‘Magpie’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! I totally thought I’d already reviewed this book which was gifted to me by Avon Books, oops! But better late than never, right?! This book may not be as fresh in my mind as I would like it to be for writing a review but I’ll give it my shot nonetheless!

magpie


synopsis

Claire lives with her family in a beautiful house overlooking the water. But she feels as if she’s married to a stranger – one who is leading a double life. As soon as she can get their son Joe away from him, she’s determined to leave Duncan.

But finding out the truth about Duncan’s secret life leads to consequences Claire never planned for. Now Joe is missing, and she’s struggling to piece together the events of the night that tore them all apart.

Alone in an isolated cottage, hiding from Duncan, Claire tries to unravel the lies they’ve told each other, and themselves. Something happened to her family… But can she face the truth?


my thoughts

It was a struggle to not compare this book to its predecessor, Cuckoo, even though they are unrelated. I loved Draper’s debut and found it to be hugely atmospheric, even referring to it as “one of the best thrillers I’ve read”. So you can imagine how excited I was to read this follow-up. Sadly, Draper’s sophomore novel didn’t work for me quite so well.

I found the plot of this novel to be very disjointed and I never felt fully invested. Even when the disparate story fragments eventually came together, I was never completely convinced.

I also found this book to be a bit too slow-paced for me. I feel like a bit of a hypocrite saying that because the slow-burning tension was one of the things that worked most for me in Cuckoo but in Magpie, it was just a tad too slow to hold my attention. I also found it to be quite repetitive so, ultimately, I struggled to remain interested.

In terms of the characters, Claire and Duncan’s narrative perspectives were not overly distinctive, making it a struggle to remember who was meant to be speaking. I felt held at a constant distance and never really warmed to any of the characters. The book also switches between first person and third person, and past and present tense, all of which made for a read which didn’t flow overly well.

Overall, I’m disappointed by Draper’s second novel but I still hugely recommend Cuckoo and I haven’t written the author off yet. I will keep an eye out for what she writes next in the hope that it can recapture the qualities I loved in her debut.

magpie


What was the last book you read that disappointed you? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

Down The TBR Hole [#3]

Hello lovelies! I’m really enjoying the ‘Down the TBR Hole’ meme. It feels great to be cleaning up my online shelves 😀 I’ve had a slight break from it due to the festive period and new year but the time has come for round three!

down the tbr hole.png

‘Down The TBR Hole’ is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story, though she now blogs @ Sunflowers and Wonder!

Here are the rules:-

  1. Go to your Goodreads want-to-read shelf.
  2. Order on ascending date added.
  3. Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. 
  4. Read the synopses of the books
  5. Decide: keep it or should it go?
  6. Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next time!

The Underground Man by Mick Jackson

underground man

The Underground Man offers a humorous portrait of the fifth Duke of Portland, a wealthy, eccentric nineteenth-century nobleman who constructed a vast network of underground tunnels from which he could escape to the world outside.

Short and sweet blurb there. I’m not at all sure what made me add this one – especially considering it was first released in 1997?! I can’t genuinely say I’m interested based on so little information so…

Verdict: Remove


Blankets by Craig Thompson

blankets.jpg

Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith.

I actually started to read graphic novels last year and I’ve been enjoying them, so this one can definitely stick around!

Verdict: Keep


 The Secret History by Donna Tartt

the secret history.jpg

Truly deserving of the accolade Modern Classic, Donna Tartt’s cult bestseller The Secret History is a remarkable achievement – both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful.

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.

Shock and horror. I know. I feel like this might be a good candidate for my ’30 before 30′ list? I really would like to get to it at some point.

Verdict: Keep


The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

bookman's tale

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.

As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.

So this does sound interesting. Especially with that mention of Hay-on-Wye, a place of pilgrimage for many bookstagrammers these days 😉 However, reviews are very mixed and I don’t think I’m intrigued enough to want to find out for myself. So many books, so little time!

Verdict: Remove


Room by Emma Donoghue

room

To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack’s curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating–a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.

This is another of those books I’ve owned for far too long. I know it’s probably old news by this point but I still do want to read it.

Verdict: Keep


Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

heart shaped box.jpg

When Judas Coyne heard someone was selling a ghost on the internet, there was no question. It was perfect for his collection of the macabre: the cannibal’s cookbook, the witch’s confession, the authentic snuff movie. As an ageing death-metal rock-god, buying a poltergeist almost qualifies as a business expense.

Besides, Jude thinks he knows all about ghosts. Jude has been haunted for years… by the spirits of bandmates dead and gone, the spectre of the abusive father he fled as a child, and the memory of the suicidal girl he abandoned. But this ghost, delivered to his doorstep in a black heart-shaped box, is different. It makes the house feel cold. It makes the dogs bark. And it means to chase Jude from his home and make him run for his life.

