Harry Potter 10 Years On: The Goblet of Fire

Hey everyone! I’ve been continuing my first reread of the Harry Potter series in a decade and I’m enjoying documenting my thoughts and reactions. Please proceed with caution as there will be some spoilers in this post!

If you missed my previous posts, you can find them here:-

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


Initial Thoughts…

This is already so much darker than the previous books, I love it.

Voldemort’s servants should “give their right hand”, should they? Hehehehe

I love that Harry gets letters delivered by tropical birds instead of owls.

Honestly, the build-up to the Quidditch World Cup is so much more interesting than the game itself, am I right?!

Winky breaks my heart!

I think I have a bit of a bookish crush on Bill Weasley, please tell me I’m not the only one?

The ‘mundane’ details about lessons at Hogwarts are some of my favourite bits of this series.

“Harry, did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire?” CALMLY. Dumbledore asked CALMLY.

Snape is so awful to Hermione, omg.

I would actually slap Rita Skeeter.

Hedwig is one of the best animal sidekicks in any book, ever.

Krum has a Gregorovitch wand? Ooooh.

Dumbledore finding the room full of chamber pots when he needs the toilet during the night – is this the Room of Requirement?! Honestly, Rowling’s foreshadowing blows me away.

As if we’re only just discovering that Hagrid is half giant? I kind of took it for granted that we just always knew that.

And Dobby gives Harry the gillyweed? I forgot they changed that in the movie.

There’s so much backstory we don’t get in the movies!

Omg Nifflers. Heart eyes.

So sad about Neville’s parents 😦

It warms my heart when Mrs Weasley and Bill turn up in place of Harry’s family.

Guys, this book is DAAAARK.

Man, Voldemort likes the sound of his own voice.

I forgot that it was Fawkes who provided the tail feathers for the two wands!

Dumbledore’s speech at the end is so sad 😦

“What’s coming is coming and we’ll meet it when it does” – I love this quote.

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Thoughts Upon Finishing…

So as you can see, I had quite a lot of thoughts on this one! Though I suppose it helps that the book is so much longer than any of the first three.

This book is where the plot arc of the series is really starting to ramp up. Right from the start of this one, you can feel that things are much darker and it is so awful to know that not everyone is going to survive. I remember being so shocked reading this as a child that Rowling would kill off her characters; it wasn’t something I’d ever seen before.

The characters develop wonderfully in this instalment and Rowling does a great job of capturing the teenage angst that would have accompanied all of those hormones! Her portrayal of the struggles of puberty is very nuanced. Even though I’m no longer experiencing these things along with the trio, I was still feeling all the empathy for them.

Once again, I absolutely loved this book (perhaps even more than I remembered) and I give it all the stars. And now I’m bracing myself for the heartache to come in book five…

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What are your thoughts on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? Is it one of your favourites in the series? Anyone else a fan of Bill Weasley?! x

 

 

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‘When The Moon Was Ours’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I recently read When The Moon Was Ours, which was the Dragons and Tea Book Club pick for April. Anna-Marie McLemore is an author who I’ve wanted to try for a while, as I had a feeling I would love her magical realism stories. Let’s see what I thought of this, her debut novel!

when the moon was ours


synopsis

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.


my thoughtsThis book is purple prose at its most flowery. Don’t get me wrong, I love that style of writing; all that lyrical, metaphorical stuff gives me the biggest heart eyes. But this was really laid on thick and I was worried it would be too much even for me. I did love it though and found that it made for an amazing sensory reading experience. The imagery, the sights and smells – McLemore’s details were exquisite.

This is definitely a character-focused book. The plot is totally secondary to the exploration of these individuals. I loved Aracely’s character and I thought Sam was an absolute darling. His is some of the best trans rep I’ve ever read. It was clear, even before I read the author’s note, that this is a subject McLemore is passionate about. And wow, was that author’s note a thing of beauty. So much heart right there.

I did find that I had to concentrate quite hard while reading this book; it wasn’t an effortless read. The imagery was beautiful but I did find it hard to wrap my head around some of it. I also thought that some sentences were a little bit clunky and awkward to read; the phrasings would take me a couple of tries to get right in my head. It meant things didn’t flow as I would have liked.

But overall, this was a stunning book and I’m glad to have finally begun my Anna-Marie McLemore journey. Thanks to Melanie and Amy for hosting the readalong!

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Have you read this one? Or any of McLemore’s other books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘The Binding’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all having a wonderful April so far 🙂 I’ve got another review for you today, for a book I recently loved! I’m excited to share it with you.

the binding


synopsis

Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.

