Friday Face Off : The Cloisters by Katy Hays

FFO

Today is another Friday Face Off, originally created by Books by Proxy).  This is an opportunity to look at a book of your choice and shine the spotlight on the covers.  Of course this only works for those books that have alternative covers (although sometimes I use this to look at a series of books to choose a favourite). . So, if you have a book that has alternative covers, highlight them and choose your favourite.  If you’re taking part it would be great if you leave a link so I can take a look at what you’ve chosen.

My book this week is one that I read late last year, The Cloisters by Katy Hays a dark academia story packed with gothic(y) goodness.

Here are the covers:

My favourite this week is :

Cloisters2

Which is your favourite?

Again, this week as last, I like both of the covers so this was a tough choice – but I couldn’t resist the above when push came to shoe.

Join me next week in highlighting one of your reads with different covers.

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The Ivory Tomb (Rooks and Ruin #3) by Melissa Caruso

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Superb conclusion to the series

TheIvoryTomb

Given recent family events I’m slightly behind with reviews so I’m going to keep this one short and sweet as I attempt to make some headway.  This is in no way a reflection of my feelings for this book and the series as a whole which has been a wonderful reading experience packed with action, emotion and character development.

The first thing I would mention is this is not the type of book that you should read (in my opinion) as a standalone, the two previous books provide so much groundwork and seeing the characters evolve during the course of their journey is, for me, one of the most memorable parts of the series as a whole, which isn’t a reflection on other elements such as pacing (fast), action (breathtaking) and plot (excellent).  The second thing I would also point out, is that if you haven’t yet read this instalment but are planning to do so you might want to be aware that spoilers may be lurking, although I generally try to avoid these.

Well, Caruso certainly delivered a dark and punchy story and an absolutely satisfying conclusion.  I cannot tell a lie, the pacing is positively non stop, as is the action and the author mercilessly puts her characters and her world through the wringer.  I reached a point quite early where I was literally feeling sorry for them!  The world itself is left reeling from the devastation and destruction caused by the unleashing of the demons, it’s like the apocalypse has arrived and it’s running amok leaving bodies in it’s wake.

I really enjoyed the overall plot for the whole series.  There’s a lot to take in and I’m not going to try and give an overview here but the scope of this series is very impressive.

And, for the romance lovers out there – and even for those who don’t fall into that bracket (myself usually included) – the relationship between two of the central characters is an absolute must read and was without doubt one of my favourite elements of the book – it’s so easily developed, no instalove here, great banter and an overall steady pace that is lovely to read.

This is an author that I will watch eagerly to see what she comes up with next.  Clearly a great talent and unbridled imagination.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : A Woman of the Sword by Anna Smith Spark

CWW

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : A Woman of the Sword by Anna Smith Spark because I loved the Empires of the Dust series.  Here’s the cover and a bit of information:

AWomanof

A Woman of the Sword is an epic fantasy seen through the eyes of an ordinary woman. Lidae is a daughter, a wife, a mother – and a great warrior born to fight. Her sword is hungry for killing, her right hand is red with blood.

War is very much a woman’s business. But war is not kind to women. And war is not kind to mothers and their sons.

Expected publication : April 2023

Friday Face Off : The Drift by CJ Tudor

Posted On 27 January 2023

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: , ,

Comments Dropped 4 responses

FFO

Today is the second week of a new Friday Face Off  (a meme originally created by Books by Proxy) – similar in many ways to what came before but different going forward.  From 2023 I will no longer be posting prompts or themes to guide cover choices.  Instead, having noticed that many of my most recent reads have had more than one cover,  I thought instead it would be a change to highlight something that I’m keen to shine the focus on. So, if you have a book that has alternative covers, highlight them and choose your favourite.  If you’re taking part it would be great if you leave a link so I can take a look at what you’ve chosen.

My book this week The Drift by CJ Tudor. I’m loving this author’s work and this is no exception.  Really well done indeed.

Here are the covers:

My favourite this week is :

thedrift

It’s really tough to choose a favourite this week because I really like both covers. At the end of the day it comes down to the simple fact that the red cover is so eye catching – it would definitely draw you in if you saw it on the bookshelf.

Join me next week in highlighting one of your reads with different covers.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Book That Wouldn’t Burn by Mark Lawrence

CWW

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Book That Wouldn’t Burn by Mark Lawrence – because – Mark Lawrence!!

Here’s a little bit more info:

hebooke

A boy has lived his whole life trapped within a vast library, older than empires and larger than cities.

A girl has spent hers in a tiny settlement out on the Dust where nightmares stalk and no one goes.

The world has never even noticed them. That’s about to change.

Their stories spiral around each other, across worlds and time. This is a tale of truth and lies and hearts, and the blurring of one into another. A journey on which knowledge erodes certainty, and on which, though the pen may be mightier than the sword, blood will be spilled and cities burned.

Expected publication : May 2023

The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell

Posted On 24 January 2023

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 5 responses

My Five Word TL: DR Review : I loved everything about this.

WM

It seems that Laura Purcell is not only the Gothic Queen but she also seems unable to do little wrong in terms of her creations.  This is an author that I usually dance a little jig to whenever I discover that she has a new release pending and so far I’ve enjoyed them all – very much.

Set in the theatre this is a dark and atmospheric read.  It revolves around five key plays that reflect the story as it progresses.  It’s a tale involving plenty of drama, unholy deals that come at a price, jealousy, ambition and tragedy.

As the story begins we meet Jenny, she’s fallen on hard times following the betrayal of her own brother which has left Jenny and her siblings in dire straits.  When Jenny is called to meet the wealthy wife of of the Mercury Theatre owner she is intrigued and a little amazed when she’s offered the job of dresser at the theatre – the very place where her brother betrayed not only her but the cast and crew of the theatre itself.  It seems that the lady herself has suspicions about her husband and his leading actress and wishes Jenny to be her inside eyes – a spy no less – and Jenny is desperate enough to take the position.  Of course, when she begins to find out she likes the actress in question, admire her a little even, it doesn’t help her to undertake her new role.

I loved this.  The setting, the plot, the writing, the dark gothic feel, the characters, the strange blending in of theatre and supernatural elements with such a deft touch.  Absolutely loved it and frankly I could read it again.

The theatre setting and Victorian period is perfect and seems to be Purcell’s domain.  The theatres is brought to life beautifully, dilapidated and yet startling when the bright lights shine.  This is a dangerous place and when things start to go wrong, it seems like bad luck has come calling

The leading lady, Lilith Erikson, is a beautiful and passionate woman, full of ambition and determined to grasp the nettle now.  When she comes into possession of a strange watch, one believed to contain dark powers, her troubles begin.  Her performances on stage are magnificent, she lives and breathes the characters, but off stage she loses her will.  Jenny is a great character too and it’s a pleasure to read two such strong female leads.  Jenny is basically good at heart and therefore conflicted with her newfound role as tittle tattle.  She feels bad for spying on Lilith but needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle, she’s basically in between a rock and a hard place and must take any work she’s offered – and this is indeed a lucrative position.

The supernatural elements revolve around a pact with Melpomene, the tragic muse from Greek mythology.  These elements are subtly woven into the story in such a way that I think readers who don’t particularly love supernatural elements will still enjoy.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this.  The writing is fantastic, it provides the perfect balance in all ways, the theatre comes to life and the characters leap off the page.  In a nutshell, I can’t say enough good things about this book.  Put simply I loved it and like a greedy child desperate for more I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 5 of 5 stars

All the Blood We Share by Camilla Bruce

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Reimagining of Sinister Serial Killers

Allthe

Well, if it doesn’t sound too hideous to say that I enjoyed a sinister reimagining of a family of serial killers, I will say that this was a very good read.  Perhaps not the kind of read that’s going to bring a smile to your face or give you any laugh out loud moments, but definitely a compelling tale that you read with ever increasing shock that is heightened even more with the realisation that this family really existed and spread misery across the Kansas plains with their low regard for life.

This is a reimagining of real life events penned by a wonderful author who clearly has an interest and has researched the subject well.  It’s positively gripping and a little bit like watching a dreadful trainwreck.

It was a sad day for Cherryvale, Kansas when the Benders came to stay.  Trying to leave a dark past behind they arrive on the prairie where they set up an Inn and dry goods store.  The females of the family are not entirely happy with this new start, wanting to go further afield, but William Bender believes they can make a living being so near to a frequently used trail and so begins a short and bloody spell in America’s history.

