Thursday, 29 September 2022

Audiobook Review - Unlawful Killings

I am not much of a true crime fan. Funny that I'm writing that as I do listen to true crime podcasts (not many and I am very fussy over what episodes/crimes I listen to), but when I first discovered this book on an episode of a crime fiction podcast, Shedunnit, I was instantly fascinated about it. An Old Bailey's judge talking about her time being a High Court judge and talking about the law, the role of a judge and several of her cases. Took me a while to get my hands on a copy (I wanted physical or ebook, but went for audiobook in the end). 

Title and Author: Unlawful Killings by Her Honour Wendy Joseph KQ
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought

Her Honour Wendy Joseph KC (This has been changed from QC to KC due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II's death) has been a judge at the Old Bailey for over ten years. She's one of a handful of judges at the Old Bailey licensed to try murder cases at the Old Bailey and, in this, she tries to talk about the role of law, how the court works and talks about six murder and manslaughter cases, each with compassionate, humour and tries to show that, while the law is flawed and society is becoming more and more fractured, how each of us should have a cashed interest in what happens in the court room, especially when it comes to the death of a fellow human being.

Monday, 26 September 2022

re3 - Soulless

I'm not sure what made me desperately wanted to reread the first book in the Parasol Protectorate, Soulless, by Gail Carriger. It's been on my mind that I wanted to reread it for the last year or two but I seem to become desperate to find time to reread this and see if it was as fun as when I first read this back in 2013 (I had to backtrack through the blog to double check my dates but yes, I first read this nearly ten years ago!)

So, for those of you curious, Soulless is set in an alternative, steampunk London where vampires, werewolves and Alexia Tarabotti exist. Alexia Tarabotti has no soul - literally, though you wouldn't see it. All you would see is a spinster with Italian blood and speaks her mind. How very unladylike. 

But when Alexia is attacked by a vampire and accidentally kills it, breaking all social etiquette, she thinks it can't get worse. Boy oh, it does, as the handsome, gruff (and Alpha werewolf) Lord Maccon is sent to investigate by Queen Victoria. 

For you see, vampires are disappearing and new, rogue vampires are appearing. For some reason that no one seems to understand, Alexia keeps herself in trouble because of it. Something is afoot and whether Lord Maccon wants her help or not, Alexia is going to get to the bottom of it with her trusty brass parasol and a good cup of tea.

Friday, 23 September 2022

A Cast of Falcons Extract

I have an extract for you all! And it happened on sheer impulse - and by that, I mean, after finishing Sarah Yarwood-Lovett's A Murder of Crows and discovering that I needed to know what happens next (that took me by surprise, truth be told), I (impulsively) emailed the publisher - Embla Books - and went "I want to do something to get everyone excited for the next book in the Dr Nell Ward series, A Cast of Falcons, as I need to know what's going to happen next to these characters". Next time I know, I got a reply going "Fancy sharing a small extract from A Cast of Falcons?"

And here we are! So, before I share a tiny sneak peek of A Cast of Falcons, let me tell you what this is about. 

When her oldest friend announces that she's impulsively engaged to the almost too good to be true Hawke McAnstruther, Dr Nell Ward rashly offers to host the wedding at her family's estate of Finchmere. But if she thinks it's going to be a joyful event, she's in for a nasty shock when she discover's her friend's parent strong dislike of their soon-to-be son-in-law. 

But before the ceremony is even over, Hawke's shady personal and professional lives begin to unravel and before the evening is out, a shocking murder takes place and the list of suspects is long. Nell finds herself investigating what happened at her home with her best friend, Rav, and PC James Clarke, desperate for the truth. But that might not be the only truth as Nell finds herself in the middle of a love triangle between Rav and James, and she's able to find out where her heart truly lives... if she lives long enough. 

Now, this isn't out till next month (the 18th, if I remember right), but excited to read the chapter and share a snippet. Now, I could have share the first, dramatic page or something more romantic to wet your appetite... decisions, decisions...

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Audiobook Review - Equal Rites

I've been dipping in and out of the Discworld books over the past few years. I plan to do more in the coming few months (mainly the novels featuring DEATH. I read Reaper Man years ago and class it as one of my favourites. One that I should reread before I dare tackle the next DEATH book, Soul Music - which is on my kindle as we speak), but I seem to have been going towards the Witches series, reading Wyrd Sisters, Maskerade and now, Equal Rites (which is classed as the first book in the Witch series, but at the same time, reads as a standalone). 

Title and Author: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Publisher: Penguin
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange of honest review/reaction though listened to audiobook via library audiobook app.

Wizards in the Discworld know when they are going to die. So, before Drum Billet does, he goes and passes his staff to the eighth son of an eighth son. But he didn't check the newborn's gender until it was much too late...

For you see, girls can't be wizards. It's the lore in the in the chauvinistic (not to say misogynistic) world of magic. And yet, here we are with our first female wizard. And it's up to local witch Granny Weatherwax to somehow train and keep an eye on the girl as she grows into her magic...

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Audiobook Review - A Murder of Crows

I'm not sure how this got on my radar. I want to say Twitter, but I think I might have got an email from the publisher's publicity department, saying "Vote for this upcoming release's cover!" and I am a sucker for a mystery poll for a new series. And this is a cosy murder mystery series so, of course, this is right up my street, people! 

Although, this wasn't what I was expecting for a cosy mystery. But more on that later... 

Title and Author: A Murder of Crows by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett
Publisher: Embla Books
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction, though listened to audiobook via library audiobook app.

Dr Neil Ward is an ecologist, not a detective. So when she took on a job for a local Manor House in Cookingdeal, this thinks it will be an easy open-and-shut to discover the building's wildlife. When she discovers a hidden tunnel, perfect for bats, she thinks she overhears something. It's not till a day or two later that she realises that she heard the home owner being murdered...

Desperate to help, she shows all her findings to the Police. But this has the opposite effect as the Police turn their sights on Neil being the prime suspect. Trying to clear her name, Neil and her colleague Adam decide to look into the murder. But that might be easier said than done...

Saturday, 3 September 2022

The Last Girl to Die Blog Tour

What's this? An extract from a crime novel that sounds utterly creepy, that fits perfectly for now as we slowly begin to enter autumn? How very nearly on brand for me... 

