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Currently reading: Vulture by Bex Hogan.

Wednesday 27 April 2022

Wolfbane Blog Tour


I am so excited today to be taking part in the Wolfbane blog tour to celebrate the release of the ninth and final book in the incredible Wolf Brother series by Michelle Paver.


Written by: Michelle Paver.
Published by: Zephyr.
Format: Hardback.
Released: 26th April 2022.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "It is early spring, a turbulent, perilous time of sudden storms, frozen river fractures and drifting ice. Fleeing from a demon intent on devouring his souls, Wolf is swept out to Sea far from the Forest and his pack. The ocean too teems with danger: sea wolves, sharks and hunters of the deep, and the demon is gaining ground. Torak and Renn must race to save their pack-brother, battling the harsh, icy waves and merciless torrents. If they can't find Wolf in time, the bond between them will be severed for ever... Run wild with Wolf Brother for the last time in a Stone Age world we all want to be part of, with three-million-copy-selling author Michelle Paver, Creator of Legends."


Way back in 2004, a 12 year old boy was stood in Ottakar's looking for something new to read. His eyes searched the shelves, finding familiar names and titles that he had already read when something new popped out at him. An earthy, reddish brown cover with a stick figure image of a person and a wolf. He picked the book up and read the first page before begging his mum to buy it for him. This was his new read. This was the book he had been searching for. As the years went by, the boy followed Torak, Renn and Wolf on their adventures, growing with them as he went. From Forest, to the sea, from the mountains to the dangerous depths of the Deep Forest, the boy found himself a place away from the real world that felt safe, like home. Fast forward to late 2021, that boy, now a fully grown man found himself in possession of a proof copy of the ninth and final book in the series that means so much to him. Reader, the boy is me.

Honestly, I am not quite sure where to really start with this one. This has been a very bittersweet experience for me. Reading Wolfbane. For so long I dreamed of Michelle returning to the world of Torak, Renn, Wolf, Fin-Keddinn, Dark. All of them. And when it was announced in 2019 that that dream was coming true I could not have been happier. But with that joy came impending sadness because I knew back then that I would one day again have to say goodbye to these characters and this world that I love so much. This series has genuinely gotten me through some of my darkest moments. In 2016, when my mum passed away, I completely lost myself and didn't really do much for several months. But after re-reading the series, back then running from Wolf Brother to Ghost Hunter, I felt myself coming back. I had gone home and I loved every second again as if it were the first time I had read the series. That is the beauty of this series. It doesn't matter how many times I read them, I am drawn in so whole-heartedly and that is something truly magical.

First off, the cover, as that's the first thing many will see. Lord, the cover! John Fordham does a wonderful job every time but this one has taken the biscuit. A stunning addition to bring this wonderfully jacketed series to a close! And Geoff Taylor has outdone himself too with the chapter headers in this one. Some stunning illustrations to help bring this ancient story to life!

Right from the start of Wolfbane there is a real sense that the end is coming. There is this foreboding feeling that something bad is going to happen. Something final. Wolf is in danger and Torak must race against time to save his friend and the rest of the Forest in the process. I won't say much because I don't want to spoil it but there is the return of an animal in this book that had me so excited but also scared for Wolf. This particular animal is one of my absolute favourites and to see them again was wonderful. It was nice as well to see many other threads come together within this book. Characters that probably didn't get as much time to flourish because of their late introduction into the original books have their moments and all I will say is that the whole thread surrounding Dark was so wonderful that it made me tear up a few times! It's something I have dreamed of seeing within some of my favourite series, so for it to be a part of my actual favourite series was such a full circle moment for me, validating me and I also hope showing others who either grew up with the series or that may discover the series anew that they're just as valid in the Stone Age as they are today.

The actual ending itself was so beautifully written. As the book races to a thrilling conclusion, it's obvious that the danger is too high. People are going to get hurt. Again, no spoilers but I said to Michelle during a live stream event that she needed to campaign for her publishers to make Wolf branded tissues because they would be needed and I still stand by that. I've read the book twice now and I have to say I cried as much the second time reading it as I did the first and I am not ashamed to admit that! I have spent so much time with these characters, within this world. 18 years. It is hard not to form an attachment. This series has been so influential for me. I've met Michelle several times and every time I have gushed about how much these books have shaped me into the man I am today. That their presence has given me a much needed safe space at times, and for that I will be forever grateful. The fact that this time it really is goodbye, there will be no more additions in years to come is almost too hard to take, but my god what a journey this has been!

