‘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)

‘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

 

‘Wonderland: An Anthology’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I’ve been in the weirdest book hangover/reading slump thing and I’m trying desperately to get my mojo back. I think I’ve just been so busy for so long and now that things have relaxed a bit, my brain has just ground to a halt, you know?! Also, how is there only a month left of this year? This decade?! Having a slight existential crisis over here haha.

Anyway, I have a review for you today! The lovely people at Titan Books sent me this anthology of stories inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and (even though it took me a while to get through due to life circumstances) I really enjoyed reading it! As with most anthologies, it was quite a mixed bag but taking the collection as a whole, it was a fun reading experience. I’m going to break down my thoughts on each story below.

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synopsis

Join Alice as she is thrown into the whirlwind of Wonderland, in an anthology that bends the traditional notions of Lewis Carroll’s classic novel. Contributors include the bestselling M.R. Carey, Genevieve Cogman, Catriona Ward, Rio Youers and L.L. McKinney.

Within these pages you’ll find myriad approaches to Alice, from horror to historical. There’s even a Wild West tale from Angela Slatter, poetry, and a story by Laura Mauro which presents us with a Japanese folklore-inspired Wonderland.

Alison Littlewood, Cavan Scott and Catriona Ward make the more outlandish elements their own, while James Lovegrove instead draws on the supernatural. Cat Rambo takes us to a part of Wonderland we haven’t seen before and Lilith Saintcrow gives the legend a science-fiction spin. The nightmarish reaches of the imagination are the breeding ground for M.R. Carey’s visions, while Robert Shearman, George Mann, Rio Youers and Mark Chadbourn’s tales have a deep-seated emotional core which will shock, surprise and tug on the heart-strings.

So, it’s time now to go down the rabbit hole, or through the looking-glass or… But no, wait. By picking up this book and starting to read it you’re already there, can’t you see?


my thoughts

Wonders Never Cease by Robert Shearman

This was an interesting opening story that initially felt quite true to the spirit of the original Alice story. I liked the dry wit but there were some genuinely awful images that I wasn’t sure how to take. I guess this story is quite open to interpretation which I appreciate but ultimately it was a bit too weird for my taste.

 

There Were No Birds To Fly by M. R. Carey

This story was slightly confusing at first as it kind of just throws you into the middle of the action. I found it to be an interesting horror concept but I didn’t really connect with it and the Alice connection was very tenuous.

 

The White Queen’s Pawn by Genevieve Cogman

Hooray, this was the first story in the collection that I really liked! It was creepy and unsettling, and the perfect length. I’m interested in reading more of Cogman’s work now.

 

Dream Girl by Cavan Scott

This was another excellent offering. The story was ticking along quite nicely, I didn’t really have any strong feelings or think it was anything special and then BAM – plot twist! The ending definitely made this one.

 

Good Dog, Alice! by Juliet Marillier

I enjoyed Marillier’s writing style and would be interested in reading more from her. This was a horror story of a much more human nature; I found the resolution incredibly satisfying.

 

The Hunting of the Jabberwock by Jonathan Green

I liked that this story focused on a different angle than those previously but something about the writing style didn’t click for me. The second half was mildly better but it never felt very high-stakes; I found it fairly dull and unoriginal in the end.

 

About Time by George Mann

This was a surprisingly sweet story about monsters and magic. I really enjoyed it, though it felt a bit jarring in comparison to those that had come before. Maybe just because I wasn’t expecting it?

 

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em by Angela Slatter

I didn’t completely love the Western vibe of this one but the horror spin was interesting. I don’t know, it felt a little incomplete?

 

Vanished Summer Glory by Rio Youers

After being introduced to Youers’ writing earlier in the year, I was excited to see what he would do here. And I wasn’t disappointed. This was one of the most unique stories in the anthology. I loved the psychiatry angle.

 

Black Kitty by Catriona Ward

I don’t have a lot to say on this one, other than that it was weird and I didn’t like it very much. Oops.

 

The Night Parade by Laura Mauro

This was one of my favourite stories in the anthology. I really liked the writing and thought the whole thing was so atmospheric. I would happily read more stories or a longer novel set in this world!

 

What Makes A Monster by L. L. McKinney

I liked the opening of this one; it reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I also liked the Jack the Ripper connection that was made. However, the time jumps between paragraphs were sometimes confusing and the Alice link was almost non-existent. I’m not sure it was a good idea to include a story set in an already-existing literary world.