The Last Girl to Die starts with a desperate family. Their sixteen year old daughter has vanished after they move to the island of Mull, far off the coast of Scotland. But with hostile local and the Police that don't seem to care, the parents turn to private investigator, Sadie Levesque. 

Sadie is the best at what she does, so when she discovers Adriana's body in a cliffside cave, her body posed with a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head, Sadie knows she is dealing with something truly sinister. But as Sadie begins to look for the truth and digs into the island's secrets, danger is edging closer to her... 

I am thrilled to share an extract with you from Helen Fields's The Last Girl to Die as this sounds like a deliciously creepy thriller and you know me with creepy thrillers. 

Now, before I tease you with an extract (I think it's the start of chapter 11, but I might be wrong), I just want to thank Olivia from Midas for emailing me about this book, tempting me with the blurb and going "Oh, do you want to share an extract?". And, if you want to know more about the book or the author's other works, you can pop over to helenfields.com or say hi to Helen on Twitter at @Helen_Fields

Now, ONTO THE EXTRACT!!!

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Audiobook Review - The Bone Garden

Tess Gerritsen is one of the first crime/thriller authors I tried when I was in my late teens/early twenties that I enjoyed (same goes for Kathy Reichs, not so much for Patricia Cornwell but THAT'S a different story!) and I have always dipped in and out of her books. I first read Body Double, then dipping in and out of her Rizzoli and Isles series.

Tess's stand-alone were very hit and miss with me. I really enjoyed Harvest when I read it YEARS ago, I DNFed Life Support & Playing with Fire and The Shape of Night was a bit meh for me (review for that is here, if you're curious on my thoughts when I first read it in 2019

But I have always, ALWAYS wanted to read Bone Garden. It just sounded creepy with how it looks at early medicine in Boston 1830s.

Title and Author:
The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen
Publisher: Transworld
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought eBook and borrowed audiobook from library via BorrowBox app.

In the present day, Julia impulsively bought a house to get over her divorce. As she is digging up the garden, she discovers a skull. The skeleton, it seems, was buried over a hundred years ago. But who is she, and how did she die?

In 1830s Boston, an impoverished medical student and a young Irish immigrant who suddenly becomes guardian of her baby niece find their paths keep crossing as a terrifying serial killer. Something sinister is happening in Boston, and it has nothing to do with the grave robbing or body snatching...

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Blog Tour Review - With Fire In Their Blood


I think am out of my reading slump! Good grief, I hope so! And with a book to read for a blog tour that I dived into because I loved the cover! It looks weird and gothic and with that title, how could I not say yes to being involved in this blog tour when I was asked by the lovely folks at Write Reads on behalf of Penguin (thank you Write Reads for allowing me to be involved in this tour)!

The hidden, crumbling Italian city of Castello was at war with itself. Two families were involved ed in a brutal clan war, spanning generations, till a mysterious leader survived a church fire, killing all but him, determined unity against a common, hidden enemy. 

When Lilly moves to town from the US due to her father's new job, she finds herself drawn to the rebellious Liza, the brooding Nico and sensitive Christian. But with her emotions pulling her in different directions with this strange love square, she finds that Castello is a city that will lead everyone to ruin because no one can be trusted. Not even herself. 

Because sins of the past are close to destroying and consuming the present and future. Because Lilly, unknowingly, has broken Castello's most sacred rule: when your blood is tested, you better be damn sure you not anything more than human...

Sunday, 21 August 2022

From The Lost Diary of Samuel Pepys

I have an extract from you! And it's from a book I'm actually reading at the time of writing this (I'm not far in, but so far, I'm enjoying myself). 

The diaries of Samuel Pepys have been read for centuries due to their detail account of the Great Fire of London, his racy assignments and his detail and wit. But, at the age of 36, he stopped writing. Or did he?

It's the summer of 1669 and England is in dire straits. The treasury has very limited funds and tensions with the powerful Dutch Republic are beginning to boil over. An investigator for the Crown was sent to look into corruption in the Royal Navy, only for him to be murdered. Samuel Pepys has been asked to look into the corruption and the possible murder. 

As he begins to look into this, his health is on the turn and his marriage is very close to collapsing. Can Pepys discover the sinister truth and make sure England doesn't get into a war...

Like I said earlier, I am currently reading The Lost Diary of Samuel Pepys by Jack Jewers and I'm enjoying myself, though I am not always the biggest fan of historical thrillers, but I am intrigued where this is going to go. 

So when I was asked by Midas PR if I wanted to share an extract, I jumped at it. I always like to share extracts from books that don't always fit my typical reading, but this caught my attention and as I am now (hopefully) out of a reading slump, this felt like the perfect time to try something new!

So, before I hand you over to the extract, just wanna thank Funmi from Midas for asking if I wanted a copy of Lost Diary and if you wanna know more about the book (or just wanna say hi to the author), you can go visit jackjewers.com or @jackjewers on Twitter!

Now, ONTO THE EXTRACT (and yes, I picked this because this is, so far, one of my fave scenes! But it's so long, I picked this little scene, just because!)

Friday, 5 August 2022

More Short Stories Read During Reading Slump

I think I said in an earlier blog post that I was out of my reading slump. I hope I'm out of my reading slump (goodness helps me if I'm not) and last week, my company went on its annual summer shutdown so my partner and I went away for a free days to Alton Towers and, while there, I decided to read some more short stories from Amazon's Black Stars collection, 

Black Stars is a collection for short sci-fi stories, written by black authors, which can be read within 30-odd minutes. (There are other short story collections on Amazon, ranging from sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, and others. All of which I will have to investigate)

Now, in an earlier post, I read one of the stories within Black Stars - The Visit by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I did like reading this short, but it's hard to explain this. I keep thinking of it as a gender-flipped Handmaid's Tale told from the point of view of Mrs Dalloway. Plus, it did hit close to the bone as I read within weeks of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade, making safe abortions illegal in certain states, so that was very much on my mind as I read this. 

After that, I wanted to go back into a novel so I tried to read another Diana Wynne Jones: The Many Lives of Christopher Chant. But I only got to chapter five. It wasn't holding my attention and though I wanted to, I knew I couldn't go on at the current moment. So, I decided to go back on my myself and read some more shorts from Black Stars collection: Clap Back by Nalo Hopkinson, The Black Pages by Nnedi Okorafor and These Alien Skies by C.T. Rwizi. 

