Thursday, 12 December 2019

Shades Of Magic: The Steel Prince - V.E. Schwab & Budi Setiawan

Welcome to my stop on the blog for the stunning second volume of V.E. Schwab's Shades Of Magic: The Steel Prince graphic novel. Night Of Knives follows on from the first volume (a bindup of the first 4 issues) and once again features the outstanding artwork of Budi Setiawan. First though, a quick mention about Vol. 1 in the series!

In this first volume, we're introduced to Maxim Maresh - father of Rhy and adopted father of Kell. Maxim is Crown Prince and sent to a barracks on the far reaches of his father's rule to stop him researching magic. Little does Nokil, King of Arnes, realize but this might just be the making of Maxim and almost definitely not the end of his research into the magics that have separated all the Londons. There is a passage in A Conjuring Of Light that is mentioned at the front of Volume 1 where Maxim and his youth are mentioned, and this is where Shades Of Magic: The Steel Prince comes from. Maxim clashes with the Pirate Queen, aunt of one of his soldiers, and this forms the plot for the first four issues.

In Shades Of Magic: The Steel Prince - Knight Of Knives, Maxim is settling into both town and base but the soldiers under his command are struggling with the fact that he is the Crown Prince as well as their commanding officer. Desperate to do something to make the troops respect him, he foolishly listens when Isra tells him about the Night Of Knives, a competition held in four stages where competitors either don't complete all four stages or die trying.

I'm a huge fan of the Shades Of Magic novel series so I was thrilled to hear there would be a comic series about Maxim but sad to hear there would only be 12 issues (or 3 collections). I dove in with high hopes and wasn't disappointed. It was so good to fill in the background of Rhy and Kell's father, to see what he was like as a young mand and to gain some insight into his upbringing with his father.

I don't think you need to have read the Shades of Magic series to delve into The Steel Prince but some of the place names and characters may be a little confusing if you haven't already read about them. Antari is mentioned but the only way you would know what that meant is by having read the books.

The Steel Prince is a fast read, each 'issue' feels short but Schwab crams a lot into the storyline and is incredibly interpreted by Setiawan's illustrations. I'm now eagerly awaiting vol. 3 of The Steel Prince, The Rebel Army, which comes out in April next year. I think after that I'll be rereading A Darker Shade Of Magic, A Gathering Of Shadows, and A Conjuring Of Light to see how knowing Maxim's story changes anything. It might not but it's an excuse to reread the books.

If you want to, I reviewed A Darker Shade Of Magic way back in 2015 - feel free to check it out here!

Shades Of Magic: The Steel Prince Vol. 2 - Night Of Knives
V.E. Schwab, Budi Setiawan, Andrea Olimpieri, Enrica Eren Angiolini, Viviana Spinelli & Rob Steen
Publisher - Titan Comics
ISBN - 9781782762119
Release date - November 2019
Find - Goodreads

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Come Back For Me - Heidi Perks

A shocking discovery. An island wrapped in secrets. You can bury the body but the truth will always surface...

A tiny island community is stunned by the discovery of a long-buried body.

For Stella Harvey, the news is doubly shocking. The body has been found in the garden of her childhood home - the home her family fled without explanation twenty-five years ago.

Now, questioning her past and desperate to unearth the truth, Stella returns to the isolated island. But she quickly finds that the community she left isn’t as welcoming as she remembers – and that people in it will go to any length to protect their secrets. One thing rings true…You can’t bury the truth forever.

Now You See Her was one of my favorite reads last year so I was very much looking forward to Come Back For Me. The synopsis sounded amazing, a remote island and a gloriously happy childhood don't sound like the things of nightmares but who knows what happens behind closed doors.

Stella, aged eleven, has had an idyllic childhood on the small island of Evergreen, but suddenly she and her older siblings, Danny and Bonnie, are being dragged away from the only home Stella has ever known in the middle of the night. At the age of eleven, the only thing Stella is worried about is whether she'll see her best friend Jill again and how unfair it is that they have to leave.

Fast forward twenty-five years and Evergreen Island is on the news. A body has been found. Not only that but where it's been found is on the perimeter of Stella's beloved childhood home, The Quay House. Leaving the island has fractured her family, her mother has died, her father is remarried and suffering from dementia, her sister is a mother and an alcoholic, and her brother Danny disappeared not long after they moved to the mainland. What Stella wants to know though is who is the body, and just why did they leave in the middle of a storm all those years ago.

