The Mermaid And Mrs Hancock - Review

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Hello everyone! 

I'm back again with a book review, today let's talk about Imogen Hermes Gowar's debut novel The Mermaid And Mrs Hancock. This book has been massively hyped so I was equal parts nervous and excited to read it :-) 

The story follows the lives of Mr. Hancock and Angelica Neal as their stories intertwine. Jonah Hancock is an ordinary merchant until his Captain rushes to him in the middle of the night telling tales of mermaids and fortune. He has sold Jonah's ship and exchanged it for a mermaid. This mermaid is a far cry from the beautiful sirens of legend, it is ugly and deformed, yet captivates the senses. This mermaid fascinates the people of London, catching the eye of high society. Among them is the most infamous brothel mistress. She throws Mr. Hancock a party, with Angelica Neal, celebrated courtesan, as the sparkling jewel of the ball. Mr. Hancock becomes more fascinated with her than all the mermaids in the world, promising to acquire one for her very own...

The narrative of this story is stunning, the way it switches between the two protagonists is clever and spell-binding. I struggled to put this book down and found myself thinking about it all the time that I wasn't reading it. It's clear that Imogen did a lot of research into the mermaid phenomenon that swept through Victorian society. There are clear influences from the Fiji mermaid story, which if anything made this story more original. 

Jonah Hancock is silly and pompous, but relatable in his desire to impress the woman he cares for. The more you read about him the more you see he is sweet and kind, the sort of man you should choose over the attractive, but devious younger men of society. Angelica, though experienced in the art of love and sex, is naive and juvenile in her decisions, making all the wrong ones. She ignores her better sense and you begin to get frustrated with her at times. However, you grow to see she has a core of steel and can overcome situations which make others tremble. 

There is so much depth to this book. I completely understand the hype around it and have since found myself recommending it to people left, right and centre. Not only is the inside decadent and beautiful,  but the cover matches it! Just look at the cover design and those endpapers! I applaud not only the writer, but the publisher and illustrator too. 

I cannot recommend this book highly enough and it was a no-brainer 5 star read. I would say this is one for lovers of fairy tales, the Brontes and Philippa Gregory! Who else has read this? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below :-) 


P.S. Follow my Facebook here

March Madness - Wild Reading

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Hello everyone! 

How are you all doing and, most importantly, what have you been reading? As my regular readers will know, I set myself quite a few hefty books to read in February and, predictably, it pushed me into a slump. Now we are talking a big slump, not just a reading slump, but a Blog, Twitter and Instagram slump! Mr. Gingersnap always gets quite anxious when I stop reading, he knows how important it is to keep me happy :-) 

He then had the brightest idea ever and suggested that for March Madness I should do a reading safari that we will call Wild Reading! This involves picking books off my shelf at random and reading whatever I feel like reading whenever I feel like it. So far this is working out excellently and I am onto my fourth book of the month already! Which is already more than I achieved last month. 

In the end, I only read half my TBR last month: 

  1. The Mermaid And Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar - 5 Stars
  2. Thief Of Time by Terry Pratchett - 5 Stars 
  3. Two On A Tower by Thomas Hardy - 5 Stars
  4. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green - 3 Stars 

I won't yet tell you what I have been reading this month, if I do then who will even read my wrap up at the end of the month?!? However, I am open to suggestions, that is the joy of Wild Reading :-) Let's make this a thing and tell me what your impulse reads have been in the comments below! 


P.S. Follow my Facebook here

Zoella Book Club 2017

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Hello everyone! 

I'm back again with some more book reviews. This time I wanted to talk to you about the Zoella and Friends Book Club 2017 with WHSmith. I have always been a big fan of Zoella and I have loved her previous two book clubs, so it will come as no surprise that I was very excited about this one. As soon as it was announced I hopped online and ordered the box set. Then I had to wait 2 months for my exams to be over before I could binge read them all! 

Yes I know, I read them at the end of August and it is now February, but I thought that this collection of books would be a perfect way for you all to get a scent of summer in your reading. That way you can escape from all this horrible weather we're having in the UK. Let me tell you a little about each book.

