Blog Tour: Poisoned – Jennifer Donnelly

Blog Tour: Poisoned – Jennifer Donnelly


Release Date:
October 20th 2020
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3.75/5

Synopsis

From Jennifer Donnelly, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Stepsister, comes a fairytale retelling that’ll forever change the way you think about strength, power, and the real meaning of “happily ever after.”
Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen’s huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman pulled out his knife . . . and took Sophie’s heart.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule — a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she’d heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . .

With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can’t extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.

Review

Poisoned is the new release from acclaimed author Jennifer Donnelly, author of Stepsister. Having read and really enjoyed Stepsister last year, I was really intrigued how Donnelly was going to take the tale of Snow White and turn it on its head. The story follows Sophie, a princess who ventures into the forest with the huntsman. While there he removes Sophie’s heart. The kingdom had been awash that she was never fit to rule, that she was too soft and sweet to be a good Queen and so she isn’t surprised by the assassination attempt. Sophie manages to survive and with the help of seven strangers, must face a horrifying enemy and prove that kindness can be just as strong as hate.

Much like Stepsister, Poisoned is a dark and gripping feminist retelling of a story we all know and love. I really enjoyed the way that Donnelly adapted the story and brought something new to the tale. This is such a fun feminist retelling and I ended up racing through it. The chapters are pretty short so I often found myself saying ‘oh just one more’ and then still being there ten chapters later.

The world building is well done in this story, and I loved the feminist perspective in this book. The story is obviously a bit darker and bloodier than the Disney version but it’s still full of whimsy like a traditional fairy tale. Donnelly has a really beautiful writing style and I loved the vivid descriptions of the forest and the creatures that dwell there. The one thing I struggled with was that I felt the pacing was a bit off – some parts were really fast paced and others were much slower and this threw me out of the story a little.

The thing that made this story for me was the characters. Donnelly has created some really fascinating characters and we are treated to multiple POVs in this story. All the characters felt well fleshed out and I really liked Sophie as a main character. Poisoned is a dark and compelling tale and if you’re looking for a fresh take on a beloved fairytale, this will absolutely be up your street.

Blog Tour: Ashes of the Sun – Django Wexler

Blog Tour: Ashes of the Sun – Django Wexler


Series:
Burningblade & Silvereye #1
Release Date: October 1st 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Long ago, a magical war destroyed an empire, and a new one was built in its ashes. But still the old grudges simmer, and two siblings will fight on opposite sides to save their world in the start of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy trilogy.

Gyre hasn’t seen his beloved sister since their parents sold her to the mysterious Twilight Order. Now, twelve years after her disappearance, Gyre’s sole focus is revenge, and he’s willing to risk anything and anyone to claim enough power to destroy the Order.

Chasing rumors of a fabled city protecting a powerful artifact, Gyre comes face-to-face with his lost sister. But she isn’t who she once was. Trained to be a warrior, Maya wields magic for the Twilight Order’s cause. Standing on opposite sides of a looming civil war, the two siblings will learn that not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two.

Review

Ashes of the Sun is the first in an all new epic fantasy series from Django Wexler. This is my first time reading a book by this author and I had so much fun! The story follows Gyre, who hasn’t seen his sister since his parents sold her off to the Twilight Order. Hellbent on seeking revenge for his sister, Gyre goes in search of an artifact that will give him enough power to destroy the Order, but in doing so finds his long lost sister. She is much changed, a hardened warrior for the Order. As civil war looms, the two find themselves on opposite sides of what is sure to be a devastating fight.

Ashes of the Sun is a really gripping read and a fantastic opening book to the series. The world building is superb and I was fascinating by this world that is still attempting to rebuild after a magic war. I really enjoyed Wexler’s writing style and it was easy to become completely absorbed in the story. The story was well paced, giving the reader time to understand the world without being info-dumpy. There was plenty of action to keep the reader hooked and I found it particularly hard to put the book down during the fighting scenes.

Wexler has created some truly brilliant characters in this book. We are treated to the POVs of Maya and Gyre and I really liked both characters. I loved seeing the relationship dynamics change as the story progressed. Gyre in particular I found fascinating, he’s so determined to get revenge he will stop at nothing. While it is quite a serious story there are plenty light-hearten moments in the story too, particularly in the witty banter between the characters.

