The Flutterby Room

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The Witchfinder's Sister - Beth Underdown

THE WITCHFINDER’S SISTER is Beth Underdown’s debut novel. The story is set in England in the seventeenth century, and follows the story of Alice Hopkins. In 1645 Alice is forced to return from London to the small Essex town of Manningtree to her brother Matthew’s house, after the death of her husband. She and Matthew left on poor terms, and she has not spoken to him apart from the letter she received notifying her of their mother’s death. The Matthew Alice returns to is very different from the brother she remembers. He now has powerful friends, and soon Alice hears that he is gathering a list of women’s names.


With the mentioning of witchcraft, witch-hunts and the Witch Finder General, you might be forgiven for thinking of the Salem witch trials – but they happened almost fifty years after the very real events Underdown draws upon to write this book. Matthew Hopkins was a real person who in three years managed to try, convict, and kill around 230 people (and not all of them were women).[1] Going into THE WITCHFINDER’S SISTER I must confess that I knew very little about this period of British history – I did know that there had been a Witch Finder General in the UK, but not where or when.


I can honestly say that THE WITCHFINDER’S SISTER surprised me. Although the subject matter of the book is without a doubt dark and disturbing and therefore hard going at times, by the time I was in the final quarter of the book I just could not stop until I reached the end! Even having some inkling about how the story could go, Underdown provided plenty of surprises along the way, which kept me turning the page.

I found Alice Hopkins to be both a compelling narrator and an interesting main character. When we first meet her, Alice is making the journey from London to Manningtree after the death of her husband. Watching Alice’s journey through this book I have to say that I think she is one of the strongest people I have read about – though I don’t think she would agree with me. In a time when women would have had very little rights or freedoms, Alice really stood out to me and I found myself rooting for her from the beginning.


Reading about Matthew Hopkins through his sister was an interesting experience. Alice still remembers him as the boy she grew up with, and was close to before her marriage. Underdown does a fantastic job at capturing Alice’s mixed feelings towards her brother – and made me feel them too. I thought the story was well told, and flowed really well. To me it felt believable, like we really were hearing Alice’s own words about the events she witnessed and uncovered about her brother. I also enjoyed the almost magical realist elements to the narrative – it helped to create the feeling of unease that must have been prevalent at the time.


It goes without saying that THE WITCHFINDER’S SISTER by Beth Underdown is not a read for the faint of heart. But if you want a gripping read that will keep you turning the pages, whether you’re a fan of historical fiction or not, then I highly recommend giving this book a try. As someone who isn’t particularly a fan, I found THE WITCHFINDER’S SITER easy to get into and easy to follow. The story is compelling and the characters are interesting. If you think this might be your cup of tea, then it is well worth giving this book a go.


[1] The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, ‘Matthew Hopkins’ in Encyclopædia Britannica, [accessed March 01 2017].


Originally posted on The Flutterby Room as part of the blog tour. I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. You can find the original post here.

Corpus - Rory Clements

CORPUS by Rory Clements is the first book in a new spy thriller series. The story is set in late 1936, and tells the story of Cambridge history professor Thomas Wilde whose life gets caught up in a series of murders. The story is set during a period of great political turmoil within the UK as King Edward VIII is being forced to decide between Mrs Wallis Simpson and abdicating the throne. Something more than a few people are not happy about. Alongside this, Britain is split between the growing powers of Communism and Fascism, creating a huge powder keg about to explode.

CORPUS was my introduction to Rory Clements, as I have read none of the books in his John Shakespeare series, so I only had the blurb to go on when I picked this book up. CORPUS honestly blew me away. It was everything I wanted in a historical thriller. The world was at once both familiar and alien. The story was engaging, and I found it easy to slip into Thomas Wilde’s idiosyncratic world in the university town of Cambridge (which didn’t get city status until 1951). The world and the characters felt very real, and as such I found the story to be a real page-turner.

Clements tells a really interesting story. I enjoyed the way he shifted the narrative between several different perspectives, as it allowed me to build a broader picture of what was going on. The scope of the narrative is pretty broad, and there is a lot going on but I found it pretty easy to keep track of events – even those that were deliberately mysterious. I’ll be honest, CORPUS really reminded me of John Le Carré’s Karla Trilogy in terms of the feel of the story, although not so much in terms of the content.

I found the plot of CORPUS to be compelling; once I got into the story I found myself just consuming pages. I think Clements really captured the feeling of a lot going on; there are a lot of interconnected narratives, which form the picture of what exactly is going on during the latter half of 1936 in this book. Thomas Wilde was an interesting main character. He is both part of the world of academics at Cambridge, and apart from it too which I thought gave the story an interesting perspective. I also think Clements did a good job at capturing the tension within Britain and the rest of the world during this tumultuous period. I don’t know a lot about this particular period of time, but I think those that do would also enjoy this book.

