‘The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding’ spoiler-free review!

This month, my book club The Story Voyagers decided to read something a little more spooky in the run-up to Halloween. We picked recent release The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken, a middle-grade book that came out on September 5th.

 

Here’s what the book is about:-

 

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type.

The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.

Little does Prosper know, the malefactor’s control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there’s a lot Alastor isn’t telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host.

From #1 New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a tale of betrayal and revenge, of old hurts passed down from generation to generation. Can you ever fully right a wrong, ever truly escape your history? Or will Prosper and Alastor be doomed to repeat it?

 

I’m really glad my book club picked this one! I don’t tend to read a lot of middle-grade as I often feel too old for it but this was a really fun read, perfect for this time of year. I loved the characters; Prosper was an endearing narrator and Alastor provided a lot of unexpected comic moments. Everyone had a backstory meaning no-one was a 2-dimensional cardboard cut-out. Prosper and Nell both had issues going on and I really like that the author gave them some more emotional problems to deal with alongside the story’s main plot. For a middle-grade read, it had quite deep levels of emotional meaning!

The inclusion of various magical creatures was super fun and I loved Bracken’s take on fairies, witches, etc. And I have to mention the setting! It was almost like a character in itself (something I always love in books). The author really managed to capture that small-town vibe and I felt totally transported; I love reading about small-town America as it is but even more so when the action takes place during October! The whole thing reminded me of the movie Hocus Pocus, especially when Alastor was trying to find his way around the 21st century and eating plastic spiders! Great fun.

The whole concept of a ‘deal with the devil’ is far from original, yet the book didn’t feel boring or as if it was hashing over something that had been done before. For a middle-grade book, it didn’t feel dumbed down and was a very enjoyable read. Aside from the brutal cliffhanger, that is!

I gave this one 4/5 stars as I’m pretty sure it won’t be for everyone, but I really liked it!

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Has anyone else read this one? Or any of Alex Bracken’s other books? Or even Faust?! 

 

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‘Daughters of the Oak’ spoiler-free review!

You may remember, a couple of months ago, I read and reviewed Remember to Love Me and then proceeded to interview the author, Becky Wright, who is absolutely lovely. You can read my review here and my interview with Becky is here. Becky released short story The Manningtree Account a few months ago but it was only available on Kindle at first. Since I can’t currently read ebooks, I couldn’t immediately grab a copy. Therefore, I was delighted when she decided to release an extended version of the story as a paperback, titled Daughters of the Oak.

Here’s the blurb:-

 

1646 – The English Civil War. The Royalists of King Charles I, and Cromwell’s Parliamentarians, battle, both eager to lay claim to a tattered country, where life has become cheap and death trivial.

Though, for the lowly commoner, a greater, far more devious, war rages. It threatens the souls of the weak, timid and needy. Seeking refuge in the Lord’s word, God fearing folk employ the skills of one man, the Witchfinder. His success speaks of his talent, to seek out, punish and rid the countryside of Witches, the Devil’s Whores.

2016 – A paranormal team are called to investigate, as poltergeist activity brings terror to one family. Under the cover of darkness, in silent suburbia, an endless night of battle against evil ensues, until finally, a new day dawns.

Lies, secrets, and treachery, it seems, are never forgotten.
Welcome to Manningtree…

 

All it took was the word ‘witches’ for me to be instantly intrigued. I don’t know why but I have a bit of a morbid fascination with witch trials, so this book sounded right up my street! I knew I would have to include this in my spooky October reading list.

I really loved this darker offering from Becky – who would have known that, after the sweet story that was Remember to Love Me, she could write such a creepy tale?! I particularly enjoyed the scenes in 1646 as Becky really captured and conveyed the sinister atmosphere of the witch trials perfectly. Matthew Hopkins was a despicable character and I was really impressed that the author could make me feel such strong emotions towards someone who really doesn’t get a lot of page-time.

The blending of the two time periods was seamless and I loved the way everything linked together. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy the modern-day scenes as much but they were actually really good and the way the story connected was brilliant. I don’t know how much of the modern stuff, if any, was included in the original short story but I’m really pleased that Becky decided to extend it. It worked really well.

The only thing that stopped this being a 5-star read for me was that I got a little confused at points about who was who; there were a lot of female characters and sometimes I struggled to differentiate between them. (Totally could have been my tired brain though!) I also had a couple of questions at the end that were left unanswered – but I’m hopeful that this means we may get a return to Manningtree at some point?!

