review

A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E.Schwab

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I only recently heard about this author for the first time on a writing podcast by Tim Clare  (whose book The Ice House I’ve reviewed and bought a copy of  and The Honours), the interview was interesting and V.E. Schwab’s books sounded amazing. So I had to read them, I bought this from Waterstones.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. 

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

My Thoughts

When I started reading this book I was going through a phase of reading a lot of fantasy. And this fantasy world is so different, the magic in the book is so unique. I love it when I read something different, something that stands out.

I was hooked from the start. The characters are brilliant, people I quickly liked and cared about.  Leila is a thief, she has to be to survive but she wants to be a pirate and own her own ship! I love that! (being a Pirates of the carribean fan), she’s quite violent but I love her strength. And she’s entertaining, a character whose story you will want to follow.

Kell is one of the last remaining Antari, he cares so much for his brother. He smuggles objects between the three Londons which is intriguing.

The three Londons?  Red and White London  have magic and Grey London is like an older version of our world with no magic. There is a fourth but it’s sealed. I love the idea. It’s an interesting fantasy world and I want to read more. The settings are so detailed and easy to visualise.

Athos and Astrid the rulers of white London are really chilling characters which I enjoyed as a horror fan. Except their treatment of people is barbaric but they are intriguing and show how much white London has lost it’s magic.

I had so much sympathy for George in grey London.

There’s so much going on in this book, it’s action packed and riveting so you may read this book quicker than you’d like to. I tried to savour it but I couldn’t stop reading, the drip feed of intriguing information made me want to turn the page to find out what’s next.

There are more books in the series, A Gathering of Shadows and Shades of Light which I will be reading!

The one thing that really made me love this book even more: the main problem/conflict was resolved by the end of the book, despite it being part of a series. I loved that because I don’t like it when you get to the end of book one and you have to read the (4/5) books to find out the answer to a burning question. This ended perfectly and with plenty of possibility for the next books shich I really want ot read. I loved it!

I didn’t want to give too much away so apologies if my information may be a bit vague.

 

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review

Little Creepers by Jessica Walsh

Little Creepers

There was a campaign on Twitter, authors were looking for reviews for their books and this is one of the books I jumped at the chance to review. So I need to say: I recieved this ebook free in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from GoodReads

“Fear isn’t always loud. It doesn’t always scream or announce itself with a loud thud on the closet door. Sometimes it creeps, slithers and crawls.Sometimes it’s waiting in the shadows, whispering as you pass by.These stories may not scare you, but one or two whispers may just burrow into the back of your brain.They may make you shiver at night and consider, for just a moment, that maybe you left the front door unlocked and maybe those were footsteps you heard inside. Little Creepers contains 14 short stories, written by Jessica Walsh, meant to creep and crawl up your spine.”

My thoughts

That synopsis says it all really. I love horror and I don’t read enough of it so I get excited when I read it again and I never realise how much I miss it. Then I read this and it’s so good.

These short stories feature some characters who are scared of mundane things, a fog on a screen, tracks in the snow. But they are described in such a chilling way and quite scary you wonder by the end is this real?

I loved all these stories but here’s a snapshot of my favourites:

Giving In, a short poignant tale that pulls at the heart. it’s quite scary and you can hear the sounds and see the images.

Toothache, my favourite, it’s written in second person and wow! You can feel the pain the character is in.

For Sale, this one was about selling copies of parts of yourself for money, it was very well done. The character was thinking about how her skin (pigment and freckles) and other parts of her body like her toes could be on someone else. Perfectly horrible!

There was a longer story  My Life about this guy who moves into a new place and…. …weird. Nicholas is lonely! 

They’re all great. Short, creepy, tense and riveting.

If you love horror you need to read this! It’s so good. I’ll be reading this again!

If you don’t like horror take note and give this a go for Halloween. (Here’s the link to buy)

The title of this collection is apt, these  stories are Little Creepers!

