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

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.