Back in the day, I read a short story collection called 20th Century Ghosts and wanted to pursue the author’s work further. So I’m fairly sure I have a copy of this one somewhere on my shelves? I just never seem to get round to it. *hangs head in shame*

Verdict: Keep


The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin

axeman's jazz.jpg

New Orleans, 1919. As a dark serial killer – The Axeman – stalks the city, three individuals set out to unmask him…

Though every citizen of the ‘Big Easy’ thinks they know who could be behind the terrifying murders, Detective Lieutenant Michael Talbot, heading up the official investigation, is struggling to find leads. But Michael has a grave secret – and if he doesn’t find himself on the right track fast – it could be exposed…

Former detective Luca d’Andrea has spent the last six years in Angola state penitentiary, after Michael, his protégée, blew the whistle on his corrupt behaviour. Now a newly freed man, Luca finds himself working with the mafia, whose need to solve the mystery of the Axeman is every bit as urgent as the authorities’.

Meanwhile, Ida is a secretary at the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and dreaming of a better life, Ida stumbles across a clue which lures her and her trumpet-playing friend, Lewis ‘Louis’ Armstrong, to the case and into terrible danger…

As Michael, Luca and Ida each draw closer to discovering the killer’s identity, the Axeman himself will issue a challenge to the people of New Orleans: play jazz or risk becoming the next victim. And as the case builds to its crescendo, the sky will darken and a great storm will loom over the city…

I feel really torn about this one. It sounds intriguing and like it could be fun. And I do own a copy. But it’s just not one that I ever gravitate towards. I feel like I should unhaul it but I don’t want to then acknowledge that I wasted money on it. I’ll let it stay for now but I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read this one!

Verdict: Keep


The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey

girl with all the gifts

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman.

Yet another one I’m ashamed to have not read yet. I think because I got spoiled a long time ago so now I feel like what’s the point, you know? Someone please convince me to give this one a chance sometime soon!

Verdict: Keep


What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

what alice forgot

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, , she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

I must have been in the habit of adding books I’d bought to Goodreads because I seem to already own a lot of these. This is another one that I’m not sure I’m interested in any longer but as I have a physical copy, it can stay for now.

Verdict: Keep


The Accident by C. L. Taylor

the accident

Sue Jackson has the perfect family but when her teenage daughter Charlotte deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma she is forced to face a very dark reality.

Retracing her daughter’s steps she finds a horrifying entry in Charlotte’s diary and is forced to head deep into Charlotte’s private world. In her hunt for evidence, Sue begins to mistrust everyone close to her daughter and she’s forced to look further, into the depths of her own past.

There is a lot that Sue doesn’t know about Charlotte’s life. But then there’s a lot that Charlotte doesn’t know about Sue’s …

I’ve read quite a few books by this author now but I’m not really bothered about going back to this very early one.

Verdict: Remove


Those Above by Daniel Polansky

those above daniel polansky

They enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the centre of the world. They are called Those Above by their subjects. They enforce their will with fire and sword.

Twenty five years ago mankind mustered an army and rose up against them, only to be slaughtered in a terrible battle. Hope died that day, but hatred survived. Whispers of another revolt are beginning to stir in the hearts of the oppressed: a woman, widowed in the war, who has dedicated her life to revenge; the general, the only man to ever defeat one of Those Above in single combat, summoned forth to raise a new legion; and a boy killer who rises from the gutter to lead an uprising in the capital.

Those Above is the first of an extraordinary new fantasy epic by the author of the acclaimed Low Town series that will sweep the reader into a wholly alien, wholly recognizable world of rebellion and revenge, of love and of death, of intrigue and pitiless war.

I must have been interested in this when I added it but, to be honest, it no longer sounds like my kind of book. I struggle with sci-fi books and though I do try now and then to push myself out of my comfort zone, I don’t feel like I would be inclined to pick this one up.

Verdict: Remove


How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist by David Goldbloom & Pier Bryden

how can i help

A humane behind-the-scenes account of a week in the life of a psychiatrist at one of Canada’s leading mental health hospitals. How Can I Help? takes us to the frontlines of modern psychiatric care.

How Can I Help? portrays a week in the life of Dr. David Goldbloom as he treats patients, communicates with families, and trains staff at CAMH, the largest psychiatric facility in Canada. This highly readable and touching behind-the-scenes account of his daily encounters with a wide range of psychiatric concerns—from his own patients and their families to Emergency Department arrivals—puts a human face on an often misunderstood area of medical expertise. From schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder to post-traumatic stress syndrome and autism, How Can I Help? investigates a range of mental issues.

What is it like to work as a psychiatrist now? What are the rewards and challenges? What is the impact of the suffering—and the recovery—of people with mental illness on families and the clinicians who treat them? What does the future hold for psychiatric care?

How Can I Help? demystifies a profession that has undergone profound change over the past twenty-five years, a profession that is often misunderstood by the public and the media, and even by doctors themselves. It offers a compassionate, realistic picture of a branch of medicine that is entering a new phase, as increasingly we are able to decode the mysteries of the brain and offer new hope for sufferers of mental illness.

This still sounds like an interesting read but I’m unlikely to buy it for myself and unless I found it at the library, I’d probably not go out of my way to get it.

Verdict: Remove


Jakob’s Colours by Lindsay Hawdon

jakobs colours

This heartbreaking and tender novel will appeal to readers who loved Sophie’s Choice, Schindler’s Ark, and The Book Thief.

