Saturday, August 31, 2019

August Wrap-Up

*Contains spoilers for the FairyLoot August box*

Here are the books I wanted to read this month . . .


I'm Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal - ARC - 3.5/5 stars - read my review here.
Emily Eternal by M.G. Wheaton - eARC - 1.5/5 stars - read my review here.
Under a Dancing Star by Laura Wood - paperback - 5/5 stars!!!!!

  Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1) by Tasha Suri - eARC - 3.5/5 stars - read my review here.
The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James - paperback - 3.5/5 stars.
Across the Void by S.K. Vaughn - eARC - 3.5/5 stars - read my review here.

 The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3) by Philip Pullman - paperback - 3.5/5 stars.
The Orphanage of Gods by Helena Coggan - eARC - DNF (1/5 stars) - read my review here
Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me by Lily Collins - library paperback - 3.5/5 stars.

 These Rebel Waves (Stream Raiders, #1) by Sara Raasch - FairyLoot hardback - DNF (1/5 stars).
The Furies by Katie Lowe - eARC - 2.5/5 stars - read my review here.


Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo - I was lucky enough to be sent an ARC by Hot Key Books. I'm so excited to read this!
Monsters by Sharon Dogar - this is an ARC copy which I found in my local Oxfam!

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1) by Elizabeth Lim - I got this copy in the Illumicrate Spin the Dawn Debut Box. I love the cover and am so excited to read it.

The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow, #1) by Margaret Owen - this is the August FairyLoot book. It is signed, has an embossed cover and artwork on the inside of the dust jacket which is gorgeous! It also came with a letter from the author which has character art on the other side.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia - I read a NetGalley copy of this book and loved it so much that I bought a hardback copy.


Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1) by Leigh Bardugo

 What did you read this month?

Friday, August 30, 2019

Review - The Furies by Katie Lowe

Title: The Furies
Author: Katie Lowe
Pages: 384
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 2nd May 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:

1998. A sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on school property, dressed in white and posed on a swing. No known cause of death.
Four girls know what happened.
And until now they’ve kept their silence.
Violet is returning home, back to the sleepy coastal town which holds so many memories.

In 1998, after a tragic accident claimed the lives of her father and sister, she joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls’ school with an unpleasant history of 17th century witch trials.

There she is drawn to Robin, Grace, Alex and their charismatic teacher, Annabel; she is invited to join them in their advanced study group.

There they learn about art, literature and the grisly history of the school. Though Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals, she warns them off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology. However, the more the girls learn, the more they start to believe that magic is real, and that together they can harness it.

But when the body of a former member of the society is found on campus nine months after the she disappeared, fingers are pointed at those closest to her. Leading Violet to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.

My Review:

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction and NetGalley*

In 1998, Violet attended Elm Hollow Academy after the deaths of her father and sister in a car accident that she walked away from without a scratch.
The private girls' school has a history linked to the witch trials, and Violet finds herself drawn to three girls and a teacher who leads their study group about the dark history of the school, art, feminism and literature.
When a girl that went missing, who was part of the group, is found dead on the campus, Violet wonders if there is more to the study group than there seems, and whether one of her new friends could have killed her.
Is magic real?
Can Violet trust her friends and herself?

The blurb for The Furies really intrigued me - I liked the idea of a study group/society at a school as well as a body being found and the possibility of magic - but in the end, this wasn't for me.
I didn't really like any of the characters, apart from maybe Grace who I felt sorry for. Violet was okay but she didn't really seem to have much personality - at times it felt like she was just trying to be Robin.
I didn't like how toxic some of the relationships were, but it was interesting to see the dark side of friendships and what people can be capable of doing.
The plot was okay but took me a while to get into. I did lose interest towards the end.
The writing style wasn't one of my favourites and I struggled with it to begin with.
I am disappointed that I didn't enjoy this more.

Overall, this was an okay read.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Q&A with Francesca Burke, Author of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes

Today I am hosting an interview with Francesca Burke, author of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes.

Francesca is posting her novel on Patreon one chapter at a time.
You can find her Patreon page here

On to the interview . . .


When did you start writing?

I first started writing fan fiction when I was 12 (hi, Maximum Ride/Camp Rock/Twilight fandoms circa 2007) and gradually began trying to write original stories as well. 


Why did you decide to release The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes chapter by chapter through Patreon?

Initially I wanted to be traditionally published; I pitched to agents and heard either nothing or rejections. After undertaking much-needed edits, I decided that I could either re-pitch or have some fun and put it out myself. I have my own stationery business and I’m self-employed, so I’m used to undertaking projects by myself. I was already on Patreon, so I thought that putting the book on there over a long period of time might be a sustainable way to build a writing career, as well as being a fun way to fund an ebook. Part of patrons’ money goes to me, part goes to the Make The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes an Ebook Project, and all patrons get little extras as well as the chapters—I name characters after patrons, send them videos and things I’ve made. Having that sort of close relationship with readers isn’t necessarily as possible with a traditional publisher.

How have you found using Patreon in this way?

