Book Review ~ ‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden.

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.
(The Bear and the Nightingale #1)
Genres: Historical, Fantasy, Fairy Tales.
Release Date: 12th January 2017

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SYNOPSIS

A young woman’s family is threatened by forces both real and fantastical in this debut novel inspired by Russian fairy tales.

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift – a precious jewel on a delicate chain,intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, the father hides the gift away and his daughter, Vasya, grows up a wild, willfull girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.

Atmospheric and enchanting, with an engrossing adventure at its core, The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman.

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Book Review ~ ‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden ~ 5 Stars!

Lyrical, Fantastical, and Awe inspiring, The Bear and the Nightingale is up there with Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, and has me still thinking about it.

A beautiful historical tale of family, fairytales, and the dangers of mass-hysteria, Katherine Arden has created a story with tones of Joanne Harris’ Chocolat and Russian fairytales that have been passed down through generations. We follow Vasya’s story, a young girl who grows up without her mother, and is in a world that is hovering between modern religion and practice, and the rituals, beliefs and superstitions of old; Spirits are to be given offerings in exchange for their protection, the signs of nature listened to and heeded, slowly being feared and shunned in favour of a christian way of life.

Vasya has a gift to speak with the spirits and demons that surround her village, but with this gift, as paranoia grows in the village, and her stepmother’s hatred for her grows more and more, Vasya is in danger of forces both real and supernatural as she tries to keep those she loves safe.

A magical tale that will take you to the freezing winters of a small Russian village, and will creep into your heart like the tiniest of icicles, making you shudder and gasp as you follow Vasya’s fantastical story.

5+ Stars!

*Review copy was kindly provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


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Book Review ~ ‘The Thief’s Daughter’ by Victoria Cornwall.

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The Thief’s Daughter by Victoria Cornwall
Genres: Historical, Romance
Release Date: January 3rd 2017.
Publisher: Choc Lit

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SYNOPSIS

Hide from the thief-taker, for if he finds you, he will take you away.

Eighteenth-century Cornwall is crippled by debt and poverty, while the gibbet casts a shadow of fear over the land. Yet, when night falls, free traders swarm onto the beaches and smuggling prospers.

Terrified by a thief-taker’s warning as a child, Jenna has resolved to be good. When her brother, Silas, asks for her help to pay his creditors, Jenna feels unable to refuse and finds herself entering the dangerous world of the smuggling trade.

Jack Penhale hunts down the smuggling gangs in revenge for his father’s death. Drawn to Jenna at a hiring fayre, they discover their lives are entangled. But as Jenna struggles to decide where her allegiances lie, the worlds of justice and crime collide, leading to danger and heartache for all concerned.

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Book Review ~ ‘The Thief’s Daughter’ by Victoria Cornwall ~ 5 Stars!

If, like me, you are having Poldark withdrawals, then look no futher. The Thief’s Daughter is a gorgeous tale of love and betrayal that will have you reading up until the wee hours of the morning as you follow Jenna and Jack on their journey to find their place in the world.

Victoria Cornwall’s debut novel is set on the gorgeous coast of Cornwall, and the descriptions will whisk you away to another time and place where you will feel the wind in your hair, and taste the sea air on your lips. I loved Jenna and warmed to her from the get-go. Strong, fierce and loyal, she was the perfect lass to keep our hero Jack on his toes, whilst also being a definite heroine in her own right. Their romance was paced perfectly, and I could feel the tension building, as well as understanding her insecurity following her abusive past marriage. Her strong morals, and dedication to the family that didn’t deserve it, made for some fantastic scenes, especially when her decisions caused her to be at loggerheads with Jack.

And Jack, what can I say? Now that is my kind of hero!

A beautifully written historical romance, that delves into the dangerous world of smuggling and questions how far you can and should go, even for those you love. I cannot wait to read more from Victoria Cornwall!

5 Stars!

*Review copy was kindly provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


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Blog Tour + Review ~ ‘Freeks’ by Amanda Hocking.

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Freeks by Amanda Hocking
Genres: YA, Paranormal, Romance
US Release Date: 3rd January 2017
UK Release Date: 2nd February 2017

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SYNOPSIS

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

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Book Review ~ ‘Freek’s by Amanda Hocking ~ 4 Stars!

What an exciting, intriguing and spine-tingling novel! A travelling Carnival with paranormally talented members and acts? Count me in immediately!

We follow Mara, a young girl who has grown up as a member of Gideon’s sideshow, as she is pulled in different directions as she enters her final years as a teen. Desperate for an occasional escape from the sideshow, where the locals don’t view her as a freek, and she can be her own person, without the pressures of having to look after her clairvoyant mother and the sideshow family, she meets Gabe at a party, and suddenly she realises all that she has been missing out on. But even as their relationship deepens, darker forces attacking the sideshow mean that they aren’t safe, and no local person can be trusted.

I adored the carnival feel to the book, and loved getting to know the characters, the animals and seeing the feats of supernatural talent that the sideshow members could perform. Although I loved Gabe and Mara’s growing relationship, and their sweet scenes together, it was the times I spent with the sideshow cast and crew that I loved the most. I really connected to their world, their views of each other as family, and you could really get that sense of the members ‘Running off to join the circus’! I would have loved to have seen more of their acts, to experience more of the magic which we saw second-hand through Mara.

I loved how dark this story got. As a dark force hunts down the members of the Sideshow, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. What I really admired was how Mara wasn’t the girl to always save the day, but was hunted along with the others, and her powers are only discovered towards the end of the story, and not at the beginning like many ‘Chosen One’ stories.

An exciting story which packs a punch, Freeks is a definite must-read for fans of mystery, magic and family!

4 Stars!


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Amanda Hocking

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Book Review ~ ‘A Second Christmas Wish’ by Kathryn Freeman.

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A Second Christmas Wish by Kathryn Freeman
Genres: Festive, Romance
Release Date: November 1st 2016
Publisher: Choc Lit

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SYNOPSIS

Do you believe in Father Christmas?

For Melissa, Christmas has always been overrated. From her cold, distant parents to her manipulative ex-husband, Lawrence, she’s never experienced the warmth and contentment of the festive season with a big, happy family sitting around the table.

And Melissa has learned to live with it, but it breaks her heart that her seven-year-old son, William, has had to live with it too. Whilst most little boys wait with excitement for the big day, William finds it difficult to believe that Father Christmas even exists.

But then Daniel McCormick comes into their lives. And with his help, Melissa and William might just be able to find their festive spirit, and finally have a Christmas where all of their wishes come true.

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Book Review ~ ‘A Second Christmas Wish’ by Kathryn Freeman ~ 5 Stars!

Such Feel-good, Festive Fun!

When it comes to stories with sweet, slow-burning romance and a little bit of heartache, Kathryn Freeman always delivers! I adored stepping into Melissa’s world in A Second Christmas Wish and witnessing her beautiful relationship with her son William, and her attraction to Daniel grow.

Christmas has never been a good time for Melissa. For the last few years she’d been married to her manipulative and emotionally abusive ex-husband Lawrence (You will love to hate this guy, seriously!) and now all her efforts are focused on giving William a Christmas that he deserves. But that proves more than difficult since Lawrence had made William believe that Father Christmas isn’t real.

Seeing the way that William blossomed throughout this book was the highlight for me. Starting off as shy, quiet and a boy who internalised a lot, it was so heartwarming to see that through Melissa and Daniel’s relationship, and through Daniel’s being a positive male role model, William became a confident, happy and outgoing boy.

Daniel was an oh-so-sweet hero who I loved. With the host of secondary characters including his sister and nephew, we see how the difference in how he and Melissa had grown up, her lonely and distant, whilst him showered with family love, affected him in fighting for Melissa. Their scenes together where he refused to give up on her, even when she had doubts, were so great.

Join Melissa, Daniel and William in this gorgeous festive story, where you’ll see that sometimes a single wish can have a unique power.

5 Stars!


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Kathryn Freeman

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Book Review ~ ‘Stealing Snow’ by Danielle Paige.

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Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige
Stealing Snow #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling,
Release Date: September 20th 2016

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SYNOPSIS

Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave.

She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate.

A wonderfully icy fantastical romance, with a strong heroine choosing her own destiny, Danielle Paige’s irresistibly page-turning Snow Queen is like Maleficent and Frozen all grown up.

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Book Review ~ ‘Stealing Snow’ by Danielle Paige ~ 4 Stars!

Stealing Snow was an exciting and engaging first installment to Danielle Paige’s new series, which showcases her ever-growing literary talent. In a very different world to Paige’s Dorothy Must Die series, Stealing Snow takes us on a very different adventure which sees the Snow Queen retold as never before.

My favourite part of this novel, strangely, was the opening chapters. The atmosphere that Paige created throughout the scenes in the Institution were brilliantly claustrophobic, haunting and nail-biting. I really got to know and root for Snow early on, even though we didn’t know who she exactly she was. Her lack of knowledge of the real world made her escape that much more exciting and frightening.

The world of Algid was brilliantly built, and I loved entering this magical world, where not everything is as it seems, and where the Snow King’s power is held over everybodys heads. Seeing Snow struggle to accept the new knowlegdge of her birth right, and the part she must play in fulfilling her destiny, was pitched perfectly, and I loved how she was unwilling to be a hero, and only wanted to save the boy she loves.

My favourite character was Kai. I LOVED LOVED LOVED him. I cannot wait to see more of him in the rest of the series, and hopefully he and Snow can be reunited.

My only issue was the love-square. Three love interests in the space of 375 pages was too much. Particularly for a girl who has spent her life in an asylum. I felt it was unnecessary to make Jagger a love interest, as their relationship would have been stronger, and more rounded without a romantic interest. I felt she needed an older-brother style protector in Jagger, and would have benefited better from that, and hurt more from his subsequent betrayal.

Nevertheless, bring on Book 2, I say!

4 Stars!

*Review copy kindly provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


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Book Review ~ ‘Little Girl Lost’ by Janet Gover.

