Book Review: The Toymakers – Robert Dinsdale

Book Review: The Toymakers – Robert Dinsdale

BOOK REVIEW (74).png
Release Date:
February 8th 2018
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open! 

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

Review

This vivid rich tale has absolutely stolen my heart and I could not put it down. A blend of magic and history, this book has definitely rocketed to one of my favourite books ever. The Toymakers is written in an incredibly beautiful style and the plot draws you in from the very outset. I couldn’t get enough of this book, with its bright depictions and stunning characters.

book cover (67)I’ve seen this book described elsewhere as a ‘fairy tale for grown ups’ and I think that’s incredibly accurate. In many ways it has that beautiful dream like quality, but with something darker lurking underneath. The story spans through two World Wars, and the effect that has on the emporium. The Toymakers is definitely the kind of book that you want to read when you have a good few hours just to sit and become completely absorbed in the story.

The characters are exceptionally well written too and definitely come alive in the setting. Cathy, Jack, Kaspar and Emil all feel like three dimensional characters, having their own motivations and desires. The book encompasses so much – jealousy, desire, friendship and hope. I don’t want to say too much about the plot as this is definitely one of those books that should be read with no spoilers, but there are a few surprises along the way that I didn’t see coming. It also has the most gorgeous cover ever, so many people asked me what I was reading when I was on my lunch break!

If you’re a fan of The Night Circus, I would definitely recommend this stunning book to you. If you’re looking for a magical and emotional tale that will leave you breathless, The Toymakers is exactly what you’re looking for.
5 stars

Best Books of 2018!

Best Books of 2018!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope whatever you’re up to today you’re having a wonderful start to the new year. I FINALLY managed to whittle down the books I read to a top 15 (honestly I really tried to make it 10 but it wasn’t possible), so I thought I would share my favourite books of 2018. All of these were five star reads for me and I would highly recommend them all. Because there’s quite a few I’m only going to have a sentence or two to sum up of why I loved them.

1. The Winter of the Witch – Katherine Ardenbook cover (53)
The epic conclusion to this gorgeous fantasy series absolutely broke me in the best way – Katherine Arden does not disappoint.

2. The Illuminae Files – Ami Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
The biggest surprise of 2018 – a crazy space adventure told in a completely unique way, I could not put this down.

3. Mirage – Somaiya DaudUntitled design (97)
Danger and doppelgangers abound in this new fantasy debut. A gripping adventure and I’m already dying for book two.

4. The Wicked Deep – Shea Earnshaw
By far the most atmospheric book I read this year. Witches with sinister intentions and twists you’ll never see coming.

5. The Sisters of the Winter Wood – Rena RossnerUntitled design (96)
A lush fairytale – esque story about two sisters and their shapeshifting abilities. One told in prose and one as a story, this tale is beautifully told.

6. Darksoul – Anna Stephens
Anna Stephens returns with this dark and brutal instalment in the Godblind trilogy. Addictive and full of action, I raced through this story.

7. City of Ghosts – V. E. Schwabbook cover (54)
My first Victoria Schwab book was a definite favourite. Ghosts and adventure in the heart of Edinburgh, this middle grade is definitely a lot of fun.

8. Show Stealer – Hayley Barker
This blazing sequel to Show Stopper by Hayley Barker instantly made it onto my favourites list. The stakes were even higher and I loved the political intrigue featured in this book.

9. A Sky Painted Gold – Laura WoodUntitled design (75)
Definitely my favourite book of the summer – A Sky Painted Gold is a gorgeous historical fiction story with beautiful writing reminiscent of The Great Gatsby.

10. Ravencry – Ed McDonald
The Blackwing series continues with this second instalment that I absolutely adored. Galharrow will forever be one of my favourite characters.

11. Witchsign – Den PatrickUntitled design (61)
Den Patrick is back with an all new series full of magic, danger and dragons. I mean what more do you need?

12. The Smoke Thieves – Sally Green
A new epic fantasy series reminiscent of A Game of Thrones with lots of political intrigue and magic. It was a great start to the series and I’m eager for more.

13. Ace of Shades – Amandy Foodybook cover (10)
Casino families, magic and crime all feature in this new series from Amanda Foody. This book features magnificent characters that you can’t help but love as well as a unputdownable plot.

14. Between the Blade and the Heart – Amanda Hocking
Kick-ass Valkyrie demon slayers? Yes please. This was my first Amanda Hocking book but it definitely will not be the last.

