Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Happy Release: The Hawkweed Legacy by Irena Brignull

The Hawkweed Legacy
by Irena Brignull
-Fantasy, YA, Witches
Release date: August 15, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

From screenwriter Irena Brignull, the stunning sequel to her critically acclaimed YA debut, The Hawkweed Prophecy ("Full of romance, heart and suspense...completely absorb[ing]." -Madeleine Roux) about a young witch forced to choose between love and magic.

Poppy is discovering a purpose for her powers in Africa, but she is haunted by a vision of her own death. Taken in by a boy and his great-grandmother, a healer, they vow to keep her safe-even if that ultimately means holding her captive. But Poppy never stops longing for Leo and, when she feels his magic begin to spark, she will do anything to be reunited with him.

Desperate to regain Poppy's trust and bring her home, Charlock embarks on a plan to reunite Leo with his mother. What Charlock doesn't foresee are the string of consequences that she sets into motion that leave Ember all alone and prey to manipulation, the clan open to attack from other witches, Sorrel vulnerable to Raven's ghost, Betony determined to protect her son from his father's fate, and which leave both Leo and Poppy in terrible danger.

Excerpt: Chapter 5

Young Charlock

Eighteen years ago...

Every year, the coming of spring was greeted by a celebration from the coven. On the last day of winter, the sisters wished for night to fall quickly for then the preparations would be over and the merriment could begin. As if mindful of its unpopularity, the sun hardly bothered to show itself through the clouds and day stitched to darkness almost seamlessly. Immediately, circle upon circle of candles were lit in readiness for the night’s festivities. For this eve was not for sleeping. The coven had taken to their beds that afternoon in order to remain awake the whole night through. Fires were burning and hogs roasting. Cider was being poured. Young witches were practising spells for their displays.

Now that they were seventeen, Charlock and her friend, Betony, were responsible for lighting the candles.

“We’re lucky there’s no breeze tonight,” murmured Charlock as she admired the tiny flames.

“Your sister has made certain of that, most likely,” joked Betony. “It is not just us she bosses but the weather too.” Charlock smiled, then looked around guiltily to see if Raven might be watching. “Don’t fear her so,” whispered Betony. “You are a Hawkweed too.”

Charlock shrugged. “Not the one that matters,” she said simply, without complaint.

It was true. She was the younger, softer sister, a witch with only moderate magic. Raven, on the other hand, was already the most powerful witch their clan had ever known. As if able to hear these silent thoughts, her sister turned her head and peered at Charlock from across the camp. Charlock waved her hand in nervous greeting but Raven only narrowed her eyes before returning her attention to her young daughter, Sorrel. Betony moved closer to Charlock in a show of solidarity. The pressure and warmth of her friend’s side against her own were comforting, as were Betony’s words.

(continue excerpt here)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

Days Without End
by Sebastian Barry
narrated by Aidan Kelly

Find out more about this book and author:

Just released: January 24, 2017
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Literary, Historical, Military, LGBTQ, American Indian
Hardback: 272
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
The method of laying out a corpse in Missouri sure took the proverbial cake.

Thomas McNulty, aged barely seventeen and having fled the Great Famine in Ireland, signs up for the U.S. Army in the 1850s. With his brother in arms, John Cole, Thomas goes on to fight in the Indian Wars—against the Sioux and the Yurok—and, ultimately, the Civil War. Orphans of terrible hardships themselves, the men find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they see and are complicit in.

Moving from the plains of Wyoming to Tennessee, Sebastian Barry’s latest work is a masterpiece of atmosphere and language. An intensely poignant story of two men and the makeshift family they create with a young Sioux girl, Winona, Days Without End is a fresh and haunting portrait of the most fateful years in American history and is a novel never to be forgotten.

My two-bits:

This Irish immigrant story takes you to America by way of military life. It gets into the violence involved for the struggle of survival and freedom in different degrees. Scraps of love can also be found in this "Wild West" setting.




* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of Man Booker Prize Reading Challenge (here)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Lovely Books and Things - 8.8.17

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)


A bit behind with this usual weekend post. But I wanted to share it before going away for a mini-vacation up to Northern California.



Bookshop in West Portal hosted an author event with Forrest Leo and his paperback release of The Gentlemen. Part of his inspiration for the story was to create a magical fairy tale London. It was interesting to learn that his novel, started out as a play and was presented on stage. The novel adds on an airship to the story.

The Gentleman
by Forrest Leo
-Historical, Humor, Fantasy
Amazon | Goodreads

OVERALL sounds like a fun and fantastic read.

Book Passage, Corte Madera, hosted an author event with Michelle Richmond featuring her latest release, The Marriage Pact. Michelle's fascination with cults brought about this particular story. Fun fact: "The Manuel" mentioned in the story is based on the Federal Criminal Code.

The Marriage Pact
by Michelle Richmond
Amazon | Goodreads

FOUND out that this story is set in my neighborhood - literally!

