My Rating: 3 Stars
A marvellous, dark twist of classic stories, fairy tales and legends that leaves a lasting, positive impression!
Perrie Madeline has a pretty ordinary life and very ordinary problems until the strange museum Quinsey Wolfe's Glass Vault appears in her two of Deer Park overnight. When people start mysteriously disappearing and both her best friend and ex-boyfriend join the missing person’s list, Perrie vows to discover the truth no matter what it takes. The problem is she soon realises that it takes a lot more than she believes. Together with her friend August, Perrie goes in search of her friends inside the museum only to find themselves locked out of their world and trapped in a world of magic and madness. Will they be able to discover the missing people or will they become the next in the missing-persons list?
A peculiar, highly enjoyable novel! It’s the type of book that seems predictable but in the end, makes you fall down the dark rabbit hole into a world where “happily ever after” turns into one of the most horrific fictional worlds possible. It’s not for the faith of heart though. If you want to keep a good image of the stories you know, I strongly advise you not to read it. From the Little Mermaid cutting off her own tale to Pinocchio sowing a suit of human flesh to dress his wooden body, this tale is very far from being a happy one.
The characters are solid and well developed. The main female character, Perrie is very well explored and her way of being and acting make a believable character, almost real. Her troubled family life and the first scenes of that life make you feel for her, it’s easy to understand her occasional rudeness, and her determination to keep the barriers around herself tightly closed. She’s far from being perfect; she often runs from confrontation and hides when she feels uncomfortable. Ultimately, she is sincere and she truly cares about her friends. She grows in a steady rhythm throughout the story but there’s still a lot of ground to work on when it comes to character development. Maisie, Perrie’s cousin and best friend, is a great secondary character. I couldn’t help but connect with her, it’s like she floats through the story but at the same time, she’s very realistic. Her relationship with Perrie is very pleasant to read about and I truly felt that they complete each other nicely.
The plot goes from predictable to full of twists and turns. The beginning starts at a slow pace, almost convincing you that you know exactly what’s going to happen and then it throws you into a loop. For me, the excitement started after they enter the museum. You spend a great part of the book not knowing what to expect and it makes it almost impossible to put down. The ending was brilliant. Nothing satisfies me more than an end with no loose ends and Robinson gives the perfect one to her readers. At the same time, she prepares the stage of the next instalment.
The style of writing is good but there is room for improvement. The language is simple and the transition between the flashbacks and the present are well made. You don’t lose track of the characters or the story in the process. On the other hand, there’s an unbalance with the descriptions. First, there is lack of depth when it comes to describing feelings and the reaction to the surroundings. The characters should describe what they feel, so the user feels them too and connects better with the said character. Here, that didn’t happen. But then, Robinson explores the gruesome scenes in a very detailed way. I think the author needs to explore the emotional expression of the characters more, not just by saying it but by living it in a way. Then the connection between the reader and the story would definitely improve.
Overall, a great book and a refreshing storyline that I will remember. I recommend it to the fans of the horror genre mixed with a re-told version of the known fairytales and legends.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Amazon Digital Services and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
The Letter for the King (De brief voor de koning #1) by Tonke Dragt (Author) & Laura Watkinson (Translator)
My Rating: 5 Stars
A beautiful novel that radiates pureness and sweetness through and through. A powerful message that unlocks powerful emotions and thoughts.
This is the story of Tiuri, a squire that finds the hard way that his destiny is very different than the one he had planned. On the eve of becoming a knight, Tiuri makes the choice of answering a call for help at the cost of everything he once knew. He must deliver a secret letter to the King who lives across the Great Mountains, a letter that will change the fate of an entire kingdom. Along his journey, Tiuri makes discoveries and new friends but he also realises that enemies lurk in the shadows ready to put an end to his quest and his life.
This old-school type of novel was a breath of fresh air; it brings up memories of childhood and the curiosity of reading books about knights and their adventures. The plot is simple and predictable but it doesn’t take any beauty from it at all. Colours and sounds come out of the pages and so do the characters and their journeys. You won’t be able to stop reading it.
