Stop The Press! Cover Release for the Girl in the Eagle’s Talons – Karin Smirnoff

Hi all!

I am super excited because the day has finally come to release the cover for the incredible The Girl in the Eagle’s Talons. It feels like an age ago but I posted before about the announcement of the next writer and the next part of this series but so much work has been going on behind the scenes to make this launch incredible. There’s also the plot release which I can share with you today too! I want to take this opportunity to thank @QuercusBooks and @maclehosepress for being one of the lucky people to be a part of this. I’m super excited and I hope you are too!

First of all, the cover:

Isn’t this lush? But what about the blurb? Well, I think we can all agree that it sounds incredible!

KARIN SMIRNOFF

Translated from the Swedish by Sarah Death

MacLehose Press | 29 August 2023 | HB & e-book £22 | TPB £16.99

Change is coming to Sweden’s far north: its untapped natural resources are sparking a gold rush with the criminal underworld leading the charge. But it’s not the prospect of riches that brings Lisbeth Salander to the small town of Gasskas. She has been named guardian to her niece Svala, whose mother has disappeared. Two things soon become clear: Svala is a remarkably gifted teenager – and she’s being watched. 

Mikael Blomkvist is also heading north. He has seen better days.Millennium magazine is in its final print issue, and relations with his daughter are strained. Worse still, there are troubling rumours surrounding the man she’s about to marry. When the truth behind the whispers explodes into violence, Salander emerges as Blomkvist’s last hope.

A pulse-pounding thriller, The Girl in the Eagle’s Talons sees Salander and Blomkvist navigating a world of conspiracy and betrayal, old enemies and new friends, ice-bound wilderness and the global corporations that threaten to tear it apart.

It’s clear that this is going to be an excellent addition to any book shelves and reading pile. Let’s face it, #LisbethisBACK. Bring on the #GirlInTheEaglesTalons

See you soon lovelies! Have a brilliant rest of the week.

Big Love xxxx

The Art of Buying Books part 3

Hello loves!

Happy Sunday. I hope you’re having a wonderfully restful weekend. I definitely am! However, the wind and the rain is disturbing my sleep for sure. I hope you’re all keeping safe, dry and warm.

I seem to have gone off the boil again with my little blog. I’m back at work so that’s the norm really but work is so tough. My flight or fight response is to read, read, read. Writing makes it real but reading means I can hide away and throw myself into someone else’s narrative. I miss the joy of my book advent calendar too. However, book shopping really does take the edge off. I also had my book subscription box delivered this week. Books everywhere!

This weekend I had a lovely day to Beverley which has some of the most gorgeous independent shops along with a Hotel Chocolat cafe. My favourite shop though is the Beverley Book Shop where I often stop by. This weekend was no different. I picked up two gorgeous looking books: Are We Having Fun Yet and We All Want Impossible Things. I also popped to the Oxfam Book Shop too where I used to go as a student to pick up the texts I needed to read. I had a good haul from there too! Have any you read any of these? I’ve no idea when I’ll get to them but I did make a big dent in my to be read pile I’ve the Christmas break.

It’s obvious that people, myself included, spend a lot of money on books. I’m really lucky – I get free copies but I am trying hard to save some pennies this year too. I’ve set up a little savings challenge for myself – 1p for each page I read. It means that I’m making an effort to save as well as spend. It’s really easy to get carried away when buying books. I know for a fact that I get taken in with a gorgeous cover, a signed copy or a sprayed edge. But, if I can save too, I’ll feel much better!

I’ve been working my way through the next Galbraith book too. It’s an incredible 1012 pages (£10.12 in the savings pot!) and has a brilliantly clever plot. I highly recommend it!

I’ll be back for reviews soon! Much love everyone!

Big Love xxx

Reading Round-Up: December

Hello Loves!

I literally cannot believe it’s New Years Eve! Time has a really funny habit of running a way with us, for sure. I don’t think I’ll finish another book today so it’s time for my reading round up of the month. To be honest, I’ve read some excellent books in December. Holidays do provide me with the best time to relax and read and I’ve definitely been doing just that (and eating far too much…) Please tell me you’re all like me!

