Book Review

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar – Isabella May

I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for the latest book by one of my favourite authors, the lovely Isabella May. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar sees us heading back to Glastonbury with old friends, and is a book I was desperate to get my hands on from the very second it was announced! Many thanks to Isabella for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

River and Alice miss Somerset. Christmas isn’t Christmas without family and friends, even when you live in quaint Cornwall.

When River’s Aunt Sheba dies unexpectedly, leaving him her ancient VW campervan, nostalgia nudges him and Alice back to Glastonbury – and the surrounding villages – to rediscover their roots whilst serving the most decadent hot chocolate and delectable gingerbread from their renovated ‘bar on wheels’.

A bar on wheels complete with a fold-up stage to host local talent competitions rivaling anything Simon Cowell could dream up, even if he’d gorged on a truckle of Cheddar cheese!

As the villagers sip their cocoa and ice their gingerbread houses amidst the festive backdrop of song, dance, and slightly more unconventional talents, River and Alice find themselves in an unexpected race against time:

Zara, their chocolate supplier is leaving Glastonbury on the twelfth day of Christmas, keen to put a string of disastrous relationships behind her to make a fresh start.

Bruno, their gregarious and gorgeous baking supplier is secretly smitten with Zara – ticking every box on her New Year’s wish list.

If only they can get them together for one experimental kiss under the mistletoe…

They’ve even enlisted their customers’ help in their mission to wrap this budding romance up in all the jingle bells and whistles. How hard can it be?

So, ho, ho VERY tricky, as it turns out…

PURCHASE LINKS:

Order here

REVIEW:

When I was choosing my next read recently, I was feeling decidedly not okay and in need of something to lift my spirits. Remembering I had the new Isabella May cheered me up almost instantly – her books always feel like a big hug anyway, and one about hot chocolate and Christmas, featuring one of my favourite former rock stars was just what the doctor ordered. River’s thoughts on the correct way to apply cream and jam to a scone had me chuckling to myself just a few sentences in to the book (he’s doing it wrong, by the way), and I knew this book would have me feeling better in no time. It was wonderful being back with River and Alice, meeting up with friends old and new, friends who I laughed with and even shed a tear or two with.

In Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar, Isabella May has captured my ideal Christmas, full of warmth, love, and the magic that can be created when communities come together. I could practically smell the hot chocolate and gingerbread as I was reading. I adore the attention to the smaller details that Isabella adds to her books – a prime example here, and I am potentially showing my age here, is the fact that Alice’s ponies all had My Little Pony names. I absolutely loved this, largely because the name’s Alice had chosen almost perfectly matched my own My Little Pony collection as a child.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar is a read in one sitting kind of book, as long as that sitting involves a cosy blanket, an enormous mug of hot chocolate and a pile of sweet treats. Move over The Cake Fairies, I do believe I have a new favourite Isabella May book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. She grew up on Glastonbury’s ley lines and loves to feature her quirky English hometown in her stories.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children’s publishing… selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel – both feature extensively in her cross-genre novels, fused with a dollop of romcom, and a sprinkle of magical realism.

Isabella is also a Level 4 Pranic Healer and a stillbirth mum.

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Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in the tour for more about River and Alice’s adventures.

Book Review

The Bookbinder’s Daughter – Jessica Thorne

Happy publication day to Jessica Thorne and her latest book, The Bookbinder’s Daughter. Many thanks to Jessica and to Bookouture for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:
The song surrounded her now, the murmuring of the library insistent, and her foot took the first step on the winding stairs. She knew it wasn’t entirely a dream. It was the library calling her, its magic driving her.

When Sophie is offered a job at the Ayredale Library – the finest collection of rare books in the world, and the last place her bookbinder mother was seen when Sophie was just a teenager – she leaps at the chance. Will she finally discover what happened to the woman she’s always believed abandoned her?

Taking in the endless shelves of antique books, the soaring stained-glass windows, and the grand sweeping staircase, usually shy Sophie feels strangely at home, and is welcomed by her eccentric fellow binders. But why is the Keeper of the Library so reluctant to speak about Sophie’s mother? And why is Sophie the only person who can read the strange spells in the oldest books on display, written in a forgotten language nobody else understands?

