Countdown to 2023 – Day 9 ‘Fairylights’ (22 days remaining)

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Today is day 9 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Fairylights’ and I’ve chosen a book that I shall be reading in the New Year.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

 FAIRYLIGHTS (A book of the fae or something magical)

Today’s book is currently on my TBR and I’m excited to get started as I’ve already seen some glowing reviews.  Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries (Emily Wilde #1) by Heather Fawcett.

Emily

Tomorrow: Under the Tree – a book you forgot you owned

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Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno Garcia

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Coming of Age, Magical Realism

Signal

Silvia Moreno Garcia is an author that I very much enjoy reading and so I couldn’t wait to pick this one up.  As it happens I did take a little while to get into this but after that initial blip I found myself really liking it.  A coming of age tale, three friends unhappy at home and misfits at school, come together and find magic that they hope will change their lives.

This is a story of three teenagers, they may not fit in at school, their home lives are not perfect, but they have their friendship and once they discover the way to create magic through the use of music they believe their troubles will be a thing of the past.  Of course, what do they really desire?  To fit in, to catch the attention of their respective crushes, never of course realising that their tinkering will upset their own fine balance.

Signal to Noise is told in two alternating timelines.  Both take place in Mexico City.  In 1988 we have a teenage girl called Meche (Mercedes) who loves playing vinyl and making mixed tapes.  Her love of music is something she shares with her dad.  Unfortunately her parents are on rocky ground and her father is absent much of the time – only really returning because of his love for his daughter.  Meche also likes to sit and listen to her gran’s tales – are they tall tales or could she really perform magic?  Sebastian and Daniela are her almost constant companions, the three are definitely not the cool kids at school and of course they long to fit in.  Sebastian seems to have developed a crush on the hottest girl in the year and strangely enough Meche seems to have likewise formed similar feelings for her boyfriend – the hottest guy.  Strangely enough it’s immediately apparent that Meche and Sebastian are the sort of grumpy disillusioned teenagers who simply can’t see the wood for the trees.  Reading the two together their easy companionship immediately seemed to indicate something more was on the cards but they were both pushing in different directions, even whilst experiencing frustration and jealousy of each other.

Anyway, this is where the second timeline makes things more interesting. We shoot forward to 2009.  Meche left two decades ago but now returns for her estranged father’s funeral.  It now becomes obvious that things went horribly wrong somewhere along the line and the friends parted ways.  Meche hasn’t seen either of her friends during that period and isn’t keen to bump into them at this point so what exactly happened to split the friendship up – and why had Meche fallen out with her father?

Flipping back and forth between the two timelines we eventually uncover the picture of what drove everyone apart.

Initial thoughts.  This is very light on the fantasy aspects.  The trio of friends (through Meche) discover a way to create magic through the use of music.  This is very lightly touched upon and relies heavily on both the teenagers and the reader simply believing that magic is possible.  It’s magical realism at its most subtle really because much of what takes place could eventually be put down to happenchance or coincidence.

In terms of the characters.  Well, there’s a good dollop of teenage hormones and angst running through the story quite often making the characters behave in a way that makes you want to shake them.  Meche can be something of a super bossy boots not to mention vindictive and vengeful – but a lot of this is down to her age, the situations she is herself going through and her lack of understanding for the ramifications and consequences of her actions.  So, for me, even though she could be infuriating her character was also believable and this made it much easier to read.  Then of course we jump to the adult version of Meche and her friends – now, I’d like to say that they’ve become very sensible well measured people, and I think maybe Sebastian and Daniela have grown up a little, Meche however is still super touchy, stubborn, prickly and unapproachable.  Basically, she carries around a lot of anger and it’s nice to see some of that eventually peeling away.

Mexico is the setting for both storylines and, again, I would say that the author subtly weaves in details of the place to provide a flavour.  She doesn’t bash you over the head with all sorts of well known place names, etc, instead providing details primarily around food and customs, particularly in relation to the family mourning and arranging a funeral.

The writing is good, although I did struggle at the start of the story to really get on board and I think that has something to do with the pacing.  It wasn’t enough for me to stop reading (clearly) but it did slow me down a little so I would say be patient with the first 30%.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I’ve already mentioned a slight issue with pacing.  Likewise the fantasy elements are very light and the characters can be a little frustrating.  I also wouldn’t say that this is my favourite book by this author, it feels a little less polished than some of her later books. But, in spite of all that, I ended up engaging with the characters and enjoying the story much more than I first anticipated.

Overall, for me this had a sense of nostalgia.  It reminded me of a whole host of John Hughes films such as Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful and Weird Science where mixed up teenagers more often than not can’t see the wood for the trees and flounce around making everything into a ‘big’ thing.  There is a lot of mention of music from the 80s which I enjoyed although I wasn’t familiar with probably half the titles mentioned.  More than all that it ultimately has that ‘feel good’ factor.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Countdown to 2023 – Day 8 ‘Baubles’ (23 days remaining)

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Today is day 8 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Baubles’ and I’ve chosen a book with a striking cover.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

 BAUBLES (these add some colour, a very colourful and striking cover)

The Maid by Nita Prose was the first book that I read this year and it makes a great addition to this countdown and in particular this prompt.

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Tomorrow: Fairy Lights – a book of the fae/magic

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward

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“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is :`Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward. I’m loving this author so I nearly had a conniption when I spotted this.  Happy days indeed.  Anyway, enough of my nonsense, here’s the description and cover:

LookingGlass Sound

In a lonely cottage overlooking the windswept Maine coast, Wilder Harlow begins the last book he will ever write. It is the story of a sun-drenched vacation of his youth, of the terrible tragedy that forever bonded him with his friends Nat and Harper in unknowable ways, and of the killer that stalked the small New England town where they spent their summers.

Decades later, Wilder has returned to the town in an attempt to recount that summer’s events. But as he writes, Wilder begins to fear his grip on the truth is slipping … and that the book may be writing itself.

Expected publication : April 2023

Countdown to 2023 – Day 7 ‘Christmas Tree’ (24 days remaining)

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Today is day 7 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Christmas Tree’ and I’ve chosen a book with a gothic vibe because it’s a style I love to read at this time of the year and so feels very traditional to me.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

 CHRISTMAS TREE (a traditional winter read)

The Haunting of Las Lagrimas by WM Cleese is a dark and eerie tale that gave me Haunting of Hill House or the Woman in Black type vibes.

TheHaunting

Tomorrow: Baubles – these add some colour, a very colourful and striking cover

The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore 

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Epic Retelling of Baba Yaga

Witch

The current trend for retelling stories from the perspective of either those characters who lived in the shadows or those that have been misrepresented continues here with a fictional account of Ivan the Terrible and the woman who helped to stop his period of tyranny.  Baba Yaga is a figure of folklore, a witch who ate children and lived in a hut with chicken legs.  As history shows us women with a knack for healing were often vilified and hunted and tormented and Baba Yaga is often described as a hideous crone – here we have a story with a different perspective. Here we have a woman, half immortal, daughter of a union between a human and a Goddess, with a special connection to the old spirits and Gods, a knack for healing and the ability to communicate with animals and birds.  So, to be clear, and I realise this is a long-winded way of saying this, if you’re expecting to read about the ferocious Wicked Witch of Russia then you may wish to look elsewhere.  This is a reimagining of a turbulent period of history told through the eyes of a woman who passionately cares about her homeland and will go to great lengths to stop the interfering Gods who are meddling in the lives of its people.

So, a little bit about the plot.  The story begins with Yaga, living in the woods and occasionally healing those with enough courage to seek her aid. She has long since learnt to mistrust humans and has become a solitary figure until she receives a visit from an old friend. Anastasia, wife to Ivan IV.  Yaga soon discovers that Anastasia is being poisoned and eventually makes the difficult decision to follow her back to Moscow to offer protection. Here she discovers the machinations of a life at court and the political maneuvering that is part and parcel of everyday life.  It soon becomes apparent that other forces are at play and if Yaga cannot protect Anastasia, the only person who can keep Ivan’s inner demons at bay, then Russia will fall into chaos.

For me, this is a story in two halves.  The first is, I guess something of a set up and an introduction to the characters.  The second is much more turbulent with death and destruction aplenty and a much more frenetic pace. Personally, I enjoyed the second half more than the first which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the first part of the story, just it felt a little slow in places.

