Sunday, 16 June 2019

Review: Magic Bitter Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

So this is a lovely book that I got on a daily deal, and although I read this a while ago, I decided to re-read it because it was so intriguing!

Its such a sweet book, that mixes tiny little bits of fairy tales in as well, which made it all the better.

Here it is:

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet


Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.

When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.

During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.

From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.


This is actually the first book that I'd read from Charlie Holmberg, but after this I went out and bought some of her others - and now her Paper Magician series is one of my favourites. After re-reading it made me adore the book even more than I did before! I picked up a lot more things than I did the first time round, and some of the things I picked up had me wondering how I didn't notice them.

One of my favourite parts of this book was the fairy tale references dotted throughout - I didn't catch that on the first read until part-way through but the second time round I really picked up on it and it was so much better because of that. In case you were wondering, some of the ones included were Hansel and Gretel and the Gingerbread Man tales.

I admit, the plot did frustrate me a bit the first time I read this - but only because you couldn't guess where it was going, and it did leave you a while before explaining what exactly happened to Maire, but it was actually a well written book - I just get frustrated when I can't guess what will happen.... but I guess that's actually a good thing for most people! I think I preferred the re-read because I knew what was happening and it gave me time to really pick up on things I may not have the first time around.

Most of all though, I loved how it all wrapped up in the end and I adored the epilogue the most of all. It really let you guess what had happened to Maire and fill in the gaps the way you wanted to, which is my favourite way of ending books.

Overall, 4.5 cats to this book!


Have you read this? Do you agree with me about it/did you guess what would happen? Comment below!

Monday, 13 May 2019

ARC Review: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Okay, guys, I have had this book a few months and I am already well into a re-read because it is just such a perfect mix of empowering and heart-warming, so I may ramble more than usual in this review. All I can say now is go buy it! I usually put that at the end but I will say it now because it is seriously an amazingly powerful book, that I think everyone really needs to read it.

Here it is:

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'In an ancient city by the sea, three sisters - a maiden, a mother, and a crone - are drawing maps by candlelight. Sombre, with piercing grey eyes, they are the three Fates, and every map is a human life . . .'

Stepsister takes up where Cinderella's tale ends. We meet Isabelle, the younger of Cinderella's two stepsisters. Ella is considered beautiful; stepsister Isabelle is not. Isabelle is fearless, brave, and strong-willed. She fences better than any boy, and takes her stallion over jumps that grown men fear to attempt. It doesn't matter, though; these qualities are not valued in a girl. Others have determined what is beautiful, and Isabelle does not fit their definition. Isabelle must face down the demons that drove her cruel treatment of Ella, challenge her own fate and maybe even redefine the very notion of beauty . . .

Cinderella is about a girl who was bullied; Stepsister is about the bully. We all root for the victims, we want to see them triumph. But what about the bullies? Is there hope for them? Can a mean girl change? Can she find her own happily ever after?


You will probably know by now that I love a good re-telling or re-imagining of the classics, and as soon as I saw this was a retelling of one of the Ugly Stepsisters I knew that I needed to read it. I was lucky enough to get given a free ARC copy for review by Hot Key Books, and I powered through the first read in a few days it was so good - I actually even went on to re-read the book within a month of my first read because it really resonated with me.

But, when you first open the book to a dedication that says: "To anyone who's ever felt that they're not enough.", you know that there is definitely going to be something interesting within the pages - and I was most definitely not disappointed.

I could actually speak about this book for ages, there were so many passages and so many quotes that just jumped out at me and really resonated with me, so much so that my book was covered in little sticky notes during my re-read (I'm current about 2/3 of the way through the re-read and so far there are 10 sticky notes). I've never actually sticky noted a book before, so you can tell how much I loved it just from that.