The style of writing makes the book come alive as well as its characters. It’s the sort of story that leaves a strange feeling behind, nostalgia mixed with hopefulness and peacefulness. The vocabulary used is simple and easy to understand. The author takes the message across easily and makes you remember it without you even realising it. There are phrases that just get imprinted in your brain and messages that contain valuable life lessons. Moral of the story: the most important thing about a journey isn’t the end, it’s what happens in between the start and the finish line.
Most of the characters are male in this novel and all more a less the same age. Tiuri is a wonderful main character, the type you root for from the beginning. He is genuinely a pure soul with a kind heart that puts the needs of others before his own. He takes on this journey with an open heart and ends up being rewarded for it. In the end, Tiuri learns that the most precious of treasures aren’t things, but people and the moments he got to spend with them. An inspiring character in one the most moving books I’ve read so far.
An inspiring, beautiful book that will bring a smile to readers faces no matter the age. I highly recommend it!
Thank you NetGalley, Pushkin Children's and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A sweet novella that teaches us that we need to value people when they’re alive.
Fred Sadler just died of old age in his nursing home. After serving in WW1, Fred returned home struggling to cope with everything he saw. After getting in one of the too many problems, especially with alcohol, he’s placed in Whitby Hospital for the Insane. Feeling like his family doesn’t understand him nor isn’t interested enough to listen, Fred lives the rest of his days feeling lost and alone. So, instead of moving on, however, he hovers near the ceiling of the nursing home. When his sister-in-law Viola comes to the place to arrange his funeral, Fred agonises over Viola’s version of his story and for not being able to set the record straight. When his family gathers for the funeral, questions start arising. How much did they truly know about the elder member of the family? Was the Hospital for the Insane the right place for him? How much of Viola’s version of the events is actually true if any?
It’s a beautiful, touching story about a person that didn’t get the chance to say everything he needed to say to find peace. As a reader, you get to see what the family failed to see from the start: a man deeply touched by the war that struggled to rebuild his life for the following years. The story is told mostly from Fred’s point of view, but we do get a few glimpses of what the other members of the family are thinking and feeling.
Fred is the type of character you can’t help but feel for, especially when the story underlines issues that, unfortunately, are still very much an issue. This novella shows the terrible consequences that the war had on young men that left to defend their country and most of them live with scars that never disappeared with time nor treatment. In Fred’s life, his family was completely at loss with how to help him and refused to see Fred as he truly was, a man that struggled to live with what he saw and lived during the war. During does days, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) was barely known and psychology proved to have several limits. Because of that, it wasn’t truly known that war changes a person so much that they would become someone else entirely. Even though Fred’s family didn’t truly know him because their inability to listen, it’s also a fact that they didn’t know how to deal with the situation and what to do to actually help Fred. As the story is based on the life of one of the author’s relatives, it’s safe to say that the novella succeeds in giving Fred a voice, giving him the freedom and the chance to explain his version of events, showing his fear, his confusion, his loneliness and his pain. As you enter his mind and live his story, it’s impossible not to read with a heavy heart. But in the end, Sandy Day leaves us with a message of hope that future generations understand and live better than the previous ones.
Sandy Day has a beautiful style of writing, almost lyrical at times and she’s able to reach to your emotions from the beginning. She makes the chronically-organised events flow perfectly and she makes it easy to follow even with the time-shifts and the constant income of background information. She sets the story in the funeral as to anchor you to the reality and to show that in the end, the most important thing is to have known someone and loved them unconditionally despite all the scars and wounds they carry. We keep the memories and everything that we left unsaid.
A beautiful touching story about a man that, even if he wasn’t recognised as such, was a hero for all the effort and all the lessons he shared both in the novella and in real life.
Thank you Sandy Day for reaching out and sending me a paperback version of your book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Now here is a collection you don’t read every day. Twisted tales that not only give you shivers but also make you rethink a thing or two.
A collection of 16 short stories and 10 poems that explore several themes going from space exploration, time travel to mythology and supernatural events that will make you sleep with the lights on. If you found yourself stuck in a shoe sized-box for eight centuries, what would your plan be to escape? A parasite that enjoys your nightmares, how far would you go to get rid of it? If you had the choice between sparing or killing a creature, what would you choose? Is the darkness between reality and the dream world real? What if it’s out to get you?
