Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Posted On 25 September 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 this 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:

Well, I mentioned I was having a little break – now I’m back.  I’m still listening to Babel by RF Kuang.  I also mentioned this isn’t a book that’s easy to power through. I’m about halfway through and I have mixed feelings.  On the one hand it’s a joy, well written, interesting, informative, packed with intelligence.  On the other hand, well, there’s not a great deal going on at this point. I’m still reading All of Our Demise by Christine Herman and Amanda Foody which is only going slowly because I decided to press on with my SPFBO books – the ones I’ve decided to carry forward.  I’ve read three, I’m half way through the fourth and so hopeful to have read all my potential SFs by the end of the week.  Updates and reviews will soon follow but, fingers crossed, I should be exchanging SFs with my partners the Critiquing Chemist very soon.

Next Week’s Reads:

So, complete the two books above and then take my pick of the goodies below.

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Friday Face Off : Rage Against the Machine

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:

Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI

Again, I didn’t have a cover for this week planned but, as it happens, I think A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers fits the theme perfectly.  And, it’s an excellent book that I highly recommend.  Here are the covers:

Do you have a favourite.  Have you read this book yet – what do you think?

2022

September RIP
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
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 serie

Dyer Street Punk Witches by Phil Williams (Ordshaw #7)

My Five Word TL:DR Review: My favourite Ordshaw adventure yet

GTD Cover

I first encountered the strange city of Ordshaw during a SPFBO challenge a few years ago and I have to say that the author has taken this place and made it into a fascinating place full of magic.  His love for Ordshaw and it’s characters shines through in his writing and makes the reading so much more enjoyable as a result.  To my shame I haven’t read all the books in the series but this leads me a very good point – which is (and if you’re a reader with a huge TBR – which, you probably are) that you can read many of these as standalones and this is one such example.  

Hand on heart, I can genuinely say that this is my favourite of the author’s work so far (which is saying something as I also recently enjoyed Kept from Cages.  For me, this story had the perfect mix of elements.  Rebellious women turning to witchery, punk-bad-assness, gangs and the criminal underworld, great characters that you can really become attached to and, well, what more do you want – punk witches.  

Essentially this is the story of Kit “Fadulous” Hamley, activist editor for the type of publication not afraid to call out those who should be above corruption and helping the downtrodden but who frequently fail to do so.  Kit lives in a rather seedy area of Ordshaw where gangs in the past fought for turf.  Kit and her two friends became involved in the gang life, much to their later regret, and as they started to discover their own talents for witchcraft became sucked much deeper into the goings on.  Things have moved on since then, regrets have been put firmly behind, the girls left their ‘witchery’ dead and buried – until it seems that there’s a new force felt in the area and with that stirring in the darkness the gangs once again become restless.

I won’t say anything further about the plot as you can discover that for yourself and I highly recommend you do so.  Instead, I’m going to highlight a few of my feelings.

Well, firstly, I just loved Kit.  I mean, everything about her.  She doesn’t take any nonsense.  She rushes in like a raging maniac with little fear for the consequences.  Also, yes, she’s a bit reckless but I also think this boils down to the innate trust she has in those around her to behave in a certain way.  She’s a confident woman. she can still touch the darkness but has chosen not to do so understanding that such magic comes with a price  that she’s not prepared to pay. And, she’s like this fearsome creature that stalks around growling at people but she’s also something of a great softie. She’s surrounded by other really easy to like characters but I’ll let you discover them for yourself.

Kit and her buddies drifted apart but in their teenage years they were firm friends, dabbling in the unknown with the help of an online grimoire that they found.  I loved that there’s a split timeline here.  It takes us back to those crazy young years and I really think Williams nailed the whole chaotic, passionate, crazy messed up punk feel and it simply made me smile.  We drift back and forth between the now and then slowly discovering what really took place all those years ago with a few twists thrown in for good measure and the pacing of this is, for me, perfect. 

What else did I love.  Well, I mentioned that the author has a clear love for this strange place and it shines through.  This is a place that is easy to visualise,  This author knows this place, he’s spent time here and he’s confident when he’s writing about it.  In fact that leads me to my next point which is I feel that Williams has really honed his writing.  This book is really well executed.  There’s a great sense of pace and the balance between slowly revealing things from the past, jumping back to the ‘now’ and keeping the interest jumping whilst really making the reader feel for the characters is just so well done.  Seriously, I have to applaud this because I never, not once, had a feeling of regret or impatience when I was jumping between the timelines, I didn’t experience any of those little niggles where you feel like you’re being lead down the garden path, or given information that was unnecessary, it just worked so well for me.

Okay, I also can’t deny that the whole reflection on the punk rock age is something that I loved, and that cover by the way – just saying (gorgeous), but I also think the author played a blinder, he’s mixed up the anarchy and the gangs and the violence and he’s managed to pull into that the exploitation of raw new talent that sometimes took place.  And, he shows us the grown up versions of his characters as well as the younger more idealistic versions – and they’re a bit jaded, a bit rough around the edges but they still think they’re all that, tough as nails.

I actually have no criticisms for this book.  It worked really well for me and was a pleasure to read.

My thanks to the author for a review copy.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

As an extra the Author has come up with some Cards for his key characters and I am so happy to share with you the card for Firline.  The only thing I’m going to tell you about this character is she is a downright serious witch with an abundance of power.  She’s very important to the story but I’m not going to tell you why – go find out for yourself.  Here she is in all her glory:

Trading Cards

For more information about the characters and their cards take a look here.

A few days away

Posted On 14 September 2022

Filed under Book Reviews

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Just a short post to let you know that for the next few days I will be absent  (I have scheduled a few posts though)- not on holiday but travelling and helping with family things.  I don’t usually feel the need to post about such things  (and I am quite a private person as a rule) but I recognise that this year has been quite different for me.  You may have noticed my slight absence in recent months, less reading, blogging and commenting and this is not a reflection on my love of books or this community but more an indication of extra things taking place this year behind the scenes that have simply pulled me in other directions.  So, if I’ve not visited you for a while – I will be doing so soon.  I’m hoping that I’ll have a couple of calmer months in October and November when I can catch up with everyone and I also have a few new ideas to think about for the future.

So, see you all in a few days.

see you soon

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes

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 House in the Pines by Ana Reyes.

Houseinthepines

A captivating psychological suspense debut about a young woman still haunted by her childhood best friend’s death who learns of an eerily similar incident and must find her way back to a cabin in the New England woods, armed with only hazy memories, to finally uncover the truth that has eluded her.

Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, mysteriously dropped dead in front of the enigmatic man named Frank whom they’d been hanging around with all summer. Seven years later, Maya is just managing to move on; she lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is kicking the secret Klonopin habit that’s allowed her to cope with what happened all those years ago.

But her past comes to haunt her when she discovers a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged back into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her small Berkshires hometown to figure out the truth.

With guidance from a half-written book by the father in Guatemala she never knew, Maya’s quest for answers forces her to relive that fateful summer—the influence Frank once had on her, and the jealousy that nearly destroyed her friendship with Aubrey—finally leading her to Frank’s cabin in the woods.

The House in the Pines is an utterly unique and surprising thriller about the subtlety of memory and manipulation, confronting the past and returning home, and the powerful and lasting bonds of family and friendship.

Expected publication : January 2023

#SPFBO 8 First Batch of Books: Feedback

Posted On 13 September 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
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SPFBO71024_1

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

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

Today’s post is about giving feedback on the first five SPFBO books I picked up.  I have fifteen books altogether and I’ve tried out a different process this year.  I had three batches of randomly chosen books equalling five books a month for the first three months.   As previously mentioned I will be giving every book in my batch a fair chance and in fact I’ve read at least 30% (and more often than that more) of each book.  Having  partially read all 15 books I’m now in a position to start to make cuts and choose which books I will be fully reading before choosing a semi finalist. I will provide a short review of my initial thoughts for the books that I have to say goodbye to – always the saddest part of the competition which is why I find myself delaying the inevitable.  Before the end of September I will post two further updates with further cuts.  At this point, and to be clear, the books I’m rolling forward at this stage are not Semi Finalists but are in the running to become so. I aim to complete all my potential SFs by the end of September at which point I hope to select one or two books as Semi Finalists for the Critiquing Chemist to read (and they will do likewise) – we will then decide on our Finalist.

Without further ado:

Elusion of Freedom by Kelvin Womack

Elusion

After thousands of years the trapped darkness is breaking free, and once it is, no longer shall we be.

Thought to be long locked away, darkness has escaped it confines, enslaving everything it touches.

The only safe haven is behind the Order’s towering walls, where 17-year-old Vayn and his father have fled. But it’s not the darkness they’re afraid of. After escaping the clutches of Shadow Reapers that ravaged his land, Vayn desires to never live in the free world again, exchanging his liberation for what some would consider a form of slavery.

But when Reapers break inside, murdering his father, Vayn is determined to attain retribution. The Order forbids it, knowing he’ll uncover their secrets.

There is but one way to regain his freedom. Once a year, on the Day of Liberation, one may leave the walls but at great cost. A life.

Vayn must sacrifice someone innocent. If he doesn’t, he’ll never bring his father’s killers to justice or learn the Orders secrets.

Outside awaits the darkness, its creatures perishable only with the aid of a larger-than-life sword. But not even that will help him face the darkness of his own past.

Freedom is both elusive and hard to distinguish. Time is of the essence, and on his quest of vengeance, Vayn must learn that true freedom is more than escape from physical and mental subjugation before the darkness swallows their world into oblivion.

My thoughts:

I read just shy of 40% of Elusion of Freedom.  It’s a fast moving story with plenty of action packed in and was quite a surprise being a mix of fantasy and sci fi.  The world here is beset with a dark encroaching menace with monsters that attack villages slaughtering everyone and destroying everything.  We initially meet Vayn and his father as they seek sanctuary behind the walls of the Order following such destruction in their own homeland.  Their entry involves wearing a permanent collar which appears to act as an information gathering tool – basically there are certain stations placed around and the wearing of these collars gives signals that demonstrate the wearer’s emotions and can lead to problems for them. Vayn trains to become a soldier, making firm friends along the way, until the Order is also attacked and Vayn’s father is killed.  Vayn then leaves the order to seek vengeance, a thing which is deeply frowned upon – in fact once you leave there is no return.

At the point I left off I would say that this would definitely appeal to readers who like a lot of action, also the possibility of a romance potentially developing between two of the central characters, although this is very subtle so don’t worry if romance isn’t your thing.  I felt like the characterisation suffered a little as a result of the constant drive forward and as a result I didn’t find myself becoming quite as attached to any of the key players as I would have liked, but, at the same time, I recognise that my feelings may have developed further if I’d read to the end.

In terms of the world.  I did find myself a little bit perplexed at times.  On the one hand this had the feeling of something olde worlde.  We have swords and daggers, bows and arrows and an old fashioned military style school that drills obedience into students, but then we seem to have some much more sophisticated hardware that felt a bit at odds somehow and not fully explored, again, though the caveat of only having read so far also applies to this comment.  I confess that I kept falling into a more mediaeval type mindset but that’s really my brain lulling me.

At times some of the language was quite modern which also jarred me a little, particularly as for most of the read I got a different vibe, like in my head I was picturing a different period but them something uptodate would pop up and it would surprise me all over again. In fairness that’s my own issue though and other readers might not share that experience.

All that being said I think this would appeal to readers who enjoy a story that has a fast pace with a central intrigue.  The characters seem to be forming lasting friendships and the intrigue surrounding the darkness is waiting to be discovered not to mention future revelations that have been hinted at concerning the ‘Order’ and it’s motivations.

Conclusion : Cut

Cutthroats and Traitors by Steven Smith

Cutthroats

Will the Jagged Ghosts stop at nothing to evade capture? Their journey of alcohol induced law breaking may soon come to an end, with naval commander Lieutenant Dainsley being appointed the task of bringing the small pirate crew to justice.

It’s a race against time. If the Jagged Ghosts lose, the noose will await them all.

My thoughts:

Cutthroats and Traitors is an apt title for the story so far as we follow a small pirate crew and discover that not everyone amongst their number is playing fair.