The Bender family consist of a young woman, attractive and persuasive, known as Kate.  Her mother Elvira who shares a love/hate relationship with her daughter, Elvira’s new husband William and William’s son John.  Although the four originally intend to keep a low profile in Kansas they soon become impatient with the slow progress of their savings and begin to murder and rob the travellers who stop at their Inn seeking a room or sustenance.  Put bluntly they soon become greedy, Kate, as I mentioned is a persuasive character and convinces her step father that the angels talk to her, her bloodlust needs satisfying and William is happy to be persuaded.  Elvira, whilst not entirely happy with the killings and unkeen to draw attention, is at the same time greedy enough not to make a real stand.  Then we have John.  Besotted with Kate he plays a moody and aggressive character who is capable of shocking violence in order to impress.  Along with the Benders we have an alternative voice in Hanson who lives at the nearby trading post.  He visits the family regularly and gives a great outside perspective, particularly as he goes from the blushing boy who has a crush on his attractive new neighbour, to a frightened boy scared by the killings, to a suspicious boy who doesn’t want to believe the worst.

I’m not going to really go into the plot but look at what worked well for me.

Well, firstly, this is a gripping story, it’s bloody and shocking and doesn’t hold back the punches so be aware of that.  I found it pretty horrific but at the same time unputdownable.  On top of this I think the author does a first rate job of creating a tense atmosphere what with the bloodlust and fear and on top of that the fact that the family don’t absolutely trust each other, definitely makes for an edgy read.  And there’s a great sense of place, the open plains and remoteness all playing into the story and lulling the family into a false sense of security.

Without doubt though I think Kate is the winning element of the story.  She’s so bad.  Always ready with an easy lie and a sweet smile she has no problem wrapping people around her finger and coupled with her constant scheming, dark moments of lust and remarkable lack of empathy she makes for a very strong leading lady.  Happily though, although Kate steals the show the other characters are a strong supporting cast.

Overall this was a quick read, the pacing was really well done and Bruce manages to give you that feeling of ever mounting dread.  The murders themselves are almost coldly and cleanly delivered which probably makes them a bit less gruesome than they already are and the characters create an immediate hook to keep you reading.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing so but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Books read this week:

So, dad is still poorly and still in hospital.  I’m currently looking after mum as it’s difficult for her to cope for this length of time not to mention lonely.  I’ve still managed to do some reading and posting but not much time to actually sit down and blog hop.  Hopefully I will catch up with comments and all your posts soon.

This week I managed to complete The Drift by CJ Tudor which I really enjoyed.  I also read All The Blood We Share by Camilla Bruce.  Another author who I’m a bit fixated on at the moment, this is from the work she seems to be enjoying that gives a fictional account of true life serial killers, the previous novel being In the Garden of Spite (or Triflers Need Not Apply as it’s also known).  I’ve also started All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham which gets off to a very intriguing start.  Look at the covers for last week’s reads – don’t you just love it when your covers conspire together to provide matching colours.

Next Week’s Reads:

Friday Face Off : How to Sell a Haunted House

FFO

Today is the second week of a new Friday Face Off  (a meme originally created by Books by Proxy) – similar in many ways to what came before but different going forward.  From 2023 I will no longer be posting prompts or themes to guide cover choices.  Instead, having noticed that many of my most recent reads have had more than one cover,  I thought instead it would be a change to highlight something that I’m keen to shine the focus on. So, if you have a book that has alternative covers, highlight them and choose your favourite.  If you’re taking part it would be great if you leave a link so I can take a look at what you’ve chosen.

My book this week is another read that I enjoyed very recently.  How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix.

Here are the covers:

My favourite this week is :

Howto2

I like both covers but this one appealed to me because I hadn’t realised this was a toy house inside a house – I just like that idea for some reason!  Which cover is your favourite?

Join me next week in highlighting one of your reads with different covers.

Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie

Posted On 19 January 2023

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 4 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review: Winning format, creepy house, atmosphere

Episode13

Episode Thirteen is perhaps not quite what I expected in some ways and I think that’s a good thing in this instance.  I think I had in mind a regular traditional style ghost story with things going bump in the night.  Instead this as a refreshingly unique feel, a style that I am an absolute pushover for in more ways than one and a group of characters that are expertly developed, plus things going bump in the night.

I’m not going to go into the plot (which is one of my constant refrains at the moment or at least it seems to be) but let readers discover things for themselves.  What I can tell you is this is a story put together using found footage (whoops, that doesn’t really bode well in the first instance does it).  The setting is a derelict and dilapidated mansion where a team of scientists undertook some dodgy experiments before seemingly disappearing into the ether – this also doesn’t bode well does it!  On top of this the characters are producing a reality tv show that has proved a great success but is flagging a little, they’re determined to make this a winning episode – guess what, it’s episode 13 (unlucky for some) – what could possibly go wrong?

So, for me, the first thing that immediately drew me in was the format of story telling.  I’m a sucker for epistolary style and this includes journals, blogs, camera footage, texts, etc.  I just love this approach because you get a rounded feel for the characters and the action rather than simply following one pov.  And that leads me to the characters themselves.  I’m so overawed at how the author manages to develop all the characters in such a convincing way using this format.

The characters.  They’re an eclectic bunch.  We have the married couple, Matt and Claire Kirklin.  They are almost like polar opposites.  Matt believes in ghosts whereas Claire is all about debunking the stories using science.   Fade to Black is in fact Matt’s creation, as a child he believed he was visited by a ghost and has pursued his fascination with the supernatural ever since.  The element of Claire taking part as the ‘disbeliever’ waiting to be convinced is the winning element that originally boosted the show up the ranks.  The rest of  the team consists of a cameraman, an actress who brings the glamour to the series and a technician responsible for setting up all the paraphernalia needed. What I really liked about the characters is that they all have their own concerns and these play heavily into the story.  On top of that I would say I struggled to find a favourite here and I think that’s because there are underlying resentments and jealousies not to mention egos that don’t always paint the characters in the best light.  I mean, I love this because they come across as flawed and real.  They have doubts and insecurities and these really come to the fore and send some of them over the edge.

The setting.  The house is a great setting.  The team are all so excited to be given access and can’t wait for the creepy goings on to begin.  In fact the house itself is almost like a character.  It takes it’s time to show it’s hand and revealing what it’s really capable of.  In fact the team are super excited when they manage to capture ground breaking footage on camera.  All I will say about this is what they’ve witnessed to this point is the tip of the iceberg, the main bulk of the monster remains hidden and the team teeter on the brink of a huge rabbit warren.  I won’t say more.

To bring this to a conclusion, whilst I wouldn’t say I found this scary in particular I did find it easy to read and totally compelling.  There’s plenty of atmosphere and the conclusion is not only downright creepy but I would say ripe for adaptation.  The writing and pacing are perfect and I galloped to the end like a maniac. If you enjoy psychological hauntings this could be just the thing for you.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks, the above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The People Watcher by Sam Lloyd

CWW

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The People Watcher by Sam Lloyd.  I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed (aka as loved and gushed extensively about) two books by this author: The Memory Wood and The Rising Tide  So, I’m very excited to see a new book on the horizon.  Here’s the description and cover (not sure if this is the final cover at this stage though.

Peoplewatcher

‘I watch them because I think they need help.’

Mercy Lake likes to fix things. To fix people. Trapped inside during daylight hours, hostage to her phobias, she uses the cover of night to watch the people in her town. And if someone needs her help, she steps in – secretly and with compassion.

When Mercy meets Louis, her lonely, unusual life is suddenly filled with excitement. Because Louis likes intervening in other people’s lives too, only he prefers a more direct – even violent – approach. As they grow closer, Mercy is enchanted but frightened by his actions. How many lines is he willing to cross? And how much is he prepared to risk?

And then there’s Nadia. Nadia knows she’s being watched, even if the police think differently. But with her own secrets to protect, she’s not going to wait around for the watcher to make their move. She’s going to stop them dead.

‘Small acts of kindness are far less effective than fear’

Expected publication: June 2023

The Drift by CJ Tudor

Posted On 17 January 2023

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 4 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review: Clever, ever spiralling downwards, horror

The Drift

Well, this was a surprise.  I don’t think I looked at the description for this one at all before I picked it up.  I really like the author’s style and quite often these days prefer to pick up my reads knowing as little as possible.  So, yes, this was a surprise.  A compelling read, totally engrossing in fact, it’s not going to give you a grin on your face when you’re reading but it will keep you turning the pages into the early hours and it’s just the most unusual combination of post apocalyptic survival meets locked room mystery (well mysteries to be correct) that I’ve ever read.

