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: F.O.X.E.S – M. A. Bennett

Blog Tour: F.O.X.E.S – M. A. Bennett

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Series:
S.T.A.G.S. #3 (See my review of book one here!)
Release Date: August 6th 2020
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 388
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

Greer has just recovered from her terrifying experience during the STAGS play. Was she really put on trial by the sinister Dark Order of the Grand Stag? Or was it purely her overheated imagination? The imprint of an ‘M’ for murderer that has appeared on her thumb, though, is puzzling but incomplete evidence . . .

Meanwhile Ty is staying on at Longcross Manor and Greer, Nel and Shafeen are increasingly worried for her safety. When Ty sends a cryptic message directing them to Cumberland Place, the de Warlencourts’ palatial home in London, they decide to risk a visit. There they meet Henry’s grieving parents, Rollo and Caro. Rollo is arrogant, entitled and not overly grieving. Caro, however, while superficially charming, is clearly pushed to the brink of madness by Henry’s death, insisting that Henry is still alive. Which is clearly impossible . . . but Greer has her own troubling doubts about Henry’s death which make it hard to dismiss Caro completely . . .

Can Greer, Shafeen and Nel work out what Rollo de Warlencourt is planning for his deadly Boxing Day Hunt at Longcross in time to save Ty – who has now gone silent? Or will history horribly repeat itself?

A thrilling, richly complex instalment in the STAGS series

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-08-12T115512.600F.O.X.E.S is the third instalment in the S.T.A.G.S series. When I read the first book I hadn’t realised there was going to be more than one book. I picked up D.O.G.S and absolutely devoured it so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the third book in the series. The story picks up straight after the events of book two, following Greer, Shafeen and Nel as they continue to uncover the secrets behind The Dark Order of the Grand Stag. Determined to find out the truth, the visit Cumberland Place – the residence of Henry’s parents. There they find his mum Caro insisting that Henry is still alive and his Dad Rollo putting all his efforts into reinstating fox hunting. But is Henry really alive and will history repeat itself at Longcross?

I absolutely love this series and I’m so glad that we’re continuing to follow the same characters. Greer, Shafeen and Nel make a really brilliant group of protagonists and I really enjoyed watching them work together to uncover the twisted secrets behind the Order. The story is told from Greer’s perspective so there are plenty of film references as she narrates this gripping tale.

The story if full of twists and turns and is really fast paced. M. A. Bennett writes these short snappy chapter that have you immediately starting the next one. I often found myself sitting down to read a few pages and then still being there fifty pages later. F.O.X.E.S is a tense and thrilling read I definitely did not want it to end.

The book touches on a lot of themes, particularly class and grief. The story is an atmospheric one and M A Bennett has clearly done an exceptional amount of research for this series. Bennett has a brilliant writing style that keeps the reader hooked and I am so excited to see what the next instalment brings. If you haven’t had the chance to pick up D.O.G.S or F.O.X.E.S yet, these are the perfect summer books to get lost in.
4 Stars

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Book Review: My Side of the Diamond – Sally Gardner

Book Review: My Side of the Diamond – Sally Gardner

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Release Date:
October 7th 2017
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 240
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received a copy of this through ReadersFirst
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Synopsis

An extraordinary tale about the search for love from the acclaimed Costa and Carnegie winning novelist Sally Gardner.

Jazmin has been shunned ever since her best friend Becky disappeared. But Becky didn’t just disappear – she jumped off a tall building and seemingly never reached the ground. It was as if she simply vanished into thin air. Did Jazmin have something to do with her disappearance? Or was it more to do with Icarus, so beguiling and strangely ever youthful, with whom Becky became suddenly besotted . . .

Review

book cover - 2019-03-26T215251.793When I read the synopsis for this book I thought it sounded like a really fascinating read. When it arrived I couldn’t believe how beautiful it looked, I love the way that it’s meant to look like the notebooks that Becky is so fond of. This is my first outing in a Sally Gardner novel – I have long wanted to read her books but never quite gotten around to it. The story is told from the point of view of Jazmin, who is dealing with the disappearance of her best friend Becky, but Becky’s disappearance isn’t all that it seems.

The characters were pretty interesting and I was always eager to know what was going on, there are quite a few different narrative voices and I felt sometimes the plot did get a little lost in the different layers, but overall it was an enjoyable read. I think the concept for this book is quite an original one, and it makes for unusual reading. There’s also some really beautiful illustrations inside which help bring the story to life.

The book is really short, only 240 pages so I pretty much flew through it. I did feel like it could have done with being more in the action, rather than just being told about it afterwards. The story is told in quite a unique narrative style, which does take a bit of getting used to but this little book makes for a really interesting social commentary, mixed in with aliens and science fiction. If you’re looking for something a bit different to read, this could be right up your alley.
3 stars