Atmospheric, an edge of your seat page turner and filled with heartwarming moments too, Wolfbane was the grand finale that I had hoped for.

If you haven't read the series yet, I only say please please please do not delay. If you have and are about to devour Wolfbane, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do and enjoy the phenomenal end to this incredible series. 

Thank you Michelle for all of the adventures. Thank you for everything!

Wednesday 12 May 2021

The Outrage by William Hussey [Review]

Written by: William Hussey
Published by: Usborne.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 13th May 2021.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: Welcome to England, where the Protectorate enforces the Public Good. Here, there are rules for everything - what to eat, what to wear, what to do, what to say, what to read, what to think, who to obey, who to hate, who to love. Your safety is assured, so long as you follow the rules. Gabriel is a natural born rule-breaker. And his biggest crime of all? Being gay. Gabriel knows his sexuality must be kept secret from all but his closest friends, not only to protect himself, but to protect his boyfriend. Because Eric isn't just the boy who has stolen Gabriel's heart. He's the son of the chief inspector at Degenerate Investigations ­­­- the man who poses the single biggest threat to Gabriel's life. And the Protectorate are experts at exposing secrets. 


I have been a fan of William's work for a very long time now, since 2010's Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide was released and I have loved seeing his career and talents flourish year after year. Last years Hideous Beauty was a stunning read and at some points I wondered how Will could ever top himself, but with The Outrage, he goes above and beyond and I couldn't be happier to have been able to read this book! Right from the start I was sucked into the world of a Britain where we have regressed far further than many could ever imagine possible. A totalitarian state where people are in a constant state of suspicion, looking out for those who may be different.

I fell in love with the characters. Gabe himself is boyfriend goals and I loved him right from the very start. He isn't perfect and he doesn't pretend to be. He has anger issues, but he loves so fiercely and so protectively regardless of what people do to him in return and I loved this about him. I'm glad he was the narrator because he was a my favourite of the lot and I really enjoyed getting into his head and seeing how he saw the world. I also liked Eric because he is flawed too. He wants to be open and honest, he wants to live the life he knows that he truly desires, but also doesn't want to do anything to upset his father, a high ranking officer within the Protectorate itself.

I've seen first hand a lot of unwarranted abuse thrown at Will online because of the premise of this book. Telling him that he is too privileged to have written a book like this. Being gay isn't illegal in Britain anymore. It used to be. Yeah, we have progressed, we have made leaps and strides that just seem natural. Why shouldn't LGBTQ+ people have the same rights that straight people do? Yes, we are lucky in that sense, lucky in ways that some can only dream of, where their sexuality can get them imprisoned, or worse, killed. But given things going on within the country today, the governments lack of action against conversion therapy, constant backpedaling now saying that they won't condemn religious groups. As it says in the book, sometimes we take this progress for granted and stop fighting for it. That is what the book is about. It isn't about how horrible it is that you can be persecuted for who you love in some parts of the world. It is about the fact that we all deserve complete and total equality, regardless of which country you come from, what religion you are. We should not be deemed lesser just because some people think that we are. This book is about keeping the fight alive. Not being complacent and allowing those who would seek to take our rights away from us win. We need to keep fighting to be equal and we need to fight for that equality to spread all the way around the world and stay there!
I am so proud of Will for this book and know that a book like this would have made 14 year old me swell with self-worth and it would definitely have helped me in ways that I hope it will teens today! I am so glad that today, teens around the world have access to so much more representation than there was when I was a gay teen struggling to accept who I was!

So beautifully written, The Outrage was a page turner of epic proportions. I just had to keep going! There are books that stay with you long after you have read the last page and closed the book for the last time. Characters and words that merge with you and stay with you forever, and The Outrage is one of those books. Moving, thought provoking and enthralling, I cannot wait for people to read it!

Thursday 1 April 2021

Skin Taker by Michelle Paver [Review]

Written by: Michelle Paver.
Published by: Zephyr/Head of Zeus.
Format: Hardback.
Released: 1st April 2021.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "In the Dark Time of midwinter, disaster strikes the Forest. Chaos rules. Bears woken from their dens prowl the shadowy valleys. Desperate clans battle for survival. Only demons thrive. With their world in turmoil, Torak, Renn and Wolf are tested as never before. And as a new evil haunts the devastated land, Torak must risk his sanity, his life and even his souls to save everything he loves... Skin Taker carries you back to the Stone Age, to nature, drawing you deeper into an astonishing environment and adventure which began with Wolf Brother and has captivated millions of readers."


