Wednesday, 7 December 2022

The Gifts by Liz Hyder (Audiobook)

Pages: 400 

Publisher: Manilla Press 

Released: 10th of February 2022 

October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders.

Meanwhile, when rumours of a 'fallen angel' cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grips of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . . .

THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author of BEARMOUTH. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition.

What I Have to Say 

I enjoyed this book, but it didn't leave much of an impression on me. I don't think I'll remember much of it in a few years time. Which is a shame. 

I liked the female characters a lot, and found the male voice interesting and slighting disturbing (in a good way). But I did find that at the start, I couldn't remember which character was which, which is a problem I'm finding a lot with audiobooks that have a lot of different narrators, it's harder to keep them straight in your head, I think than with a traditional book. 

I liked the ending a lot. I feel it concluded nicely while still leaving stuff open for speculation, I just wish I could have been more into the book from the beginning. 

My thanks go to Manilla Press and Netgalley for gifting me this copy for review. 


Monday, 5 December 2022

Make You Mine This Christmas by Lizzie Huxley-Jones

Pages: 354 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 

Released: 13th of October 2022 

It's the golden rule of pretending to be someone's girlfriend: don't fall for their sister.

After a year from hell, Haf is ready to blow off steam at a Christmas party: a kind stranger, a few too many drinks and suddenly she's kissing Christopher under the mistletoe - in front of his ex-girlfriend.

The next day the news is out that they're apparently a couple, madly in love and coming to Oxlea to spend the festive season with Christopher's family. But Haf doesn't have better holiday plans and to save her new friend from embarrassment, she agrees to pretend to be Christopher's girlfriend for Christmas.

It has the makings of a hilarious anecdote they'll be telling for years. Until Haf meets Christopher's sister: the mysterious, magnetic and utterly irresistible Kit. Maybe love was waiting for Haf in this quiet little town all along . . . 

What I Have to Say 

The perfect book to get the chaotic bisexual in your life for the holidays. It is filled with chaos, hijinks and mixed up as well as a good helping of cosy comfort, Christmas cheer and food descriptions which will have you drooling. 

I just have nothing but praise for this book. I loved every second that I spent reading it and though I'm very late reviewing it since it came out in October, I'm really glad I waited until December to read it so that I could really enjoy the seasonal charm. It has taken it's place as my favourite Christmas book and I am already planning a reread for next year! 

If all of that hasn't got you in the mood for this book, I will say that there is a baby reindeer involved and he is very cute and just as chaotic as the rest of the characters, so you have that to look forward to! 

My thanks go to Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 


Wednesday, 30 November 2022

The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore

Pages: 400 

Publisher: Harper Voyager 

Released: 8th of December 2022 

In this stunning debut novel, the maligned and immortal witch of legend known as Baba Yaga will risk all to save her country and her people from Tsar Ivan the Terrible—and the dangerous gods who seek to drive the twisted hearts of men.

As a half-goddess possessing magic, Yaga is used to living on her own, her prior entanglements with mortals having led to heartbreak. She mostly keeps to her hut in the woods, where those in need of healing seek her out, even as they spread rumors about her supposed cruelty and wicked spells. But when her old friend Anastasia—now the wife of the tsar, and suffering from a mysterious illness—arrives in her forest desperate for her protection, Yaga realizes the fate of all of Russia is tied to Anastasia’s. Yaga must step out of the shadows to protect the land she loves.

As she travels to Moscow, Yaga witnesses a sixteenth century Russia on the brink of chaos. Tsar Ivan—soon to become Ivan the Terrible—grows more volatile and tyrannical by the day, and Yaga believes the tsaritsa is being poisoned by an unknown enemy. But what Yaga cannot know is that Ivan is being manipulated by powers far older and more fearsome than anyone can imagine.

Olesya Salnikova Gilmore weaves a rich tapestry of mythology and Russian history, reclaiming and reinventing the infamous Baba Yaga, and bringing to life a vibrant and tumultuous Russia, where old gods and new tyrants vie for power. This fierce and compelling novel draws from the timeless lore to create a heroine for the modern day, fighting to save her country and those she loves from oppression while also finding her true purpose as a goddess, a witch, and a woman.

What I Have to Say 

I wanted to love this book so much and parts of it I really did. I just found the start of it so slow. It took a while for me to get into it and even when I was into it, it just felt a bit dense to read. I will say that my dyslexia was playing up a lot while reading it, so that was partly to blame, but it doesn't account for everything. 

I did enjoy how the author had blended the mythical story of Baba Yaga and the old Russian gods with the real historical events of Ivan the Terrible. I've seen a few interpretations of Baba Yaga and this is definitely my favourite (and definitely read the author note at the back for more info of where she got her inspiration). I really enjoyed seeing the conflict between the old ways and the new religion. 

All in all, there are parts of this book that I will look back on fondly and it got me very interested in the pre-christian Russian culture, but I just didn't enjoy it enough. If it looks interesting to you, definitely give it a try, because I do think it was worth reading even if I didn't enjoy it as much as I feel I should have. 

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

Monday, 28 November 2022

How to Kill Men and Get Away With It by Katy Brent

Pages: 352 

Publisher: HQ Digital 

Released: 12rh of October 2022 

Meet Kitty Collins.


Have you ever walked home at night, keys in hand, ready to throw a punch in self-defence? That’s how it all started. The killing spree, I mean.

I sort of tripped into this role… Literally. The first one was following me. That guy from the nightclub who wouldn’t leave me alone. I pushed him, he stumbled, and fell onto his own broken wine bottle. Oops. It was such a waste of a good house white.