First, I must say, the introduction is chilling to the bone and beautifully written. I got hooked on the book right from the beginning.
There are certain short stories that spoke more to me than others, and some of them are:
• A Deal in the Dark is a reminder to be careful about what you wish for and to whom you make it to;
• Just the Ticket gives a whole new meaning to “The Devil is in the detail”. Like it happens in our daily life, read contracts with attention and read the small letters carefully. You never know when you’re being tricked, and the price of falling for it;
• Breaking the Cycle brings out the fear of closed spaces that took my breath away and made me stopped reading for a few moments. For claustrophobics, this one is a killer, literally.
• Nightmare’s Eve, good boys get gifts on Christmas, naughty boys get… a very different present-bringer. Where did the good Santa go? Was he ever good to begin with? He does look a bit pale there. A great, creative twist to your usually happy Christmas tale!
Certain poems kept replaying in my mind, even days after reading them the first time. Unwound, Upon Reflection, Merlin’s Lament, Lost at Sea and A Never-Setting Sun, talk about loss, the truth behind a mirrors reflection and the nostalgia of lost moments and memories. I found them to be touching and melancholic. I think Stephen Provost uses prose to explore his imagination and poetry to express feelings that he couldn’t express quite as well as writing about them. But then again, this is my own interpretation.
The style of writing is amazing. Stephen Provost is a master with words both in verse and in poetry; it’s like music written with words instead of music notes. It seems like there’s an influence of the gothic style in his writing in all his works which brings out a feeling of melancholy.
I recommend this novel to the fans of short-stories and of stories and poems that drift between genres.
Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author Stephen H. Provost for allow me to participate on the book tour of Nightmare's Eve.
My Rating: 5 Stars
If you’re like me and never cry with books, I will tell you now there’s a first time for everything.
Set in the Age of Heroes, The Song of Achilles re-tells the story of one of the most famous names of the time, Achilles, told in the eyes of Patroclus, Achilles’ best friend and lover. As a young prince, Patroclus is exiled to the court of King Peleus, where he trains and studies with prince Achilles. Despite being completely different, their friendship grows through the years until it develops into something deeper. The kidnapping of Helen of Sparta sets in motion a series of events that test the lovers in ways they never expect and will change their lives forever.
I must begin by saying I felt a lot, too much and intensely the story of Achilles and Patroclus. If you read or know the outlines of Homer’s Iliad, you will remember that the story doesn’t have a happy ending. Even so, Madeline Miller, while staying true to Homer’s work and the known Greek myths, created a masterpiece that traces perfectly the evolution of a young friendship into a soul-binding romance. She gives depth to the characters, creating the perfect and solid backstory of Patroclus and creating a more human image of the demi-god Achilles.
The style of writing is lyrical and Homer would be proud to read it. Miller writes elegantly yet simply. You flow through the story from beginning to end without missing a single detail. As you read, you have the feeling you hear a harp and a soft voice narrating the novel. The descriptions give colour and detail to Ancient Greece from its palaces to its wars. Miller doesn’t forget the historical details either. They’re perfectly mixed with the fictional story; the typical traits and societal behaviours during the Trajan War period they strengthen it the story and make it more real.
The characters, as I mentioned before, are close to perfection. Achilles, the hero known for his brutal nature and arrogance, is presented in a completely different way. Yes, he’s a spoiled brat, in the beginning, not forgetting his royal heritage and situation, but he grows up to be a man divided between his heart and his duty. Yes, he’s ruthless and hot-headed, but at the time, he’s gentle and it’s clear in his actions that he truly cares. Patroclus is the complete opposite of Achilles. He’s far from being a war machine like it was fully expected at the time, to be someone that cares deeply about others and manages to put others before himself. He thinks with the heart and together with his innocence, he manages to catch the attention of Achilles from the very beginning. On the other hand, his need to end the suffering of the people and to protect them becomes his downfall. His relationship with the demi-god is perfectly developed and the way they grow together both physically and emotionally grows on you from the beginning to the end.