If you are interested in a historical thriller, then I totally recommend this book. Even if you are just looking for a historical novel or a thriller then you should definitely consider giving CORPUS a try. I honestly don’t think it will disappoint you. Clements has created a really interesting world and crime, and Thomas Wilde is an interesting main character. I also think if you’ve never tried either genre before then CORPUS may just be the place to begin. I really enjoyed reading CORPUS, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in the series.

Originally posted on The Flutterby Room as part of the blog tour. I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. You can find the original post here.

The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel - Katherine Arden

THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Katherine Arden is a beautiful book. It has a gorgeous front cover, and the story inside is delightfully magical. This debut novel tells the story of a young girl, Vasilisa Petrovna – Vasya to her family: the youngest child of Pytor Vladimirovich and Marina Ivanovna. THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE follows Vasya, as she grows up, the daughter of a lord in a small Russian village. Vasya isn’t quite like the other girls, not even her elder sister. Her life changes with the arrival of her father’s second wife, Anna Ivanovna, and Father Konstantin Nikonovich.


THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE is a magical Russian fairy tale, but at its heart it is a story about family. Arden beautifully evokes the hard cold beauty of Russian life in the fourteenth century in a small village, as well as the gross opulence of Moscow’s Tsars. Although THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE is without a doubt Vasya’s story, Arden splits the narrative focus between four characters as they all play a pivotal role in the tale: Vasya, Pytor, Anna, and Father Konstantin. For me this split narrative focus worked well as it allowed a broader picture of events to be painted. I especially liked the fact that this was done through third person narration as it allowed me a bit more insight into the characters than I would have otherwise achieved.


If you have read BLOOD RED, SNOW WHITE by Marcus Sedgwick then I think you will enjoy THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE – I certainly did. Although BLOOD RED, SNOW WHITE is a young adult novel and is set in the twentieth century I think the two books have a similar feel – particularly the fairy tale aspect of both stories. I do think if you have a good knowledge of Russian history and folklore then you will definitely enjoy THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE as I think Arden has left a few “Easter eggs” for people with such knowledge to enjoy. I only know a little, but I still found the story engaging and easy to follow. The book did start a little slow, but once I got into the story it was an engrossing tale.


The way Arden blended the everyday and the fantastical was brilliantly done; the story reads like a “real” fairy tale. I also liked the fact that we get to know Vasya before events come to a head. All the characters felt very real, even those who were not human. If you are looking for something a little dark, but full of hope, to welcome in the New Year then THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE is definitely a book you should be picking up. It is truly magical.


Originally posted on The Flutterby Room. I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. You can find the original post here.

A Boy Made of Blocks - Keith Stuart

A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is Keith Stuart’s debut novel. It tells the story of Alex and his eight-year-old son Alex, who is on the autistic spectrum. Alex’s marriage to Jody has been pushed to the breaking point, and as the book starts he is moving in with his best mate Dan. As Alex works out what this break means for him his son begins playing Minecraft. The game opens up a whole new world for Sam, and presents a place where father and son have the opportunity to learn how to connect with one another. Together they learn that sometimes things must break so you can build something better.

When I got an email from Little, Brown Book Group about this book I was instantly curious; as the father of a child with autism I was curious to see what sort of story Stuart would tell. I can honestly say that I was not disappointed. A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is a thoughtful, compelling, and really emotional read not because one of the characters has autism but because Stuart tells a compelling story that just draws you in. A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is at its heart the story of a father and son learning how to connect with one another.

Alex narrates the book, and we get to see events unfold from his point of view. I thought he was a compelling narrator, and once I started reading the story just flowed. I really enjoyed following Alex’s journey through the book, and I liked the fact that he made mistakes but he also learnt from them – even if it took him a while. I also really enjoyed the fact that while it’s obvious that Stuart has borrowed elements of the story from his own experience with his son, they don’t define the story, they just enhance it.

The plot of A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is quite complicated, and there is a lot going on within the narrative. It would be easy to say that this book is just about autism, but it’s not. A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is about how complicated and confusing life is. It’s about how things change, but also stay the same. It’s about taking chances and trying new things. It’s about parenthood and growing up. And it’s also about not letting the past define us. It’s also about love; both the romantic kind, and the love between a parent and child.

If you want a book that is going to suck you in and tell you a good story then I highly recommend that you add A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS to your to-be-read list. A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is a heart-warming story about a father and son learning to connect with one another, a perfect late summer early autumn read to curl up with.

Originally posted on The Flutterby Room. I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. You can find the original post here.