The story begins with a banquet attended by the wealthiest aristocrats and an opportunity for a particularly highly-ranked British officer to brag about his most recent endeavours which led to the capture and execution of a notorious pirate.  The party is unceremoniously broken up when pirates break into the hall led by a young woman bent on revenge for the recent execution of her father.

Holly Black is the captain of the Jagged Ghosts, known as such because of the lethal weapons they carry and their ability to escape/disappear on the high seas.  Holly has a plan to get rich quick and disappear permanently, unfortunately, not all her crew are loyal and along with that she and her mates find themselves in a spot of bother when the Redcoats turn up at the tavern they’re patronising.

I can’t really say too much about the story and clearly I don’t want to give too much away about the traitorous aspects.

Now, as with the book above, I’ve read a certain percentage of this story, approx 32/33% and the first thing I would say to the point I read is that I haven’t at this point encountered any fantasy aspects – of course that could be due to follow so it’s only an early first impression.  To be fair I’m very fond of pirate stories whether or not they have fantasy within the pages so going swashbuckling always works for me and I can’t get enough of such stories.

I must say that I was very happy to find that we had a mostly female crew of pirates.  However, I struggled a little to like the characters or particularly engage with any of them and I put that down to the speed at which the story bursts out of the blocks.  I couldn’t help but feel like we were told they were badass rather than being shown through their actions, again though, I would add the caveat that the characters have had a fairly limited time to work their magic and although I don’t yet have a favourite that could easily change.  Certainly I think that the intrigue is interesting and I anticipate some twists before the conclusion is reached.

Unfortunately, at the point at which I’d stopped we’d not set sail or encountered any adventures as such but hopefully that is yet to follow.

As it is, this definitely contains intrigue in terms of the traitor in the midst of this band of reprobates and so if you like shenanigans involving pirates this could be the book for you.

Conclusion : Cut

The Prophecy by RE Davies

Reign of

Elf born, raised by wolves, and talks to dragons…who is this girl? She wants to find out, too, as she abandons the safe confines of her home to discover the truth for herself. Blessed with a magic unlike any before, she discovers a world at war ruled over by monstrous dragons, where the land has been slowly dying beyond that of her cozy little wolf den. The young elf discovers she is known by many names, and some believe her to be the one of prophecy meant to unite the land of Onis. It is no easy task that has been placed on her shoulders. There is no love between the dragons, the elves, the humans, the dwarves, and the drow, so getting them to listen will be quite a challenge. Luckily, the wolf child has an unprecedented team of cohorts to aid and guide her on her quest, but is she ready for such a challenge? Will the great dragon Aeris’s extreme hatred be overcome so that peace can be brought to the land? Or, will the young girl fail in her quest and bring forth an even greater war between the races?

Join this young elf on her epic quest for peace and self-discovery as she battles against monsters, forms unbreakable bonds, and faces the reigning ancient dragons of Onis.

My thoughts: 

The Prophecy is a coming of age/chosen one story – both much loved tropes within the genre and for good reason.  As the book begins we witness an attack, by dragons, on a band of elves travelling through the forest.  A baby is amongst their number but rather than kill the infant one of the dragons secretes her away to be looked after by wolves and in particular a wolf-god.  We then move forward and meet Davion as he graduates from a prestigious mage school with his ability being fire magic.  His uncle (not by blood) is a dwarf called Hort and the two are about to travel back to their home, Lochlann where Davion will use his fire magic to help in the foundry – although really he dreams of greatness in battle.  Meanwhile in the Sacred Forest the young elf child, known as Pavula,  has been raised as part of the wolf pack, practicing her magic and living an almost idyllic life.  Pavula is the hope of Onis, the one prophesied to bring peace.  She’s starting to push against the boundaries and restrictions that have protected her over the years.  She wants to see other places and meet people.  Both characters are of an age when they want more from life, and although they are in some respects still unprepared for what life is about to throw at them,  it seems like they’re destined to meet, particularly after both experience a vision of the other.

This is a very easy to read fantasy.  The place is described well and although it feels slightly generic it’s easy to conjure.  There’s enough history to give the world a good foundation and this isn’t heavy handed.  It has a Tolkien feel with dwarves, elves, humans, dragons, trolls, orcs and other creatures.  Some humans can wield magic and this is believed to be as a result of their interactions with elves in the past.  Each race is, for a fantasy reader, much as you would imagine, for example, the elves are beautiful and graceful, long lived and magical, a little lofty and removed.  The Dwarves are blunt and to the point.  Skillful and able to craft, voracious of appetite, etc.

The characters are young, naive and slightly sweet to read about.  To be honest, I can’t remember their ages but this has a young YA feel to it.  The two central characters are Pavula and Davion but they are surrounded by other likable characters such as Hort.  I stopped reading at 34% which is the point at which the two seemed about to meet.

Overall, whilst The Prophecy felt a little young for me it is without doubt a book that younger readers, new to fantasy will enjoy.  There’s plenty of action and adventure, the beginnings of a sweet romance and the makings of two young people set to change their world.

Conclusion : Cut

The Hidden Blade by Marie M. Mullany

HiddenBlade

The bluron’s wings delivers a stark command of death as the Empire teeters on the edge of a most uncivil war. For the first time in Her long history, a ducal line has failed. The last duke of Etendulat is dead and none of his heirs have undertaken the Trials of Dusang. The wealth of farmlands that lies at the heart of the Blutben penninsula lack a ruler and greedy men circle the bountiful plains.

Into this high stakes game, Louis is sent to end the ambitions of Tybalt du Mamel, Baron of Somfaux, who would reach for the Etendulat Sash. With every step, he uncovers more of a treacherous plot that is poised to strike at the heart of the Empire. Forbidden magic shadows him and ultimately he must make a dire decision : Can he take the life of an innocent for the greater good?

My thoughts:

I won’t be posting a review for The Hidden Blade today as this is one of the books I’ve decided to continue reading so a review will follow at a later stage.

Conclusion: Roll forward

Memories of Blood and Shadow by Aaron S Jones

Memories

Guilt cuts sharper than the deadliest of blades.

Tavar Farwan lives alone past the Undying Sands. One stormy night, he is attacked by two young warriors claiming to vengeance for an ill from ages past. Tavar defends himself, killing one of the intruders and leaving the other to bleed on the floor. Weary and filled with regret, Tavar offers to tell the young man his story: a story of how a nomadic orphan rose to kill a God.

My thoughts:

Well, Memories of Blood and Shadow is a well told tale (to the point I read up to).  I love books where the central character is reflecting back and telling his story and this is no exception.

Tavar is the main character.  His parents are killed by soldiers as a boy and he, his brother and friends are taken to Alfara as slaves.  They are enrolled into military school where they are gradually honed to become soldiers.  Tavar’s brother, instead of being enrolled in the school was taken by a more senior officer and follows a different course although I suspect their paths will cross again even though I’d not quite reached that point.

So, I enjoyed reading the start of Tavar’s tale.  The story is well told.  There is plenty of detail that helps to build a really good picture of the world and the author takes his time over the characters developing their individual natures and succeeding in developing firm friendships.  I confess that I’m a bit of a sucker for the whole ‘training school’ type of story so the chapters I’ve read so far were enjoyable for me.

The issues that I had with this one.  Well, of course I noticed the familiarity in set up to Name of the Wind.  I think such comparisons are inevitable although I feel like the story itself is going in its own direction even though it had a distinctly Rothfuss style kick off.  The other slight niggle for me was the pacing.  This is a story that takes its time.  To be honest that’s not an issue as such for me as I really don’t mind my stories having a touch of ‘epic’.  However, there are certain points where I felt some of the narrative could have been pruned a little – this is very much a personal opinion though – and I do understand the author’s love of the place and people that they create and therefore want to expound upon.  Also, although I read just over 30% of the story (which probably equates to about 200 pages) there has been little action to this point and no fantasy elements so far (apart from mention of a sword at the beginning which sounds as though it might have some magical properties).

All being said I enjoyed where I read up to and I’m definitely curious enough to return and complete the story at some point.

Conclusion: Cut

My thanks to the authors for submitting their beloved books.  There wouldn’t be a competition without you and I really appreciate that you took such a huge leap.

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Posted On 12 September 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 5 responses

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 this 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:

So it’s official.  Monday is the new Sunday.  Okay, late again.  A busy week.  I think my problem this week is trying to read too many books at once on top of all the normal ‘life’ events.  I’m about 20% into my listen of Babel by RF Kuang, I’m enjoying this one but will say it’s not going to be a book that you’ll race through.  I started Ithaca but have left that to one side for now as I don’t think it was grabbing me which could just be a mood thing.  I’ve carried on with All of Our Demise by Christine Herman and Amanda Foody which is reading well so far.  I also picked up Phil William’s latest book, The Dyer Street Punk Witches which I think is my favourite of his books so far – review to follow very soon.  On a SPFBO note I will be posting three posts during the remainder of the month which will detail which books are rolling forward from the three batches I’ve picked up and also which books will be cut.  Watch this space.

Next Week’s Reads:

Well, I need to complete some of my reads but I’d also like to read through the books that I’ve chosen to roll forward for SPFBO and of course I have review books (what’s a girl to do).  Some maybe other reads:

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Friday Face Off : Armour/Protection

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:

Armour/Protection

Ahh, that feeling when you have absolutely nothing whatsoever in mind for a particular theme.  Why do I do this – surely I had a book in mind?  Anyway, on another note I have started to visit blogs, I’m reading about six books! and I will also be catching up with comments.  But, I have a very busy weekend so will be snatching time wherever I can.  Anyway, getting back to the Face Off. I suddenly had a light bulb moment.  I love to use these posts to highlight recent reads and so I came up with The Liar of Red Valley.  This is a valley protected by a magical king that prevents ‘nasty’ critters from entering the place.  So, protection.  The River also provides its own mystical protection and on top of that we have a Liar who is more powerful than she knows.  All in all a really enjoyable read that totally meets the whole ethos of ‘protection’.  On top of that – I recommend this book wholeheartedly.  It’s got something unique about it.

Do you have a favourite.  Have you read this book yet – what do you think?

2022

September RIP
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
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 serie

It’s Cover Lover time: A GAMBLE OF GODS (THE ORDER OF THE DRAGON, #1) BY MITRIEL FAYWOOD

So, today was the cover reveal for Mitriel Faywood’s debut novel A Gamble of Gods, the first in the Order of the Dragon series.  Petrik, over at Novel Notions revealed the cover earlier today (stop over to his blog because he’s got all the information going on and an absolutely delicious looking post), and, it’s had a rush of interest on Twitter and Facebook.  Obviously, given my affection for covers, I wanted to continue to help spread the love.  This is going to be a short post mainly focusing on the new design plus the book description to whet your appetite.  I’ve read this one and will be posting a much more comprehensive post shortly in which I’ll go into my thoughts on the book (spoiler alert – it’s good!).

Let’s look at the cover then…

AGamble

Firstly, I love the font for this. Secondly, take a look at the jacket below which looks downright classy. Thirdly, two dragons depicted – me likey some dragons.  Fourthly, and perhaps I should have mentioned this first, the characters expressions are perfect, I mean literally it’s like the artist was in the author’s head – which, ouch, but also good (or maybe bad – what a dilemma).  

The description off Goodreads:

“Life used to be good. I had money. I had fame. I had respect. The same thrill during work every day. A different woman in my bed every night. Best fighter to hire for dangerous jobs. Most famous thief in the Nineteen Kingdoms. Half the world sought my services when they needed the impossible done. The other half wanted to sleep with me.

Then one day this strange guy showed up with his even stranger pet, the latter a bit of a gift horse by all accounts, and turned it all upside down. They claimed to have come to save my life, and while they were at it, I got them to help out with the most important quest of my existence: finding the Supreme Key of the Dragon. Needless to say, none of it turned out quite how I expected. But we had fun, even if it was hell sometimes. In the end, what we found was worth it all.

My name is Conor Drew, the Gods destined me for great things.

But I turned them down.”

The description from the Jacket (which did I mention already looks downright classy – twice can’t possibly hurt after all):

Jacket

“Kristian del Rosso has led a quiet life, burying himself in research and teaching at the University of St Mark. The arrival of a mysterious killer with supernatural abilities and the bloody massacre of a group of Kristian’s students changes all that. Kristian’s grief and a need for answers drives him to set out after their murderer, prepared to face the man but unprepared for what awaits him at the source of it all.