 

review

Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

IMG_20190411_101807613.jpgCatcher in the rye is one of those books that’s always on must read lists. I remember watching a programme on BBC once (it might’ve been the Big Read in 2003) where celebs talked about their favourite books, this was on there and might’ve encouraged me to read it.

I’ve read a few reviews and the negative ones put me off but I’ve been wanting to read this book for some time and you have to read things to see what you think about them. This year I wanted to start reading the books I’ve been meaning to read for a while (years) and this one is the main one.

I got this copy from the library.

My thoughts

I didn’t expect to start reading this book and be riveted from the beginning. I thought I would hate the style, it’s first person written in the voice of  Holden Caulfield, but it was the style that pulled me in and made me care so much about him. At times I disagreed with his decisions and his behaviour made me want to shout at him, but I tried to understand him rather than judge him. 

I didn’t really think much of the plot, not much happens and I found Holden’s ability to get into bars questionable, surely he wouldn’t look old enough even though the book suggests he does? But I did feel sympathy for him getting kicked out of yet another school.  And through the events of the book you learn a lot about Holden and his mental state as he leaves school and hides out in hotels and clubs. 

I like Holden. He is dealing with something and it could easily get written off as teen angst. He has a way of looking at the world-seeing through the false people which affects him a lot. Maybe he is just growing up but I think he does experience mental health issues which he struggles with. (I’d love to know what others think about this).

I didn’t get the big deal about this book until I got to the end. I realised it wasn’t really written for me. It’s written for a teenager, a young adult, maybe one whose smart and lost their way, maybe struggling with angst or depression.
Saying that if you’ve ever felt lost in life with regards to purpose this could help (I thought I’d written down the quote, need to be more organised). This would be a great gift for a person who fits those descriptions.

I enjoyed this book and get why it’s an important book to read. Especially for younger people. I definitely read it too late but better late than never.

Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? When did you read it?

review

The Ice House by Tim Clare

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Release Date: 2nd May 2019

Ok, so I got this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I listen to Tim Clare’s writing podcast when I get chance and follow him on Twitter. I heard about The Ice House on there.

I wish I’d read The Honours first as this book follows on from that.

But: I’ve just preordered a copy of The Ice House from Mr B’s Emporium (with the promise of a signed edition) and The Honours 🙂

So what’s is about:

Synopsis from GoodReads:

“WAR DOESN’T END. IT SLEEPS.

Delphine Venner is old, but she remembers everything.

She remembers what it is to be a child of war, she remembers fighting for her life and what the terrifying creatures from another world took from her all those years ago. She remembers the gateway, and those she lost.

And in that other world, beast-filled and brutal, someone waits for her. Hagar, a centuries-old assassin, daily paying a terrible price for her unending youth, is planning one final death: that of her master, the Grand-Duc. A death that will cost her everything. A death that requires Delphine.

Voyaging into this violence and chaos, Delphine must remember who she really is and be ready to fight, before war reawakens. But in the battle to destroy an ageless evil, will both worlds be saved – or will every mortal creature lose everything?”

My Thoughts

Wow. After finishing this book I thought how am I going to review this! How can I explain how much I enjoyed this action packed riveting novel?

There are two veiewpoints: Hagar and Delphine. Hagar is an assassin but she’s also connected to this politician, she feels his pain, it’s complicated. (Read the book) She is trying to sever her connection with him and we learn why and how she intends to do it. Delphine just wants to find her family but to do that she has to work with these people.

I couldn’t really decide if Hagar was a good person or a bad person, I didn’t know if I was meant to be on her side or not.

I loved the fantasy world of this book. So imaginative. There’s so much going on in this book: intrigue, tension, mystery, violence, weird fantasy creatures. It’s never boring.

Umm.. it can be a little gory too. Do you ever get the urge to look away from a tv show/movie when it’s gory? Like a hospital scene or a really disgusting murder scene? You want to look away but you keep watching to see what happens? Well I never thought I’d have it with a book and I read horrors (real life gore is worse for me or this scene!) The scene was of a horse being butchered, it’s a very well written scene, not overly gory. Perfect, really. Um.. as much as it can be perfect..  it’s very disconcerting. 

