REVIEW | A Shroud of Leaves by Rebecca Alexander (Sage Westfield, #2)

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Title: A SHROUD OF LEAVES

Author: REBECCA ALEXANDER

Released: 9TH JULY 2019 by TITAN BOOKS

Genre: MYSTERY, THRILLER, SUSPENSE

TWs: Death, abuse, sexual molestation, animal abuse, alcoholism, familial abuse/dysfunction, child death


“Finely observed, beautifully written” Daily Mail on The Secrets of Life and Death

“The victim had been buried in a carved hollow in the grass and shrouded in fallen leaves…”

Archaeologist Sage Westfield has her first forensics case: investigating the murder of a teenage girl. Hidden by holly leaves, the girl’s body has been discovered on the grounds of a stately home, where another teenage girl went missing twenty years ago – but her body was never found. The police suspect the reclusive owner, Alistair Chorleigh, who was questioned but never charged. But when Sage investigates a nearby burial mound – and uncovers rumours of an ancient curse – she discovers the story of another mysterious disappearance over a hundred years ago. Sage will need both her modern forensics skills and her archaeological knowledge to unearth the devastating truth.


I LOVED THIS BOOK! If I’m really honest, it reminds me of the Bones TV series with Dr. Temperance Brennan, which was always one of my favourite shows. I remember binge watching that because I loved the characters and storyline SO much. This novel had everything from that TV series that I loved about it – banter, drama, thrills, and mystery. Plus, the personal character arc only adds to my interest!

Rebecca Alexander is a supremely talented writer. She has the ability to draw you into the story itself and hold you captive until its conclusion. A Shroud of Leaves is steeped in folk history, psychology, and scientific study. Sage and the rest of the cast are all highly individual and you can nearly feel their various motives, fears, and dreams. Their individual plots all interact so well to create this poignant story about finding the root of the crimes committed covered up by individual stories. I really couldn’t put it down and highly recommend this to anyone who loves murder mysteries or crime thrillers!


Thank you to Titan Books for this review copy.

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five stars

ARC REVIEW | The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

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Title: THE INVITED

Author: JENNIFER MCMAHON

Released: 30TH APRIL 2019 by DOUBLEDAY

Genre: PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER | GHOST STORY


A chilling ghost story with a twist: the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People returns to the woods of Vermont to tell the story of a husband and wife who don’t simply move into a haunted house–they build one . . .

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house–a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.


This was an interesting tale, as I’ve never before read one about people building their own haunted house. The build up was a bit boring, but it improved massively about halfway in! I had to put it down for awhile and come back to it, but I’m one of those that always wonders how a story ends if I don’t read it through. I am glad I read the whole thing, but the conclusion left a bit to be desired for my tastes. I found the characters mostly boring or irritating, bar Hattie. Her story was the only thing that really kept me reading. I really struggled to read Olive’s POV chapters. The twist at the end slightly shocked me, but I kind of had a sneaking suspicion it might end that way. I can see the appeal for some, but it wasn’t really my thing. The writing and scenery itself kept me mildly interested, so I would likely read another McMahon story.


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Thank you to Doubleday via Netgalley for this ARC.


ARC REVIEW | The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta

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Title: THE LOST COAST

Author: AMY ROSE CAPETTA

Released: 14TH MAY 2019 by CANDLEWICK PRESS

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY

Rep: LGBTQ+ | TWs: Anxiety, depression, violence, death/murder.


The spellbinding tale of six queer witches forging their own paths, shrouded in the mist, magic, and secrets of the ancient California redwoods.

Danny didn’t know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they’re ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn’t just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta’s tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.


if you want to do big magic, you don’t mess around, even if you think you have good reasons. you trust your friends, your sisters, your coven.

 This book was everything I wanted! I so enjoyed reading it. I requested this very shortly after reading Once & Future because I loved the Capetta/McCarthy storytelling duo. I surmised I must love them individually, as well. Well, I wasn’t wrong!! This story was dark and compelling, while simultaneously exploring various themes of sexuality, family relationships, friendship, and finding your space in the world. I appreciated the representation of various sexualities and the focus on female friendships rather than romance. We may need people in our lives to help us through the hard times, but it doesn’t always need to be a romantic tie.

but it wasn’t as simple as that. this love begged, too. it wanted me to step closer, to learn how solid the trees felt under my fingertips, but i got the sense that if i did, they would pull me deeper into the woods, and i would never be heard from again.

