My favourite blog posts of November 2018!

Hey everyone! Who else is in denial that it’s December tomorrow? I’M NOT READY.

Let’s just dive straight in and take a look at some blog posts I’ve loved this month!


Reviews

Jo took part in the blog tour for M. R. Carey’s latest novel, Someone Like Me, and convinced me that I need to add this one to my TBR!

Tina accurately summarised the hilarity of Sweet Pea by C. J. Skuse.

Rachel reviewed The Dreamers and compared it to Station Eleven, ensuring I’ll be waiting eagerly for this one’s release!

Deb reviewed non-fiction book Awkward, which sounds fascinating and SO relatable.

Steph wrote a great review of Sally Rooney’s Normal People, adding her voice to the multitude of bloggers I’ve heard raving about this one!

Joana reviewed Tales of the Peculiar, which has been sitting on my shelf for months now, and she has convinced me that I definitely want to read this one in the new year!

The Orangutan Librarian wrote a great review of His Bloody Project, which (you guessed it) has also been languishing on my shelves for an age and has now been bumped up onto my new year TBR!

Jenna reviewed My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry (wow, long title!) Fredrik Backman’s books have kind of passed me by until now but this one sounds really good!

Margaret wrote a glowing review of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The more I hear about this book, the more interested I get!

Krysta reviewed the new Fantastic Beasts movie, The Crimes of Grindelwald, and confirmed my complete lack of desire to see it.

 

Discussions and Recommendations

Kelly asked if diversity and representation in YA is becoming obsessive. I always love Kelly’s discussion posts!

Sim talked about her fear of big books. #relatablecontent

Callum recommended some YA books for adult readers. As an adult reader of YA myself (albeit I still consider myself young at 25), I really appreciated this post.

Aurora wrote a great list of books about books, something I’m always interested in!

Rebecca debated whether she is sick of YA books. This is something I’ve been thinking about myself recently so it’s nice to see someone else questioning their reading tastes!

Rae wrote a list of cosy books to read this winter. There are some great recommendations on this list!

 

Other fun posts

Nicole put up some posts for my ‘Alphabeticals’ meme – I’m so happy people are doing this! It’s something I just created for myself but I love that there are other people who want to participate! I suppose I should resurrect my own series as it’s been a while since I posted, oops haha.

Books and Waffles (I’m so sorry, I don’t know your name!) also joined in with the Alphabeticals and made my little heart happy 🙂 I’m definitely going to bring this series back hehe.

Fran tried to combat some of the negativity in the world by bringing together some lovely news stories.

Kristin wrote a lovely post listing 50 things that make her happy. We could all use a little happiness.

Ayunda interviewed yours truly!! I’m not great at talking about myself on this blog but Ayunda asked some great questions so if you want to know a little more about me, please give it a read!

Mandy asked some hilarious questions of bookstagrammers and gave me a good giggle. I don’t know where they get the knives either, Mandy.

Melanie listed 10 books she’s thankful for, for Top Ten Tuesday, and made me rather emotional.

Swetlana listed some great ideas for anyone taking part in Blogmas and still needing inspiration!

Drew wrote an amusing but helpful list of blogging tips.

Marie celebrated 4 years of blogging and gave me all the warm fuzzies with her blogging appreciation post.

 

I hope you all find some new blogging friends to follow from this list! I am so looking forward to seeing what everyone posts in December!! Who’s participating in Blogmas? x

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‘The Lingering’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Lingering by S.J.I. Holiday! Huge thanks to Anne Cater/Orenda Books for sending me a copy to review 🙂


What the book is about…

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient spiritual commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.


What I thought of it…

This was a great thriller! Right from the prologue, I was completely hooked and the book never lost my attention once. The short chapters made this an incredibly pacey read.

The Lingering is told in alternating POV chapters between Ali, who has just moved into the commune with her husband and is struggling to adjust, and Angela, a longer-term resident who is intrigued by the idea of paranormal activity in the building. We are also given glimpses into the mind of Smeaton, who runs the commune, as well as journal entries from a doctor in the 1950s who was investigating reports of mistreatment at the old asylum. These perspectives are all fascinating and each one adds something to the story. There is not a single superfluous word.

The thrills start very quickly in this one; in fact, it was creepy before anything even happened! You could not pay me to move into an old asylum! Holiday conjured the setting perfectly. Things were very vague at first, which added to the creeping sense of dread; it’s great to go into this book not knowing much about it because it will only add to the spooky atmosphere! There were some genuinely scary moments.