All in all Wexler has created a really fascinating and compelling story and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next instalment. If you’re looking for an excellently plotted epic fantasy to keep you hooked over the winter months this should absolutely be your next read.

Blog Tour: The Nesting – C J Cooke

Blog Tour: The Nesting – C J Cooke


Release Date:
October 15th 2020
Publisher: HarperFiction
Pages: 416
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

The woods are creeping in on a nanny and two young girls in this chilling modern Gothic thriller.

Architect Tom Faraday is determined to finish the high-concept, environmentally friendly home he’s building in Norway – in the same place where he lost his wife, Aurelia, to suicide. It was their dream house, and he wants to honor her with it.

Lexi Ellis takes a job as his nanny and immediately falls in love with his two young daughters, especially Gaia. But something feels off in the isolated house nestled in the forest along the fjord. Lexi sees mysterious muddy footprints inside the home. Aurelia’s diary appears in Lexi’s room one day. And Gaia keeps telling her about seeing the terrifying Sad Lady…

Soon Lexi suspects that Aurelia didn’t kill herself and that they are all in danger from something far more sinister lurking around them.

Review

The Nesting is the beautifully haunting story of Lexi Ellis, a young woman who takes the job of nanny for two young girls at a remote home in Norway. Their architect father has just finished building the house to in the same place his wife Aurelia committed suicide. As Lexi grows closer with the young children she starts to see and hear strange things in the isolated home. When she discovers Aureila’s diary she soon begins to suspect that perhaps the cause of death was not suicide and that other things are lurking in the house.

This one originally caught my eye because I was captivated by that absolutely stunning cover. I love thrillers with a supernatural touch so I already thought I was going to love this one. Cooke’s writing style in this is brilliant, she creates that slow creeping sense of dread and this book definitely sent a shiver up my spine in more than one occasion. I loved the remote setting for the story and it really came to life in Cooke’s words.

The Nesting is full to the brim with atmosphere and I found it so hard to put this one down. I ended up reading the last hundred and fifty pages in a single sitting because I just had to know how it was going to end. The story is reminiscent of Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key but I found The Nesting to be a more addictive read. I really liked the characters in this story, they felt relatable and well developed. I really liked Lexi as a main character and I really enjoyed the way that Cooke weaved the stories of Lexi and Aurelia together.

This eerie, haunting tale is absolutely perfect reading for Autumn, it’s the kind of book you can’t tear your eyes away from. I loved every second of this book and can’t wait to read more from C. J. Cooke.

Book Review: The Last Human – Zack Jordan

Book Review: The Last Human – Zack Jordan


Release Date:
March 24th 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 448
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Sarya is the galaxy’s worst nightmare: a Human.

But most days, she doesn’t feel like the most terrifying creature in the galaxy. No, most days, she’s got other things on her mind. Like hiding her identity among the hundreds of alien species roaming the corridors of Watertower Station. Or making sure her adoptive mother doesn’t casually eviscerate one of their neighbors. Again.

And most days, she can almost accept that she’ll never know the truth about why humanity was deemed too dangerous to exist, or whether she really is – impossibly – the lone survivors of a species destroyed a millennium ago.
That is, until an encounter with a bounty hunter leaves her life and her perspective shattered.

Thrown into the universe at the helm of a stolen ship, Sarya begins to uncover an impossible truth. Humanity’s death and her own existence might simply be two moves in a demented cosmic game, one that might offer the thing she wants most in the universe – a second chance for herself, and one for humanity.

Review

The Last Human is the epic science fiction tale of Sarya – the last human in the universe. Hiding with her adoptive mother (Shenya the Widow) and pretending to be of the same alien species. When she comes face to face with a bounty hunter her cover is blown and she begins to uncover the truth behind the demise of humanity and and discover a way to gain a second chance for herself and for the human race.

This is a book completely unlike anything I’ve read before. It was a fascinating tale and an impressive debut novel. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book seeing Sarya attempt to live a life where everyone thinks she is someone else. I also liked seeing her interactions with her mother who is much more aggressive and warlike species. I thought these two characters in particular were well created and I thought Sarya made for an excellent protagonist, however as her journey progressed I found myself getting a bit lost in the story. There are different parts to the story that separate Sarya’s journey and the further on I got the more I lost how it was connected to the beginning.

