‘With The Fire On High’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! Today, I’m reviewing With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo, which I loved! I’ve started to enjoy contemporaries recently and this is one I would definitely recommend 😀

with the fire on high


synopsis

Ever since she got pregnant, seventeen-year-old Emoni’s life has been about making the tough decisions – doing what has to be done for her young daughter and her grandmother. Keeping her head down at school, trying not to get caught up with new boy Malachi. The one place she can let everything go is in the kitchen, where she has magical hands – whipping up extraordinary food beloved by everyone.

Emoni wants to be a chef more than anything, but she knows it’s pointless to pursue the impossible. There are rules she has to play by. And yet, once she starts cooking, and gets that fire on high, she sees that her drive to feed will feed her soul and dreams too. And anything is possible.


my thoughts

This was my first experience of Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing but let me tell you, I will certainly be seeking out more! This book was so lyrical and poetic; I can only imagine how beautiful the author’s books in verse are if this is how she writes a novel!

One of the things I loved most about this book was the amount of sensory detail. I’ve talked previously about how this is something I love in stories so the foodie descriptions were a complete delight. This book should come with a warning: it will make you seriously hungry! Particularly towards the end of the book when the book features a different location, I was living for the gorgeous foodie details.

Another aspect of this book that I loved was the characters. Acevedo has created a fantastic protagonist in Emoni and I was rooting for her all the way. The author addresses the still-taboo subject of teen pregnancy with sensitivity and it was a real breath of fresh air.

The dynamics between the characters were also extremely well done. There are a number of different relationships in this book, from family to friendships to romantic partnerships, and each one was portrayed perfectly.

I had the opportunity to experience this book in audio format and it was a joy. The book is narrated by the author herself which I always think makes a book even more special. The narration was perfect and I was totally captured by this wonderful story of hope.

My one tiny quibble is that this book used that dreaded phrase “I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding”. Once would have been bad enough but that sentence was used no less than THREE times in With The Fire On High. I’m sorry but it’s a pet peeve of mine. Thankfully though, I was able to overlook it and still enjoy the story!

I would definitely recommend this one to fans of contemporary YA!

with the fire on high


I know I’m slightly late to the game with this one so tell me – have you read it? Do you like books with sensory details? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

Authors I discovered in 2019!

Hello lovelies 🙂 This post is going up a bit later than I had planned but I hope it will still be interesting to some of you hehe. I did a post like this about some of my favourite new-to-me authors in 2018 and thought it would be fun to do it again for 2019! I love discovering new authors who end up becoming favourites and it’s great to look back and see when you first read an author.

Obviously, this list is not exhaustive (because I read a LOT of new-to-me authors in 2019) but I’ve picked out a few who really stood out to me and who perhaps have a backlist of work waiting for me or who I know are bringing out more books soon!


Sophie Draper

I discovered Sophie Draper at the beginning of 2019 when Avon Books kindly sent me a copy of her debut, Cuckoo. I described Cuckoo as one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read and I stand by that statement, despite being somewhat disappointed by her sophomore novel Magpie. I’m hopeful that her next book will be more in keeping with the tone of her debut.

sophie draper


Meagan Spooner

I read both of Spooner’s fairytale retellings, Hunted and Sherwood, last year and enjoyed both. Hunted in particular was a refreshing take on a story which I feel has been overdone. I look forward to seeing what she does next!


Angie Thomas

I was significantly late to the party when it came to reading Angie Thomas’ hugely popular debut, The Hate U Give. I’ll be totally honest, I was intimidated by the hype. But I’m pleased to say that I waited until the time was right for me to read it and I really enjoyed it. I’m glad I didn’t give in to the pressure to read it when it first came out as I wouldn’t have been reading it for the right reasons. Thomas then had a tough job following up on her success but I think she did really well and I enjoyed her second book, On The Come Up, too.

on the come up


Anna-Marie McLemore

2019 was the year I finally read an Anna-Marie McLemore book! I went with When The Moons Was Ours and it did not disappoint. McLemore’s writing is gorgeously flowery and though I know it doesn’t work for everyone, I loved it. I definitely want to read more of this author’s books at some point.


