Lava Red Feather Blue

Audiobooks, Big News, Big News-Books, Books, Pink in Ink, Uncategorized

Molly Ringle

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Awakening the handsome prince is supposed to end the fairy tale, not begin it. But the Highvalley witches have rarely done things the way they’re supposed to. On the north Pacific island of Eidolonia, hidden from the world by enchantments, Prince Larkin has lain in a magical sleep since 1799 as one side of a truce between humans and fae. That is, until Merrick Highvalley, a modern-day witch, discovers an old box of magic charms and cryptic notes hidden inside a garden statue. Experimenting with the charms, Merrick finds himself inside the bower where Larkin lies, and accidentally awakens him. Worse still, releasing Larkin from the spell also releases Ula Kana, a faery bent on eradicating humans from the island. With the truce collapsing and hostilities escalating throughout the country, Merrick and Larkin form an unlikely alliance and become even unlikelier heroes as they flee into the perilous fae realm on a quest to stop Ula Kana and restore harmony to their island.

Well, this was unexpected!

I’ve never read, or heard of Molly Ringle and her novels and, as per tradition around here, I’ve been missing out!

The book starts with the perspective of our dashing Prince, Larkin and the events that eventually lead to his magical long sleep in 1799. 200 years later (sometimes I wish I could sleep that long!) we then meet Merrick (the distant relative to the witch that put Larkin in his long sleep) who seems to do a spectacular job at getting things wrong… I like him already! When he finds a hidden portal to the place the sleeping Prince Larkin is kept, he feels compassion towards him. But by simply brushing away dust, Merrick wakes him and, inadvertently, Ula Kana who wreaked havoc on Eidolonia 200 years ago because of hate towards humans.

The character building in this was amazing and the relationship development between Larkin and Merrick was one I became very invested in very quickly! Even though the final plot was somewhat predictable, the twists and turns that this took left me hooked. The world-building was great, the imagination of these realms in the fae world were so much different to what I was expecting.

I think my favourite part of this whole tale was the references to the real world and cultures. She also used words from native languages to create character names which shows not only her incredible imagination but the respect of real history.

If you have your eye on this book, get it! If you’re a fan of the Folk of the Air series by Holly Black, you’ll find this a great read.

A huge thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Central Avenue Publishing, for the opportunity to read this in advance!

This title is available to order now on Waterstones UK, Book Depository, Wordery and other bookstores now!

Paperback RRP £15.99


Paperback

352 pages

Published – 5th January 2021

Publishing Company – Central Avenue Publishing

The Starless Sea

Audiobooks, Big News-Books, Books, Pink in Ink

Erin Morgenstern

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them. Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is. A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea

After ten years of waiting for fans of Erin Morngenstern’s hugely successful debut The Night Circus, we’re transported to another wonderfully fantastical world of magic doors, mythical libraries and legendary stories.

We follow Zachary Ezra, our protagonist. During his regular visit to the local library, he stumbles upon a book full of fantastical short stories that looks to be very old. As he flicks through this mysterious book of tales, the is a tale of romance involving what is called the starless sea in an underground world. But as he continues reading, he finds one that reads like a very unusual moment in his life. In perfect detail. Can he find out who wrote about this moment in his life? Will he find the starless sea?

I loved The Night Circus and became a die-hard fan of Morgenstern’s from its last page. So, when I saw she was finally coming out with another title, I was beyond excited!

As I began to read, I discovered why it took so long between publications. This book is impeccably crafted. Not only do we have a wonderful, beautiful and captivating main plot with excellent character-building, but we find that this is just book-inception. The short fairy tales are published inside the main story, giving it even more unique qualities. But these extra tales aren’t rushed, far from it. They are immersive in-and-of themselves. If she published a book with just the short tales, I’d be throwing my money everywhere!

I loved her descriptive writing of this world and the magical painted doors, I really felt I could see everything and just wanted, desperately, for someone to invent a way to travel to these fictional worlds, to hear, see and smell the surroundings.

Despite all that, I became a little annoyed at the amount of filler-words there were (more specifically the word ‘and’). I ended up skipping over these words so often because they really were over-used and took me away from the story. This AND this, AND this… it just got annoying.

But for a negative, it’s a pretty minor one which I can easily look past (literally) because the level of craftsmanship was staggering.

This really made me feel festive, for some reason. Maybe something to do with when I ordered it? I can’t recommend this more and Erin Morgenstern remains one of my all-time favourite authors.


Hardcover

498 pages

Published – 5th February 2020

Publishing Company – Doubleday Books


See what’s new

Subscribe to bushtus



The Guest List

Books, Pink in Ink

Lucy Foley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body        On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.          But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.          And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

I may have stayed up until 3am to finish this book… it’s only taken me a day to read.

