Sunday, 27 October 2019

Girls of Storms and Shadows by Natasha Ngan

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 416
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 
Released: 5th of November 2019 

Lei and Wren have escaped their oppressive lives in the Hidden Palace, but soon learn that freedom comes with a terrible cost.

Lei, the naive country girl who became a royal courtesan, is now known as the Moonchosen, the commoner who managed to do what no one else could. But slaying the cruel Demon King wasn't the end of the plan---it's just the beginning. Now Lei and her warrior love Wren must travel the kingdom to gain support from the far-flung rebel clans. The journey is made even more treacherous thanks to a heavy bounty on Lei's head, as well as insidious doubts that threaten to tear Lei and Wren apart from within.

Meanwhile, an evil plot to eliminate the rebel uprising is taking shape, fueled by dark magic and vengeance. Will Lei succeed in her quest to overthrow the monarchy and protect her love for Wren, or will she fall victim to the sinister magic that seeks to destroy her? 

What I Have to Say 

This series keeps breaking my heart over and over, and I couldn't be more addicted to it. I just want Lei and Wren to be happy and free and in love, and all this thrilling, captivating and incredibly upsetting stuff keeps happening to them. It's not often that I get quite so invested in certain characters and relationships, but when it happens it is always a sign of an incredible series that I will love forever. I'm so attached to Wren and Lei, and also some of the other girls, that their victories and defeats thrill and hurt me. Ngan is a genius with a pen and her words are truly magic, if cruel, vicious magic that makes me want to cry and scream in frustration, especially with her cruel, heartless endings.

I really liked exploring more of the world in this book after spending so much time trapped in the palace in the first book. It was fascinating to see the different kinds of demons and the way they lived. I especially liked the birds and the way that their palace was set up and streamlined for flight, while also having stairs in place for the steel and paper castes to allow them to walk between levels.

I also loved seeing the different viewpoints throughout the book; seeing glimpses of what was happening with the Demon King and the paper girls who remained back at the palace. It feels weird to say but I think the Demon King's voice was one of my favourite viewpoints as it showed a glimpse into the mind of a monster, showing the way he thinks and also the fact that Lei has gotten under his skin, an incredible victory that I took so much pleasure in.  I also really liked Aoki's chapter even though it was so heartbreaking to read. Her feelings towards the Demon King show the trauma bond that can form between a victim and their abuser and this was a well written insight into those kinds of feelings.

I can't wait and am also dreading the third and final part of this trilogy and seeing how everything comes together. The heartbreak, betrayal, death and beautiful writing make this series such an incredible edge-of-your-seat journey.

My thanks go to Hodderscape for providing me with this free copy! 

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Tilly and the Lost Fairytales by Anna James

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books 
Released: 19th of September 2019 

A magical adventure to delight the imagination. The curl-up-on-the-sofa snuggle of a series from a uniquely talented author.

Tilly Pages is a bookwanderer; she can travel inside books, and even talk to the characters she meets there. But Tilly’s powers are put to the test when fairytales start leaking book magic and causing havoc . . . 

On a wintery visit to Paris, Tilly and her best friend Oskar bravely bookwander into the land of fairytales to find that characters are getting lost, stories are all mixed-up, and mysterious plot holes are opening without warning. Can Tilly work out who, or what, is behind the chaos so everyone gets their happily-ever-after?

What I Have to Say 

The second book in the Pages & Co series and it's managed to be even better than the first! Though I am biased as I just love fairy tales and anything involving them. And it was set in Paris! What could be better?

The fairy tales and how they worked with book wandering was definitely the best part. It was obvious that James had really thought about the oral tradition of fairy tales, as well as the fact that there are so many different versions of them and how this would affect the rules of book wandering that she had already put in place in the first book. I loved her idea of wild and changeable fairy tales and how easy it is to wander off the path and get completely lost inside the story, unable to return home. It connected beautifully with the heart of fairy stories, and the danger and moral messages contained in them, so beautifully. And it made it fun and exciting when Tilly and Oskar end up lost inside a book of fairy tales.

The politics of the book wandering community was possibly the only thing that put me off the book, though I feel that's more about my own incredible fed-upness about real world politics at the moment, more than the politics in the book itself (although they did seem to mirror our political climate a bit). However, the political scenes and issues were interesting and menacing and I'm looking forward to seeing how they impact further on Tilly and Oskar's book wandering.

I'm also so excited to see how the fact that Tilly is half fictional will impact things, especially with the new abilities that were revealed in this book! I can't wait for the next instalment.

My thanks go to Harper Collins and Netgalley for providing me with this free copy for review. 

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 256 
Publisher: Lion Forge 
Released: 15th October 2019 

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers' bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery. 

What I Have to Say 

My first graphic novel review and it is definitely a must read! A fantastic story of adventure, family and love combined with a gorgeous art style full of colour and magic. It was a perfect combination of the two showing a vibrant world with fully shaped and relatable characters who burst out of the page with every word and image.

There was so much representation in this book and it flowed perfectly into the story. Tam is non-binary which informs so much of their past and relationship with their parents. Nova is deaf, and with hearing aids, which is a fact important to the story and her relationship with Tam, who comments on how Nova has changed hearing aids and that they like the colour. Both Tam and Nova are also Asian-American and their queer relationship is a major part of the story.

One of the things I loved most was seeing how Nova's deafness and magic interacted. How the magic is used to highlight her deafness and her experience of both. My favourite scene was one where the characters linked psychically and Nova talks about the way that she gets a taste from it of how her life could be without deafness. It was done in such a beautiful way, showing the impact being deaf has on her life but without denying how much a part of her identity it is or showing her as some poor trapped, disabled character wanting to be free (a trope that is used so often and is extremely harmful for people with disabilities).