I really don’t want to give away too much about the plot with this review because I’m keen to avoid spoilers, primarily because the story follows three POVs and certainly one of the ‘big’ intrigues is trying to figure out how these three characters are connected.  What I can say without giving away too much is this is a novel that takes place in the near future (I don’t recall seeing any dates but that’s where I would hazard a guess).  A pandemic has changed society beyond recognition killing great swathes of the population.  Those that survived, known as Whistlers because of the noise they make when breathing, are altered into an almost zombie like state, a few becoming violent and bloodthirsty.  The remaining population are basically trying to stay alive whilst hoping for a cure.  I would say, before going further, that this isn’t a typical zombie apocalypse type story so if that isn’t usually your type of read then this may still be of interest.  Of course, the Whistlers still play a part here, this is horror and it can be quite bloody and brutal in parts, but this is more a suspenseful thriller, a race against time and a locked room style mystery that is positively claustrophobic.

We have three key characters.  Hannah, a young woman trapped on board a coach that has careened off the road killing a number of the passengers in the process and effectively leaving the others trapped on board.  It doesn’t take long before a couple of characters figure out that the journey was sabotaged before it set off.  Meg is an ex police officer who wakes up to find herself on board a cable car, she has no idea how she got there, her personal possessions have been removed, the car is stuck (very high above ground) and a storm threatens, on top of that there are others on board and one of them is already dead.  The final character is Carter.  He is based in a retreat with a number of other characters, the place is protected by electric fencing and digital locks but unfortunately the power seems to be faltering and with it any semblance of security (not to mention the locks on the doors in the basement).

I found this totally absorbing and I loved the way the stories eventually come together because it was completely unexpected – which could of course be simply a result of my tiny brain not making the necessary leaps to connect the dots – but, I think it’s very clever, well executed and compelling.

The writing is excellent, the characters really jump off the page, the pacing is perfect and there’s a steady stream of action mixed with periods of reflection.  The dialogue is really good and manages to prevent the book from becoming dismal or too dark.

On top of this I loved that we start off with a number of players in each story and eventually they become less in number.  It’s like a less cosy version of an Agatha Christie novel (think, for example, of And Then There Were None).  Gradually, we lose characters along the way, the central POVs eventually start to discover more about their companions and eventually the reveals are made, with much drama and jaw dropping.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, this isn’t a laugh out loud sort of story, the characters are in a fight for survival and quite often make shocking decisions.  At the end of the day they’ve become almost immune to death and used to making tough decisions to stay alive – as is stated during the story ‘the earth is full of dead good guys’.  The thing is though, this could very easily become the type of read that feels too dark and maybe drags you down but that’s not the experience I had.  I think I was too caught up in the mystery of the three and how they would come together combined with the intrigue of each of their own separate stories and how they would each overcome the difficulties they were facing.

I enjoyed this very much, it was quick and clever, darkly humorous at times, horrific at others and frankly unputdownable.  A cunning plot executed with confidence and ease.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

My Five Word TL:DR Review: Dysfunctional family and puppet hell

How toseela

This is only my second read by Grady Hendrix, so take what I say next with a pinch of salt, but I’m beginning to associate this author with the clear phrase ‘expect the unexpected’.  With a title such as this, yes I expected apparitions and entities, I don’t think I ever quite considered evil puppets, possession, squirrels from hell and imaginary demon dogs that invisibly stalk the house.  Sounds a bit crazy and to be honest, it is.  This is your basic modern-style horror that manages to combine horror, mystery, mayhem, dysfunctional family dynamics brimming over with sibling rivalry and secrets buried long in the past and a chaos that spills over into dark humour.

When Louise receives an unexpected call from her estranged brother to say their parents have died in a terrible car crash she immediately makes her way back to the family home.  When she arrives she’s in for a number of surprises, none of them pleasant.  The attic has been nailed shut, the car accident seems a little suspicious, things keep going bump in the night, the house is unsaleable with it’s current bad vibes and brother and sister can’t agree on anything.  And that’s only scratching the surface because things are about to get much worse.

I’m really trying not to give away too much about this book.  I really enjoyed reading it, it’s strangely fun, it’s absolutely compelling, the characterisation is great.  It’s a perfect demonstration of how there are two sides to every conversation and that memory can be a trickster.  On top of this it’s a great look at families and the strange hierarchies that we perceive that are perhaps more imaginary than real.  I also love the whole idea that we’re haunted by family both past and present.

One thing for sure I really enjoy this author’s style.  He has a sort of tongue firmly planted in cheek way of writing that makes his horror funny even if it shouldn’t be and that makes me think he enjoys the writing as much as I enjoy the reading.

On the whole a wickedly imaginative story with a good dollop of horror and quite frankly the most atrociously creepy puppet ever.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Posted On 15 January 2023

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 5 responses

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing so but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Books read this week:

So, as I write this post my dad is very poorly.  He’s in hospital and in a very bad way.  I can only keep my fingers and toes crossed that he pulls through.  I don’t expect to be reading much but you never know, the distraction might be what I need but I suspect that I simply won’t be able to concentrate.

The past week I managed to finish Thirteen by Craig DiLouie which was so good and also finish my listen of The Vanishing Act of Margaret Small – packed with emotion.  I also picked up and devoured the latest Laura Purcell – and it was good.  My next book is the latest CJ Tudor.  I’m blasting through this.  It’s gripping.

Next Week’s Reads:

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Friday Face Off : The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes

FFO

Today is the second week of a new Friday Face Off  (a meme originally created by Books by Proxy) – similar in many ways to what came before but different going forward.  From 2023 I will no longer be posting prompts or themes to guide cover choices.  Instead, having noticed that many of my most recent reads have had more than one cover,  I thought instead it would be a change to highlight something that I’m keen to shine the focus on. So, if you have a book that has alternative covers, highlight them and choose your favourite.  If you’re taking part it would be great if you leave a link so I can take a look at what you’ve chosen.

My book this week is a very recent read that I enjoyed although it didn’t quite work out as well as I’d expected.  That being said I would recommend it, it was intriguing but had slight pacing issues in the middle.  The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes.

Here are the covers:

My favourite this week is :

Pines2

Which cover is your favourite?

Join me next week in highlighting one of your reads with different covers.

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeriesby Heather Fawcett

My Five Word TL:DR Review: I need more of this

This book had me hook, line and sinker within virtually the first few pages.  I simply adored it and can’t wait for more.  I suspect that this will be firmly on a lot of ‘best of lists’ by the end of the year and in fact, because I managed to squeeze this in at the end of December it made my list for 2022.  I don’t know how much more gushing I can provide to tempt you to pick this up but if you enjoy scholarly style stories told in journal format by a slightly prickly professor with a love for anything fae set during the 1900s and with a mystery running through its core, not to mention a sprinkling of romance, delicious banter and chemistry and an adorable dog.  Here you go.  My work here is complete (nearly anyways).

I won’t go overboard with descriptions of the story itself serve to say we have a Cambridge Professor who has made it her ambition to pull together the most comprehensive encyclopedia of faeries.  Of course this requires extensive research and as the story begins Emily has arrived at the remote village of Hrafnsvik in Scandinavia.  The weather is inhospitable and the inhabitants of the small village only slightly warmer (as first appearances go).  Of course, Emily is something of a prickly pear herself with more interest in her studies that in people, feelings and polite conversation so she frequently misreads situations and blunders around creating awkward situations as she fails to think of social conventions and basic niceties.  Emily soon realises that she’s going to need to curry some favour if she’s to complete her research in time and what do you know, assistance arrives in the form of Wendell Bambleby, a colleague of Emilly’s who is perhaps her polar opposite.  Wendell has a languid charm, good looks and a certain form of arrogance that could be irritating I suppose but I found the unexpected friendship between the two worked really well.

So, what did I love about this?

Firstly, I love the period this is told in.  The writing lends itself really well and the two central characters, both respected scholars, have a somewhat elaborate way of talking and writing that I just loved.  I wouldn’t call this a stickler for historic detail in terms of dialogue and social conventions but for me this has all the charm without being too fussy – which is something I love.  And, I will say that the dialogue is just wonderful and amusing.

I’m a complete pushover when it comes to journal style narration.  I really liked Emily and it was a pleasure to read her thoughts.  She has a no nonsense approach to things, quite often walking into potentially difficult or threatening situations with quiet confidence.  I mentioned that she can be prickly but at the same time she doesn’t mean to give offence, it’s simply that she speaks her mind and sometimes others take umbridge and so reading her thoughts, as she jots the days events down, was so refreshing because quite often she’s baffled and trying to work out where she went wrong.

The plot is intriguing.  There’s plenty of fae shenanigans and in fact the story takes a very dramatic turn which I certainly didn’t foresee.  There’s plenty of tricksy behaviour and the author manages to instill darkness and threat with changelings and other fae who are yet more dangerous.

There is a romance – and not only does it not overwhelm the plot (which could be laid at Emily’s door as she is absolutely determined not to see Wendell in that light at all) but it’s delightful to read.

I really enjoyed Fawcett’s style.  This book is utterly charming, although it certainly has dark elements so be aware of that, but the writing is so good.  I got a fantastic feel for the place, the people and the fae and it all flowed so well with an easy pacing that made it impossible to stop reading.

