Book Review · Books

Brambles (Dauntless Path #0.5) by Intisar Khanani [BOOK REVIEW]

Brambles (Dauntless Path #0.5) by Intisar Khanani [BOOK REVIEW]

I am so glad that the author, Intisar Khanani, sent me an ARC e-copy of Brambles. Brambles is a prequel to Thorn, and is a part of the Dauntless Path series. I absolutely adored Thorn, and you can read my review of it HERE. When I heard there is a prequel, I was immediately sold!

About The Book:

Brambles (Dauntless Path #0.5) by Intisar Khanani [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: Harper Teen

Pages: 40

Format I read it in: Uncorrected Proof – ebook

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

In the kingdom of Adania, everyone knows what Princess Alyrra did to earn the court’s contempt, her mother’s disdain, and her brother’s hatred.

She betrayed her own.

Yet, the truth hides another story, one of honor and honesty, of a princess gambling her own life for another’s. It’s a tale of courage and consequences, and a choice that can never be undone.

A short story prequel to her multi-starred fantasy, Thorn, Intisar Khanani’s “Brambles” gives Alyrra’s account of what really happened all those years ago, and how a few critical days turned her life into a daily fight for survival.

My Thoughts:

In Brambles, we get to meet princess Alyrra before she is betrothed. We also meet her family and Valka as well. As short as this book was, it was filled with a lot of emotion, as well as a good moral story of doing what is right. Valka enjoyed messing up with the servants and ruining their lives, and when Alyrra stood up to her, it was at this point that everything changed.

Alyrra did what was right, but it was interesting to see her brother and her mother’s reactions. Clearly, their reputation was much more important to them than integrity. It is also in Brambles that we witness Alyrra’s brother and how cruel he can be. And most importantly, it is here we witness her first connection with the wind.

If you have already read Thorn, Brambles will be such a delight for you. It has Easter eggs hidden in it, and it also shows us a different side to the characters in more depth than we get to know them in Thorn. It is also lovely to see Alyrra’s life before she needs to move to the city, and how she behaves when nobody is watching.

But at the same time – if this is the first book you decide to pick up from this series, it is a perfect introduction to the story that’s about to follow. You’ll get to meet Alyrra and find out more about the circumstances she lives in. Intisar Khanani beautifully created a loop of content, that no matter which book you choose to read first, it will be a delight nevertheless.

I still find it amusing how the author managed to create such a compelling and intriguing prequel in only 40 pages.

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters. Prior to publishing her novels, Intisar worked as a public health consultant on projects relating to infant mortality and minority health, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy.

Intisar is the author of the Dauntless Path books (Thorn, The Theft of Sunlight), and her indie epic fantasy series, The Sunbolt Chronicles.

Social Media:
Twitter | Instagram

Social Media:
| WishlistKo-fi | FacebookTwitterGoodreadsInstagramPinterest |

Book Review · Books

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland [BOOK REVIEW]

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland [BOOK REVIEW]

I had the amazing opportunity to participate in another instagram readalong – this time reading House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland with some amazing bookstagrammers. Huge thank you to the team at Tandem as well as the publisher Hot Key Books or sending me a copy of the book to read and review!

About The Book:

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: Hot Key Books

Pages: 352

Format I read it in: Paperback

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow has always been strange. Something happened to her and her two older sisters when they were children, something they can’t quite remember but that left each of them with an identical half-moon scar at the base of their throats.

Iris has spent most of her teenage years trying to avoid the weirdness that sticks to her like tar. But when her eldest sister, Grey, goes missing under suspicious circumstances, Iris learns just how weird her life can get: horned men start shadowing her, a corpse falls out of her sister’s ceiling, and ugly, impossible memories start to twist their way to the forefront of her mind.

As Iris retraces Grey’s last known footsteps and follows the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs she left behind, it becomes apparent that the only way to save her sister is to decipher the mystery of what happened to them as children.

The closer Iris gets to the truth, the closer she comes to understanding that the answer is dark and dangerous – and that Grey has been keeping a terrible secret from her for years.

My Thoughts:

I loved the mystery that surrounded the Hollow sisters and their disappearance. It gave me a Stranger Things vibe and the writing was beautiful!

I loved the relationship that the sisters had with each other and I also appreciated how complicated their relationship was with Cate. Once I finished the book, I was able to fully understand the reasoning behind it, and I loved how this was represented in the book. It must be so hard for Cate to have done what she was doing all her life, and I was really amazed by her character!

