‘The Sewing Machine’ spoiler-free review!

 

The Sewing Machine

Hi everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie. Huge thanks to Anne Cater/Unbound for sending me a free copy to review!


synopsisIt is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.


my thoughtsThis was a really enjoyable historical fiction! Fergie has a nice writing style, not too flowery but captivating enough to sweep you up into another period in time. I found it difficult to put the book down, constantly telling myself “just one more chapter”.

There are a LOT of characters to get to grips with in this story and I will admit to being confused at times as to how everyone was linked. This is in part due to the incorrect assumptions I made from reading the blurb, as well as the fact that the actual point of the story was to not reveal the links until the very end! So I recommend just going with the flow and not trying too hard to figure things out before their time; you’ll only give yourself a headache 😉

Even though there are a lot of characters, they are, on the whole, incredibly likeable. I felt invested in every individual storyline and there were no characters that made me feel bored or want to rush through to get to a different perspective (which we all know can sometimes happen with multiple POVs!) Every single narrative voice and time period was compelling.

I really loved the idea of the sewing projects being recorded in notebooks and how these were passed down through the generations. I’m sentimental at heart so I love things like that, real pieces of the past that you can tangibly experience.

This is clearly a very well-researched novel, into which has been poured a lot of love. I would recommend it to fans of multi-generational family sagas!

the sewing machine.jpg

A final rating of 4 musical notes!

4 notesMake sure you check out the other stops on the tour if you’re interested! And thanks, as always, for reading x


Sewing Machine Blog Tour Poster.jpg

 

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‘A Version of the Truth’ spoiler-free review!

 
a version of the truth

Hey everyone! Today is release day for A Version of the Truth by B. P. Walter which was very kindly sent to me by Avon Books. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I’d hoped to. Read on to find out why!


synopsis

We all see what we want to see…

2019: Julianne is preparing a family dinner when her son comes to her and says he’s found something on his iPad. Something so terrible, it will turn Julianne’s world into a nightmare and make her question everything about her marriage and what type of man her husband is or is pretending to be.

1990: Holly is a fresher student at Oxford University. Out of her depth and nervous about her surroundings, she falls into an uneasy friendship with a group of older students from the upper echelons of society and begins to develop feelings for one in particular. He’s confident, quiet, attractive and seems to like her too. But as the year progresses, her friends’ behaviour grows steadily more disconcerting and Holly begins to realise she might just be a disposable pawn in a very sinister game.

A devastating secret has simmered beneath the surface for over twenty-five years. Now it’s time to discover the truth. But what if you’re afraid of what you might find?


my thoughts

This is a really hard one for me to rate. I so wanted to give a glowing review for release date but unfortunately, I found this one quite hard to swallow.

I was quite intrigued by the opening of this one but things quickly went downhill from that awful cliché hated by bookworms everywhere: “I let out a breath I only now realised I’ve been holding”. Later on, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was incorrectly referenced as being written by Emily Brontë. I know this is nit-picking but the fact that little things like that grated on me so much shows how frustrated I was feeling for the duration of the book.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I was liking the book at first. I enjoyed the Oxford University vibes and I was suitably intrigued. However, the subject matter become more and more disgusting as the book progressed. I feel like the whole purpose was just to shock the reader.

This book features some of the most unlikeable characters I have ever had the misfortune of reading about. Unlikeable characters in themselves would not normally be enough to lower my opinion of a novel quite so much but, in this case, I just couldn’t bear reading about them. Not one of them had any redeeming qualities; even the Mary-Sue heroine annoyed me and I really struggled to feel any sympathy towards her despite the horrible ordeal she is put through.

Now I’m no prude but the amount of sex in this book was a little much for me. And it wasn’t even the fact that it was there, it was the way things were described. Every chapter got progressively more disgusting. Add to that some very questionable comments about gay men, bisexuals and AIDS and I was losing interest fast.

I pushed through A Version of the Truth since it had been gifted to me by a publisher but the ending was honestly the biggest cop-out I’ve ever read. I have never been so dissatisfied.

Wow, I had hoped I could give this review a slightly more positive spin but I guess writing it has made me realise just how much I disliked this book! It’s a real shame to have to give a negative review on release day. But hey, other readers might enjoy this one. I feel like it will certainly be divisive and, unfortunately, due to the subject material, I landed firmly in the negative camp.

a version of the truth

Are there any books that have made you have such a strong reaction whilst reading? Let me know in the comments! And thank you for reading x signature (2)

‘The Last’ spoiler-free review!

