Reviews

Six Crimson Cranes

Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.

I bought this book last year as I fell in love with the cover. When I learned that it was loosely inspired by The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen, I was even more excited! I bought this last year and kept putting it off as I didn’t feel in the right mood to enjoy a fairytale retelling book. However I was in the mood for it last week as I read it and absolutely adored it! I actually read it in one day because I simply could not put this book down. I gave this book 5 stars because clearly I loved it since I devoured in so quickly.

While this was a fairytale inspired book, it was very much a fantasy novel. The world in this book was so vast and gorgeous, I just felt immersed in this world. The book had a map and I love a book with a map, it really helped to get my bearings and to really understand the journey ahead.

I felt bad for Shiori at the start as she really did not want to take part in their betrothal ceremony. She just wanted to spend time with her brothers who had grown up and didn’t spend as much time with her as when they were children. I really enjoyed the creepiness of Raikama, she was definitely hiding something and I wanted to know what.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Shiori really had quite the character arc and really grew into a capable person who would be able to lead. My favourite character was Kiki who was the sassy sidekick who was sarcastic and just brought so much comic relief. I grew very attached to this paper crane! I also really liked Seryu because they just didn’t care that Shiori was a princess, they were royalty too and didn’t care for mortal royals.

I loved the relationships in this book! I loved the relationship between Shiori and their brothers, it was so lovely and they were so protective of each other. I loved Takkan and Shiori bonding throughout the book. I especially loved the relationship between Shiori and Megari! I’d have loved more of these two together. I absolutely hated Zairena! Her existence made me so angry. I also thought she was far too comfortable in a home in which she was a guest. Congratulations to the author for making me feel such rage towards a character.

While this was inspired by a fairytale, this book took so many twists and turns that it became it’s own sort of fairytale. I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I saw one of the twists coming but I think we were meant to.

The beginning of this book hooked me, I just wanted to know what happened next. The middle I felt was a little slow but I also think that mah be due to my dislike of one of the characters. The ending was perfection and I cried. Of course I cried! This felt like a mixture of a bunch of fairytale that I didn’t know (plus one that I did). I absolutely love fairytale inspired books and I am so happy to have read this book. I am so excited to read the next book in the series.

Book Recommendation of the Month, Reviews

This Wicked Fate

How much would you risk to save the ones you love? Would you tempt even the most dangerous fate?

Briseis has one chance to save her mother, but she’ll need to do the impossible: find the last fragment of the deadly Absyrtus Heart. If she is to locate the missing piece, she must turn to the blood relatives she’s never known, learn about their secret powers, and take her place in their ancient lineage. Briseis is not the only one who wants the Heart, and her enemies will stop at nothing to fulfill their own ruthless plans. The fates tell of a truly dangerous journey, one that could end in more heartache, more death. Bolstered by the sisterhood of ancient magic, can Briseis harness her power to save the people she loves most?

I preordered this book last Autumn and have been excited about reading this since June when I finished This Poison Heart. When I saw that NetGalley had this, I took a chance and requested an advanced reader copy. I did not expect to get approved but I did and I devoured this book over a weekend because I refused to put it down. I wish I could give this book more than 5 stars. Perhaps 5 stars and a kidney. I absolutely adored this book and struggled to put my thoughts into words. I felt like words just couldn’t possibly convey just how much I utterly enjoyed this book. This Poison Heart was one of my favourite books of 2021 so my expectations of this book were high and they were exceeded!

This book picked up right where This Poison Heart ended. Reading the fall out from the ending of the previous book was utterly heartbreaking. Watching people try to make sense of what had just happened and what they faced really did make me feel as if no time had passed since my last reading. This is because their reactions and fears were so similar to my thoughts at the end of the previous book.

This book gave me many strong female characters, gorgeous family and found family moments, and a pretty epic quest. There were even more strong female characters than in the first book and I enjoyed the relationships between all of the established characters and these new characters (who I also loved). The quest seemed so daunting and I was so excited while following the journey.

Tied throughout the book were pieces of Greek mythology which I’m very into. I really enjoyed the way that mythology and history emerged with the current world. There were hints peppered throughout the book so I got to get really excited by that.

This book was not overly long, it was just a pretty standard paperback. Yet it felt like so many things happened. It felt quite epic!

This book was utterly magical and heartwarming and just glorious. I am such a huge fan of this series and it makes me think I could be interested in plants despite not even being able to keep a cactus alive. I just want more of this world and these characters. I don’t know if there will be more books in this series or if it is now finished but I would definitely read more books set in this world.