The mysteries of the library only deepen when Sophie stumbles upon an elaborately carved door. The pattern exactly matches the pendant her mother left behind years ago, engraved with a delicate leaf. As the door swings open at her touch, Sophie gasps at the incredible sight: an enormous tree, impossibly growing higher than the library itself, its gently falling golden leaves somehow resembling the pages of a book. Amidst their rustling, Sophie hears a familiar whisper…

‘There you are, my Sophie. I knew you’d come back for me.’

An absolutely spellbinding read about long-hidden family secrets and the magic that lurks between the pages of every ancient book. Perfect for fans of The Ten Thousand Doors of January, The Night Circus and The Binding.

REVIEW:

I find it hard to resist a book about a library, and when it is a magical library, then I am 100% sold! Jessica Thorne’s wonderfully imaginative creation is a library like no other, and once I stepped through it’s doors with Sophie, I knew I never wanted to leave.

The library is an ever changing beast, sometimes delightfully mysterious, other times dark and sinister. The inhabitants of the library are equally enigmatic. From vibrant Tia, to Titivillus, the library cat, there is more to uncover about each and every character than initially meets the eye. In particular for me, it was love at first sight with Will, and I was eager to uncover his secrets..

I have always wanted to try my hand at book binding and a job restoring damaged books in a mysterious library sounds like heaven. I would love to see the Mortlake grimoire, it sounds so beautiful, not to mention all of the other shelves full of rare books house within the library.

The mention of Elias Ashmole and the School of Night put me instantly in mind of one of my favourite book series, the All Souls Trilogy, and made me hopeful I would love this book just as much.  Deborah Harkness is a tough act to follow, but luckily Jessica Thorne did not disappoint (having read some of her previous work, I was confident this would be the case). I feel like there is a lot more to come from the library, and I am hopeful for a follow up book soon!

Book Review

Threadneedle – Cari Thomas

I am thrilled to be joining the blog tour for the amazing Threadneedle by Cari Thomas. Many thanks to Cari and Harper Voyager for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

Anna’s aunt has always warned her of the dangers of magic. Its twists. Its knots. Its deadly consequences.

Now Anna counts down the days to the ceremony that will bind her magic forever.

Until she meets Effie and Attis.

They open her eyes to a London she never knew existed. A shop that sells memories. A secret library where the librarian feeds off words. A club where revellers lose themselves in a haze of spells.

But as she is swept deeper into this world, Anna begins to wonder if her aunt was right all along. Is her magic a gift or a curse?

Told through spells created with knots and threads, this is a story that is both innovative and based in traditional witchcraft.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Thread Needle - Front Cover

REVIEW:

I first heard about Threadneedle from my lovely friend Kate Kenzie who couldn’t say enough good things about it. With it coming so highly recommended, I knew that this would be a book that I would love. Even with such rave reports though, Threadneedle still caught me by surprise – not least because it has a contemporary setting, whereas for reasons known only to my subconscious, I had been utterly convinced that it was going to be historical. Once I’d got beyond that little misconception though, it wasn’t long before I was utterly hooked.

Threadneedle is a book of contrasts, the light and dark of magic, the warmth of Rowan’s mum and the positively Arctic personality of Anna’s aunt, the fine line between teaching someone a lesson, and taking it just a little too far. It is full of magic and mystery and I loved following Anna on her voyage of discovery of both magic, and life with friends. I was completely swept away by the hedonism of Beltane, which was actually vaguely reminiscent of a club I went to in Ibiza many years ago. I found myself longing to visit the magical club, and hidden library of magical texts, and all the other secret spaces there are to be found in London.

The complicated friendships, family relationships, and shared histories mean that there is an awful lot to unpick in this book, and I don’t want to give any of it away and take away the pleasure to be found in discovering it for yourself. It is a wonderfully original story which cleverly entwines plenty of the history of witchcraft within it.

Fantasy and YA are my two favourite genres of books, so Threadneedle was always going to be a winner for me. I couldn’t read this book fast enough but at the same time I didn’t want it to end. Here’s hoping I don’t have to wait too long for more from Cari Thomas.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cari Thomas - Author picCari Thomas has always loved magic, inspired by her upbringing among the woods and myths of Wales’ Wye Valley. She studied English and Creative Writing at Warwick University and Magazine Journalism at The Cardiff School of Journalism. Her first job was at teen Sugar magazine where she ran the book club and quickly realised she wanted to be the one writing the books instead. She went on to work at a creative agency, spending her spare time researching magic and accumulating an unusual collection of occult books. She wrote her debut novel Threadneedle while living in London, wandering the city and weaving it with all the magic she wished it contained. She now lives in Bristol with her husband and son, who bears the appropriately Celtic name of Taliesin.

