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Best Books of the Year 2019

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Best Books of the Year 2019
As we come to the end of the year (and the decade), here's a sample of my favourite books over the last twelve months!

JANUARYThe Binding by Bridget Collins
YA Historical

An alternate history, where memories are bound into books, and reading them is taboo.
Emmett is a trainee book binder, both hated and respected in equal measure. He has to uncover the truth - has his own memories been bound, and why?

Full review

Goodreads

Amazon





FEBRUARYThe Stone's Heart by Jessica Thorne
YA Sci-Fi

In the second book of the Queen's Wing series, Bel in consolidating her position as ruler, with the help of some old friends.
Petra is a warrior and a general, and has made a name for herself. Her confidence is tested when he ex comes flying back into her life.

Full review

Goodreads

Amazon





MARCH One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan 
Chick Lit

Grace and Audrey have nothing in common, but a charming little bookshop in Paris brings them together. They support each other and be…

A Throne of Swans

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A Throne of Swans by Katharine Corr and Elizabeth Corr 4 out of 5

Synopsis
In a world where the flightless are ruled by those who can fly...

When her father dies just before her birthday, seventeen-year-old Aderyn inherits the role of Protector of Atratys, a dominion in a kingdom where nobles are able to transform at will into the bird that represents their family bloodline. Aderyn's ancestral bird is a swan. But she has not transformed for years, not since witnessing the death of her mother - ripped apart by hawks that have supposedly been extinct since the long-ago War of the Raptors.

With the benevolent shelter of her mother and her father now lost, Aderyn is at the mercy of her brutal uncle, the King, and his royal court. Driven by revenge and love, she must venture into the malevolent heart of the Citadel in order to seek the truth about the attack that so nearly destroyed her, to fight for the only home she has ever known and for the land she has vowed to protect.

Written in …

In The Heart of Windy Pines

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In The Heart of Windy Pines by Holly Tierney-Bedford 2 out of 5

Synopsis
From the author of Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women comes a new novella featuring characters from Murder at Mistletoe Manor, Carnage at the Christmas Party, and The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club!

Klarinda Snow is the innkeeper of Mistletoe Manor in beautiful, remote, Windy Pines, Idaho, where she brings her unique brand of hospitality to the tiny mountain town.

When she finds her inn unexpectedly fully booked on a snowy Tuesday night in November, it brings back memories of a tragedy years before. Before she knows what hit her, she and her trusty team of employees (Myrtle, Pierre, and her new night manager, Josephine), have found themselves back at the task of solving another mystery at Mistletoe Manor!

While this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novella, if you plan to read the books in the Windy Pines Mystery series or The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club, it's highly recommended you …

Taking Up Space

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Taking Up Space by Chelsea Kwakye & Ore Ogunbiyi 4 out of 5

Synopsis
As a minority in a predominantly white institution, taking up space is an act of resistance. Recent Cambridge grads Chelsea and Ore experienced this first-hand, and wrote Taking Up Space as a guide and a manifesto for change.

FOR BLACK GIRLS:

Understand that your journey is unique. Use this book as a guide. Our wish for you is that you read this and feel empowered, comforted and validated in every emotion you experience, or decision that you make.

FOR EVERYONE ELSE:

We can only hope that reading this helps you to be a better friend, parent, sibling or teacher to black girls living through what we did. It's time we stepped away from seeing this as a problem that black people are charged with solving on their own.

It's a collective effort.
And everyone has a role to play.

Featuring honest conversations with students past and present, Taking Up Space goes beyond the buzzwords of diversity and inclusion and explore…

The Blood Countess

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The Blood Countess by Lana Popović  3 out of 5

Synopsis
A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula

In 17th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth Báthory. When Elizabeth takes a liking to Anna, she’s vaulted to the dream role of chambermaid, a far cry from the filthy servants’ quarters below. She receives wages generous enough to provide for her family, and the Countess begins to groom Anna as her friend and confidante. It’s not long before Anna falls completely under the Countess’s spell—and the Countess takes full advantage. Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancé, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.

The Case of the Reincarnated Client

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The Case of the Reincarnated Client Tarquin Hall 2 out of 5

Synopsis
A client claiming she was murdered in a past life is a novel dilemma even for Vish Puri, India's Most Private Investigator. When a young woman comes forward claiming to be the reincarnation of Riya Kaur, a wife and mother who vanished during the bloody 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Puri is dismissive. He's busy enough dealing with an irate matrimonial client whose daughter is complaining about her groom's thunderous snoring. Puri's indomitable Mummy-ji however is adamant the client is genuine. How else could she so accurately describe under hypnosis Riya Kaur's life and final hours? Driven by a sense of duty - the original case was his late father's - Puri manages to acquire the police file only to find that someone powerful has orchestrated a cover-up. Forced into an alliance with his mother that tests his beliefs and high blood pressure as never before, it's only by delving into the past the help…

The Queen of Nothing

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The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black 4 out of 5

Synopsis
He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition an…

Blog tour: In The Heart of the Windy Pines

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In the Heart of Windy Pines From the author of Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women comes a new novella featuring characters from Murder at Mistletoe Manor, Carnage at the Christmas Party, and The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club!