I love Tim Clare’s writing style: when he describes a scenes it’s like he’s painting a picture with his words and you can see every detail. It makes the fantasy world come alive in your mind, enriches it and captures your imagination. I really wish they’d publish an illustrated edition of this book because it would be amazing. Please? 

I loved everything about this book, the characters, story, world, style. Looking forward to the next one….

But before that I am going to read The Honours and then reread this book. It’s so good.

*

If you want to know more about this book you can visit Tim Clare’s website, here where you’ll also find info about his brilliant writing podcast and weekly writing exercises. You can also find him on twitter

Tim Clare is an indie author, I bought his books from Mr B’s which is an independent bookshop in Bath. He’s hoping to sell 1500 copies of The Ice House so he can make the bestseller lists. I don’t think people believe he can, but it would be wonderful if an independent author made the bestseller list. He gives so much to the writing community it would be great if he got something back.

 

review

Paint Me A Picture by Patsy Collins

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I’ve read a few short story collections by Patsy Collins that I enjoyed. At the end of one was an extract for this book which hooked my attention. I finally got around to reading it, I managed to get a copy from my local library. But you can buy it on Amazon in ebook or physical book format.

Synopsis from GoodReads

“Mavis Forthright carefully planned her jump from Portsmouth’s Round Tower. She’s existed for over five decades. Lived hardly at all. Will end her misery with a few second’s fall into the cold sea. Except she’s not quite ready to die. A half day’s delay to try a bacon sandwich from the cafe won’t matter. Mother’s no longer there to disapprove.

She delays another day to lend Janice a book. Then a week to use her new paints. A month. Until the end of term. Mavis makes new plans; to create paintings full of emotion, to live, perhaps even make friends.

As if to balance her survival a number of people connected to Mavis die. At first that doesn’t matter. They’re people she dislikes. Mavis continues painting, tending her garden, feeding the birds and keeping her home properly clean, without additional concern. Then people who’ve been kind to Mavis are killed or injured. That shouldn’t happen.

Why are people dying? Is it because of charming Norman who’s back from her past, or is that strange boy Jake her mistaken guardian angel? Perhaps Mavis herself is to blame. She must learn the truth, stop the deaths and protect those she’s learned to care about before she can enjoy the new life she’s making for herself”

My thoughts

When the story starts Mavis is contemplating ending her life, I felt sorry for her and was rivetted wondering what would happen to her. As the story progresses we learn more about her, about how she looked after her mother until her death and how her mother’s personality and the way she controlled Mavis shaped her as a person.

Even though at times I felt like shouting at Mavis for her thoughts about things- like the way her mind reacts to things her coworkers say-I can relate to how your mind may think people don’t like you and provide evidence when in hindsight you may be wrong. Mavis has gone through life with this negative view, this defensive view, and slowly things start to change after a stranger suggests she do a course.  Mavis starts to make little changes in her life, she finds opportunities and takes them. I hoped that Mavis would find her way out of her suicidal thoughts with so much left to do in life: friends to make and hobbies to learn and enjoy.

When odd accidents started to happen this added a whole new element to the story, I was already rivetted but this kept me thinking. It turned into a mystery as Mavis wondered if they were all linked and it was intriguing trying to figure out what was going on.

Mavis is an interesting character whose thoughts and feelings are plain to see, I loved reading about her beautiful garden and the way that the art is described pulls you right into the character’s world.

At times this is a sad book but you can learn a lot about life from Mavis’s story. I enjoyed this book and was sad to leave Mavis and her friends behind.

Paint Me A Picture is an absorbing book that you won’t want to put down and will leave you wanting to read more. I recommend it.