A NOTE FROM CARI THOMAS:

I remember the old family stories about my Great Aunt Mary. A fiercely independent, enigmatic woman who was said to be a witch. Perhaps it was these early stories seeping into my subconscious, perhaps it was devouring The Worst Witch, or growing up in rural Wales surrounded by myth and fairy tales, or maybe it was just me, but from a young age I developed a fascination for all things witches and magic.

But let’s not forget that the witch’s hut always sits outside of the village for a reason. In my research, I became just as obsessed with magic’s opposite forces – repression, fear, suspicion and prejudice. After all, if my Great Aunt Mary had been alive a few centuries earlier she may well have been burnt at the stake.

Witch hunts became an area of fascination for me and the more I read the more outraged I became – how powerful, outspoken women and men, or people of the pagan faith, or simply outsiders, have time and time again been suppressed, silenced and extinguished from society. How the power structure of the day meant that it was near impossible for them to have a voice and to defend themselves. Why was it such people terrified those in power? Why were we not taught more about this dark period of history? Why did the themes feel like they still resonated so strongly today?

I explore these tensions in Threadneedle – the freedoms of magic set against a fear of witches and feminine power; schoolgirls forced to take on the injustices of the world one spell at a time.

The sheer joy of writing the book came in bringing these tensions to the modern world and particularly into the London setting we think we know.

Ultimately, this is where the heart of the story lies: in feminine power and sisterhood, bringing together an unlikely set of outsiders, who together must navigate their way through the light and dark of being a young woman in today’s world. A world that is more complex than ever and yet still plagued by many of the same issues that my Great Aunt Mary would have faced, and all the witches who came before her.

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Book Review

The Once And Future Witches – Alix E. Harrow

I am diving into one of my favourite genres today with a review of The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow. Many thanks to Alix, and to Little, Brown Book Group UK, for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be. 

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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REVIEW:

As you well know by now, I adore books about witchcraft and The Once and Future Witches is a book that practically sings with magic from the very first page. I lost some serious sleep over this book as I had to really force myself to put it down and go to bed.

The Once and Future Witches is a story of three women not so much pushing through the boundaries placed on them by gender, race and sexuality, but more burning those boundaries to ash, a story of empowerment and of women claiming their place in the world.

There is a lot to love about this book, and in fact I could wax lyrical about it for hours if nobody stopped me, but I will attempt to contain myself to my particular highlights here. One of these was the rhymes and witch-tales that are interspersed through the book, familiar, yet not, as Perrault, Lang and the Grimms are reimagined as women. I loved each of the Eastwood sisters for different reasons, although bookish Beatrice won a particular place in my heart. In contrast, Gideon Hill is an antagonist to make your skin crawl and give you goosebumps.

Some books just demand to be held as a physical print book and the e-book is just not enough. I was trying to justify buying the hardback when I already had the e-book, so it absolutely made my day when the lovely K T Robson gave me a copy for Christmas. I just know this is a book that I will be rereading and guarding with my life as a treasured possession.

 

Book Review

The Hedgehog Child – Helen Slavin

As you will all know by now, I am a huge fan of Helen Slavin’s Witch Ways series, and today I am  excited to be able to tell you all about The Hedgehog Child, one of the Witch Ways Whisper novellas that accompany the series. Many thanks to Agora books for providing me with a copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:
She wondered, sometimes, if the most cruel and dangerous things were those that did not live in Havoc Wood.

Step, if you would, out of Havoc and into the treacherous worlds around it. You might find a market. You might find a kingdom. You might find a place where magic is taboo.

Hettie Way is no stranger to these other places, but when a child, stamped with spells, is stolen from that world and whisked to Woodcastle, she’s not the only trouble that arrives…

The Hedgehog Child, a Witch Ways Whisper, is a prequel to the Witch Ways Series.

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REVIEW:

I really loved this little snippet of life before the main Witch Ways series, seeing more of Hettie, and meeting Anna, Charlie and Emz as small children. Hettie is such a big presence in the main series, despite not physically being there, and it was a joy to get to know her better in this book.

Although only short, The Hedgehog Child contains all the magic of a full length Witch Ways novel, and I was totally captivated by it and the new characters I met within its pages (although I will confess that it took me a embarrassingly long time to connect Tinker’s first name with her surname of Bell!).