Conor Drew lives for the thrill of adventure and to explore the delights of as many beautiful women as one man can in a lifetime. Between dangerous jobs for the wealthy aristocracy and powerful figures in the underworld of the Nineteen Kingdoms, he’s seen more than most. And yet it isn’t until his greatest friend and biggest enemy both find him on the same day that his true odyssey begins.

Selena Soto is a woman lost in her own world. She struggles to fit into her existence, to find meaning and purpose—even progress at work eludes her. Meeting the right man might be a good first step, or perhaps just defining what it is she really wants from life. Little does she realise that only her own fears keep her from a destiny that’s greater than she could imagine.

The trio will soon learn that only by working as a team can they solve the puzzle that has drawn them together.”

So peeps – whaddya think?

 

FYI: Important ‘stuff’ that you need to know:

The Cover artist is KarrahE  https://www.artstation.com/karrahe

The Cover designer is Shawn T King  http://www.stkkreations.com/

 Check them out – they’re talented so and so’s – it makes me quite pea green with envy.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Angel Maker by Alex North

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 Angel Maker by Alex North.  Here’s the cover and description:

Print

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Whisper Man and The Shadows comes a dark, suspenseful new thriller about the mysteries of fate, the unbreakable bond of siblings, and a notorious serial killer who was said to know the future.

Growing up in a beautiful house in the English countryside, Katie Shaw lived a charmed life. At the cusp of graduation, she had big dreams, a devoted boyfriend, and a little brother she protected fiercely. Until the day a violent stranger changed the fate of her family forever.

Years later, still unable to live down the guilt surrounding what happened to her brother, Chris, and now with a child of her own to protect, Katie struggles to separate the real threats from the imagined. Then she gets the phone call: Chris has gone missing and needs his big sister once more.

Meanwhile, Detective Laurence Page is facing a particularly gruesome crime. A distinguished professor of fate and free will has been brutally murdered just hours after firing his staff. All the leads point back to two old cases: the gruesome attack on teenager Christopher Shaw, and the despicable crimes of a notorious serial killer who, legend had it, could see the future.

Expected publication : February 2023

The Liar of Red Valley by Walter Goodwater

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Entertaining, fresh ideas, likable characters

Liar

I had a good deal of fun with this one.  I went into it with little knowledge, in fact, okay, I confess, I didn’t know what to expect at all, and this could have added to my enjoyment because high expectations can often be a double edged sword, but, to be honest, I liked the characters, I seriously didn’t expect the twists, the ideas and concept felt unique to me and I just blasted through the pages.

In brief, the story takes us to Red Valley, California.  A most unusual place indeed.  The basic rules of Red Valley are:

Don’t trust the Liar.
Do not cross the King.
Never, ever go in the River.

So, we have a liar, no ordinary liar though.  This role carries power and the magic seems to have passed down through generations of females.  The most recent liar has died and her daughter will be expected to pick up the reins – even though she has no knowledge of the role whatsoever.  We have a king, he possibly has secrets (but my lips are sealed).  The King is never seen, this is not a monarch sitting in a castle atop a lofty hill.  This is somebody hidden, not to be crossed who has ‘people’ working for him that you really don’t want to argue with.  The River is actually a thing all unto itself and I’m not giving you any clues.  Anyway, in order for the lies that people purchase to actually work they have to pay ‘the price’, a drop of blood marked in a secret ledger, a ledger that suddenly everyone is keen to have a sneaky peak inside.

As far as in depth world building goes this one would probably be considered a little ‘thin’ and I would agree with that.  This is the type of supernatural world that you frankly have to ‘go with’, you’re going to hit the ground running and to be honest it’s probably best to keep on running because monsters, ghosts and other unidentified variables roam the pages. Red Valley is certainly a unique place.  It’s a modern world and yet the inhabitants are protected by magic.  It’s a world at odds with itself, the more modern residents, and particularly the sheriff, no longer believe in the King and the rules, they’re shaking things up, which seems a particularly bad idea given that on the other side of the River live all sorts of creatures only being kept in check by the King’s magic. Now, how all of this sits within the rest of the natural world I really have no idea.  The story pretty much keeps within these boundaries and we don’t get to explore whether the rest of the world is similarly afflicted.  To be totally fair, I didn’t have a problem at all with this.  Like I mentioned above I enjoyed the story and pretty much got on board immediately.

I think the fact that I liked Sadie really helped with this  She’s a young woman thrown in at the deep end, but she keeps her cool.  She understands so little that I felt frustrated on her behalf but regardless she stands up for herself.

I enjoyed the writing.  The author has come up with a fast paced story that certainly doesn’t lack imagination.  I liked the idea of the way the lies work and it certainly involves some twists.  There’s some decidedly darker elements that are a reflection of our own modern world but these are woven in well.

In terms of criticisms. I don’t have a lot to make mention of.  This has a slight YA feel in some ways although that probably relates more to the slight world building.  I couldn’t help wondering every now and again why the Liar didn’t use her powers to greater effect – that being said, once she did cotton on she really was quite inventive.

Overall I liked this.  It was entertaining and refreshingly unique, punchy, dark, and the ending, whilst completing the tail in a satisfactory way, leaves things decidedly open for more to follow.

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

My rating is 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 this 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:

Wow, is this another late post.  Why, yes, yes it is.  What is wrong with me!  Anyway I’ll make this short and sweet.  As per my plans last week I have started The First Binding, it’s a night time read and I think it’s a long book so this could take a while but so far so good.  I’ve also started to listen to Babel by RF Kuang and again, I think this will be a long read and, although I’m less than 10% in I would say that this is an ode to words.  I’ve also started All of Our Demise by Christine Herman and Amanda Foody.  Quite unplanned I also read and had a lot of fun with Liar of Red Valley by Walter Goodwater.

Next Week’s Reads:

Well, I need to complete The First Binding by RR Virdi,All of Our Demise by Christine Herman and Amanda Foody and Babel by RF Kuang, but I recognise that these might be slightly longer books so at the same time I might try and pick up Ithaca by Claire North or Signal to Noise by Silvia Morena Garcia.

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Friday Face Off : Fallen leaves – covers that are brown

Posted On 2 September 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 5 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:

Fallen leaves – covers that are brown

I was definitely thinking of autumn and gardens and forests this week and I’m not entirely sure I’ve nailed it but the first cover has a kind of dark but still sunshiny feel which is often how I feel about autumn and the second cover feels quite brown(ish) so is it a cheat?  Anyway, to my shame I only read the first book in this series but I do really like this author so who knows, once I’ve developed my serum for immortality I’ll have time to read ALL THE BOOKS, and also, coincidentally catch up with all my lovely blogger blogs and maybe get back on track.  LOL.  The Six Gun Tarot by RS Belcher

Do you have a favourite.  Have you read this book yet – what do you think?

2022

September RIP
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
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 serie

Small Angels by Lauren Owen

Posted On 1 September 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 4 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : A haunted forest, very gothic

Small Angles

Small Angels is a book that I enjoyed, I’m going to hold back from saying I loved it, but it certainly had a lot of elements that I enjoy in a story.  The writing was very easy to read and get along with.  I love anything gothic, it’s my absolute-can’t-resist-go-to, add to that a small suspicious village, a haunted forest and a reclusive and secretive family that seem to control things, throw in a dual timeline that slowly reveals events from the past and without doubt you have me hooked.  And, I confess, I was hooked to this (in spite of a few little misgivings which I’ll discuss below).

Firstly, a few words about the story.  Essentially this is a haunted woods story.  Centuries ago the villagers new how to appease the local woods by telling stories but over time these traditions slowly dwindled, Mockbeggar Woods became a place to be avoided, people would become lost and some were never found again.  Blanch Farm is nestled up next to the woods with it’s own church known locally as Small Angels.  The Gonne family inhabit the place and keep alive the rituals and traditions that they believe keep everyone safe, that is until the youngest daughter, believed to be rebellious, starts breaking with tradition and tragedy ensues.

In the present day, Chloe and Sam are planning their wedding.  Their original choice has fallen through and as a last minute arrangement they’ve booked Small Angels and it’s accompanying Barn for the celebrations.  This is a new endeavour.  Tithe Barn has been recently built as a venue and so Chloe and some of her friends and family need to take the week before the wedding to clean both the church and the Barn and dress it for the big event.  Everything goes well.  Everyone is ensconced in the cosy local pub enjoying a glass or two of their favourite tipple when one of the locals decides to enlighten them with some of the local history and from there things begin to slowly unravel.

The setting is fantastic.  Mockbeggar Woods has a life of its own.  Paths seem to appear and disappear at will, sometimes the outline of a figure can be seen on the edge, dogs can be heard and the smell of roses hangs in the air.  Blanch Farm and the seemingly eccentric family that live there are given a wide berth by the rest of the village.  They act as guardians, lighting beacons at the edge of their land and sticking strictly to rules that seem to have been handed down.  Don’t annoy the presence in the woods, don’t interact and definitely do not enter the woods at night.

I really enjoyed the split timeline.  We bounce back and forth spending time amongst the Gonnes and watching events unfold.  This allows us to see just how large a burden Mockbeggar is upon the family.  Things are definitely a little frayed but they have a strange connection to the woods that is slowly revealed.  The bride-to-be seems to be slowly falling under a haunting of her very own, nurtured by the strange secrecy/paranoia of everyone around her she is determined to uncover answers.  Kate is Sam’s sister.  The two have buried events from their past so deeply that they struggle to recall the disastrous events from their past and choose to believe these things were due to wild imagination.

The characters.  Well, some of them are very grumpy and almost difficult to like.  Some are almost detached, willingly choosing to separate themselves from the story and others are simply misunderstood – in fact there’s a lot of that going on.  Kate was my favourite character.  She had a good attitude.  I liked her courage in the face of some scary things and she was easy to follow.  Chloe, well, I didn’t dislike her but I wanted to give her a shake sometimes.  Sam was a bit wishy washy.  The Gonne sisters – intriguing to read about and definitely, although a little eccentric, misunderstood.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, this isn’t the fastest read that you’ll ever pick up.  This isn’t something that particularly bothers me but I realise that slow pacing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  On top of this the story more often that not relies on the whole ‘secrecy’ element – to such an extent that people are put at risk, simply because other people won’t tell them what the heck is going on.  There’s a feeling of constant interruption just as you’re about to find something out which can be a bit frustrating and I felt like I wasn’t fully in possession, even by the conclusion, of the facts that led to the haunting.  Things are loosely referred to rather than actually explained, okay, I do understand that this ties in with the whole idea of a creepy forest that is haunted – but, yeah, I had a feeling of having skipped something, even though I know I didn’t.

Slight criticisms aside I think this story is exactly what it promises.  A story that is a haunting.  A forest that appears to have a mind of its own.  Secrets from the past.  Misunderstandings, secrets and superstitions.  Atmosphere aplenty.

I found this very easy to get on with even though it has a slowish pace.

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 : Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse

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: Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse (an author that I really enjoy).  Here’s the cover and description:

TreadofAngels

Celeste, a card sharp with a penchant for trouble, takes on the role of advocatus diaboli, to defend her sister Mariel, accused of murdering a Virtue, a member of the ruling class in the mining town of Goetia, in a new world of dark fantasy.

High in the remote mountains, the town of Goetia is booming as prospectors from near and far come to mine the powerful new element Divinity. Divinity is the remains of the body of the rebel Abaddon, who fell to earth during Heaven’s War, and it powers the world’s most inventive and innovative technologies, ushering in a new age of progress. However, only the descendants of those that rebelled, called Fallen, possess the ability to see the rich lodes of the precious element. That makes them a necessary evil among the good and righteous people called the Elect, and Goetia a town segregated by ancestry and class.

Celeste and Mariel are two Fallen sisters, bound by blood but raised in separate worlds. Celeste grew up with her father, passing in privileged Elect society, while Mariel stayed with their mother in the Fallen slums of Goetia. Upon her father’s death, Celeste returns to Goetia and reunites with Mariel. Mariel is a great beauty with an angelic voice, and Celeste, wracked by guilt for leaving her sister behind, becomes her fiercest protector.