Alice Oseman

In 2019, I discovered a real love of both contemporaries and graphic novels, so I’m so glad I discovered Alice Oseman! Radio Silence became a new all-time favourite and the Heartstopper series is seriously adorable. I’m slowly but surely working my way through her remaining books I haven’t read and I’m really looking forward to her 2020 release, Loveless!

radio silence


Lauren James

Lauren James was a surprise for me as I’m usually intimidated by science fiction. But The Quiet at the End of the World ended up on my favourites of 2019 list! I then received The Loneliest Girl in the Universe for Christmas and can’t wait to read it, plus I’m looking forward to another offering from her coming out this year! I know she also has some backlist books for me to read so hopefully I can pick those up at some point too.


Jay Kristoff

Well done Jay Kristoff for being the only male author to make it onto my list!! I really do read a lot of women haha. In 2019, I finally got round to reading the Nevernight trilogy and I thoroughly enjoyed it (more than I expected to if I’m honest. ) I’m definitely intrigued by some of Kristoff’s other books – though the aforementioned fear of sci-fi is a small issue when it comes to some of them.

nevernight mr kindly bath bomb


Alice Hoffman

Hoffman is an author I’ve been curious about for some time. I’m so glad that I got to buddy-read one of her books in 2019 with one of my closest bookish friends. I loved The Museum of Extraordinary Things and definitely want to read more of Hoffman’s magical historical fiction!


Miranda Asebedo

Miranda Asbedo just missed out on a spot on my favourites of 2019 list! But I genuinely loved The Deepest Roots and I have my eye on A Constellation of Roses. Who knows, maybe I’ll get it for my birthday 😉

the deepest roots


Katie Henry

And finally, another author who did make it onto my favourites of 2019 list! As I previously mentioned, I read a lot of great contemporaries last year which really made me appreciate the genre more, and one of these was Let’s Call It A Doomsday by Katie Henry. This book had some of the best anxiety rep I’ve ever read. I definitely want to get my hands on Heretics Anonymous as well as anything Henry might come out with this year.


So those are some of the new-to-me authors who stood out for me last year! I’m looking forward to reading more from some of these this year 🙂

Have you read any of these authors? Who were some authors you discovered for the first time in 2019? Let me know in the comments! x

‘Real Life’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today is my day on the blog tour for Real Life, published by World Editions! Read on to find out more about this one…

real life


synopsis

At home there are four rooms: one for her, one for her brother, one for her parents…and one for the carcasses. The father is a big game hunter, a powerful predator; the mother is submissive to her violent husband’s demands. The young narrator spends the days with her brother, playing in the shells of cars dumped for scrap and listening out for the chimes of the ice-cream truck, until a brutal accident shatters their world.

The uncompromising pen of Adeline Dieudonné wields flashes of brilliance as she brings her characters to life in a world that is both dark and sensual. This breathtaking debut is a sharp and funny coming-of-age tale in which reality and illusion collide.


my thoughts

I was unsure what to expect from this book and I remain unsure as to how I would describe it. The book defies categorisation. But nonetheless, I was utterly gripped by it. Real Life was a strange reading experience but one which captivated me from start to finish.

The matter-of-fact tone of Dieudonné’s writing contrasts with some quite grisly imagery, and I was genuinely horrified at times. This book is certainly not for the faint of heart. There was one particular section of the novel where I felt I couldn’t get my breath. Any author who can evoke such a physical reaction in their reader is one of clear talent.

However, there were also moments that were poetic and starkly beautiful. I would disagree with the word “funny” in the blurb as there is nothing amusing about the author’s portrayal of domestic abuse. It is raw and unflinching. Nevertheless, there is something truly special about the events in this book.

This is a clever novel, unlike anything I have read before. It certainly won’t be for everyone but if you feel like you could stomach the graphic moments, it’s definitely worth the read. I feel like this one will stay with me for a long time.

real life


Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

Real Life BT Poster

‘Beast’ spoiler-free review!

Hi lovelies! Today, I’m on the blog tour for Beast by Matt Wesolowski, the latest instalment in the Six Stories series. I haven’t read the previous books but this one totally worked as a standalone and I’m sure the others would too. But I’m definitely interested in going back now and reading the earlier instalments after how much I enjoyed this one!

beast


synopsis

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’. However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire’…


my thoughts

First of all, it was delightful to read about the North East of England, where I grew up! It’s always a weirdly awesome feeling, reading about somewhere you know – or is that just me? Not only that but having lived through the ‘Beast from the East’, there was a great sense of reality to this book. It made me feel even more invested.