I also sobbed so much during the last 20% of the book that I soaked my cardigan because I wasn’t prepared to stop reading to go and get tissues. At one point I declared that I couldn’t see through my feelings because I had tear smudged glasses. I had all the feelings during this book; I was delighted, hopeful, distraught, angry. It was an emotional rollercoaster.

This book was utter perfection and Kalynn Bayron is now one of my autobuy authors as this is the third book that I’ve read by this author and the third 5 star read. I loved this so much

I feel like I may have found my favourite book of 2022. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review. I look forward to receiving my physical copy in June, which I bought myself and despite having already read this I know for certain that I will be rereading this series for years and years.

Reviews

Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl

Monique is a preacher’s daughter who detests the impossible rules of her religion. Everyone expects her to wait until marriage, so she has no one to turn to when she discovers that she physically can’t have sex.

After two years of trying and failing, her boyfriend breaks up with her. To win him back, Monique teams up with straight-laced church girl Sasha–who is surprisingly knowledgeable about Monique’s condition–as well as Reggie, the misunderstood bad boy who always makes a ruckus at church, and together they embark upon a top-secret search for the cure.

While on their quest, Monique discovers the value of a true friend and the wonders of a love that accepts her for who she is. Despite everyone’s opinions about her virtue, she learns to live for herself, inspiring us all to reclaim our bodies and unapologetically love ourselves.

This book was an absolute delight to read. When I started the book, I wasn’t too sure about it as the mum and boyfriend seemed to be just awful, like your classic mean mum and manipulative boyfriend. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get past that. I needn’t have worried as by 8% I was hooked and I realised that first impressions of some of the characters were not accurate.

I absolutely loved Monique and how much she grew as a character. I really liked Sasha and totally understood her character and she felt super relatable. Reggie was silly and fun and I think 17 year old me would have wanted to be his friend. I loved the friendship story and it felt so authentic and was really supportive and sweet.

The amount of strong female representation in this book made me just so happy! Monique’s mum didn’t make a good first impression on me but by the middle/last third of the book I was cheering her on. I also absolutely adored Monique’s auntie and Reggie’s mum, it was so nice having their friendship along with the teenage friendship.

I got so annoyed during this book as some of the actions of the characters were so terrible yet were so realistic. I was enraged by Monique’s father. Monique’s (ex) boyfriend was a sleazy sleazebag and I could see that straight away. I think that’s the perk of being an adult reading Young Adult, I can see situations with my adult eyes when I know 100% I fell for some ridiculous lines in my teens (and 20s).

This book covered some very serious topics and raised awareness of a condition that affects many people who don’t even realise that it is a thing. I genuinely think that this book could change lives. I think that the way that this book discussed sex was really healthy. This is a book that I would definitely encourage my step kids to read when they’re a little older as it was a really good story about attitude towards sex and knowing your own body.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed reading this book and will be looking out for more books by this author as I lived their characters and their writing left me feeling warm and fuzzy. I also happy cried during this book.

Reviews

The Killings at Kingfisher Hill

Hercule Poirot is traveling by luxury passenger coach from London to the exclusive Kingfisher Hill estate. Richard Devonport has summoned the renowned detective to prove that his fiancée, Helen, is innocent of the murder of his brother, Frank. Poirot will have only days to investigate before Helen is hanged, but there is one strange condition attached: he must conceal his true reason for being there from the rest of the Devonport family.

The coach is forced to stop when a distressed woman demands to get off, insisting that if she stays in her seat, she will be murdered. Although the rest of the journey passes without anyone being harmed, Poirot’s curiosity is aroused, and his fears are later confirmed when a body is discovered with a macabre note attached . . .

Could this new murder and the peculiar incident on the coach be clues to solving the mystery of who killed Frank Devonport? And if Helen is innocent, can Poirot find the true culprit in time to save her from the gallows?

I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie so was both excited yet apprehensive about reading one of the New Hercule Poirot Mysteries. Excited because I love Hercule Poirot and was so happy to read more stories featuring him. I had previously read one book by Sophie Hannah and gave it 5 stars so I knew they were a brilliant author. I was a little apprehensive because it’s an existing series written 100 years after the series began. I was worried about a modern author conveying the atmosphere of the original Agatha Christie novels. I really enjoyed this book and I gave it 4 stars.

I was hooked from the first chapter. The book featured a coach trip and travel is something that has featured so many times in Agatha Christie books that it felt authentic. The rest of the book took place in a grand home in an affluent housing estate, grand homes are such a setting for my favourite Agatha Christie books. The estate setting sort of made the book feel a little more modern.

