Rating: 3 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Fantasy
How I got this book: Audible Purchase
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.
Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
Review by Sophie.
TW: Racism, discrimination, animal abuse, institutionalisation.
OK, so here it is…The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E Harrow. One of the most highly rated and anticipated books that I’ve seen this year, and one that I was extremely hyped to read myself...
“It is at the moments when the doors open, when things flow between the worlds, that stories happen.”
…and I can honestly say that I did NOT enjoy it.
(And yes, I feel like I can actually hear everyone’s sharp intake of breath right now).
Alright, let's start at the beginning – it's not all bad. So, let just take a moment to appreciate how beautiful the front cover is, I mean its so pretty! And truthfully, I think the front cover reflects on the writing style quite a lot, and that is something I did like about this book. The writing was flowery and intricate, and really is a work of art.
"Words and their meanings have weight in the world of matter, shaping and reshaping realities through a most ancient alchemy."
But I can’t help but feel like the story got mixed up in all of that. The opening chapter was intriguing and filled with mystery and questions, and I’d already got such high expectations for the book, so I couldn’t wait to get started.
Unfortunately, after the first couple of chapters, I found that the introduction of new characters made the whole thing messy and confusing. I really wasn’t keen to pick it back up and carry on reading and struggled the rest of the way through.
At around the halfway mark I felt like I was starting to break through, the plot was making more sense and things seemed to be going places. For me though, this just wasn’t enough and truth be told the characters actually ruined this for me. I just couldn’t connect with any of them. The only character I cared about was the dog ‘Bad’ and was genuinely traumatised by what happened to him, which kind of left me on edge for the rest of the book.
Abuse and discrimination have a very strong role in the book, January is raised by a racist man, and the book is written in a place and time where discrimination is very real, institutional behaviour is recognised throughout, not only by January's guardian but also physiatrists, which I wish I’d known before I started reading the book.
I can understand why so many people love the story and I'm happy that they found the magic within, and I’d never want a review to tarnish or put someone off reading it just because of my opinion, so I would still urge anyone to read it, but all in all, it just wasn’t for me.
Rating: 5 STARS!
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Horror/Historical Fiction
How I got this book: Bought
Seventeen-year-old Aderyn ("Ryn") only cares about two things: her family, and her family's graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don't always stay dead.
The risen corpses are known as "bone houses," and legend says that they're the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?
Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.
Review by Sophie.
TW: Horror. Zombies. Death.
I’ve thought about how I’d write this review for quite some time now, and truthfully I’ve kept changing my mind every five minutes, so I’m just going to jump straight in…
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS BOOK!!
The front cover gives you an idea of how utterly beautiful and atmospheric this dark fairy tale is, and I will point out that I picked this book up on a whim, as Zombies really aren’t my cup of tea. But, I can honestly say that Emily Lloyd-Jones quickly worked her magic when it came to me how much I treasured this book, which left me with tears in my eyes.
The book itself is, I think, classed as a horror, but it’s certainly not at all on the level of a Stephen King novel, and I’d say it's only mild. I love how the quirkiness of the main character eases some of the tension during the more suspenseful scenes.
“I suppose it could have been bandits or maybe one of his chickens got hold of a blade, but I don’t think so.”
This story is set in ancient Wales, and first, we meet Aderyn (Ryn). She’s protective and loyal, and I really loved her sarcastic wit and charm.
Oh, and did I mention, she is totally badass?!
“There was a young woman. She was a fearless creature – a girl who would chase death into the mountains. With only an axe for company…”
Ryn lives with her younger sister Cerri, her brother Garreth, (and their pet goat). After the loss of their mother and her father missing, presumed dead, Ryn sets out foraging in the woods, remembering her father's warnings, when she stumbles across Elis, a Mapmaker.
Elis is a strange boy surrounded by mystery, not really knowing who he is or where he came from, after being found alone when he was very young with an injury that still plagues him. I really like how the author constantly reminds you of the struggle Elis has when contending with his injury, and highlights the effects of having a disability without making the character seem weak or any less of a real person.
As the story progresses, the relationship between the two grows beautifully, and I love how it felt natural rather than rushed, and that both characters, despite being having very different personalities, were very well suited.
“She reminded him of an ocean - beautiful, with enough salt to kill a man. He suspected it would take a knight or a hero of legend to impress one such as her.”
The writing style was intricate and beautiful, and the pace of the story kept the tale intriguing, with action, mystery and an unravelling romance throughout.
I think before I’d even finished the first chapter of the book, immediately I knew I was already being absorbed by it, and how the author describes the devastating heartache of loss and family bonds is truly heartbreaking but beautiful.
Another thing I really loved about The Bone Houses was the setting of the scenes and how easily the plot flowed. I loved the Welsh folklore, and the detail surrounding the mines, caverns, village and the mysterious woods; and how the imagery was effortlessly created in my mind.
Now, I must say I did struggle to choose my favourite character, as I found quite a few of them to be loveable. So, I’ve narrowed it down to Ryn, who, as I said before, is a total badass…with an axe!