A perfect spooky read for October, this is an original and deliciously dark tale from a wonderful voice in historical fiction. I gave this one 4.5/5 stars and definitely recommend it for anyone looking for something a bit creepy and different!

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Has anyone else read this one? Anyone else got a morbid fascination with witches? Recommend me some good witchy books!

Alex’s Alphabeticals! ‘B’

It’s time for the second instalment of Alex’s Alphabeticals! I loved chatting with you all last month about my favourite authors, books and characters beginning with ‘A’ so be sure to leave me a comment this time with your favourites beginning with ‘B’!

Authors beginning with ‘B’

The Brontë sisters

Who else could I start with than the Brontës? My first introduction to these sisters was in sixth form when I studied Wuthering Heights during my Gothic literature module; straightaway, it became one of my all-time favourite books. I then read Jane Eyre the following year and loved it too (though not quite as much as Emily’s masterpiece, first loves and all that). I only recently read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Anne is seriously underrated – she can totally hold her own against her sisters! I still need to read the lesser-known novels but I’m also reluctant to do so anytime soon because I don’t want to run out of material from these three fantastic ladies.

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Leigh Bardugo

A more modern example of girl power is the inimitable Ms. Bardugo. Swiftly becoming one of my auto-buy authors, I absolutely love her style and sense of humour. I’m still to read the Six of Crows duology (I know, I know, I’m behind the times) but I love the Grisha trilogy and her recent take on Wonder Woman is phenomenal. And as for the news about the Nikolai duology – I am BESIDE MYSELF.

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Enid Blyton

Had to mention a childhood favourite! Some of the first chapter books I ever read were The Magic Faraway Tree and The Runaway Clock, and I loved them so much. I wish I still had the hardbacks because they were absolutely gorgeous and fully illustrated; the book collector in me hates that I ever had to get rid of any books. However, my future children will definitely be owning a set of Enid Blyton’s stories whether they want to or not; she is an absolute staple of any child’s library.

 

Books beginning with ‘B’

The Book Thief

Wow, already two of my all-time favourites have made the ‘B’ list! I have read The Book Thief countless times and think it has some of the most beautiful images in all of literature. I love how original it is, with Death as the narrator, and Liesel is so incredibly endearing. Seriously, go read it if you haven’t already.

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The Bear and the Nightingale

Katherine Arden already received a mention on my ‘A’ list but I want to specifically mention my love for her debut novel The Bear and the Nightingale. It came out at the start of this year and since then has steadfastly remained as one of my top reads of the year. It’s wintery and magical and Russian-inspired, and I am dying for the sequel over here.

Before the Rains

I’ve been trying to read more historical fiction this year because I always seem to really enjoy it but never actively seek it out, if that makes sense? After reading The Tea Planter’s Wife and loving it, I just had to get my hands on Dinah Jefferies’ newest book offering this summer. Before the Rains is a story of forbidden romance in a gorgeous Indian setting; I felt totally transported!

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Characters beginning with ‘B’

Beatrice and Benedick

I don’t often shout about it but I’m a big fan of Shakespeare! While you can’t beat a good tragedy, Shakey can also be hilariously sarcastic at times. His comedy Much Ado About Nothing is fantastic and the two main players Beatrice and Benedick are comedy gold.

Mrs Bennett

More comedy gold comes in the form of one of Jane Austen’s most beloved characters. Elizabeth Bennett’s mother is wonderful and cracks me up with her ‘nerves’. I giggle every time I picture Mr Bennett rolling his eyes at his wife’s antics.

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Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo is another absolutely beloved character who just had to feature on this list. I feel a definite affinity with him and his armchair-loving ways. He values food and home comforts but is also a loyal friend, and that makes him pretty special in my opinion.

Bellatrix Lestrange

This might seem like a strange choice and maybe calling her a favourite is too strong a phrase, but I find Bellatrix such an interesting character! Not excusing all the horrible deeds she commits (I’ll never ever forgive her for those), it’s undeniable that she’s fun to read about! Plus, she has pretty cool hair. She’d be a great choice for a Halloween costume.