I thought that Hannah captured the character of Poirot just perfectly. I absolutely love Poirot and I feel like the Poirot in this book was the Poirot that I knew and loved. Poirot has a new sidekick who was a little bit timid for a police detective but other than that he was alright. I was a little sad not to have any of the existing Poirot sidekicks but I’m happy that Poirot was captured so well. The rest of the characters were pretty terrible, for various reasons, they just were not likeable at all. This felt a little out of sorts for a Poirot as usually there are some likeable or sympathetic suspects. This book was different though as I would have been ok with any of them being found to be guilty.

I really enjoyed the plot of this book. It was a classic whodunnit which was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t guess the ending or see any of the twists coming. It did feel different to an Agatha Christie book but it felt like a very excellent homage. This was the fourth of the New Hercule Poirot Mysteries but I’ve found out that my library has the first three books in this series so I fully intend on reading those too!

Reviews, Scottish Reads

Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Weird Sisters

Fifty-something librarian Shona is a proud former pupil of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, but has a deep loathing for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which she thinks gives her alma mater a bad name. Impeccably educated and an accomplished martial artist, linguist and musician, Shona is selected by Marcia Blaine herself to travel back in time for a crucial mission involving Macbeth, the Weird Sisters and a black cat.

Unsure which version of history she’s in, Shona tries to figure out who she’s here to save. But between playing the Fool and being turned into a mouse, things don’t always go her way. Shona’s expertise in martial arts is out to the test as family tensions rise and fingers are pointed to Murder. Can Shona unravel the mystery in time to complete her mission?

… Never underestimate a librarian!

This is the third book in the Miss Blaine’s Prefect series. I absolutely loved the second book so my expectations of this third instalment were high! I can happily report that my expectations were exceeded. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.

While this is part of a series, the books can easily be read as standalone novels. All you need to know is that Shona gets sent back in time to correct moments in history and hilarity ensues.

I really enjoyed Shona as a character. She’s so intelligent but she has no common sense or risk awareness which leads to her ending up in some pretty awkward situations. I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book, I loved Duncan and the Hectate the most though.

I have never read Macbeth but do know the basic plot (mainly from Terry Pratchett and The Simpsons). I didn’t feel like that was required reading as the story filled in any gaps.

Neighbour Cat approved

There were a lot of things going on in this book so multiple plots going on. It was easy to keep up with the various plots though as they involved different people and it was very clear what were and weren’t related.

Like with the previous books, this book had a lot of references to historical events. Not just 11th century Scotland but lots of little historical nuggets which I really enjoyed.

This book was utterly hilarious and I laughed so much while reading this. I laughed a lot at the silly situations that Shona ended up in. I also laughed heartily at the terrible jokes within this book. Shona was mistaken for being a fool and with that, came many terrible jokes. However, since the audience of 11th century had never heard these jokes, their reactions made the jokes really funny.

This book was very moreish and I didn’t want to put it down…so I didn’t. I finished it in one day and I regret nothing. Sometimes you just don’t want to stop reading a book and time allows to keep going.

I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend the series. This is possibly my favourite book in the series but closely followed by The Vampire Menace. I received this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Reviews

The Christie Affair

In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. Only I know the truth of her disappearance.
I’m no Hercule Poirot.
I’m her husband’s mistress.
 

Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame.

Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by a hidden tragedy.

After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband.

Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to . . .

I was so excited to read this book! I preordered it last year and listed it as one of my most anticipated releases of 2022. I received it last month so popped it onto my March TBR as I was super keen to make time for it. Unfortunately I was left feeling pretty disappointed by this book. I feel like this was a very middle sort of book as there were parts that I enjoyed and parts that I really did not. This was very much a 2.5 star read but I rounded it up to 3 stars as it felt too harsh to give it 2.

I was so excited to read about the mysterious 11 day disappearance of Agatha Christie but this book barely covered it. I was expecting this book to be about the disappearance and that this would somehow involve Agatha and Nan. This book was perhaps 12% Agatha Christie disappearance and 88% Archibald Christie’s fictional mistress’s tragic past.

Nan’s story was so sad but predictable from the offset. It was also the sort of story that I would not have chosen to read. I actually felt almost tricked into reading a certain type of book when promised a mystery. There was an element of mystery introduced to the book but it was very clear what had happened.

I saw every twist coming so there was no real surprise whenever a ‘shocking reveal came’. I had worked out the entire plot and twists within the first 50 pages. Not that I tried to do this, it was just very obvious.

I didn’t enjoy the writing style. The book was told entirely from the point of view of Nan but there were moments where she wasn’t present, yet somehow knew what was happening. Nan wasn’t a fan of Agatha’s writing which felt a bit rude to put in a book that got a lot of publicity due to it featuring Agatha Christie. There were a couple times when Nan addressed the reader and broke the fourth wall which I found a bit odd as it didn’t really go with the rest of the book.

