Wintersong by S Jae Jones. Review. 

‘She is for the Goblin King now’

I’ve recently become enthralled by novels like Wintersong which take the dark fairytales of Russia, Eastern Europe and in this case Germany and make them into their own. 

Wintersong tells the tale of Liesel, a young German woman with a passion for music. Music she is not allowed to compose or play because a woman is too inferior to do so. Instead she lives through her brother Josef who is about to audition to receive tutelage from a famous music teacher. Liesel is a young woman who is not just plain to look at but perceived as ugly, especially beside her beautiful sister Käthe. The three children have grown up beside the Goblin Grove, listening to their grandmother’s eerie tales of witches, hobgoblins and sprites. But most particularly of the Goblin King himself. Now they are getting older they don’t believe in her stories anymore. That is until Käthe is kidnapped by the King and Liesel has to go to his underground kingdom to bring her back. 


This book is deliciously dark, it tantalises and teases, it is frightening in parts but at the same time grips you with its intesity. It draws you in and seduces you. The Goblin King, dips between two personas as the thing of nightmares and the man of your dream. It is very, very cleverly done! While wanting to stay lost in the world there is a fear that should you do that, you would never escape. 


There is passion in this novel, but of the dark sort. The ones that all girls who don’t believe in themselves, who view ‘beauty on the inside’ as an ugly truth. The novel doesn’t feel very YA it reads more like an adult novel which I did really like. The border of YA and adult fantasy became blurred which is just right for the dark fairytale theme. 


Wintersong has echoes of a more serious version of the film Labyrinth and the combination of this, and the dark fairytales just makes it devilishly decadent. A true work of art of a novel! I can’t wait for the sequel! 

Sunshine Over Wildflower Cottage by Milly Johnson. Review 

As usual this novel had lots of Milly’s warmth and love written between its pages. But while it didn’t spoil the quality of the novel I felt that this one was a little bit too sad for me. Other than the last 30 pages or so it seemed like it was a bad time for all the whole way through! 

That doesn’t mean it was a bad book, I still enjoyed Sunshine Over Wildflower Cottage but I felt it was very different from the usual chirpy style of Milly’s books. I guess what it was, was more realistic! 

Viv Blackbird takes a job at Wildflower Cottage Animal Sanctuary for one reason and one reason only. But as time goes on she suddenly finds herself far more emotionally invested in the sanctuary than she would ever have thought she could be.

Geraldine has worked at the sanctuary for many years, running from a horrific past she has nowhere else to go and desperately wants to stay at the place that has become a sanctuary for her as well as the animals. 

Stel, Viv’s mother has had a bad time with men, she always manages to pick the losers but now she seems to have met a real gent. Someone who wants to give her the world. It seems almost to good to be true… 

There were a lot more characters in this novel than Milly’s others but at no point did it feel busy, or hard to follow. Each character’s story was interesting, heartwarming and at times really sad. I felt that Milly dabbled in a little thriller and suspense in this one too and surprisingly it really worked well! 

I can’t say this was my favourite novel written by Milly Johnson but it was still easily deserving of 4*. 

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. Review. 

As most of you know, I’m not a huge fan of the classics but hallelujah I seem to have found an classic author I can actually get on with. 

Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From the Madding Crowd is not a great tome of a book and neither is it a difficult read in terms of language or content. But the messages it gives are big ones. 

Bathsheba Everdeen is a headstrong young woman with no less than three suitors. First there is Gabriel Oak who proposes to her first when he is attempting life as a gentleman farmer, then there is an actual gentleman farmer Mr Boldwood who also proposes marriage and is asked to wait. Finally there is the seductive soldier Frank Troy who is completely unsuitable but hey, everyone likes a bad boy right? 


Literally though, Bathsheba is the worst! She’s so annoying! So conceited, so arrogant, she clearly thinks herself to be stunning and strong and usually I’d love the idea of such an apparent feminist but in this case she doesn’t even come across as a feminist. What she comes across as is selfish and at times just a little bit bloody stupid! 


I did enjoy the novel because the prose is excellent and the storyline well put together. It is not a criticism of the author’s work to say that Bathsheba is what she is, it is more that I think Hardy probably wrote her that way. She could never discover the error of her ways after all if she didn’t make errors in the first place! 

The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson. Review 

I’ve loved Milly Johnson’s novels since I picked up a sample of Its Raining Men in Waterstones, Meadowhall a few years ago. I was really excited to receive my copy of The Queen of Wishful Thinking from the publishers Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. 