Klarinda Snow is the innkeeper of Mistletoe Manor in beautiful, remote, Windy Pines, Idaho, where she brings her unique brand of hospitality to the tiny mountain town.

When she finds her inn unexpectedly fully booked on a snowy Tuesday night in November, it brings back memories of a tragedy years before. Before she knows what hit her, she and her trusty team of employees (Myrtle, Pierre, and her new night manager, Josephine), have found themselves back at the task of solving another mystery at Mistletoe Manor!

While this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novella, if you plan to read the books in the Windy Pines Mystery series or The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club, it's highly recommended you read those first, as this book contains spo…

Blog tour: A Christmas Hamster

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A Christmas Hamster Cam’s career and romantic prospects take a nose dive once she becomes guardian to her young nephew. She leaves a bustling Dutch city to move to a small, dull country town in England, and where once she restored magnificent old paintings to their former glory, now she operates the paint-mixing machine at a soulless hardware store. As much as she adores little Rowan, life has lost some of its sparkle. 
However, a handsome and charming customer causes her heart to flutter once more. Fate, alas, seems determined to hamper any possibility of them getting together. So what chance does a tiny, naughty hamster have of bringing happiness this Christmas?
This is a festive, light-hearted and uplifting romcom novella.

Blog tour: Eve's Christmas

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Eve’s Christmas Working for a department store where Christmas arrives in August, Eve prefers her own festivities to be low key with nothing more complicated than an oven ready turkey and frozen peas while she spends the day in her pyjamas. Unfortunately, this year her husband has invited his best friend to visit, the glamorous and sophisticated Abby, and Eve reluctantly decides that she needs to inject a little sparkle into their laid back and slightly shabby Christmas.  So the celebrations are upgraded to include champagne and canapes along with homemade gravy and organic turkey and plans are made for a Christmas that looks as though it has emerged from the pages of a glossy magazine.

But even the best laid plans can go wrong and as Eve struggles with her mini Yorkshire puddings and an interfering cat, she is suddenly faced with an unexpected guest and an explosive secret that threatens to put her vision of a perfect Christmas in jeopardy.

Blog Tour: Christmas at the Chateau

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Christmas at the ChâteauA Christmas she’ll remember forever…
Poppy is looking forward to spending her first Christmas in France at her boyfriend, Leo’s, Château. And as the snow falls softly around the dramatic castle, Poppy can’t think of anything more magical.
There are new traditions to discover, a cosy Christmas market to explore and best of all, a promise of secret treasure hunt from gorgeous Leo. Only family pressure and uncertainty about her future in France can threaten to cast a shadow over the holiday.

When the treasure hunt takes an unexpected turn Poppy knows for sure this is one Christmas she’ll remember forever.

Blog Tour: The Case of the Reincarnated Client

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The Case of the Reincarnated Client When a young woman comes forward saying she's the reincarnation of Riya Kaur, a wife and mother who vanished during the bloody 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Puri is dismissive. He's busy enough dealing with an irate matrimonial client whose daughter is complaining about her  groom’s thunderous snoring.  Puri's indomitable Mummy-ji however is adamant the client is genuine. How else could she so accurately describe under hypnosis Riya Kaur's life and final hours?

Driven by a sense of duty - the original case was his late father’s - Puri manages to acquire the police file only to find that someone powerful has orchestrated a cover-up. Forced into an alliance with his mother that tests his beliefs and high blood pressure as never before, it’s only by delving into the past the help of his reincarnated client that Puri can hope to unlock the truth.

The Unspoken Name

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The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood
4 out of 5
Synopsis
What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard's loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

The Princess Plan

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The Princess Plan by Julia London 3 out of 5

Synopsis
Passion. Intrigue. Love.

London’s high society loves nothing more than a scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefited from an anonymous tip off about the crime, forcing Sebastian to ask for her help in his quest to find his friend’s killer.

With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more dangerous than a prince socialising with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And soon, as temptation becomes harder to ignore, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart.

Geekerella

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Geekerella by Ashley Poston 4 out of 5

Synopsis
Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written hi…

The Sky Weaver

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The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli 4 out of 5

Synopsis
At the end of one world, there always lies another.

Safire, a soldier, knows her role in this world is to serve the King of Firgaard—helping to maintain the peace in her oft-troubled nation.

Eris, a deadly pirate, has no such conviction. Known as the Death Dancer for her ability to evade even the most determined of pursuers, she possesses a superhuman power to move between worlds.

When one can roam from dimension to dimension, can one ever be home? Can love and loyalty truly exist?

Now Safire and Eris—sworn enemies—find themselves on a common mission: to find Asha, the last Namsara. From the port city of Darmoor to the fabled faraway Star Isles, their search and their stories become woven ever more tightly together as they discover the uncertain fate they’re hurtling towards may just be a shared one. In this world—and the next.

