‘The Sewing Machine’ spoiler-free review!

 

The Sewing Machine

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

the sewing machine.jpg

A final rating of 4 musical notes!

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


Sewing Machine Blog Tour Poster.jpg

 

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

 
a version of the truth

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


synopsis

We all see what we want to see…

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

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

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


my thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a version of the truth

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

‘The Last’ spoiler-free review!

 

The Last book review

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


synopsis

Breaking: Nuclear weapon detonates over Washington

Breaking: London hit, thousands feared dead

Breaking: Munich and Scotland hit. World leaders call for calm

Historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends. As the lights go out on civilization, he wishes he had a way of knowing whether his wife, Nadia, and their two daughters are still alive. More than anything, Jon wishes he hadn’t ignored Nadia’s last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel. Far from the nearest city and walled in by towering trees, they wait, they survive.

Then one day, the body of a young girl is found. It’s clear she has been murdered. Which means that someone in the hotel is a killer.

As paranoia descends, Jon decides to investigate. But how far is he willing to go in pursuit of justice? And what kind of justice can he hope for, when society as he knows it no longer exists?


my thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

the last

A final rating of 4 musical notes!

4 notes


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

February 2019 Anticipated Releases!

 

February

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

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


White Stag by Kara Barbieri

Release date: February 1st

white stag

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

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

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

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

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


The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Release date: February 4th

the familiars

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

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

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

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

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

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


A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel

Release date: February 5th

danger to herself and others

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

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

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

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


The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea

Release date: February 7th

glass woman

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sea monsters by Chloe Aridjis

Release date: February 7th

sea monsters

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

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

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

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

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


The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Release date: February 7th

dreamers

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

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

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


On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Release date: February 7th

on the come up

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

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

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


The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

Release date: February 12th

night tiger.jpg

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

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

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

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

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


The Problem of Susan and Other Stories by Neil Gaiman

Release date: February 12th

the problem of susan

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

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

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


The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee

Release date: February 19th

the great unknowable end.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty

Release date: February 21st

kingdom of copper.jpg

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

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

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

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

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


Enchantée by Gita Trelease

Release date: February 21st

enchantee

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

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

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

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


The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Release date: February 26th

priory of the orange tree

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

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

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

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

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


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

Release date: February 28th

the five

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

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

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


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

January 2019 Wrap-up!

January 2019 wrapup.png

January is finally over! I’m not one for wishing time away but this has been one LOOONG month. And sadly, I didn’t read as much as I had hoped to in all this time. Going back to work and uni took its toll on my reading time, plus I’ve had a lot of headaches that have stopped me from reading even when I’ve had time. But the books I did read were, on the whole, fantastic!

Let’s take a look!


Review Books

The Turnaway Girls by Hayley Chewins

My first read of 2019 was this delightfully feminist middle-grade book. I loved the vivid descriptions and, of course, the musical subject matter was right up my street. There is some great diversity here and some surprisingly dark moments. A great start to the year!

 

Cuckoo by Sophie Draper

The first thriller I read this year is one of the best I’ve ever come across. This is a slow-burning and mysterious book, with heaps of atmosphere and plenty of twists and turns. I particularly loved the inclusion of the dark fairytales throughout the book.

 

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

A slow-burning, Gothic read, this one was incredibly absorbing. Mazzola did a great job of portraying a moment in history and all the misogyny that accompanied it.


Books from my TBR

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

I read this with the Dragons and Tea Book Club and I’m so glad I did. This is a fascinating book focusing on a mental health topic that is not often explored. I loved the format of the book and found the whole thing so clever. And getting to ask the author questions on Goodreads made it an even more special reading experience!

 

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

I felt such a connection with this quiet little book. I’m still thinking about the characters long after finishing it. Brunt tackles the subject of the AIDS epidemic with such tact. She has created a work of beauty in this book and I want everyone to read it.

 

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

I read this book with my own book club this month and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I had been nervous about it as Beauty and the Beast retellings are starting to get a little overdone, but I loved the wintery Russian vibes in this one!

 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This was one of the books I read for the 24in48 readathon and I really enjoyed it. It’s classic Gaiman, both dark and whimsical, with fantastic characters and moments of real wit.

