‘Burn’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies 🙂 Today, I’m wishing the happiest of book birthdays to Patrick Ness and Burn! Patrick Ness is one of my favourite authors and this book was one of my most anticipated of the year. Huge thanks to Walker Books for providing me with a free ARC to review!

burn book review


synopsis

In 1956 Sarah Dewhurst’s father shocks her by hiring a dragon to work the farm. The dragon is a smaller blue rather than the traditional larger reds, though even the reds are now scarce. When the blue dragon, Kazimir, unexpectedly saves Sarah and her friend Jason Inagawa from the attentions of the racist police deputy, Kelby, everything changes. Sarah is part of a prophecy and she must escape the clutches of Malcolm, an assassin from a Believer Cell, the dragon-worshiping cult. When Sarah, Malcolm, and Kazimir eventually converge, they are thrown into another universe, where dragons seem never to have existed. Can they save this world and the one they left?


my thoughts

I have never read a Patrick Ness book that I didn’t love. And I’m delighted to say that this one was no different. It reminded me of that magical feeling I got when I read the Chaos Walking trilogy. There is just something about this author’s writing that I connect with so much. Ness has that rare ability to make you feel like you are being told a story by a friend but at the same time capturing that old mythology feeling. I honestly don’t know how to put it into words – but I love it. 

Ness is fantastic at creating characters. As a reader, I love to hate his villains and find it fascinating to see how they justify their actions as ‘righteous’. Equally, the heroes in a Patrick Ness book are always a joy to root for. When reading Burn, I felt so invested in the lives of Sarah and crew, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. In saying that though, nothing is merely black and white, and I loved how Ness used parallel worlds to show how there is always more to a person than meets the eye.

One of the things I love about this author’s books is that there is always something a little bit out of the ordinary. And in this case, it’s DRAGONS. But not just any old dragons. I can’t say any more because this is really a book you need to experience for yourself! Seriously though, I genuinely cannot stress enough how much I loved this storyline. There were plot twists in abundance that I honestly didn’t see coming. It just had everything I could have wanted and I didn’t want it to end. Please go read it, and experience this brilliant story for yourself!

burn patrick ness


Are you a fan of Patrick Ness? If so, which of his books is your favourite? Is this one on your TBR? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘Cursed’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my lovelies. I’ve been considering taking a short blogging hiatus as I just don’t feel I have the mental energy for it right now, what with working, studying for two diplomas, and just generally trying to survive a global pandemic, you know? I’m still debating it. I’d like to get my April wrap-up posted for the sake of the completionist in me but we’ll see. Just wanted to start this post being totally honest with you all! I can barely keep up with my own blog right now and I’ve been horridly neglectful of YOUR blogs and I hate that. I can only apologise and hope that my mental energy will return at some point.

Anyway. I realised that I had totally forgotten to post my review of Cursed, an anthology of fairytale inspired short stories which was sent to me by the fantastic people at Titan Books! So, that’s what I’m bringing you today. As I usually do for anthologies, I’ll give you some brief thoughts on each story as well as a general feeling about the collection as a whole!

cursed book review


synopsis

Fairy tales take a weird twist in this anthology compiling stories from an all-star cast of fantasy writers, including stories from Neil Gaiman, Charlie Jane Anders and Alison Littlewood.

Here in this book you’ll find unique twists on the fairy tale conceit of the curse, from the more traditional to the modern – giving us brand new mythologies as well as new approaches to well-loved fables. Some might shock you, some might make you laugh, but they will all impress you with their originality.


my thoughts

As Red As Blood, As White As Snow by Christina Henry

Kicking things off with one of my favourite authors! And she did not disappoint me. Christina Henry’s writing was fabulous as always and I loved the mix of elements within the story. It was a fantastic twist on well-known fairytales and had a very satisfying conclusion.

 

Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman

And another of my favourite authors! Can you see why I was so excited for this anthology? 😉 This was classic Gaiman with great scene setting and wonderful themes. The only problem was I wanted it to be longer!

 

At That Age by Catriona Ward

I liked this story more than the author’s contribution to the Wonderland anthology. It was very dark and ominous for the duration, but I enjoyed it!

 

Listen by Jen Williams

I loved this one! It had a fantastic concept and gorgeous writing, plus it was musically themed which you know is always a winner with me!

 

Henry and the Snakewood Box by M. R. Carey

This was an interesting story that gave me Good Omens vibes. I appreciated the humour but things didn’t quite feel fully developed.

 

Skin by James Brogden

Wow, this was DARK. It was an uncomfortable story to read at times, both thematically and due to some long clunky sentences. But it definitely packs a punch!