 

The White Queen’s Dictum by James Lovegrove

This story had more of an Alice connection than the previous one which I appreciated. It was decent! Though I did guess VERY quickly where it was going.

 

Temp Work by Lilith Saintcrow

This was the only story in the anthology that I couldn’t finish. I wasn’t a fan of the sci-fi concept (the genre is hit and miss for me anyway) and I found the writing convoluted.

 

Eat Me, Drink Me by Alison Littlewood

Honestly? I pretty much forgot this one as soon as it finished. I have no real thoughts to share; it just didn’t make much of an impact on me.

 

How I Comes To Be The Treacle Queen by Cat Rambo

This was another slightly weird story and sadly, another one I didn’t connect much with due to the style.

 

Six Impossible Things by Mark Chadbourn

Thankfully, this was a stronger story to end the anthology. I enjoyed the ones which took this darker emotional slant.

 

The anthology was also book-ended by two poems by author Jane Yolen, both of which were very good.

I feel like the thoughts I’ve shared on these stories come across as quite negative but I really did have fun reading this anthology and would happily recommend it to fans of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale!

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Have any of you read this one? Are you a fan of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? Let me know in the comments! x signature (2)

 

Autumn Mini Reviews: Tunnel of Bones & The Bone Garden

Hello my lovelies! The end is in sight – I’ve got just over a week until this year of my course is finished! So I shall definitely be catching up with you all then 🙂 Thank you for sticking around while my posting is so sporadic and while I’m seemingly ignoring your comments – I promise I’m not and it means the world that you are continuing to engage with me! ❤

Anyway. Today, I’ve got a couple of mini reviews for you! Both suitable for the time of year if you’re clinging on to Autumn and not acknowledging the C word 😉

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synopsis

Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake… even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghost-hunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever…


my thoughts

I’m delighted to say that, although I did like City of Ghosts, this sequel was much more enjoyable! Having recently reread the first book, I was reminded of everything that irritated me the first time round. Thankfully, there was much less of the spoon-feeding in book two and it felt much more natural.

I really love how each of the books in this series is set in a different spooky location and could honestly read so many of them. Schwab captured Paris perfectly in this book and I was totally feeling the Catacomb vibes. Also, YES to all the French pastries.

I enjoyed how the story progressed in this instalment and I am appreciating both Cass and Jacob’s character development (no mean feat considering one of those characters is a ghost!)

I also have to give a shoutout to Cassidy’s parents who are AWESOME. It’s so rare that we get to see great supportive parents in literature so I love the direction Schwab is taking with them.

Overall, I enjoyed this second book (even more than the first) and I look forward to the next instalment!


bone garden


synopsis

Made of dust and bone and imagination, Irréelle fears she’s not quite real. Only the finest magical thread tethers her to life—and to Miss Vesper. But for all her efforts to please her cruel creator, the thread is unraveling. Irréelle is forgetful as she gathers bone dust. She is slow returning from the dark passages beneath the cemetery. Worst of all, she is unmindful of her crooked bones.

When Irréelle makes one final, unforgivable mistake by destroying a frightful creature just brought to life, Miss Vesper threatens to imagine her away once and for all. Defying her creator for the very first time, Irréelle flees to the underside of the graveyard and embarks on an adventure to unearth the mysterious magic that breathes bones to life, even if it means she will return to dust and be no more.

With echoes of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, debut author Heather Kassner crafts a gorgeously written story humming with magic, mystery, and dark imaginings.


my thoughts

First of all, a big thank you to Titan Books for providing me with a free copy of The Bone Garden! 

This was a delightful read perfect for the run-up to Halloween and I definitely agree with the comparisons to Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book! There was a wonderful sense of atmosphere from the very beginning.

Some of this atmosphere did fade out a little as the book progressed; I found that the action began to take more of a focus. Something about the story made it feel more middle-grade in tone than the young adult it was billed as. Not that this was an issue, it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting. But the writing had a lovely flow to it and it was extremely easy to fly through. I loved following Irreelle’s sweet journey.

I wasn’t really struck with a lot of thoughts while reading this one as I was too busy being swept along by the plot. Therefore, I will just reiterate that this was a great book to read in the run-up to Halloween but I’m sure it would be delightful at any time of year. And I definitely recommend it to fans of The Graveyard Book!