The storyline really drew me in and then the execution felt perfect to me. It kept me guessing and I never felt as if I knew what was coming next! I really found no fault in The Lost Coast. I loved Amy Rose Capetta’s lyrical writing style as it made the whole thing flow and sound so beautiful. She really added weight to the scenes. The spookiness of the forest was my favourite and the kind of shiftiness of various situations throughout. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves a good mystery or highly descriptive stories.

the trees feel it. the trees feel everything.some secrets stay close to the trunks of the redwoods. others have been carried away. like the bones. the bones are gone, and the trees fear that an important story left with them.


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Thank you to Candlewick Press via Netgalley for this ARC.

five stars

First Lines Friday #1

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

Pick a book (or a few) off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page

Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first

Finally… reveal the book!


This seems like a fun meme, so I’ve been thinking I’ll give it a go! Let’s see what we think in a few weeks. And feel free to let me know in the comments if there are memes or tags you’d like to see me complete in future. Thanks for reading, Wayfarers!


i liked being ridden, and offered the chance to pretty much every guy in Video II. i guess it made me feel as if I had something to contribute to the group.

REVELIO

the first time I saw a redwood, I had a brand new feeling – like discovering a new color you’ve never seen before, or smelling snow for the first time if you were raised in a world without cold. mom and I were driving up Highway 101 in a mostly good mood.

REVELIO

saint Jude was the patron saint of impossible causes. my foster brother took his namesake very seriously.

REVELIO

ARC REVIEW | Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

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Title: SPIN THE DAWN (THE BLOOD OF STARS #1)

Author: ELIZABETH LIM

Released: 9TH JULY 2019 by KNOPF BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS

Genre: TEENS + YA/FANTASY

REP: Asian Culture | TWs: violence, death (of loved ones), blood, imprisonment, war themes


Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.


ask me to spin the finest yarn or thread, and I can do it faster than any man–even with my eyes closed. yet ask me to tell a lie, and I will stumble and falter to think of one.

i have never had a talent for spinning tales.

WHAT A STORY!! I was actually worried this wasn’t going to live up to the hype of the reviews I’d seen around, but was still intrigued by the plot which is why I requested it on Netgalley. AND I am SO glad I did!!

Maia is the ‘obedient one,’ but really she is the glue that keeps her family together. Like her mother told her, she will be the salvation of them in the end. Maia is such a strong heroine. During her journey to become the imperial tailor, a post only held by men, she will come to find what it really means to be their salvation. She also goes through a lot of internal turmoil on this journey, which allows her to determine what matters to her most. She has to make a lot of hard decisions, but it only increased my love for her. As her story progressed, I found myself cheering her on and hoping things work out for her as best as possible!! This being a series, of course we don’t have an entire resolution; however, a lot of the situations surprised me! I never figured out how the journey would end before Elizabeth told us, which doesn’t happen to me all that often. Several of the other characters are also amazing! Specifically Edan, the Emperor’s Enchanter….

he broke his promise to me. at first I thought it was because the war and magic had blackened his heart, but that is just the way of men. for what is a promise if it’s made to a women?

The writing is absolutely stunning! It draws you in and holds you close while you wind your way through a wonderful tale of adventure, sacrifice, and the beauty of relationships. Elizabeth has given us a stunning tale and I am so appreciative to have received it. One of my favourite scenes is near the end – 88% mark or thereabouts – when Maia and Edan visit a monastery. The conversation between Maia and the monk beside Amana’s spring is beautifully written and heartrending. Pay special attention!

I guess I kind of see the comparison with Mulan – being a story of a girl striving to bring honour to her family in the guise of a man – but Spin the Dawn is a story all its own, as well. I hope you pick it up and love it just as much as myself!

and with that, i fell asleep with the saddest of smiles on my lips.


Thank you so much to Knopf Books for Young Readers via Netgalley for the ARC.

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REVIEW | The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

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Title: THE KINGDOM

Author: JESS ROTHENBERG

Released: 11TH JULY 2019 by MACMILLAN CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY SCI-FI

TWs: Death, allusion to rape/sexual assault, abuse, self harm.


Welcome to the Kingdom… where ‘Happily Ever After’ isn’t just a promise, but a rule. 

Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom(TM) is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species–formerly extinct–roam free.

Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time… love.

But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty–and what it truly means to be human.


how do you define real anyway?

