“I can’t decide how I feel about these books” Mini Reviews.

Wow, what a wordy title. It is however the perfect description for the three books I want to talk about in this post because they do leave me with conflicted feelings. They are books I read in June that I hoped would be fast-paced, and deliver on hype surrounding them.

Yeah…maybe not.

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Review: The Familiars

Stats:

Title – The Familiars
Author – Stacey Halls
Genre – Adult Historical Fiction
Format – Hardback
Style – Prose
Standalone/series – Standalone
Page count – 416 pages
Date of Publication – 7th February 2019


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Warning – there is the possibility of minor spoilers regarding the history of The Pendle Witch Trials.

It is 1612 and society is all ablaze with fear. All across Pendle in Lancashire, women are accused and arrested for witchcraft. People don’t know where to turn, especially Fleetwood Shuttleworth, the young mistress of Gawthorpe Hall who is fearing for her life and that of her unborn child. She has miscarried two or three times so this time, she and her baby have to live for the sake of herself and her husband Richard who wants an heir. One day whilst roaming around the grounds, she comes across Alice Grey, a local woman scrounging for food and as she seems well informed about herbs and midwifery Fleetwood appoints Alice as her midwife and companion. However it is not straightforward. They find themselves caught up in the witch scare and assizes at Lancaster Castle. Destined to know more, Fleetwood takes it upon herself to question why this is happening and what makes certain women be considered witches.

They burn witches, don’t they?

Often, where we live leaves its mark on us and I know for a fact that Lancaster left its mark on me. As a history student I had to know the history of where I lived and I couldn’t take one step in the city centre without knowing about the Pendle Witch Trials and the 10 or so women who hung in Lancaster Castle. Its legacy is everywhere! Of course knowing me and my interest in all things supernatural and witchy, I had to know more and I constantly dove into books and documentaries about the women who stood trial. So when I heard about The Familiars last year before YALC and its focus on Alice Grey (one of the women caught up in the trials), I had to read it. This book became one of my most anticipated releases of 2019 and I’m very glad to say that it delivered!

“Her spirit was there. He could see it, I know. After his death she was brought to his corpse and it bled at her touch.”

“The surest sign of a witch,” Roger said with confidence.

What I very much enjoy about this novel and insight into the Pendle Witch Trials is the female perspective and how the characters of Fleetwood and Alice react to the arrests and fear of witchcraft. Fleetwood especially constantly questions why this is happening and I really like that she decides to take it upon herself to understand what makes these women witches and call out Roger Nowell and his friends for singling them out. It might be a little reckless at times, especially in parts of the novel where she’s heavily pregnant, but she is determined to not see other women sullied for having that amazing knowledge of midwifery, herbs, caring for people and living from the earth. Personally I’ve always surmised that women at this time were deemed to be witches if they didn’t fit in or match up to King James 1st’s ideals, didn’t practise catholicism, and were educated by their elder female family members, and that was certainly captured within Fleetwood’s questioning and her need to prove Alice is more than what society deems her to be. However Fleetwood isn’t perfect, and is very quick to judge and assume the worst about Richard and her mother. As much as I can understand this behaviour, I think she can come across a bit like a whiny YA protagonist and not rationalise what she thinks, does and says before it happens. Nonetheless, I still like her a lot and she’s someone to rally behind and support.

I bet you are not afraid of anything’, I said.
‘Of course I am,’ she said, and she pulled at a loose thread in her apron. ‘I am afraid of lies.’ 

On the subject of Fleetwood sounding like a YA protagonist, the prose has a rather similar kind of style. I don’t see it as a criticism in any way, just that the prose is very fluid, easy to understand and read, and it doesn’t drag like a lot of other Adult Historical Fiction can do. I flew through this book within a maximum of two days which very rarely happens with historical fiction. Often they’re rather slow paced and it can take a while for the story to gather momentum but this wasn’t the case. In fact I think it makes The Familiars very readable and accessible to a wider audience, which is always great, especially for a novel that touches on fact and real people.