15. The Cruel Prince – Holly Blackbook cover (55)
Who doesn’t have The Cruel Prince on their favourites list? This gorgeous book features a dark and brutal world where two human girls are brought up amongst the fae.

So those were the best books I read in 2018! I’m so excited to see what 2019 brings. If you’ve read any of these definitely let me know what you thought of them and I’d love to know what your favourite books of the year were.

Book Review: Mirage – Somaiya Daud

Book Review: Mirage – Somaiya Daud

BOOK REVIEW (31)
Series:
Mirage #1
Release Date: 28th August 2018
Publisher: Hodder Books
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received an E-ARC via Netgalley and then I picked up a copy of this in my local bookshop.

Synopsis

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Review

THIS BOOK. I requested a copy of Mirage on Netgalley because it sounded like it had quite an interesting premise. After meaning to get around to it for a while I picked it up on a whim and honestly this is easily one of my top five favourite books of the year. I could not put this down and I’m so excited to find out what’s going to happen next.

Untitled design (97)Mirage is a stunning debut that complexly weaves fantasy and science fiction elements to create this gorgeous world where no one is safe and things can change in the blink of an eye. I love the blend of planets and technology with mythology and faith. It worked so well together and I enjoyed every second in this world.

The story is fast-paced and told from the point of view of our main character Amani. My one criticism with this book would be that I wanted more, I’d have loved more time to explore the different places Amani visits, and find out more about the different cultures and people that are ruled by the Vathek. The characters are also completely fascinating. Amani who is dealing with this horrific situation of being a body double and pretty much a slave – she chooses to remain strong and fight back instead of breaking under such an awful situation. I also really loved Maram, she’s a complex character – a future Queen hated by everyone for being half Vathek and half Kushaila, on the surface she seems like your typical villain but there’s so much more going on.

Mirage blends so many themes and ideas in a really beautiful way. There’s family and friendship, what it means to belong and a dash of romance too. There’s also much darker themes as the story looks at the subjugation of the Andaalan people who are forced to speak a new language and serve the new ruling Vathek. This story is gripping and engaging and will definitely leave you on the edge of your seat wanting more. Your only problem is going to be waiting for the release of Court of Lions in 2019.
5 stars

Book Review: Ravencry – Ed McDonald

Book Review: Ravencry – Ed McDonald

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Series: Raven’s Mark #2
Release Date: June 28th 2018
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 432
Find It On: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of the book to review.

Synopsis

Four years have passed since Nall’s Engine drove the Deep Kings back across the Misery, but as they hurl fire from the sky, darker forces plots against the republic.

A new power is rising: a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady manifests in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for power even as the city burns around them.

When Crowfoot’s arcane vault is breached, an object of terrible power is stolen, and Galharrow and his Blackwings must once find out which of Valengrad’s enemies is responsible before they have a chance to use it.

To save Valengrad, Galharrow, Nenn and Tnota must venture to a darker, more twisted and more dangerous place than any they’ve walked before: the very heart of the Misery.

Review

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018. If you saw my top picks of 2018 or indeed my rather rambling review of Blackwing (see it here), you’ll know I absolutely adored the first book in this series. After just a few pages I was completely hooked back into this series and if it’s possible, I loved Ravencry even more than Blackwing.

book cover (22)Ravencry picks up four years after the events of Blackwing. The book also contains a ‘previously on’ which I really appreciated to help remind me of exactly where all the characters were. The story is action packed as Galharrow and his rag tag band discover that someone has broken into Crowfoot’s vault, stealing something that the gang desperately need to get back.

The book features some of the characters that I loved from the first book (particularly Nenn), as well as some fascinating new characters. I particularly liked the new additions of Amaira and Vailya. Ed McDonald does an excellent job creating these complex characters that you can’t get enough of. One of the things I love about this series is that there isn’t always a clear right or wrong answer, McDonald weaves a multi-layered story that I definitely couldn’t put down. It’s full of action yes, but also humour, emotion and friendship. Ravencry deserves all the stars and is without a doubt one of my favourite books of 2018.

Much like Blackwing the book is gory, full of the sights, sounds and smells of battle and living in a grimy city. This brings the setting to life and draws the reader in. Ravencry is unputdownable, and the best kind of page turner. If you read Blackwing and loved it, you’re in for a real treat with book two. This fantasy series is never predictable will keep you wanting more, your only problem will be waiting for book number three.
5 stars