It's a magical time that comes but once a year. It brings with it a sense of joy, but also fear. That's right! It's time for a new Michelle Paver book! The eighth instalment in the worldwide best selling Wolf Brother series! AKA Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. And boy, what a ride Skin Taker is! Right from the very first page, it is a tale of doom and gloom as a natural disaster befalls the Forest and our favourite characters are thrown right into the middle of all of the action as they attempt to drive the evil out of their home! I mean, you almost have to feel sorry for poor old Torak. Chosen by destiny to fight the Soul-Eaters and now that that task is done he still can't catch a break! Bears that would normally be asleep, hibernating, roam the trees. Whispers of evil beings known as skin takers are carried on the wind, fear causing the clans to do terrible things. And enemies that Torak may have thought he would never have to face again may be closer than he bargains for.

I'll make no apologies about it, I am a complete Michelle Paver stan, as I believe I have shown time and time again. Her words are just so well thought out and methodically placed but feel so lyrical, so effortless and they never fail to take me away from the real world and drag me into the world woven within the pages. Skin Taker feels a lot more claustrophobic than the previous books in my opinion. Yes you can read them separately but I believe to truly get the benefit from the story, you need to read them all. Torak has been trapped in caves before. He's been in some very sticky situations. But something about Skin Taker feels very different. Darker, quite literally at some points of the book. Torak and Renn are in the Far North, probably one of my favourite parts of the world that Michelle has created. It's chill just seeps from the page into your bones. Michelle always has such a way of describing the settings, the weather, that just makes them feel so real, so tangible.

I read the book in early December last year, during a particularly cold week and this only added to the feel of the book for me, as the cold seeps in and all hope seems to fade. These characters are some of my favourite I have ever encountered in any series. Yes, we all love Torak, Renn and of course, Wolf. But the supporting cast beyond the main trio are also a brilliant mix. As ever Fin-Keddinn is spellbinding. Dark continues to intrigue and with a host of new characters thrown in, showing different degrees of humanity in the pre-historic setting there is someone for all readers to fall in love with! I really felt for them all the way through this book, facing such adversity and having no choice but to pull together, regardless of clans and beliefs was so interesting to read, especially given the timely aspect of coronavirus and how it is bringing us all together as well!

Every time I read one of these books, it doesn't matter which one, there is always such a sense of safety, of coming home, and honestly it's a feeling I cannot get enough of. Even in the darkest moments, the Forest is a welcome respite from the real world. I can almost smell the tang of pine blood, hear the voices of the trees as they chatter among themselves as I pass.

Can we talk about that cover for a second! I mean! COME ON! John Fordham knocks it out of the park every time. This has to be my favourite cover of the series so far. The colours used. The overall feeling, and especially given that I have read the book, the actual meanings in the cover itself. Fantastic! These have to be some of my favourite covers I have ever had the fortune to own. So unique and easily identifiable within the book world, as well as being fun. Absolute pieces of art in their own right. I'd love to one day get them all framed or something, they're just stunning!

I can never truly get out just how I feel about the books because it just becomes such a gush-fest. I just love them so much. Last year a tv adaptation was announced and with work on that continuing, I can only hope that the team behind it do these characters and the world, and of course Michelle's work, justice and helps to bring a whole new audience to these fantastic books. Yes, they're worldwide bestsellers, but in my opinion, they do not get the recognition they deserve! 

Atmospheric, exhilarating and a complete page turner, Skin Taker is Michelle Paver at her very best. With one last instalment (for real, this time!) due next year, Wolfbane, there are no doubt thrills aplenty still to come. I don't know if I am, personally, ready to say goodbye to these characters that I adore so much. I've done it once before with Ghost Hunter, yes, but getting to walk alongside them on their adventures again has been such a wonderful experience. These characters and indeed the books mean a great, great deal to me so it'll never really be a goodbye, as I reread them quite often actually, but the thought of no more new adventures. Gives me chills far worse than those you experience in the Far North, let me tell you! All I know is that I trust Michelle and know that we are in safe hands, so I will walk confidently into the Forest once more to await the fate of our beloved characters!

My thanks to the wonderful Fiona Kennedy at Zephyr for being so lovely and allowing me to read Skin Taker so early! I am eternally grateful and beyond honoured!

Monday 11 January 2021

Killing Jericho by Will Harker [Review]

 Written by: Will Harker.

