Other Words for Smoke – a review

I read this beautiful book with Kari from Kari-ng for books, it was such a fun buddy read and I loved discussing each chapter with her! This is a slightly paranormal, fantasy book set in Ireland that follows a set of twins visiting their great aunt Rita and the owl in the wallpaper who has its talons in the house.

42118080. sy475

The only complaint that me and Kari both had about this book was that we wanted to see more of the fantasy world! This is very much (purposefully) focused on our world, but the taster that we did get definitely whet our appetites and we with there was more!

This book has fantastic Sapphic representation, alongside familial love and territorial. Sarah Maria Griffin’s writing is simultaneously beautiful, intelligent, and dangerous. Every beautifully written sentence is laced with meaning and wrapped in barbed wire.

I was so lost within this world, within the characters. They’re intrinsically linked to both our real world, in Ireland, and also this world of magic and unknown dangers. I love how Sarah Maria Griffin links in tarot to the world, as well as drawing upon real life tragedies from Ireland’s past.

For my CAWPILE rating I gave:

Characters: 9

Atmosphere: 10

Writing: 9

Plot: 9

Intrigue: 9

Logic: 8

Enjoyment: 9

With an overall score of 9.00 just squeezing in a 5 star!

Similarly to my last review, this is another one where I would recommend checking out the trigger warnings if you need them. I myself was fine, but there are a lot of possible triggers within this short book so please do take care

Highlight here for trigger warnings: house fire, sexual manipulation, fantasy addiction, mentions of magdelen laundries/forced institutionalisation, mentions of death in childbirth, parental abuse, fatmisa, emotional and physical abuse, abusive relationship, sexual manipulation, homophobia, addiction to power, body horror, body shaming, death, religious bigotry

Overall this has solidified Sarah Maria Griffin as an author I really enjoy reading from and I look forward to reading more of her works in the future! Have you read any Irish literature? Recommend me some!

Midnight by Derek Landy

I have been reading this series for years now. I first read them by borrowing them from my middle school library, and then my mum got me the first 3 paperbacks (all that was out at the time) for Christmas. Since then I have gotten every single book within a week of its release date and I’ll be honest I’m completely biased and love all of these books. This urban fantasy world has been built so well and I’ve enjoyed the way that Landy has managed to keep the books relevant to his older readers since the series first started and also relevant to the children finding the books today.

In the eleventh book in the series, Val is back and her little sister Alice is in danger. She’s been kidnapped in order to lure Valkyrie into a fight, and she’s running straight for it. We have Omen back in this book again, and I enjoyed his contribution. We don’t need everyone to be a badass! Sometimes it’s great to see how someone like us would react (because let’s be real, no matter how much I wish I was Val, I’m definitely an Omen) in this world of madness and magic.

Some people aren’t enjoying this revived series, which to be honest I hadn’t seen until I was writing up this review. I have never actually checked the internet that deeply for skulduggery related content, and I was kind of surprised to see the negativity from fans. But I also understand it, the series definitely has a different feel in this “new” series, and it did also feel like it had been rushed to completion. But I still really enjoyed being back in this world and devoured this book in one sitting, so if you like the world Landy has built I do definitely recommend still picking this one up.

If you’ve never read a Skulduggery Pleasant book then what are you waiting for? It’s a book about magic, a skeleton detective and a young girl in Ireland. It’s awesome!

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton, a review

Book 2 of this series is keeping up the massively high standards set by book one! (Check out my review of Rebel of the Sands here) Yet again I took my time going through this book, but it’s definitely not me slogging through, it’s more that I need to take time to absorb every single one of Alywn Hamilton’s words, each word she writes seems to be there with intent and meaning. Her writing is just so beautiful and I truly have the desire to read absolutely everything she has ever published and ever will publish.

I really enjoyed the time we spent in the palace within this book, it added another dimension to the events of the world and really gives the reader more of an insight as to why people act the way they do. The dynamics of this group inside of the Sultan’s walls was so different from that outside and really added great perspective.

The political side of this war was also more developed in this book, and it meshed so well with the world building and how Alwyn Hamilton showed us the groups of people outside of who we had interacted with in the first book. It gave more insight as to why people were acting in certain ways, and to how the Sultan was looking to manipulate others to achieve his aims.

Overall this is yet another gorgeous book within this series and is something that I one million percent recommend to anybody wanting to read a great fantasy book. Again the writing is absolutely beautiful and it leaves me in awe.

