Book Review: When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

img_6538

Rating: ★★★★
RRP Paperback: $29.99 AUD | $35.00 NZ
Publication Date: February 1st 2020

A huge thank you to the wonderful people at Simon and Schuster for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads synopsis:

A heart-swelling debut for fans of The Silver Linings Playbook and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Sometimes life isn’t as simple as heroes and villains.

For Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother, Gert, life is best lived with some basic rules:

1. A smile means “thank you for doing something small that I liked.”
2. Fist bumps and dabs = respect.
3. Strange people are not appreciated in her home.
4. Tomatoes must go in the middle of the sandwich and not get the bread wet.
5. Sometimes the most important things don’t fit on lists.

But when Zelda finds out that Gert has resorted to some questionable—and dangerous—methods to make enough money to keep them afloat, Zelda decides to launch her own quest. Her mission: to be legendary. It isn’t long before Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength.

When We Were Vikings is an uplifting debut about an unlikely heroine whose journey will leave you wanting to embark on a quest of your own, because after all…

We are all legends of our own making.

img_1374

What a fantastic, insightful and unforgettable read! I thoroughly enjoyed this. It had me feeling all types of feelings! A book that will challenge peoples thoughts and tackles taboo subjects with humility and grace!

When We Were Vikings is the story of Zelda, a woman born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, who lives with her older brother Gert, who is doing everything he can to try and keep them afloat, which includes some pretty shady dealings with some very shady people.

What made this whole book for me was Zelda. She had such a strong and unique voice, it made the whole thing really interesting to read! It was the first book I have ever read that was narrated from the perspective of someone with special needs and it was an absolute  pleasure to see such diversity in literature and have these characters portrayed as epic, strong and passionate individuals!

All the characters were very complex and real. There were times when certain characters were introduced and they would do things that made me physically uncomfortable. Zelda gets taken advantage of several times throughout and called some really horrible names, which I found particularly unsettling. But Zelda is unapologetically herself the whole way through, despite the obstacles she is faced with. Which is one of the many reasons I loved this! It really is a lesson in resilience and not being afraid to be oneself!

The plot was great. It covered a lot of intense issues such as poverty, drug abuse and sexual assault. It flowed nicely and I loved being inside Zelda’s head for the duration of the novel, she was honestly such a badass! It was such an interesting read, that really got me thinking! There were occasions that I think could have had a more emotional impact if they were done slightly different, but otherwise, this is a book I would definitely recommend everyone read.

Once again, a massive thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy this beautifully heartwarming story in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

img_6536

Rating: ★★★★
RRP Paperback: $29.99 AUD

A huge thank you to the wonderful people at Pan Macmillan Publishing for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads synopsis:

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

img_1374

This book really took me by surprise! Having been sent this book by Pan Macmillan, it wasn’t the kind of book I would normally pick up! But I am honestly so glad I did! It was really emotional and woven together so perfectly. It honestly felt like watching a painting come together.

Big Lies in a Small Town is told from two separate perspectives. One is that of Anna Dale, an ambitious young female artist in the 1940’s who, having won a competition, is chosen to create a mural that will hang in the post office of a small town in North Carolina. The other is that of Morgan Christopher, a woman serving time for a crime she did not commit, who is given a life altering opportunity to be released from prison early in exchange for restoring an old mural.

I really fell in love with how this story was told. it flowed so well from one perspective to the next and had this really beautiful way of making you slowly fall in love with these characters. The diversity of the supporting characters was amazing, the way the author delved into mental health and trauma was done incredibly well and I really enjoyed the history that was woven throughout the novel. I also really appreciated that we got two strong leading ladies in this book!

The plot itself was amazing. I want to say it’s almost a little bit of a “slow burn” in terms of pacing! It takes its time getting to know the ins and outs of the characters and unveils each plot point in a really intricate and interesting way. There were times I felt heartbroken, times I was genuinely shocked and times that I was in awe! A couple of the plot points I did find the tiniest bit predictable, but others were so intricate and surprising that it made for a really interesting read.

An emotional and perfectly painted mural of a book, that I highly recommend picking up. 4 stars!

Book Review: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

img_5060

Rating: ★★★★.5
RRP Paperback: $19.99 AUD

A huge thank you to the wonderful people at Scholastic AU for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads synopsis:

The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .

img_1374

Note: If you’re here, I’m going to assume you’ve already read The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater. If you haven’t, please go do that first and then read Call Down the Hawk! This book/book review wont make a lot of sense to you if you haven’t!

As with every other work by Stievater that I’ve read, this novel has a beautiful way of telling a complex story in a very subtle and intricate way. It focuses very heavily on the character experience, which is something I’ve always loved. A character driven novel is always more interesting and inspiring to me than a novel that is full of action but no strong character development. Stiefvater has this incredible knack of having a book feel like nothing really happened, but also everything happened all at once, it’s breathtaking and I adore it.

Call Down the Hawk gives us Ronan Lynch’s story. He’s a dreamer. He can literally bring things back from his dreams and manifest them into life. But the Dreamers are being hunted because a small group of people call Visionaries have been having visions of a Dreamer who will manifest a fire so terrible, it will burn the earth to cinders, bringing about the end of the world. This was a really amazing start to a pretty intense mystery and I cannot wait for the next book!