This tale is told through Ana’s POV, as well as trial testimony and her interview with Dr. Foster. Obviously, she’s been accused of murdering a staff member, which shouldn’t be part of her programming as a half-human, half-android, but it quickly becomes evident that Ana may be more than her programming. The style of the chapter arrangement reminded me a bit of Sadie solely for the way it was constructed. The plots are obviously very different. I loved the alternation between story telling styles because you got details to fill in some gaps and then a bit of intrigue to create more from each bit, which only made your compulsion to keep reading grow by the chapter!

i can control my own ocular lenses. i can control a feature on my own body.

It was very different to books I’ve read this year, but still had some similar themes exploring how we treat other people and women as a commodity rather than being treated as people. Now, in this story, due to the Fantasists being created by The Kingdom(TM)’s scientists, they are considered things rather than proper beings. There is a lot wrong with the Investor’s, guards, and some other staff’s morals regarding how the Fantasists are treated (massive trigger warning for anyone who needs it regarding the mention and allusion to rape). Several of the situations and a lot of the dialogue is basically a discussion on locker room culture and the boys club. Meaning, guards and staff are allowed use the Fantasists whichever way they like and and say terrible, abusive things. Remember that quote, where happily ever after is not just a promise, but a rule? Yeah, they’re programmed to go along with things, even if they don’t like it or agree because your happiness is my happiness… I found myself struggling with some of the more difficult situations Ana faces and her conflict within herself to decide what is right, even when it goes against her programming and how The Kingdom(TM) has told her to behave. There is a lot to break down, but I’m not going to go that far into the analysis. Feel free to message me if you want to discuss, though!

that’s just how guards behave. it has always been this way.

The characters and world were extremely well developed! I loved learning more about this futuristic theme park/fantasy land. The world is rich in detail and I could clearly picture the different scenes in my mind. It is definitely the characters that bring this story to life, though! Their interaction with the world and each other is beautifully written. Jess Rothenberg has worked in YA fantasy for awhile and it shows through very clearly in her own story. This has been one of the most compelling stories I’ve read in a long time and I urge you to give it a try.

sometimes it is hard, not quite knowing what i am.


Thank you to Pan Macmillan for this review copy.

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five stars

REVIEW | The Wickerlight (The Wren Hunt #2) by Mary Watson

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Title: THE WICKERLIGHT

Author: MARY WATSON

Released: 30TH MAY 2019 by BLOOMSBURY YA

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY

TWs: Death, talk of divorce, talk of adultery, parental separation, abuse, torture – physical and mental.


Zara’s family moved to Kilshamble for a new beginning. But everything changed the night her sister was found dead on the village green.

Two months later, Laila’s death is a riddle that nobody wants solved. Where were her injuries? Why was she so obsessed with local folklore? And what does all this have to do with David, the boy who lives at the big house?

As Zara delves deeper into her sister’s secret life, she becomes entangled in an ancient magical feud. All too unwittingly she is treading the same dangerous path that led Laila to the village green.


I HAVE BEEN AWAITING THIS SINCE I FINISHED READING THE WREN HUNT LAST YEAR!! Set not long after the close of The Wren Hunt, we find a new family has moved to Kilshamble and one of them has stumbled upon a deadly secret. I love everything that is fantasy and set in Ireland, so it was no surprise that I loved this as much as I did. It was equal parts mystical, dark, and beautiful. Chock full of Irish mysticism with a little South African detail!! I highly enjoyed that Mary Watson utilised her own background to develop the main family in this story.

I adored Mary Watson’s writing style in The Wren Hunt and she did not let us down in The Wickerlight! Her ability to invoke such immediacy for the reader has only improved from The Wren Hunt to now. As I started reading, I was completely lost in the world of judges and augurs once again. The world building and character development is (…out of this world? 🤣) unreal – so freaking good! Mary Watson is a writing ninja and I love her!!

I found The Wickerlight to be slightly more interesting only because we get more into the judges and their community, rather than only focusing on the augurs. It nearly felt like the augurs were the villains in this story, but truly villainy nearly always depends on the narrator, doesn’t it? We readers really get a lot more information about the feud, etc. in this companion. Plus, the mystery of the introductory death adds a bit of excitement and enigma to this world that wasn’t quite there in The Wren Hunt.

I highly recommend you pick this beautiful story up with some gin spritzes and read it as soon as you can! Read The Wren Hunt first, though! They’re connected, even if The Wickerlight isn’t a direct sequel. You’ll love Kilshamble and its inhabitants.


Thank you to Bloomsbury UK for this review copy.

five stars