Stella, now a family counsellor, makes the rash decision to return to the island to see if she can find out more about the body and maybe discover the truth behind their abrupt departure from their former home. Bonnie thinks this is quite possibly the worst idea Stella has ever had but it's not long before she is proved right. Somebody doesn't want Stella back on the island and it could be anybody. Her mother's best friend, the older lady who Stella's mother treated as a mother figure herself - Annie, Freya - the journalist who grew up on the island, Iona - Bonnie's best friend that last summer, anybody on the island!

Come Back For Me is told from two different points in time, 1993 and the present. We get to see Stella's family while they still were all together, and the present where we slowly uncover everything that has happened. Threatening notes start arriving and Stella genuinely becomes terrified that someone wants to kill her. It would appear that somebody will go to any lengths to keep the past very much in the past and that if there's a scapegoat to take the blame for the body, that will suit their purposes.

The tension of Come Back For Me starts on the first page and grips you all the way through to the very end. Some may find the pacing too slow and that it takes too long to get to the heart of the mystery but this is what I loved about the story. I was hooked all the way through though, I started reading at about 11pm and didn't put the book down until well after sunrise. It's incredibly atmospheric and almost Gothic in tone, the isolated island setting certainly added to this feeling as did the weather and the gloominess of the situation. I started trying to guess what had happened and who the body was but was left reeling by all of the revelations. I've never been so wrong about why something happened!

Come Back For Me is a superb follow-up to Now You See Me and Heidi's writing has proved yet again that she's one to watch. It's wonderfully written and has one of the most compelling and unique storyline's I've read this year. I can't wait to see what's next as Come Back For Me is going to be hard to beat!

Huge thanks to Rachel Kennedy & Century for a copy of the book, in exchange for an unbiased review. If you would like to read Come Back For Me it's out in hardback today and also available as an eBook. Find my review on Amazon here as well!

Come Back For Me - Heidi Perks

Publisher - Century
Release date: eBook - June 1st, Hardback, July 11th, 2019

About The Author

Heidi Perks lives by the sea in Bournemouth with her husband and two children.
Heidi graduated from Bournemouth University with a BA (Hons) in Retail Management, and then enjoyed a career in Marketing before leaving in 2012 to focus on both bringing up her family and writing.
Heidi successfully applied for a place on the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative online Novel Writing Course and after that dedicated her time to completing her first novel, Beneath The Surface.
She has a huge interest in what makes people tick and loves to write about family relationships, especially where some of the characters are slightly dysfunctional. 
Her second novel, Now You See Her was published by Century, part of the Penguin Random House group in 2018 and became a Sunday Times Bestseller and Richard and Judy book club pick. 
Her third novel Come Back For Me is out July 2019 and she is now writing her fourth to be released in 2020. Follow Heidi on Twitter here!

Friday, 5 July 2019

When I Lost You - Merilyn Davies

When a young couple are the lead suspects for the murder of their only child, Crime Analyst Carla Brown and DS Nell Jackson are assigned to investigate.
The evidence seems conclusive, but something just doesn’t feel right.
The case is quickly cast into doubt when the lead forensic pathologist starts receiving threatening letters – containing details only the police should know.
Who’s sending them? What do they want? And how did they get hold of the information?
As Carla and Nell dig deeper, it soon becomes clear that this case isn’t the first of its kind.
They must stop at nothing to find the truth – even if it hits close to home.
When a novel's prologue ends with the words "I did not kill my baby!" you get an idea in your head about how the story is going to go. On reading the synopsis too, you think that the book is about the couple who have lost their child and in a way it is. It's also so much more! 
When I Lost You starts with DS Jackson and DC Mackintosh called to a flat in Oxford over a reported death of an infant. Nell Jackson is convinced that it's another Sudden Infant Death but on arrival Eve Graham, the pathologist tells them it's murder, and not only that but it was the mother who killed the little girl. Nell Jackson is back at work after being stabbed thanks to a crime analyst missing a vital detail so when she finds out the new DCI wants her to work closely with Crime Analyst Carla Brown, she can't help but be resentful.

Nothing about this case is as straightforward as it seems. There are letters being written to the pathologist, essentially calling her a liar and accusing her of ensuring innocent women have been convicted thanks to her testimony. Nell and Carla aren't entirely sure what to believe as they both know Eve but what if she is getting it wrong?

