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

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

Can’t Freakin’ Wait Wednesday 01/05/19

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!

I, like most other people in the book world, am completely in love with the power duo that is Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufmann, so of course I’m dying for AURORA RISING. It just sounds entirely too cool, and I’m already getting rave reviews from friends who have been lucky enough to get it. Anyway, it was an easy pick this week.

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

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From the New York Times and internationally bestselling authors of the Illuminae Files comes a new science fiction epic . . .

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch . . .

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem–that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

NOBODY PANIC.

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

Can’t Freakin’ Wait Wednesday 24/04/19

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!

I AM SO HERE FOR ALL THE DIVERSITY WE’RE SEEING THIS YEAR AND I AM LOVING IT ALL!!

First of all, that cover is utterly stunning and intriguing. Even if I didn’t read the synopsis, I’d want it purely on #CoverCrush reasons. It’s so colourful and eye-catching! Secondly, I read the following blurb – “Ground breaking and immersive paranormal YA that evokes all the beauty, richness, and diversity of the ancient cultures, faiths, and languages of the Silk Road. There’s an effortless beauty in the kaleidoscopic descriptions of food, fashion, practices, and faiths; Azad’s language is so evocative, you can almost taste and smell the riches of the night bazaar. A fiercely feminist take on Islamic culture, it’s an assured and outside-the-box debut that deals with larger themes — such as tolerance and women’s rights — while functioning as a thrilling action adventure with touches of heart-stirring romance. Prepare to be swept up.” — Rebecca Lim, bestselling author of Mercy and The Astrologer’s Daughter – so the question really becomes, why wouldn’t I want to pick this up? It literally ticks all of my boxes! Fantasy? Tick. Feminist? Tick. Diversity? Tick. And so much more! Obviously, I haven’t read this yet, but I’m dying to get it and am sure will have a raving review for you all very shortly after it releases! 

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

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Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population — except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.

Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.

Can’t Freakin’ Wait Wednesday 10/04/19

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!

I was declined on Netgalley for this beauty and I am so sad! I really was looking forward to getting this early, but I guess I can’t be too upset because I really do have too many books to read right this moment, anyway. Still, though! I cannot wait for this to release in AUGUST! It’s stunning and the synopsis is so thrilling. It sounds like such a creepy tale, and I am here for it! Secrets are such a great thing to build a plot around, I find, because you generally get a narrator who is either unreliable or just doesn’t tell you things that come back in to surprise you in the end. SO CAN’T WAIT!

Have you read this yet or is it on your TBR? What do you think of the description? And which cover do you like better? UK (left) or US (right)?

The Blair Witch Project meets Imaginary Girls in this story of codependent sisterhood, the struggle to claim one’s own space, and the power of secrets

Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. Moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over.

In their isolated new neighborhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.

Then Deirdre disappears.

And when something awful comes scratching at Skye’s window in the middle of the night, claiming she’s the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.