I should probably leave it there.  I’ve no doubt gushed enough for one review.  Lets just this is an absolute gem of a book, Whimsical, witty and absolutely charming.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Devil’s Playground by Craig Russell

CWW

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Devil’s Playground by Craig Russell.  Here’s the description and cover:

Devil'sPlayground

A riveting 1920s Hollywood thriller about the making of the most terrifying silent film ever made, and a deadly search for the single copy rumored still to exist. This is the breakout from Craig Russell, author of The Devil Aspect.

1927: Mary Rourke—a Hollywood studio fixer—is called urgently to the palatial home of Norma Carlton, one of the most recognizable stars in American silent film. Norma has been working on the secret film everyone is openly talking about…a terrifying horror picture called The Devil’s Playground that is rumored to have unleashed a curse on everyone involved in the production. Mary finds Norma’s cold, dead body, and she wonders for just a moment if these dark rumors could be true.

1967: Paul Conway, a journalist and self-professed film aficionado, is on the trail of a tantalizing rumor. He has heard that a single copy of The Devil’s Playground—a Holy Grail for film buffs—may exist. He knows his Hollywood history and he knows the film endured myriad tragedies and ended up lost to time.

The Devil’s Playground is Craig Russell’s tour de force, a richly researched and constructed thriller that weaves through the Golden Age of Hollywood and reveals a blossoming industry built on secrets, invented identities, and a desperate pursuit of image. As Mary Rourke charges headlong through the egos, distractions, and traps that threaten to take her down with the doomed production, she discovers a truth far more sinister than she—or we—would imagine. This is Craig Russell’s strongest novel to date, and one that will resonate with American readers.

Expected publication : June 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books for 2023 (first half)

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.   This week’s topic:

Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2023

It’s my first Top Ten Tuesday for quite some time so I couldn’t resist looking at some of my forthcoming releases:  All books are linked to Goodreads should you wish to check out the descriptions. (Ahem, I may have unwittingly sneaked in an extra books!)

January

The Drift by CJ Tudor

The Drift

The Muse by Laura Purcell

WM

All the Blood We Share by Camilla Bruce

Allthe

February

The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan

Tyranny

The Witch in the Well by Camilla Bruce

TheWitch

March

The Foxglove King by Hannah Whitten

Foxglove

The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill by Rowenna Miller

FairyBargains

April

Atalanta by Jennifer Saint

Atalanta

The Bone Shard War by Andrea Stewart

BShard

May

Our Hideous Progeny by CE McGill

Our hideous

Scarlet by Genevieve Cogman

Scarlet

The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Liked but didn’t love it

Houseinthepines

I will start this review with the positives.  I certainly think this is an impressive and fairly unique debut, Ana Reyes succeeds in creating a great atmosphere and I enjoyed her style and would be keen to pick up any books she writes in the future.  I also enjoy a story told in a dual perspective and added to that a slightly unreliable narrator and you have my attention.  But, I felt like the pacing was off a little – for me at least anyways.  I reached a stage where I was becoming a bit annoyed, at this point, instead of enjoying the suspense I found myself becoming frustrated.  This could of course be my reading mood at the time but I just felt too much ‘drag’.

Anyway, a little about the plot.

As the story begins we meet Maya, in a loving relationship and living in Boston.  However, look a little closer and it turns out that Maya is keeping secrets.  She has become addicted to painkillers to try to keep at bay the mysterious death of her best friend and is really struggling with withdrawal because her supply has dried up.  On top of this, after witnessing a strange YouTube video in which a young woman dies unexpectedly her memories from that time begin to creep back in unwanted – the reason being, the unknown man in the video, who was talking to the woman just before she keeled over, is Frank, Maya’s love interest when her own best friend died in similar circumstances.  Maya decides to return to her home to finally search for answers.

There is so much here that is done very well.  I got a great feel for Maya and her best friend Aubrey.  They have a close friendship until Maya’s interest in Frank begins to drive a wedge between the two, ultimately leading to jealousy.  The relationship between Maya and Frank is also really well done.  Frank seems to be too good to be true.  He’s elusive and mysterious, giving very little away about himself whilst at the same time manipulating Maya who seems to experience disturbing memory lapses during his presence, which she generally puts down to time flying when she is in his company.  He’s an unusual character, his charm barely masking a general feeling of something more sinister lurking beneath the surface.  You have an overall ‘bad’ feeling about him.

The story jumps back and forth to Maya’s highschool days and the present time (approx 7 years later) when she’s trying to kick addiction, hold down a job, keep her relationship steady and discover the missing elements of that mysterious summer from her past.  On the whole I enjoy a split timeline and that was the case here.  Between the past and present we jump back to the strange encounter with Frank and the author begins to lay the trail of crumbs that something is not quite right.  At the same time we jump forward to the present where Maya struggles with her withdrawal and begins slowly to recall events from the past.

I mentioned the atmosphere.  On the face of it this is a regular story where something just feels off – mainly anything in relation to Frank – but steadily Reyes builds up the tension.  I can’t deny I was fascinated to read the final scene with Aubrey and found the jaunts to the house in the woods equally compelling and would have liked more.

Okay, the only thing that really held me back here was the pacing.  I definitely felt myself flagging by the middle.  Of course I was desperate to know what was really going on so I was turning the pages like a maniac but, put simply, for me the eventual reveal was too drawn out and in fact, considering how quickly the ending then rushed in it felt a little unbalanced.  I must also mention that the unreliable narrator feels as though it is slightly overused (although I usually like it)- or perhaps I’ve simply read to many similar books recently.

Regardless of my slight reservations I do think this was a good read and the conclusion felt unique to me.  I enjoyed the writing and would love to see what this author comes up with next.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating is 3 of 5 stars

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Posted On 8 January 2023

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Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing so but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Books read this week:

I was shocked to realised that I didn’t post a wrap up last week – whoops – I was obviously getting carried away with the holiday festivities.  Plus my daughter came to stay which was lovely so less time for reading and blogging.  In other news I’ve finally shaken off the lurgy, I still feel tired if I over exert myself but otherwise I feel good.  That being said my dad has just gone into hospital which is very worrying.  Hopefully he will be better soon but in the meantime it’s a bit distracting so if I go missing on here that’s probably why.

So, firstly, Happy New Year to everyone.  In reading news I managed to complete The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes.  I also managed to fit in The Ivory Tomb by Melissa Caruso which is the third and final book in the Rooks and Ruin series and was a very dramatic conclusion.  The past week I’ve been reading Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie which is very good and also listening to what is perhaps a strange choice for me, the Vanishing Act of Margaret Small by Neil Alexander.  It’s an easy listen that I hope to complete soon.

Next Week’s Reads:

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Friday Face Off : Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries

FFO

Today is the start of a new Friday Face Off  (a meme originally created by Books by Proxy) – similar in many ways to what came before but different going forward.  From 2023 I will no longer be posting prompts or themes to guide your cover choices.  Instead, having noticed that many of my most recent reads have had more than one cover,  I thought instead it would be a change to highlight something that you’re keen to shine the focus on. So, from today onwards come up with one of your reads that has alternative covers, highlight them and choose your favourite.  If you’re taking part it would be great if you leave a link so I can take a look at what you’ve chosen.

This week the book I’ve chosen was one of the very last books that I crammed into the end of the year and I loved it, it even made my favourites list of the year.  I’ve not posted a review yet but that will soon be happening.  For now, let’s take a look at the book, and more importantly the covers.

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries (Emily Wilde #1) by Heather Fawcett.  

Here are the covers:

These are all lovely covers.  The last cover is the one I’m must familiar with and it is a gorgeous cover that really drew my eye.  However,  my favourite this week is :

Emily1

The reason I’ve chosen this one, apart from it’s a beautiful design of course, but at the same time if you look closely enough it clearly makes reference to some of the darker elements in the story, and given this is a book about tricksy fae, I like that this one has a more ominous feel.

Which cover is your favourite?

Join me next week in highlighting one of your reads with different covers.

The Good Intentions Book Tag

Posted On 5 January 2023

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Last year, about this time, I came up with my Good Intentions Book Tag.  Put bluntly I’m not very good at sticking to resolutions so instead decided to come up with a tag based around the most popular ‘resolutions for this time of year.  Today I’m going to look back at that list and also come up with some new intentions for the next twelve months.  This is my Good Intentions Book Tag – after all you can have good intentions at any point in the year:

 ***

Gym

Exercise more : This is a book that is a real chunkster, in fact you will need help to even pick this book up:

Last year I came up with a great chunky book for this prompt.   Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff – and unfortunately I still haven’t got round to picking this one up.  Whoops.  I did squeeze in a backlist read that was also something of a chunkster though so I’m going to say that things even out.  Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky.  Guess I’ll have to make Empire of the Vampire this year’s book.