This felt like a book of two halves, with part one successfully building the tension and part two erupting into madness. Every piece of information that was slowly revealed had me on the edge of my seat; I couldn’t believe some of what I was reading. It was really exciting. However, it wasn’t all cheap thrills; there was real substance to the story as well.

I’m not going to say any more because I recommend going into this one blind. But I’d say this is the perfect read for a dark and gloomy night… just maybe leave the lights on!!

the lingering.jpg

 

You might also like…

 

If you’d like to find out more about this book and what other readers thought of it, check out the other stops on the blog tour! x

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‘Fall Time, Cosy Time’ book tag!

Hey everyone! I was recently tagged by the lovely Rita for the ‘fall time, cosy time’ tag. Hopefully, I’m not too late in squeezing this one in (in my mind, it’s not Winter until December 1st so I’m still ok hehe). As usual, I’m going to be a little rebel and provide more than book in answer to each question 😉


1. Crunching Leaves: Pick a book that has reds, yellows, and oranges on the cover.

 

2. Cosy Sweater: It’s finally cold enough to wear warm, cosy clothing. What book gives you the warm fuzzy feelings?

 

3. Fall Storm: The wind is howling and the rain is pouring. Pick your favourite book or genre to read on a stormy day.

Gothic classics every time!

 

4. Cool, Crisp Air: What cool character would you like to trade places with?

luna lovegood

I don’t know about trading places but I’d like to be friends with someone awesome like Luna! She might not be ‘cool’ by traditional standards – but what is normal anyway? 😉

I found this gorgeous fanart online but I don’t know who made it so if you do, please let me know so I can credit them!

 

5. Hot Apple Cider: What is an under-hyped book that you want to see being the next big thing?

 

6. Coats, Scarves, and Mittens: The weather is turning cold and it’s time to cover up. What’s the most amazing book cover you have seen this year?

 

7. Pumpkin Spice: What’s your favourite fall-time snack to eat while reading?

I love anything salted caramel in the autumn but definitely not while reading! Too messy!

 

8. Warm, Cosy Bonfire: Spread the warmth! Who are you going to tag?

I’m not going to tag anyone since I cut it close doing this tag myself and don’t want anyone to feel pressured to fit it in! But if you think you’ve still got time, go for it!

‘The Queens of Innis Lear’ spoiler-free review!

the queens of innis learPeople. If you have not yet read this book, please do yourself a favour and pick it up. If you call yourself any kind of fan of fantasy or Shakespeare or just damn good writing, you NEED this book in your life.

I buddy read this book with Melanie, who is one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever known, and I feel like it just increased my love for this book even more. If you ever get the opportunity to buddy read with this girl, do not hesitate!

And now, let’s talk about this awesome book!


What the book is about…

Tessa Gratton’s debut epic adult fantasy, The Queens of Innis Lear, brings to life a world that hums with ancient magic, and characters as ruthless as the tides.

The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.

The king’s three daughters – battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, star-blessed Elia – know the realm’s only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted.

Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war – but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.


What I thought of it…

I did not expect to adore this so much! Oh my gosh, it was fantastic. Gratton totally captured the timeless feel of Shakespeare, making this book feel both ancient and relevant to modern life at the same time.

At first, I was nervous because the writing felt very dense and almost Tolkien-esque in its description. Don’t get me wrong, it was gorgeous; I just felt like I really had to concentrate. However, I soon got into the flow and could NOT stop reading! It didn’t take me long at all to realise just how amazing this was going to be.

I really loved the multiple perspectives and the use of flashbacks; I feel like Gratton treated us to a wonderful level of detail that added so much to my understanding of the characters’ motivations. Everyone was so morally grey and I was LIVING for it.

I adored the way Gratton created these three unbelievably strong women who all showed this strength in different ways. Elia in particular was glorious. And I’m really impressed at the level of diversity Gratton managed to fit into her novel (without it feeling in any way forced). All three queens were POC and one of them was asexual, which was so refreshing to see.

Gratton’s writing is so sumptuously gorgeous. I have not read King Lear but I had an idea of what to expect and this seems to be quite a faithful reimagining. Obviously, any attempt to rework Shakespeare is ambitious but I really love what Gratton did here. The drama was REAL! There were times when the Shakespearean vibe really came through in the dialogue and action.