You can feel the suspense from the very first chapter.

It grips you and it doesn’t let go until the very end! Reading this book as part of a readalong was so hard. Imagine only having to read 50 pages a day, when you just want to devour the whole book in one evening. I am not sure where I acquired the patience I needed to be able to resist finishing this book early.

My favourite character was Iris.

I loved how she grew as a person throughout the book. So did Tyler, even though, let’s be honest – he wasn’t a very important character in the first place. I felt like his presence was unnecessary at times, and he seemed to have existed in the book to just assist with one thing around the end. A bit convenient in my opinion.

One of the favourite parts about this book is how I started reading it and I formed certain opinions about certain characters. And as I kept reading, these opinions changed so dramatically, but in such a natural way. By the end of the book, I felt like I was a completely different person as well.

I was left slightly unsatisfied with the ending, as it doesn’t quite end. I feel like there is still some room left for perhaps another book. If so, I’ll be the first in line to read it. But if not, I liked how it leaves us to determine what might be happening in the future, with a slight guidance on what the character’s plans are.

If you’re one of those people that love searching for clues and answers, you’ll have so much fun reading this! I went on a wild paranormal adventure entangled with myths, fashion and wild flowers. House of Hollow is certainly one of my favourite titles this year.

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Krystal Sutherland is an internationally published author. Her first novel, Chemical Hearts, was published in over 20 countries and was named by the American Booksellers Association as one of the best debuts of 2016. The film adaptation, produced by Amazon Studios, stars Lili Reinhart (Riverdale) and Austin Abrams (Euphoria); Sutherland served as an executive producer on the project. Her second novel, A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares, was published to critical acclaim in 2017 and has been optioned for adaptation by Yellow Bird US. In 2018, she appeared on the annual Forbes “30 Under 30” list. Originally from Australia, she has lived on four continents and currently calls London home. Her next novel for young adults, House of Hollow, is set for publication by Penguin in spring 2021.

Social Media:
Instagram | Twitter

Social Media:
| WishlistKo-fi | FacebookTwitterGoodreadsInstagramPinterest |

Book Review · Books

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane [BOOK REVIEW]

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane [BOOK REVIEW]

I had the amazing opportunity to participate in another instagram readalong – this time reading the Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane with some amazing bookstagrammers. Huge thank you to the team at Tandem as well as the publisher, Harper Fiction, for sending me a copy of the book to read and review!

About The Book:

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: Harper Fiction

Pages: 416

Format I read it in: Paperback

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

Eve, Justin, Susie, and Ed have been friends since they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, the four are as close as ever, Thursday night bar trivia is sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe she should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed still thinks about it, too.

But then, in an instant, their lives are changed forever.

In the aftermath, Eve’s world is upended. As stunning secrets are revealed, she begins to wonder if she really knew her friends as well as she thought. And when someone from the past comes back into her life, Eve’s future veers in a surprising new direction…

They say every love story starts with a single moment. What if it was just last night?

My Thoughts:

You don’t know how much you miss a certain type of book until you start reading one and you feel the instant refreshment it brings. This happened to me with Last Night. This book is so much more than your typical rom-com novel. I wanted to read it because of the “best friends to lovers” possible scenario, and instead I got so much more, and I’m so glad I did! I felt like I was Eve’s shadow – feeling everything she feels. Friendships, relationships, grief, secrets and betrayals… A remarkable roller-coaster of a story that I wasn’t able to put down.

“I notice, once again, that company that’s not the right fit for you is so much lonelier than being happily alone.”

I loved Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed.

Their group was unique and very dear. The chemistry these characters have between each other, especially Eve and Susie is truly something remarkable, and quite rare in today’s world. I felt like we didn’t get enough of Justin, and I quite liked Ed, although I did judge him for his poor decision making skills. I loved Finlay, and I really enjoyed getting to know him slowly throughout the book.

“Incredible how one revelatory discovery can completely change your perception of someone.”