Have you read either of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

‘The Girl The Sea Gave Back’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! Today, I’m reviewing The Girl The Sea Gave Back which was very kindly sent to me by Titan Books! I’m sad to say that I had a few issues with this one 😦 Read on to find out exactly what they were!

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synopsis

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.


my thoughts

I really liked how Adrienne Young chose to open The Girl The Sea Gave Back. Having not read Sky in the Deep, I was interested to see how the author would set up her world – and when I started reading, I was pleased by it. I felt immediately drawn into the Norse setting. The author was also able to elicit emotion from me towards the characters, even though I didn’t yet know much about them.

Unfortunately, any connection I felt with the characters did not last. The two narrative voices were not very distinctive in tone and I would sometimes have to check who was speaking. I never really felt any great investment in either of the two perspectives; there was just a flatness to every character.

The dual perspective also made things feel quite repetitive. Often, the author would relay scenes from both points of view but this didn’t really add anything to my enjoyment or understanding of what was taking place.

I’m struggling to voice my opinions on the world building. It was good, in the sense that the Norse connections were really well developed. I loved all the mentions of gods and goddesses. However, I will admit that I found it difficult to get to grips with all the Norse words and names. There was no pronunciation guide in the book and I found myself tripping over words on almost every page. While I appreciated the realness that these details added to the story, I found that I was having to concentrate really hard and I think that’s part of why I couldn’t connect with the characters.

If I’m being totally honest, this book read like a debut to me. It was very action-heavy and also overflowing with awkward clunky sentences and repeated words. It just didn’t feel as polished as I would have liked. I would be interested to compare the writing with Young’s first book, Sky in the Deep, to see if the editing was any better in that instance.

Overall, I don’t regret reading this book but it’s certainly not a new favourite. The whole thing had a sense of bleakness to it; I’m not sure what it was but I just felt quite hopeless when reading it. Maybe that’s what the author was going for? In which case, it was a success. However, I have seen other reviewers commenting that Young had a very difficult time writing this book; I don’t know where they sourced this information to check it out for myself but if it’s true, Young’s emotions have definitely bled into her writing.

I wouldn’t jump to recommend this one but you might enjoy it if you’re a fan of the author’s first book. It didn’t quite work for me but I haven’t written this author off just yet as I feel like there is some potential there.

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Have you read this one? Or Sky in the Deep? I’d be really interested to know your thoughts if you have! xsignature (2)

 

The Record Keeper spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! I recently read The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion so I thought I’d share my spoiler-free review! Huge thanks to Titan Books for sending this one my way.

the record keeper


synopsis

The Record Keeper is a visceral and thrilling near-future dystopia examining past and present race relations.

After World War III, Earth is in ruins, and the final armies have come to a reluctant truce. Everyone must obey the law–in every way–or risk shattering the fragile peace and endangering the entire human race.

Although Arika Cobane is a member of the race whose backbreaking labor provides food for the remnants of humanity, she is destined to become a member of the Kongo elite. After ten gruelling years of training, she is on the threshold of taking her place of privilege far from the fields. But everything changes when a new student arrives. Hosea Khan spews dangerous words of treason: What does peace matter if innocent lives are lost to maintain it?

As Arika is exposed to new beliefs, she realizes that the laws she has dedicated herself to uphold are the root of her people’s misery. If Arika is to liberate her people, she must unearth her fierce heart and discover the true meaning of freedom: finding the courage to live–or die–without fear.


my thoughtsRight from the outset, I could tell that this book was going to be a fierce call-to-arms. The narrative voice of protagonist Arika is SO STRONG. The whole book basically reads like a rallying cry, as Arika discovers that what she has always believed is not necessarily right and goes on to make a powerful stand for the rights of herself and others.

There is a LOT going on in this book. I don’t know if it’s a standalone or the beginning of a series; honestly, I could make a case for either. But I was very impressed with how much the author managed to pack in to these 464 pages. The theme of racism is explored via various avenues, remaining solidly at the core of the novel no matter what direction it takes.

I will say that I found the world-building slightly lacking. The book dives straight into the action and the political machinations at the beginning therefore took a lot of concentration to get my head around. I would have liked to have known more about how the world came to be the way it is in this novel; nothing is ever really explained and I felt like some of its potential wasn’t fully explored. Again, maybe that’s coming in a future book but I don’t know.

Despite the slightly patchy world-building, I found this to be an extremely compelling book. It was impossible to not root for Arika on her journey and many scenes were very hard-hitting. This is a read that will stay with me for a long time.