Letters To The Lost by Brigid Kemmerer 

This story runs in parallel lines between Juliet Young and Declan Murphy as they fall in love through letters and messages all the while not knowing who the other person is. Juliet is the perfect dutiful student, prim and preppy, but destroyed on the inside by the recent death of her mother. Declan is your typical bad kid, he has a bad reputation and a bad attitude to match. Their worlds collide when Declan finds a letter Juliet has written to her mother in the graveyard where he does his community service. This book is heart-wrenching and hard to read, but will take you right back to that person who everyone disapproved of, but turned out to be the best thing for you at the time. 

After The Fire by Will Hill 

I was so excited to see this book on the list and it definitely lived up to my expectations. It is loosely based on the Waco scandal in America and I remember reading about that happening so was very intrigued. The story tells the life of Moonbeam both before and after the fire that started her life. She grew up in a religious cult in the American desert ruled by the disgusting and ruthless Father John. Moonbeam knows the world she lives in is wrong so she starts a fire to break out and change it all for the better. This is a gripping 5 star read through and through! 

Girlhood by Cat Clarke 

Sadly this one was a little bit of a let down, I wanted it to be a much darker thriller than it actually was. It follows Harper trying to escape her past and the loss of her sister by throwing herself into her new school life, but then a new girl arrives and her story is scarily similar to Harper's. After her arrival Harper's world starts to fall apart, leaving Kirsty as her only connection to her old life. The ending was much fluffier than I wanted it to be, but it is a good example of how forgiveness and understanding can go a long way in improving a situation. Definitely still worth a read if you like light thrillers. 

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

I was a bit dubious about this one as I had read quite a few mixed reviews and I don't think it was really the right book for me. It has great representation and deals with loss and LGBTQ+ relationships very well, but I found it difficult to connect with Griffin as a character. Griffin needs to come to terms with the sudden death of his ex-boyfriend Theo and rebuild his life and friendships on new ground. He turns to Theo's new boyfriend and for answers and comfort, but it doesn't turn out quite how he was expecting. It is a well written story of life after death and new starts, worth a read if you are a fan of David Levithan. 

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Aaaaah this book! Every woman and girl on the planet should read this book at the age of 12-16 and take home its very important message. Women are not disposable, we are not the weaker sex and we can stand on equal footing with men. Feminism is not about pushing men down to let us women rise, it is about finding a place to stand next to them as equals and working together. This book is everything I wanted The Power to be. Vivian Carter is the woman we should all be. She is fed up with being downtrodden by her male teachers, subject to chauvinistic remarks that go un-reprimanded. She creates a feminist zine and takes her school, her town and the world by storm! 

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

This book ripped my heart out, shredded it like confetti and threw the bits to the wind. Jack's family have taken in 14 year old Joseph as a foster child. Joseph has come straight out of juvenile detention after a very troubled back-ground lands him in serious trouble. Joseph isn't what Jack expected, Joseph is sensitive, kind and completely heart-broken. As he opens up to Jack, he tells him how he fell in love and how that love resulted in a little girl called Jupiter. Joseph has never even seen her, but his longing for his daughter is so strong that he enlists the help of sensible Jack in his quest to find her. Read this book, it will break you, but it is worth it. 

The Start Of Me And You by Emery Lord

This story is super cute and quite fluffy, probably the only fluffy book in this selection. My Mam is actually afraid of water so I enjoyed how the author dealt with the protagonist Paige's new found phobia. This phobia sprung to life after her boyfriend drowned. Now Paige is not only dealing with a very real fear, but with the new label of "dead guy's girlfriend". What Paige struggles with most isn't the loss of her boyfriend, but the loss of their potential. They weren't together very long and now their chance of a future has gone. This inspires Paige to make a list of goals in the hope that it will bring her back to life. This brings her into Max's world. Max is everything a nerd love interest should be, he is geeky, kind and really funny. I fell in love with him on the first page he featured. Read this book if you want to feel uplifted by new chances and teenage friendships! 

The One Memory Of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

My Mam reckons this book will be a classic one day. Flora has short term retrograde amnesia, meaning she loses her memory several times throughout the day and has to have lists and post-its at the ready to remind herself who she is. Then one night she kisses Drake at a party and remembers it. She goes on a quest to find Drake, but he has moved to The North Pole. Defying everything anyone expects Flora follows him there, all the while trying to remember how she got there! This story is gripping, funny and very difficult to not get attached to. Flora's struggle is inspiring and I wish more people would read this book. 