I love books where the setting is almost a character in itself, and that has never been more true than it is here. I was head-over-heels in love with the concept of sentient trees and the nature-based magic system! Honestly, the level of detail was stunning and it was clear that Gratton had done a lot of research to create such a rich world. World-building is always one of my key factors in giving a 5-star rating and this book is so deserving of it.

I genuinely could not have loved this book more. If you’ve been putting this one off because of its size (like I did), stop being silly and pick it up now!

the queens of innis lear

What are some of your favourite Shakespeare retellings? Or books with amazing settings? Let me know in the comments! x

‘The Promise’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovely people! Today, I’m saying a big thank you to Avon Books for sending me a copy of The Promise to review. Let’s check it out!


What the book is about…

When troubled teen Connor moves to Exeter from the US to escape his past, he finds himself embroiled in a world of popular kids and easy girls. Everyone wants to be his friend, but they don’t know about what he did…and they don’t know about his father.

As Connor’s life in England begins to unravel, DS Adrian Miles and his partner Imogen Grey are working up against the clock to catch a serial killer who dates his victims before he kills them. Determined to uncover the truth, Imogen is forced to act as bait – but will she take it too far and risk her own life?


What I thought of it…

I really enjoyed this thriller! I was absolutely hooked from the first chapter and couldn’t put the book down thanks to its extreme pace.

At first, there appeared to be a lot of seemingly unconnected threads to this story but I felt equally invested in all of them, and I found the way that everything was eventually brought together very clever.

I haven’t read the previous books in this series but I don’t feel as though I was missing huge amounts of information. I don’t think reading this as a standalone did me any kind of disservice. I do have to say that the romance introduced in this one didn’t really do it for me – but maybe if I had been following the characters from book one, I might have been happier about it.

I found the ending of the book quite abrupt and didn’t get all the answers I wanted. The author didn’t tie everything up in a neat little bow.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot more I can say about this book without spoilers! But overall, it was a fun read!

the promise

Who else is a fan of thrillers? Are there any particular tropes in the genre that you like/dislike? Let’s chat in the comments! x

The ‘Greek Gods’ Book Tag!

Hi everyone! I’ve been seeing the Greek Gods book tag floating around, which was created by the awesome Zuky. I love the prompts in this one so I decided to give it a try!

Also, I’ve noticed that whenever I do book tags, I’m rarely able to stick to just one recommendation per prompt – is that against the rules?! Oh well, the more I add to your TBR the better, right? 😉

hercules zeus.gif

Rules:

  • Pingback to Zuky so she can see your posts
  • Use Zuky’s graphics if you want to – but equally, you don’t have to use them
  • Tag as many people as you want, but please, share the love

Zeus: King of the Gods – Your favourite book

My standard answer when I get asked this question tends to be Wuthering Heights/The Book Thief. I can’t choose between the two because they’re both so different.

 

Hera: Queen of the Gods – A badass female character

The Unnamed Midwife, Kate ‘Puck’ Connolly, and Daenerys Targaryen are the ones that instantly spring to mind.

 

Janus: God of Beginnings – Your favourite debut

It’s impossible to pick just one. These are a few 2018 debuts I’ve loved!

 

Athena: Goddess of Wisdom – Your favourite non-fiction book

I don’t tend to read a lot of non-fiction because it feels too much like studying – and I’m already doing enough of that for my diploma! But Matt Haig’s take on mental health is always amazingly relatable and I think these books should be required reading for everyone.

 

Aphrodite: Goddess of Love – A book you adore and recommend everyone read

I don’t really have books that I will blanket recommend to everyone because we all have different tastes. But these three are books that I consistently name when people ask me for a dystopian, fantasy or historical fiction recommendation!

 

Hades: God of the Underworld – An evil book you wish didn’t exist

I recently read Damsel and wish I could erase some of the disgusting imagery from my mind! A similarly hurtful ‘feminist’ story was The Surface Breaks. I just can’t get behind books like this.

 

Poseidon: God of the Sea and Earthquakes – A beautiful and ground-breaking book

More Than This is such a brilliantly unique book that really moved me. In fact, everything I’ve read by Patrick Ness has been pretty ground-breaking and beautiful.

 

Apollo – God of the Arts – A beautiful book cover

I feel like I always pick the same books for the beautiful cover prompts so here are some I haven’t featured as often!