Overall, I’d recommend this one cautiously if you like your dystopian reads on the more challenging side.

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Are you a fan of dystopian novels? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one if you’ve read it! Leave me a comment below and let’s chat! xsignature (2)

‘The Girl in Red’ spoiler-free review!

 

the girl in red

Hello lovely people! Today is my stop on the social media tour for The Girl in Red by Christina Henry! I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a huge fan of Henry’s dark fairytale retellings so when Titan Books offered me a copy of her latest book to review, I jumped at the chance.


synopsis

It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.

There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.

Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods…


my thoughtsSo I’ve already mentioned that I’m a huge fan of this author. Which means my expectations for this book were HIGH. And I’m delighted to say that I wasn’t disappointed.

The protagonist, Red, is FIERCE. She is one of my favourite characters that Henry has written to date. Red is a woman of colour with a brilliant mind and she is definitely someone I would want on my team in a crisis. I was really pleased that Henry didn’t just tell us how great Red was, but actually showed it through her choices and actions throughout the book. She is not the typical badass female we have come to expect in stories these days; instead, she is competent and level-headed, and she makes lots of nerdy movie references, all of which adds to her ‘realness’. She’s just a normal woman trying her best to deal with the rotten hand she has been dealt. To be honest, if I was the kind of person who had feelings towards fictional characters, I would have a bit of a girl crush on her.

Of course, it would be remiss of me not to mention the disability rep. It is fabulous. I loved that Henry portrayed something we don’t often see represented and did it in a way that totally normalised it. This is exactly what we need from our books!

Henry’s writing throughout this book was the high quality that I have come to expect from her in her previous works. I will say that there were a lot of brackets used and some disjointed sentences that weren’t always the easiest to read in terms of flow, but they made sense in that they represented Red’s conscious stream of thinking and this enabled the reader to really empathise with her.

The chapters were also rather long but I didn’t have an issue with this as it enabled me to become immersed in the story. I only mention it as I know some readers prefer shorter chapters 😉

Overall, this is another great offering from Christina Henry that takes a fairytale we are all familiar with and twists it into something even more awesome. Henry never shies away from the gory details and darker themes such as mental health and racism. I love what this author is doing and hope that she continues long into the future!

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Have you read any of Christina Henry’s dark fairytales? Which is your favourite? Are you planning to read this one? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

‘The Forgotten Girl’ spoiler-free review & GIVEAWAY!

Hey everyone! I’m delighted to be taking part in the Titan Books blog tour for The Forgotten Girl by Rio Youers! I pushed myself out of my comfort zone with this book and I’m so glad I did, as I ended up loving it! And I’m thrilled to be partnering with Titan to offer one lucky reader in the UK/ROI the chance to win a copy!

As always, I’ll include the book’s synopsis before my review but I do recommend going into this one blind if at all possible, so feel free to skip over it 😉

the forgotten girl review


synopsis

A dark mystery unfolds in Rio Youers’s riveting tale, for fans of Paul Tremblay and Joe Hill.

Harvey Anderson is a twenty-six-year-old busker who enjoys his peaceful life, but everything is turned upside down when he is abducted and beaten by a group of nondescript thugs. Working for a sinister man known as “the spider”, these goons have spent nine years searching for Harvey’s girlfriend, Sally Starling. Now they think they know where she lives. There’s only one problem: Sally is gone and Harvey has no memory of her. Which makes no sense to him, until he discovers that Sally has the unique ability to selectively erase a person’s memories. An ability she has used to delete herself from Harvey’s mind. But emotion runs deeper than memory, and so he goes looking for a girl he loves but can’t remember… and encounters a danger beyond anything he could ever imagine.

Political corruption and manipulation. A serial killer’s dark secrets. An appetite for absolute, terrible power… For Harvey Anderson, finding the forgotten girl comes at quite a cost.


my thoughtsThis was a seriously enjoyable read! The writing style is enthralling and I found myself swept along very easily from beginning to end. The writing is actually highly cinematic; I could easily picture everything in great detail and I think that this book would translate really well to screen!

The concept is so original and unique. As I previously said, I think it’s best to go into this one knowing as little as possible, to allow yourself to experience the shocks and thrills! In saying that, even though I had an idea of what the book was about, I still found myself glued to the pages and feeling breathless with excitement while reading. The concept intrigues continuously and builds to a very satisfying conclusion.

