Blog Tour: The Golden Key – Marian Womack

Blog Tour: The Golden Key – Marian Womack

July 23, 2019 (1)
Release Date:
18th February 2020
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

London, 1901. After the death of Queen Victoria the city heaves with the uncanny and the eerie. Séances are held and the dead are called upon from darker realms.

Samuel Moncrieff, recovering from a recent tragedy of his own, meets Helena Walton-Cisneros, one of London’s most reputed mediums. But Helena is not what she seems and she’s enlisted by the elusive Lady Matthews to solve a twenty-year-old mystery: the disappearance of her three stepdaughters who vanished without a trace on the Norfolk Fens.

But the Fens are a liminal land, where folk tales and dark magic still linger. With locals that speak of devilmen and catatonic children found on the Broads, Helena finds the answer to the mystery leads back to where it started: Samuel Moncrieff.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-02-20T070030.450When I first read the synopsis of The Golden Key (and saw that stunning cover) I was completely intrigued. The story follows Samuel-Montcrieff, a young man recovering from a recent tragedy and residing in Victorian London. He encounters a well known medium named Helena Walton-Cisneros, who finds herself caught up in solving the mystery of three young women who disappeared in the Norfolk Fens twenty years ago – but all is not as it seems, and the Fens are a remote and wild place. 

I really enjoyed this blend of Gothic horror and mystery story. It was such a fascinating tale and I was completely captivated by Womack’s beautiful writing style. Her writing was so vivid and evoked a really strong sense of setting in the Norfolk Fens. This strange wild place really came alive within the story. Womack’s writing is almost lyrical and it was so easy to just become completely absorbed in the story.

The Golden Key is multi-layered tale and I enjoyed the pacing of the story. I did feel the story jumped around a little between people and what was going on, which did make some aspects a little difficult to follow but overall I found this to be an incredibly engaging story. I thought the characters were well fleshed out and the slightly eerie/ sense of other world-ness of the Fens really created a sense of atmosphere within the story. 

If you’re a fan of gripping mystery stories with a touch of the Gothic supernatural, this will be a book you absolutely adore. The Golden Key is an impressive debut, and I can’t wait to see what Marian Womack writes next.  

4 Stars
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Book Review: The Unspoken Name – A. K. Larkwood

Book Review: The Unspoken Name – A. K. Larkwood

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Series:
The Serpent Gates #1
Release Date: February 11th 2020
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

Review

Copy of book cover (96)Epic fantasy on the grandest scale, The Unspoken Name is a bloody brilliant read and I didn’t want it to end.

The story follows Csorwe, Chosen Bride of the Unspoken. She knows how her life will end. On the allotted day, she will enter the mountain and sacrifice herself to the god known only as the Unspoken One. When that day comes and Csorwe is given the opportunity to live she takes it. Her new destiny? To help mysterious wizard Sethennai overthrow an empire and reclaim his title.

One of the things I loved most about this book is how richly detailed it is. There’s so much research about the many worlds Csorwe visits, the people, places and religions. Every aspect of this story was so well fleshed out and it was so easy to dive into this vivid and richly imaginative world. The world building is excellent and the story is well plotted and cleverly executed. Despite the many worlds and many gods the story never got confusing and it was so easy to understand the systems Larkwood has built within the story.

The characters were really fascinating and I loved Csorwe so much. She’s a really interesting protagonist and I enjoyed seeing her grow from appointed sacrifice to something so much more. There is so much character depth in each of the characters in this story. There’s also some diverse representation within the novel too. The romance was so sweet and I really enjoyed watching the relationship evolve (I won’t say which characters because I don’t want to spoil this wonderful book for anyone).

The Unspoken Name is a brilliantly addictive tale of vengeance, magic, relationships and so much more. If you’re looking for a new binge worthy fantasy read, this is definitely a must buy. Your only trouble will be counting down the days until the next book is released.
5 stars

Blog Tour: The Foundling – Stacey Halls

Blog Tour: The Foundling – Stacey Halls

BOOK REVIEW - 2020-02-09T230719.281
Release Date:
February 20th 2020
Publisher: Manilla Press
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

London, 1754.

Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why. Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

From the bestselling author of The Familiars, and set against the vibrant backdrop of Georgian London, The Foundling explores families, secrets, class, equality, power and the meaning of motherhood.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-02-02T170148.607The Familiars by Stacey Halls was one of my favourite books of 2019 so when I heard she was releasing a new book I was incredibly excited. The story follows a young woman named Bess, who is forced to leave her newborn baby at the foundling hospital to be looked after. After six years of scrimping and saving, she returns to reclaim the illegitimate child, only to be told that the child was reclaimed the day after she was given to the hospital by Bess herself. Bess goes on a search to discover who has taken her daughter, and for what purpose. Meanwhile not far from the hospital lives the widow of a merchant who has become a recluse since the death of her husband. When a family friend persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her young daughter, it turns her world upside down and forces her to confront the truths from her past.

This beautifully told story captured me from the very begin and I very quickly became engrossed in the tale of Bess and Alexandra. Halls has a really gorgeous and vivid writing style and it was so easy just to sink into the story and be completely absorbed for hours on end. I loved the setting, it was so vibrant and really came alive in Halls writing. The sights and sounds of Georgian London were definitely brought to life in this story and it made for a very realistic and well researched read.

The two main characters in this book are both incredibly fascinating and I really enjoyed the way the book was split into parts, allowing you to see things from both women’s perspectives. They’re both very different people, but both have dealt with some really difficult things. The plot was cleverly weaved and well executed and towards the end I definitely found myself turning pages faster and faster to find out how it was going to end.

I loved that there were aspects of the story that were true to life – such as the foundling hospital (something I had never heard of before – and that the story explored issues that weren’t talked about at the time, like mental health and grief. The story is definitely a dark and atmospheric read and if you’ve read The Familiars I would absolutely recommend picking this one up. The Foundling is an intricately told story of motherhood, secrets and class and honestly I couldn’t put it down. I can’t recommend this highly enough and I can’t wait to see what Stacey Halls writes next.
5 stars
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Six for Sunday: Reasons I Love Blogging

Six for Sunday: Reasons I Love Blogging

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Six for Sunday is a fab weekly post created by Steph over at A Little But A Lot. The prompt for today is reasons you love blogging, so let’s dive in!

Screenshot 2020-02-06 at 17.56.581. Reading more
I was quite a big reader before I became a blogger, but I would probably read a book or maybe two a week at most. Now with being a blogger I always have a book on the go and I always have review copies to get to. It’s definitely increased the amount of reading I do and I find it also challenges me to read more.

2. Seeing people read your recommendations
There’s nothing quite like hearing someone picked up a book you mentioned and really enjoyed it. It’s so nice to know that people trust your judgement enough to pick up a book. I totally love when I go out with my family and they buy books on my recommendation, it never gets old.

3. Learning new skills
I definitely think blogging has taught me a range of skills I didn’t have before. Not only has it improved my writing, I’ve learned skills about website design, making images, taking photos for Instagram, coding marketing and skills in managing my time. It’s really been a brilliant hobby so far.

4. Always having loads to read
This goes without saying but I love blogging because I always have loads of books to read or books I want to buy. Whether it’s someone else’s review or a book that’s been getting lots of buzz on social media I’m constantly picking up new releases and I’ve never gotten to a point where I have nothing to read. My TBR is totally out of control, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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5. Gaining confidence
I’m quite a shy person and going to events and networking with other bloggers and publishing people has helped me gain confidence in talking to people. I went to an event with recently with Cornerstone and while I’m still awkward, I’m definitely way better at going to events and chatting to people now.

6. Discovering new books
I’ve always predominantly been a fantasy/science fiction reader. I’m happy to dip into other things but generally that’s what I usually read. However through blogging I’ve tried so many books I probably would never have picked up and I’m now willing to give pretty much anything a shot. After so many years blogging I’m a big fan of crime, historical fiction and contemporary – something that definitely wouldn’t have been the case before.

So those are six reasons I love blogging! What are reasons you love being a blogger?

January Book Haul!

January Book Haul!

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I had really planned to try and focus on bringing my TBR down, limiting the amount of books coming into the house and finally getting to some of those books that have been sitting on my shelves forever…and then I hauled 20 books in January. I’m not sure how that’s going to work when I only managed to read 9 books in January, but here we are. Normally I would post a blurb about each one but given there’s so many I’ll just list them with a Goodreads link if you want to know more about them. Let’s dive in!

