‘Mine eyes smell onions; I shall weep anon.’

Posted On 18 August 2017

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FFO.jpg

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, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below. This week’s theme:

The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork (A cover which features food)

This book cover is the only one that I could come up with this week!

My favourite this week:

I’ve had to go with the obvious one this week:

twi1

Which is your favourite?

Next week – Insect

Future themes:

25th August 2017 – If I be waspish, best beware my sting (A cover which features an insect)

1st September 2017 – Being born in a stable does not make one a horse (A cover which features a horse)

8th September 2017 – That great condenser of moral chaos, The City (A cover which features a city)

Snowspelled (The Harwood Spellbook) by Stephanie Burgis

snowspelledSnowspelled is the latest book that I’ve read and enjoyed by the wonderful Stephanie Burgis and I can say in all sincerity that I hope that there are more adventures from the plucky new heroine from within these pages.

This is an entertaining, Austen style, Regency period set in an alternate country known as Angland.  Mr Bennett would surely run for his inner sanctum if he was magically transported to this universe where women are the politicians and men deal with the magical elements.  The countryside is a place where trolls hide in the snow and elves appear mysteriously and silently along secret paths.

As the story begins we make the acquaintance of Cassandra Harwood.  Accompanied by her brother and sister-in-law Cassandra has foolishly accepted an invitation to a party and now deeply regrets that decision.  Her ex-fiancee will be present and whilst the stubborn part of her wishes to attend to prove to everyone else, and perhaps herself most of all, that she is over the relationship, you can immediately detect that her emotions are still running deep.  On top of that a strange snow storm has broken out, many of the invitees have found the roads impassable and it seems that one particular group of young females has gone missing in the storm.  Always a bit of a rule breaker Cassandra is determined to be part of the search party, even though she no longer has the ability to wield magic and so begins a string of events that see Cassandra making an unlikely agreement with a rather devious elf Lord – and the clock is ticking.

The world here is one in which a tentative pact exists between humans and elves, a pact that requires a renewal and show of faith at certain times of the year – for example the Solstice.  It would be considered incredibly rude and a massive slight if things didn’t run to plan, the elf King would be affronted and some of his subjects, the ones who maybe don’t like having their hunting enjoyment curtailed, would be only to happy to see the pact fail and so Cassandra is under incredible pressure to solve the mystery of the snow storm.

Being an alternate history this gives the author the freedom to turn things on their head and Burgis takes great enjoyment in doing so and thereby creating a witty and charming story of manners with a difference.  The ladies retire to the drawing room after dinner and the gentleman await a call to inform them that they may now enter – the important political matters having been dealt with.  I loved the world created here, there’s so much to explore and I truly hope that there will be further series.

In terms of the characters.  I liked Cassandra, she’s certainly an easy character to read and I was definitely curious about her story – being the first woman to enter the all male world of magic and actually becoming one of the foremost magicians of the period.  I feel that there is plenty more from this aspect of the story and that the author is simply whetting our appetites here.

Now, as you may know, I don’t tend to read a lot of books that focus on romance and there is undoubtedly a romance that plays a fairly central theme here, but, this has such a lovely period feel that I simply couldn’t resist, plus it isn’t the main thread of the story, just an aspect that helps to create chemistry and build tension.

This is undoubtedly a step away from the grimdark blood filled books that I quite often read but it was a lovely and welcome respite.  It brought back fond memories of some of my earlier classical reads and succeeded in bringing back to light a Regency style story with a more modern twist.  I had fun reading this, it was light and charming and a book that I devoured in one helping.  In (almost) the words of Oliver Twist – please Miss, I want  some more.

In terms of criticisms – my usual refrain, as a novella I wanted much much more but I guess that’s not a bad criticism really, after all, if I wasn’t enjoying it I would have wanted a much quicker end to the story.

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

I would also quickly give a little shout out for that cover which I think is just lovely.

 

Waiting on Wednesday : Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) by Jay Kristoff

Posted On 16 August 2017

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“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) by Jay Kristoff

A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.

Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

Set in the world of Nevernight, which Publishers Weekly called “absorbing in its complexity and bold in its bloodiness,” Godsgrave will continue to thrill and satisfy fantasy fans everywhere.

