The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Neil Gaiman

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.          Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.          A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

This book is so amazing. This edition is one of the most stunning on my shelves and sits pride-of-place with many of my other favourites!

Neil Gaiman is, for many, the king of paranormal, fantasy fiction. And, being the winner of the GoodReads Choice Awards in 2013, it’s become a timeless piece.

We follow the nameless boy through his early years of living with his single father. And when he brings home a lodger and asks the nameless boy to move into his older sisters room, everything changes.

On one of his wanderings around his hometown, he meets Lettie Hempstock, a girl who claims to have seen the moon being made and adamant that the pond on her estate is an ocean.

I was absolutely gripped from the start by this book. This was so lyrical and had some very thought provoking messages of life, death, friendship and memories. The overall message, to me, is a different take of reincarnation. That we simply let the earth and water heal our hurt bodies and gives it back when the time is right, that no one truly dies.

The illustrations by Elise Hurst are absolutely beautiful and really adds to the story, making the suspenseful, darker and more gothic. I adored that the illustration was done using simple line-shading and negative space, leaving you to imagine how the characters look.

All in all, I absolutely loved this tale and its messages. I would have to put this as a firm-favourite of mine and this edition is an absolute treasure.


Hardcover Illustrated Edition

336 pages

Published – 12 November 2019

Publishing Company – Headline

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A Court of Wings and Ruin

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A Court of Thorns and Roses #3


Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places. In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

The third instalment in the famous series by Sarah J. Maas.

With the first two being filled with suspense, anticipation and action, there was quite a high expectation from me.

We continue to follow Feyre after we were left with her returning to the Spring Court with Tamlin as a spy to gather as much information for the impending war with the High King. Her sisters struggle to accept and adjust to their new lives as fae and try to control their powers. And we see the relationship between Feyre, Rhysand and their Valerian family grow despite everything that is fighting against them.

Though, I still enjoyed this read, it wasn’t quite as unpredictable as the last. I found the writing to feel very determined to remain suspenseful and keep building, but it felt forced. There wasn’t as many erotic scenes as before, which I was very grateful for!

Maas’ descriptive writing is excellent, as usual and consistently shows her incredible imagination and creative writing. As we get to the stories end, I can’t deny that I both rolled my eyes and felt a pull at my heart-strings despite it turning into a trope-ending.

Though, I still continue to have an internal debate that this feels like more of a new-adult fantasy novel, I can’t deny that it was fun and packed-full of great characters, plots and descriptive writing. I would recommend this as something worth reading if you’re drawn to high-fantasy with dynamic storylines and a large cast of characters.


Hardcover

699 pages

Published – 2nd May 2017

Publishing Company – Bloomsbury Childrens


Audiobook

25h 9m

Published – 2nd May 2017

Publishing Company – Recorded Books

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A Court of Mist and Fury

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Court of Thorns and Roses #2


Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people. Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world torn apart.

The second phase of the ACOTAR series, we delve into the aftermath of Feyre’s trials to save Tamlin and Prythian.

After escaping to the spring court, Feyre is beginning to get lost in her memories and nightmares of the night she killed to save Tamlin and when she was killed. Which is understandable! As we progress through the first third of the book, we learn that Tamlin is also struggling with his memories and is determined to protect Feyre… At any cost. And as we find out that Feyre hasn’t only inherited life from all the court-leaders but also some of their gifts. Begging Tamlin to allow her to train and learn to control this power, she is refused and the expectations of being married to Tamlin in the Spring Court are too much for her human desire for freedom.

Rhysand, through the tattoo on Feyre after their bargain, feels her desperation to escape her new confines and offers his court of dreams as her safe-haven and to teach her to read, write and her power and how to control and harness it. But the more time they spend together, something begins between them.

As always, Maas’ ability to create these wonderfully imagined characters and the world that surrounds them is astounding. In every stage of these books, we learn more and more about the world, politics and traditions.

When my attention began to drift from the book, she instantly has something else to snap your attention back. It feels like she really was thorough with her edits on this to make sure it really was as good as it can be.

That said, I had the same issue with this as I did with the first instalment. That being the erotic scenes at so many points in this. Literally the first chapter is all erotic! Call me old-fashioned but I’ve never felt comfortable with these and they just make me cringe, so I skip through them. I tend to expect this in adult books but, as I said before, this is a YA fantasy that blurs the line between that and adult fiction. That said, I really did enjoy this, and this author has become a solid favourite in my books. I can’t wait to see what the final book has in store for me!


Hardcover

626 pages

Published – 3rd May 2016

Publishing Company – Bloomsbury USA Childrens


Audiobook

23h 17m

Published – 3rd May 2016

Publishing Company – Recorder Books

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Murder Most Festive

Books, Pink in Ink

Ada Moncrieff

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Situated in Christmas of 1938, we join a group of high-class characters in the luxurious Westbury Manor with Lord and Lady Westbury hosting this extravagant celebration. But, on Christmas morning, Lord Westbury’s oldest friend, David Campbell-Scott is discovered with crimson tarnishing the fresh-winter snow. They all know that something is amiss with the circumstances surrounding his demise, but can they discover the truth before all depart from their hosts home?

This had me sold just from the time-setting. I just love reading of this era in our history and imagining the absolute luxe that came with high-status.

