#TheWitchsHeart by @gengornichec

Angrboda’s story begins where most witch tales end: with being burnt. A punishment from Odin for sharing her visions of the future with the wrong people, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the furthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be the trickster god Loki, and her initial distrust of him—and any of his kind—grows reluctantly into a deep and abiding love.

Their union produces the most important things in her long life: a trio of peculiar children, each with a secret destiny, whom she is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.

Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family—or rise to remake it.

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Long ago, when the gods were young and Asgard was new, there came a witch from the edge of the worlds.

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(@TitanBooks, 4 May 2021, 342 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I knew I had to read The Witch’s Heart when I read the premise. I’m a huge fan of Norse Mythology and have read a lot of retelling’s and alternative versions. Loki is my favourite characters. The Witch’s Heart touches on events I’ve read in other books but from a completely different perspective, that of Loki’s giantess mistress and the mother of the monsters who will set the end of the world in motion. I couldn’t wait to see where the author went with the story. I really loved this. Angrboda and her monstrous offspring are humanised in the book and I felt empathy for them and their plight against the arrogance of the God’s, specially Odin. I thought this was amazing.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by @reid_iain

Jake and his girlfriend are on a drive to visit his parents at their remote farm. After dinner at the family home, things begin to get worryingly strange. And when he leaves her stranded in a snowstorm at an abandoned high school later that night, what follows is a chilling exploration of psychological frailty and the limitations of reality.

Iain Reid’s intense, suspenseful debut novel will have readers’ nerves jangling. A series of tiny clues sprinkled through the relentlessly paced narrative culminate in a haunting twist on the final page.

Reminiscent of Michael Faber’s Under the Skin, Stephen King’s Misery and the novels of José Saramago, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an astonishing and highly original literary thriller that grabs you from the start—and never lets go.

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I’m thinking of ending things.

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(@text_publishing, 27 June 2016, ebook, 205 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @BorrowBox)

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I enjoyed the movie, I thought it was weird in a good way but I wanted to read the book. In my experience the book trumps the movie every time. The movie is very close to the book but I enjoyed this far better. It’s a very short book more like a novella but so much happens I felt I was reading something far longer. I thought the title referred to suicidal thoughts when I saw the movie but reading the book made me realise what it actually meant. A slow burning menace runs all the way through this book and you know something awful lies just around the corner. This is a mesmerising book.

The Bass Rock by @eviewyld

Surging out of the sea, the Bass Rock has for centuries watched over the lives that pass under its shadow on the Scottish mainland. And across the centuries the fates of three women are linked: to this place, to each other.

In the early 1700s, Sarah, accused of being a witch, flees for her life.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Ruth navigates a new house, a new husband and the strange waters of the local community.

Six decades later, the house stands empty. Viv, mourning the death of her father, catalogues Ruth’s belongings and discovers her place in the past – and perhaps a way forward.

Each woman’s choices are circumscribed, in ways big and small, by the men in their lives. But in sisterhood there is the hope of survival and new life. Intricately crafted and compulsively readable, The Bass Rock burns bright with anger and love.

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I was six and just the two of us, my mother and I, took Booey for a walk along the beach where she and Dad grew up, the shore a mix of black rock and pale cold sand.

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(@vintagebooks, 26 March 2020, ebook, 354 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @BorrowBox)

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I’ve enjoyed other work by the author and this sounded like a good read so I couldn’t resist it. The Bass Rock is an actual island in Scotland made of volcanic rock in case you didn’t know. I’m delighted the book is set in Scotland, my country. I feel a sense of pride whenever a book is set here, whether successful or not. I loved The Bass Rock. The book interlinks the stories of three very different women across time and all against the backdrop of the island. The different era’s aren’t signposted in the book but I never lost sense of the where I read reading about because the author does such a brilliant job of bringing the characters to life and creating a sense of place. I connected with Ruth’s story the most as she suspects her marriage is falling apart and her husband has sinister intentions. This is a terrific read.

The Sandman Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by @neilhimself

Neil Gaiman’s seminal series, THE SANDMAN, celebrates its 30th anniversary with an all-new edition of THE SANDMAN VOL. 1: PRELUDES & NOCTURNES!

New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series THE SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.

In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.

This book also includes the story “The Sound of Her Wings,” which introduces us to the pragmatic and perky Goth girl Death.

Collects THE SANDMAN #1-8.

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Wake up sir, we’re here.

JUNE 6TH, 1916, WYCH CROSS, ENGLAND (SLEEP OF THE JUST)

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(@vertigo_comics, 30 October 2018, ebook, 237 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite writers. I’ve wanted to read The Sandman for ages. I’m glad I finally got round to starting the series. I loved Volume 1: Prologue and Nocturnes and can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I don’t often read graphic novels / comic books but tend to enjoy them when I do so I plan to branch out a book and read more. This has everything I’d expect from a Nail Gaiman book, a dark, dazzling delight. I loved it.

