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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Notes on a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig

37797266._SX318_People have never been more connected, yet many of us feel alone. We worry about everything, from politics to celebrity to body image. How can we stay sane in a world filled with so much that makes us mad? In Notes on a Nervous Planet, Matt Haig takes a look at how to stay happy and human in the 21st century.

This book is good. It makes you think, and every aspect is relatable. But I did find it a little bit boring. Some chapters are a bit repetitive, and it’s a lot of the same thing.

I have also seen in other reviews that, for some people, this book made them feel less alone. That’s fantastic, obviously, but for me, it kind of made me feel like I was being told off at times. When it was late at night and I was reading instead of sleeping, I would come across a chapter telling me I should switch off and sleep more. While the information and instruction in this book isn’t wrong, it was a bit like getting a lecture and wasn’t an entirely enjoyable reading experience all the time.

I did really like the general disorganisation of the book (each chapter appears to have been written and added as and when the author thought of it – which works really well) and the writing style. It’s also brilliant how open Haig is about his own experiences with depression.

Overall, Notes on a Nervous Planet is a relevant and insightful commentary on modern life. It’s definitely worth a read, just maybe don’t read it all in one go.

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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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Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

46131509._SY475_Determined to improve life for her son, Christopher, Kate Reese flees an abusive relationship and starts over in the town of Mill Grove. It seems like a safe and idyllic town, until Christopher vanishes for six days. When he emerges from the woods at the edge of town, he is unharmed but different. Before, he struggled at school, now he’s one of the brightest kids there. Now, he speaks to an imaginary friend who gives him a mission he must complete by Christmas. Now, Christopher is wrapped up in a war between good and evil where he has a vital role to play.

This book is much more than just a horror. It covers family, friendship, community and good and evil. It is chilling and full of twists, as well as being surprisingly heartwarming. Honestly, how Stephen Chbosky went from Perks of Being a Wallflower to this is beyond me. Imaginary Friend is truly creepy and haunting, with an exciting and atmospheric plot – a far cry from the emotional angst of Perks.

My biggest piece of criticism would be that it is quite a bit longer than it needed to be. Some aspects of the story are very repetitive (Christopher seemed to spend an awful lot of time actively seeking out the Hissing Lady, finding her, and then running away. Like, why are you looking for her if you’re just going to run away?) Although I did love this book, I definitely think it could have benefited from having a few chapters cut. The unnecessary length and repetitiveness unfortunately got in to way of this being a five (or even four) star book.

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

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Survivors – G.X. Todd

44594516._SY475_In Book #3 of The Voices, the war between people who hear voices and those who don’t is coming to a head. When Pilgrim wakes up in a shallow grave, he can’t remember who he is or how he got there. But there is a voice in his head which tells him what he needs to do: Find Lacey. As Pilgrim travels north in search of Lacey, he finds himself back in places he had long forgotten, with people he had left far behind. War is coming, and he will need all the friends he can get.

Survivors is the third book in one of my favourite series of all time. The characters are unbelievably good – I was beyond happy to have Pilgrim back (apologies for the slight spoiler, but yes, Pilgrim is alive), though I did miss Lacey in this book. But that’s part of the brilliance of this series. Each book so far has focused on different characters so, although I missed reading about some of my favourites, the story stays fresh and interesting.

It is 100% necessary to read the first two books before this one: it would not work at all as a standalone novel. It had been quite a long time for me between reading this book and the previous, and I did struggle a bit at times to remember who was who – because we do meet characters that we’ve come across before. Luckily, the story is so good that, in the end, it didn’t really matter that I was a bit lost at times. I completely loved it.

Todd’s writing is phenomenal, and has only improved book-by-book. The world-building and character development go a long way to create a totally immersive reading experience. Plot-wise, not a huge amount actually happens until later in the book. Instead, we get an insight into Pilgrim’s past and how he got to where he is now. But the lack of a completely action-packed plot does not lesson how good this book is at all. If anything, the change of pace from books 1 and 2 worked remarkably well.

The Voices is a must-read series for fans of post-apocalyptic fiction.

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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A Second Chance – Jodi Taylor

35150831In Book #3 of The Chronicles of St Mary’s, time-travelling historian Max travels to 17th Century Cambridge to meet Sir Isaac Newton, the Trojan War, and the Battle of Agincourt.

I enjoyed the first half of this book a lot. Max’s trip to Cambridge to see Newton was as hectic and funny as ever, while the Troy adventure was detailed and (although maybe not historically accurate) really interesting. Some of it was a little bit heavy going (the Greeks did massacre the Trojans, after all), but generally not too difficult to read and added a good level of seriousness to an otherwise light and entertaining story.

However, about halfway through the book, the plot takes quite a surprising turn and the rest of the story focuses much more on some of the ongoing relationships of the series. I actually thought some of the author’s decisions were pretty lazy in terms of plot development, until things played out further and her plans became a bit clearer. Although I could accept that she had things play out a certain way for a reason – not just laziness – I’m not totally sure I liked what she did with the story.

The Chronicles of St Mary’s are still decent, funny and worth giving a go, but I hope Book #4 is better than this because there are too many of them to keep reading if they’re only going to be mediocre.

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I Go Quiet – David Ouimet

45894175._SX318_In this magical, slightly haunting picture book, a young girl struggles to communicate with other people and make herself heard. Feeling separate from the world around her, the girl stays silent, using books to escape and develop her imagination until she realises that when she is ready to be heard, she will find her voice.

I Go Quiet is really beautiful. The story and the message it carries is wonderful, while the illustrations are stunning. It’s honestly one of the most visually pleasing books I’ve read; I absolutely love the way the words are incorporated into the images instead of simply being added as straightforward captions.

The only thing I wasn’t too sure about is the target age-group of this book. It gives a brilliant message for young children, and the picture-book style with such a small amount of text suggests quite a young audience. However, it’s pretty dark and I don’t know how appropriate it would be for very young readers.

Whatever the intended readership may be, I (at 24 years old for a couple more months) thoroughly enjoyed it.

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

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