Slow! Patreon is a really slow burn for me as I don’t have a huge following on my blog or social media. The hardest bit has been convincing people to read the opening chapters, which aren’t even on Patreon—they’re available for everyone to read here. Once people read the opening chapters, they’re often quite into the story and the idea of creating an ebook, and they’re happy to join in. But getting people to pay attention, in a world with 82727262 different demands on people’s time, has been even harder than I expected.

Who is your favourite character in The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes?

Don’t make me pick! Possibly Violet, who we meet in the third part of the book. She’s kind of an enigma and quite hard to write but I like her a lot. I really like the witch in the third part of the story as well.

What was your favourite part of writing The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes?

Finishing it. Kidding, kidding. Ish. I really enjoyed writing the final couple of chapters; in the initial drafts of the very end of the novel, the whole story kind of came together as I was writing.

Do you have any works in progress/a sequel in the works?

Nope! People who have read to the end want to know what happens precisely after the final scene, but for now I’m not telling anyone… not unless the BBC wants to make a six-part Sunday night drama about it.

What are your hobbies?

Most of my hobbies (writing, designing sarcastic stationery) have become part of my everyday life with the aim of being financially viable; I don’t exactly make a lot from them though, so really they are hobbies with the potential to be lucrative in the long run. I would still do them for free if no one was paying any attention, so I suppose they are still hobbies. No one’s ever going to pay me to read, so reading is probably my last true hobby!

Do you have a favourite book or author?

Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle is probably my favourite series; she’s a fantastic author whose skill you can see improve from her first novel to her most recent. I absolutely love The Raven Cycle and really admire Maggie as a person. I also love Khaled Hosseini novels; they make my stomach hurt but in a really good way.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

I think I am stealing this from Neil Gaiman, who himself probably learnt it from someone else (it’s something I think all writers learn from experience, whether we want to or not): you can’t edit what you haven’t written. Even if you’re stuck on a scene or plotline or character, write to the end of the scene or the paragraph or the chapter. You can always come back and change it or polish it or use it as reference material. But if you don’t write, you don’t have anything at all.
Also, expect to write approximately two thirds more than will end up in the final draft. Most of the material from The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes was just me figuring out the story and my characters. A few years ago, I hated being told that I would write more than would end up in the final draft (I’ve heard a couple of authors say that). I thought that all the extra words were a waste of time—and I have repetitive strain injury in both hands, so I don’t like to waste time at my keyboard—but they all contribute to the finished story.

 About the Author

Born in Rochford, Essex, in 1995, Francesca Burke is a writer, stationery designer, marketing consultant and enthusiastic collector of My Chemical Romance albums. She's written about travel, dogs and quarter-life crises on her blog, Indifferent Ignorance, since 2009. It’s statistically likely that as you read this she is thinking about making a cup of tea.
She lives in Southend-on-Sea with her MCR albums, a several bottles of nail polish and a passport she likes to mention has quite a few stamps.


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday - The Deathless Girls

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a feature hosted at Wishful Endings where people showcase an upcoming book they are looking forward to.

This week I am looking forward to . . .

Title: The Deathless Girls
Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Pages: 400
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
Release Date: 19th September 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:

Gothic, intoxicating, feminist, darkly provoking and deeply romantic - this is the breathtakingly imagined untold story of the brides of Dracula, by bestselling author Kiran Millwood Hargrave in her much-anticipated YA debut.

They say the thirst of blood is like a madness - they must sate it. Even with their own kin.

On the eve of her divining, the day she'll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.

Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn't understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.

They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate...

Why I'm Anticipating This Book:

A YA retelling of the brides of Dracula? Yes, please!
And how beautiful is that cover?!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Five Books I Always Recommend

 I love recommending books to people, and often buy books as presents.

Here are five books that I often recommend . . .

1. Shades of Grey (Shades of Grey, #1) by Jasper Fforde

Blurb from Goodreads:

Imagine a black and white world where colour is a commodity ...

Hundreds of years in the future, after the Something that Happened, the world is an alarmingly different place.

Life is lived according to The Rulebook and social hierarchy is determined by your perception of colour. Eddie Russett is an above average Red who dreams of moving up the ladder by marriage to Constance Oxblood. Until he is sent to the Outer Fringes where he meets Jane - a lowly Grey with an uncontrollable temper and a desire to see him killed.

For Eddie, it's love at first sight. But his infatuation will lead him to discover that all is not as it seems in a world where everything that looks black and white is really shades of grey ...

If George Orwell had tripped over a paint pot or Douglas Adams favoured colour swatches instead of towels, neither of them would have come up with anything as eccentrically brilliant as Shades of Grey.

This book is second only to The Hobbit as my favourite book.
Jasper Fforde is an amazing writer.

2. Poison by Chris Wooding

Blurb from Goodreads

Poison has always been a willful, contrary girl, prone to being argumentative and stubborn. So when her sister is snatched by the mean-spirited faeries, she seeks out the Phaerie Lord to get her back. But finding him isn't easy, and the quest leads Poison into a murderous world of intrigue, danger, and deadly storytelling. With only her wits and her friends to aid her, Poison must survive the attentions of the Phaerie Lord, rescue her sister, and thwart a plot that's beyond anything she (or the reader) can imagine...