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Belle

Ok, I’m cheating a little because I’ve only ever seen movie adaptations but how could I justify a list of favourite characters beginning with ‘B’ that didn’t include Belle?! I’m sure she’s just as great in the original story of Beauty and the Beast, and I will read it at some point to confirm that fact. I WILL. Someday.

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And that brings us to the end of the second instalment of Alex’s Alphabeticals! What do you think of my choices for the letter ‘B’? Which authors/books/characters would feature on your ‘B’ list?

 

 

James Fahy double review: ‘Hell’s Teeth’ & ‘Crescent Moon’!

Hey everyone! I recently read Hell’s Teeth and it’s sequel Crescent Moon by our very own James Fahy – and I loved them! They’re not the kind of book I would normally read but I like to try darker stories around Halloween; based on the ratings I’ve been giving to books this month, I’m thinking maybe I should read this genre more often! So many great reads so far.

Before I tell you my thoughts, let’s take a look at the blurb for Hell’s Teeth:-

 

New Oxford.

A third of the human population has been lost.

The wars came, and they created a monster. The Pale, a subhuman, vampire-like drone. Then they lost control.

In the thirty years that followed, humankind sought to rebuild itself within the walls of New Oxford.

But society had become fractured – humans now lived incongruously among Genetic Others, themselves a group of many subspecies.

The most dangerous of them all: the vampires.

Somehow, these groups have managed a peaceful co-existence under the controlling government influence of the Cabal. But that is all about to change…

When Phoebe Harkness receives a phone call in the middle of the night, things take a turn to the horrifying. Her supervisor at Blue Lab One, a high-security research facility, has gone missing.

And all that is left behind: her teeth.

Dr Harkness now finds herself in a race against time to stop further bloodshed and uncover the mystery behind the victims of this horrific crime. She must navigate the dark underworld of the vampire community, without becoming someone’s prey herself…

But she is not alone – on her side, against all odds, is another vampire. Together they must fight for answers before it’s too late…

 

Intrigued?! I was! Read on to find out what I thought…

 

Hell’s Teeth

This is the first book I’ve read by James Fahy and I really enjoyed it! The quality of the writing is excellent and Fahy’s wit shines through on every page; Phoebe’s character in particular is fabulously sassy and I love her. In fact, every character is brilliantly realised, even those who only play a minor role in the events of the plot.

Despite the story opening in a world where a lot has already happened, it was never confusing. I was worried there might be giant info dumps to fill in the gaps but this wasn’t the case; I always felt like I knew exactly what was going on. I also really liked all the science-y stuff; it felt very well-researched and I liked that Fahy didn’t dumb things down and patronise his readers.

The world-building in Hell’s Teeth is fantastic. I could picture New Oxford so clearly and loved the author’s descriptions of how the post-apocalyptic city came into being (though it did hurt a little to see the Angel of the North moved down south!) Even though I have only visited Oxford once before, it was great to recognise places I had been and I thought that Fahy had captured the vibe of the city perfectly.

Another thing I really liked about this book was the minimal romance! I’m all for a bit of flirting (which the author included in abundance) but it’s always refreshing when a story doesn’t revolve around two characters making moon-eyes at each other.

The only thing I found slightly off-putting was the highly gory nature of some scenes (I just don’t enjoy reading about blood and guts!) However, other than that, this was a great read and I had to pick up the sequel immediately! (Keep reading to hear what I thought of that – no spoilers, I promise!)

 

Crescent Moon

If it’s possible, I may have enjoyed this even more than the first instalment! I loved the development of characters introduced in Hell’s Teeth as well as the new introductions. The whole book had a definite Underworld vibe to it and I particularly liked getting to hear more from the Tribals.

Fahy raises relevant social issues such as xenophobia, all while keeping up the humour we expect from him. Sarcasm abounds in this book and it made me so happy to see it done right. The references to both classic literature and pop culture were also super fun and had me giggling many times.

The tension was really ramped up in this book and so many scenes had my heart literally racing. The library scene in particular was really scary and SO well-written. As well as the superb horror writing, Fahy introduced more ‘saucy’ moments in this book and they too were extremely well done. I still liked that there was no soppy romance as I think that would have detracted from the story – but once again, the flirting was top notch and added a great element to the book.

There were a couple of frustrating typos/inconsistencies (the main one that got to me was when Marlin Scott would sometimes be called Marlon) but these were superficial things and had no impact on my enjoyment of the story. This is another great read from Fahy and I’m looking forward to the third book coming out!