Anyway in December I managed to read a total of 16 books which I’m super pleased with. There’s been times when I’ve finished a book I’ve started in the same day. It’s been joyous to really get down my reading pile and enjoy reading some of the books from my advent calendar. I’ve got plenty still to keep me going though, that’s for sure! I can’t hold off any longer, I’m just too excited. Let’s check out the shelves!

I’ve written reviews of three of these already and have plans for more so this is going to be quite tricky. Lessons in Chemistry was previous post here – I just love that book. I’ve also reviewed Advent Street here too along with The Haunting Season over here and Slough House right there. It makes it a bit easier to pick a top three outside of these, that’s for sure!

  1. Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing – Matthew Perry. As a huge Friends fan, I had this on my list as soon as I saw it’s publication date. I hope to review it properly but I found it to be raw, moving and brutally honest.
  2. The Family Remains – Lisa Jewell. Another absolute classic from Lisa Jewell. Again it was quite a hyped up book for me so I took me some time to get to it. However, it was so worth the wait.
  3. The Girl on the 88 Bus – Freya Sampson. This book filled my heart and soul with unrivalled joy. If you’re needing a little pick me up, go for this one. You won’t be disappointed.

What a month! I’ve had one of the best months for reading so I’m feeling quite pleased with myself. I’m really excited for my reading challenge next year which I can’t wait to share with you (I’ve not finished it yet so any categories are welcome!) and to share more books with you too.

Have an excellent New Years Eve and of course, a very Happy New Year. I wish you all the very best for 2023! I’ll see you next year, probably tomorrow (see what I did there?!) for a roundup of the whole year, my favourites and thank yous as well as the future plans for my little blog. Until then…

Big love all xxxx

Lessons in Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus

Hello Everyone!

I hope you’re all well. I must admit, the time between Christmas and New Year is always a bit of a blur. I never know what day it is for starters! But it does give me plenty of time to read and relax which I absolutely love.

Anyway, I’m here to review a book I finished this morning. I had my stubborn head on and wouldn’t get up until I finished it. It shows the power of women and how not to take no for an answer. Of course, I’m talking about the incredible Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.

I have to be completely honest, I was worried about reading this. I always am when there’s such a hype around a book. I always find it adds pressure. No one wants to be the person that doesn’t like the book that is currently being raved about. I’ve left enough time and read it in a couple of days. Let’s start there…

What’s it all about?

Elizabeth Zott is a protagonist unlike any other. Fiercely independent, headstrong and someone who doesn’t take any nonsense, Zott knows exactly what she does and doesn’t want.

Her story begins at the end really, providing a lovely circular structure to the novel. It’s 1961 and Elizabeth is miserable, depressed but the star of a nationally beloved cooking show: Supper at Six. All of this kind of happened by accident after Elizabeth stormed in to speak with Walter Pine about his daughter, Amanda, eating her daughter, Madeline (Mad’s) lunch.

Rewind to 1952, Elizabeth is a chemist at the Hastings Institute. Prior to this, she had been a doctoral candidate at UCLA but this was taken away from her following a sexual assault. It is whilst she’s at Hastings that she meets Calvin Evans. Calvin has everything that she does not: respect, acknowledgement and beakers. They meet after she steals some of his beakers that she needed for her own experiment. Unfortunately, their first meeting wasn’t joyous. In fact, he mistakes her for a secretary, causing great offence. Calvin tries to make it up to her by offering a date but she refuses. Over time, through the pursuit of science, the two begin to work together which leads to them falling madly in love with each other.

“Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun.”

As young lovers do, they share details about their lives. But, despite Calvin repeatedly asking, she refuses to marry him and they also decide to not have any children. Instead, Calvin comes up with the idea of getting a dog. They find a dishevelled but highly intelligent dog and named him Six Thirty, the time he came into their lives.

“Hello, Creature, he transmitted as he pressed his ear into Elizabeth’s belly. It’s me, Six-Thirty. I’m the dog.”