I loved the idea of the last human being the one thing that the other races are scared of. It’s a clever story with plenty of moments that will blow your mind, but for me it felt like there was just too much going on. Ultimately this one wasn’t for me, but I’m sure plenty of science fiction fans will love this one. If it sounds like the kind of thing you might enjoy I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.

Book Review: A Deadly Education – Naomi Novik

Book Review: A Deadly Education – Naomi Novik


Series:
The Scholomance #1
Release Date: September 29th 2020
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Pages: 336
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

Lesson One of the Scholomance: Learning has never been this deadly.

A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets.

There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere.

El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.

Review

A Deadly Education is the first in an all new series from acclaimed author Naomi Novik, and follows a young girl called El as she attempts to survive her years in the Scholomance – a school for children with magicial abilities. The only trouble is the school is not a typical boarding school – monsters hide in every corner and the only way to escape is to graduate at the end of your time there, or to die.

This book ended up being on my most anticipated releases of 2020, I was so intrigued by the school setting with a deadly twist. A Deadly Education is an action packed read, full of fighting and dangerous beasties. It was a quick paced story that I devoured in a few days and one I’d highly recommend. The world building is pretty fascinating in this story and while it took me a little while to get my head around the different terms I soon settled into this gripping and compelling story. There are a few moments that felt a bit like info-dumps, but generally the magic system were well explained in the story.

The main protagonist El is a fascinating character, she’s stubborn and sarcastic and at times she’s quite unlikeable. Despite all that I really found myself rooting for her as she attempts to survive another year in the school. I liked watching her develop friendships with her classmates and the way she stuck to her beliefs even when letting go would get her everything she wanted. I did feel some of the side characters could have been a little more fleshed out – I wanted to know more about boy wonder Orion Lake and why he’s so desperate to save everyone.

The story focuses on a lot of topics, particularly wealth and class inequalities which was something I did not expect. A Deadly Education is a gripping tale and ends on a pretty big cliffhanger. If you’ve been curious about this one I’d recommend giving it a try and hopefully the wait for book two won’t be too long!

Book Review: The Doors of Eden – Adrian Tchaikovsky

Book Review: The Doors of Eden – Adrian Tchaikovsky


Release Date
: August 20th 2020
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 608
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

They thought we were safe. They were wrong.

Four years ago, two girls went looking for monsters on Bodmin Moor. Only one came back.

Lee thought she’d lost Mal, but now she’s miraculously returned. But what happened that day on the moors? And where has she been all this time? Mal’s reappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by MI5 officers either, and Lee isn’t the only one with questions.

Julian Sabreur is investigating an attack on top physicist Kay Amal Khan. This leads Julian to clash with agents of an unknown power – and they may or may not be human. His only clue is grainy footage, showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.

Dr Khan’s research was theoretical; then she found cracks between our world and parallel Earths. Now these cracks are widening, revealing extraordinary creatures. And as the doors crash open, anything could come through.

Review

The Doors of Eden is the clever and compelling tale of two girls who looking for monsters on a remote moor. While there something strange happens and only one comes back. Reeling from the loss of her friend, Lee is shocked when she discovers that Mal has returned from where she disappeared too. Whilst Lee is attempting to understand what’s really going on, MI5 agent Julian Sabreur is working on discovering who is behind an attack on physicist Kay Amal Khan. He has very little clues except that whoever is behind it might not be human. As Julian begins to learn more about Khan’s research into parallel Earths, they soon learn that their Earth might not survive much longer.

This is my first time reading a full length novel from Adrian Tchaikovsky – I’ve read his novella Firewalkers and some of his short stories – and it was such a wild ride of a tale. This is a fast paced and complex tale, full of incredibly creatures and mind bending science. Tchaikovsky has such a brilliant writing style and the story is packed to the brim with action, adventure and humour – the story grips you from the very first chapter and doesn’t let you go till the very last page.

The story is told from the points of view of several different characters and each one was well developed. I really liked Lee and Mal, it was really interesting seeing them attempt to reconnect after all these years as well as deal with everything going on around them. My favourite character was definitely Kay Amal Khan though – she’s a brilliant scientist but she’s also an incredibly sarcastic and kick ass character.