When Mariel is accused of murdering a Virtue, the powerful Order of the Archangels that rule Goetia, Celeste must take on the role of Advocatus Diaboli (Devil’s Advocate) and defend her sister in the secretive courts of the Virtue. Celeste, aided by her ex-lover, Abraxas, who was once one of the rebels great generals, sets out to prove Mariel innocent. But powerful forces among the Virtues and the Elect mining barons don’t want Celeste prying into their business, and Mariel has secrets of her own. As Celeste is drawn deeper into the dark side of Goetia, she unravel a layer of lies and manipulation that may doom Mariel and puts her own immortal soul at risk, in this dark fantasy noir from the bestselling mastermind Rebecca Roanhorse.

Expected publication : November 2022

The Retreat by Sarah Pearse

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Unfortunately, Mixed Feelings for This

TheRetreat1

The Retreat is my second book by Sarah Pearse.  I read The Sanatorium and it did give me certain issues.  However, it was an entertaining read and I certainly didn’t struggle to complete it – just more that I was left feeling slightly dissatisfied and to be honest I had the same feeling at the conclusion of the Retreat.

The Retreat follows a very similar style to The Sanatorium.  Here we have a rather exclusive retreat set on a small island (with something of a back history).  We once again follow Detective Elin Warner who is once again beset with personal issues as well as still struggling with a former incident at work.  Elin is called to the island to investigate the death of a guest at the retreat.  It appears to be a fairly clear cut case of accidental death except there are little irritating issues and these are compounded when a second death occurs.

I’m not going to overly elaborate on the plot but instead give a recap of my various feelings throughout the read.

I think one of my earliest, and clearest feelings was that at the start of the read quite a number of characters are introduced and personally I didn’t feel like they stood out well, for me they were a little confusingly similar.  To sum up there are three sisters and their spouses (although one of the sisters was prevented from attending due to work and also a cousin.  It soon becomes evident that there’s a lot of history and bad feeling between the group and this certainly helps to paint them all in the role of suspect at certain points.  It did beg the question for me though as to why all these adults would think it would be a good idea to spend time together like this when all they seem to do is backstab and bicker.

The Island itself also has a disturbing history.  Violent murders were committed on the island a number of years ago, the murderer now behind bars.  There was also an old boy’s school on the island which seems to have been the setting for some rather dark occurences and to top it all off there is a famous rock on the island that actually resembles the Grim Reaper.  No wonder people harbour fear and suspicion about the place.  Which does puzzle me as to why this particular setting would be chosen for a luxury retreat – for me that was one of those little brain worms that just wouldn’t let go. Why would you do it?

I do enjoy the writing and think Pearse sets the scene well.  The island was easy to imagine and the author ramps up the creep factor on a number of occasions and towards the end the pressure is really on and I confess that my heart was in my throat at certain points.  But, in spite of that I felt that there was just too much going on in this plot.  It just felt a bit muddy and complicated and it feels similar to how I felt reading the Sanatorium – which does make me think this is perhaps a case of ‘it’s me, not you’.

Overall, this was easy to read, it did hold my attention and I was very curious about what was going on, but, It had a slow start, a lot of characters and a complicated plot that is perhaps just not my style.  I wouldn’t discourage others from picking this up I just don’t think it was my cup of tea particularly.

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

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 this 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:

Hope everyone is well.  I realise this post is late of course but we had a busy weekend with my sister-in-law coming to stay and no blogging.  Last week I managed to post my review for Old Country which was a very creepy read.  This week I managed to complete The Retreat by Sarah Pearse and I also read Small Angels by Lauren Owen which was a gothic tale of a haunted forest.

Next Week’s Reads:

I’m lining up The First Binding by RR Virdi and All of Our Demise by Christine Herman and Amanda Foody.  I’ve also managed to pick up an audio copy of Babel by RF Kuang so will be listening to that one too.

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Friday Face Off : The Quest

Posted On 26 August 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 2 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 Quest

Now, to be honest I didn’t have a book in mind for this week’s theme and I thought long and hard about going with an old favourite or two and then I thought of a slightly more uptodate book.  This week I’ve gone for Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

Do you have a favourite.  Have you read this book yet – what do you think?

2022

September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
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 serie

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell

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 Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell.  Basically, not to lay it on to thick over here, but I’ve really enjoyed all the books I’ve read by this author so to say I was excited to see this is something of an understatement.  I can’t even begin to describe my excitement – I don’t have enough words and you all don’t have enough time.  I’ve used a cover from Goodreads that is not yet finalised so be aware of that please:

TheWM

By the pricking of my thumbs…

At The Mercury Theatre in London’s West End, rumours are circulating of a curse.

It is said that the lead actress Lilith has made a pact with Melpomene, the tragic muse of Greek mythology, to become the greatest actress to ever grace the stage. Suspicious of Lilith, the jealous wife of the theatre owner sends dresser Jenny to spy on her, and desperate for the money to help her family, Jenny agrees.

What Jenny finds is a woman as astonishing in her performance as she is provocative in nature. On stage, it’s as though Lilith is possessed by the characters she plays, yet off stage she is as tragic as the Muse who inspires her, and Jenny, sorry for her, befriends the troubled actress. But when strange events begin to take place around the theatre, Jenny wonders if the rumours are true, and fears that when the Muse comes calling for payment, the cost will be too high.

…Something Wicked this way comes

Expected publication : February 2023

Old Country by Matt Query and Harrison Query

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Unique and Compelling Horror Story

oc

I have to hand it to the author(s), this is such an unusual kind of horror story that it’s absolutely compelling and I could barely put it down.

I’ll just give a very brief outline of the plot.  A young couple and their dog move to the wilderness in pursuit of the dream existence.  No more rat race.  They buy an almost-too-good-to-be-true ranch and settle in to a life of self sufficiency and idyllic vistas.  They can’t believe their good fortune until their closest, and in fact only, neighbours pay them a visit and give them some well needed advice.  Essentially there is a malevolent and unknown presence within the valley that manifests during each season in a different form.  Basically, there are rules for living on the land, rules that if not followed cause chaos and death.

What I really liked about this is the actual concept.  It’s so unique (to me at least) – not particularly the idea of a malicious spirit making its presence felt, so much as the incredibly strange way in which it does so.  I’m not going to give any hints here because I think readers need to discover the story for themselves.  What I will say is that there are some very creepy ideas here that without doubt make your skin crawl and this is seriously heightened by the ever increasing sense of impending doom that is ramped up with each new season.

In terms of the characters.  Well, Harry and Sasha are quite an easy to read couple.  They have a strong bond and a desire to protect each other which is just as well considering what they’re about to go through.  For me however, the dog, Dash, stole the show.  In fact, they’d have been pretty much lost without their canine companion as he saved the day more than once.  In fact in that respect Harry could be a little annoying at times in terms of his decision making. I do understand that he is suffering (Harry is an ex-marine suffering from PTSD following a terrible incident) but he had a kind of macho fuelled obsession with wanting to fight against things that simply can’t be fought against – and he just wouldn’t give up which was a bit frustrating sometimes.  That being said, he does listen to his wife and she is without doubt the voice of reason here.

I have to say that the winter ‘show’ gave me the heebies.  Each successive season becomes progressively more bleak, which is almost a strange parallel now I think about it with the challenges and the weather gradually becoming more bleak.

Criticisms.  I thought the ending was a little rushed and there was definitely an element of those in the know keeping others in the dark a little – like why not simply talk and share information instead of skirting round the issues and beating about the bush.

That said, I enjoyed this.  It was a quick read.  It hooked me very quickly.  I enjoyed the no-nonsense style of writing which portrays the beauty of the place and makes the horrors taking place that much more stark and it’s one of those reads where I felt like for the majority of the time I was simply gobsmacked.

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

My rating 4 out of 5 stars

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Posted On 21 August 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 3 responses

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 this 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 busy but lovely week.  I’ve increased my reading a little and I’m doing okay with blogging but not quite back to my usual content and blog hopping.  This week I went off plan a little although I was still reading review books so it’s all good.  I read a creepy horror book called Old Country by Matt Query and Harrison Query.  It definitely gave me a little bit of the heebie jeebies.  I’ve also started The Retreat by Sarah Pearse.  I’m kind of on the fence so far.  It’s not bad but at the moment it lacks tension (about 40% into the read).

oc

Next Week’s Reads:

Hopefully complete The Retreat and then pick up Priest of Crowns by Peter McLean.

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Friday Face Off : Scantily Dressed

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:

Scantily Dressed

Funnily enough I can remember exactly which book I had in mind for this week’s theme so happy days.  Hope everyone had an easy time with this one.  Now, my choice is for a book that I’ve not actually read yet although I really do want to do so. Empire of the Vampire (Empire of the Vampire #1) by Jay Kristoff.

Do you have a favourite.  Have you read this book yet – what do you think?

2022

August
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
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 serie

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Exiles by Jane Harper (Aaron Falk #3)

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: Exiles by Jane Harper (I thoroughly enjoyed The Survivors and so although this is the third in a series I’m thinking, from the description that I can still pick this one up – time will tell).

Exiles

At a busy festival site on a warm spring night, a baby lies alone in her pram, her mother vanishing into the crowds.

A year on, Kim Gillespie’s absence casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather deep in the heart of South Australian wine country to welcome a new addition to the family.

Joining the celebrations is federal investigator Aaron Falk. But as he soaks up life in the lush valley, he begins to suspect this tight-knit group may be more fractured than it seems.

Between Falk’s closest friend, a missing mother, and a woman he’s drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge.

An outstanding novel, a brilliant mystery and a heart-pounding read from the author of The Dry, Force of Nature, The Lost Man and The Survivors.

Expected publication : January 2023

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Posted On 16 August 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 4 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Seriously, a top ten contender

Daisy

I loved Daisy Darker.  In the past few weeks I’ve not really read a lot.  I think I mentioned in another post that this isn’t a slump so much as a lack of time and then feeling too exhausted to settle down to blog or even pick up a book.  Daisy Darker definitely stopped that tiredness mid-track.  I picked this one up and was immediately intrigued with the storytelling voice. There’s an almost ethereal feel to the way the narrative is delivered and this is strengthened by the unusual setting and the dysfunctional family that we are introduced to.  Feeney starts out with a captivating hook, she then lets us run on the line enjoying the freedom to explore the remote setting and the histrionics of the Darker family before reeling us in to a climatic and dramatic grand finale.

Daisy’s nana is the head of the Darker family.  Her 80th birthday fast approaches and with it the strange prediction she was told many years ago that she wouldn’t live beyond that age.  What a prediction!  The entire family seem to have completely become immersed in this belief and this definitely adds to the drama.  Nana lives on a remote island connected to the mainland by a causeway that is flooded for the majority of the time and only accessible twice a day at low tide so once the family arrive for the birthday celebrations they’ll be basically stuck together for a good few hours.  Now, throw in the expectation of a Will being read and someone finding out that they are to become the main benefactor.  What could possibly go wrong??

Let’s take a look at the family.  Daisy is the main character.  She was born with a heart problem that at the time was not so easy to treat, in fact her heart stopped beating and was revived on a number of occasions during the course of the story.  The family took the news of Daisy’s condition badly.  Her mother Nancy, a beautiful but rather vapid failed wannabe actress, feels overwhelming guilt which combined with the affrontry that she also seems to feel at such an occurrence leads her to both mollycoddle and push Daisy away at the same time.  Daisy’s father is mainly noteable by his absence as he travels the world with his orchestra.  Daisy’s two sisters, also named for flowers are Rose, the eldest sister, incredibly intelligent and motivated, and Lily, the middle sibling, a bit lazy and usually trying to cause trouble.  That leaves Connor, now a young man who met the family when a boy and spent so much time with them that he’s like a brother – although, not to everyone!  Finally the youngest member is Lily’s daughter Trixie who comes across almost as vulnerable and inexperienced as Daisy.  Nana (or Beatrice) is a successful author, terribly eccentric but at the same time managing to come across as more grounded than all the rest of the family put together.  I loved her character.

Anyway, I’m not going to discuss the plot at all because that would lead to spoilers but instead just talk about what worked so well for me.

