‘Tell the Wolves I’m Home’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! Last night, I finished Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt so today I’ve got a review for you 🙂


What the book is about…

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1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life–someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.


What I thought of it…

I knew right away that this was going to be a special book. I instantly connected with the writing style and I knew it was going to have a powerful emotional impact on me.

Brunt’s characterisations were so well done. I really sympathised with June and felt a little bereft when the book ended and I was no longer in her head. Her sister, Greta, who starts out seemingly vile, has some of the best character development and I really came to understand her and why she behaved the way she did. The author did such a great job of making her characters feel real.

Another thing Brunt did amazingly well was capture how ignorant people were about AIDS in the 1980s; it was genuinely hard to read. I know that’s the way things were but gosh, it was tough to see it in black and white on the page in front of me.

I did have a slight issue with the fact that the book kept talking about AIDS being ‘given’ to a person. Technically, it’s HIV that is passed between people and AIDS just results from that; you don’t infect someone with AIDS. I’m seriously nit-picking but it did grate on me a little each time it came up because it’s not wholly accurate. However, even with that, this is a 5-star book for me.

This was such a quiet and gentle book. There is a vein of poignancy running throughout and you would have to have a heart of stone to not be affected by it. Brunt has written a story of such raw beauty and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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Have you read this one? Or any other books about the AIDS epidemic? I’d love to read more books about this topic if you have any recommendations! x

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12 Books I MUST Read in 2019!

Hey everyone! I’ve mentioned before that one of my goals for this year is to read more of my backlist books. As part of this, I’ve made a list of 12 books that I have been saying for YEARS “oh I must read that soon” – seriously, I just never seem to pick these ones up and I don’t know why. So I’m making this post to hold myself accountable. By the end of 2019, I will have read all of these books!


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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


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Perfume by Patrick Suskind


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A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab


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The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov


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Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke


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The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey


white teeth

White Teeth by Zadie Smith


lake house

The Lake House by Kate Morton


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Here I Stand by Amnesty International


flawed

Flawed by Cecilia Ahern


uprooted

Uprooted by Naomi Novik


geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden


Have you read any of these books? Which one do you recommend I start with? Also, I’ve floated the idea on Instagram of a readalong of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, as so many people seem to have it on their shelves but feel intimidated by its size. Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in?! x

‘Cuckoo’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! I just finished Cuckoo by Sophie Draper, which was sent to me by Avon Books – and I loved it! Let’s jump straight in…


What the book is about…

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There’s a stranger in your house…

When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again.

But going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do.

As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?

A haunting and twisty story about the lies we tell those closest to us, perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Cass Green.


What I thought of it…

I’m gonna come out and say it straightaway: this is one of the best thrillers I’ve read. Cuckoo is slow-burning and mysterious (I fully acknowledge that some readers won’t enjoy that style and will want something more fast-paced, but I really love books that are written in this way).

The book has a great atmospheric opening. I could really picture the dreary autumn day and the rain lashing against the windows of the quaint village pub. The vivid descriptions of the setting continued for the book’s duration; it was great to be able to picture everything so clearly, as thrillers often leave out this kind of detail. The farmhouse was almost a character in itself, which I have mentioned in the past is something I love in a book! At one point, the protagonist Caro is snowed in and this lends the story such a claustrophobic feel. The atmosphere leaps from every page.

The unique selling point for this book is the inclusion of various dark fairytales scattered throughout the plot. While this may sound strange, it works SO well and really adds to the book. Draper’s writing is really quite creepy at times and there were some nights I couldn’t read it before going to bed! I’d say that Cuckoo almost borders on horror in places.

This book hooks you in immediately and doesn’t let go, twisting and turning right to the very end. And I mean, RIGHT to the end. It never lets up. But it does it in a slow, creeping way that ensures you are feeling everything right along with Caro.

I will be keeping an eye open for more of Sophie Draper’s books!

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I hope you’re all having a wonderful January so far and a great start to 2019! x

Mental Health Monday: Beating the January Blues!

