Upcoming Releases: Summer 2022

As a mainly-sff reader, summer isn’t usually the most exciting month for me in terms of new releases… but over the last couple of years I’ve been getting more and more into romance (and learning more about what I like in romance novels), and summer is absolutely an exciting season for romance releases! 💕 So here’s what I’m most looking forward to in June, July & August:

[All dates are taken from Goodreads unless stated otherwise, and are correct as of 5/6/2022.]

For the Throne by Hannah Whitten (9th June)

First up is the sequel to For the Wolf, a Beauty & the Beast-esque fantasy that I read & loved last year, in which Red, the second princess of Valleyda, is sacrificed to the Wolf of the Wilderwood by her people, in hopes that he will return their gods to them. For the Throne carries on from For the Wolf‘s dramatic ending, but will, I presume, have more of a focus on Red’s sister Neve – who was my favourite character in the last book, so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of her! 😆 (Side-note: I pre-ordered this in the Orbit sale last month and my copy shipped early! I’m not going to have the chance to read it straight away, but it’s pretty cool to have it in my hands already!) Excitement level: 8/10

Infamous by Lex Croucher (21st July)

Croucher’s second novel – though unrelated to the first – is another Regency-era rom-com, from the sounds of it, and I’m absolutely dying to get my hands on it. Reputation was one of my favourite books of last year, and if Infamous has even half the charm and wit, I’m sure to love it, too! 💕 Featuring (as far as I can tell): childhood sweethearts who are growing apart, and an artists’ retreat at a gothic estate. Excitement level: 9/10

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood (23rd August)

A new science-y romance from the author of The Love Hypothesis (which I only just read, and didn’t expect to love nearly as much as I did), featuring two college rivals who end up co-leading a project together at NASA. I’m not sure if its fandom history helped or hindered my enjoyment of The Love Hypothesis, but I’m looking forward to finding out! ☺️ … & Ali Hazelwood seems to be on a roll this summer, as two of her STEMinist novellas will also be getting physical releases soon: Stuck with You (7th June) and Below Zero (5th July)!   Excitement level: 7/10

Honourable Mentions:

  • The Martyr by Anthony Ryan (28th June) – the sequel to The Pariah, which I haven’t read but am very excited for.
  • A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers (12th July) – the second in the Monk and Robot novella series.
  • Husband Material by Alexis Hall (2nd August) – the sequel to Boyfriend Material.
  • Vampire Hunter D: Omnibus 2 by Hideyuki Kikuchi (31st August) – a bind-up of books 4 to 6 in the futuristic horror series, Vampire Hunter D.

Review: Terciel & Elinor by Garth Nix

When an ill wind blows from the North, the magic of the Old Kingdom arrives with it, completely upending Elinor’s idyllic but isolated life. Meanwhile across the Wall, Abhorsen-in-Waiting Terciel trains to take on a role he feels he’ll never be ready for, and can only hope that he and his master together will be strong enough to finally lay to rest the Greater Dead creature that’s haunted their family for generations.

Terciel & Elinor is the sixth book in the Old Kingdom series, which began with Sabriel in 1995, and serves as a prequel to that book.

The Old Kingdom has been one of my favourite series for a long time now, and although I don’t feel like the more recent books quite live up to the awesomeness of the original trilogy (and nostalgia has certainly played a part in my enjoyment of them), I’ve still really loved them all. This is always such a wonderful world to revisit, and Terciel & Elinor has all the eerie vibes I’ve come to expect – along with a heavy dose of cuteness in the form of it’s two new protagonists, who I quickly grew very attached to. In particular, I found Elinor’s perspective a lot of fun; her unusual upbringing combining with her natural good sense and stubborn resolve makes her journey continuously entertaining.

I was also surprised by how much I liked the romance in this; given that I’m used to thinking of Terciel and Elinor as just “Sabriel’s parents” (and Terciel in the original trilogy was such a distant, formal-seeming character, more often referred to by his title than his name), I wasn’t expecting to ship them so hard. 💕 Many of their interactions were a little awkward, as they’re both fairly naïve, but it was incredibly endearing to see them growing closer.