I really enjoyed the writing and the descriptions which I felt helped to pull me into this strange world of wars and scheming Gods. And I also enjoyed the addition of extra characters such as the Tsar’s son along with some of the people that Yaga joined during their fight back against Ivan.  

In terms of criticisms.  Well, in some ways I felt like Yaga seemed less powerful than I’d imagined her to be – but having said that this is a retelling, and Yaga herself is adamant that she isn’t a witch, I think her powers lie more in communicating with the Gods and moving between different dimensions, also she finds herself almost leading the small rebellion at certain points formulating plans and the like.  

Overall, this was very easy to read, I had few expectations going into the read and also very little knowledge of Baba Yaga so I had no preconceptions about how she would come across.  I really loved the setting and the way the author pulls you into the story with her little details about everyday life and I thought this ended on a positive note.  I seriously would read more about Yaga and given that she ages very slowly I could quite easily see her popping up again at other historic points during Russia’s history.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

 

 

 

Countdown to 2023 – Day 6 ‘Christmas Stocking’ (25 days remaining)

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Today is day 6 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Christmas Stocking’ and I’ve used a book that was approx 240 pages and could almost be read in one sitting – especially once it grabs your attention.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

 CHRISTMAS STOCKING (a novella or short story)

Road of Bones by Christopher Golden packed a lot of punch for a book of approx 240 pages. An environmental folklore horror story if you will that was absolutely compelling.

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Tomorrow: Christmas Tree –  traditional winter read

The Creeper by AM Shine

Posted On 5 December 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
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My Five Word TL:DR Review : Scary, atmospheric shocking and creepy

Creeper

Yes, this book does exactly what you would expect with a title like The Creeper.  It’s a strange mix of Irish folklore, horror and urban legend.

The story opens with a gripping start. We then move on to follow our main POV Ben French.  Ben, a historian, is a little down on his luck and so when he’s offered an interview for a position by a wealthy man called Alex Sparling he jumps at the chance.  When he arrives he meets the only other candidate, Chloe Coogan, an archaeologist.  The two are offered the chance to carry out some research for Spalding and the rewards for doing so are high. But, this is a highly secretive undertaking requiring them to sign non-disclosure agreements before they even set out the door – it all seems a little off somehow and if something seems too good to be true then it usually is.

Tir Mallacht is quite literally a village forgotten in time.  It doesn’t seem to exist on any maps and can only be reached by a hard day’s hiking.  Ben and Chloe have been tasked with visiting the village and trying to glean any information they can from the villagers whether it be how they live, why they have isolated themselves from the modern world and anything else they can dig up of historic or archaeological significance and they’ve also been tasked with asking the villagers about the Creeper.  When the two eventually arrive they receive a frosty reception.  A number of villagers are selected to talk to Ben but the interviewees prove to be close lipped and evasive.  Only one little girl  speaks to them, without the permission of her elders, and seems to take great delight in willingly telling them of the local myth –  ‘The Creeper – Three times you see him. Each night he comes closer… on the fourth night – uhuh!  Well, nobody knows what happens on the fourth night because nobody is seen again to tell the tale.  If that isn’t creepy enough, as the darkness approaches everyone withdraws indoors, shutters and doors are tightly locked and the place becomes like a ghost town with only Ben and Chloe remaining outside.

I don’t want to say too much more about the plot because it would be far too easy to give away spoilers so will instead give an overview of my feelings.

Well, firstly, this started off a little slowly but I think the pace was necessary in order to help build a bigger picture and to develop tension.  Basically the story only covers a very short time span so it would have been very easy to simply speed forward but the author gives us a feel for Ben and Chloe, both new to each other, setting out all hopeful on an adventure that promises rewards should they succeed.  They’re both a bit sceptical about the place and the superstitions but when they eventually arrive the condition of the village and its inhabitants is something of a shock to say the least.

Ben likes to remain steadfast in his belief that the bogeyman doesn’t exist and that such stories only gather strength from word of mouth and fear.  Of course, after having spent a freezing cold night out in a tent with very little warmth or protection (not to mention other strange occurences) well, he’s only too happy to put as much distance as possible between himself and this isolated village.  Chloe is a much more hopeful kind of character, generally upbeat and likeable, she pretty soon decides the whole venture is a lost cause and after a fairly terrifying night can’t wait to hightail it out of there too.

The setting is really well portrayed.  The village is overbearingly, almost cloyingly, creepy.  The villagers themselves are a strange bunch.  A couple of hundred years of inbreeding coupled with lack of any proper nutrition has left them with many problems and they come across as both scared yet scary and not a tad paranoid.  The whole place is filthy, drab and depressing and you better believe that I would have been out of there in a New York minute.

Then we come to the real crux of the story.  The Creeper.  This is one of those dark tales that feels appropriate to share round a campfire on Halloween.  The origins stretch back a couple of hundred years and although much has been lost over time it seems like dark and diabolical forces may have been involved.  The feel could be likened to The Ring or The Candyman where to invoke ‘something’ usually leads to death.

Now, let’s talk about the ending.  I still don’t know what to think or feel about it.  Put simply this was something of a shock. I just didn’t second guess what was really going on here and I admit that this was twisted and unexpected, not to mention, well downright surprisingly shocking.  Did I mention the shock of it all?  Not to mention a bit brutal and a little gruesome.  Intrigued much?

Not for the faint of heart, scary, creepy and twisted. And, one more time couldn’t possibly hurt – shocking!

I received a copy through Netgalley,courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks, the above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars.

Countdown to 2023 – Day 5 ‘Chocolates’ (26 days remaining)

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Today is day 5 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘chocolates’ and I’ve used a book that was perfect for me in every way – just like chocolate.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

 CHOCOLATES (a book that was simply delicious)

Nettle and Bone was my first experience of reading T Kingfisher but it certainly won’t be my last.  This book was definitely delicious.

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Tomorrow: Christmas stocking/stocking fillers – a novella or short story

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

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I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing so but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Books read this week:

This week seems to have flown and I seem to have spent most of the week getting mixed up about what day I’m up to – everything slow down!  Aarrgghghghgh.  Anyway,  in terms of reading I managed to compete both Silvia Moreno Garcia’s Signal to Noise and The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore.  Both reviews to follow shortly (hopefully).  I also started my Countdown to 2023 and I’m aiming to post a book per day for that.  In other news I mentioned on my last Friday Face Off that I will be changing the format in the new year.  I also started reading The Cloisters by Katy Hays and I expect to finish that by tonight all going well so I’ll add that on here too.

Next Week’s Reads:

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Countdown to 2023 – Day 4 ‘Presents’ (27 days remaining)

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Today is day 4 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘presents’ and I’ve used a book that took me by surprise.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

PRESENTS (a book you enjoyed more than you expected)

Black Tide by KC Jones – obviously I liked the sound of this one but at the same time I was a little bit worried as the description mentioned a likeness to Cujo which is a style of horror that doesn’t always work for me.  As it happens this was truly a gift of a read because I loved it.

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Tomorrow: Chocolates – a book that was simply delicious

#SPFBO 8: My First Finalist: Not a Review

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What is SPFBO? Check out Mark Lawrence’s post here to look at this year’s entrants, judges and allocations list.

This year I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.

We recently announced our finalist. To check out all the Finalists simply follow this link.

Our finalist this year was Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson – if you haven’t read it – I highly recommend it – seriously, grab yourself a copy and tuck in. It’s positively delightful. 

Over the next few months my partners and I will be reading the other finalists and once we have a few tucked under our belts will start posting reviews.  In the meantime I have randomly selected my reading order and the first book chosen was:

Small Miracles by Olivia Atwater.

Here’s a little more about the book and the author:

SmallMiracles

A little bit of sin is good for the soul

Gadriel, the fallen angel of petty temptations, has a bit of a gambling debt. Fortunately, her angelic bookie is happy to let her pay off her debts by doing what she does best: All Gadriel has to do is tempt miserably sinless mortal Holly Harker to do a few nice things for herself.

What should be a cakewalk of a job soon runs into several roadblocks, however, as Miss Harker politely refuses every attempt at temptation from Gadriel the woman, Gadriel the man, and Gadriel the adorable fluffy kitten. When even chocolate fails to move Gadriel’s target, the ex-guardian angel begins to suspect she’s been conned. But Gadriel still remembers her previous job… and where petty temptations fail, small miracles might yet prevail.