Please tell me you’ve started this series? Do you agree about the beautiful prose that the story is written in? Let me know!

That Old Black Magic, a review

First of all, thank you for NetGalley for a copy of this book in return for an unbiased review. I grabbed this book as it was set in WWII times, no surprise there. However, I didn’t re-read the synopsis before diving into the book so this was all I knew, and lord was I confused! But, obviously, this was all my own fault and I managed to catch up to the gist of the plot by 20-odd% through.

This book engages in the mystical and the unknown, following a Scottish policeman in his work to uncover German spies. He manages to tangle himself up in a world of magic and spirits, with people supposedly speaking to the dead and transferring messages from the other side as well as being part of curious cults (for want of a better word) who terrify and control their members. Essentially this is a very odd book which mixes the occult with British 1940s/50s values and it’s incredibly entertaining.

I was invested in the plot and hooked right to the very end, I absolutely loved the mystery present within the story and how it entwined itself into the fantastical plot and the societal feelings of the times. Our Scotsman protagonist is a great viewpoint for the story, but there are also other points of view dotted about within the book which encompass the story more fully and allow for the reader to gather the gist of events and their relevance to each other.

I whole-heartedly recommend picking this book up if its synopsis intrigues you, as there are so many dimensions to this novel that something is sure to spark your interest! I definitely enjoyed the reading experience.

The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter: A Treasury of Myths, Legends, and Fascinating Facts

I’m guessing you’re not shocked at me saying I love Harry Potter?! But it is the main reason anyone is going to come and look at this book. It is definitely an interesting read about the real-life background and legends that Rowling looked into for inspiration for the magical universe (in my edition it only reaches to The Order of the Phoenix 😭 pros and cons of secondhand shops) and how she weaved these stories into the background, and foreground, of this series.

Some of the information which is given is incredibly obvious to anyone who has read the books, and most readers of this would have already been through the books a couple times. However, there is some further detail for certain sections and there are a few tidbits that you might not have thought about too deeply in the past but that once brought to light will linger in your brain and reveal a new perspective you had never thought of. This really is a fun little book for anyone who loves the Harry Potter series and wants to think a little more about the writing process and name choice for everything within the world. It is a quick read, and later editions are likely to have a lot more information as many plot points were revealed in later books which show more about name choices, backgrounds and more.

If I could find a later edition for a decent price at a charity shop then I’d definitely pick it up to see what was added and removed and how the remaining sections were changed. It’s not life-changing but it’s a nice little companion piece to a beautiful series.

Magnus and the Book that has Potential

36593157

First things first, thank you to NetGalley for providing a free eARC of this book in return for an unbiased review.

I picked this book up as the concept sounded cute and interesting, and as a Geography student, the environmental viewpoint was really inviting. Sadly, I was disappointed by this book. Although I went into this book knowing that it was intended for children aged 7-9, I still felt that it was too childish for this audience. The writing was also sub-par in quality, and I hate when this happens in children’s literature as it feels like the author believed their full efforts weren’t needed for “just” a kids book.

There were sections of this book which should have been great emotional moments, with the characters feeling confused, shocked, worried, excited or more. However, this never seemed to happen and emotions were very muted. One such example of this: ‘”Oh.” Magnus was very excited.’ … was he? Was he really? With various sectors like this, I feel like this book could have really benefited from further input from editors and the writer having more experience with writing, both in general and for children.

I feel like this book is more aimed at 4-6 year-olds, as there is almost no emotional depth and the language used (with an exception being dinosaur species)  being very simple. There were plot setups for future books which older children would likely be able to spot with ease and the character of Em has what feels like no development.

Moving onto the good points of this short read. The concept of this book is actually really good! As mentioned above, I love the environmental aspect of the book which pushes the use of renewable energy and challenges the consumer-driven world we live in. The concept of the series is also really good, with multiple (seemingly parallel) universes and a well fleshed-out villain who is perfect for a kids book. There were a few really interesting scenes, one involving the Jewelled Book of the Universe and Em, and another involving a clever deception of the bad guys at the end!

I feel like this book could have been so much better and had so much potential. Possibly the book was rushed, or it was the authors first work and the editorial team didn’t analyse the writing as well as they could. The plot line is there, and with a little more development the characters are also. Fingers crossed that as this series continues on the author will develop and improve and make this an interesting kids series that I would happily recommend to my friends with children. I hope S. L. Browne manages to pull this off and end up with a really unique, fun and interesting children’s series with a brilliant environmental message behind it.