This is such a great book full of magic and excitement whilst also showcasing the intricacies of regular life. Definitely a must read.

My thanks go to Lion Forge and Netgalley for providing me with this free copy for review. 

Saturday, 5 October 2019

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 352 
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 1st of October 2019

Aster. Violet. Tansy. Mallow. Clementine.

Sold as children. Branded by cursed markings. Trapped in a life they never would have chosen.

When Aster's sister Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge - in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by the land's most vicious and powerful forces - both living and dead - their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.

It's going to take more than luck for them all to survive.

What I Have to Say 

A great new fantasy book about girls fighting against their abusers and oppressors. The thing that really set this book apart for me was that though they showed the trauma of sexual abuse perfectly and in several different ways, the emphasis is on fighting back rather than the abuse and trauma itself.

The wild west inspired world that the Good Luck Girls was based in was a really well created picture of colonialism and slavery. The references to the taking and corrupting of native lands made a fantastic contrast to the glorified picture of cowboys and outlaws that are often shown in Westerns.

I loved these girls so much that it was sad to put the book down. I look forward to seeing what Charlotte Nicole Davis comes out with next.

My thanks go to Hot Key Books for providing me with this free copy for review. 

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Sophie Takes to the Sky by Katherine Woodfine

Synopsis (from Goodreads and

Pages: 104 
Publisher: Barrington Stoke 
Released: 15th of September 2019 

Scaredy-Cat Sophie is afraid of everything! So when a balloonist comes to the town fair, Sophie is left behind while everyone else goes to watch him fly in his marvellous balloon. She’s far too frightened of the crowds, the commotion and even riding in a horse-drawn carriage.

But Sophie longs to watch the hot-air balloon sail across the blue sky. If she could just be brave enough to face her fears, who knows where her journey might take her … A touching tale for young readers of learning to overcome anxiety and follow your dreams.

Illustrated by Briony May Smith, and published by Barrington Stoke as part of the super-readable Little Gems series.

What I Have to Say 

A really cute imagining of the early life of the world's first female balloonist, Sophie Blanchard. Sophie Takes to the Sky is a great book for young readers. With gorgeous illustrations by Briony May Smith, and Barrington Stokes' attention to making their books as easy to read as possible, this is a great book for young or dyslexic readers (and I adored it immensely even in my late twenties).

I loved the way that Woodfine's imagining of Sophie made her scared but stubborn, showing a girl conquering her fears through sheer determination to get to the fair to see the balloon. It's a great message to any young person that determination can get you far.

A really great book for younger readers.

My thanks go to Barrington Stoke for providing me with this free copy for review. 

Friday, 13 September 2019

A Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith Barton

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 336
Publisher: Penguin
Released: 11th of July 2019 

How can I hold myself together, when everything around me is falling apart? 

Neena's always been a good girl - great grades, parent-approved friends and absolutely no boyfriends. But ever since her brother Akash left her, she's been slowly falling apart - and uncovering a new version of herself who is freer, but altogether more dangerous.

As her wild behaviour spirals more and more out of control, Neena's grip on her sanity begins to weaken too. And when her parents announce not one but two life-changing bombshells, she finally reaches breaking point.

But as Neena is about to discover, when your life falls apart, only love can piece you back together.

What I Have to Say 

A great new novel to add to the ranks of excellent depictions of mental health in YA. This story explores grief and how much it can affect your mind. It shows Neena's spiral into complete breakdown in a slow gradual way, building up symptoms and issues, going unnoticed by those around her until it's too late. 

I love how deeply it delves into how the mind can trick you. How it can tell you things that you know can't be true, but still you believe them. The way Neena got so utterly convinced that her brother was helping her finish her paintings, the way that they were better when she woke up to them finished.

It was good to see a mental health book that really highlights the taboos surrounding mental health and discussion of it. The way Neena's mother doesn't leave the house but won't talk about it, pretending that everything is normal. The way she treats Neena's medication, hiding them away and treating them like a dirty little secret that she shouldn't tell people around. 

I also loved the cultural aspects. The descriptions of food made my mouth water! 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Penguin for providing me with this copy for review. 

Sunday, 18 August 2019

The Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384 
Publisher: HQ Young Adult 
Released: 25th of June 2019 

Yumeko the shapeshifter had one task: take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple and prevent the summoning of the great Kami Dragon. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, has escaped and possessed the samurai she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with Genno, the Master of Demons, to break his curse and set himself free. But Genno wishes to overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness. To do that he needs only one thing, the scroll Yumeko is hiding. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross again the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.


What I Have to Say 

I fell back into this world so quickly that it was like coming home. Sometimes it's so hard to remember what characters are doing and who they are when you've had a year between books, but Kagawa has a knack of reminding you everything without making it feel like an info-dump. You just get back into a beautiful setting with fantastic characters. 

I loved seeing how much Yumeko grew in this book. It felt for a start like Kagawa was falling back into old patterns of having female characters being protected by the males because they have no fighting skills, but instead what we saw was Yumeko going through a journey of learning how illusion can be used to fight and do damage. She became a complete badass and I can't wait to see more of her fox magic, especially because it's such a unique form of fighting that isn't utilised much in books. 

I just love to get lost in Kagawa's writing so much. I love this setting and these characters. I can't wait for the third book. 

My thanks go to HQ and Netgalley for providing me with this free copy for review.