Olivia Atwater explores love, grief, and the very last bit of chocolate in this sweet modern fantasy, full of wit and heart. Pick up Small Miracles, and enjoy a heavenly faerie tale from the author of Half a Soul.

Author:

Olivia Atwater writes whimsical historical fantasy with a hint of satire. She lives in Montreal, Quebec with her fantastic, prose-inspiring husband and her two cats. When she told her second-grade history teacher that she wanted to work with history someday, she is fairly certain this isn’t what either party had in mind. She has been, at various times, a historical re-enactor, a professional witch at a metaphysical supply store, a web developer, and a vending machine repair person.

 

I confess that I have already read this one (review to follow in the not too distant future) and I can give all you prospective readers a piece of advice – you will need chocolate, or sweets, or cake – or all three –  whilst reading this!  You have been warned.

 

 

 

 

Countdown to 2023 – Day 3 ‘Wrapping Paper’ (28 days remaining)

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Today is day 3 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is wrapping paper and I’ve used a book from a series I’m loving and that has festive colours.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

WRAPPING PAPER (a lovely cover)

The House With the Golden Door is the second in Elodie Harper’s Wolf Den Trilogy and this is a series that I’m totally loving with beautiful blue and cold colouring on the cover.

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Tomorrow: Presents – a book you enjoyed more than you expected

Friday Face Off : Assassins

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Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

I’ve added themes in below. For information, I’m trying out some new ideas so along with coming up with particular items for book covers I thought we could also look for certain elements contained within the book or that play a large part in the story – this really broadens things out because I have plenty of more ideas with this – I’ve gone for a few of the Tough Travel Themes (so a book with that theme – just choose any book – the theme isn’t necessarily on the cover, then compare covers), also, I’ve thrown in some genres and some colours.  Hopefully this will open things out a little and give us some more freedom to come up with new books.

This week’s theme:

Assassins

Do you have a favourite?

2022

December
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or series

Countdown to 2023 – Day 2 ‘Shopping’ (29 days remaining)

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Today is day 2 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is shopping and I’ve used a book that was the last addition to my wishlist.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

SHOPPING (the last book added to your wishlist)

Miss Percy’s Travel Guide to Welsh Moors and Feral Dragons (Miss Percy Guide #2) by Quenby Olson.  A book that I’m super excited about and hope to pick up in the new year.

MissPercy's travelguide

 

Tomorrow: Wrapping paper – a lovely cover

Pulling the Wings Off Angels by KJ Parker

My Five Word TL:DR Review: Read the review, it’s short

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As a rule I don’t cut and paste the descriptions of books but as this is a short book I thought the GR blurb would probably be more succinct.  So here it is:

‘Long ago, a wealthy man stole an angel and hid her in a chapel, where she remains imprisoned to this day.

That’s the legend, anyway.

A clerical student who’s racked up gambling debts to a local gangster is given an ultimatum—deliver the angel his grandfather kidnapped, or forfeit various body parts in payment.

And so begins a whirlwind theological paradox—with the student at its center—in which the stakes are the necessity of God, the existence of destiny—and the nature of angels.’

So, the narrator here is the theology student who no longer believes in the existence of God.  Imagine then his surprise when he finds an angel locked inside his grandfather’s cellar.  The angel is unable to escape because her wings have been clipped and God is in no position to help her because the room she is being held in is protected and so she cannot be ‘seen’.  The student has gambling debts and is being threatened to either deliver an angel or lose body parts.  Having found that the angel exists both the student and his unfriendly loan shark go on to try and reach a deal with God.  What could possibly go wrong?

Now, this is a short story – and I will be honest in saying that, one, short stories are not usually my ‘thing’ and I don’t usually make such requests for that reason, two, I hadn’t realised this was a short story – so, mmm, awkward – and also very much DOH on my part!  That being said I enjoyed this, obviously it’s a very quick read, it’s thought provoking, it takes a look at religion and raises questions about topics such as inherited sin, repentance, etc, and it is both clever and witty.

The plot – basically, the plot is really just a driver for the overall discussion.  It’s entertaining and twisted and I guess you could just read it as a short story but really it’s a brain teaser.  Similarly, the world building is only very lightly drawn and this is because it’s not the focus for the piece either.

To be fair, there’s only so much I can really say about this without actually saying too much.  It was my first book by this author and although it demonstrates his style and humour I would like to backtrack to some of his other work to see if I favour them.  I certainly didn’t dislike this, it is very much a thinking piece and if you like the idea of a theological paradox all rolled up in a nutshell sized nugget then give this a try.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3.5 of 5 stars

Countdown to 2023 – Day 1 ‘Snow’ (30 days remaining)

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Today is the first day of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is snow and I’ve used a book with a wintry setting.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

SNOW (a cold or wintry setting)

The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore a recent read that I have yet to review.  Set in Russia this one fits the prompt perfectly

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Tomorrow:  Shopping: the last book added to your wishlist

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Bone Shard War (The Drowning Empire #3) by Andrea Stewart

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“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Bone Shard War (The Drowning Empire #3) by Andrea Stewart.  I can’t wait to read this.

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The Bone Shard Daughter was hailed as “one of the best debut fantasy novels of the year” (BuzzFeed News). Now, Andrea Stewart brings us the final book in this unmissable, action-packed, magic-laced epic fantasy trilogy, The Bone Shard War.

Lin Sukai has won her first victory as Emperor, but the future of the Phoenix Empire hangs in the balance – and Lin is dangerously short of allies.

As her own governors plot treason, the Shardless Few renew hostilities. Worse still, Lin discovers her old nemesis Nisong has joined forces with the rogue Alanga, Ragan. Both seek her death.

Yet hopes lies in history. Legend tells of seven mythic swords, forged in centuries past. If Lin can find them before her enemies, she may yet be able to turn the tide.

If she fails, the Sukai dynasty – and the entire empire – will fall.

Expected publication : April 2023

The Winter Killer (DI James Walker #3) by Alex Pine

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Less thriller, more police procedural

Winter

So, here I am again crashing into a series part way through!  Anyway, this book can definitely be read as a standalone as the mystery is tied up nicely, although, of course I may be missing a bit of character interaction/development from the first two books in the series.

The Winter Killer is a murder mystery set in a countryside location where a wedding is taking place on New Year’s Eve.  I enjoyed this and I certainly didn’t guess the ending, but, it didn’t quite blow my socks off and I think an element of that may be that I simply misled myself into expecting something else. When I picked this up I had in mind a cosy, locked room style murder mystery.  Now, I’m not sure that I would call this either cosy or locked room and I also wouldn’t call this a thriller.  This is much more a straightforward police procedural, although now I cast it in those terms I think I would also add the word cosy back in because this isn’t one of those gritty, dark police procedurals where cynical cops are trying to drink themselves into oblivion or have become so hard bitten that nothing affects them.  So, cosy police procedural.

The scene is a remote hotel.  The guests are gathered and in their finery and things seem to be going accordingly until the bride’s sister goes missing.  Foul play is suspected fairly quickly and DI Walker is called in.  Before long, the lake is being searched and indeed, a body is found.

I liked the start of this one.  It kicked off really well, the author pulled me into the location with ease and then began to demonstrate that in spite of the beautiful setting and the top notch event tensions were simmering beneath the scenes and lies and deceit lay just below the surface, ready to be dragged forth during the questioning.

In terms of the characters – well, I wouldn’t say I formed any real attachments.  DI Walker certainly isn’t a character that I disliked but he felt a little bland.  There were a number of suspects and leads being followed to help draw you down the wrong path and also a number of other extras such as DC Abbot, who is a member of Walker’s team but was also a guest at the wedding and so on hand to immediately contain the crime scene.

To be fair to the author I’m not quite sure I can pin down why this one didn’t wow me.  The writing is easy, the story moves along at a good clip, I enjoyed listening to the audio version and I never suffered from the dreaded book fatigue that sometimes happens if a book isn’t quite able to work it’s magic.  I think it was more that the characters failed to really make friends with me – or for that matter really make me dislike them, and I felt the ending and the eventual reveal left me a little underwhelmed.  I don’t know what I was expecting really but instead of experiencing that ‘ah-hah’ moment where you begin to rethink some of the key moments in the book to try and pick up the trail of breadcrumbs you’ve overlooked along the way I just felt a little flat.