 

Faith and Fred by Maura McHugh

This one was very enjoyable. It felt well developed, like a proper story with a beginning, middle and end. Plus it was wonderfully Gothic!

 

The Black Fairy’s Curse by Karen Joy Fowler

The writing in this story felt a bit repetitive; a lot of the sentences felt the same length which made for a quite monotonous tone. However, the twist at the end was very interesting!

 

Wendy, Darling by Christopher Golden

Ok, what an amazing take on a well-known tale! This was both harrowing and unexpected.

 

Fairy Werewolf vs Vampire Zombie by Charlie Jane Anders

Unfortunately, this is my second experience of Anders’ writing and I don’t think it is for me. This story was just a bit too weird and I felt like it was trying way too hard to be cool.

 

Look Inside by Michael Marshall Smith

I kind of liked this one? But I found the end confusing. Not too sure what to make of it.

 

Little Red by Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple

This was another ambiguous story. I liked it but it should definitely have a trigger warning for self-harm so please take care if you decide to read.

 

New Wine by Angela Slatter

This was the only story in the anthology that I couldn’t finish. I just didn’t understand what was going on or what the point was. It felt dull and meandering. I will give a disclaimer though: I was in the middle of this story when the Covid-19 situation really took a downturn so my mental health may have had an impact on how I read this one.

 

Haza and Ghani by Lilith Saintcrow

This was an interesting take on the story of Hansel and Gretel. There was some gorgeous writing but it was another super dark story.

 

Hated by Christopher Fowler

Now, this one was fantastic. It was gripping from the outset and the plot progressed perfectly to a brilliant ending.

 

The Merrie Dancers by Alison Littlewood

This story was good but felt a little underdeveloped. I liked that it was ‘told’ in the way of traditional fairytales but I wanted more from it.

 

Again by Tim Lebbon

This was a bit gruesome at first but I settled into it and found it to actually be an interesting story that was quite poignant.

 

The Girl From Hell by Margo Lanagan

The final story in the anthology was a bit disappointing to end on. I didn’t really get it. The writing was too flowery for me (and you know that’s not something I say lightly because I normally love a bit of purple prose!)

 

The anthology, like Wonderland, was book-ended by two poems by author Jane Yolen, both of which were great.

Overall, this was a mixed bag, as all anthologies are. However, I feel like there were far more hits than misses in this collection! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to fans of dark fairytales.

cursed


Let me know in the comments if you’ve read this one! xsignature (2)

Down The TBR Hole [#5]

Hello lovely people! I’m desperately trying to keep this blog alive right now but I’m finding it hard to give it my attention. I’m trying to limit my time online because I just end up falling down rabbit holes of scary news and making myself anxious. But I want you to know that I appreciate the continued support from everyone and I promise I will try to reconnect with you all as soon as I can! You’re all amazing ❤

For now, I’m just going to keep things simple with my next ‘Down The TBR Hole’ post!

down the tbr hole.png

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

Here are the rules:-

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

The Radleys by Matt Haig

the radleys

Peter, Helen and their teenage children, Clara and Rowan, live in an English town. They are an everyday family, averagely dysfunctional, averagely content. But as their children have yet to find out, the Radleys have a devastating secret.

From one of Britain’s finest young novelists comes a razor-sharp unpicking of adulthood and family life. In this moving, thrilling and extraordinary portrait of one unusual family, The Radleys asks what we grow into when we grow up, and explores what we gain – and lose – when we deny our appetites.

I have loved the Matt Haig books I’ve read so far and I’m sure this one will be no exception. I keep meaning to read it around Halloween but then I never end up getting round to it. So I’m hoping I’ll just randomly pick it up at some point.

Verdict: Keep


The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig

dead fathers club

The story of Hamlet is not usually thought of as one meant for laughter. But Matt Haig’s able retelling of the tale in The Dead Fathers Club will make you laugh, though it might also evoke a tear. Eleven-year-old Philip Noble is at his father’s funeral when who should appear but his father’s ghost, who wastes no time in telling Philip that his Uncle Alan, an auto mechanic, tampered with his car, causing the accident that killed him. He warns Philip that Uncle Alan will shortly be tampering with his mother too, because Unctuous Uncle Alan wants the pub that Philip’s father owned.

