Book Review: The Bloodprint – Ausma Zehnat Khan

Book Review: The Bloodprint – Ausma Zehnat Khan

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Series:
The Khorasan Archives #1
Release Date: October 19th 2017
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis

Celebrated crime author Ausma Zehanat Khan takes her first foray into fantasy with this stunning new quadrilogy which sees female scholar and warrior Arian risk everything in a totalitarian society to reclaim the legacy of her people.

In the lands of Candour, the Talisman threaten the authority of the Council with their growing indoctrination of the masses based on their rigid, oppressive interpretation of the Claim; a text orally transmitted from generation to generation, which they have appropriated in order to gain power. Tasked by the Council to fight this is Arian, aided by companion Sinnia and young boy Wafa, who must find the Bloodprint, legendary manuscript the Claim is based on, in order to stop the Talisman and re-establish the truth.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-10T231702.583The Bloodprint is the first in a new series by crime author Ausma Zehanat Khan. I confess I’ve always wanted to read The Unquiet Dead and haven’t quiet gotten around to buying a copy (that has since been rectified). Going into The Bloodprint I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but from the get go I was absolutely hooked, and I loved this book from beginning to end.

This book is steeped in blood and action – there is plenty of fast-paced plot to keep the fantasy fan happy, but The Bloodprint is so much more than that. With women living in a male dominated world – they are treated like slaves and not allowed to speak unless permitted by their husbands – is in many ways relevant to today’s media.

One of things I did love most about this book was the immense detail that Ausma put in. The book is very finely crafted, with the history and mythology really bringing the book to life. I’d love to spend an hour picking Ausma’s brain to find out where all these fascinating ideas came from. Her research must have taken a really long time to complete, and it really adds to this excellent story. The Claim is similarly a really fascinating aspect of this book. A magic that celebrates the written word is not something that I’ve come across before, and I really loved this unique concept.

Characters can make or break a book, and The Bloodprint is no exception. Our two main characters Arian and Sinnia are fabulous. Warrior women fighting to break slave trains and save the land from Talisman rule, their sense of companionship and friendship is a wonderful aspect of this book. I also similarly loved Wafa, the young child that Arian and Sinnia rescue. There is also a romantic element of the book (which I won’t say too much about so as not to ruin anything) but it is not in your face, and adds to the story without taking over.

There;s also plenty of mystery, and the reader is left with more than a few questions (I needed book two yesterday). There’s also a few shock twists a long the way, and not everything is as it seems. It really strikes home that in a world fraught with danger, who can you really trust? Each person is often out to further their own gains. I must also say that the cover design is gorgeous, my proof copy is beautiful but I cannot wait to go and buy a finished one for my favourites shelf. This is a truly superb read, and definitely sits in the top of my favourite books ever.
5 stars

Book Review: The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell

Book Review: The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell

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Release Date:
March 6th 2018
Publisher: Raven Books
Pages: 305
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this at my local Waterstones.
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting . . .

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure–a silent companion–that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition–that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.

A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect–much like the silent companions themselves.

Review

Untitled design (17)This book has instantly become one of my favourite books ever. Dark, unsettling and beautifully descriptive, it will keep you up late on these cold winter nights. Elsie is grieving for the unexpected death of her new husband when she moves into his old country estate, but not everyone welcomes her arrival. The Bridge is full of secrets and servants who do not like her, not to mention something more sinister that hides behind locked doors.

This book genuinely gave me the fear. I love ghost stories and horror novels, but I find it pretty rare to be actually frightened by them. Throughout The Silent Companions I felt that pervading sense of unease, The story is wonderfully written and keeps you gripped right from the start – I couldn’t put it down even when I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what happened next.