***

novella

Lose weight : A book that is not a chunkster; a short story or novella.  A book you could probably read in one sitting:

Last year I read Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M Valente.  This year I’m going to go with a book that I really enjoyed by an author that I really like.  Western inspired with demons and angels. Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse.  I would be overjoyed if this is a world that the author decides to revisit.

TreadofAngels

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IMG_8014

Eat healthy : A book that is good for you.  This is a book that made you feel so happy that you wanted to give it a big hug:

The book I highlighted last year for this prompt was The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow which I will say, one more time at least, is a beautiful book.  This year, one of my reads that gave me all the gooey vibes (well I did have more than one but have decided to go for just the one)  Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson

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BusyBees

Fulfill your ambitions : A book that has a lot going on.  Plenty of different threads, points of views and action but everything eventually comes together in a very satisfactory fashion:

For this prompt last year I went with The Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley (#1 Ashes of the Unhewn Thrown).  Which was a fantastic read and on my ‘best of‘ list and likewise the book I’ve chosen this year was also one of my favourite reads of 2022. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandell

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TheSimpsons

Spend more time with the family : A series of books that you love and that has developed more than you ever anticipated:

I used the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs for this prompt.  It’s a series that I’m loving although I need to check and see if I’m uptodate or not.  The latest series that has a great ‘found’ family feel and I just love it is the Stranger Times Series by CK McDonnell.  I am adoring this series and can’t get enough of it.

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Tick off an item from your bucket list : Reduce the tbr.  Choose a book from Mount TBR that you would like to read this year:

Well, I admit I failed with this particular prompt.  Last year I highlight two books – and to be perfectly honest I’m going to choose the same two books.  I’m absolutely determined to read both of these.  T

These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant.  I’ve seen some excellent reviews for this one and I’m excited to read it.

And, December Park by Ronald Malfi because I read and loved his latest book Come With Me (in fact it’s on my ‘Best of’ list this year and so I wanted to check out some of his earlier books.

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IMG_8017

Save money : A book that was an absolute bargain – you would have to be crazy in fact not to have bought this book:

I bought The Hollow Places by T Kingfisher last year for the bargain price of £1.99 for kindle.  I’m loving this author and so would like to pick this one up this year.

This year I managed to snag a few bargains and one that I’m very keen to pick up is Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

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IMG_8029

Get Organised : A book with a glossary, maps, useful words, lists of people – this book is one helpful book, it wants you to know ALL the things and it’s not afraid to use footnotes and other devices to help you do so:

I choose a great book for this last year and one that I heartily recommend Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke.  This year I’ve gone for the second in series. The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne – not only a fantastic second instalment but it also includes a list of characters and a map.

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IMG_8024-1Start a new hobby : A book that is outside your comfort zone.  Perhaps everyone was raving about this book, maybe it was over-hyped, you hesitated to pick it up in fact, but when you did – you loved it:

Finally, a book that is outside of my comfort zone.  To clarify, for the most part I read SFF, I also like to read a little crime/thriller/horror and also some history.  So, I’m not really going to include those in books that fall outside my usual reading zone.  I’ve gone for romance.  Last year I chose The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons.  I loved this book when I read it and still have lovely memories of it – it would be interesting to reread it actually to see if I still feel the same way.

This year I chose a lovely book, A Restless Truth by Freya Marske.  I loved this, and whilst I’ve chosen it for the romance elements it also has fantasy and murder mystery with it’s pages.

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That’s my top ten Good Intentions Book Tag which compares last year to this.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Only One Left by Riley Sager

CWW

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Only One Left by Riley Sager.  The description for this one is fantastic.  

Bestselling author Riley Sager returns with a Gothic chiller about a young caregiver assigned to work for a woman accused of a Lizzie Borden-like massacre decades earlier.

THEONLY ONE LEFT

At seventeen, Lenora Hope
Hung her sister with a rope

Now reduced to a schoolyard chant, the Hope family murders shocked the Maine coast one bloody night in 1929. While most people assume seventeen-year-old Lenora was responsible, the police were never able to prove it. Other than her denial after the killings, she has never spoken publicly about that night, nor has she set foot outside Hope’s End, the cliffside mansion where the massacre occurred.

Stabbed her father with a knife
Took her mother’s happy life

It’s now 1983, and home-health aide Kit McDeere arrives at a decaying Hope’s End to care for Lenora after her previous nurse fled in the middle of the night. In her seventies and confined to a wheelchair, Lenora was rendered mute by a series of strokes and can only communicate with Kit by tapping out sentences on an old typewriter. One night, Lenora uses it to make a tantalizing offer—I want to tell you everything.

“It wasn’t me,” Lenora said
But she’s the only one not dea

As Kit helps Lenora write about the events leading to the Hope family massacre, it becomes clear there’s more to the tale than people know. But when new details about her predecessor’s departure come to light, Kit starts to suspect Lenora might not be telling the complete truth—and that the seemingly harmless woman in her care could be far more dangerous than she first thought.

Expected publication : June 2023 

2022 Recap

Posted On 3 January 2023

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I read some great books in 2022.  Here’s my ‘Best of‘ list for the year where I finally managed to choose 10 absolute favourites.  Today, I want to take a look at some of my other reads from last year and spread the love.  Let’s take a little backtrack month by month:

January got off to a great start.  My first read for 2022 was The Maid by Nita Prose which I loved.  Quirky and unusual.  A bit out of my usual reading zone but it was such a lovely read that I highly recommend.

TheMaid

January was a great month but obviously I’m not going to simply list all my books.  That being said I have to give a little shout out to The Great witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan and The Haunting of Las Lagrimas by WM Cleese.  Check out my reviews, witchy goodness and may I say I love the way Louisa Morgan writes and the ghostly Las Lagrimas is a little more of an old style story that gave me the creeps.

Skipping ahead to the shorter month of February I had a few good reads, one of which is already on my Best Of list.  On top of that I read another Lucy Foley book that I thoroughly enjoyed.  The Paris Apartment This is a great read where the apartment block itself is almost like one of the characters.  I look forward to seeing what this author comes up with next.

ParisApart

Next up I have to mention one of my SPFBO books from the month of March, Shadows of Ivory by T.L. Greylock and Bryce O’Connor was such a good read (note to self to check out if book 2 is out!).  I also read Sundial by Catriona Ward – an author who is simply on fire at the moment.  I love her dark imagination.

April was a very quiet month for me with family issues taking over and leaving me little time to read or blog.  I managed to squeeze in three of my SPFBO books and I also made a start on the latest John Gwynne book – again this has already been highlighted on my Best Of list so I won’t go over the same ground here.  May was a crazy hectic reading month and in fact four of the books I read were favourite reads.  On top of that I also loved The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper,Elektra by Jennifer Saint ,Black Tide by KC Jones and The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow by Rachel Aaron.

June was another lovely reading month and two books in particular that I’d like to highlight are The Path of Thorns by AG Slatter which is a gorgeous gothic read with fairytale vibes.  Stringers by Chris Panatier was my second book by this author and I think it’s definitely cemented him as an auto read for me.  I loved Stringers.  So original and a lot of fun.

July and August were again fairly quiet months but still with some excellent reads. Old Country by Matt Query – this is a very creepy story indeed – gave me a case of the heebie jeebies.  Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi another fabulous book by this author who I first discovered through Come With Me.  Highly recommended.  Finally, a wonderful debut novel by Mitriel Faywood called A Gamble of Gods (to be honest I read this earlier in the year but I held onto my review to be closer to release date) A wild combination of fantasy, sci fi, romance that takes place in an eclectic bunch of settings ranging from off planet to contemporary.

September was a busy month with some excellent reads.  Two of my SPFBO books stood out in particular,  The Blood of Crows by Alex C Pierce and Between Ink and Shadows by Melissa Wright.

I tried to fit a few dark books in for October plus a few what I’d call Halloween reads.  Cackle by Rachel Harrison was a great witchy read that makes me want to pick up more books by this author.

Cackle 2

I don’t know how I managed it but I was on a roll during November managing to squeeze in 12 books.  I’ve already highlighted a number of these during my Countdown to 2023 so would give mentions now to The Ghost Woods by CJ Cooke and The Creeper by AM Shine.

Which brings me to the final month of the year.  December.  I managed to read the last in the Rooks and Ruin series by Melissa Caruso which was a very dramatic and satisfying finale (review yet to follow) and The Cloisters by Katy Hays, I loved this, gothic, dark academia – just my cup of tea.

Don’t forget to check out my best of list and here’s to another great year of reading in 2023.  My complete list of books read in 2022 is here (although it needs some updating).