One morning, Calvin takes his usual run but this ends up in tragedy as he slips, bangs his head and dies nearly instantly. Elizabeth is absolutely devastated by the loss and is then completely blindsided by the news of her pregnancy. She is sacked because of this so smashes up her kitchen to turn it into a laboratory and charges other scientists who come to her for information or advice. Harriet Slone, a neighbour from over the road notices that Elizabeth is alone and the two slowly become the closest of friends. She is the one there who helps look after Madeline.

“Every day she found parenthood like taking a test for which she had not studied. The questions were daunting and there wasn’t nearly enough multiple choice.”

After some time and a few bumps in the road (no spoilers!) Elizabeth ends up receiving a phone call from Walter Pine, the same person she rang at the start of the novel, wanting to discuss a potential television show with her. Desperate for an income, Elizabeth reluctantly agrees. However, it isn’t as simple as it seems. There is a distinct clash of ideals; Elizabeth wanting to promote chemistry and get more women into science, the producers wanting her to sex it up a bit. Elizabeth stands firm and refuses to change, much to the admiration of the viewing public. She becomes a popular public figure but she is keen to keep Madeline out of the limelight. This does tend to bring false stories and after a change of history and bitter, jealous people selling their stories, Elizabeth sinks into a depression.

By the end of the novel, the wrongs are all corrected and Elizabeth leaves the television show to pursue her role in chemistry with Madeline, Harriet and all the friends they’ve made along the way. She’s back in a laboratory, where she rightfully belongs.

“Whenever you feel afraid, just remember. Courage is the root of change – and change is what we’re chemically designed to do. So when you wake up tomorrow, make this pledge. No more holding yourself back. No more subscribing to others’ opinions of what you can and cannot achieve. And no more allowing anyone to pigeonhole you into useless categories of sex, race, economic status, and religion. Do not allow your talents to lie dormant, ladies. Design your own future. When you go home today, ask yourself what YOU will change. And then get started.”

Final Thoughts

There are so many strands to this novel that inevitably and purposely I’ve missed many details out. BUT, I didn’t want to spoil a thing for any potential readers. There’s so much to learn about Calvin and Elizabeth. We see Madeline grow and develop her own personality. It’s just so good for so many reasons.

I love Elizabeth and I admire the way she shows motherhood. I also loved the relationship between her and Calvin. I was bitterly disappointed when he died but it was crucial to the story. After all, it’s not about him, this was all about Elizabeth. I totally understand why this book has won so many awards and so many accolades. It is fantastic for so many reasons: character development, setting, themes, morals, motherhood, relationships and the significance of pets. I really, really enjoyed it. I’m so grateful I managed to get a signed copy and one with sprayed edges. It makes this book even more perfect.

See you next time! Nearly time for 2023 and a roundup of this years reading!

Big love xxx

Book Bingo Reading Challenge 2022! Advent Street – Carol Ann Duffy

Hello Lovelies!

I hope you all had a wonderfully festive couple of days and an excellent Christmas. It was really nice to spend time with my family and I was really excited to see my parents reactions to their gifts. The whole time I was thinking just how lucky I am because they always made Christmas magical for me. It’s also been wonderful to crack on with some reading and get down my to be read pile!

Today I want to share with you what I chose for my final Book Bingo Reading Challenge. The theme was: read a book with snow on the cover. I can not tell you how difficult it was to actually find a book with snow on the cover! I couldn’t find any for ages! Eventually, whilst out Christmas shopping I stumbled across this beautiful Christmas poem by Carol Ann Duffy. The illustrations by Yelena Bryksenkova are stunning too. I’m talking about the glorious Advent Street.

What’s it all about?

Like you would an advent calendar, this glorious little book invites you to open the windows on Advent Street and see what hides inside. As you explore the poem, you see inside a street pub, an old man and his tangerine bird and a ballerina, poised by a Christmas tree. Yet, there is a sense of melancholy for this time to year too, especially if one is alone.

‘That was the year when worse luck heaped on bad brought you to Advent Street…’

Another page, another window. This time a young girl at the piano, readying herself to play O Little Town. The next window shows a boy with nine Hanukkah candles, providing light. TV screens, Christmas trees, lovers, singers and another. Sadness sits with the speaker, the one outside the windows, gazing in.

‘Your heart pined to be whole; heal, like the sorrow sung by the carols towards joy.’

