A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon by Sarah Hawley – A Review by Bryony

“She wanted flowers and muffins and the contentment of being exactly enough for someone.”

Rating: 3 stars

Release date: 09/03/2023

Publisher: Gollancz

Author: Sarah Hawley

CW: Emotional abuse

Mariel Spark knows not to trust a demon, especially one that wants her soul, but what’s a witch to do when he won’t leave her side – and she kind of doesn’t want him to?

Mariel Spark is prophesied to be the most powerful witch seen in centuries of the famed Spark family, but to the displeasure of her mother, she prefers baking to brewing potions and gardening to casting hexes. When a spell to summon flour goes very wrong, Mariel finds herself staring down a demon – one she inadvertently summoned for a soul bargain.

Ozroth the Ruthless is a legend among demons. Powerful and merciless, he drives hard bargains to collect mortal souls. But his reputation has suffered ever since a bargain went awry – if he can strike a deal with Mariel, he will earn back his deadly reputation. Ozroth can’t leave Mariel’s side until they complete a bargain, which she refuses to do (turns out some humans are attached to their souls).

But the witch is funny. And curvy. And disgustingly yet endearingly cheerful. Becoming awkward roommates quickly escalates when Mariel, terrified to confess the inadvertent summoning to her mother, blurts out that she’s dating Ozroth. As Ozroth and Mariel struggle to maintain a fake relationship, real attraction blooms between them. But Ozroth has a limited amount of time to strike the deal, and if Mariel gives up her soul, she’ll lose all her emotions – including love – which will only spell disaster for them both.

It seems to be that I keep falling for sweet, cosy sounding romances that are actually smutty.

A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon had a really nice story at its heart: learning to accept and love yourself for who you are and the talents you have, and screw those that can’t accept it. Mariel begins the story as meek and frustrated – she can’t do what her family expects of her, which she doesn’t want to do anyway but that doesn’t mean she won’t try with increasing annoyance. With the help of her friends, she comes to realise her earth/plant magic (which is really cool!) is just as powerful as summoning something.

I liked the side characters and the setting, plus the world building it did for the demon plane (hell). However, sometimes it felt like it was trying a bit too hard to combine the magical and non-magical worlds. The start felt really cringey and I considered DNFing just because I felt too awkward reading it. But then I settled in and it was easy to read.

Despite the title, there was very little fake dating. It was more awkward cohabitation.

I don’t think the sex was necessary, it didn’t add anything to the story, but I also don’t think it would have been so bad if I’d been expecting it.

So, overall, it was a fun, easy read. I enjoyed the magic, I liked the message, I just could have done with less cringe and less sex.

A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon – A Review by Bryony

But I vow to you, this age of fire and smoke will end. A star will come at morning on the first day of spring.

Rating: 5 stars

Release date: 28/02/2023

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Author: Samantha Shannon

CW: Childbirth, child loss, child marriage, mass death, mind control, miscarriage (mention), pandemic, parental death, postnatal depression, pregnancy, reproductive coercion, violence, vomiting

Rep: F/F relationships, M/M relationship, non-binary characters, transgender characters

A return to the world of Samantha Shannon’s Sunday Times and New York Times-bestselling The Priory of the Orange Tree

Tunuva Melim is a sister of the Priory. For fifty years, she has trained to slay wyrms – but none have appeared since the Nameless One, and the younger generation is starting to question the Priory’s purpose.

To the north, in the Queendom of Inys, Sabran the Ambitious has married the new King of Hróth, narrowly saving both realms from ruin. Their daughter, Glorian, trails in their shadow – exactly where she wants to be.

The dragons of the East have slept for centuries. Dumai has spent her life in a Seiikinese mountain temple, trying to wake the gods from their long slumber. Now someone from her mother’s past is coming to upend her fate.

When the Dreadmount erupts, bringing with it an age of terror and violence, these women must find the strength to protect humankind from a devastating threat.

Intricate and epic, A Day of Fallen Night sweeps readers back to the world of The Priory of the Orange Tree, showing us a course of events that shaped it for generations to come.

A Day of Fallen Night felt like Samantha Shannon’s love song to the world she’d already created. Separate to the story of The Priory of the Orange Tree, you don’t need to have read one to understand the other.