 

Your Turn to Die by Sue Wallman

Another book I read for 24in48, this was the only book I read in January that I didn’t enjoy. It felt extremely juvenile and there was nothing memorable about it, other than the animal cruelty.

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My final read of the month was certainly a powerful one. I’m glad I finally picked this one up. I felt much more of a connection to it than I expected to, thanks in part to the author’s skill at writing dialogue. So deserving of the hype.


Rereads

curious incident.jpg

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

I only managed one reread this month and it was this book that I haven’t read since my school days. It was fun to go back and remember what was so good about this book, as well as seeing how far we’ve come in the discussion about autism in the last few years.


Stats

Total pages: 3385

Average pages per day: 109

Longest book: The Hate U Give (438 pages)

Shortest book: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (268 pages)

Favourite read of the month: Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Biggest disappointment of the month: Your Turn to Die

Male authors: 2

Female authors: 8

january 2019.jpg

Well, that was January! How many books did you manage to read this month? What was your favourite? Let me know in the comments! And thanks for reading xsignature (2)

‘The Hate U Give’ spoiler-free review!

 

thug review

Yes, I know. I’m ridiculously late to the party with this one. But with Angie Thomas’ new book, On The Come Up, coming out in February, I figured it was finally time to read her debut! And it deserves every bit of hype.

Let’s check it out!


synopsis

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.


my thoughts.png

I’m not sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said. It is one of the most powerful books I have ever read and I totally understand why it has become such a huge phenomenon in the book community.

Obviously, the subject matter here makes this an incredibly heavy read. In fact, I could only read it in short bursts and had to intersperse it with other books for a bit of light relief.

I was worried initially that I wouldn’t be able to connect with the story (and please do not read anything racist into that before I explain!) The book is very dialogue-heavy which is not something that usually works for me. Add to that the fact that I had distanced myself from this book for so long due to the hype and hopefully you can understand why I was nervous.

Thankfully, Thomas writes dialogue REALLY well and I found that it really drew me in, adding to the intensity of the book. Further to this, the family and peer argument scenes in this book were so bloody realistic. I actually felt my heart beating faster and my breathing quicken as if I was right there in the thick of everything.

After thinking about the ending, I’m quite pleased with how things wrapped up. It would have been very easy for Thomas to take things in a different direction and I don’t think I would have been satisfied with it if she did. As it stands, I found the ending powerful and emotive – especially with the author’s note that follows. It’s easy to see why this book has had such an impact. The Hate U Give is clearly a very important piece of literature in the Black Lives Matter movement and I, like Angie Thomas, hope that one day we can look back and say that the issue has been eradicated.

thug

Of course, my final rating can be nothing less than 5 musical notes!  5 notes


So most of you have probably read this one by now, right? What did you think of it? Are you planning on reading On The Come Up? And do you like my new rating system?! Leave me a comment below! Thanks for reading xsignature (2)

My favourite blog posts of January 2019!

Well I don’t know about anyone else but January felt like it lasted forever to me. However, let’s try to be positive about it – this means there’s been even more quality blog content from all of you!

Also, *drumroll* please… I’ve finally made some blog graphics! I think hehe. I’m trialling the first of them in this post so please let me know if there are any problems with them or they aren’t showing up properly! I’m not technically savvy at all but I’m trying my best to make my blog look prettier 😀 So they may vary as I figure out more of what I’m doing!

Ok, let’s do this!

favourite blog posts of the month


Favourite reviews.png

Kristin reviewed The Radium Girls, which sounds fascinating. I’m looking to read more non-fiction this year and this title has jumped firmly into a high position on my list!

Steph wrote a lovely review of Tin Man – I’ve heard really good things about this one!

Melanie displayed her wonderful reviewing skills yet again and made me even more desperate for The Winter of the Witch!

Rae reviewed an ARC of The Night Tiger which sounds very intriguing!

Beth reviewed Convenience Store Woman. I’ve been hearing a lot about this one and it sounds really good!

Ashleigh reviewed The Priory of the Orange Tree and convinced me that I need this book in my life.

Esme wrote a lovely review of The Weight of a Piano, which sounds perfect for me!

Merline reviewed The Kingdom of Copper and got me even more hyped!

Kelly wrote a great review of Paper Girl, which I love the sound of!


favourite discussions

Nyx asked if the length of a book matters. This felt like a timely post as one of my reading goals for this year is tackle some of the bigger books on my shelf that have been intimidating me!