Perhaps because of the greater focus on romance, I found myself mentally comparing it a lot to Goldenhand – but plot-wise, I think that Terciel & Elinor is a lot stronger, and it probably has my favourite storyline of the more recent books. The writing, as expected, is excellent; I was quickly drawn into the story, and it held on tight the whole way through. In fact, I blew through this in just two days, which is something that’s only happened a few times in the last few years… 😅

Overall: an excellent novel. I perhaps wouldn’t recommend it as a starting point to the series, but if you like The Old Kingdom, you’ll like this, and if you don’t like The Old Kingdom, you clearly haven’t read it yet, and should definitely get on that. 😋

Upcoming Releases: Spring 2022

Spring looks like it’s going to be pretty packed for new releases! It was kind of a struggle paring this list down… but that just means there’s more to be excited about! 😅 Here’s what I’m most looking forward to in March, April & May:

[All dates are taken from Goodreads unless stated otherwise, and are correct as of 7/3/2022.]

Alone Out Here by Riley Redgate (5th April)

A standalone sci-fi following a group of the teenage children of world leaders, who are the lone survivors of the apocalypse. I’ve never read anything by Riley Redgate before, and have been having rather so-so luck with YA in general lately, but I keep hearing this pitched as “Lord of the Flies in space”, which makes me very intrigued. 😊 Excitement level: 7/10

Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse (19th April)

The sequel to my maybe-favourite book of last year, Black Sun, and my for-certain most anticipated release of this year! 😆 Black Sun followed a collection of characters – the vessel for an ancient god, a disgraced sea-captain, and a priestess surrounded by enemies – in the lead-up to a solar eclipse that is prophesied to throw the world into chaos… and it ended on a huge cliffhanger! So I expect to be picking up Fevered Star as soon as I possibly can. Excitement level: ∞/10

The Imagination Chamber by Philip Pullman (28th April)

… To be honest I’m not entirely sure what this is. 😅 It describes itself as a companion to the His Dark Materials series, “full of scenes featuring the iconic characters from Pullman’s classic fantasy series”, but beyond that I’m drawing a blank. An art book (though I haven’t seen any artists credited anywhere)? New stories from the HDM world? A bind-up of existing stories? Whatever it is, I’m sold! (… but also I would really like to know what this is.)  Excitement level: 6/10

Book Lovers by Emily Henry (5th May)

A new romance from the author or Beach Read and You & Me on Vacation, featuring an editor and a literary agent who keep running into each other on holiday – despite their best efforts. I skipped over Henry’s last novel as the synopsis wasn’t appealing to me, but I loved Beach Read, and Book Lovers sounds very much like it’ll be cut from the same cloth… or at least I hope it will! I probably won’t pick this up straight away, as I need to be in a very particular mood for straight-up romance, but I know what I’ll be reaching for as soon as that mood hits! 😁 Excitement level: 7/10

Honourable Mentions:

  • Eternity Engine by Struan Murray (17th March) – the final book in the Orphans of the Tide trilogy.
  • Skyward Flight by Brandon Sanderson (5th April) – a collection of short stories from the Skyward universe.
  • Elektra by Jennifer Saint (28th April) – a new Greek mythology retelling from the author of Ariadne.
  • Book of Night by Holly Black (3rd May) – Holly Black’s adult debut; a dark, urban fantasy following a con-artist with the power to manipulate shadows.

#Polarthon Update 2

JUST FINISHED: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik.

The daughter of a moneylender too kind to take back what he’s owed, Miryem takes it upon herself to restore her family’s fortunes, with prodigious success. But when a careless boast that she can turn silver to gold catches the attention of the Staryk king, she finds herself caught in a bargain that will either kill her, or take her from her home and her family forever.

This was such a brilliant, atmospheric read; a sinister, freezing world, and three great protagonists, each with their own compelling journeys and character arcs. Wanda – whose story was the most grounded of the three – was probably my favourite, but I loved both Miryem and Irina as well, and even the book’s two villains (the tsar and the Staryk king) turned out to be really interesting characters once we came to know them.

The book did suffer from having a few too many POV characters, though. There were the aforementioned three protagonists (Miryem, Wanda and Irina), whose separate perspectives made sense as they each had their own storylines, but three more (if I recall correctly) were added later on, and although I liked most of these chapters, none of them really offered anything that we couldn’t have been shown through the protagonists’ eyes – except perhaps the single (I think) chapter from Mirnatius’ perspective, the presence of which was its own kind of (mildly) baffling.