However, I do think a love of TPotOT did make me love ADOFN even more. There were a lot of nods to the later world and things that made me look twice because I wasn’t sure if they were things we’ve “already” encountered. I thought it was really clever how traditions/rituals from TPotOT that weren’t in place at the start of ADOFN came into being, both explaining their absence and existence.

Although the story spans three or four worlds, all the characters are connected somehow. More than anything, ADOFN is a story of sisterhood, of the triumphs of women. Women are connected across realms and find comfort in each other. I loved how their stories happened simultaneously, each experiencing the same worldwide disaster. I think this was shown particularly well in the final confrontation.

I absolutely adored the characters. They showed us each a side of the world we hadn’t seen before, like the politics of the courts in the East, or spending more time in the Priory with Tunuva, or exploring the North with Wulf. I’d give my heart for all of them, especially for Wulf and Glorian. We spent so long in Inys before with Ead but we never saw the world through a queen’s eyes. To see it through Glorian’s, a young girl who has never wanted to fall in love but is made to marry for duty, was heartbreaking. I don’t love what she went through, but I loved her character growth and was inspired by the character she was at the end.

I cannot wait to read ADOFN again, and I’m so excited to revisit TPotOT with this in mind.

Mercury’s Shadow by PJ Garcin – A Review by Bryony – BBNYA Blog Tour

“You see the world—the universe—as just waiting for you to exploit it. To capture it and sell it. I’ve got news for you, the world does not belong to you.”

Rating: 3 stars

Release date: 06/07/2020

CW: Grief, death of parent

Author: PJ Garcin

PJ Garcin has been writing stories, music and games for most of his life. He writes from the beautiful east coast of Canada where he has worked extensively in video games and technology for the past 20 years. Picking up a long running writing thread, he recently completed the first book in the Kardashev Cycle — Mercury’s Shadow.

The Kardashev Cycle follows the rise and expansion of the dominant Kardashev Corporation and its near universal control over the solar system. The first book in the series, Mercury’s Shadow, introduces the young Imogen Esper — a resourceful young girl from a mining station in the asteroid belt who finds herself caught up in an interplanetary conflict when her father is injured during a routine maintenance mission. The second book, Chimera’s Prism, continued the adventure in 2021.

PJ is a regular speaker at technology conferences on topics ranging from interactive narrative to machine learning. He has an undergrad degree in English, Rhetoric and Professional Writing as well as a Master’s degree in Communication.

A civilization changing technology threatens the future of humanity — can a young girl from the outer system stop it all?

Imogen “Chim” Esper is thrust into the center of an interplanetary conflict when her father is injured on a spacewalk on a mining station. Haunted by guilt over her own role in the events leading to the accident and the cold indifference of the Kardashev corporation, Chim struggles to find her place in a society that is poised for revolutionary transformation.

The Kardashev Corporation dominates all commerce and politics in the solar system after coming to prominence in the great expansion led by space mining. Alton Neal, the CEO of Kardashev is hell bent on transforming society by capturing the full energy output of the sun.

Citizens of Earth and the stations throughout the system must band together to protect access to the lifeblood of the system or risk becoming permanently enslaved to the Kardashev Corporation.

Mercury’s Shadow is a thrilling adventure that blends real science, big ideas, grand adventure and high stakes to introduce a new heroine and a deep universe that will leave readers asking for more.

I stepped a little beyond my usual bookshelf with Mercury’s Shadow as I don’t always reach for sci-fi books. However, I still had an enjoyable time with it!

I found it quite easy to read and it didn’t take me long to read. I think the story‘s pacing meant there was always something about to happen, so you wanted to read on and find out more, be that something happening to one character or many.

We had a mixture of perspectives, the more personal with Chim and that of various political leaders, so we also got to see more of an outward view of everything that was happening.

I liked Chim and the relationships she formed with those around her, although I sometimes found it hard to pin down hold old she was meant to be.

It was a really interesting story and unfortunately could be very close to home – I mean, letting one company more or less control everything for the “good” of the people. Yeah… Could never happen, right?

I received this book to read and review as part of the 2022 BBNYA competition and the BBNYA tours organised by the TWR Tour team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.

BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner.

If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website http://www.bbnya.com or Twitter @bbnya_official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

One for All by Lillie Lainoff – A Review by Bryony – BLOG TOUR

“Portia, Théa, and Aria weren’t the Musketeers who populated my childhood stories. They weren’t Papa’s Musketeers…

But they were better, because they were mine.”