Due to the lack of Agatha Christie and her disappearance, I decided to read the book as if it weren’t about Agatha Christie. If that makes sense? It was easier to enjoy this book if o pretended that it wasn’t based on a real event and real people. I think that this book would have been more enjoyable had it not tried to tie itself to Agatha Christie, especially as the story was fictional so it could have just been a historical novel. By trying to link Nan’s story to Agatha, it just didn’t work for me.

This was my first book by this author, I don’t know if I would seek out a second. However if one of their books were to be a bookclub book or something, I would still read it. I just wouldn’t choose it. I’m so gutted about being disappointed by my first preorder of 2022 and hope that the remaining 10 preorders are less disappointing (I’m a sucker for a preorder! I look at them as gifts to me of the future from me of the past).

Reviews, Scottish Reads

Vicky Romeo Plus Joolz

Enter Vicky Romeo: lover, actor, bullshitter. Romeo is a slick, serial heartbreaker who is determined to land the lead in an all-women rendition of The Importance of Being Earnest. She thinks she has life figured out, but then she falls in love…

Enter Julie Turner aka Joolz: sexy, sarcastic, femme fatale and a cheerleader to boot. Stamping on hearts and traditional stereotypes she plays girls like Vicky Romeo at their own game.

Set in Glasgow in 2001, our heroines and their cohorts take on the world one incredibly gay step at a time.

I picked this book up when I was in Category Is Books, in Glasgow, at the start of the month. I’m still basking in the pride of reading a book in the month that I bought it. This has very much been the month for it but I have no faith in my ability to keep that up. I absolutely adored this book, I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads but it would have been 4.5 if Goodreads allowed halves.

This book was prefaced by a statement from the author who said that the book was written in 2001 which is the year that it was set. The attitudes and terminology used are that of the scene at the time and the book would have been totally different were it written today. I appreciated this because otherwise I’d have probably been a bit put off by some of the attitudes. As this book was about a community that I wasn’t part of in 2001, I’m taking the author’s word.

I absolutely loved that this was a story about a romance between Vicky Romeo and Julia Turner as I loved the nod towards Romeo and Juliet. While there is drama in this book, it’s very much not a rewrite of Romeo and Juliet. It was very much it’s own romance. It was a quite sweet romance which I really enjoyed.

At first I didn’t really like either of the main characters. I thought that Vicky Romeo was arrogant and reminded me so much of an old flatmate who used to boast about never being turned down by a romantic partner…and then one time they were and they were a wreck as they’d never faced rejection. However as the book went on, I could see through their shell and she was a sweetheart who just wanted to love and be loved and really wasn’t as confident as they appeared. Joolz annoyed me at first as they seemed to be playing games with Vicky despite saying they weren’t their type. There was a great deal of her being hot one moment and blanking her the next. Although I had to remind myself that these characters were 20/21 .

I really liked the strong parental role models in this book. I loved Mama Romeo and Sam! There were a lot of side characters that I did get a bit confused with. I enjoyed Kat but I didn’t like the other flatmate.

There were a few twists and turns in this book that I just did not see coming. They were very well done and really helped to make the characters feel real. I feel like I could have been friends with these people, I’d have gone to see their play!

I absolutely loved the setting of 2001 Glasgow. I loved the references to Nokia phones and a whole bunch of scenes in an Internet cafe. It was very nostalgic in places.

This was my second book by Ely Percy and it won’t be my last. I’m adding them to my autobuy author list! I’m so glad that I didn’t wait too long to read this book because I really did enjoy it.

Reviews, Vlogs

A Week of Reading and Disliking a Hyped Book 🙀

Last week I decided to start my bookclub book a little early. This was due to my bookclub book being a memoir, Educated by Tara Westover. I expected that this book might be a little upsetting so I decided to sandwich it between some books that felt likely to spark joy. I have a large collection of books that sound like they might be heartwarming and last week they got a chance to shine.

This week I read:

Empress and Aniya- Candice Carty-Williams

Call Me Maybe – Cara Bastone

Educated – Tara Westover

You Should See Me in a Crown – Leah Johnson

I really think that this is the perfect way for me to read books that are potentially sad or distressing. I need to read books that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Reviews

After the Funeral

The master of a Victorian mansion dies suddenly – and his sister is convinced it was murder…. When Cora is savagely murdered with a hatchet, the extraordinary remark she made the previous day at her brother Richard’s funeral suddenly takes on a chilling significance. At the reading of Richard’s will, Cora was clearly heard to say: ‘It’s been hushed up very nicely, hasn’t it…But he was murdered, wasn’t he?’ In desperation, the family solicitor turns to Hercule Poirot to unravel the mystery.