Clap Back follows Wenda, a protest performance artist, who doesn't believe the stories about fashion designer and biochemistry, Burra, who's new clothing line will have nanotech weaved into the fabric to tell the wearer about African history and forgiveness. The Black Pages follows Issaka as he returns home to Timbouctou from his studies in the US, only for his family home to be attacked by al-Qaeda. And These Alien Skies follows Msizi as he pilots a spaceship to test a new wormhole jump that could lead to unsettled yet possible habitable planets, but when an explosion causes the ship to go off course, he and his co-pilot fear the worse... 

I'm not going to write full-blown reports on each of these, but I will touch on them in quick summaries of my thoughts. I had high hopes for Clap Back, and it didn't quite hit the right notes for me. I liked the story when it was being told in media reports. But when it switched out of that, I didn't warm to the story. It had potential, but it didn't high the sweet spot for me. 

Black Pages, out of the three, felt the strongest. Maybe because it felt more fantasy than sci-fi, but this felt like a story I could sink into. Plus, it felt like this could be the start of something: a prologue of introduction short story to a novel with these characters and I would have enjoyed seeing more of them.

And These Alien Skies. Sadly, this didn't work for me. It felt as if it was trying to tackle too many things in a short time-frame. Maybe I read this at the wrong time, but it just didn't work for me. 

But collection of short stories are going to be hit and miss. Some stories you are going to love, other stories not so much. I have a few collections that I want to read in the coming months, and we'll see where we go from there. 

But, my reading slump has ruined my reading and I have several novels that I am desperate to read (and I can't wait!). So, might take a week or two off my blog and come back swinging! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Short Reads I Read During Reading Slump

After finally (hopefully) killing my reading slump with Diana Wynne Jones's Witch Week, I decided that I was going to slowly ease myself back into read. I'm not going to throw self into the deep end. I wanted to take my time and, hell, maybe even read some short stories or novella. A gentle getting back to normal with my reading (not my life. Still trying to figure how to get back to normal on that one!). And, at the same time, I wanted to try something new. But ease of reading. 

So, while snooping on my Amazon's Prime Reading, I discovered some short stories as part of their Short Stories collections and, after having a quick snoop, I downloaded a few (as I have Prime, the stories were free under their Prime Reading). I downloaded a few under the Forward collection (sci-fi about the future), Trepass collection (unsettling stories about nature) and Black Stars (sci-fi stories written by black authors), I dipped my toe in. 

My first was The Visit by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the first short story in the Black Stars collection. In this, gender roles have been flipped and it shows how easy we are conditioned to see the world. Plus, this kinda hits close to current events as the law banning men from masturbating in US and in Lagos are in force with no plans to remove or change, dangerously similar to recent Roe vs Wade events in the US and certain states planning to ban abortions (which won't work. They're banning safe abortions). And while I did like this short as I found the ideas interesting, creepy and frighteningly real, I didn't warm to this. It felt like a cross over between Mrs Dalloway and The Handmaid's Tale. This could have so easily been longer. 

My second was The Tiger Came To The Mountain by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the first short in the Trepass collection. Set in Mexico 1917, at the height of the revolution, two children hide in a cave to stay safe. But a threat is close to them, prowling, waiting... Now, I have tried to read one of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's novel, Mexican Gothic, and I didn't like it. But this shirt fitted my mood wonderfully. I just clicked with this story and it felt delicious to read in almost one sitting. I might need to try this author again in future...

I audiobooked a short audiobook from may local library - Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Now, I'm not going to write a review about this as it feels wrong to that, but this is a short collection of essays about Chimamanda processing her grief over the death of her father in the high of the COVID pandemic. Now, grief is a complex creature and no two people's grief is the same. But oh, there were moments in this collection that hurt. The last essay/chapter is short and kicks you in the feels (I think every person who has lost someone will get what I mean when you read/hear it!) 

Monday, 25 July 2022

Reading Slump ReReading - Witch Week

I am 95% certain that I've read this YEARS ago. I am sure I bought a paperback edition from my local ASDA when children's fantasy was booming (Yes, Harry Potter). I can't remember anything about the book barring the start - someone wrote a note saying that someone in the class is a witch. 

So, now that I am making my way SLOWLY through the Chrestomanci series (I really start continue with Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver but, OH, the fear as I was enjoying myself SO MUCH!), when this came up, I was excited as I went "I know this. Vaguely. Hey, this might be The Book that kills my reading slump."

Now, in the series collection I have, this is book three. This is because it was the third book published. However, Diana Wynne Jones recommended that Witch Week should be the fourth book you read, and other people say that this, chronically, is the sixth book in the series (however, other people say that Witch Week can't actually be placed int he sequence as there's no clue to who the Chrestomanci is when the book takes place...)

SOMEONE IN THIS CLASS IS A WITCH

The note, written in simple blue biro, is discovered in the homework books by Mr Crossley during his markings and it upsets him. For this is Larwood House, a school for witch-orphans, and they are in a world where witchcraft is forbidden and the witches caught are burnt alive. And yet, magic is breaking out throughout the school and it looks there might be more than one witch... 

There was something utterly joyful about reading this. I think this is the book that broken my reading slump because I just had fun with it. Yes, there are problems with this book - the fatphobia, the writing of characters of colours (there was one character from India who turned yellow with fear. Every time I saw this line [I know it was said twice], I would winces) and there were other things that felt of its time, but there was something utterly lovely about this book. I think it's because it wasn't a typical Chrestomanci book. 

I mean, Chrestomanci didn't turn up to very late in the book. Plus, I'm not the biggest of the second book my kindle Chrestomanci collection - The Magicians of Caprona. So, going into this and not was a break from the series, was refreshing. Plus, the characters weren't nice. There were flawed and mean - like kids are. 

So, yeah, I think this is the book that broke my reading slump and am excited to get my reading groove back. But am going to go back slowly and not rush into it (though my proofs on my TBR shelves [all physical, ebook and audiobook] are STARING at me with fury - but when has that ever stopped me from reading what I want to read). So, please bear with me as I returned to reading. And yes, this was a hoot! 

Thursday, 21 July 2022

The King Is Dead! Long Live The King!


I am thrilled and honoured to be involved in The King Is Dead blog tour! I am excited to get back into this book after my recent reading slump made me stop at the halfway mark (CURSE YOU ANXIETY-RIDDEN READING SLUMP!), so when the call to be involved in the blog tour came, I jumped at it! 