Pilgermann by Russell Hoban

‘Superb … Pilgermann is history, metaphysics, a tangle of mysteries, profound and simple’ Guardian

It is 1097 and a traveller arrives in the great, walled city of Antioch with a vision of a beautiful and mysterious geometric design that will change the lives of all those who see it. Pilgermann is a mesmerising recreation of the world of the Crusades, following its unlikely hero and those he meets on a journey of picaresque horror across a Europe of hatreds, visions and a desperate wish for salvation.

‘A dark treatise on the mysterious nature of things … The world according to Pilgermann is a brutish place borrowing from Hieronymus Bosch, pilgrimage narrative, allegory and the historical novel’ The New York Times Book Review

‘A strange and beautiful work’ Evening Standard

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Pilgermann here.

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(@PenguinUKBooks, 25 March 2021, paperback, 288 pages, bought from @LRBbookshop via a Subscription Box)

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This is a new author for me. Pilgermann blew me away and I’ve already identified a few other titles by the author that I find strangely appealing. This is an astonishing book. It’s not like anything I’ve read before. I also said that recently about The Starless Sea and the same can be said of both even though they are very different. Pilgermann is an unusual book and hard to describe. Think of the book as a sort of re-telling of the Crusades with lots of religious overtimes and some science fiction and fantasy elements. There are even black and white sketches of the strange geometrical patterns that capture and fundamentally change the world in the book (you need to read it to understand what I mean). Pilgermann is beautifully written and mesmerising. It completely absorbed me. I thought it was amazing.   

The Starless Sea by @erinmorgenstern

Are you lost or are you exploring?

When Zachary Rawlins stumbles across a strange book hidden in his university library it leads him on a quest unlike any other. Its pages entrance him with their tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities and nameless acolytes, but they also contain something impossible: a recollection from his own childhood.

Determined to solve the puzzle of the book, Zachary follows the clues he finds on the cover – a bee, a key and a sword. They guide him to a masquerade ball, to a dangerous secret club, and finally through a magical doorway created by the fierce and mysterious Mirabel. This door leads to a subterranean labyrinth filled with stories, hidden far beneath the surface of the earth.

When the labyrinth is threatened, Zachary must race with Mirabel, and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, through its twisting tunnels and crowded ballrooms, searching for the end of his story.

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There is a pirate in the basement.

SWEET SORROWS

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(@vintagebooks, 5 November 2019, ebook, 488 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @BorrowBox)

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I loved The Night Circus and this has been on my TBR for ages. It’s hard to describe how I feel after reading this incredible piece of work. I’ve never read anything quite like it and that’s saying a lot coming for a book freak like me. The Starless Sea may be one of the best if not the absolute best books I’ve ever read. I had to force myself to put the book away after each reading session because I didn’t want to leave Zachary’s incredible world. The imagination behind this stunning piece of literature is quite incredible. I loved everything about it. This is stunning, just stunning. I need to lie down now and sigh happily into a jar of honey.

#TheAshMusum by @RMSmithAuthor

Through ten decades and across three continents, The Ash Museum is an intergenerational story of loss, migration and the search for somewhere to feel at home.

1944. The Battle of Kohima. James Ash dies leaving behind two families: his ‘wife’ Josmi and two children, Jay and Molly, and his parents and sister in England who know nothing about his Indian family.

2012. Emmie is raising her own daughter, Jasmine, in a world she wants to be very different from the racist England of her childhood. Her father, Jay, doesn’t even have a photograph of the mother he lost and still refuses to discuss his life in India. Emmie finds comfort in the local museum – a treasure trove of another family’s stories and artefacts.

Little does Emmie know that with each generation, her own story holds secrets and fascinations that she could only dream of.

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Welcome to The Ash Museum. On display are objects and letters telling the story of one hundred years of the Ash family.

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(@legend_times, 3 May 2021, 339 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 17 May)

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This is a new author for me. I really loved The Ash Museum and might check out the author’s other work. I loved the unusual structure used in this novel about racism, identity, family and a multi-generation saga, presenting experiences of two branches of the Ash family as if they are exhibits in a museum. To be clear, the memories aren’t in a museum in case you wondered but are presented as if they are. I thought this was unusual and quirky and I loved the way it helped the book unfold. The chapters alternate between one hundred years but the main focus in 1944 to the present. I loved the way the story unwinds as we get to know members of the Ash family and their experiences and how they all connect. I really loved this book.

Love after Love by @IngridPersaud

Meet the Ramdin-Chetan family: forged through loneliness, broken by secrets, saved by love.