This was my pick for March Read Christie 2022, the theme was a book that Agatha wrote abroad. Google tells me that this book was written in the US but it is set in the UK. According to Goodreads I read this book back in 2018 but as that was hundreds of books ago. I’d forgotten what happened which was good because I got to enjoy the book without knowing the twist. This was a very fun and rather short Murder mystery and I gave it 3 stars, like a 3.5.

I do love a murder mystery that takes place in a grand home. This book took place both in a Victorian manor house, in another grand home, a quaint village, and also in London. The majority of the story took place in the grand houses but I don’t think that they played an integral part of the plot.

There were a lot of characters in this book and some had quite similar names. At one point I got a bit confused between one of the suspects and Poirot’s valet (Georges and George). Of the multiple characters, only about half of them played key roles in the book with the rest being more background characters that were pretty one dimensional.

My favourite character was, of course, Hercule Poirot. I absolutely love Poirot as a character l, he’s just so interesting and intelligent with just the right amount of sneakiness. Poirot didn’t feature in the book anywhere near as much as I’d have liked despite him playing a key role in the solving of the mystery. I think that the lack of Poirot may be the reason that I gave this book three stars as opposed to four.

I enjoyed the mystery of this book. My favourite part of a murder mystery is the mystery and I was kept guessing right up until the end. The book was so much more than the initial murder so it was really enjoyable having extra crimes and events show up. I liked trying to work out whether they were all related or if there were red herrings. As I’d forgotten the twist, I was surprised as I was convinced that it was somebody else. Perhaps I was getting my Agatha Christie plots confused. I do think that the twist in this book was excellent as I found it to be so I expected.

I did like this book, it’s not one of my favourite Agatha Christie books but it is still a very enjoyable read. I’m very much enjoying reading an Agatha Christie book every month and while I’ve no idea what the next pick is, I’m already excited about reading it.

Reviews, Scottish Reads

The Young Team

2005. Glasgow is named Europe’s Murder Capital, driven by a violent territorial gang and knife culture. In the housing schemes of adjacent Lanarkshire, Scotland’s former industrial heartland, wee boys become postcode warriors.

2004. Azzy Williams joins the Young Team [YTP]. A brutal gang conflict with their deadly rivals, the Young Toi [YTB] begins.

2012. Azzy dreams of another life. He faces his toughest fight of all – the fight for a different future.

Expect Buckfast. Expect bravado. Expect street philosophy. Expect rave culture. Expect anxiety. Expect addiction. Expect a serious facial injury every six hours. Expect murder.

Hope for a way out.

I had been wanting to read this book for a while and I’m so glad I managed to make time for it. I absolutely devoured this book and gave it 5 shiny stars!

This book was split into multiple sections which covered 3 main periods of Azzy’s life: Joining the gang, becoming an adult, and thinking about the future. The book started with Azzy being a young teenager who had been drawn into gang life. He was only 14 and it was totally expected that he would join a gang. It was so much more than a gang though, it was friendship and found family. His youth involved a lot of drinking, casual drug use, and violence. As he grew up, the violence between Azzy’s gang and the rival gang continued. With Azzy being older he became more involved in the beef between the gangs. The violence and the risks increased. The final part saw Azzy considering their future and what role the gang would take in this.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book, they felt so real. I found myself really worrying when the kids went off to fight. I actually spent so much of the book waiting for more bad things to happen. I laughed during parts of this book and I cried too. The protagonist, Azzy, was a flawed character but I liked him. He was a fiercely loyal person but he made some bad choices. I absolutely loved his mum and cousin who just wanted him to be safe.

This book really showed how easily Azzy was swept into gang culture. It felt like a normal thing for him to be part of a gang. The book included facts about gang culture in Scotland which helped to bring the story to life. Gang culture wasn’t something I knew a great deal about and this book really opened my eyes to something that was and is something that is still a huge issue in Scotland. The book also included references to drug culture and how that tied into gang life.

This book was set in Airdrie in the West of Scotland and was written all in the vernacular. You don’t need to be Scottish to be able to enjoy this book as it’s pronounced phonetically. I think that this could make an absolutely amending audiobook!

This book was eye opening and full of violence but it was so much more than that. It was a story about trying to fit in, loyalty and friendship, and growing up. There were some really heartwarming parts of this book and I am so glad that I read this! I highly recommend this book!