To conclude. I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from giving this a go and it definitely has a seasonal feel, it just wasn’t quite what I was hoping for when I picked it up.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3 of 5 stars.

December Countdown – one prompt per day

Posted On 28 November 2022

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IMG_8687-1

I decided to reinstate my December countdown this year.  This is a one per day prompt where I will literally post the prompt and the relevant book.  I’m hoping to use books read during 2022 where possible and use this as an opportunity to shine the light on some good reads.  Books will be linked to reviews where possible or Goodreads.  If you fancy joining me feel free to dip in and out.  This is just a little fun and isn’t meant to be hard work..

Here are the prompts: 31 days of December and 31 opportunities to give a very quick shout out to a book you’ve loved.

Prompts:

  1. Snow – a book set in a cold or wintry climate
  2. Shopping – the last book added to your wishlist
  3. Wrapping paper – a lovely cover
  4. Gifts – a book you enjoyed more than you expected to
  5. Chocolates – a book that was simply delicious
  6. Christmas stocking – stocking fillers – a novella or short story
  7. Christmas Tree –  a winter read
  8. Baubles – these add some colour, a very colourful and striking cover
  9. Fairy Lights – something magical
  10. Under the Tree – a book you forgot you owned
  11. Mistletoe – a little bit of romance
  12. Holly and Ivy – a book with great world building
  13. Feast – a book that was magnificent
  14. Christmas pudding – if you could squeeze in just one more book for 2020
  15. Mince pies –  a little sweet something
  16. Turkey Dinner– eye’s too big for your belly?  A chunkster
  17. Glitter – A book that you simply have to have
  18. Christmas Cards – a book with a hidden message
  19. Christmas Carols – a book with musicians, song or instruments
  20. Eggnog – a book that was out of your comfort zone
  21. Santa’s Snack – a book that was a ‘light read’ between heavier books
  22. Reindeers – a book with memorable critters
  23. Sleigh bells – a series that you want to ring out the praise for
  24. Christmas Eve – One of your most anticipated books for 2021
  25. Christmas Day – a book you received as a gift
  26. Boxing Day – feeling bloated, a palate cleanser
  27. Christmas Crackers – Ended with a bang
  28. Candlelight – a book that kept you up into the early hours
  29. A roaring fire – a book that was heartwarming
  30. Family and Friends – a book with great characters
  31. Bottle of Bubbly – your first read for 2023

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Posted On 27 November 2022

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Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing so but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Books read this week:

My reading as been a bit quieter this week.  I managed to complete my first SPFBO book so I’m happy about that. I’m still reading  Silvia Moreno Garcia’s Signal to Noise and I also started The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore.

Next Week’s Reads:

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Friday Face Off : And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold

Posted On 25 November 2022

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FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

I’ve added themes in below. For information, I’m trying out some new ideas so along with coming up with particular items for book covers I thought we could also look for certain elements contained within the book or that play a large part in the story – this really broadens things out because I have plenty of more ideas with this – I’ve gone for a few of the Tough Travel Themes (so a book with that theme – just choose any book – the theme isn’t necessarily on the cover, then compare covers), also, I’ve thrown in some genres and some colours.  Hopefully this will open things out a little and give us some more freedom to come up with new books.

This week’s theme:

And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold

Do you have a favourite?

2022

December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or series

A Restless Truth (The Last Binding #2) by Freya Marske

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Fantasy of Manners Murder Mystery

Restless

I had a really good time with this – even though I just discovered that I crashed into the series on the second book – whoops!  Anyway, the very least I can say is that you can read this book without having read the first!  Although if this is anything to go by I’m sure the first is delightful.  This was an entertaining, fantasy of manners with a murder mystery and romance.  I actually requested the audio version which was really good – thought I’d just throw that in here in case I forget later.  I thought the narration was spot on.

Anyway, Maud Blyth is aboard the R.M.S. Lyric enroute to America accompanying a woman carrying a magical artefact.  Unfortunately, when Maud’s companion is murdered she takes measures to uncover the perpetrator and solve the mystery.  What could possibly go wrong?

I’m not going to go overboard (pun intended *andsorry*) on the plot but just highlight what worked so well for me.

Firstly, the writing and attention to detail is really good.  This isn’t overloaded with descriptions but there’s enough to give a really firm footing and to pull you into the period.  I loved the writing, it flows well, the story has legs and the dialogue is witty.

Secondly, I liked Maud a lot, she has a wonderful arc developing emotionally and really finding herself along the way.  The other predominant characters are Violet Debenham – who is fantastic, I just loved her.  She’s a young woman who ran away from her family’s straitlaced expectations to become an actress in America. She’s inherited some money and is returning to the UK with her family who are determined to latch onto some of that inheritance in any way possible and she loves to be shocking.  What a breath of fresh air she was.  I also liked Hawthorn who was the steadfast character and the ship’s master, he was roped into all sorts of shenanigans.

Finally the setting. I loved this and felt it worked really well.  It felt like everyone was in really close quarters with each other on an almost constant basis.  There’s not much room to maneuver and no way of escape although lots of secret places to hide.  There’s an almost claustrophobic feel.  The author throws in some perfectly quirky and strange asides such as the strange menagerie that’s travelling on board, ghosts and even a seance.  We spend much of the voyage with the first class passengers all eyeing each other nervously and the baddies finally show their hand ramping up the tension.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t really have much.  I loved that there was magic included but didn’t really get much of a feel for the dynamics which I blame on myself for not having reading book 1.  There’s an almost over-the-top-Agatha-Christie-Vaudevillian feel to the story with the criminals being overblown caricatures but to be fair, I enjoyed the overall feel and thought it played into the cosy mystery elements  Let’s just be honest – a gritty police drama this is not.

This is a fast paced, sometimes steamy, quite often funny, beautifully written cosy (I guess you could call it a locked room) mystery story with endearing characters, a lovely romance and a menagerie of craziness.  Talking parrots, racy scenes and an overall charm that I was really taken with.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Atalanta by Jennifer Saint

CWW

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Atalanta by Jennifer Saint.  Author of Ariadne and Elektra – sign me up.

Atalanta

When a daughter is born to the King of Arcadia, she brings only disappointment.

Left exposed on a mountainside, the defenceless infant Atalanta, is left to the mercy of a passing mother bear and raised alongside the cubs under the protective eye of the goddess Artemis.

Swearing that she will prove her worth alongside the famed heroes of Greece, Atalanta leaves her forest to join Jason’s band of Argonauts. But can she carve out her own place in the legends in a world made for men?

Expected publication : April 2023

Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse

Posted On 22 November 2022

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My Five Word TL/DR Review : Really liked it, wanted more

TreadofAngels

I really enjoyed Tread of Angels, it’s pacy, it has a Western setting and a murder mystery that culminates in a court case and it’s a surprise story about good and evil and the surprises you uncover when you jump to hasty conclusions.  Basically, this is a world with very clear demarcations, a world of angels and demons.  It takes a look at class and privilege and how nothing is ever as black and white as it may seem.

This is such a good read, I really enjoyed myself and almost read it in one sitting.  My only real problem, and of course everyone will have different mileage where this is concerned, I really think this could have been a little longer.  An extra 100 pages would have given a better build up and less of a rushed feel to the ending.  As it is, I seriously hope this is a setting that the author will return to.

Let’s look at the setting.  Goetia is a boomtown where wealthy mines provide the source of power for the latest innovations.  It’s also a town with a rich history where battles were fought and the Fallen are only now tolerated for their ability to detect where the wealthiest lodes worth mining can be found.  Virtues (archangels) rule the town and the inhabitants fall into the Elect (angelic descent) and the Fallen (demons).

The main character, Celeste now lives and works within Goetia’s fallen side of town, although she was raised by her father and could pass amongst the Elect.  Her sister Mariel was raised by their mother in the slums.  The two now work in a gaming house, Celeste at a card table and her sister, owner of such a beautiful song voice, as a celebrated singer.  Things go terribly wrong when the body of a murdered Virtue is discovered and Mariel accused of the murder.  Celeste will do anything to protect her sister and finds herself appointed as Advocatus Diaboli (devil’s advocate).  She only has a very small window of opportunity to discover the truth and save Mariel from execution.

What I really liked about this in the first instance was the wild west setting which I am a total sucker for at the moment.  Couple this with angels and demons  and we have this commentary on racism and the opportunity to look at human nature at it’s best and worst.  Not everything is always as clear cut as it may first appear and people will at times go to extreme lengths to protect those they love.

