Blog Tour: All the Bad Apples – Moira Fowley-Doyle

Blog Tour: All the Bad Apples – Moira Fowley-Doyle

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Release Date:
August 1st 2019
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was sent a copy of this book to review through Fantastic Flying Book Club
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

The day after the funeral all our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. ‘This will be really embarrassing,’ I kept saying to my family, ‘when she shows up at the door in a week or two.’

When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true.

And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.

Review

Copy of book cover (47).pngI have long been meaning to pick up a copy of Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle and haven’t gotten around to it yet, so when I spied this online I was really eager to read it. I’m so glad to say I absolutely loved this book and will definitely be seeking out her other works.

The story follows Deena, a young seventeen year old girl living in Ireland. Her free-spirited sister Mandy has gone missing and the rest of the family assume she has committed suicide. Deena finds a mysterious letter in Mandy’s handwriting alluding to a family curse that has destroyed so many of her ancestors. Deena goes on a quest to find her sister and discover the roots of this mysterious curse.

All the Bad Apples is a hard hitting story of family, of survival, of being who you want to be and I absolutely could not put it down. I raced through this book and ended up reading it in a day. I completely fell in love with the authors beautiful almost dream like writing and I got totally swept along in the journey of Deena and her family.

The story jumps around a bit in time, having chapters in the present day (2012) and jumping back to various time periods when Deena’s ancestors had dealings with the curse. I really liked the diverse cast of characters and there was lots of excellent representation too.

All the Bad Apples deals with a lot of really tough subjects including abortions, slut shaming and rape but they are handled well and it makes for a really hard hitting and emotional that I could not put down. If you’re looking for a beautifully told and incredibly important tale, this should definitely be your next read.
4 stars

Book Review: Done Dirt Cheap – Sarah Nicole Lemon

Book Review: Done Dirt Cheap – Sarah Nicole Lemon

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Release Date:
March 7th 2017
Publisher: Abrams & Chronicle
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Tourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club known as the Wardens.

Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom “sold” her into the services of a local lawyer: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline. But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel.

Review

Copy of book cover (46)Done Dirt Cheap was a book that really surprised me. I kind of expected a wild Son’s of Anarchy type of book full of biker gangs and crime, and while that was part of it, it was really so much more. The story of Tourmaline and Virginia and fascinating, two women sticking together despite the odds and defying the odds.

I thought the characters were really striking and they’re what kept me hooked the whole way though the story. Tourmaline dealing with her mother’s imprisonment and her father’s secretive nature, as well as the fact that he’s the president of a biker gang. Then there’s Virginia, who has no real family and has to work for the local drug dealer in order to get by. I loved that these two characters didn’t really have anything in common, but they formed a friendship and they stuck together, no matter how tough things got.

The book was fairly well paced, though I did feel it slowed down a little in the middle as Virginia and Tourmaline were trying to lie low. The ending did definitely have me on the edge of my seat, rooting for the two girls to succeed. The book has a very feminist style feel to it, with the two main protagonists taking action and going where they need to – they definitely don’t rely on the male characters to do their dirty work or save them.

I also really loved the setting, with the beautiful American summer and the gleaming motorbikes. It really came alive, and I got completely sucked into the setting from my dreary Edinburgh surroundings. It features really strong and fierce women and it has everything from crime and trickery to romance. If you’re looking for a fun fast summer read about the friendship between two fantastic female characters, Done Dirt Cheap is exactly what you’re looking for.

4 stars

Blog Tour: We Are the Dead – Mike Shackle

Blog Tour: We Are the Dead – Mike Shackle

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-08-17T172418.633Release Date: August 8th 2019
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 488
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

The war is over. The enemy won. Now it’s time to fight back.

For generations, the people of Jia – a land where magic has long since faded from the world, clinging on in only a few rare individuals – have been protected from the northern Egril hordes by their warrior caste, but their enemy has not been idle. They have rediscovered magic and use it to launch an overwhelming surprise attack. An invasion has begun.

And in moments, the war is over. Resistance is quashed. Kings and city leaders are barricaded in their homes awaiting banishment and execution, the warriors are massacred, and a helpless people submit to the brutality of Egril rule.

Jia’s heroes have failed it. They are all gone. And yet… there is still hope. Soon the fate of the kingdom will fall into the hands of a schoolboy terrorist, a crippled Shulka warrior and his wheelchair bound son, a single mother desperate enough to do anything she can to protect her baby… and Tinnstra, disgraced daughter of the Shulka’s greatest leader, who now lies dead by Egril hands.

A brand new epic fantasy: gritty and modern featuring a unique ensemble of characters who will lead a revolution against their overlords.

Review

Copy of book cover (44)I must admit what drew me to this book was that eye catching cover, but after just a few pages I knew I was going to completely fall in love with this dark and engrossing tale. This brand new fantasy, set in a vivid world full of magic and fighting was everything I wanted and more.