But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.


my thoughtsThis is a book of my heart. I bought this because it hit a lot of my buzzwords but I honestly didn’t expect to love it quite so much. I instantly connected with the beautiful prose; seriously, the descriptive writing was so gorgeous!

I was completely enthralled from start to finish, feeling immersed in the story every time I picked it up. It was all a little bit dark and a lot mysterious, and I was living for it.

The characters are so fully realised that I could picture them all so vividly. It honestly felt like I was reading about real people. I will admit that the change in perspective in part three did throw me a little but I soon got myself used to it.

Collins did a great job of revealing just enough information to tantalise the reader and keep them hooked in. I was desperate to find out more, just as Emmett was, and it felt wonderful to follow along on his journey.

If you’re a fan of books like Rebecca, The Shadow of the Wind or The Thirteenth Tale, I would definitely recommend you pick this one up!

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And now I’m going to leave you with this quote which really spoke to me:

May your darkness be quiet and the light come sooner than you need” – how lovely is that?!

Happy reading lovely people! x

’55’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for 55, a debut thriller published by Simon and Schuster.

55 review


synopsis

Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.

All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers.

He was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim.

Heath is a serial killer.

As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55.

Gabriel is the serial killer.

Two suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?


my thoughtsThis is a really good debut thriller! The book starts off at a break-neck pace and continues to hurtle through the next 400 pages. The concept of two men walking into a police station and claiming that the other is a serial killer immediately caught my attention and held it until the very end. There were a couple of moments that felt a little repetitive but I suppose that’s unavoidable in a story with this concept.

I liked the Australian setting, having not read many books set there. The author really captured the stifling heat of the Australian wilderness; I felt transported.

I appreciated that the protagonist, Sgt Chandler Jenkins, seemed different to the police officers we so often read about. It would have been very easy for the author to fall into the trap of writing the usual stereotype. It was nice to instead read about a single father trying to do right by his kids and hold down a career.

I will say that there’s no big reveal like you might expect from a thriller. Instead, we learn things slowly and are led to question everything we are reading. I personally didn’t find it too hard to make connections between certain clues but maybe that’s because I always try too hard to work things out!

Overall, 55 was gripping, fast-paced and easy to read, with a shocking ending. Thanks to Anne Cater and Simon Schuster for the opportunity to read it!

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Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour! x

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‘Dry’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! I’m having a weird burst of energy so let’s run with it, shall we?!

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synopsisEveryone’s going to remember where they were when the taps ran dry.

The drought—or the tap-out, as everyone calls it – has been going on for a while. Life has become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t take long showers, don’t panic. But now there is no water left at all.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation and violence. When her parents go missing, she and her younger brother must team up with an unlikely group in search of water. Each of them will need to make impossible choices to survive.


my thoughtsYou guys, this was so stressful. I found it impossible to put this book down because I just absolutely had to know what would happen next. The tension was REAL.

I mean, I can’t say the characters were the most likeable. And their decisions were highly questionable at times. I was shouting at the pages in frustration at one point! I suppose I should say well done to the Shustermans for giving me anxiety. But even though I didn’t always like them, I still wanted to see them succeed. That’s some pretty good writing, right there.

I was gripped right from the outset of the book and found the plot to be hugely compelling. It was scarily plausible! I enjoyed the multiple perspectives and I appreciated the inclusion of little snippets from the likes of news stories, etc. There were also some lovely meaningful quotes to take away.

Dry was a book club pick and it was excellent to discuss with a group. I would definitely recommend it!

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Have you read anything by Neal Shusterman? I loved this one and Scythe/Thunderhead! x

‘Sunwise’ spoiler-free review, and an interview with author Helen Steadman!

Hey everyone! I’m delighted that today is my stop on the blog tour for Sunwise, the sequel to Helen Steadman’s Widdershins which I read in 2017 and loved! I have been eagerly awaiting the sequel since I found out that Widdershins wouldn’t be a standalone – especially since I’ve had a fair bit of communication with the author on social media and she is so lovely! So not only am I reviewing Sunwise today but I’m also sharing an interview with Helen herself! I hope you’ll enjoy it 🙂

Sunwise


synopsisWhen Jane’s lover, Tom, returns from the navy to find her unhappily married to his betrayer, Jane is caught in an impossible situation. Still reeling from the loss of her mother at the hands of the witch-finder John Sharpe, Jane has no choice but to continue her dangerous work as a healer while keeping her young daughter safe.