Last Night is also one of those books where it’s so hard to write a review without spoiling anything, as the big bombshell happens quite early in the book. So I’ll just say this – I loved the ending and I feel like everyone got what they deserved! Last Night is the first book I’ve read by Mhairi Mcfarlane, and (said with the voice of Michael Bisping) “believe you me”, I’ll be definitely reading more. And while I’m checking out the rest of Mhairi’s books, you go ahead and check this one out. 🙂

A truly incredible story, a very emotional journey that will leave a mark in your life. A lesson on how to cope with grief, how to stop wasting energy on people that don’t deserve you, and how to start loving again and accept love back. And most importantly, a lesson that sometimes, it’s okay to be rude!

“I ponder how many mistakes in life are born of a simple fear of being rude.”

Rating:

★★★★

About The Author:

Mhairi was born in Falkirk, Scotland in 1976. She went to school in Nottingham, studied English Literature at Manchester University and then returned to Nottingham to delight its citizens with her journalism. Her debut novel, the romantic comedy You Had Me At Hello, was an instant hit upon being published in December 2012. It’s since become HarperCollins’ best selling ebook to date, has been translated into 16 languages and is being developed as a major feature film, with Mhairi writing the screenplay. The follow up, Here’s Looking At You, was published in December 2013 and made the Sunday Times Bestseller list.

Social Media:
Instagram | Twitter

Social Media:
| WishlistKo-fi | FacebookTwitterGoodreadsInstagramPinterest |

Book Review · Books

The Country Village Christmas Show by Cathy Lake [BOOK REVIEW]

The Country Village Christmas Show by Cathy Lake [BOOK REVIEW]

I don’t usually read Christmas books when it’s not winter time. Purely because I want to feel the magic of Christmas, and that’s hard to do when there’s sunshine outside. When the team at tandem advised me that the audiobook for The Country Village Christmas Show is available for this title, I decided to give it a show anyways.

About The Book:

The Country Village Christmas Show by Cathy Lake [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

Pages: 400

Format I read it in: Audiobook

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK 

Synopsis:

Recently divorced, the family home sold and her son all grown-up, Clare is at a crossroads. She’s dedicated her whole adult life to her family, and now it’s time she did something for herself.

In the lead up to Christmas, Clare decides that a bit of time in the countryside might be just what she needs, so she moves back to Little Bramble, the village she grew up in. But living with her mum for the first time in years – and not to mention Goliath the Great Dane – can be challenging.

When Clare finds herself running the village Christmas show, it feels like she has purpose in her life again. Bringing together people from all sides of the community, and all walks of life, will Clare manage to pull off a festive feat like no other? And will she find the new start in life – and possibly love – that she’s been looking for?

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed listening to the audiobook for The Country Village Christmas Show and I think the narrator did an amazing job in telling the story. This was a Christmas book and yet I wasn’t able to witness the Christmas magic that Christmas books usually bring! It may have been because it’s almost summer, but I think it was something to do with the book itself.

The plot was interesting, but there was nothing special about it. Nothing stood up in particular, to make this book memorable. Clare is recently divorced and comes back to the countryside, to the place she grew up. Then she meets someone and even then, she’s too afraid to be happy. The romance in the book was terrible; no passion, no attraction, no flirting. The only good scene was the one where Sam opens up about his relationship with his sister and the accident. In terms of love sparks, or steamy scenes, there will be none in this book. So if you came here searching for that, I suggest you instead have a look at some of the books Georgia Le Carre has written.

The only reason this book has a “Christmas theme” is because a Christmas Show happens during the book. And I really enjoyed this part. The auditions for the show in particular. However, I expected more content when it came to this, and it’s just another scene in the book. I would’ve thought it would have more meaning, especially due to the mother’s connection to the hall.

I believe the focus of this book was Claire’s recovery from her divorce, and moving on with her life. The ultimate lesson that even when you think something terrible in your life happened, there is always time for a new beginning. And when I look at the book from this aspect, it did deliver. We had an amazing dog helping Clare out, her son and her mum gave her the support she needed and the feeling of belonging. However, on that same note of mental happiness, when Claire arrived in her town, her mother was clearly depressed. And Claire mentines this a few times, and then all of a sudden, everything is fine again, the mum has fallen in love and her routine is back to normal. We are left with no explanation on this transition and I just feel that this part could’ve been done so much better!

The Country Village Christmas Show a great story to let people know that it’s not the end of the world if you get a divorce, or if you lose someone… A great story to enjoy in your free time, but definitely not my cup of tea.