Additionally, none of the characters’ voices were particularly distinct, and I often had to read a bit into a scene before being able to tell whose perspective I was reading from; during one chapter in particular, I remember having to constantly go back and re-check small details in previous passages to remind myself that I was reading about Irina, not Miryem. This wasn’t much of a problem for most of the book, when the characters’ lives were very dissimilar, but became more of one as the three plotlines came together…

And as for the plot, it was occasionally confusing, and a little contrived towards the end, but ultimately very satisfying. It took quite a while for the story to really get started, too, but I can hardly complain about how much of the beginning was spent on building up the world and characters and atmosphere when they were my favourite things about this book! 😋

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Done. 👍 I didn’t quite manage to make it to the end of my climb – the last book on my TBR was A Winter’s Promise – but I’m pretty pleased with how much I managed to read… and how good both books were! 😁 Spinning Silver was for the foiled cover and icy magic challenges (and would also be for the polar fantasy challenge, if tripling-up was allowed… but alas).

Books Read: 2
Pages Read: 808
Challenges Completed: 4/5

#Polarthon Update 1

JUST FINISHED: Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray.

When she finds a strange boy, still alive inside the belly of a dead whale, Ellie is the only person in the Last City who believes that he’s not the new Vessel of the Enemy; the god that drowned the world, and has tormented the City ever since. But proving Seth’s innocence will be a dangerous task, and saving him – and herself – a near-impossible one.

A fun adventure in an interesting, post-apocalyptic world, and a powerful portrayal of grief, love and loyalty. It took me a little while to get invested in the story and characters, but there was a big reveal about a third of the way through that really upped the stakes, and after that, I was completely hooked. All three of the main characters were really great, too, and I loved the bonds that grew between them over the course of the story. 💕

Shipwreck Island, the next book in this series, is already out, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where it will take these characters; Ellie’s personal arc seemed to wrap-up pretty neatly in this book, but I’m hoping that we’ll learn a lot more about Seth’s mysterious origins in the next two… and that we’ll hear some more from Anna! 🤞

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Happy to have wrapped up my first book on day 1! 🎶 This was for the first two challenges on the Explorers’ path (an adventure and a cold word), and my second read – for the next two challenges – will be Spinning Silver.

Books Read: 1
Pages Read: 342
Challenges Completed: 2/5

Review: The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

Ridden with debt after a disastrous business deal, Beatrice Clayborn knows that her family is counting on her to raise their fortunes with an advantageous marriage… And when she catches the attention of Ianthe Lavan – clever, handsome, kind, and extraordinarily rich – it seems as though she may succeed! But Beatrice’s first and truest love has always been magic; marriage will mean giving that up, and that’s a sacrifice that she’s not sure that she’s willing to make – even for the best man she’s ever known.

I picked up this book almost on a whim (checking out the audiobook after regretting not buying a second-hand hardcover) and was completely taken aback by how much it captivated me! I loved the main characters, the story had me hooked, and the world – a Regency-flavoured fantasy world with a magic system based around summoning spirits – was delightfully intriguing (& I’ve listed a few similar-feeling titles at the end of this review, for those interested).

The romance between Beatrice and Ianthe was also very sweet, and I was super-invested in all its ups and downs; I loved how respectful Ianthe was of Beatrice’s dilemma, and how willing he was to listen to and try to understand her perspective – even though his own advantage in the world was very much linked to her disadvantage…

But! My favourite relationships in this book by far were the friendships. 💕 Beatrice makes a couple of bargains very early on in the book – one with Ianthe’s sister Ysbeta, and another with a character who I won’t spoil for you – and it was such a joy to see those very mercenary relationships blossom into true, deep friendships as the story goes on. Ysbeta was my favourite character of the bunch, and I would absolutely be shipping her with Beatrice if I weren’t so in love with their platonic relationship. 😍

If The Midnight Bargain has any flaw, it’s that its feminist message is a bit heavy-handed, which occasionally made me take it a bit less seriously… but never for more than a heartbeat. And given that it’s a message I whole-heartedly agree with, I was glad to find it so tightly entwined into such a great story.