Babies, teenagers, the elderly all feature in this poem and an opportunity presents itself for the speaker – a house for sale on Advent Street. But the sadness is overwhelming until the next window, with neighbours together, welcomed the speaker in with open arms.

‘So you did sit and eat in Advent Street.’

Final Thoughts

Isn’t this just beautiful? It’s probably one of the shortest books I own but I found the poetry and the illustrations to work perfectly. I love the play with light and dark, happiness and sadness, togetherness and isolation. There is a joy to being together and also an appreciation that some may be alone. I really enjoyed this poem and found it to be quite compelling and a unique little festive read. Each window does provide the reader a gift as well as the speaker. This has also made me realise that I need to read more poetry. A New Year’s resolution maybe! Carol Ann Duffy is a pure talent. I love how she plays with language and I really need to make more effort to read her poetry anthologies.

Well, would you look at that! 12 themes, 12 books, another reading challenge completed. Granted I slipped behind in October and November but I feel like I’ve finished on a high. I can’t wait to create a reading challenge for next year!

Have you read any festively brilliant reads this holiday? Do let me know! Have you completed your own reading challenge? Again, tell me all about it! I’ll get cracking on mine to share with you in the next few days.

Enjoy the rest of the break everyone.

Big Love all xx

Unwrap It! December 20th & 21st

Hello loves!

It’s Wednesday and even though the snow has thawed, the sunshine is jolly wonderful. I’ve got a couple of presents left to wrap and then I am ready for the big day! How are you all? I hope you’re all able to have a peaceful and relaxing time. Anyway, time to share with you the last two days of my book advent calendar!

December 20th:

December 21st:

Two more books I’ve never read before which is exciting and the latter I’ve never even heard of. My to be read pile is growing but it’s just so enjoyable too. I can’t wait!

I’ll be back to share the last few books and also my choice for the reading challenge this month too. I’m all caught up and on target!

Until next time my loves, have a brilliant day.

Big love xx

Book Bingo Reading Challenge 2022! Slough House – Mick Herron

Hello Loves!

I promised recently that I would catch up with all my book reviews and today I am thrilled to be doing just that! I’d fallen really behind in my Book Bingo Reading Challenge but I am pleased to say that I’ve completed it! Hurrah! Today’s post is all about November’s choice: Read an award winning book.

This led me to a lot of research and I’ve found out that there’s so many prizes for books which is incredible! You’ve got the big, prolific ones but I wanted to go for an award that I’d never heard of before. I chose Slough House by Mick Herron. This book won the Theakston Old Peculier crime novel of the year award. I knew the drink because my dad likes it so I wanted to pick this. It also naturally fits with my favourite genre – crime – so it was meant to be! For more information on the Theakston Old Peculier crime novel of the year award, please see here. Let’s crack on!

What’s it all about?

I don’t plan on spoiling anything here but Slough House is book seven. You all know how I feel about a series but as a stand alone book, this was really easy to follow and I didn’t really feel like I’d missed anything (not discrediting earlier work). It’s a book that you can read as a stand alone but I imagine the reading experience is bettered when reading the series in order.

“History has an open-door policy. Any fool can walk right in.”

The boss, as it were, is a character called Jackson Lamb. The book opens with himself and his crew coming to terms with the death of Emma Flyte and their own J K Coe in Wales. However, they have more pressing issues at hand. Roderick Ho (Roddy) has learnt that someone is wiping their records from the service database. Does this impact them? Well, they’re getting paid but it does mean that they don’t exist anymore. Furthermore, when Louisa Guy discovers that she is being followed, leading to the other agents realising the same, things feel more on edge. I found myself gripping the book a little firmer too.

River Cartwright, is my favourite character. The fact that they’re being followed doesn’t interest him much to begin with. He is more centred on Sidonie Baker (Sid) who is alive and not dead as presumed. However, she’s turned up at River’s dead grandfather’s house in Kent, needing his help. She thinks that there are two people trying to kill both her and him. Yet, due to the significant injuries she sustained from a gunshot wound from the end of book six, we are never quite sure just how real that threat is.