Irrepressible Betty Ramdin, her shy son Solo and their marvellous lodger, Mr Chetan, form an unconventional household, happy in their differences. Happy, that is, until the night when a glass of rum, a heart to heart and a terrible truth explodes the family unit, driving them apart.

Brave and brilliant, steeped in affection, Love After Love asks us to consider what happens at the very brink of human forgiveness, and offers hope to anyone who has loved and lost and has yet to find their way back.

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He didn’t need to shout.

BETTY

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(@FaberBooks, 31 March 2020, ebook, 357 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @BorrowBox)

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I’ve wanted to read this for ages since it was featured on the BBC show Between the Covers. My library launched an additional digital provider and I had to borrow this when I saw it was available. This is an incredible book. I couldn’t stop reading because I fell in love with the characters and their stories. The chapters alternate between Betty, Solo and Mr Chetan’s POV. This is an incredibly sad book as Solo learns a shocking truth about how his violent, drunken father really died and flees to America because he can’t look Betty in the face and feels like everything he believed about his family and life is a lie. His pain and anger is heart-breaking. Betty’s pain because she can’t make her son understand the reason for her actions because he’s blinded by his love for a father he selectively remembers. Mr Chetan is a great character as well, struggling for acceptance as a gay man in a world where he’s considered a freak. The shocking ending had me in tears.

#TheInnatTansyFalls by @CateWoodsWriter

Dearest Nell, if you’re reading this letter, I’m already gone…

You’re my best friend in the world, and as my last request I’m asking you to lay me to rest hundreds of miles away, in my crazy gorgeous, totally one-of-a-kind hometown of Tansy Falls. I know you’re a born-and-bred city girl but hear me out. After first losing Adrian, and then me… I know your heart is hurting, Nell. I think you’ll find that you need Tansy Falls as much as I do.

So, I’ve got it all planned out. For two weeks, you’ll be staying at the sweet, local inn and every day you’ll be trying something new. And if you follow my instructions to the letter, you may discover there’s more to my story than you think. A surprise something… or someone at the end of it? Only you can find out!

Some last advice before you set off, Nell. Don’t forget your sturdy boots and make sure to give Boomer, the inn’s resident dog, a belly rub from me. Stay well away from former quarterback Brody Knott (boy, do I have some stories about him!). And finally, let the future bring what it brings. While Tansy Falls may look small, I know better than anyone that new beginnings can be found in all kinds of places. That little Vermont town you’d never heard of? Well, it might suddenly begin to feel just like coming home…

If you love feel-good love stories by ReaAnne Thayne, Debbie Macomber and Robyn Carr, you’ll adore this gorgeous, heart-warming novel about starting over.

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Nell gazed up at the flight departure screens with a swooping sensation close to vertigo.

ONE

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(@Bookouture, 12 May 2021, 272 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 15 May)

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I’ve read and enjoyed other books by the author and was really looking forward to this. I started to fall in love with the book within a couple of pages and felt very connected to Nell struggling to find herself again after the death of her friend, forcing herself to go to the town of Tansy Falls to carry out her friend’s final wishes. I live in the city but I’m far from a city girl at heart and Tansy Falls is the kind of place I’d be right at home in. I could picture myself there. This is the kind of book you think about when the words heart-warning and life-affirming come to mind. I’ve read similar books that had been a bit cheesy but this book isn’t. I really loved it.

Everyday Magic by @claidlawauthor

Carole Gunn leads an unfulfilled life and knows it. She’s married to someone who may, or may not, be in New York on business and, to make things worse, the family’s deaf cat has been run over by an electric car.

But something has been changing in Carole’s mind. She’s decided to revisit places that hold special significance for her. She wants to better understand herself, and whether the person she is now is simply an older version of the person she once was.

Instead, she’s taken on an unlikely journey to confront her past, present and future.

Everyday Magic is an uplifting book filled with humour and poignancy, and reminds us that, while our pasts make us who we are, we can always change the course of our futures.

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When Carole was little, she found a magic clearing in the woods near her home.

ONE

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(@RingwoodPublish, 26 May 2021, 400 pages, ebook, #ARC from the author and voluntarily reviewed)

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I’ve read and enjoyed other books by the author so was really looking forward to Everyday Magic which is quite a bit different from his other title’s. I really loved this book. I feel in love with the characters. I felt really connected to Carole as she seeks to understand her present and the doubts creeping into her mind about her husband, her family and her life but seeking answers in the past. There’s something I really loved about the way the author tackles this premise. I especially enjoyed the odd moments when Carole’s Alexa device seems to be talking directly to her and she thinks her sat nav can hear her. This is a funny, life-affirming book. I loved it.

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