But, as Tom searches for a way for him and Jane to be together, the witch-finder is still at large. Filled with vengeance, John will stop at nothing in his quest to rid England of the scourge of witchcraft.

Inspired by true events, Sunwise tells the story of one woman’s struggle for survival in a hostile and superstitious world.


my thoughts

Straightaway, I was reminded of how fantastic the author’s writing is. There is a real sense of quality to it, in her word choices and sentence composition. I particularly enjoyed the kern supper scene; Helen’s talent for descriptive writing is really displayed well here. It made me so hungry! Honestly, you could probably get away with reading this book as a standalone but I recommend reading the whole duology simply because the prose is such a treat.

Just like Widdershins, the narrative voices in this sequel are distinct and believable. I had no trouble whatsoever switching between the two perspectives; it was an instant shift. The reader goes from sympathising with Jane one minute to incredulous loathing towards John the next, and there is never any confusion or delay.

Once again, I adored the familiar settings of Scotland and North East England. I think part of why I love these books so much is that I recognise the local area and feel a connection with it.

I love witchy stories anyway but what Helen Steadman has created here is one of my favourites. The multitude of herb lore included shows that the author clearly knows her stuff, lending a wonderful level of believability to the story. Widdershins and Sunwise are both fabulous, and I passionately recommend them!

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And now onto the interview!

 

Hi Helen! I’m delighted to be helping promote Sunwise today and I’m so grateful to you for agreeing to answer my questions. Can you tell us what inspired you to write your first book, Widdershins?

I signed up for an MA in Creative Writing to help improve my novel-writing. I had ages to think about what to write before starting. After reading Hilary Mantel’s amazing Wolf Hall, I immediately knew I wanted to write a historical novel (even though I’d not read many and had no real clue about research). I had no idea what to write about, but I wasn’t too worried as I had a considerable stretch of time ahead of me. One day in the woods, I came across loads of felled trees, which revealed a natural amphitheatre. This set me thinking about what might have gone on there. Florence Welch’s song ‘Rabbit Heart (We Raise It Up)’ sprang into my head and I knew I was going to write about witches. So, I started reading widely about witches and was stunned to learn there’d been witchcraft trials on my own doorstep.

I read that despite the witchfinder being accused of fraud, sixteen people were still hanged on one day, making it one of the biggest (and least well known about) witch trials in England. I was intrigued by the girl who escaped the hangman’s noose, and so Widdershins came into being. That makes it sound a bit easy, but in reality, there were six years from having the idea to getting the book in my hand. At the outset, I was terrified of doing the research, and it seemed very daunting, but once I started, I absolutely loved it.

 

It’s fascinating that Widdershins is based on true events. Did you always plan to write a sequel or was Widdershins originally going to be a standalone?

Widdershins was going to be a standalone, and by the time it was published, I’d begun a PhD at the University of Aberdeen to write my next book. But once Widdershins was out in the world, the characters sprang back to life in my head and I realised they had a lot of unfinished business. The only way to get them out of my head would be to write them out, so Sunwise came along.

 

Who would you say are your writing influences?

I’ve always loved reading and it’s always hard to answer this question! Hilary Mantel inspired me to write historical fiction – I’ve read all of her books, but I love her historical ones best and cannot wait for her next book. My favourite book is Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News and I read this at least once a year. She has such amazing economy of language, and yet she elevates it into something quite beautiful. My favourite author is Peter Carey, and for me, no one does character better. I particularly love Illywhacker, Oscar and Lucinda, and Theft: A Love Story by him. The book that had the biggest effect on me in my whole life was George Orwell’s 1984. I read this at school, and it exposed me to new worlds of ideas and writing. I’m currently reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck and I’m hugely impressed with how he deals with landscape. And poetry-wise, I love Sylvia Plath.

 

One of the things I loved most about your first book was the setting; I grew up in the North East of England, so I recognised a lot of the places mentioned. Did you always plan to write a book set in your local area?

I hadn’t really thought about writing about my local area at all, but when I found out about the Newcastle witch trials, it was impossible to write about anywhere else. My third book is set pretty much on my doorstep and the fourth will be a little further up the east coast. What’s good about writing about the local area is that I know it so well – so I have years and years of pictures of plants, landscapes and so on through all the seasons and can say with a reasonable degree of confidence that a particular plant blossoms at a particular time, which is vital in Widdershins and Sunwise, given the number of plant-based references.