On top of this I really enjoyed the murder mystery.  To be honest I don’t think the eventual conclusion was a surprise but regardless of that I enjoyed following Celeste on her search for answers.

Overall, this was a really good read although I can’t help wishing for more and I would return to this world without hesitation.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Posted On 20 November 2022

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Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing so but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Books read this week:

This week I’ve managed to squeeze in a few books as well as spending the weekend decorating and feeling mostly exhausted. I listened to A Restless Truth by Freya Marske which is a period murder mystery with magic and mayhem, a little romance and, ahem, quite racy in places.  I read  Pulling the Wings off Angels by KJ Parker which was a very quick read, maybe not quite what I’d expected, a good dose of humour and a theological discussion. Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse which I loved.  Also, The Creeper by AM Shine which I will say is very well named!  Finally I started Silvia Moreno Garcia’s Signal to Noise.   The jury is out so far with this one although its early days so we’ll see – that being said I’ve loved all her previous books so fingers crossed.

Next Week’s Reads:

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

The Hollows by Daniel Church

Posted On 17 November 2022

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 4 responses

My Five Word TL:DR : Well, that got weird fast

TheHollows

If you’re thinking of reading the Hollows I would just say expect the unexpected.  To be honest, I don’t quite know what I was expecting when I picked this one up, I usually try to pick my books up knowing as little as possible and that was the case with this one – although I did expect something mysterious.   In a way this leaves me with a quandary when writing this review because I actually don’t want to give anything away.

So, a brief overview. The story starts with the local Constable, Ellie Cheetham, being called to the scene of a death where she finds a local man who appears to have suffered a tragic accident – although things don’t quite add up.  At this point the story had a rather typical police routine feel – although this is set to change dramatically.  Ellie has the unwelcome task to letting the family know, a task made so much worse because the family in question are troublesome to say the best and definitely dangerous. To make matters worse the small village of Barsall is experiencing the worst storm ever.  Snow is already mounting up and pretty soon the small village will be isolated.  And, well, trouble is on it’s way.  I won’t say more than that.

Without telling you anything specific this is a Lovecraftian or cosmic horror.  We have some incredibly creepy critters that seem to be so ancient that very little is known of them except that they’re only the opening gambit and much worse is yet to follow.

The setting really plays into the story.  This is a small village.  Everyone seems to be known to each other.  Petty resentments and gossip run deep and the local ‘bad family’ have caused enough upset amongst the locals to create very bad feeling.  There is definitely a line being drawn in the snow here and behind one line lies all the knowledge.  On top of this there’s the claustrophobic feel created by the isolation caused by the store.  Conditions are beyond dangerous.  Power is going out and contact with the wider outside world is virtually non existent.  Basically, even if help could be called in there’d be a struggle to get to Barsall – and help can’t be  called.  This disconnect also feeds into the story making the characters unsure if these strange events are isolated to them alone or more widespread in nature.  Also, lets not forget the freezing temperatures.

To the characters.  The main character is Ellie.  I liked her.  She was relatable.  She had doubts, she sometimes just wanted to lash out, she cared about her friends and also about the people in the village that were her responsibility.  She was frustrated and also scared but she took action when she needed to.  The baddies of the story – I’ll leave you to make your own mind up about them, their actions spiral out of control degenerating rapidly when they realise how bad the situation is for the villagers.  Years of resentment and prejudice have definitely worked their magic in that respect.  I mean, at the end of the day you’re not supposed to like them and the author does an excellent job of making them unsympathetic.  You’re meant to dislike them basically.

The writing is good, I think there was perhaps a little bit of repetition here or there but for me, once the action really got underway the pacing is really ramped up and I found myself gripped to the pages.

In terms of criticisms.  I think I would have liked to know a little bit more about exactly what we’re dealing with here and I felt that aspect was lacking.  But that’s just me really wanting all the information.  As it is, sometimes you have to just pick up a book and read it and not try to dig too deep.  Put bluntly this book brings to us something ancient and forgotten.

Overall, this was an unexpected horror that totally held my attention.  I found myself caring enough about a small group of these characters that I kept racing to the end where the author delivers not just a dramatic life or death situation with a small village of people trying desperately to stay alive but also some pretty freaky horror that was so unexpected that I may (or may not) have been reading with my jaw agapte.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5  stars.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Scarlet by Genevieve Cogman

CWW

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Scarlet by Genevieve Cogman.  I love this author and a reimagining of the Scarlet Pimpernel in an alternate revolutionary France, with Vampires – sign me up.

Scarlet

A thrilling reinvention of the tale of The Scarlet Pimpernel with the addition of magic and even more mayhem.

In Revolutionary France, the aristocrats are vampires – and they face the guillotine. However, the Scarlet Pimpernel, a disguised British noble, is determined to rescue them. These predators are being offered sanctuary by their aristocratic British kin, but at great cost to London’s ordinary people. Then an English maid discovers the only power that could stop them. Assuming she survives.

Scarlet is the first book in the trilogy, set during the turbulent French Revolution, and featuring all of Genevieve Cogman’s trademark wit and fast-paced plotting. It’s perfect for fans of The Invisible Library series, Kim Newman and Gail Carriger.

Expected publication : May 2023

Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste

My Five Word TL:DR Review : The forgotten females fight back

Reluctant2

From the outset I will say that I really enjoyed this in more ways than one. On the one hand this is a cinematic style story, fast paced and, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the horror, fun, entertaining and easy to get on with.  On the other it’s like an ode to women. Kiste has taken a look at two forgotten females and rewritten their endings bringing a freshness to their stories effectively giving them a second chance whilst delivering a strong feminist message.

A quick overview of what’s taking place here.  Lucy Westenra and Bertha Mason are the two main characters and the story is narrated by Lucy.  We meet them as they houseshare in Los Angeles during the 60s, the Summer of Love – I must say that this is an inspired era to write this story, firstly, it feeds into the, well, for want of a better word, plausibility.  All these young people, desperately experimenting and in search of new experiences – they would certainly make easy pickings for the true villain of this narrative who would undoubtedly find it much easier to go unnoticed during all the partying.  And, then of course – could you be more ironic? Setting this particular tale of horror during the Summer of Love. Anway, I digress.  Lucy and Bertha (Bee) are characters from Dracula and Jane Eyre.  They’re the females who have been forgotten.  Lucy was yet one more victim of Dracula in his pursuit of Mina and Bee was the wife that Rochester hid in the attic as he pursued Jane.  Now, if you’re familiar with either of these two stories you may be aware that (slight spoiler alert) both characters died during the course of the original works. However, both have been cursed with immortality and the ability to return again and again.  Both, during the course of the years discovered each other and became friends and both now spend their existence trying to keep Dracula and Rochester at bay.

So, what did I like about this book.  Firstly, I was unaware that I needed a little feminist horror in my life but apparently I do – who knew. Secondly, I enjoyed both the characters Lucy and Bee, they both struggle with their own demons but they are consistent in their friendship to each other and adamant about their dislike for the controlling men from their lives.  Thirdly, the writing is really good.  Kiste is one of those authors who makes everything seem simple somehow. Her writing is smooth, her dialogue is completely relatable, she doesn’t overegg the pudding, there are no long winded descriptions or purple prose and just the right amount of backstory to give you a real flavour and she manages to bring some new elements to both stories, but in particular to the vampire myth.  I would say that I don’t think it’s necessary to have read both the classics used to recreate this story, although it’s easy for me to say I suppose being familiar with both.  And I enjoyed all the little nods here – but, seriously I think it’s not necessary to have read those novels (I do recommend them of course).

Reimaginings, retellings or taking a well established story and continuing it in a new light are very popular at the moment and I can totally understand why.  Not only does this give an author a chance to revisit already established places and characters but it gives them the opportunity to look at the other side of the coin.  Of course this does come with the risk of already well established fans getting huffy but in this case I think the author succeeds in not only giving two lesser known characters a new chance in the spotlight but also making them into the heroes of this story.

Now, in terms of criticisms. I’m not totally sure what I was expecting when I picked this up and I must admit that at one point I wondered where the story was going, but Kiste has a plan.  She steadily ramps up the tension and the blood letting.  She throws in well known characters and some very surreal ‘afterlife waiting room’ scenes and she manages to bring in some real life issues particularly in relation to women not only in terms of standing up for themselves but also standing up for others – so regardless of my sight early reservation I found myself becoming totally immersed.

