Blog Tour: Black Water Sister – Zen Cho

Blog Tour: Black Water Sister – Zen Cho


Release Date:
June 10th
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

A reluctant medium discovers the ties that bind can unleash a dangerous power in this compelling Malaysian-set contemporary fantasy.

Jessamyn Teoh is closeted, broke and moving back to Malaysia, a country she left when she was a toddler. So when Jess starts hearing voices, she chalks it up to stress. But there’s only one voice in her head, and it claims to be the ghost of her estranged grandmother, Ah Ma. In life Ah Ma was a spirit medium, the avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she’s determined to settle a score against a gang boss who has offended the god–and she’s decided Jess is going to help her do it.

Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny. If she fails, the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.

Review

Black Water Sister first caught my eye when I heard the story described by the author as “A stressed zillennial lesbian fights gods, ghosts, gangsters & grandmas in 21st century Penang.” If that doesn’t intrigue you I don’t know what will! Black Water Sister is the engaging story of Jessamyn Teoh, a young woman moving from the US back to Malaysia with her parents. When she starts hearing a voice in her head she assumes it’s the stress of the move, but when the ghost admits to being her recently deceased grandmother, Jess ends up entangled in a plot to get revenge on a gang boss who has offended a god.

Black Water Sister is such a unique read and I got completely wrapped up in this magical story. The story is excellently plotted and well-paced, I found myself racing through the second half of the book because I wanted to know what was going to happen. This is my first book by Zen Cho and I enjoyed her writing style immensely, it was so easy to picture the sights and sounds of Malaysia. I love learning about the gods and the culture, especially as I don’t think I’ve read many books set there. Whilst this is my first book by the author it definitely won’t be my last and I will definitely be ordering Sorcerer to the Crown!

In this story, we meet some truly compelling characters and it was the incredible characters that really made this book for me. Jess is a brilliant protagonist – she’s trying to find herself, never having fit in in the US or in Malaysia. She’s trying to have a long-distance relationship with her girlfriend and her parents don’t know that she’s gay. There’s a lot going on, but Jess made for a really likeable character and I was rooting for her to succeed. I was similarly fascinated by Ah Ma, the snarky Grandma who is much more than she seems. I loved the way Cho mixed the magical mystery elements with typical family drama, it made for such a compelling and intriguing read.

Black Water Sister is a beautifully written, vivid tale of ghosts, mystery and family. If you’re looking for a fantasy read that’s completely unlike anything you’ve read before – this one is a must-read.

Blog Tour: The Maidens – Alex Michaelides

Blog Tour: The Maidens – Alex Michaelides


Release Date:
June 15th 2021
Publisher:  W&N
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.

Review

The Maidens is the all-new thriller by The Silent Patient author Alex Michaelides. The Silent Patient was one of my favourite thriller reads of 2019 and I was really excited to see what Michaelides did next. The story follows Mariana, a group therapist who becomes obsessed with the maidens when a friend of her niece is found murdered in Cambridge. Mariana knows for sure that even though he has an alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of murder and she will do anything to prove it. As Mariana becomes more and more obsessed, she soon finds her credibility and her closest relationships falling away from her – but can she stop the killer?

Just like The Silent Patient, I found myself getting completely lost in this story and raced through it in a few gripping sittings. The story captivated me from the outset and Michaelides has such a brilliant writing style that I was completely swept away in this story. It’s fast-paced with pretty short chapters that kept me completely hooked. The story is full to the brim with twists and turns and given the surprises in his first book I knew anything was possible. Michaelides has such a great way of making you a bit suspicious of everyone and the final reveal definitely wasn’t what I expected.

The Maidens is a dark and compelling read, one I think thriller fans will completely adore. Mariana is an interesting protagonist she is someone dealing with grief who very quickly spirals into obsession. I really liked the Cambridge setting in the story, which definitely came to life in the vivid descriptions. If you’re a fan of gripping psychological thrillers you can’t look away from, The Maidens should definitely be your next read.

Blog Tour: We Are Satellites – Sarah Pinsker

Blog Tour: We Are Satellites – Sarah Pinsker


Release Date:
May 6th 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 373
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

Everybody’s getting one.

Val and Julie just want what’s best for their kids, David and Sophie. So when teenage son David comes home one day asking for a Pilot, a new brain implant to help with school, they reluctantly agree. This is the future, after all.

Soon, Julie feels mounting pressure at work to get a Pilot to keep pace with her colleagues, leaving Val and Sophie part of the shrinking minority of people without the device.

Before long, the implications are clear, for the family and society: get a Pilot or get left behind. With government subsidies and no downside, why would anyone refuse? And how do you stop a technology once it’s everywhere? Those are the questions Sophie and her anti-Pilot movement rise up to answer, even if it puts them up against the Pilot’s powerful manufacturer and pits Sophie against the people she loves most.

