Tag Archives: review

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! 

June Author Interview – Nicola Moriarty 

This month I have the pleasure of hosting Nicola Moriarty. Author of the wonderful The Fifth Letter which is also my recommended holiday read for 2017, and sister to authors Lianne and Jaclyn Moriarty. She is also author of three other novels; Captivation, Paper Chains and Free-Falling. You can read my review of The Fifth Letter here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/the-fifth-letter-by-nicola-moriarty-review/

So without further ado, let’s begin the interview, What was your background and how did you get into writing? 
 My background includes everything from swimming teacher to door-to-door sales person to advertising, marketing, waitressing, amateur theatre and everything in-between! But I grew up with a love of both reading and writing and my dream when I was in primary school was to become an author and illustrator of children’s books. I let go of that dream after realising I had none of the artistic talent required to illustrate books! Later on in life though, I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree with a Major in Writing and around that same time I started working on my first novel.

What are your ambitions for your writing? 

 I want to allow people to escape from the real world when they read my books, just for a little while. And then I want them to be left with that feel-good glow, even if it’s only for the rest of the day after they finish reading. Finally, I want them to be hungry for more words – and not necessarily just my words! 

That sounds like something you’ve experienced yourself when reading! Which writers inspire you? 

In no particular order (and by no means an exhaustive list!): Marian Keyes, Neil Gaiman, Enid Blyton, Wendy James, Roald Dahl, Diana Wynne Jones, Caroline Overington, Nick Hornby, Melanie La’Brooy, Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty.
Where did the idea come from for The Fifth Letter? It’s a very different take on the ‘usual’ sort of friendship novels. Did writing it involve much research? 

 I have a great group of friends that have been with me since high school (we’ve been in each other’s lives for more than 20 years now!) Obviously our friendships have had their ups and downs, but despite this, we’re all still very close and we have girls’ holidays away together every now and then. These holidays often result in lots of drinking and chatting way into the night and during these late night, wine-fueled conversations, all sorts of revelations from our past often come up. Sometimes we do argue or get frustrated with one another, but usually, we can move past any disagreements.

 I found myself wondering what would happen if something really serious, something really dark or sinister come up in one of these chats with my friends? What if it turned out that they were hiding secrets? That I didn’t actually know them as well as I thought I did?

 At the same time, I already had this completely random idea at the back of my mind of a group of friends swapping anonymous letters. I think originally I was actually envisioning a group of high school students doing it on a dare or as a bit of fun. The two ideas sort of merged together and from there, the story of a group of long-term female friends sharing secrets in anonymous letters was formed.

 I liked the concept of the feeling of helplessness you might feel if you read something heartbreaking in a letter and knew that one of your friends was hurting but you couldn’t help them because you didn’t know which friend it was.

 The story didn’t require a great deal of research, but I did have to find out a bit about certain infertility issues, plus I learned a little about abseiling and I asked the advice of some friends who are nurses to help determine the possible outcomes of a certain injury.

Are you working on anything new at the moment? 

 Yes, I’m working on my next novel, which is about parenting in general plus the divide between working mums, stay at home mums and women without children. It’s also about the judgement between parents and about the sometimes toxic influence of social media groups on women… and that’s all I can say at this stage without giving too much away!

 That sounds really interesting and I know I’ll definitely be giving it a read once it’s published! What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc. 

 I mostly write on my laptop but I like to keep a little notepad and a pen on hand so I can jot down ideas that sometimes pop into my head. Pen and paper also sometimes comes in handy to do some timeline / plotting or character planning notes.

Would you ever consider writing in a different genre or is there a genre you wish you could write? 
 I did attempt to write a murder mystery / thriller once – but I made it far too complicated and I gave up after only 10,000 words. I’d love to write fantasy or adventure novels, but I’m not sure if I could pull it off!

There’s so many great books out there it is hard to pick and stick to a genre! How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes? 

Usually, at the start of a new novel, I just write when I can and when I’m feeling particularly creative. Then once I get into it (and especially once I’m getting closer to my next deadline), then I do often set myself word limits that I want to reach (either daily or weekly) to help me stay on track. Usually I find I have to leave the house to work – so I either go to a café or work in the office with my husband (we run a design business together). I also usually need music to write, preferably something like The Submarines or Group Love or Little Birdy.

 What sort of publishing route did you choose and why? 

 I sent my first manuscript off to a literary agent, who also represented my sister, Jaci. She was kind enough to pass it on to another agent – in order to avoid any conflict of interest. That agent then brokered my first book deal with Random House and she has represented me ever since. I’ve since moved on to HarperCollins here in Australia and the US and I’m with Penguin in the UK. The main reason for taking the traditional publishing route was simply because I wanted to give that a go first and I was lucky enough that it worked out for me. But I guess if that first agent hadn’t been interested I would have had a crack at the self-publishing path!

 If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why? 

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton. It’s just such a wonderfully magical book that I adored as a child and I’d love to have that entire world inside my head!

That’s my absolute favourite Enid Blyton I loved that book as a child and still do to this day! What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews? 
 Good reviews are THE BEST! To be honest, I don’t know how much a review would really influence a book’s success, all I know is that a good review about one of my own books can make my day and inspire me to write and cause my heart to sing! Bad reviews are something that I’m getting used to. I accept that they have to exist because it would be a boring world if everyone had the same opinion, but they can still cause your heart to hurt. Then again, sometimes they do push me to work harder!

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview with me Nicola and all the best for your writing in the future! 

If you want to see more from Nicola you can check out her social media pages and websites below: 

Website: http://www.nicolamoriarty.com.au

 Twitter: https://twitter.com/NikkiM3

 Facebook (author page not personal): https://www.facebook.com/NicolaMoriartyAuthor/

 Blog: http://www.nicolamoriarty.com.au/journal

 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5347787.Nicola_Moriarty

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! 

The Strings of Murder by Oscar De Muriel. Review 

I have long been an advocate of the Frey & McGray novels although I have read them all back to front. Despite reading the second and third books already, I have only just read book number 1 The Strings of Murder

Obviously, I knew I was in for a treat having read the other two but it was pleasing to see that the first novel was just as good as the second and third. 

The Strings of Murder is the beginning for Frey and McGray, Frey is sacked from Scotland Yard in London at the same time as his fiancée deserts him for another man. Feeling dejected he agrees to be sent to Edinburgh and be teamed up with the notorious ‘nine nails’ McGray who heads up a police subdivision which focuses on the occult. 


What really makes this series great is the characters. Don’t get me wrong the plot is excellent, the twists fantastic, the historical accuracy on point (to the best of my knowledge) and the plot line is always intriguing making the stories unputdownable. But the relationship between Frey and McGray make it for me. The banter between them has me laughing out loud, from McGray’s insistence on referring to Frey as a ‘lassie’ to Frey’s disgust at everything McGray eats, wears, says or does. It’s just fantastic. If you haven’t read this series already then I suggest you do so as soon as possible! 

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*.