A masterful work of art that will stay in my heart for a long time. This novel book sheds a new light on the famous story of Achilles, and the many layers of the story will surprise you and mark you. I can’t recommend this novel highly enough.
Rating: 5 Stars
A top novel with a top, refreshing story.
Riley Ozaki was once a normal teenage girl trying to survive high school. When misinterpretation of her school paper turns her calm life into a hell of bullying, both in reality and online, and public-shaming, Riley decides to join a competition in a deserted island with 19 other teenagers for a chance to turn the negative national attention she got into a positive and fix her broken reputation. A secret, priceless treasure might just do the trick. In a cursed island setting, surrounded by competitors that will do anything to win the big price, Riley is thrown into a world of lies, betrayal and love where everything, including her life, is at stake.
I was convinced in the beginning that this would be a repetitive teenage-drama novel somehow and was pleasantly surprised to discover otherwise. The mystery of the treasure, the laboured tasks and the growth of the main character left me glued to the pages.
The plot is very well thought and developed leaving no loose ends. Emotions run high throughout the book and the pace of the story grows with each turning of the page.
The setting is almost like the Survivor series: an island in the middle of nowhere, filled with trails, challenges and traps growing in difficulty. The descriptions provided by the author make you want to get in there and do it too but at the same time question what your actions while faced such challenges. Series as Big Brother and Survivor gives a pretty good image of what can happen in a reality like this but Tiffany Brooks makes it look like something completely new.
The style of writing is compelling, using simple language and descriptions to bring the island and the characters to life. More than the place, Brooks takes her time in developing the characters and their relationships. Even though there is romance throughout the story, it never takes the front-stage completely; it runs in the background almost. Your focus remains on the mystery and not on chemistry and developing romantic relationships between characters. Even so, it definitely adds spice to the story and it becomes something to look forward to in addition to everything else. The description of the challenges is brilliant to the point you could see yourself participating in them and feel the adrenaline and the cold sweat of the risky tasks.
The characters are a big part of what makes this book so good. Brooks manages to write about teenagers without the stereotypical behaviour that you’re expecting for a YA novel. On the other hand, each character fits into the typical high-school categories that we can find in other books: the jocks, the nerds, the popular and the outcasts. For me, that didn’t make a lot of sense considering the competitors come from all over the country and they all a different life story and different experiences. If Brooks had explored this aspect better, it would have brought more colour and it would have made the story more interesting.
Riley is a strong main female protagonist but she’s also flawed which makes her a believable character. Brooks explores this character beautifully and the depth of her feelings and reactions make her look like a real person. Together with the solid storyline and heart-stopping setting, Riley completes the novel with her strength, determination and wittiness. Even though she comes from a rich family, she’s not spoiled but she has a very squared view of life until she starts “playing”. Riley adapts quickly to the challenges and her quick thinking make her journey worth following until the end. She’s very rational and logical as a character. Even though you can see that she feels lonely and how loyal she becomes to the people she begins to call allies, she manages to put their interests before chasing her crush and knows when to step back and just observe. Any idea of superficiality goes out the window when you realise that she puts others over her need to rebuild her social reputation.
A brilliant novel that I will definitely buy in paperback version! I highly recommend it to the fans of adventure, mystery and YA all mixed perfectly together!
Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author Tiffany Brooks for allow me to participate on the book tour of Reality Gold.
My Rating: 3 Stars
A nice mystery that goes deep into Egypt mixing the ancient world and the modern times perfectly!
Among the treasures of the Cairo museum, Dr Elizabeth Pimms, archaeology fan and unenthusiastic librarian recently returned to Egypt, makes a discovery. Cryptic symbols on the corner of a papyrus lead to the discovery of several unidentified mummies. How are the bodies connected to the female pharaoh and last ruler of Egypt’s nineteenth dynasty, Twosret? How did they end up scattered around the world? Between cannibals, attacks to her family, grave robbers and ancient murders, can Elizabeth solve the mystery before the mystery solves her permanently?