If you aren't aware of this, The King is Dead follows James, the first black heir to the throne. But when his father dies unexpectedly, James is thrown into the spotlight as the first Black King of the United Kingdom.   As well as trying to navigate this new world - a world he doesn't want - he is hiding his sexuality and his secret relationship. 

But when his secret boyfriend vanishes without a trace and royal secrets and scandals begin to leak, James realises that someone close to him can't be trusted...

Now, I was meant to have Benjamin on the blog in video form (heavens hopes that I can upload the video on here otherwise we are in TROUBLE), chatting about the book. But technology has got in the way (Once I have the video working, I will upload!) 

So, in the meantime, I have created a mood board to inspire you guys to pick up The King is Dead! I hope you like. 

Now, before I show my handle-work, I just want to thank Ellen and Simon and Schuster for asking if I wanted to be involved (thank you!) and thank you Benjamin for finding time to record upcoming video that should be here soon! I know how busy you both must be (and with the weather we had on Tuesday, am surprised we're all still functioning!) 

Oh! If you want to find Benjamin online to say hi, you can find him on Twitter at @NotAgainBen and on Instagram at @notagainben! Now, ONTO THE BOARD!

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

What I Tried To Read During Reading Slump

As you know if you've follow me on here or any of my social medias, I am in the depths of a reading slump. Am hoping to get out of it by the time this post goes up (I highly doubt it, but one can hope, right?), but I thought, in the meantime, I would write a small post about some of the books/audiobooks I attempted to read to get me out of the slump. 

You all know I tried to read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and you all saw how salty I got before I quit around the half way mark (link for that post is here). But there are so many others that I tried and a few I really want to talk about as I want to read them SO BADLY!!! So, let me chat quickly over some titles!

THE KING IS DEAD by Benjamin Dean is the first book am gonna chat about. My slump made me stop around the halfway mark, as I wasn't gelling with the book's pacing. But, in theory, this is perfect for me. Black, queer, mystery and, while looks gossipy and gloss, has an undercurrent of darkness to it. James is the first black heir to the British throne, so when his father suddenly dies, James's life is turned completely upside down as he is now king. But when his secret boyfriend vanishes and secrets are beginning to leak out of the Palace, James begins to realise that someone close to him can't be trusted... 

DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr is a second book I'm going to chat about, and this one is one of the books I am desperate to get back to as I love reading Katharine and Elizabeth's writing. And here, we have a dark reimagining of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. I only got a few chapters in and I know that I will enjoy myself hugely once I'm back in my reading groove. 

Another DNF I started then put down is a reread - THE DOOMSPELL by Cliff McNish. Not sure why I want to reread this trilogy, but I've been wanting to reread it on and off for the past few months. Plus, it's celebrating being published for past 20-odd years so it feels time. Rachel and Eric have been snatched to another world, like hundreds of children before by the Witch. She plans to use them to overthrown her enemies, the Wizards. But has the Witch met her match in Rachel and Eric? 

Let's do one more then I'll let you get on with your day. BLUE BLOODS by Melissa de la Cruz. Now, I have read the first three in this series YEARS ago (over ten or so years ago) and I have fond memories of these books as I read the first on my first trip to New York City. Now, I have the first five in the series (three I read and two I haven't) and I wanted to see if they stood the test of time. Imagine Gossip Girl with vampires, but I sense there's a dark overarching story (but I never got to that part so goodness know where this series is going to end up!). 

Am going to leave it there as I think, I think, I might be on the up with my reading. FINGERS CROSSED!!!

Sunday, 10 July 2022

The Midnighters Extract


HERE WE ARE! The last day of the Midnighters tour and I have a delicious extract to share with you guys! 

Ema has always felt different. Her family are filled with famous scientists, so there's not much room for omens and superstitions, even though they follow Ema wherever she goes. Nor does it help that she appears to predict events before they happen or has a peculiar fear of shadows...

So when Ema is sent to live with her uncle in Prague, she fears that she'll never fit in. Then she meets Silvie, a girl who sees Ema and soon, the two are having midnight adventures and facing Emma's fears together. 

Then Silvie vanishes...

As you know, I'm in a bit of a reading slump, but this book sounds delightfully weird for me to pass up! I am excited to sink my teeth into this world that Hana Tooke has created (and with lush illustrations by Ayesha L. Rubio)! 

Now, before I give you the tiny sneak peek of the prologue, I just wanted to thank Bee from Kaleidoscopic Tours for inviting me to tag along and being very kind to gifting me a copy of The Midnighters. And, if you want to check out Hana online, you can visit hanatooke.com or you can tweet her at @hannekewrites!

Now, ONTO THE EXTRACT!!!

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Reading Slump Audiobooking - Murder Before Evensong

Not sure how to write this one as still in slump with blogging/reading (oh, the joy of anxiety-include reading slumps), but I preordered this and decided to give it a listen as I thought this, as a cosy murder mystery, might ease me back into reading/audiobooking on a more, regular bases. 

Well, that was the plan. It took a good few weeks for me to complete it. And I would make myself listen to this either on the way to or from work. Most days, I did both to help men unwind from work, but I would try and do at least 20 minutes a day. 

So, where the heck do I start here?

Title and Author: Murder Before Evensong by Reverend Richard Coles
Publisher: Orion/W&N
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction, though I bought and listened to audiobook. 

Canon Daniel Clement is the Rector of Champton for the past eight years. He lives with his eldery spitfire of a mother, Audrey, and his two dachshunds, Cosmo and Hilda, and he had his brother, Hugo, popping in and out of his life.

Life in Champton is a typical, country village in the mid-1980s. But when Daniel suggests installing a lavatory in the church, the parish is unexpected divided. Then things take a turn when the Anthony Bowness – cousin of Bernard de Floures, patron of Champton – is found dead in the church, stabbed in the neck by a pair of secateurs, the village is close to fracturing. As the Police begin to investigate, Daniel must try to keep his community together and try and figure out who the killer is for who knows how many more will die before the truth comes out…

Friday, 1 July 2022

Reading Slump Reading - Mini Write-Up One

As I said earlier, I fell hard into a reading slump. Things happened and it's one of those things. At the time, I was mildly ok with the slump, then I went  "Enough now!" as I had to DNF two reads that I was quite excited to read - one was a proof of a book that I was kindly sent by the publisher for review which I am excited to read as I love these authors's previous books (Daughter of Darkness by Elizabeth and Katherine Corr) and I had to put it down and hope that I will return to this before its publication so can have a review or something ready. 