Happy 2023 to everyone 😀

 

 

 

Best of the Best

Every year, around this time, I pull together a top ten list of books that I’ve read.  This is usually a difficult choice because over the course of 12 months I usually manage to fit in a good number of books and given that I don’t force myself to read those that I’m not enjoying these are mostly all good reads.  This year is no exception although for once (in perhaps 15 years) I haven’t read 100 books.  This is a new all time low for me which I put down to a mid year hiatus where I read and blogged very little.  My reading is back to normal now, I’m pleased to say, and I have plenty of great books to look forward to so far this year. So, this is part 1 of my ‘Best of’ list.  I’ll be doing a further post to highlight some of my other great reads but this is about choosing my absolute favourites.  Without further ado:

January

The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence

In a nutshell.  This book has so many winning elements.  A thrilling adventure.  A twisted ending.  Characters that you can love (and hate), a jaw dropping conclusion and also one that is packed with emotion and a series that manages to be fantasy and science fiction combined.

TGatM2

The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan

This story compelled me to keep turning the pages into the early hours.  I loved the choice of narrator, the world is developed with (more than likely) deceptive ease, the murder mystery is intriguing and more complex than first meets the eye and, well, put simply, it just won me over so easily and quickly.  I can’t wait to read the second instalment which is now waiting on my shelves.

Justice

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

I would say that not only did I like Insomnia but I liked it even more than Behind Her Eyes.  It’s a perfect jumble of crazy mixed up, spiralling out of control, sleepless insanity.  Every time I thought I had a handle on what was going on it turned out I was wrong and I just love the way that the ending is totally out there – let’s just say #wtfthatending

Insomnia1

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne

Gwynne is an author who excels at action scenes and all them are breathtakingly described.  I had my heart in my throat every time shields locked wondering whether any favourites would fall under the axe.  There’s also wonderful moments of camaraderie and banter, or cunning snippets of other scenes playing out and weaving the story together.  The pacing is just so well planned and I loved the way that as the story progresses you have these shorter chapters that really pack a punch and I have to acknowledge it drove my reading on into the early hours with the age old ‘just one more chapter’.

TheHunger

Nettle and Bone by T Kingfisher

Fairytale style stories are absolutely one of my favourite reads and I’m always on the lookout for more.  This is an author that I hadn’t read before but have wanted to do so for quite some time and now, with the benefit of Nettle and Bone under my belt, I can genuinely say that I will be visiting all her previous books.  I loved this book so much.  It’s full of everything that I enjoy, it’s got elements of old fairy tales but as the same time feels unique.  It takes us on a wild ride to a far away kingdom.  There are princesses in distress, people who can talk to the dead, a dog that came back to life, amazing characters and the beginnings of a sweet romance.

Nettle1

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandell

I am in complete awe of this author and can’t even begin to outline how impressive this book is.  On the face of it this is a standalone story that fundamentally connects the lives of four people who share an experience through a strange anomaly, a glitch in the system if you will, that in the future will be scrutinised and investigated by a time travel agency.  Dig a little deeper and this novel actually brings together elements from the author’s previous works (definitely The Glass Hotel and also I think Station Eleven) in the most eye popping feat.  If that wasn’t enough, one of the characters is an author herself, of a post apocalyptic book that has become a bestseller.  There are so many little twists and turns in this book all finished off with a mouth dropping conclusion that is simply brilliant.  Read it – please.

Seaof

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

I picked this one up and was immediately intrigued with the storytelling voice. There’s an almost ethereal feel to the way the narrative is delivered and this is strengthened by the unusual setting and the dysfunctional family that we are introduced to.  Feeney starts out with a captivating hook, she then lets us run on the line enjoying the freedom to explore the remote setting and the histrionics of the Darker family before reeling us in to a climatic and dramatic grand finale.  Brilliant.

Daisy Darker

A Dowry of Blood by ST Gibson

I will say from the outset that I loved this.  I was gripped from beginning to end and couldn’t put it down.  This is my catnip.  Retelling famous stories from the point of view of side characters, victims or misunderstood characters is popular without a doubt at the moment and I for one am enjoying this trend.  Dowry of Blood is no exception.  Take the classic vampire story, Dracula, and take a look at him and his life through the eyes of three of his ‘children’.  Dracula’s chosen ones.  A story with a message.

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Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson

Miss Percy is an absolutely delightful, regency period, fantasy of manners style story that won me over with ease.  The writing is wonderful, the plot is well thought out and totally absorbing, the characters are Austen-eque but with a slightly more uptodate sensibility and for those readers out there who usually shy away from fantasy elements, but who are in good need of a period drama, I implore you to give it a try, because, whilst I cannot deny that the inclusion of a dragon definitely falls most firmly into the realm of make-believe, the way this story is told, it feels almost less sensational than forgetting to wear a bonnet.  Please give it a try, I’d love to discuss your thoughts about this one.

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Emily Wilde Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

I don’t have a link to a review for this book yet as it’s a recent read that I’ll be posting about shortly.  I did love this book though and highly recommend it.  Simply superb.

Emily

Countdown to 2023 – Day 31 ‘Bottle of Bubbly’ Get ready to bring in the New Year

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Today is the final day of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Bottle of Bubbly ’.

BOTTLE OF BUBBLY (Your first read for 2023)

Well, I have a lot of good reads lined up for the New Year and in fact I’ve already made a good start on some of my January reads.  I’ve already highlighted the new Laura Purcell book which I’m excited about.  And I have a new Camilla Bruce and CJ Tudor’s latest.  But, the book I’m going to highlight today, is Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie.  This sounds fantastic and it already seems to be gathering momentum.  Check out the description and cover:

Episode13

My countdown is complete.   Watch this space in January,  I’ll be trying to come up with a ‘best of’ list for 2022 – which won’t be easy because I’ve read some excellent books this year.  I’ll also be updating my Good Intentions Book Tag and taking a look at how well I managed last year and finally, I’ll be catching up on some reviews and doing some blog hopping.  See you all in 2023.

The Friday Face Off : Completions

Posted On 30 December 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped one response

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

I’ve added themes in below. For information, I’m trying out some new ideas so along with coming up with particular items for book covers I thought we could also look for certain elements contained within the book or that play a large part in the story – this really broadens things out because I have plenty of more ideas with this – I’ve gone for a few of the Tough Travel Themes (so a book with that theme – just choose any book – the theme isn’t necessarily on the cover, then compare covers), also, I’ve thrown in some genres and some colours.  Hopefully this will open things out a little and give us some more freedom to come up with new books.

This week’s theme:

Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or series

Do you have a favourite?

Here’s the full series together:

Countdown to 2023 – Day 30 ‘Family and Friends’ (1 day remaining)

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Today is day 30 of my countdown to 2023 – woot, only one day remaining.  Today’s prompt is ‘Family and Friends ’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

FAMILY AND FRIENDS (A book with great characters)

I’ve gone for a series that I’m really enjoying and where the characters are fantastic.  This is an urban fantasy based in Manchester in the UK (so I confess I have a soft spot immediately for that reason alone) but, on top of that this is packed with great imagination and I love reading it. The Stranger Times series by CK McDonnell.  Book 1 is The Stranger Times, followed by This Charming Man and the most recent instalment Love Will Tear Us Apart which was just amazing.  My review will be up soon.

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Tomorrow: Bottle of Bubbly – Your first read for 2023

Countdown to 2023 – Day 29 ‘Christmas Cactus’ (2 days remaining)

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Today is day 29 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Christmas Cactus ’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

CHRISTMAS CACTUS (A seasonal read)

So, by a ‘seasonal read’ I’ve chosen a book that is great to read at this time of year.  A book with a murder mystery set on an isolated island with stormy weather making the chances of escape none existent.  This was an addictive read with a twisted ending that I really didn’t expect.  I heartily recommend this book.  Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Daisy

Tomorrow: Family and Friends – A book with great characters

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt

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“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt.  Here’s the cover and description:

TheLibrarianist

From bestselling and award-winning author Patrick deWitt comes the story of Bob Comet, a man who has lived his life through and for literature, unaware that his own experience is a poignant and affecting novel in itself.

Bob Comet is a retired librarian passing his solitary days surrounded by books and small comforts in a mint-colored house in Portland, Oregon. One morning on his daily walk he encounters a confused elderly woman lost in a market and returns her to the senior center that is her home. Hoping to fill the void he’s known since retiring, he begins volunteering at the center. Here, as a community of strange peers gathers around Bob, and following a happenstance brush with a painful complication from his past, the events of his life and the details of his character are revealed.

Behind Bob Comet’s straight-man facade is the story of an unhappy child’s runaway adventure during the last days of the Second World War, of true love won and stolen away, of the purpose and pride found in the librarian’s vocation, and of the pleasures of a life lived to the side of the masses. Bob’s experiences are imbued with melancholy but also a bright, sustained comedy; he has a talent for locating bizarre and outsize players to welcome onto the stage of his life.

