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Hex Life – Witch Books Fearture 🧙🏻‍♀️😉

To celebrate today’s release of Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery Edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering today, I’m doing a feature on some recent witchy book releases. 
Hex Life is a masterful anthology of eighteen tales of witches. A mix of creepy, kind, feminist and vengeful. Some are even set in their authors’ existing worlds – although these tales stand alone for those, like me, who haven’t previously read their work.
I’ve always been a fan of witchy books so much so that it was one of the ‘I read’ badges I ordered from Felfira Moon. 
For me it probably started with The Worst Witch (Mildred Hubble at Cackle’s Academy) and solidified with Harry Potter. Who doesn’t like the idea of having magical powers or going to magic school? I’m still waiting for my Hogwarts letter! 

The last few months have seen a bonanza of Witch themed books released and my Halloween loving heart is going to have an amazing October reading them all.

Sabrina: Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan
A prequel to the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sees Sabrina casting a spell to see how Harvey feels about her.

Sanctuary by V V James
The death of a star quarterback sees his ex-girlfriend, the daughter of a witch, accused.
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
An unlikely marriage between a witch and a witchhunter will surely go down in flames.

Perfectly Preventable Deaths by Deirdre Sullivan
Sisters, Sacrifice and witchcraft as twins remove to a strange mountain town where teenage girls go missing.
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
A complicated woman’s investigation at a hidden school of witchcraft and wizardry.

I just want to highlight one of the tales from Hex Life, though it’s hard to pick a favourite with a collection this strong – and beautiful. Look at that detail! Widow’s Walk By Angel Slatter gave me Practical Magic’s “aunties” feels with the elderly witchy residents taking wayward young women into the fold. It twists tropes and has a purrfect ending.

A huge thanks to Titan for the gifted copy hardback copy of Hex life. The other books featured are a mix of gifted review copies and book subscription box featured books. A bonus mention to my stunning replica of Defence Against the Dark Arts by AlarmEighteen which I’m partway through reading.

Sky in the Deep – Blog Tour Character Q&A and Excerpt

Sky in the Deep had its US release last year and was all over bookstagram so when I was offered the chance to read and review ready for its U.K. release tomorrow, 26th March 2019, I jumped at it. I’m so happy to be kicking off the tour along with Sammy Shelf.

Please find below a Q&A with Eelyn and Fiske the two main protagonists, a hint of what’s to come with book two and an excerpt plus a mini review from me.

Please let me know below if you know of any Eelyn and Fiske fanart. I NEED it!!!

Synopsis

Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings – and all heart!

Eelyn is a seventeen-year-old warrior, trained to fight fiercely alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, god -decreed rivalry against the Riki clan, her life is brutal but uncomplicated. Until the day she witnesses the impossible on the battlefield – her brother, fighting alongside the enemy – the brother she watched die five years ago… Shocked by the sudden realisation that her brother may be alive, Eelyn loses her focus and is captured by the opposing clan. Now, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbour is an enemy, and every battle scar they wear is possibly one she herself delivered. But when a ruthless clan who are settling in the valley raids the Riki village, Eelyn’s desperation to escape is heightened when it’s rumoured that her beloved Aska clan have been decimated by the same horde.

She is given no choice. She must put her faith in Fiske, her brother’s friend who sought to kill her the day she was captured. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and find a way to forgive her brother while daring to put her trust in the people she has been taught to hate and who she has spent her entire life killing.

About the Author

ADRIENNE YOUNG is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee.

Sky in the Deep is her debut novel

Character Interviews

Eelyn

What does Sigr mean to you?

Sigr is the north star of our people.

What is your favourite memory of your brother Iri?

Training together for our first fighting season as fighting mates paired for battle. I’d spent my entire life looking up to Iri and it was the first time I really felt like his equal and also the first time I thought maybe he saw me as one.

Complete the phrase – The Riki are:

… all the parts of me I didn’t know.

Fiske in three words

Strong. Silent. Sure.

Fiske

What does Thora mean to you?

Thora is fury and fire but also the mother and caretaker of our people.

Favourite childhood memory?

The first time my little brother Halvard pulled a fish from the ice on his own.

Complete the phrase – The Aska are:

… the greatest threat to everything I love.

Eelyn in three words

Wild.

Question for Adrienne

What should we expect from the companion novel The Girl the Sea Gave Back?

The Girl the Sea Gave Back is a new standalone that takes place ten years after Sky in the Deep. It follows the story of Halvard when he is eighteen years old. We will see a lot more of who he is and his memories of growing up on the mountain with Fiske as his father figure and we will also meet a new clan who will threaten the peace they’ve found.

