Review: The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston

26116400
Title:
 The Silver Witch
Author: Paula Brackston
Pub Date: 3rd December 2015
Publisher: Corsair
Obtained: Review Copy via NetGalley
Rating: 3.5/5*
Goodreads | BookDepository

A year after her husband’s sudden death, ceramic artist Tilda Fordwells finally moves into the secluded Welsh cottage that was to be their new home. She hopes that the tranquil surroundings will help ease her grief, and lessen her disturbing visions of Mat’s death. Instead, the lake in the valley below her cottage seems to spark something dormant in her – a sensitivity, and a power of some sort. Animals are drawn to her, electricity shorts out when she’s near, and strangest of all, she sees a new vision; a boatful of ancient people approaching her across the water. On this same lake in Celtic times lived Seren, a witch and shaman. She was respected but feared, kept separate from the community for her strange looks. When a vision came to her of the Prince amid a nest of vipers she warned of betrayal from one of his own. Prince Brynach both loved and revered her, but could not believe someone close to him wished him harm, even as the danger grew. In her own time, Tilda’s grief begins to fade beside her newfound powers and a fresh love. When she explores the lake’s ancient magic and her own she discovers Seren, the woman in her vision of the boat. Their two lives strangely mirror each others, suggesting a strong connection between the women. As Tilda comes under threat from a dark power, one reminiscent of Seren’s prophecy, she must rely on Seren and ancient magic if death and disaster are not to shatter her life once more.

This was the perfect read for a winter night. With a multi-generational narrative, plenty of history, and a dose of romance, The Silver Witch held my interest and kept me turning those pages. Not to mention it had a ghost story that captured me for the entire book and was extremely well done.

The story predominantly follows Tilda; a woman who has lost her husband and now lives alone in the house they bought together in the middle of the Brecon Beacons. Living an isolated life, Tilda is trying to put the pieces back together. Tilda then begins to experience visions; of an albino woman, an angry witch, and snapshots from another world. Tilda’s point of view was told in third person, with the other narrative point of view from Seren told in first person.

I loved having the dual perspective from the two women – one in Celtic Wales and the other in the modern day – but I found the change from third person to first person quite jumbled. I much preferred Seren’s tale – the tale of how she fell in love with a prince, of her isolated life, of her unique position in her community, of the corrag, all of it – though Seren’s chapters were the smaller sections. It was these chapters that truly gripped me, though that may be due to the fact that I’m a historical fiction reader at heart.

The plot was fast paced from both parallel plots, with spooky goings on in Tilda’s chapters, to the growing tensions at court in Seren’s. It was an extremely quick read, and one that was rewarding. The downfall of the fast pace was that the plot sometimes suffered. At times, it felt as if some scenes were passed over too quickly and that certain plot lines weren’t resolved. Seren’s chapters, as I mentioned above, felt too short. As the character with extremely interesting traits and a moving story, we didn’t get to know her as well as we got to know Tilda. So, when the two plots did cross over, it felt a lot less genuine.

One thing is certain though; this is a chilling, bewitching and enchanting tale of magic, love and loss that is the perfect read for the darker evenings. It was great to read outside of my usual go-to genres and to read a story with a multi-generational narrative. Paula Brackston has done a great job with the setting and atmosphere, making it so you can almost feel the chill of the air around you.

Recommended for those long winter nights!

Advertisements

BLOG GIVEAWAY: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The-Strange-and-Beautiful-Sorrows-of-Ava-Lavender

**THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW ENDED AND THE WINNER NOTIFIED! Thanks to all who entered!**

Win a copy of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender!

DETAILS:
1) Enter via clicking the Rafflecopter link below
2) Extra entries are awarded for following my different social media outlets
3) GIVEAWAY ENDS 4:30pm 19th MAY.
4) THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON 20th MAY. I will contact the winner through the details given on the Rafflecopter giveaway and will also announce on Twitter.

GOOD LUCK! 🙂

Exciting New Releases: March

Hello fellow readers! I’ve not updated this blog in about a week and a half, so I thought I’d write a really exciting post about books coming out in the next month that I’m super excited for.

March:

Half Bad by Sally Green | 4th March | Penguin

18079804

In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Super excited about this one!

***

Panic by Lauren Oliver | 6th March | Hodder and Stoughton

17565845

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do. Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.
Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for. For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

Panic sounds like an awesome read. I can’t wait to read more from Lauren Oliver – if the Delirium series is anything to go by, I’m sure Panic will be just as enthralling.