 

Well, there you have it! Two great reads, perfect for this time of year. I can’t wait for Pale Children to see what Phoebe gets up to next!

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Has anyone else read these? What did you think? Or have you read Fahy’s other series? I’ll be picking that up soon! 

Top Ten Tuesday: Yummy Foodie Books!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is the absolute best because it’s all about FOOOOOD. My second favourite thing after books. Sometimes it even edges into first place. So books that feature yummy foods are amaaazing. Here are some of my favourites.

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer

My mouth waters just thinking about this one. This Queen of Hearts origins story features Cath (before she starts chopping off heads) who dreams of opening her own bakery. One of the delights frequently mentioned is the lemon tarts and, oh my word, they sound divine. And the fact that we now have an abundance of candles based on these very delicacies only serves to increase the mouth-watering joy.

Wicked like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic

One of the best books I’ve read this year, WLAW features magical women with the ability to manipulate beauty. One such woman is able to translate emotions and memories into taste and, as such, creates the most GORGEOUS sounding foods. For my full spoiler-free review of this book including an extract full of deliciousness, click here. 

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I feel like I mention this on every list post I write but it just applies to so many topics! The Night Circus is one of the most sensory books I’ve ever read and the foodie details in particular are stunning. I’m not even a big fan of popcorn but I crave it every time I think of this book!

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Ok, I’m cheating a little as I… haven’t actually read this one yet! But the title is a foodstuff so it has to fit on this list, right? I have no doubt that this will feature some amazing deliciousness and that it is absolutely NOT the book to read whilst trying to diet.

A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

While a lot of readers were disappointed with this instalment of the ASOIAF series, I actually really enjoyed it. It offered insights into much more of the world of Westeros and one of the best aspects of any world-building is FOOD. I love knowing what foods are considered delicacies in different cultures and it’s no different with fantasy worlds. What they eat in King’s Landing is not what they eat in Dorne is not what they eat in Braavos. I love all that detail.

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The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Is there anything more homely than the image of Bilbo Baggins’ well-stocked pantry? Answer: NO. All that bread and cheese, ugh. I could live very comfortably in the shire. Second breakfast was made with me in mind.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

No list of foodie books would be complete without this one. This book features some of the most imaginative creations in all of literature and it’s no wonder children and adults alike adore it. Chewing gum that provides a three-course meal? Rivers of chocolate and lollipop trees? ALL OF THE YES.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake; Love, Luck and Lemon Pie; The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert

Oh look, more books I haven’t read! These have been on my wishlist for months now but they never seem to materialise in my life?? Weird, I know. I’ll have to make sure they’re on my Christmas list. They all have foodie themes and that, combined with the magical realism, makes me 100% sure that I will love them.

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

I couldn’t talk about food in books and not mention Hogwarts! Harry must have thought he’d died and gone to heaven the first time he sat down to a feast in that place. Every day in there must be like Christmas. Not to mention the trips to Honeydukes; it’s probably a good job I never got my letter because I’d have gained 53 stone from the chocolate frogs alone.

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The Obsession by Nora Roberts

You wouldn’t think a thriller would fit on a foodie list but, in between all the murder and mystery, this one actually features some delicious-sounding meals! It made me very hungry at times. The main character’s uncles are chefs and they can cook for me any day please and thank you. Though I do make mean scrambled eggs myself.

 

What are some of your favourite food-centred books? Do we share any favourites? Are there any you can recommend that I absolutely MUST read??

‘The Beast is an Animal’ spoiler-free review!

I recently won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and I was so excited as I had been dying to read it! Before I jump into my review, check out the blurb:-

 

Alys was the only one to see the soul eaters when they came to her village. The others were sleeping. They never woke up…

Now, an orphan, Alys knows the full danger of the soul eaters. She’s heard the nursery rhymes the children sing about the twin sisters who feed on souls. She’s seen people disappear into the fforest and never come back. So why, then, does she find herself mysteriously drawn to the fforest? Is she what everyone around her says she is? A witch?

Alys soon finds herself on a journey that will take her to the very heart of the fforest. There she must decide where true evil lies. And face the thing they call …
The Beast.