The world building is well executed in this story and despite there being multiple threads to the story Tchaikovsky weaves them together seamlessly. There is quite a lot of science involved but it’s also really accessible for those that don’t read too much science fiction. The Doors of Eden is a gripping read and one that takes the reader on an adventure though many worlds, encountering many brilliant creatures. If you’ve been curious about this one I’d definitely recommend picking it up.

Book Review: After the Silence – Louise O’Neill

Book Review: After the Silence – Louise O’Neill


Release Date:
September 3rd 2020
Publisher: Riverrun Books
Pages: 439
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

Nessa Crowley’s murderer has been protected by silence for ten years.
Until a team of documentary makers decide to find out the truth.

On the day of Henry and Keelin Kinsella’s wild party at their big house a violent storm engulfed the island of Inisrun, cutting it off from the mainland. When morning broke Nessa Crowley’s lifeless body lay in the garden, her last breath silenced by the music and the thunder.

The killer couldn’t have escaped Inisrun, but no one was charged with the murder. The mystery that surrounded the death of Nessa remained hidden. But the islanders knew who to blame for the crime that changed them forever.

Ten years later a documentary crew arrives, there to lift the lid off the Kinsellas’ carefully constructed lives, determined to find evidence that will prove Henry’s guilt and Keelin’s complicity in the murder of beautiful Nessa.

In this bold, brilliant, disturbing new novel Louise O’Neill shows that deadly secrets are devastating to those who hold them close.

Review

After the Silence is the dark and brilliantly told story of the small island of Inisrun which was devastated by the murder of Nessa Crowley at the Kinsella’s party ten years ago. The islanders believe they know who killed her, but it was never proven and the murderer walks free. Ten years later a film crew from Australia arrive to film a documentary about the murder that shook the islanders and perhaps also uncover the truth about what happened that night.

I’ve previously read Louise O’Neill’s The Surface Breaks and while this was a completely different kind of story it was just as compelling and unforgettable. O’Neill brings you right into the heart of Inisrun, getting to know the villagers and the events that led to the death of Nessa Crowley. I loved the way the story was written, flitting between the present day and the past with some parts told in an interview style. O’Neill has a really captivating writing style and it was so easy just to get lost in this story.

The story is a tense one and focuses particularly on domestic abuse. It was a chilling read and one that will stick with the reader long after they’ve finished reading. The story has a few twists and turns – ones I wasn’t particularly expecting. After the Silence feels like an incredibly well researched and executed tale, with really fascinating and complex characters. We mainly follow Keelin Kinsella, who on the surface has it all – she’s wealthy, has the perfect husband and two beautiful children. But there’s so much more going on behind the scenes and I think Louse O’Neill portrayed that perfectly.

After the Silence is much more than a typical psychological thriller. It’s a dark and fast paced story and one that fans of Louise O’Neill are sure to love.

Blog Tour: The Bone Shard Daughter – Andrea Stewart

Blog Tour: The Bone Shard Daughter – Andrea Stewart


Series:
The Drowning Empire #1
Release Date: September 8th
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 448
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

Review

As soon as I read the synopsis for The Bone Shard Daughter I knew it was going to be a book I would love. The premise sounds fascinating and coupled with that absolutely stunning cover, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. The Bone Shard Daughter is an absolutely incredible debut, and without a doubt one of my favourite books of the year.

The story is set in a world where the emperor uses bone magic to ensure his continued rule. He refuses to acknowledge his daughter Lin as heir to his throne and she will do anything she can to learn the forbidden bone shard magic and prove she is worthy. But rebellion is stirring in the kingdom and when it arrives at the palace Lin has to give everything to save her people.

I absolutely adored this book. It’s a fast paced tale that’s brilliantly executed and incredibly clever. There’s absolutely tons of action and I honestly never wanted this book to end. The world building is truly superb and I was completely fascinating by the magic system in this story. The idea of bone shard magic felt so unique and it was such a dark bloody magic to witness. The story is full to the brim with magic and revolution with a touch of romance.

