Snow, Glass, Apples – Neil Gaiman & Colleen Doran

45303582._SY475_.jpgSnow, Glass, Apples is a magical fantasy retelling of Snow White, in which a not-so-evil queen attempts to rid the world of her monstrous step-daughter.

This a dark and twisted retelling, very different from the classic fairy tale. In this version, Snow White is a blood-sucking creature who causes the death of her own father and terrifies the young queen into taking drastic measures to be rid of her. It contains many elements of the original fairy tale, following the same general plot, but with a totally different, much more chilling vibe.

Despite being a fairy tale, this book is definitely not appropriate for younger readers. There is explicit content, both sexual and violent, that make it very adult.

Colleen Doran’s illustrations are stunning. They’re detailed and beautiful and complement the story brilliantly. Even if you’re not usually a fan of graphic novels, there is no denying the beauty of this one.

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Spit and Song – Travis M. Riddle

48516172._SY475_Kali is a merchant who longs to travel the world, trading good and seeing the sights. Puk is a musician with a drug addiction who has hit rock-bottom and finds himself stranded in an unfamiliar city with no way back home. A chance meeting and an illicit job opportunity bring the unlikely pair together on an epic journey that could change both their lives.

As usual, I am blown away by Travis’ originality. The creatures in this book are like nothing I’ve seen before. Set in the same world as Balam, Spring, there are one or two familiar species, but also many more completely new and unique ones. The world-building, scenes and characters and all brilliantly developed, so the entire thing is very easy to picture while reading.

The plot is a little bit slow-paced, but this isn’t a bad thing. The story focuses much more on the journey Kali and Puk embark on, rather than their destination. They spend a fair amount of time making plans and preparations, discussing their ambitions in life and singing songs. However, there are still some pretty action-packed parts along the way.

The characters are brilliant. I loved Puk – he was rude and sarcastic but extremely likeable, while Kali had a good amount of attitude as well. My favourite character by far, though, was Voya the ujath.

The only thing I didn’t really need was all the very detailed descriptions of the different food items the characters consumed throughout the book. These were just a little distracting and unnecessary to me but, that being said, it was wonderful to see just how much thought the author had put into every element of the story.

Lastly, how stunning is that cover? And look out for me in the acknowledgements!

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Ghost Stories: Classic Tales of Horror and Suspense – Lisa Morton and Leslie S. Klinger

40554543Ghost Stories: Classic Tales of Horror and Suspense is an anthology of lesser-known stories from literary masters, including the likes of Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe and many more. Lisa Morton and Leslie S. Klinger have collected these stories and set them in historical context, with an explanation of the significance of ghosts in literary fiction over the past two hundred years,

It should be noted that the stories in this collection are truly classic ghost stories: They are short, atmospheric tales of ghostly and spiritual encounters – definitely NOT modern horror. They aren’t gory or shocking, and in my opinion aren’t exactly scary, but they are creepy and rather spine-tingling.

To be honest, I didn’t enjoy every story. The writing quality of a couple of them was surprisingly questionable considering who the authors are, and one or two (particularly The Family Portraits by Johann August Apel) really dragged on despite being so short. Also, some of them are pretty old, which obviously isn’t a bad thing in itself, but this meant that the language used was sometimes quite difficult to follow.

My favourite stories were definitely The Signalman by Dickens which was the one I found the scariest and probably the best-written, and Sweet William’s Ghost which is actually a classic ballad.

I enjoyed the opening essay on ghost stories in literature, and the contextual description at the beginning of each story. This book is a definite must-read for lovers or ghost stories and classic paranormal fiction.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Sky Weaver – Kristen Ciccarelli

43905500.jpgAt the end of one world, there always lies another.

Safire, a soldier, knows her role in this world is to serve the King of Firgaard-helping to maintain the peace in her oft-troubled nation.

Eris, a deadly pirate, has no such conviction. Known as The Death Dancer for her ability to evade even the most determined of pursuers, she possesses a superhuman ability to move between worlds.

When one can roam from dimension to dimension, can one ever be home? Can love and loyalty truly exist?

Then Safire and Eris-sworn enemies-find themselves on a common mission: to find Asha, the last Namsara.

From the port city of Darmoor to the fabled faraway Sky Isles, their search and their stories become threaded ever more tightly together as they discover the uncertain fate they’re hurtling towards may just be a shared one. In this world, and the next.


The Sky Weaver is a standalone novel set in the world of The Last Namsara. It can definitely be read without having read the previous two books, but it does contain some of the same characters and I would recommend reading them for context and world-building purposes.

As can be expected from this series at this point, there are some fantastic, strong female characters. This one focuses of Safire (whom we met in Book #2) but is also told from the point-of-view of Eris, who is an equally interesting character.