My Husband's Wife - Jane Corry

MY HUSBAND’S WIFE is the debut novel by Jane Corry. It tells the story of Lily Macdonald, a lawyer, who has recently come back from her honeymoon. Lily views her marriage to Ed as a chance to have a fresh start, to leave her past behind her. On her return to London Lily finds herself put on the case of a convicted murderer that claims he is innocent of all charges. The trouble is, he reminds Lily of someone whom she used to know.

MY HUSBAND’S WIFE is a novel that inspires a lot of feelings. While reading it I went from curious to know what was going to happen, to almost nervous to turn the page, to curious to know how things would end. MY HUSBAND’S WIFE is a story that lingers. Corry does a brilliant job telling the story, and I really appreciated the way she used different perspectives to tell the story. I’m not totally sure I liked the story, but I did really respect the way Corry told the story. I found the plot to be a little convoluted, as it seemed to take a while for the action to happen, but I think that was just me – MY HUSBAND’S WIFE is very much character driven, and if that is how you like your thrillers then I think you will be in for a treat with this book.

MY HUSBAND’S WIFE is a novel split into two parts; Lily and Carla, an Italian girl who lives in the same building as Lily and Ed, alternatively narrate the chapters. I thought splitting the narrative like this was a good choice by Corry. For me the ability to get to know both Lily and Carla worked well, and it allowed me to build up a better picture of what was going on in the novel. It was fascinating to see certain events from the different points of view and how that played out into the overall plot of the novel.

Although Carla narrates her own story, Lily is very much the main protagonist of MY HUSBAND’S WIFE: Lily Macdonald is the focal point of the novel, and all the events spiral out from her. I thought she was a complex character; when we first meet Lily at twenty-five, fresh back from her honeymoon in Sicily, she is young and innocent; nervous but excited to take her first criminal case. Carla meanwhile is just eleven when we first meet her who is struggling to fit in at school.

As I mentioned before, the plot of MY HUSBAND’S WIFE is quite intricate and as such it is hard to talk about it without risking spoilers. Half the joy of Corry’s novel is watching the story unfold, and guessing what is going to happen next. At its heart, MY HUSBAND’S WIFE is about Lily and Carla. Although on the surface their lives may seem very different, as the novel progresses we more about the characters and that creates some interesting contrasts.

MY HUSBAND’S WIFE is an intensely complex book. It explores the grey spaces of human nature in an interesting way. It is not what I would call an easy, ‘safe’, read. If you like your thrillers – particularly psychological and mystery based ones – then this may very well be the book for you. Corry weaves a brilliant story. The book will keep you guessing about what is going to happen next until the end. And I can honestly say that MY HUSBAND’S WIFE is one of those books that will stay with you long after you’ve put it down, whatever your feelings about the book.


Originally posted on The Flutterby Room. I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, Book 4) - Maggie Stiefvater

THE RAVEN KING is the fourth and final instalment of Maggie Stiefvater’s enthralling The Raven Cycle series. This book brings Stiefvater’s magical series to its conclusion. Gansey’s search for Glendower reaches its finale whilst Ronan deals with the consequences of his power; whilst Adam with the results of his bargain; whilst Noah faces what it means to be dead; and whilst the prophecy of killing her true love when she kisses him looms over Blue.

Final books and endings are tricky things; it is so easy to be disappointed by them. THE RAVEN KING is a fitting end to a whimsical, mysterious and slightly perplexing series. There are quite a few surprises in this book, which is to be expected from the end of such a complex series. This book was quite slow to start, but once I got into it I quite enjoyed it.

Overall I think Stiefvater does a good job in bringing all the different threads of the plot together and ending the series. There are a few surprises and a lot of feels. To be honest as I write this I am still struggling to categorise how I feel about this book. Whilst without a doubt I enjoyed the experience of THE RAVEN KING, there’s part of me that wanted more. By the final page of the book I felt that this story was done; I still think that the characters have a lot of potential, and it would be lovely if Stiefvater were to revisit them in the future.

It is difficult to talk about the plot of THE RAVEN KING without venturing into spoiler territory I think. Certainly if you’ve read the previous three books in this series (and if you’ve not, why haven’t you?!) then you’ll probably have a pretty good idea about where this book goes. The search for Glendower has been haunting this series, as much as the quest has haunted the characters (especially Gansey). A lot of things come to a head in this book, and I think Stiefvater crafted the story brilliantly; she answers a lot of the questions I had for this series, and left me with more. THE RAVEN KING wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it was a good solid read.

Richard Gansey III. Ronan Lynch. Adam Parrish. Noah Czerny. Blue Sargent. The five characters that have carried me through The Raven Cycle, and who I’m sad to say goodbye to. THE RAVEN KING really is the culmination of their journey. This book is as much about them and their friendship as it is about the quest for Glendower.