This sense of place is one of Beast‘s biggest strengths. Wesolowski really captures the bleakness of the rugged coastal village of Ergarth and it worked so perfectly for the story he was telling. I could visualise everything so clearly and could almost feel the biting cold of that snowstorm all over again.

Beast has a fantastic conversational tone, being written in the format of podcast episodes. I thought this was a really clever framing device to keep the reader hooked.  You can’t possibly put the book down in the middle of an episode! The style makes for a fast-paced read with great flow. I think it would translate so well to audiobook!

I really enjoyed all the different perspectives that were presented and the slow piecing together of what happened. As a reader, you begin to question things and doubt what you thought you knew until the ending totally blows you away.

Overall, I thought this was a unique thriller that kept me gripped from start to finish. Beast takes an important look at society’s obsession with social media and the need to be ‘liked’, and I’m sure it will make many readers uncomfortable at times. But I highly recommend it!

beast


 Have you read any of the Six Stories books? Do you like the sound of this one? Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

FINAL Beast BT Poster

‘The Alibi Girl’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! Today, I’m reviewing The Alibi Girl which released in the UK on February 6th! This book was very kindly sent to me by HQ; I was delighted to receive an ARC of this one because it is written by the author of Sweet Pea/In Bloom which were some of the most original and hilarious thrillers I read last year! While this book was slightly different in tone, I enjoyed it just as much and would definitely recommend it. Read on to find out why… 😀

alibi girl


synopsis

Joanne Haynes has a secret: that is not her real name.

And there’s more. Her flat’s not hers. Her cats aren’t hers. Even her hair isn’t really hers.

Nor is she any of the other women she pretends to be. Not the bestselling romance novelist who gets her morning snack from the doughnut van on the seafront. Nor the pregnant woman in the dental surgery. Nor the chemo patient in the supermarket for whom the cashier feels ever so sorry. They’re all just alibis.

In fact, the only thing that’s real about Joanne is that nobody can know who she really is.

But someone has got too close. It looks like her alibis have begun to run out….


my thoughts

The Alibi Girl had the same great writing style as the previous books I’ve read by C. J. Skuse. I always feel bad saying a book is ‘easy’ to read as it almost seems to diminish the effort that went into writing it, but that’s really the best word I have for it. There’s just a supremely readable quality to Skuse’s books, a sense of flow and effortlessness that make them difficult to put down.

And I genuinely was gripped from start to finish. Although this book is quite different from the Sweet Pea series, there are hints at the same sense of humour and the author behind the work. I love when you can catch glimpses of an author’s personality and recognise a book as distinctly theirs.

This book wasn’t what I had expected when I first picked it up. I was particularly surprised when the point of view changed halfway through; it threw me for a loop and I wasn’t sure where things were going to go. But I ended up loving the direction the story took. Skuse is great at writing characters who have flaws but who you can’t help liking, and I felt genuinely invested in the protagonist’s story.

I also appreciated the way snippets of truth were slowly revealed. The childhood flashback scenes were particularly effective and enjoyable to read; Skuse brilliantly captured that sense of magic you feel in the school holidays and it made me so nostalgic.

Overall, this was another success from C. J. Skuse! If you haven’t read any of her books yet, you are missing out!

alibi girl


Have you read any of this author’s books? What books make you feel nostalgic about your childhood? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘The Sisters Grimm’ spoiler-free review!

Hi lovelies! Today, I’m wishing the happiest of book birthdays to Menna van Praag and The Sisters Grimm ❤ I’ve been a fan of Menna’s books since my very early bookstagram days so I was thrilled to be sent an ARC of her newest book – and I’m thrilled to say, I loved this one as well!

sisters grimm


synopsis

As children, Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea dreamed of a strange otherworld: a nightscape of mists and fog, perpetually falling leaves and hungry ivy, lit by an unwavering moon. Here, in this shadowland of Everwhere, the four girls, half-sisters connected by blood and magic, began to nurture their elemental powers together. But at thirteen, the sisters were ripped from Everwhere and separated. Now, five years later, they search for one another and yearn to rediscover their unique and supernatural strengths. Goldie (earth) manipulates plants and gives life. Liyana (water) controls rivers and rain. Scarlet (fire) has electricity at her fingertips. Bea (air) can fly.