 

The Last book review

Hey everyone! Today I’m reviewing The Last by Hanna Jameson, which was very kindly sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review by Viking Books UK! You may remember me mentioning this in my list of January anticipated reads so I’m hugely grateful that I was able to get a copy! The book released in the UK on January 31st so definitely check it out if you’re interested.


synopsis

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?


my thoughts

This was a very unique book. The concept of an apocalyptic murder mystery is highly original (or at least it’s not something I’ve ever come across before). It’s like Cluedo at the end of the world! The plot was hugely compelling; I genuinely could not stop reading. I must have read over 100 pages in a single sitting. If you like gripping reads, this is definitely one to try.

I will admit that the book jumped in very quickly and that it took me a minute to feel invested. The narrative does go back eventually and fill in the gaps but readers should bear in mind that everything kicks off before you even know where you’re at. With hindsight, I can see why this was done but it can feel a little disconcerting when you’re just starting the book.

The concept of nuclear war is terrifyingly plausible and the author definitely highlights current world issues to lend her story a frightening level of believability. Let’s hope we never get to this point!!

The novel is ambiguous in moments (something which I don’t mind but that might annoy other readers). I did find the ending slightly too open-ended for my tastes but, equally, I don’t think there’s any other way the author could have wrapped it up.

Overall, this was a scarily fascinating book that I would definitely recommend for fans of apocalypse stories. It’s tense and creepy at times and grips the reader from start to finish. I really enjoyed it!

the last

A final rating of 4 musical notes!

4 notes


Have you read this one? Are you a fan of apocalypse stories? Let me know some of your favourites in the comments! And thank you for reading xsignature (2)

February 2019 Anticipated Releases!

 

February

Well, it’s the start of another month, which means it’s time for a look at some more anticipated releases, yay! And February is looking to be an incredible month for books. I couldn’t keep this list to just ten books so let’s not waste any more time and jump straight in!

Once again, covers and synopses are taken from Goodreads and I am using UK release dates.


White Stag by Kara Barbieri

Release date: February 1st

white stag

The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

Why I’m interested: I have a bit of a thing for Goblin King stories and this one sounds perfectly wicked. Plus, Cait gave it a positive review and, honestly, that’s all I need to know.


The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Release date: February 4th

the familiars

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

When she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife, Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong.

When Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the North-West, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?

As the two women’s lives become inextricably bound together, the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.

Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Why I’m interested: I’m fascinated by books about witch trials and this one sounds similar to Widdershins, which I loved. And it’s blurbed by Jessie Burton so it’s practically guaranteed to be overflowing with atmosphere.


A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel

Release date: February 5th

danger to herself and others

Only when she’s locked away does the truth begin to escape…

Four walls. One window. No way to escape. Hannah knows there’s been a mistake. She didn’t need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at her summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn’t a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. In the meantime, she is going to use her persuasive skills to get the staff on her side.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.

Why I’m interested: I read Sheinmel’s novel Faceless a few years ago and enjoyed it. Her latest novel sounds very interesting and all the ARC reviews I’ve read so far have had nothing but good things to say.


The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea

Release date: February 7th

glass woman

1686, ICELAND. AN ISOLATED, WINDSWEPT LAND HAUNTED BY WITCH TRIALS AND STEEPED IN THE ANCIENT SAGAS.

Betrothed unexpectedly to Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent to join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders.

But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not talk of it. Instead he gives her a small glass figurine. She does not know what it signifies.

The villagers mistrust them both. Dark threats are whispered. There is an evil here – Rósa can feel it. Is it her husband, the villagers – or the land itself?

Alone and far from home, Rósa sees the darkness coming. She fears she will be its next victim . . .

Why I’m interested: Another book about witch trials but this one is set in Iceland?! This honestly sounds so Gothic and amazing, I need it in my life.


Sea monsters by Chloe Aridjis

Release date: February 7th

sea monsters

Pulsing to the soundtrack of Joy Division, Nick Cave, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sea Monsters offers an intoxicating portrait of Mexico in the late 1980s.

One autumn afternoon in Mexico City, seventeen-year-old Luisa does not return home from school. Instead, she boards a bus to the Pacific coast with Tomás, a boy she barely knows. He seems to represent everything her life is lacking—recklessness, impulse, independence.

Tomás may also help Luisa fulfil an unusual obsession: she wants to track down a traveling troupe of Ukrainian dwarfs. According to newspaper reports, the dwarfs recently escaped a Soviet circus touring Mexico. The imagined fates of these performers fill Luisa’s surreal dreams as she settles in a beach community in Oaxaca. Surrounded by hippies, nudists, beachcombers, and eccentric storytellers, Luisa searches for someone, anyone, who will “promise, no matter what, to remain a mystery.” It is a quest more easily envisioned than accomplished. As she wanders the shoreline and visits the local bar, Luisa begins to disappear dangerously into the lives of strangers on Zipolite, the “Beach of the Dead.”

Meanwhile, her father has set out to find his missing daughter. A mesmeric portrait of transgression and disenchantment unfolds. Sea Monsters is a brilliantly playful and supple novel about the moments and mysteries that shape us.