Austria, 1944: Jakob, a gypsy boy—half Roma, half Yenish—runs, as he has been told to do. With shoes of sack cloth, still bloodstained with another’s blood, a stone clutched in one hand, a small wooden box in the other. He runs blindly, full of fear, empty of hope. For hope lies behind him in a green field with a tree that stands shaped like a Y. He knows how to read the land, the sky. When to seek shelter, when not. He has grown up directing himself with the wind and the shadows. They are familiar to him. It is the loneliness that is not. He has never, until this time, been so alone. “Don’t be afraid, Jakob,” his father has told him, his voice weak and wavering. “See the colours, my boy,” he has whispered. So he does. Rusted ochre from a mossy bough. Steely white from the sap of the youngest tree. On and on, Jakob runs. Spanning from one world war to another, taking us across England, Switzerland, and Austria, Jakob’s Colours is about the painful legacies passed down from one generation to another, finding hope where there is no hope, and colour where there is no colour.

I love WWII fiction and this sounds heart-breaking and beautiful. Definitely a keeper.

Verdict: Keep


My Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal

my name is leon

It’s 1981, a year of riots and royal weddings. The Dukes of Hazzard is on TV and Curly Wurlys are in the shops. And trying to find a place in it all is young Leon.

Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, a belly like Father Christmas, and mutters swearwords under her breath when she thinks can’t hear. Maureen feeds and looks after them, and claims everything will be okay.

But will they ever see their mother again? Who are the couple who secretly visit Jake? The adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing pretend faces. They are threatening to take Jake away and give him to strangers. Because Jake is white and Leon is not.

As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile – like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum.

Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how – just when we least expect it – we somehow manage to find our way home.

I still really like the sound of this one. I’d love to grab a copy and try it some day.

Verdict: Keep


Movie Game by Michael Ebner

movie game

It’s been three years since Joe’s father vanished. Now seventeen, he is unaware that government agents are watching him in case his dad makes contact. Joe is too distracted by his secret girlfriend, midnight swims in the pools of strangers, free drinks from his buddies at the movie game and the glamorous college student, Felicity. But his movie-esque existence and addiction to fiction is set to collide with a heavy dose of reality this summer when he discovers everything is not what it seems: his secret girlfriend wants to be the real thing. His college fling may have ulterior motives. And the government agents want co-operation to catch his missing father. All this and the three year old death of Joe’s first girlfriend Alice are going to cause him to face some dark truths.

It’s no longer a movie game. This is his life and he wants to win.

I’ve seen mixed reviews for this one and I feel like it could go either way for me. But the mentions of an unlikeable protagonist put me off a little. I think there are many more books that are a higher priority for me to read, so I might as well get rid of this one!

Verdict: Remove


The Other Side of the River: Stories of Women, Water & the World by Eila Kundrie Carrico

the other side of the river

The Other Side of the River: Stories of Women, Water and the World is a deep searching into the ways we become dammed and how we recover fluidity. It is a journey through memory and time, personal and shared landscapes to discover the source, the flow and the deltas of women and water.

Rooted in rivers, inspired by wetlands, sources and tributaries, this book weaves its path between the banks of memory and story, from Florida to Kyoto, storm-ravaged New Orleans to London, via San Francisco and Ghana. We navigate through flood and drought to confront the place of wildness in the age of technology. Part memoir, part manifesto, part travelogue and part love letter to myth and ecology, The Other Side of the River is an intricately woven tale of finding your flow…and your roots.

This sounds utterly stunning. Definitely appeals to the Nature Girl in me.

Verdict: Keep


Down Station by Simon Morden

down station

A small group of commuters and tube workers witness a fiery apocalypse overtaking London. They make their escape through a service tunnel. Reaching a door they step through…and find themselves on a wild shore backed by cliffs and rolling grassland. The way back is blocked. Making their way inland they meet a man dressed in a wolf’s cloak and with wolves by his side. He speaks English and has heard of a place called London – other people have arrived here down the ages – all escaping from a London that is burning. None of them have returned. Except one – who travels between the two worlds at will. The group begin a quest to find this one survivor; the one who holds the key to their return and to the safety of London.

And as they travel this world, meeting mythical and legendary creatures,split between North and South by a mighty river and bordered by The White City and The Crystal Palace, they realise they are in a world defined by all the London’s there have ever been.

Reminiscent of Michael Moorcock and Julian May this is a grand and sweeping science fantasy built on the ideas, the legends, the memories of every London there has ever been.

I actually love the sound of this. I have always enjoyed books about other worlds and have read many about alternative Londons in particular. I would still be happy to read this.

Verdict: Keep


Nettle Blackthorn and the Three Wicked Sisters: Part One by Winter Woodlark

Book Cover Paper Back SAFE

Blackthorn Cottage dwells within the dark and sinister forest of the Forgotten Wilds; a forest inhabited by fanciful folk, kept hidden from the rest of the world. When Nettle’s family return to the cottage her father makes the children promise to never, ever enter the forest, but Nettle’s not the type of girl to heed those types of warnings.

Quite soon, Nettle embarks on a grand adventure that leads her to Olde Town, a strange village set at the top of a very odd hill. When she meets Claudine Balfrey, she knows she’ll be the perfect new wife for her father. Claudine and her sisters own the Three Wicked Sisters’ Tea House where a black cat sleeps by a cauldron, visitors gather to eat strange delectables and children nibble on faerie candy.

But is Olde Town all it appears to be? And just who are the Balfrey sisters? Soon enough Nettle finds herself embroiled in a mystery that began several centuries ago with the Accursed Lysette.