Published by: End House Publishing.
Released: 7th December 2020.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "Murder this twisted demands a new kind of detective. Fresh out of prison, former Detective Constable Scott Jericho is a desperate man. Disgraced and penniless after his assault on a violent suspect, he is forced to seek refuge with the fairground family he once rejected. Now, troubled by his failure, Jericho’s brilliant mind stagnates. That is until a series of bizarre murders reawaken his interest. Men and women with no obvious link to each other are being ritualistically slaughtered. Slaughtered in ways that recall an old legend of the Jericho Travelling Fair. Now, in a race against time, he must unpick the threads of a baffling mystery. But as his investigation unfolds and the corpses pile up, a shocking truth awaits him. A revelation that will test not only Jericho’s intellect but challenge the very core of his morality..."


I will start by saying that murder mystery/crime novels aren't normally my cup of tea. I'm not sure why as I love a good crime drama on television but when it comes to books I generally struggle to stay interested. But from the very first page I was well and truly hooked on this one! I read it over a particularly difficult personal period and it was such an incredible experience that took me away from all my woes and had me completely captivated and determined to find out what on earth was going on! Will's writing is so engaging and draws you in so well that you just cannot put the book down!

Scott Jericho himself is a fantastic lead. Brooding, dark, mysterious with a past that is a joy to discover and gay! What more could you want? When it comes to book boyfriends, Scott has well and truly thrown himself into the mix and I for one am here for it! He's just so unapologetically himself which I loved. You don't get many gay leads especially in this genre so it is incredibly refreshing to read and downright enjoyable! All of the characters are so well realised and developed which sometimes in these sorts of books isn't always the case. They're there just for the sake of it, a throw-away character that is shoehorned in to make a certain aspect of the plot work, but here they all earn their place within the book and I really enjoyed that!

The book itself had me guessing and second guessing at every turn but the ending took me completely by surprise. So much so that I threw my kindle down and had to calm myself down a bit before connoting. I just couldn't believe it! I think that part of my problem with the genre in general is that I often see the ending coming and often work it out early on in the book, but with Killing Jericho, I didn't have that experience and I absolutely loved it for it. It is just testament to Will's writing and the story itself!

I for one cannot wait to see what Scott gets up to next and am waiting on tenterhooks for the follow up! You may have a convert on your hands here Mr. Harker!

A dark, atmospheric page-turner that will have you guessing until the very end! Killing Jericho is a joy to read and I cannot wait for more!

Friday 1 January 2021

New Years Reading Resolutions


It may not be starting off the way that we had hoped but I'm hoping the strangeness of 2020 won't linger for too long and that 2021 can actually be a good year! As crap as it was, 2020 was actually a VERY good reading year for me. I have been working from home since March and the time not spent commuting has meant I've had more time to myself, I've also been working different hours to what I used to in the office which also gave me more time to read, and social distancing worked wonders for my tbr as I managed to read 62 books despite setting myself an initial target of 30 books. I guess not being able to have a life and see friends can be a good thing!

I've thought a lot about how many books I would like to try and read this year. I am setting myself up a reading journal... as if I don't record my reads in enough places. I use Goodreads, obviously... I use an app called Bookly which has changed my life. It records how long you read, tells you how fast you read, gives you so many stats... I LOVE IT! I also have a note open in my notes app which I update with what I've read as I finish it, but I wanted somewhere physically to hopefully keep a couple of years worth of reads all in one place together. Whether I keep it running or not will be something else altogether but we'll see...

So I have preliminarily set myself a target of 45 books. I can obviously edit this later but I am conscious of the fact that I would like life to return to normal at some point this year and as it does that would probably mean less time to read and 45 seems like a good, manageable number. I changed my target twice last year, from 30 to 40, then 40 to 50 and once I'd hit 50 I just thought I would leave it and enjoy everything else I read.

I also have blogging resolutions. To be more active. I'm active on twitter, always talking about books on there, and I've started to get back into instagram slowly, but I want to get better at actually posting my reviews. One personal resolution for 2021 is to use my time better and to manage myself better so that goes hand in hand with more blogging so hopefully that'll sort it out! We shall see!

I really want to read more long-running series this year. I have been meaning to read more Discrworld books and this year I am aiming to get as many as I can in! I have some series that I have started but haven't finished. I have some books that I have owned for YEARS and just haven't gotten around to so I want to try and cut some of them down this year. I'd also like to sort out my Netgalley percentage which... LETS NOT GO THERE! I did do a month last year where I only read Netgalley proofs and managed to get my percentage up a whopping 3% (lol) so maybe I'll manage to sort some of those out this year too!

The main thing is I just want to enjoy everything I read and to have as much fun as possible!

What are your reading resolutions for 2021 if you have any?

Thursday 31 December 2020