Sunday, 23 May 2021

Review: The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

I downloaded this book after reading the blurb as the cover was not available at the time. I love stories based on folk tales and fairy tales (particularly ones I am not familiar with) and this sounded right up my street.

The Wolf and the Woodsman is a re-imagining of an event in medieval Hungarian history, woven with strands of Hungarian and Jewish folk stories.  Evike lives in a pagan village, hidden in a forest, the only one of its inhabitants without some kind of magical power. This is blamed on her father being an outsider: a 'Yehuli'. When soldiers from the Holy Order of Woodsmen arrive to claim a seer for the King, the villagers are only too happy to offer Evike up rather than lose one of their own girls.  But on the march back to the capital, the woodsmen are attacked by various supernatural forces and soon the Evike and the Captain are the only ones left. To survive, they will have to learn to not only trust each other, but work together.

Although I loved all the folk story and historical stuff, The Wolf and the Woodsman was a bit too gory for me! In order for a character's magic to work they had to use blood sacrifices, which usually involves blood-letting or the loss of a body part. I was uncomfortable with the parallels with self-harm and couldn't help wondering that if you had to sacrifice a finger every time you wanted to do a spell, what happened when you ran out of fingers? While the gore meant this read like an novel aimed at adults, by contrast the romance was a bit teenage-y and I'd have preferred more ambiguity about Gasper's character, rather than the too-early flagging that he's A Nice Guy Really.

Recommended to fans of grittier YA fantasy and books such as The Bear and the Nightingale (Katherine Arden).

Thank you to Ava Reid and Del Rey/Cornerstone for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I loved Taylor's previous book, Daisy Jones & The Six, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one, a fab 1980s-set, literal 'beach read' that reminded me of those glitzy books written by authors such as Jackie Collins, Shirley Conran and Judith Krantz - only with much nicer characters!

A lifetime holding it together, one party will bring it crashing down...

The story is set in Malibu and split between the 1950s (leading up to the 80s) and 1983. In the 50s we see singer Mick Riva  marry sweet loyal teenager June Costas, and witness the effect his fame (and philandering) has on their marriage and four children. In the present, his daughter Nina is preparing for her famous annual party - except her tennis-star husband has just left her and she'd rather be surfing anyway. And her sister has invited an unexpected guest...

Malibu Rising is fabulous escapism, an affectionate take on those 80s beach reads, with flawed but lovable characters - some more lovable than others! As well as Nina, who becomes a swimwear model to support her family, there is Jay, a sexy surfer who can have any woman except the one he really wants; his stoic 'twin' Hud, who will do anything to avoid hurting his brother - except that one thing; and baby sister Kat, possibly an even greater surfer than Jay, if only she can find the confidence to be who she really is.

My favourite character was Nina. I was really rooting for her as it gradually dawned on her that she was repeating the same mistakes as her mother. The party is fun too, with a huge cast of characters that are all given backstories and forgotten when the next one is introduced - just like real life!

Malibu Rising is a big, fat, luscious read, and one of my favourite books this year. I am sure fans of Daisy Jones will love it too. The novel would also suit those who love those glitzy, glamorous beach reads that sadly no one seems to publish any more.  

Thank you to Taylor Jenkins Reid and Cornerstone Digital for my copy of this book, which I requested via NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

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Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Monday, 10 May 2021

Review: You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry

Emily Henry is one of my favourite romantic comedy authors. She never fails to deliver. So if you're looking for the perfect Staycation read, this is it!

Poppy and Alex meet on their first day at university and Do Not Get On, but that doesn't matter because they'll never see each other again, right? Wrong! When Poppy's friend manages to blag her a lift back home at the end of the year with someone who lives in the same town, guess who it is? Alex. By the time they reach their home town they've developed a friendship of sorts and agree to go on a summer vacation with each other.

A few years later Alex is a teacher, happy to stay in the dead-end town where they grew up. Poppy, however, cannot wait to travel the world. The blog she writes, detailing her experiences, becomes such a success she's offered a job at a famous travel magazine. Soon she and Alex are taking holidays all around the world at the magazine's expense. Until one summer, she and Alex fall out. For two years they don't even speak until she accidentally texts him, one text leads to another, and they've agreed to go on one last holiday together...

You and Me on Vacation takes familiar romantic tropes like enemies-to-friends and opposites-attract and puts a wholly original and modern spin on them. The laughs come thick and fast, the banter between the characters is whip-smart, and the sexual tension fairly crackles off the page. Poppy is adorable, I loved her eccentric family, and Alex is a complete sweetheart.

Verdict? You and Me on Vacation is completely brilliant, I absolutely loved it and I am sure you will too! One of my favourite reads this year.

You and Me on Vacation will be published in ebook on 11th May 2021 and in paperback on 8th July 2021

Thank you to Emily Henry and Penguin for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

Related Post:

Beach Read by Emily Henry 

Monday, 3 May 2021

Review: The House of the Hanged Woman (Albert Lincoln #3) by Kate Ellis

Kate Ellis is one of my favourite authors. I love her twisty murder mysteries that always keep me guessing.

The House of the Hanged Woman is the last in her Albert Lincoln trilogy set immediately after WW1. In this story Albert is sent back to the village he visited in A High Mortality of Doves, which has unhappy memories for him. An MP has gone missing and a body has been found in a cave, mutilated beyond recognition. Are the two cases connected? The other point of view in the story is that of Rose, unhappily married, who lives for the romances she borrows from the library - while dreaming of murdering her husband... 

While The House of the Hanged Woman can be read as a standalone, there are spoilers for the first two books, so you would have a better reading experience starting with book 1 (A High Mortality of Doves). It is also the last in the series, so it wraps up the loose strands of the earlier books. It is a shame this series is ending, because I've really enjoyed it. The House of the Hanged Woman is a fascinating mystery, completely engrossing and hard to put down. There are lots of twists, including a very clever one at the end, which I loved. A perfect read for anyone who loves historical mysteries and for fans of authors such as Elly Griffiths.

Thank you to Kate Ellis and Piatkus for my copy of this book, which I requested via NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

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