Hi everyone! I’m incredibly nervous today as this is the first post in a new feature I want to introduce to my blog this year! As well as regularly battling episodes of anxiety and depression, I am studying to be a counsellor – so my interest in mental health is STRONG. For a while, I’ve wanted to bring more mental health chat to the blog and I really hope it’s something you’ll get on board with – hopefully we can spark some good discussions 🙂

For my first post, I’m going to keep it fairly light and talk about something many of us face after Christmas and New Year: the ‘January Blues’. After all the excitement of the festive season (spending time with friends and family, eating and drinking great things, giving and receiving gifts, and decorating everything with twinkly lights), January can seem especially bleak. Everyone goes back to work (if you were lucky enough to get time off in the first place), most people start some kind of diet or make some other resolution to get fit, drink more water, stop smoking or drinking, or generally become a better person. This puts a extra pressure on us at a time when we are already dealing with a lot. Many people can develop SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) as a result of the dark days and the cold weather, and people are often struggling financially due to the toll of excessive gift-buying and trying to stretch wages that they were paid before Christmas.

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So I thought I’d make a list of some little things we can all do to keep our spirits up in this most miserable month of the year!

*Please note that, while I am in the process of completing my diploma, I am not yet a qualified health professional and all advice given in this post is based on things I have personally found helpful at times. This post is not intended to replace the recommendations of qualified doctors or therapists.*


Reset Your Sleep Pattern

December is party season and the many late nights and subsequent lie-ins can result in your sleep pattern being disrupted. Although you may not feel like it, getting back into a good sleep routine can really help keep your mood up as the new year gets under way. Not only will it help when it comes to going back to work, it will just generally help you to feel like a functioning human if you’re going to bed at a reasonable time of night and getting up before lunchtime. If you’re a night owl like me and struggle to get back into a routine, try practising good sleep hygiene: drink decaf tea after 6pm, try not to eat too much in the evening, limit screen time before bed and keep your room a reasonable temperature (I’d say on the cool side).

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Eat Some Fruit and Vegetables

I’m not saying you have to go on a diet. Resolving to lose weight in the new year is something that irritates me no end – this is the kind of change you can make at any time and, as I already mentioned, we shouldn’t be putting extra pressure on ourselves at an already stressful time! I do, however, recommend getting some vitamins into you. Christmas is notorious for the amount of fatty, sugary foods we ingest; everyone is allowed to eat chocolate for breakfast in December, after all! Change it up and get the sweetness you crave from a piece of fruit. Have your leftover ham and turkey with a salad. Your body will thank you.

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Get Some Fresh Air

Many people, myself included, are inclined to hibernate during the winter months. It takes a lot to entice me out of the warmth of my house when it’s freezing and miserable outside. Yet I always enjoy a walk in the brisk January air and end up feeling energised after pushing myself to do it. I know that a lot of people have a tradition of going for a New Years’ Day hike and I think that’s a great idea – but even a short stroll will give you a boost after that weird period between Christmas and New Year when you just don’t have a clue what day it is.

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Start a Gratitude Journal

If you struggle to stay positive in January, a gratitude journal can really help. At one of my lowest points a few years ago, when I was confined to my house with agoraphobia, I needed as many little reminders as possible that there were good things in my life. I got myself a little notebook and decided to write down three things at the end of each day that I was grateful for. They didn’t have to be huge things; it could be my little cousin telling me they loved me, it could be a really great song, it could be the sight of a rainbow through my window. Appreciating the little things helps to change your mindset and make you feel more positive overall.

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Raise Your Self-Care Game

I’m a firm advocate of self-care at any time of year but particularly in January! It’s important to take care of yourself and still give yourself little treats, to combat any feelings of depression.

Some self-care ideas:

  • Take lots of relaxing baths with gorgeous-smelling bubbles
  • Light some candles and put on a face mask
  • Book yourself a massage or a manicure, or an appointment to get your hair done
  • Buy yourself a lovely new jumper or pair of shoes
  • Reread a favourite book or watch a favourite movie
  • Create a playlist of songs that make you feel uplifted and listen to it regularly
  • Do some spring cleaning (a tidy environment = a tidy mind! Or so they say hehe)

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Well, those are my tips for fighting the ‘January Blues’! I really hope you guys find this post interesting and informative – I’d love to chat with you in the comments if you have anything at all to say!