COMPARABLE TITLES (mostly in terms of the world-building and magic):

2021 in Review: Highlights

Well, the world may still be crazy, but in terms of reading, 2021 ended up pretty great! I blew my Goodreads goal out of the water (though I had deliberately set it low so that I wouldn’t stress over it this year) with 98 books read, and so many of them were fantastic! 😆 I finally got around to starting a bookstagram account in April, and I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going so far… and if I do say so myself, my 2021 My Year in Books page is looking pretty neat. 😋

As for some specific book stuff, I started some excellent new fantasy series last year. Notably, The Stormlight Archive (which has been a very long time coming); Black Sun (which has left me on tenterhooks for the sequel); and The Tiger’s Daughter (a sapphic, Mongolian-inspired fantasy with a heavy focus on its central love story – though I’m very much looking forward to more demon-fighting in the rest of the series).

I also did a lot of re-reading this year, and I’m pleased to say that a couple of the books I re-read, I liked even better than the first time around, those being Komarr, which I now rate among my all-time favourites, and The Edge of the Cloud, which was a burst of nostalgia that came at the perfect moment. And speaking of nostalgia, I managed to end the year on a real high point with Terciel & Elinor, a new prequel to a series that’s been one of my favourites since I was a teenager. ☺️

This was a great year for romance, too! It’s not a genre I’ve ever been super-into, but (like many people, I think), I’ve been appreciating it a lot in the last couple of years, and am definitely hoping to read more in 2022. Some of my favourites were Kulti (a slow-burn sports romance), Beach Read (a fun rivals-to-lovers story), as well as the political sci-fi romance Winter’s Orbit, and the Regency-inspired fantasy romance The Midnight Bargain.

… And my summer in general somehow ended up being very Regency-themed, with me (kind of accidentally) participating in #JaneAustenJuly. At long last, I read Persuasion, the last (completed) Austen novel I had left – and it was well worth the wait. 😁 I re-listened to Pride & Prejudice on my summer holiday not long after, inspired by a couple of spin-offs and continuations of that story that I’d been enjoying; namely Longbourn and The Other Bennet Sister.

And last but not least, an unexpected favourite (though also somewhat Austen-adjacent) was the Mean Girls inspired Regency rom-com Reputation. I was nervous to pick this one up, as I’ve historically had pretty bad luck with authors who I initially liked for other reasons (Lex Croucher, who wrote Reputation, is also a youtuber), but it was absolutely hilarious, and the perfect book for the moment in which I read it. 🎶 I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for their next release, Gwen & Art Are Not in Love, which should be out in early 2023. 🤞

(ROUGH) TOP 10:

  1. Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold* [REVIEW]
  2. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
  3. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson [REVIEW]
  4. Terciel & Elinor by Garth Nix
  5. The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk
  6. The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera
  7. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  8. The Edge of the Cloud by K.M. Peyton*
  9. Reputation by Lex Croucher
  10. Longbourn by Jo Baker [REVIEW]

(*Re-reads included only where I’ve changed my rating.)

October & November Wrap-Up

Some more really great reads in the last couple of months (including what  might be a new favourite)! 😁 I was a little bit slumpy at the end of October/beginning of November, so there’s not a huge number of books here, but quality-wise, it’s been a really great autumn! 🍁🍁🍁

BOOKS I REVIEWED

[REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

OTHER BOOKS I READ

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater.

A sequel/companion novel to the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, following Isabel and Cole as they attempt to put their lives back together, and sustain a relationship. I don’t remember the original trilogy super-well at this point (it’s been literally years, and I could definitely do with a re-read), but despite (or maybe because of) her general antagonism towards the protagonists, Isabel was always my favourite character. And happily, I still loved her in Sinner! Which is a good thing, as it’s a pretty character-driven book.

The story mainly revolves around Cole moving to LA in order to be closer to Isabel, and the chaos that follows him wherever he goes getting between them, which I might have found annoying if it’d been written by a less skilled writer (or about characters that I cared less for)… but as it is, Sinner was a pretty enjoyable ride; the romance was great, the conflicts realistic, and the characters compelling… and it was really lovely to be back in this world. 😊

Kulti by Mariana Zapata.

Successful soccer player Sal Casillas is astonished to find that her former idol Reiner Kulti is about to become her team’s new coach… and seems determined to be a complete dick to her. I loved this book so much (and must now devour every other book Mariana Zapata has written)! It’s a very slow-burn enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romance, with two great lead characters, and enough going on beyond the romance that I was never bored (which tends to be a problem for me with romances), even though it’s a pretty long book. 💕

Lusus Naturae by Alison Goodman. [SHORT STORY]

A quick story from the world of The Dark Days Club, which re-tells Lady Helen and Lord Carlston’s first meeting, but from Carlston’s perspective. I liked this; it was quick, and a little nostalgic, but Carlston’s thoughts and feelings upon meeting Helen weren’t anything unexpected, and I don’t feel like the story really added anything to the series.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes.

The first book in the Falling Kingdoms series, which centres around three kingdoms on the brink of war, and the search for an ancient magic that will restore the continent’s dying land. Re-reading this wasn’t part of my reading plans for November, but I’m glad to have picked it up anyway; I kind of hate the storyline of this series, as well as the world and most of the characters, but somehow it’s weirdly addictive? Cleo and Magnus (who are two of the three primary characters), though not at their best in this book, are definite bright spots of the series, and it was fun to revisit their beginnings – even though my general opinion of this book hasn’t changed.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.

The two Owens sisters grow up under suspicion of witchcraft, and desperate to escape their hometown – but life away from their childhood home comes with unexpected challenges, and the more that they try to stay apart, the more that they find that they need each other.

I liked the almost dream-like writing in this, and found both Sally and Gillian (as well as Sally’s younger daughter Kylie) to be compelling leads, but wasn’t hugely invested in either the plot or the romances, unfortunately… The book seemed to wander kind of aimlessly through the sisters’ lives without coming to any real point until near the end, and all the love interests were introduced really suddenly, and neither they nor their relationships were ever really fleshed out much. I found myself wondering if this book is only so famous because the film (which I’ve heard is very different from the book) was very popular? Because I liked it, but didn’t think it was really anything special… And I probably won’t be revisiting this world for the sequel/prequels.

Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Grover Gardner; SHORT STORY COLLECTION]

A collection of three of Miles’ adventures, framed by an original story for this collection in which Miles recovers from bone-replacement surgery – an important episode in his life, even if the tale in itself isn’t the most gripping. The three short stories were all ones I’d read before, but I enjoyed revisiting them a lot, and bumped up my individual ratings for both The Borders of Infinity (which I was much more invested in this time around), and The Mountains of Mourning (which I honestly thought I’d given five stars already… but apparently not). Labyrinth is my least favourite of the bunch, but still an entertaining read (/listen).

Red at Night by Katie McGarry. [SHORT STORY]

A quick story from the Pushing the Limits universe, in which the popular Jonah begins to spend time at the graveyard after a traumatic accident, only to find that it’s “Trash Can Girl” Stella’s favourite spot. This was cute, and I liked both the main characters, but it was too short, and moved to quickly for me to really feel like I’d got to know either of them, or (consequently) for me to get invested in their future. My favourite scenes: their first graveyard-talk, and when Stella took Jonah to volunteer with her.

Eve of Man by Giovanna & Tom Fletcher.

In a dystopian near-future where the birth rate for girls has drastically declined, Eve – the last girl to be born – is humanity’s only hope for survival. No rating for this one; I DNFd it almost halfway through, because whoever came up with the plan to save humanity was clearly an idiot, and I was so frequently reminded of the fact that I was unable to enjoy any other part of the book. I’ve been informed (by a friend who did read the whole thing) that some of my issues with the plot are addressed in the second half, but regardless, I have no plans of picking this up again.

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Moira Quirk]

Beatrice plans to restore her family’s fortunes by summoning a greater spirit of luck and becoming an assistant to her father, while her family is banking on her making an advantageous marriage – which would mean sealing away her magic until widowhood. But when she meets Ianthe Lavan (handsome, charming, eligible, and – most astonishingly of all – understanding of her plight), her choice becomes that much more difficult.

This book was barely even on my radar this year, but I’m so glad that I decided to pick it up; if not an all-time favourite, it’s definitely one of my favourites of the year! 💕 I don’t want to say too much here, as I’m planning to write a full review soon, but my favourite thing about The Midnight Bargain was the gradual shift in so many of Beatrice’s relationships, from mercenary to respectful, then to genuinely affectionate. And there were so many wonderful characters (my favourite was Ysbeta, though)!