It’s a shame because this one sounds like it could be awesome but it has hardly any ratings on Goodreads and it seems part two never arrived. So I wouldn’t want to read part one and be left without answers!

Verdict: Remove


The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

diary of a young girl anne frank

Anne Frank’s extraordinary diary, written in the Amsterdam attic where she and her family hid from the Nazis for two years, has become a world classic and a timeless testament to the human spirit. Now, in a new edition enriched by many passages originally withheld by her father, we meet an Anne more real, more human, and more vital than ever. Here she is first and foremost a teenage girl—stubbornly honest, touchingly vulnerable, in love with life. She imparts her deeply secret world of soul-searching and hungering for affection, rebellious clashes with her mother, romance and newly discovered sexuality, and wry, candid observations of her companions. Facing hunger, fear of discovery and death, and the petty frustrations of such confined quarters, Anne writes with adult wisdom and views beyond her years. Her story is that of every teenager, lived out in conditions few teenagers have ever known.

I know, I know. Feel free to shout at me. I realise what an important book this is and I’m ashamed I haven’t read it yet. But I do own a copy and I’m determined to make the effort! I think I’m just holding off because I know how emotional it will make me.

Verdict: Keep


Animal Farm by George Orwell

animal farm

A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned—a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.

When Animal Farm was first published, Stalinist Russia was seen as its target. Today it is devastatingly clear that wherever and whenever freedom is attacked, under whatever banner, the cutting clarity and savage comedy of George Orwell’s masterpiece have a meaning and message still ferociously fresh.

I read and enjoyed 1984 a few years ago and have been meaning to read more Orwell ever since. I definitely need to see what this one is all about.

Verdict: Keep



Books removed in this post: 7

Books removed in total: 24

Total books analysed: 62

Do you participate in ‘Down The TBR Hole’? What do you think of my decisions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘All The Rage’ spoiler-free review and giveaway!

Hi everyone! Today, I’m on the HUGE blog tour for All The Rage, which is out in paperback today! This is the first Cara Hunter book I’ve read and I’m pleased to say I enjoyed it 😀 And I’m delighted to be able to offer one of YOU a copy of your very own because I accidentally ended up with two! So if you enjoy my review and like the sound of this one, make sure you leave me a comment saying you’d like to be entered in the giveaway! ❤

all the rage


synopsis

A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.

DI Fawley investigates, but there’s little he can do without the girl’s co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he’s seen a case like this before?

And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back…


my thoughts

As I mentioned previously, this was the first book I’ve read by Cara Hunter and I wasn’t disappointed! All The Rage was extremely compelling. I found it effective the way scenes would chop and change quite quickly, giving short bursts of information; this made for a very fast-paced read and made sure I couldn’t put the book down before finding out the next snippet! The book includes a range of formats, with social media conversations, courtroom transcripts and psychiatric reports all adding a sense of realness to the story and further heightening its gripping nature. It’s certainly a very readable book that will keep you up long into the night!

I will be completely honest and say that it took me a short while to get into the book. Normally, I like my thrillers to grab me within the first few pages and not let go. With All The Rage, it took a little longer for me to become invested. There were a lot of characters to try and keep track of in my head and I was mixing people up quite a bit because I’m silly like that. But then something was revealed around page 50 (which I can’t even hint at because SPOILERS) that got me hooked! From then on, my brain was ALL ABOUT this book.

As I said, there are quite a few characters in All The Rage. I didn’t realise before I picked it up that it’s actually the fourth book in a series so maybe I wouldn’t have struggled so much if I’d been on board from the beginning. That said, I still wholeheartedly believe that this book can be read as a standalone without the prior knowledge! I enjoyed getting to learn the dynamics of this particular police team and following the various subplots which were set up. Everyone felt realistically human, though my favourite character was definitely DC Somer who brought a slightly softer edge to a very masculine-feeling group.

Overall, I found this to be a complex and compelling read with a unique angle which I’ve not seen done before in a thriller. I truly appreciated the important issues which this book addressed while still managing to stand as an entertaining piece of fiction. It’s hard for a book to be original in this saturated genre but I think this one has managed it well.

all the rage


All The Rage is out today, January 23rd! Will you be reading it? Check out the other stops on this huge blog tour for more information and reviews! You can also sign up to Cara’s newsletter here!

And if you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a brand new paperback copy of the book, leave me a comment below! (UK entrants only, sorry!)

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‘Not So Pure and Simple’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today, I’m wishing a happy book birthday to Lamar Giles and Not So Pure and Simple! I was kindly sent an ARC of this one by Harper 360 YA and I loved every second of it 😀 Read on to find out why…

not so pure and simple

 


synopsis

Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.

His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.

With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?


my thoughts

I genuinely loved everything about this book! When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it which I always think is a sign of a great read. There were aspects of it that reminded me of the movie Easy A so if you enjoyed that, this is definitely a book for you 😉

The characters are one of this novel’s biggest strengths. If I’m being honest, protagonist Del comes across as a bit of a jerk at first but as the author says in his opening note, you will genuinely come to like him. The more you read, the more you see Del’s true nature and it really is quite lovely. You can’t help but root for him. The novel also features some wonderful side characters, particularly Jameer who is an absolute cinnamon roll and one of my new favourites.