 

The Beast is an Animal was a creepy and very enjoyable read! The style makes it feel like an old fairytale, which I absolutely loved; it was like one of the classic Grimm stories where there is real danger and darkness, and happy endings aren’t always guaranteed. There was a great sinister atmosphere for a large portion of the book; it did make me sad that some of this tension was lost in the last 100 pages due to a bad case of insta-love but, for the most part, it was dark and eerie, and I was hooked.

I loved all the Welsh influences that were included. This is not something we get to see very often; I love that YA authors are being more adventurous with their settings lately! I always enjoy books set in forests and Peternelle van Arsdale successfully created a really claustrophobic feel in this book, with monsters lurking just outside the safety of the village gate.

I really liked the growing relationship between Alys and Mother in the book; it felt natural and believable, with Alys feeling isolated in a new village but gradually finding her place. The presentation of the sisters was also fantastic and I loved the snippets of their story that we got to see.

Things did get a little repetitive at points and, as I previously mentioned, there was a bit of annoying insta-love but, overall, I really liked this one and it was a great start to my month of spooky October reads!

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The Beast is an Animal came out at the end of September and it’s a perfect read now that the nights are getting longer! Has anyone else read this one??

Top Ten Tuesday: Autumnal books!

I think many bookworms would agree with me when I say that Autumn is the best season for curling up with a good book. (I know we could say that about any of the seasons but there’s just something so cosy about snuggling under a blanket while the rain lashes against the window, with a candle burning and big mug of something hot. Have I got you in the mood now?)

Autumn has always been my favourite season so I absolutely had to link up with this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic: 10 books with Autumn covers/themes!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This is the quintessential autumnal book, in my opinion. It is a slow-burning and atmospheric read, full of magic and intrigue. Morgenstern’s writing is GORGEOUS to the point that you can almost smell the bonfires and taste the caramel popcorn. I literally can’t put into words how much I love this book and just mentioning it now has me wondering if I can squeeze in a reread before the year is over!

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Incubus by Carol Goodman

I read this recently and it was another great, atmospheric book! It’s about (surprise surprise) an incubus, so it is good and Gothic with loads of dark faerie happenings. The forest setting is almost a character in itself and the book absolutely brims with pathetic fallacy – everything you could possibly want in an autumn read.

The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

Isn’t Autumn just the perfect time to set out on an epic quest? I certainly think so. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall”. I adore this quote. It encapsulates what I love about the changing season, that sense of magic and possibility that comes along with the changing colour of the leaves. This time of year always makes me want to drop everything and head off an adventure with Bilbo; I guess, since adulting makes that an unrealistic life choice, I’ll have to settle for losing myself in an epic fantasy novel in my downtime.

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(Not gonna lie, I hate that I have the movie covers of these books. But they were all I could get at the time and now I can’t justify getting the lovely leatherbound set I’ve got my eye on. Santa??)

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

It’s been years since I read this book but I distinctly remember it being full of atmosphere (are you sensing a theme in this blog post?) Atmosphere is one of the key components of my Autumn reading list. This book is another slow-burner with a great mystery at its heart.

Slade House by David Mitchell

I have only read two of David Mitchell’s books so far but they were enough to make him one of my auto-buy authors. His stories are so brilliantly original and complex that, as soon as I see his name, my interest is piqued. Plus they’re all set in the same universe! There are nods in each of his books to characters or places mentioned elsewhere. I LOVE THAT. Slade House was the second book of his that I read and it’s perfect for Autumn because… you guessed it… atmosphere!! It’s a brilliant new take on the traditional haunted house story making it perfect to read around Halloween.

The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge

Probably the most popular of Hardinge’s books, The Lie Tree is a fabulous exploration of Victorian social customs which is clearly well-researched and has so many subtle nuances. There is a clever balance between the fantastical and the logical, and, like David Mitchell, I am intrigued whenever I see this author’s name.

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Incidentally, Hardinge’s latest offering, A Skinful of Shadows, would also fit this week’s TTT prompt. It sounds gorgeously dark and WOULD YOU JUST LOOK AT THAT COVER.

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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Books about books are the best thing in the world, especially ones set in Barçelona’s Gothic Quarter. This is an absolute must-read for all bookworms so, if you haven’t got round to this one yet, now is the perfect time!