But this reading slump might be over. Maybe. At the time of writing this, I am unsure if am out of the reading slump woods, but am tentatively hopefully. 

The two books that, I hope, have got me out of my reading slump is Crankshaft by K. M. Neuhold and Maskerade by Terry Pratchett (this is audiobook, FYI). 

Crankshaft, the first book in the Big Bull Mechanics series (this is a spin off series of Four Bear Construction that I class as my COVID Lockdown obsession) is a MM, low angst romance, while Maskerade is a Discworld novel (the 18th in the whole series and, I think, the 5th or 6th in the Witches series), which pokes fun at opera. 

So, not gonna write full-on reviews (these were fun! Perfect for getting out of reading slumps), but these were fun. I knew I would love Crankshaft as this is the first book in a spinoff series that I devoured during COVID, Four Bear Constructions. And I knew this would be light, fun and angst-free (or very low angst). 

Maskerade, on the other hand, was a bit of a risk. I'm not 100% sure about Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series, though I seem to have gained a few titles on my kindle. But Maskerade has been one that I've had my eye on for a while for some unknown reason, and while I did warm to the story and the characters (mainly Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg - it did some time for me to like them, and I audiobooked Wyrd Sisters, and I found the lack of Magrat in this story a nice bonus). It seems that I like Discworld novels, but the latter half of the novels when things are beginning to go off the rails. I can't seem to warm to the set-up of the first half of the novel... 

But, like I said, am in the depths of a reading slump and slowly, oh-so-slowly, am trying to crawl out of it, so I'm not exactly going to rush my next few reads/audiobooks. Am nearly finished one and it's a "meh", but I can't decide if that's because am still in slump or if the story just didn't work... we shall see...  

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year 2022 Shortlist Revealed

THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2022 SHORTLIST REVEALED!


Elly Griffiths | Joseph Knox | Laura Shepherd Robinson 
Mick Herron | Vaseem Khan | Will Dean 

The shortlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022, presented by Harrogate International Festivals, has been announced today, with six bestselling authors competing to win the UK’s most prestigious crime writing prize.

The coveted award, now in its eighteenth year, celebrates crime fiction at its very best, with this year’s shortlist taking readers from newly independent India to the tension of a remote Fenlands cottage, from a nail-biting missing persons investigation in Manchester to the wilds of North Norfolk, and from the hedonism of Georgian London to the murky world of international espionage. Selected by the public from a longlist of eighteen novels, with a record number of votes being placed this year, the list of six novels features newcomers to the shortlist, two New Blood panellists, a previous Festival Programming Chair, and a five-time shortlistee. None of this year’s shortlistees have ever taken home the prize before, making the competition even more tense.

Elly Griffiths, who was the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Chair in 2017, is shortlisted for the fifth time for The Night Hawks, the thirteenth instalment in her popular Ruth Galloway series. The Night Hawks sees Norfolk’s favourite forensic archaeologist Galloway called when a group of metal detectorists discover a body buried on a beach with Bronze Age treasure, a find which will lead to a series of murders seemingly linked to the local legend of a spectral dog whose appearance heralds death.

Sunday Times bestseller True Crime Story, the first standalone novel from Joseph Knox, blends fact and fiction to tell the gripping story of a 19-year-old university student who leaves a party in her student halls and is never seen again. Knox, who was selected by Val McDermid as a New Blood panellist in 2017, was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2018 for his thriller Sirens the following year, but has never previously reached the shortlist stage.

Historical crime writer Laura Shepherd Robinson continues her incredible streak as her second novel Daughters of Night is shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, two years after her debut Blood & Sugar was longlisted for the award in 2020. Robinson’s evocative novel transports readers to the seedy underworld of Georgian London, as Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham tries to solve the murder of a prostitute in the infamous Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, an investigation which will delve into the darkest corners of high society.

Bestselling author Mick Herron is longlisted for Slough House, the tenth instalment in his series of the same name, which was recently adapted by Apple TV as spy drama Slow Horses, starring Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas. Herron will be hoping to take home the prize this year, with 2022 marking the fifth time in the past six years he has secured a place on the shortlist.

Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan, the first in a new series chronicling the investigations of India’s first female police detective, marks Khan’s first time reaching the shortlist. The novel introduces readers to Inspector Persis Wadia as she is plucked from obscurity in a basement office and tasked with solving the murder of an English diplomat as the country prepares to become the world’s biggest republic.

Finally, The Last Thing to Burn sees bestselling author and New Blood 2018 panellist Will Dean move away from the Nordic setting of his acclaimed Tuva Moodyson series in favour of a claustrophobic thriller set on the British fenlands. The Last Thing to Burn, which has secured Dean his first ever placement on the shortlist, sees a woman held captive in a remote cottage by a man who calls her Jane and insists she is his wife. She has long abandoned hopes of escape, until she finds a reason to live and finds herself watching and planning, waiting for the right moment to act.

The six novels shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022 are:

· The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths (Quercus Fiction)

· True Crime Story by Joseph Knox (Doubleday)

· Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd Robinson (Mantle/Pan)

· Slough House by Mick Herron (Baskerville)

· Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton)

· The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean (Hodder & Stoughton)

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston, added: “What a fantastic shortlist, six thrilling tales which deliver shocking twists and unforgettable characters! We raise a glass of Theakston Old Peculier to all of the shortlistees and look forward to revealing the winner in July as we kick off the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.”

Sharon Canavar, Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals, commented: “We are delighted to announce this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year shortlist, featuring six novels by some of the most exciting crime writers working today. Whisking readers around the world and through time, this shortlist is a fantastic demonstration of the variety to be found in crime fiction. The public have a tough task ahead choosing just one winner and we can’t wait to see who they vote for!”

The public are now invited to vote for a winner at www.harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com. Voting closes on Friday 8th July, with the winner to be revealed on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Thursday 21st July. The winner will receive a £3,000 prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by T&R Theakston Ltd.

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year is run by Harrogate International Festivals sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with Waterstones and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback 1 May 2021 to 30 April 2022 by UK and Irish authors.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Failing Rereading Chamber of Secrets

STRAP IN LADIES, GENTLEMEN AND HOWEVER YOU IDENTIFY YOURSELVES! 

