Book Review: Letting Go by Kent Hung

Publication Date

6th August 2019



Star Rating



Andrew’s outlook has been moulded by a childhood brought up alone by his mother, by his fear of abandonment which developed from that childhood and by the numerous losses in his life.

Eleven years later, following a tragic event, Andrew suddenly has to re-evaluate his own life and struggle to find self-acceptance and learn to let go.

In the end, Andrew realizes he has to embrace change. But who or what will he be Letting Go?

I was sent a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review, and although I feel awful on this occasion, I have to give my honest opinion.

Letting Go is the story of a man called Andrew who finds himself falling for another man, but the circumstances around this relationship are complicated to say the least. Andrew is also struggling with life after he loses someone incredibly close to him, and his grief and this new relationship are closely intertwined.

The plot in itself wasn’t bad, but unfortunately I didn’t think it was executed as well as it could have been. The writing was very basic, and a little clunky. Speech, in particular, didn’t flow the way that speech should.

The characters were a little bland. Andrew seems like a nice man, but that’s all I really got from him.. he’s nice. There was no real depth to his character.

I think the main problem was that the writing was just not emotive enough for the topics it was exploring. If I’m reading a book about loss, and grief, and mental illness, then I need to feel that. I don’t want to be told that Andrew is sad, I want to feel it. Even just feeling the tiniest part of his grief would have been enough to develop an emotion connection to his story, but that just never happened. It all just fell a bit flat.

I think the author probably just needs a little more experience, as I believe this is his debut novel. But for now, this sadly missed the mark for me.

Book Review: The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Publication Date

20 August 2020



Star Rating



From the Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning Adrian Tchaikovsky, The Doors of Eden is an extraordinary feat of the imagination and a page-turning adventure about parallel universes and the monsters that they hide.

They thought we were safe. They were wrong.

Four years ago, two girls went looking for monsters on Bodmin Moor. Only one came back.
Lee thought she’d lost Mal, but now she’s miraculously returned. But what happened that day on the moors? And where has she been all this time? Mal’s reappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by MI5 officers either, and Lee isn’t the only one with questions.

Julian Sabreur is investigating an attack on top physicist Kay Amal Khan. This leads Julian to clash with agents of an unknown power – and they may or may not be human. His only clue is grainy footage, showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.

Dr Khan’s research was theoretical; then she found cracks between our world and parallel Earths. Now these cracks are widening, revealing extraordinary creatures. And as the doors crash open, anything could come through.

I like Sci-fi but I have to admit that I’m always wary about it because there are so many strands of sci-fi that I really don’t like. Parallel world though, fall under the types of sci-do that I do usually like. Usually. That’s why I wanted to read it, but it turned out that this one just isn’t for me.

It is overly fast-paced, to the detriment of characterisation. There just isn’t space within the super-speed plot to give the characters their due and really flesh them out. They honestly deserved better, because there is such a diverse array of characters here, and so much could have been done with them.

There are excerpts of a fictional, non-fiction book scattered throughout the story to give us a deeper insight into the other worlds and the creatures that populate them. In theory, it’s a good idea but I hated it. I just found it boring and ending up skim reading whenever they popped up.

I seem to be in the minority here, because other reviews seem to overwhelmingly positive thus far, but I just really, really didn’t enjoy this.

Thanks to the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Book Review: The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva

Publication Date

2nd August 2019




Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of ‘no obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead. A fictional story that depicts the reality of mental illness behind a perception of normality.

I am a sucker for books that tackle mental health issues, so I was so excited when the author reached out and asked if I’d like a copy of her book, which is all about a woman suffering with obsessive compulsive disorder.

I have mental health issues myself, which is probably why I find the subject so incredibly fascinating, but I know very little about OCD. Obviously, I know what it is and what it drives people to do, but I don’t know how a person suffering with OCD really feels, or the full extent of why they do it.

I thought the nature of OCD was so dissimilar to my own problems, that this would just be a learning experience and nothing more. It intrigued me, but I didn’t think I’d really connect with Amy.

I was wrong.

I was shocked at how similar my thoughts and feelings are to Amy’s, and I think anyone who suffers with any form of anxiety will relate to her. In fact, anyone who’s ever been scared of something will understand Amy. It’s well worth a read to get inside her head, and begin to understand the condition.

There is very little plot to the book, but honestly, it doesn’t need it. It’s about how Amy navigates day to day life and adding in anything too complicated or far-fetched would take away from it. It needs to feel truly real and authentic for it to work.

