January Wrap Up!

January Wrap Up!

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January felt like the longest month ever but I only ended up reading ten books. I felt like I kicked 2019 off quite well as a few of these were really fantastic reads, so let’s dive into my January wrap up!

gfsrThe Awakening – Kate Chopin
This little book has been on my TBR forever so I thought I would kick 2019 off by getting it off my to read list. The story is a feminist classic about a women who has an affair and becomes increasingly unhappy with the role thrust on her by society. It was a really interesting read and I found it pretty fascinating to learn how much this shocked readers when it was first published in 1899. (3/5 stars)

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The Fork the Witch & the Worm – Christopher Paolini
I really adored The Inheritance Cycle growing up so when I was given the opportunity to return to this world and all the characters I loved I was so excited. This book offers three short stories from the world of Eragon and provides an insight into what happens after the original series ends. I participated in the blog tour for this one so if you fancy reading my full review, you can check that out here. (4/5 stars)

book cover (13)The Wicked King – Holly Black
This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019 and I was so excited to see if it would live up to my expectations. I’m happy to say that I thought The Wicked King was brilliant, the plot was so addictive with even more twists and turns that I just didn’t see coming. I’ve really grown attached to the characters in this series and I honestly can’t wait to find out what’s in store in The Queen of Nothing. (5/5 stars) 

book cover (75)Stain – A. G. Howard
This was my first time reading a book by A. G. Howard and I loved it so much. This beautiful gothic fairy tale follows two kingdoms, one that only contains day and one that only contains night. The heir to the kingdom of day cannot speak and sunlight burns her skin. The story follows her as she is cast out of the kingdom by her aunt and attempts to regain her kingdom. It’s gorgeously written with excellent world building and you can read my full review here. (4.5/5 stars)  

book cover (40)The Wolves of Winter – Tyrell Johnson
This was another one that I’ve had on my TBR for quite a while. The Wolves of Winter is dystopian in which disease has destroyed much of the planet. Lynn and her family survive in the harsh landscape of the Yukon but when a strange visitor appears in their community he brings with him a whole host of secrets and shadows. I loved the setting and the atmosphere in this story and it was a really enjoyable standalone story. (3.5/5 stars)

cacsArtificial Condition – Martha Wells
I read the first book in The Murderbot Diaries at the end of 2018 so I decided to continue on the series with Artificial Condition. These short novellas follow a security bot gone rogue – “Murderbot” – and his adventures. In this instalment he teams up with a research vessel named ART to explore his past and the place where he went rogue. It’s a fun quick read and while I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I enjoyed All Systems Red I’m still looking forward to continuing the series. (2.5/5 stars)

ssdThe Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One – Amanda Lovelace
I read The Princess Saves Herself In This One quite a while ago so when I spotted the second book in this series in my local bookshop I quickly snapped it up. I really enjoyed the first book but this one is definitely my favourite. Powerful and inspiring, I read the poetry in one sitting because I was completely absorbed in this collection of poems about the resilience and power of women. (5/5 stars)

book cover (98)The Puppet Show – M. W. Craven
The first in an all new crime thriller series, The Puppet Show opens with a series of murders in the Lake District. A serial killer is burning people alive at stone circles throughout the area and the police don’t have much to go on. When a clear message is sent to disgraced detective Washington Poe, he’s brought back onto the force but as he investigates these dark murders he uncovers a whole lot more than he bargained for. This book is so dark, twisty and unforgettable. It’s definitely one of my favourite crime thrillers of all time and I can’t wait to read the next instalment in the series – full review here! (4/5 stars)

book sdsThe Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One – Amanda Lovelace
After I read The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This one I requested the next instalment from Netgalley and was so excited when I got approved. This is the final collection in the Women are Some King of Magic series and whilst I still really enjoyed this, it was my least favourite of the three collections. The poems were beautiful, but they didn’t speak to me in the same way the others did. (3.5/5 stars)

book cover (100)Slay On Tour – Kim Curran
Slay are back! I read and loved the first book in this series last year and was super excited to be back with the boy band that are world famous by day and demon hunters by night. This instalment sees the gang go to Japan to investigate a series of demons that have been causing havok. They go on tour with a band of holographic girls but when things start to go wrong during the tour they soon learn they might have even bigger problems. The book is fun, fast paced and has a really great storyline. It’s a brilliant addition to the series and I’m hoping the series will continue with the band travelling to more places around the world. If you want to read my full review you can check out my blog tour stop here! (4/5 stars)

So those are the books I read in January! If you’ve read any of them definitely let me know what you thought and tell me some of the books you read and loved in January!