I first came across Lucy Foley’s writing with The Hunting Party that was gifted to my better-half for Christmas and had to read it as soon as possible… I read it first (sorry, honey!) and I instantly fell in love with her writing and immersive storytelling with the tang that this could really be real life.

Needless to say, after I read her first book I immediately jumped online to see if there were any new books on the horizon. Sure enough there was. INSTANTLY PRESSED THE PRE-ORDER BUTTON! (Yes I’m using capital letters to get across my child-like excitement).

I was nervous once I received my copy in fear that it wouldn’t match the excitement and suspense of her first book… I WAS SO WRONG! (it’s tempting to use multiple exclamation marks to try and drive home my excitement a little more, but I’ll stick to the capital letters for now).
I don’t know how but it was better than I could have ever expected. It had the same formula as The Hunting Party but it didn’t feel like a formula at all. I was (literally) hooked from the first page. The only time I put down my book was to eat.

The descriptive writing about this perfect island away from the rest of the world with beautiful places to explore and staying in a grand hotel. Similarly to The Hunting Party, we follow multiple perspectives and jump a few days into the future until it all collides at the apex of the book.

Every character was so well fleshed out and our key players were exceptionally crafted. Some I loved, some I hated, envied or didn’t trust. The very last chapter just left me clawing for more!

It’s now 4am while I’m writing this because I just can’t help but want to rave about this book. I cannot contain my excitement and adoration until morning.

Needless to say, I will be keeping a very close eye out for any new books to be released by this extraordinarily, talented writer. (Do you think my partner elbowing me in the face while he’s sleeping is a hint to go to sleep?)


Hardcover

320 pages

Published – 20th February 2020

Publishing Company – Harper Collins


See what’s new

Subscribe to bushtus



Serpent & Dove

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Shelby Mahurin

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.           Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.          The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.          And love makes fools of us all.

This title just blew up in the book world. I’m guilty for purchasing this purely because of the hype!

I’m noticing a trend where witch-themes are making a come-back in publishing and Ms. Mahurin chose a great time to have this published. Many of the YA-fantasy Royals have reignited this adoration.

Set in a some-what historical setting in France during the time of the witch-trials, this added a layer of romance and gothic feel. Louise le Blanc is a young witch, running away from her mother and her coven after years of mistreatment from them. When she is found by the Chasseur, Reid Diggory, she uses her magic to coerce the archbishop to wed the pair and wipe her true identity from knowledge to protect herself from the Chasseur and her mother.

Louise and Reid’s relationship goes from indifference and distrust to love ad romance. Though this was really well written, I don’t tend to enjoy this trope. However, as I said, this relationship development was really well written where it felt organic and not something the author is forcing.

The main plot-point took a good chunk of this book before we get to the climax. But, since this is a series of two books (with a promise of a third) I kind of expected this.

All in all, I did enjoy this. It was a good read but wasn’t something to write home about.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?


Hardcover

513 pages

Published – 3rd September 2019

Publishing Company – Harper Teen


See what’s new

Subscribe to bushtus



The Dead of Winter

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Nicola Upson

Rating: 3 out of 5.

December 1938, and storm clouds hover once again over Europe. Josephine Tey and Archie Penrose gather with friends for a Cornish Christmas, but two strange and brutal deaths on St Michael’s Mount – and the unexpected arrival of a world famous film star, in need of sanctuary – interrupt the festivities. Cut off by the sea and a relentless blizzard, the hunt for a murderer begins. Pivoting on a real moment in history, the ninth novel in the ‘Josephine Tey’ series draws on all the much-loved conventions of the Golden Age Christmas mystery, whilst giving them a thrilling contemporary twist

Despite this being a tale from the Josephine Tey series, and not actually reading any of the previous works; this can be read as a stand-alone.

Why are all festive murders set in the countryside?! I love the beautiful language that can be used to describe the picturesque surroundings but I doubt that there are that many horrific murders in small communities!

On a serious note; this was a really well written, gruesome depiction of historical events. Yes, our leading lady Josephine Tey and her counterpart are fiction but the main scenarios were based on actual people. If you’ve seen my other reviews, I love crime/thrillers. I love watching and reading true-crime and learning the techniques used to uncover the truths of some grizzly events. When I’m reading any crime novel, I make mental notes of the characters inconsistencies, motives and means.

With this one, I did manage to figure out the plot-point but it was still a great read! It also shed light on personal histories of those that are referenced and past, forgotten crimes and their victims… The more I review books the more I notice how strange my mind is!

Though this was a fun read, I struggled to remember who was who in the story, it felt as though further research and mapping was needed to really sell these interpretations. Despite that, I will be looking into more of this authors works, hopefully in the near(ish) future!


Hardcover

320 pages

Published – 5th November 2020

Publishing Company – Faber Faber


See what’s new

Subscribe to bushtus



Come Again

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Robert Webb

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Kate’s husband Luke – the man she loved from the moment she met him twenty-eight years ago – died suddenly. Since then she has pushed away her friends, lost her job and everything is starting to fall apart. One day, she wakes up in the wrong room and in the wrong body. She is eighteen again but remembers everything. This is her college room in 1992. This is the first day of Freshers’ Week. And this was the day she first met Luke. But he is not the man that she lost: he’s still a boy – the annoying nineteen-year-old English student she first met. Kate knows how he died and that he’s already ill. If they can fall in love again she might just be able to save him. She’s going to try to do everything exactly the same…

When I first saw this, I thought it sounded like such a bittersweet story. A take on the throws of grief, loss and depression.

After I learned it was written by Robert Webb, quite a well-known name in our home for his comedy, I was even more intrigued to see the whit that would come up. Despite it sounding like a rather sad tale, it did make me audibly laugh more times than I ever have while reading!

Our leading lady, Kate was such a character! She was so well crafted, I began to really feel like she was a friend of my own; trying to help her see that people love her and grief doesn’t take centre-stage forever.

I think my favourite part of this was when Kate wakes up to find she’s in her dorm room at uni on the day she met her future husband. With every change of history she made, I couldn’t help but think “has the world imploded? Or has a huge nuclear explosion wiped out the human race because of the changes?”

I really enjoyed this story. For a debut with such heavy expectation, it was so enjoyable and I just loved the ease and flow of it and I loved the retake on the butterfly effect.

This was an audiobook listen for me. Olivia Colman is a great actress, on screen, and just as great on audio. Her emotions she showed were so easy to connect with. The annunciation at perfect points in the dialogues were spot on. I would highly recommend to listen to the audiobook, it gives such a wonderful extra-layer to the already excellent writing.

Did I mention I loved it?


Audiobook

13 hours 08 minutes

Published – 12th November 2020

Publishing Company – Penguin Audio


See what’s new

Subscribe to bushtus



2020 Reading in Review

Big News-Books, Pink in Ink

As we approach the end of probably one of the strangest years many of us have ever or will ever have, it’s time for me to reflect on all the books I’ve read. If your a sucker for stats, I’ll also be throwing that one in there.

For me, I’ve read some amazing books and discovered new authors that have become a new favourite of mine. I set out this year with an initial goal of reading 12 books… one a month. I definitely did a lot of altering to this! I also started using NetGalley, a place for professional readers to review upcoming releases. And, the best part of my year was setting up Bushtus with my business partner, best friend and best brother, Stewart. A damn-good year despite everything else!


Top 10 Reads of 2020

I’m finding it so difficult to pick my favourite reads this year. There’s just been so much discovery for me! But, to make it easier on myself I’ve made it a rule to only allow an author to be on the list once. So, without further a-due, here are my top ten reads:


10.


9.


8.


7.


6.


5.


4.





One by One

Audiobooks, Big News-Books, Books, Pink in Ink

Ruth Ware

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them? When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?

One of the most talked-about authors, Ruth Ware, is back again with another cracking novel!

With her previous publication, The Turn of the Key, (which I loved!) I was so excited when I saw she was coming out with another title. I loved her writing style in the last book, so I had a high expectation that it would leave me feeling the same.

Set in a picturesque ski resort in the French Alps, we’re given a story of dual-perspective, following Liz, a shy and mysterious ex-employee of an up-and-coming media app named ‘Snoop’, and Erin, the chalet’s attendant with secrets of her own.

As events begin to unfold, one by one, share-holders of the start-up company begin to go missing or are found dead under suspicious circumstances all while the surviving members of the party work to keep safe after an avalanche devastates the surrounding resorts and facilities. With no telling how long they have to wait for rescue, can they find out who killed their friends before its too late?

I really enjoyed this. It was, as expected, well written with enough mystery where the reader doesn’t quite know who can be trusted and who can’t. The misdirection moving the readers attention to the interactions between the cast was really well done, and in doing so, we see the craftsmanship of each character, learning their flaws and secrets right up to the last page.

I’m struggling to find any critique with this, personally. I feel like I’d liked to have known more about the smaller roles in this, delving into more company secrets, and what happened to lead them to where they are now. I’d have liked the final part of the book to have told us more about what happened after the doomed company holiday.

I also part-listened to this on audiobook. The voice actor was really well-suited to both Liz and Erin and portrayed the suspense, confusion and fear well.

This book is worth every ounce of hype, it’s another whopper from one of the best crime/mystery/thriller writers of our day.


Hardcover

374 pages

Published – 12th November 2020

Publishing Company – Harvill Secker


Audiobook

13 hours 8 minutes

Published – 12th November 2020

Publishing Company – Penguin Audio


See what’s new

Subscribe to bushtus



The Devil and the Dark Water

Audiobooks, Big News-Books, Books, Pink in Ink

Stuart Turton

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent. But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered. And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel. Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes? With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

In typical fashion for Stuart Turton, we’re met with an eclectic mix of genre’s; historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, crime/thriller, mystery and a dash of horror. In all honesty, there should be an entirely new genre for this book because I can put this in so many but they just don’t do it justice!