The writing style was a little too simplistic for my liking, and I would have loved it to be a little more descriptive. Okay, a LOT more descriptive, because descriptions of anything are virtually non-existent. That’s just personal preference though, I guess, and I know some people love straight-forward, simplistic writing.

Still, well worth a read for the learning experience alone.

Book Review: Ignite the Sun by Hanna Howard

Publication Date

18th August 2020


YA Fantasy

Star Rating



Once upon a time, there was something called the sun … In a kingdom ruled by a witch, the sun is just part of a legend about Light-filled days of old. But now Siria Nightingale is headed to the heart of the darkness to try and restore the Light-or lose everything trying. Sixteen-year-old Siria Nightingale has never seen the sun. That’s because Queen Iyzabel shrouded the kingdom in shadow upon her ascent to the throne, with claims it would protect her subjects from the dangerous Light. The Darkness has always left Siria uneasy, and part of her still longs for the stories of the Light-filled days she once listened to alongside her best friend Linden, told in secret by Linden’s grandfather. But Siria’s need to please her strict and demanding parents means embracing the dark and heading to the royal city-the very center of Queen Izybel’s power-for a chance at a coveted placement at court. And what Siria discovers at the Choosing Ball sends her on a quest toward the last vestiges of Light, alongside a ragtag group of rebels who could help her restore the sun … or doom the kingdom to shadow forever.

Ignite the Sun is: A YA fantasy adventure that is exciting and unique, right down to its metallic book cover An allegorical exploration of the struggle with anxiety and depression Perfect for readers 13 and up

Ignite the Sun was a really enjoyable read for me. It has it’s problems, hence the rating, but the writing is pretty good, the plot, as a whole, is fun and the pacing is fast. I would have rated this higher on enjoyment alone, but I have to be critical about this.. and so, for me, 3* is right.

My issues were with the plot and the main character.

I’ll start with the plot, which I did say it was fun, and that’s true.. but a lot of what happens in it is a little too convenient. This is actually addressed a few times within the book, with talk of how coincidental certain things seem, or the opposite, how it couldn’t possibly be a coincidence. I would have liked to have seen more struggle from the characters, not having everything they need handily dropped into their laps.

Now, the main character – Siria. I felt she had too many personalities. I know characters have to grow and change, but it didn’t feel like growth to me. It felt like she just used whichever personality worked for the plot at that particular time and it it really grated on me by the end of the book.

That being said though, it’s still really enjoyable. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a fantasy that is not too complicated, that they can get through quickly and just have fun with.

Thank you to Blink and to Netgalley for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Book Review: Midnight’s Twins by Holly Race

Publication Date

11th June 2020


YA Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Star Rating



Fern King is about to uncover a place she could not have imagined in all her wildest dreams. Annwn: an enchanted, mysterious kingdom that feeds our own world.
But Annwn is as full of dangers as it is wonders. Something dark is jeopardising its peace and stability, something that must be rooted out at all costs. The danger lurking inside our sleep is more insidious and terrifying than any nightmare. Because if you can influence someone’s dreams, you can control their thoughts …
The first novel in a lyrical, endlessly inventive urban fantasy trilogy

The whole premise of this book sounds completely insane when summarised, but I’ll give it a go.

Our main character, Fern, has just found out that her mother didn’t die in her sleep, the way she and everyone else thinks. She was actually murdered. But that’s not all. Fern also finds out that her mother was actually a knight in a strange dream world based on Arthurian Legend, there to protect sleepers from their nightmares.

Now Fern is 15, and it’s her turn to enter the dream world and complete her knight training. But she also has to find out who murdered her mother, and why.

To me, it sounds completely bonkers, but in a good way. It’s unique and imaginative and I really enjoyed it.

I liked the unreliable narration, and I thought it’s purpose was executed well. The plot was fun, but I actually found it a little straight-forward and I’m hoping the next book has a few more twists and surprises in store for us.

I’m definitely intrigued enough to continue on with the series, and I’m looking forward to next year when the next is released!

Book Review: The Elements of the Crown by Kay L Moody

Publication Date

3rd December 2019


YA Fantasy

Star Rating



Talise has a gift that could save her life.

In an empire divided into three rings, seventeen-year-old Talise is from the outer ring. This dangerous and crime-laden land has one constant… death.

Her only chance for escape is to become Master Shaper—an honored position in the palace court and military. Each year, the emperor chooses one student to receive the title.

After ten years of training at an elite academy, Talise clearly has a gift for manipulating the elements of water, air, earth, and fire. But Aaden, a handsome student from the privileged inner ring, is poised to steal the title away from her.