Rating: 5 stars

Release date: 07/02/2023

Publisher: Titan Books

Author: Lillie Lainoff

CW: Ableism, attempted rape, bullying, grief (death of a parent)

Representation: Chronic illness (POTS), LGBTQ+ side characters

This fierce story transports you to 17th century France, to a world of heart-racing duels and seductive soirées as our heroine fights against her chronic illness to train as a Musketeer, uncovering secrets, sisterhood, and self-love.

Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl.” But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father―a former Musketeer and her greatest champion. Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for new Musketeers: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a sword fight.

With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels that she has a purpose, that she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming―and might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted.

I absolutely adored One for All. From the first page, I could have sat there and read it all in one go. An all-female Three Musketeers reimagining (or continuation), with disability rep? I’ll be talking about this one for a while.

Tania was such an inspiring main character. With her chronic disability (POTS), she’s struggled to just live all her life. She battles dizziness when she stands, and fencing is the only thing that makes her feel like she’s got control over her life – no wonder she won’t give it up to just be a wife. Her chronic illness is constantly there, but it doesn’t define her.

The other characters were also a delight. I loved the female camaraderie and sisterhood that was developed through the story. The other musketeers taught Tania that her dizziness isn’t a sign of weakness, that actually she’s strong to live with it, and they provided her with friendship she so desperately needed before.

I loved the story. There was always a sense of forward progress with a sense of mystery and the need for justice.

And, I mean, how could you go wrong with sword fighting in beautiful dresses?

2022: A Year in Review

Goodreads stats

During 20212, I read a total 41,146 pages over 105 books (an average of 392 pages per book).

I hit book 100 on 21/12/2022.

The longest book I read was Fyre by Angie Sage (720 pages).

The shortest book I read was The Dawn Chorus by Samantha Shannon (92 pages).

The most popular book I read was Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas.

The least popular book I read was Merchants of Knowledge and Magic by Erica McCorkle.

My average rating was 3.7 stars.

My favourite books of the year

  • The Goddess of Nothing At All by Cat Rector
  • Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn
  • Pathfinder by Angie Sage
  • The Girl who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh
  • Belladonna by Adalyn Grace
  • The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
  • The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi
  • For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
  • Sistersong by Lucy Holland
  • Blood to Poison by Mary Watson
  • Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan
  • Waking the Witch by Rachel Burge

My least favourite* books of the year

*Not necessarily bad! There are a couple of books I rated 3 stars in here

  • Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors (DNF)
  • Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters (DNF)
  • Lucie Yi is Not a Romantic by Lauren Ho (DNF)
  • Gender Rebels by Anneka Harry
  • Princess of Souls by Alexandra Christo
  • This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi
  • The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport
  • Man Down by James Goodhand
  • Merchants of Knowledge and Magic by Erika McCorkle

2022 goals in review

Read 50 books

I read 105 books, upping my 50 book target in December.

Review every book (even a mini review)

I posted 89/105 reviews for the books I read in 2022 (a couple have been posted in 2023). Instagram is good motivation for me to post reviews (content!) but I didn’t post much on Instagram towards the end of the year.

Stay on top of NetGalley requests 

My feedback rating is currently 89% (104 approved, 93 reviewed). I was at 89% at the start of the year (69 approved, 60 reviewed). I had read another two before the end of the year, just didn’t review them in time.

Buy fewer books

I bought too many. I probably stopped tracking halfway through the year, so I don’t know how many I did.

Get back on the blog/channel

I didn’t post any videos all year, apart from maybe a TBR at the start of the year.

Note, I’ve just checked and was apparently very wrong? I did 14 videos? Including July. So I don’t know how I completely forgot that part of 2022.

Books to Read

20 books chosen by me


  • Fyre by Angie Sage
  • The Beast of the Bethany: Revenge of the Beast by Jack Meggitt-Phillips
  • The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont
  • The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
  • Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
  • Electra by Jennifer Saint
  • These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
  • The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
  • Gods and Monsters by Shelby Mahurin
  • For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
  • The Unbroken by C.L. Clark
  • If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho by Anne Carson
  • King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair
  • State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury 
  • The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni
  • The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
  • Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson
  • Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
  • The Flames of Albiyon by Jean Z. Menzies

12 books you’ve recommended 


  • A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmer
  • We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
  • The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec
  • The Last Bear by Hannah Gold
  • The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
  • We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  • The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
  • Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune
  • Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Ayoki
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  • This One Day by Leone Ross

Influential by Amara Sage

“How am I supposed to get the algorithm of being a girl just right when the rules keep changing?”