When I Lost You is part police procedural and part psychological thriller, told in two different timelines simply titled Then and Now. It's quite confusing at first, especially if you don't realize that's the case, but this is what makes the story such compulsive reading. Then is about two girls living in a care home and being groomed by a local cafe owner, Now is about three women who may or may not know more than they're saying. Carla is closely linked to Eve because of Eve's husband Gerry who was her first sergeant and is utterly determined that Eve would not have deliberately allowed innocent women to be sent to prison.

When I Lost You is a wonderfully addictive story, with a unique plotline, and twists and turns that you don't see coming. I will admit to trying to guess who certain people were quite early on in the book but it soon became evident that I was completely wrong. It does become obvious at one point, who the 'guilty party' is, but this doesn't take anything away from the story and it was fascinating seeing the different strands of the story coming together to an explosive ending.

When I Lost You is a gripping tale of loss, wrongful conviction, and abuse, which if not handled in the right way, could be distressing but Merilyn Davies has created a page-turner of a first novel in a wonderful location. Having gone to Oxford it was nice to see someone write about things other than the gleaming spires and students! I very much enjoyed the developing relationship between Nell and Carla and sincerely hope we get to see more of them in the future!

Huge thanks to Rachel and Arrow for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion of the book. If you want to try When I Lost You by Merilyn Davies it's currently available for the princely sum of 99 pence on Kindle UK and can be found here.
When I Lost You - Merilyn Davies
Publisher - Cornerstone Digital/Arrow
Release date: Kindle/eBook - July 1st, Paperback - August 22nd, 2019
About The Author
Merilyn Davies is a former Crime Analyst with the Metropolitan Police who worked as part of the violent and hate crime unit for eight years. She was inspired to write about strong women working in the police force thanks to the incredible women she encountered on the force and was fascinated to explore the relationship between civilians working in the force and police officers, drawing on her own experiences being married to a serving MET officer.

She decided to set her debut thriller in her home city of Oxford, but the action all takes place away from the dreaming spires in parts tourists don’t stop at. She studied Sociology at university and is fascinated with the manner in which society leads people down criminal paths. She was a co-founder of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival and now works for Oxford City Council. Follow Merilyn on Twitter @nellbelleandme

Monday, 24 June 2019

YALC 2019 Giveaway!

In my new organized reincarnation, I've posted both parts of my reading list for this year. Part 1 can be found here, and part 2 can be found here! I've decided to share the YALC love and let someone get to read one of the amazing books on my YALC lists. One person can win a copy of whatever book they choose from my reading lists, as long as they either live somewhere that Book Depository ships to, or they'll be at YALC and I can hand the book over! It's simple to enter, just fill out the rafflecopter below and think about what book you would choose. This giveaway is not sponsored or funded in any way, it's me offering to share the book love! The giveaway is open until midnight on July 25th and any duplicate entries will be deleted/disqualified.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 23 June 2019

YALC 2019 Reading List Part 2

As promised last week, here's part two of my reading list. I'm hoping by the time this goes live that I'll have read a few more books from the list and some of my reviews will also have gone up. I'm not going to review everything on the list - I'd spend a year typing if I did - but if it's an' up all night' or 'stay up late' book I'll do my best to review it, even if it ends up being a mini review. Not that I'm sure I can do mini reviews, I'm very good at spouting rubbish...

After this goes live I'll also post about a giveaway I'm doing alongside my reading list so if you want to win a book check it out!

Sif Sigmarsdottir - The Sharp Edge Of A Snowflake

Adrienne Young - Sky In The Deep

Bex Hogan - Viper

Christine Lynn Herman - The Devouring Gray

Kesia Lupo - We Are Blood And Thunder

P.M. Freestone - The Darkest Bloom

Rachel Burge - The Twisted Tree

Alastair Reynolds - Revenger

Lauren James - The Quiet At The End Of The World

Temi Oh - Do You Dream Of Terra-Two?

Justina Ireland - Dread Nation

Kristen Ciccarelli - The Last Namsara

Natasha Ngan - Girls Of Paper & Fire

Samantha Shannon - The Priory Of The Orange Tree

Taran Matharu - Summoner #1

Anna James - Tilly & The Bookwanderers

Yasmin Rahman - All The Things We Never Said


Bold - Read

Purple - Own 

Red - Borrow From Library

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

A Good Girl's Guide To Murder - Holly Jackson

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn't so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

Oh. My. Goodness. Everybody knows how much I like my YA thrillers and I've read a lot of them over the past couple of years as they've gained in popularity but A Good Girl's Guide To Murder (GGG from here on out!) is one of the best. It's also a debut which makes its 'grab you by the throat and don't let go'-ness even more astounding! I've been incredibly lucky with my reading recently in that everything I've picked up has been good and I've read it in one go. GGG was no exception, I picked it up at about 9pm and finished it at 1.30am - that's how good it is! I literally could not put it down.