I would highly recommend this book, and the whole series, to anyone who needs a sprinkling of magic in their life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Helen Slavin was born in Heywood in Lancashire in 1966. She was raised by eccentric parents on a diet of Laurel and Hardy, William Shakespeare and the Blackpool Illuminations. Educated at her local comp her favourite subjects at school were English and Going Home.

After The University of Warwick she worked in many jobs including, plant and access hire, a local government Education department typing pool, and a vasectomy clinic. A job as a television scriptwriter gave her the opportunity to spend all day drinking tea, living in a made-up fantasy world and getting paid for it (sometimes).

Helen has been a professional writer for fifteen years. Her first novel The Extra Large Medium was chosen as the winner in the Long Barn Books competition run by Susan Hill.

A paragliding Welsh husband and two children distract her and give her ample opportunity to spend all day drinking tea, nagging about homework and washing pants for England. In the wee small hours she still keeps a bijou flat in that fantasy world of writing.When not working with animals and striving for world peace, Helen enjoys the music of Elbow and baking bread. Her favourite colour is purple and if she had to be stranded on a desert island with someone it would be Ray Mears ( alright, George Clooney is very good looking but can he make fire with a stick? No. See?)

She now lives, with her family, in Trowbridge, Wiltshire where, when she’s not writing, she’s asleep. Or in Tescos.

Book Review

Esme’s Gift – Elizabeth Foster

I am returning to Aeolia as I join the blog tour for Esme’s Gift, book two in Elizabeth Foster’s Middle Grade Fantasy series. Many thanks to Elizabeth, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. If you haven’t read book one, Esme’s Wish, yet, I recommend reading that before you read any further down this post, as there are unavoidable spoilers for it coming up.

BLURB:

Terror was within. Terror was without.
Like her mother, she was at the water’s mercy.

In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver faces her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift—the power to observe the past—and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends—old and new—travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must face their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places.

Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is a gripping fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.

Fans of Harry Potter will love this book for its similar themes. The genuine friendship of the characters make this book a satisfying read, and hints at a healthy romance in the next book. The conclusion of the trilogy will be greatly anticipated! Sorcha, Goodreads

From dragons diving into volcanoes, Esme and her friends portalling out of art class and deep underwater adventures, Esme’s Gift is quite simply a thrilling and exciting read. Jean, Goodreads

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

Having enjoyed Esme’s Wish earlier this year, I was looking forward to reading the sequel and getting to know the wonderful world of Aeolia better. The city of Esperance always makes makes me think of Venice and the magical feeling I remember from my visit there – just with fewer tourists, and in Esperance the magic is real.

In Esme’s Gift, we see Esme settling into life in Esperance and starting lessons at Pierpont College. As much as I love Daniel and Lillian, it was great to see Esme making more friends, and interesting to read about her less friendly interactions with some of her fellow students. Watching the students come into their sometimes tricky to control Gifts was very entertaining too. Not least of these unpredictable Gifts is Esme’s, as she races against time to get hold of it before it is too late to save Ariane.

Esme’s Gift is full of drama and action as Esme uncovers more secrets and betrayals on both sides of the portal to Aeolia. Elizabeth Foster has expanded her world beautifully and created so much intrigue that I am left impatiently awaiting the next book!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A-Elizabeth Foster Hi Res 06 (1)I read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago when reading to my own kids reminded me how much I missed getting lost in other worlds. It’s never too late to find and follow your passion! I now have two books published and am about to start writing the third and final story in the Esme series.  My home base is Sydney, where I can often be found running (just kidding – walking) by the water, or scribbling in cafés.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win 3 x pairs of e-books Esme’s Wish & Esme’s Gift (Open Internationally)

Esme's Wish cover[2]

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Book Review

Josie James & The Velvet Knife – Lily Mae Walters

It’s time to return to Suncroft for my second review of the day, Josie James & The Velvet Knife by Lily May Walters. My thanks to Lily Mae and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of today’s blog blitz, and for providing me with a copy of both this book, and The Teardrops of Summer.

BLURB:

“For you to find the Velvet Knife, you must solve the riddles thrice.” A mysterious hooded figure, known only as the Velvet Knife has appeared in the cursed village of Suncroft. No one knows who he is or what he wants but when he starts leaving riddles around the village, it is time for Josie to return to Suncroft for a second time.