This book has a lot of feels, as all good conclusions should. I wanted – I needed – to know what was going to happen next right to the end. THE RAVEN KING might not have been the epic conclusion I was half hoping for, but it was a good solid competent one. If you have enjoyed The Raven Cycle so far then you are in for a good read.

Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.

The King's Men (All for the Game Book 3) - Nora Sakavic

THE KING’S MEN by Nora Sakavic is the concluding part of her All For The Game trilogy. When Neil Josten signed with the PSU Foxes he knew he would only have limited time, but now that time has run out and Neil must face the consequences of choosing to stay. The monsters in his life are growing closer, and now after years of running Neil might just have a reason to live. His growing bond with the Foxes means for the first time he has a family. But one of them might mean a whole lot more to him, and kissing them would be dangerous.

Wow. This book was a fantastic conclusion to the All For The Game trilogy. There was a lot going on in this book – it is a lot thicker than the others – but Sakavic did a fantastic job telling a cohesive story that just hooked me in and made the book unputdownable. I really enjoyed the fact that whilst Sakavic kept the book’s main focus where it has been for the previous books in the trilogy, in this one she started weaving a romantic (well, as romantic as certain characters get anyway) thread into the plot.

I also really enjoyed the way Neil’s secrets were revealed, and how Sakavic handled the aftermath of that; as well as how the consequences of Neil’s past catching up with him. There are a lot of subplots in this novel, and I think Sakavic handles them brilliantly. At no time did I get lost in the narrative, and none of the subplots felt superfluous. My only wish for this book was that there was more of it. As I said, I think Sakavic finishes her story in a good place – the book feels complete to me – but I would love to see more of the world and the characters.

As the thickest book in the trilogy, THE KING’S MEN has lots of plot and subplots to keep you entertained. If you have enjoyed the previous book in this trilogy, then you will love this one. There is a lot of tension, as time counts down towards its inevitable conclusion and the question is answered about whether the PSU Foxes will make it to the Championships. There are several revelations along the way, which I think are well handled, as Sakavic neatly ties up the main plot threads. The ending of the book feels pretty conclusive on the whole.

Reuniting with The Foxes for a final time was a fantastic ride. I have really enjoyed watching Neil and his teammates change and grow as the trilogy progressed. Neil has come a long way from the wary young man we first meet in THE FOXHOLE COURT, and his team has too. In this book we see him finally stop running and accept who he is, which I really enjoyed watching. THE KING’S MEN is a fitting ending to a fantastic series.

Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.

The Raven King - Nora Sakavic

THE RAVEN KING by Nora Sakavic is the second book in the All For The Game trilogy. It continues Neil’s story several days after the events of THE FOXHOLE COURT, and deals with the repercussions of those events. Neil and his teammates are left reeling after THE FOXHOLE COURT, and Neil’s past is quickly catching up to him. To stand a chance the PSU Foxes need to pull together, and Neil has made his choice.

I really enjoyed THE FOXHOLE COURT, so much so that I went out and bought this book and the final book straight after I finished it. THE RAVEN KING is everything I wanted in a sequel. It ups the game and the tension, and there are a lot of revelations. Once I started I found this book very hard to put down. I had to know what was going to happen next, and I was not disappointed. Watching events play out on the page was one heck of a ride, and while the subject matter wasn’t nice or easy Sakavic kept me enthralled to the final page. If you enjoyed the first book then you will love this one too, Sakavic does not disappoint.

The plot of the book basically continues on from THE FOXHOLE COURT, and how things play out in that book. There are a few revelations from people’s pasts that I did not see coming, but the main plot focuses on the Exy game and on Neil’s past and what that means for him and others. As I said before, some of the subject matter dealt with in this book does not make it an easy read but I think the topics are well handled, and add to the narrative – I don’t feel that they are used gratuitously, but then they have not touched me. Sakavic does a fantastic job of keeping the tension of the book on a knife-edge.

I liked returning to Neil’s world and learning a little more about him. Sakavic trickles information about his past out slowly through the narrative, and for me this really worked to show Neil’s mental state as the book progressed. I think he really steps up in this book and grows as a character. Sakavic also does a brilliant job writing his teammates and coaches, and we learn more about them too in this book. There are some really interesting dynamics that Sakavic explores, and I hope they are explored further in the final book.

THE RAVEN KING is a brilliant addition to the All For The Game trilogy. It continues the story arc and expands upon it, and we get to see some familiar faces change and grow. The camaraderie between the team, and the Exy moments are brilliantly written. If you’re looking for a contemporary new adult with little romance, then this is the book and series so far for you. I am excited to see what the next and final book of this trilogy will bring, I have high hopes.

Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.