The solution to this problem, according to Philip’s dad, is that he must kill Uncle Alan. If he doesn’t do it before Dad’s next birthday, 11 weeks away, Dad will be consigned to the Terrors for all eternity. Philip agrees, in principle, but killing someone, especially without getting caught, isn’t easy. But a promise is a promise, so Philip gives it a whirl, in fact, several whirls. Real life interferes in the persons of two school bullies, truly nasty and perverse thugs, who seem ready to kill Philip because they think it’s funny that his father died. Philip also falls in love, and his Ophelia (named Leah) thinks that shoplifting is tons of fun. Poor Philip is in over his head in every way possible. There are many encounters with other Dead Fathers in a great sendup of ghostly dealings, Hamlet-like, on the moors, and several sly references to the play. There is even a character named Dane. The ending is not pure Shakespeare, but it is pure Haig and that is very good indeed.

Same reasoning as above. I got a set of Matt Haig’s books from The Book People and definitely intend to read them all at some point.

Verdict: Keep


The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

love that split the world

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

I had honestly forgotten I added this but wow, it sounds stunning. You all know I’m a sucker for magical realism.

Verdict: Keep


What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

what is not yours is not yours

The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don’t You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).

Oyeyemi’s tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation?

I’ve been loving short story collections in recent times and the idea of this collection revolving around keys is one that definitely intrigues me.

Verdict: Keep


The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

bookshop book

Every bookshop has a story.

We’re not talking about rooms that are just full of books. We’re talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses, and in old run-down train stations. Fold-out bookshops, undercover bookshops, this-is-the-best-place-I’ve-ever-been-to-bookshops.

Meet Sarah and her Book Barge sailing across the sea to France; meet Sebastien, in Mongolia, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains; meet the bookshop in Canada that’s invented the world’s first antiquarian book vending machine.

And that’s just the beginning.

From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we’ve yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole).

The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.

This sounds cute but it’s nonfiction which I struggle to pick up most of the time. I don’t think it’s one that I’m ever likely to get to, unless it was gifted to me.

Verdict: Remove


Trolls-Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

trolls eye view

Everyone thinks they know the real story behind the villains in fairy tales – evil, no two ways about it. But the villains themselves beg to differ. In Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s new anthology for younger readers, you’ll hear from the Giant’s wife (“Jack and the Beanstalk”), Rumplestiltskin, the oldest of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, and many more. A stellar lineup of authors, including Garth Nix, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman and Nancy Farmer, makes sure that these old stories do new tricks!

This might be ‘for younger readers’ but it contains some amazing authors. And let’s face it, nobody is too old for fairytales 😉

Verdict: Keep


The Child Thief by Brom

the child thief

Peter is quick, daring, and full of mischief—and like all boys, he loves to play, though his games often end in blood. His eyes are sparkling gold, and when he graces you with his smile you are his friend for life, but his promised land is not Neverland. Fourteen-year-old Nick would have been murdered by the drug dealers preying on his family had Peter not saved him. Now the irresistibly charismatic wild boy wants Nick to follow him to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive and you never grow old. Even though he is wary of Peter’s crazy talk of faeries and monsters, Nick agrees. After all, New York City is no longer safe for him, and what more could he possibly lose?

There is always more to lose.

Accompanying Peter to a gray and ravished island that was once a lush, enchanted paradise, Nick finds himself unwittingly recruited for a war that has raged for centuries—one where he must learn to fight or die among the “Devils,” Peter’s savage tribe of lost and stolen children.

There, Peter’s dark past is revealed: left to wolves as an infant, despised and hunted, Peter moves restlessly between the worlds of faerie and man. The Child Thief is a leader of bloodthirsty children, a brave friend, and a creature driven to do whatever he must to stop the “Flesh-eaters” and save the last, wild magic in this dying land.

I’ve been intrigued by Brom’s work for years now but still haven’t made the effort to acquire any. I love Peter Pan retellings though so this is definitely where I would start.

Verdict: Keep


Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

maggot moon

One hundred very short chapters, told in an utterly original first-person voice, propel readers through a narrative that is by turns gripping and darkly humorous, bleak and chilling, tender and transporting.

What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell – who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright – sees things differently than the rest of the “train-track thinkers.” So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. And it’s big…

The format of this one sounds intriguing but it’s not one that I ever see around or that I’ve heard much about.

Verdict: Remove


Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen

adulthood is a myth

Are you a special snowflake?
Do you enjoy networking to advance your career?
Is adulthood an exciting new challenge for which you feel fully prepared?

Ugh. Please go away.

This book is for the rest of us. These comics document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas, and wondering when, exactly, this adulthood thing begins. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life.

If I’m being totally honest, I don’t feel that I need to read this one because I see enough of the author’s work online. Maybe that’s wrong of me and I should buy the book to support her but I’m poor and have to choose which books to buy very wisely!

Verdict: Remove


Jane Steele by Faye Lyndsay

jane steele

A reimagining of Jane Eyre as a gutsy, heroic serial killer.