With Asher, her faithful husky Protector by her side, Filan, a half elf, and her great grandad, will they be able to solve the clues in time and discover his identity? The Velvet Knife is not the only one causing problems for Josie. Her rival for the position of the ‘Chosen One’ continues to grow stronger, and now he has a Protector of his own.

What does all this mean for Josie? Is she destined to lift the wintery curse of Suncroft or will another take her place as the ‘Chosen One’?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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REVIEW:

The Velvet Knife sees the return of Josie to her great-grandmother’s beautiful cottage for a few weeks of the summer holidays. Although this is book two of the series, Lily Mae Walters has created a clever way of recapping enough of book one for this to work as a standalone, as Josie slowly recovers her hidden memories of the previous summer.

Whilst the mysterious Velvet Knife seems to present a new threat to the harmonious lives of the Suncroft villagers, the strange curse of eternal winter still engulfs the village, with the mystery of Josie’s true identity, and Asher’s purpose as her Protector, continuing throughout the book.

Conclusions I had reached during The Teardrops of Summer were turned on their heads in this book, as characters I thought could be trusted turned out to maybe have another side. Other characters , such as the Dream Maker, who I had distrusted at first sight, just became more sinister the more I read.

I thoroughly enjoyed this sequel as we delved more deeply into the secrets of Suncroft, and started to see more ways that Josie’s life as The Chosen One was starting to leak into her other life as an ordinary teenager. I am very much looking forward to reading the next book and I am hoping I won’t have to wait too long!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lily Mae Walters chose her pen name in honour of her beloved grandparents who also stare in the Josie James series.

She is married with two teenage children, and two huskies that are the inspiration behind Murphy and Asher in the books.

Lily Mae lives in Nuneaton, England and finds herself using local  places and even her old school in her stories.

Family and friends mean the world to Lily Mae and many will find themselves popping up throughout the series.

Lily Mae also writes for adults under the name of Florence Keeling.

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Book Review

Josie James & The Teardrops of Summer – Lily Mae Walters

In the first of a double bill of reviews today, here are my thoughts on Josie James & The Teardrops of Summer, the first book in the Josie James series by Lily Mae Walters.

BLURB:

Josie James is an ordinary 13 year old until something extraordinary happens during her summer holidays.Whilst staying at her Great Grandmother’s cottage in the country she finds herself swept into the cursed world of Suncroft where it is perpetual winter.Her new friends believe she could be the Chosen One who it is foretold will lift the curse, but there are more pressing matters.The Teardrops of Summer – magical crystals that render the owner immortal – have been stolen. Along with her telepathic husky-dog Protector Asher and her new friends, Josie must race to find the Teardrops and prevent catastrophe for their world.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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REVIEW:

As I read this book, with Josie’s idyllic life and her great-grandmother’s quintessential English country cottage with it’s hidden gate, I was swept away on a wave of nostalgia. This book evokes similar feelings that I remember from reading The Chronicles of Narnia and The Secret Garden as a child. There is just something so magical about it, even before Josie finds her way to Suncroft.

Despite their situation, living in a world of endless winter, and perpetual night, the people of Suncroft seem much more content with their lives than those of us in the real world. The simple lives they lead away from the stresses and strains of modern life and technology felt deeply appealing as I read this book during the current pandemic situation. Everything about Suncroft was the perfect escape that I needed.

Lily Mae Walters has created a fascinating world, so full of secrets and mystery just waiting to be uncovered, and much the same as Harry Potter, I can see the readers of this series growing up with Josie as they rejoin her adventures each summer.

Oh by the way, you are going to want to make sure you already have book two ready to read as soon as you finish this one, because the way it ends will leave you desperate to know more!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lily Mae Walters chose her pen name in honour of her beloved grandparents who also stare in the Josie James series.

She is married with two teenage children, and two huskies that are the inspiration behind Murphy and Asher in the books.

Lily Mae lives in Nuneaton, England and finds herself using local  places and even her old school in her stories.

Family and friends mean the world to Lily Mae and many will find themselves popping up throughout the series.

Lily Mae also writes for adults under the name of Florence Keeling.

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Pop back later today when I will be reviewing book two in this fab series, Josie James and The Velvet Knife.

Book Review

Magical Intelligence – M.K. Wiseman

Today I am joining the blog tour for Magical Intelligence by M.K. Wiseman. Many thanks to M.K. for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

When you are a member of Britain’s first team of wizard spies, every mission might be your last. But as the dawning of the 20th century draws ever nearer, magic grows weak. Violectric Dampening, the clash of man-made electricity with the Gifts of magekind, threatens M.I.’s existence. And if that isn’t enough, they’ve now been discharged from their own government. Obsolete. Distrusted.