Release date: 05/01/2023

Publisher: Faber Children’s

Author: Amara Sagw

CW (so far): Anxiety, depression, OCD, skin picking, blood, underage drinking, diet discussion, diet pills/health teas etc., unhealthy body image, (online) stalking, death threats, slut shaming

Rep: Black MC

Almond Brown has no friends in real life… but 3.5 million followers online.

A heart-felt, whip-smart deep dive into what it would really be like to be internet famous at 17: a cautionary tale for our time from a writer who has grown up with social media.

Almond is forced into the spotlight when she was just a perfectly filtered bump: her mum has been documenting their family through social media since before she was born. And her family enjoy all the rewards that come from that level of influence. Only, it’s not the life Almond would have chosen for herself, and being on a platform all the time has made her anxious and insecure. When the darkest side of the internet begins to haunt her, Almond feels like she’s going to lose everything… If only she could see that she has a real-life, too, full of friends and family who love her, and that it could save her.

I’m only about a third through Influential but I am already in love. It’s such a powerful book with so many noteworthy lines, and I’m glad this will be my first book of the year.

Almond feels like such a genuine character, even though nothing about her life is true. I can’t imagine what it would be like for your whole life to be documented from before you were even born, and to then feel like you can never make a genuine relationship. I really wanted to give her a hug. And then to deal with all the “woke” white influencers who tell her she’s “lucky” to be born brown and not have to deal with fake tan…

This book is what I love about YA fiction. The books that steer away from topics because they’re difficult. Influential gives young people the chance to assess a world they’ve maybe always idolised – the parties, the holidays, the ad revenue – and show them it’s not as easy as it would seem – every minute of your life documented, not being able to say anything without it being said first, online stalking and death threats. I am so excited to read on, and to see what else Amara Sage has to offer.

Winter and Christmas Book Recommendations

I’ve not read many Christmas books, but I have more that are wintery – let me know if you have any more!

Magyk by Angie Sage

Enter the world of Septimus Heap, Wizard Apprentice. Magyk is his destiny.

A powerful necromancer plans to seize control of all things Magykal. He has killed the Queen and locked up the Extraordinary Wizard. Now with Darke Magyk he will create a world filled with Darke creatures. But the Necromancer made one mistake. A vital detail he has overlooked means there is a boy who can stop him – the only problem is, the boy doesn’t know it yet.

For the Heap family, life as they know is about to change, and the most fantastically fast-paced adventure of confused identities, magyk and mayhem, begin.

The Miraculous Sweetmakers: The Frost Fair by Natasha Hastings

An amazing and captivating, curl-up-on-the-sofa debut about a magical frost fair and the lasting power of friendship.

It’s a cold winter during the Great Frost of 1683. Thomasina and Anne are the best of friends, one running her father’s sweet shop and the other the apprentice at the family apothecary – together they sell their goods on the frozen River Thames. When a family tragedy turns Thomasina’s world upside down, she is drawn to a mysterious conjuror and the enchanted frost fair.

But soon the world of Father Winter threatens to claim everything she holds dear. Will they be able to solve the magical mysteries that surround them…?

Frostheart by Jamie Littler

Set off on a magical and hilarious adventure on the Frostheart!

Bursting with brilliant characters, heart-stopping adventure and tons of laughs, this magical tale is perfect for fans of Nevermoor, Frozen and How to Train Your Dragon!

Way out in the furthest part of the known world, a tiny stronghold exists all on its own, cut off from the rest of human-kin by monsters that lurk beneath the Snow Sea.

There, a boy called Ash waits for the return of his parents, singing a forbidden lullaby to remind him of them… and doing his best to avoid his very, VERY grumpy yeti guardian, Tobu.

But life is about to get a whole lot more crazy-adventurous for Ash.

The Last Bear by Hannah Gold

There are no polar bears left on Bear Island. At least, that’s what April’s father tells her when his scientific research takes them to this remote Arctic outpost for six months. But one endless summer night, April meets one. He is starving, lonely and a long way from home. Determined to save him, April begins the most important journey of her life…

This moving story will win the hearts of children the world over and show them that no one is too young or insignificant to make a difference. The Last Bear is a celebration of the love between a child and an animal, a battle cry for our world and an irresistible adventure with a heart as big as a bear’s.