Well, this, in Agatha Christie fashion, is a locked room style mystery.  It’s told in an almost whimsical fashion and I can’t deny that in my mind’s eye I was painting one of those beautiful but hazy pictures of an idyllic existence, long lazy spells on the beach and a childhood spent rambling around inside an unusual and gothic home.  On top of this the writing is just beautiful.  I could very easily see myself picking that book up and starting it over as I enjoyed the style so much.

There’s also a magical realism that is blended into the story so well that, again, I feel like I should read this again just to see what I missed along the way.

Added to this is the wonderful setting, the captivating tales from the family’s past and the fact that the story takes place, not only in such a perfect setting but also on the night of Halloween – and, during a storm no less.  Okay, it’s just deliciously over the top but I loved it.  The characters act irresponsibly, they wander off alone and you’re always reading with your heart hammering in your chest when they do so because you’re never sure if you’ll see them again.  We have little poems about each character which really does highlight their flaws in the most dramatic fashion and to be honest – read these properly rather than skirt over them as they are important.

I don’t know what else I can say to entice you to read this book.  Please??  Pretty please??  For me this was absolutely captivating.  I loved every minute of it and although I may have had the odd quibble here and there the overpowering feeling of enjoyment was so intense when I finished that I don’t think they warrant an inclusion here.

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

My rating 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 this 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 had a lovely week.  Good weather and good company.  I’ve finished reading at least the first 30% of my third batch of SPFBO books and so I’m now ready to make some decisions about which books I intend to continue reading.  Hopefully I will post a couple of updates soon, unfortunately, both these posts will involve cuts which is always unpleasant but it’s the nature of the competition and in happier news I’ve a number of books to carry forward that I’m very much enjoying, so, more news about those books soon too.  This week I read and was absolutely bowled over by Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney.  Short spoiler prior to review –  brilliant.  I seriously think this is one of my favourite books read so far this year.

Daisy

Next Week’s Reads:

Next week I need to continue with my catch up of review books.  My reading has definitely slowed down at the moment which is more to do with the time of year and increased socialising than the lack of desire to read or the quality of the books.  So, this week I’d really like to pick up The Retreat by Sarah Pearse and Priest of Crowns by Peter McLean.

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

A Slightly Different Review : Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2) by Joe Abercrombie

Today is another slightly different format for a review.   This is my fourth buddy read with Mayri at the Bookforager blog.  If you haven’t visited Mayri before I heartily recommend you do so, she’s a wonderful blogger and she’s incredibly patient – which is needed in abundance with my dithery nonsense at the moment.. Our first buddy read was Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier which was good but not a total lovefest for us, our second A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab fell a little bit flat to be honest.  Then we moved on to First Law which was our most successful buddy read and a book we loved so obviously we wanted to continue.

Slight spoiler alert – this book was also brilliant.  I still can’t  believe that I left this series for so long but in a way I’m happy that I did because reading this with Mayri is a much better experience.  We bounce ideas off each other and it’s a good deal of fun.

Similar to our previous buddy reads this review will take the form of our chat back and forth.  This time round I will be posting the opening chapters and Mayri will be posting the conclusion – so don’t forget to stop by and see our concluding thoughts.

Also, before I start, I would mention that given the nature of our ongoing conversation during our read this post will contain spoilers so if you’re planning on reading this series you might want to avoid  this post.

The conversation below follows weeks 1 and 2:

Before they are hanged

The Great Leveller to Bloody Company (inclusive)

(Pages 3 -158 in my copy)

Mayri: Turns out I couldn’t wait until the weekend to get my thoughts down now I’ve finished this first section, because …. Oooooooo, it’s good isn’t it?!  

Lynn: It really is.  I fell right back into it, no hesitation, no needing to look back at our notes from the last book to catch up – I just picked up as though there hadn’t even been a break.  And I love these characters so I’m never grumpy when I have to switch from one storyline to the next.

Mayri: Yes to both of these observations! 

I’ll try to keep my thoughts in order: Firstly, I love that we start with Dogman – I’m very fond of him! His POV is so … humble? He’s a man who knows his limitations.

Lynn: I liked that we started with the gang.

Mayri: Secondly, two promotions, eh? Major West to Colonel, and Inquisitor Glokta to Superior, and I don’t feel like either of these are going to be a good thing! West’s going to have to babysit the Crown Prince, which will be no mean feat because that lad’s an arse. 

Lynn: I do like Glokta – I mean, he’s not a nice person is he?  But I can’t help finding him funny with the stream of conscious thought that we’re privy to.  

Mayri: Yes! And I love his imagining the letters Vitari may or may not be sending back to Sult. His self-deprecation is definitely what keeps us on his side, I think.

I have a question: how do you feel about West now? I liked him in The Blade Itself, until he hit his sister, and now I find I can’t forgive him for that. Yeah, he’s been lumped with Prince Ladisla, but a part of me is thinking ‘you deserve it buddy. Suck it up.’

Lynn: West. I’m trying to reach a balanced position with him, so on the one hand, I was really annoyed with him but on the other I’m trying to understand him better – he feels very angry all the time doesn’t he? I don’t particularly think the promotion is a good thing for him, it definitely feels like babysitting and also a ‘gig’ that nobody else would want – the promotion just feels like a little sweetener, by way of ‘yes, we’re giving you the job that nobody else wants, but, look, you’ve been promoted’.

Mayri: Abercrombie still writes West sympathetically though, and I can’t hate him either. 

Lynn: Yes, Abercrombie does have a way of making you like people even when you feel annoyed with them. I feel ‘on the fence’ about West. He can’t undo what he’s done after all but I’d like to wait and see if this was a one off bout of losing control or it’s more his nature to behave in that way. Either way – gah – my head is messed up. It’s going to be bad no matter what.

Mayri: And Glokta has got an even less enviable task, although I really want him to succeed in holding Dagoska, just to rub it in Arch Lector Sult’s face. It’s such a set up. 

Lynn: Same as above, it’s like ‘when is a promotion not a promotion?’ When you’re being set up to fail I suppose. I think Glokta will surprise everyone though – I hope so anyway.

Mayri: Agreed. I don’t know who I have more sympathy for – Glokta, or Logen, trying to make friends with the absolute worst bunch of unlikely found family candidates … ever. I’m impressed that he’s decided to try! (And when are we going to learn more about his weird Bloody Nine episode? Argh, Abercrombie’s good at playing the long game).  

Lynn: Yep, it’s a tough call. I think at the moment I feel as though Glokta has the biggest task ahead, but, that’s probably because I don’t really know what Logen is going to be faced with yet. I’m loving his attempts to bring the group together and the fact that he intrinsically realises that this is a necessary thing if they’re all going to have a chance at survival. Did Bayaz understand that about Logen when he sought him out?

Mayri: I wonder. Bayaz definitely picked them all for Reasons.

I really like Logen’s character. I like that he’s badass, but also stupid sometimes (tripping over when he’s trying to be all stealthy; eating flower arrangements), that he’s intelligent, but good at appearing not to be, and that he thinks it’s worth trying to bring Bayaz’s weird group together, even if only for survival (none of them are dream companions, after all). 

Lynn: Logen is definitely my favourite character, I loved that he cocked up the stealthy creeping through the undergrowth, especially as he was trying to be so impressive. And Bayaz understands that here is a man that holds back. He doesn’t say a lot but what he does say is usually worth listening to. I mean, is he quiet because he has little to say or is he more switched on than he at first appears? I think with the whole bunch Bayaz has chosen this little ‘fellowship’ for a reason and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all pans out.

Mayri: Yes! So much anticipation!

Hmmm, also, is it just me, or is Quai suspiciously different to how he was in the first book? I could be jumping at shadows, but after the talk of enemies who can wear friends’ faces I’m feeling a bit freaked about how he’s all “quiet, hard, watchful” (and with a lot better recall than in the first volume) where before he was kind of sickly and a bit, well, wet. Nervous. Or perhaps I’m remembering him wrong?  

Lynn: No, it’s not just you. Well, I hadn’t had any thoughts about the face wearing convo so nice thinking with that, but he seems a lot more confident or perhaps capable would be a better word. In fact didn’t Bayaz make a comment about him during the story telling – I’m going to have to go back and take a look – yes, he interrupted his story telling about the fall of the Empire saying ‘your grip on the histories seems much improved.’ And, then he repeated something similar at the end of the tale. There was an exchange between Bayaz and Quai where Bayaz said something about being ignorant of the ways of magic – and Quai – “inclined his head and said ‘I live to learn.’” and Bayaz replied “and in that regard you seem much improved”. Now, in the light of your suspicions this whole convo now feels strangely sinister whereas I didn’t pick up on any of that at all. Now I’m going to be supremely paranoid about Quai and keeping my beady eye on him.

Mayri: You’re welcome! 😁

I’m intrigued by some of the history we’ve learned and how it relates to Ferro. 

Lynn: Yes, I’m loving finding out more about her background. She has something strangely feral about her doesn’t she. Definitely not someone you’d one to land on the wrong side of but I like her no nonsense approach.

Mayri: I hope for Great Things from her!

But, oh shoot, West has got a surprise coming! I … don’t know what to think about this. Along with everything else it’s like all the plans are going to go to crap! *claps hands gleefully* 

Lynn: Yep, he’s definitely in for a surprise. I feel like all sorts of things are going to start escalating very quickly now for all the storylines. Glokta is making many enemies. West has an army on his doorstep, and Bayaz and his gang are heading for Aulcus – which is the very place that no one visits now it’s been razed and is little more than a graveyard.

Mayri: I think you’re right, Abercrombie set the scene plenty in The Blade Itself, everything’s going to kick off now. (Looking forward to Aulcus).

Finally, I had never particularly considered the male nipple before. Sheesh, that was a heck of a scene! *sucks teeth* 

Lynn: Oh my, yes. It made my skin crawl a little. Like, ouch.

Section 2

Long Shadows to Heading North (inclusive)

(Pages 159 – 300)

Mayri: You gave me excellent advice when you told me not to read this section while I was prepping for my interview. Holy cow! So much happens!! 

Lynn: And you got the job so yippee!

Mayri: I did, thank you. ❤

Ah, but Ferro is just a lovely person underneath, isn’t she? *heavy sarcasm* The chapter Long Shadows starts with Logen still trying his best to be friendly, but by the end of this section she and he are in a kind of accord. Fighting side by side at least. I like how begrudging she is of any sign of friendship. And how frigging badass she is, almost without a thought. 

Lynn: Yep. Couldn’t agree more. There’s a section where one of them – I think Logen – mentions that everyone has fear before a fight, then he kind of looks round the group, eyes land on Ferro, and he says maybe she is the exception. We did glean a little bit more  information in relation to her perhaps having the blood of a demon, very diluted, but even so.

Mayri: I’m actually, finally, starting to like Jezal too. Like, he’s slowly realising he doesn’t know jack and that he should listen a bit more to Logen. I’m interested to see how he feels about his scar when he finally gets a look at it. *sniggers* (Because I still don’t like him that much!).  

Lynn: He’s not the pretty prince any more by the sounds of it. I like that Abercrombie makes him such a foppish character. But, at the same time his emotions are brilliantly explored. He has the good sense to seek advice from Logen, he admits that he’s terrified, he’s in fact paralysed with fear and unable to help the first time he’s caught up in a real situation and is then so angry with himself, and then finally he manages to pull something out of the bag only to turn his back too soon! He brings the comedy element to the book in a way. And now, he’s had his first real experience.

Mayri: Logen has achieved a lot in a short space of time with these two, and all of his bits have been so cool. Alternating between funny and tense.  

Lynn: I’m loving the way he’s bringing this group together. You can see why he was in charge of the Northmen gang of Named Men.

Mayri: And now Bayaz is out for the count, I wonder is Quai going to reveal his hand? That was creepy, what he said when Bayaz was lying in the cart. But I think maybe Quai is waiting for something? 

Lynn: Yes, I very much get the impression that Bayaz is aware that something is rotten in Denmark and is playing a waiting game. He seemed to be suspicious of Quai when he was telling his story round the campfire and in fact stopped him twice from revealing something that he doesn’t want to be aired. I thought it was interesting the way the magic works and that it takes a toll – hope Bayaz isn’t out for the count for too long and yes, that scene with him in the cart – creepy. I’m not sure what he’s waiting for, he must have something that he’s waiting for Bayaz to reveal, otherwise anything could have happened already by now. 