Come for the characters and the promise of some vampire horror.  Stay for the crazy scenarios, the races, the scrapes with death and the forming (and keeping) of friendships along the way.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing so but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Books read this week:

I’ve managed to read two of my books this week and also read about 30% of my first SPFBO book.  The Winter Killer by Alex Pines which is a cosy thriller and Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste which I enjoyed.  I also posted three reviews this week, now I just need to catch up with visiting everyone and stacking up all the books I desperately want on my TBR.

Next Week’s Reads:

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Friday Face Off : The Gang

Posted On 11 November 2022

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Comments Dropped 3 responses

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

I’ve added themes in below. For information, I’m trying out some new ideas so along with coming up with particular items for book covers I thought we could also look for certain elements contained within the book or that play a large part in the story – this really broadens things out because I have plenty of more ideas with this – I’ve gone for a few of the Tough Travel Themes (so a book with that theme – just choose any book – the theme isn’t necessarily on the cover, then compare covers), also, I’ve thrown in some genres and some colours.  Hopefully this will open things out a little and give us some more freedom to come up with new books.

This week’s theme:

The Gang

Do you have a favourite?

2022

November – Scifi Month
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or series

A Gamble of Gods (The Order of the Dragon #1) by Mitriel Faywood

My Five Word TL:DR Review: Right book/Right Time.  Happyface

AGamble

I read A Gamble of Gods a short while ago but wanted to await the release date before posting a review.  To be honest, when I picked this book up I was having something of an ‘off’ reading month, I was busy, a bit stressed and definitely not up to my usual reading and blogging.  So in some respects I felt a little guilty picking this book up during that period as my reading can be moody at times and feeling as I was, well, lets just say I was going to be a tough audience.  Actually as it happens, I got completely caught up in the story and instead of getting worried about other deadlines I simply went with the flow and enjoyed reading this, often picking it up late at night to devour a few pagers before sleep.  Before I go further, the short version of this review reads ‘a great mix of fantasy, sci-fi and romance’.

In terms of plot.  The story involves three characters from very different backgrounds.  I think in terms of driving the story I’d say that Kristian plays the lead role.  He lives on a far flung planet in the dim and distant future and is a scholar and lecturer.  Then we meet Conor who lives on a world that appears to be from the past, positively mediaeval-feeling with castles, swordplay, horses as the main form of transport, etc.  Conor is a would-be womaniser and thinks himself something of an expert thief.  Finally we make the acquaintance of Selena, an office worker based in a contemporary London.  Selena is perhaps my favourite of the story although all three play key roles I felt like she brought a strong emotional sensitivity to the story.  It’s not that Selena is unhappy so much as she doesn’t really fit in, like there’s something in her life that hasn’t quite fallen into place yet – that’s about to change though.  To put it bluntly the three are destined to meet in the most unusual bringing together of three less likely stories than you can imagine.  The catalyst is murder, the objective to stop an assassin, the journey will see them all go from strength to strength, finding friendship, love, magic and much more.

I really enjoyed the writing.  There’s a good deal of adventure and some crazy world hopping.  I mean, there’s so many things that I’d love to throw into this review,  not least of all an AI, talking, robotic horse, but I feel like I would muddy the waters if I was to try.  The pacing is, well, lets just say there’s never a dull moment and on top of this the author manages to throw in a healthy dose of humour to temper the read.

The three main characters are easy to like although, as I mentioned earlier I would give a little shout out to Selena.  Kristian and Conor stumble upon each other accidentally and come to form a mutually beneficial partnership in the first instance which eventually evolves into friendship, more than that the two seem to help each other develop in subtle ways bringing out the best in each other.  At this point the two are essentially on a quest which eventually leads them in a very unexpected fashion to stumble upon Selena.

To round this up I think this is an exciting start to series and an impressive debut. It’s no small feat to bring together three characters from completely different times and places and weave their stories together in such a satisfactory and coherent way, not to mention teasing out a mystery that promises more yet to come all whilst defying the realms of possibility by creating a fantasy/sci-fi romance that shouldn’t work but just does.  I look forward to the next instalment.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Memory of Animals by Claire Fuller

CWW

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is :  The Memory of Animals by Claire Fuller.

Memory

From the Costa-Winning, Women’s Prize-shortlisted author of Unsettled Ground: a gripping, haunting novel about memory, love and survival, for readers of Never Let me Go and Leave the World Behind

Neffy is a young woman running away from grief and guilt and the one big mistake that has derailed her career. When she answers the call to volunteer in a controlled vaccine trial, it offers her a way to pay off her many debts and, perhaps, to make up for the past.

But when the London streets below her window fall silent, and all external communications cease, only Neffy and four other volunteers remain in the unit. With food running out, and a growing sense that the strangers she is with may be holding back secrets, Neffy has questions that no-one can answer. Does safety lie inside or beyond the unit? And who, or what is out there?

While she weighs up her choices, she is introduced to a pioneering and controversial technology which allows her to revisit memories from her life before: a childhood divided between her enigmatic mother and her father in his small hotel in Greece. Intoxicated by the freedom of the past and the chance to reunite with those she loves, she increasingly turns away from her perilous present. But in this new world where survival rests on the bonds between strangers, is she jeopardising any chance of a future?

The Memory of Animals is a taut and emotionally charged novel about freedom and captivity, survival and sacrifice and whether you can save anyone before you save yourself.

Expected publication : April 2023

Road of Bones by Christopher Golden

Posted On 8 November 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 6 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review: What the heck just happened?

Roadof

This is going to be a strange review to write because on the one hand Road of Bones was really not what I was expecting it to be, nor did I find it the least bit creepy – although now I’m really thinking about it to write this review I realise that’s not entirely truthful.  It is in fact creepy but it didn’t scare me (if that makes sense – gah, I know what I’m trying to say!).  On the other hand, although it wasn’t the story I was expecting it was still a compelling read and a good one.  So, ultimately does it really matter if this didn’t do or go quite where I expected?

Just to unravel this let’s look a little deeper into what the book is about because it’s absolutely fascinating as a concept and I defy anyone who reads this book to put it down and not be intrigued enough to go and google The Road of Bones, or the Kolyma Highway as it’s also known.  Yes, the Road of Bones is real and it has a shocking history. Built during the Stalinist era the road took over twenty years to build and used slave labour from Gulags along the route.  The conditions were harsh and to date there is no accurate record of the number of deaths that occurred during that period but it is believed that the bones of 250,000–1,000,000 unhappy souls lie beneath the permafrost.  It’s a bit mind numbing isn’t it?

Anyway, as the story begins we make the acquaintance of Teig and Prentiss.  Teig produces documentaries and over the years he’s had successes and failures, unfortunately many of his friends have drifted away, no longer enamoured with his ‘big’ ideas for money making.  Prentiss is Teig’s remaining friend, although Teig does owe him money and the two are hoping that this latest brainchild will reap rewards.  Teig wants to travel the Road of Bones to the coldest place in Siberia, Oymyakon.  Temperatures are believed to reach -60.  This isn’t just a harsh environment in which to live it’s positively life threatening. During the winter months there’s only a few hours of sunshine and even then the clouds keep the place in darkness. If your vehicle breaks down or you turn off the ignition outside it’s more than likely that you’ll die.  Anyway, Teig is hoping for drama, moodiness, intense weather and maybe a few ghostly experiences in order to return home and wow potential investors into backing his latest dream.  Unfortunately his hopes become a very grim reality and he finds himself being pursued.  Teig employs a guide to take him to Oymyakon, they also rescue a stranger en route, a woman whose car has broken down and would have undoubtedly died without their fortunate timing.  The four of them finally arrive at the settlement only to find it’s abandoned.  All the houses are empty. The doors are open. Frozen suppers lie on the tables untouched and trails of footsteps can be seen heading towards the forest, some of them barefoot, as though they left in a hurry.  Eventually the four find a young girl who seems to have retreated into her own mind, unable to speak and possibly scared so badly that she’s positively numb with shock.  From here things take a strange turn.  Large wolves attack and everything goes a little out of control.  I’m not going to elaborate too much from here, this is a fairly short and quick read and I don’t want to spoil it for others.  Basically our characters take to the road and the wolves (or whatever they happen to be) pursue them.

