Posted in book review, fiction

The Curse of the King by Winnie Lyon

Published September 1st 2020 by Parliament House Press

Synopsis

Laura Wilson is the heir to an ancient curse.

As a young witch descending from the very powerful trio of witches that had cursed Macbeth, the pressure she faces daily is non-stop. When Laura is forced to participate in her school’s rendition of the classic play, she gives herself a single task: breaking the curse once and for all.

This task proves itself to be more difficult than she ever could have imagined when a miscast spell leads to the summoning of her dead ancestor, Cecily Wilson, one of the very witches that cursed Macbeth.

As Laura attempts to send her resurrected relative back beyond the veil, she is faced with one of the harsh realities of high school—having a crush on her best friend, Holly. However, things only get more complicated as Holly pines after Peter, a lonely, quick-witted vampire.

While she grows closer to Cecily, Laura sees first-hand the true horrors of being a witch in Elizabethan England as demonic forces arise in her little town of Shipley Hollow.

Can Laura break the curse and save her family name before the curtains rise on opening night?

Posted in book review, book tour, fiction, gifted

Idle Hands by Cassondra Windwalker

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Published by Agora Books – August 2020


I was sent an e-copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

All views are my own.


Synopsis

You can call me Ella. You generally assign me a whole host of other preposterous monikers. I think the least imaginative name I’ve heard is “the devil”, but I’ll answer to it if I must.

After making the courageous decision to leave her abusive husband, Perdie and her three young children start over and finally find the safety and love they deserve. But years later, when tragedy strikes, Perdie is left wondering if the choice she made to leave has led them to this moment.

If she were given the opportunity to take it all back and stay, would she?

In a frantic bid to protect her family, Perdie makes a deal to do just that. But in a world where the devil pulls the strings, can Perdie really change the past?

Brimming with enlightened observations and brilliant voice, Idle Hands is a haunting examination of grief, resilience, and what we’d give to spend another moment with the ones we love.


Review

I loved this book! I can’t gush about it enough although it should come with trigger warnings for violence and abuse.

Idle Hands is so beautifully written, it kept me intrigued through the entire thing – I didn’t want to put it down and read it in two sittings which for me is high praise indeed! It’s no secret – I rated this 5 stars and have been recommending it to everyone. It is available on Amazon now (it’s even on Kindle Unlimited!)

Idle Hands uses an emotional and relatable story to examine ‘What Ifs’ through the life of Perdie and her two children. Perdie is haunted by the decision to leave her violent husband giving her the opportunity to see the other side of the choice. By using the perspective of Ella to question if we are truly in control and making us ask if things would be better through a different choice, the reader is sucked in and forced to confront if the grass ever is greener.

Ella is honest and brutal in her narrative and she makes reading Idle Hands a truly unique experience. I love stories like this anyway (Sliding Doors is a favourite!) but Idle Hands completely blew me away!

Read it now!

Goodreads Rating: 5 / 5

Posted in book review, fiction, gifted

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Left: UK Cover – Published by Hodder & Stoughton – August 4th 2020

Right: US Cover – Published by Del Rey Books – August 4th 2020


Which cover do you like best?

I’m totally torn! they are both beautiful – I love the simplicity and the bright purple on the UK cover but I also love the imagery on the US cover which does give a good visual for the actual book content!

I received an early e-copy of this book in exchange for a review through Netgalley.


Synopsis

An outsider who can travel between worlds discovers a secret that threatens her new home and her fragile place in it, in a stunning sci-fi debut that’s both a cross-dimensional adventure and a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging.

Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.

On this Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now she has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.

But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.


Review

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson is a staggering debut and the most recent Sci-Fi novel that I’ve read but not the first novel this year that has featured multi-verses! Does anyone have any recommendations for others? I seem to be really digging them in 2020 – maybe it’s because the real world is a mess!

Anyway, Cara our protagonist is absolutely full to bursting with intrigue for the reader, she’s a bad-ass female character that I loved even though some of her actions were morally questionable. Discovering her secrets as we read through her story and traveled through worlds with her was like watching Making a Murderer all over again and trying to guess what had happened and WHY. Alongside Cara there are several characters that I really invested in – Nik Nik and Jean for example among others. Since there are the same characters in different worlds, you can see them wholly – the good and the bad of their characteristics which makes for a fascinating dissection as their choices and circumstances change.

I have to talk about the world(s) around Cara though. Not only has Johnson imagined multiple versions of Earth, it’s not Earth as we know it but an Earth in the future – writing this I’m not even 100% sure it was Earth (it is). It’s different, there is a split between those who live in the city (rich, flashy apartment blocks) and those who live outside of it (poorer, imagine wasteland), in the desert with limited protection from the Sun which is ridiculously hot – so hot that there are times of day where you can’t be out in it or you’ll burn and only the city-dwellers seem to have protection against it. Johnson’s imagination seems to have no bounds in The Space Between Worlds and I read the split between the city and the desert (and the worlds) with a terrifying societal commentary around race, religion, privilege and wealth.