The writing style was excellent, using the language that was very reminiscent of the time and the social interactions between each of the characters. Ada Moncrieff didn’t shy away from the obvious divide between men and women and the sexism that very much happened throughout our history and the changes that began to occur after the first world-war.

The plot had a air of similarity to Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan-Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and can’t deny that throughout reading it I pictured the estate and characters of Downton Abbey… Need I say, I wasn’t mad about it! It added more adoration of this tale for me.

Throughout the book, we are from a third-person perspective, giving insight into all the key-players thoughts and characteristics. It lent itself to a real feel of detective work where you are, just as much as the characters, trying to unravel the mystery. At the books climax, I was also in disbelief at the reveal and found myself eagerly reading on to find out why and how!

For Ada Moncrieff’s debut novel, she really did an amazing job. Having a setting during Christmas, as we know, leads to countless cheesy movies being played on Channel 4 from the end of October (until we all go mad!), and some very typical ‘Christmas Miracle’ tales… But this had none of that. It had enough festivity for it to feel like it was the big day but it didn’t take away anything of the drama and intrigue.

Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more publications by this author.

A huge thank-you to NetGalley and the publisher, Vintage, for the advanced copy to sink my teeth into!

Murder Most Festive is available now available as a physical book and e-Book.


Paperback

336 pages

Published – 05/11/2020

Publishing Company – Vintage


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A Court of Thorns and Roses

Audiobooks, Books, Pink in Ink

Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Court of Thorns and Roses #1


Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …          Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

This fictional fantasy screams Beauty and the Beast for me. Just by the plot alone, it doesn’t seem like a retelling, on first glance. Being that my favourite Disney movie when I was growing up, there was big shoes to fill!

I’ve read Maas’ most recent release (Crescent City-House of Earth and Blood) and was just blown away by the saturation of it. I had a book-hangover for a few days after and was desperate to read more of this series… but, alas, I have to wait. So what’s as good as the next book in a series? Another series from the same author!

I would say that this is on the very border of YA and closer to the New Adult category. There were a few erotic scenes that really push that boundary. But maybe this is what our young adults are reading these days!

Is it just me that is rather confused by the definition of Young Adult and New Adult?

Anyway, our protagonist, Feyre is of poor origins with the continual burden of getting food on her families table. She is a very stubborn woman with the raw determination to protect anyone she cares about and to not be confined by her human form.

Our antagonist, Tamlin, is a dashing High Lord in the Spring Court of Prythian. Unable to tell Feyre of his curse and is falling in love with her, he finds determination to protect her from the malevolent forces that have plagued him for years.

The plot was rather predictable, given that it’s very reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, but was no less enjoyable! In fact, I just became more invested as it went on. With curses, faerie lands, the divide between human and faerie, the mysterious confines of Tamlin’s curse and the gut-twisting fetes that Feyre will go to prove her love.

I spent a while really deciding where I would put this in my ratings but settled on a four-star because it was a well-written novel and I really did enjoy every second but it wasn’t a solid favourite for me. There were a few moments where I rolled my eyes, those being the riddle that Feyre is given to save the fate of Prythian and, of course, the erotic scenes. I’m never one to find these scenes exciting, more cringey and uncomfortable. Especially when this is marketed for young adults and pushed that bar a bit too far across the border.

I mostly listened to the audiobook for this, narrated by Jennifer Ikeda, who did a fantastic job at portraying the characters and their emotions throughout the book.

I would recommend this, more to new adults who want to transition reading more adult fiction.


Hardcover

419 pages

Published – 5th May 2015

Publishing Company – Bloomsbury USA Childrens


Audiobook

16h 8m

Published – 1st February 2018

Publishing Company – Audible

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House of Earth and Blood

Audiobooks, Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Crescent City #1


Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.          Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.          As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.          With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

This book was one Hel of a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve never read such a full, saturated story in many years. I laughed, I cried, my heart broke, my soul sang. I can’t explain it any better than that.

Bryce is, as you’d expect after her best friend is murdered, wears both physical and emotional scars. Determined to solve her murder, she falls into all the worst possible scenarios but our antagonist, Hunt; a slave to the Archangels, begins as stand-off-ish character with a lot of his own opinions, right or wrong… but who wouldn’t be if you were enslaved!


I was unsure of the world and the characters at the beginning and in the middle of the book but the final half of this book was what really sold me. Every little detail in this book was part of the story and it all came together so brilliantly. Also, I wish Hunt really existed because I was swooning! The love story in this was amazing and the ups were so sweet and heart-warming and the downs really felt like a break-up.

I did a combination of listening to the audiobook and physically reading this purely because I wanted to keep reading it when I was doing chores. The voice actor, Elizabeth Evans, was amazing at really bringing the characters alive more than they were already. After I started listening, I kept hearing Evans voice for Bryce because it fit so well to the character I pictured.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so invested in characters before.

This is the first book from Sarah J. Maas I’ve read and already have another popular series of hers waiting to be read.

Amazing, shocking and enchanting. I can’t recommend this enough! For her first novel in the adult-fantasy world, it was incredible. I can’t wait to see where this series goes.


Hardcover

803 pages

Published – 3rd March 2020

Publishing Company – Bloomsbury Publishing

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