One of my favourite things about this book (and the entire series) is the use of mythology. The world of the Iskari is built on fully developed mythologies and cultures, which we are given in intermittent mini-chapters in between the main story chapters. This helps to give the story a very fairy-tale feeling and really adds to the already excellent world-building, which is a really important feature of good high fantasy.

I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that I enjoyed the romance in this book. Enemies-to-lovers is often a frustrating trope and can be difficult to pull off, but Ciccarelli did a good job of creating a dynamic and well balanced relationship between the two women, and it was lovely to read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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We Call It Monster – Lachlan Walter

43925127._SY475_One day, an enormous creature crawled out of the ocean and destroyed a city. Soon, more creatures emerged and all humanity could do was try to stay alive. In the years that follow, humans must learn to adapt to survive in a new world, where they are not in control.

We Call It Monster is a very original Godzilla-style story. It is told in chunked time segments (years 1-5, 6-10, etc), and follows a range of different characters in more of an anthology style as opposed to a linear story-line. I believe the same characters are followed throughout the book, but it wasn’t always clear to me at all that they were the same characters, because they time jumps were quite big and the characters didn’t necessarily go by the same name in every chapter. Because of this, I didn’t feel there was much character development, or have any particular attachment to any of the characters. It all felt a little bit disjointed and didn’t flow particularly well for me.

That being said, the author has managed to take quite a common theme and create a truly original story which explores the effect these massive monsters have on society and the people left to survive in their wake.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Lord of Secrets – Breanna Teintze

42922456._SY475_.jpgCorcoran Gray is an outlaw wizard, on the run from the Mages’ Guild as he tries to figure out a way to rescue his grandfather from imprisonment. When he gets tangled up with fugitive Brix and they both get arrested, things don’t seem like they could get much worse. That is, until Gray realises that Brix could be the key to finding and releasing his grandfather. All they have to do is escape from the Guild, break into an ancient underground temple, and survive a meeting with a deadly necromancer.

To be brutally honest, I don’t know why I read this whole book. I should have DNF’d it after the first few chapters. It isn’t terrible – it isn’t even bad – it just didn’t do anything for me.

There were aspects I enjoyed, the main one being the magical concept in this book: Wizards use magic by writing spells onto themselves, and suffer quite serious side-effects from it. This was an original and interesting concept, which was well developed throughout the book.

I had two real problems with Lord of Secrets which hindered my general enjoyment of the story. First, something about the characterisation just didn’t work for me. From the way Corcoran Gray was introduced, I pictured him as at least middle aged, possibly even quite elderly. I can’t pinpoint exactly what gave me this impression, but it really threw me off when I realised that he was actually meant to be in his early 20’s. Secondly, I absolutely hated the romantic element. The romantic relationship between Gray and Brix felt incredibly forced and rushed (not helped by my image of Gray as a 50-60 year-old) and I didn’t think the story needed it at all. I just couldn’t get on board with them as a couple.

Overall, Lord of Secrets really isn’t a bad book. It just wasn’t for me.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Relic – Bronwyn Eley

46218744._SY475_The Shadow is the personal servant of the powerful Lord Rennard and being the Shadow means certain death, because Rennard possesses one of the rare and extremely dangerous Relics, which slowly poison everyone else in its proximity. When blacksmith Kaylan is summoned to be the new Shadow, she understands that her life is forfeit. What she doesn’t expect is to uncover a plot to overthrow the ruling powers and destroy the bloodlines in possession of the relics.

Ultimately, Relic is a strong debut with a really good fantasy story-line. However, it took too long to really get going for me and could have benefited from a bit more explanation. I loved the idea of the relics and the shadow system, but I would have liked for the whole thing to be explained in more detail, earlier on. I guess the idea was to keep an element of mystery and intrigue surrounding the relics and their true power, but this wasn’t really necessary. The plot should have been strong enough to carry itself without keeping things vague to up the intrigue.

This book also could have benefited from a faster pace. The events laid out in the blurb take almost half the book to actually play out, which made a lot of it very predictable and lacklustre.

That being said, I thought that the world-building was excellent, and the city of Edriast was easy to picture as well as being a brilliant setting. Also, because so much of the story focuses on Kaylan’s daily life, we get to see some really great character development and it was a nice touch to have a main character in a fantasy-rebellion novel who didn’t immediately leap onto the side of the rebels and inexplicably become their leader and figurehead.

