‘Sanctuary’ first impressions!

Hello dear ones. I hope that everyone is staying safe and that anxieties aren’t too high (I know that’s a stupid thing to say, I just genuinely don’t have the words right now.)

Today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for Sanctuary by V. V. James, to celebrate its paperback release on April 2nd 2020. This is an extremely difficult time for authors releasing books so I’m trying to do whatever I can to support them. I was due to post a review but with everything that’s been going on, and being an essential worker, I’ve not had much time or indeed focus to read. So I’m only about halfway through the book. But I wanted to post some thoughts anyway because I couldn’t bear the thought of letting down the author or publisher.

I will share a full review when I’m finished the book but here’s what I’m thinking of it so far!

sanctuary


synopsis

When young Daniel Whitman is killed at a high-school party, the community is ripped apart. The death of Sanctuary’s star quarterback seems to be a tragic accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper Fenn is the daughter of a witch–and she was there when he died.

VV James weaves a spellbinding tale of a town cracking into pieces and the devastating power of a mother’s love. Was Daniel’s death an accident, revenge–or something even more sinister?

As accusations fly, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a witch-hunt…and the town becomes no sanctuary at all.


my thoughts

One of the things I’m loving about Sanctuary is the small-town vibe. I always have a soft spot for books with this kind of atmosphere and this one is doing it particularly well. Sanctuary is one of those places where everybody knows everybody else and nothing can remain a secret for long. It makes for a lot of drama and it’s just what I need to distract me from real-life problems right now.

I’m also loving the way witchcraft is featured in the book. It gives a really interesting edge to a standard thriller/mystery story. I love witchy stories and it’s great to see it featured in a genre outside of where you would normally expect it.

When I saw the large cast of characters at the beginning of the book, I was apprehensive; I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep track of everyone. Thankfully, there aren’t too many perspectives to contend with and I’m not having trouble remembering who everyone is. Each character has a distinctive voice.

James has a great writing style, with short and snappy chapters and killer hooks that grab your attention and hold it. I know that, under normal circumstances, I would have flown through this book in no time. So if your concentration isn’t too bad these days, I definitely recommend this one for a gripping read!

I can only apologise to Gollancz and V. James for not having finished the book on time and I promise to share my full review when I do reach the end. But I can say that I have loved what I’ve read so far and can’t wait to see where the story goes!

sanctuary


Let me know if you’ve read this one! And be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour, which you can find on Twitter! 🙂 x

 

 

‘The Good Hawk’ spoiler-free review!

Hello dear ones 🙂 How are you all doing? I want to start by saying that if anyone needs to talk during the current climate, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me – we all need to support each other through this. We’re in it for the long haul ❤ Honestly, it feels weird to even be writing a blog post at this time but I suppose we need to try and keep things as normal as possible, don’t we? So today, I’m reviewing The Good Hawk which was sent to me by Walker Books UK. And guys, this book is pretty special.

good hawk


synopsis

In a mythic Scotland, two unlikely heroes must make a dangerous journey to save their people.

Agatha is a Hawk, brave and fierce, who protects her people by patrolling the high walls of their island home. She is proud of her job, though some in her clan whisper that it is meant to keep her out of the way because of the condition she was born with.

Jaime, thoughtful and anxious, is an Angler, but he hates the sea. Worse, he’s been chosen for a duty that the clan hasn’t required for generations: to marry. The elders won’t say why they have promised him to a girl in a neighboring clan, but there are rumors of approaching danger.

When disaster strikes and the clan is kidnapped, it is up to Agatha and Jaime to travel across the haunted mainland of Scotia to Norveg, with help along the way from a clan of nomadic Highland bull riders and the many animals who are drawn to Agatha’s extraordinary gift of communication.

Thrilling and dark yet rich with humor and compassion, this is the first book in the Shadow Skye trilogy, written by a wonderful new voice in fantasy and introducing a welcome new kind of hero.


my thoughts

The first thing that struck me about this book was the writing style. Agatha’s narrative voice was perfectly captured. There was an element that reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (and please don’t think that’s me generalising in a negative way). The author made it clear that Agatha had her differences without coming across as patronising. And I instantly loved this book for that.

You see, Agatha has Down’s Syndrome. And it saddens me to say this is the first book I’ve ever read with Down’s rep. It was done so sensitively and didn’t feel at all out of place in this fantasy story. We need more of this!