***

The May Bride by Suzannah Dunn | 13th March | Little, Brown

18759933

I didn’t stand a chance: looking back over thirteen years, that’s what I see. In the very first instant, I was won over, and of course I was: I was fifteen and had been nowhere and done nothing, whereas Katherine was twenty-one and yellow-silk-clad and just married to the golden boy. Only a few years later, I’d be blaming myself for not having somehow seen … but seen what, really? What – really, honestly – was there to see, when she walked into Hall? She was just a girl, a lovely, light-stepping girl, smiling that smile of hers, and, back then, as giddy with goodwill as the rest of us.
When Katherine Filliol arrives at Wolf Hall as the new young bride of Jane Seymour’s older brother, Edward, Jane is irresistibly drawn to the confident older girl and they develop a close and trusting friendship, forged during a long, hot country summer. However, only two years later, the family is destroyed by Edward’s allegations of Katherine’s infidelity with his father. When Jane is also sent away, to serve Katharine of Aragon, she watches another wife being put aside, with terrible consequences.

This sounds amazing! I’m a huge historical fiction fan – it’s my favourite genre aside from YA – and the Tudors are perhaps my favourite period in history. Definitely will be picking this up!

***

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner | 25th March | Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

18267071

Summer has begun, the beach beckons and Francesca Schnell is going nowhere. Four years ago, Francesca s little brother, Simon, drowned, and Francesca s the one who should have been watching. Now Francesca is about to turn sixteen, but guilt keeps her stuck in the past. Meanwhile, her best friend, Lisette, is moving on most recently with the boy Francesca wants but can t have. At loose ends, Francesca trails her father, who may be having an affair, to the local country club. There she meets four-year-old Frankie Sky, a little boy who bears an almost eerie resemblance to Simon, and Francesca begins to wonder if it s possible Frankie could be his reincarnation. Knowing Frankie leads Francesca to places she thought she d never dare to go and it begins to seem possible to forgive herself, grow up, and even fall in love, whether or not she solves the riddle of Frankie Sky.

This sounds like such a heartbreaking contemporary read – it’s definitely going on my TBR list.

***

Starling by Fiona Paul | 20th March | Philomel

13399051

In the final book in the trilogy, Cass and Luca are back in Venice trying to find the Book of the Eternal Rose to clear Luca’s name and keep them both out of prison. But the hunters become the hunted when the Order of the Eternal Rose figures out their plan. Filled with twists and turns, danger and torrid romances, this novel brings the Secrets of the Eternal Rose novels to a thrilling, heart-pounding, sexy conclusion.

So so so so excited for Starling! I adore The Secrets of the Eternal Rose series – it’s one of my favourite historical series of all time. I can’t wait to find out what Fiona Paul has in store for Cass, Luca and Falco in this final book!

Are you excited for any of these titles? What will you be reading in March?

Sometimes, Loving Books Isn’t Enough

Happy Monday, fellow readers!

Since graduating, my life has consisted of applications, covering letters and many, many books. Graduate life is a weird sort of limbo; you’ve spent three years building up to something altogether unclear, a world where that dissertation just doesn’t matter anymore. Once you graduate, you realise that your lecturing parents and wise careers advisors weren’t telling lies – getting a job is now a task that is almost as arduous as Frodo’s journey to Mount Doom.

Rewind four years: my head was abuzz with UCAS applications, personal statements and open days. Getting into a university was the first battle in the long war of career success. At the time, I couldn’t imagine it getting any harder. Fast forward three years – I’m knee deep in dissertation research, my social life a long forgotten pastime, exams looming on the horizon.

One year later? My dreams of getting into publishing are still set in concrete, unwavering and unchanging but I know now how difficult it is to break into this thrilling and diverse industry. After years of hoping that my passion for books would see me through, now I know that this simply isn’t enough.

Six months down the line from graduation with several job interviews under my belt, I know now how hard it is for graduates in this industry. Proving that you’re not simply a wide-eyed book lover is a task that will become paramount. Experience is key, passion is necessary, industry knowledge is assumed. It was during my experience with HarperCollins that I truly began to grasp what this industry was truly about; for those desperate to get into publishing, experience isn’t only a necessity but it’s something to help you decide if this is really a world that you want to become part of.

Luckily for me, it only sharpened my determination to break into this field. I’m currently working as a Marketing Intern – not in publishing – but even this experience is something that has already helped me to land some interviews at publishing companies that I have admired for years.

For once, I’m no longer unaware and unprepared. My reading tastes have gotten more varied, my knowledge of fiction lists exhaustive and the daily news update from The Bookseller has become the first email I open every morning.