Is this kind of mental health post something you might enjoy seeing on the blog? And are there any particular topics you would like me to cover? Please let me know if you have any suggestions! x

‘The Wicker King’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! January 2019 is the first month of the Dragons and Tea Book Club hosted by lovely ladies Melanie and Amy! The first book they picked to read was The Wicker King by K. Ancrum, which I decided to read with them due to its mental health themes. Let’s see what I made of it!


What the book is about…

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When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfil a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.


What I thought of it…

This book was unlike anything I’ve ever read. The short ‘micro-fiction’ chapters make it an incredibly fast-paced read and I really liked the inclusion of mixed media. The physical book is actually beautiful.

I love that the beginning of the book foreshadows the end, giving a feeling of coming full circle. This is something I always find satisfying in a book. Ancrum’s writing really is very good.

What struck me most about this book was its intensity. I thought the author’s writing was very clever. There is little to no description of the two boys, making them fairly indistinguishable. It is often not specified who is talking, causing the reader to feel as confused and helpless as the boys themselves. Furthermore, all minor characters feel underdeveloped, emphasising that the boys only have eyes for each other. All of this serves to emphasise the co-dependency between August and Jack, and to show that the mental health of both boys is taking a significant hit.

When I initially drafted this review, I talked about the book’s ending not having the emotional impact I was expecting. I was preparing to have my heart ripped out and, while there was a certain rawness to how things tied up, it didn’t destroy me the way I had thought it would. However, after Melanie and Amy arranged for the author to chat to us on Goodreads and answer questions, I have come to appreciate the book’s ending more and more. There is a real power there.

I also have to mention that both the dedication and author’s note were lovely. Ancrum is doing a great thing, giving voice to troubled teenagers and helping them to recognise that some things are not acceptable and shouldn’t have to be dealt with alone. I definitely want to read her next book, The Weight of the Stars!

the wicker king

Did anyone else join the Dragons and Tea Book Club this month? What did you think of The Wicker King? x

‘The Turnaway Girls’ spoiler-free review!

Happy release to day to Hayley Chewins and The Turnaway Girls! I was recently sent this book by the lovely people at Walker Books UK, in exchange for an honest review. The book is out today (January 3rd) in the UK (though I believe it has been out elsewhere for a couple of months already?) Anyway, read on to find out more about it!


What the book is about…

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On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, the Masters play their music. Inside, the turnaway girls silently make that music into gold. Making shimmer, Mother Nine calls it. But Delphernia can’t make shimmer. She would rather sing than stay silent. When a Master who doesn’t act like a Master comes to the skydoor, it’s a chance for Delphernia to leave the cloister. Outside the stone dome, the sea breathes like a wild beast, the sky watches with stars like eyes, and even the gardens have claws. Outside, secrets fall silent in halls without sound. And outside, Delphernia is caught –between the island’s sinister Custodian and its mysterious Childer-Queen. Between a poem-speaking prince and a girl who feels like freedom. And in a debut that glimmers with hope and beauty, freedom – to sing, to change, to live – is precisely what’s at stake.


What I thought of it…

This delightfully feminist middle grade book was a great start to 2019. The prose is really quite lovely and the author uses metaphors masterfully to create vivid descriptions. The repetition of various motifs lend this book a quiet strength that I found really quite moving at times.

This book does require a large degree of suspension of disbelief at first but once you get into the flow of things, it becomes easier. The musical subject matter is a joy (is anyone really surprised that I loved it?)

The author succeeds in making this quite a diverse little book, with POC main characters. I also felt like an LGBTQ+ inclination was hinted at and I really hoped it would develop but I suppose it might not have been appropriate for the age of the book’s target audience. I could be reading too much into it but it’s where my brain went!

There were moments of surprising violence within the book, meaning it is not all sweetness and light. I thought the author struck a nice balance. Mother Nine is a great villain that readers will have no problem hating!

Overall, I’m really pleased I started the new year with this one and would recommend it to fans of whimsical writing and strong female characters, no matter their age.

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Which book have you chosen as your first read of 2019? I hope, whatever it is, that you’re loving it! x 

January 2019 Anticipated Releases!