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Books I Bought:
1. Loki: Where Mischief Lies – Mackenzi Lee
2. The Binding – Bridget Collins
3. The Hunting Party – Lucy Foley
4. One of Us is Next – Karen M. McManus
5. Blood of Elves – Andrzej Sapkowski
6. Unleashed – Amy McCulloch

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Books from Publishers:
7. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires – Grady Hendrix
8. Feathertide – Beth Cartwright
9. The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle – Neil Blackmore
10. The Silent Treatment – Abbie Greaves

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11. Wild Dog – Serge Joncour
12. A Queen in Hiding – Sarah Kozloff
13. High Fire – Eoin Colfer
14. A Memory Called Empire – Arkady Martine
15. The Foundling – Stacey Halls

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16. Anna Undreaming – Thomas Welsh
17. In Plain Sight – Marion Todd
18. The Wolf of Oren-Yaro – K.S. Villoso
19. All Your Twisted Secrets – Diana Urban
20. Belle Revolte – Linsey Miller

So those are all the books I picked up in January (eek!) I’m hoping to blast through quite a few of them in February, but if you’ve read any of them I’d love to you know what you thought!

Book Review: Belle Révolte – Linsey Miller

Book Review: Belle Révolte – Linsey Miller

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Release Date:
February 4th 2020
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 384
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

Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.

Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.

Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.

But when their nation instigates a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-02-02T170242.071This is my first time picking up a book by Linsey Miller. I’ve always wanted to pick up a copy of Mask of Shadows but never got around to it so when I heard she was releasing a new French inspired fantasy standalone, I was absolutely intrigued.

Belle Révolte is the story of two girls – Emilie des Marais, a young upper class girl who dreams of being a physician. But due to her status as a woman and a member of the elite, she is forced to study the midnight arts which are much more sensible for a young woman. Annette Boucher dreams of studying the midnight arts, but with no money she can’t afford the school fees and does not wish to a physicians hack. When Emilie and Annette meet, they swap lives allowing each one to live the life they’ve always dreamed. However things aren’t as clear cut as they seem, with the nation heading to war a secret underground group calling for a revolution, – will Annette and Emilie survive?

This story was just such a fun read. I loved the beautiful French inspired setting and I completely fell in love with this world of magic and war. I found the magic system really unique and fascinating – the idea of there being two types of magic – noonday arts which focused on healing and fighting and midnight arts which focused on scrying and divining the future.

Belle Révolte was a really fast paced read with lots of action and adventure going on. It was so easy to get caught up in the story. The alternating chapters between the two main characters gives you a chance to get to know both protagonists as they learn new skills and fight to save Demiene.

I really love the swap identities trope and I thought it was done so well in this story. Annette and Emilie were both really interesting characters and I enjoyed seeing how they adapted to the new world they had ended up in. They’re both quite strong-willed characters but Annette is the softer kinder of the two, with Emilie being the more stubborn and outspoken of the pair. The story features a number of diverse characters and also some really sweet romances which I really liked. They were a nice addition to the story without taking over the main plot.

Linsey Miller makes a lot of interesting comments about class and gender and weaves it into a beautiful story filled to the brim with magic, politics and adventure. If you’re looking for a fast paced and fun read this February, Belle Révolte should definitely be on your wishlist.

February TBR!

February TBR!

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I decided for 2020 I would start making TBRs, I did okay with my January one, reading five of the eight books I had planned to read that month. I’m going to stick with it so here’s the books I hope to get to in February – it’s a pretty ambitious TBR but fingers crossed I can get to most of them!

Copy of book cover - 2020-02-02T170242.0711. Belle Revolte – Linsey Miller
Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.

Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.

Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.

But when their nation instigates a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies.

Copy of book cover - 2020-02-02T170502.1462 Witness X – SE Moorhead
From one of the most original new voices in fiction comes a startling vision of a world where hero Kyra must fight the past to save our future. A genre-bending thriller for the Netflix generation, for fans of Altered Carbon, Dark and Mindhunter.

She’s the only one who can access the truth…

Fourteen years ago, the police caged a notorious serial killer who abducted and butchered two victims every February. He was safe behind bars. Wasn’t he?

But then another body is discovered, and soon enough, the race is on to catch the real killer. Neuropsychologist Kyra Sullivan fights to use a new technology that accesses the minds of the witnesses, working with the police to uncover the truth. Will Kyra discover the person behind the murders, and if so, at what cost? And how far will she go to ensure justice is served?