And now hunted by one of their own.

Myra Wetherby has always feared her so-called fits, strange visions of people and places that she cannot explain. It is the emotional manipulation, however, a strange empathic connection to those around her, which threatens her very sanity. A danger to her family, Myra runs away, falling straight into the hands of the newly ousted Magical Intelligence team. Who just so happen to need an ability like hers.

Which makes Myra one of them . . . whether she likes it or not.

MagicalIntel_FrontCover copy

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Magical Intelligence

REVIEW:

Magical Intelligence is a bit of a tricky book for me to review. When I read the blurb I think I saw the words “wizards” and “magic” and completely bypassed the fact that this was largely a spy novel. Unfortunately, this is a genre that I struggle with, mainly because it completely baffles me and I spend big chunks of the book not having the faintest clue what is going on. That said, this book had the feel of the classic espionage tale, and reminded me of some of the recognised greats in the genre that I have tried to read in the past. If this is a genre that you enjoy I think you will love this book.

Setting my own genre issues aside, I loved the characters in this book, and found each of their personal stories utterly intriguing. I instantly fell for the charming Aidan, but felt equally drawn to mysterious Benjamin too. It was easy to understand Myra’s confusion over the pair.

The magic system that M.K. Wiseman has created is well thought out and original, and I particularly liked the concept that the onset of the modern world would have an adverse effect on the strength of magekind’s powers.

Even though I struggled with the spy side of things, the characters and the magic are more than enough to make me want to read any future books that should come from this universe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

M K Wiseman - promo photo 300 square copy

M. K. Wiseman has degrees in animation/video and library science – both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, her office is a clutter of storyboards and half-catalogued collections of too, too many books. (But, really, is there such a thing as too many books?) When she’s not mucking about with stories, she’s off playing brač or lying in a hammock in the backyard of her Cedarburg home that she shares with her endlessly patient husband.

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Book Review

Brittle’s Academy for the Magically Unstable – Lily Mae Walters

I am delighted to be joining the blog blitz for Brittle’s Academy for the Magically Unstable: Charlie Makes a Discovery, the first book in a great Middle Grade Fantasy series by Lily Mae Walters today. Many thanks to Lily Mae for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.

BLURB:

It’s Charlie’s first day at high school, his blazer is too big and his shoes are too small, but that’s the least of his worries. He’s been missed off the class lists and is now enrolled in a new school called Brittle’s Academy with a magical and mysterious head teacher. But to stay at Brittle’s Charlie must pass one of the tests…otherwise he’ll be sent to Oblivion!

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Cover

REVIEW:

The instant I saw the cover for Brittle’s Academy, I was swept back to my first visit to the Harry Potter studios in Watford, standing in front of the magnificent doors to the Great Hall at Hogwarts. I knew that if Brittle’s Academy was even half as magical, then it was a book not to be missed.

In Charlie Makes A Discovery, Lily Mae Walters perfectly captures the nerves that I can still remember of the first day at secondary school, not knowing your way around, or if you will be in the same class as your friends. Add to that the fact that your name doesn’t appear on any of the class lists at all, and it suddenly becomes a very daunting prospect indeed – especially when you then find yourself swept away to an entirely different school to the one you were expecting to attend!

This book presents an excellent introduction to the magic system of Brittle’s Academy, as the newest pupils meet the oddball collection of teachers at the school and begin to learn about their own abilities. The tests that the students have to undertake in order to be assigned their house were intriguing and left me wondering how I would have fared, and which house I would have ended up in. I am thoroughly looking forward to getting to know each of the pupils and teachers in the future books in the series.

Brittle’s Academy for the Magically Unstable is filled with chucklesome moments, and is a quick, fun reads for adults as well as children. It is the perfect escape from the boredom of our current isolation situation (and a break from the stresses of home schooling!).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lily Mae Walters chose her pen name in honour of her beloved grandparents who also star in the Josie James series.

She is married with two teenage children, and two huskies that are the inspiration behind Murphy and Asher in the books.

Lily Mae lives in Nuneaton, England and finds herself using local  places and even her old school in her stories.

Family and friends mean the world to Lily Mae and many will find themselves popping up throughout the series.

Lily Mae also writes for adults under the name of Florence Keeling.

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