For Review:

Darcy in Wonderland
by Alexa Adams
-Mashup, Jane Austen theme, Alice in Wonderland theme, Humor
Amazon | Goodreads

IN for some whimsical delight with this one.


Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
by Julie Lawson Timmer
-Women's Fiction
courtesy of Amazon Kindle First (for July) -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

MUST catch up with my tbr pile of Kindle Firsts. This looked like a good one about second chances.

P.S. from Paris
by Marc Levy
-Romance, Paris
courtesy of Amazon Kindle First (for August) -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

TO satisfy the francophile side of me ;-)

OTHER things (kinda book-related):

Man Booker Prize 2017
Long List (details)

WITH the announcement of the long list Man Booker Prize nominees, I am inspired to add them to my reading list. Interesting to see The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead popping up yet again for another book award. I have it sitting on my shelf and must get around to it by year's end.

AND watched: in theatre

HONG KONG director, Johnnie To (pictured center), was present for the SF MOMA Modern Cinema film series - Johnnie To: Cops and Robbers. We were treated to a night a Q&A session with film clip presentations from the series. Johnnie has produced and directed over 70 films. Amazing body of work with most films done without scripts - intuition and improvisation.

AND watched: on DVD

Election (2005)
Hak se wui (original title)
Director: Johnnie To
Writers: Nai-Hoi Yau, Tin-Shing Yip
Starring: Louis Koo, Suet Lam, Tony Ka Fai Leung
-Crime, Drama, Thriller, Hong Kong | imdb | my rating: 4

Rival gang leaders are locked in a struggle to become the new chairman of Hong Kong's Triad society.

PEEK into Chinese mafia dealings. That ending. Brutal. Whoa.

Breaking News (2004)
Dai si gin (original title)
Director: Johnnie To
Writers: Hing-Ka Chan, Tin-Shing Yi
Starring: Richie Jen, Kelly Chen, Nick Cheung
-Action, Crime, Drama , Hong Kong | imdb | my rating: 4

When an ambulatory TV news unit live broadcasts the embarrassing defeat of a police battalion by five bank robbers in a ballistic showdown, the credibility of the police force drops to a nadir. While on a separate investigation in a run-down building, detective Cheung discovers the hideout of the robbers. Cheung and his men have also entered the building, getting ready to take their foes out any minute. Meanwhile, in order to beat the media at its own game, Inspector Rebecca decides to turn the stakeout into a breaking news show.

LOTS of gun shooting with mass police vs. handful of bad guys.

Vengeance (2009)
Fuk sau (original title)
Director: Johnnie To
Writer: Ka-Fai Wai
Starring: Johnny Hallyday, Anthony Chau-Sang Wong, Simon Yam
-Action, Crime, Thriller, Hong Kong | imdb | my rating: 4

A French chef swears revenge after a violent attack on his daughter's family in Hong Kong, during which her husband and her two children are murdered. To help him find the killers, he hires three local hit-men working for the mafia.

THIS had an interesting main character who had to work with his memory issues while trying to exact revenge.


* Johnnie To photo by Aberswyth NT

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently


Monday, August 7, 2017

Guest post: Darcy in Wonderland by Alexa Adams

Darcy in Wonderland
by Alexa Adams
-Mashup, Jane Austen theme
Just released: July 15, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads | Blog tour

Twinkle, twinkle, amber cross!
For a chain, it’s at a loss.
Heavy links or simple loop,
Do not dunk it in your soup.

The worlds of beloved authors collide as Fitzwilliam Darcy, Jane Austen’s immortal hero, finds himself thrust into the topsy-turvy world of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.

Many years have passed since Elizabeth Bennet became mistress of Pemberley, and the Darcys’ six children stand testament to their enduring love. As the eldest prepare to enter the world, Alice, the youngest and most intrepid of the brood, ensures that life at Pemberley never grows dull. Her curious mind and penchant for mischief often prove trying, but never more so than when her father follows her down a mysterious rabbit hole, disrupting his orderly world in ways never before imagined. A treat for the young and the old, Darcy in Wonderland is both an adventure and homage to two of literature’s greatest minds.


“Oh, Papa!” shouted Alice frantically, backing into a corner that was quickly filling with her father’s mass. “Where should I go?”

“Just a moment,” he replied, working an arm out the window and one foot up the chimney. “There. I think I can do no more.”

Luckily the little magic bottle had now had its full effect, and he grew no larger. Still, it was a terrible predicament Darcy found himself in, and he wondered quite sincerely how he would ever get out of the room again.

Alice, seeing his height stabilized, climbed onto her father’s enormous chest and sat down upon it, looking terribly unhappy. “It was much pleasanter at home,” she lamented, “where one is not always growing larger and smaller!”

“Or being ordered about by mice and rabbits,” Darcy added with perfect empathy.

“I almost wish we had never gone down that rabbit hole!” she continued.

“Almost! Good Lord, Alice! This entire episode has been an unmitigated disaster.”

“Well, it is rather curious, you know, living this sort of life.”