An addictive futuristic thriller, perfect for fans of Stranger Things.

Copy of book cover - 2020-02-02T170148.6073. The Foundling – Stacey Halls
London, 1754.

Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why. Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

Copy of book cover (96)4. The Unspoken Name – A. K. Larkwood
What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

Copy of book cover - 2020-02-02T170033.9565. The Wolf of Oren-Yaro – K. S. Villoso
A queen of a divided land must unite her people, even if they hate her, even if it means stopping a ruin that she helped create. A debut epic fantasy from an exciting new voice.

“I murdered a man and made my husband leave the night before they crowned me.”

Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart. Her upcoming marriage to the son of her father’s rival heralds peaceful days to come.

But his sudden departure before their reign begins fractures the kingdom beyond repair.

Years later, Talyien receives a message, urging her to attend a meeting across the sea. It’s meant to be an effort at reconciliation, but an assassination attempt leaves the queen stranded and desperate to survive in a dangerous land. With no idea who she can trust, she’s on her own as she struggles to fight her way home.

Copy of book cover - 2020-02-02T165916.2436. In Plain Sight – Marion Todd
A child’s life is at stake. Which of the residents of St Andrews is hiding something – and why?

When a baby girl is snatched from the crowd of spectators at a fun run, the local police have a major investigation on their hands. DI Clare Mackay  and her team are in a race against the clock when they learn that the child has a potentially fatal medical condition.

As Clare investigates she realises this victim wasn’t selected at random. Someone knows who took the baby girl, and why. But will they reveal their secrets before it’s too late?

Copy of book cover - 2020-01-05T203117.9637. The Memory Wood – Sam Lloyd
Elijah has lived in the Memory Wood for as long as he can remember. It’s the only home he’s ever known.

Elissa has only just arrived. And she’ll do everything she can to escape.

When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave.

Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood.

As her abductor’s behaviour grows more erratic, Elissa realises that outwitting strange, lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their cat-and-mouse game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood . . .

Copy of book cover - 2020-02-02T165806.2218. Havenfall – Sara Holland
A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it–at any cost.

Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds–each with their own magic–together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.

For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.

But this summer, the impossible happens–a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie–no one can be trusted, and no one is safe . . .

Copy of book cover - 2020-02-02T165438.8869. Highfire – Eoin Colfer
In the days of yore, he flew the skies and scorched angry mobs—now he hides from swamp tour boats and rises only with the greatest reluctance from his Laz-Z-Boy recliner. Laying low in the bayou, this once-magnificent fire breather has been reduced to lighting Marlboros with nose sparks, swilling Absolut in a Flashdance T-shirt, and binging Netflix in a fishing shack. For centuries, he struck fear in hearts far and wide as Wyvern, Lord Highfire of the Highfire Eyrie—now he goes by Vern. However…he has survived, unlike the rest. He is the last of his kind, the last dragon. Still, no amount of vodka can drown the loneliness in his molten core. Vern’s glory days are long gone. Or are they?

A canny Cajun swamp rat, young Everett “Squib” Moreau does what he can to survive, trying not to break the heart of his saintly single mother. He’s finally decided to work for a shady smuggler—but on his first night, he witnesses his boss murdered by a crooked constable.

Regence Hooke is not just a dirty cop, he’s a despicable human being—who happens to want Squib’s momma in the worst way. When Hooke goes after his hidden witness with a grenade launcher, Squib finds himself airlifted from certain death by…a dragon?

The swamp can make strange bedfellows, and rather than be fried alive so the dragon can keep his secret, Squib strikes a deal with the scaly apex predator. He can act as his go-between (aka familiar)—fetch his vodka, keep him company, etc.—in exchange for protection from Hooke. Soon the three of them are careening headlong toward a combustible confrontation. There’s about to be a fiery reckoning, in which either dragons finally go extinct—or Vern’s glory days are back.

A triumphant return to the genre-bending fantasy that Eoin Colfer is so well known for, Highfire is an effortlessly clever and relentlessly funny tour-de-force of comedy and action.

Copy of book cover - 2020-02-02T165311.32710. A Memory Called Empire – Arkady Martine
Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.

Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion—all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret—one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life—or rescue it from annihilation.

So those are the books I’m hoping to get to in February. If you’ve read any of them I’d love to know what you thought and I’d also love to know what’s on your February TBR!