In terms of that history within the main story, Stacey Halls does a good job of balancing that with the fiction, so much so I was totally convinced Fleetwood Shuttleworth was fictional. SHE WAS A REAL PERSON!! My mind = blown! It doesn’t change anything, but it is still interesting to me nonetheless. I am also relatively satisfied in how she fictionally deals with a certain detail of Alice’s arc. It still doesn’t answer my questions, and I honestly think I will never get any answers, but it’s good enough that it fits and works within the story and fuels the characters to recognise the morally grey reality of witchcraft and the trials.

I think that’s everything.

My rating – 5★

Now I want to go away and read even more in depth about the real people in this book!


Have you read The Familiars yet?
What are your thoughts?

As always thanks for reading and have a brazzle dazzle day!
xx

The Diary of a Bookseller

No synopsis is really needed for this memoir because the title speaks for itself – The Diary of a Bookseller. That’s all it is. Daily journal entries by Shaun Bythell, a bookseller who owns one the second largest second-hand bookshop in Scotland – The Bookshop. Not exactly inventive but as they say, simplicity is often the best so as to focus more on substance rather than appearance. 

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Review – Everless

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Statistics:

Title – Everless

Author – Sara Holland

Series/Standalone – Series

Book Number – 1

Genre – YA Fantasy/Dystopia

Date of Publication – 27th December 2017 (UK)

Number of Pages – 361


Synopsis:

When your own blood and personal time is a currency, how far would you go to save your loved ones and give them more time than they currently possess?

In the world of Sempera, societal classes could not be more distinct. As the rich control time, they have it in abundance, turning blood into iron coins which they then use on themselves to help them live for centuries. The poor, however, bleed themselves dry, trying to find enough time to feed themselves and pay rent.

For our main character Jules, time is running out. She and her father don’t have enough time to pay their rent arrears and she will do anything to help save him, even give up some of her own time. When an opportunity arises to work at Everless, the large estate in Sempera and home to the Gerling family, Jules takes it, even if it means leaving her father behind and stepping into a world she’s been told to avoid at all costs.

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The Taste of Blue Light

36975311Format: paperback

Number of pages: 352

Date of Publication: 8th February 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary

Synopsis:

An incandescent, soul-searching story about a broken young woman’s search for a truth buried so deep it threatens to consume her, body and mind.

These are the things Lux knows:
She is an artist.
She is lucky.
She is broken.

These are the things she doesn’t know:
What happened over the summer.
Why she ended up in hospital.
Why her memories are etched in red.

Desperate to uncover the truth, Lux’s time is running out. If she cannot piece together the events of the summer and regain control of her fractured mind, she will be taken away from everything and everyone she holds dear.

If her dreams don’t swallow her first.

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ARC Review: Fragments of the Lost

Image result for fragments of the lost by megan miranda

Jessa Whitworth knew she didn’t belong in her ex-boyfriend Caleb’s room. But she couldn’t deny that she was everywhere – in his photos, his neatly folded T-shirts, even the dragonfly necklace in his jeans pocket, the one she gave him for safe keeping on that day.

His mother asked her to pack up his things even though she blames Jessa for his accident. How could she say no? And maybe, just maybe, it will help her work through the guilt she feels about their final moments together.

But as Jessa begins to box up the pieces of Caleb’s life, they trigger memories that make Jessa realize their past relationship may not be exactly as she remembered. And she starts to question whether she really knew Caleb at all.

Each fragment of his life reveals a new clue that propels Jessa to search for the truth about Caleb’s accident. What really happened on the night he died?

Statistics:

Format – prose
Edition – ARC (paperback)
Date of Publication – 5th April 2018 (UK)
Number of Pages – 369
Genre – YA Mystery

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Rebecca

12873Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…

Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers…

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

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