#BlogTour THE GIFTS BY LIZ HYDER #BookReview @LondonBessie #TheGifts @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

Delighted to be with you today as part of the Blog Tour for the fabulous THE GIFTS by LIZ RYDER.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Tracy of Compulsive Readers for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!


October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders.

Meanwhile, when rumours of a ‘fallen angel’ cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grips of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . . .

THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author of BEARMOUTH. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition.





From the author of Bearmout, comes this immensely enjoyable and atmospheric novel which brilliantly conveys the frustration of the female characters and demonstrates the undertones of how women were treated and dismissed so easily by society at the time.

There’s a real ethereal feel to the story from start to finish and the story of the fallen angels who appear at various points add a unique twist to the tale.  Set in 19th century London, the buzz is created by the appearance of these fallen angels who captivate and fascinate those who hear of them. No more so than those in the medical world who are overwhelmed with ideas of how these ‘angels’ can further their careers and standings.  They will go to desperate lengths to be the star of the show and make their names, no matter the cost.

It’s a book that crosses the historical element with a little magical realism to brilliantly. Set against the backdrop of showing how women were not being taken seriously no matter how well they excelled in their field, whilst the men were front and centre and using the subjects as a competition – a way to show off and claim the plaudits.

The female characters were so absorbing and watching their stories evolve was expertly crafted to give a wonderful flow and link to the overall sense of the time.  And any book that has gardening and auriculas mentioned is going to be a big hit for me!!

It’s also a book that angers as you witness these women just seen as possessions devoid of any rights and the way they were just used was indicative of the time and gives the story a great anchor as you find yourself willing the tide to turn!!

Captivating, unique and wonderful!!





Ren lives alone on the remote frontier of a country devastated by a coup. High on the forested slopes, she survives by hunting and trading—and forgetting.

But when a young soldier comes to the mountains in search of a local myth, Ren is inexorably drawn into her impossible mission. As their lives entwine, unravel and erupt—as myths merge with reality—both Ren and the soldier are forced to confront what they regret, what they love, and what they fear.

The Rain Heron is the dizzying, dazzling new novel from the author of Flames.




Having loved his previous book, Flames, I was eager to see what Robbie Arnott had in store for us next – I have not been disappointed!

This is one of those books that take you out of yourself! With the imagery and world created, you become part of the backdrop watching over the struggles of the characters and feeling their emotions – all while the mythical rain heron affects the weather that will deeply affect the characters we follow.

This is a really subtle book, with nods to the damage that climate change causes to the daily lives of those working the land, affecting not only their livelihoods but their mental wellbeing too.

The story starts with a female farmer who is pivotal to the wellbeing of the local community – her farm had struggled for years leading her to the brink of life, but the appearance of the heron changes the fortunes of the farm and she shares this upturn in her luck with those around her. Not all those around her see the good in her charity, and shows the ugliness of jealousy when all is not well in their lives.

And then there is Ren who is living a very hermit existence on the side of a mountain. It’s a brutal life but she has learnt to thrive thanks to her survival skills and she is helped by some who meet her. But there’s always those questions in your head as to why she has decided to live the way she does and why she won’t change her ways for an easier life.

The darker side is portrayed brilliantly by the soldiers sent out to track down the Rain Heron and capture it. Ruthless in their approach, they seem almost brainwashed into following orders and never questioning why they’ve been given this objective. It’s only when they start to see life a little differently that they begin to show their humanity. And there’s more good vs bad in the story of Zoe, when we see people working with nature versus those who see it just for greed and their own gain, and how that changes the balance and brings despair to many.

This is a book that gets you thinking about your actions and how it impacts on the wider world. It makes you notice the little things. About how you treat people, and how they treat you! It’s weird, quirky, compelling, magical, captivating and will leave you pondering for long after you finish that final page. Loved it!!




Alejandro de Yepes and Jesús Rocamora, young officers in the Spanish regular army, are stationed alone at Castillo when a friendly redhead named Petrus appears out of nowhere. There is something magnetic and deeply mysterious about him. Alejandro and Jesús are bewitched, and, in the middle of the sixth year of the longest war humankind has ever endured, they abandon their post to follow him across a bridge that only he can see.Petrus brings them to a world of lingering fog, strange beings, poetry, music, natural wonders, harmony and extraordinary beauty. This is where the fate of the world and all its living creatures is decided. Yet this world too is under threat. A long battle against the forces of disenchantment is drawing to a climactic close. Will poetry and beauty prevail over darkness and death? And what role will Alejandro and Jesús play?Muriel Barbery’s richly imagined new novel, the sequel to The Life of Elves, will transport readers to a lost world exposed to the constant churn of civilisations and remind them of the power of poetry and imagination



Publisher Website




Some books take a little bit of extra effort from a reader, and I found this to be one of those books  BUT it is worth that work! It’s another beautifully written book from the author, and another fight of good vs evil with links to the other world as the worlds join forces to defeat those with evil intentions.

The story starts with a war, and the bond between soldiers despite their very different backgrounds. Fighting a common enemy unites them, and Alejandro and Jesus are 2 of the soldiers. And they find themselves facing even weirder times when they are confronted by 3 ‘ghosts’ who appear to have crossed the bridge from another world to warn the humans that they need to work together.

This inventive story really does have a mythical feel with the magical realism and once you get into the flow of the story it all begins to make sense.  The use of poetry helps lead you through the twisty journey that they find themselves on – the story flits about and it’s told in a mixed up way and I found this to be good at keeping you engaged and wondering what was round the corner for them!  

I also enjoyed the little touches of humour, and the way it unites what should be two very different forces with their outlook on the ways of the world.  Their experiences, their histories are all explored and I loved the gentle and soothing aspects of the story! The vivid descriptions transport you to this other world.  This is a prequel to Life of Elves but you don’t need to have read that – I think I preferred the storytelling aspect in this one than in ‘Elves’! It just made it easier to connect with for me!  Well worth immersing yourself in this book just for the beautiful way with words that Muriel Barbery has!!


My thanks to Gallic for the advanced copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.