 

Hypnos: God of Sleep – A book so boring you almost fell asleep

the castle of otranto

This one has not aged well at ALL.

 

Hermes: Messenger of the Gods – A book you sped through

I flew through all three of these and definitely recommend them!

 

Well, there you have it! I hope you’ve found some new books to add to your TBRs 😉 I don’t know who’s done this tag and who hasn’t so if you’re interested, consider yourself tagged! X

 

‘The Other Side of Lost’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today, I’m reviewing The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby, which was so kindly sent to me by Harper360YA. Thankfully, I liked this one much more than Damsel 😉 

What the book is about…

“Every day is a chance to be better than you were the day before”

Jessi Kirby, The Other Side of Lost

Girl Online meets Wild in this emotionally charged story of girl who takes to the wilderness to rediscover herself and escape the superficial persona she created on social media.

Mari Turner’s life is perfect. That is, at least to her thousands of followers who have helped her become an internet starlet. But when she breaks down and posts a video confessing she’s been living a lie—that she isn’t the happy, in-love, inspirational online personality she’s been trying so hard to portray—it goes viral and she receives major backlash. To get away from it all, she makes an impulsive decision: to hike the entire John Muir trail. Mari and her late cousin, Bri, were supposed to do it together, to celebrate their shared eighteenth birthday. But that was before Mari got so wrapped up in her online world that she shut anyone out who questioned its worth—like Bri.

With Bri’s boots and trail diary, a heart full of regret, and a group of strangers that she meets along the way, Mari tries to navigate the difficult terrain of the hike. But the true challenge lies within, as she searches for the way back to the girl she fears may be too lost to find: herself.

 

 

What I thought of it…

This was really quite lovely. I felt a real connection with the main character, Mari, who was trying to find her way in the world and stay true to herself while at the same time attempting to make genuine connections with people and distance herself from online negativity. The idea of presenting a certain persona to the world is one that I can relate to, thanks to my anxiety (though I like to think I still have my integrity in what I choose to show people, both on and offline). The whole thing just really spoke to me; I can’t quite find the words to explain how or why.

 I thought the author gave a very sensitive and believable portrayal of teenage grief; it wasn’t over-the-top with angst, it felt REAL. The anger and disappointment of expecting things to be a certain way and it not working out like that – I found this so so relatable. There were some truly poignant moments. 

Now, I do have to say that I found the concept of the book ever so slightly unbelievable. I could never imagine just going off on a whim and hiking 211 miles over the mountains, with no prior training or knowledge. Even for a non-anxious person, that would be super stressful and DANGEROUS. So in that respect, I did struggle to suspend my disbelief a tiny bit.

There was also a hint of insta-love here, which usually would irritate the heck out of me. Weirdly, it didn’t actually bother me too much in this case because it kind of made sense under the circumstances? The characters were in such a high intensity situation, it would have surprised me if a romance didn’t happen, to be honest. Thankfully, I found the story’s main focus to be much more of the found family aspect, which I completely loved. 

Overall, this book contained some beautiful imagery and I really enjoyed. I would certainly recommend it for fans of contemporary YA.

 

You might also enjoy…

Have you read this one? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments! Also, is anyone else struggling with the new WordPress editor?! x

‘Damsel’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! I was recently sent an ARC of Damsel by the very kind people at Harper360YA. Sadly, I found it to be a very strange reading experience – read on to find out why!


What the book was about…

The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: when the prince-who-will-be-king comes of age, he must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been.

When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, however, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon, or what horrors she has faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome prince, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny to sit on the throne beside him. Ama comes with Emory back to the kingdom of Harding, hailed as the new princess, welcomed to the court.

However, as soon as her first night falls, she begins to realize that not all is as it seems, that there is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows–and that the greatest threats to her life may not be behind her, but here, in front of her.


What I thought of it…

Sadly, from the minute I started this one, I didn’t connect with the writing. What little world-building there was felt heavy-handed and clumsy, and the writing was very simplistic and repetitive. There was no showing, only the most basic telling – “he did this, then he did this.” It just wasn’t enjoyable to read.

I took an immediate dislike to Prince Emory. He was disgustingly arrogant and misogynistic. All the talk of women as property was awful enough but when a comment was made implying that a woman was to blame for a man not being able to restrain himself? Count me out. I would have DNFd right there if this wasn’t a review book.