With his inimitable verve, skewed humor, and compassion for the outcast, Patrick deWitt has written a wide-ranging and ambitious document of the introvert’s condition. The Librarianist celebrates the extraordinary in the so-called ordinary life, and depicts beautifully the turbulence that sometimes exists beneath a surface of serenity.

Expected publication : May 2023

Countdown to 2023 – Day 28 ‘Candlelight’ (3 days remaining)

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Today is day 28 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Candlelight’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

CANDLELIGHT (A book that kept you up into the early hours)

This book is just so fitting for the prompt.  It’s a book that I really enjoyed by a favourite author and it was a twisted rollercoaster of a read.  Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough – does this fit the prompt or what?!

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Tomorrow: Christmas Cactus – A seasonal read

Countdown to 2023 – Day 27 ‘Christmas Crackers’ (4 days remaining)

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Today is day 27 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Christmas Crackers’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

CHRISTMAS CRACKERS (Ended With A Bang)

I had a book in mind for this one as soon as I came up with the prompt.  The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence is the concluding book in the Book of Ice series.  It’s a fantastic conclusion to the series but more than that it seems to make reference to other works by the author and it’s just so satisfying.  A masterpiece.

Tomorrow: Candlelight – a book that kept you up into the early hours

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Posted On 26 December 2022

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 5 responses

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing so but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Books read this week:

I hope you’re all enjoying the holiday season.  Ours has been quiet – mainly because my horrible cold/flu has persisted unfortunately.  It’s a proper stinker.  Anyway, hopefully I’m on the mend.  I’ve managed to fit in a little bit of reading.  I finished Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries which was frankly brilliant and I loved it.  I also read How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix.  Finally, I’ve just started to read The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes.  Hopefully I’ll fit in a couple more books before the new year.

Next Week’s Reads:

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Countdown to 2023 – Day 26 ‘Boxing Day’ (5 days remaining)

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Today is day 26 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Boxing Day’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

BOXING DAY (Feeling bloated, a palate cleanser)

The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison was a great palate cleanser for me with a world and characters that I would happily return to.

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Tomorrow: Christmas Crackers – Ended with a bang

Countdown to 2023 – Day 25 ‘Christmas Day’ (6 days remaining)

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Today is day 25 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Christmas Day’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

CHRISTMAS DAY (A book from your wishlist)

Well, I do have quite a long wishlist but I’ve chosen a book that had absolutely glowing reviews and one that I’ve wanted to read for some time, These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham grant.  This sounds amazing and emotional.

Tomorrow: Boxing Day – feeling bloated, a palate cleanser

#SPFBO 8: My Second Finalist: Not a Review

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What is SPFBO? Check out Mark Lawrence’s post here to look at this year’s entrants, judges and allocations list.

This year I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.

We recently announced our finalist. To check out all the Finalists simply follow this link.

Our finalist this year was Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson – if you haven’t read it – I highly recommend it – seriously, grab yourself a copy and tuck in. It’s positively delightful.

Over the next few months my partners and I will be reading the other finalists and once we have a few tucked under our belts will start posting reviews.  In the meantime I have randomly selected my reading order.   The first finalist I picked up can be found here.  The second finalist to be chosen is The Thirteenth Hour (book 1 of The Cruel Gods series) by Trudie Skies.

Here’s the description and cover:

Thirteenth

Cruel gods rule the steam-powered city of Chime, demanding worship and tribute from their mortal subjects. Kayl lost her faith in them long ago, and now seeks to protect vulnerable and downtrodden mortals from their gods’ whims. But when Kayl discovers powers that she didn’t know she had—and destroys a mortal’s soul by accident—she becomes Chime’s most wanted.

Quen’s job was to pursue sinners, until the visions started. Haunted by foreboding images of his beloved city’s destruction, Quen hunts soul-sucking creatures made of aether who prey on its citizens—and Kayl is his number one target.

To ensure Chime’s future, Kayl and Quen must discover the truth of Kayl’s divine abilities before the gods take matters into their own hands.

For a city that bows to cruel gods, it’ll take godless heathens to save it.

The Thirteenth Hour is the first book in The Cruel Gods series—a gaslamp fantasy featuring magical portals, gothic cosmic deities, quaint Britishisms, and steampunk vibes. This is an adult book containing strong language and mature themes that some readers may find disturbing. For a full list of content warnings, visit Trudie Skies’s website.

Countdown to 2023 – Day 24 ‘Christmas Eve’ (7 days remaining)

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Today is day 24 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Christmas Eve’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

CHRISTMAS EVE (One of your most anticipated books for 2023)

For this prompt I have to give a shout out for a favourite author.  Laura Purcell.  I love her books and I get super excited whenever I see she’s written something new.  The Whispering Muse is sat waiting on my shelves and I suspect it will be one of my earlier reads.

Tomorrow: Christmas Day – choose a boo from your wishlist

The Friday Face Off : Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple

Posted On 23 December 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: , ,

Comments Dropped 3 responses

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

I’ve added themes in below. For information, I’m trying out some new ideas so along with coming up with particular items for book covers I thought we could also look for certain elements contained within the book or that play a large part in the story – this really broadens things out because I have plenty of more ideas with this – I’ve gone for a few of the Tough Travel Themes (so a book with that theme – just choose any book – the theme isn’t necessarily on the cover, then compare covers), also, I’ve thrown in some genres and some colours.  Hopefully this will open things out a little and give us some more freedom to come up with new books.

This week’s theme:

Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple

Do you have a favourite?

2022

December
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or series

Countdown to 2023 – Day 23 ‘SLEIGH BELLS’ (8 days remaining)

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Today is day 23 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Sleigh Bells’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

SLEIGH BELLS (A series that you want to ring out the praise for)

For this prompt I have to give a shout out for a series that I’m loving.  The Bloodsworn Saga by John Gwynne.  The Shadow of the Gods and The Hunger of the Gods.  Wow – fantastic so far, I am so looking forward to seeing where Gwynne takes us next.  Highly recommended:

Tomorrow: Christmas Eve – One of your most anticipated books for 2023

The Cloisters by Katy Hays

Posted On 22 December 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
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My Five Word TL:DR Review : Dark Academia meets Secret History

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I will say before I start this review that I really enjoyed this.  It’s my kind of story tbh.  Beautifully written, gothic and mysterious.  A very impressive debut that took me down a book wormhole that I was often reluctant to crawl out of.

As the story begins we meet Ann, desperate to get away from her hometown since the death of her father  she’s on her way to New York to start an internship at the Met.  Of course, things go almost immediately wrong.  The post has become redundant almost overnight but before Ann can be delivered her marching orders serendipity steps in and an alternative position is offered at the Cloisters.  Ann jumps at the opportunity, not eager to return home quite so quickly, and so begins her sojourn within a mediaeval museum that practically oozes antiquity and is the perfect setting for a group of researchers passionate about their quest to uncover knowledge from the past.

I will address the elephant in the room.  Yes, this undoubtedly has Secret History vibes.  We have a young woman, quite out of her comfort zone, awkward and a bit gauche, taken under the wing of an ambitious professor and his trusty researcher.  Ann is keen to fit in and anxious to please and the circles she now moves in pull her along into situations that are unfamiliar and heady.  She is in awe of everyone and everything and soon finds herself being dragged into a race against the clock to uncover information until death comes calling.  So, yes, similarities without doubt – but – I don’t see this as a problem as the story very much follows its own path and it’s so atmospheric and beautifully written that I was simply entranced.

The characters.  We have Ann.  Socially awkward and taken under the wing of the beautiful, enigmatic and exquisitely rich Rachel.  The two are both remarkably intelligent and driven and although Rachel has taken Ann under her wing there’s an underlying tension of rivalry that always seems to be first and foremost.  You’re never quite sure if Rachel is simply keeping Ann close in order to observe her more easily.  Rachel is something of an ‘it’ girl.  She has a rather dark history.  Her parents died in a boating accident leaving her a fortune.  She’s very driven with an almost casual confidence that drips with entitlement.  The way she is written puts me in mind of something I’d expect from DuMaurier and in fact the story gave off that strange gothic mystery vibe that she was so good at nailing.

The setting is wonderfully drawn and easy to imagine.  Hays, almost casually pulls you into her different settings with remarkable ease.  The hush hush of the wood panelled Cloisters, the stacks and the mediaeval garden packed with dangerous specimens.  We take a trip to one of Rachel’s countryside abodes and then on the alternative side we mix and mingle with Ann’s love interest.  The broody gardener from the cloisters.