I would definitely recommend Relic to fantasy fans who appreciate a strong character focus and aren’t too fussed about seeing much action.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Ruin of Kings – Jenn Lyons

39863237Kihrin is a musician, and a thief. When he is claimed against his will as the lost son of a treasonous prince, he is drawn into the world of a powerful and dangerous family, as good as a prisoner at the mercy of his new family’s ambitions. Told in two simultaneous timelines, this is a rags-to-riches story involving magic, dragons, romance and a lot of action.

I can’t quite decide how I feel about this book, because it had many features that I really enjoyed and that made it really special, but it took me so, so long to read which is not generally a good sign.

I really, really liked the way the story was written, which was interesting. The story is told by two characters, Kihrin and Talon, in alternating chapters following different time periods. As such, the story is very non-linear and we are told two different parts of the same story at the same time. On top of that, the story-telling  exchange between Kihrin and Talon is compiled by another character, whose footnotes are added throughout the book (and I love a good footnote). This unusual method of story telling did make things a little bit difficult to follow at times, but was really unique and refreshing.

Kihrin is a likeable main character, with a lot of sass and wit, while other characters like Talon, Teraeth, Tyentso and more had their own great personalities. However, there were a few too many characters and it wasn’t easy to keep track of who was who and who was doing what, especially across both timelines.

The Ruin of Kings has a lot going on, and it’s well told. I enjoyed the story and I liked the writing style, but I definitely didn’t find it un-put-down-able and it took me a very long time to read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Blog Tour: Sanctuary – V.V. James

I’m very excited to be part of the tour for Sanctuary by V.V. James today! This is a fun detective/fantasy crossover, featuring murder and witches, which I very much enjoyed. Thanks for reading my review, and please remember to go and visit the other stops on the tour (tour schedule is available at the bottom of this post).


Every town has its secrets. Sanctuary is built on them.

46189758._SY475_.jpgDaniel’s death looked like an accident: An alcohol-fuelled tragedy with no one to blame. But his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch, and they’d been fighting before he died. When someone accuses her of murder by witchcraft, the investigation into Daniel’s death takes a much more sinister turn. Was it really an accident? Was it revenge? Or – in this town of secrets – something much darker?

I really loved the general theme of this book: a detective novel involving witches, and the plot is very good. Sanctuary is proper detective mystery with a fun supernatural element. I enjoyed the way that witchcraft was a built-in feature of this world, without needed any other supernatural features to enforce it. Witches are a known and (somewhat) accepted people in this book, living openly alongside regular people, but they do suffer from discrimination just the same as any minority group does in the real world. I thought it was very effective to include discrimination in this way.

There are quite a mixed bag of characters. Because the plot is reasonably complex, we don’t get to see too deeply into most of the characters. The ones that we do get to know in more depth are quite different from one another. I liked Maggie, the detective. She was a compassionate character who was determined to do her job and get fair results. I also quite liked Sarah, Sanctuary’s resident witch, because it was easy to understand why she made the decisions she made, to protect her daughter. Abigail, however, I didn’t like at all. It felt like I was supposed to be able to sympathise with her, having just lost her son, but I couldn’t. She came across as nasty and vindictive, even outside of the events that followed the death of her son. On the whole, I think Abigail was the only part of this book that I didn’t much like.

Last, but not least, I absolutely adore that cover.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon


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The Gods of Love – Nicola Mostyn

38333559._SY475_When a strange man bursts into Frida’s office claiming that she is a descendent of Eros, the god of love, and destined to save the world, Frida has him removed by security and laughs the whole thing off. But after a weird meeting and an attempted kidnapping, Frida starts to think that maybe the man calling himself the Oracle was telling the truth.

Usually, I love any book based on mythology, but this one really wasn’t that great. I think it was the comparison to Bridget Jones and Neil Gaiman that got me: it’s really nothing like either. Granted, The Gods of Love would fall under the same genre as Bridget Jones, being a typical comedy/romance novel with a feisty female lead, but it simply doesn’t have Jones’ heart and wit. The comparison to Gaiman honestly makes no sense to me whatsoever. So it has some gods and some mythology in it; it takes a lot more than that to be anything at all like one of Gaiman’s books.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with what it is, once the false comparisons are removed. As far as books of this genre go, this one certainly wasn’t bad, but it could have been so much better.

The story is fun and fast-paced, with a good amount of magic and fantasy thrown in there. Despite love being a prominent theme throughout the book, the romantic element between the characters is quite slow-build and not overdone. I liked that the story wasn’t all about the relationship between Dan and Frida, largely because I struggled to feel the chemistry between them a lot of the time. It rather felt like they were forced together for the sake of having a romantic story-line in a book about love.

Frida herself, I didn’t love. She was clearly supposed to be a strong, kick-ass female, but to be honest I found her a little bit annoying.

The Gods of Love is a light and decent enough read. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t special.

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