Mayri: Oooh, I just thought … they’re going to get something from Aulcus – I wonder if Quai is biding his time until the Something has been got?

Glokta’s adventures have been the most absorbing though – so many surprises (I mean, yeah, I should have seen it all coming, but I really didn’t), especially Shickel… that was soo creepy. Eaters – I want to know everything and never hear about them again at the same time!  

Lynn: Haha, yes. I totally didn’t see that coming. 

Mayri: What’s the deal with Valint and Balk giving Glokta the money he needs, do you think? I’m trying to remember what we know about the bank from the first book, but I can’t quite. Can you?  

Lynn: No, I was also trying to recall. Other than that they seemed to be the ones funding the guild of Mercers in book one – which was why Glokta was intent on looking into them more.

Mayri: And Yulwei’s visit to Glokta was interesting too. I’m curious about him. He gives Glokta some information, which is helpful, but ultimately I don’t think it’s going to save Dagoska from the Gurkish, so why? Why did he trouble himself? I don’t feel like Glokta is one of Bayaz and Yulwei’s chosen few (at the moment), but I can’t help but assume Yulwei was helping Glokta personally and not the city when he came to tell him about the Gurkish navy and all the troops flocking to take the city for the Emperor. 

Lynn: To me it felt like Yulwei appeared to give information to Glokta simply as a means of forming some kind of trust between the two of them (but I’m probably wrong) so that the next time (if there is a next time) that Yulwei appears Glokta will be inclined to believe him. 

Mayri: It’ll be interesting to find out. 

And Khalul is sending his own soldiers too, which means more Eaters, right? *shudder* 

Lynn: And those eaters are so strong.  It took three people to bring Shickel down after all.

Mayri: Finally, poor West. I almost feel sorry for him, what a shitty position he’s now in. 

I so wanted the Prince to get killed, the useless sod. But no, we’ve got to suffer him a bit longer. Although I think it’ll be more fun now Threetrees and company are in charge. 

Lynn: Definitely a bit more fun and they’re not going to take any crap are they? They know what they’re about and they’re not going to let the Prince give them away. I can’t imagine they’ll have a lot of patience for his shenanigans.

Mayri: Dow needs a kick in the fruits. 

Lynn: Yes he does.

Mayri: Have I mentioned before that I love Dogman? I love Dogman. His memory of Shari was touching, and I think he’s quite like Logen – rough looking exterior, but more going on inside than people know. He’s a good character. I hope he stays that way. 

Lynn: Yep,I feel myself becoming strangely attached to these characters which makes me feel apprehensive about all the danger they’re in. I think my one hope is that this strange band of Northmen and their new companions will eventually meet up with Bayaz and his crew – or more to the point Logen. That’s a reunion that will be worth reading.

Mayri: Heck yes! That’d be so cool! *crosses fingers and toes* 

I also really want Dogman to find out that Logen isn’t dead like he thinks he is. I don’t know why that’s important to me, but it is.  

Lynn: Exactly.

So, that completes our thoughts on weeks 1 and 2 – now stop over to Bookforager to check out our final feelings.

We should be picking up book 3 very soon.

Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue

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:

Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue

Hopefully this is a nice easy theme and I look forward to seeing all the lovely blue covers.  I didn’t have anything particular in mind this week so decided to go for a bit of a blue medley:

Do you have a favourite.

2022

August
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
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 serie

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

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 Villa by Rachel Hawkins – here’s why:

TheVilla

From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set at an Italian villa with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.

As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.

Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.

As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.

Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.

Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the Manson murders, and the infamous summer Percy and Mary Shelley spent with Lord Byron at a Lake Geneva castle––the birthplace of Frankenstein––The Villa welcomes you into its deadly legacy.

Expected publication : January 2023

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 this 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:

So this week my reading is going to look very bad but this isn’t a true reflection so much as I’ve been pressing on with a number of things.  I’ve started reading my third and final batch of SPFBO books and decided to try and press on with those so I’ve picked up the first three and read a third of each one.  I’ve started the fourth one and hopefully will move to the fifth book soon so this will allow me to make some decisions.  I’ve started Daisy Darker,which I’m enjoying so far.  I’ve made a good start on blog hopping and answering comments which I’m happy about and I’ve got only one review to catch up with.  So, I think a good week overall although on the face of it little to show by way of progress for this page.  Oh well, in other news – my stiff neck has eased which is a massive relief.

Next Week’s Reads:

Next week I’m hoping to start catching up with the review books I unfortunately got behind with in July and also make a start on some August books.  I’ll also be continuing with my SPFBO books.  Here are a few of my choices:

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Friday Face Off : Out for summer – school or academic setting

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:

Out for summer – school or academic setting

Finally, I’m starting to catch up with blog hopping, commenting and reviews.  I still have some work to do on the blog and replying to comments but I’m feeling a bit more relaxed about things now which is good.

This week I have no idea what I had in mind!  Typical.   I’ve gone a little bit off on a tangent for this theme because it’s a book that I love and can’t help gushing about and using every opportunity to chat some more.  This is a book with three main povs.  One of those is a character called Ruc, he and his partner Bien eventually end up in a gladiatorial style school – that’s the angle I’m coming from.  Maybe a bit of a cheat because it’s not like the entire book is a school setting, but even so, I think it works.  And, regardless – read the book – pretty please.  The Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley – here’s my review.  Only two covers for this as it’s relatively new – here they are:

My favourite

2022

August
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
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 serie

#SPFBO 8 Third Batch of Books

SPFBO71024_1

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

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

Today’s post is all about highlighting my third/final batch of  SPFBO books. This year I’m trying a different process than I’ve used in previous years.  I’ve randomly chosen three batches of books, five per month for the first three months (from the 15 books allocated to Lynnsbooks).  That leaves me two remaining months to read potential semi finalists put forward by myself and the Critiquing Chemist.  I’m intending to read this final batch by the conclusion of which I will have made a decision about which books will be cut and which I will roll forward.  I anticipate that I will probably have 4, 5 or maybe even 6 books (possibly more – who knows) that I will read fully and review before choosing 1 or 2 semi finalists.  As with previous SPFBOs I’ve read at least 30% of all the books I’ve been allocated see my previous post.  So, without further ado let’s take a look at my final five books:

Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson

MissPercy's

Miss Mildred Percy inherits a dragon.

Ah, but we’ve already got ahead of ourselves…

Miss Mildred Percy is a spinster. She does not dance, she has long stopped dreaming, and she certainly does not have adventures. That is, until her great uncle has the audacity to leave her an inheritance, one that includes a dragon’s egg.

The egg – as eggs are wont to do – decides to hatch, and Miss Mildred Percy is suddenly thrust out of the role of “spinster and general wallflower” and into the unprecedented position of “spinster and keeper of dragons.”

But England has not seen a dragon since… well, ever. And now Mildred must contend with raising a dragon (that should not exist), kindling a romance (with a humble vicar), and embarking on an adventure she never thought could be hers for the taking.

***

Between Ink and Shadows by Melissa Wright

Between ink

She’ll win back her freedom, even if she has to steal it.

Nimona Weston has a debt to pay. Her father’s dealings with the dark society known as the Trust cost Nim her freedom. There’s one way out of the contract on her life and that’s to bide her time and pay the tithes. But when the Trust assigns Nim to a task in the king’s own castle, her freedom is not the only thing she’ll risk.

Warrick Spenser has a secret. As king’s seneschal, he should be the last soul in Inara to risk association with dark magic, but long-hidden ties to the Trust are harder to shed than simply cutting the threads. When the Trust sends a thief to his rooms, Warrick thinks he’s finally found a way to be rid of them for good. But Nimona Weston is hiding secrets of her own.

Magical contracts, blood-debt accountants, and a deadly game. A dark and twisty fantasy that pits magic against kings.

***

Testament of an Archangel by Kat Loveland

toaA

What if everything you’ve been told about Lucifer’s and Mankind’s fall from the Garden was wrong? I am Remiel, one of the Archangels whose name didn’t quite make it into modern times and I am choosing this moment to share what none of the others will. My story is about innocence lost, family torn apart and how nothing, even to an angel, is truly ever what it seems.

***

The Heretic by Thane Tyler

Theheretic

“Oh gods, I’m some sort of prophet now? I only wanted a drink…”

The Heretic is the story of a man who finds himself in great danger, and can’t quite work out how he got there, although it probably has something to do with alcohol. His mouth gets him in trouble, and before he knows what’s happening he has to flee not just his hometown but his homeland entirely, with an unexpected companion in tow. This book is his story, the story of a journey and an odd friendship.

The Heretic is a work of fantasy, but one with few truly fantastical elements. It is based on real historical cultures, mainly those of Classical-era Europe.

The tone is darkly humorous, and has been described by acclaimed author Terri Nixon as “Python meets Pratchett”.

***

Falhorne: The World is Burning by Tristan Dineen

Falhorne

The Order is no more. The Falhorne, ancient champions of the elder gods, have dwindled to no more than a handful of beleaguered warriors.

The skies are darkening over the land of Vinos and persecution of the maligned Old Believers escalates at the hands of both church and state.

As one of the few surviving defenders of a proud tradition, Tagus is among the last of the Vinosian Falhorne when the pogrom comes. His mentor slain, his comrades slaughtered, and his people enslaved, he must begin a quest that will take him into the darkness of his past and a depth of evil beyond anything that he has ever faced.

***

I can’t wait to tuck in – good luck everyone.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix.

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: How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix.

How toseela

Your past and your family can haunt you like nothing else… A hilarious and terrifying new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Final Girl Support Group.

Every childhood home is haunted, and each of us are possessed by our parents.

When their parents die at the tail end of the coronavirus pandemic, Louise and Mark Joyner are devastated but nothing can prepare them for how bad things are about to get. The two siblings are almost totally estranged, and couldn’t be more different. Now, however, they don’t have a choice but to get along. The virus has passed, and both of them are facing bank accounts ravaged by the economic meltdown. Their one asset? Their childhood home. They need to get it on the market as soon as possible because they need the money. Yet before her parents died they taped newspaper over the mirrors and nailed shut the attic door.

Sometimes we feel like puppets, controlled by our upbringing and our genes. Sometimes we feel like our parents treat us like toys, or playthings, or even dolls. The past can ground us, teach us, and keep us safe. It can also trap us, and bind us, and suffocate the life out of us. As disturbing events stack up in the house, Louise and Mark have to learn that sometimes the only way to break away from the past, sometimes the only way to sell a haunted house, is to burn it all down.

Expected publication : January 2023

Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

Posted On 1 August 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 10 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : I absolutely loved this book

BlackMouth

Everything about this book worked for me.  The writing is fabulous.  The storyline is intense.  The characters and friendships are drawn well.  The setting is dark and packed with atmosphere.  I didn’t want it to finish and yet I couldn’t put it down.  It was just excellent.  I expected to love this.  Last year I read and adored Come With Me by Ronald Malfi so my expectations for this were already high and I can genuinely say, hand on heart, that nothing about this book disappoints.

This is a story of four people returning to their childhood home to confront the horrors from their past so that they can move on with their futures.  The story is told by Jamie Warren in two alternating timelines.  Jamie takes us back to a summer when he was eleven years old, something of a misfit with an unhappy family home suffering neglect and abuse and yet finding friendship and a sense of place with his friends Mia and Clay and his brother Dennis.  To be honest this story takes a look at young children who are preyed on by predators and these four are targets without doubt.  They don’t fit the perfect cookie cut out pattern, they have unhappy family lives and are picked on at school, small wonder that given attention by a strange individual who befriends them and shows them magic tricks they find themselves beguiled.  Of course not everything is quite so rosy and a sinister undercurrent is slowly brewing.  Malfi takes us back and forth showing us the adults that they’ve grown into and the way they’re still haunted by that summer where their actions had such dire consequences.

The setting here is perfect.  Black Mouth, known  as such due to a mine collapse that took the lives of many and left the area with a dramatic and forbidding landscape, really lends itself to the story and the supernatural elements that are subtly woven into the piece.  You’re never quite sure if this gang are misremembering things or simply embellishing events and seeing things through a childhood lens.