I read this as a teen and I still think about it all the time.

3. A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood

Blurb from Goodreads:

Growing up in her sleepy Cornish village dreaming of being a writer, seventeen-year-old Lou has always wondered about the grand Cardew house which has stood empty for years. And when the owners arrive for the summer - a handsome, dashing brother and sister - Lou is quite swept off her feet and into a world of moonlit cocktail parties and glamour beyond her wildest dreams.

But, as she grows closer to the Cardews, is she abandoning her own ambitions... And is there something darker lurking at the heart of the Cardew family?

A gorgeously dreamy coming-of-age romance set against a stunning Gatsby-esque backdrop, this is perfect for fans of I Capture the Castle and Eva Ibbotson.


This is a lovely, Gatsby-esque read with one of my favourite romances.
A bonus is that the author is lovely. I met her last year and she remembered me from a Twitter conversation we had, which was so lovely.
I've lost count of the number of copies I've bought of this for presents.

4. To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Blurb from Goodreads

I have a heart for every year I've been alive.

There are seventeen hidden in the sand of my bedroom. Every so often, I claw through the shingle just to check they're still there. Buried deep and bloody.

Princess Lira is siren royalty and revered across the sea until she is cursed into humanity by the ruthless Sea Queen. Now Lira must deliver the heart of the infamous siren killer or remain a human forever.

Prince Elian is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world and captain to a deadly crew of siren hunters. When he rescues a drowning woman from the ocean, she promises to help him destroy sirenkind for good. But he has no way of knowing whether he can trust her …

I love how dark/brutal this is in places - Lira has hearts under her bed!
I also love the banter in this. I must re-read it soon!

5. The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

Blurb from Goodreads

Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and One Thousand and One Nights, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .

I love this book so much! I love the world, the characters, the plot, the romance . . . I still need to read the sequel, but I'm so excited to see what happens next!

What books do you recommend to people?


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Blog Tour + Giveaway - All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Find the tour schedule here.

 All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: August 1st 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery


The day after the funeral all our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. 'This will be really embarrassing,' I kept saying to my family, 'when she shows up at the door in a week or two.'

When Deena's wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears -presumed dead -her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It's just another bad thing to happen to Deena's family. Only Deena refuses to believe it's true.

And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family's blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions -but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse's roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family's rotten past -or rip it apart forever.

UK links:

US links:

Global links:

About the Author

 MoïraFowley-Doyle is half-French, half-Irish and made of equal parts feminism, whimsy and Doc Martens. She lives in Dublin where she writes magic realism, reads tarot cards and raises witch babies.

Moïra’s first novel, The Accident Season, was shortlisted forthe 2015 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize & the North East Teen Book Awards, nominated for the Carnegie Medal & won the inaugural School Library Association of Ireland Great Reads Award. It received two starred reviews & sold in ten territories. Her second novel, Spellbook of the Lost and Found, was published in summer 2017, received a starred review from School Library Journal and was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards.

Author links:

Tour-wide giveaway

Open to UK/Ireland

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Review - The Orphanage of Gods by Helena Coggan

Title: The Orphanage of Gods
Author: Helena Coggan
Pages: 416
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: 21st February 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:

Twenty years ago, the humans came for their gods.
In the bloody revolution, gods were all but wiped out. Ever since, the children they left behind have been imprisoned in an orphanage, watched day and night by the ruthless Guard. Any who show signs of divine power vanish from their beds in the night, all knowledge of their existence denied.

No one has ever escaped the orphanage.

Until now.

Seventeen-year-old Hero is finally free - but at a terrible price. Her sister has been captured by the Guard and is being held in a prison in the northern sea. Hero desperately wants to get her back, and to escape the murderous Guardsmen hunting her down. But not all the gods are dead, and the ones waiting for Hero in the north have their own plans for her - ones that will change the world forever . . .

As she advances further and further into the unknown, Hero will need to decide: how far is she willing to go to do what needs to be done?

My Review:

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley*

- DNF @ 50% - 

The gods were nearly wiped out twenty years ago in a human revolution, and now their children are in an orphanage where they try to conceal their powers and silver blood from the Guard.
Hero has managed to finally escape from the orphanage with Joshua, but their friend, Kestrel, has been taken by the Guard.
Hero and Joshua travel north, intent on rescuing Kestrel. On the way, they cross paths with someone who has plans for them.
Will Hero and Joshua rescue Kestrel?

The blurb for The Orphanage of Gods intrigued me, but unfortunately this wasn't for me.
I didn't find the characters very interesting, despite the fact that some of them had powers. I thought they were a bit bland and I didn't care what happened to them.
I got on with the plot to begin with, but then I lost interest. Not much happened in what I read, and there didn't really seem to be a direction the plot was going in.
The writing style was okay, but it didn't grip me. I would have liked more world-building.
I'm disappointed that I didn't like this more, and I feel like it didn't reach its potential.

Overall, this wasn't for me.