Extract from Sky in the Deep – The Ghost

I thought of my father. His soil-stained hands. His deep, booming voice. And my home. The fire flickering in the dark. The frost on the glade in the mornings.

I stood, pressing my fingers into the hot wound at my arm and saying Sigr’s name under my breath, asking him to accept me. To welcome me. To watch over my father. “Vegr yfir fjor,” I whispered.

He slowed, watching my lips move.

The furs beneath his armor vest blew in the damp breeze, pushing up around his angled jaw. He blinked, pressing his mouth into a straight line as he took the last steps toward me and I didn’t run. I wasn’t going to be brought down by a blade in my back.

The steel gleamed as he pulled the sword up over his head, ready to bring it back down, and I closed my eyes. I breathed. I could see the reflection of the gray sky on the fjord. The willow bloomed on the hillside. The wind wove through my hair. I listened to the sound of my clansmen raging. Fighting in the distance.

“Fiske!” A deep, strangled voice pierced through the fog, finding me, and my eyes popped open.

The Riki before me froze, his eyes darting to the side where the voice was coming toward us.

Fast.

“No!” A tangle of wild, fair hair barreled into him, knocking his sword to the ground. “Fiske, don’t.” He took hold of the man’s armor vest, holding him in place. “Don’t.”

Something twisted in my mind, the blood in my veins slowing, my heart stopping.

“What are you doing?” The Riki wrenched free, picking his sword back up off the ground and driving past him, coming for me.

The man turned, throwing his arms around the Rikiand swinging him back.

And that’s when I saw it—his face.

And I was frozen. I was the ice on the river. The snow clinging onto the mountainside.

“Iri.” It was the ghost of a word on my breath.

They stopped struggling, both looking up at me with wide eyes, and it dove deeper within me. What I was seeing. Who I was seeing.

What I Thought

For me this book lived up to the hype. It was a slightly slow burn but I suddenly found myself totally invested in the lives of these characters.

The violence is brutal – Vikings people – not namby pamby killers but chop off their heads and stick them with an axe types. I loved this setting and its grit made a great change to the fantasy worlds I usually read.

This is Eelyn and Fiske’s story and how they grow to see past their differences and respect each other’s culture. A timely narrative, and an imperfectly perfect pair.

A huge thank you to Sarah at Titan for gifting me the copy of the book in preparation for this post, and of course to Adrienne and her characters for their replies.

Halcyon by Rio Youers – Blog Tour Book Review

Synopsis

Sometimes Heaven Can Be Hell

Halcyon is the answer for anyone who wants to escape, but paradise isn’t what it seems.

A self-sustaining community on a breathtakingly beautiful island, Halcyon is run for people who want to live without fear, crime or greed. Its leader has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing, and believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.

On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. Yet he soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon’s perfect veneer. As the founder captivates his young family, Martin sets out to discover the truth of the island, however terrible it might be, where something so perfect hides unimaginable darkness beneath…

Author

Rio Youers is a British Fantasy Award-nominated author whose short fiction has been published in many notable anthologies, and his novel, Westlake Soul, was nominated for Canada’s prestigious Sunburst Award. Rio lives in southwestern Ontario with his wife Emily, and their children.

What I Thought

If you still have the Halloween spirit after last night’s festivities this is a perfect scary book to pick up.

The ‘Utopian’ Halcyon island of the title is only glimpsed in the first part of the book and instead we focus mainly on Martin and his family and the tragedy that leads them to Halcyon. Investigating his youngest daughter Edith’s night terrors leads to the realisation that they are not the benign nightmares that children simply ‘grow out of’.

I whipped through the first 100 pages and again at various points during the story. When the thrill kicks in it grabs you. The pacing was a strong point and for me Halcyon lives up to the page-turning moniker.

This is a modern horror thriller that uses the fears of the modern day to create a chilling exploration of terrorism, radicalisation and cults and also what happens when you become disillusioned with your country and fellow man. There’s a line in the book that says “Vulnerability in the wrong hands is a dangerous weapon.”

There is a supernatural element in the book but the real monsters are all human – or at least pretending to be. As with the best villains they too have their own demons to contend with but their exploitation of the vulnerable is the real evil in this book.

There is definitely content in the book that won’t be to everyone’s taste -trigger warning for torture and sexual abuse. However for me the characters were engaging enough to be invested beyond this.

The blurb on the back compares Youers to Koontz or King and this definitely has a feeling reminiscent of The Shining/The Stand era. I would definitely pick up another of his books to read when I feel like being scared.

Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour to see what everyone else thought.

Thank you to Titan books for the free copy I received for the purposes of an honest review.

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