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement.  Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past?

A satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies.

This one sounds decent enough but I’ve kinda lost interest now. I have too much else to read haha.

Verdict: Remove


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

six of crows

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

I told myself I would read this one last year and, surprise surprise, it didn’t happen. But it will continue to wait patiently on my shelf until the time is right.

Verdict: Keep


Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

bellweather rhapsody

Fifteen years ago, a murder-suicide in room 712 rocked the grand old Bellweather Hotel and the young bridesmaid who witnessed it, Minnie Graves. Now hundreds of high school musicians have gathered at the Bellweather for the annual Statewide festival; Minnie has returned to face her demons; and a blizzard is threatening to trap them all inside. When a young prodigy disappears from infamous room 712, the search for her entwines an eccentric cast of conductors and caretakers, teenagers on the verge and adults haunted by memories. This is a genre-bending page-turner, full of playful nods to pop-culture classics from The Shining to Agatha Christie to Glee.

I still love the sound of this one! It hits a lot of my buzzwords.

Verdict: Keep


Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

love letters to the dead

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more — though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was — lovely and amazing and deeply flawed — can she begin to discover her own path in this stunning debut from Ava Dellaira, Love Letters to the Dead.

I’m sure this will be a poignant read but I love the whole concept and would still like to read it at some point.

Verdict: Keep


Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes A Baby’s Brain by Sue Gerhardt

why love matters

Why Love Matters explains why love is essential to brain development in the early years of life, particularly to the development of our social and emotional brain systems, and presents the startling discoveries that provide the answers to how our emotional lives work.

Sue Gerhardt considers how the earliest relationship shapes the baby’s nervous system, with lasting consequences, and how our adult life is influenced by infancy despite our inability to remember babyhood. She shows how the development of the brain can affect future emotional well being, and goes on to look at specific early ‘pathways’ that can affect the way we respond to stress and lead to conditions such as anorexia, addiction, and anti-social behaviour.

Why Love Matters is a lively and very accessible interpretation of the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology, psychoanalysis and biochemistry. It will be invaluable to psychotherapists and psychoanalysts, mental health professionals, parents and all those concerned with the central importance of brain development in relation to many later adult difficulties.

This is a book that I bought while I was completing my undergraduate degree. I don’t think it needs to remain on my TBR shelf!

Verdict: Remove


Auggie and Me: Three Wonder Stories by R. J. Palacio

auggie and me

WONDER tells the story of Auggie Pullman: an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, whose first year at school changed the lives and the perspectives of everyone around him.

AUGGIE & ME is a new side to the WONDER story: three new chapters from three different characters – bully Julian, oldest friend Christopher and classmate Charlotte – giving an insight into how Auggie has touched their own lives. Thought-provoking, surprising, infuriating, heartbreaking and heartwarming, AUGGIE & ME is a must-read for the thousands of readers who loved WONDER.

I loved Wonder when I read it but I think the time might have passed to read these side stories. I would rather just reread the novel itself.

Verdict: Remove


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

wind up bird chronicle

Toru Okada’s cat has disappeared. His wife is growing more distant every day. Then there are the increasingly explicit telephone calls he has recently been receiving. As this compelling story unfolds, the tidy suburban realities of Okada’s vague and blameless life, spent cooking, reading, listening to jazz and opera and drinking beer at the kitchen table, are turned inside out, and he embarks on a bizarre journey, guided (however obscurely) by a succession of characters, each with a tale to tell.

My first experience of Murakami was an interesting one but I haven’t written him off just yet. And as far as I can tell, this is one of his most popular novels.

Verdict: Keep (for now)


Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

company of liars

In this extraordinary novel, Karen Maitland delivers a dazzling reinterpretation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales—an ingenious alchemy of history, mystery, and powerful human drama.

The year is 1348. The Black Plague grips the country. In a world ruled by faith and fear, nine desperate strangers, brought together by chance, attempt to outrun the certain death that is running inexorably toward them.

Each member of this motley company has a story to tell. From Camelot, the relic-seller who will become the group’s leader, to Cygnus, the one-armed storyteller . . . from the strange, silent child called Narigorm to a painter and his pregnant wife, each has a secret. None is what they seem. And one among them conceals the darkest secret of all—propelling these liars to a destiny they never saw coming.

Magical, heart-quickening, and raw, Company of Liars is a work of vaulting imagination from a powerful new voice in historical fiction.

I studied The Canterbury Tales in sixth form and this reimagining sounds like it could be brilliant.