I was desperate to know who did it, was it really Salil 'Sal' Singh, the boyfriend? He confessed by text message shortly before killing himself so everyone has accepted that as the universal truth, if in doubt it's the boyfriend. Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn't convinced though so chooses this as her EPQ (Extended Project Qualification - equivalent to half an A Level) and sets about trying to discover what really happened to Andie Bell. Is it just me or does everyone immediately think of Erasure or Oasis when reading the name Andie Bell? Nope? Just me then...

Going against her advisor's warning not to contact the families involved Pip contacts Ravi Singh, Sal's younger brother, who is only too happy to help Pip with her investigation when he discovers that she thinks Sal might be innocent. Pip's best friend's sister was best friends with Sal so Pip feels invested in finding the truth if only to help Sal's family but there's definitely more to this case than meets the eye. Pip and Ravi are soon totally immersed in chasing down leads, interviewing people, and generally sticking their noses into places where they really shouldn't. Pip starts to receive threats by text message telling her to drop the investigation but of course, she's not going to. It's only when tragedy strikes that she stops what she's doing to try and keep her family and friends safe.

GGG is a rollercoaster of a thriller and I tell you now, there's no point trying to guess who did it if Sal didn't. There's misdirection on every page and you're never quite sure who's telling the truth and who's not. Pip starts to doubt everything and everybody, especially as her investigation starts leading her down a dangerous path. The story switches between third person and Pip's coursework documenting her finds. There are EPQ forms, maps, drawings, and interviews with people Pip thinks know the truth, all of which add to the page-turning power of GGG and make it an even more compulsive read. It has the perfect amount of moments that will make you gasp and at times you will want to yell at Pip for putting herself in danger, it will make you laugh out loud, and it will make you cry - well, it made me cry anyway...

If you're a fan of Serial, Veronica Mars and YA thrillers then A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is well worth investing your time in. My only doubt about it is, if GGG is this good as a debut then how on earth is Holly Jackson going to improve in her next novel?

A Good Girl's Guide To Murder - Holly Jackson
ISBN - 9781405293181
Publisher - Electric Monkey
Release date - May 2nd, 2019
Source - bought in bookshop

Monday, 17 June 2019

The Quiet At The End Of The World - Lauren James

How far would you go to save those you love?

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, aging community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artifacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion. 

Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice...

I'm going to start this by saying I absolutely adored this book! I've loved all of Lauren's books but something about this one just stuck with me a bit more. Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people left alive on the entire planet after a virus struck causing permanent infertility and there's never been any success in finding a cure or discovering what caused it.

Lowrie is bisexual, torn between her feelings for Shen but not wanting to lose their friendship in case things don't work out, and Shen is Shen. Laidback, aware of his feelings but not pushing Lowrie, fully prepared to wait until she's ready - even if that takes forever!

I've seen this referred to as soft apocalyptic SF and I quite agree, there's no imminent danger but you do get the feeling time is running out. Everyone is carrying on as usual but after a rather shocking helicopter crash it's obvious things are starting to go wrong and it's going to be up to Shen and Lowrie to solve the problem.

The Quiet At The End Of The World is a beautiful blend of romance, science fiction, and philosophy. There's plenty of discussion about how to carry on the human race, about aliens and if they really are out there, and talk about infertility and how to solve it. There's so much to love about it, from lifeguard robots called Mitch to social media posts from the 21st century when the virus originally struck. I really liked how Lauren blended these tweets and FB messages into the main body of the story, and how Lowrie and Shen used them as a way of learning about history.

There are a couple of cracking twists in this book, which I didn't see coming, but they make the story so much more entertaining! And the nod to who Lowrie's ancestors were, and where they live, is both hilarious and jaw-dropping! I read this in one sitting, and I don't regret the lack of sleep at all. I'm looking forward to seeing what Lauren comes up with next.

The Quiet At The End Of The World - Lauren James
ISBN - 9781406375510
Publisher - Walker Books
Release date - March 7th, 2019
Source - Bought from bookshop
Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the G'nite Sweetheart kit by Vera Lim Design