Captive Prince - C.S. Pacat

CAPTIVE PRINCE by C. S. Pacat is book one of the Captive Prince Trilogy. In it we are introduced to Prince Damen and Prince Laurent, who are heirs to the thrones of rival kingdoms. Damen is sent to serve Prince Laurent as a pleasure slave when his half-brother seizes power and becomes King of Akielos. Stuck in a place where discovery will mean his death, Damen struggles to fit into the Veretian Court.

I have been curious about this trilogy for a while, since I first heard it mentioned on Tumblr. Going into the CAPTIVE PRINCE I didn’t know a lot about the book, apart from what is covered in the blurb. The story starts a little slowly, but once it gets going it is an engrossing and enjoyable read. Pacat does an excellent job of setting up the world and characters. There is definitely a lot of court intrigue in this book! Most of the book focuses on court politics, and if you’re looking for a romance that dives into the romance straight away or pretty soon into the story then this probably isn’t going to be the book for you. For a romance book, there was surprisingly little romance to it, which actually I quite liked.

In terms of plot CAPTIVE PRINCE is very much what it is: a book that sets up the world and characters. Pacat does a good job laying down the foundations for the world and its politics, especially in the Veretian court where most of the book is set. There is a definite sense that more is going on in the world than there appears to be on the surface. Although the narrative is written in the third person, the story focuses on Damen so Prince Laurent is something of a mystery – you only get to see him through Damen’s eyes, and I would like the opportunity to get to know him a little more.

As I said, the book follows Damen. He is an interesting character, not quite what I was expecting. He is an interesting mixture of experience and naïveté, which seems to fit with his upbringing. His half-brother is definitely something of a mystery, and I’m hoping that he’ll play a greater role in future books. Prince Laurent is also something of an unknown, though he seems to be deeply entrenched in the politics of his court, which is to be expected. I look forward to seeing more of him too in the next book, where hopefully he’ll be less of a mystery.

Overall I think CAPTIVE PRINCE is a good solid read, if you like political intrigue. I wouldn’t say it’s much of a romance book, but I do think Pacat does a good job with setting the stage for future books. I also thought the disparate cultures were handled well, though I’m really not sure what I think of the slavery aspect – though there were definite bdsm overtones to it. CAPTIVE PRINCE is not your typical romance, and all the better for it in my opinion.

The extra story featured with my edition of CAPTIVE PRINCE is basically a short story featuring a minor character from the book. It gives a brief glimpse into their life before the story starts, as well as what leads up to their presence in the Veretian court. It’s a nice little added extra, but I don’t really feel it adds anything to the main narrative. It does give us a bit more of an insight into the world of the Captive Prince Trilogy, but none of the major players are involved in it.

Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.

Angel's Ink - Jocelynn Drake

ANGEL’S INK by Jocelynn Drake is the first book in The Asylum Tales. It tells the story of Gage Powell a tattoo artist with a mysterious past. He’s known as the best skin artist in town, and he’s the person to visit if you want a tattoo with a little something extra. When Gage’s past comes calling and a mysterious customer comes in search of a tattoo, he has no choice but to gamble everything on the slim hope of survival. Everything has a price in Gabe’s world; sometimes the dice are not stacked in your favour but you still have to roll them.

This book is an intriguing beginning to The Asylum Tales. There is a lot going on and Drake does a good job in setting up the trilogy; introducing the world and the characters. For me this book felt a little slow weirdly as there is a lot happening in it. Despite having a slow start, where I found it quite difficult to get into the book, once I did get into the story the pages just flew by until I suddenly found myself at the end. I liked the fact that although this is the first book in a trilogy when I reached the end of it the book felt complete.

The book is narrated in the first person by Gage, which I think works well. Gage is a complicated character, and I think if we weren’t in his head he could be a difficult character to like. The basic plot of this book follows the consequences of some choices Gage has made; most of the choices happened before the book begins, but they have far reaching costs. There are also a couple of hinted at subplots, which I’m hoping Drake will explore in future books. Overall this book serves as an introduction to the world and characters, and it does that well. There are possible hints about what the rest of the trilogy could be about, but for me there’s almost a standalone feel to ANGEL’S INK.

As the narrator, Gage is of course the main character of the novel. Drake also provides a couple of secondary main characters in the form of Gage’s friends Trixie and Bronx, who seem interesting but quite often get pushed aside by Gage. They do have quite a bit of page time, but I found it frustrating that Gage seemed incapable of asking for help. Drake also does a reasonable job with the secondary characters that Gage meets, though some of them came across a bit flat.

Overall I think ANGEL’S INK is a good solid read for anyone who likes the urban fantasy genre. Drake creates an interesting world with a complicated main character. Also there aren’t a lot of sex scenes, so if you’re looking for an adult urban fantasy that’s low on them then you might want to give this book a try. Although I did not love this book, I honestly quite enjoyed it and am looking forward to exploring more of the world in the future.

Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.

The Foxhole Court - Nora Sakavic

THE FOXHOLE COURT by Nora Sakavic is the first book in the All For The Game trilogy. It tells the story of Neil Josten the latest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. But Neil has secrets, chief of which is that he is the son of a crime lord known as The Butcher. Signing with the PSU Foxes puts his life in danger especially when playing with them means meeting a face from his past.

I ended up reading this book in a matter of hours. It was that good! I started reading it before family came over, and I struggled to put it down. When I got back to it, I read it straight through to the end and it just blew me away. The story sucked me in. The characters were interesting, and believable. The plot was interesting and kept my attention. THE FOXHOLE COURT was everything I wanted from the first book in a series. Sakavic did a good job setting up the world and the characters; the premise of the book felt believable, and I think Sakavic did a brilliant job with Neil. I am planning on devouring the second and third books in this trilogy as quickly as I can get my hands on them!

The main plot of the book focuses on the question of whether Neil will follow his dreams and play for the PSU Foxes, and if he does will his secrets be uncovered? Sakavic does a fantastic job at keeping the tension about possible discovery through the whole book; it’s what kept me turning the pages. I also really enjoyed the fact that Sakavic crossed the worlds of competitive sport and the mob, and all both worlds entail. I found the meshing of the worlds worked really well, and I thought the sport of Exy sounded interesting – it’s sort of a cross between ice hockey and lacrosse on a football pitch (though I’m don’t know if that’s American Football or football/soccer, and even if there’s a difference in pitch size). It’s super competitive both on and off the pitch.

Neil Josten is the main character, and I thought he was an interesting choice. Going into THE FOXHOLE COURT you know he has secrets, and I think Sakavic plays with that aspect of his character well. I found it easy to trust him, and I thought his point of view was interesting. Sakavic does a brilliant job with his teammates, and they all feel real and believable. There’s also an interesting team dynamic, which makes for some pretty entertaining reading at times.

Overall I think THE FOXHOLE COURT serves as a brilliant introduction to the All For The Game trilogy. Sakavic does a brilliant job of setting up the world and the characters, which I’m looking forward to seeing more of in future books. If you’re looking for a contemporary novel that doesn’t have a lot of romance in it, and you’re okay reading books that are sport based then you may want to consider picking this book up. I’m not sure if the little romance will hold up for future books in the trilogy, but for this book in particular there is very little of it at all. But having said that, as there’s a mob aspect to the book there’s also some references to pretty nasty violence – I cannot remember seeing any of it actually happen on page – and there’s also some substance abuse – some of which takes place without characters consent – so if that is not your thing then this may not be the book for you. Having said that, I don’t think any of the things I warned about are used gratuitously and I thought they added to the tension of the book.

Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.

Nina is Not OK - Shappi Khorsandi

NINA IS NOT OK is Shappi Khorsandi’s debut novel. It tells the story of seventeen-year-old Nina who has one more year to go before she is off to university, but a lot can happen in a year. Nina does not have a drinking problem, but she does enjoy going out and partying – what seventeen-year-old doesn’t? After one particular night out, things start to spin out of control.


Ebury Press kindly offered me the opportunity to read NINA IS NOT OK, and after reading the blurb I jumped at the chance. Going into the novel I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I can honestly say Khorsandi blew me away. At its heart NINA IS NOT OK is a story about growing up; it is not an easy read, but Nina’s story is a powerful one. Khorsandi touches on some interesting and complex ideas through the narrative, and I think she explores these ideas well. I think to say that NINA IS NOT OK is an “issues” book would be to sell it short. A lot of tough topics are touched on, things that a lot of women have to deal with or know of friends who have. NINA IS NOT OK is a really compelling story.


As I mentioned earlier, NINA IS NOT OK explores a lot of different subjects to great affect. The plot of the book basically follows Nina as she prepares for her A levels whilst things around her change. Friendship plays a huge part in the story. Nina has a core group of friends at the start of the novel, and we get to watch how things between them as they change over the course of the novel. The turning point in the novel occurs when something happens to Nina, as the blurb hints, and the rest of the book is about the repercussions of that event. I think Khorsandi writes this particularly well, and does a good job in showing the differing reactions to the event. My only slight niggle with the book was that I wish that there was more of it.


NINA IS NOT OK is very much a character driven novel. At the heart of the book lies its main character and narrator Nina, who when things begin is seventeen. Khorsandi gives Nina a really strong voice, and I found her to be a relatable character. It was really interesting to see things from her point of view, and I really enjoyed her narrative voice. Khorsandi does a brilliant job with the secondary characters. Nina’s relationship with her mum, half-sister and step-dad was well written and totally believable. I particularly enjoyed the way Khorsandi wrote Nina’s relationship with her little sister Katie. Nina’s relationships with her friends are also well written.


