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

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

ARC REVIEW | Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

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Title: LITTLE DARLINGS

Author: MELANIE GOLDING

Released: 30TH APRIL 2019 by CROOKED LANE BOOKS

Genre: HORROR, MYSTERY, THRILLER

Rep: POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION | TWs: CHILD ENDANGERMENT, CHILD ABDUCTION

I finished Little Darlings not long ago and omg…my heart…my FEELINGS. MY BRAIN!!! That was so amazing…

How could her brain conjure something that seemed so real, something laden with so much horrifying detail, and yet there be nothing at all?

What a weird, creepy, and darkly twisty little tale- kind of like that cover! It seems to half take place in a nightmarish land and also half in reality, which makes you wonder if that’s maybe also a discussion on postpartum depression and how it affects new mothers. The story was mostly between that and the twisted fairytale details. It seems to me that the idea of changelings probably stems from new mothers suffering from PPD before people actually understood what it was and why it happened, but I’ve also read that they potentially stem from children that begin to show signs of disability after the initial birth. Either way, they are very sinister in the stories, and that is no different from this tale.

Look at someone every day for long enough and you stop seeing what everyone else sees. You start to see what no one else sees, what is kept hidden from most people.

Lauren seems to have very little support from either her husband, family, or nursing staff, which is not really all that uncommon for many women. They all seem to expect her to get on with it and know how to take care of everything, as well as looking after the housework, etc. Especially her husband who MOVES OUT OF THEIR BEDROOM SO HE CAN GET SOME REST!! What an absolute bastard of a man. He complains nearly the whole time and doesn’t take any responsibility for the boys. I really didn’t like him much throughout the story. Also, those damn nurses and midwives are assholes! How dare they treat her that way… I don’t understand what that’s actually about.

Anyway, this tale about changelings and faeries is gripping and so interesting, yet still very strange. I truly could not put this down once I began reading. The writing is amazing and strikes straight to the heart of so many issues! Also, I was really shocked by the ending, which doesn’t happen to me very often.


SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

APRIL 2019 LIBRARY READS PICK!

“Mother knows best” takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, and Aimee Molloy’s The Perfect Mother.

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley—to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some of our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking—and rechecking—your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

Thank you so much to Melanie Golding and Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley for the ARC.

five stars