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Posted On 14 August 2017

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stillhouseStillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine is a tense thriller that kept me turning the pages late into the night.  Rather than a grisly story based on the serial killer himself this story takes a look at the family of the serial killer and their lives in the aftermath of his capture and it turns slowly but surely into a gripping psychological read.  It’s a really interesting idea to be honest – surely, you couldn’t live with such a monster and be totally unaware of their tendencies?  Well, meet Gina Royal, wife to Melvin Royal.  Gina has two children and a fairly average life.  She doesn’t rock the boat and whilst she may not be absolutely overwhelmed with happiness she believes herself to have a fairly regular marriage to a decent man who loves his children.  She believes that, right up to the day that a body is found in her garage and it turns out it’s just one victim amongst many.  From thereon in Gina’s life will never be the same again.

We then pick up the story with Gwen Proctor and her two children Atlanta and Connor.  Basically Gina has gone on the run with her two children – not from the law, ironically enough, but from the relentless hoard of stalkers and trolls who believe that she was her husband’s accomplice and inundate her daily with hate mail and threats.  The three of them have moved house and changed names many times and Gina/Gwen has practically turned into Sarah Connor from Terminator – kick ass, gun toting super mum who will protect her children at all costs.  For the moment they seem to have found a home of sorts, a place by the lake that they’ve had to fix up but for the time being feel some sort of security living in.  Unfortunately their brief respite is short lived when a body turns up in the lake – a body that seems to mimic the horrors from their past.  Is this a coincidence or are things going on.

I really enjoyed this, the writing is very good, which wasn’t a surprise from this author, the characters were well drawn, there was just the right amount of information delivered in a steady stream that kept answering my internal questions more or less as soon as they occurred to me and on top of that the author creates this wonderfully tense atmosphere.  This is the sort of book that keeps the reader on edge almost as much as the family they’re reading about.  It felt like everyone was a potential threat to be honest and I almost found myself jumping every time there was a knock on Gwen’s door or a stranger walked by her property.  I think what really adds to this is that you feel so overwhelmingly sorry for this family.  They may not have suffered the same fate as Melvin’s victims but they are nonetheless undoubtedly suffering and their lives are far from normal.  Gwen is like a boiling mess of paranoia and guilt.  Why didn’t she know what her husband was really like and more than that how will her children ever be able to live normal lives again.

The setting was really well planned.  I loved the way the author creates an atmosphere so peaceful and calm one minute and then in the next twists that tranquillity around so that from a different angle it turns into something more creepy and sinister.  Similarly with the characters.  You meet people who feel genuine and you almost want to slap Gwen because she’s so stand offish and sometimes just downright rude to them, you want to shake her and say ‘come on, eventually you’ll have to trust somebody’ but then again, moments later it turns out maybe you can’t trust anybody.  I thought that was very cleverly done because it builds into the reader the same unease that Gwen herself is experiencing.

The villain of the piece also makes an appearance when Gwen finally visits him in jail to confront him about certain issues and boy does he come across as evil incarnate.  It seems he has his own followers and he may be in prison for life but that doesn’t mean he’s lost the ability to hurt people.

Stillhouse Lake was a step out of the norm for me.  I tend to read mainly fantasy with the odd bit of horror and sometimes historical fiction thrown in for good measure, but I also occasionally enjoy thrillers/chillers and this was a really good choice to throw into the mix.  It’s a compelling story that builds slowly to a dramatic conclusion that definitely whets the appetite for what is going to come next.

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

 

Weekly Wrap Up : 13/8/17

Posted On 13 August 2017

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I’ve had a great week and hope you all have too.  In fairness, I’ve not been brilliant with my reading because there’s been such a lot going on in my personal life but it’s all good – socialising and visiting relatives is always good.

Anyway, hope you all had an enjoyable week.  Here are my books:

  1. Princess of Blood by Tom Lloyd – I did start this one a couple of weeks ago and the fact I’m behind is not a reflection of the book – simply that I’ve not had much sit down time.
  2. Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis

I’m still reading Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueline Carey, this is for a readalong that I’m behind for but hoping to catch up soon.  I’m also still listening to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and loving it.

Next week I’m hoping to read:

  1. The Turn by Kim Harrison
  2. The Curious Affair of the Witch of Wayside Cross by Lisa Tuttle
  3. Swarm and Steel by Michael R Fletcher

Cover compare:

For me the second cover is the winner – I love these dramatic covers.

How was your week? What you currently reading?

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