This is such a clever, multi-layered story. The ‘brain’ talk was completely fascinating, obviously, but there is also a nuance to the other plot elements that I really enjoyed. There’s also plenty of violence but not enough to put me off. If ever there was a book that contained something for everyone, this is it!

I’m so glad I pushed myself to try this one and I will definitely be recommending it to a few people!

the forgotten girl


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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Titan Books will be sending the book directly to the winner’s UK/ROI address. Good luck! 

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‘The Devouring Gray’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today is my day on the social media tour for The Devouring Gray and I’m delighted to be bringing you a spoiler-free review 🙂 Huge thanks to Titan Books for sending me a free copy of the book and promotional tarot cards!

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synopsis

After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn’t: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.

Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray—a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn’t yet know.

The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families’ abilities—before the Gray devours them all.


my thoughtsWell, this was certainly good and spooky! I love me an atmospheric read so I was living for this. The book has a nice creepy opening and I enjoyed the world-building. I would have liked it to go further with the scene setting but that’s a personal preference and I think Herman did a great job with her debut.

I would say that this is quite a character-focused book. I was immediately intrigued by Violet, being a piano player 😉 I liked watching her try to find her feet in a new town. Harper was also fascinating, with her righteous anger and hurt, and her missing arm which she didn’t let hold her back in any way. I also liked seeing the boys’ character development; everyone went through a transformation in this book!

“People could hurt each other without being monsters. And they could love each other without being saints.”

The book is quite slow-building as a whole, with lots of introductory details and scene setting. Things took a very dark turn around halfway through and I couldn’t put the book down. I do think that things wrapped up quite quickly compared to the build-up, but the cliffhanger was sufficiently brutal that I’ll be looking out for book two!

I haven’t read The Raven Boys or seen Stranger Things, which this book has been compared to, so I can’t say how those comparisons hold up. But I would recommend this one to readers who enjoyed The Wicked Deep or Sawkill Girls!

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Have you read this one yet? x

‘The City in the Middle of the Night’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my lovelies! Today I’m reviewing The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders, which was very kindly sent to me by Titan Books. I have to warn you all to take this review with a large pinch of salt; this is the book I was reading when I descended into the depths of my February reading slump and it was really difficult to pick it up again after that. I don’t think there was a causal link but I ended up not feeling very motivated to read this one, so I’m not sure if my rating will be very accurate!

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synopsis

From the brilliant mind of Charlie Jane Anders comes a new novel of Kafkaesque futurism. Set on a planet that has fully definitive, never-changing zones of day and night, with ensuing extreme climates of endless, frigid darkness and blinding, relentless light, humankind has somehow continued apace – though the perils outside the built cities are rife with danger as much as the streets below.

But in a world where time means only what the ruling government proclaims, and the levels of light available are artificially imposed to great consequence, lost souls and disappeared bodies are shadow-bound and savage, and as common as grains of sand. And one such pariah, sacrificed to the night, but borne up by time and a mysterious bond with an enigmatic beast, will rise to take on the entire planet – before it can crumble beneath the weight of human existence.


my thoughts

Reading back over that blurb, it seems quite vague so I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t what I got. I had hoped for more of a focus on why the planet was the way it was; there were a lot of elements of the world-building that weren’t really explained. I couldn’t picture everything clearly. However, I was prepared to just accept things – after all, I don’t read a lot of sci-fi so maybe that’s just how it is with this genre?

This was definitely a unique read though. Anders has an interesting writing style, with some nice descriptions at times, and clearly an abundance of imagination. There were things in this book that I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams! Admittedly, I found some of it a little strange – but again, I have to reiterate that sci-fi intimidates me so I’m perhaps not the best person to be commenting on this one haha.

The book is split between two perspectives, Sophie and Mouth, two strong female leads. I will say that it was helpful for me when their storylines converged a little into the book because it minimised my confusion and helped me keep track of what was going on. It was nice to see f/f relationships explored, though there were some slightly melodramatic moments.

Overall, I don’t feel like I’m the best person to rate this one. Sci-fi scares me at the best of times but add in a reading slump and I was always going to struggle. But this is the year of pushing myself out of my comfort zone so I’m glad that I tried. And hey, other readers might love this one with its biting social commentary and themes of rebellion!

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Have you read this one or All the Birds in the Sky? What do you think of science fiction? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)