When they come before the emperor, he is impressed with the great skill both Talise and Aaden possess. He presents them with a set of trials, and she knows this is the chance she needs to prove herself. As long as Aaden doesn’t ruin everything.

But secrets hide in every corner of the palace, masking a conflict far more dangerous than her previous home in the outer ring. Now, she must play along with the emperor’s lies and games, or else she will lose her life to an enemy she never expected.

This book includes novellas 1-4 of The Elements of Kamdaria: Ice Crown, Wind Crown, Dust Crown, and Flame Crown.

Nobody ever leaves the storm. It’s a place where criminals are thrown to live out their days in poverty before they finally die of malnutrition. But Talise, who shows a lot of magical promise, has a chance at escaping that fate when she gets accepted to ‘The Academy’ to become a ‘Master Shaper’.

For the most part, I enjoyed this book. Sure, it needed a little more fleshing out and there were plot holes here and there. Talise isn’t always that likeable, she’s a little childish at times. And while those things may have dented my enjoyment at times, it wasn’t enough for me to dislike it, because so many things have been done well.

I personally enjoyed the writing, the pacing was good so I never once felt bored. I appreciated the twists, although I’d figured them all out before hand. I actually don’t mind that because, to me, it means that the plot is solid and clues were left for us to piece together.

I’m glad I read this as a bind up of the first four books. The books don’t really end off in satisfying places and I feel like I would have been really disappointed if I’d have read all the books separately. If you want to read these books, the bind up is definitely the way to go. Unfortunately, because this isn’t the complete series, it still left me unsatisfied. The ending literally goes from super fast paced, to ‘The End’, but oh wait, here’s a cliffhanger for good measure’. I didn’t like that at all, and ultimately that is what really spoilt it for me.

Blog Tour & Review: Legend of the Storm Sneezer by Kristiana Sfirlea

Publication Date

May 5th 2020


Middle Grade Fantasy

Star Rating



Legend Seeker. Part-time Ghost Hunter. Time Traveler.

Thirteen-year-old Rose Skylar sneezed a magical storm cloud at birth, and it’s followed her around ever since. But when “Stormy” causes one too many public disasters, Rose is taken to Heartstone, an asylum for unstable magic. Its location? The heart of a haunted forest whose trees have mysteriously turned to stone.

They say the ghosts are bound to the woods … then why does Rose see them drifting outside the windows at night? And why is there a graveyard on the grounds filled with empty graves? Guided by her future selves via time traveling letters, Rose and Marek—best friend and potential figment of her imagination—must solve the mystery of the specters and the stone trees before the ghosts unleash a legendary enemy that will make their own spooks look like a couple of holey bed sheets and destroy Heartstone Asylum.

Letters from the future are piling up. Rose can’t save Heartstone herself. However, five of herselves, a magical storm cloud, and a guardian angel who might very well be imaginary? Now that’s a silver lining.

But will they find what killed the ghosts before what killed the ghosts finds them?

So… I really loved this book.

The writing is perfect for a younger audience, it’s full of humour and silliness. At times the author speaks directly to the reader, which will no doubt help to engage the younger readers and draw them into the story. In fact, I think Sfirlea has a real talent for engaging with children.

The illustrations dotted throughout are absolutely beautiful. Those little ghost faces made me smile every time I came across them.

But mostly, I just loved all the whimsy and fun that this book contains. I would recommend it for children and adults alike, who want a book that’s fun, easy to read and filled with lots of giggles.

If you’d like to give it a try (and I definitely recommend you do!) you can order it here:

About the Author

As an author, Kristiana Sfirlea knows what it means to get in character. She spent five years volunteering as a historical reenactor and trying her best not to catch her skirts on fire as a colonial girl from the 1700s (leading cause of death at the time next to childbirth). Working at a haunted house attraction, she played a jumping werewolf statue, a goblin in a two-way mirror, and a wall-scratcher—so if she’s standing very still, growling, checking her reflection, or filing her nails on your wall, be alarmed. Those are hard habits to break.

Kristiana’s speculative flash fiction has been published by Havok, and her debut novel Legend of the Storm Sneezer is a whimsical Middle Grade fantasy involving time travel and things that go bump in the night. She dreams of the day she can run her own mobile bookstore. Or haunted house attraction. Or both. Look out, world—here comes a haunted bookmobile! (And this is precisely why writers should never become Uber drivers.) She loves Jesus, her family, and imaginary life with her characters.

