The Bone Garden

Made of dust and bone and imagination, Irréelle fears she’s not quite real. Only the finest magical thread tethers her to life – and to Miss Vesper. But for all her efforts to please her cruel creator, the thread is unravelling. Irréelle is forgetful as she gathers bone dust. She is slow returning from the dark passages beneath the cemetery. Worst of all, she is unmindful of her crooked bones

When Irréelle makes one final, unforgivable mistake by destroying a frightful creature just brought to life, Miss Vesper threatens to imagine her away once and for all. Defying her creator for the very first time, Irréelle flees to the underside of the graveyard and embarks on an adventure to unearth the mysterious magic that breathes bones to life, even if it means she will return to dust and be no more

The Bone Garden

Heather Kassner’s debut The Bone Garden is utterly magical, beautiful and just deliciously dark and mysterious middle grade adventure.

Irrélle is the imperfect creation who wants to be loved and to be real. Miss Vesper is the cruel and demanding mistress who created her. With each task she is reprimanded for failing, each clumsy mistake, your heart breaks for Irréelle. In her quest to please Miss Vesper, she uncovers more than she expects and it makes her grow in ways she could never have imagined.

I throughly enjoyed The Bone Garden, as did Tiny Satan who has now re homed it to his own bookshelf where it feels right at home with Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Coraline. Heather Kassner has us hungry for more and it will come next year in the form of The Forest of Stars.

Heather Kassner’s author website, twitter, Instagram, and Facebook will keep you up to date with all sorts of events, information, and bookish beauty.

The Bone Garden was released in UK paperback on July 23rd and August 6th in US hardcover and is available in bookshops now. The US hardcover has illustrations by Matt Sanders both on the cover and inside. Julia Lloyd is responsible for the darker more gothic UK cover.

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Bout of Books 26

It’s that time again, and though I am midway through the Magical Readathon doing my NEWTs, the boost of an intense week gets me focused.

Enter Bout of Books 26.

A week long readathon with twitter chat, twitter and instagram challenges, and prizes. Running Monday 19th – Sunday 25th August. bout of books is fun whether you keep up with everything, pop in occasionally, or just use it as a self motivator.

Do you need an excuse to read and talk to you bookish tribe?

Strange Ink

When washed-up journalist Harry Hendricks wakes up one morning with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out. But soon more tattoos appear: grisly, violent images which come accompanied by horrific nightmares – so he begins to dig deeper. Harry’s search leads him to a sinister disappearance, torment from beyond the grave, and a web of corruption and violence tangled with his own past.

One way or another, he has to right the wrongs.

Strange Ink synopsis

I love tattoos. My love of body art is beyond reason. I have been in love with it for as long as I can remember. The first tattoo I ever saw was a scroll with my name under a skull on my dads arm. These days I am fairly tattooed myself. This all leads to me being a sucker for any story that centre on tattoos. Throw in supernatural thriller and I’m all yours. Or in this case all Gary Kemble’s.

Black edged beauty and cover design by Natasha McKenzie

Harry Hendricks is a talented journalist. However that talent lead to the him crossing powerful people before he even graduated, meaning the big papers passed him over. Harry has been working at local weekly Chermside Chronicle ever since. Now with his friends wedding in days, Bec, Harry’s girlfriend of 6 years breaks up with him and Haryy moves into a new place.

Amid the boxes and confusion Harry starts to have nightmares. Each nightmare brings with it pain and a new tattoo. At first he brushes it off as a drunken mistake, but as the dreams get more intense and detailed Harry knows he has to do something. Discovering that they aren’t nightmares but the memories of a missing SAS soldier Rob finds Harry in a world of trouble. Politics, corruption, drug smuggling, biker gangs, and a story with the potential to be bigger and more dangerous than his first big scoop.

This book was a masterpiece. It grabbed me by the throat from the first line and it just didn’t stop. Fast paced action, constant on the edge of your seat tension, perfectly flowing, Strange Ink is a just one more page, up all night type of read. And that’s exactly what happened. There isn’t anywhere you want to stop, you can’t put it down, you have to know what next. And what’s next? Dark Ink on October 8th.

Gary Kemble can be found here, and on twitter. Strange Ink is available to buy now and Dark Ink can be preordered from any bookseller. Thank you to Titan Books for providing me with a copy of Dark Ink, as always all opinions are my own.

