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: Malice – Heather Walter

Blog Tour: Malice – Heather Walter


Release Date:
April 13th 2021
Publisher: Del Rey
Pages: 496
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who cursed a line of princesses to die, and could only be broken by true love’s kiss. You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one actually cares about what happens to our princesses. I thought I didn’t care, either. Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to the throne. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating – and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again. Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I-

I am the villain.

Review

I am an absolute sucker for a fairytale retelling, so when I heard about Malice – a sleeping beauty retelling where Princess Aurora falls in love with the villain – I was immediately desperate to get my mitts on it. This story was everything I wanted and more – it was an incredibly dark and compelling read.

The story follows Alyce – the one and only Dark Grace. Feared and shunned for her powers, Alyce has very few friends and knows almost nothing about her Vila heritage. Meanwhile the kingdoms last remaining heir – Princess Aurora – has turned twenty, meaning she only has one more year to find her true love before she dies. Can Alyce find a way to lift the curse – even though she’s the villain and we all know how that story ends?

As soon as I picked up Malice I was completely hooked and I was swept along in this gorgeous story. I loved the world Walter created for this. It was beautifully imagined and there was plenty of well-explained world-building to allow the reader to get to know the world more. The story is pretty fast-paced but I found that just kept me turning the pages quicker and quicker because I didn’t want to miss anything.

Our main character Alyce is a really fascinating one. She’s the ‘wicked villain’ but she’s so much more than that. I really enjoyed seeing her learn more about her powers and there’s tons of character growth. I found myself quickly becoming sympathetic towards Alyce and I was rooting for her from the get-go. I love morally grey characters and it was such a fascinating exploration of the evil sorceress character.

Malice might be inspired by Sleeping Beauty but I felt like this was such a unique story that brought a fresh perspective to a familiar story. I loved the slow burn romance in this story too, it was well executed and I loved seeing Alyce and Aurora’s relationship develop. Malice was an incredible read and one I know fantasy fans are going to absolutely fall in love with. This has been one of my favourite books of 2021 so far and I cannot wait to see what Walter writes next.

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.

Book Review: The Iron Raven – Julie Kagawa

Book Review: The Iron Raven – Julie Kagawa


Series:
The Iron Fey: Evenfall #1
Release Date: April 1st 2021
Publisher: HQ Stories
Pages: 318
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me an E-ARC to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

You may have heard of me…

Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Prankster, joker, raven, fool… King Oberon’s right-hand jester from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The legends are many, but the truth will now be known as never before, as Puck finally tells his own story and faces a threat to the lands of Faery and the human world unlike any before.

With the Iron Queen Meghan Chase and her prince consort, Puck’s longtime rival Ash, and allies old and new by his side, Puck begins a fantastical and dangerous adventure not to be missed or forgotten.

Review

The Iron Raven is the first in an all new series from Julie Kagawa, following the infamous trickster Puck as he embarks on an adventure. When he learns of a threat that will destroy all of the Nevernever he must embark on a epic quest with the Iron Queen and Ice Prince Ash, as well as a mysterious assassin. Will the group succeed in fighting off the terrible threat, or will they uncover something even more deadly?

This book was a bit of a let down for me, but I think it’s completely down to me and not the book. When I read the synopsis for this I thought it was an all new series with all new characters. As I dove further into the book I quickly learned this is a spin off from Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series. I did read the first book in that series a long time ago, and while I enjoyed it it didn’t peak my interest enough to continue the series. As a result I didn’t really have any connection to the characters or their history. I think if you’ve read the previous series you’ll really enjoy seeing these characters back together again and embarking on a new journey.

The plot was enjoyable, if a bit formulaic. It was a pretty quick paced story and once the action started I ended up reading most of the story in a day. Kagawa has a nice writing style and if you love her books I think this would be a really fun read. Puck is a fun character and it was interesting learning about all the mayhem and mischief he’s gotten up to. I did think the ending was a little disappointing, with this big baddie that seems undefeatable being bested in such a simple way.