Book Review: Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed

Book Review: Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed

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Release Date:
January 16th 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

“I don’t want something . . . expected. I want to go to film school and be the first Indian American to win an Oscar, and then I can meet the One and fall in big, heart-bursting love, and we’ll travel the world, my camera ready to capture our adventures.” My cheeks flush; I know I’m blushing, but I can’t bring myself to shut up. “Oh, my God. I want my future life to be a cheesy romantic comedy.”
He shakes his head. “No,” he says. “You want it to be an epic.”

Maya Aziz dreams of being a film maker in New York. Her family have other ideas. They want her to be a dutiful daughter who wears gold jewellery and high heels and trains to be a doctor. But jewellery and heels are so uncomfortable…

She’s also caught between the guy she SHOULD like and the guy she DOES like. But she doesn’t want to let Kareem down and things with Phil would never work out anyway. Would they?

Then a suicide bomber who shares her last name strikes in a city hundreds of miles away and everything changes . . .

Review

hatefThis book is a really important own voices read, that tackles a number of really difficult issues in an interesting way. Maya stands on the precipice of her future and there are two options – going to NYU and following her dreams of studying film, or going to a more local University and finding a new suitable boy to marry – the option that her parents want her to take. I thought she was a really fascinating character and I loved her perspectives on life, and her dedication to film. She was strong and determined, she made difficult choices and stuck to her guns even when things were hard.

The book focuses on two key areas – the romance aspect as Maya meets Kareem but also has feelings for classmate Phil, and an in depth look at hate crimes and the rippling effects that one horrific event can have on so many people’s lives. The romance I found a little cheesy and fluffy which is why I didn’t rate it higher, but it’s sweet and adds another layer to this interesting story.

The effects of the terrorist attack by a white supremacist is the part of the story that was most powerful. Although Maya wasn’t involved in the attack, her and her family still feel the effects and are still the victims of hate crimes. I would have loved for the book to dig a bit deeper into this important issue, rather than the focus on the romance between Maya and Phil.

The book is a pretty quick read, I read it almost in one sitting. That being said I think it highlights a lot of problems and issues in society, and is therefore a really important read. It has a really interesting cast of characters, and the story is well paced and interesting. If you like contemporary books with plenty of sweet and light romance, this is definitely a book to pick up.
3 stars

Book Review: Fear – Dirk Kurbjuweit

Book Review: Fear – Dirk Kurbjuweit

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Release Date: January 25th 2018
Publisher: Orion Books
Pages: 303
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis

YOU’D DIE FOR YOUR FAMILY.

BUT WOULD YOU KILL FOR THEM?

***

Family is everything.

So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour – a man who doesn’t listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help – the police, your lawyer – can’t help you.

You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there’s nothing more you can do to protect them.

Is there?

Review

deaeThis was such a gripping thriller and a really unique read. The book made me feel uneasy and uncomfortable – partly because the story is somewhat based on the authors own experiences, and also because it was so believable, it could so easily happen to you or someone you know.

The book is a really interesting look at the family dynamic and the effect that a difficult situation can have on that. Randolph starts to wonder whether his wife could possibly commit the acts that their neighbour accuses them off, and she thinks the same of him. Fear really hits the nail on the head with the psychology behind such an event.

One of the things I found really interesting was the ambiguous nature of the murder. Normally with crime thrillers you feel sorry for the victim and condemn the murderer for their horrific act, but it was much more ambiguous. Was the murder justified? Was the victim at fault? These were questions I kept thinking about long after I’d finished reading.

The book was well written in a tense, exciting style. The short chapters kept the reader hanging on and itching to know more. The book is tense and enthralling, all the more so because this is every new homeowner’s worst nightmare. I really enjoyed the way that the Fear was written in quite a personal style, making the story seem much more like a realistic account.

Fear is divided up into chapters which explores the nightmare the family experience at the hands of the downstairs neighbour, as well as a look at Randolph’s childhood, growing up around his father – a devout gun enthusiast. The book puts forth some really interesting ideas about the effects such things can have on a child.