Why I’m interested: This sounds quite different to the kind of books I would usually read but there’s just something about this that’s calling to me. It sounds a bit weird and wonderful, but I’m definitely intrigued.


The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Release date: February 7th

dreamers

In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are cancelled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned.

Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

Why I’m interested: The first time I heard about this book was over on Rachel’s blog and I was immediately intrigued. So many ARC reviews have compared this one to Station Eleven, which is one of my favourite ever books, and I definitely want to see for myself what it’s like!


On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Release date: February 7th

on the come up

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

Why I’m interested: I’ve only just read The Hate U Give but I’m definitely impressed with Thomas’ writing ability and I want to see where she goes with her second novel.


The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

Release date: February 12th

night tiger.jpg

They say a tiger that devours too many humans can take the form of a man and walk among us…

In 1930s colonial Malaya, a dissolute British doctor receives a surprise gift of an eleven-year-old Chinese houseboy. Sent as a bequest from an old friend, young Ren has a mission: to find his dead master’s severed finger and reunite it with his body. Ren has forty-nine days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth forever.

Ji Lin, an apprentice dressmaker, moonlights as a dancehall girl to pay her mother’s debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir that leads her on a crooked, dark trail.

As time runs out for Ren’s mission, a series of unexplained deaths occur amid rumours of tigers who turn into men. In their journey to keep a promise and discover the truth, Ren and Ji Lin’s paths will cross in ways they will never forget.

Why I’m interested: This sounds like a gorgeous historical fiction with possible magical realism elements and I’ve heard reliably from one of my book club ladies that it’s very good!


The Problem of Susan and Other Stories by Neil Gaiman

Release date: February 12th

the problem of susan

From Hugo, Eisner, Newbery, Harvey, Bram Stoker, Locus, World Fantasy, and Nebula award-winning author Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell (The Sandman, The Giver), Scott Hampton (American Gods), and Paul Chadwick (Concrete) comes a graphic novel adaptations of the short stories and poems: The Problem of Susan, October in the Chair, Locks, and The Day the Saucers Came.

Two stories and two poems. All wondrous and imaginative about the tales we tell and experience. Where the incarnations of the months of the year sit around a campfire sharing stories, where an older college professor recounts a Narnian childhood, where the apocalypse unfolds, and where the importance of generational storytelling is seen through the Goldilocks fairytale. These four comic adaptations have something for everyone and are a must for Gaiman fans!

Why I’m interested: It’s Neil Gaiman. ‘Nuff said. I’ve never read any of the four stories/poems featured here but I’m sure they’ll be fantastic, as usual. And it will be really interesting to see them in graphic novel format!


The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee

Release date: February 19th

the great unknowable end.jpg

Slater, Kansas is a small town where not much seems to happen.

Stella dreams of being a space engineer. After Stella’s mom dies by suicide and her brother runs off to Red Sun, the local hippie commune, Stella is forced to bring her dreams down to Earth to care for her sister Jill.

Galliard has only ever known life inside Red Sun. There, people accept his tics, his Tourette’s. But when he’s denied Red Sun’s resident artist role he believed he was destined for, he starts to imagine a life beyond the gates of the compound…

The day Stella and Galliard meet, there is something in the air in their small town. Literally. So begins weeks of pink lightning, blood red rain, unexplained storms… And a countdown clock appears mysteriously above the town hall. With time ticking down to some great, unknowable end they’ll each have to make a choice.

If this is really the end of the world, who do they want to be when they face it?

Why I’m interested: I love the sound of the supernatural/magical elements in this one, not to mention the mental health rep!


The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty

Release date: February 21st

kingdom of copper.jpg

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family and one misstep will doom her tribe.

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid, the unpredictable water spirits, have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

Why I’m interested: This is definitely the most anticipated book on this list! The City of Brass was one of my favourite reads of 2018 and I am so bloody excited for book two!!


Enchantée by Gita Trelease

Release date: February 21st

enchantee

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…

Why I’m interested: As soon as I heard of this one last year, I knew I wanted to read it. It sounds magical and fantastical and everything I love in a book. I’ve since heard mixed reviews about it but I’d still like to give it a try!


The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Release date: February 26th

priory of the orange tree

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

Why I’m interested: This book has been getting hype for the longest time and if I’m totally honest, I wasn’t interested at first. However, a couple of recent reviews have really convinced me that this is going to be awesome. And I’m definitely in the mood for some epic fantasy in 2019.


The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

Release date: February 28th

the five

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.
What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that ‘the Ripper’ preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time – but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.

Why I’m interested: I’ve always had a bit of a morbid fascination with Jack the Ripper and combining that with my desire to read more non-fiction this year, I’ve definitely got this one on my wishlist!


So those are some of the February releases I’ve got my eye on! Are you looking forward to any of these? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)