I did really like seeing Puck return to his darker nature and the way the insidious thoughts kept breaking through, this was the part of the story that interested me most and I also liked the flashbacks that gave you a bit more history into Puck’s story. I think this is probably a case of it’s not you it’s me, and fans of The Iron Fey series will absolutely adore this one. If you’re looking for action packed fae stories with plenty of banter, this could be just the series for you.

Blog Tour: The April Dead – Alan Parks

Blog Tour: The April Dead – Alan Parks


Series:
Harry McCoy #4
Release Date: March 25th 2021
Publisher: Canongate Books
Pages: 352
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

When an American sailor from the Holy Loch Base goes missing, Harry McCoy is determined to find him. But as he investigates, a wave of bombings hits Glasgow – with the threat of more to come. Soon McCoy realises that the sailor may be part of a shadowy organisation committed to a very different kind of Scotland. One they are prepared to kill for.

Meanwhile Cooper, McCoy’s long-time criminal friend, is released from jail and convinced he has a traitor in his midst. As allies become enemies, Cooper has to fight for his position and his life. He needs McCoy to do something for him. Something illegal.

McCoy is running out of time to stop another bomb, save himself from the corrupt forces who want to see him fail and save the sailor from certain death. But McCoy discovers a deeper, darker secret – the sailor is not the first young man to go missing in April.

Review

The April Dead is the fourth heart pounding instalment in Alan Parks’ Harry McCoy series. This time we’re following Harry as he investigates bomb explosions in Glasgow. When Harry learns there might be more bombs on the way, he knows he’s running out of time to find out who’s behind it. As Harry digs deeper he finds way more than he bargained for.

Just like the previous books in this series, The April Dead is a dark and gritty read. It really brings to life the violent criminal underworld of Glasgow, and it’s hard to look away from this tense and gripping story. Harry McCoy has become one of my favourite detectives and it’s fascinating seeing him attempt to uncover the truth. I love the way Parks has created a really unique detective, one who saves the day but is also close friends with a crime boss. I also like the way Parks has created a detective who can’t stand the sight of blood which is something I’ve never encountered before. Along with the high stakes of his job Harry is also dealing with a stomach ulcer in this instalment and in typical Glasgow fashion continues to drink and smoke despite the pains. I also really like seeing how the friendship between Harry and Wattie has developed as the series progresses. Wattie has gone from the new boy to Harry’s partner and the razor sharp banter between the two is always great.

The April Dead is full of twists and turns and it makes for a really compelling read. Like the previous books I had no idea how it was going to end and the final few chapters had me on the edge of my seat. This is a fast paced read and I loved all the details Parks put in to bring the streets of Glasgow to life. The entire series is full of atmosphere and Parks has created a series that crime fans will not be able to get enough of. If you’ve read the other books this one is absolutely worth picking up. If you’ve not had a chance to start this series, it’s a fantastic set of books to get sucked into.

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 Midnight Library – Matt Haig

Book Review: The Midnight Library – Matt Haig


Release Date:
August 13th 2020
Publisher: Canongate Books
Pages: 295
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this book online
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

Review

The Midnight Library is the latest release from How to Stop Time author Matt Haig. This story has a really fascinating premise: Nora Seed is a young woman who is unhappy in her life. When she decides she can’t bear it anymore she finds herself in the midnight library, a place where Nora can revisit her past and do things differently, changing the things that she regrets. The goal is to find a life she will be happy to live, but will she manage it before the time runs out?

This is a pretty quick read, but it does quite a lot in a small amount of pages. This story is a really fascinating one and it was really interesting to see Nora as she lived the lives she felt she had missed out on. Nora ends up trying on so many different lives and so many different occupations. There is quite a lot of character growth as Nora begins to understand more about her life and the people around her.

This is a really beautifully written book and I think it will touch a lot of people. I don’t know if it was because there has been so much buzz about this book but it didn’t quite live up to the hype for me. I still really enjoyed it, but I was expecting something a little bit more. I think I am absolutely in the minority with this one though because so many people have named this as one of their favourite books of 2020.