As usual I really enjoyed the book. This one deals with a lot of sensitive issues, as is expected with the romance/chic-lit genre it focuses on two people who are unhappy and find happiness with each other. But it also deals with the more serious issues of infertility, abortion, infidelity and euthanasia. I also love that there are funny anecdotes at the beginning of several chapters which are extracts from The Daily Trumpet as usual posting hilarious misprints. Being a Yorkshire lass myself I found the one about a 12 year old called Beyoncé-Jane particularly funny, because I know for a fact that there’s probably kids called that in S.Yorks. 

Anyway, back to the storyline; Bonnie is in a loveless marriage with Stephen who controls everything about their lives, to top it off she’s also unhappy in her job, until she unexpectedly lands a job at a new antique store called Pot of Gold and gets more than she bargained for when she falls for her boss Lew. Lew is having problems of his own with his golddigger wife who is fast becoming unrecognisable. Having just recovered from a heart attack, Lew just wants a quiet life. And his feelings for Bonnie are developing as well. 


Alongside the love story, as aforementioned there are lots of other issues going on, but it all comes together very nicely. Milly has a skill of putting together novels which make you equal parts laugh along with the characters and fall apart with them as their world comes crashing down around them and they struggle to pick the pieces up. But friends are on hand, support is there and these friends go to outrageous lengths to protect their own. 


And of course in the end they all get to live happily ever after which is the best part about all of Milly’s novels! 

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier. Review 

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier is, like Rebecca a novel of thrilling mystery and distrust and unexpected twists and turns. 

Philip Ashley has lived with his elder cousin Ambrose since he was small, they have always had each other, their collection of male servants and the love of the people who live around their estate. There has never been the need for a woman in their lives. That is until Ambrose goes to Florence and meets their mysterious cousin Rachel, and marries her. 

When Ambrose dies under suspicious circumstances, Philip is determined to reep revenge on the woman he blames for his death. But when she turns up on his doorstep he finds that his feelings for her are quite different. 

The novel makes you want to scream with frustration at the naïveté of some of the characters, while wanting to bash the heads in of others at the same time. It is equally, if not more darkly gripping than Rebecca. Although it’s left for you to decide if Rachel is guilty or not, I think it was great to see people getting their just desserts in the end for once. Really enjoyed this suspense filled novel of love and betrayal.

Roseblood by AG Howard. Review 

Thank you to the publisher Abrams and Chronicle Books Ltd for my copy of Roseblood in exchange for an honest review. 

‘When the phantom touched me, when his eyes held mine, I felt it. And I still feel it now.’

Wow. Just wow. I really didn’t think I was going to enjoy this as much as I did! There’s always that worry when you receive an RC that you’re not going to like the book. Although Roseblood had been on my tbr I had no idea what to expect. But there was no need for me to worry. Roseblood is an addictive, gripping, fantastic, magical, horrifying tale of dark love, dark friendship and the terrible things that creep behind mirrors. 


Roseblood is a sort of retelling of The Phantom of the Opera but over a century after the events of Gaston Leroux’s novel, made famous by the Andrew Lloyd Weber theatre production. Rune is sent to an opera school in Paris called Roseblood after the death of her father. She has a brilliant voice but every time she sings, she gets sick, her mother hopes that schooling her voice will help her to become a great opera star. 


But she is haunted by the Phantom boy she discovers in the grounds of the school. At first she is sure that he is the Phantom from the story, sent to her to become her muse. But gradually her suspicion grows that this phantom may be someone or something else. 


This story is mesmerising, gripping from start to finish, the electric feelings between the characters draws you in deeper and deeper as the horrific secrets of the Phantom and his legacy are revealed. 

I really cannot express how much I really enjoyed this book, I had no previous experience of The Phantom of the Opera so I was going into it completely blind as what to expect, but it was everything it promised to be. Creepy on the supernatural side, romantic for the YA side and devilishly delicious throughout! 

Highly recommended to anyone who likes supernatural YA fiction. 

Mr Gandy’s Grand Tour By Alan Titchmarsh. Review 

I’ve always had a (not so) secret love for Alan Titchmarsh’s novel ever since I read Only Dad many years ago. Mr Gandy’s Grand Tour is such a lovely little read and very refreshing after the two tomes I’ve read recently! 

Mr Gandy is suddenly (if tragically) released from his unhappy marriage around the same time as he is forced into early retirement. Inspired by a book he finds about 18th century young gentleman going on the Grand Tour (modern day gap year), he decides to embark on a tour of Europe of his own, much to the disgust of his eldest son who views it as him squandering his inheritance. 


What Mr Gandy finds, is not only beautiful hotels, culture filled cities and art, but also friendships and love. Alan Titchmarsh writes surprisingly profound messages about love and life and often gives you a good laugh as you go along! 

I really enjoyed this short novel particularly the travel parts, as I’m in Italy myself at the moment it was great to see Mr Gandy’s views and actually be able to picture them myself! 

Everyday issues, political and social issues, everyday feminism.