Don’t get me wrong, some of the comments that other characters make about Agatha are heart-breaking but I can understand why they were there. But man, I was rooting so hard for her and couldn’t wait to see her succeed and show them all what she was made of! She is a strong and sassy heroine (without intending to be) and you can’t help but love her.

I also loved the anxiety representation that the author showed in our other protagonist, Jaime. Seeing a character in a fantasy novel having a panic attack (and one that was realistic at that) gave me such a weird sense of joy. I loved that I could relate to this character and that both Jaime and Agatha felt like real, ordinary people. Those are the best kinds of heroes.

There was also a wonderful cast of side characters, including some very adorable animal companions. And the interactions between them all made for some genuinely funny moments.

I suppose I should talk about more than just the characters though, right? Well the world building in this book was absolutely perfect. I was living for this magical version of Scotland. I felt like I was on this journey with Agatha and Jaime, and I am honestly so excited for the next instalment in this series.

This was genuinely such a heart-warming and special book. I am so grateful to the author for all that he chose to represent in his story and to Walker Books for publishing it and sending me a free copy! This is truly a magical story for all ages.

good hawk


Have you ever read a book with a character who has Down’s Syndrome? If so, please let me know in the comments because I don’t know of any others! x

 

‘NVK’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! Before we get into this review, I want to send you all a massive virtual hug – we are living in scary times right now and anxieties are running high. My mental health is certainly suffering due to all the panic that’s going on. And working in a care setting is not helping! I’ve never once had any regrets about taking on a job in the caring profession but it’s testing my strength right now, I can tell you!

Anyway. Let’s try to maintain some semblance of normality around here, shall we? Lose ourselves in those books and the blogging community ❤

Today, I’m recommending one for you if you fancy a bit of Gothic fiction during your self-isolation 😉 Today (March 17th) sees the release of NVK by Temple Drake, which was very kindly sent to me by Titan Books! Keep reading to find out more about it…

nvk


synopsis

One night in 2012, Zhang Guo Xing takes a group of European clients to a fashionable high-end nightclub in Shanghai. While there, he meets a strikingly beautiful young Finnish woman called Naemi Vieno Kuusela. The physical attraction between them proves irresistible, and they embark on an intoxicating affair. But Naemi is not what she appears to be…

To Zhang’s surprise, she veers between passion and wariness, conducting the relationship entirely on her own terms. He feels compelled to find out more about her, and is swiftly drawn into a web of intrigue, mystery, and horror. Is she a ghost? A demon? Do the living dead walk the streets of twenty-first century Shanghai?


my thoughts

First of all, this book has one of the most captivating opening chapters I have read in a long long time. I knew right away that I was going to be gripped from start to finish.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the scene-setting. The majority of the book is set in the bustling city streets of Shanghai and the descriptions were so vivid, despite not being flowery. I could totally imagine the sights, sounds and even smells of each scene – and you all know how much I love that sensory information 😉 There are also some flashback scenes set in northern Finland and the contrast was utterly perfect.

Everything about this book flowed so seamlessly. Scene changes, introduction of characters – there was just a sense of ease to everything. It’s difficult for me to describe as it’s not something I’ve ever been consciously aware of until recently. I just found this book so fantastically easy to read and before I knew it, I was finished.

At the heart of the novel is a mystery, though it’s unlike any mystery I have read before. The stakes are raised continuously, another reason for why I could not stop reading.

My one slight complaint is that the ending is left slightly unresolved and you as a reader have to make what you will of the situation. I didn’t feel hugely satisfied with this and wanted definitive answers to certain questions.

As far as I am aware, this book is a standalone (always a bonus!) However, I was highly impressed by it and would certainly be willing to read more about the mysterious NVK! I think the potential is definitely there for Temple Drake to continue this story. But equally, it stands so well on its own. So I guess I don’t know which I’d prefer haha. I know, I’m so helpful. All I know is that you should definitely give it a read… 😉

nvk


Are you intrigued by this one? Leave me a comment and let me know! x

 

Down The TBR Hole [#4]

Hello lovelies! It’s time for another round of clearing out my online bookshelves! I had some tricky decisions to make this time so I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments 😀

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 Giver by Lois Lowry

the giver lois lowry

Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

This is one of those books that I feel I should have read long ago. I feel like everyone read this as a teenager but for some reason, it was never on my radar? I did find a copy in a charity shop a while ago so I’d like to see what it’s about at some point.