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It was a brave decision to include some Geordie colloquialisms in your books (though one that I thoroughly appreciated!) Were you ever worried that non-local readers would have difficulty understanding certain phrases?

While I wanted to use some vernacular language to make the characters’ speech authentic, I tried to have a light hand. During my MA, we studied Lewis Grassic Gibbons Sunset Song, which made me think about dialect and how much is too much. In the end, I pared it right back, because what works in real life can quickly become overwhelming on the page. What I tried to do was to keep the Geordie dialect primarily with Tom and Meg. Likewise, I tried to be light-handed in the Scottish chapters. I hope what I’ve done is given a flavour, without bogging the reader down too much, or sending them off to dictionary corner too often.

 

Your two main characters, Jane and John, both had very distinctive narrative voices in Widdershins and Sunwise. How easy do you find it to write from different perspectives?

I found this quite easy, really, and I like trying on new people for size. In the original draft of the book, which ran to well over 120,000 words, there were seven different points of view. If memory serves: Jane, John, Tom, Rev Foster, Meg, Lambert Hobson (the ship’s surgeon) and Annie. A few people in my critique group complained (vociferously, in some cases) that this was too many and so I cut it down to three: Jane, John and Tom. This was still a very long version. Slightly before I submitted the novel for my MA, I worried that it was still over long, and I rewrote it without Tom’s perspective. This was a bit of a shame as he has quite an adventure at sea, and I really enjoyed all the medical and nautical research.

 

I love all the natural remedies featured throughout your books. Are you a believer in these practices yourself?

I suffered from terrible allergies for many years (face and head would swell up alarmingly, huge lumps all over me) and nothing helped – it just kept getting worse and worse. My GP insisted on sending me to the NHS Homeopathic Hospital in Great Ormond Street. I protested, saying I’d tried homeopathy, and it hadn’t worked, but she asked me to trust her. I chatted to a lovely homeopathic doctor for about an hour and she prescribed three vials of Calc. Carb. along with a list of what not to do while taking them (no strong-smelling food or drink like coffee, mint toothpaste, etc). After I took them, I had one of the worse reactions in my life and thought I was about to die, but as promised by the doctor, each subsequent attack was less violent until eventually I had no further problems. So that converted me!

Once I realised that many people accused of witchcraft were just healers quietly going about their business, I decided to learn more about herbal medicine. So I signed up for a course in Tree Medicine at Dilston Physic Garden and I can highly recommend it for courses, herbal remedies and just for a lovely day out. I learned to identify different trees and plants (probably the single most important skill to learn in herbal medicine) and then gathered various barks, leaves, berries and flowers and turned them into a variety of linctuses, tinctures and powders. I then bought lots of herbs and set up a herb patch at home. This really helped me to understand the plant lifecycles, smells, tastes, properties and so on. My cupboard is still full of various herbs, spices and essential oils! That said, sometimes all else fails and I get a bad chest infection and then I’m usually to be found begging the GP for antibiotics.

 

How do you switch off and unwind when you’re not writing?

In the past, I would unwind by reading and writing, and by taking occasional walks, but my sedentary lifestyle is catching up with me, so, I’ve recently bought a bike. I must confess that this is an e-bike as I live in a very hilly area, and between my dodgy knee and my asthma, I wouldn’t make it up some of the steep hills without a bit of battery assistance. I haven’t been out over the winter, but I’m looking forward to getting back out in the spring. I was really pleased when I managed to get all the way to Newcastle Quayside and home by myself. I’ve also changed my office into a home gym to try and get a bit fitter and I’ve been surprised at how much I enjoy this – especially the cross-trainer and weight lifting. Otherwise, I take my dogs for walks in the woods and on the moors, and I still spend a lot of time reading and writing, because that’s what I love. I would have added drinking red wine at the weekend, but I’m on the wagon for a bit (we’ll see how that goes)!

Helen and Eric

 

Are there any aspects of your work that you find particularly challenging?

The thing I struggle most with is just not having enough time. I work full-time, I’m doing my PhD, writing and researching novel 3 and currently promoting novel 2. But I love writing and researching, so these are lovely problems to have really. I sometimes find social media a bit overwhelming. I had to get to grips with Twitter and Instagram quite quickly when Widdershins came out, but it feels like sometimes it can take over your life if you let it. I’m trying to limit the number of times per day I look at email, social media and so on to try and get back some control (and much-needed time)!

 

I think you do very well with the social media side of things! Can you tell us anything about the projects you currently have on the go? Anything exciting that we might get to see in the future?