To realize their full potential, the blood sisters must return to the land of their childhood dreams. But Everwhere can only be accessed through certain gates at 3:33 A.M. on the night of a new moon. As Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea are beset with the challenges of their earthly lives, they must prepare for a battle that lies ahead. On their eighteenth birthday, they will be subjected to a gladiatorial fight with their father’s soldiers. If they survive, they will face their father who will let them live only if they turn dark. Which would be fair, if only the sisters knew what was coming.

So, they have thirty-three days to discover who they truly are and what they can truly do, before they must fight to save themselves and those they love.


my thoughts

I’ve been reading a lot of books about magical doors and alternative worlds recently and I’m loving each and every one. This one had the added bonus of being grounded in the very real world of Cambridge, which is a fabulous setting in itself. But add in magical gates that only open at a certain time on a certain day each month, and I was captivated.

Right from the prologue, I had a feeling this book would be something special. And I was not wrong. I loved the entire concept – of four sisters, each with a different elemental magic, who need to find their way back to each other. It felt so unique.

And van Praag’s writing was superb. It was a perfect fit for this sumptuous, magical story she was telling, with that lyrical quality I always love in books. I felt totally transported by this book and whenever I wasn’t reading it, I wanted to be.

The book is written from a number of different perspectives and I have to say, these are done SO well. Each narrative voice was so distinctive and made each character stand out so strongly in my mind. Sometimes, when I read books with multiple perspectives, it can take me a moment after switching to catch up and remember which character I’m reading about. I had no such issues here; the switches in perspective were seamless and I never once got confused. I think this is a real testament to van Praag’s skill as a writer.

Naturally, there were some characters I preferred over others but I think that’s only natural in a book with so many perspectives. The important thing is that I still felt invested in each character’s individual story as well as the overarching plot. And just like the original Grimm fairytales, this book could be DARK in places. These girls face very real issues and I loved seeing how they coped with everything.

I’m saying nothing more – just go read this one! And try not to do what I did and keep saying “Neverwhere” instead of “Everwhere” 😉

sisters grimm


Are you a fan of magical realism? I know it’s not for everyone but I love it! Let me know in the comments if you have any favourites! xsignature (2)

 

‘White Stag’ spoiler-free review!

Hello all! Today, I’m reviewing White Stag by Kara Barbieri which was one of my anticipated releases in 2019! Sadly, I felt a bit let down by it. Want to know why? Keep reading… 😉

white stag


synopsis

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.


my thoughts

First things first, I love a good goblin story. Tell me a book has goblins in it and I will immediately be interested. Add in a frozen wilderness and you can understand why I was so eager to read this one. And while I did like aspects of it, it didn’t work for me as a whole.

The setting was pretty good but didn’t feel 100% realised. I felt as if the random Norse elements were kind of thrown in and didn’t add anything to my enjoyment of the story; if anything, they felt jarring and unnecessary.

There was a quality to this book that I can’t quite put my finger on but it was one which held me back from giving a higher rating. It was a kind of immaturity? I don’t want to come across as judgemental but I could definitely tell that this book started out in life on Wattpad. I feel like it needed even more editing than what it would have received. The writing was very repetitive and juvenile.

But listen. It wasn’t all bad. I did appreciate the mental health themes (particularly as these are still pretty rare in fantasy novels). The exploration of Janneke’s PTSD and her journey of healing from that trauma were nicely done and it’s just a shame that the writing quality detracted from what could have been a very powerful book.

I feel like this review was so harsh! And I didn’t mean it to be. I always hate to criticise a book knowing someone put their heart and soul into it. But hey, maybe this one will work for you where it didn’t work for me – I know plenty of readers who loved it. We can’t enjoy them all!

white stag


What are you all reading these days? Are you enjoying it? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

January 2020 Wrap-Up!

Hello my lovelies! I can’t believe we’re already looking at the first wrap-up of 2020! January has simultaneously felt a million years long but also over in the blink of an eye?!