Verdict: Keep


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

hitchhikers guide to the galaxy

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

Sci-fi scares me but I did enjoy the Martin Freeman movie adaptation of this one. And again, I do own a copy so it would be silly to not give it a try at some point. I just don’t know when that will be haha.

Verdict: Keep


Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

geisha

A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel presents with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha.

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl’s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction – at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful – and completely unforgettable.

I’m really torn about this one because I have literally owned it for years and never once felt inclined to pick it up. I need advice if you’ve read this one! I’ll keep it for now but it’s in serious danger of being unhauled.

Verdict: Keep


The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

grapes of wrath

First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads—driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity. A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics.

l have loved the Steinbeck books I’ve read and definitely want to read this one at some point. Plus (again), I own a copy. Are you sensing a theme?

Verdict: Keep


Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

enders game

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast.

But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. While Peter was too uncontrollably violent, Valentine very nearly lacks the capability for violence altogether. Neither was found suitable for the military’s purpose. But they are driven by their jealousy of Ender, and by their inbred drive for power. Peter seeks to control the political process, to become a ruler. Valentine’s abilities turn more toward the subtle control of the beliefs of commoner and elite alike, through powerfully convincing essays. Hiding their youth and identities behind the anonymity of the computer networks, these two begin working together to shape the destiny of Earth-an Earth that has no future at all if their brother Ender fails.

This does have potential but it leans a bit too far towards the sci-fi side for my tastes. And I don’t own this one! Yay!

Verdict: Remove


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

a thousand splendid suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love—a stunning accomplishment.

The Kite Runner ripped my heart into a million pieces when I read it in school. I’ve been simultaneously intrigued and terrified by Khaled Hosseini’s books ever since. And I never seem to buy it even when I see it around. I’m not sure???!!! But I suppose I can always add it back on at a later date.

Verdict: Remove


The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

poisonwood bible

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

My auntie recommended this one to me and did make it sound good. But unless someone gifted me a copy, I don’t feel like this is one I’m likely to buy myself.

Verdict: Remove


Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

anna and the swallow man

Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.

The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.

Destined to become a classic, Gavriel Savit’s stunning debut reveals life’s hardest lessons while celebrating its miraculous possibilities.

This absolutely sounds like my kind of book. Plus a friend who has very similar bookish taste to me and whose opinion I trust describes this as one of her favourites. So it’s not going anywhere.

Verdict: Keep


Edna in the Desert by Maddy Lederman

edna in the desert

Can a Beverly Hills teen survive without a smart phone, Internet, and TV? Edna will find out.
Edna is thirteen, a precocious troublemaker wreaking havoc at her Beverly Hills school. Her therapist advocates medication, but her parents come up with an alternative cure: Edna will spend the summer in the desert with her grandparents. Their remote cabin is cut off from cell phone service, Internet and television. Edna’s determined to rebel until she meets an older local boy and falls in love for the first time. How can she get to know him from the edge of nowhere?

I was interested in this one at some point but not so much anymore. I feel like I’m maybe too old for it now?

Verdict: Remove


Fancies and Goodnights by John Collier

fancies and goodnights

John Collier’s edgy, sardonic tales are works of rare wit, curious insight, and scary implication. They stand out as one of the pinnacles in the critically neglected but perennially popular tradition of weird writing that includes E.T.A. Hoffmann and Charles Dickens as well as more recent masters like Jorge Luis Borges and Roald Dahl. With a cast of characters that ranges from man-eating flora to disgruntled devils and suburban salarymen (not that it’s always easy to tell one from another), Collier’s dazzling stories explore the implacable logic of lunacy, revealing a surreal landscape whose unstable surface is depth-charged with surprise.

I think this came up as a recommended book in my early Goodreads days and I added it due to the author comparisons it had. But I can’t genuinely say I want to read it.

Verdict: Remove


The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente

the girl who soared over fairyland and cut the moon in tw

September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home, and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers.

Again, this was added in my early Goodreads days. And I’m now convinced that Goodreads never used to show you the position of a book in a series because this is apparently the third book and I don’t know why I would have just randomly added it without the first two? This has happened more than once now haha.