So, this story has a cinematic quality without doubt and I think it would make a stunning adaptation.  The setting itself is practically another character.  It’s so cold that every action our protagonists take has to be considered beforehand.  There’s always a chance that their vehicle won’t start and when you’re being chased you can’t afford to leave such things to chance.  There is plenty of action and I’ll just warn you right now that the body count starts to grow with some shocking deaths and developments. I enjoyed the writing, it’s packed with atmosphere and, as I mentioned the setting itself really lends itself to this type of chiller.

I’m not going to give away the ending, although to be fair, I’m not sure I could explain with any confidence exactly what did happen.  Let’s just say ‘here be monsters’.   We have a Parnee – I took this to be the spirit of the forest.  It has an almost human manifestation and seems to control the shadows and beasts.  I don’t know what its intentions were even now.  Was it driven by unhappy souls?  I’m not sure.  This is more the type of horror/chiller that doesn’t bear too much scrutiny.  I think everyone will have different mileage with this one and so my advice is just sign up for the ride and let the story take you where it will.

There was another aspect to the story that involves an older woman who has a mission of her own, this next part of the review is going to have a slight spoiler so look away now.  I was puzzled by this aspect to the tale. Ludmilla travels the Bone Road praying, I understood her to be a shaman who was trying to bring peace to the unhappy souls who hadn’t moved on.  What puzzled me is that during the story, before we meet Ludmila, there is talk of a woman who haunts the road.  After Ludmila’s involvement concludes there is also talk of a woman who haunts the road, I felt like the two were linked somehow but couldn’t quite figure out how, almost like Ludmila’s presence was a haunting – but that doesn’t seem possible either.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, this isn’t really a criticism of the book.  I picked this story up in the firm belief that it was going to be a haunting horror story whereas it turned out to be more an environmental folklore horror story – which, as it happens was very good.  But, I can’t help still wanting to read that haunting horror story that I first anticipated – it feels very much like a story begging to be told.

As it is, I thought this was a gripping, shocking, dark, relentless, sometimes brutal, always compelling, chiller of a story.  Perfect for a winter’s night.  Wrap up warm.  The writing here is enough to give you the chills even if you’re sat in front of a cosy fire.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Posted On 7 November 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 4 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Brilliant ideas, too much repetition

Imaginary

I actually had a review copy of this and was so cross with myself for not managing to pick it up in a timely fashion that I also bought the audio version so I could joint read/listen in the hopes of catching up with some of my backlist books.

I have to say this got off to an excellent start as far as I was concerned.  A woman on the run from an abusive relationship trying desperately to find a better life for her son.  Kate and Christopher eventually find a small town that feels remote enough to stay out of reach but unfortunately disaster strikes when Christopher goes missing for six days.  When he unexpectedly reappears everything begins to change.

Imaginary Friend is a creeping horror story that manages to include plenty of dark material.  As you start the story there’s almost a feel good element with Christopher and his mum having a massive stroke of good luck.  Things really seem to be working out for the two and it’s really good to see things falling into place – obviously you know this is going to change and after Chris goes missing and returns his character begins to alter.  His schoolwork improves but he experiences severe headaches and on top of that he becomes strangely obsessed with a project to build a treehouse in the woods in which he went missing.  An idea that seems to have been planted by his new imaginary friend.  Of course, his mum isn’t keen for him to go into the woods at all and so Chris and his friends resort to a lot of sneaking around.

Now I mentioned the inclusion of ‘dark material’ and I’m not going to discuss everything but will mention a few things.  This is a small, idyllic looking town and yet appearances can be deceiving.  Behind closed doors we have plenty of uncomfortable reading and as the drama escalates these issues begin to creep out into the open.  Marriages gone wrong, child abuse, alcohol dependence, bullying, religious fervour – to name but a few.  So, bear that in mind if these are potential triggers for you before picking this one up.

Basically, and not to give too much away, this is a fight against good and evil and a race against time to prevent all hell breaking loose,  In the meantime the whole town seems to be infected with a strange sort of hysteria and the build up becomes intense and bloody.

Before I go any further I would say that this book is so good in so many ways.  The writing is really good and some of the ideas are brilliant.  The characters are well portrayed and the whole story is full of creepy atmosphere.  But.  It’s simply too long. And, before you break out the torches and pitchforks, in my defense I will say that I’m not against long books per se – but I am against them feeling long – and this one just became too much repetition.  It felt like one long life or death drama after another but rather than creating tension it had the opposite effect and I found myself becoming completely complacent with regard to the characters and their eventual fates.  So many times I felt like this must be it, the grande finale, but so many times I was wrong and the storyline began to feel like ‘build up, scary things happen, people nearly die’ rinse and repeat.

To be honest I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading this.  There are some superb moments here and a twist that I really didn’t see coming but it just didn’t work for me and I’m not above admitting it could be a mood thing or perhaps me simply going into this with my own expectations that were maybe ill founded.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 2.5 of 5 stars

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing so but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Books read this week:

Another quiet week for blog hopping as life took over a little but I’ve managed to get a little reading done, posted about our SPFBO finalist and hopefully this week will be able to fit in a few reviews and visits to other blogs. This week I finished The Hollows by Daniel Church.  I also read Road of Bones by Christopher Golden and managed to complete Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky.

Next Week’s Reads:

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

#SPFBO 8 Recap, Semi Finalists and What’s Next

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What is SPFBO? Check out Mark Lawrence’s post here to look at this year’s entrants, judges and allocations list.

This year I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.

So, we recently announced our finalist. To check out all the Finalists simply follow this link.

Our finalist this year was Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson – if you haven’t read this book I highly recommend it. It’s a great deal of fun and whilst it has a slightly more modern feel than Jane Austen I can without reservation say that it felt positively Austen(ish).  I loved it.

However, today I’d like to cast the light on our Semi Finalists.  In fact this year I’ve decided to use the second stage of the competition to take a look at the semi finalists chosen by our fellow judges.  At the end of the day these are good books that could easily have been finalists and so I’d love to take a look -wouldn’t want to miss out after all.

This post is about the three Semi Finalists we chose and why you should give them a read.

In no particular order:

The World BreakerThe World Breaker Requiem by Luke Tarzian

This is what my fantastic partners over at The Critiquing Chemist had to say

The World Breaker Requiem. … a story that’s equal parts dark, mercurial, and deep… The characters are constantly evolving as more is revealed. The story continually shifts between different characters, such that it may not be entirely clear which character is being featured or how the passage ties in until later on. The setting is hauntingly beautiful with endless possibilities for worldbuilding. And with poignant prose, Tarzian masterfully examines topics of guilt, intentions versus consequences, and how far you’d go to right a wrong’

I would add to this by saying ‘I thought this was a powerful story of grief and loss and the lengths people will go to in search of redemption or the possibility to turn back time.  It strongly sits in the grimdark genre and yet it has an hypnotic style that makes you stop and backtrack at certain points in order to really capture the essence of what’s being said.’

This is a layered book set in a grim world yet the author has a style that almost belies the horror and struggles that the characters encounter.  An author with a unique, hypnotic style.

BloodofThe Blood of Crows by Alex C Pierce

Here we have a fast paced and entertaining story which essentially turns into a race against time for the main POV who needs to solve a murder mystery before he finds himself framed for something he didn’t do.  Along the way there are heists and twists, gadgets and magic. This is a story that makes you form attachments to the characters and I found myself always keen to pick it up for the next instalment of mayhem.

On the face of it you could be forgiven for thinking that this doesn’t sound particularly groundbreaking, particularly if you read plenty of fantasy, however, the writing is great, the dialogue is witty, I liked the elemental magic and the pages practically turned themselves.  A pacy read with an ending that leaves so much more to look forward to – speaking of which – here’s what the CC had to say in that regard  ‘In many ways this novel feels like a prequel where the key players are established, but most of the reveals are kept waiting in the wings for the remainder of the series. The epilogue alone holds enough surprises to fuel a whole new line of questions, along with recasting several of the events throughout The Blood of Crows in a new light, while introducing a shadow party that adds a new layer of intrigue and danger.’

A nugget of a book.

EverAliceEver Alice by HJ Ramsay

Ahh, when is a retelling not a retelling?  Why, when it is a sequel of course.  A  return to the crazy that we know as Wonderland and a look at characters that we thought we knew, but when seen through the eyes of a teenager instead of a young girl, seem on reflection to be much more conniving.