I really connected with Isabelle as a character - and I think anyone that ever thought they weren't enough, or who thought that they shouldn't/couldn't be who they really are, or even those that tried to fit into the box that they were put in growing up will connect with her too. Isabelle is strong, and slowly learns to believe in herself and who she really is through the book - you see her push through her problems and self-worth issues and decide she is no longer going to be who her mother wants her to be, instead she is going to be who she was supposed to be all along. It's such a powerful transformation and Jennifer writes about the struggle of the transformation beautifully, adding in one of my favourite characters of Tanaquill the Fairy Queen to help Isabelle find the missing pieces of her heart.

Okay, I have probably rambled enough - it's been a while since I've rambled so much for a book - but I don't want to have you reading forever, so I will sum up this book in one sentence: This is a beautiful story about learning to carve out your own path when everything is against you - even Fate.

(p.s I just have to say I have found a new book crush in Chance, and I think everyone who has read this will agree with me he's such a charming character)

Stepsister is out in a few days (May 15th) and I think you should all go buy a copy, this is going to be one book that I will definitely read again and again, and I think this is going to be one of my top reads of 2019! I give this: 5 Cats (and so many more if I could)

Monday, 6 May 2019

Blog Tour: King of Fools by Amanda Foody


So today on my blog I am part of the blog tour for the amazing King of Fools by Amanda Foody! I was part of the previous tour, and as soon as I was asked I knew I wanted to be a part of it as Ace of Shades was such as amazing book.

I was lucky enough to get an extract of the book for you all to see, so here it is:

This is a key beat from Jac's opening chapter--his first ever point of view in The Shadow Game series. Now that Enne and Levi have been made notorious by the events of the Shadow Game, Jac has become a wanted man entirely by association. And Jac has spent so many years as Levi's friend, listening to him go on about his destiny for greatness, knowing that Levi wanted this, that Jac has to unpack how he has now become collateral damage in his best friend's story.

**************

Jac struck a match and watched it burn like a votive candle. 

“I can turn on the radio, if you want,” Lola offered. “But Levi’s probably fine.” 

“I’d rather you didn’t.” 

“Afraid you’ll hear your name?” 

He inhaled his cigarette deeply. It was no secret that he worked with Levi; that he lived on 125 Genever Street in Olde Town, apartment 4C; that he covered the Wednesday through Saturday shifts at the Hound’s Tooth tavern. The whiteboots had probably already interviewed his boss, already rummaged through his home and what little he had. He tried to imagine what conclusion they could’ve drawn from his possessions. A loner, this one, they’d say. No decorations. No sentimentals. Jac had lived there for two years and still treated his place like it was temporary—a side effect of someone who’d never really had a home. 

“I wasn’t in a good place not that long ago, but I have been lately, or at least in a better one,” he explained. He didn’t normally share these details with anyone, even ones so vague. But he needed to unload his thoughts on someone other than Levi, someone who could feel sympathetic without also feeling responsible. “I guess that’s gone now.” 

Levi and Enne had made sure of that last night. 

He squeezed his hand into a fist. He knew Levi hadn’t wanted to start that shatz investment scheme that got him invited to the Shadow Game. And Levi had looked out for Jac time and time again, so Jac didn’t feel he had a right to be angry. Hell, he was angry at himself for feeling angry. 

But Jac also knew Levi and his reckless dreams. And if Levi was safe right now, then Jac would swear some part of his friend was mucking pleased—even if Levi had put everyone around him in danger. 

But he didn’t say that. Instead, he bitterly spat out, “I hate this casino.”

Lola pursed her lips, and Jac waited for her to say something about how, while he’d sworn his allegiance to Levi willingly, she’d been forced to give Enne her oath with a knife at her throat. Or how good people did bad things, and bad things happened to good people, and neither they nor their friends could really call themselves good people anyway. She was annoying and wise like that. 

But all she said was, “Deal the cards. You’re clearly very vulnerable right now, and I intend to take advantage of that.” 

Jac snorted and tapped his cigarette ashes into the rim of a teacup as he slid back into his seat. 