Review

I read Sarah Pinsker’s A Song For A New Day earlier this year and absolutely fell in love with the story so I was incredibly intrigued to pick up We Are Satellites. The story follows Julie and Val who just want their kids to be happy and live well. When their son David asks to get a Pilot – the new brain implant – they end up agreeing. When Julie ends up getting one because she feels left behind at work it leaves Val and Sophie as part of a minority of people who don’t have one. This soon causes tensions in the family and when Sophie begins an anti-Pilot movement, it could cost her more than she thought.

Just like A Song For A New Day, this story completely captivated me with its intriguing and slightly terrifying premise. The thing I love about both books is how believable they are. The possibility of a new technology coming out, something that sweeps the world and everyone becomes obsessed with is absolutely possible, so when the story takes a darker turn it feels all that more grounded in reality.

I really like Pinsker’s writing style in this story and the book is really well-paced. This unique plot kept me hooked from the very beginning and while the story isn’t particularly action-based, I was completely engrossed because of the complex and compelling characters that Pinsker creates. I loved that we see the family as things develop over years, showing the longer-term ramifications of the technology. This felt like such an original story, with a cleverly executed plot. If you’re looking for some character-driven sci-fi that you’ll still be thinking about long after you’ve finished reading, I definitely recommend We Are Satellites.

Blog Tour: The Witch’s Heart – Genevieve Gornichec

Blog Tour: The Witch’s Heart – Genevieve Gornichec


Release Date:
May 4th 2021
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent provided me with an E-ARC to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.

Angrboda’s story begins where most witches’ tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.

Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.

With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family…or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.

Review

The Witch’s Heart is the stunning story of Angrboda. When she refuses to give Odin the knowledge he wants of the future, he has her burned alive. When she flees to the forest, determined to live a quiet existence away from Odin’s all-seeing eye. When she is found by Loki, they soon form a bond and produce three children. As her powers return she soon learns everything she knows and loves is in danger, but will she accept the future she has witnessed, or rise up against it?

This was such a gripping book and I really fell in love with Angrboda as a character. I don’t know all that much about her from the original Norse myths so I was completely fascinated by her story. Her powers were so interesting and she was such a strong and determined protagonist. Gornichec has such a beautiful writing style and it felt like I was reading one of the original stories. It fit so well with the style and feel of a myth and I got completely swept up in this well-executed story.

Gornichec creates some really complex characters and there is so much character depth in this story. The relationship between Angrboda and Loki was well created and I also really liked the relationship that develops between Angrboda and Skadi. This is a magical tale, full of love and loss. The Witch’s Heart is at times really heart wrenching and there were definitely a few moments where I teared up. This is a well-crafted tale, bringing a modern twist to these well-known stories. If you’re a fan of mythology reimaginings this is definitely one to check out.

Blog Tour: Ariadne – Jennifer Saint

Blog Tour: Ariadne – Jennifer Saint


Release Date:
April 29th 2021
Publisher: Wildfire Books
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly provided an E-ARC to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?

Ariadne gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel

Review

Ariadne first caught my eye because of that absolutely stunning cover. When I hear this was a retelling of the minotaur myth from the perspective of Ariadne I was incredibly excited to pick it up. The story follows Ariadne, daughter of King Minos. Ariadne lives with the sound of hoofbeats beneath the palace, as the minotaur roams the labyrinth below. When Theseus, Prince of Athens is brought to Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him and decides to help him destroy the minotaur. But doing so will betray her family and her country.

I absolutely adore Greek retellings and this might possibly be my favourite one ever. I completely fell in love with this story. Saint has absolutely stunning prose and I got completely lost in this beautiful, fiercely feminist story. Ariadne is a fascinating character and it was so compelling to read the story from her point of view. The story really focuses in on all the female characters that are forgotten in the original myths, in favour of the infamous heroes. Ariadne is an impressive debut and I cannot wait to read more from Jennifer Saint.

There were so many things I loved about this book and I particularly enjoyed the sense of sisterhood between Ariadne and Phaedra. Saint has the ability to write really compelling characters and I must admit I got a bit teary-eyed at the ending. This is an exceptional debut and if you’re a fan of books by Madeline Miller and Pat Barker, this should definitely be your next read.

Blog Tour: The Imposter – Anna Wharton

Blog Tour: The Imposter – Anna Wharton


Release Date:
April 1st
Publisher: Mantle
Pages: 416
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Chloe lives a quiet life. Working as a newspaper archivist in the day and taking care of her Nan in the evening, she’s happy simply to read about the lives of others as she files away from the news clippings from the safety of her desk.

But there’s one story that she can’t stop thinking about. The case of Angie Kyle – a girl, Chloe’s age, who went missing as a child. A girl whose parents never gave up hope.