Even though Egyptian Enigma by L.J.M. Owen is the third in the Dr Pimms Intermillenial Sleuth series, I wasn’t disappointed at all. From the beginning, the title picked my attention and I’m glad I took a chance with it. Even though I didn’t read the previous instalments, I didn’t feel lost with the story and its characters even when the novel jumps from one timeline to another.
A great cosy-mystery involves around Egypt and the complex family trees of 19th and 20th dynasties. One would think that it will be a very boring, historical class, but you are mistaken. Owen does an amazing work in presenting the most complicated historical facts and events in very simple and easy-to-understand way that not only keeps you interested but hungry to know what follows. The amount of research done by the author is incredible and the introduction of that information is done so smoothly that you might think it’s fantasy. Additionally, Owen finds the perfect balance between ancient and modern times, which gives a vintage touch to our technological era. The pace of the story grows steady and by the time you reach the middle of the story, you’re racing to find the solution to the mystery.
The descriptions are full of colour and they contain enough detail to give the reader a simple picture of the surroundings. The chapters where the Egyptian family trees are explained blow me away. I didn’t get lost in the explanations and the simple language makes it easy to remember long after I finished the novel. It motivated me to research more about Egypt and go in-depth into the complicated family histories and their gods.
The main character Elizabeth is a machine. She works at the library, tutors archaeology students, she needs to get her papers on Mayan and Olmec ready to be published and a recently discovered older sister completely turns her family situation upside down. The passion she shows for her project and the approach she takes with her team to solve the mystery is different and refreshing. As she tries to deal with her personal life problems, she always manages to give herself completely to her work. I have to admit though, I could vividly imagine her library, and I wished several times to switches places with her.
In general, it was a pleasant novel that I recommend to the fans of ancient mysteries and Egyptian culture!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Bonnier Publishing Australia and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
Another great book by Amanda Flower!
Fiona Knox hasn’t been easy as of late. After losing her flower shop and her husband to their cake decorator, she’s in desperate need of change. She flies to Scotland looking for a new beginning as she inherits her godfather’s cottage and a possible magic walled garden. But when she arrives at the house, she finds the once beautiful garden destroyed and a dead body. Fiona’s life takes a turn when she’s dragged into a murder investigation by handsome Chief Inspector Neil Craig. Can she solve the mystery and clear the name of the people she loves?
This novel is the perfect mix of magic and mystery. It’s the perfect book to sit and relax. The setting is beautiful, even if I just imagined it. Amanda Flower has the ability to bring places to life with her simple yet colourful descriptions, especially of all the animals we get to see throughout the story.
The plot is easy to follow and to understand, flowing at a steady pace with a few twists along the way to keep things interesting. The story follows a murder investigation and explores how an enchanted garden comes to life when Fiona is present. The reader is taken on a colourful trip through an original reality. It’s a fresh concept that is developed on a solid base. Flower leaves enough space to develop a collection between discovering more of Fiona’s gifts, the development of characters and, of course, other murders.
The characters are delightful. Fiona is a likeable main female character with a rough life. After her life pretty much falls apart, she wants to start from scratch and ends up being part of a murder mystery. Her resilience, her intelligence, and her quickness to adapt to the circumstances make a great character to follow and feel for. I really liked how Flower introduced the background story of the garden and the role Fiona has to play. I was rooting for her the whole book. Hamish is a memorable male lead and I could imagine his pet squirrel Duncan, cute and fluffy. Other characters Raj and Presha, are very nicely introduced and Flower leaves you hanging for more. I’m curious to see how all the characters will play throughout this new collection.
I recommend this novel to fans of cosy-mysteries and magical gardens!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Crooked Lane Books and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 3 Stars
An entertaining novel by Elizabeth Peters, but not one of her best works.
Elizabeth Jones works in a publishing house. After saving money for three years, she’s finally able to take her dream holidays. But things don’t go as planned. In fact, things start going downhill when she recognises the famous historical writer, Margaret Rosenberg taking the same flight. When the plane arrives in Copenhagen, an unfortunate accident renders Margaret without a secretary. Elizabeth introduces herself and volunteers to work with her during her holidays. As she introduced to the authors disagreeable and arrogant son, Christian, she thinks her life can’t get any better. When Margaret suddenly goes missing, they have to work together to unravel the motive and the mystery of Queen Margaret I of Scandinavia.