Verdict: Keep


The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland

owl killers

England, 1321. The tiny village of Ulewic teeters between survival and destruction, faith and doubt, God and demons. For shadowing the villagers’ lives are men cloaked in masks and secrecy, ruling with violence, intimidation, and terrifying fiery rites: the Owl Masters.

But another force is touching Ulewic—a newly formed community built and served only by women. Called a beguinage, it is a safe harbor of service and faith in defiance of the all-powerful Church.

Behind the walls of this sanctuary, women have gathered from all walks of life: a skilled physician, a towering former prostitute, a cook, a local convert. But life in Ulewic is growing more dangerous with each passing day. The women are the subject of rumors, envy, scorn, and fury…until the daughter of Ulewic’s most powerful man is cast out of her home and accepted into the beguinage—and battle lines are drawn.

Into this drama are swept innocents and conspirators: a parish priest trying to save himself from his own sins…a village teenager, pregnant and terrified…a woman once on the verge of sainthood, now cast out of the Church.…With Ulewic ravaged by flood and disease, and with villagers driven by fear, a secret inside the beguinage will draw the desperate and the depraved—until masks are dropped, faith is tested…and every lie is exposed.

This one doesn’t grab me as much as the previous book’s synopsis. I think I’ll ditch it for now and I can always add it back if I like the author’s writing in that one.

Verdict: Remove


The Gallows Curse by Karen Maitland

gallows curse

Set in the reign of King John, when the whole of England was under sentence of excommunication (among other issues, King John wouldn’t accept the Pope’s choice of Archbishop). Can you imagine the chaos – all the churches closed, King John in retaliation arresting every priest who hadn’t fled and the people terrified of dying in sin without the last rites? No burials were permitted on consecrated land, no marriages were conducted, no babies baptized. But I don’t want to reveal much more, except to say the plot involves people-trafficking, murder and, oh yes… a very feisty dwarf and a eunuch with a hunger for revenge.

Here I go again, adding every book an author has ever written lol. Again, I think I’ll remove this and just try the one book that really interests me.

Verdict: Remove


The Vanishing Witch by Karen Maitland

vanishing witch

The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets. It’s a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust? The dour wool merchant? His impulsive son? The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes? Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones?

And when people start dying unnatural deaths and the peasants decide it’s time to fight back, it’s all too easy to spy witchcraft at every turn.

See my above reasoning!

Verdict: Remove



Books removed in this post: 9

Books removed in total: 44

Total books analysed: 102

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

‘A Theatre For Dreamers’ blog spot!

Hello lovelies. Today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for A Theatre For Dreamers by Polly Samson! Once again, I’m failing in my duty as a blogger because I was meant to be posting a review today but I just haven’t been able to finish the book in time. I’m working longer shifts these days and just feel generally exhausted, so whenever I’m trying to pick up a book and read, I’m falling asleep after a few pages (and that is no reflection on book quality!) I’m not trying to make excuses here, I just want to offer an explanation and an apology to everyone who was expecting more from me for this blog tour. And hopefully it’s enough that I’m still featuring the book in some way!

Can you tell my anxiety levels are high these days? Haha. Let’s take a look at A Theatre For Dreamers, shall we?

Final Theatre Dreamers Cover


synopsis

1960. The world is dancing on the edge of revolution, and nowhere more so than on the Greek island of Hydra, where a circle of poets, painters and musicians live tangled lives, ruled by the writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, troubled king and queen of bohemia. Forming within this circle is a triangle: its points the magnetic, destructive writer Axel Jensen, his dazzling wife Marianne Ihlen, and a young Canadian poet named Leonard Cohen.

Into their midst arrives teenage Erica, with little more than a bundle of blank notebooks and her grief for her mother. Settling on the periphery of this circle, she watches, entranced and disquieted, as a paradise unravels.

Burning with the heat and light of Greece, A Theatre for Dreamers is a spellbinding novel about utopian dreams and innocence lost – and the wars waged between men and women on the battlegrounds of genius.


Author information

Polly Samson Author pic

Polly Samson is the author of two short story collections and two previous novels. Her work has been shortlisted for prizes, translated into several languages and has been dramatized on BBC Radio 4. She has written lyrics to four number one albums (anyone a Pink Floyd fan?!) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

pollysamson.com            @PollySamson

 


For more information and to read reviews of the book and interviews with the author, check out the other stops on the blog tour!

A Theatre For Dreamers BT Poster


A Theatre For Dreamers released on April 2nd 2020! Huge thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy to review (which will be done as soon as possible!) x

 

 

April 2020 Anticipated Releases!