Honestly, my only complaint is that when reading the Raven Cycle books, I fell in love with Adam Parrish (Ronan’s partner for anyone who stuck around, even after my warning that this won’t make a lot of sense!) and this book had entirely too little of him in it! I hope we get more of Ronan and Adam together in the next book! All the new characters were incredible though and I honestly loved learning more about Ronan’s family.

As usual, this book just felt like magic. Maggie’s writing is so atmospheric, I could have been there with these characters while reading. Now I know these books aren’t for everyone, they are highly character driven and less about moving the plot forward at lightening pace but more a slow burn, intricate web of detail for us to wade through. They are incredible, subtle and magical. I highly recommend you give them a go. 4.5 stars!

Book Review: A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

img_4582

Rating: ★★★★.5
RRP Paperback: $16.99 AUD/$18.99 NZ | Hardback: $25.99 AUD/$27.99 NZ
Publication Date: 21st January 2020

A huge thank you to the wonderful people at Bloomsbury Publishing for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads synopsis:

In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.

Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

img_1374

Please note that this review does contain spoilers for the first book in the series!

Ok, where do I start! What an amazing second book to a series! I absolutely loved this! It was a little bit slow to start with, but it really picked up and turned into such an incredible romantic adventure! I absolutely adore Brigid Kemmerer’s knack for blending romance with a brilliant story line! I’m also completely happy with the relationships in this series of books and I’m so glad we weren’t taken down the obvious path!

A Heart So Fierce and Broken picks up a few months after the events of A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Grey is in hiding and carrying the deadly secret that he is the legitimate heir to the Ironrose throne. After being captured and taken back to the castle by force, Prince Rhen will stop at nothing to know Grey’s secret and eliminate any threat to his own claim on the throne. All the while, Grey grows closer to an enemy princess and together they must navigate their way through a world of changing allegiances, forbidden magic and love.

If you’re here, I can only presume you’ve read A Curse So Dark and Lonely (and if you haven’t, what are you doing here? Go read that first and then come back!) The second novel in this series takes a slightly different turn, we no longer get alternating perspectives from Rhen and Harper. Instead we get a story from the perspectives of Grey and a new Character, Lia Mara! Now, I may be totally bias, but because I adored Grey in A Curse So Dark and Lonely I thoroughly enjoyed reading his story, maybe even more than the first!

The world opened up for us in this book! We got to see more of Emberfall and explore different villages and kingdoms! More characters and creatures were introduced and the plot was really engrossing! As I said previously, it did feel like it started out a little bit slow, but the pacing started to pick up after a short while and after that, I couldn’t put it down! The new characters and party dynamic was everything! The banter and begrudging respect that forms between these characters was so much fun to read.

The story comes to a pretty epic conclusion with some rather huge revelations coming to light that already has me itching for the next book! If you haven’t picked these books up already, I would highly recommend you do so! 4.5 stars!

Once again, thank you so much to Bloomsbury Publishing for the opportunity to review A Heart So Fierce and Broken!

Book Review: The Rift By Rachael Craw

img_2156

Rating: ★★★★★
RRP: $19.99 AUD
Find it on Book Depository

A huge thank you to Walker Books for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Synopsis:

For generations, the Rangers of Black Water Island have guarded the Old Herd against horrors released by the Rift. Cal West, an apprentice Ranger with a rare scar and even rarer gifts, fights daily to prove he belongs within their ranks. After nine years away, Meg Archer returns to her childhood home only to find the Island is facing a new threat that not even the Rangers are prepared for. Meg and Cal can’t ignore their attraction, but can they face their darkest fears to save the Island from disaster?

img_1374

I need more! This book was incredible and I need more!

I honestly wasn’t expecting to love this as much as I did! I don’t really know what I was excepting, but this book took me back to the feeling of reading The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater for the first time and it was amazing! I knew it was going to be one of my new favourite books when I got about 3/4 of the way through and was frantically googling if there was a sequel in the works! Please, please, please let there be a sequel in the works!

The Rift by Rachael Craw is told from two different points of view. That of Cal West, an apprentice Ranger with rare abilities living on Blackwater Island and responsible for the safety of an ancient herd of deer, coveted for their antlers magical healing properties. And Meg Archer, the daughter of the Master Ranger swept away to the mainland by her mother to live a “normal life” after a terrible childhood accident. Upon Megs return to the island the pair must navigate their way through their growing attraction for one another all while facing their greatest fears to save the island and the Old Herd from disaster.

This book took the term “magical realism” and ran like hell with it! It felt incredibly magical and rich. The world building was so atmospheric and engaging, I could have looked up from my book and been on Black Water Island, surrounded by thrumming lay lines, hell hounds and ancient mythical deer, and I wouldn’t have been surprised. The pacing of the plot was brilliant, I was never once bored with the story and ended up burning through this book in a matter of hours.

The characters were really likeable and despite possessing rare, magical abilities, they still felt completely authentic and real. The slow burn romance was perfection and the interactions between Cal, Meg and other minor characters was really fun and enjoyable.