Melanie talked about why she feels frustrated with YA novels. I’ve noticed my own reading tastes starting to change recently so I found this an interesting post to read.

Marie raised the question of whether book bloggers need a reading schedule, which I found hugely relevant!

Rita reacted to the Marie Kondo controversy and addressed the issue of purging books.

Aurora talked about why she is a bad book blogger and made me feel so much better for how rubbish I can be too!


other fun posts

Ally wrote a great recommendation list of diverse historical fiction.

Jenna did the ‘Pick Me Up Playlist’ tag. I love this idea and I’m definitely going to do this one myself!

Lorryn recommended books with bipolar, schizophrenia and personality disorder rep – and you know I’m looking for more mental health reads!

Margaret asked her family to choose her TBR, which I thought was a fun idea.

Cait revealed the cover for The Boy Who Steals Houses and I am so excited!

Charleigh celebrated her birthday and listed her ultimate favourite books.


Well, there you have just a small selection of the posts I’ve loved this month! Be sure to check out any that pique your interest and spread the blogging love 🙂 

And please PLEASE leave me a comment below if you can offer any feedback on my graphics! Thanks lovelies! xsignature (2)

‘Your Turn To Die’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! This weekend, I’ve been participating in the 24in48 readathon and one of the books I read was Your Turn To Die by Sue Wallman. Let’s take a look at it!


your turn to die

What the book is about…

Sue Wallman’s most spine-tingling thriller yet! Every winter, three families gather in an old house to celebrate the New Year. This year, 15-year-old Leah and the other kids discover that the house has a dark past. As they dig into the history, terrible things start happening, and if Leah isn’t careful, this New Year might be her last.


What I thought of it…

Well, I haven’t read Wallman’s other books but if this is the most spine-tingling yet then I don’t think I’ll bother. If I’m totally honest, I wasn’t expecting this to be anything amazing. But it was even worse than I thought it would be. I didn’t enjoy it at all.

The characters were completely flat, with no distinguishing features or personalities. I only read this yesterday and I’ve already pretty much forgotten everyone. For teenagers, their behaviour throughout the entire book came across as completely juvenile; I could not imagine real teenagers acting the way that these characters did. I also thought that the dialogue between them read unrealistically; it did not feel natural in the slightest.

I found the plot boring and highly predictable to a point – and then the final twist was so farfetched that I wanted to throw the book across the room. It’s like everything that had been building up from the start was completely disregarded for this big twist that left me feeling a bit cheated. Though I have to admit to skimming the last 100 pages so something might have slipped past me (but I doubt it).

Also, that poor dog. The author lost me when the dog was fed chocolate and it only got worse from there. Major trigger warning for animal cruelty. I wouldn’t normally say anything like that for fear of spoilers but if you have any inclination to read this (and I don’t see why you would but it’s possible), you need to be prepared. The treatment of the dog turned my stomach.

Do yourself a favour and just skip this one. Life is too short to waste time on bad books!

your turn to die.jpg

Has anyone else read this one? Do you push on when you’re not connecting with a book or do you DNF? x

‘Hunted’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Last night, I finished Hunted by Meagan Spooner, which was my book club’s pick for this month. For some reason, I was nervous about reading this one and wasn’t sure I would like it (Beauty & the Beast retellings are getting a little overdone after all) but I needn’t have worried!


What the book is about…

hunted

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?


What I thought of it…

Spooner has done a great job with this one. What could have been just another generic YA retelling is actually far more original and compelling thanks to the inclusion of Russian folklore. I’ve always been a sucker for Russian-inspired fantasy so as soon as I realised that’s what I was in for, I comfortably settled in for the journey.

The wintery aesthetic in this book was gorgeous. Give me all the snowy books please and thank you. Even though the book’s setting was quite limited, I thought the author did a great job of conjuring it and I could really picture everything that was happening. I believe this is in part due to the inclusion of a lot of sensory detail – sounds, smells, textures all added dimension to the story. 

Spooner’s writing is very readable. It is easy to become swept along in the narrative and the fact that the reader knows information that the protagonist, Yeva, does not makes things very interesting.