From the quality of books I’ve read this month, I’m feeling good about what’s to come this year. Last year felt very ‘meh’ in reading terms and I didn’t discover many new all-time favourites but I have a feeling 2020 is going to be amazing!

january 2020 wrapup


Review Books

Magpie by Sophie Draper

This is the second book I’ve read by Sophie Draper and while I loved the first, I was disappointed by this one. I found it dull and meandering but I’m hoping the author’s next book will be more like her debut.

 

Pine by Francine Toon

I loved this Gothic debut with its atmospheric setting and eerie mythological ties. I questioned the ending slightly but on the whole, this was a very enjoyable read!

 

Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

I loved everything about this one. It had me giggling before the end of the first page and it has stayed with me long after finishing it. I definitely recommend this one for fans of great characters.

All The Rage by Cara Hunter

My first Cara Hunter did not disappoint. I found this to be a compelling and original thriller, which addressed important and timely issues.

 

Bad Island by Stanley Donwood

This graphic novel was a fast read but one which was stark and haunting. I’ll be reviewing it soon so keep your eyes open!


Books from my TBR

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

My first read of the year was one which I was highly anticipating and which didn’t let me down. This gorgeous book was an incredible reading experience and one that I recommend to all fantasy fans.

 

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

This middle grade was a Christmas gift from one of my besties and I really enjoyed it. You know me by now, wintery aesthetics are my jam 😉

White Stag by Kara Barbieri

I had been anticipating this one for a good while but sadly, it was a bit of a let-down. I found it very repetitive and there was an immaturity to the tone that I didn’t enjoy. Full review coming soon!

 

A Storm of Ice and Stars by Lisa Lueddecke

Oh look, we’re back with that winter aesthetic. This was a prequel to A Shiver of Snow and Sky which I read a few years ago and loved. While this one didn’t grab me as much as that one did, I still really enjoyed it. Lueddecke’s writing is lovely.


Rereads

No rereads yet this year but I have a few planned for the coming months!


Stats

Total pages: 3147

Average pages per day: 101.5

Longest book: The Starless Sea (498 pages)

Shortest book: Bad Island (144 pages)

Favourite read of the month: Not So Pure and Simple/The Starless Sea (for very different reasons!)

Biggest disappointment of the month: Magpie

Male authors: 2

Female authors: 7

Multiple authors: 0

january 2020 wrapup


How many books did you read in January? Which was your favourite? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

February 2020 Anticipated Releases!

Hey everyone! January is finally over after what feels like a million years so it’s time for the year to go into overdrive as it always does! There are more amazing books coming out this month so let’s take a look, shall we?

[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.]

February


Blood Countess by Lana Popovic

Release date: February 3rd

blood countess

A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula

In 16th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Báthory. When Elizabeth takes a liking to Anna, she’s vaulted to the dream role of chambermaid, a far cry from the filthy servants’ quarters below. She receives wages generous enough to provide for her family, and the Countess begins to groom Anna as her friend and confidante. It’s not long before Anna falls completely under the Countess’s spell—and the Countess takes full advantage. Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancé, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.

Why I’m interested: I loved Popovic’s debut, Wicked Like A Wildfire, with its gorgeous writing and sensory detail. I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t read the sequel because I suck. But I’m still excited to see that Popovic is releasing a new book, this one a reimagining of the life of Elizabeth Bathory!


The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne

Release date: February 4th

the stars we steal

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself failing for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.

Why I’m interested: This was the first ARC I received from Titan Books this year and they have been spoiling me ever since! This sounds like it could be a little bit cheesy but a lot of fun.


Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

Release date: February 4th

deathless divide

After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.

But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodermus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880’s America.

What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears – as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.

But she won’t be in it alone.

Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by – and that Jane needs her, too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.

Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive – even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.

Why I’m interested: I’ve tried not to read that blurb because the first book, Dread Nation, is still unread on my shelf and I don’t want spoilers. Now that Titan Books have provided me with a free copy of this sequel, I’m absolutely determined to get to this series. It sounds awesome!


Below by Alexandria Warwick

Release date: February 4th

below alexandria warwick

In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.

When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister’s face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister’s face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.

With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister’s face in hand. But in Yuki’s harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.