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

The number-one-bestselling, magical first children’s novel from Tom Fletcher.

This is a story about a boy named William Trundle and a dinosaur named the Christmasaurus.

It’s about how they meet one Christmas Eve and have a magical adventure. It’s about friendship and families, sleigh bells and Santa, singing elves and flying reindeer.

It’s about discovering your heart’s true desire, and learning that the impossible might just be possible

The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

Part ghost story, part Nordic mystery – a creepy and chilling tale steeped in Norse myth, perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Michelle Paver’s DARK MATTER.

Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma’s cabin and became blind in one eye.

Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor – only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.

Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in…

Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, THE TWISTED TREE is a ghost story that twists and turns – and never takes you quite where you’d expect.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

Enter the young adult world of Susan Cooper. Perfect for fans of His Dark Materials.

It’s Christmas-time in the Stanton family house: presents, carol singing, good cheer. But for eleven-year-old Will Stanton, something sinister has begun, inching round his subconscious, shouting silent warnings he can’t decipher. Then on Midwinter Day, Will wakes up to a different world: silent, covered in snow and ancient forest, a world of another time. A world where evil lurks.

Because Will is not the ordinary boy he always thought he was. He is the last of the Old Ones and the power to vanquish the evil magic of the Dark lies within him.

The Raven and the Reindeer by T Kingfisher

When Gerta’s friend Kay is stolen away by the mysterious Snow Queen, it’s up to Gerta to find him. Her journey will take her through a dangerous land of snow and witchcraft, accompanied only by a bandit and a talking raven. Can she win her friend’s release, or will following her heart take her to unexpected places?

A strange, sly retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “Snow Queen,” by T. Kingfisher, author of “Bryony and Roses” and “The Seventh Bride.”

Midnight in Everwood by Mia Kuzniar

In the darkness of night, magic awaits…

Nottingham, 1906

Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but, as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered – she must marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But, when a mysterious toymaker, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in Marietta’s life.

After Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance on Christmas Eve, Marietta discovers it carries a magic all of its own – a magic darker than anyone could imagine. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself transported from her family’s ballroom to a frozen sugar palace, silent with secrets, in a forest of snow-topped fir trees. She must find a way to return home before she’s trapped in Everwood’s enchanting grip forever.

In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here…

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Beware the evil in the woods…

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods…

Atmospheric and enchanting, with an engrossing adventure at its core, The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone

When Bee Hobbes takes the lead in a squeaky-clean romantic Christmas movie, there are only three rules:

1. Don’t get involved with anyone on set.
2. Don’t tell anyone what you do for a living.
3. Definitely don’t get involved with anyone on set.
3b. Seriously.

Now, she’s filming in Christmas Notch, a small town with Christmas trees and festive tunes all year round.

But Bee’s got a secret identity to hide, and it’s not family-friendly. And her co-star, Nolan Shaw, an ex-boyband member infamous for his own x-rated antics, not only knows it, but is secretly her biggest fan.

When things start to heat up on set, Bee and Nolan must keep this steamy affair under wraps, or risk ruining everything…

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

It is Christmas Eve. The Lee family reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture, followed by a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed.

But when Hercule Poirot, who is staying in the village with a friend for Christmas, offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man…

Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree – A Review by Bryony

“The combined aromas of hot cinnamon, ground coffee, and sweet cardamom intoxicated her, and as she brewed and smiled and served and chatted, a deep contentment welled up. It was a glowing warmth she’d never experienced before, and she liked it. She liked it a great deal.”

Rating: 4 stars

Release date: 10/11/2022

Publisher: Tor

Author: Travis Baldree

Rep: Sapphic romance

High fantasy, low stakes – with a double-shot of coffee.

After decades of adventuring, Viv the orc barbarian is finally hanging up her sword for good. Now she sets her sights on a new dream – for she plans to open the first coffee shop in the city of Thune. Even though no one there knows what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the past behind her, she can’t go it alone. And help might arrive from unexpected quarters. Yet old rivals and new stand in the way of success. And Thune’s shady underbelly could make it all too easy for Viv to take up the blade once more.

But the true reward of the uncharted path is the travellers you meet along the way. Whether bound by ancient magic, delicious pastries or a freshly brewed cup, they may become something deeper than Viv ever could have imagined.