Loving books may not be enough to land a job in this extremely competitive world, but as you’re filing through job advert after job advert, it will become a passion that will fuel you further. Like an ever-present friend, patting you on the back and encouraging you onward, reading, for me, reminds me on a daily basis why I want to pursue a career in publishing.

So for those of you struggling, graduate or not, don’t lose hope. Expand your horizons, know the industry, make contacts and never cease applying – that job is just around the corner.

YA Lit Con – The UK’s first YA convention!

Image

YA Lit Con is coming!

This has been an exciting week for UK YA fans – the first UK Young Adult Literature Convention, hosted by Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman and London Film and Comic Con, will be happening this summer.

Even more exciting? The initial list of attending authors have been announced! The full list of names announced so far:

  • Malorie Blackman
  • James Dawson
  • Matt Haig
  • Derek Landy
  • Sophie McKenzie
  • Patrick Ness
  • Natasha Ngan
  • Darren Shan
  • Ruth Warburton

Already there are some huge UK authors announced; I’m extremely excited to see who else will be attending this summer! Here is some more information on the convention that will be occurring at Earl’s Court, London on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 July 2014:

 YALC will bring together all the UK’s YA publishers to provide a host of author events in a dedicated Book Zone, with talks, workshops, signings, a book sales area and publisher stands promoting new and upcoming titles. Blackman will act as a curator for the two-day convention, uniting authors and publishers throughout the UK community.

I’m sure more news regarding authors and buying tickets will be announced soon, but keep up to date on YALC by checking the Children’s Laureate website and also the official Twitter account for the convention: @yalc_uk

I’m genuinely so thrilled that the UK is recognising the nation’s love for YA and the power it holds over the publishing industry – I can’t wait to attend!

Will you be attending?

 

Guilty Pleasures? Not so guilty.

It doesn’t take a genius to decipher that I like reading. You merely need to glance at the book propped in my hands and at my glazed, barely-there look and it’s pretty obvious. People, however, are naturally curious – they see a book in your hands, they see that you most definitely are somewhere else entirely, a world of words – and they want to know one thing.

What are you reading?

Cue, judgement. There is, undoubtedly, a snobbish element to reading. After studying English Literature for three years at university, I am all too familiar with ‘high-brow’ literature; literature that has a value, worthy enough to be studied by eager yet sleep-deprived students. There is canonical literature – classic novels, epic poetry, elegant dramas – and then, at the other side of that spectrum, there is, essentially, ‘trash’.

As a huge fan of the Young Adult genre but also an avid classical reader, I’m faced with a level of criticism. I have studied Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Dickens, Woolf – the list can go on – yet how can I read books that are aimed at teens? Books that rely on overwhelming hormones, angst, and forbidden, predictable love?

I tell them: I enjoy it. I love this genre. They assume it’s my guilty pleasure.

They couldn’t be more wrong. The term guilty pleasure suggests that there is guilt associated with enjoyment. For me, as a YA reader, there is no shame. There is something undisputedly amazing about this genre, unlike any other genre I read. It manages to encapsulate the full spectrum of human emotion, but instead of presenting it in this serious, adult way, it injects humour and lightness. Yes, I admit to reading books about teen romance, clichéd and heart-wrenching, but ultimately real. I’ve been taken to other worlds with fantastical lands and chilling, dystopian governments. I’ve read books where I’ve hated the main character and loved them – yet the one thing I’ve never been able to do is to stop reading. YA is a genre that will hook you, line and sinker, from the very first word, pulling you in page by page.

I’m not saying that this doesn’t happen with other genres – of course it does. However, there is something liberating about YA, this unrestricted genre that can be read and enjoyed by anyone, of any age.

I’ve watched this genre grow from something to be dismissed, to a genre that has astounding power on the publishing and film industries respectively. You remember that young adult series called The Hunger Games? That incredible book that has produced – so far – two incredible films that have destroyed every other competitor at the box office? I thought so. How about a book – and now a series of films – called The Hobbit? Yes, The Hobbit is a YA book – a children’s book, essentially. One can’t deny Tolkein’s excellence, but there are still some who insist on reducing YA to ‘trash’ even despite this famous addition to the genre.

2014 is the year of YA. With so many film adaptions hitting the big screen this year, you can’t deny it. Vampire Academy, Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, The Maze Runner, Mockingjay Part 1. Young Adult is without a doubt taking over popular culture, and I will be begging any person who goes to see these films to read the books.

Let’s get rid of the snobbery here, let’s remove the guilt from guilty pleasure reading. Reading is reading – it’s that simple.