Blog Tour, review

Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five by R.J. Furness

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I was so intrigued when the author contacted me and asked me to review this book for this blog tour. The cover intrigued me, (I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover). I actually read this book twice, I read the ARC ebook and I was just about to reread when this package came:

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The yo-yo and the sweets tie into the story. This package made my day!

There’s something special about this series of books. It’s  going to be serialised, like Dickens used to do, releasing it in small bits at a time. A bit like watching an episode a week of your favourite tv show. It’s different and I like it. There’s more explanation at the beginning of the book.

So you’ve seen the cover, here’s a note from the author:

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My thoughts

After reading the author’s introduction I was riveted. Straight away I knew this was going to be unique and not like anything else I’d read. An wonderful imaginative fantasy world (well R.J.Furness did bring Orgos into the world) and it’s only the first book!

Sapphire Smyth is kicked out of her foster carer’s home on her 18th birthday, they tell her that they can’t afford to keep her anymore. No money from the government. She feels unwanted, her father abandoned her and now the people who brought her up have done this. I felt so sorry for her, she’s a strong character though, no ‘damsel in destress’ you like her straight away:

“Sapphire didn’t need saving by Ben – or anyone else.”

If being kicked out wasn’t hard enough she then ends up on the wet streets to find somewhere to sleep and weird things start happening.

I don’t want to give too much away so I’m not sure how much to tell you. But it’s good!

R.J. Furness does a good job of whetting your appetite with this first book in the series. There’s so much tension and suspense you will end up reading this book in one sitting. I got to the end to the words ‘To Be Continued…’  and it’s a lot like a cliffhanger to your favourite show, and you feel like shouting: wait, what happens next?

I loved this book so much I read it twice. Looking forward to the next one in the series, that’s if I don’t read it again by then…..

*

If you’d like to get your hands on a copy of this book, you can get it on Amazon Kindle and Kobo.

Of course if you prefer a physical book you can buy that too.

Check out the author’s website https://rjfurness.com/ for more info about this book and the others. And here’s the GoodReads link.

 

review

Treading The Uneven Road by L.M. Brown

Treading The Uneven Road

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. It will be released Friday 15th March.

Synopsis from GoodReads:

“The stories in this linked collection are set in a small village in the Northwest of Ireland in the early 1980’s and 90’s. A by-pass around the village has rid them of their once busy traffic. The residents feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later. 

The collection is not only about the characters need for salvation but it is about a society that is unraveling. In Amends, we hear about the Bishop who has fathered a child. A priest is beckoned by a dying man to be mocked. The world inside and outside the village is changing. In every story the characters need to make a choice on how they might carry on. “

My thoughts

Treading The Uneven Road is a collection of character driven stories that sometimes span the majority of their life. The characters are so well developed with plenty of description and an insight into their thoughts and feelings. The author does a good job of making you care about the characters and of presenting a good sense of place and atmopshere.

The collection starts with ‘The Lady On Thhe Bridge’ an intriguing story of a woman who suspects her husband of having an affair, after finding a number she believes belongs to his lover she calls it. I enjoyed this story, the characters felt so real, and I was riveted. I just wish it didn’t end so soon, I wanted more.

I couldn’t decide if that one was my favourite or a later story ‘The Wrong Man’ about two friends who leave Ireland: Moire and Ester. Moire starts working late and their friendship changes when she moves in with her much older boyfriend. Ester becomes concerned. I enjoyed this story, and how it spans Ester’s life, she looks back as she is older with regrets.

Some of these stories are linked, you’ll read a story about one character and then later on a minor character from the same story will feature, I liked that.

I enjoyed some of these stories but generally felt that they meandered and I couldn’t always follow the plot. It’s interesting how they span a whole life rather then give you a short snapshot. But they were longer than I expected and I usually read shorter stories because I like to read them on my lunch break or when I want to read but don’t have the time to read a novel.

The tone and style perfectly suit the character driven stories and other readers may find that they are exactly what they are looking for. This style and length just isn’t for me. You should defintely have a read and make up your own mind. Check out the other reviews on GoodReads