I’m currently writing book 3, whose working title is Running Wolves. This is about a group of Lutheran swordmakers who left Prussia in the late seventeenth century and came to live in the north east of England. The research for this has been very exciting as I’ve carried out some blacksmith training. So far, I’ve made a (badly burned) pendant, a rat-tailed poker, a firesteel and – best of all – my very own sword! I also have a substantial chunk of book 4 written, but to keep myself relatively sane, I’ve banned myself from doing any work or research on it until next year. I must confess, though, there is a sparkly notebook next to my bed (bought by a kind friend with excellent taste) and bits of book 5 keep finding their way into it…

 

How exciting! I look forward to the day we get to read more of your work. Thank you so much, Helen, for your wonderfully eloquent answers; it was fascinating to learn more about you and your writing process.

Thanks very much for having me along to talk about Widdershins and Sunwise today, Alex, I’ve really appreciated it, and thank you for being such a champion of my writing.


Well I hope you all enjoyed that! Helen is genuinely such an interesting and lovely person to chat with; I could have gone on all day! If you’re a fan of historical fiction, particularly stories about witches, I highly recommend Widdershins and its sequel Sunwise.

You can find Helen at the following social media links:-

Website/Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

And don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour! x

Final blog tour

‘The Kingdom of Copper’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! I’m really excited to be reviewing what was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019 – The Kingdom of Copper! My review will contain no spoilers for either this book or book one, The City of Brass, though do be careful as the synopsis for this one reveals the ending of the first book! ❤

kingdom of copper


synopsis

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 Daevabadand 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 familyand 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 maridthe unpredictable water spiritshave 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.


my thoughtsThis was exactly the sequel I was hoping for! Chakraborty’s gorgeous world-building continues after her stunning setup in The City of Brass, with elaborate levels of detail lending a realness to the world she has created. Her writing is as flowing and wonderful as ever, totally sweeping me up in the story. Honestly, everything felt so cinematic; I could visualise everything playing out in my head so clearly and I could properly picture the characters (this is something I can’t always do so I see it as a sign of a great book!)

While the book was a tiny bit confusing at first, opening with a five-year jump ahead in time, I quickly settled back into the rhythm of things. As in the first book, I enjoyed the different perspectives, though I would have liked a little more of one of them!

Chakraborty again displays her talent for writing realistic dialogue. I don’t know how she does it but the conversations just flow so naturally and before you know it, you’re in deep! It really helps with the emotion of it all.

I will say that the book felt quite slow in pace until around the last 150 pages, at which point the drama really ramped up. However, I actually enjoyed getting immersed in the building political schemes so I didn’t mind the pace dragging a little.

I wholeheartedly recommend this adult fantasy series! I’ll just be over here slowly dying while I wait for book three…!

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Have you tried this series yet? What are some of your favourite fantasy stories? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘Sherwood’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! After reading and loving Hunted in January, I was delighted to receive an ARC of Sherwood by Meagan Spooner from Harper 360! The opinions expressed here are my own and are in no way influenced by the publisher.

Sherwood review


synopsisRobin of Locksley is dead.

Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on, but the people of Locksley town, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, need a protector. And the dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley and Marian’s fiancé.

Who is there to stop them?

Marian never meant to tread in Robin’s footsteps—never intended to stand as a beacon of hope to those awaiting his triumphant return. But with a sweep of his green cloak and the flash of her sword, Marian makes the choice to become her own hero: Robin Hood.


my thoughtsI’m really liking the way Meagan Spooner writes! This is the second book of hers that I’ve read and I’ve been impressed both times. There is some lovely lyrical writing, realistic dialogue and a good amount of world-building. I could really picture Sherwood forest and I particularly liked the sensory detail that was included, such as the autumn smells of rain and bonfires (heart eyes everywhere!)

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the portrayal of Marian’s grief and anxiety. Maybe enjoyed is the wrong word? What I mean is that I found it highly believable and appreciated its inclusion. It is wonderful to see more fantasy books exploring mental health topics as this is something that has previously been neglected.

There were some really great feminist vibes throughout the book, with both Marian and her maid Elena fighting for girl power! It was impossible not to root for them.

I also loved the found family aspect of the book. ‘Robin Hood’ and the band of merry men form a fantastic group contributing both humour and poignancy to the story. And there were some very interesting moral questions raised.

There was a slightly strange enemies-to-lovers trope that I wasn’t too sure about, though it certainly added an interesting dynamic to the story. It just wasn’t really where I wanted things to go. I did, however, find the ending to be quite satisfying; I wasn’t sure how Spooner would be able to wrap things up but I think she did a good job.