“If I come across a problem, I take my axe to it. Or bury it. I'm good at burying things.”
But I must say, my all-time favourite character was the legendary bone goat! This strange creature shows true loyalty and is plain awesome. If there’s one reason to read this book, it's definitely the goat!
Rating: 4 STARS
How I got this book: Library eBook
It's 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging.
And it's Sarah's first day of school, as one of the first black students at the previously all-white Jefferson High.
No one wants Sarah there. Not the Governor. Not the teachers. And certainly not the students – especially Linda, daughter of the town’s most ardent segregationist.
Sarah and Linda have every reason to despise each other. But as a school project forces them to spend time together, the less their differences seem to matter. And Sarah and Linda start to feel something they've never felt before. Something they're both determined ignore.
Because it's one thing to be frightened by the world around you - and another thing altogether when you're terrified of what you feel inside.
TW: extreme racism, hate, violence, domestic abuse, sexism and homophobia.
I don't typically lean towards historical fiction, so this book isn't one that I'd normally choose. However, the synopsis grabbed me, and I really wanted to discover how the love story played out.
At first, reading this book felt similar to how I feel when reading a classic, something that should be on the education syllabus for schools. In terms of educating yourself about racism and hate, I think it does a great job, showing clearly the damage that can be caused by words.
"It doesn't show much in the way of brains to decide you don't like people you don't even know. All because of their color."
I also felt that the depiction of life from the perspectives of both a black girl and a white girl in southern America during this time were painfully realistic and eye-opening.
I do feel that this book would make a fantastic educational tool as it illuminates perfectly the hate and prejudice of the time. It also begins to show how someone who is ignorant and who has been influenced by others can become educated and grow as a person.
"If something like this happened to me, I'd be shouting by now."
It was very difficult to put down and it's certainly Sarah's plight and pain, and my desire for her to succeed, that made it so compelling. The writing is fantastic, with each voice distinct and unique but I think, for me at least, it was my utter hatred of the white people and my continuous rooting for something good to happen for Sarah that gripped me and pushed me to keep reading.
"This should be the easiest, most natural thing in the world. Going on a date with a boy. Maybe if I try hard enough it will be."
For much of the book, I didn't feel that Linda was at all redeemable or worthy of Sarah, but the more I read, the more I understood that this book is about self-growth and how, by educating yourself and standing up for what is right, you can become a better person. That being said, I don't feel that she ever did stop being racist and bearing in mind the things that she said and did, knowing full well the consequences of what she was doing, the ending seemed more than a little unrealistic.
I did feel for both characters as they struggled in different ways with their sexuality and with their parents. Again, both very different situations but also similar in how the girls felt that they were unable to be themselves or that they would never be good enough for the people who'd raised them.
"The grown-ups always act like they're the ones who have it hard. None of them knows the first thing about what this is like for us."
This book did fuel my hatred towards people. My anger roiled as I furiously turned page after page, hoping naively for a happier turn of events. But, if nothing else, this book stays true to the period in which it's set and very clearly reflects the issues at the time.
Having said all of that, this is my review as a white person and so, what I'd like to see is a review from a POC to see how this book really stacks up.
Overall, I do feel that this book would make a fantastic educational tool for young people. But I am cautious that I can't be certain how well this book represents a person of colour and the struggles that were faced during this time, and those still being faced today.
Today is my stop on the Carols and Chaos blog tour! This book is so Christmassy and so, despite it being Halloween today, I just feel like curling up in front of the fire with a giant mug of hot chocolate.
Rating: 3.5 STARS
How I got this book: ARC from Xpresso Book Tours
A lady's maid and a valet become entangled in a yuletide counterfeiting scheme in this romantic Christmas YA adventure.
1817. The happy chaos of the Yuletide season has descended upon the country estate of Shackleford Park in full force, but lady's maid Kate Darby barely has the time to notice. Between her household duties, caring for her ailing mother, and saving up money to someday own a dress shop, her hands are quite full. Matt Harlow is also rather busy. He's performing double-duty, acting as valet for both of the Steeple brothers, two of the estate's holiday guests.
Falling in love would be a disaster for either of them. But staving off their feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when a devious counterfeiting scheme reaches the gates of Shackleford Park, and Kate and Matt are unwittingly swept up in the intrigue.
Reading this book immediately took me back to all of those hours binge-watching Downton Abbey (gah, I loved that show), I love the upstairs/downstairs drama. At the same time, it reminded me of Pride and Prejudice, specifically the Austen-era, which I also love and so I quickly became engrossed in this sweet story.
The characters are varied and fantastic. Kate is strong-willed, determined and unperturbed by most of the things thrown her way and Matt is the epitome of a true English gentleman.
Their fast-paced romance is full of fun and flirtation but entangled with elements of drama and danger that keep the plot intriguing and moving forward.
Carols and Chaos is a sweet, lighthearted Christmas read that is perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and Austen novels.
As an aside: After reading this book I noticed that it's a spin-off from one of the author's other books, Suitors and Sabotage, but I didn't at any point feel as though I'd missed anything by not reading it, so I'm happy to say that this can be read as a standalone.
