Short Stories For Autumn

November 8, 2017 in Book Reviews, Short Stories

There’s something about this time of year that lends itself beautifully to curling up in a favourite chair with a cuppa, a blanket and a compilation of short stories. Don’t you think? So today I thought I’d share with you two of my recent reads that I think are perfect for reading right now!

Short Stories For AutumnThe Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
on 26th September 2017
Genres: Short Stories, Fantasy
Format: Hardback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.

I’ve long been a Leigh Bardugo fan and her Grishaverse is one of my favourite worlds to visit. So when she announced she’d be publishing a collection of Grishaverse short stories inspired by myth, fairy tale and folklore I was beyond excited! Like many folk, I’d read a few of the tales years ago but this collection brings together three of these stories and three brand-new tales! What’s more they are packaged within the most gorgeously finished book I think I’ve ever seen!

This beautifully illustrated edition contains imagery which changes with every turn of the page – the more you read, the more of the image you see until the final page when we are introduced to the final full-spread illustration.

As you’d expect from Bardugo, her stunning, rich writing pairs perfectly with these illustrations. Each tale is beautifully crafted – each page one to savour. I can’t recommend this enough, it’s just a thoroughly breath-taking book.

 

Short Stories For AutumnThe Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell
on 2nd November 2017
Genres: Short Stories, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Format: Hardback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
four-half-stars

'These days, you can find anything you need at the click of a button.
That's why I bought her heart online.'

Spirits in jam jars, mini-apocalypses, animal hearts and side shows.
A girl runs a coffin hotel on a remote island.
A boy is worried his sister has two souls.
A couple are rewriting the history of the world.
And mermaids are on display at the local aquarium.

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a collection of twelve haunting stories; modern fairy tales brimming with magic, outsiders and lost souls.

I’ve been excited for this book for a long time – Jen Campbell’s first collection of adult fiction. Up until now, she’s written non-fiction, poetry and this year she released her first children’s picture book (it’s fab) so I couldn’t wait to dive into this collection of short stories. I wasn’t disappointed!

Jen shares with us 12 tales which draw upon her love of myths, fairytales and their histories. Her writing is captivating as she weaves stories that are all individual and highly memorable. It’s dark at times, strange and whimsical too – and you’ll find it impossible to put it down after each story. I intended to savour this book but I devoured it, I didn’t want to leave Jen’s writing. The perfect mixture of fantasy and magical realism, this book is not to be missed.

I hate to mention the word Christmas so soon but this would make the perfect Christmas gift, and Jen will even sign, dedicate and wrap copies for you if you order through her website – the ultimate special gift!

Mini Review: Ruined

April 29, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA Fantasy

Mini Review: RuinedRuined by Amy Tintera
Series: Ruined #1
Published by HarperTeen on 3rd May 2016
Genres: YA Fantasy, Fantasy
Format: Hardback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
four-half-stars

A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

 

Sometimes I go through phases where I’m enjoying what I’m reading but I’m not consumed by it. It seems I’ve had a run of those recently – until now. I picked up Ruined and from the outset, I was swept up in the story. It was just what I needed – action, intrigue and a pace that kept me reading.

 

Tintera has created some fantastic characters in this world, a world where the Runed are feared and slaughtered for their magical abilities. It’s a world where Em has seen her parents murdered, her sister kidnapped and she has set out for vengeance. Except it turns out that not all of her enemies are easy to hate.

 

If you enjoy YA fantasy, banterful characters, strong heroines, action, friendship, loveable Princes, well, this is one for you. Thankfully book two, Avenged, is out next week so you won’t have too long to wait after THAT ending!

four-half-stars

Blog Tour: The Cutaway

April 1, 2017 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour: The CutawayThe Cutaway by Christina Kovac
Published by Serpent's Tail on 6th April 2017
Genres: Mystery, thriller
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

It begins with someone else's story. The story of a woman who leaves a busy restaurant and disappears completely into the chilly spring night. Evelyn Carney is missing - but where did she go? Who was she meeting? And why did she take a weapon with her when she went? When brilliant TV producer Virginia Knightley finds Evelyn's missing person report on her desk, she becomes obsessed with finding out what happened that night. But her pursuit of the truth draws her deep into the power struggles and lies of Washington DC's elite - to face old demons and new enemies.

I’m delighted today to be the first stop on The Cutaway Blog Tour. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the novel, but be sure to check out these other blogs over the next 12 days for different articles and features.

blogtour_dates (1)

Recently, I’ve become pretty interested in how the media uncover stories, how they break news and how they contribute towards the solving of crimes. I suspect that it’s my true crime podcast obsession that’s piqued this interest. So when I was asked if I’d like to review The Cutaway, the debut novel by Christina Kovac who has seventeen years of experience working in the media producing crime and political stories, well obviously I couldn’t resist.