I also really enjoyed getting some snippets of the Beast’s perspective, as this is not something I’ve seen often in retellings. His narrative voice felt strangely reminiscent of Frankenstein’s monster, both in his moral conflictions and in the articulate way he expressed himself. It was fascinating to read Yeva’s hatred and thirst for revenge on the one hand and see the Beast’s struggles on the other; Spooner did a great job of balancing things and making the reader question their feelings towards the characters.

I have to say that the hate-to-love trope, which can sometimes annoy me, was VERY well done in this instance. The author handled the situation in a way that felt far more believable and plausible than other Beauty and the Beast retellings I’ve read.

I also want to give points for the disability rep; while not a huge part of the book, it was nice to see it included.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It is a compelling story which builds to an immensely satisfying conclusion and I would definitely recommend this one if you are a fan of fairytales or of books set in the wilderness of Russia!

hunted

Have you read this one? What did you think of it? What are some of your favourite fairytale retellings? Let me know in the comments! x

Authors I discovered in 2018!

Hey everyone! I missed Top Ten Tuesday last week but I really liked the topic (and I already posted something similar to this week’s prompt so I decided to just swap things a bit!) Why not, eh? 😉

I discovered some amazing authors in 2018, some of whom became new favourites and that I really want to read more from this year!


Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley is quite a prolific author but my introduction to her work came through her Seven Sisters series. There are currently five books published in the series, with another two due, and I honestly have not been so excited about a series since Harry Potter was first released! The plot is so clever and intricately woven, with amazing characters and stunning settings. I have given five stars to every book in the series so far.

Books I’ve Read

 

Books I Haven’t Read


Christina Henry

Christina Henry is one of the authors I discovered last year who has become a firm favourite. Her super dark retellings give me life. I’ve read two of her books so far with another three on my TBR for this year. I don’t know if I’m interested in Henry’s backlist, the Black Wings series, but I’ll definitely be picking up anything she writes in future.

Books I’ve Read

 

Books I Haven’t Read


Susanna Kearsley

Kearsley was an author who was on my radar for a long time. Her books always sounded like something I would enjoy. However, it if wasn’t for my book club picking The Winter Sea last year, I might still not have tried her. Hooray for book club, it ended up being one of my favourites of the year! I can’t wait to read more of her books and already have three on my TBR shelf for this year.

the winter sea

Books I’ve Read

 

Books I Haven’t Read


Margaret Atwood

I know, I know. It took me a ridiculously long time to jump on the Atwood bandwagon. But I’m here now and in it for the long haul!

Books I’ve Read

 

Books I Haven’t Read (plus like a million more but I couldn’t fit them all in here!)


Daphne du Maurier

I finally sampled the queen of the Gothic in 2018 and I will definitely be continuing my journey with her. Rebecca is a masterpiece.

rebecca du maurier

Books I’ve Read

 

Books I Haven’t Read


Helen Fields

I have talked about the Perfect series before and I am currently up to date with it, yay! The fifth book comes out this year and I am READY.

Books I’ve Read

 

perfect crime

Books I Haven’t Read


Neal Shusterman

Scythe was another book club pick and I loved it. It was so original! And the sequel *might* just be better than the first book. I can’t wait for the trilogy’s conclusion this year!

Books I’ve Read

 

Books I Haven’t Read


Sarah Addison Allen

Allen’s books seem to just be really sweet, nothing too mind-blowing but cute, fun reads, which is sometimes exactly what you need. And she’s only written 6 books so it shouldn’t be too hard to catch up!

Books I’ve Read

 

Books I Haven’t Read


Katrina Leno

Magical realism is one of my favourite genres and this book handled a difficult subject really well. I’d love to read more of Leno’s books soon.

summer of salt

Books I’ve Read

 

Books I Haven’t Read


Christina Lauren

Autoboyography is another book that became a firm favourite last year. I’m not a huge romance reader but I’d still be interested in reading some more books from this dynamic writing duo.

autoboyography

Books I’ve Read

 

Books I Haven’t Read


Wow, this post took HOURS to compile! Ugh, the self-doubt is strong today; I’ve stressed myself out about this post and I’m not even overly happy with it. Oh well. We can’t love them all, I guess. It was still fun to look back at the authors I discovered in 2018!

Have you read any of these authors? If so, can you recommend which of their books I should try next?! Leave me a comment below! x