The plot revolves around the search for an old pack of tarot cards and basically boils down to ambition and rivalry, the desire to be the first to uncover something new and exciting but mixed in with that are a few additional red herrings that help to muddy the waters, particularly after one of the characters is found dead under suspicious circumstances.  I don’t want to give anything further away because there are a couple of twists involved as the story unfolds.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t really have any as such although I felt that some of the reveals were rushed over a little bit, I felt like I wanted a little more time to really reflect, that moment when you cast your mind back and realise that those odd feelings of uncertainty or curiosity that you were sometimes niggled by were in fact leading to something after all.  As it is it felt like the ending was delivered a little like a bombshell, although it did have the effect of bowling me over – so there is that.

All told, I loved reading this and I would be very keen to pick up more books by this author.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars.

Countdown to 2023 – Day 22 ‘Reindeers’ (9 days remaining)

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Today is day 22 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Reindeers’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

REINDEERS (A book with memorable critters)

The Hollows by Daniel Church was a great horror story with some fantastically creepy critters.  I didn’t know what to expect with this book and so I was happy to be taken completely by surprise by this unusual story set in a remote village that becomes completely isolated during a furious storm.

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Tomorrow: Sleigh bells – a series that you want to ring out the praise for

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by S.A. Chakraborty

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“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by S.A. Chakraborty.  Check out the cover and description below:

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Shannon Chakraborty, the bestselling author of The City of Brass, spins a new trilogy of magic and mayhem on the high seas in this tale of pirates and sorcerers, forbidden artifacts and ancient mysteries, in one woman’s determined quest to seize a final chance at glory—and write her own legend

Amina al-Sirafi should be content. After a storied and scandalous career as one of the Indian Ocean’s most notorious pirates, she’s survived backstabbing rogues, vengeful merchant princes, several husbands, and one actual demon to retire peacefully with her family to a life of piety, motherhood, and absolutely nothing that hints of the supernatural

But when she’s tracked down by the obscenely wealthy mother of a former crewman, she’s offered a job no bandit could refuse: retrieve her comrade’s kidnapped daughter for a kingly sum. The chance to have one last adventure with her crew, do right by an old friend, and win a fortune that will secure her family’s future forever? It seems like such an obvious choice that it must be God’s will.

Yet the deeper Amina dives, the more it becomes alarmingly clear there’s more to this job, and the girl’s disappearance, than she was led to believe. For there’s always risk in wanting to become a legend, to seize one last chance at glory, to savor just a bit more power…and the price might be your very soul.

Expected publication : March 2023

Countdown to 2023 – Day 21 ‘Santa’s Snack’ (10 days remaining)

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Today is day 21 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Santa’s Snack’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

SANTA’S SNACK (A book that was a ‘light read’ between heavier books )

I don’t tend to read a lot of novellas or short stories but every now and again I pick one up that works perfectly for me.  Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse was a perfect example of a book that I loved (although who am I kidding – I would have loved more).

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Tomorrow: Reindeers – a book with memorable critters

Countdown to 2023 – Day 20 ‘Eggnog’ (11 days remaining)

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Today is day 20 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Eggnog’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

EGGNOG (A book that was out of your comfort zone )

So, eggnog – it’s a traditional Christmas drink that, much like Marmite, is not to everyone’s taste.  I tend to read only a little sci fi as this is slightly out of my comfort zone and I’ve gone for a book that I had reservations about going in but absolutely loved.  Stringers by Chris Panatier – I also highly recommend the Phlebotomist by the same author.

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Tomorrow: Santa’s Snack – a book that was a ‘light read’ between heavier books

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

Posted On 19 December 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 4 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review: Disturbingly dark, haunting and compelling

Just Like Home Final for Peter

So Just Like Home isn’t my first Gailey read nor will it be my last.  In some respects, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure that I liked this and yet I was glued to the pages and can’t deny that the author has come up with a compelling read.

I’m not going to discuss the plot other than to say this is about a woman, called back to her childhood home where her mother is dying.  This is a strange house.  Once home to a serial killer unspeakable crimes have taken place behind it’s closed doors and if it’s possible for a house to absorb the evil, to become a haunting itself then I’d say this particular home has turned into something creepy, not to mention, the house itself has become something of a macabre museum.

The main character is Vera and her story is told in alternating timelines.  We flip backwards and forwards to a much younger version and observe the strained relationship Vera has with her mother whilst enjoying a close bond with her father.  The later storyline is about Vera’s reluctant return home at the request of her mother.  The other main character is a young man, an artist, who seems to have wangled himself into the affections of Vera’s mother and is undertaking a project that involves an art installation using bits and pieces of house memorabilia.

I’m not going to elaborate too much more as I don’t really want to give anything away  but I would say that this does make for a disturbing read and there are numerous elements that compel you to keep reading.  I found myself fascinated by Vera, I couldn’t make my mind up if she was a reliable narrator or not, she came across at times as scared to be in the house but at the same time as her secrets are slowly revealed I found that impossible to believe.  To be truthful I actually didn’t like any of the characters here and this is something that undoubtedly makes me struggle to like a book.  I mean, on the one hand, you’re not really supposed to like these characters, they’re hard and unforgiving, but on the other hand I wanted somebody here to redeem themselves a little.  If I manage to put those particular feelings to one side I can confess that I was hooked, I wasn’t maybe pleasantly hooked, but I simply couldn’t stop reading.  The thirst for clarity pushed me onwards. I was fascinated by Vera’s childhood and desperate to know what really happened all those years ago.

So, although I wouldn’t say that I particularly enjoyed this book, it’s dark, a bit dismal, a little slow to start and is populated with characters that are impossible to like, it is undoubtedly a hypnotic read with startlingly eloquent prose and a shocking ending that brings a touch of the supernatural. If you like your horror to come with a touch of weird then give this one a try.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3 of 5 stars

Countdown to 2023 – Day 19 ‘Christmas Carols’ (12 days remaining)

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Today is day 19 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Christmas Carols’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

CHRISTMAS CAROLS (A book with musicians, song or instruments )

I’ll try not to make this a bad habit but again today I’m running another slight cheat and including two boos for this prompt.  It’s just that they’re both so perfect and such different reads that I couldn’t resist.  Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno Garcia which is a book with subtle magical realism and Dyer St Punk Witches by Phil Williams which is a book with witches (the clue was in the title of course) and a little bit of punk nostalgia.

Tomorrow: Eggnog – a book that was out of your comfort zone

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing so but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Books read this week:

You may have noticed that I missed a weekly update.  I’ve been away staying with family and trying to help with various things.  At the same time, unfortunately, I’ve caught something nasty and been laid up in bed most of the past 8/9 days.  I’m still not over it yet but I feel like I’ve turned a corner.  Since my last update I finished reading The Cloisters by Katy Hays.  I also read my second SPFBO finalist and read Sarah Gailey’s Just Like Home.  I’ve now made a start on Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries which I’m loving.

Next Week’s Reads:

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Countdown to 2023 – Day 18 ‘Christmas Cards’ (13 days remaining)

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Today is day 18 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Christmas Cards’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

CHRISTMAS CARDS (A book with a hidden message)

I’m running a slight cheat with this one because I’m actually using two books instead of one.  Basically, these are both recent reads, both about immortals, both rely on classic stories and both definitely contain a message, and yet, both are so very different in style and content.  A Dowry of Blood by ST Gibson and Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste.

Tomorrow: Christmas Carols – a book with musicians, song or instruments

Countdown to 2023 – Day 17 ‘Glitter’ (14 days remaining)

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Today is day 17 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Glitter’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

GLITTER (A book that you simply have to have)

Yes, in spite of having ridiculous tbrs I think most of us are guilty of seeing the next shiny thing and wanting it with a serious case of the grabby hands.  In actual fact though, the book I’m featuring for this prompt is an absolute ‘go to’ author for me and a book that is not doomed to gather dust on the tbr.  I love his work and so to be blunt I simply must have this book to see what goodness he’s come up with next.  The Book That Wouldn’t Burn by Mark Lawrence.

No cover available for this one yet but follow the link above for the description.  Expected publication May 2023

Tomorrow: Christmas Cards – a book with a hidden message

Friday Face Off : Grimdark

Posted On 16 December 2022

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FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

I’ve added themes in below. For information, I’m trying out some new ideas so along with coming up with particular items for book covers I thought we could also look for certain elements contained within the book or that play a large part in the story – this really broadens things out because I have plenty of more ideas with this – I’ve gone for a few of the Tough Travel Themes (so a book with that theme – just choose any book – the theme isn’t necessarily on the cover, then compare covers), also, I’ve thrown in some genres and some colours.  Hopefully this will open things out a little and give us some more freedom to come up with new books.

This week’s theme:

Grimdark

Do you have a favourite?

2022

December
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or series
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