Sunday, 27 January 2019

Book Review | The Familiars by Stacey Halls

The Familiars by Stacey Hall book review historical fiction

My Rating: 8/10 
Published: February 7th 2019
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Amazon | Goodreads 

Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a noblewoman, is with child again. None of her previous pregnancies have borne fruit, and her husband, Richard, is anxious for an heir. Then Fleetwood discovers a hidden doctor’s letter that carries a dire prediction: she will not survive another birth. By chance she meets a midwife named Alice Grey, who promises to help her deliver a healthy baby. But Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft.

Is there more to Alice than meets the eye? Fleetwood must risk everything to prove her innocence. As the two women’s lives become intertwined, the Witch Trials of 1612 loom. Time is running out; both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Rich and compelling, set against the frenzy of the real Pendle Hill Witch Trials, this novel explores the rights of 17th-century women and raises the question: Was witch-hunting really women-hunting? Fleetwood Shuttleworth, Alice Grey and the other characters are actual historical figures. King James I was obsessed with asserting power over the lawless countryside (even woodland creatures, or “familiars,” were suspected of dark magic) by capturing “witches”—in reality mostly poor and illiterate women.

The Familiars is a historical fiction novel, which from the title is not what I was expecting. For those of you who are unaware of what a familiar is, to put it simply, it's a witches companion that takes the shape of an animal, like Salem in Sabrina the Teenage Witch. This made me think that The Familiars was going to be a lot more fantastical but what we get instead is a very true to the time story which is incredibly addicting to read. 

Fleetwood is a great character, she is considered strange by those around her as she is not your typical lady. She takes parts in hunts, rolls around on the floor with her dog and does not seem to be all that interested in being the lady of the manor, which she is... She is pretty well fleshed out with a good back story too and despite only being seventeen has already been through so much in her life.

The other main player in this book is Alice, the lady Fleetwood takes on as a midwife. Alice is poor and has been accused of witchcraft. This is the part for me which shows just what a good historic fiction this is because at the time of the witch hunts it was mainly poor women that were targeted. We see how Fleetwood and Alice's friendship develops over time and follow their stories both past and present.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and sped through it. I think the only thing I would've liked to have seen more of is familiars themselves, whilst they are a nice recurring theme in the book, considering the title of the book is The Familiars I would've thought they would be more prominent in the book and as I mentioned at the start I also thought this would have more of a fantastical magical element. Although The Familiars is very different to what I was expecting, I really enjoyed it and raced through it. For anyone who is a fan of witches and the time period I definitely recommend checking this out, or for anyone who appreciates a good story with a strong female main character definitely pick this up. 


Saturday, 12 January 2019

Bookish Cross Stitch - Plastic Little Covers

cross stitch book mark plastic little covers

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of cross stitch, one of my favourite hobbies at the weekend is to listen to a good audio book and do some cross stitch, it's so relaxing I really recommend it! Cross stitch is actually really easy to pick up and always makes for cute gifts so I've decided to do a small series on different cross stitch designers who offer kits or patterns that have bookish themed products starting with Plastic Little Covers.

I've actually stitched quite a few of Plastic Little Covers patterns, but the products I wanted to feature today are her bookmark kits. As you can see I've made a couple already and actually gifted the kits a few times to friends. 

cross stitch book mark plastic little covers

Everything you need to stitch a bookmark is included in the including the fabric, needle, all threads, backing fabric, finishing thread and the pattern with instructions on how to cross stitch for beinners plus how to finish off the bookmark. There are quite a few different designs to choose from as well and I love them all. Overall I think this took me around three hours whilst listening to Circe and I really loved stitching it. 

Besides the cross stitch kits, as I mentioned Plastic Little Covers has some amazing bookish themed patterns that come in PDF format. These are a little bit more complicated as they are larger in size and require you to buy the threads and cross stitch fabric (aida) yourself, but if you are already a stitcher I definitely recommend these patterns as I've had great fun stitching them, plus they look cute AF once done. Here are a couple of my favourite:
cross stitch pattern plastic little covers

The bookmark kits range in price from £6.50 to £8 and the PDF patterns start at just 2.40, all available from her Etsy store! What do you think, would you stitch one of these? Any cross stitchers here already? I also totally love listening to audi dramas and if you are looking for some good ones to check out I have just the blog post for you: I Heart Audio Dramas  What a great little plug that was!


Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Book Review | My Name is Anna by Lizzy Barber

My Name is Anna by Lizzy Barber book review

My Rating: 9/10 
Published: 10th January 2019 
Pages: 182 
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller,
Amazon | Goodreads 
Two women – desperate to unlock the truth.
How far will they go to lay the past to rest?
ANNA has been taught that virtue is the path to God. But on her eighteenth birthday she defies her Mamma’s rules and visits Florida’s biggest theme park.
She has never been allowed to go – so why, when she arrives, does everything seem so familiar? And is there a connection to the mysterious letter she receives on the same day?
ROSIE has grown up in the shadow of the missing sister she barely remembers, her family fractured by years of searching without leads.Now, on the fifteenth anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, the media circus resumes in full flow, and Rosie vows to uncover the truth.
But will she find the answer before it tears her family apart?
Before starting this review I will be straight up honest and say that this book features a lot of things I find fascinating, such as conspiracy theories, theme parks, missing people and more so it really had my attention from the start which pretty much guaranteed I was going to enjoy it, and I did.
This story is a thriller and is told from the perspective of Anna, the girl who has had a strict upbringing in Florida, and Rosie, a girl who lives in London whose older sister went missing when she was just a baby, 15 years ago.
Going into the book I felt like a relatively big part of the plot was given away by the blurb, and whilst this is the case there is actually so much more to the story than the discovery that *Spoiler-ish* Anna and Rosie are sisters. There are plenty more twists and turns that take part and having it told through two points of view really helps keep the suspense up as it skips from one sister to the other, often at a point where you are dying to read on about what the current sister is getting up to. The two sisters also have such clear differences even in the writing style used which makes it very easy to follow the two stories that are developing. 
Another really strong point of this book is the side characters. They are all so well written and fleshed out that they are very believable. There are often times in the story when I questioned, why is this character doing this, I don't understand, but then as more of the back story develops or some of the plot unfolds it all makes sense and explains a lot about why some of the characters behave the way they do. 
Overall I found this a really interesting and well written story with so much more to it than meets the eye. It was a total page turner and I did not want to put it down. I definitely recommend this if you are after a good thriller, what a great book to kick start the year with! 