I loved the characters too. They were so well written – complex characters who all held their own motivations – and often weren’t quite what they seemed on the surface. The story is told in several different narratives – Elsie in a hospital as she recovers from the traumatic events at The Bridge, Elsie as she relives her experiences with the silent companions as well as a diary from Anne Bainbridge, an old ancestor who lived at the estate 200 years before. I loved the different narratives as the were so multi-layered and each had their own exciting story line that I wanted to hear more from. When you have multiple points of view you tend to prefer one over the other, but I was completely engrossed in both Elsie and Anne’s story.

This book is atmospheric, chilling and will definitely send a shiver up your spine. What more could you want from a Gothic ghost story? If you love books by the likes of Shirley Jackson then The Silent Companions will make for perfect reading.
5 stars

Book Review: Even the Darkest Stars – Heather Fawcett

Book Review: Even the Darkest Stars – Heather Fawcett

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Series:
Even the Darkest Stars #1
Release Date: September 5th 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Pages: 437
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis

Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.

But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.

The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and even worse at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-07T202448.361This book really caught me eye with that stunning cover and after reading the blurb I was desperate to dive in. I enjoyed this book so much and am just itching to read the sequel. It was so full of magic and has such a beautiful setting that you can’t help but fall in love with it.

The story is told from the point of view of Kazmin, a young girl who dreams of being an explorer. She accompanies famous explorer River Shara on his expedition to the summit of the most dangerous mountain, Raksha. Her sister Lusha is also attempting the summit and Kamzin has to not only survive the climb but protect her sister too. I love Kamzin, I thought she was a great protagonist. She’s full of determination and just a bit stubborn but her and River make a great team and I really enjoyed watching her grow as she fought the dangers of the mountain. Kamzin also has a pet dragon which I would pretty much do anything to have in real life so how could you not love her.

The world building in Even the Darkest Stars is wonderful too. There’s plenty of magic and adventure and the world is steeped in plenty of history and myth. The book is pretty quickly paced and I found myself racing to the end to find out what happens. There’s more than a few mysteries and plot twists along the way and you’re bounding to be dying for book two when you finish. This was completely unlike any other YA fantasy I’ve ever read and I definitely applaud the originality of the plot.

Like most YA there’s also a splash of romance but it isn’t over the top and doesn’t detract from the adventure and the mystery. If you’re looking for a fun and exciting read, Even the Darkest Stars is sure to be a hit!
5 stars

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden

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Series:
The Winternight Trilogy #2
Release Date: January 25th 2018
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Pages: 364
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 magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

Review

nightingaleThis is the second book in the Winternight trilogy. The first book has become one of my favourite books of all time and so I was incredibly eager to see what was next in store in this magnificent series. I was a little apprehensive that I wouldn’t love it as much as I did the first book, but if possible I loved The Girl in the Tower even more than The Bear and the Nightingale.

The thing that I love most about this book and in fact this series is the detail, the vivid and imaginative world that Katherine Arden has created. It leaps off the page and is so full of magic and folklore that you can’t help but fall in love with this beautiful world. The Girl in the Tower has a fantastic plot that kept me eager for more and on one occasion I almost missed my bus stop on the way home because I was just so absorbed in the story.

Vasya was my favourite character in The Bear and the Nightingale and I loved seeing her grow and prove herself in this second instalment. She’s brave, stubborn and the most wonderful protagonist. I can’t tell who I love more, Vasya or her fearless horse Solovey. There are a whole host of other characters which are well developed and complex, which makes the story come alive even more.

The story manages to encompass so much – not just magic and adventure but friendship, family, romance, politics and lots of other themes in between. The Girl in the Tower has something for everyone, and I cannot recommend it enough. The writing is lush and beautiful, I loved The Girl in the Tower from start to finish and my only problem now is waiting to read the last instalment in Vasya’s story.
5 stars

Blog Tour: The Year After You – Nina de Pass

Blog Tour: The Year After You – Nina de Pass

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Release Date: February 14th 2019
Publisher: Ink Road
Pages: 352
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

New Years’ Eve, San Francisco. The most promising party of the year ends in a tragic accident. Cara survives. Her best friend Georgina doesn’t.

