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

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

Can’t Freakin’ Wait Wednesday 10/07/19

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa over at Wishful Endings and was based on Waiting on Wednesday’s, which is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. She created it to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released, but that’s not always the case. I happen to have pile upon piles of books I am excited to read, so thought this would be a fun meme in which to partake!

Well, it’s been a minute since I’ve done a CFWF! I have been really busy lately and had to take a step back from blogging for awhile. I’m hoping to make more time for it going forward now that I think I’ve found my balance, so I’m back to a couple of my weekly memes!

I chose Vow of Thieves because it releases next month and I haven’t gotten a review copy yet! Since I haven’t gotten to read it and loved the first in the series, I’m really looking forward to picking this up as soon as I can get it!! It’s going to be really good, I think. Plus, the cover is just amazing!

Have you read this yet or is it on your TBR? What do you think of the description?

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Kazi and Jase have survived, stronger and more in love than ever. Their new life now lies before them―the Ballengers will be outlaws no longer, Tor’s Watch will be a kingdom, and the two of them will meet all challenges side by side, together at last.

But an ominous warning mars their journey back, and in their rush to return to Tor’s Watch, just outside the fortress walls, they are violently attacked and torn apart―and each is thrust into their own new hell.

Unsure whether the other is alive or dead, Kazi and Jase must keep their wits among their greatest enemies and unlikeliest allies. And all the while, Death watches and waits.

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

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY | ARC REVIEW | The Beckoning Shadow by Katharyn Blair

HAPPY RELEASE DAY, KATHARYN BLAIR!!

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Title: THE BECKONING SHADOW (THE BECKONING SHADOW #1)

Author: KATHARYN BLAIR

Released: 2ND JULY 2019 by KATHERINE TEGEN BOOKS

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY | CONTEMPORARY

TWs: Anxiety, violence, death/murder, house fire


Vesper Montgomery can summon your worst fear and turn it into a reality—but she’s learned the hard way that it’s an addicting and dangerous power. One wrong move and you could hurt someone you love.

But when she earns a spot in the Tournament of the Unraveling, where competitors battle it out for a chance to rewrite the past, Vesper finally has a shot to reverse the mistakes that have changed her forever. She turns to Sam Hardy, a former MMA fighter who’s also carrying a tragedy he desperately wants to undo. However, helping heal Sam’s heart will mean breaking her own, and the competition forces her to master her powers—powers she has been terrified of since they destroyed her life.


Before I tell you how I found The Beckoning Shadow, let me first say that I did NOT realise this was not a standalone… It is only a duology, but I wanted to let you all know before you pick it up. Especially because book 2 probably isn’t out until at least next year. I definitely thought it was worth the read!

I’m going to be really honest here… I only chose this because I loved the cover. I mean, a badass girl fighter (plus, the colour scheme) says great things about what’s inside the pages, right? Well, I was pretty spot on! I mean, Supernatural Fight Club, amirite? I received this awhile ago and when I picked it up I had mostly forgotten the synopsis. So, I decided to jump straight in since publication was coming up and I was not disappointed. I devoured it in 2 days, and the only reason it took me that long was because I had to work full days! In a word, unputdownable!

I really enjoyed the action and world building in this novel. It was a story set in San Francisco, which made me nostalgic for my college years.. By turns, seedy and classy, we see a multi-faceted city with depth and heart. it flows so well, and we can clearly see Katharyn Blair is a master wordsmith in the way her descriptions tug at heartstrings along the way. We get so much backstory without it being information overload, so that we are able to see a fuller picture of how Vesper arrives at the beginning to this novel. The characters nearly jumped off the page they were so full of life. Vesper (a very distinctive name) has her flaws, but still wants to forge relationships with the people she meets, even when she actively tries to push them away. Sam surprised me in a lot of ways, which I can’t explain without spoilers!! So, enjoy him. And the other Oddities – Sapphira, Aldrick, and the others they meet along the way – are so interesting! I loved this found family! I appreciated the sheer amount of abilities involved in the story. I’m not going to regurgitate the plot here, but suffice it to say I loved it! It was well constructed and unique, if not entirely original. Ultimately, I was hugely satisfied with this story, and would have been happy with the ending had it been a standalone. So, no, there’s no major cliffhangers here, but I imagine we’ll all want to stick around for the resolution!


Thank you to Harper 360 YA UK for this ARC.