Spin The Dawn

A gifted tailor in disguise. Three legendary dresses. The competition of a lifetime.
​On the fringes of the Great Spice Road, Maia Tamarin works as a seamstress in her father’s shop. She dreams of becoming the best tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well.
When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as his son and travels to the Summer Palace in his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to save her family and achieve her dream of becoming the imperial tailor. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job. Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the unwelcome attention of the court enchanter, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise. And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be: from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Synopsis for Spin The Dawn

Spin The Dawn is Book 1 of The Blood of The Stars series by Elizabeth Lim, and I have been looking forward to this book for the longest time. The longest. I preordered it the minute it was available to. When it arrived from Books of Wonder utterly stunning, accompanied by the most beautiful swag, character art and a pin, not to mention personalised and signed, I definitely had a little happy squeak.

But first, before we get into it, let’s talk about a misquote that has been used EVERYWHERE. That’s right. I want to talk about “Project Runway meets Mulan”. The original quote best match that I can find was this

“Part epic adventure, part fairy tale, and part Project Runway, SPIN THE DAWN is a thrilling tale as rich as velvet and as exquisite as fine embroidery.”

Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere

I’m not sure if it’s because the main character is a Chinese female or just a unwise choice in quote condensing, but Spin the Dawn is not part Mulan, nor does part epic adventure, part fairy tale equal Mulan. If Mulan is what you are after allow me to suggest Reflection, which is the Mulan retelling by Elizabeth Lim for Disney.

Back to our previously scheduled review. Maia Tamarin is the youngest of 4 children and the only daughter of a renowned tailor who struggles to hold his life together after the death of his wife. Maia is the one with the most skill as and desire to be a tailor. She has dreamed of becoming a sought after tailor, so she is the one to step up and continue his work, all the while acting as a mere seamstress. When her oldest 2 brothers are called to war, the younger brother follows, leaving Maia to manage the home and work hard to do so. Only the younger son returns.

When the war is won, a union is proposed. The Emperor Khanujin and the daughter of the opposing war lord, Lady Sarnai. Unfortunately the Imperial Tailor has passed on and a new one must be found to create the wardrobe and wedding dress for Lady Sarnai.

The tailor Tamarin is called upon to attend the palace where 12 tailors will sew wonders in order to obtain the position. As neither her father or brother can go, Maia pretends to be the young Master Tamarin and follow her dream.

I enjoyed the world, religion and mythology of A’landi. Maia’s initial dislike for Edan and her confusion at being flirted with by kitchen staff play perfectly with the intensity of the contest and the impossible final task of crafting the 3 dresses of legend and the deadly journey for materials. I look forward to 2020 when I can find out the results of Maia’s impressive actions, and the consequences of her actions.

Spin the Dawn is available through Knopf Books at Penguin and Unravel the Dusk is set for release next year. More information about Elizabeth Lim books and events can be found here, on twitter, Facebook, and instagram.

Into The Crooked Place.

Alexandra Christo’s Into The Crooked Place is the first book of the Into The Crooked Place duology. And it was one if the most lusted after arcs at YALC. If you have read To Kill A Kingdom you will know why. If you haven’t go read it, it’s fabulous.

Magic rules the city if Creije, and Tavia Syn knows just how many trucks she needs up her sleeve to survive. Selling dark magic on the streets for her kingpin, she keeps clear of other crooks, counting the days until her debt is paid and she can flee her criminal life.

But then, one day, with her freedom in sight, Tavia uncovers a sinister plot that threatens to destroy the realm she calls home. Desperate to put an end to her kingpin’s plan, Tavia forms an unlikely alliance with three crooks even more deadly than her:

Wesley, the kingpin’s prodigy and most renowned criminal in the realm.

Karam, an underground fighter with a penchant for killing first and forgetting to ask questions.

Saxony, a Crafter in hiding who will stop at nothing to avenge her family.

With the reluctant saviours assembled, they embark on a quest to put an end to the dark magic before it’s too late. But even if they can take down the kingpin and save the realm, the one thing they can’t do is trust each other.

Into The Crooked Place synopsis

I loved it! Fantasy, magic, crime lords and politics. The relationships between the main characters are just perfect.

Wesley and Tavia, both taken in by an underboss to Kingpin of Creije as homelss starving children. They became friends while they trained as buskers, selling magic and tricks. Wesley moves up to the position of underboss but still cares for his best busker Tavia, and will do anything to protect his town and his people.

Tavia just wants to free herself from her life debt and from Creije. To return to Volo and not owe anything to anyone.

Karam the fierce warrior woman of the Rekhu d’Rihsni, protectors of Crafters. She left her home and her family to learn her craft.

Saxony the mysterious beauty, employee of Wesley, friend to Tavia, Karam’s former love. And underground Crafter. Hiding from the kingpin, and those who would use her kind, in plain sight.