But now I can’t seem to stop and nor do I want to… I’ve got a taste for revenge and quite frankly, I’m killing it.

What I Have to Say 

This book is perfect for any feminist who loves a good contemporary story. If you are angry and upset about any of the misogyny in the world and want to live vicariously through a funny and lighthearted novel, this is for you. 

I loved how it didn't take itself too seriously. Kitty is an influencer. She an instagram star and is vegan. Vegan but gets her thills from killing men in a variety of ways. And despite the subject matter it was a very easy to read, quite cosy book. It was really nice to sink into and have something that was relatable and just not too realistic. 

The characters were probably a bit shallow, but in this sort of book, that didn't really matter. They weren't meant to be really deep, thought out characters, it's just not that sort of book. 

This book was just exactly what I needed right now. 

My thanks go to HQ Digital and Negalley for gifting me this copy for review. 


Wednesday, 23 November 2022

The Red Scholar's Wake by Aliette de Bodard

Pages: 336 

Publisher: Gollancz 

Released: 24th of November 2022 

Xích Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xích Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates' enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xích Si and herself.

Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xích Si's help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xích Si means Rice Fish can offer Xích Si protection, in exchange for Xích Si's technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it.

But as the investigation goes on, Rice Fish and Xích Si find themselves falling for each other. As the interstellar war against piracy intensifies and the five fleets start fighting each other, they will have to make a stand-and to decide what kind of future they have together...

An exciting space opera and a beautiful romance, from an exceptional SF author.

What I Have to Say 

This book had a really fascinating world that I really wanted to explore and find out more about BUT NOTHING WAS EXPLAINED. I wanted to know how everything worked. I wanted context for certain thing. This story had LIVING SHIPS that were at least slightly biological in their make up, but do I know how the ship fits together? No. Not even a little bit. They have something called the "mind" that seems to be the biological element, but I cannot even tell you what it looks like. It was just shoved into the scene and left there unexplained. 

You may be saying "that's all right, I'm sure I can cope with that" but let me tell you, it was also the most complex and elaborate sci fi world I've ever seen, so much was so different from our world. So much needed an explanation and not one single explanation was given. I had to guess every single thing. 

Honestly  I have not much else to say. The love story was sweet I guess, but I was so distracted trying to work out how everything actually worked or even looked like so I didn't really get to enjoy it. 

I so very nearly DNFd it. I would have if it hadn't been so short. 

My thanks go to Gollancs and Netgalley for gifting me this copy for review. 

Friday, 18 November 2022

The Weather Woman by Sally Gardner

Pages: 496 

Publisher: Head of Zeus 

Released: 10th of November 2022 

Neva Friezland is born into a world of trickery and illusion, where fortunes can be won and lost on the turn of a card.

She is also born with an extraordinary gift. She can predict the weather. In Regency England, where the proper goal for a gentlewoman is marriage and only God knows the weather, this is dangerous. It is also potentially very lucrative.

In order to debate with the men of science and move about freely, Neva adopts a sophisticated male disguise. She foretells the weather from inside an automaton created by her brilliant clockmaker father.

But what will happen when the disguised Neva falls in love with a charismatic young man?

It can be very dangerous to be ahead of your time. Especially as a woman. 

What I Have to Say 

This book was a celebration of what it means to be different. It showed characters who didn't fit in with society but still find a life and a home in a beautiful unconventional family. It shows acceptance and found family and gives hope to anyone who sees the world differently. 

I really liked the book for the most part. I liked the characters and the way they interacted with society. I liked Neva and her male persona. But the ended didn't hit quite right. I felt that so many things fell into place in the story, all the legal stuff just sort of righting itself by chance more than anything else and so I found it hard to believe that the characters were in any actual danger. Everything had worked out so far so why shouldn't they continue to work out? It just ruined a book that I was really enjoying up until that point. 

I was glad to see there was a mention of someone living in a gender that they were not assigned at birth while Neva was learning how to act and behave as a guy. I felt that was a good head nod to the trans community. But I was disappointed that the only other LGBTQ+ representation was the villains in a very unhealthy relationship. Especially in a book that's so much about respecting what is different, I expected me. 

I also felt that the author leaned too much into giving people a happy ending with a partner and children. It really felt as though the only happy ending was through marriage and kids. 

3.5 stars 

My thanks go to Netgalley and House of Zeus for providing me with this copy for review. 


Wednesday, 16 November 2022

A Restless Truth by Freya Marske (audiobook)

Pages: 400 

Publisher: Tor 

Released: 10th of November 2022 

Magic! Murder! Shipboard romance! The second entry in Freya Marske's beloved The Last Binding trilogy, the queer historical fantasy series that began with A Marvellous Light

The most interesting things in Maud Blyth's life have happened to her brother Robin, but she's ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she's ready for an adventure.

What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them. 

What I Have to Say 

This book fell completely flat for me and I honestly don't know why. I really liked A Marvellous Light, I adore sapphic romances, I love a good mystery, but this didn't hit the spot and there's nothing in there that explains it. I didn't dislike the characters, in fact I really liked Violet a lot. I was interested in the magic society and exploring the way it intersects with regular society in a way that we didn't get to see in A Marvellous Light. 

I suppose the main thing was that I didn't get very into the relationship, which is a big part of the book. There were three really long sex scenes, which I just found left me bored, though that's not unusual, I'm not really one for spicy books. And there was just no heat in the relationship. I didn't feel the passion and the love that I love to feel. It felt too easy and not very romantic. 

I'm very disappointed because I was ready to really love this book. I was looking forward to it so much. 

3 stars 

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