Book Review: The White Hare – Michael Fishwick

Book Review: The White Hare – Michael Fishwick

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Release Date:
March 9th 2017
Publisher: Heads of Zeus
Pages: 256
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 2..5/5

Synopsis

A beautifully written coming-of-age novel from an acclaimed literary voice.

A lost boy. A dead girl, and one who is left behind.

Robbie doesn’t want anything more to do with death, but life in a village full of whispers and secrets can’t make things the way they were.

When the white hare appears, magical and fleet in the silvery moonlight, she leads them all into a legend, a chase, a hunt. But who is the hunter and who the hunted?

In The White Hare, Michael Fishwick deftly mingles a coming-of-age story with mystery, myth and summer hauntings.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-17T225218.697This book is a quick and interesting read that touches on that difficult topic of grief. The book follows Robbie, a young boy who’s dealing with the death of his mother and the remarriage of his father. The book is a short one – under two hundred pages and most likely you’ll get caught in this fascinating story and read it in one sitting.

The White Hare is a bit of a strange book, it is at times eerie, and I wasn’t always 100% sure what was going on, or where the plot was heading. I enjoyed the mixture of folklore, magic and realism, but I did feel like the ending left me with quite a few questions. That being said, it is a lovely read, watching the characters grow as they deal with the grief of losing their loved ones – Robbie’s friend Mags is dealing with a death also.

I really liked the characters in The White Hare – Robbie who acts out because he misses his mum, best friend Mags who knows more than anyone else about the white hare myth, and Robbie’s dad who’s just trying to do his best. They are very realistic characters, each trying to deal with their grief in the best way they know how.

I loved the idea of the white hare legend – which I won’t say too much about so as not to spoil the story – but I would have loved to know more about this myth and where it all started. I thought The White Hare had a really nice satisfactory ending, and overall the book is a good read. If you’re stuck in doors on a wintery Sunday this month, The White Hare is that perfect magical and heartwarming read to get caught up in.
3 stars

Book Review: A Pocketful of Crows – Joanne M. Harris

Book Review: A Pocketful of Crows – Joanne M. Harris

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Release Date:
19th October 2017
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 240
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

I am as brown as brown can be,
And my eyes as black as sloe;
I am as brisk as brisk can be,
And wild as forest doe.
(The Child Ballads, 295)

So begins a beautiful tale of love, loss and revenge. Following the seasons, A Pocketful of Crows balances youth and age, wisdom and passion and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless wild girl.

Only love could draw her into the world of named, tamed things. And it seems only revenge will be powerful enough to let her escape.

Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-14T052617.195I was so excited to read this little beauty because I loved The Gospel of Loki and have always wanted to read more of Joanne Harris’s books. The story follows a young woman who lives in the woods, She has magical powers which she loses when she falls in love with a local lord’s son. Based on The Child Ballads, this book is beautifully written in a lyrical and poetic style.

The book is a short one and can probably be read in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down, The story is fairy tale like in nature, but in many ways more dark and twisted. The story is full to the brim with magic and folklore, and makes for a breath taking read. The story is told in the space of a year, encompassing birth and death, love and revenge. It might only be a couple of hundred pages long but it contains a lot within those beautiful pages. I’d love to see Joanne Harris write more of these beautiful stories.

If you’ve read any of her other books, you are bound to love A Pocketful of Crows. The book is also beautifully designed, which made me fall in love with it even more. If you’re looking for a book that will capture your imagination and leave you wanting more, A Pocketful of Crows is definitely the book you need.
4 stars

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 Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One – Amanda Lovelace

Book Review: The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One – Amanda Lovelace

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Series:
Women are Some Kind of Magic #3
Release Date: March 5th 2019
Publisher: Andrews McNeel Publishing
Pages: 208
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was approved for an E-ARC via Netgalley
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Goodreads Choice Award-winning poet and USA TODAY bestselling author Amanda Lovelace presents the mermaid’s voice returns in this one — the third and final installment in her “women are some kind of magic” series, featuring a foreword from Lang Leav and 13 guest poems from leading voices in poetry such as Nikita Gill, KY Robinson, and Orion Carloto.

The mermaid is known for her siren song, luring bedroom-eyed sailors to their demise. However, beneath these misguided myths are tales of escapism and healing, which Lovelace weaves throughout this empowering collection of poetry, taking you on a journey from the sea to the stars. They tried to silence her once and for all, but the mermaid’s voice returns in this one.

Review

book sdsPoetry isn’t something that I read an awful lot of and it’s definitely something I want to get into more. I’ve read the first two instalments in Amanda Lovelace’s Women Are Some Kind of Magic series and was incredibly excited about reading this powerful and inspiring third book.

Much like the previous books, the poems Lovelace creates are so emotional and raw. The poems are written in a very minimal way, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t pack a punch. So many of her poems have given me food for thought and I definitely felt the same with The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One.

While I did really enjoy this book, it did feel a little bit disconnected from the two I read previously. I didn’t connect with this one as much as I did The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One and for me it didn’t feel as powerful. Though still a thought provoking and timely read, I definitely preferred the first two books in this trilogy.

It’s been fascinating to read Lovelace’s work as she has grown and honed her craft with each book, It was also interesting to read the guest poems from a variety of guest poets. Some of these I liked more than others and I think this might be part of the reason I didn’t love this book as much.

Overall the Women Are Some Kind of Magic series is a hauntingly beautiful and thought provoking series and The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One is an excellent addition. If you’re a fan of poetry or interesting in feminist writing, this is a must read. I for one am excited to see what Amanda Lovelace does next.
4 stars

Blog Tour: Monsters in the Mirror – A. J. Hartley

Blog Tour: Monsters in the Mirror – A. J. Hartley

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Release Date:
1st March 2019
Publisher: Uclan Publishing
Pages: 424
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Darwen Arkwright’s world is turned upside down when he is forced to move from a small English town to Atlanta in the United States of America. Feeling out of place and struggling to fit in at school, Darwen seeks solace in a mysterious shop full of mirrors. It’s there that he discovers the ability to step through mirrors into different worlds – worlds beyond his wildest imagination. Darwen befriends creatures including Moth, a tiny being with mechanical wings, but he soon learns that there is a terrible darkness threatening this new world . . . and only he can save it.

The problem with doors is that they open both ways. There are monsters inside, and some of them are trying to get out . . .

Review

hjMonsters in the Mirror is a fun and fast paced adventure full of charming characters and exciting action. The story follows Darwen Arkwright, a young boy forced to move from England to Atlanta. As he struggles to find his place and understand his new life he discovers he has the ability to step through mirrors into completely different worlds. As he makes friends in this new world, he learns that a dark power is threatening to destroy it. Monsters in the Mirror is the first in an all new series and I’m already looking forward to reading the next instalment!

I really enjoyed my time reading Monsters in the Mirror. Darwen is the perfect protagonist – he’s dealing with his world being turned upside down as well as attempting to balance his normal life with his new found abilities. I liked seeing things from his perspective, particularly as he dealt with missing things from his life in England and made new friends and experiences in Atlanta. Darwen is surrounded by a whole host of interesting secondary characters that felt well fleshed out. There are some really interesting baddies in the story too which I adored.

I loved A. J. Hartley’s writing style and it was really easy to fall into this magical world that was full to the brim with excitement and adventure. The story is well plotted and touches on a variety of themes like friendship, finding your place and good overcoming evil.

Monsters in the Mirror is an exciting, well told story with memorable characters and a gorgeous cover. This is the perfect middle grade read and if you’re a fan of books like Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series, this should definitely be your next read!
4 stars
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