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Never has a book been more well-matched to a season. The driving rain and howling wind of the Yorkshire moors will make you feel unbelievably cosy as you snuggle in your lovely reading nook. This is one of my very favourite classics and I always want to reread it when this time of year comes around.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline may be a children’s story but it’s wickedly creepy and a great story for all ages! It’s pretty short (I read it in a couple of hours) but it reads like a deliciously dark fairytale making it perfect for October. Plus, Chris Riddell’s illustrations are gorgeous.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Actually, anything by Shirley Jackson is perfect for this time of year. I recently finished We Have Always Lived in the Castle and both that and The Haunting of Hill House are wonderfully creepy. Jackson is an absolute master of the genre and, as a result, she is my Queen of Octobers.

 

Well, there you have it: my picks of the best books for Autumn! Do we share any favourites? Which books scream ‘Autumn’ to you?

 

 

 

September FairyLoot Unboxing!

Yay, FairyLoot unboxing time! I love bringing you guys these posts. September’s theme was ‘All That Sass’ and it was an absolutely jam-packed box!

September’s featured book was Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett. It’s set in a Himalayan-style fantasy world and apparently contains ghosts, witches and dragons to name but a few! I can’t wait to read it. What’s more, for the first time, FairyLoot featured an exclusive cover! Our edition has exclusive foiling on the title which makes it absolutely gorgeous. Give me all the shiny things.

Once again, this box contained seven items! Anissa definitely knows how to spoil us.

Rattle the Stars beanie by Reverie and Ink

For the first time ever, FairyLoot featured a hat! I love getting useful/wearable items; this Throne of Glass beanie will be perfect for the upcoming colder weather.

Percy Jackson hot chocolate by Brontie & Co.

This hot chocolate blend sounds absolutely delicious! It’s really fancy too; dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan – so it’s suitable for everyone! I can’t wait to snuggle up with a huge mug (after taking a multitude of photos for bookstagram, of course).

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Clockwork Angel tote bag by Miss Phi

I mentioned in a previous unboxing post that I hoped FairyLoot and Miss Phi would collaborate again and I’m so glad they did! This bag inspired by Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series is gorgeous. (Maybe I should finally read this series?!)

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High Warlock Candle by In the Wick of Time

This mini candle is inspired by Magnus Bane (another character I’m yet to meet) and smells like sandlewood, incense and lavender. The creator has also made a full-size version of the candle which is only available to FairyLoot subscribers!

Harry Potter magnet by Ink and Wonder Designs

This is the second time FairyLoot have included a magnet and, let me tell you, I’m going to have the best looking fridge in the world. It’s so pretty!

Artwork by Taratjah

This box included 2 prints: Lila from the Shades of Magic series and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles (yet more characters I still have to meet. This box has certainly made me aware of how many popular books I still haven’t read!) I can’t wait to get my own place with a home library so I can display all of this beautiful bookish artwork properly.

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Sturmhond notepad by Alexis Lampley

The founder of Nerdy Post created this Nikolai-inspired notepad (finally a character I know!) I absolutely love it! I’ll definitely be making plenty of lists on this beauty and will smile every time remembering Nikolai’s sassiness.

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This month’s box also contained some cool extras, namely a sampler for The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and a Tower of Dawn bookmark. Plus there was the usual signed bookplate (I always love that FairyLoot includes these, it makes the book that little bit more special!)

Here’s a full unboxing:

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Once again, an amazing box!

 

I’m so excited for the next two months of FairyLoot. October’s theme is ‘Villainous’ and I’m 99% sure of the book that will be included. Once again, it’s one I can’t wait to read. But wait! Anissa also revealed that the box will include an EXCLUSIVE edition of The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo!! Much flailing ensued.

November’s theme is ‘Ladies that Slay’ and I’m quite sure I know what that book will be too; once again, it’s going to have an exclusive cover! I love that FairyLoot have started doing this. We’re also getting an ARC from 2018 and a book sleeve!! Excitement for days.

 

Did anyone else get this month’s box? Or are you getting any of the upcoming boxes? What did you think of Even the Darkest Stars if you’ve already read it??

‘Wicked like a Wildfire’ spoiler-free review!

Happy book birthday to Lana Popovic and Wicked like a Wildfire! I received an early copy of this in my August FairyLoot box and couldn’t have been happier as it was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017! Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:-

All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love.

But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever? 

This book was an utter delight and has jumped straight into my favourite reads of the year! The writing is absolutely gorgeous, with stunning imagery and beautiful descriptions that I just wanted to curl up and live in. It reminded me a little of Practical Magic but it was also highly original; I mean, how often do we get to read fantasies set in Montenegro?! I felt totally transported and could visualise the small mountain town very easily.