“Curious indeed!” he snorted, causing a strong enough gust to raise Alice’s hair.

Original illustrations by K. Wiedemann featured in the book (see more here).

CHECK OUT more goodies from this book. It is currently on tour (here).

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Brass Compass by Ellen Butler

The Brass Compass
by Ellen Butler

Find out more about this book and author:
Guest post about book
Website | Facebook

Just released: March 20, 2017
Publisher: Power to the Pen
Genre: Action, Historical, WWII
Paperback: 356
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
Unbeknownst to me, my training started as a child, long before the Nazis came to power, before the war, and before my stay at the prestigious Swiss finishing school, Ch√Ęteau Mont-Choisi in the idyllic town on Lausanne. Had my mother realized the path her machinations put me on, I doubt she would have ever let me out of her sight.

A beautiful American spy flees into the night. On her own, she must live by her wits to evade capture and make it to the safety of the Allied forces. Lily Saint James grew up traveling the European continent, learning languages as she went. In 1938, her mother’s abrupt death brings her back home to Washington, D.C., and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Lily comes to the attention of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Her knowledge of German, French, and Italian makes her the perfect OSS Agent, and her quick thinking places her as a nanny in the household of an important German Army Colonel, where she is able to gather intelligence for the Allies. After her marketplace contact goes missing, she makes a late-night trip to her secondary contact only to find him under interrogation by the SS. When he commits suicide, she flees into the frigid winter night carrying false identification papers that are now dangerous and a mini film cartridge with vital strategic information. In order to survive, Lily must make it out of Germany, into the hands of Allied-controlled France, through a path fraught with peril.


My two-bits:

Lots of spy related action set during WWII with a dash of romance.

The heroine was pulled through various scrapes and sticky situations with panache. She was likable and had me rooting for her the whole way.

Got to learn a bit about the OSS and their efforts.


* review copy courtesy of author

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

The Girl Before
by J.P. Delaney
narrated by
Emilia Fox
Finty Williams
Lise Aagaard Knudsen

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: January 24, 2017
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Thriller
Hardback: 352
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
It's a lovely little flat, the agent says with what could almost pass for genuine enthusiasm.

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

My two-bits:

This one had me spinning. Just when I thought the story was going one way it turned and then turned again.

Despite the characters being an unlikable bunch, the mysteries about them and their past really holds the attention and interest.

The house is its own character and got me thinking of how where and what you live in affects your life and well-being.

The epigraphs were questions from the required "questionnaire" required as part of the application process for the house. They were an interesting morality related selection to ponder over.


* announced: film version is to be directed by Ron Howard - definitely have this on my to-watch list if it gets made

* part of Cloak & Dagger Challenge (here)

* Listened to audiobook version.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Man Booker Prize Reading Challenge 2017

Man Booker Prize
Reading Challenge

official site


The long list was announced on July 27 and it got me excited to give this batch of books a read. The list is below and I plan to give some of these a go.

The short list will be announced on September 13.

The winner will be announced on October 17.


Books on the long list:

4 3 2 1
by Paul Auster
(US) (Faber & Faber)
-Literary, Family saga
Amazon | Goodreads

Days Without End
by Sebastian Barry
(Ireland) (Faber & Faber)
-Literary, Historical, Military
Amazon | Goodreads

History of Wolves
by Emily Fridlund
(US) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
-Literary, Coming of Age
Amazon | Goodreads

Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid
(Pakistan-UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | rating: 4

Solar Bones
by Mike McCormack (Ireland) (Canongate)
-Literary, Ireland
Amazon | Goodreads

Reservoir 13
by Jon McGregor (UK) (4th Estate)
-Literary, Mystery
Amazon | Goodreads

Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK) (JM Originals)
Amazon | Goodreads

The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness
by Arundhati Roy (India) (Hamish Hamilton)
-Literary, India
Amazon | Goodreads

Lincoln in the Bardo
by George Saunders (US) (Bloomsbury Publishing)
-Literary, Historical
Amazon | Goodreads

Home Fire
by Kamila Shamsie (UK-Pakistan) (Bloomsbury Circus)
Amazon | Goodreads

by Ali Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Amazon | Goodreads

Swing Time
by Zadie Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Amazon | Goodreads | currently listening to

The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead (US) (Fleet)
-Literary, Historical
Amazon | Goodreads


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Happy release: The Little Queen by Meia Geddes

The Little Queen
by Meia Geddes
-Fairy Tale, Coming of Age
Release date: August 1, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

When her mother and father pass away, the little queen must figure out how to be a little queen. And so she begins her adventures, journeying away from her palace and into the world to determine how she should go about going on. The little queen soon encounters numerous folks who teach her a thing or two: the book sniffer, the dream writer, and the architect of silence are just a few. Along the way, the little queen finds friendship, love, and meaning in being a leader in her world. THE LITTLE QUEEN is a magical exploration of self-discovery, vocation, community, and home.


View more (here)

Imagination Designs
Images from: Lovelytocu