Fear is almost certainly set to be one of the hottest thrillers, so what are you waiting for?
4 stars

Book Review: The Familiars – Stacey Halls

Book Review: The Familiars – Stacey Halls

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Release Date: February 7th 2019
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Pages: 432
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy to review
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

When she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife, Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong.

When Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the North-West, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?

As the two women’s lives become inextricably bound together, the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.

Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Review

book cover2Last year I read The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown and was completely captivated by the story so when I heard about The Familiars which centres on a young woman accused of witchcraft. The story follows Fleetwood Shuttleworth a young gentlewoman who after miscarrying three children, finds a letter which suggests if she has another child she will not survive. Horrified by this she desperately seeks a midwife who can help her deliver the child that is already growing. When she stumbles upon Alice Gray a local woman with the skills she needs, the two women are caught up in the accusations of witchcraft that are spreading across Lancaster. Only Alice is capable of delivering the baby but will Fleetwood be able to save her from a guilty verdict?

This book is by no means a short book and I read it in a single day. I was completely caught up in the story of Fleetwood and Alice. The story is beautifully told with lush descriptions of the manor houses and wide open countryside that the women traverse. The plot is gripping with plenty of tension as women across the country continue to be accused of witchcraft. The story is very atmospheric, especially the scenes with more supernatural elements. I loved everything about this story from the gorgeous writing style to the magnificent setting.

The story touches on a lot of important subjects from grief, family, marriage and the witch trials but the thing that struck me most about this book is the theme of friendship. Alice and Fleetwood are nothing alike, have lived completely different lives but as the story grows so does their friendship and I particularly loved seeing that blossom as they fought to save each other.

The Familiars is in every way a spellbinding book and while it has a stunning cover the story it contains is just as brilliant. Fans of historical fiction should definitely be adding this to their wish list – The Familiars is definitely not to be missed.
4 stars

 

Waiting on Wednesday #13: King of Fools – Amanda Foody

Waiting on Wednesday #13: King of Fools – Amanda Foody

kf.pngSynopsis

Indulge your vices in the City of Sin, where a sinister street war is brewing and fame is the deadliest killer of them all…

On the quest to find her missing mother, prim and proper Enne Salta became reluctant allies with Levi Glaisyer, the city’s most famous con man. Saving his life in the Shadow Game forced Enne to assume the identity of Seance, a mysterious underworld figure. Now, with the Chancellor of the Republic dead and bounties on both their heads, she and Levi must play a dangerous game of crime and politics…with the very fate of New Reynes at stake.

Thirsting for his freedom and the chance to build an empire, Levi enters an unlikely partnership with Vianca Augustine’s estranged son. Meanwhile, Enne remains trapped by the mafia donna’s binding oath, playing the roles of both darling lady and cunning street lord, unsure which side of herself reflects the truth.

As Enne and Levi walk a path of unimaginable wealth and opportunity, new relationships and deadly secrets could quickly lead them into ruin. And when unforeseen players enter the game, they must each make an impossible choice: To sacrifice everything they’ve earned in order to survive…

Or die as legends.

Thoughts

book cover (44)It’s time for another Waiting on Wednesday! Today I wanted to talk about King of Fools, the highly anticipated next instalment in the Shadow Game series. This series started last year with Ace of Shades. Ace of Shades is set in a City of Sin, where casino families reign. The story follows Enne Salta, a young woman who comes to the city in search of her missing mother. As she delves into the secrets of her mother’s past she meets Levi, a local street lord and all round crook. As she digs deeper Enne begins to lose herself in the glamour and corruption of New Reynes – but will that be enough to save her mother?

This story hooked me from the start and it was one of my favourite books of 2018. I loved the creativity behind the world, the mix of glitz, glamour and magic and the fast paced plot. I gave it five stars and you can read my full review for it here, if you want to know more. I really enjoyed Amanda Foody’s writing style and I am eager to continue this wonderful series. The story of King of Fools seems to pick up straight where  Ace of Shades left off and I can’t wait to dive into this world again. The stakes sound like they’re going to be even higher this time and this is definitely one of my most anticipated books of 2019. King of Fools is publishing May 2nd 2019 from HQ Young Adult. 