If you are looking for a new contemporary read with very little romance, then I highly recommend NINA IS NOT OK. Khorsandi tackles a difficult subject well, and tells a compelling story.


Originally posted on The Flutterby Room. I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Waylaid - Kim Harrison

LEYLINED by Kim Harrison is an e-novella that is a crossover between her The Hollows series and her Peri Reed Chronicles. The novella tells the story of what happens when the two worlds cross by accident, and Rachel gets pulled into Peri’s world.

I gave this novella a try primarily because I wanted a way to try Harrison’s Peri Reed Chronicles, as although I adored her Hollows series sci-fi is not something I tend to get on well with. Reading this novella certainly gave me an insight into Peri’s world. Unfortunately I don’t think I will be reading any more of that series, as there were quite a few times when things from that series just did not sit well with me. Having said that, I do think LEYLINED, or WAYLAID as it is also called, tells an interesting and compelling story. I think Harrison does a good job at mixing her two worlds together. I think it’s actually quite balanced in that regard. I certainly didn’t feel lost going into the story knowing nothing about Peri Reed and her world. I really enjoyed reuniting with some familiar faces, and it was interesting to have a peek at Peri and some of her friends.

In terms of plot, LEYLINED is a fun caper and not a lot really happens. Basically the whole point of this novella is to give fans of both series a chance to see a bit of the other series. From a Hollows fan standpoint, I think that this works well. Harrison provides an interesting and informative glimpse into the world of Peri Reed. Reading the novella certainly helped to firm up my feelings about it. It was interesting to see how similar and how different the universes were. Harrison did a good job telling a cohesive story. If you haven’t read The Hollows series then beware that the novella does contain spoilers – I can’t comment on if it contains spoilers for The Peri Reed Chronicles, but if you know please let me know in the comments.

The stars of the novella were Rachel Morgan and Peri Reed, with Peri taking more of a front seat as the novella is set in her world. I enjoyed re-uniting with Rachel and some of her friends. Peri seems cool and logical in comparison to Rachel. The world seems much more science based too, and there is some interesting technology. I also thought the premise that Peri can change things, but there are consequences sounded and looked interesting. If you are a fan of The Hollows, then I think LEYLINED is a good place to start if you want to try Harrison’s new sci-fi series.

Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.

Truthwitch - Susan Dennard

TRUTHWITCH by Susan Dennard is the first book in an interesting new series called The Witchlands Series. It introduces us to a new world full of magic and on the cusp of war. The book follows the story of two young witches Safiya and Iseult who have a history of getting themselves into trouble. When the story starts, they end up getting themselves into a far deeper trouble than they expected to.

I have been looking forward to getting my hands on this book since not long after the release of QUEEN OF SHADOWS by Sarah J. Maas when I read in an interview (I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten where) that Maas was looking forward to the new release from her best friend – Susan Dennard. Curious, and always up for a good fantasy, I looked the book up and checked the blurb and I was instantly curious. Thankfully this book came in the second Illumicrate box. On the whole I really quite liked the book. Dennard has created an interesting world and magic system. I thought the main characters were interesting. I did have a few issues with pacing – at times I felt like the story dragged. But on the whole I think this book is a strong three – maybe even four – star book.

The first thing I want to talk about is world building, because this is something that I think needs to be done well for a fantasy book to work. I thought Dennard did this well, and at no point did I feel like she was spoon-feeding me information. The world of The Witchlands Series is a complicated and complex one. I think Dennard did a good job with the background tension as when TRUTHWITCH starts the world is coming to the end of a truce, and is almost on the brink of war. I really enjoyed the way magic is presented in this world. That people have magic in specific areas – and some are more rare than others – and that within those areas a person’s magic can be either very general or very specific. I found it interesting to see some of the different types. I also liked the fact that magic is shown to be finite, and that it can be dangerous to the person using it.

At the centre of the novel are Safiya and Iseult: two very different young women who are best friends. Dennard wrote their friendship brilliantly, and it seems really strong and is in many ways the cornerstone of the book. Safiya is a very fiery character who is very headstrong, and who doesn’t always think things through. Iseult on the other hand is much quieter, and, although she would do anything for her best friend, tends to be more practical. Dennard also does a good job with the secondary characters. I thought the Bloodwitch is quite interesting, and I’m hoping to see more of him in future books. Prince Merik is an interesting character too, and one to watch I think.

TRUTHWITCH basically sets up The Witchlands Series. We get to have a glimpse of what the world is like, and gain a feel for the situation. Apart from the fact that a war is coming, as the blurb helpfully points out, I’m not too sure what to expect from the rest of the series. To me TRUTHWITCH very much feels like a set-up book, that Dennard is getting her pieces into place. That being said, I think the book is a curious and thrilling read. If this book is anything to go by, then The Witchland Series has a lot of potential. If you are a fan of the fantasy genre, then be sure to check this book out.

Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.

Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss) (Volume 3) - Nalini Singh

ROCK REDEMPTION by Nalini Singh is the third book in her fantastic Rock Kiss Novel series. In this book Nalini returns to Schoolboy Choir, this time with Noah St. John taking centre stage. Kit Devigny loved Noah once, until he broke her heart. Kit is in the running for a role of a lifetime, but media scandal ties her to Noah. Forcing them to play the happy couple, if she wants a chance of getting the part. Pretty soon fantasy is becoming dangerously close to reality.


This is a really good read. Both Noah and Kit have been around as background characters since ROCK ADDICTION, and it is nice to see them centre stage. One of the things I really like about this book is how brave Kit is, and at the same time she’s very aware of the risks she’s taking. I liked that past actions and their consequences aren’t taken lightly. I also really appreciated the fact that there was no “insta-fix” to anything. I liked the fact that we got to see things from both Noah and Kit’s point of views, for me this really added an extra dimension to the narrative. Although it deals with some tough subjects, ROCK REDEMPTION is an entertaining read.


If you have read any of the previous books, or novellas, in this series then you’ll have a very good idea of the basic premise of this book. Personally I really quite enjoy this as it means I know pretty much what I am getting into – I say pretty much, because there’s always the opportunity for surprises. And as I mentioned earlier, the narrative is split between Noah and Kit. Singh handled the issues in this book in a sensitive manner; I don’t want to go into it in too much detail because of spoilers, but some people may find some of the events in this book triggering. This isn’t something I usually talk about in reviews, but I don’t want people to walk into this blind. The pacing of the novel is a little slow for me in places, but I found myself rooting for the characters and really liking the story.


I enjoyed getting to know Kit and Noah in this book. They’ve both made appearances in previous books, and I’m glad that Singh decided to give them their own book. I found them both to be likeable characters. One of the things that I really appreciated about Kit was that before anything else she wanted to be – and was – a good friend. I also really enjoyed the return of familiar faces, although only as secondary characters to Noah and Kit’s story. It was nice to get a bit of an update into how the lives of the members of Schoolboy Choir are going. There’s also a bit of set up for the next book I think, which I’m excited for. Overall I think ROCK REDEMPTION is a brilliant addition to the Rock Kiss Novel series. Singh tells an intricate love story that will capture your attention.


Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.

Midnight Marked - Chloe Neill

MIDNIGHT MARKED by Chloe Neill is the twelfth book in her brilliant Chicagoland Vampires series. Continuing events from DARK DEBT, Merit and Ethan have to deal with the repercussions of having made a powerful new enemy who wants total control of Chicago. Having already shown his hand and been thwarted by Cadogan, he will stop at nothing to win this time.


MIDNIGHT MARKED brilliant continues the story from DARK DEBT and takes the tension to a new level, with Neill upping the danger. You will know from reading DARK DEBT who the bad guy is, but Neill adds enough twists and surprises that this doesn’t disappoint: there are plenty of revelations in this book, and the ending is brilliantly done and has left me looking forward to the thirteenth book – which I’ve heard (though I can’t find any proof) is the final book in the series. I really enjoyed reading as events unfolded on the page, and I found it difficult to put the book down once I’d started. Merit and her friends have come a long way since they first appeared in SOME GIRLS BITE and this book shows it. The use of humour to break up the tension was brilliantly done, and really added to the reading experience for me.


A lot of the pleasure of MIDNIGHT MARKED comes from the fact that you know something is going to happen you just don’t know when or what. Neill does a brilliant job in keeping the tension up, and slowly revealing what is going on – there are plenty of surprises throughout the narrative, and I really enjoyed reading as things were slowly revealed. There are a few subplots that weave through the narrative, which I think really add to the story; some of which are new to this book and others tie in with things that happened in previous ones.


Merit is, as always, a brilliantly sassy main character. Despite events, she is happy in this book, which was nice. As always I loved the way Neill wrote her friendships – particularly with Mallory – and of course her relationship with Ethan. Ethan seemed more relaxed in this book, and as strange as it is to say I found him to be more charming. Mallory has come a long way and it was nice to read about her easy friendship with Merit. I really enjoyed the return of a lot of familiar faces in this book; Neill wrote the secondary characters brilliantly.


If you have enjoyed the previous books in the Chicagoland Vampires series, then you will love this one too. Neill does a brilliant job continuing Merit’s story, and letting us know once more what is going on in this world. MIDNIGHT MARKED is, as I have already said, a fantastic addition to the series.


Originally posted on TheFlutterbyRoom.