You can follow Kristiana on social media or visit her at

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @KristianasQuill

Instagram: @KristianasQuill

Facebook: Kristiana Sfirlea – Author Page

Goodreads: Kristiana Sfirlea


Amazon: Kristiana Sfirlea

Book Review: After the Dash by Lynda Abernathy


Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Magical Realism

Publication Date

April 16th 2020

Star Rating



Time is fluid and not necessarily linear. Aiyanna Burns, a nondescript wallflower, learns this when she discovers a profound family secret spanning generations. Unaware of the dangers closing in on her, she dives deeper and deeper into her own mind…before time runs out. Madness, mistakes, and redemption weave together in this adult fiction novel that explores the depths of the human mind and the boundaries of time.

The book I read is not the book I was expecting to read after I’d read the blurb. Also unexpectedly, was the fact that I really enjoyed it.

We follow a range of characters, and not all of them were likeable, in fact, most of them aren’t. Most get a redemption arc, some of them land well and some don’t, but I was equally enthralled by each.

The host of characters can also seem a little disconnected at the beginning of the story, which makes the book seem a little disjointed, but stick with it and their stories will all intertwine and the main plot will become clear.

I’m glad I got the opportunity to read this, as unexpected as it was. It’s one of those books that make you think about life, and death and love and what it all means. Luckily, I enjoy that sort of stuff, just as I enjoyed this book.

Book Review: Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater

Publication Date

29th March 2020


Fantasy, YA, Romance, YA Fantasy

Star Rating



It’s difficult to find a husband in Regency England when you’re a young lady with only half a soul.

Ever since a faerie cursed her, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear, embarrassment, or even happiness—a condition which makes her sadly prone to accidental scandal. Dora’s only goal for the London Season this year is to stay quiet and avoid upsetting her cousin’s chances at a husband… but when the Lord Sorcier of England learns of her condition, she finds herself drawn ever more deeply into the tumultuous concerns of magicians and faeries.

Lord Elias Wilder is handsome, strange, and utterly uncouth—but gossip says that he regularly performs three impossible things before breakfast, and he is willing to help Dora restore her missing half. If Dora’s reputation can survive both her ongoing curse and her sudden connection with the least-liked man in all of high society, then she may yet reclaim her normal place in the world… but the longer Dora spends with Elias Wilder, the more she begins to suspect that one may indeed fall in love, even with only half a soul.

Pride and Prejudice meets Howl’s Moving Castle in this enthralling historical fantasy romance, where the only thing more meddlesome than faeries is a marriage-minded mama. Pick up Half a Soul, and be stolen away into debut author Olivia Atwater’s charming, magical version of Regency England!

When Dora was a child, a faerie attempted to steal her soul. However, the Fae in question was distracted by a pair of iron scissors part way through, and Dora escaped with half her soul still intact.

Dora is a peculiar little character. The half a soul she is left with is one devoid of strong emotions, and no sense of embarrassment. The Regency England setting showcases all her quirks spectacularly, and it was such a job seeing her try to navigate all the traditions and social customs that come with the Regency era.

There is of course, a love interest, who is equally quirky and likeable. There’s something very ‘Pride & Prejudice’ about their relationship which I loved. In fact, I would say the book in general feels like a loose retelling of ‘Pride & Prejudice’, and one of the better done ones too.

I was all set to give this book a 5*. But unfortunately, the book lost a bit of its charm during the final 15% and that was wholly due to the villain of the story – Lord Hollowvale. It’s impossible to feel that beloved characters are at risk, when the villain is the stupidest, easily manipulated person imaginable.

Having said that though, I was still very impressed by the book in general. It’s such a hidden gem and I’ll be recommending it to everyone and anyone.

*I received a free copy of this book via booksirens, in exchange for an honest review*

Book Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Publication Date

7th July 2020


Fantasy, YA, Retelling, LGBTQ, YA Fantasy

Star Rating



A captivating and original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse.

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story. As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a beautifully written book about Princess Soraya – a girl whose touch is poison. We follow her as she attempts to break her curse, and deal with the ramifications of doing so.

It’s wonderfully crafted, with not a thread out of place, and I was captivated by the story and the characters, who were, whether hero or villain, all delectable in their own way.

In my eyes though, it’s strengths also become its flaws. Being crafted so well meant that the twists felt predictable to me. There were times that I should have been trying to work out where the characters loyalties lie and work out which ones were good and bad, but I wasn’t because I was already so certain that I’d figured it all out. And I had. Every prediction I had ended up being right in the end. I guess that would spoil it for some, but for me, I enjoyed the thrill of being right for once. I am usually not.

It’s a wonderful, unique story and I will definitely be purchasing a finished copy to re-read. I have nothing but praise for it, and can’t wait to read the authors other book!

*Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for giving me an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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