Verdict: Remove


365 Thank Yous: The Year A Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik

365 thank yous

One recent December, at age 53, John Kralik found his life at a terrible, frightening low: his small law firm was failing; he was struggling through a painful second divorce; he had grown distant from his two older children and was afraid he might lose contact with his young daughter; he was living in a tiny apartment where he froze in the winter and baked in the summer; he was 40 pounds overweight; his girlfriend had just broken up with him; and overall, his dearest life dreams–including hopes of upholding idealistic legal principles and of becoming a judge–seemed to have slipped beyond his reach. Then, during a desperate walk in the hills on New Year’s Day, John was struck by the belief that his life might become at least tolerable if, instead of focusing on what he didn’t have, he could find some way to be grateful for what he had. Inspired by a beautiful, simple note his ex-girlfriend had sent to thank him for his Christmas gift, John imagined that he might find a way to feel grateful by writing thank-you notes. To keep himself going, he set himself a goal–come what may–of writing 365 thank-you notes in the coming year. One by one, day after day, he began to handwrite thank yous–for gifts or kindnesses he’d received from loved ones and coworkers, from past business associates and current foes, from college friends and doctors and store clerks and handymen and neighbors, and anyone, really, absolutely anyone, who’d done him a good turn, however large or small. Immediately after he’d sent his very first notes, significant and surprising benefits began to come John’s way–from financial gain to true friendship, from weight loss to inner peace. While John wrote his notes, the economy collapsed, the bank across the street from his office failed, but thank-you note by thank-you note, John’s whole life turned around. 365 Thank Yous is a rare memoir: its touching, immediately accessible message–and benefits–come to readers from the plainspoken storytelling of an ordinary man. Kralik sets a believable, doable example of how to live a miraculously good life. To read 365 Thank Yous is to be changed.

I’ve seen mixed reviews for this one and the negative things that have been said have kind of put me off.

Verdict: Remove


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

wild cheryl strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

I’ve read a fictional story with a similar plot to this and I enjoyed it. I’m still very interested in reading Strayed’s experience.

Verdict: Keep


The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers

the 13 lives of captain bluebear

Captain Bluebear tells the story of his first 13-1/2 lives spent on the mysterious continent of Zamonia, where intelligence is an infectious disease, water flows uphill, and dangers lie in wait for him around every corner.

“A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen and a half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest,” says the narrator of Walter Moers’s epic adventure. “What about the Minipirates? What about the Hobgoblins, the Spiderwitch, the Babbling Billows, the Troglotroll, the Mountain Maggot… Mine is a tale of mortal danger and eternal love, of hair’s breadth, last-minute escapes.” Welcome to the fantastic world of Zamonia, populated by all manner of extraordinary characters. It’s a land of imaginative lunacy and supreme adventure, wicked satire and epic fantasy, all mixed together, turned on its head, and lavishly illustrated by the author.

I might have enjoyed this when I was younger but sadly, I’m not Peter Pan and I think I’ve grown up too much for this one.

Verdict: Remove


The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers

the city of dreaming books

Optimus Yarnspinner, a young writer, inherits from his beloved godfather an unpublished short story by an unknown author. His search for the author’s identity takes him to Bookholm–the so-called City of Dreaming Books. On entering its streets, our hero feels as if he has opened the door of a gigantic second-hand bookshop. His nostrils are assailed by clouds of book dust, the stimulating scent of ancient leather, and the tang of printer’s ink.

Soon, though, Yarnspinner falls into the clutches of the city’s evil genius, Pfistomel Smyke, who treacherously maroons him in the labyrinthine catacombs underneath the city, where reading books can be genuinely dangerous…

I must have added this at the same time as the book above and I’m going to remove it again for the same reason I gave there.

Verdict: Remove


Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

mr penumbras 24-hour bookstore

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, but after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything; instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends, but when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

There seem to be a lot of books on the market about quaint little bookshops or book clubs or other similar themes. I’ve got a few on my shelves and it’s taking me forever to get round to them so I don’t think I need to worry about another one. But if this one is special, by all means try to convince me!

Verdict: Remove


The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

jane austen book club

In California’s central valley, five women and one man join to discuss Jane Austen’s novels. Over the six months they get together, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her eye for the frailties of human behavior and her ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Karen Joy Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships.

Dedicated Austenites will delight in unearthing the echoes of Austen that run through the novel, but most readers will simply enjoy the vision and voice that, despite two centuries of separation, unite two great writers of brilliant social comedy.

What was I saying about books about books? This is one of those that’s already on my shelves so it can stay (for now).

Verdict: Keep


The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

175A

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.

Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story.

This is one of those books I’ve seen recommended in so many places. And I’m sure it’s a fascinating read. But I don’t tend to read memoirs from people I’ve not already got an interest in.

Verdict: Remove


From Here To Eternity by James Jones

from here to eternity

Diamond Head, Hawaii, 1941. Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a champion welterweight and a fine bugler. But when he refuses to join the company’s boxing team, he gets “the treatment” that may break him or kill him.

First Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden knows how to soldier better than almost anyone, yet he’s risking his career to have an affair with the commanding officer’s wife.

Both Warden and Prewitt are bound by a common bond: the Army is their heart and blood… and, possibly, their death.

In this magnificent but brutal classic of a soldier’s life, James Jones portrays the courage, violence and passions of men and women who live by unspoken codes and with unutterable despair… in the most important American novel to come out of World War II, a masterpiece that captures as no other the honor and savagery of men.

I love the movie adaptation of From Here To Eternity and would be interested in reading the original. Though I’m slightly intimidated by how huge it is!

Verdict: Keep


The Healing by Jonathan Odell

the healing

Mississippi plantation mistress Amanda Satterfield loses her daughter to cholera after her husband refuses to treat her for what he considers to be a “slave disease.” Insane with grief, Amanda takes a newborn slave child as her own and names her Granada, much to the outrage of her husband and the amusement of their white neighbors. Troubled by his wife’s disturbing mental state and concerned about a mysterious plague sweeping through his slave population, Master Satterfield purchases Polly Shine, a slave reputed to be a healer. But Polly’s sharp tongue and troubling predictions cause unrest across the plantation. Complicating matters further, Polly recognizes “the gift” in Granada, the mistress’s pet, and a domestic battle of wills ensues.

Seventy-five years later, Granada, now known as Gran Gran, is still living on the plantation and must revive the buried memories of her past in order to heal a young girl abandoned to her care. Together they learn the power of story to heal the body, the spirit and the soul.

Rich in mood and atmosphere, The Healing is the kind of novel readers can’t put down—and can’t wait to recommend once they’ve finished.

I’ve never heard anyone talk about this book anywhere but it sounds amazing! Please tell me if you’ve read it.

Verdict: Keep



Books removed in this post: 11

Books removed in total: 35

Total books analysed: 82

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)

March 2020 Anticipated Releases!

Hey everyone! It’s that time again 😀 I can’t quite believe how quickly February went by, it was an absolute blur! I hope you all had a great month and read some fantastic books.

March brings with it one of my most anticipated releases of the year – I’m sure you’ll have no trouble guessing but do let me know in the comments which one you think it is!

Also, this post was due to go up yesterday but I didn’t get it finished in time due to something very exciting happening 😀 I will be posting about that at some point soon!

[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. It always upsets me when I post these and then book releases get pushed back haha.]

March


Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Release date: March 1st

upright women wanted

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Why I’m interested: At some point last year, I featured Magic For Liars in an anticipated releases post. Literally no-one will be surprised that I haven’t read that one yet but this next offering from Sarah Gailey sounds awesome too. “Queer librarian spies on horseback” is a vibe.


The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Release date: March 3rd

kingdom of back

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart.

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

Why I’m interested: This sounds like it will be utterly stunning. I’ve read some Marie Lu before but this sounds like it will be a book of my heart. I mean, it’s a magical Mozart story, for heaven’s sake.


The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

Release date: March 3rd

the midnight lie

Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.

Why I’m interested: I’ve not read The Winner’s Trilogy but I’m hoping that doesn’t matter for this? It sounds like just the kind of fantasy I enjoy.


The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

Release date: March 3rd

vanishing deep

Seventeen-year-old Tempe was born into a world of water. When the Great Waves destroyed her planet, its people had to learn to survive living on the water, but the ruins of the cities below still called. Tempe dives daily, scavenging the ruins of a bygone era, searching for anything of value to trade for Notes. It isn’t food or clothing that she wants to buy, but her dead sister’s life. For a price, the research facility on the island of Palindromena will revive the dearly departed for twenty-four hours before returning them to death. It isn’t a heartfelt reunion that Tempe is after; she wants answers. Elysea died keeping a terrible secret, one that has ignited an unquenchable fury in Tempe: Her beloved sister was responsible for the death of their parents. Tempe wants to know why.

But once revived, Elysea has other plans. She doesn’t want to spend her last day in a cold room accounting for a crime she insists she didn’t commit. Elysea wants her freedom and one final glimpse at the life that was stolen from her. She persuades Tempe to break her out of the facility, and they embark on a dangerous journey to discover the truth about their parents’ death and mend their broken bond. But they’re pursued every step of the way by two Palindromena employees desperate to find them before Elysea’s time is up–and before the secret behind the revival process and the true cost of restored life is revealed.

Why I’m interested: The water-world setting of this one sounds great but add in that sibling drama? Oh my goodness, this could be spectacular.


Anna K by Jenny Lee

Release date: March 5th

anna k

Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather an sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.

As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.

Why I’m interested: A friend of mine read this recently and really enjoyed it. And I’ve said it before, I’m living for contemporaries these days 😉 I really like the sound of this Anna Karenina retelling.


Hold Back The Tide by Melinda Salisbury

Release date: March 5th

hold back the tide

Everyone knows what happened to Alva’s mother, all those years ago. But when dark forces begin to stir in Ormscaula, Alva has to face a very different future – and question everything she thought she knew about her past…

Unsettling, sharply beautiful and thought-provoking, Hold Back The Tide is the new novel from Melinda Salisbury, bestselling author of The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy.

Why I’m interested: I have enjoyed Salisbury’s writing previously and I’m intrigued by this one. Mainly because the same friend who enjoyed Anna K recommended this one as well, because it’s not like I have a detailed blurb to go off!


The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven

Release date: March 5th

love hypothesis

Physics genius Caro Kerber-Murphy knows she’s smart. With straight As and a college scholarship already in the bag, she’s meeting her two dads’ colossal expectations and then some. But there’s one test she’s never quite been able to ace: love. And when, in a particularly desperate moment, Caro discovers a (definitely questionable) scientific breakthrough that promises to make you irresistible to everyone around you, she wonders if this could be the key. What happens next will change everything Caro thought she knew chemistry – in the lab and in love.

Is her long-time crush Haruki with her of his own free will? Are her feelings for her best girl friend some sort of side-effect? Will her dog, Sirius, ever stop humping her leg?

 

Why I’m interested: Again, my heart is yearning for those contemporaries. I like the sound of the science slant on this one and feel like it could be quite funny.


Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Release date: March 12th

harley in the sky

Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.

Why I’m interested: I’ve been intrigued by Bowman’s books for a while but haven’t got round to them yet. That’s going to change because her newest book is about a circus and you all know how much I love those.


Frozen Beauty by Lexa Hillyer

Release date: March 17th

frozen beauty

Everyone in Devil’s Lake knows the three golden Malloy sisters—but one of them is keeping a secret that will turn their little world inside out….

No one knows exactly what happened to Kit in the woods that night—all they have are a constellation of facts: icy blue lips and fingers cold to the touch, a lacy bra, an abandoned pick-up truck with keys still in the ignition. Still, Tessa, even in her fog of grief, is certain that her sister’s killer wasn’t Boyd, the boy next door whom they’ve all loved in their own way. There are too many details that don’t add up, too many secrets still tucked away.

But no matter how fiercely she searches for answers, at the core of that complicated night is a truth that’s heartbreakingly simple.

Told in lush, haunting prose, Frozen Beauty is a story of the intoxicating power of first love, the deep bonds of sisterhood, and a shocking death that will forever change the living.

Why I’m interested: This sounds like a powerful story in the vein of Sadie or Summer of Salt. And I do love me some lush, haunting prose.


A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

Release date: March 19th

a phoenix first must burn

Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.

Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.

Authors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Dhonielle Clayton, Jalissa Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Davis, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Justina Ireland, Danny Lore, L.L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi.

Why I’m interested: First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate that stunning cover? It’s exquisite. Secondly, I’ve gotten really into anthologies in recent years and this one features some incredible authors. It sounds like a fantastic collection.


Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

Release date: March 24th

tigers not daughters

The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.

In a stunning follow-up to her National Book Award–longlisted novel All the Wind in the World, Samantha Mabry weaves an aching, magical novel that is one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story.

Why I’m interested: This actually sounds a little bit similar to Frozen Beauty but with a different aesthetic. I’m here for that magical realism though.


My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Release date: March 31st

my dark vanessa

Vanessa Wye was fifteen years old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.

Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, and as riveting as it is disturbing, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age is grappling with.

Why I’m interested: I’ve been hearing about this book for so long that I was actually surprised to realise it wasn’t already out. SO many people have been recommending this and maybe it’s the hype influencing me but I definitely want to see what it’s all about.



What books are you looking forward to this month? Are any of these on your radar? And did you guess which of these is my most anticipated? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)