The Cutaway follows the story of TV news producer Virginia Knightly. Virginia becomes interested in the disappearance of a young lawyer, Evelyn Carney, who vanishes one night after leaving a restaurant in Georgetown, Washington DC. Knightly is determined to uncover what happened to Evelyn and as she works on the story it becomes apparent that there are powerful people involved, people who want to keep this story out of the spotlight.

I really enjoyed this thriller. For me, it was a change from the police-centred detective tales I’ve read and enjoyed recently. I found the insight into a newsroom fascinating – the contrast between teamwork and self-preservation, the protection of sources, fact-checking, politics, beating rival channels to a story and the practicalities of a building a story ready for air.

Furthermore, I found the setting of Washington DC, the politics, the powerful personalities, as well as the media interaction really interesting.

As for the disappearance of Evelyn, I had various theories along the way – none of which were accurate!

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and find myself hoping that we might be treated to more Virginia Knightly stories in the future.

four-stars

Review: Windwitch

March 31, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: WindwitchWindwitch by Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands #2
Published by Tor UK on 12th January 2017
Genres: Fantasy, YA Fantasy
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Sometimes our enemies become our only allies

The Windwitch Prince Merik is presumed dead, following a lethal explosion. He's left scarred but alive and determined to expose his sister's treachery. Yet on reaching the royal capital, he's shocked to find it crowded with refugees fleeing conflict. Merik haunts the streets, fighting for the weak. This leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

Hunted by the Cleaved, Iseult is struggling to stay free while she searches for her friend Safi. When the Bloodwitch Aeduan corners Iseult first, she offers him a deal: she'll return what was stolen from him, if he locates the Truthwitch. Yet unknown to Iseult, there's a bounty on her head - and Aeduan intends to claim it.

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. They find themselves amongst pirates, where a misstep could mean death. And the bandits' next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

I really enjoyed Truthwitch last year (see my thoughts here), so obviously Windwitch was high on my list of reads for 2017! Sadly, I was really disappointed with this book.

*sigh*

I guess the best way I can describe Windwitch is that I felt like it was a ‘filler’, bridging the gap between books one and three.

I kind of felt confused reading this book. In many ways, it felt like there was too much going on, and in other ways that very little actually happened.

For me, there wasn’t the same spark with the characters. It all felt somewhat disjointed, I didn’t feel compelled to read on. In fact, I hate to say this, but at times I was bored.

Dennard undoubtedly has great ideas and her world is certainly interesting. However, I just didn’t click with this book. You know when you taste food and realise there’s something missing, maybe salt, but you can’t quite put your finger on it? Well, that’s really how I felt the whole way through this novel.

I will read book three as I really hope this was just a second book issue, and I do genuinely want to know that will happen to our characters. I just wish that I’d enjoyed this book more.

two-half-stars

Review: Kindred, A Graphic Novel Adaptation

January 31, 2017 in Book Reviews, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Sci-Fi

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Kindred, A Graphic Novel AdaptationKindred by Octavia E Butler, John Jennings, Damian Duffy
Published by Abrams on 10th January 2017
Genres: Graphic Novel, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century.

Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.

Held up as an essential work in feminist, science-fiction, and fantasy genres, and a cornerstone of the Afrofuturism movement, there are over 500,000 copies of Kindred in print. The intersectionality of race, history, and the treatment of women addressed within the original work remain critical topics in contemporary dialogue, both in the classroom and in the public sphere.

Frightening, compelling, and richly imagined, Kindred offers an unflinching look at our complicated social history, transformed by the graphic novel format into a visually stunning work for a new generation of readers.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler is one of those books that has always been on my radar, but I’ve just never got around to reading. So when I saw there was to be a graphic novel adaptation, I thought it the perfect time to familiarise myself with the story – and swoon over the artwork (which you can see here).

Kindred is the story of Dana, a young black woman living in 1976. Inexplicably, she is persistently transported back in time to an 1800 plantation in the American South. Her life changes when she is there. She is not safe – a free black woman in a white man’s world.

Her trips back in time coincide with the actions of Rafe, the plantation owner’s son. As Dana spends time on the plantation awaiting her return to the 1970s she builds friendships with the plantation workers and slaves. Through Dana, her treatment and the treatment of those around her, we gain an insight into the lives of plantation slaves at that time.

This is such a powerful book. While I can’t speak to the original, this graphic novel adaptation works wonderfully. The imagery is stunning and definitely furthers the Kindred experience.

This isn’t an easy book to read. It’s emotional, heart-breaking at times. While classed as a science fiction novel this a book that is built around fact, history, and it educates the reader.

Having read the graphic novel, I now really want to read the original version of Kindred. I can already see why it has such a well-earned reputation, and I believe that this graphic novel adaptation is the perfect way to bring the story to a wider audience.

four-stars