As such a fascinating read, I really recommend this to readers wanting a different kind of Sci-fi read as I do believe it twists the genre on itself. The narrative bounds along so quickly, I often found myself unable to put it down – there is one point where the whole trail of the story seems to be thrown out like toys out of a toy box and then re-arranged on a shelf, I’ll be keeping my eye out for any future releases by Johnson.

The Space Between Worlds is available now on Amazon.

Goodreads Rating: 4 / 5 and well deserved! 

 

Posted in book review, book tour, fiction, gifted

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor

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Published July 2020 by Simon & Schuster (Scribner UK)


I received this book to participate in the Kaleidoscopic Tours campaign on Bookstagram. Please hop over there and check it out plus the other reviewers involved!


Synopsis

July, 1962

Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become?

The fastest milk bottle-delivery girl in East Yorkshire, Evie is tall as a tree and hot as the desert sand. She dreams of an independent life lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). The two posters of Adam Faith on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’) offer wise counsel about a future beyond rural East Yorkshire. Her role models are Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen. But, before she can decide on a career, she must first deal with the malign presence of her future step-mother, the manipulative and money-grubbing Christine.

If Evie can rescue her bereaved father, Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save the farmhouse from being sold off then maybe she can move on with her own life and finally work out exactly who it is she is meant to be.  

Moving, inventive and richly comic, The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is the most joyful debut novel of the year and the best thing to have come out of Yorkshire since Wensleydale cheese.


Review

I read this pretty much in one sitting – right from the opening chapter (hilarious by the way) the reader gets a fantastic sense of Evie Epworth. Told in first person, with dollops of wit, you can really get into her headspace which is: teenager, finishing school, no idea what to do now type worries. School? Librarian? Vet? Evie is a strong willed young woman who knows full well what she doesn’t want to do however which only adds fuel to the fire with her new soon to be stepmother, who just wants Evie out of the way.

Getting pure Cinderella vibes from this (which is acknowledged in the narrative) however I loved how Evie didn’t need a prince to come and save her. Instead she rallies up friends and neighbours to help -I think my favourite character was Evie’s next door neighbour, Mrs Scott-Pym who has all of the secrets and all of the sage-advice that every teenage girl needs in her life. Their relationship was really heartwarming for me and made Evie even more relatable to a lot of readers, the Yorkshire setting really highlighted the rural lifestyle and Evie’s desire to want more especially when she begins learning about her mother’s life.

Evie is the embodiment of a typical teenage girl in my opinion – enjoys cake, biscuits, reading, pop singers – I loved it when The Beatles got involved – what a fabulous soundtrack! I wish I had been a teenager in the 60’s! Evie is headstrong but also clumsy and not afraid to try – a wonderful role model! I was gutted to finish reading this and I really hope that there’s more – even if it’s not Evie – maybe her best friend Margaret who I didn’t feel got enough page time!

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is a wonderful coming-of-age tale has become one of my favourites this year and is available on Kindle and Hardback now!

Goodreads Rating 5 / 5

Posted in book review, book tour, fiction, gifted

Book Tour! The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days by Juliet Conlin

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Published by Black & White Publishing in February 2017!


Today is my stop on the Book Tour for this wonderful novel! Thanks so much to Love Books Group for having me along again, after reading Sisters of Berlin I couldn’t not sign up for The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days and I was NOT disappointed!


Synopsis

Approaching 80, frail and alone, a remarkable man makes the journey from his sheltered home in England to Berlin to meet his granddaughter. He has six days left to live and must relate his life story before he dies…

His life has been rich and full. He has witnessed first-hand the rise of the Nazis, experienced heartrending family tragedy, fought in the German army, been interred in a POW camp in Scotland and faced violent persecution in peacetime Britain. But he has also touched many lives, fallen deeply in love, raised a family and survived triumphantly at the limits of human endurance. He carries within him an astonishing family secret that he must share before he dies…a story that will mean someone else s salvation.

Welcome to the moving, heart-warming and uncommon life of Alfred Warner.


Review

Ahhh as I said above after reading Sisters of Berlin (also with Love Books Group) when I saw the offer to read The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days also by Juliet Conlin I couldn’t say no and I have to say I think I may have enjoyed it even more!

While the story starts off slow and it took me a while to get to grips with the points of view, once I got to 20% I was hooked and couldn’t put it down! This story was so lovely. Alfred shot straight to my heart with his story from growing up in Germany, his childhood torn apart when his parents passed away leaving him orphaned in Berlin; to being conscripted in the war, living in the UK and then heading back to Berlin as an old man I just wanted to know everything about his story.

The story introduces Alfred as he has traveled to Berlin to meet his grand-daughter. When she doesn’t meet him at the station as promised – Alfred meets Julia, who ends up listening to Alfred’s story over six days. Between the chapters telling Alfred’s story, we also get chapters focusing on Julia and on Brynja. Julia, who almost takes the place of the reader – learning Alfred’s story and dealing with her own circumstances whilst becoming the bridge between him and his grand-daughter. Brynja also has some chapters focusing on herself, but to me they were confusing and kind of complicated (they are supposed to be) which is what took me a while to get into contact with when I started reading.