Happy new year everyone! I hope 2019 blesses you all with amazing books ❤

As I mentioned in one of my end-of-year posts, I have big plans for this blog in 2019. One of those plans is to make some blog graphics (but you’ll have to bear with me as that could take me a while to get my head around!) Another goal is to create a blogging schedule where I am posting regular features/blog series with consistency. This is the start of one such feature where, at the beginning of each month, I will highlight upcoming releases that have caught my eye!

*The following synopses are taken from Goodreads and I am using UK release dates.*


Lightning Chase Me Home by Amber Dodd

Release date: January 3rd

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Amelia Hester McLeod is named after two of her mum’s favourite explorers. Two amazing, fearless, awesome women: Amelia Earhart and Lady Hester Stanhope. But Amelia herself doesn’t always feel very brave or very bright. She lives on a windblown island in a creaky old house right beneath the North Star. Her dad is sad and silent since her mum left them, and her absent-minded grandpa suddenly seems convinced something strange is about to happen to her. When Amelia makes a birthday wish to be reunited with her missing mum, a wild magic is stirred from the sea…

 

Why I’m interested: This middle grade sounds really sweet and potentially heart-breaking. I love the references to explorers and think it sounds quite unique!


Slayer by Kiersten White

Release date: January 8th

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Into every generation a Slayer is born…

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.

As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…

But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.

One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.

 

Why I’m interested: Admittedly, I’m wary of what Kiersten White will do with the Buffy material but since this is about new characters, it might be ok. I’m curious to see where she takes this.


The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Release date: January 9th

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Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

 

Why I’m interested: The Bear and the Nightingale was one of my favourite reads of 2017 but I never read the second book. I’m determined to remedy that this year and finish the trilogy!


The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

Release date: January 10th

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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.

 

Why I’m interested: This sounds all kinds of awesome. I love Coraline, I love snowy Nordic settings, and I love Gothic literature. This is right up my street.


Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Release date: January 10th

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Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

 

Why I’m interested: McManus’ first book, One of Us is Lying, is still sitting on my shelf but I just think they sound like really fun YA thrillers. I love small-town vibes and mysterious school happenings, so I think I would enjoy this.


King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Release date: January 10th

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Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

 

Why I’m interested: Well, isn’t everybody? Nikolai was my favourite thing about the Grisha trilogy, an opinion I share with a lot of other readers. I look forward to getting more of his story.


The Binding by Bridget Collins

Release date: January 10th

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Imagine you could erase grief.
Imagine you could remove pain.
Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret.
Forever.

Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.

But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.

 

Why I’m interested: First of all, this cover is STUNNING. And have you seen the Waterstones special edition with the purple sprayed edges? It is a work of ART. But shallowness aside, this sounds sumptuously Gothic. Plus it’s a book about books so it’s already winning points with me.


All the Wandering Light by Heather Fawcett

Release date: January 24th

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After the terrifying events on Mount Raksha, the witches have returned, and River has betrayed Kamzin to regain his dark powers. The witches’ next step: march on the Three Cities and take over the Empire—led by River’s brother, Esha.

If Kamzin is to save Azmiri and prevent the fall of the Empire, she must find a star that fell in the Ash Mountains to the north. Fallen stars have immense power, and if Kamzin and Lusha can find the star, they can use its magic to protect the Empire. To get there, Kamzin has allied with Azar-at, the dangerous and deceptive fire demon, who can grant her great power—in exchange for pieces of her soul. But River wants the star too, and as their paths collide in dangerous and unexpected ways, Kamzin must wrestle with both her guilt and her conflicted feelings for the person who betrayed her.

Facing dark magic, a perilous journey, and a standoff against the witches, can Kamzin, Lusha, and Tem find the star and save their Empire?

 

Why I’m interested: I really enjoyed Even the Darkest Stars last year and I’m excited to see how the duology concludes.


The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Release date: January 24th

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Everyone’s invited…everyone’s a suspect…

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?

 

Why I’m interested: This synopsis gives me all the Agatha Christie ‘locked room’ vibes and I am 100% here for it.


The Last by Hanna Jameson

Release date: January 31st

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Breaking: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington

Breaking: London hit, thousands feared dead

Breaking: Munich and Scotland hit. World leaders call for calm

Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilization, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.

As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice can he hope for, when society as he knows it no longer exists?