Nine months later, Cara is struggling, consumed by guilt and grief. Her mum decides a Swiss boarding school will be the fresh start Cara needs. But Cara knows that swapping sunshine for snow won’t make a blind bit of difference. Georgina is gone, and nothing will bring her back.

Up in the Alps, Cara’s old life feels a million miles away. At Hope Hall, nobody knows about her past. And she intends to keep it that way. But classmates Ren and Hector have other ideas. Cara tries to keep her distance, but she’s drawn to the offbeat, straight-talking Hector, who understands her grief better than anyone. Her new friends are determined to break down the walls she has so carefully built up. And, despite it all, Cara wants them to.

The closer Cara grows to Hector, the more Georgina slips away. Embracing life at Hope Hall means letting go of the past; of her memories of that fatal New Year’s Eve. But Cara is quite sure she doesn’t deserve a second chance.

Review

bosdfsrThe Year After You follows a young girl named Cara who is sent to a boarding school in the remote Swiss Alps. On New Years Eve she survived a fatal accident, but her best friend Georgina did not. Consumed by grief, she wants nothing more than to complete the school year and move on, nothing is going to bring down the walls she has built around herself. But as she is drawn into life at Hope Hall, she begins to hope that maybe, things will get better.

The Year After You is such a beautifully told story. It begins with a single tragic event that completely changes Cara’s life. The story focuses very heavily on grief and PTSD and it handled both of those issues extremely deftly. It really hones in on the idea of loss how others around Cara – such as her mother – don’t want to believe that she’s suffering from a mental illness. The story is stunningly told with beautiful writing and I definitely felt myself becoming wrapped up in this well executed plot.

The thing that really made the book for me is the characters. Cara is a real fleshed out character and she seems very realistic, but I also really liked Ren, Hector and Fred. They’re all loyal and fascinating characters and each one is dealing with their own secrets. I really liked seeing them develop as friends and grow as characters and that’s definitely one of the reasons I enjoyed this story so much.

The Year After You also features a really stunning setting and the remote boarding school trope is one that I absolutely adore. The beautiful old building in the snowy Alps, the cable car journeys and the remoteness of the school really helped to bring this beautiful story to life.

The Year After You is a beautifully told tale of friendship, grief and ultimately of second chances. The story completely blew me away and if you’re looking for a brilliant new read – I can’t recommend this highly enough.
5 stars
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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

Book Review: The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

Book Review: The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

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Series:
The Folk of the Air #1
Release Date: January 2nd 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 370
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was sent a copy of this book through ReadersFirst.
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Review

book cover (55)This is such a perfect book. I couldn’t put it down and I definitely didn’t want it to end. The Cruel Prince is the first in a new series from ‘Faerie Queen’ Holly Black, and I can totally see why she deserves that name because this book is so stunning. Books about the Fae are not something I read particularly often, though I recently read An Enchantment of Ravens and really enjoyed it. With that in mind I decided to give this a go, and boy was I not disappointed.

Jude Duarte has become my most favourite character ever. She’s a strong woman, she wants to be a knight and fend for herself and she doesn’t expect others to do the work for her. She’s brash and determined, she makes mistakes and works hard. Black portrays her so realistically and so humanly, that I could not help but love her. She’s a fantastic protagonist and it’s so exciting to watch her grow and evolve. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other amazing characters. I loved Cardan and Vivi and The Roach too.

For me what made this book really stand out was the lush, vivid settings and the plot that kept me guessing. Each character in this book has their own motives, and everyone is playing a game. I was never sure who to trust, who was being honest and who wasn’t. So many times I’ve read a book and I’ve guessed what’s going to happen, but that definitely wasn’t the case with The Cruel Prince.

The book is pretty fast-paced and there’s plenty of action and excitement to keep you on the edge of your seat. If you love faerie stories, or you’re a fan of the immensely talented Holly Black, you need to pick up this book now, you won’t regret it.
5 stars