Jia is a fascinating place, one that has been completely torn apart my magic and war. I loved the tense atmosphere, you could feel the fear and misery that surrounded the characters and it added another brilliant layer. The world building was incredibly well done and the setting practically leapt off the page. I found it so easy to get engrossed in the story, it was well plotted and excellently paced.

We Are the Dead is an excellently told story, I really enjoyed Shackle’s writing style and the characters were well developed. The story is told from multiple POVs, giving you the opportunity to see things from different perspectives. Each one was really fascinating and brought something interesting to the story.

It really is a dark tale, and there are plenty of brutal and gory moments throughout the book. I found the story so gripping and at times I struggled to put the book down. We Are the Dead is a brilliant fantasy tale, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Mike Shackle.
5 stars
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Book Review: Stepsister – Jennifer Donnelly

Book Review: Stepsister – Jennifer Donnelly

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Release Date:
May 14th 2019
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-11T210836.240The story of Cinderella and the story of the ugly stepsisters has been told in a million different ways, so to find one that takes the story in a completely different direction was something I immediately wanted to read. Stepsister follows Isabelle, one of the ugly stepsisters to the newly crowned Ella, Queen of France. Reviled for the way she treated her stepsister, Isabelle and her sister Octavia are left with little options – they have tried to be sweet, pretty girls and find husbands but they never live up to their perfect stepsister. With war brewing and no way to protect themselves, Isabelle and Octavia must stand up and fight, proving that girls are a lot more than pretty possessions.

I am completely torn about how to rate this book. It took me quite a while to get into the story, I particularly found the early chapters quite slow, however once I got further into the story I really started to fall in love with these Isabelle and her sisters. They’re brave, intelligent, brilliant girls and I was rooting for them the entire time. The message of this story is so powerful and so important – that you don’t have to be what everyone expects you to be, that you should follow that dream no matter if others think you won’t succeed.

The story provided a really interesting take on this tale, and I loved the vivid world of France at war. I also liked the additional stories of Fate and Chance, two beings waging a bet over Isabelle’s life. It added a fascinating perspective to the tale and one I really enjoyed. One of the things that did put me off this book is the incredibly short chapters. Most were only a few pages long and for me it was a little off putting, it felt like as soon as I got back into the swing of the story I was at the end of the chapter again. The crazy amount of chapters (over 130) also put me off a little.

This is an emotional and inspiring story and if you’re a fan of retellings this is absolutely a must read. Stepsister is an exciting, feminist take on the ugly stepsister trope and I hope this trend of feminist retellings continues because I am fast becoming obsessed with them. If you love all things fairytales, you’re definitely going to love this one.
3 stars

N.E.W.T.S Magical Readathon TBR!

N.E.W.T.S Magical Readathon TBR!

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In April I participated in the O.W.L.S Magical Readathon and had so much fun, it really pushed me to read some extra books and that is definitely what I need this month. I started a little late because I was moving house, but I’m so excited to dive into my TBR. If you want to know more, G at BookRoast has all the details!

I completed 10 O.W.L.S in April but there are three prompts for each exam this time around so I’m not sure how many I will make it through but I’ve created a TBR to give me a shot at getting Outstanding in each.

Astronomy

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A: Moon on the cover or anywhere in the title:
Empress of A Thousand Skies Rhoda Belleza
E: Word ‘night’ in the title or series names: Nevernight- Jay Kristoff
O: Read a sci-fi book (or stars on the cover): The Stars Now Unclaimed – Drew Williams 

Arithmancy

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A: Book that ends on an even number: A Chain Across the Dawn – Drew Williams
E: A standalone: Hunted – Megan Spooner
O: Book that’s longer than 350 pages: Tidelands – Philippa Gregory

Charms

Copy of book cover (41)A: Read a book you think has a gorgeous cover: A Dress for the Wicked – Autumn Krause
E: Read a comic/graphic novel/manga: Batgirl of Burnside – Cameron Stewart 
O: Spongify (softening charm) read a paperback book: The Dead House – Dawn Kurtagich

Defence Against the Dark Arts

Copy of book cover (15)A: book that’s black under the dust jacket: Blood and Exile – Brian Naslund
E: Gilderoy’s Memory Charm! First book you remember from your TBR: Perfectly Preventable Deaths – Deirdre Sullivan
O: Cornish Pixie! Swat it away with a book written by an English author or set in England: D.O.G.S – M.A. Bennett

Divination

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A: Read a white book: Suicide Club – Rachel Heng
E: Read a short story or collection of short stories: Wastelands: The New Apocoloypse – John Joseph Adams
O: Read the last book you bought/ got from the library: Shrouded Loyalties – Reese Hogan

Herbology

Copy of book cover (43)A: Mandrake! Headphones on, listen to an audiobook: These Rebel Waves – Sarah Raasch
E: Read a book between 350 and 390 pages: The Sword of Silence – Shaun Curry
O: Read a book with a flower on the cover: All the Bad Apples – Moira Fowley – Doyle