In terms of plot, NOTHING HAPPENED. The whole book just revolved around waiting for a wedding day. Ama was annoyingly passive for most of the book and it was all fairly bland and boring. As for the twist, it was glaringly obvious to me from very early in the book. There was absolutely no subtlety in the clues.

There were also lots of spelling mistakes in the ARC. Hopefully these were caught in the final edit and I know they’re not necessarily a reflection of the book’s quality in themselves but it was just one more thing that put me off.

The absolute worst thing about this book, though, was that it contained some of the grossest, most disturbing imagery I have ever come across. I was genuinely open-mouthed reading some of the lines. I don’t know what the heck it was meant to achieve but, coupled with the misogynistic BS, it just sickened me.

I’m trying to desperately to find something positive to say but all I can come up with is that it was a fast read due to its simplicity and I did find myself weirdly compelled (if only to get to the end and discover if my theory was correct). It’s possible the author was trying to highlight issues that women in contemporary society are facing but, as with The Surface Breaks, the execution didn’t work for me.

I always say that, even when I personally haven’t enjoyed a book, you should still try it for yourself if you’re remotely interested. But I’m making an exception in this case. Do yourself a favour and just skip this one.

 

damsel

If anyone else has read this one, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please leave me a comment below and let’s discuss! x

Discussion: Reaction to the Goodreads Choice Awards

Hey everyone! I wanted to get this post out sooner but life is kicking my backside right now. However, I’d still like to talk about the Goodreads Choice Awards and some of my initial reactions!

I’m a little nervous about this as I haven’t done many discussion posts up to this point – hopefully you won’t all hate me if your opinions differ from mine!

 

goodreads choice awards 2018

 

Initial Thoughts

So, my first reaction was outrage that one of my favourite books of the year, Muse of Nightmares, was not even nominated?! I’m pleased to see that plenty of readers obviously made their voices heard because now that we’re up to the semi-finals, Taylor’s masterpiece is indeed there. But initially, I could not believe that a book of such high calibre was not featured. Which leads me to…

 

What’s in a name?

It seems to me that some authors are guaranteed to be nominated for an award simply for who they are. (I’m not going to diss anyone here but I’m sure you all know which authors I’m talking about.) Sometimes I wonder at this because the books themselves are often of lesser quality (in my opinion) than ones that don’t even get nominated. Are authors guaranteed a nomination based on the number of books they’ve written or the size of their fanbase?

fangirling gif dean winchester supernatural.gif

 

Are the awards diverse enough?

Times have definitely changed and I’m delighted to see more authors of colour being nominated. However, with this being the 10th year of awards and Goodreads introducing the ‘best of the best’ category, it’s impossible to not look back and see the white-dominated group of past winners. As per my previous point, looking at these winners almost reads like a school yearbook, with the prom queens and jocks always coming out on top. And speaking of popularity contests…

 

Are we guilty of judging books by their covers?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m totally guilty of picking up books in shops because I’m drawn to their beautiful covers. But I would never vote for a book to receive an award simply because it looked pretty! Unfortunately, I usually haven’t read most of the books that are nominated in the Goodreads Choice Awards and so I abstain from voting, but I’m sure there are readers out there who (when they haven’t read all of the nominated books) might just vote for the book with the cover they like best. Surely, these awards should reflect the quality of a book’s writing or the importance of its themes, not just which cover looks nicest or which marketing campaign was most successful in building the hype?

donald duck heart eyes gif.gif

 

So those are my thoughts on the Goodreads Choice Awards! Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said? Do you think the awards are diverse enough? Is it all just a popularity contest? Leave me a comment and let’s chat! x

 

‘Toil and Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! Today, I’m reviewing Toil and Trouble, a collection of witchy stories! I started reading this in October but didn’t get it finished before the end of the month. But better late than never, right?!


What the book is about…

History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.

Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.

A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.

From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely–has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored…


What I thought of it…

This was a really great anthology of witchy stories and just what I was looking for recently. As with all anthologies, there were some stories I enjoyed less than others so read on for some thoughts on each one!

 

Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia – 3.5 stars

I can’t deny that I was initially confused by this one but I soon got into it and enjoyed it. Luna’s old and new selves felt a little jarring and disconnected, which I thought was appropriate as she was trying to reconcile who she used to be with who she is now. This was a cute story overall, even if I did feel like the romance happened a little quickly (maybe I’m just a cynic haha). But I loved the idea of Luna’s very specific and unusual kind of magic, and how she used it.