Well. It’s hard to believe we live in a world where books are still coming out. My reading focus has been non-existent recently but hopefully some of you are faring a little better than me and able to distract yourselves with some good books. I wanted to maintain some normality and still give a shout-out to some of the books releasing this month, to help boost the authors whose publicity campaigns may have taken a hit!

[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. Some books that were meant to release in April have been pushed back due to the virus so be aware that it might happen to others on this list also.]

April


Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

Release date: April 1st

wicked as you wish

Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left desolate and encased in ice when the evil Snow Queen waged war on the powerful country. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.

Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is in hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them. Tala doesn’t mind—she has secrets of her own. Namely, that she’s a spellbreaker, someone who negates magic.

Then hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, and Avalon’s most powerful weapon, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.

Why I’m interested: I’m yet to read a Rin Chupeco book but they always sound great. And I’m definitely intrigued by the magic and icy aesthetic of this one.


The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Release date: April 1st

house in the cerulean sea

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

Why I’m interested: I think this is middle grade? But it sounds utterly enchanting. A secret island of magical children, with found-family vibes? I’m in.


The New David Espinoza by Fred Aceves

Release date: April 2nd

new david espinoza

David Espinoza is tired of being messed with. When a video of him getting knocked down by a bully’s slap goes viral at the end of junior year, David vows to use the summer to bulk up— do what it takes to become a man—and wow everyone when school starts again the fall.

Soon David is spending all his time and money at Iron Life, a nearby gym that’s full of bodybuilders. Frustrated with his slow progress, his life eventually becomes all about his muscle gains. As it says on the Iron Life wall, What does not kill me makes me stronger.

As David falls into the dark side of the bodybuilding world, pursuing his ideal body at all costs, he’ll have to grapple with the fact that it could actually cost him everything.

Why I’m interested: Harper Collins have been publishing some amazing contemporaries lately and this one sounds like another winner. I feel like David will be a character everybody can root for.


The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Release date: April 7th

southern book clubs guide to slaying vampires

Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavoured supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighbourhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.

Why I’m interested: Grady Hendrix is hugely popular in the bookstagram community and I’ve been seeing his books around for ages. Of course, still haven’t read any of them, who is even surprised. But one day!


Little Universes by Heather Demetrios

Release date: April 7th

little universes

One wave: that’s all it takes for the rest of Mae and Hannah Winters’ lives to change.

When a tsunami strikes the island where their parents are vacationing, it soon becomes clear that their mom and dad are never coming home. Forced to move to Boston from sunny California for the rest of their senior year, each girl struggles with secrets their parents’ death has brought to light, and with their uncertainty about the future. Instead of bringing them closer, it feels like the wave has torn the sisters apart.

Hannah is a secret poet who wants to be seen, but only knows how to hide. The pain pills she stole from her dead father hurl her onto the shores of an addiction she can’t shake and a dealer who turns her heart upside down. When it’s clear Hannah’s drowning, Mae, a budding astronaut suddenly launched into an existential crisis—and unexpected love—must choose between herself and the only family she has left.

Why I’m interested: This sounds like it could be an emotional but amazing read. I’m always here for sister vibes.


The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park

Release date: April 7th

the perfect escape

Nate Jae-Woo Kim wants to be rich. When one of his classmates offers Nate a ridiculous amount of money to commit grade fraud, he knows that taking the windfall would help support his prideful Korean family, but is compromising his integrity worth it?

Luck comes in the form of Kate Anderson, Nate’s colleague at the zombie-themed escape room where he works. She approaches Nate with a plan: a local tech company is hosting a weekend-long survivalist competition with a huge cash prize. It could solve all of Nate’s problems, and Kate needs the money too.

If the two of them team up, Nate has a true shot at winning the grand prize. But the real challenge? Making through the weekend with his heart intact…

Why I’m interested: You had me at “zombie-themed escape room”.


The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

Release date: April 21st

book of longings

In her fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life, but finds no outlet for her considerable talents. Defying the expectations placed on women, she engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes secret narratives about neglected and silenced women. When she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus, each is drawn to and enriched by the other’s spiritual and philosophical ideas. He becomes a floodgate for her intellect, but also the awakener of her heart.

Their marriage unfolds with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, James and Simon, and their mother, Mary. Here, Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to the Roman occupation of Israel, partially led by her charismatic adopted brother, Judas. She is sustained by her indomitable aunt Yaltha, who is searching for her long-lost daughter, as well as by other women, including her friend Tabitha, who is sold into slavery after she was raped, and Phasaelis, the shrewd wife of Herod Antipas. Ana’s impetuous streak occasionally invites danger. When one such foray forces her to flee Nazareth for her safety shortly before Jesus’s public ministry begins, she makes her way with Yaltha to Alexandria, where she eventually finds refuge and purpose in unexpected surroundings.