Click the cover photo above to add the book to your Goodreads TBR and enter below for your chance to win a signed copy of Carols and Chaos. The giveaway is open internationally and is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.
Don't forget to click the banner at the top to follow the rest of the tour and feel free to leave your comments below :)
Rating: 4 STARS
Genre: Historical/Gothic Romance
Standalone/Series: Dark Gothic #1
How I got this book: Bought
Betrayed by those she trusted, penniless and alone, Darcie Finch is forced to accept a position that no one else dares, as assistant to dangerously attractive Dr. Damien Cole. Ignoring the whispered warnings and rumours that he's a man to fear, she takes her position at his eerie estate, where she quickly discovers that nothing is at it seems, least of all her handsome and brooding employer. As Darcie struggles with her fierce attraction to Damien, she must also deal with the blood, the disappearances ... and the murders.
With her options dwindling and time running out, Darcie must rely on her instincts as she confronts the man she falling in love with. Is he an innocent and misunderstood man ... or a remorseless killer who prowls the East End streets?
I'm a bit under the weather at the moment so this review will be a bit shorter than usual because I can barely stay awake right now.
I came across this book for free via BookBub and was intrigued by the synopsis. I haven't read anything by this author before so I wasn't sure what to expect.
The book is fantastic! I quickly fell under its spell and found myself getting lost in the dark plot. The easiest way for me to describe this book is sort of Downton Abbey meets Jack the Ripper with plenty of romance.
The main character Darcie is a very feminist character. Having dealt with a lot of pain, misery and betrayal in her past, she still manages to keep her head high whilst forging on with her life. Damien is dark, mysterious and brooding, and I love the suspense and tension that builds in both their relationship and through the very creepy plot.
I love the writing, the pace was fantastic and I'm excited to continue reading this series!
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Standalone/Series: Guide Series
How I got this book: Bought
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
By Jove, this book was good!
I had no idea what to expect from The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue except that I'd seen so many people raving about how great it was.
This book quite literally has everything in it I could ask for: grand adventure, love, friendship, sibling rivalries, sass, wit, mystery, deception, intrigue, slow burn romance, beautiful British humour, character development, a treasure hunt, pirates, gay and bi characters, diverse characters, and a strong-willed hellcat of a woman.
The entire novel is a coquettish rogue that seduces you from the moment you begin reading.
I adore the history in this book that sets the scene without being at all stilted or boring. I love particularly that we get to see what is probably an extremely realistic account of hormonal, ass-drunk teens during the period and all the amazingly fun and misadventures that follow.
The characters are wonderful. Monty is an arrogant, privileged rogue, but it's all part of his lovable charm. He has trials and torments that he needs to face, he misses the signs that are right in front of him, and in his own innocent ignorance, his mouth gets him into all sorts of trouble. But, it's Monty's witty, rambling, very heartfelt and at times naive narrative that really won me over.
"Lucky for me as well, or else we might never have met, and then what would have been the point of my life?"
I love that Monty isn't ashamed of who he is, or who he fancies, but that it's others who have the problem. He isn't actually afraid to express himself and I love that about him.
"I’ve always been of the mind that subtlety is a waste of time. Fortune favors the flirtatious. And by now, if Percy doesn’t know how I feel, it’s his own damn fault for being thick."
In case you hadn't guessed by now, this is a story with many themes. It's a love story, a coming of age story, a story of friendship, of loyalty, of overcoming fears and oppression.
"Rather, it is simply the tale of how two people can be important to each other their whole lives, and then, one morning, quite without meaning to, one of them wakes to find that importance has been magnified into a sudden and intense desire to put his tongue in the other’s mouth."
(I can't stop quoting this book!!)
Percy is Monty's best friend and he's the epitome of sweetness. He's loyal, steadfast and I want him to be my best friend!
"Percy had avenged me when no one else would look me in the eyes."
Then there's Felicity. My badass heroine who I was so excited to find out has a book of her very own coming out later this year!! YAY!! Felicity is sassy, intelligent, sharp and unafraid to be herself. She also incidentally delivers one of my favourite lines in this entire book!
“Ladies haven’t the luxury of being squeamish about blood,” she replies, and Percy and I go fantastically red in unison."
(No, they do not!)
The adventure that these three unlikely heroes undertake is packed full of hilarious moments (like this) -
"Which is how I come to be running through the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, dressed only as Nature intended."
(I really need help! I told you I couldn't stop quoting this book!)
Alongside, fight scenes, lots of 'almosts', lingering touches, longing glances, near misses (and near kisses) and through it all, Monty's beautiful, touching narrative that takes this story to new heights and depths.
"We are not broken things, neither of us. We are cracked pottery mended with lacquer and flakes of gold, whole as we are, complete unto each other. Complete and worthy and so very loved."
If you haven't read this book yet, do it.
In the meanwhile, I'll still be over here quoting every single line and counting down the days until The Ladies Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is Released!
A resounding 4.5 stars from me!!
Never miss a post!
About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
THIS BLOG IS SPOILER FREE!
5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
Upcoming Blog Tours: