Tag Archives: relationships

Flame in the Mist by Reneè Ahdieh. Review 

I want to clear something up with regards to this book. It is not a Milan retelling despite what’s been going around. For one it’s set in Japan not China and for two other than cross dressing it has no similarities at all. Disclaimer: I will be using Mulan Gifs in this review because I can 😉 


Now that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the review. 

I received Flame in the Mist in my May Fairyloot box and instantly fell in love with the cover. I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover and this one is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen! The premise interested me as well, I’ve not read much about Japanese folklore or myths and legends and my entire experience of any kind of Japanese literature is the novels of Haruki Murakami. So I was admittedly very interested to step out into the unknown. 

I’m really glad that I did! Mariko is travelling to the imperial city in a litter when it is attacked, all her samurai and servants are killed and Mariko, convinced it is the work of the infamous renegades, The Black Clan, sets out to find them, infiltrate them and find out why they wanted her dead. I loved the character of Mariko or at least the idea of her, not once was she described as particularly beautiful apart from in the view as a prize for the Emperors son. Instead she is smart, a scholar, a whiz with her mind and with inventions and you know what? That’s really cool and makes a nice change. Lots of books feature smart girls but often the focus is on the fact that they are beautiful and smart. It was nice to see something fresh here. 


I liked all of the characters who all had a lot of story, I’d certainly like to know more of their stories though as it feels a bit like we were fed titbits. This combined with the ending is definitely making me hope for a second novel! 

I also really liked that Mariko didn’t become some fearsome warrior because that would have just been too Mulan inspired for words. In fact she is an individual in her own right completely separate from any other fictional character I’ve read and I loved her the more for it! 


The storyline was well played if a little slow to begin with. It soon picked up the pace and we were treated to folklore, culture, division between rich and poor, man and woman, dark magic and most importantly what I viewed as the moral of the story that the lines between good and evil are not always that well drawn. 

In summary I really liked this book and feel that it is off to a promising start for a series or at least a second book, so fingers crossed there will be one! 

Paper & Fire by Rachel Caine. Review. 

Please be aware that this review while not containing spoilers for this book, will contain spoilers for the first book Ink and Bone. 

Paper and Fire picks up where Ink and Bone left off and it’s a great sequel! Jess and friends are still reeling from the events of Ink and Bone, their friend Thomas was killed, their other friend and sort of Jess’ girlfriend; Morgan has been imprisoned in the Iron Tower of the Obscurists and Jess no longer knows who he can trust. Especially when a routine training excercise of his company in the High Garda turns sour. 


This book is another teaser at what the library may contain, what secrets are hidden inside its walls and what the people at the helm will do to protect it. It is a story of friendship and relationships that are stronger than those of blood. In a world full of secrets it’s impossible to know who can be trusted and who would just as soon Knife you in the back. It’s down to Jess and his friends to fight the library to the bitter end. 


I love that this series is all about books, it’s such a great concept and it’s easy to see that it’s taken some inspiration for the onslaught of ebook readers on the market today. I find the premise incredibly engaging and interesting, sometimes the second book in a trilogy can read like a ‘filler’ and be a bit flat but that is not the case with this one at all. I can’t wait for Ash and Quill now. 

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. Review 

Oh wow! My hearts still pounding in my chest. What a shocker of a novel! 

I first came across Clare Mackintosh when I read an interview with her in Writers Magazine. I liked the sound of her thriller genre novels and I’ve been waiting to read them for ages. My only regret being that I waited so long! 

I Let You Go is Clare’s debut novel and it focuses on a hit and run incident. There are several perspectives in the novel and I’m going to be a bit shady about the entire plot because there are a couple of massive twists that I do not want to spoil for anyone! 


I really enjoyed this novel, it was a page turner without a doubt. I couldn’t put it down, the storyline gripped me and changed my view of British thriller writing irrevocably. It seemed like everything I thought was true was wrong! There were so many twists and turns that it made my head spin but in a good way! 


I can’t wait to get stuck into Clare’s second novel I See You because if it’s anything as good as this one I’ll find myself literally thrilled! 

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!