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Little Girl Lost by Janet Gover
Coorah Creek #4
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: 2nd August 2016
Publisher: Choc Lit

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SYNOPSIS

When a little girl goes missing, an entire town comes together to find her …

When Tia Walsh rides into the small town of Coorah Creek on a Harley-Davidson, Sergeant Max Delaney senses that everything about her spells trouble. But Tia’s trouble is not all of her own making, and the dangerous past she tried to leave behind is hot on her heels.

Sarah Travers has returned home after three years of college to find that her parents have been keeping a devastating secret. Her childhood crush, Pete Rankin, is facing his own struggle with a harsh reality that will take him away from the girl and the life that he loves.

Tia, Max, Sarah and Pete are all trying to find their future, but when a little girl goes missing in the harsh outback, nothing else matters except finding her safe.

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Book Review ~ ‘Little Girl Lost’ by Janet Gover ~ 5 Stars!

Oh how I loved, loved, loved this book! Janet Gover never fails to deliver with her heart-wrenching and beautifully delivered tales of Coorah Creek, and Little Girl Lost is no exception.

First off, I read this in about five hours one evening. I knew if I started it I wouldn’t put it down until I had finished, and I was fine with that, so I chose an evening where I didn’t have work the next day. A Coorah Creek novel always means an evening locked away reading. Second off, I finished this and then couldn’t sleep because I kept thinking about the characters, the place, the story. I was obsessed.

Little Girl Lost is told from the view of four different characters. Tia, Max, Sarah and Pete all have one thing in common, Coorah Creek is a town that is hard to shake from your blood. Only Sarah is native to the town, so it was great to see her perspective after returning after years at college, and to see how it differed from Tia, who at first can’t take to the friendliness of the close-knit community without fear. A delivery driver Pete who always loves when one of his deliveries calls for a trip to Coorah Creek, and Max who has happily made the place his home, despite having had different plans for his future. I connected to each character on such a deep level, and loved seeing Tia and Max, and Sarah and Pete grow closer in their own ways, and how they had to overcome personal issues of all kinds to find happiness.

Seeing the town members band together to help find a missing girl was one of my favourite sections of the book. You could see through the masks that all the characters usually wear, as they let down their own defences all to help an outsider family. To see this family grow closer because of the ordeal was equally heartwarming!

I also adored the undertone throughout the novel of the main character being the town. Janet Gover beautifully portrays the town as the mother of all who shelter there, and it is this that makes me want to revisit it time and time again through these books.

With a host of great secondary characters who fellow series lovers will recognise, reading Little Girl Lost really is like coming home again.

5 Stars!

*Review copy kindly provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


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Janet Gover

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Book Review ~ ‘You’re the One That I Want’ by Angela Britnell.

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You’re the One That I Want by Angela Britnell
(Nashville Connections #4)
Genres: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Release Date: 17th September 2016.
Publisher: Choc Lit

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SYNOPSIS

What if you didn’t want to fake it any more?
When Sarah, a teacher from Cornwall, and Matt, a businessman from Nashville, meet on a European coach tour, they soon find themselves in a relationship …

Except it’s a fake relationship. Because Matt is too busy for romance, and Sarah is only trying to make her cheating ex-husband jealous … isn’t she?

As Matt and Sarah complete their tour of Europe, they do all the things real couples are supposed to do – from visiting fairy-tale castles in Germany to recreating the scene from Romeo and Juliet in Verona. And, of course, for every picturesque destination there’s a loved-up selfie and Facebook post to match.

But as their holiday comes to an end, Sarah and Matt realise that they’re not happy with their pretend relationship. They want the real thing.

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Book Review ~ ‘You’re the One That I Want’ by Angela Britnell ~ 4 Stars!

A gorgeous little story, perfect for a cozy evening in, You’re the One That I Want is a lovely addition to the Nashville Connections series that will leave you with that feel-good vibe.

A shorter read, but no less impactful than a full-length novel, Angela Britnell creates a beautiful relationship between Matt and Sarah as they find themselves on the same coach trip on a tour around Europe with their mothers. The only two people under the age of 50, Matt and Sarah quickly get to know each other, but it’s safe to say that neither give the best first impression.

Britnell timed this story to perfection. Despite the short length, I believed the pace of the book, and could feel the claustrophobia that was getting to Matt from the hours on a coach away from his work, and how him and Sarah connected over the little snippets of information they gained of the other in the hours they had to spend together. Sarah’s annoyance at Matt’s attitude greatly echoed the annoyance she felt at herself for how childishly she was using Matt to make her ex-husband jealous.

You’ll love Matt and Sarah from the get-go, and will root for them to make it, through meddling mothers, nosy tour-guides and a distance of Cornwall to Nashville.

The only thing I hoped for was a little more closure. I had that moment of turning the last page, thinking another chapter could have seen Matt and Sarah talk through the problems of long-distance relationships and discuss a final solution to give the characters and readers some closure. Fingers crossed we’ll see a snippet of these great characters in future Nashville Connections stories to see how they fare!

4 Stars!

*Review copy kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*


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Angela Britnell

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