“Even I’d put me way down on a list of people worth killing. You’d have to be halfway through the Cabinet first. Not to mention whoever invented fruit-flavoured beer.”

Weaved within that plot is the character of Diana Taverner (Lady Di) who has decided to strike back at Russian services in retaliation for the Novichok poisoning attack that happened in Salisbury. But she cannot do this alone. She forms an alliance with the ex-politician, now working in PR, Peter Judd. He managed to put together a group of Patricia lot minded billionaires willing to fund these operations. This doesn’t come without a price and Lady Di soon realises that these people have demands of their own, demands which she isn’t overly comfortable with. An example of this is the YouTube billionaire turned new channel owner, Damien Cantor who would like Lady Di to do an interview on his channel.

Whilst the slow horses try to piece together what exactly is doing on, they find themselves caught up in events outside of their control. There’s absolutely no way I’m going to ruin the ending but when they’re against a ruthless enemy, there’s going to be fireworks. Not being used to Herron’s style, I didn’t see that ending coming at all and that closes the book perfectly.

“Funny thing. When I hear the words “trust me”, I get the feeling someone’s pissing in my shoe.”

Final Thoughts

I can totally understand why this book is a prize winner. I love the blend of events in our time and fiction. The characters, all deeply flawed, really are lynchpin of the book. I’d have no qualms about reading the other books in the series at all. The weaving of alternative plot threads is expertly done and for a smaller book, each page feels like it packs a punch. I really enjoyed entering this world and the experience it took me on as a reader. I also found it deeply humorous and full of quick, clever wit. This just adds another dimension but it really did work with the plot.

The Christmas countdown is on! I’ll see you soon for an update on my book advent calendar!

Big love xxx

Unwrap It! December 5th & 6th

Good Morning!

It’s time for me to bring you book number five and six from my advent calendar. I must admit, with each morning waking up for work and it still being dark outside, this really is bringing me a little light to my life. I’m thoroughly enjoying it! It does feel like I’m unwrapping a present every day. What’s not to love about that?!

December 5th:

December 6th:

Two excellent and undiscovered books for me in the last two days which I’m really pleased about. All I need now is for school to finish so I can sit and read them all! Have any of you read either or both of these?

Finally, as promised, my tree. I think he is a real beauty.

Big love xx

Reading Round-Up: November

Hello Loves!

Happy Advent Eve! I love December so I am very excited about it approaching. Have you got your advent calendars and candles ready? I definitely have! I’ve got a very exciting advent treat that I can’t wait to share with you too. However, it’s sat in a Royal Mail depot somewhere at the moment due to the strikes – along with my book choice for October and November… I solemnly swear that I will catch up on my reading challenge in the next week!

Anyway, November has been quite a good reading month for me, despite being mock season at school. I’ve also found the lack of daylight really difficult – I miss the sunshine! I’ve been struggling a little but my books have kept me going – that and getting excited for Christmas to be honest! I’m super pleased that I managed to read 12 books this month. I had a little slump in the middle because I was stressed about my reading challenge but I decided to read anything that takes my fancy and it really did take the pressure off. I’ve neglected my blog a little but I can’t wait to show you these 12 amazing books. Let’s check out the shelves!

November gave me a real mix of titles really and to be honest, I’ve loved it! Picking a top three is always difficult but when there’s been a slump in the month, I’m always grateful to the books that have pulled me out of it. Anyway, here’s my top three – what do you think?

  1. Are You Really Ok? – Roman Kemp. There’s one main reason why this is the top of the list and that is because it raises the importance of mental health, especially in men, and the need for friendship groups to open those lines of communication to be there for each other. It was really moving and as a teacher in an all boys school, really important.
  2. We’ll Meet Again – Anton Du Beke. Most famous for being on Strictly Come Dancing, I was lucky enough to receive the first few books prepublication. I LOVE them. The setting, the glitz, the characters, the dancing and the wartime background mean these really are the perfect read. They’re usually set in Christmastime too (just saying…) I must admit, if you read this get some tissues ready – I sobbed.
  3. The Twelve Days of Christmas – Alex T Smith. First of all, there is nothing to not love about this book. The illustrations are incredible, each page is a pop of colour and character but also, I just love the premise behind it. We all know the popular Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, but do you remember what each day brought? If not, this quirky, hilarious take on this book is for you. It’s also excellent for little readers too.