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree is a cosy, heartwarming slice-of-life fantasy about found families and fresh starts – perfect for fans of TJ Klune, Katherine Addison and T. Kingfisher.

Legends and Lattes was the perfect book to read when I was in the mood for cosy fantasy.

It was low stakes – no events that made my heart feel like it was going to fall out my chest, worrying.

It was comforting – the characters were happy, they liked each other.

It was a really interesting, unusual premise – an orc starting a coffee shop in a town that’s never heard of coffee?

It’s full of so many “different” characters, so many “monsters” that just work together happily for a shared goal. It was also casually queer.

I loved the coffee they brewed and the baked goods they made (it has low-key sparked a baking motivation in me, I even made cinnamon buns the other week!) I’d love to order a coffee and cinnamon bun, and sit in Viv’s cafe for a while.

The Miraculous Sweetmakers: The Frost Fair by Natasha Hastings – A Review by Bryony – BLOG TOUR

“You don’t have to be the same as you always were. People change when things happen to them. It isn’t a bad thing.”

Rating: 3 stars

Release date: 27/10/2022

Publisher: Harper Collins Childrens

Author: Natasha Hastings

An amazing and captivating, curl-up-on-the-sofa debut about a magical frost fair and the lasting power of friendship.

It’s a cold winter during the Great Frost of 1683. Thomasina and Anne are the best of friends, one running her father’s sweet shop and the other the apprentice at the family apothecary – together they sell their goods on the frozen River Thames. When a family tragedy turns Thomasina’s world upside down, she is drawn to a mysterious conjuror and the enchanted frost fair.

But soon the world of Father Winter threatens to claim everything she holds dear. Will they be able to solve the magical mysteries that surround them…?

The Miraculous Sweetmakers was a heartfelt winter fantasy, set against themes of grief and newfound friendship.

The setting of this book was fantastical. You could feel the cold seeping into your bones, and you could also feel wonder and excitement at the magic. It was beautiful to look at, but you could also feel an underlying sense of unease, something being not quite right but being unable to work out what.

I liked the characters in this and how they had changed by the end. Inigo particularly grew on me as the book went on, and I loved the animals.

The friendships in this were great – I loved that Thomasina found herself through her friendship with Anne because Anne gave her room to be herself.

The book had grief running through it and I feel it was good to see how it can affect each person differently. I liked at the end it didn’t feel like they had to move past their grief but just learn to live with it, and that it was still okay to be affected.

This’ll be a perfect book to read on a winters night, tucked up under blankets with a hot chocolate and a big bit of cake.

Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes – A Review by Bryony

“This particular monster is assaulted, abused and vilified. And yet, as the story is always told, she is the one you should fear. She is the monster. We’ll see about that.”

Rating: 4 stars

Release date: 15/09/2022

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Author: Natalie Haynes

CW: Rape, death, murder, injury, war

‘So to mortal men, we are monsters. Because of our flight, our strength. They fear us, so they call us monsters.’

Medusa is the sole mortal in a family of gods. Growing up with her Gorgon sisters, she begins to realize that she is the only one who experiences change, the only one who can be hurt. And her mortal lifespan gives her an urgency that her family will never know.

When the sea god Poseidon commits an unforgivable act in the temple of Athene, the goddess takes her revenge where she can – and Medusa is changed forever. Writhing snakes replace her hair, and her gaze now turns any living creature to stone. The power cannot be controlled: Medusa can look at nothing without destroying it. She is condemned to a life of shadows and darkness.

Until Perseus embarks upon a quest to fetch the head of a Gorgon…

In Stone Blind, Natalie Haynes – the Women’s Prize-shortlisted author of A Thousand Ships – brings the infamous Medusa to life as you have never seen her before…

Natalie Haynes is one of my favourite writers to revisit Greek mythology. She makes them accessible and easy to read, and often humorous too. She also takes such a vast set of characters and uses them to explore a single story.

I love the story of Medusa, so I was really excited to see Natalie Haynes put her twist on it. I didn’t realise how many stories could be linked to Medusa’s though. Every time she introduced a tale or characters that seemed unconnected, it was just a waiting game – why were three sisters and a snake relevant? why did we need to know about the king of Ethiopia?

I really enjoyed that this book made Medusa human. It really emphasised that she wasn’t just a monster. She had a relationship with her sisters who loved her and she loved back. And she stood up for something she believed in when confronted by Poseidon, even though she was still scared.

I thoroughly enjoyed!