This blog post is gonna get messy (not sure if in a good way or a bad way, but we shall see!). Allow me to explain. As you all probably know, I am in a huge reading slump. Probably one of the worst I have been in since I started book blogging over ten years ago. This is due to anxiety and other outside forces that I won't get into at the moment, but you would know that, while I am audiobooking and slowly reading, it's become a struggle. 

Now, normally, when in a reading slump, I usually reread a book I love and know inside out. Normally, I reread Sabriel by Garth Nix. But seeing as I reread a few years back and I know it inside out (it's one of my fave fantasy reads), I wanted to reread something else. I was thinking of rereading either The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling. I decided in the end to reread Chamber of Secrets as I relistened to a few podcasts that's rereading Harry Potter, chapter by chapter, and thought this would be a good idea as, while I know the story well, Chamber isn't my fave book in the series. 

So, I started to reread it. And I stopped as I started chapter eleven: the Duelling Club. 

I have reasons. Reading slump, the fact I disagree with JK Rowling, the fact the world is burning (UK and US politics - I mean, what the ACTUAL F**K?!). But the biggest reason is, while I know this story really well (how many times have I reread this since it was first published in 1999?), rereading this made me be more cynical. Not only that, I looked at certain things and went "If this character did [insert idea here] or just told [insert character name here], then NONE OF THIS WOULD HAPPENS! WHY ARE YOU ALL SO STUPID?!"

*cough*

Sorry. But rereading this made me a little angry and my adult, reading slump brain spotted things that my 12/13 brain didn't.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

Reading Slump

I wrote this over the Bank Holiday weekend, but I decided to not to post it. Not then, but I feel more ok posting it now and happier to talk. 

If you've followed me on my socials - mainly Twitter or Goodreads - you might have noticed that I didn't read much over the course of May. I suffered/am suffering (I'm slowly crawling out of it) a HUGE reading slump in May. Things happened and, because of that, it affected my reading and my enjoyment. 

Yes, I know I had a blog break over the Easter break due to me feeling a little burnout with reading and blogging, but this slump is annoying as heck as I want to read. BADLY! This is affecting both my reading and my audiobooking so feeling very meh of late with stories (though I listen to podcasts of people reading, such as Goblet of Wine). Same with blogging and general life stuff. 

However, life has just... I don't really known how to describe it. Let's say the last few years have been hard with COVID and other issues. Yeah, shall we say that and move on? 

So, just giving you a tiny heads-up that reading and blogging over the next few months might be a little more hit and miss than normal (for example, I was trying to write this while podcast-listening to random episode of Her Dark Materials & Unbitten - oh, I'm thinking of rereading a book within His Dark Materials and the Twilight Saga. Not Twilight or Northern Lights, as I have reread them quite often, but am leaning towards New Moon [strangely, a fave of mine in the series] or The Amber Spyglass. Thoughts? - and I couldn't write this post and listen to podcast. Believe me, random lines would have popped up in this post). I need to ease self back into this and find the joy again - which might mean 

Hopefully, will be back to my reading self in a few weeks so stay with me! If not, I will be listening to random podcasts and TV shows so that should be fun! 

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

re3 - Wyrd Sisters

I have a feeling that I read this in my youth and I don't believe I liked it very much. I know I tried it and said I would try another Discworld novel, but it took over ten years or so for me to try going back into Discworld with Mort (meh), Reaper Man (which I loved and need to reread soon!) and Hogfather (which I would like to reread one day...)

So, Discworld. Big series with loads of lovers out there. A must for fantasy readers who like their stories to have humour, and Wyrd Sisters is the sixth book in the Discworld series and the second, I think, in the Witches collection.

Title and Author: Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
Publisher: Corgi/Transworld Books
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof gifted by UK publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction, and bought audiobook. 

Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat are witches who, one night, as they meet round a cauldron, find themselves in the middle of a plot. A king is cruelly murdered by his ambitious cousin and his wife, and the true heir to the throne and the crown have vanished. 

Witches should not get involved, but they will and the three witches find out that get involved in royal politics is far more messy and complicated than what some well-known play writers would have you believed...

Sunday, 29 May 2022

The Daughter Blog Tour

Whenever I read a novel, listening to a podcast or watch a TV show/film about serial killers, I always think about the family of the killer. Not "how did they not see it?" but "what happens to them after the truth comes out? How do their other halves and their children cope with this horrible truth?"

So, when this jumped on my radar (thanks Helen from Helen Richardson PR), I went "Ooooh" over it and felt this would tickle that sweet spot of domestic crime fiction I like. 

Title and Author: The Daughter by Liz Webb
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction. 

Hannah's life is beginning to spiral. Her father has dementia, she hasn't spoken to her estranged TV actor brother, Ryan, in years and her mother's, Jen,  death still haunts the family with no one knowing the truth about the night she died. 

Now the same age as her mother, Hannah is disturbed to realise how much she looks like her mother. Especially with her father thinking Hannah is Jen at times, and he's begging her to forgive him. And with this, Hannah finds herself wondering: is it the dementia talking, or is there something dark behind his words? Did he kill her mother? 

Determined to discover the truth before her father dies, Hannah begins to make herself look more like Jen and the lines between them begin to dangerously blur...

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

eBook Review - If This Gets Out

As you can probably guess, after watching series one and reading all Alice Oseman's Heartstopper over the early May Day Bank Holiday weekend, I craved more queer romance. I didn't expected to find anything close to the light, almost wholesome-ness of Heartstopper but I wanted to carry on riding that wave. So, when I remembered I had If This Gets Out on my kindle (gifted to me by publisher via NetGalley), I decided that it was time! And I was quite excited to dive in. 

Title and Author: If This Gets Out by Cale Dietrich & Sophie Gonzales
Publisher: Holder Children's Books
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by publisher via NetGalley inn exchange for an honest review/reaction

Ruben and Zach are two members of the boy-band Saturday, with Angel and Jon. The four are close in front and behind the camera, but cracks are appearing behind the scenes. The one easy banter between the four are strained and Ruben confides in Zach that he's feeling smothered about how management and their pressure to keep his sexual identity a secret. 

As the band go onto their European tour, Ruben and Zach begin to rely on each other more and more till, one night, the pair share a kiss. What will happen next to them after that night and how can they move forward with a relationship when they realise that the support they desperately need is never going to come?