Grounded in meticulous historical research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place, and culture devised to silence her.

Why I’m interested: I have loved Sue Monk Kidd since I read The Secret Life of Bees in school. I’ve read some of her other books and always want more, so this is very welcome.


Looking Glass by Christina Henry

Release date: April 21st

looking glass

In four new novellas, Christina Henry returns to the universe she created for Alice and Red Queen, where magic runs more freely than anyone suspects, but so do secrets and blood.

Lovely Creature
In the New City lives a girl called Elizabeth, a girl who has a secret: she can do magic. But someone knows Elizabeth’s secret–someone who has a secret of his own. That secret is a butterfly that lives in a jar, a butterfly made by a girl called Alice.

Girl in Amber
Alice and Hatcher are just looking for a place to rest. Alice has been dreaming of a cottage by a lake and a field of wildflowers, but while walking blind in a snowstorm they stumble into a castle that seems empty and abandoned…at least until nightfall.

When I First Came to Town
Hatcher wasn’t always Hatcher. Once, he was a boy called Nicholas, and Nicholas fancied himself the best fighter in the Old City. No matter who fought him he always won. Then his boss tells him he’s going to battle the fearsome Grinder, a man who never leaves his opponents alive.

The Mercy Seat
Alice has a secret–a secret that not even Hatcher knows yet, but pretty soon she won’t be able to keep it from him.

Why I’m interested: I’ve shouted enough about Christina Henry and how much I love her dark fairytale retellings. And the amazing Titan Books have blessed me with an ARC!


Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Release date: April 21st

time of our lives

Fitz Holton waits in fear for the day his single mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s starts stealing her memory. He’s vowed to stay close to home to care for her in the years to come–never mind the ridiculous college tour she’s forcing him on to visit schools where he knows he’ll never go. Juniper Ramirez is counting down the days until she can leave home, a home crowded with five younger siblings and zero privacy. Against the wishes of her tight-knit family, Juniper plans her own college tour of the East Coast with one goal: get out.

When Fitz and Juniper cross paths on their first college tour in Boston, they’re at odds from the moment they meet– while Juniper’s dying to start a new life apart for her family, Fitz faces the sacrifices he must make for his. Their relationship sparks a deep connection–in each other’s eyes, they glimpse alternate possibilities regarding the first big decision of their adult lives.

Time of Our Lives is a story of home and away, of the wonder and weight of memory, of outgrowing fears and growing into the future.

Why I’m interested: I’ve heard a lot about this writing duo here in the blogging community and my newfound love of contemporaries is drawing me to their books. They look super cute.


Don’t Call The Wolf by Aleksandra Ross

Release date: April 28th

don't call the wolf

A forest, besieged. A queen, unyielding. Fans of Leigh Bardugo and Holly Black will devour this deliciously dark Eastern European–inspired YA fantasy debut.

When the Golden Dragon descended on the forest of Kamiena, a horde of monsters followed in its wake.

Ren, the forest’s young queen, is slowly losing her battle against them. Until she rescues Lukasz—the last survivor of a heroic regiment of dragon slayers—and they strike a deal. She will help him find his brother, who vanished into her forest… if Lukasz promises to slay the Dragon.

But promises are all too easily broken.

Why I’m interested: Buzzwords, buzzwords everywhere. Forests, Eastern-European, monsters, dragons… Yep. Gimme.


The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Release date: April 30th

glass hotel

Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune Logistics, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of the Neptune Cumberland. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

Why I’m interested: Station Eleven is one of my all-time favourite books. I’ve always been meaning to read more from the author so maybe this will give me the kick I need.


Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke

Release date: April 30th

seven endless forests

A bold and blood-hungry retelling of the King Arthur legend from the critically acclaimed author of The Boneless Mercies.

On the heels of a devastating plague, Torvi’s sister Morgunn is stolen from the family farm by Uther, a flame-loving wolf-priest who leads a pack of ragged, starving girls.

Torvi leaves the only home she’s ever known and joins a shaven-headed druid and a band of roaming Elsh artists known as the Butcher Bards. They set out on a quest to rescue Torvi’s sister, and find a mythical sword. On their travels, Torvi and her companions will face wild, dangerous magic that leads to love, joy, tragedy, and death. . .

Torvi set out to rescue a sister, but she may find it’s merely the first step toward a life that is grander and more glorious than anything she could have imagined.

Why I’m interested: The Boneless Mercies is on my tbr for this month and I love the sound of this King Arthur retelling too, even though Wink Poppy Midnight was a bit of a miss for me.