The story features a number of different POV characters and I felt that they were all well created and developed. I really liked Lin and Jovis and I thought Stewart did an excellent job of giving each POV character a unqiue and compelling voice. Some of the characters are told in first person perspective and some in third – I thought this might have been a little jarring but actually worked incredibly well in the story.

The Bone Shard Daughter is an absolutely magnificent read and I’m so glad there’s more to come in The Drowning Empire series because I cannot wait to dive back into this incredible world. If you’ve been intrigued by this one I definitely recommend picking it up – you won’t be disappointed.

Blog Tour: Misfits – Hunter Shea

Blog Tour: Misfits – Hunter Shea


Release Date:
September 8th 2020
Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

During the height of the 90s grunge era, five high school friends living on the fringe are driven to the breaking point. When one of their friends is brutally raped by a drunk townie, they decide to take matters into their own hands.

Deep in the woods of Milbury, Connecticut, there lives the legend of the Melon Heads, a race of creatures that shun human interaction and prey on those who dare to wander down Dracula Drive. Maybe this night, one band of misfits can help the other. Or maybe some legends are meant to be feared for a reason.

Review

Misfits is the dark and gruesome tale that follows five friends who are outcasts in their small town of Milbury Connecticut. When one of their friends is attacked the group decide to take matters into their own hands and seek justice. The woods surrounding the town are home to the legendary Melon Heads. When the two groups collide they think that perhaps they can be of use to each other – but at what cost?

This is my first Hunter Shea book and it was such a dark and brutal read. It was a perfect horror story to get engrossed in and one I couldn’t tear my eyes away from. It had me on the edge of my seat right from the outset and it definitely creeped me out on more than one occasion. The story is quite a violent one, with plenty of brutal and bloody moments.

I really liked Shea’s writing style and it was really easy to sink into the story. The story is set in the 90s grunge era and it was fascinating seeing that come alive in the story. I really liked the group of misfits in this story and I found myself getting attached to them quite early on. I was rooting for them from the beginning and hoping they would survive the night.

The story is a gruesome one, but it is a well executed tale and it’s absolutely perfect for some late night Halloween reading. I loved the way that Shea used the idea of the local legend, creating a story that is an entertaining horror read. If you’re looking for something fast paced, full of action and plenty of horrifying moments, Misfits should definitely be your next read.

Book Review: Dead Rock Stars – Guy Mankowski

Book Review: Dead Rock Stars – Guy Mankowski


Release Date:
14th September 2020
Publisher: Darkstroke
Pages: 209
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon.
Source: The author kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

Emma Imrie was a Plath-obsessed, self-taught teenage musician dreaming of fame, from a remote village on the Isle of Wight. She found it too, briefly becoming a star of the nineties Camden music scene. But then she died in mysterious circumstances.
In the aftermath of Emma’s death, her younger brother, Jeff, is forced by their parents to stay at the opulent home of childhood friends on the island.
During a wild summer of beach parties and music, Jeff faces up to the challenges that come with young love, youthful ambition and unresolved grief. His sister’s prodigious advice from beyond the grave becomes the only weapon he has against an indifferent world. As well as the only place where the answers he craves might exist…

Review

Dead Rock Stars is a clever and compelling tale that follows a young boy named Jeff who is reeling from the death of his sister Emma – a star of the Camden music scene who dies in mysterious circumstances. While forced to spend the summer on the Isle of Wight, Jeff discovers his sisters diary that will help to guide him through the challenges of first love and growing up.

This book is completely unlike anything I’ve read before and manages to pack so much into one story – it is a coming of age novel, but also an exploration of grief and a mystery all rolled into one. Mankowski weaves the different elements to create a story that is heart wrenching and addictive. The thing I found most fascinating in this book are the brilliant characters Mankowski has created. Jeff is trying to come to terms with the death of his sister, his parents have abandoned him while they too cope with Emma’s death. We see glimpses of Emma through her diary and she too is a complex and interesting character.

I really enjoyed the diary aspect of the story and it was brilliant to see the Camden music scene come alive in Mankowski’s words. I found the diary entries particularly gripping as we see Emma’s lifestyle become more and more reckless. This is a very powerful story and one I didn’t want to put down. This is my first book by this author but it definitely won’t be my last. If you’re looking for a compelling read to keep you engrossed during the dark autumn months this should definitely be on your wish list.