History of Magic

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A: Read a fantasy: Into the Crooked Place – Alexandra Christo
E: Read a book that includes a map: We Are the Dead – Mike Shackle
O: Tom Riddle’s diary, reread an old favourite (or read a classic): A Midsummer Night’s Dream – William Shakespeare

Muggle Studies

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A: Cover that includes an actual photo element: Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager
E: Book set in our real world: Sanctuary – V. V. James
O: Book written by a person of colour: We Hunt the Flame – Hafsah Faizal

Potions

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A: Pollyjuice potion, read your friends favourite book! Feed – Mira Grant
E: Book with the colour of your Hogwarts House: Dragonslayer – Duncan M. Hamilton
O: Book that starts with a prologue: Magic For Liars – Sarah Gailey


Transfiguration

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A: Read a book with LGBTQA+ representation: Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan
E: Read a book that’s not the first in a series: Dark Ink – Gary Kemble
O: Read a book over 500 pages: The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang


So those are all the books on my N.E.W.T.S TBR! I know I won’t get to them all but I’m hoping to at least read all the A’s and maybe get to a few O’s! What are you reading for the magical readathon?

Blog Tour – Sanctuary – V. V. James

Blog Tour – Sanctuary – V. V. James

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Release Date:
August 8th 2019
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 320
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 small Connecticut town of Sanctuary is rocked by the death of its star quarterback.

Daniel’s death looked like an accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch – and she was there when he died.

Then the rumours start. When Harper insists Dan was guilty of a terrible act, the town turns on her. So was his death an accident, revenge – or something even darker?

As accusations fly and secrets are revealed, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a trial that the whole world is watching . . .

Review

Copy of book cover (40)This book gripped me from the very first chapter and refused to let me go. I couldn’t put it down, racing through the chapters quicker and quicker to find out what was going to happen at the end. This is the perfect tense and thrilling story, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Set in a small American town, the story opens on the death of a young quarter back named Daniel. His death is ruled an accident but rumours start to fly that his ex girlfriend Harper could have been involved – especially when she tells everyone Daniel isn’t as innocent as he makes out to be.

I loved everything about this book. The small little town that is gripped by paranoia and mistrust really leapt off the page. It really added to the tension and was the perfect setting for this dark and twisty tale.

The story is told in a number of alternating POVs and I really enjoyed getting to see the story from different view points. Each of the voices felt quite distinct and realistic, and I enjoyed seeing the characters attempt to figure what was going on, and who to trust.  Sanctuary also does come with quite a few trigger warnings, including sexual assault and violence so definitely make sure to take a look if needed.

Sanctuary is a dark and thrilling story, one that fans of James’ previous work will just adore. Her beautiful writing will suck you and and definitely keep you reading long after you’ve meant to go to bed. I ended up reading late into the night because I was just so desperate to see how it was going to end. If you love clever twists, a well executed plot and an engrossing mix of magic and mystery, Sanctuary should absolutely be your next read.
5 stars
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Blog Tour: The Undoing of Arlo Knott – Heather Child

Blog Tour: The Undoing of Arlo Knott – Heather Child

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Release Date:
August 1st 2019
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

What if your life had an ‘undo’ button?

Arlo Knott discovers he can rewind time – just by a minute or two – enough to undo any mistake, say the right thing or impress his friends with his uncanny predictions…

But second chances aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. As wonderful as his new life is, a mistake in Arlo’s traumatic childhood still haunts him and the temptation to undo, undo and keep undoing is too much to resist.

Review

Copy of book cover (39)I became completely hooked on the tale of Arlo Knott. The story follows Arlo as he explores the rare gift he has – he can rewind time. Not by months or hours but only by a few minutes, enough to be able to make predictions, but not much else. We see Arlo attempt to understand his gift, and use it to write the wrongs of his past.

This is just the kind of book I love. It’s a story of family and life, with that little science fiction twist thrown in. The book was beautifully written and I really fell in love with this thought-provoking tale. We follow Arlo from a young age – during a particularly traumatic period – all the way to adulthood and we see him develop his gift, flaunt it and use it for power, as well as trying to stretch it and understand why he has been given it. The story is a really deep character study, really giving the reader the opportunity to get to know our protagonist. I thought Arlo was brilliant and I loved seeing him take this journey and develop from a grieving child to this fascinating adult. He’s a flawed character, particularly in his University years, but that makes for an all the more interesting protagonist.

The Undoing of Arlo Knott is the kind of book that sucks you in early on and keeps you turning pages faster and faster as the stakes get higher. While Arlo is the star of the show there is an interesting cast of secondary characters, and the whole book felt well written and engaging. The story packs a lot in, touching on friendships, love and finding your place in the world. The story is a pretty unique one and I loved the blend of everyday life mixed with this incredible power.

The Undoing of Arlo Knott is a must read – if you love fast paced stories with characters that leap off the page, this should absolutely be your next read.
4 stars
Arlo Knott