Wow, that's it! All 8 books from the selection. As you can see they cover a really wide array of topics and genres within the YA heading. There is definitely something in there for everyone and if you ever thought Zoella's book club would be full of fluffy insubstantial romances I hope I have changed your mind! 

Have you read any of these? What were your thoughts on them? Let me know in the comments below :-) 


P.S. Follow my Facebook here

February TBR

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Hello everyone! 

How are you all doing today? Have you got any interesting plans for the weekend? I am working this weekend, so I'll just be doing some reading and hanging out with Mr. GingerSnap in the evenings. Fingers crossed he will have finished the bookcase he is building for our house. If my February TBR goes to plan there will be quite a few additions!

Some may say I am being ambitious with what I want to read in Feb, but I like a challenge :-) 

1. Dubliners by James Joyce 

I don't know too much about this one beyond it following 15 Irish people and their every day lives in Dublin. I believe it shows different aspects of middle class Irish life. I'm quite excited to read this one because my Mam hated it and we have very different tastes in books. Generally if she disliked it, I will probably love it. 

2. Two On A Tower by Thomas Hardy 

I'm so excited about this one as Thomas Hardy is one of my favourite authors. This story follows two star crossed lovers as the try to navigate their feelings and avoid the minefield that is social class. The astronomy aspect of this novel also appeals to my inner scientist and I can't wait to get my teeth into this classic! 

3. The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

I have been trying like crazy to avoid spoilers in the massive hype around this book. By the looks of things it is set to become a modern classic, taking the world by storm, but to be honest they had me at the word "mermaid". 

4. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff 

I'm a little late to the party on this book, so when I heard that the author was working on book 3 I decided it was time to tackle the first two. This one is quite a gruesome high fantasy novel. It tells the story of Mia Corvere, trained assassin and ruthless killer. She is determined to avenge her father's death, but first she must survive the rigorous training of the mysterious Red Church. I'm so excited to get to this one as it has been ages since I read anything like it. 

5. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare 

I have been eking out this trilogy for as long as possible because of how much I love these characters. I never want to leave them behind, but it is time. My curiosity over how the story ends has won out over my dismay at finishing the story arc. This one follows the end of Tessa, Will and Jem's fight against the destructive Magister's automatons. The automatons are set to destroy the Shadowhunter world, the world they fight so hard to protect. I have a feeling this will break my heart, but I am feeling ready for it! 

Finally... 6. Thief Of Time by Terry Pratchett

This one is a bit of a cheat as I am already 1/4 of the way through this, but I'll count it nonetheless. Mr. GingerSnap has been building up my collection of Discworld Collector's Library editions as they come out and he bought the next four for Christmas. I have to wait for next year for the next 4 so I'll be dragging these ones out across the year to try to avoid too many withdrawals. Thief Of Time is the final book in the Death story arc and follows Time's son as he creates a clock which threatens to destroy time itself. So far I am loving this and can't wait to see what wonderful twists of plot this brings. 

What are you guys reading? Do you think this is over-ambitious? Let me know in the comments below :-) 


P.S. Follow my Facebook here

January Favourites and Reading Wrap-up

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Hello everyone, 

Dreary January is over and it is time to move onto the most romantic month of the year - February. For the next few days the internet will be over-flowing with people's thoughts for January and I thought I would join the throng by sharing the books I read this month and all the things I have been loving :-) 
I did read 2 more books, but they were on my Kindle

In terms of books, I read 7 books last month. Quite a tidy number if I do say so myself! Here are some brief thoughts and star ratings:

1. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton - thought provoking, but a bit depressing! 4 Stars

2. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen - stunning, soothing and funny! 5 Stars

3. The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells - gruesome and chilling, an ideal winter read. 5 Stars 

4. The Truth And Lies Of Ella Black by Emily Barr - fast paced, but a little bit disappointing! 3 Stars

5. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare - as always her urban fantasy setting is incredibly vivid and her relatable characters made me cry like a baby! 5 Stars 

6. Silas Marner by George Eliot - slow to get into, but a lovely tale of family love and the simpler things in life. 5 Stars 

7. The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton - loved it at first as I thought it was going to be a thrilling spy novel, but then it turned biblical and it all turned out to have been a dream. Bit of a weird let down! 3 Stars 

Now it's time to talk you through my favourites! Are you ready? There are quite a few. 