Book Review: Beautiful Star & Other Stories – Andrew Swanston

Book Review: Beautiful Star & Other Stories – Andrew Swanston

BOOK REVIEW
Release Date:
January 11th 2018
Publisher: The Dome Press
Pages: 256
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis

History is brought alive by the people it affects, rather than those who created it. In Beautiful Star we meet Eilmer, a monk in 1010 with Icarus-like dreams; Charles I, hiding in 1651, and befriended by a small boy; the trial of Jane Wenham, witch of Walkern, seen through the eyes of her grand-daughter. This is a moving and affecting journey through time, bringing a new perspective to the defence of Corfe Castle, the battle of Waterloo, the siege of Toulon and, in the title story, the devastating dangers of the life of the sea in 1875.

Review

beautifulSome days there’s nothing I love better than curling with a good historical fiction and enveloping myself in a different time period. When I was offered the chance to review Beautiful Star & Other Stories I jumped at the chance, not only because I love Andrew Swanston’s Incendium, but because something I’ve read very little of is historical fiction short stories. This collection has seven different tales, all from differing time periods and locations. I thoroughly enjoyed each one, giving a fascinating snapshot of that time period.

The stories are all in some way based on a true event or a true person, and that made the stories all the more enjoyable, knowing that I was learning about stories that are not often talked about. Each story was richly described with a very personal narrative voice. They were vivid and unique, dealing with a variety of themes from friendship and family, to loyalty and courage.

Of the seven stories there were a few that particularly stood out for me. I loved the story of Lady Mary Bankes, who defended Corfe Castle when it was sieges by Parliamentarian forces. This was something I had never heard of, and after doing my own research I am now eager to go and visit the ruins. I also loved the story of the young monk who dreams of learning to fly, as well as the story of a young boy who meets Charles I in a rather unexpected place. It’s the mark of incredible writing that each time period and setting comes alive, and that is definitely the case with Beautiful Star and Other Stories.

Richly detailed and thoroughly researched, Beautiful Star and Other Stories is a wonderful mix of stories. Full to the brim with realism and human voices, it is everything a historical fiction fan could ask for.
4 stars

Book Review: Shadowscent – P. M. Freestone

Book Review: Shadowscent – P. M. Freestone

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Series:
Shadowscent #1
Release Date: February 7th 2019
Publisher: Scholastic Books
Pages: 448
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

In the empire of Aramtesh, scent has power.

When disaster strikes and the crown prince lies poisoned, long suppressed rivalries threaten to blow the empire apart. It’s up to a poor village girl with a talent for fragrances and the prince’s loyal bodyguard to find an antidote.

To succeed, the pair must uncover secrets – cryptic, ancient tales as well as buried truths from their own pasts – in an adventure that will ignite your senses.

Review

book cover (39)As soon as I read the synopsis of this book it went on my wish list. It sounded completely unlike anything I’d read before and I was so fascinated by this beautiful sounded story. I’m so happy to say that it was everything I wanted and more. This is a superb start to a new fantasy  series that will have you hooked and leave you wanting more.

The story follows Rakel a young girl who is brilliant at detecting scents and understanding fragrances. When the crown prince comes to visit her village he is mysteriously poisoned and Rakel is suspected to be the poisoner. With the help of Ash, the prince’s Shield she must work to find an antidote to the poison, clear her name and uncover the secrets surrounding her past.

I honestly loved this story. It’s told in alternating points of view between Ash and Rakel. This was great because it gave you the chance to understand the magic system and the world from two different perspectives – Rakel is a poor village girl trying to earn enough to help her father and Ash has spent the majority of his life behind palace walls protecting the prince.

I really loved the scent based magic system in this story, it was such a unique idea and I enjoyed the way that the different scents were weaved into the plot and the mythology of the world. It’s was a really brilliant way to evoke smells and bring the story to life. The two main characters are really fascinating and each had really interesting story arcs that weaved together. They both have secrets surrounding their pasts and I was so intrigued to find out what was going on and who was behind it all.

The story is quite slow building in the begin as you get to know the world of Aramtesh and I did feel a little confused in the begin as I struggled to understand the world and how it worked. I soon settled into the story though and I definitely struggled to put the book down as the plot ramped up and the stakes were even higher. This is definitely a new favourite of mine and ended on such a cliff hanger that I am already dying to know what’s in store next.

If you enjoy beautifully told, slow burn fantasy stories full of mystery and intrigue, Shadowscent should definitely be the next book you pick up.
5 stars