There we have it! Another excellent month of reading even though I didn’t get to my book for November. I will make sure that happens this weekend as well as my new post, especially for the advent period. I cannot wait to show you that! I plan to post most days too so stay tuned! I’m genuinely so excited about it.

I hope you all have a wonderful start to December. Thanks for being there with me, even when I don’t quite reach my own goals that I set for myself.

Big love all xxxx

Wildest Hunger – Laura Laakso

Hi Loves,

Happy Saturday! I hope you’re having a lovely Saturday. Today I want to share with you a book that I was kindly gifted from @LouiseWalters12 and @LLaaksoWriter for the blog tour for Wildest Hunger (#WildestHungerBlogTour). Those of you who have followed me for sometime will know that I will never say no to a book so I am grateful for being a part of this. I hope you all enjoy this book as much as I did.

What’s it all about?

I was attracted to this book immediately because of it’s lovely cover. The blurb on the back was enticing and contained all the elements I love in a work of fiction. Worlds that are familiar but strange. Settings we know and love that have a twist as if they are distorted and warped.

This book is part of a series, which I didn’t realise when I first read it but as with all well written novels you can pick up the threads quickly and the characters come to life in your imagination despite the obvious missing background that would be there if you read them in order.

We follow the movements of an investigator, Yannia. She is living in Old London, away from the rest of her people. Yannia, you see is not human. Humanlike, yes but she is wild.

“Jamie recoils, but I keep following him. ‘I may look human, but I’m not. Nor is anyone who carries the WildFolk blood.’”

There is magic in this world and the non humans can use it, sense it, manipulate it. Yannia is called to consulate for the police when a young boy is abducted. As a member of the Wild Folk, Yannia quickly comes to realise that the perpetrator is one of her own. A Wild Folk like her. This one however has broken the oldest and most important law of the Wild Folk, they have started to kill and feed on humans.

“Of all the laws and traditions that govern our existence, one stands above all others; it is forbidden to consume the flesh of humankind.”

This leads her back into contact with her family, who are far away in a Wild Folk conclave. Yannia is very conflicted about this renewed contact as she left the conclave to get away from her overweening father and his plans to marry her off. In doing so, she has created resentment and ripples of rebellion throughout the Wild Folk community. Could this killing be in some way linked to her own rebellion?

“Most of the conclave has convened around the fires, and the nearer I get, the more hesitant my steps become. I feel unwelcome, though no-one has so much as glanced my way. These are my people, my kind, and yet I am not certain I am theirs. The old mould has been broken, and I have left the pieces behind.”

With the help of her partner, a magical Bird Shaman who works alongside her, Yannia begins to trace the movements of the killer. It soon becomes clear that they have travelled a long way and killed repeatedly. Yannia is forced to enlist the help of Dearon, her father’s heir to the leadership of their Wild Folk conclave. His lack of respect for the human police and her partner quickly causes friction – as does his utter failure to understand that he cannot simply meet out Wild Folk justice, this case must be dealt with by the police.

“Dearon’s nostrils flare as he identifies Jamie as human, and his expression changes to disinterest. I supress a surge of irritation. In Dearon’s world, humans are an inconvenience to be tolerated and avoided as much as possible.”

Final Thoughts

The plot twists and turns with all sorts of unexpected revelations. The complex relationship between the different characters and their ‘races’ in the story creates some delicious tension as things move to a climax.

The novel is a clever blend of the familiar and the magical.  Mobile phones and cars juxtapose portals and bodily transformations. I really enjoyed getting to know the rules and mores of this familiar/strange world. The characters are well written and you quickly become invested in the story.

I think the most telling thing about my reaction to this book is that I immediately went looking for the earlier books in the series – that says everything really. I have found a new author to follow and I’m looking forward to the journey.

Thank you again to @LouiseWalters12 and @LLaaksoWriter for letting me be a part of this. Do check out the other stops on the tour. I’ll see you next time.

Big Love xxx