Overall, The Rift was incredibly whimsical and original. It felt a little murky and confusing to start with, but the more I read, the more clear everything became, and I was able to understand the dynamics of the world and how the characters fit into it. Despite this, I couldn’t bring myself to deduct any stars from this review. I really, truly, LOVED this book and I will definitely be reading any future sequels. Now, excuse me while I go to the store and purchase every other book Rachael Craw has ever written.

Book Review: A Curse So Dark And Lonely By Brigid Kemmerer

we are okayRating: ★★★★
Title: A Curse so Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kremmerer
Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

img_1374

This was great! I enjoyed it. I would say it has a very similar feel to the ACOTAR series while reading, but probably aimed more at a slightly younger audience. Nevertheless, I liked it a lot and will definitely continue the series!

A Curse So Dark And Lonely follows Harper, a teenage girl, swept away from her home in Washington DC by Grey, the Commander of the Royal Guard, to Emberfall, a fairytale-esque Kingdom, currently cursed by a powerful enchantress. The only way to break the curse is for Harper to fall for Prince Rhen. But with very little time before the prince is doomed to live as a beast forever and his people are left without a ruler, Harper struggles to know her true feelings. With Emberfall slowly going to ruin, Harper must navigate her way through love, loss, war and heartache.

I actually really enjoyed this Beauty and the Beast retelling. It felt fresh and different, while not straying too far from the original source material  for the reader to know it’s a retelling of a classic fairytale. The novel was right up my alley in terms of genre, and the romance was very sweet. However, I do get the feeling that a love triangle will be a predominant part of the next instalment as there were quite a few moments that it was hinted at and slowly built upon. The love triangle troupe is something I really dislike, so I hope that the author chooses to go a different route or does it in a way I am able to enjoy.

I loved the rich world building! I felt like I was right there in Emberfall with Harper, Rhen and Grey. Speaking of which, the characters were fantastic! I loved that we were given a really strong, female main character with cerebral palsy. It’s not something I have ever seen represented in a YA book before, so it was really great seeing it represented so respectfully. Despite the hints of an impending love triangle, I actually really liked both the male leads and found them both equally as interesting and charismatic. Although, personally, I wouldn’t go past a Commander of the Royal Guard! Ha!

Overall, the story was great! There were a couple of things I didn’t overly enjoy, but it wasn’t enough to stop me from wanting to pick the book up and devour it in a matter of hours. I really liked this retelling, and with the way it ended, I look forward to reading the next instalment!

As Recommended By: Bookstagrammers

readers

I spend a lot of my time running my Instagram. If I’m not reading, blogging or running around after my daughter, you’ll find me taking photos for Bookstagram and chatting to my booksta-friends about, yes, books! A lot of my life is spent around books, and I am always looking for new reading recommendations! Because of this, I have decided to create a blog series called “As Recommended By” where I ask certain groups of people which book is their number one recommendation! To start the series off, I have asked my incredible Bookstagram followers what book they would recommend, above all else, and I got some pretty great answers!

For awesome book recommendations from fellow book lovers, check out the list below! And if you see something you love too, why not check out their Instagram and make a new friend!

img_1374

As Recommended By: @melstephensbooks
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

second chance summer.jpgFind it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

As Recommended By: @fantastically_bookish
The Green Mile by Stephen King

greenmile.jpgFind it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Welcome to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, home to the Depression-worn men of E Block. Convicted killers all, each awaits his turn to walk the Green Mile, keeping a date with “Old Sparky,” Cold Mountain’s electric chair. Prison guard Paul Edgecombe has seen his share of oddities in his years working the Mile. But he’s never seen anyone like John Coffey, a man with the body of a giant and the mind of a child, condemned for a crime terrifying in its violence and shocking in its depravity. In this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecombe is about to discover the terrible, wondrous truth about Coffey, a truth that will challenge his most cherished beliefs… and yours.

As Recommended By: @filming.pages
Listen, Little Man! by Wilhelm Reich

llm.jpgFind it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Listen, Little Man! is a great physician’s quiet talk to each one of us, the average human being, the Little Man. Written in 1946 in answer to the gossip and defamation that plagued his remarkable career, it tells how Reich watched, at first naively, then with amazement, and finally with horror, at what the Little Man does to himself; how he suffers and rebels; how he esteems his enemies and murders his friends; how, wherever he gains power as a “representative of the people,” he misuses this power and makes it crueler than the power it has supplanted.

Reich has us to look honestly at ourselves and to assume responsibility for our lives and for the great untapped potential that lies in the depth of human nature.

As Recommended By: @mousethatreads
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air Series) by Holly Black

cru.jpgFind it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

As Recommended By: @christinajhannan
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

skyFind it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

As Recommended By: @the.bookish.nymph
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

narn.jpgFind it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil—what more could any reader ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in 1949 by Clive Staples Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia.

As Recommended By: @bookgirlbetweenthepages
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

fanFind it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan..

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind

As Recommended By: @bookshelfdragon
Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

stalkFind it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

Did you see any books you love in the list? Let me know in the comments or come have a chat with us all on Bookstagram!