Mr. GingerSnap and I have been re-watching Game Of Thrones ready for season 8 coming out next year. It's so strange watching it and now knowing what is coming. We noticed so many plot twists which when we first watched we thought "wtf, that's a bit odd", but now it makes so much more sense!! Seriously guys, go back and re-watch. 

I always get a little bit sad in January, it's probably a mixture of the cold wet weather and not having the festive period to look forward to. This year we decided to brighten up January by doing lots of interesting things out and about. To that end we had a load of friends down for the New Year's weekend, which was so lovely and cosy! We went to Stafford to see Tower Players put on Mort by Terry Pratchett in the theatre. They were absolutely fantastic and if they ever perform near you, please go and see them. Then to end January in the best way, we drove off to London last night with another friend to see Hollywood Undead live in Koko London. Last night was phenomenal and I would go and see them every night of the week if possible! 

I have also been loving being cosy and watching comfort shows this month, which includes My Name Is Earl and Friends :-) To make it even cosier Mr. GingerSnap has been making me a great many hot chocolates! 

So that's me for the last month! I'm currently reading Thief Of Time by Terry Pratchett and am hoping to finish that soon and move on to some very exciting new releases. Keep your eyes peeled for my February TBR! 

What have you guys been reading/loving this month? Let me know in the comments below :-) 


P.S. Follow my Facebook here

Top 5 YA Fantasy Series

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Hello everyone! 

This post is probably going to show my age, so let's kick things off with me saying that as a 24 year old woman I can sadly no longer class myself as a young adult. However, being a fully fledged adult does not mean I don't still enjoy reading YA as a genre. If you are old, like me, when you were a teen YA didn't really exist and all those books came under teen fiction. YA sprang to life when I had already passed into adulthood, so forgive me if some of these books blur into other age groups. 

Long intro aside, I am here today to give you a brief over-view of my top 5 YA fantasy series :-) They are in no particular order!

1. The Great Library by Rachel Caine

These books are for those of you who love books about libraries. They follow Jess as he integrates the Great Library of Alexandria on the orders of his book smuggler father. He was born into the brutal world of smuggling illegal books around the world, with no mercy shown to those who are caught by the library. Overtime the library has seized control of the world, rationing books and knowledge to only those deemed worthy. This provides and ideal environment for anarchy to grow. The anarchists like to burn: books, libraries, cities. They value human life above books. Now Jess is stuck somewhere between the two. His love of books makes him want to protect them, but his even fiercer love of his friends is tearing him in two. 

2. Abhorsen by Garth Nix

Sabriel is missing, I lent her to a friend :-)

The Abhorsen series has been going on for years, I read the first three books when I was still a teen! The book starts with Sabriel, the daughter of the Abhorsen crossing the wall into the Old Kingdom to find take up her heritage. As the Abhorsen-in-waiting she has to learn how to use the 7 bells to banish creatures returning from the rivers of death. This might sound a bit gruesome to some of my more squeamish readers, but I promise you these books are gripping. The next few books bring more main characters into play, creating a complex landscape of inter-woven stories. 

3. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke  

I love these books so much, Dustfinger was the first male character I ever truly fell in love with. This story follows Meggie and her father Mo as they run from the criminal Capricorn. Capricorn is no normal villain, he is the villain of a storybook, plucked out of his own story by Mo's silver tongue. Meggie has inherited Mo's gift, but she also has a gift of her own. Her written words can alter the story she is reading, but this comes with a price when she reads herself into a story she has rapidly lost control of. This series blurs the lines between the real and the written in the most fantastic ways :-) 

4. Tales Of The Otori by Lian Hearn 

Again, some books are missing! 