The whole of Wicked like a Wildfire is literally a sensory ASSAULT but in the most amazing way. It appeals to all of the senses but especially smell and taste, which I absolutely loved! You need to read this for the cakes alone. Just listen to this:

“My mother’s café was a confectionery more than anything else. Some days she baked doe’s back cake, a roulade of airy hazelnut dough and chocolate ganache dusted with ground hazelnuts… Other days, she made floating islands, fluffy lumps of spongy unset meringue bobbing in creamy zabaglione and laced with orange syrup, violet preserves, and a powder she ground from bee pollen, so that every bite tasted exactly like late spring sunshine. She churned her own gelato too, but her chocolate stracciatella was always streaked like a sunset with other things, marmalade and rose hip jelly and crystallised chips of honey, and somehow it put you in mind of the sky – the held breath of twilight, the sanctity of dusk, and the final slippage into night.”

WOW. Are you salivating yet? I mean, this is writing at its absolute best and I wanted to savour it but, at the same time, couldn’t feast my eyeballs enough.

I really liked the direction this story took. The dialogue was realistic and I was super happy not to see insta-love (SOOO bored of that). Though I did enjoy the sexy Viking guy; he was delightful. There was a good level of diversity that felt natural and was nice to see.

I will admit to getting a tiny bit confused at times due to the number of character names – but I totally accept responsibility for this being a result of my late-night reading! On the whole, I completely adored this and recommend it to fans of Laini Taylor and other such gorgeous magical realism! I’m giving this a huge 5/5 stars and can’t wait for the sequel!

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Anyone else love this one? Can you recommend me some more books with similar gorgeous writing?

‘A Shiver of Snow and Sky’ spoiler-free review!

“It takes one flurry to start a storm” – Lisa Lueddecke, A Shiver of Snow and Sky

A Shiver of Snow and Sky is the debut novel by Lisa Lueddecke and let me tell you: she is definitely one to watch! This book was brilliant. Before I start flailing, take a look at the blurb:-

 

On the frozen island of Skane, the sky speaks. Beautiful lights appear on clear nights, and their colours have meaning: Green means all is well, and the Goddess is happy. Blue means a snow storm is on the way.

And then there’s red. Red is rare. A warning.

Seventeen years ago, the sky turned red just as Ósa was born, unleashing a plague that claimed the lives of hundreds of villagers, including her own mother. This time, when the night sky once again bleeds crimson, she must discover how to stop the onslaught before so many lives are lost again.

 

How good does that sound?! As soon as I heard of this book, I knew I’d have to read it. It sounded right up my street and I’m pleased to say I wasn’t wrong. The concept of this novel is amazingly original and unique, and I was hooked from the very first page.

The pacing of the story was perfect and it was a struggle to tear my eyes away! There was a lot of action interspersed with slower, more atmospheric passages, so there really is something for everyone. The world building here is excellent; the book is set on a Nordic-inspired fantasy island and I just loved the mythology that the author created, with the goddess and the Aurora Borealis. It’s no secret that I adore books with wintery settings and this one was especially gorgeous. Everything felt really well fleshed-out and I would visit Skane in a heartbeat if I could (though preferably when the lights are green please).

Lueddecke’s writing is beautiful and the comparisons to Leigh Bardugo and Laini Taylor do not feel unwarranted. There were some GORGEOUS quotes in this book that really spoke to me. One of my favourites was “sometimes, when the world seemed shrouded in darkness, words could offer light” – utterly stunning and SO TRUE. That is exactly how I feel about books and the solace they can offer in hard times. THIS AUTHOR UNDERSTANDS ME.

I love that this book is a standalone; I always find it really refreshing when a book is not just setting up for a series and hands us the whole fantastic story in one serving! However, I was also really pleased to find out recently that Lisa will be writing another book set in the same world; I’ll definitely be checking that out.

If you hadn’t guessed from the amount of adjectives and ALL CAPS I’ve used in this post, I’m rating this one a huge 5 stars. I can’t wait to get hold of a finished copy so I can reread this again and again!

A Shiver of Snow and Sky comes out tomorrow and I recommend grabbing it as soon as you can!

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Did anyone else manage to read an ARC of this one? Any recommendations for books that are similar?