 

Why I’m interested: This sounds like an interesting dystopian in the vein of The Book of M, which I enjoyed reading last year. Plus, how striking is that cover?


Well, those are some books releasing in January that have caught my attention! Have you got your eye on any of these? And is this blog feature something you’d like to see more of in the coming months? Any feedback will be much appreciated! x

December Wrap-Up! (Including some 2018 bookish stats!)

December was a much slower reading month for me, with all the business of the festive season and the fact that I was working right up to Christmas Day. But that’s ok because reading is not a competition 🙂 Plus it gives me more room in this post to talk about my stats for the year!


Review Books/Books I was sent

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

This feminist reimagining of The Iliad was a powerful and visceral read. The narrative voice was compelling and painted a harrowing picture of the reality of the Trojan war for women.

 

The Dark Vault by V. E. Schwab

This bind-up of two of Schwab’s earliest novels, The Archived and The Unbound, was darker than I was expecting and a little confusing at first. However, once I got into the flow, I found the story very enjoyable. Book two might just have the edge over book one for me, thanks to it’s exploration of PTSD (I love it when a fantasy novel incorporates mental health topics!)

 

Perfect Silence by Helen Fields

The fourth and most recent book in the Perfect series, this one was definitely the most gruesome! The character development was superb and I was 100% invested. Bring on book five!

 

Books from my TBR

the toymakers

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

My last read of 2018, I deliberately saved this one for months and months because I thought it would be perfect to read over Christmas. While it was indeed full of festive magic, it was very slow in pace and not quite what I expected. It was still an enjoyable read! Just not the 5 star book I had hoped for.

 

Rereads

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

My first reread of Harry Potter in ten years was nothing short of magical 😉 I loved being back at Hogwarts and remembering all the little details that were left out of the film.

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

The second book in the Harry Potter series is my least favourite but it is still full of great stuff! Plus Rowling’s foreshadowing is first class.

 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The quintessential Christmas story that really does stand the test of time. You can’t beat this one during the festive season.

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Stats

Total pages: 2551

Average pages per day: 82

Longest book: The Dark Vault (697 pages), though technically it’s a bind-up of two books so longest standalone was The Toymakers (468 pages)

Shortest book: A Christmas Carol (144 pages)

Favourite read of the month: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Biggest disappointment of the month: I didn’t really have any major disappointments this month! If I had to pick, I’d say The Toymakers just because it wasn’t what I expected.

Male authors: 2

Female authors: 5 (though technically two Schwab so you could say 6)

Books read towards Pop Sugar Reading Challenge: 0. I decided not to push to finish the challenge because I’m fed up reading books just to hit challenge prompts.


2018 Stats!

Total books read: 146

Total page count: 51,023

Average page count per day: 139.8

Shortest book: The Castle of Otranto (125 pages)

Longest book: Middlemarch (912 pages)

Average Goodreads rating: 4.1 (wow, I thought I was harsher than that!)

Female authors: 94

Male authors: 52

Audiobooks: 29

Books from my backlist: 44

Rereads: 15


And that all but concludes 2018! All that’s left is to say a big thank you to everyone who has joined me on my blogging journey this year; your support means more to me than you can ever know! I have big plans for this blog in 2019 and I really hope you’ll all stick around to see it. Have a wonderful evening if you’re doing anything and all the best for the new year! x

2018 Non-Bookish Favourites!

Hey friends! I love seeing what everyone enjoy besides reading so I wanted to do a quick post highlighting some of my non-bookish favourites from this year 🙂


Movies & TV

I didn’t watch a whole lot of stuff in 2018 as I really was making reading my priority, but I had a few standout viewing experiences.

The Greatest Showman: I gave in to the hype because EVERYONE at work was singing these songs and they were pretty catchy. I’m thankful that this movie definitely lived up to the hype! It’s such an empowering story with a great soundtrack and I really think this one will stand the test of time. Yes, it’s a bit corny but we all need a little of that every now and then, don’t we?

Vanity Fair: At first, I wasn’t really interested in the ITV adaptation of Thackeray’s classic, having never read it. However, the more I saw the adverts, the more intrigued I got. I ended up loving the sarcastic humour of Becky Sharp and enjoyed the show so much that I requested the book for Christmas. And my wish was granted! I will be reading Vanity Fair in 2019.