Upcoming Releases: Winter 2021-22

Most of the new books I’ve been really hyped for this year were packed into autumn, so winter’s looking a little sparse… but there are still a few gems coming up! (Most notably, for a lot of people, the new Crescent City book, though I won’t be picking that one up myself…) So here are my most exciting picks for December, January & February:

[All dates are taken from Goodreads unless stated otherwise, and are correct as of 23/11/2021.]

The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling (7th December)

A YA sapphic romance between a girl with the unsettling ability to see the deaths of anyone she touches, and a vampire who’s been sent to help her learn to control her power. There’s a murder mystery in there, too, I believe, though naturally I’m not sure whether the mystery or the romance will be the book’s greater focus. I’m no longer as desperate for vampire romances as I was a couple of months ago, but this one looks promising (and is giving me slight Mediator vibes, which would be fun! 😁). Excitement level: 7/10

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske (9th December)

The first in a new fantasy series set in an alternative Edwardian England, following a man who’s appointed as the non-magical liaison to a hidden magical society. Again, I’m not sure what this book is really about, but I’ve been hearing glowing reviews from early readers, and apparently the magic system is based on Cat’s Cradle (which I always sucked at)! Also, this is another queer romance, which is nice to see. ☺️ Excitement level: 7/10

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett (13th January)

The second novel from the author of The Appeal, an unusual, multi-media murder mystery… and from the sound of things, The Twyford Code will be much the same – though this time the mystery will be centred around an old book that supposedly contains a hidden code. I struggle a lot with mysteries, however original, and however interesting they sound, so I won’t be picking this one up myself, but if I hear even half as much praise for it as I have for The Appeal, I expect I’ll be buying it for all my more criminally-inclined relatives in 2022! 😅 Excitement level: 5/10

Honourable Mentions:

  • Munro by Kresley Cole (25th January) – a new entry in the Immortals After Dark series.
  • A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine (8th February, in paperback) – the sequel to A Memory Called Empire, for which I’ve been patiently waiting for the paperback.

Review: The Key to Flambards by Linda Newbery

Still reeling from her parents’ divorce, and the accident that lost her her leg, Grace Russell heads to Flambards house with an uncertain future, just as her ancestor Christina did a hundred years before. But waiting for her at Flambards are two potential new friends – cheerful Jamie and troubled Marcus – and a whole family history just waiting to be discovered.

K.M. Peyton’s Flambards series, published in the 60s (apart from a controversial fourth book that came out in 1981), followed a young girl called Christina who’s summoned to live with her grouchy uncle, who cares about horses and hunting, and not at all about his new ward’s wellbeing. While she’s there, however, she befriends the younger of her two cousins, Will, and the stablehand Dick, and comes to love the decrepit old house and its equine inhabitants. The series is set in the early 1900s, and as it goes on, the shadow of World War I begins to loom, but the main focus is always on Christina as she grows up, and learns to navigate life, and love, and the world.

I would not recommend The Key to Flambards to anyone who hasn’t already read the main series. It’s not a sequel, exactly, and its story stands very well on its own, but much of Grace’s (our new heroine) inner monologue is taken up by wondering about Christina’s life, and many of the conversations that she has with side characters (particularly the adult ones) are about the history of Flambards and its inhabitants… all of which would probably be fairly tedious to a reader who isn’t already emotionally invested.

Beyond that, I found it to be a fun read, though lacking in narrative tension. The story centres on, at various times: Grace re-learning how to love the outdoors through horse riding; her concerns about returning to school; Marcus’ troubled relationship with his father; and the struggle to get enough funding for Flambards – now an artists’ retreat, of sorts – to stay open, and not be sold to make room for housing developments. And although none of these storylines take any particularly surprising or dramatic turns (except for Marcus’ story, in places), they all wrap up very satisfyingly. Grace made for an interesting protagonist – struggling (understandably so), but resilient – and her relationships with both Marcus and Jamie (and even the bossy Charlie) developed naturally, and were both very sweet.

Overall: Nostalgia was obviously a huge factor in my enjoyment of this book, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone else who grew up with Flambards (the books or the TV series). To everyone else, I recommend Flambards. With great insistence. 😊