Overall, this was a fun read and I would recommend both this and Hunted to any fans of retellings!

4 notesA final rating of 4 musical notes! 

sherwood

Sherwood releases in the UK on April 18th.

‘Keep Her Close’ spoiler-free mini review!

Hey everyone! I’m reviewing a thriller tonight that was kindly sent to me by Avon Books!

keep her close


synopsis

It’s six months since DS Josie Masters saved her nephew from the clutches of the killer clown, but she’s still haunted by that terrible night. The Thames Valley police force, however, regard Jo as a hero – much to the jealousy of some of her colleagues.

When a young girl goes missing from Jesus College, Jo is assigned to the case, along with new recruit, the handsome DS Pryce. The city of Oxford goes into turmoil when two more girls disappear from Oriel and Somerville, and Josie soon realises that the killer is spelling out her own initials in a deadly game of cat and mouse. This time, the case is personal – but who is the perpetrator?

In a race against time, Jo hunts for the killer – but soon realises he could be a lot closer to home than she’d realised…


my thoughtsThis second thriller by M. J. Ford was just as gripping and easy to fly through as the first. There were plenty of twists and turns which is just what I want from this kind of book.

In terms of character development, it was ok but a bit sparse compared with other similar series I’ve read. Also, while I liked the main characters, the supporting characters were quite indistinguishable from one another. They almost blended together in my mind. I guess it worked to keep the focus on the right people but I personally like everyone to feel a bit more real.

There’s so much I wanted to talk about in my initial reading notes but when I reached the end, there was a huge twist that then affected everything I’d said! I can’t talk about any of it now without it being a spoiler. I guess the author succeeded in throwing me off the scent and surprising me!

All I can say is that this is a decently-written thriller that will keep you gripped and entertained for a weekend if it’s the kind of thing you’re into 🙂

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‘Welcome to the Heady Heights’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! I’m delighted that today is my stop on the blog tour for Welcome to the Heady Heights – I can’t wait to chat about this book with you! A big thank you to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for the free copy 🙂

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synopsisWelcome to the Heady Heights…

It’s the year punk rock was born, Concorde entered commercial service and a tiny Romanian gymnast changed the sport forever.

Archie Blunt is a man with big ideas. He just needs a break for them to be realised. In a bizarre brush with the light-entertainment business, Archie unwittingly saves the life of the UK’s top showbiz star, Hank ‘Heady’ Hendricks’, and now dreams of hitting the big-time as a Popular Music Impresario. Seizing the initiative, he creates a new singing group with five unruly working-class kids from Glasgow’s East End. Together, they make the finals of a televised Saturday-night talent show, and before they know it, fame and fortune beckon for Archie and The High Five. But there’s a complication; a trail of irate Glaswegian bookies, corrupt politicians and a determined Scottish WPC known as The Tank are all on his tail…

A hilarious and poignant nod to the elusivity of stardom, in an age when making it was ‘having it all’, Welcome to the Heady Heights is also a dark, laugh-out-loud comedy, a heart-warming tribute to a bygone age and a delicious drama about desperate men, connected by secrets and lies, by accidents of time and, most of all, the city they live in.


my thoughts

I felt an instant liking towards this book. I lived in Glasgow for five years and this book references SO many places that I’ve visited or know about. I love when a book really captures the essence of a place and this one certainly did that. Billy Connolly of course gets a mention and even Queen were in there with Bohemian Rhapsody, which made my fangirl heart very happy! So even though I couldn’t relate personally to the protagonist Archie, I felt a degree of connection with him thanks to the author’s vivid realisation of the setting. 

The dialogue in particular was one of my favourite aspects of the book. Ross writes in a realistically Scottish manner (swear words and all!) I personally found it extremely easy to read and understand, having been surrounded by Scots all my life, but I’m not sure how other readers will cope with it. Just something to bear in mind if you consider picking this one up.

This book is black comedy at its finest, with some seriously twisted moments. I don’t often laugh out loud at books but this one did it. Archie’s escapades were a delight to read about.

One small thing that bothered me was the sexism experienced by the female characters in the book. I realise that it would have been characteristic of the time period (1970s) but wow, did it make me rage! I guess it shows that we have made progress, thank goodness, even if there’s still a way to go.

Overall, this was an extremely fun read that I would recommend to fans of The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, or anyone with a love of Glasgow.

welcome to the heady heights


Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour! x
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