Rating:

★★

About The Author:

Cathy Lake is a pseudonym for a women’s fiction writer who lives with her family and three dogs in beautiful South Wales. She writes uplifting stories about strong women, family, friendship, love, community and overcoming obstacles.Cathy Lake also writes under the names Megan Attley and Darcie Boleyn

Social Media:
Twitter

Social Media:
| WishlistKo-fi | FacebookTwitterGoodreadsInstagramPinterest |

Book Review · Books

The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore [BOOK REVIEW]

The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore [BOOK REVIEW]

I had the amazing opportunity to participate in another instagram readalong – this time reading the Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore with some amazing bookstagrammers. We even had a wonderful Q&A chat with the author once we finished the book. Huge thank you to the team at Tandem as well as the publisher, Granta Books, for sending me a copy of the book to read and review!

About The Book:

The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore [BOOK REVIEW]


Publisher: Granta Books

Pages: 304

Format I read it in: Hardcover

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

Synopsis:

England, 1643. Parliament is battling the King; the war between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers rages. Puritanical fervour has gripped the nation, and the hot terror of damnation burns black in every shadow.

In Manningtree, depleted of men since the wars began, the women are left to their own devices. At the margins of this diminished community are those who are barely tolerated by the affluent villagers – the old, the poor, the unmarried, the sharp-tongued. Rebecca West, daughter of the formidable Beldam West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only by her infatuation with the clerk John Edes. But then newcomer Matthew Hopkins, a mysterious, pious figure dressed from head to toe in black, takes over The Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about the women of the margins. When a child falls ill with a fever and starts to rave about covens and pacts, the questions take on a bladed edge.

My Thoughts:

As soon as I laid eyes on the cover and the synopsis, I knew I had to read it. And it didn’t disappoint at all. I just had to shift my expectations a little bit.

The Manningtree Witches is a book set in England in 1643, where witch hunters were quite popular and many women were killed after being accused of witchcraft. This book is actually inspired by true events that happened in history. The focus was more on the historical aspect and bringing life to the characters, rather than the supernatural elements.

We never get a full clarification whether Beldam West, her daughter Rebecca and the other women were actually witches, and we get a glimpse of their lives and their imprisonment. We get a front row seat of their feelings, and how this impacts them as well as the community. It was so interesting to also get a point of view from the perspective of the witch hunter. As the villain that he is, I loved getting to know his opinion on the situation and his reasoning.

“But if a witch can be in two places at once, as you say, then I cannot prove my innocence by those same means. Nor, it seems to me, by any other. I can say again and again, a thousand times, sir, that I am not a witch, and have no traffic with the Devil nor his spirits, and it will account for nothing. But if I say once that I am, then it will account for everything.”

The writing is very lyrical and also captures the old-style English.

I had to refer to my dictionary a few times, which has now become a rare occasion. And I really enjoyed learning some new words. I’m looking at you – lucre, extemporise, gaol, interlocutor and bray! You can immediately notice the love the author has for poetry. It took me a while to get into it, but after 80 pages I started loving it.

There were times when I was confused about whose point of view I am currently reading about. This slightly interrupted my concentration, but the story was wonderful in terms of timeline and storytelling.

The only reason of my rating is because my expectations were different going into the book. My need for paranormal elements and a bit of witchcraft weren’t satisfied. However, putting my expectations aside, this book beautifully represents the reality of witch hunting and the struggles so many women had to endure during these times.

If you want to read a book about the witch hunting in history, The Manningtree Witches is a wonderful lyrical take on the events that happened in Manningtree. However, if you want a book that has more “witchy” elements – I would suggest you skip this one.

Rating:

★★★

About The Author:

A. K. Blakemore is the author of two full-length collections of poetry: Humbert Summer (Eyewear, 2015) and Fondue (Offord Road Books, 2018), which was awarded the 2019 Ledbury Forte Prize for Best Second Collection. She has also translated the work of Sichuanese poet Yu Yoyo (My Tenantless Body, Poetry Translation Centre, 2019). Her poetry and prose writing has been widely published and anthologised, appearing in the the London Review of BooksPOETRYPoetry Review and The White Review, among others. 

Her debut novel, The Manningtree Witches, will be published in 2021 by Granta in the UK and Catapult in the US.

Social Media:
Instagram | Twitter

Social Media:
| WishlistKo-fi | FacebookTwitterGoodreadsInstagramPinterest |