Ever Alice certainly relies heavily on the original work and I enjoyed that aspect to the story.  We have many of the old characters along with some new introductions, although as I said above, these characters have lost some of their ‘silliness’ – now being observed by a more cynical teenager.  I loved the upside down, contradictory nature of everything – on the one hand (or should that be on the second foot?) there are descriptions of food, tea and cake, and in your head you have this delicious afternoon tea appearing in your brain until, what?  this doesn’t sound delicious at all.  And these contradictions are the same for everything which gives the full story a beautifully-twisted-upside down-nothing-is-as-it-should-be-or-what-you-initially-think-feel.

This also has an alternate history woven into the tale of the two Queens (Hearts and Spades) and I really enjoyed that aspect.  It felt like it put some meat on the bones of the story.

This is a story that gives you a different slice of Alice Pie.  Things have moved on and the author takes the opportunity to look at mental health issues and the treatments meted out by asylums.  Strangely enough, I’ve only just realised  how very appropriate the title of the book is.  Silly me.

Over the next few weeks I very much look forward to looking at Semi Finalists from the other judges so watch this space for some more ‘must read’ recommendations.  Wouldn’t want your Mount TBR to look achievable now would we.

Also,  I shall be selecting my Finalist reading order using a random number generator.  I wonder which book will be first?

Friday Face Off : Red skies at night – Covers that are red

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

I’ve added themes in below. For information, I’m trying out some new ideas so along with coming up with particular items for book covers I thought we could also look for certain elements contained within the book or that play a large part in the story – this really broadens things out because I have plenty of more ideas with this – I’ve gone for a few of the Tough Travel Themes (so a book with that theme – just choose any book – the theme isn’t necessarily on the cover, then compare covers), also, I’ve thrown in some genres and some colours.  Hopefully this will open things out a little and give us some more freedom to come up with new books.

This week’s theme:

Red skies at night – Covers that are red

I love the way the character takes centre stage.

Do you have a favourite?

2022

November – Scifi Month
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or series

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Tyranny of Faith (Empire of the Wolf #2) by Richard Swan

CWW

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Tyranny of Faith (Empire of the Wolf #2) by Richard Swan because I absolutely loved The Justice of Kings:

Tyranny

From a major new debut author in epic fantasy comes the second book in a trilogy where action, intrigue, and magic collide. Sir Konrad Vonvalt is an Emperor’s Justice: a detective, judge, and executioner all in one. But these are dangerous times to be a Justice….

A Justice’s work is never done.

The Battle of Galen’s Vale is over, but the war for the Empire’s future has just begun. Concerned by rumors that the Magistratum’s authority is waning, Sir Konrad Vonvalt returns to Sova to find the capital city gripped by intrigue and whispers of rebellion. In the Senate, patricians speak openly against the Emperor, while fanatics preach holy vengeance on the streets.

Yet facing down these threats to the throne will have to wait, for the Emperor’s grandson has been kidnapped – and Vonvalt is charged with rescuing the missing prince. His quest will lead him – and his allies Helena, Bressinger and Sir Radomir – to the southern frontier, where they will once again face the puritanical fury of Bartholomew Claver and his templar knights – and a dark power far more terrifying than they could have imagined.

Expected publication: February 2023

The Ghost Woods by CJ Cooke

Posted On 1 November 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 5 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Sad, creepy,gothic horror story

TheGhost

Without doubt CJ Cooke is a master of atmosphere and a deft hand at creating unsettling stories packed with myth and emotion and the Ghost Woods is a fine example of that and my favourite book of hers to date.

Here we have a remote setting, Lichen Hall is nestled deep in the woods, the woods are steeped in myth and avoided by the locals and the Hall is now a retreat (although I use that word begrudgingly) for young single women who have fallen pregnant and, at a time when this was deeply frowned upon, have taken the decision (or more often than not been forced) to have their babies adopted.

The Ghost Woods has a split timeline.  The year is 1959 and we learn of Mabel, only 17 years old and pregnant although she insists she hasn’t had sex.  She is sent to Lichen Hall and we follow her progress as she starts to make friends eventually and relax a little.  Jump to 1965 and meet Pearl who has also come to the Hall to have her baby.  Pearl was a nurse but lost her job and the love of her life when she revealed her condition.  Not to put too fine a point on things but Lichen Hall is a rather sad place.  Young, vulnerable girls come to have their babies and offer them for adoption.  There are tears and sadness.  The setting is lonely and added to that there are rumours about the encroaching woods and a number of girls have witnessed something scary out there.

I enjoyed this.  It’s very atmospheric, the Hall is a cold and unwelcoming place run by a seemingly cold hearted woman (Mrs Whitlock) hellbent on making a profit from the desperation of others.  The setting has evil vibes and it’s clear that something dangerous is beginning to grow in strength.  Strangely, and I found this a fascinating aspect to the growing horror but there seems to be an invasion of fungus, in fact part of the house has had to be closed due to the overwhelming spread.  Lichen Hall really played into the gothic vibe.  Here is a once glorious, but now fallen into disrepair manor house.  There are elements that still shine but more than that there are creepy cellars, creaky floors and doors and many secrets.

The characters.   Mrs Whitlock is almost a split personality.  She can be warm and endearing but only in very brief spurts.  Her husband has become bed bound and her grandson is an unusual boy, detached, prone to outbursts and often difficult.  Of the two main characters, Mabel is very vulnerable, she falls into the trap of becoming, effectively, a slave to the Whitlocks and simply does as she’s told.  Pearl is much more assertive and determined to find answers but likewise she has more or less been abandoned by her family.   There’s an awful feeling of being trapped.

There’s a real sense of horror here and that’s not just reliant on the myths attached to the area.  You feel so terrible for these young women, caught in a time and place that was so unkind to their plight.  Added to this are a number of elements that could feel disparate but thanks to the strong writing instead come together in a very cohesive way.  Not to give too much away there is a strong and vengeful spirit, the spread of the fungus is linked and helps to demonstrate the invasiveness of what’s going on it also brings with it a couple of twists that are both unexpected and scarily and awfully plausible.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, there was nothing here that spoiled the read for me.  There’s a slight slowness to the set up initially but probably about a third into the book things begin to hot up and the horror becomes more apparent.  There is also a kind of busyness going on but, whilst this definitely had the potential to become a little too much, surprisingly I didn’t find that to be the case.

As it happens I found this very easy to read in terms of pacing and desire to press on.  I liked the double aspect to it – not just a supernatural horror of sorts but also a real life horror and a look at the struggles of young women and the awful circumstances they were placed in.  I liked the twisted nature of the story and the shocking revelation of what’s actually taking place.  Very dark and foreboding, creepy and a great read for this time of year.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars.

#SPFBO Finalist Announcement

Posted On 31 October 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 3 responses

SPFBO71024_1

What is SPFBO? Check out Mark Lawrence’s post here to look at this year’s entrants, judges and allocations list.

This year I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.

Stage 1 of the SPFBO competition concludes today and it is with great pleasure that team LB=TC2 announce their finalist.  I’m not going to drag this post out as I know this is a nerve wracking time for the authors involved so let’s just cut straight to the chase.  Our finalist is :

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MissPercy's

My review is here.  Please check out the Critiquing Chemist’s post here.

This is not a decision that is lightly made.  We had some excellent books in our batch and some very tough calls to make.  Our thanks to all the authors that took part.  I strongly recommend our other Semi finalists and will be recapping shortly with all the links to the books.  I would also strongly advise checking out the other judges sites (again, I’ll provide links to those so that you can check out the other semi finalists and finalists chosen.  But today’s post is all about the finalist.

The phase two board can be found here.

My congratulations to Quenby Olson and good wishes for Phase Two of the competition.

Our average score is 9/10

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing so but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

Books read this week:

This week we went away for a few days so I’ve been rather quite in terms of blog hopping.  We visited the beautiful city of Granada in Spain and had a fantastic time.  I did read one of my books, The Ghost Woods by CJ Cooke.  I also started The Hollows by Daniel Church.  I posted two SPFBO reviews – watch this space tomorrow for our finalist announcement.  Sorry if this feels a little rushed but we’re on our way out the door so just a short and sweet post today.

Next Week’s Reads:

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

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