“Enne will hate that, you know,” Lola told him. The teacup was porcelain, covered in some floral design that Enne would find pretty. Jac realized Enne, who’d only lived here for ten days, probably didn’t possess much she could call her own, so he retrieved his cigarette guiltily and pushed the cup away.

Lola leaned over and slid it back toward him. “But fuck them.” The corner of her lips slid into a smile. 

Jac barked out a surprised laugh, and the knots in his shoulders loosened. Over the next ten minutes of Tropps, the teacup’s bottom steadily grew coated in ash. 

*************

And that is all for the extract post, now I'll share a few thoughts on the book before this blog tour post ends!

First, I can't believe how action packed this book was, there were so many points all coming together I seemed to spin through reading all of the action - but it was written so well that I never felt like I was being overloaded or left behind with the plot.

Secondly, I just have to mention that there are now 3 POVs in this book - and one of them is Jac. I adored Jac as a character in Ace of Shades, and I was so excited to find out that he had his own POV in King of Fools, which is why I was so glad I got an extract of his first chapter in the series. Now, it wasn't only because of how much I love Jac that I was glad he got his thoughts out in this book - I think it was really good to get in a POV that shows just how Enne's and Levi's plans have effected the others in the books, and even how much it will effect them as the plans change.

On that point, I think Enne is such a complex and beautifully written character - warring with herself as to whether she should be the woman she was raised to be - or if she should accept that she enjoys being a street lord and living in New Reynes. Watching her change and grow is definitely one of my favourite things about the series, and I think she's going to grow even more in the future, which I can't wait to see.

I could write so much on this book, but I think leaving you with a small extract, and a small review is for the best, so I will just say this: GO READ THE SERIES. It's such a unique series, with a setting that I've not come across before and absolutely love, that I think everyone will get something from reading it. I can't wait to see where Amanda takes the next book after it was left where it was - I don't know how I'll be able to wait!

Overall, I give this book: 5 cats.


Make sure to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour, below!

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Review: The Exact Opposite Of Okay by Laura Steven

Okay, I read this before it came out, as it was an e-ARC sent from Netgalley for a review, but I adored it so much I had no idea how to do such an amazing book justice. But, after putting it off so long, I decided to finally try and put my thoughts into words that will show how great this book is.

First though, here's the book:

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Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has...



It is so hard to put down how amazing this book is. I think it was just what I needed when I picked it up, and it's definitely one I'll read again, which is something I rarely say for books that aren't in my usual genre. In fact, as I don't think I'll do this book justice I'm just going to do my thing and ramble.

I adored this book, it gave me so many laughs so quickly, and I always adore a strong female character - and Izzy was definitely that. She never let things get to her no matter how hard it got - and I definitely respect that, I wish I could be as strong as Izzy is sometimes. In fact, I think Izzy is one of my favourite contemporary characters that I've read so far.

One of my favourite things about this book was that it brought in so many different points so quickly - the elderly, employability when young without experience, friendships turned love interests, etc. I couldn't believe how much was packed in this book, and that was without the main plot too, nothing was focused on too much and they all got, what I think was, the right amount of discussion time.

I've been hit hard before by internet/social media problems (nothing quite so big as Izzy, but at the time it felt like it) and I think it was so important to read something like this and see that sometimes there's no need to let the internet take over your life, or if it does you can still bounce back with the help of people in your life.

But, I'm rambling. All I can say is this is an amazing book and I can't wait to see what happens in the next one. (oh and I need to do a shoutout to Dumbledore the dog - of course I couldn't forget him - small HP references are my life).

So, I give this book 5 cats!

Have you read this book before? What are your opinions? Comment below!

Monday, 8 April 2019

Blog Tour: Queen of Sea and Stars by Anna McKerrow

So, I havent posted in a while and thought I would get back into the swing of things by taking part in a blog tour! As you know I love all things fantasy, but this time I'm branching out to an adult fantasy book, which hopefully I'll be reviewing in the next few weeks!