The novel takes place in the 80s and the setting and language match the plot and the characters. The language used is very similar to that of nowadays and the absence of technology was a breath of fresh air for me. As usual, Peters chose a great setting. It’s a European beauty, marvellously described and the plot develops in a great way in the streets of Copenhagen. I would though, classify this novel as a cosy-mystery more than a historical novel or even a serious mystery. Even though the idea of the plot is good, I got a bit lost in all the unnecessary turns the characters made and the constant abuse of the main male character for no reason.
The characters are likeable but I couldn’t really understand their connection. There is a lack of depth to the characters, at all levels. Elizabeth, the female lead, is a funny, feisty young woman dedicated to her job and her dreams. She’s witty but there were times that I actually doubted her logic. She would just stand there and do nothing. Christian, the main male lead, is the typical handsome, arrogant man with a mean mouth on him. My main problem with these characters is that, firstly, I can’t figure out how they got romantically attached. All they do is fight, argue, put flaws on each other and then suddenly Elizabeth realises she has feelings for him. I couldn’t see a solid development of feelings anyway, they just appeared there, out of the blue. I couldn’t connect with the main characters and I failed to follow the growth of their feelings if there is one. Secondly, there isn’t a good reason for the male character be like this, not a single one. Yes, his mother is a bit crazy, but the abominable way he treats people is inexcusable for me. Additionally, the way he treats his mother as a crazy teenager that has no idea of what she’s doing is going a bit overboard. There’s a lot of whining, a lot of snobby comments and points of view on the events and places, like the small fair and the carousel. There was a lot, but not of anything that actually mattered.
I’ve read several books of Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters and I’m a big fan of her works. Because I know what she’s capable of with Amelia Peabody and Vicky Bliss, I can say that this novel doesn’t fit in that level. This one didn’t leave a positive impression.
My Rating: 4 Stars
A nice, quick, cosy read that can be finished in a day.
Dorothy Martin goes to France, supposedly with her husband Alan Nesbitt, a retired police inspector, but things don’t go as planned. Instead, he breaks his ankle and is held back in England. While waiting for him, Dorothy explores Mont Saint- Michel and goes to visit the exposition of a dear friend, her reason for a visit to France. Talk of a near-drowning German woman, the attack on a young tourist and rumours of stolen songs by Abelard may provide the perfect puzzle while she waits.
This was my first time reading a Dorothy Martin and a Jeanne Dams book and I must say it was very entertaining.
The setting was beautifully chosen. The descriptions of the typical French streets, the monuments and the environment, in general, made the story very captivating. I could almost see the colours and the places come out of the book.
The plot has enough twists to keep you interested from beginning to end and events that don’t seem connected at all will make your head turn. With each new character introduced, a piece of the puzzle comes along too. The people are the missing pieces in a way. However, keep you with the notion of time was a bit tricky. Jeanne Dams knows fully well how to integrate events not in several days, but in a matter of hours. I noticed that, as a reader, I expect that time just flies in plots, and with this novel, I felt the author took a present approach. Much like, she is in Dorothy’s shoes.
The characters are great and they’re easy to follow throughout the story. Dams does an excellent work in managing all the characters and not losing the strings of their goal and fate. Every single character is there for a reason, even if you don’t realise it until the end of the book. Dorothy is a great female lead. I left like she was like Miss Marple (likes gossip, has no shame in picking up conversations with people) and Jessica Fletcher (for the smooth and intelligent way of gathering information, clues and her impeccable sense of logic and analysis). Alan, the male protagonist, actually becomes a fundamental part of the story. His connections to his former police office in England provide a great deal of help in making sense of everything and finding important and hidden information. I enjoyed reading their interactions and just “seeing” them together. Their relationship gave a fluffy feeling. Plus, the fact that they’re older, the level of maturity is also different. Loved every paragraph!
I recommend this book to all the fans of a puzzling mystery with historical references, a few twists and unexpected endings!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Severn House Publishers and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.