The words ‘listen closely’ are written on the cover of this novel and they couldn’t be more apt for this narrative. In part they relate to the story that Alfred needs Julia to hear but they also relate to the voices which Alfred hears of three women. He is told as a child that the ability is passed down in his family. The voices are a character themselves and their words intercept seamlessly into the narrative which works to more closely enfold the reader into the tale Alfred is telling.

Juliet Conlin has fast become as author I need to get more of! I’m going to be hnting down all of her novels! I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂 The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner is heartbreaking and heartwarming all in one and is actually on Kindle Unlimited right now and also available in paperback and I urge you all to get yourselves a copy now so you can experience this special story first-hand.

Goodreads Rating 4 / 5

 

 

 

Posted in book review, book tour, fiction, gifted

Book Tour! The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce by Tom Gillespie

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Published July 21st by Vine Leaves Press


Today is my stop on the tour for The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce by Tom Gillespie!

Thanks Love Books Tours for inviting me along and sending a review copy of the book!


Synopsis

A spiralling obsession. A missing wife. A terrifying secret. Will he find her before it’s too late?

When Dr Jacob Boyce’s wife goes missing, the police put it down to a simple marital dispute. Jacob, however, fears something darker. Following her trail to Spain, he becomes convinced that Ella’s disappearance is tied to a mysterious painting whose hidden geometric and numerical riddles he’s been obsessively trying to solve for months. Obscure, hallucinogenic clues, and bizarre, larger-than-life characters, guide an increasingly unhinged Jacob through a nightmarish Spanish landscape to an art forger’s studio in Madrid, where he comes face-to-face with a centuries-old horror, and the terrifying, mind-bending, truth about his wife.


Review

Wow, okay. This is going to be a really short review because it’s hard to talk about without ruining some detail of the story.

There are some aspects of The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce that I loved – it was mysterious, it bent genres and is probably the most creative book, in terms of content, that I’ve read this year. It is ambitious and it doesn’t hold back and that is amazing. By the end of the book I felt it covered a lot of ground in regards to dealing with grief and loss – hard topics to contain in the narrative!

However I did find that there were some things I didn’t enjoy which, while small, really affected my overall enjoyment of the story. I didn’t like Jacob, as a character I couldn’t get into his head and that really made me lose connection since we spent the entire novel following him – maybe this is intentional? He is strange after all. I also didn’t enjoy that amount of spanish in the novel – I have nothing against the language but to be honest, I don’t understand it so anything written in spanish was words I just skimmed over and it became another thing which kicked me out of connection with the narrative.

As you can see, these might be insignificant details to some people and I would always urge anyone to read something even if I took some negatives away. Parts of this novel I felt were very Da Vinci Code (I’m not ashamed to say I enjoyed that book) and you can really feel the amount of research and work that went into the writing; Gillespie has a lot of talent in his writing style and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for his books in future.

The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce is available to buy now on kindle and in paperback.

All in all this book was definitely mind bending and I would urge fans of Blake Crouch and Stephen King to read it!

Goodreads Rating 3 / 5

Posted in book review, fiction, gifted

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

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Published in the UK by Dialogue Books – June 2020


Synopsis

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.


Review

I want to start by saying that this book was a complete surprise to me. I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of the book by Tandem Collective so that I could join in on one of their summer readalongs and it was so much more than I expected it to be. The group I was in a chat with was fantastic and we had pretty similar views and outcomes from the novel.

Brit Bennett has such a wonderful voice and she uses it powerfully in The Vanishing Half – I went into this novel after reading the above synopsis, thinking it was a tale of losing a sister, a twin, a part of your soul but I took away so much more than that. 

Brit tells the story of the twins through their parents and their children and how the events they all lived through affected them – the twins leave their hometown and separate as young women, pursuing different lives and lifestyles. Stella, “crosses over” and chooses to live as white, married to a white man, in a middle class neighbourhood and Desiree chooses to marry a black man, who she leaves and ends up back home, taking her daughter with her to the town she tried so hard to leave.

Between the intertwining narratives, Brit tackles how racism and flaws in society affect its inhabitants and she does this inclusively, representing black people, white people, men, women, transgender and different sexualities. I think my favourite characters in the novel were Reese and Jude, the steps they make towards equality is so wonderfully written and they were such diverse and deep characters I couldn’t help but wish for more of their story as I read the book! 

Ultimately, this novel for me was about identity and how a person can shape their identity to what they want and need it to be, through conscious and subconscious actions; how their relationships mould their identity and ultimately, it is about losing a part of yourself to (find yourself) become that identity. 

I can’t recommend this book enough, while the first few chapters were slow and introductory, it did not take long for me to get sucked in and need to finish! I will be looking out for more of Bennett’s books! You can buy The Vanishing Half now on Amazon for Kindle or in Hardback.

Goodreads Rating 4.5 (5) / 5

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