Today's post is all about Anna McKerrow, the author of the Greenworld trilogy (Crow Moon, Red Witch and Wild Fire), Daughter of Light and Shadows and Queen of Sea and Stars.

Here's her most recently released book:


Faye Morgan, a hereditary witch, moves away from her tiny coastal village in Scotland to London to be with her new boyfriend, Rav. But though she hopes she can live a normal life in a new city, her blood bond to the realms of faerie can’t be denied. With a faerie war brewing, can Faye realise her destiny and discover who she really is? A tale of faery magic, desire and modern witchcraft.

For this blog tour I have a guest post from Anna about some of her favourite Witch books, so if you love Witchy books like me, you may find some interesting recommendations!

"I’ve loved all of these books, so for those of you looking for fiction and nonfiction about witchcraft, these are well worth a look:

The Sea Priestess / Moon Magic
Dion Fortune

The Sea Priestess and its sequel, Moon Magic, are some of the first books I ever read about magic. They’re novels, but they were intended to provide a kind of subliminal introduction to the principles of working with the moon and creating magic. They’re incredibly rich with wisdom, written by Dion Fortune, one of the most wise and talented women in British magic and the occult. There are other novels which are all great - read them all!

Faery Craft
Emily Carding

This is a wonderful introduction to faery magic and faery witchcraft with lots of hands on activities, if you feel called to the path of the fae!

The Serpent of Lilith
Stewart Farrar writing as Margot Villiers

This is another occult novel I recommend. I think it was written in the 50s or 60s hence my copy’s lurid cover and some of the sexual politics inside, but it’s a really interesting look at the “black” magic of the goddess Lilith and the (at the time) “white” magic of the goddess Isis from a western witchcraft point of view. Then, the dark feminine was very much feared in magical circles, but now, with a greater understanding of dark goddesses like Lilith and the rise of feminism, we recognise Her for her true transformational power.

Priestesses, Pythonesses, Sibyls: The Sacred Voices of Women who speak with and for the Gods, eds Sorita D’Este

I recommend all books from Avalonia Books, who specialise in witchcraft. This collection of essays from a variety of women working with different gods and goddesses as channels is very interesting.

Spellcraft for Hedge Witches: A Guide to Healing our Lives
Rae Beth

Rae Beth is a hedge witch, meaning that she works with nature-based folk traditions and works alone, not in a coven or group. This book is based on our connection to the realms of faerie as the natural elemental kingdoms, so it’s full of meaningful, caring and detailed faery witchcraft.

Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive
Kristen J Sollee

This nonfiction book makes the timely connection between sexuality, sexual freedom and witchcraft. Very interesting.

HausMagick: Transform Your Home, Create Your Sanctuary
Erica Feldmann

This is a rather lovely coffee table style book about earth/home magic by the owner of HausWitch, a funky witchy shop in Salem, Massachusetts which specialises in magic and modern home d├ęcor.

A Witch’s Mirror: The Art of Making Magic
Levannah Morgan

This is a very useful and practical book about traditional Devon witchcraft with lots of how to craft activities. It’s witch-craft, after all: all about making things.

Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex, Politics
Starhawk

Even though this was written in the early 80s, the political landscape today seems much the same as the one Starhawk describes in Dreaming The Dark. The book details how to use witchcraft in political resistance - #hexthepatriarchy, indeed.

Circe
Madeleine Miller

My favourite fiction book from last year. Madeleine Miller’s writing is intensely beautiful, writing the life of Greek mythology’s archetypal witch.

Practical Magic / The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Even better than the film! Alice Hoffman is a wonderful writer and in these books she chronicles the lives of a family of witches in New York and its surrounds. It’s luminous, yet based in reality."



Do you think you'll read any of the suggested books? Anna's most recent book is now available to order, so go get your copy!