The characters themselves are really well written.  Jamie, although he fled his childhood home as soon as it was possible, has never truly made a clean break.  He is haunted by his past actions and suffers from alcohol abuse.  Mia has taken her past experiences and used them to spark a creative talent in making horror movies.  Clay has himself gone into the field of trying to help children in need, his own past and personal experiences giving him an inside knowledge.  Dennis is the catalyst for return.  The only one of the gang to remain in Black Mouth until the death of their mother compels Jamie to reluctantly return.

Slowly but surely the events from the past unfold to their terrible conclusion and in the current day the characters come to an understanding that they must find the monster who orchestrated their downfall.  It seems that the character, known simply as the Magician, is still operational and causing misery wherever he appears.

For me I loved the way that you’re never quite sure whether this is going to vere completely into the supernatural or not.  Those elements are subtly woven into the story in a way that always allows for doubt.  Then there’s the dramatic finale.  You can feel it building like a thunderstorm and it provides flashes of inspiration and plenty of destruction once it hits.

I’ve seen this compared to Stephen King and I can completely see where those comparisons are springing from, particularly in terms of It and a coming back together of childhood friends to confront events from their past.  On top of this though there’s a wonderful carnival background that reminded me of Bradbury’s Something Wicked.  There’s an examination of secret pacts and strange and ancient ceremonies and I also had rumblings of King’s Doctor Sleep in the way the adults preyed on children.  Put bluntly, this is a horror story that will undoubtedly put you in mind of so many others that have come before it, but only in a way that it brings them to mind but then progresses to stand confidently on it’s own two feet.

I loved this and have no hesitation in recommending.  Dark and compelling horror that held me bewitched with it’s ghosts and fascinating characters.  I’m not a horror aficionado but this is definitely my kind of scary catnip.  It’s not a blood soaked slasher so much as an intriguing look at something sinister, a look at monsters and the shape they come in and more importantly that truth is quite often stranger than fiction.

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

My rating 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 this 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 is my first weekly wrap up for a few weeks.  I’ve had a two week break while family and friends have been visiting/holidaying and this past week been catching up with lots of chores.  I now need to catch back up with my reading and blog hopping to see what lovely posts I’ve missed.  I did manage to start my second batch of SPFBO books.  I’ve read a review book that I’ll be posting about soon and over the past few days I read Ronald Malfi’s Black Mouth which I loved.  Somehow I seem to have given myself a stiff neck which has been really painful – don’t know what or how I’ve done this but I hope it goes soon as it’s really unpleasant!  Anyway, enough of this.  Onto the past week and the week ahead:

BlackMouth

Next Week’s Reads:

Next week I’m hoping to start catching up with the review books I unfortunately got behind with in July and also make a start on some August books.  I’ll also be continuing with my SPFBO books.  Here are a few of my choices:

Obviously, I’m not suggesting that I’ll read six books!  This is just a selection of what I’m looking forward to.  Have you read any of these? 

Reviews Posted since my last Sunday Post:

Friday Face Off : Gigantic

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:

Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings, insects, anything that takes your fancy

So, I haven’t quite managed to start catching up yet this week as I was hoping.  Things have just been very busy after everyone departed and I’m still not quite up to scratch.  But I’m happy to report that I’ve got back to my reading now and hopefully will have a couple of reviews next week and then back to blog hopping 😀

This week I had a definite couple of coves in mind for this whole ‘gigantic’ theme.  It’s a slight cheat because i’m comparing two books in a series rather than comparing different covers for just one book.  This series fits this week’s theme so perfectly I couldn’t resist.  Plus it’s a series that I’m absolutely loving so couldn’t help taking the opportunity to shout about it some more.  The Bloodsworn Saga by John Gwynne.  The Shadow of the Gods and The Hunger of the Gods.  Check out the two covers:

My favourite

2022

August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
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 serie

Friday Face Off : Off the TBR : The Retreat by Sarah Pearse (Detective Elin Warner #)

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:

Off the TBR

You may have noticed my blog has been unusually quiet.  At the moment i’m having a fortnight break with family which is the reason for this abrupt disappearance.  I’ve not given up blogging, just having a holiday and normal service will soon be resumed. I haven’t been reading lots either, because lots of socialising has been involved.  But,  we’ve all had a good time and hopefully i’ll be back on track soon.

This week is a book with different covers off the TBR. I feel like nobody I know will struggle with this week’s theme 😀  I’ve chosen a review book, The Retreat by Sarah Pearse (Detective Elin Warner #).  I wasn’t totally in love with the first in series (The Sanatorium) but it ended on a puzzling note and so want to give the second in series a shot.

2022

Jul  
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
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 serie

Can’t Wait Wednesday : One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig

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: One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig.  Here’s why:

OneDark

Elspeth Spindle needs more than luck to stay safe in the eerie, mist-locked kingdom of Blunder—she needs a monster. She calls him the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head. He protects her. He keeps her secrets.

But nothing comes for free, especially magic.

When Elspeth meets a mysterious highwayman on the forest road, her life takes a drastic turn. Thrust into a world of shadow and deception, she joins a dangerous quest to cure Blunder from the dark magic infecting it. And the highwayman? He just so happens to be the King’s nephew, Captain of the most dangerous men in Blunder…and guilty of high treason.

Together they must gather twelve Providence Cards—the keys to the cure. But as the stakes heighten and their undeniable attraction intensifies, Elspeth is forced to face her darkest secret yet: the Nightmare is slowly taking over her mind. And she might not be able to stop him.

Expected publication : September 2022

Friday Face Off : Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick

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:

Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick

So, the idea this week is to come up with a book that has a snarky sidekick and compare the covers for whichever book you come up with (they might not necessarily have the sidekick on there).

2022

Jul  
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
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 serie

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Drift by CJ Tudor

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 Drift by CJ Tudor:

The Drift

Prepare for the big chill . . .

A crashed coach full of students . . .

A stranded cable car full of strangers . . .

An isolated chalet full of friends . . .

Outside, a snowstorm rages.

Inside one group, a killer lurks.

But which one?

The Drift. . . survival can be murder

Expected publication : January 2023

Top Ten Tuesday : Book Covers That Feel Like Summer

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.   This week’s topic:

Book Covers That Feel Like Summer

So, what we have here is a mix of hot colours, sunny brightness, waves, sand and seashells. Do you have a favourite.

#SPFBO 8 Second Batch of Books

SPFBO71024_1

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

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

Today’s post is all about highlighting my second batch of  SPFBO books.  I have fifteen books altogether and I’m trying out a different process this year.  I’ve randomly chosen three batches of books, five per month for the first three months.  I most likely won’t start to make cuts until I have a good chunk of my reading underway.  As I previously mentioned I will be giving every book in my batch a fair chance to grab my attention so without further ado let’s take a look at my next five books:

Candle and Claw by Stephen James Taylor

HIGH RES Cover

Giovel Ullin’s job is to stop witches from crafting experimental magic and destroying the world. It’s a job he never wanted. Every time he hunts a witch, he’s reminded of the ones who stole his wife away and sent her back distant, delusional, and dying. Even worse, the same magic that ruined her life is now part of his​​-a tool Giovel’s expected to master for the sake of his duties.

When a coterie of witches begins systematically removing Giovel’s companions, he has little choice but to fight back. But the more he learns about his own power, the more he sees himself in the very witches he hunts.

Candle and Claw is the first volume in The Witherclaw Trilogy. Packed with hard magic, nuanced characters, and epic conflicts, Candle and Claw will appeal to fans of Brent Weeks and Brandon Sanderson.

***

The Lich of Thandorien by Zak Dragon

heLich

Old high school classmates and current drinking buddies, Phil and Don find themselves transported into a Crypts & Crusades role-playing adventure they had abandoned five years earlier. If that wasn’t bad enough, it seems that some of the non-player characters, or Extra Dungeon Personalities (EDPs) as they now prefer to be called, have taken on a life of their own during the extended downtime and have veered away from the normal script. Fortunately for the daring duo, there is plenty of beer and they manage to get a little help along the way from an inquisitive but emotional ranger, a home-brewing, pub-owning dwarf and his ogre bartender, a grumpy old gardener and a host of other colorful characters. But will it be enough to defeat the crypt’s antagonist, locate a powerful relic and get out alive?

***

The Blood of Crows by Alex C Pierce

Bloodof

Ren, a state-trained thief working in a world where everyone has magical ability except for him, doesn’t kill people.

Tensions are already high in the walled realm of Lenmar, and when the nobility start dying with no trace of magic that isn’t from the victims, Ren immediately becomes the prime, and only suspect. Hunted by magic-eating Inquisitors and the Captain of the Royal Guard, his life becomes one of flight and fear through a realm on the brink of civil war.

All Ren wants to do is stop a serial killer, clear his name, find his mentor, and protect the people he cares about.

To do that, he’ll have to pull one more high-stakes heist— And steal the proof he needs from the very people who want to catch him.

***

Scarlight by Evid Marceau

Scarlight

A life saved is a soul owned.

When she was six years old, Bryn was saved from a wolf attack by a prince from a rival kingdom. Rangar Barendur’s people believe that a life saved is a soul owned, and ten years later, Rangar returns to collect his prize: Bryn. Yet Bryn is the youngest daughter of a ruthless royal family, and Rangar arrives on the night the Mir people rise up against their despotic rulers. With her castle on fire and most of her family dead, Bryn has no choice but to escape with Rangar’s help.

Is she rescued…or abducted?

Taken to Rangar’s wild seaside kingdom, Bryn slowly finds beauty in the harsh Outlands. There, she discovers magic is not the sin she’s been led to believe it is. Magic can heal the sick and summon rain for the crops. As she learns the full truth of her own family’s tyrannical rule and plans to take back her kingdom by the sword or by marriage, Bryn falls under the spell of each of the three Barendur brothers. But which one will end up with her hand—and her heart—not even magic can foretell.

***

The Fantastically Underwhelming Epic of a Dead Wizard and an Average Bard by Kian N Ardalan

Fantastically

George is a legendary hero… wait, no. George is an incredibly powerful sorcerer…also no? Okay, fine. George is an unremarkable human bard who made a promise a long time ago. A promise that set him on a path to find the remains of Simantiar, the greatest wizard who ever lived. Though all that was left were bones, Simantiar was still very much alive and quite…underwhelming. This is their story.

***

I can’t wait to tuck in – good luck everyone.

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 this 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 been absent a couple of weeks.  Still been reading but been very busy personally and not had much time to blog.  I did manage to read Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald which I also reviewed.  I’ve finished reading the first batch of SPFBO books (I’ve read at least 30% of all the books from my first batch and tomorrow I’ll be posting my second batch of books, after which I will begin making cuts.  Not the favourite part of the competition but it is what it is.  I’ve also completed Before They are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie which was my latest buddy read with the lovely Bookforager. I’m also 40% into a review book that I’ll be posting about soon.

Next Week’s Reads:

Next week I’m hoping to read a couple of review books, Upgrade by Blake Crouch and Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey.  I’ll also be making a start on my next five SPFBO books.

  1. Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak
  2. The Bay by Allie Reynolds
  3. The Path of Thorns by AG Slatter
  4. Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald

Friday Face Off : Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange

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:

Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange

This week I’ve chosen a book that I really enjoyed, a fairly recent(ish) read that I’ve just read the second in series for and can’t wait to see what comes next.  The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper.  Not many covers this week but here goes:

2022

Jul  
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
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 serie

Daughter of Redwinter (The Redwinter Chronicles #1) by Ed McDonald

My five Word TL:DR Review : Great start to new series

DaughterofRedwinter

As first in series go Daughter of Redwinter made an impressive start.  Well written, ample world building, sets off with a quick paced and dramatic start and definitely left me wanting to read more.

I’ve read this author before and enjoyed his original series so was excited to see he had a new book about to  release.  To be honest, I absolutely loved that cover and that and the author was enough to make me request this one.  I tend to find these days that the less knowledge I go into the read with the better as my high expectations have less chance of getting  out of control, so, I picked this one up with very little idea of what to expect.  As it happens this is an intriguing world indeed.  I’ve started to form attachments to the characters and more than that I once again found myself enjoying the style of writing which has a gritty earthiness to it.  I wouldn’t call this grimdark more it has a realism that is dark and sometimes harsh in a way that reflects life – although, what, am I talking about?  This world has magic, ghosts, demons and other curiosities.

