difficult at times but I feel like I definitely came out the other side as a stronger writer. 

4. How much research did you do whilst writing the book?

I did a ton of research to build this world, and that’s actually one of my very favorite parts of the creative process. I get lost in that stage and often find myself struggling to decide what to use because I find it so interesting. I had an entire notebook full of notes for SKY and could have gone even further with it because I was just really enraptured by the culture and history I was studying. 

5. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

To hang in there! I felt very alone when I was younger and also very misunderstood. If I could send a message to myself at sixteen, I would tell myself to hold on, that my time is coming.

6. What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

I absolutely loved BLOOD WATER PAINT by Joy McCullough. It’s a historical-inspired novel in verse and I was taken completely by surprise at how much I was impacted by it and I am constantly recommending it to people. 
 
7. What are you working on next?

I’m currently working on a new YA fantasy called FABLE that is coming out in the US fall 2020! It’s a very different world from SKY IN THE DEEP but there is a lot in that story that I think SKY readers will love. 
 
8. And lastly could you recommend a great book you’ve read recently?

I recently read FINALE, the conclusion to Stephanie Garber’s CARAVAL series and it was amazing!

About Adrienne:

 

16640489YA fantasy author, SKY IN THE DEEP, THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK (9/3/19) & the upcoming FABLE duology from Wednesday Books. Agent: Barbara Poelle, IGLA

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.