All have secrets and all have a reason to fight

I can not wait for book 2. Alexandra Christo creates a world, characters, and a story that draws you in deep and keeps you there. And there’s something for everyone, magic, crime, and murder. How do you resist? And the cover is stunning!

Into The Crooked Place is released October 8th 2019 through Hot Key Books and can be preordered wherever fine books are sold. If you can’t wait that long check out To Kill A Kingdom and revel in it’s magnificence.

Alexandra Christo’s website is here, where you can find links to twitter, instagram, pinterest, and Facebook, along with updates, events, and appearances.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me a review copy. As always all opinions are my own.

Heartstream

HEARTSTREAM: THE APP THAT ALLOWS YOU TO FEEL EVERYTHING

Amy Beaker is a star. She’s used Heartstream to broadcast every moment of her mother’s illness. It’s the rawest reality TV imaginable, and it’s everywhere.

On the day of her mother’s funeral, she goes home to find a fan of hers in the kitchen. She’s rigged herself and the house with explosives- and she’s been waiting to talk to Amy for a long time.

Amy is about to discover just how far true obsession can go.

Heartstream synopsis

One of the selling points for me was the Black Mirroresque future technology and how it affects society and human interactions. With Black Mirror the story lines aren’t always real, but they are either possible or set up to introduce the technology that would enable the situation. They usually leave me thinking what would I do in this senario, how would I respond to it, how would I feel. Heartstream left me thinking why for a different reason.

Heartstream is told from two points of view. Which for me usually means they know each other or will at some point, so the back of my mind is waiting for the first clue as to how. Amy the stream celebrity who started to use the Heartstream app when she struggled to cope with her mothers illness. Now overwhelmed by her fans, some of whom follow her to the funeral, hundred of people in t-shirts with her art on them. People who want more from her, who claim her mother as belonging to them through the use of Heartstream and that feel a right to her pain. Cat the boy band fan, who with her friend Evie runs a Rick ship forum dedicated to the suspected relationship between Nick and Ryan. Except Cat knows it isn’t real. Because she is dating Ryan in secret after a chance meeting. She can’t tell Evie, because if Evie furiously attacks any non believers using her tech knowledge, what we she do to Cat to protect this dream?

Amy, oh Amy. She isn’t mourning the way she thinks she should. She’s overwhelmed by her stream celebrity. She hints at not feeling like she fit in with her family. We hear how she felt protective of her brother but there isn’t a concern for him when she gets out of the house, just the desire to protect her captor.

Cat and her friend Evie are part of a boy band ship fandom. Evie uses technology to hack, expose, and dox anyone who leaves the Rick ship or throws doubt on it. But she blackmails a doctor by email and doesn’t just hack into the system herself. When Cat tells her she’s pregnant, Evie tells her she had an abortion a couple of years ago cause she couldn’t imagine coping or wanting a child, yet she steals the baby from Cat, then blackmails the Dr to help with this and informs the father (Why? Telling him anything means another person who could expose her) so that she can keep this one. Cat/Evie’s child has never heard of the boy band, who her mother adored to the point of illegal obsession, despite them being a One Direction like phenomenon, before and after her birth, whose lead becomes a politician. Now I know the band my own mother skipped school to see in London and that was long before the internet and intensity that celebrities get now. Who sent a swat team to Cat’s house? Where they caught? Punished? And how in the name of Jobs didn’t Cat have a photo or two of the pair of them on her phone to leak, along with all the messages, when she realised Ryan wasn’t the person she thought he was? She could have destroyed him like Katie Price did Gareth Gates. And then there’s Dr Ben and Ryan, why do they go along with it rather than expose Evie with the emails and evidence?

I really don’t know where I land with Heartstream. It was a quick read, it made me want to find out more, to see if I was right. It just didn’t give me enough.

X-men Days of Future Past. Marvel novels.

The X-men have always been a favourite of mine. Saturday morning cartoons and comic books, it was all about the X-men for me. When it came time to snag an X-men novel you better believe I was all over that.

The Days of future past storyline is from issues 141-142 of The uncanny X-men. Set on Earth-811 in the early 2000’s. Most mutants have been killed, the remaining are in a mutant containment camp or hiding out as best they can. In order to prevent these dystopian days ruled by Sentinels and watching loved ones die the remaining X-men form a plan. Sending the consciousness of Kitty Pryde back into her 13 year old self back in 1980 to prevent the Brotherhood assassinations that kickstart the Sentinel presence.

Rather than changing the plot to showcase bigger selling characters, the novel is beautifully written and true to the original story. A perfect pocket sized read that I enjoyed as much as the first time I read the comics. And sadly is still appropriate today in a society that still rounds up and contains people.