How I Magically Messed Up My Life In Four Freakin' Days

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How I Magically Messed Up My Life In Four Freakin' Days by Megan O'Russell 4 out of 5

Synopsis
Not all wizards were born to be heroes.

Things not to do when you find out you’re a wizard:

#1 Do not destroy your apartment with magical fire. You WILL NOT get the security deposit back.

#2 Do not form an alliance with the guy who is trying to murder you. This will end badly.

#3 Do not drag the girl you’re desperately in love with into your wizard mess. You risk her watching you fail miserably.

#4 Under no circumstances should you get in the middle of an epic magical battle. Death will happen. Lots of death and bad things.

Blog tour: Keeper of Secrets

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Keeper of Secrets
Should some secrets stay buried?

For as long as Cassie Hunt can remember her Aunt Aggie has spoken about the forgotten world that exists just below their feet, in the tunnels and catacombs of the Sand House. The story is what inspired Cassie to become an archaeologist.
But Aggie has a secret that she’s buried as deep as the tunnels and when excavation work begins on the site, Cassie is the only one who can help her keep it. With the assistance of her old university friend, Noah Flanagan, she puts into action a plan to honour Aggie’s wishes.
It seems the deeper Noah and Cassie dig, the more shocking the secrets uncovered – and danger is never far away, both above and below the ground …

Keeper of Secrets

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Keeper of Secrets by Lynda Stacey 4 out of 5

Synopsis
Should some secrets stay buried?

For as long as Cassie Hunt can remember her Aunt Aggie has spoken about the forgotten world that exists just below their feet, in the tunnels and catacombs of the Sand House. The story is what inspired Cassie to become an archaeologist.

But Aggie has a secret that she’s buried as deep as the tunnels and when excavation work begins on the site, Cassie is the only one who can help her keep it.

With the assistance of her old university friend, Noah Flanagan, she puts into action a plan to honour Aggie’s wishes.

It seems the deeper Noah and Cassie dig, the more shocking the secrets uncovered – and danger is never far away, both above and below the ground …

Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop

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Hello lovely readers, thank you for joining me on the 13th stop of Patricia Lynne's Halloween blog hop.

If this is your first visit, you're welcome to look around. I am the UK Fantasy author, K.S. Marsden. I am also a prolific reader of books, and love to share my reviews. You'll find plenty of reviews and bookish posts here on the Northern Witch.

I love Halloween, and it was inevitable that it would feature in my books, including the freebies I have for you today:

The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter #1)

When a new witch threat rises, only Hunter Astley can stop them…

In the face of dark magic and evil witches, a secret witch-hunting society works tirelessly to keep
them at bay. The Malleus Maleficarum Council have strict rules and practises for eradicating magic.
Due to their work, witches have been almost forgotten, relegated to myth; but rumours are starting to emerge of a new power that will throw the world into chaos.

As the only 7th generation witch-hunter, Hunter Astley …

The Wicked King

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The Wicked King by Holly Black5 out of 5
Synopsis You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself strong.
After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Unicorn: The Memoir of a Muslim Drag Queen

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Unicorn: The Memoir of a Muslim Drag Queen by Amrou Al-Kadhi 4 out of 5

Synopsis
From a god-fearing Muslim boy enraptured with their mother, to a vocal, queer drag queen estranged from their family, this is a heart-breaking and hilarious memoir about the author’s fight to be true to themself

My name is Amrou Al-Kadhi – by day. By night, I am Glamrou, an empowered, fearless and acerbic drag queen who wears seven-inch heels and says the things that nobody else dares to.

Growing up in a strict Iraqi Muslim household, it didn’t take long for me to realise I was different. When I was ten years old, I announced to my family that I was in love with Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. The resultant fallout might best be described as something like the Iraqi version of Jerry Springer: The Opera. And that was just the beginning.

This is the story of how I got from there to here: about my teenage obsession with marine biology, and how fluid aquatic life helped me understand my non-binary gender ident…

The Sisters Grimm

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The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag 3 out of 5

Synopsis
There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of sisters Grimm on Earth.
You may well be one of them, though you might never know it. You think you’re ordinary. You never suspect that you’re stronger than you seem, braver than you feel or greater than you imagine. But I hope that by the time you finish this tale, you’ll start listening to the whispers that speak of unknown things, the signs that point in unseen directions and the nudges that suggest unimagined possibilities. I hope too that you’ll discover your own magnificence, your own magic . . .

This is the story of four sisters Grimm – daughters born to different mothers on the same day, each born out of bright-white wishing and black-edged desire. They found each other at eight years-old, were separated at thirteen and now, at nearly eighteen, it is imperative that they find each other once again.

In thirty-three days they will meet their father in Everwhere. Only then will they d…

Trail of Lightning

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Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse 3 out of 5

Synopsis
While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World.