Posted in book review, fantasy, fiction, gifted

Namesake by Adrienne Young

Published by Wednesday Books (St Martins) – April 2021

May contain spoilers for Fable!!

Synopsis

Trader. Fighter. Survivor.

With the Marigold ship free of her father, Fable and its crew were set to start over. That freedom is short-lived when she becomes a pawn in a notorious thug’s scheme. In order to get to her intended destination she must help him to secure a partnership with Holland, a powerful gem trader who is more than she seems.

As Fable descends deeper into a world of betrayal and deception, she learns that the secrets her mother took to her grave are now putting the people Fable cares about in danger. If Fable is going to save them then she must risk everything, including the boy she loves and the home she has finally found.

Posted in book review, fantasy, fiction, supernatural

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Published by Hodder (27th October 2020) – UK

Synopsis

Two sisters.

One brutal murder.

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

Posted in book review, book tour, fiction, thriller

Book Tour – All Your Little Lies by Marianne Holmes

Published by Agora Books – October 2020

Agora Books kindly sent me a review copy of All Your Little Lies so that I could take part in the Book Tour!

Synopsis

Annie lives a quiet, contained, content life. She goes to work. She meets her friend. She’s kind of in a relationship. She’s happy. Not lonely at all.

If only more people could see how friendly she is — how eager to help and please. Then she could tick “Full Happy Life” off her list. But no one sees that side of Annie, and she can’t understand why.

That all changes the night Chloe Hills disappears. And Annie is the last person to see her.

This is her chance to prove to everybody that she’s worth something. That is, until she becomes a suspect.

Review

**My tour stop day was Sunday the 18th of October but I was having technical difficulties – I’m hoping this posts okay today!**

I really enjoyed this book! Marianne Holmes’ writing style is pretty to the point – no flowery descriptions here which means she has words to spare to really get into the mindset of Annie in All Your Little Lies – the journey was really fascinating for me as I could see Annie’s logical conclusions but also I found her very unreliable as a narrator – I was so conflicted!

Annie lives alone and doesn’t have a lot of friends – from the start I could see Annie was insecure and didn’t fit in too well, probably due to some anxiety from her past – this made me question everything she did and said. Also the title of the book – All Your Little Lies – I loved how this made me view Annie, she constantly told little fibs – like children do to make themselves look better and when she got involved with the policy after a child goes missing I could see her getting into soo much trouble!

Alongside the current story there is a backstory which gives you an insight into how Annie’s mind works and events from her past – this was a really good tool for Holmes to use and I’m glad it was included!

My only drawback was I found myself dropping out of concentration – Annie goes round in circles a lot which I just found didn’t hold my attention that well!

I’d recommend this one for fans of thrillers and psychological dramas – the writing style is easy to follow and the characters are realistic. Holmes uses dramatic events to bring Annie’s psyche out to be analysed although it did make me worry how much this happens in real life – so I’m going to be doing some research!

Thanks to Agora Books for the review copy – the book is out on kindle on 22nd October and is currently available to preorder for 99p here! The paperback is out on November 19th!

Posted in book review, fantasy, fiction, gifted

The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett

Published by Titan Books October 2020 (UK)

Titan Books sent me an e-copy of this book in exchange for a review!

Synopsis

An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke’s daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse.

When Ekata’s brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.

In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.

Review

In all honesty, when I first started this YA book, the opening chapter completely overwhelmed me – so much happened and Bartlett introduces such a rich world that I completely thought I wouldnt be continuing with the book … but I pushed myself to not judge by an opening and trust that the author would fill me in on all the details – and she did.

I really enjoyed the characters in The Winter Duke, Ekata was a great protagonist who I did root for – her decisions were human – sometimes reckless and other times calculated which really built her as a solid character. I enjoyed her choosing of a wife although felt the relationship part of the marriage was timid and more hinted at than actions – understandable given their age (sixteen I believe). Bartlett also includes a non-binary character who is quite important to the plot at one point so it was great to see some solid diversity in that respect.

The world was fantastic – I loved the idea of an underwater community living below an ice palace. The relationship between the two worlds is one of agreement – an exchange for the magic that the underwater dwellers can grow – I just found this totally unique and it took me by surprise!

Goodreads has this down as ‘part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia’ but I’m not completely on board with that – I think The Winter Duke was much more original. Bartlett uses russian style names and she has a very in-depth political plot running throughout the novel which although I found a little confusing, it did make sense and I really appreciated the detail involved.

Also – that cover! The US cover is a little different – I much prefer the UK choice – it reminds me of fairytales and folklore which is perfect!

Goodreads Rating: 4 / 5 stars!

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