Friday, 20 May 2022

Audiobook Mini-Review - River of Silver

I can already see you looking at this and going "err... Andrew... you do realise that this is a collection of short stories/extracts that are HUGELY spoilery for the Daevabad Trilogy, right?". And yes, I knew that going in, but there is a logic to my madness. 

I have always been curious over this series. You guys rave about this series and I feel that this would be completely up my street. But, I've been a little chicken to try it in case the series didn't live up to the hype so, when I saw the audiobook on NetGalley, I knew I had to try it out and maybe, this would be my In for the series and would help me decided whether I should give this series a try and, if so, whether to read this series or to audiobook it... 

Title and Author: The River of Silver: Tales from the Daevabad Trilogy by S. A. Chakraborty
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction. 

This is a collection of short stories taken before, during and after the events of the trilogy, giving voice to characters fans love, hate and some that never got the chance to talk...

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Heartstopper

 

I think, by the time this goes live, we've all seen this show and, hopefully, have news on series two. However, at the time of writing this, Heartstopper has only been out for a week and I have binge-read Volumes 1 & 2 (and will be starting Volume 3 & 4 over the May Day Bank Holiday Weekend). And we are all raving about this adaption. At the time of writing this, Rotten Tomatoes has given this show of 100% (which is UNHEARD OF!) and it has an average audience score of 98% (again, unheard of). 

I have reread Volume One and then bought Volumes Two, Three and Four (though I did read the web-comic when it was coming out) and read Volume Two and, so far, am finding it an utterly joy. It's just lovely and is a wonderful feel-good read with positive LGBTQ+ themes. 

I think one of the reasons why most viewers adore this series is the characters matters. We care for them and we fall in love with them. Plus, the level of representation in both graphic novel and TV series is high. If this show came out when I was in my teens and figuring myself out, it would have been a lifeline. 

REPRESENTATION MATTERS, NOW MORE THAN EVER!

Sorry, I did have plans to write a long post about the show and have faithful it was to the first 2 volumes while expanding stories with other characters and hopes for series two (do we want a series two? I kinda do as I want to see more, but I don't at the same time as scared it will mess series one's happiness up!), but I can't really think of anything to say. I am reading the series, I've read the show and I have probably chatted too many times on social media about this. But yes, this is a lovely series and I am having a blast!

Monday, 16 May 2022

Did You Miss Me?

Well, that blog break was longer than I expected. I doubt you guys noticed, but I only wanted to be away for a few weeks, mainly over the Easter. But I think my slight book blogger/reader/being human burnout was a little worse than I thought and so, took longer off and it was only a few weekends ago that I felt like I could get back to blogging. 

Why, yes. Am writing this a few weeks in advance, just so am a little ahead of the game and to ease myself back in. 

Now, I guess you think am going to write about all the books/ebooks/audiobooks I read over my break. Well, no. Not really. I wrote little things on my Goodreads (goodreads.com/pewterwolf - like you didn't know) and I usually try and keep my Twitter Thread of my 2022 Reading up to date (or you can follow me in Twitter at twitter.com/pewterwolf as I normally chat/tweet-scream any reads. Whether good or bad or meh), but I don't really feel that need to write mini-reviews or posts on here at the moment. 

But I'm not gonna be cruel. I will put some book covers up so you know what I read. 


Oh, please note one of these was a reread on a different format to my first read. 

Now, at time of writing this, I should be hoovering the house, but I want to write two more posts (I think we all know what one of them is going to be... no? Really? Fine, I'll give you a hint in a moment...) and then I'm going to dip in and out of blogging for a while. I want to be more chill and enjoy myself with this again. Yes, this might be a sign that am ready to leave the book blog behind and be more... whatever I'm going to be next, but I think, with the world being as it is, we should have some fun. 

Monday, 11 April 2022

Dread Wood Blog Tour


Question to kickstart my stop on this blog tour: have you guys ever play The Floor is Lava? This is important to the review, so stay with me on this one. Well, have you? 

While you ponder that, let me chat quickly about this book. Hang on, let me get my details up then we can chat. 

Title and Author: Dread Wood by Jennifer Killick
Publisher: Farshore
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley for Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review/reaction

Oh, this is part of a blog tour, organised by The Write Reads (thank you for having me as part of this tour!). But still, am going to be honest (would you expect anything else?)

From the author that bought us Crater Lake comes Dread Wood and oh, it's a humdinger!

What can be worse that having detention on a Saturday? Nothing, according to Angelo, Hallie, Gustav and Naira. But oh, how wrong they are going to be as, within minutes of turning up, they notice that something is very, very wrong. And that's before they see their teacher being dragged underground... 

Something frightening is going on. The groundskeeper and his wife are acting weird, whistling Itsy Bitsy Spider. There are tremors under their feet and, soon, they realise that the very ground they are walking on isn't safe. As the four are forced to work together to survive the detention from hell, they begin to realise that them getting detestation at the same time might not have been an accident... Someone wants them to suffer...

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Upcoming Easter Blog Break Alert

This isn't a big thing, but I thought I would get in early with this, dear reader. I've decided to take a blog break for a few weeks, and with Easter round the corner, I thought that fortnight would be perfect. I say fortnight, might be longer. Am gonna be honest, am having a little blogger/reader burnout of late, so a well-earned blog holiday for two (maybe longer) weeks sounds ideal and lovely. 

Plus, with this break, I can be more looser with what I want to read and how longer it takes me to read. 

Oh yes, I am thinking of going more outside my comfort zone and try new (to me) authors and authors that I read in the past and want to rediscover. Plus, am doing two blog tours (one next week and one at the end of May) so I want to get ahead of myself and tackle them now while the mood takes me.

So yes, am taking a break from here (though not from Twitter and Goodreads. Oh, I will still be lurking on  these!) for a few weeks. But, I don't want to be mean and leave you completely in the dark so am going to put up one or two books on my TBR (new, rereads and "It was on sale!") so you have an idea of how loose am going to be with my reading. I haven't decided how am going to review these (maybe only on Goodreads, maybe mini-reviews when I return, no idea) but I will chat about these in one form or another... 

Anyway, ideas of my future reading during my break... Thoughts?

Friday, 1 April 2022

Family of Liars Soundboard

This is a little early, I know (this isn't out till May, I believe), but I had read this (a good chunk of it while I was in line for rides at Thorpe Park) and I thought rather than write up a review that I can't really go deep into as this book, I think, works best when you go in blind. But I wanted to do something that would be a little fun at the same time. 

And, of course, I went down my rabbit hole of music and thinking of songs that catch the vibe of the book without revealing anything. I remember Hot Key, the UK publishers, created a small playlist for when We Were Liars was first published (It took me ages to find it but I FOUND THE PLAYLIST). So I thought "Oh, a sound board would be fun and different. And I have songs that fit the mood of the book that aren't spoilers!"

And my music tastes are a little odd. Plus, this is a prequel to We Were Liars, so the songs I picked don't exactly fit the time when the book is set, but let's have some fun, shall we? Plus, how do I do this without spoilers... 

I hope you like these songs choices and, once the book is released, I will be super curious over your song choices...

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Reading Slump Made Me Quit This (And Am Not Happy)

I'm not sure how to write this post. It's not a review, but it is up to a point. And I'm treating this as a review on NetGalley as I have thoughts and opinions, so class this as weird write-up so I can explain. 

Ever since I first heard of All for One by Lillie Lainoff, I have been desperate to read it. I mean, an OwnVoices gender-bent reimagining of The Three Musketeers with a lead suffering from a chronic illness, but being a badass and secretly training to be a musketeer and learning about sisterhood, self love and badassery? SIGN ME UP! 

And I liked what I heard. A tad slow-paced for me, but I liked the characters, the slow character arcs and the writing. I really did. So, why, I hear you cry, did I quit this around the 50% mark (after two weeks of listening to this on way to/from work)?

My brain just stopped. I got hit by a reading slump. And I wanted to keep audiobook this. I fasten the reading speed as I thought that might help, but it didn't. I would listen to a few minutes then listen to music or podcasts and I just wouldn't go back. 

I hit a wall and I think with the news being what it has been for the past few years, I'm surprised I don't get hit by reading slumps more often. I think I know myself well enough to know when am close to reading slumps, but this one caught me by surprise. I'm not sure if the news at the moment and my real life/work life has an impact, but here we are. 

Having reading slumps or allowing yourself a break from reading is ok. We need to remember this for ourselves as reading should be a pleasure and. if we're not feeling it or we're feeling out of sorts, we can go away and look after ourselves. 

How often do I write these posts and I never follow my own advice? Maybe that's why am making myself take a few weeks off blogging over Easter as am not feeling that spark I use to and I want to mix it up reading/audiobook over Easter/walking into summer. 

But yeah, on edge of reading slump and it make me not get on with this/made me quit/DNF this and I'm not exactly happy with self. I hope to come back to this. We shall see... 

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

eBook Review - Gallant

This is a bit of an impulse read. I saw it on NetGalley and went "Oh, this sounds like a creepy Secret Garden" and everyone seems to love V.E. Schwab and I've only read two books of her (I still have one or two titles on my TBR so, of course, I will be reading them in the future), but I thought this might be a nice way to ease myself into her writing again as it's been a while. Plus, this had vibes of a gothic fairy tale type story, similar to her debut, The Near Witch

Title and Author: Gallant by V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction.

Olivia Pryor is missing three things. Her mother who died when she was young, her father who she doesn't remember and her voice, which was she was never born with. But when she gets a mysterious letter from an uncle she never knew she had, begging her to come home to the estate, Gallant. 

But when she gets there, her uncle has been dead for several years and no one remembers him writing the letter. Though Olivia is allowed to stay, there are two rules: don't leave the house after dark and don't go near the wall at the end of the garden...

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Recent Diana Wynne Jones Read & Reread

There are a few authors that, over the past few years, I start and then, for one reason or another (mainly COVID), time runs away from me. One of them is Michelle Paver, and the other is Diana Wynne Jones. The plan was to slowly read the Chrestomanci series throughout the course of 2019 and 2020. 

However, COVID hit and I got sidetracked. 

But, recently, I had the itch to read The Magicians of Caprona and, after a few pages, I remember that I tried to read the first chapter a few days after reading Charmed Life, the first in the Chrestomanci series. Now, I have a kindle bind-up of the series and this collection is in publication order, not series order (apparently, this is book 4 in the series, though in publication order, this is book 2). 

Set in the dukedom of Caprona where spells are slippy and the warring families of Montanas and the Petrocchis blame each other for everything that is beginning to go wrong. But the visiting Chrestomanci thinks it's an evil enchanter at work, but no one seems to be listening. 

I'm going to be honest with this one: I did struggle with this one. I didn't warm to the story in the way I hoped. I'm not sure why. I just didn't warm to the story, though one or two characters I liked almost immediately. 

But I am hoping to enjoy the next book in the collection - Witch Week - when I get round to reading it soon. 

Well... that was the plan. To read Witch Week. But when I saw the audiobook of Howl's Moving Castle had a discount on Audible, I knew I had to snap it up. I didn't exactly warm to it on my first reading as I put too much pressure to like it as this is The One. The One where, if you chatted about Diana Wynne Jones's best book, most people would say this. And, when I read the first time, I was a little underwhelmed by it. 

So imagine my surprise when I went into this and found myself enjoying this hugely. It's still not my favourite fantasy, but I enjoyed this hugely. The characters are vain, selfish but there's something wickedly delicious about this world and these characters. So much so that I was considering getting the audiobook of the sequel, Castles In The Air. However, I have heard a few things about that one so I decided to dodge that. 

However, I do have a few other Diana Wynne Jones titles on my kindle and, slowly, I hope to tackle them over the next few years...

Friday, 11 March 2022

re3 - We Were Liars

I don't reread books that often (though I always want to - I mean, my mental reread list is longer than I would like to admit), so it came as a surprise when, over the last few months, I had an itch to reread We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. 

Now, I first read this when the book came out back in 2014. I actually was very lucky and got a proof from the UK publisher, Hot Key Books, and I devoured it over the course of three or four days. It was an addictive read and so smart. 

But I don't often reread crime or mystery novels, for the main reason that once I know the twist, the story doesn't hold the same quality or that element of fun. There are exceptions to the rule (a good example is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie), but once I knew the twist, I only really go back if I like the characters. 

But We Were Liars. I remember how obsessed I got with it when I first read this and, with news that a prequel (Family of Liars) is coming out in a few months, I wanted to reread this to refresh my memory, see if it still stood up and look at the clues for a new angle. 

So, shall we begin? 

Title and Author: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review/reaction, but borrowed via Amazon's Prime Reading

The Sinclair family are rich. The Sinclair family are beautiful. The Sinclair family are liars.