The Tales Of The Otori are loosely set in medieval Japan with elements of magic. Takeo was born in a remote village, worshiping a forbidden god. When his village and family are massacred he discovers he has mysterious skills, skills some may call magic. These skills mark him as a member of the Tribe, but his skills surpass even their levels of normal. He is the most powerful Tribe member for many generations, transforming him into a hunted man. Add to this his heritage as an Otori and a forbidden romance with the most beautiful woman in the empire and you have one hell of a good story! This book is for lovers of Game Of Thrones and The White Queen. 

5. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

This series being on the list will not surprise anyone. Cassandra Clare is well known as the queen of YA fiction after her Mortal Instruments series shook the world. Don't get me wrong, I love that series, but this one struck me more. Tessa is such an interesting character fighting between her feelings for two different men and her own strong morals. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, it follows Tessa, a young american woman arriving in London to meet her brother. Her brother never shows and she is kidnapped by the terrible Dark Sisters who torture her into revealing her ability to change into any person she chooses as long as she has access to a personal item of theirs. If this wasn't enough, she is drawn into the world of the Shadow Hunters, sworn to fight demons invading our realm. Among these are Jem and Will, two men as different as night and day, but both quickly staking claims on her heart. She must join their ranks to fight not only demons, but The Magister's harsh destructive automatons which threaten to over-run the world. 

I hope this hasn't rambled on too much for all of you! Please let me know your favourite YA fantasy series in the comments below :-) I'm always looking for new recommendations! 


P.S. Follow my Facebook here!

A Beginners Guide To H. G. Wells

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Hello everyone! 

Today I'm here to talk about the grandfather of classic science fiction - H. G. Wells! This author has long been a favourite of mine, ever since I discovered The War Of The Worlds. Which I'm sure many of you will know from the excellent movie. The problem with this movie is that it can overshadow the books a little so I'm going to give you a beginners guide to reading this amazing author's work. 

Let's start with the most accessible of his novels: The War Of The Worlds and The Time Machine. Both of these novels are fast paced and thrilling. The War Of The Worlds details an alien invasion of planet earth, bringing with it the near destruction of human kind. The Time Machine tells the story of the nuttiest of all professors creating a time machine taking him thousands of years into the future. What he finds there is at first glance utopia, but with a little digging he learns that all paradises come with a dark price. When I read these novels I completely forgot they were written in the 1800's, the language is fluid and easy to read. These are the best place to start for H. G. Wells, once you've read these there is no going back and you'll be begging for more stories! 

The Invisible Man is almost as fast paced as the above, but it is a little slower to get into which could be off-putting as your first read. Once you are used to H. G. Wells' writing style you'll fly through this one. It follows Griffin, a mad scientist who has perfected a formula for making creatures invisible. This sounds amazing in theory, but it leaves Griffin desperate and friendless, slowly descending into murderous madness. He will stop at nothing to find the cure. I love the flow of this narrative, it jumps backwards and forwards in time as Griffin's tale becomes clearer, leaving you desperate for more after each page. 

The next two books aren't really hard to get into, but they do fall on the weirder end of the H. G. Wells scale. The Island Of Doctor Moreau is all about the horrors of vivisection and the ultimate mad scientist. Doctor Moreau lives on a deserted island with only his "creations" for company, creations is a kind word really. They are more like monsters, blended from the corpses of men and animals. This is a cautionary tale of what can happen when you try too hard to control nature.

Penguin's Little Black Classics collection is pure genius and they did not miss their mark with their choice of three short stories. The Sea Raiders tells of man-eating sea creatures raiding a seaside resort, which sounds comical, but when you read it it's terrifying! The Magic Shop and The Land Ironclads are two of his strangest stories and are not for the fans of realism. These two would not be out of place in Wonderland! The Magic Shop walks that fine line between tricks to delight children and sinister illusions made to frighten and horrify adults. The Land Ironclads tells a story of destruction on the battlefield at the hands of unstoppable mechanical fiends. Both these stories are bizarre and twisted, more for those who appreciate surreal literature. 

H. G. Wells is the perfect author to read if you love Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he perfectly captures all the dangers of scientific advancement whilst weaving tales of terror and suspense. His novels are timeless and I wish more people were still reading these! 

Have I inspired you to read any of these or have you already read them? Let me know in the comments below :-) 


P.S. Follow my Facebook here

Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs