Greetings friends, how are you this lovely chilly Sunday morning? It’s been snowing again down in London so I’ve taken that as the perfect excuse to hunker down and read all the books. And only stopping for snack breaks and blog post writing. So you lucky things, you get a bookish post for your Sunday morning read – my February reads post. Yes, it’s late but for some reason I’ve only gotten round to writing it now – I’m rubbish, I know! Anyway, onwards to discuss the six books I read in February. A mix of spies and detectives, fairy tales and magical reads. Enjoy!
The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
This is a beautiful book inside and out. The Language of Thorns is a collection of six short stories, all of which are re-imagined fairytales set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse. Each story has a beautifully decorated border that relates to the story. As you turn the pages the illustration grows adding to the magic of the book. The tales are darkly atmospheric and with brilliant twists on the original tales – like The Nutcracker and Hansel and Gretel. They are all dark feminist tales featuring themes of love, revenge and sacrifice. This is the perfect read for a dark and stormy Sunday afternoon under the blankets. It’s impossible not to adore this book, even if you don’t have any knowledge of Bardugo’s Grisha universe.
A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens
Now we all know I’m a big fan of Robin’s brilliant Murder Most Unladylike books and this one, number six in the series, is my favourite of the whole lot. It sees our favourite crime fighting duo head to Hong Kong to visit Hazel’s family. Within hours of their arrival disaster strikes – Hazel’s half brother Teddy goes missing and her beloved maid is killed. Thankfully Hazel and Daisy are there to investigate, and hopefully save the day.
With the setting moving to Hong Kong we’re immediately in a role reversal with the girls. Unusually for her Daisy’s not sure what’s going on and doesn’t feel confident in what’s happening, whereas Hazel’s right at home and able to take the lead more. For fans of the series this is a big departure from the usual books, and one that makes a great change. It’s wonderful to see Hazel stand up for herself a little more and to take charge.
Aside from the character switching I loved exploring 1930’s Hong Kong through this book – it was so vividly described. Everything from the house layout to the food to the cultural differences were so brilliantly explained. I really did feel like I was there in Hong Kong with the girls. As per usual I managed to work out who the murderer was but I didn’t quite work out all of the how. One day I will work it out before I’m told – I’m determined!
The Black Widow by Daniel Silva
This is number thirteen, (I think?), of Daniel Silva’s books about an Israeli spy and I love every single one of them. Gabriel, the Israeli spy, is an incredible character, with a strong moral core and an incredible strategic mind. The tasks he (and his team) are asked to do are varied and dark, and this book is no different. It opens with a terrorist attack in Paris and continues with his team training a civilian doctor and getting her to infiltrate a terrorist organisation. Stretching from Paris to Israel, via Washington and London this is an all-encompassing read for fans of thrillers, spy novels and most of all good, dripping reads.
A Country Escape by Katie FForde
Katie’s books are always such escapism and I’ve been a fan for a long time. Despite that it’s been a while since I settled down with one of her novels so this was a nice return. It follows Fran who has sort of inherited a farm – well if she can manage to make it financially viable, get rid of the long lost relative that wants to inherit it instead of her (and turn it into fancy houses) and stop being scared of the cows on the farm.
This story is packed with a whole host of lovely characters, plus a couple of baddies, and as ever I wanted to be in the story too. The countryside setting is always a delight and a nice change from the London crazy. There was something about this book that I couldn’t get on board with and I’m still not sure what it was – it was well written, the story had good twists and turns, even if it was a bit predictable, and it was good escapism. There was just something missing for me this time.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
I had such high expectations for this book. It’s been lauded in the YA universe and it sounds like something I’d love. I just didn’t and found the last 100 or so pages such a slog. The Hazel Wood is about Alice, a girl whose childhood consists of moving from place to place with her mother due to bad luck following them around. When her mother goes missing Alice has to face The Hazel Wood – a mysterious forest that inspired her grandmother’s book of fairy tales. With dark fairy tales, mysterious happenings and a love interest with such potential this should have been a great book. But it just didn’t work. The world building was confusing, the characters did things that made no sense for them and the Hazel Wood part was odd. I’m very sad about this as I wanted to love it.
The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale
This is an incredible book, telling the tale of a toy emporium in London run by the Goodman family. Started by Papa Jack and continued by his two sons, Kaspar and Emil, who couldn’t be more different, the emporium is a magical place. This is an insanely magical read. It’s a brilliantly woven fairytale-like read, full of incredible characters, beautiful storytelling and magic on every page. The emporium is incredibly realised and vividly described – it feels like you’re actually in the toy shop surrounded by the magic of the toy makers.
Just when you’re getting to grips with the magic of the toy shop, the whole story twists and turns thanks to the First World War. We’re then taken on a stressful ride of PTSD, death, horror and misunderstandings – I didn’t expect this twist but it made for such an incredible read. I was hooked within a couple of chapters and raced through it in two days. This book is so good it’s parachuted to the top spot on my 2018 favourite books.
So there we go, my February reads. Have you read any of them, if so, which did you love?