Another huge strength of this one is its humour. I was giggling before the end of the first page and continued to enjoy the author’s fun style for the duration of the novel. I laughed out loud so many times and then the ending had me grinning like an absolute goofball 😀 It’s a great feel-good story!

Though there were moments in the story that were slightly predictable, I didn’t mind at all because the book was so genuinely fantastic. This is a book that will be helpful to so many young people growing up and I only wish it had been around when I was going through puberty myself!

I really do recommend this one highly and I’ll be looking out for more of this author’s work!

not so pure and simple


Does this sound like the kind of book you’d enjoy? Let me know in the comments if you like the sound of it! xsignature (2)

 

‘The Starless Sea’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! Today, I have the very difficult task of reviewing an incredible book by one of my favourite authors. I genuinely don’t know where to start. The Starless Sea was a complete joy from start to finish and I know I won’t be able to do it justice in this review – but if I can make it coherent, I’ll count that as a win!

the starless sea


synopsis

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.


my thoughts

“We are all stardust and stories…”

The Starless Sea is not just a book. It is an experience. Morgenstern is not afraid to divert away from her main plot and it felt wonderful as a reader to get lost in the conglomeration of stories she presented and to try and figure out how everything connected. Upon finishing, there were still things I was unsure of but the beauty is that this is a book which will only improve upon rereading; clues and connections that were missed the first time will fall into place and things will become even clearer.

I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I adore Morgenstern’s writing. The Night Circus is one of my favourite books and for years I thought it was going to be the only offering Morgenstern would bless us with. So you can imagine my excitement and soaring expectations when I heard about The Starless Sea. I can totally see why it won’t work for all readers; it’s flowery and perhaps a bit pretentious at times. It jumps around from one thing to another with seemingly no connection. But if you stick with it, you will be rewarded. The Starless Sea is a love letter to words and language, and the magic of stories. And when you realise how everything connects, it is nothing short of wondrous.

Morgenstern’s world building was exactly as I have come to expect: pure magic. I will take all of the purple prose, thank you, when this is the way it is used. I was enthralled while reading, ready to pack my bags and go off in search of a door to that wonderful underground library. I think any book lover will feel a connection to this story, even if they don’t necessarily gel with its style or execution.

Just like The Ten Thousand Doors of January which I read recently, this book filled me with that nostalgic feeling of childhood wonder, where you believe anything is possible and magic may be just around any corner. And that is all I ever want in a book. I cannot accurately convey how exquisite this book is and I hope you will all go and experience it for yourselves if you haven’t already!

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Have you read The Starless Sea yet? Is it on your list? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

‘Pine’ spoiler-free review!

Hi lovelies! It’s time for my first review of the year! And I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Pine, the debut novel by Francine Toon. If you’re a fan of the Gothic, you’re going to want to read this one…

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synopsis

They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men.

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone. In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago. Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust… 

In spare, haunting prose, Francine Toon creates an unshakeable atmosphere of desolation and dread. In a place that feels like the end of the world, she unites the gloom of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.


my thoughts

This was a very enjoyable debut! Pine is instantly atmospheric; Toon does a wonderful job of conjuring the eerie, isolated setting and making her reader feel immediately unnerved. I genuinely loved the setting. Spooky forests with a hint of the mythical are my jam. But what makes Toon’s setting work so well is the combination of this folkloric style with more modern references. The story is so well-grounded in reality that it makes it very easy to suspend your disbelief and accept the possibility of supernatural elements. And this made it all the more unsettling.

The fact that the book is set in Scotland was another huge plus for me. I feel like Scotland is a country that just lends itself so well to this type of story. Toon’s use of Scottish dialect was very well done and I greatly appreciated it. There’s nothing worse than reading a book set in a particular country where the author makes no effort to truly capture the sense of that place. No worries here on that front!

As someone who is used to only reading about children in middle grade books, I really enjoyed reading an adult book that gave us a child’s perspective. I thought this was a smart choice on Toon’s part. It made me feel incredibly invested as well as adding to the uncertainty regarding what is actually going on at times.

The only thing I wasn’t fully sold on with Pine was the ending. I feel like things wrapped up very abruptly and I didn’t really understand the motivations of a certain character. I’m not sure enough clues were laid throughout the story to lead us to that conclusion.

On the whole though, this was a great debut and one that will definitely please fans of Gothic fiction like myself! Huge thanks to Doubleday for providing me with a free ARC!

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Pine is out on January 23rd! Will you be reading it? Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

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‘The Ten Thousand Doors of January’ Buddy Read Discussion!

Hello lovely people! I recently participated in an extra special buddy read with the lovely Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts (who you should definitely go follow if you aren’t already!) Jenna is one of the loveliest people I’ve ‘met’ through the blogging community and I’m so happy we finally did a buddy read together. I love that she has such a unique way of doing her buddy reads; I’ve never done one like this before but it was so much fun!

So basically, Jenna and I both read The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow and then exchanged a couple of questions about it – and you can read our answers below!


Question 1: Who was your favourite character in the novel?