When Chloe’s Nan gets moved into a nursing home, leaving Chloe on the brink of homelessness, she takes a desperate step: answering an ad to be a lodger in the missing girl’s family home. It could be the perfect opportunity to get closer to the story she’s read so much about. But it’s not long until she realizes this couple aren’t all they seem from the outside…

But with everyone in the house hiding something, the question is – whose secrets are the most dangerous?

Review

The Imposter is an expertly woven tale that tells the story of Chloe, a quiet girl who spends her time working as an archivist and looking after her Nan. She becomes obsessed with the story of a missing girl and the parents that never stopped hoping for her return. When her Nan is moved to a nursing home and she finds herself with nowhere to live, Chloe answers an ad for a lodger with the missing girls’ parents. When she moves in she learns there’s much more going on with the couple than she ever expected.

This was an absolutely cracking read. Wharton mixes this mystery story with an exploration of grief and loss, and it is incredibly well executed. This is such a captivating read and one that’s quite slow-paced. The reader is given plenty of opportunities to get to know the characters and the sad story of the missing child. There is a sense of unease throughout the story and this build and builds as the story reaches its ending.

Wharton has created some really complex and fascinating characters in this story and has done a brilliant job portraying grief. The story has many twists and turns, with a few I definitely didn’t see coming. It makes for a really compelling read, and I raced through the last half of the book in one sitting.

I thought Wharton crafted a really brilliant story and the premise was definitely something I haven’t encountered before. This sinister mystery is beautifully written and if you’re looking for a story that will keep you hooked right to the very last page, The Imposter is exactly what you’re looking for.

Blog Tour: Empire of Wild – Cherie Dimaline

Blog Tour: Empire of Wild – Cherie Dimaline


Release Date:
1st April 2021
Publisher: W&N
Pages: 300
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis

From the author of the YA-crossover hit The Marrow Thieves, a propulsive, stunning and sensuous novel inspired by the traditional Métis story of the Rogarou – a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of Métis communities. A messed-up, grown-up, Little Red Riding Hood.

Broken-hearted Joan has been searching for her husband, Victor, for almost a year–ever since he went missing on the night they had their first serious argument. One terrible, hungover morning in a Walmart parking lot in a little town near Georgian Bay, she is drawn to a revival tent where the local Métis have been flocking to hear a charismatic preacher named Eugene Wolff. By the time she staggers into the tent, the service is over. But as she is about to leave, she hears an unmistakable voice.

She turns, and there Victor is. The same face, the same eyes, the same hands. But his hair is short and he’s wearing a suit and he doesn’t recognize her at all. No, he insists, she’s the one suffering a delusion: he’s the Reverend Wolff and his only mission is to bring his people to Jesus. Except that, as Joan soon discovers, that’s not all the enigmatic Wolff is doing.

With only the help of Ajean, a foul-mouthed euchre shark with knowledge of the old ways, and her odd, Johnny-Cash-loving, 12-year-old nephew Zeus, Joan has to find a way to remind the Reverend Wolff of who he really is. If he really is Victor. Her life, and the life of everyone she loves, depends upon it.

Review

Empire of Wild is one of those books that you read the premise of and are immediately desperate to know more. The story follows Joan, a woman struggling with the disappearance of her husband Victor. When she stumbles across a revival tent one more she heads inside to find her husband is the preacher. When she approaches him she discovers he does not recognise her at all. With some help from her nephew Zeus and Ajean – a woman in the community with knowledge of the old ways, she must fight to rescue Victor and remind him of who he really is.

Empire of Wild is an incredibly compelling read. I loved the slightly sinister atmosphere of the story and the tale of the Rogarou. Dimaline has gorgeous prose and the story really sucks you into this brilliant book. The story really focuses on issues of colonialism and identity and I loved the way Dimaline weaved these topics into the supernatural storyline.

Dimlaine creates really clever characters in this book and in particular, I loved Ajean and Zeus. Ajean is the wise lady who’s seen it all, and she’s a great side character. Similarly, Joan’s nephew Zeus, who is determined to come along and help rescue Victor. Think horror tale was an incredibly engrossing read and one that has definitely stuck with me. If you’re looking for a unique and compelling suspense story, Empire of Wild is one you need to add to your wishlist.

Blog Tour: The Drowned City – K J Maitland

Blog Tour: The Drowned City – K J Maitland


Release Date:
April 1st 2021
Publisher: Headline
Pages: 448
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

1606. A year to the day that men were executed for conspiring to blow up Parliament, a towering wave devastates the Bristol Channel. Some proclaim God’s vengeance. Others seek to take advantage.

In London, Daniel Pursglove lies in prison waiting to die. But Charles FitzAlan, a close adviser to King James I, has a job in mind that will free a man of Daniel’s skill from the horrors of Newgate. If he succeeds.