Bohemian Rhapsody: I’ve always been a fan of Queen’s music but this film has ignited a full-on obsession in me. Seriously, I am now listening to a Queen song every day just to get my fix. Nobody say a bad word about Freddie Mercury or I will fight you 😉


Music

I’ve already mentioned that I’ve been alternating between Queen’s Greatest Hits and The Greatest Showman OST. But I did listen to some other stuff this year too 😉

George Ezra: Ezra has released some cracking tunes this year. Many of them are, for me, tied together with fond memories of summer days at work, taking the young people I support out for daytrips.

Pentatonix: I’ve loved Pentatonix since I discovered them a few years ago but there was a period at the start of this year when I had their album on repeat in my car CONSTANTLY. I gave them a rest for a few months… and then started listening to their Christmas albums haha. They are so talented (though I’m still devastated that Avi left!)

Kodaline: I also went through a bit of a Kodaline phase in the middle of the year. I just really love the harmonies, as well as the cute stories they tell in their songs.


Experiences

Shrek the Musical: This year, the company of Shrek the Musical did a UK tour and I went to see them on opening night in Belfast. The show was uproariously funny, with some very catchy tunes.

Disney on Ice: I also got to relive my childhood this year by going to Disney on Ice! I took my young cousins and it made a lovely family memory that I will cherish.

Buying a house: It amazes me that this time last year, I went to view a couple of houses to get an idea of the market/housing prices etc. I stumbled upon a house that I loved and decided to pursue it – and in April this year, it became mine! I love living by the sea.

Starting my diploma: Another big development in my life this year was that I was offered a place on a counselling course. This came totally out of the blue as I hadn’t expected to go back to studying until Autumn 2019 but it was too good an opportunity to turn down. I’m so glad to be making progress towards my career goals!


What were some of your non-bookish highlights this year? Did anything take you by surprise? Do we share any favourite movies or music? Let me know in the comments! And if you’re a Queen fan, please join me in my obsession! 😉 x

Mini Reviews: The ‘Perfect’ Series by Helen Fields

Throughout this year, I have been working my way through the ‘Perfect’ series by Helen Fields. Guys, this is by far my favourite thriller series. You can find my review of book one, Perfect Remainshere.

Since people aren’t always interested in sequel reviews, I’m going to keep my thoughts on Perfect Prey, Perfect Death, and Perfect Silence brief and just do bullet points 🙂

A huge thank you to Avon Books for providing me with a free copy of this series!


Perfect Prey

This book in one sentence: Graffiti describing murder victims is appearing around the city of Edinburgh… before the victims are turning up dead.

  • This second book jumps straight back into the action with no messing around
  • Even more gripping than the first instalment; no time wasted on introducing characters
  • A great cast – it felt comfortable, like visiting old friends
  • Gory book is gory
  • Absolutely brutal twists!

perfect prey


Perfect Death

This book in one sentence: A killer watches from afar as his victims die slowly from poisoning.

  • Slightly slower in pace than book two
  • Less gruesome (what can I say, I’m here for the blood)
  • Hugely compelling plot that had me reading late into the night
  • Fantastic dynamics between the characters
  • A great exploration of gender roles in the police force; Fields writes brilliant female characters!
  • Raised the fascinating question of nature vs nurture

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Perfect Silence

This book in one sentence: Someone is abducting women and making dolls out of their skin. Yikes.

  • Definitely the most gruesome instalment yet, yesss
  • Links back to the previous books while never letting the story stagnate; everything is constantly moving forward
  • Once again, jumps straight into the action and doesn’t hang around
  • The righteous anger of protagonist Ava is exhilarating to read and drags the reader along, making it impossible not to root for her
  • Some adorable baby moments
  • A nice reference to my hometown – though I wish it could have got more page-time!

perfect silence


Overall, I cannot recommend this series enough. Fields’ plots are superbly clever; these are no bog-standard, generic thrillers. I think that’s what keeps me coming back to this series again and again. I’m invested in the lives of the characters and I am never EVER bored. If you like gritty stories with realistic characters, you need to get your hands on Perfect Remains.

I cannot wait for book five in the Spring!