Jenna: It’s a tie between Bad and Jane. As an animal lover, I feel as though loving Bad (January’s amazing canine companion) is an obvious one. But it’s not just because he’s a dog … he symbolizes the love and companionship and loyalty January was missing in her life until Bad came into her life. Then there’s Jane, this amazingly strong and independent woman who doesn’t let anymore push her around. She’s a pretty good role-model, showing to not let people get to you or dictate your life even though they think they can. She’s a black woman in the early 1900’s, so there’s a lot of garbage she has to deal with. But she doesn’t let if phase her … I just love it.

Alex: Is it cliché to say January? I just feel like she was such a great heroine. She faced so many obstacles and she always showed such courage and strength, never giving up in her quest. She’s definitely the kind of character I want to be reading about.

I also really liked Samuel; he was such a kind and pure soul, and he was always there when he was needed. He’s the good egg, cinnamon roll character I always love in a book.

 

Question 2: If you could find a door to a magical world, where would it go?

Jenna: Probably somewhere similar to Middle Earth, full of magic and mythical beings. I’d want to visit the Shire and the elven cities. OH! Okay … I don’t want to spoil it, but there’s a VERY important door in The Ten Thousand Doors of January (the blue door, I think … you’ll know what I mean) that leads to a place surrounded by water … I want to go there.

Alex: I could give numerous soppy answers for this question but I don’t want to get too deep haha. However, I would love to find some kind of mystical Tolkien-esque world where creatures like dragons exist and magic is real. This book filled me with that childish sense of wonder and reminded me what it’s like to believe in miracles; it would be amazing to actually find a world like that.

 

Question 3: Though this is predominantly a fantasy novel, Harrow’s story also falls under historical fiction. Did you find Harrow portrayed the time period accurately?

Jenna: As someone that has a BIT of a history background (but not overly extensive), I found her attention to detail regarding the time period was spot on! From the clothing to the way people were treated with regards to social standards, Harrow really brought to life our world in the early 1900’s. She even references certain events very matter-of-fact like from the MC’s point of view, showing that they don’t really know what’s to come in the next couple of years but alludes to what we know comes later on in the 1900’s. It was hard a times, since women and those of colour were treated so poorly. But I’m glad she depicted it accurately yet didn’t make it as though these characters would let the world degrade them.

Alex: I loved Harrow’s portrayal of the time period and thought she did really well at conveying the difficulties faced by women and people of colour. Harrow definitely elicited a range of emotions from me on the subject! I think that the choice of time period will make this book appeal to a wider audience; it has that wonderful old-world feel that many readers will love.

I thought it was really clever of Harrow to ground her book in reality, making the possibility of stumbling upon a Door seem even more magical; it didn’t feel far-fetched or impossible to believe because everything else was so realistic.

 

Question 4: From awards to reviews, The Ten Thousand Doors of January has been rising in popularity and has received a number of fans from a wide number of genre preferences. What do you think makes this book so much more different than other fantasy novels?

Jenna: I think it’s because she caters to a wide audience both in genre and in writing elements. In library school, we learned about the four main types of readers: character, setting, story and language oriented readers. Most books tend to focus on one of these elements, possibly two, more than the other ones. But Harrow managed to equally balance ALL of these elements in order to draw a larger number of readers in … which is quite the talent! There’s also a large part of me that believes, as much as we see the purpose and joy of technology, many of us have this affinity and love for the simplicity of non-technology days … with technology being able to prove and disprove so many things, it sometimes leaves little room for the beauty of believing in things like magic and parallel worlds. With Harrows story reflecting our world so accurately in the 1900’s but with the added touch of fantasy, it makes you feel as though magic really COULD exist … that Doors are a real thing.

Alex: It’s a book that defies boundaries. It isn’t just one thing. It isn’t written solely for one age group, it doesn’t fit neatly into one genre, and it doesn’t prioritise plot over characters or vice versa – everything is given equal weight. I think it’s rare that a book is able to accomplish something like that. Also, as I already mentioned, this book triggers that nostalgic feeling in its readers, that longing to chase adventure and find magic around every corner. It’s a special one, for sure.


If you’re still not convinced that this is a novel you need to read, check out my spoiler-free review here!

Also, if you’d ever like to buddy read anything with either myself or Jenna, don’t hesitate to ask – we both love it! I always find I get even more out of a book if I can discuss it in greater detail with someone 😀 

My 2019 Reading Resolutions: How Did I Do?

Hey lovelies! I thought I’d take a bit of a look back at the reading goals I made for myself last year and see how I did!

I already did a mid-year recap which you can read here if you’re interested 🙂


Resolution #1: Read more books with mental health rep

Why I made this resolution: “I make no secret of the fact that I have my own mental health struggles, as well as working in the mental health sector, so I’d love to explore how more authors represent mental health in their books.”

How I did: I read quite a few books with mental health themes (some unintentionally). However, at the start of 2019, I posted a picture on Instagram of some titles I was planning to read and by the end of the year I had read exactly… none of them. Very disappointed in myself. Turns out telling myself I have to read certain books kinda puts me off reading them?

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Resolution #2: Conquer my fear of big books

Why I made this resolution: “I didn’t read very many long books (over 500 pages) in 2018 but the ones I did read ended up being some of my favourite books of the year! I’ve got a few larger books sitting on my shelves that I’d really love to try in 2019; I’m definitely in the mood to immerse myself in a chunky tome.”

How I did: I did really well with this one! I picked up a lot of chunky books and really enjoyed them. So I’d call this one a success! And it’s definitely something I want to continue with in 2020.

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Resolution #3: Read more from favourite authors

Why I made this resolution: “I have a strange habit of discovering an author I love and subsequently avoiding their books because I don’t want to run out! So I’m going to try and stop being ridiculous in 2019 and read more of the books I’ve collected by favourite authors. Some examples include Leigh Bardugo, Patrick Ness, Susanna Kearsley and Christina Henry.”

How I did: Nope, failed spectacularly with this one. I don’t know what my issue is, I think it’s just fear. Which I know is irrational because most of my favourite authors are still writing and so will (hopefully) bring out more books! I need to wise up. I did read a couple more Christina Henry books but I definitely can’t count this as a success.

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Resolution #4: Try some non-fiction books

Why I made this resolution: “I’ve always had a fear of non-fiction but I know there are some fantastic titles out there. I’m looking to ease myself in with a few memoirs and book-related titles first, before tackling some heavier subjects that I’m interested in.”

How I did: I read a few non-fiction titles but nowhere near as many as I had planned. The issue here was that I would have had to actually acquire the books and I didn’t feel right doing that with so many fiction titles already filling my shelves. (Before anyone suggests the library, I live in Northern Ireland and our libraries are not the best!)

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Resolution #5: Read some of my backlist books

Why I made this resolution: “Of course, my main goal in 2019 is to read some of my backlist titles. I may need the help of a challenge such as ‘Beat the Backlist’ or ‘The Unread Shelf Project’, but I’m determined to get my TBR under control!”

How I did: It wasn’t amazing but I feel like I did better than the previous year? I’ve come to realise that us bookworms tend to make this same resolution every year and then struggle to resist all the shiny new releases coming out every month. It’s something I’m trying to be self-aware about going forward. And I hope in 2020 to find more of a balance between the new releases and the backlist titles.

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My Goodreads Goal: Read 50 Books

Why I made this resolution: In 2018, I set my Goodreads goal at 100 books and managed to beat it quite significantly. This year, I set it at a lower number in order to allow myself to read some of those tomes I talked about. And I want to get back to reading for fun, not just to beat a number!

How I did: I upped my goal about halfway through the year as I realised I was going to smash it! I ended up reading 112 books in 2019.



The 12 Books I Must Read In 2019!

As I previously mentioned, I came to realise that telling myself I HAVE to read a book means I’m far less likely to do so. The ones I read from this list I picked up when I was genuinely in the mood for them but the timing never felt right for the others and I didn’t want to force myself to read them just to tick them off a list. So most of them are still waiting patiently on my shelves for the day I’m in the mood for them 😉


Overall, I don’t feel I did very well with my reading goals for 2019. But I do feel as if they taught me a lot about myself and that’s why I’m not making ANY resolutions for 2020. I want to just read things when the time feels right and hopefully discover lots more favourites that way ❤

Have you made any bookish goals for this year? Let me know in the comments! x

January 2020 Anticipated Releases!

Happy new year everyone! I hope 2020 brings you everything you’re dreaming of 🙂

This time last year, I posted the first of my monthly anticipated releases posts and they consistently remained some of my favourites to compile throughout the year. So I’m definitely continuing them! And if January is anything to go by, 2020 is going to destroy all of our bank accounts once again 😀

[As always, all covers and synopses are taken from Goodreads, and I have used UK release dates that are correct as far as I’m aware.]

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Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson

Release date: January 7th

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Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most.

Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves—not the happy ones anyway. As an aspiring director, she should know, because she’s been reimagining her life as a film ever since she was a kid. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for.

Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.

Why I’m interested: This sounds like it could be an important mental health read. I just hope that it’s not one of these books that posits romance as a cure-all. Fingers crossed!


The Night Country by Melissa Albert

Release date: January 9th

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In the sequel to her New York Times bestselling, literary/commercial breakout, The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert dives back into the menacing, mesmerizing world that captivated readers of the first book. Follow Alice Proserpine and Ellery Finch as they come to learn that The Hazel Wood was just the beginning of worlds beyond, “a place where stories and real life convene, where magic contains truth, and the world as it appears false, and where just about anything can happen, particularly in the pages of a good book”.

Why I’m interested: I’m a terrible person and still haven’t read The Hazel Wood even though one of my best friends gifted it to me ages ago. But I’m determined to read it soon with this sequel coming out!


The Unforgetting by Rose Black

Release date: January 9th

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Her fate was decided. Her death was foretold. Her past is about to be unforgotten…

1851. When Lily Bell is sold by her father to a ‘Professor of Ghosts’ to settle a bad debt, she dreams of finding fame on the London stage. But Erasmus Salt wants Lily not as an actress, but as his very own ghost – the heart of his elaborate illusion for those desperate for a glimpse of the spirit world…

Obsessed with perfection, Erasmus goes to extreme lengths to ensure his illusion is realistic. When Lily comes across her own obituary in the paper, and then her headstones in the cemetery, she realises that she is trapped, her own parents think she is dead, and that her fate is soon to become even darker…

Why I’m interested: This sounds SO cool! A professor of ghosts? Illusions? Sign me up for this Gothic goodness.


Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

Release date: January 14th

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Summer, 1518. A strange sickness sweeps through Strasbourg: women dance in the streets, some until they fall down dead. As rumors of witchcraft spread, suspicion turns toward Lavinia and her family, and Lavinia may have to do the unimaginable to save herself and everyone she loves.

Five centuries later, a pair of red shoes seal to Rosella Oliva’s feet, making her dance uncontrollably. They draw her toward a boy who knows the dancing fever’s history better than anyone: Emil, whose family was blamed for the fever five hundred years ago. But there’s more to what happened in 1518 than even Emil knows, and discovering the truth may decide whether Rosella survives the red shoes.

With McLemore’s signature lush prose, Dark and Deepest Red pairs the forbidding magic of a fairy tale with a modern story of passion and betrayal.

Why I’m interested: I read my first Anna-Marie McLemore book last year and thought her writing was gorgeous! This sounds like a wonderful retelling of a lesser known fairytale and I’m excited for it!


Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

Release date: January 14th

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When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.

The members of Nina’s haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she’d hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.

The show is a mess, internet rumours threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina’s family is on the brink of some major upheaval.

Everything feels like it’s spiralling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?

Why I’m interested: I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read any Emma Mills books but they’ve always interested me and I’m hoping to read more contemporaries this year so who knows? I’m just sad that this book doesn’t match her other pretty covers!


Saving Savannah by Tonya Bolden

Release date: January 14th

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The story of an African-American girl becoming a woman on her own terms against the backdrop of widespread social change in the early 1900s America. As a daughter of an upper class African American family in Washington D.C., Savannah is lucky. Feeling suffocated by the structure of society, Savannah meets a working-class girl named Nell who introduces her to the suffragette and socialist movements, inspiring her to fight for change.

Why I’m interested: I have no doubt this will be a poignant and important read.


Spellhacker by M. K. England

Release date: January 21st

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In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.

Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.

But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.

No pressure.

Why I’m interested: If I’m being completely honest, I’m slightly intimidated by this one. It sounds like it lands of the sci-fi side of SFF and that’s sometimes hit or miss for me. But I have an ARC of this from the lovely people at Harper 360 and I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised!


The Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwell

Release date: January 21st

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Twins Rosie and Ivory have grown up at their ringmaster mother’s knee, and after years on the road, they’re returning to Port End, the closest place to home they know. Yet something has changed in the bustling city: fundamentalist flyers paper the walls and preachers fill the squares, warning of shadows falling over the land. The circus prepares a triumphant homecoming show, full of lights and spectacle that could chase away even the darkest shadow. But during Rosie’s tightrope act, disaster strikes.

In this lush, sensuous novel interwoven with themes of social justice and found family, it’s up to Ivory and her magician love—with the help of a dancing bear—to track down an evil priest and save their circus family before it’s too late.

Why I’m interested: It has ‘circus’ in the title. That’s all I need to know. On top of that though, this is a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red and it sounds downright magical.


Not So Pure And Simple by Lamar Giles

Release date: January 21st

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Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.

His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.

With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?

Why I’m interested: This is another book that I have an ARC of from Harper 360 and I’m very excited for this one! It sounds like a really unique contemporary and I hope it lives up to my expectations!


Pine by Francine Toon

Release date: January 23rd

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They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men. Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone. In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago. Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust. In spare, haunting prose, Francine Toon creates an unshakeable atmosphere of desolation and dread. In a place that feels like the end of the world, she unites the gloom of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.

Why I’m interested: I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for this one! It sounds perfectly Gothic and definitely hits some of my buzzwords.


The Frost Eater by Carol Beth Anderson

Release date: January 28th

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Seventeen-year-old Princess Nora is a frost eater who creates magical ice. Her royal life is luxurious but stifling.

Krey West has a rare magical talent: when he eats feathers, he can fly. His one goal is to find his missing girlfriend, Zeisha. He thinks someone in power abducted her.

Krey’s daring feats of magic earn him an invitation to the palace. Craving adventure and friendship, Nora offers to help him find Zeisha. He’s desperate enough to accept—though he hates the monarchy.

The truth is more terrible than they could imagine.

Every night, Zeisha wakes in a dark room full of sleeping people, unable to remember what she did in the light. Her dreams provide violent glimpses into her forgotten days.

If Krey and Nora can’t save her, Zeisha may lose herself forever.

Why I’m interested: I love the sound of the magic in this book. And it sounds like it could get quite dark, which I’m always here for.


The Island Child by Molly Aitken

Release date: January 30th

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Twenty years ago, Oona left the island of Inis for the very first time. A wind-blasted rock of fishing boats and sheep’s wool, where the only book was the Bible and girls stayed in their homes until mothers themselves, the island was a gift for some, a prison for others. Oona was barely more than a girl, but promised herself she would leave the tall tales behind and never return.

The Island Child tells two stories: of the child who grew up watching births and betrayals, storms and secrets, and of the adult Oona, desperate to find a second chance, only to discover she can never completely escape. As the strands of Oona’s life come together, in blood and marriage and motherhood, she must accept the price we pay when we love what is never truly ours…

Rich, haunting and rooted in Irish folklore, The Island Child is spellbinding debut novel about identity and motherhood, freedom and fate and the healing power of stories.

Why I’m interested: I’m sold on ‘Irish folklore’. This sounds like such a wonderful story. Thank you Rachel for alerting me to this one!



What books are you looking forward to this month? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)