The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

Release date: April 30th

the girl and the stars

On Abeth the vastness of the ice holds no room for individuals. Survival together is barely possible. No one survives alone.

To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is not the same.

Yaz is torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her days with, and has to carve out a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of difference and mystery and danger.

Yaz learns that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. She learns that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she learns to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.

Only when it’s darkest you can see the stars.

Why I’m interested: I was due to be on the blog tour for this one but I may not receive my copy in time due to the current world situation. It sounds awesome though and I hope I still get to read it at some point.


Q by Christina Dalcher

Release date: April 30th

q christina dalcher

The future of every child is determined by one standardized measurement: their quotient (Q). Score high enough, and they attend a top tier school with a golden future ahead of them. Score low, and they are sent to a federally run boarding school with limited prospects for future employment. The purpose? Education costs are cut, teachers focus on the best students, and parents are happy.

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s elite schools. When her nine-year old daughter fails her next monthly test, her Q score drops to a disastrously low level and she is immediately forced to leave her top school for a federal school hundreds of miles away. As a teacher, Elena knows intimately the dangers of failure in their tiered educational system, but as a mother who just lost her child, all Elena wants is to be near her daughter again. And she will do the unthinkable to make it happen.

Why I’m interested: I really enjoyed Vox when I read it, despite being a little disappointed by the ending. Hopefully, this will be another gripping read.



What books are you looking forward to this month? Are you planning to read any from my list? Let me know in the comments! And stay safe everyone xsignature (2)

‘Sanctuary’ first impressions!

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

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

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

sanctuary


synopsis

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

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

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


my thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

sanctuary


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

 

 

‘The Good Hawk’ spoiler-free review!

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

good hawk


synopsis

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

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

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

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

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


my thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

good hawk


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

 

‘NVK’ spoiler-free review!

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

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

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

nvk


synopsis

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

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


my thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

nvk


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

 

Down The TBR Hole [#4]

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

down the tbr hole.png

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

Here are the rules:-

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

The Giver by Lois Lowry

the giver lois lowry

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

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

Verdict: Keep


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

hitchhikers guide to the galaxy

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

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

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

Verdict: Keep


Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

geisha

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

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

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

Verdict: Keep


The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

grapes of wrath

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

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

Verdict: Keep


Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

enders game

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

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

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

Verdict: Remove


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

a thousand splendid suns

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

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

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

Verdict: Remove


The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

poisonwood bible

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

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

Verdict: Remove


Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

anna and the swallow man

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verdict: Keep


Edna in the Desert by Maddy Lederman

edna in the desert

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

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

Verdict: Remove


Fancies and Goodnights by John Collier

fancies and goodnights

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

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

Verdict: Remove


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

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

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

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

Verdict: Remove


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

365 thank yous

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

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

Verdict: Remove


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

wild cheryl strayed

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

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

Verdict: Keep


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

the 13 lives of captain bluebear

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

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

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

Verdict: Remove


The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers

the city of dreaming books

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

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

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

Verdict: Remove


Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

mr penumbras 24-hour bookstore

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

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

Verdict: Remove


The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

jane austen book club

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

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

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

Verdict: Keep


The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

175A

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

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

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

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

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

Verdict: Remove


From Here To Eternity by James Jones

from here to eternity

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

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

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

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

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

Verdict: Keep


The Healing by Jonathan Odell

the healing

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

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

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

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

Verdict: Keep



Books removed in this post: 11

Books removed in total: 35

Total books analysed: 82

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

March 2020 Anticipated Releases!

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

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

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

[As always, all covers and synopses are taken from Goodreads, and I have used UK release dates that are correct as far as I’m aware. It always upsets me when I post these and then book releases get pushed back haha.]

March


Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Release date: March 1st

upright women wanted

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

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

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


The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Release date: March 3rd

kingdom of back

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

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

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

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

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


The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

Release date: March 3rd

the midnight lie

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

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

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

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

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


The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

Release date: March 3rd

vanishing deep

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

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

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


Anna K by Jenny Lee

Release date: March 5th

anna k

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

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

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


Hold Back The Tide by Melinda Salisbury

Release date: March 5th

hold back the tide

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

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

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


The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven

Release date: March 5th

love hypothesis

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

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

 

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


Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Release date: March 12th

harley in the sky

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

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

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


Frozen Beauty by Lexa Hillyer

Release date: March 17th

frozen beauty

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

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

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

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

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


A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

Release date: March 19th

a phoenix first must burn

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

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

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

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


Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

Release date: March 24th

tigers not daughters

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

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

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


My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Release date: March 31st

my dark vanessa

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

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

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

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

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

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



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