Tag Archives: historical

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness. Review

The Book of Life is the third and final book in Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy. Pleased be warned going forward that while there are no spoilers for The Book of Life here, there will be some from the first two books; A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night.

After returning from their adventures in the 16th century, Matthew and Diana are immediately roped into a new drama. Not only is Diana now a powerful weaver (a witch who can create her own spells), she is also pregnant with twins and against all odds, Matthew is the father. Some people (mostly their friends and family) are overjoyed by this news, but others like their old adversaries Gebert and Peter Knox are really not! Meanwhile, there’s some new and old faces arriving on the scene, and more than a few surprises in store.

The Book of Life really got me back into the story of Diana and Matthew, I loved that it gave so many answers, reintroduced some much loved characters and also a bond worthy villain. It really reached the series for me and I was sad when it ended!!

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A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Review 

I think I may have just found my new favourite book series. Imagine, for a moment that Twilight meets Outlander and you’ve got yourself A Discovery of Witches. 

What a fantastic start to a series. Diana is a historian at Oxford University (yes this is a fantasy book about adults, immediate brownie points) and she is also a witch. But she doesn’t want to be a witch or to use her magic to gain any headway in her chosen field, so she’s spent her whole life avoiding using magic. That is until magic inadvertently finds her. Diana uncovers a magical book in the course of her studies and despite not wanting anything to do with it herself, it calls up all kinds of creatures from the depths and Diana’s life is suddenly at risk. Enter Matthew the gorgeous, if ancient and charismatic vampire and an adventure begins. 


First off, I love that this book is as aforementioned about adults. I love a YA novel as much as the next person but there’s just something about a magical story involving grownups instead of teenagers. For one there’s just something more mature about the writing style and storyline. I.e we don’t have to wait 5 Books for the main characters to get intimate while the Books audience grows up. 

Secondly, the storyline is just soooo good! Not only do we have Witches, vampires and Daemons, we’ve also got history, science, alchemy, libraries, and the knights Templar thrown in there as well. It was unputdownable! I can’t wait to start Book 2 straight away! 

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin. Review. 

Thank you to Netgalley, Hodder and Stoughton and Laura Carlin for my ARC of The Wicked Cometh in exchange for an honest review. 

I’m really cheering Laura on as an author since I found out that like me, she lives in Derbyshire! It’s always great to discover an author from your own area, but anyway, I digress, on to the review! 

The Wicked Cometh is the debut novel from author Laura Carlin. Set in 1831 during the short reign of William IV and people are going missing. But only poor people, so it doesn’t really matter right? But somebody has noticed, and somebody cares. Thrown together by chance, Hester White a young woman whom fortune has dealt a difficult hand, and Rebekah Brock a young woman fighting to be heard and respected in a man’s world, begin their own investigation into what is happening on the murky streets of London’s underworld. 


I loved the character of Hester right away. She’s down on her luck and in a position that she doesn’t deserve to be in, but there’s no sense of entitlement or ‘woe is me’ with her. She sees improving her position as working her way up there her dreams reach as far as becoming a ladies’ maid or a dairy maid, never does she think she deserves to be in some elevated status. I also liked Rebekah who is a fiesty feminist who clearly wants to be recognised for her intelligence and personality. Definitely not your typical woman. 


I loved the way the romance was handled too. I’m not going to say who it was between as I don’t like giving spoilers but I will say that for the time period this was set, it was so well written. It didn’t feel obligatory, or forced, it fitted into the story as a side story to the main event and played out perfectly. Happening naturally and with plenty of shipping from me, the reader. 


The writing style is impeccable and the storyline kept me engaged throughout, I didn’t feel it was ever losing my attention, it was very clearly well thought out and I loved the twists! I didn’t see a lot of what is coming which is rare for me lately. 

Overall a fantastic debut and I’ll be looking out for more from Laura. 

September 2017 wrap up! 

It’s that time again! Yay! I really love doing the wrap up and getting the chance to look back on what I’ve read this month, what I’ve enjoyed etc. This month I read 22 books at a total of 8,149 pages which is less books but more pages than usual so still a win. I’m very competitive with myself in terms of how many books I read each month, but I seem to be averaging at around 20-25 books a month which is really good. Anyway, to the books! I won’t write a long post about each as there’s just too many but reviews for pretty much all of them can be found on my blog or goodreads if you’d like to know more. 

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden  












The Crow Garden by Alison Littlewood. Review 

The Crow Garden is the first novel I have read from author Alison Littlewood and it was a rare treat! I love the idea of novels about madness but it is rare that I find one so well written, most I have found dance around with innuendo and mystery and I find that quite frustrating. Not so with The Crow Garden with echoes of Shutter Island Alison Littlewood builds tension with a novel where everything is evident to the reader and not to the characters themselves! 


Nathaniel Kerner is determined to become an Alienist or ‘mad-doctor’ treating patients in an asylum to atone for his father’s suicide, for which he blames himself. Soon he finds himself in his first position at Crakethorn, an old Manor House and now asylum where he meets the beautiful yet damaged Mrs Harleston. But as tension builds between the characters the lines between madness and sanity become blurred. 


Spotted with the poetry of Browning and Byron, the story tells of a terrible love story woven with insanity, in a time when it really was unclear who was mad and who was not. A time when Doctors were allowed free will to carry out barbarous treatments and patients could be admitted purely for being epileptic. The setting on the Yorkshire Moors and the time which is perceived to be Victorian times only add to the dark and cryptic storyline. 


Alison Littlewood’s writing reminds me a lot of the writing of Daphne Du Maurier and I feel that is the biggest complement I can afford the author of The Crow Garden a fantastic novel and highly recommended! 

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden. Review. 

‘Almost midnight – that wicked, magic hour – on a night menaced by ice and storm and the abyss of the featureless sky.’

I absolutely adored The Bear and the Nightingale so I was so happy when I was granted a review copy of The Girl in the Tower thanks to Netgalley and Ebury publishing. 
No spoilers here for The Girl in the Tower but if you haven’t read The Bear and the Nightingale yet I would warn you that there are spoilers for that book here and you would be better reading my spoiler free review of that book here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/the-bear-and-the-nightingale-by-katherine-arden-review/

The Girl in the Tower picks up from the events which happened in The Bear and the Nightingale, first focusing on Sasha and Olga in Moscow as the Grand Prince prepares for war against the Tartars and Olga receives news about the death of her father, stepmother and her little sister Vasya. The reader of course knows that Vasya is not dead but has escaped to the Frost King’s cottage for shelter. 


We pick up with Vasya next as she tells the Frost King that she intends to travel the country and be free rather than allow the people in her village to force her into a convent or marriage. I was glad to see the return of Vasya’s fiery spirit. But when she arrived in Moscow masquerading as a boy, it is here that Vasya’s fiery spirit gets her into trouble. 


I enjoyed this book so much, I love learning about folklore particularly the folklore of Eastern Europe which is always so deliciously dark. Katherine Arden demonstrates incredible research about the spirits, demons, myths and legends and weaves them into a fantastic story which is not only interesting but believable. Vasya is a character who is very easy to empathise with, a woman in a man’s world destined for nothing but a convent or marriage to a man she does not want. Instead she shows herself as a fierce survivor full of determination. Though she sometimes hurts the ones she loves I find that I see this as their fault not hers, their refusal to understand her and their determination to live by social protocols makes her the proverbial black sheep and I really dig that! 

If you haven’t read this series already then you should certainly do so as soon as possible. I challenge anyone to not enjoy these books. 

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. Review 

Read no further if you haven’t read the first book Outlander as there will be spoilers from the first novel, but none from Dragonfly in Amber

I really enjoyed Outlander where I was swept into the world of Claire and Jamie Fraser. Claire travels back through time to the 1700s where she meets a young highlander Jamie Fraser who she falls in love with. These are hefty books but beautifully written with amazing language, wonderfully put together passages of language. 

We return to this world in Dragonfly in Amber but twenty years on, Claire is back in the 1960s with a grown up daughter, returning to Scotland to reveal several truths that will blow the worlds of those near to her wide open. But fear not avid readers, we return to Claire’s memories to find out what happened next in her love saga with Jamie.


This sequel has all the passion of the first book in the series but tinged with sadness, knowing that Claire is back in present day means that the reader is second guessing how this could have happened and what may happen next. Some of the old friends and foes return and in places it’s a case of life and death! It’s another bulky novel but it doesn’t feel that way because of how engrossed you become in the storyline and needing to know what happens next. 


From a historical fiction lover’s viewpoint, I was really enamoured with understanding the rising of ’44 and the historical perspective not only of Bonnie Prince Charlie who I had heard of but never really studied, but also the court of the Parisian King Louis and his followers. It was interesting to see how much more advanced the French were in those days than the English. For example, I’m sure this doesn’t count as a spoiler but there is a very funny scene where Claire’s French friend gets her to wax her legs and armpits and Jamie’s reaction to this is just hilarious. I can’t wait to start Voyager