 

Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer – 4 stars

I really liked the way this was written, with the trial excerpts interspersed throughout. It was a really interesting take on a sad phenomenon that unfortunately women have to go through too often. I seem to be in the minority with my enjoyment of this one but it appealed to my newfound love of historical fiction.

 

The Heart in her Hands by Tess Sharpe – 5 stars

Not only does this feature foodie magic which is my absolute favourite kind, it’s also about forging your own path and not letting yourself be put into a box or defined by ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’ or what other people want for you. It was so empowering. And the f/f romance was the best. The writing also felt reminiscent of Leigh Bardugo so that should be enough to tell you why I loved it!

 

Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith – 3 stars

I struggled slightly with this story as it was quite a bit darker in tone and it almost felt like I was jumping into a world that had already been fully established? There was so much going on and I felt like I really had to concentrate to follow things. A lot of the talk of bullying also made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I just didn’t enjoy this one as much.

 

The Truth about Queenie by Brandy Colbert – 3 stars

I didn’t really connect with this one the way I hoped I would. I was enjoying it at first but it didn’t really go anywhere, and the whole thing had a pretty miserable vibe to it. I did appreciate the themes the author tried to tackle, I just didn’t love the way it was done.

 

The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar – 3 stars

At first, I was absolutely living for this. The purple prose was divine and I loved the theatre vibes and the inclusion of a disabled character. However, things took a very strange turn and there were weird shifts in time that jarred me out of the story and confused me.

 

The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley – 4 stars

This one vaguely reminded me of The Secret Life of Bees, with all it’s talk of ancestry and knowing where you come from. I really liked the concept and the way it read like a contemporary but also incorporated historical elements.

 

The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma – 4 stars

Guys, this was DARK. It was so powerfully feminist but not really very witchy? I feel like the story deserves 5 stars for the themes alone, it just didn’t feel like a 5-star read to me? I know I’m in the minority with this and I honestly do feel bad, but there was just something missing for me that I can’t quite put my finger on.

 

Divine are the Stars by Zoraida Córdova – 4 stars

I loved the magical realism here. I’ve never read about bruja so it was nice to get a different cultural perspective on witchcraft than the ones I’m used to. Córdova’s writing was gorgeous and I’d love to try some of her full-length novels.

 

Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff – 3 stars

This one felt unfinished to me; it was like it just kind of dwindled to nothing? I wanted more. I feel like this story tried to tackle quite a few different issues and it was maybe too much, as there was no real resolution. And it was very angry! I did like the start though.

 

The Well Witch by Kate Hart – 4 stars

This was a cool Western-style story; this is a not a genre I’ve ever experienced and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I really liked the main character, Elsa (even before being told that she arranged her books in a rainbow!) This story went in a devastating direction and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it; I was on the way to giving a 5-star rating but I had to drop it a little as I didn’t fully approve of where things went.

 

Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood – 3 stars

So many of these stories felt unfinished to me?! I needed more answers from this one. I also couldn’t tell what time period this was meant to be set in; at times, it read like a contemporary but at other times it had a historical fiction vibe? It’s like it couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. I did like the elemental magic, I just wanted more from this story.

 

Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore – 5 stars

This was gorgeous! I’ve always had a feeling I would love Anna-Marie McLemore’s writing and I was completely right. I definitely need to get my hands on her full-length novels. This was just deliciously romantic and magical.

 

The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord – 5 stars

This was a really nice story of sisterly love and recovering from emotional abuse. At times, I forgot that I was reading a story in a witchy anthology because the magical elements were so effortlessly incorporated into the plot. Based on this story, I will definitely be picking up more from Emery Lord!

 

Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May – 5 stars

This story made the entire anthology. It deserves all the stars in the universe. It was so powerfully feminist and utterly devastating; it reads like a call to arms, like the whole #metoo movement in story form. Every line was perfection. Please give me everything this author has ever written.

 

On the whole, I really enjoyed this collection. There was a run of average-feeling stories that I didn’t quite connect with but the better ones I really loved. And I’m delighted that I didn’t rate any of the stories in this collection below 3 stars! That so rarely happens with an anthology.

 

toil and trouble 15 tales of women and witchcraft

If you’ve read this one, what was your favourite story? What are some other witchy books you’ve enjoyed? Do you read many anthologies? Leave me a comment below! x