The Midnight Library is a well crafted story and one that definitely sticks with you long after you’ve finished reading. If you’ve read other books from Matt Haig I’d recommend giving this a go because you’re sure to love it.

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.

Blog Tour What Beauty There Is – Cory Anderson

Blog Tour What Beauty There Is – Cory Anderson


Release Date:
8th April 2021
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis

An exhilarating, emotionally powerful and superbly written thriller that’s Winter’s Bone meets The Road

Winter. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.

Jack Morton has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he’d do anything for. Even die for. Now with their mother gone, and their funds quickly dwindling, Jack needs to make a choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison. He chooses the money.

Ava Bardem lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one. Trust no one. Now Victor Bardem is stalking the same money as Jack. When he picks up Jack’s trail, Ava must make her own wrenching choice: remain silent or help the brothers survive.

Choices. They come at a price.

Review

What Beauty There Is is a stunningly beautiful story that follows Jack Morton who will do anything to look after his brother Matty. With their mother gone and their father in Prison, Jack will do whatever he can to stop Matty being taken into foster care. Jack has only one choice: find the drug money that put his father in Jail. But Jack isn’t the only one looking for the money.

This book was completely not what I expected. Going in I thought this would be a quick mystery thriller but what I found was a really heart wrenching story of a boy fighting to protect his brother. It was an incredibly compelling story with really engaging prose. I raced through this story in a couple of hours because I was so completely wrapped up in the story of Jack and Ava.

Anderson has a lovely writing style that is really lovely and this multi-layered story is well crafted. Cory Anderson does a terrific job of creating a tense atmosphere as the story races to the end. It’s rare you find a book that breaks your heart and has you on the edge of your seat, but that’s definitely how I felt with What Beauty There Is.

The thing I liked most about this story was the fascinating characters. Jack is a really likeable protagonist and I was rooting for him so much. Ava was really interesting too and I loved seeing the characters get to know each other and grow. What Beauty There Is is a dark and enthralling read full of atmosphere and well crafted characters. I enjoyed this one a lot and this is definitely a book you will not want to miss out on.

Blog Tour: The Unbroken – C L Clark

Blog Tour: The Unbroken – C L Clark


Series:
Magic of the Lost #1
Release Date: March 23rd 2021
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.

Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.

Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale.

Review

The Unbroken is the first book in an all new fantasy series. This is a dark and brutal story that follows Touraine, who was stolen from her home as a child and raised to be a soldier for the empire. Now she is returning to her homeland to help put a stop to the rebellion. As Touraine fights alongside her battalion she begins to question where her loyalties really lie – to the empire who trained her or the homeland she barely remembers? Luca is a princess doing everything she can to quash the rebellion, but she needs help to stop it while she attempts to remove her uncle from the throne. Touraine and Luca form an alliance, but will it be enough?

I loved every second I spent reading this book. This is such a compelling read and despite being nearly five hundred pages I raced through it – it’s one of those books you just can’t look away from. Clark has a really lovely writing style and it was so easy to get lost in this gripping tale. It’s a pretty fast paced book, with lots of action. It’s brimming with political intrigue and really focuses in on the themes of colonialism and racism. It’s an absolutely stunning book, that is at times painful to read.

The world building is excellent in this story, Clark has crafted a fascinating world and I cannot wait to see where the story will go in book two. This is a queernorm world and there are some incredibly compelling characters – Touraine is such a conflicted character and goes through so much in this story. I thought Luca was also a really fascinating character and it was so interesting to see two characters from such different worlds come together. Both characters go through quite a bit of growth in this story as they form an alliance and if anything that has just left me wanting more and more.

The Unbroken is a complex story that Clark has executed incredibly well. It’s full of tense moments that had me on the edge of my seat. It’s an incredible tale with a slow burn romance, tons of political intrigue and just a hint of magic. The Unbroken is undoubtedly one of my favourite books of 2021 and if you’re thinking about picking this one up, I can’t recommend it highly enough.