Yuki only plays the games she wins.

Why I’m interested: What initially drew me to this one was the fact that I share a first name with the author. That’s always weirdly exciting for me 😀 But the more I learn about this one, the more interested I become; it’s based on Innuit mythology! And it fits my aesthetic perfectly.


Heartstopper: Volume 3 by Alice Oseman

Release date: February 6th

heartstopper volume 3

In this volume we’ll see the Heartstopper gang go on a school trip to Paris! Not only are Nick and Charlie navigating a new city, but also telling more people about their relationship AND learning more about the challenges each other are facing in private…

Meanwhile Tao and Elle will face their feelings for each other, Tara and Darcy share more about their relationship origin story, and the teachers supervising the trip seem… rather close…?

Why I’m interested: Nick and Charlie, my precious boys. I’m not sure a cuter graphic novel series exists.


What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel

Release date: February 6th

what kind of girl

The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions: Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true? Some girls want to rally for his expulsion – and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.

Why I’m interested: I’ve been keeping an eye on Alyssa Sheinmel ever since reading Faceless (way back before my bookstagram days!) Her books always seem to tackle important subjects and this one sounds no different.


Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg

Release date: February 6th

glass town

The entrancing story of the Brontë sisters’ childhood imaginary world, from the New York Times bestselling graphic novelist

Four children: Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne have invented a world so real and vivid that they can step right into it. But can reality be enough, when fiction is so enticing? And what happens to an imaginary world when its creators grow up?

Plots are spiralling, characters are getting wildly out of hand, and a great deal of ink is being spilt…

Welcome to Glass Town.

Why I’m interested: I loved The Encyclopaedia of Early Earth by this author and now she’s created a graphic novel about the Brontes?! I’m in.


The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Release date: February 6th

the mercies kiran millwood hargrave

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God, and flooded with a mighty evil.

As Maren and Ursa are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them, with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials, The Mercies is a story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization.

Why I’m interested: Here’s another book that is perfectly my aesthetic. Witches and frozen settings? Yes please. Plus I’ve enjoyed Hargrave’s writing previously.


Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario

Release date: February 11th

turtle under ice

Rowena feels like her family is a frayed string of lights that someone needs to fix with electrical tape. After her mother died a few years ago, she and her sister, Ariana, drifted into their own corners of the world, each figuring out in their own separate ways how to exist in a world in which their mother is no longer alive.

But then Ariana disappears under the cover of night in the middle of a snowstorm, leaving no trace or tracks. When Row wakes up to a world of snow and her sister’s empty bedroom, she is left to piece together the mystery behind where Ariana went and why, realizing along the way that she might be part of the reason Ariana is gone.

Haunting and evocative—and told in dual perspectives—Turtle Under Ice examines two sisters frozen by grief as they search for a way to unthaw.

Why I’m interested: As you know, I’m always on the look-out for books that address mental health issues. This sounds like it could be a difficult but amazing read.


The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith

Release date: February 11th

library of the unwritten

Join the library and raise hell in the first book of a stunning new fantasy series, where books unfinished by their authors reside within the Unwritten Wing of the devil’s own library, and restless characters will emerge from out of their pages…

Every book left unfinished by its author is filed away in the Unwritten Wing, a neutral space in Hell presided over by Claire, its head librarian. Along with repairing and organizing books, her job consists of keeping an eye on restless stories whose characters risk materialising and escaping the library.

When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto. But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong, in a chase that threatens to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell… and Earth.

Why I’m interested: As far as I’m aware, this book already came out in America last year. I’m so glad it has come to the UK because it sounds incrdible. Any book about books is already well on its way to a win with me.


The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Release date: February 20th

sun down motel

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

Why I’m interested: I remember being interested in The Broken Girls when it came out but I’m yet to obtain a copy. This sounds like another great read from Simone St. James with a potentially great setting.


The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

Release date: February 25th

the sound of stars

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favourite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

Why I’m interested: First of all, have you seen that cover? Secondly, talk of a secret library, an AI/alien who loves human music, and a road trip sound like ingredients for a fun read.



What books are you looking forward to this month? Are any of these on your radar? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘Magpie’ spoiler-free review!

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

magpie


synopsis

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

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

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


my thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

magpie


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