The Devil and the Dark Water is Turton’s second novel, and after the roaring success that The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle gave, there was a fair amount of expectation, anticipation and trepidation.

Set in the 1634, Turton showed he did a lot of research into his set but wasn’t afraid to take creative liberty, which is something many authors are tentative to do, putting their minds in a tunnel for historical accuracy. Turtons description of the ship, the Saardam, setting sail from the Dutch island Batavia to Amsterdam, was good. I had no issue imagining such a monstrous beauty of a ship with the stark contrasts between the noble’s cabins, the other passengers’ quarters, and the ships crews.

During the novel we meet quite a mixed bag of characters, our main focus’ are Arent Hayes, a soldier with a mysterious past and his long-time friend, Samual Pipps, the famous detective (thank’s to the reports published by Arent) and Sara Wessel, a woman of high status, married to an abusive husband, knowledge in healing and mother to her highly intelligent daughter, Lia.                  As Turton has previously done, each character, big or small, was so well fleshed-out and had their own backstory, giving you the feeling that you knew them all.

The main plot was yet another example of Turton’s incredible writing by giving you the answers to what the novel is leading to but misdirecting the readers attention to follow a different trail-of-thought. You feel like you’re following the characters as they are trying to make sense of the happenings until you both finally put it all together.

I felt like the conclusion wasn’t as original or shocking as his previous novel (7-deaths) but was just as mysterious and mind-boggling in its craftmanship. At the book’s conclusion, we’re left to sit and wonder what happened after.

As Stuart Turton explained in his note at the end of the book, each reader reads a story differently. If you have, or are thinking of picking this book up, you’ll be surprised at different elements than I was. I don’t feel like this book had any particular audience in mind, allowing for a vast readership, which it definitely achieved.

Have you read this title? What were your thoughts and do you agree with the genre’s I mentioned? Let me know in the comments below!

"Courage isn't an absence of fear. It's the light we find when fear is all there is."

Hardcover

576 pages

Published – 1st October 2020

Publishing Company – Raven Books


See what’s new

Subscribe to bushtus



Burn Our Bodies Down

Books, Pink in Ink

Rory Power

Rating: 3 out of 5.

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Wilder Girls comes a new twisty thriller about a girl whose past has always been a mystery—until she decides to return to her mother’s hometown . . . where history has a tendency to repeat itself. Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along. But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for. Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there? The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.

This is the first YA horror I’ve read. With more experience with horrors from Susan Hill and Laura Purcell, I kept my mind open to any and every possibility this would bring.

I’ve not read Rory Powers other popular title, Wilder Girls but is on that I hope to pick up soon.

A paranormal thriller with elements of crime-mystery, we find ourselves in the small town of Phalene after Margot finds her mother has been keeping secrets; of her extended family, how Margot came to be, her father and her mothers own past.

Margot, a seventeen-year-old desperate for her mum, Jo, to notice her, care for her… love her. And after a particularly difficult argument, she went to a pawn shop to buy Jo a gift in apology. When she finds a small bible with a white cover and beautiful gold page-edges, she peers behind the cover to find it was her mothers, gifted by Margot’s grandmother that she never knew existed. A small inscription and an old picture that confirms that it’s definitely her mothers. She decides she has to run away from home to try and find this long-lost grandmother and unearth the truths of why her mother was hiding her from their past. But all is not as it seems. When she finds where her grandmother, Vera, lives she sees her farm is on fire and a girl is trapped in the path of the blaze. She goes to save her, moving this girl from the fires path and, once they’re safe, she sees that they look exactly the same. Every detail of this mysterious girl is a mirror of her own. But she’s never heard of her before.

The underlying theme seems to be of mistakes, forgiveness and understanding. Does it mean forgiveness when you understand or can you still not forgive.

Powers writing style flows well through the novel really using the written-word to create a lyrical piece. But I found that some of the narration needed more use of punctuation to help convey the inner-turmoil and emotion Margot was feeling.

That said, I was left asking myself what I’d do in the same situations and how I would feel if I found my lineage hiding history from me.

I do think that, for a YA paranormal thriller that it gave enough suspense and shock without overselling the plot.

I had fun reading this. Though it wasn’t great, or a favourite, it is a sold three-star read. I flew through it with ease and am quite excited to pick up Wilder Girls. If you want a soft-horror that will leave you able to sleep at night and look at the cover without recoiling in terror (…*cough* Stew! *cough*) then this might be worth your time to take a look at.


Hardcover

352 pages

Published – 7th July 2020

Publishing Company – Delacorte Press


See what’s new

Subscribe to bushtus