For Bristol is a hotbed of Catholic spies, and where better for the lone conspirator who evaded arrest, one Spero Pettingar, to gather allies than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel journeys there to investigate FitzAlan’s lead, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy – and in pursuit of a killer.

Review

This is my first time reading a book by Karen Maitland and it was a rollercoaster ride. The story is set in 1606, the year after the gun powder plot. As a giant wave destroys much of Bristol, Daniel Pursglove is freed from a London prison and sent to Bristol to investigate a Jesuit conspiracy. As Daniel delves deeper into the conspiracy, Pursglove uncovers far more than he ever suspected.

The Drowned City is a really compelling read and Maitland brings to life the sights and sounds of the 1600s in great detail. The story came across as well researched and Maitland really brought Bristol to life in the story. The Drowned City is packed with atmosphere and I absolutely felt swept away into this tense story. The book is a fairly large one but the story moves pretty quickly and I found myself turning pages quicker and quicker as we raced towards the final chapters. The Drowned City is the first in a new series, so I’m incredibly intrigued to see where the story will go next.

Our main protagonist is a really fascinating character and I enjoyed getting to know him and understand more about his history that led him to end up in prison. All the characters in this story felt well-created and that really came across in the story. The story is brimming with political intrigue and there are more than a few gruesome moments. The Drowned City is dark and atmospheric and overall a brilliant start to the series. If you’re looking for a well-plotted historical thriller with plenty of mystery and menace, this is definitely a book to pick up.

Mini Review: A Dead Djinn in Cairo – P. Djèlí Clark

Mini Review: A Dead Djinn in Cairo – P. Djèlí Clark


Series:
Fatma el-Sha’arawi #0.5
Release Date: May 18th 2016
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 43
Find it on: Goodreads. Tor Books. 
Source: I read this online on the Tor Books website
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Egypt, 1912. In an alternate Cairo infused with the otherworldly, the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities investigate disturbances between the mortal and the (possibly) divine. What starts off as an odd suicide case for Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi leads her through the city’s underbelly as she encounters rampaging ghouls, saucy assassins, clockwork angels, and plot that could unravel time itself.

Review

The Fatma el-Sha’arawi is a series I have seen doing the rounds online recently, so when I heard that the best place to start is with the short novelette A Dead Djinn in Cairo, I decided to give it a go. This story might only be forty three pages, but it absolutely packs a punch. Set in Cairo in the 1900s, the story follows Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi as she works to uncover the truth behind an odd suicide case. As she digs deeper into the supernatural underworld of the city, she finds a much more sinister plot going on.

I honestly loved this. Fatma was a fantastic main character and even though this is short I completely fell in love with her. There’s quite a bit of character development in that short space of time and I can’t wait to see what Clark does with a full length novel. The world in this is fascinating and there is still a substantial bit of world building in this novelette. As expected the story is a quick one, but it comes to a very satisfying conclusion.

A Dead Djinn in Cairo is a fascinating tale and full of beautiful writing. It absolutely left me wanting more and I can say without a doubt this will not be my last book from P. Djèlí Clark.

Book Review: The Twisted Tree – Rachel Burge

Book Review: The Twisted Tree – Rachel Burge


Series:
The Twisted Tree #1
Release Date: September 27th 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 256
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this book online
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

Part ghost story, part Nordic thriller – this is a twisty, tense and spooky YA debut, perfect for fans of Coraline and Michelle Paver.

Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma’s cabin and became blind in one eye.

Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor – only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.

Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . .

Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, The Twisted Tree is a ghost story that twists and turns – and never takes you quite where you’d expect.

Review

The Twisted Tree is the first instalment in a creepy horror mystery series from Rachel Burge. The story follows Martha, a young girl who has the ability to sense things about someone by reading their clothes. Determined to understand her abilities she runs away to visit her grandmother in Norway. When she arrives she discovers her grandmother has passed away and a strange boy is squatting in her house. As the snow leaves them cut off from the outside world, Martha has no choice but to let the boy stay, but as the snows get heavier they get the sense they aren’t the only ones there.

This was such a fun read and I ended up reading it in one sitting! It’s really fast paced, with a terrific sense of setting. I loved the remote Norwegian setting and Burge really brought to life the cold, icy landscape. The Twisted Tree is full to the brim with atmosphere and there are some really creepy moments in this story. I liked the way Burge weaved a horror and mystery story with norse mythology – it made for a really unique and engaging read.

I really liked Martha as a main character and I loved learning more about her mysterious powers. The idea of reading someone from their clothes was so fascinating and something I’ve never encountered before. I also quite liked Stig, who was a really mysterious character. The pair work really well together and I enjoyed seeing them learn to trust one another to save the day.

The Twisted Tree is a wonderfully atmospheric read and is perfect reading for a cold dark night. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to read it, once you start reading you won’t want to put it down.