To  be fair, and given how little knowledge I actually went into this one with I’m a little reluctant to say too much about the plot.  In fact thinking about it now, it’s not that easy to actually pin it down.  We meet Raine as the story begins, she’s in a bit of a predicament and is trying to find an escape route when she comes across an injured woman who she helps to safety.  Now, as it happens this might not have been the best decision and Raine certainly questions her own choices later on but who wouldn’t help out in such a situation?  Anyway, the woman in question is being pursued by one of the Draoihn, who will go to any lengths to capture this woman, or more importantly recover the ancient relic that she carries.  This then forms the catalyst for everything else that takes place and in fact is the start of a mystery that is the central theme of the story.

Characters.  Raine is an interesting character who has led a difficult life.  Seventeen years old, a couple of near death experiences have given her the strange ability to see the dead. This isn’t always a pleasant gift to be sure but more than that it places Raine in a very dangerous situation as such abilities are forbidden and a swift death is the penalty. On top of this Raine encounters a strange woman who appears, at first, to be helping her.  She knows little of this woman other than she doesn’t seem to be a typical ghost or apparition and she can communicate with Raine which is definitely a new and not entirely welcome development.  Raine finds herself travelling back to Redwinter, hoping to become a Draoihn apprentice (having discovered that she has the ability to open the first of the gates) but at the same time fearing discovery in terms of her other magical ability.  There are of course a number of other characters who play strong roles but I’m not going to mention them all here suffice to say that Raine eventually starts to form meaningful friendships and discovers that she likes having friends.  I liked the way Raine’s character developed.  She makes mistakes of course and spends some time blaming herself for events, she can also be very prickly and not altogether likeable given the cold way that she tackles situations (there are reasons for this but I won’t give those away here) and on top of this she finds herself suspecting almost everyone of being party to the main mystery and jumping backwards and forwards before she finally reaches a conclusion.

This is definitely an interesting world although I wouldn’t say that I can at this point speak of it with any real confidence.  There is the Light Above and the Night Below.  Five Crowns, spread across the land, hold the realms together, stabilising the spheres of existence (life, death, creation, etc) and keeping in place a veil that separates mortals from Demons, The Faded, ghosts and the dead.  The Draoihn access magic by opening a gate in their mind that accesses the spheres of existence and provides certain powers), the first gate is the easiest and helps to enhance perception, from there, each gate becomes more difficult to access, each one providing it’s own strengths  ranging from mind control to healing.  I’m actually not doing the best job of describing this so you may be pleased to learn that there is a glossary and list of Dramatic Personae at the end of the book.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I loved the start of this and was really eager to find out what was going on.  The story had great pace and there was plenty of action.  Once our MC reached Redwinter I found that things slowed down considerably, which I don’t mind, I wouldn’t want the entire book to have the same breakneck pacing, but, the middle of the book felt like it dragged its feet a little. I think some of this was the need to explain things, to have Raine listening to lessons and other conversations as a way of feeding information to the reader.  I wouldn’t say that this made me reluctant to pick the book up though  because that wasn’t the case at all, just I felt like things were drifting a little and at this point I wasn’t entirely sure where the story was taking me.

Overall though, a really good start to series.  An intriguing world that I’m keen to learn more of and a main character who has plenty of scope for future development.

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 : The Ivory Tomb by Melissa Caruso (Rooks and Ruin #3)

Posted On 6 July 2022

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 3 responses

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 Ivory Tomb by Melissa Caruso (Rooks and Ruin #3).

TheIvoryTomb

The Ivory Tomb concludes the wildly original epic fantasy series bursting with intrigue and ambition, questioned loyalties, and broken magic that began with The Obsidian Tower.

The Dark Days have returned. The Demon of Carnage mercilessly cuts through villagers and armies. The Demon of Corruption rots the land. The Serene Empire and the Witch Lords race towards war. And in the middle of it all stands Rxyander, the Warden of Gloamingard.

Burdened by conflicting loyalties and guilt, Ryx searches desperately for a way to defeat the demons before the world she loves is completely destroyed. To find answers, she’ll have to return to where it all started…the black tower at the heart of Gloamingard.

By blood the Door was opened and only by blood will the Dark Days end. 

Expected publication : December 2022

Top Ten Tuesday : Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the Second Half of 2022

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.   This week’s topic:

Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the Second Half of 2022

I have such a lot of books to look forward to but as this is a TTT I’m going to pick a small selection:

Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

BlackMouth

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

Just Like Home Final for Peter

Priest of Crowns by Peter McLean

Priestof

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Daisy

The First Binding by RR Virdi

TheFirstBinding

Ithaca by Claire North

Ithaca

Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Signal

A Dowry of Blood by ST Gibson

ADowry

The Ghost Woods by CJ Cooke

TheGhost

Small Angels by Lauren Owen

SmallAngels

Friday Face Off : Epic – any book that fits into the genre

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:

Epic – any book that fits into the genre

This week I’ve chosen a series that I’m currently buddy reading with the lovely Bookforager.  The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie.  We’ve reading The Blade Itself already and loved it and we’re currently reading Before They are Hanged and having an absolute blast.

Here are the covers:

2022

Jul  
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
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 serie

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Witch in the Well by Camilla Bruce

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 Witch in the Well by Camilla Bruce:

TheWitch

Over a hundred years ago, the citizens of F- did something rather bad. And local school teacher Catherine Evans has made writing the definitive account of what happened when Lisbeth Clark drowned in the well her life’s work.

The town’s people may not want their past raked up, but Catherine is determined to shine a light upon that shameful event. For Ilsbeth was an innocent, after all. She was shunned and ostracised by rumour-mongers and ill-wishers and someone has to speak up for her. And who better than Catherine, who has herself felt the sting and hurt of such whisperings?

But then a childhood friend returns to F -. Elena is a successful author whose book, The Whispers Inside: A Reawakening of the Soul, has earned her a certain celebrity. In search of a new subject, she takes an interest in the story of Ilsbeth Clark and announces her intention to write a book about the long-dead woman, focusing on the natural magic she believes she possessed.

And Elena has everything Catherine has not, like a platform and connections and no one seems to care that Elena’s book will be pure speculation, tainting Ilsbeth’s memory rather than preserving it. Catherine is determined that something must be done and plots to blunt her rival’s pen. However she had not allowed for the fact that the past might not be so dead after all – that something is reaching out from the well, disturbing her reality.

Before summer’s over, one woman will be dead, the other accused of murder… but is she really guilty, or are there other forces at work? And who was Ilsbeth Clark, really? An innocent? A witch? Or something else entirely?

Expected publication : September 2022

The Path of Thorns by AG Slatter

My Five Word TL:DR Review : I couldn’t love it more

Pathof

Wow, this book.  I just loved it.  I really enjoyed All The Murmuring Bones by this author and was super excited for The Path of Thorns which is set in the same universe.  This is the gothic, dark, fairytale that I’ve been waiting for and I loved it without a single reservation.  Think Jane Eyre but with less a focus on the two central characters and the love they develop and more a tale of revenge, difficult promises to keep, witchcraft and much more.  Here are dark woods where creatures stalk at night, dark attics where all sorts of wrongs are committed and even a disused surgery just waiting to be revived.

As the story starts we meet Asher Todd as she arrives at the Morwood Family Estate to take up the position of governess.  Asher is a strong and capable character, determined not to be afraid of whatever seems to be stalking her through the woods upon her arrival.  She carries a carpetbag, many secrets, a few essential bits and bobs and more than one task to be completed.

I’m not going to delve into the plot here as the author plays her cards quite close to her chest and I will do likewise with this review.

The writing is excellent.  Slatter manages to create a wonderfully foreboding atmosphere packed with tension and suspense.  She keeps the twists coming as Asher slowly inveigles herself into the family life and becomes indispensable not only to the family matriarch but also as a protector of the children and their mother.

On top of all the deliciously dark secrets held within the walls of the house Slatter continues to create a fairy tale world where werewolves roam, ghosts rage and witches keep tight lipped about their abilities and she weaves into the tale themes of domestic abuse and sexual inequality.  In fact it’s amazing how much Asher is able to get away with simply because people often underestimate her.

So, I don’t have any criticisms for this story but I would mention that it is dark, and I don’t say that lightly.  There may be a strong fairytale vibe but don’t let that lull you into thinking this is akin to a Disney retelling because nothing could be further from the truth so be warned.  Dark content.

All that being said I couldn’t have loved this book more.  It’s absolutely my catnip.  I loved the strong gothic feel, the setting was perfection, the story compelling and to be blunt, I cannot wait to see what this author does next.

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

My rating 5 of 5 stars

The Bay by Allie Reynolds

Posted On 23 June 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 3 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : From One Extreme to Another

TheBay

I loved Shiver by Allie Reynolds and so was super excited to see The Bay due for release (also known as the Swell) and it didn’t disappoint.  I mean, this couldn’t be further removed from the freezing temperatures and dangerous peaks of Shiver.  Here we have the sweltering heat and huge swell of some kick ass waves on a remote Australian beach.  What both books do have in common is a sense of danger, extreme sports, secrets and an almost closed room feel to them.

As The Bay starts we meet Kenna.  She’s travelled to Sydney to surprise her friend Mikki.  Kenna and Mikki have been BFFs forever, until personal tragedy pushed the two apart.  Kenna left the Cornish coastline to pursue a career in London and Mikki travelled to the other side of the world to find a new tribe and a fiancee.  Kenna isn’t convinced about the whirlwind romance and has sprung her surprise to see if her friend is actually okay.   When she arrives, Mikki and her other half, Jack, are about to leave on a surfing trip and so Kenna tags along.  She doesn’t feel like everything is quite as peachy as it should be and decides to give this trip a couple of weeks in order to convince her friend to return to the UK.

When the three finally arrive at Sorrow Bay (and may I say this isn’t the most optimistic name for a beach where people come to surf) Kenna is met with a rather frosty reception from the other members of the tribe: Sky, the unofficial leader who pushes the group beyond reasonable limits, Victor, Sky’s OH who suffers from PTSD following a surfing/swimming incident, Clemente, moody and secretive and Ryan, a bit of a creepy guy who seems to be the adopted protector of the group’s secret beach.

And, yes, the secrecy of the beach is the real crux of the matter with this story.  This is a group of people who realise that this is a surfer’s dream come true and they will go to just about any length to prevent it from becoming common knowledge.

What I really liked about this one is that it’s very edgy.  There’s a lot of tension between the group and this almost animalistic way of treating one another.  I have to say I would have been out of there in a New York minute.  Meanwhile Kenna is constantly digging, asking questions, poking around when no one is looking and generally antagonising certain members of the group.  I wanted to shake the girl – wtf, stop, could you be a little bit more subtle for heaven’s sake.  I can certainly see where the references to Point Break come from – what with this really tight click of surfers who are very reluctant to let anyone else into their inner circle but you might also want to think of the strange premise for The Beach.

So, we have a very competitive group of people, on the face of it they’re close buddies, but there are underlying tensions and secrets that start to come between the group.  What could possibly go wrong eh? Especially with a storm brewing and the promise of some killer waves.

In terms of the group.  Reynolds manages to make them all a bit, well, unlikable.  It’s difficult to really find a favourite amongst this bunch although I did eventually form an attachment to Kenna even though at first I was unsure why she was so determined to interfere in Mikki’s life (especially as Mikki seemed rather detached).  The thing is, everyone is a bit suspect.  And there’s a strangely consistent competitive edge.  Everyone is afraid to back down for fear of losing face and it makes them take ridiculous risks.

The setting is great.  Danger lurking on virtually every page.  For me, being such a raging wuss this beach felt like the furthest thing from my idea of paradise but these guys were mad for the waves so what do I know.

The writing is really good, similar to Shiver, Reynolds does an excellent job of setting the scene, drawing the characters and making the sport positively leap off the page.  I don’t know if the author actually surfs but she does an impressive job of making it seem so – well, in my totally inexperienced brain that is.

Criticisms.  I don’t really have anything to be honest.  I enjoyed reading this.  It took a few strange twists and turns and although I expected the ending to be unexpected it was perhaps more unexpected than I expected (haha).

Anyway, I had a good time reading this.  It was crazy, tense, well written and absorbing.

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

My rating 4 stars

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