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Book Review | Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan

Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan book review

My Rating: 8/10 
Published: January 10th 2019
Pages: 416
Genre: Horror
Amazon | Goodreads 

For Charlie, a school ski trip is the perfect escape from his unhappy home life. Until a storm blows in and the resort town is cut off from the rest of the world. Trapped on the mountain, the students wait for the blizzards to pass, along with mysterious ski guide Hanna. 
But as night falls and the town’s long buried secrets begin to surface, the storm is the least of their problems….

‘She sat us all down and told us a story. About things that lived in the woods. Things that only came out at night.’

My love of horror books is no secret, and the books published under the Redeye umbrella have not let me down in the past, so when I saw their latest addition, Whiteout I was very excited to pick it up and delve straight in. It did not disappoint! 

I've never actually been skiing before, and living in London the whole city has a meltdown when we see the slightest bit of snow so a remote mountain resort in my eyes makes the perfect setting for a horror book. With no way to communicate with the outside world due to signal lines being down, and no way to escape this creates the perfect recipe for something bad to happen.

Whiteout is incredibly faced paced and each chapter is told from a different point of view. The book mainly follows Charlie, but it often follows his other classmates. Quite often they get split up so you will get to the end of a chapter with one lot of characters and be dying to find out what happens next, only for the story to follow the other set of characters, great for building suspence and for a slightly different way of telling the story. 

This is an action packed survival horror book that you will definitely speed through. I particularly loved the way that it ended but don't worry, I won't spoil that for you! 

Thursday, 3 January 2019

December 2018 Book Haul

December was a good month for me and books. I was actually doing really well in not buying anything, but then Christmas happened and so I received some books but I also gave some as gifts to friends but they looked so great I just had to pick up a copy for myself too, as you do....

  • Stories We Tell Ourselves by Sarah Fran├žoise - This was part of the December Reading in Heels subscription box. It's a slice of life style book about a family with many problems (affairs to be a recurring theme) as they return home to the French Alps for Christmas. 
  • Nothing But the Truth by Dick Lehr - I received this from Walker YA (thank you!!!) Set in Boston, a thirteen year old African American girl is shot. An arrest was quickly made. The person arrested is Trell's father. She was only a baby when he was arrested but twelve years later she is trying to get him out of prison and prove his innocence. It sounds like a really powerful book and I can't wait to sink my teeth into it.
  • Spellslinger and Shadowblack by Sebastien de Castell - These two were Christmas gifts from my husband, I was quite impressed that he picked them out by himself as I had seen Sebastien do a reading of his fourth book in September and thought it was fab. Anyway, the Spellslinger series I've heard is like magic meets the Wild West and it sounds like a really fun series. Oh and there is a sarcastic creature called a squirrel cat. Fab. 
  • Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami - Another gift from my husband, and another fantastic choice as this is one I have been eyeing up for ages. Tsukiko is in her late thirties when she meets a former teacher of hers in a bar. They keep meeting again and again and this follows their relationship as it develops. I've heard from lots of friends it's a very sweet read. 
  • The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa - Of course this has been on my wish list for a while, I mean it has a cat in the title! Yet another gift from my husband, this is about the relationship between a Japanese business man and a street cat. Described as heartwarming and feel good, I can't wait to read this when I am feeling a bit blue. 
  • Predators Gold by Philip Reeve - This is the last of the books that my husband got me for Christmas. Predators Gold is actually the second in the Mortal Engines quartet, so of course I've ordered Mortal Engines so I can read that first. It's set in a post- apocalyptic future and features flying cities so it sounds pretty epic. 
  • Basic Witches, How to Summon Success, Banish Drama and Raise Hell With Your Coven - To say I was influenced by The chilling Adventures of Sabrina this year is an understatement, and my goal of 2019 is to become a basic witch bitch. This book is full of super cute and fun illustrations. If you are looking for serious magic this isn't going to be for you, but it is a great self help style book with a witchy theme and I love it.
  • Kawaii Tarot - Sticking to the supernatural theme, I decided to pick up the Kawaii Tarot kit which includes the cutest tarot deck ever, and a book explaining how to read the cards. I have always thought of myself as slightly physic, so tarot peaked my interest. The book included in this kit is pretty basic so I think I will have to pick up another one to help me understand tarot better, but the deck is kawaii AF and a good starting point.
Phew that was a pretty huge haul! I think my husband did a fantastic job of picking out a variety of books I would like, he is a good sausage sometimes! Are any of these on your list or interest you? Also is anyone else into Tarot and can recommend some good resources? 

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