A Darker Shade of Magic

23403402

When my family asked what books I wanted for Christmas, I knew that this one had to be on the list. I’ve seen it so much around BookTube and Bookstagram and not only do most people seem to really enjoy it but the blurb sounds so interesting and I love the concept. I am so glad I went for it!

I gave this book 4/5*, but I can see myself giving the series as a whole 5/5* if this quality of writing is kept and if I love the following books just as much! The exploration of magic and humanity within this novel is in-depth and deeply developed, which makes the world feel that much more alive.

In case you weren’t already aware, the setting of this novel is that there are four different worlds overlapped with one another. Four different versions of London with minor differences such as river names, buildings locations, and the level of magic that is present there. There is grey (essentially our world), red, white and black. It used to be relatively easy for travel to occur between the different worlds, but then something happens within the black world that cannot be controlled, and so in an effort to prevent this from spreading to the other worlds and having four times the impact, black London is shut off and the three remaining London’s become more distant and much harder to travel between, with only certain limited individuals having the ability. As you’ve probably guessed, we follow one such individual and his experience coming from the red world but seeing the other two also. I won’t say any more to avoid spoiling this book for you, as Victoria Schwab has done so amazingly with this plot.

If you enjoy magical fantasy reads (Harry Potter lovers!) then this is definitely one to pick up. It isn’t a copy of any book I have read before (yes that includes HP) and the magical elements mixed in with a well-developed plot and interesting characters makes this such a must-read book!

Six of Crows. Just. Amazing

29975820

I loved this book so much! I absolutely loved the dynamic between all of the characters and the tension present throughout most of the book as no one really knows where allegiances lie, not even their own.

Nina and Mattias together represent the first time I have genuinely cared about a romance within a book in many many years and I love seeing them interact and seeing their relationship develop. Although other romances have been portrayed well, this is the first time I have rooted for a couple and it has been one of my favourite parts of the book!

The plotline present is incredibly gripping as well and kept me engrossed in the story. The introduction to the world is done incredibly well, and doesn’t feel like an introduction but truly just part of the story as a whole. The progression of the plot deftly introduces more lore and information to the reader, which makes them more invested in the world, whilst also keeping them gripped with action, drama and worry for the characters. These characters are written very well, they have their heroic sides, yes, but they are also flawed and realistic, with many mistakes changing the course of the plot and altering carefully planned schemes.

I definitely need to grab Crooked Kingdom as I need to learn more about this world! I also wasn’t aware until I got part the way into this book that the Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising, were set in the same universe, and now that I’ve enjoyed Six of Crows so much they are definitely making their way onto my tbr so I can delve deeper into this amazing world Leigh Bardugo has created. One of my new favourites! 

Darkling – a beautiful world

36572967

Firstly, thank you to NetGalley and NineStar for a free ebook of this novella in return for an unbiased review. This is my first delve into an LGBT+ fantasy story and I really enjoyed it. I like the fantasy plot line and the inner workings of this world, as well as the dynamics portrayed between the characters, especially with Jordan and Ryder. Personally, I have never been keen on reading about too much romance, but I did enjoy some aspects of it in this story. Although it was a little much for me at some points it’ll be perfectly fine for those who like reading about romance, although this one is a little… darker. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this book to younger readers, probably around 16+ depending on the individual is a good age range. I just have to pick up the next book which is released in this series as I need to delve back into this world again! Kind of hoping there won’t be as much romance in further books, but I can deal with it if there is, I just need more of Ryder’s magic! Basically, there is amazing world building and I just need more of it!

Minus Me by Ingelin Rossland

This is an amazing book about a young girls life after she almost passes away at a diving competition. She is brought back by a mysterious boy who keeps appearing when she least expects it. This book will grab you with short, easy to read, chapters and an interesting plot with a major twist at the end.

I managed to finish this book in 2 hours whilst doing other things around the house, it is so absorbing and I would love to re-read this book a million times. Sadly I have an advanced publication meaning I have to return this to my book store where I work but I am contemplating purchasing the book once it is for sale in my store!

Recommended for:

Teens

This is very much a teen novel, I can imagine older readers finding the writing style too childish. However for those who like the teen style, such as myself, it is a very good book.

Age recommendation:

13+

This book does have a plot which can upset readers, it made me cry and I’m an adult! So those giving to younger children should probably read this book first to ensure their child is ready to read it.

Comment what books you would like me to review next 🙂
Theowlemporium