#SPFBO 8 Cover Competition

SPFBO71024_1

If you follow my blog you’ll probably be aware that I take part in the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) competition as a judge.   SPFBO 7 finished recently and SPFBO 8 is due to commence after a short break.

What’s SPFBO?  This is a competition for self published authors of fantasy fiction.  It’s the brainchild of Mark Lawrence and it’s mission (other than to boldly go….) is :

‘The SPFBO exists to shine a light on self-published fantasy. It exists to find excellent books that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. It exists to help readers select, from the enormous range of options, books that have a better chance of entertaining them than a random choice, thereby increasing reader faith in finding a quality self-published read.’

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

As with SPFBO 7 The Critiquing Chemist and I will be teaming up again.  We had a lot of fun last year discussing our batch of books and can’t wait to start tucking into this year’s entries.  Check out the Critiquing Chemist’s intro and book cover post here.  These two ladies are just amazing and I can’t say enough good things about them and the charm and intelligence that they brought to our team last year, joining up has definitely been one of my better decisions. 

My SPFBO7 wrap up and intro to SPFBO8 will be posted shortly. 

In relation to the Cover Competition. 

Every year, as part of SPFBO, there is a cover competition.  Each of the 10 judges chooses 3 covers from their selection of books and these are then voted on by both the judges and the public.  Go ahead and take a look at all the lovely covers and make sure to vote on your favourites once the link becomes available (keep your eyes peeled here).

Below are the covers from LB=TC2′s batch.  Feast your eyes :

Scarlight

toaA

HellbornKing

The lich

Reign of

The World Breaker

WttSS

TFU

Falhorne

FountainGirl

Fallingthrough

EverAlice

Wherethevalle

Memoriesof

MissPercy's

Cutthroats

Crownkeeper

Theheretic

oneofone

DenofThieves

SerGhostwriter

Between ink

Elusionof

DarkHilarity\Asteriu&

The Hidden Blade

AKing's Radiance

TheAgeofFire

HIGH RES Cover

BloodofCrows


And the three covers chosen by Lynn’s Books and The Critiquing Chemist/Bookish Boffin’s are: 

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

 

Which covers are your favourites??


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:

This week we went away for a couple of days for a short break which was lovely.  I’m still catching up but my reading has been good this week and I’ve managed to complete two books and I’m halfway through the  third.

Books read this week:

As planned, I completed and reviewed The House with the Golden Door which I really enjoyed.  I’ve also read Hide by Kiersten White and I’m just over 50% into my blog tour book which I’m keen to share more about.

Next Week’s Reads:

  1. The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper

thehouse

Friday Face Off : Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow #WyrdAndWonder

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.

W&W

Wyrd & Wonder is a month long celebration of all things fantasy check out this post for everything you need to know.  This month I will be posting predominantly about fantasy books in all it’s guises.

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:

Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow

This week I’ve chosen a medley of covers with a couple of books that I still have to read.  I’ve chosen all fantasy this week to coincide with Wyrd and Wonder. This is certainly an ‘on trend’ colour for books at the moment:

2022

May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
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 : What Moves the Dead by T Kingfisher

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: What Moves the Dead by K Kingfisher.  I’ve just read my first Kingfisher novel, Nettle and Bone and absolutely loved it so very keen to read more by this author.  Here’s the description and cover:

Whatmoves

From the award-winning author of The Twisted Ones comes a gripping and atmospheric retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, receives word that their childhood friend Madeline Usher is dying, they race to the ancestral home of the Ushers in the remote countryside of Ruritania.

What they find there is a nightmare of fungal growths and possessed wildlife, surrounding a dark, pulsing lake. Madeline sleepwalks and speaks in strange voices at night, and her brother Roderick is consumed with a mysterious malady of the nerves.

Aided by a redoubtable British mycologist and a baffled American doctor, Alex must unravel the secret of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.

Expected publication : July 2022

The House with the Golden Door (Wolf Den Trilogy #2) by Elodie Harper

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Even better than the first

thehouse

Last year I read and thoroughly enjoyed The Wolf Den, a brutally honest tale of slavery and another book that follows the recent trend of looking at history through the eyes of those that are often overlooked.  I love this type of reimagining and the setting for the Wolf Den trilogy is a fascinating one to visit.  The House with the Golden Door continues the story of Amara whose life has has gone from one of cherished comfort to a slave, a prostitute and now a courtesan.

We pick up the story with Amara living in relative luxury, purchased by her lover and another patron and given her freedom she has a home, food, clothes and lives a life of ease compared to her time in the Wolf Den.  Her status is such that she mixes with other courtesans who provide her with advice and her home is protected by her patron’s own steward, guard and maid.  Realistically speaking, having read Amara’s earlier story you might think her life would be complete but Amara still walks a fine line, keeping her patron happy whilst juggling the loneliness of her new existence.

I confess that picking this one up I wondered where the story would take us next and maybe slightly worried that we might follow Amara in a much more subdued role.  I was wrong.  Amara is intelligent and ambitious.  she’s determined to make good on this short period in her life when her attractiveness pays well and understands how tenuous her situation really is.  On top of this she made firm friends in the Den and finds herself not only missing the women she bonded with but wrestling with a conscience that desperately wants to help them.  With this in mind she sets out to meet her former owner.  I won’t elaborate on the plot too much.  What you really need to know is that Amara undoubtedly makes mistakes, you can see her doing so and you’re wringing your hands wondering how she’ll manage, she also finds love where she least expects, her friendships are ultimately tested and while some don’t stand the test of time others really shine.

Once again Harper manages to transport us to a vibrant and lively Pompeii.  She creates a story that is beautiful to read.  The clothes, food, shops, lifestyle, customs and history all play a part and yet there’s no info dumps.  Everything feels naturally integrated and helps to spin a picture as you read.  The writing is once again what I would call modern or contemporary but I found myself really enjoying it.  It makes the story a breeze to read through and the pages seemed to flow with indecent haste.  And, in similar style to the first in the series this is a honest retelling.  Amara may have been freed but this is still no fairytale ending and her patron is the furthest thing from a prince in shining armour.

I absolutely loved that the author writes this in a way that makes you really consider the life these people led.  Here we have Amara, technically a free woman and yet under a contract with stipulations about her conduct that should she err would see her revert back to slavery.  She certainly doesn’t feel like a free woman and the amount of fawning that she must do in order to please her new lover also gives lie to the fact.

On top of this the story is once again very focused on friendship and this angle undoubtedly leads Amara into some tricky situations.  We again meet up with Victoria and Britannica and I have to say I loved Britannica in this instalment and can’t wait to see how she develops in the next book.  Felix also plays a strong role and let me just say – I want to punch him in the face!  And I’m not a violent person.  But dear god give me strength that man wants slapping hard (the only problem being he would probably enjoy it).  Anyway, moving on.  Amara finds a new love interest that places her in great danger whilst at the same time as falling under the protection of two lovely ladies who provide her with a place of safety.

There is once again plenty going on here.  Some of it is quite heartbreaking, similar to the first instalment and a good deal of it is shocking in it’s frankness but this only helps to give firm foundations to the way the key players behave.  Amara is very focused.  She finds herself opening up to love but at the same time she is absolutely resolute in her desire, or in fact need, to find stability.  Nothing will stand in her way.  It gives me pause for thought.  Was the Wolf Den named because it was actually inhabited by a pack of wolves or because the wolves were the customers waiting at the door.

I don’t have any criticisms for this.  I found it a fast paced, entertaining, sometimes shocking and often emotional read.  It whisked me away to an ill fated land that sprang off the page and left me wanting more.  It’s going to be a long wait for the third instalment.  Honestly, I could read about Amara and the predicaments she finds herself in all day long.  I could read a spin off simply about Britannica.  And I would love to see this picked up and adapted for the big screen.

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

My rating 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:

Slowly but surely, just like the tortoise in the race with the hare, I’m making progress.  I’ve started to blog hop.  My reading is going okay although I would have liked to have completed my current read before posting – still time in the day though.  Anyway, this week I read and reviewed The Night They Vanished by Vanessa Savage.  An entertaining thriller.  I’m also two thirds into The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper – which I’m hoping to complete this evening.

Books read this week:

The Night They Vanished

TheNight

Next Week’s Reads:

  1. Nettle and Bone by T Kingfisher
  2. The Night They Vanished by Vanessa Savage

Friday Face Off : A favourite book to film #WyrdAndWonder

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.

W&W

Wyrd & Wonder is a month long celebration of all things fantasy check out this post for everything you need to know.  This month I will be posting predominantly about fantasy books in all it’s guises.

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.

Well, I didn’t totally catch up with my comments and blog hopping but I’ ve made a start in the right direction

This week’s theme:

A favourite book to film

This week I’ve chosen a book that will be obvious to those who know me.  I couldn’t resist and it’s such a good adaptation.  The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien.  I had to go there didn’t I?  Also I’ve used the first book and I’ve stuck to nine covers which seems to be in keeping with the whole idea of the Fellowship:

2022

May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
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

The Night They Vanished by Vanessa Savage

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Entertaining and fast paced thriller

TheNight

The Night They Vanished is an entertaining combination of family secrets and lies and past tragedy that finally catch up to the family involved.

As the story sets out we meet Hanna.  It soon becomes obvious that Hanna is estranged from her family and still has dark secrets that cause her concern.  But, it also becomes apparent that she has moved on, once the wild child of the family she now has a job and a home and has settled down and she reluctantly agrees to a blind date with a friend of a friend. What could possibly go wrong.  Well, to be fair, in very short order Hanna and her blind date Adam are thrown full tilt into a dangerous situation.   Adam has a strange and rather macabre hobby.  He runs a website which promotes dark tourism.  Basically, this is a site that promotes interest in places where crimes have been committed.  Unfortunately, it appears that the latest addition to the site talks of three murders that have just been committed and the address is Hanna’s family home.  As you may imagine this is the catalyst for multiple visits to the police, searches to the old family home and the uncovering of past secrets that have now come back to haunt them.

What this does really well is cast suspicion on multiple characters.  It keeps its secrets close just releasing little snippets here and there, it follows a really short period of time that keeps the pages turning quickly and it has dual timelines that take us back to a time just a few months earlier to give us a glimpse into Hanna’s family lives and slowly reveal events that bring us to the current situation.

There are a number of characters.  Hanna, primarily and her younger half sister Sasha.  Both characters had their share of difficulties and these led to characteristics that came across well.  Hanna is guarded and prickly, also something of a loner although she does have a very close, long term friendship that has lasted throughout the bad times.  Sasha on the other hand, and primarily as a result of the way that Hanna went off the rails, is ruled with a deal of strictness on the part of her father.  She is desperately lonely, bullied at school and her sheltered existence gives her a naivete that leaves her vulnerable to those who would prey on her need for friends.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I thought the eventual reveal was a little bit obvious but it didn’t really stop me from enjoying this.  I would say that the actual ‘baddie’ felt a little thinly drawn and the whole idea of the dark tourism site also felt a little underused, this was a really unique idea that felt it could have played more of a role.

As it was though, this might not necessarily reinvent the wheel in respect of thrillers but regardless I found this to be an entertaining and enjoyable read.

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

My rating 3.5 of 5 stars.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Even Though I Knew the End by CL Polk

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: Even Though I Knew the End by CL Polk.

EvenThough

Check out the description:

A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago’s divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above.

An exiled augur who sold her soul to save her brother’s life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can’t resist―the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves.

To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago’s most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.

Expected publication : November 2022

Nettle & Bone by T Kingfisher, #WyrdAndWonder : Book Review

W&W

Wyrd & Wonder is a month long celebration of all things fantasy check out this post for everything you need to know.  This month I will be posting predominantly about fantasy books in all its guises.

Nettle

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Fantastic, I absolutely loved it

Fairytale style stories are absolutely one of my favourite reads and I’m always on the lookout for more.  This is an author that I haven’t read before but have wanted to do so for quite some time and now, with the benefit of Nettle and Bone under my belt, I can genuinely say that I will be visiting all her previous books.  I loved this book so much.  It’s full of everything that I enjoy, it’s got elements of old fairy tales but as the same time feels unique.  It takes us on a wild ride to a far away kingdom.  There are princesses in distress, people who can talk to the dead, a dog that came back to life, amazing characters and the beginnings of a sweet romance.

As the story begins we meet Marra as she strives to complete an impossible task, we then backtrack to discover how she found herself on this quest and find ourselves in a small kingdom, far, far away, where the Queen, striving for the safety of her people, arranges a political alliance with a much larger neighbouring kingdom in the North.  The first Princess is given in marriage to the Prince but unfortunately meets with an untimely death.  Hoping to remain allied the second Princess is wedded to the Northern prince and the third Princess is sent to a convent (basically being kept in reserve in case the fate of the second Princess follows that of the first).  Marra is the third Princess in the tale and far from being unhappy at being sent to the convent she thrives in this world where she is permitted to complete regular tasks and use her intelligence to help others.  I won’t elaborate too much here other than to say that Marra becomes aware of the cruelty of her brother-in-law and strives for a way to save her sister.

To cut to the chase the characters here are a strange but lovable bunch.  Marra is a great character to read.  She’s warm and loving, intelligent and quite forward thinking.  She is determined to help her sister at any cost and although her mission is basically a recipe for disaster for all concerned she makes herself press on.  She is aided on this quest by a dust-wife and her demon-possessed chicken.  A crotchety old woman who can converse with the dead and whose pockets are filled with an odd collection of potions, string and other strange items.  I loved this character.  What a fantastic creation she is, I would definitely read more about her adventures.  We also have a Fairy Godmother who is in denial about her true magic – but I won’t say more about that here.  Agnes was the Princesses’ Fairy Godmother, granting the three ‘good health’.  She joins this eclectic crew and finds friendship where she least expected.  The two final members are both given a second chance in life.  Fenris is a disgraced warrior who is rescued from the Goblin Market and becomes loyal to Marra and determined to help.  The two have a lovely chemistry and a slow burn romance that is both naive and captivatingly charming.  Finally, the bone dog, a quirky, fun, crazy, reanimated dog skeleton that has forgotten that he ever died and likes to lick his nether regions – even though he doesn’t have nether regions! Or a tongue for that matter.

The plot is really good and the pacing just excellent.  There’s always something new and intriguing which prevents this becoming too much of a simple A to B quest style story.  I mean, fundamentally, it is a quest story and the characters do spend time going here and there but there are so many new encounters that the story feels fresh and exciting.

On top of this, although you may be thinking that a fairytale type story might lack depth, this is a wonderfully layered story.  It draws on well known tales and yet manages to give things a new twist.  The author manages to create interesting backstories for the places and also comes up with plenty of new and imaginative creations.  The Palace in the North, for example, is a fascinating place with a huge haunted catacomb full of former kings, their wives and children and a few other hideous surprises.

In terms of criticisms.  I haven’t got any, it’s that simple.  I loved this book from beginning to end and whilst, technically speaking, this is a quest with a deadly motive the characters are so warm and lovable  that the dark endeavour they pursue feels less dark than it otherwise might.

Overall, a fantastic read and one that I can’t recommend enough.  Plus that ending.  Tears and laughter.

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

Wyrd & Wonder banner image credit: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com

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:

So, today is a lovely day and we’re about to have a bbq with friends so this will be short and sweet.  I’ve had a good reading week.  Read the final episode in Mark Lawrence’s Book of the Ice – the Girl and the Moon – and it was a fantastic ending.  I’ve started catching up with comments and doing some blog hopping – it will take me a little while to visit everyone and get uptodate but I will do it 😀  I hate the thought of missing a review for a brilliant book – nobody wants that do they!

Books read this week:

The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence and Nettle and Bone by T Kingfisher.

Next Week’s Reads:

  1. The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne
  2. The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence

Friday Face Off : All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc #WyrdAndWonder

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.

W&W

Wyrd & Wonder is a month long celebration of all things fantasy check out this post for everything you need to know.  This month I will be posting predominantly about fantasy books in all it’s guises.

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.

I’m getting a bit back to normality.  Got back onto the reading and reviewing and this weekend I’ll be catching up with comments and blog hopping.

This week’s theme:

All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc

This week I’ve chosen a series with a great female character, not only kickass but a great friend and a young woman for whom friendship is very important.  Nona from the Book of the Ancestor Series.  Red Sister, Grey Sister, Holy Sister.

I’ve decided to compare two different sets:

2022

May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
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

The Girl and the Moon (Book of the Ice #3) by Mark Lawrence #WyrdAndWonder : Book Review

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Wyrd & Wonder is a month long celebration of all things fantasy check out this post for everything you need to know.

Girl and the

My Five Word TL:DR Review : What the f**k just happened

To be honest I’m in two minds writing this review.  One is that you simply have to read all of Lawrence’s books to understand the magnitude of what he achieves in this third instalment of the Book of the Ice series.  There are a number of reveals and little surprises included here that were great to read with the benefit and hindsight of having read Lawrence’s other books.  At the same time I do appreciate that the idea of backtracking through so many books can be off putting for some readers in which case I would say simply pick up the series that most appeals to you and enjoy it for what it is.

If I’m going to be perfectly blunt I’m both dazzled and dazed by this third instalment.  It is without doubt mind blowing but at the same time it makes me feel like I might need a reread.  It makes me think of the film Interstellar (hear me out).  I love that film but I feel no shame whatsoever in admitting that I needed to watch it at least three times before I really felt I’d grasped everything – and when I say ‘everything’, let’s be honest, I probably still missed things.  In a very long winded way what I’m really trying to say is that Lawrence’s creation rewards patience by delivering a stunning work that encompasses multiple genres and a long picture that is cunningly clever.

You may be pleased to know that I’m going to keep this review fairly short(ish) which is not a reflection on the book but an admittance that spoilers could easily and inadvertently be dropped at this stage in the story and I have no desire to deprive readers of surprises along the way.

The story kicks off virtually where book 2 left off and we find Yaz and her companions in danger of losing their heads!  I won’t elaborate on that point but can say that the action and pace is intense from the get-go.  Yaz and her friends are embroiled in a desperate race to save their world and staying alive would also be nice.

We return here to the Corridor and the Convent of Sweet Mercy where novices are trained in the deadly arts and this is where our companions go, for a while, in two separate directions.  I loved this part of the story, the strange conundrum that happens to one party whilst the party that remain behind help us to revisit the Convent once again seeing it through their amazed ‘eyes’.

As with all the books I’ve read by this author his writing is just my catnip.  I love the way he writes and I’m not simply referring to the story or the plot, or even the pacing, the actual style just works for me on a very fundamental level.  It pulls me in easily and keeps me wanting to read more.  Another confession at this point – I did read until the early hours of the morning on one occasion and was so tired that when I picked it up the next day I realised that I’d have to backtrack as my brain had rebelled and although I was, technically speaking, ‘reading’ I wasn’t actually absorbing.  Again, the beauty of good writing that can entrance you so much that you’re hypnotised!

In a nutshell.  This book has so many winning elements.  A thrilling adventure.  A twisted ending.  Characters that you can love (and hate), a jaw dropping conclusion and also one that is packed with emotion and a series that manages to be fantasy and science fiction combined (which shouldn’t be a surprise when you have a former research scientist in control).  What a ride this has been, I’m not sure whether to unbuckle or not.  I feel like this ended on a note of completion but then again when you have multiple possibilities and time travel who knows.

In terms of criticisms.  A slight feeling of build up before the grande finale when it felt like things were being put into place and the pacing slowed a little but it was nice to have a breather.

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

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Ithaca (Penelope #1) by Claire North

Posted On 4 May 2022

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 4 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: Ithaca (Penelope #1) by Claire North.  Ancient Greece – oh yes, sign me up!  

Ithaca

‘The greatest power we woman can own, is that we take in secret . . . ‘

Seventeen years ago, king Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them have returned, and the women have been left behind to run the kingdom.

Penelope was barely into womanhood when she wed Odysseus. Whilst he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that husband is dead, and suitors are starting to knock at her door . . .

But no one man is strong enough to claim Odysseus’ empty throne – not yet. Between Penelope’s many suitors, a cold war of dubious alliances and hidden knives reigns, as everyone waits for the balance of power to tip one way or another. If Penelope chooses one from amongst them, it will plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. Only through cunning and her spy network of maids can she maintain the delicate balance of power needed for the kingdom to survive.

On Ithaca, everyone watches everyone else, and there is no corner of the palace where intrigue does not reign . . .

Expected publication : September 2022

Top Ten Tuesday : One Word Reviews, #WyrdAndWonder

W&W

TTTTop 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:

One-Word Reviews for the Last Ten Books I Read

For the past few weeks my reading has been reduced due to all sorts of events and also I predominantly focused on my finalists for the SPFBO competition (which has been a thrilling race that I will be writing a roundup post for soon).  For the purposes of this week’s theme I’ve used the winner of the SPFBO together with nine other recent review books and in the spirit of Wyrd & Wonder I’ve mostly used fantasy books (although the Paris Apartment is more thriller).

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne – Brilliant

Hungerof

Reign and Ruin by JD Evans (SPFBO Winner) – Romantasy

Reign

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough – Compelling

Insomnia1

The City of Dusk by Tara Sim – Mixed

Cityof

Last Exit by Max Gladstone – Mind-bending

Lastexit2

Sundial by Catriona Ward – Unputdownable

Sundial

Gallant by VE Schwab – Unexpected

Gallant

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley – Twisted

ParisApart

The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn – Interesting

The hemlock

The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan – Gripping

Justice

It’s a lot more difficult than I thought giving a one word review.  I may have cheated slightly by including some hyphenated words.

Wyrd & Wonder banner image credit: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com

The Hunger of the Gods (The Bloodsworn Saga #2) by John Gwynne. #WyrdAndWonder : Book Review

W&W

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Even Better Than The First

Hungerof

Almost a year ago today I posted my review for The Shadow of the Gods.  It was gushing.  TSofGs was an absolutely fantastic start to series, I gave it an unabashed 5* for the absolute joy in reading that it inspired in me.  So, how did The Hunger of the Gods stack up?  It was even better.  I don’t know how that’s possible but there you go – does that mean I rated the first book too highly?  Not at all it simply means that I’m going to have to start adding extra little stars to this series.  Be aware that this review may contain spoilers for book 1 so bear that in mind before reading.

To avoid this review turning into a dissertation I’m going to give only a brief overview of the plot here.  We continue immediately where book 1 left off with the release of a dragon God.  I mean, seriously, people, who would ever have thought that was a good idea?  But, here we are, Lik-Rifa is released and has a vision of a new age wrought in blood.  Meanwhile, Orka remains steadfast in the hunt for her son and has some fearsome company in her quest.  The Bloodsworn have their very own mission with one of their own, Varg, having his own side quest and then we have Elvar and the Battle-grim, determined to win fame and glory and make daring rescues of their own.

I mean, on the face of it, when you spell it all out in that way, it seems like there’s a lot going on here but in actual fact it doesn’t feel overly complicated or busy when you’re reading.  If anything it’s quite the opposite, it just all comes together so very well.  I enjoyed all the switches in storylines and can genuinely say that this is such an exciting read because of that.  There’s a lot of action, battles, politics and squirm-inducing critters but at the same time Gwynne takes the time to weave in the history and lore of the place and develop the characters really successfully as the story moves forward.  The motivations are all so believable and there’s an epic sense of scope, particularly when you look at the Gods.  In fact, let’s just take a moment to look at this aspect of the story.  Clearly, this won’t be the first time that seasoned fantasy readers will have encountered Gods on this scale with all the sibling rivalry involved but what I love here is that all the Gods have their own natures linked to particular animals and over time, through interactions with humans, some of these traits have been passed on – such descendants being known as the Tainted.  I love this aspect of the story and the way it changes the nature of the battles involved.

Gwynne is an author who excels at action scenes and all them are breathtakingly described.  I had my heart in my throat every time shields locked wondering whether any favourites would fall under the axe, and I’m not going to lie, this is an author who isn’t shy of killing off some of his people so don’t become complacent in that respect because anything can happen.  But, it’s not all action.  There’s wonderful moments of camaraderie and banter, or cunning snippets of other scenes playing out and weaving the story together.  The pacing is just so well planned and I loved the way that as the story progresses you have these shorter chapters that really pack a punch.  I mean in one respect, as the tension rose I found myself thinking ‘nooooooo’ when we jumped pov just as something tantalising was revealed, everything became so intense and yet at the same time I have to acknowledge it drove my reading on into the early hours with the age old ‘just one more chapter’.

I don’t know what more I can say, I feel like I’m waxing lyrical about this and I’m in danger of going overboard with the praise but I can’t help myself.  I’m having such a good time with this series that I don’t want anyone to miss out.  A fantastic storyline, amazing characters, pacing perfection, sublime writing, some downright icky characters – all I can say right now is the thing with the tongues!  Why, just why was there a need to go there?  If you love fantasy and you’re not reading this series then I implore you, do yourself a favour and get on board.  I have so much emotion right now – I’m watching Gwynne and thinking it’s going to be a long wait for the next book.

That is all.

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

My rating 5* (I would actually give it 5.5 if I could!)

IMAGE CREDITS: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com

#WyrdAndWonder – “Oh my fur and whiskers! I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!”

Posted On 2 May 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags:

Comments Dropped 6 responses

W&W

I’m a little late (or absent minded) with my introductory post for this year’s Wyrd & Wonder but better late than never I always say.  Join me down the rabbit hole if you will.

Wyrd & Wonder is a month long celebration of all things fantasy be it in book, film or any other format you enjoy.  I won’t reinvent the wheel here because, besides anything else, this post includes everything you need to know and does so in a far more eloquent manner than I could achieve.  In a nutshell this is probably the most easy going and yet exciting event of the year.  Lots of people coming together to discuss all things fantasy – what more could you possibly want?  All you need to do is…

 ‘Speak Friend and Enter’

I’m a little behind with some of my reads at the moment (life having other plans occasionally) and so I’m hoping to cram lots of lovely fantasy books in this month if I can.

I’ve just finished reading an amazing book – a second in series and a series that I can’t say enough good things about.  Seriously, if you love fantasy, epic-Norse-inspired fantasy with amazing characters, Gods, battles and other strange critters you would go a long way before finding anything as absorbing.

I’m also well into the third book in a series that I’m loving by a favourite author.  I’m keeping all of this vague because I will be posting about both these books and series during the event so stay tuned.

On top of that I have a few other great reads lined up – here are a few of the covers to entice you in:

I’m going to leave it there for now.  Expect lots more posts during the month of May.  I’ll be using the #WyrdAndWonder Twitter Tag for my posts and also the lovely banner at the top of this post which has been created by chic2view.

IMAGE CREDITS: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com

Have fun storming the castle 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:

I’ve been somewhat absent on the blog in the past couple of weeks.  Long story short I’ve been helping my parents out a little and family issues have just taken over.  Touch wood (or my dense noggin) things seem to be improving so I’m hoping that things will finally calm down and I can get back to reading and blogging.  It has been a strange  few months for sure and every time I get back on track something comes along to upset the apple cart.  Fingers crossed for the rest of the year will be nice to me. In reading news I’ve finished my Gwynne read.  I’ll be reviewing that tomorrow.  All I can say is WOW.  This book = mind blown.  I am undone.

Books read this week:

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne.  Literally, I beg you to read this series!  The HotG has got to be not only one of the best reads so far this year but quite possibly one of my favourite top ten reads ever.  Seriously. I don’t joke about these things.  Just, please, pretty please with a cherry on top, if you love fantasy you simply must pick up this series.

Hungerof

Next Week’s Reads:

  1. The Iron Crown by LL MacRae
  2. Reign and Ruin by JD Evans

#SPFBO Review : Reign and Ruin (Mages of the Wheel #1) by JD Evans

Posted On 30 April 2022

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 2 responses

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Stage 2 of the  SPFBO competition is now well underway and the Critiquing Chemist and I have been reading the finalists.  Today we post our final review for Reign and Ruin (Mages of the Wheel #1) by JD Evans.  Don’t forget to stop over to the Critiquing Chemist to check out their review.

Reign

Reign and Ruin was perhaps one of my biggest surprises for the competition.  Primarily because this is fantasy with a healthy slice of romance and I’m not shy about repeatedly saying that romance doesn’t usually work for me.  It’s a nice feeling to be proved wrong on this occasion.

This is a story set in a Sultanate with a middle eastern type setting.  We meet Naime, a young woman, educated, knowledgeable, ambitious and unafraid to tackle the inequalities of her situation.  Her father, the Sultan, is slowly declining, his memory a thin veil. she needs to maintain a semblance of control whilst at the same time trying to be named the heir.  At the same time Naime wants to protect her people from invasion and has a vision for Tamar that involves collaboration with a neighbouring country, a vision that is not shared with the other ruling entities.  Basically, Naime is treading a fine line.  Keep the politicians happy, prevent any sort of betrothal that will leave her powerless, protect the country and seek aid from a neighbouring state that really doesn’t want to collaborate.

At the same time we have  Makram, a Prince, second in line to the throne and a powerful mage of Sarkam.  He adores his brother which clouds his better judgement in relation to the fact that he is no longer loved but reviled for his magic ability.  Similar to Naime, Makram has a vision for his country and people and is only too happy to seek an alliance with Tamar unbeknown to his brother.

Naime and Makram are both powerful in terms of their magical ability.  Both are accustomed to wielding authority and control, both fear for their countries and both have a vision for something better.

I liked the politics created for this particular world and the way in which magic is used.  Certain magical abilities have become taboo and there is a clear divide between the prosperous Tamar and the inferior Sarkam.  Tamar has a certain old fashioned style politics with a very male dominated control.  Tamar is perhaps similarly controlled but Markam is slightly different in both his respect for women and his own lack of ambition, well, probably that’s not phrased well, it’s not that he lacks ambition so much as he wants to follow the right course and isn’t afraid to let others lead him there.

In terms of characters.  I liked Naime.  She is so good at politics.  I loved the way she is written and more than that the way she stands up to those who try and dismiss her  Seriously, she really is a great female character.  At the end of the day, she has been raised to this role and she fulfills it beautifully .  She knows what she wants,she’s scared that she won’t be able to achieve it and she isn’t afraid to seek help.

Markam is afraid of what he is and what he is capable of (with good reason), he has misplaced trust in his brother even though any semblance of affection seems to have long since passed and he is desperate for someone to actually see him as a person rather than fear him for the magic he wields.

The two of them are basically an accident waiting to happen and I can’t deny that I really enjoyed their interactions.  They make a refreshingly well balanced couple.  I don’t mean to make them sound dull by saying that, just that their relationship is really well written.

In a nutshell I enjoyed this because, the pace was snappy, the world building was interesting, the characters were engaging, the romance was slow burn and there was chemistry aplenty.

Criticisms.  I think to an extent this is a tried and tested format and the characters are perhaps a tad cliche, but at the end of the day that’s probably what makes it such a winning story.  I wouldn’t say this is particularly deep or ground breaking but I think regardless of that the story is very entertaining and I think the author has managed to perfectly balance the plot and the romance.  I would certainly like to read more as for once I didn’t find myself eye rolling every time the  main characters got together.

If you’re looking for a fantasy story with what I consider to be a quite sizzling, slow burn romance with engaging characters and witty dialogue you could go a long way before finding such a good read.

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

My rating 8.5 stars out of 10 or 4 of 5 for Goodreads.

The Critiquing Chemist rated this 8.5 stars

Our combined rating 8.5

Friday Face Off : Long/pointed ears

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.

I’ve still been mostly absent for yet another week.  Helping out with family continues but good progress has been made (my dad is now home and recovering well and both he and my mum are doing much better which is such a relief – although we have had some dramas) and so I’ll be returning home in the next few days and getting back to some serious reading, blogging and visiting.

This week’s theme:

Long/pointed ears

This week I’ve chosen a book that I haven’t yet read but would love to do so as its by an author that I’m really loving to read.  Alice by Christina Henry.  Plus, who am I kidding, I’m always on the lookout for retellings of Alice in Wonderland.  So, here are the covers:

2022

May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
6th All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
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

#SPFBO Review : The Iron Crown (Dragon Spirits #1) by LL MacRae

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Stage 2 of the  SPFBO competition is now well underway and the Critiquing Chemist and I have been reading the finalists.  Today we post our review for our eighth finalist The Iron Crown (Dragon Spirits #1) by LL MacRae.  Don’t forget to stop over to the Critiquing Chemist to check out their review.

TheIronCrown

The first in the Iron Crown sets up the story for your basic epic quest with a bunch of strangers eventually coming together in search of answers, all with different motivations, hopes and fears.

As the story begins we meet Fenn as he struggles to survive. Fenn is a young man who seems to have found himself drowning in a bog with no idea of how he came to be there – in fact no idea of who he is as he seems to be suffering from complete memory loss. In rather swift measure Fenn meets with a dragon spirit before being discovered by two females who are travelling through the forest and reluctantly come to his aid.  From there the three, through necessity, find themselves travelling together from the Isle of Salt to the mainland where a number of adventures befall them.

I liked the world imagined by the author.  This is a world of fantasy creatures such as Griffins and dragon spirits that are able to connect to people, imbuing them with power or cursing them depending on their whim. These spirits are usually tied to places such as forests or lakes which unfortunately leads to restrictions, particularly, for example, if the place the dragon spirit is linked to begins to experience decline, ultimately leading to a loss of power for the spirit itself together with the person they are connected to. The Queen is a perfect example of how linking to a dragon can create power.  She personally links to one of the most powerful spirits in the land and for the past five years has kept the country at peace following their turbulent history with the Myr.  The Myr are a strange enemy and one that I’m not quite sure I’ve got a total grip on so I’m going to avoid descriptions.

There are a number of POVs.  Fenn is perhaps the foremost character.  He’s desperate to recover his memories at the same time as staying alive and surviving whatever event landed him in his current predicament.  As it happens there seem to be a lot of similar ‘lost souls’.  People popping up with lost memories and no idea of who they are.  This brings me to a slightly lesser POV, a character called Torsten who is the Master Inquisitor for the Iron Crown.  He’s not the nicest of characters, something of a religious zealot who takes a strange delight in persecuting others and makes it his mission to round up the ‘lost souls’ believing them to be involved in a new uprising of the Myr.  Finally we have Calidra.  A young woman living on the Island of Salt for a number of years following estrangement from her family.  She is called back to the family home following the death of her father and seeks to reconcile with her mother.There are other prominent characters.  In short a love interest, a Priestess, a battle hardened General and a thief.

The plot is a little thin in my opinion and in some respects this feels very much like a set up book, particularly as so many questions remain unanswered at the conclusion and also because all the characters end the story poised for the next instalment.

In terms of criticisms.  I had difficulty connecting with some of the characters, without going into depth they felt a little juvenile, particularly the dialogue, even the General who is a battle hardened character.  A couple of the characters seemed to have no hesitation to draw knives and wave around axes with abandon at the slightest provocation threatening all sorts of repercussions and it felt over the top to me.  I would suggest this is YA but there is some language and certain scenes that I don’t think fit that audience, not to mention the length of the book.  On top of this there was a good deal of coincidental meetings of people along the way which made the place feel a lot smaller than I originally imagined.  Finally, I feel like this needs cutting some.  It’s simply too wordy but more than than it feels drawn out.  Whole chapters come and go and bring very little progress to speak of.  Clearly this is an author who loves the world and characters and doesn’t want to give anything up and I do understand that desire but I think if this was reined in a little the story would pack a much better punch.

Issues aside I recognise that whilst this story didn’t totally work for me I think readers who enjoy an epic quest with dragon spirits and griffins might enjoy this one.

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

My rating 7 out of 10 stars (or 3.5 of 5 for Goodreads)

The Critiquing Chemist rating is 6 stars

Our combined rating is 6.5 stars

Friday Face Off : Tough Travel Tropes – unknown magical ability

Posted On 22 April 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 4 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.

You may have noticed that I’ve been conspicuously absent.  We’re helping out family at the moment so most other regular activities have taken a backseat. Hopefully, some semblance of normality will eventually be resumed 😀

This week’s theme:

Tough Travel Tropes – unknown magical ability

This week I’ve chosen a book by an author that I really enjoy.  This is an author that is gifted when it comes to Gothic writing and the book I’ve chosen this week actually not only has different covers but also different titles.  The Corset or Poison Thread by Laura Purcell – which I adored:

2022

Apr
29th – Long/pointed ears
May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
6th All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
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

#SPFBO Review : Shadows of Ivory (The Godforged Chronicles #1) by T.L. Greylock and Bryce O’Connor

Posted On 21 April 2022

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 2 responses

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Stage 2 of the  SPFBO competition is now well underway and the Critiquing Chemist and I have been reading the finalists.  Today we post our review for our seventh finalist Shadows of Ivory (The Godforged Chronicles #1) by T.L. Greylock and Bryce O’Connor.  Don’t forget to stop over to the Critiquing Chemist to check out their review.

Shadows

Straight off the bat I’m going to begin this review by saying I had a good deal of enjoyment reading this book.  The characters were easy to like, the story was intriguing, the writing perfectly balanced and it includes what is for me a winning element in any story – archaeology and the search for relics.  If you fancy a decent slice of Indiana Jane on the hunt for answers to ancient mysteries whilst being pursued, threatened and set up for murder all during a time and place not dissimilar to renaissance Italy then give The Godforged Chronicles a whirl.

Let’s firstly take a look at the characters.  This is an element of the story that I really enjoyed and thought was executed well. We follow three POVs and I found myself liking all of them, although some of them were quicker at grabbing my attention and affection than others.  The primary focus is Eska.  She’s a wonderful character that I had no problem getting on board with.  She’s intelligent and educated, her family status and the privilege she has enjoyed growing up has given her a good knowledge of politics and business together with the confidence to wield them but in actual fact, what really shone for me was her passion and curiosity for what she loved (archeology) and the way she cared for others. Don’t get me wrong, she’s by no means perfect, she makes mistakes and can be totally infuriating at times (especially when she decides to leave things to look at until later – particularly when I’m so curious and impatient and want to look now).  Anyway, yes, I liked Eska – also, if you can judge a person by their friends I’m prepared to like her even more because her closest friend is a rather bookish librarian called Albus.  Albus plays a slightly lesser POV role although he does unwittingly become involved in his very own adventure (in a cunning side story that eventually feeds into the overall arc).  I don’t know whether it’s just a bookish thing that makes me always enjoy such characters or not but whatever it is that I find appealing Albus seemed to have it in spades.  The third POV is the character set up as direct rival to Eska.  Manon’s family have fallen out of favour somewhat and as we make her initial acquaintance she is racing against Eska to be first to reach a new excavation site.  Manon is a wielder (or carrier) of fire magic, she also shares a love of archeology but her families downfall has pressed her into dire straits and forced her to make drastic choices.  It’s easy to start off admiring Eska and disliking Manon but as the story progresses I found the gap between the two lessening and by the conclusion was actually hoping that they might eventually, reluctantly maybe, realise that their talents would be so much better combined – time will tell in that respect but I have fingers and toes crossed for some sort of begrudgingly respectful teaming up.  One can wish.  Of course there is always the possibility that their dislike of each other could grow into intense hatred.

There are other side characters and at this point in time I would say a good number of them are under suspicion which is another element that I really enjoy.  Not for everybody maybe but personally I love that feeling of never being able to pin the culprit down and jumping around thinking everyone is the villain.  Okay, that probably sounds a bit odd but I’d much sooner be surprised by the eventual reveals.  Easy to guess endings might make me feel like the queen of outcome speculation but they’re not as satisfying at the end of the day and so far this book has me hooked in that respect.

I really enjoyed the world building and think as first in series go this succeeds admirably in providing me  with enough history and background that was really well woven into the story. Plus, I’m interested in learning more and find myself curious about how the next story will play out.  I loved the puzzles with the artifacts and the mystery that is eventually uncovered but more than that I loved the scope of the world imagined.  It just feels like there’s such a lot to still explore here.

The plot.  Definitely intriguing,  Past histories play into family rivalries and politics (even within families themselves) which lends the story plausibility.  There is an element of story threads splintering and at first this might feel a little perplexing but as you pan out (if you will) you start to see how all the threads are coming together.  On the face of it there’s the mystery of why Eska has been framed but underlying this is the bigger picture of the ancient mystery not to mention the threat facing the Seven Cities.

As you can probably gather from the above I had a good time with this.  The writing is just my cup of tea, the pacing was good.  There are some cracking adventure stories taking place and I very much look forward to seeing where this story takes us next.

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

My rating 8.5 of 10 stars or 4 out of 5 for Goodreads

The Critiquing Chemist rating is 8.5 stars

Our combined rating 8.5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Locklands (The Founders Trilogy #3) by Robert Jackson Bennett

Posted On 20 April 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: Locklands (The Founders Trilogy #3) by Robert Jackson Bennett.  Here’s the description and the cover:

Locklands

A god wages war—using all of humanity as its pawns—in the unforgettable conclusion to the Founders trilogy.

Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.

This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.

To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.

Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.

And as if that weren’t enough, their adversary might just have a spy in their ranks—and a last trick up its sleeve. 

Expected publication : June 2022

#SPFBO Review: The Forever King (The Scalussen Chronicles #1) by Ben Galley

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Stage 2 of the  SPFBO competition is now well underway and the Critiquing Chemist and I have been reading the finalists.  Today we post our review for our sixth finalist The Forever King by Ben Galley.  Don’t forget to stop over to the Critiquing Chemist to check out their review.

TFK

If you love your fantasy epic then The Forever King could be just the book you’re looking for.  This is the first in the Scalussen Chronicles and it has an almost old school fantasy feel with battles, magic, mythical creatures, Gods, dragons and plenty of twists and turns.

This is a story from the same world as Galley’s Emaneska series but I wouldn’t say that I had any issues picking this up without having read the earlier novels.  That being said, clearly if you decide to start your reading at this point you will probably unwittingly spoil the earlier series for yourself so be aware of that before you make this your starting point.  So, for example, as much as I’m interested in reading The Written and reading more about Farden’s backstory, I probably won’t backtrack now I’ve started the Scalussen Chronicles.

As the story begins we meet a group of children scavenging wreckage on the shore.  Unfortunately what starts out as an innocent game has grim repercussions and becomes the trigger for bloodshed and destruction.  A number of the children are taken captive and this eventually is the platform used to reveal the duplicity behind the Emperor’s ban on magick.

From here on the fate of the children from the village diverges and we predominantly follow Mithrid who is taken to the rebel fortress.  

I liked the world that Galley has imagined and the magick that he’s come up with.  Magick has been forbidden for many years now, the purge drove magick users underground and many look to the Forever King and his rebel movement to free them from the tyranny of the current emperor.  The irony of course is that although magick has been banned and its use punishable by death the emperor searches for ways to use it himself to strengthen his ranks.  The world is poised on the brink of the war and it takes only one trickster God to push it into action and for the empire’s forces to descend on the rebel fort with the intention to finally wipe out the Forever King.

There are a few characters to follow along with.  Mithrid who is well drawn and goes through a range of emotions.  Grieving for the life she has lost she eventually settles on a need for vengeance that overrides everything else.  Farden is the Forever King – he also struggles with the expectations of others and his role as hero and saviour doesn’t sit easy with him.  Farden is one of a few characters known as the ‘written’ which basically means his back is tattooed with spell runes.  The process of writing a ‘book’ onto a person’s back is a difficult one to survive but having survived it the runes give the written a lot of power and Farden’s magical abilities are practically unparalleled.  Malvus is the tyrant emperor intent on stamping out magick whilst at the same time seeking to create his own ‘written’.  I liked the characters but to be totally honest I didn’t feel like I totally connected with them, or, at least I struggled to initially, probably half the book at least before I felt like I really got on board,  Which isn’t to say I was finding it hard to read because that’s the furthest thing from the actual truth.  I was always happy to pick this up and considering the length of the book it felt like a breeze to read which is a testament to the writing which I liked a lot.

The plot in a nutshell is the age old strife of good vs evil.  I really liked that Galley used the deception/hypocrisy/ propoganda tool as an intrinsic part of the Empire’s rule and the way to keep the general populace in the dark.  Farden has plenty of followers and believers who want to free magick users from the oppressive lives they lead, but, make no mistake, the Empire is a huge force to be reckoned with.  In the past the rebellion has mainly been involved in small skirmishes and hasty getaways but with the appearance of a God on the scene the balance is tipped and Malvus assembles a huge army to wipe out the rebellion once and for all.

In terms of criticisms.  I felt to an extent that some of the world building was a little thin but at the same time I appreciate that writing from an already established world is something of a balancing act. There was also a little foreshadowing at certain points that took away some of the tension and also a slight feeling of things conveniently working out.

Slight issues aside, I felt this was an enjoyable epic-old-school-type fantasy and I would be interested in continuing the series to see where Galley takes these characters next.

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

My rating 7.5 out of 10 stars (I would round up to 4 stars of 5 for Goodreads).

Friday Face Off : A book or series that is urban fantasy

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:

A book or series that is urban fantasy

I had a few series to choose from for this week’s theme but I’ve gone for The Toby Daye series by Seanan McGuire.  I’ve chosen the first book, Rosemary and Rue and there are a few covers so let’s take a look:

2022

Apr
22nd – Tough Travel Tropes – unknown magical ability
29th – Long/pointed ears
May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
6th All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
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

#SPFBO Review: Norylska Groans by Michael R Fletcher and Clayton W Snyder

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Stage 2 of the  SPFBO competition is now well underway and the Critiquing Chemist and I have been reading the finalists.  Today we post our review for our fifth finalist Norylska Groans by Michael R Fletcher and Clayton W Snyder.  Don’t forget to stop over to the Critiquing Chemist to check out their review.

Norylska

Norylska Groans is perhaps one of the darkest books I’ve read for some time.  Having read both Fletcher and Snyder previously I think I was quite well prepared for the grimfest but for those of you who haven’t read them before I will start this review with a simple ‘heads up’.  This is not for the faint of heart.  That is all.  You have been warned.

In a nutshell this is an alternate history, low fantasy set in a Russian-style-industrial-revolution-era city.  We follow two characters who end up on opposing sides, both simply trying to survive in a world that takes no prisoners and neither of them totally happy with the paths they have followed.  Again, before I say anything further about the plot or writing I must say that I absolutely loved the magic system that these authors have come up with, it’s fascinating, unique and rife with possibility.

Firstly, the characters.  We follow Katyushka Leonova and Genndy Antonov as they take desperate measures in order to try and eke out a better way of life.  Gen, having lost his job resorts to work with the crime syndicate where is role becomes one of violent enforcer.   Gen was a soldier, he now suffers from PTSD and he seems to go into an all consuming rage when embroiled in a fight. Kat seeks work as a secretary but is instead forced into a job with the militia in a strange turn of events.  Kat doesn’t exactly have a wonderful homelife and the rigours of her new job actually start to appeal more to  her than playing the meek and dutiful wife to her insufferable husband.  I have to say that I found myself preferring Kat’s storyline, although the two of them worked very well together when they eventually crossed paths and I particularly enjoyed having a bird’s eye view from two opposing camps.

The world building was solid.  It’s easy to imagine the place, the filth (caused by excessive mining), the grime, the oppression.  It’s a dog eat dog world.  The poor live in ramshackle abodes, shantytowns with makeshift homes thrown together and barely standing.  On top of this the story takes place over winter and there seems to be a constant barrage of snow, ice, slush and just your basic sub-zero and rather unpleasant conditions.  It’s a world of poverty, life is cheap and the poor are plenty.

As I already mentioned I love the magic system.  There are memory stones which serve a dual purpose.  They can imbue the person wearing the stone with the memories of those who wore the stone previously along with storing new memories as each new wearer uses the stone,  When the stone is removed the wearer no longer remembers their actions – which certainly gives a whole new meaning to the ethos of ‘not taking your work home with you’.  There is also the possibility of stones being used to help the wearer feel more confident, or aggressive, etc depending on the combinations used.  I’m probably not describing this very well but it is impressive and it has multiple opportunities for storylines and feeds particularly well into the storyline here.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I think I could have used a little less detail on the torture – that’s just me and maybe I’m a bit squeamish – but I felt there was a little too much and that combined with the overall large slice of grim reality definitely felt at times a little bit relentlessly dark. I’m not saying that the violence and bloodshed is gratuitous because it actually fits well with the setting and the theme of crime lords and their brutal retributions – just, maybe, give me an idea of just how brutal this world is once and I’ll take that on board and keep it firmly in mind. The plot itself also felt a little light – to be honest, that’s not so much a criticism as a statement because this felt more like a slice of life fantasy and I have to say I had no problems reading it.

Overall,I found Norylska Groans a compelling read and if you love grimdark then this has got to be your next read.

I received a copy from the authors for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 7 out of 10 or or 3.5 out of 5 for Goodreads.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Hooked by AC Wise

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

Hooked

A gorgeous literary feminist take on what happened to Wendy and Captain Hook after Neverland from the bestselling author of Wendy, Darling, perfect for fans of Christina Henry and V.E. Schwab.

Exploring themes of grief, survivor’s guilt and healing broken bonds, Hooked is a modern-day Peter Pan story, perfect for fans of retellings, Christina Henry and V.E. Schwab.

Once invited, always welcome.
Once invited, never free.

Captain James Hook, the immortal pirate of Neverland, has died a thousand times. Drowned, stabbed by Peter Pan’s sword, eaten by the beast swimming below the depths, yet James was resurrected every time by one boy’s dark imagination. Until he found a door in the sky, an escape. And he took the chance no matter the cost.

Now in London twenty-two years later, Peter Pan’s monster has found Captain Hook again, intent on revenge. But a chance encounter leads James to another survivor of Neverland. Wendy Darling, now a grown woman, is the only one who knows how dark a shadow Neverland casts, no matter how far you run. To vanquish Pan’s monster once and for all, Hook must play the villain one last time…

Expected publication: July 2022

Top Ten Tuesday : Authors I Haven’t Read, But Want To

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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 is:

Authors I Haven’t Read (yet), But Want To

Blake Crouch – just about every blogger I know and respect loves this author. I have at least one of his books on kindle already, maybe two:

James S A Corey – I’ve been wanting to read the Expanse series for ages and keep promising myself I will do so – soon. I think this now goes up to Book 9 and is still receiving much love so a series with great strength.

Simone St James.  I bought The Sun Down Motel after seeing a few glowing reviews and I can’t wait to get to it.

sundown

Kimi Cunningham Grant – These Silent Woods is a book I’ve had my eye on for some time. It’s on my wishlist and I will be picking up a copy soon.  It sounds so good.

TheseSilentWoods

Genevieve Gornichec – particularly The Witch’s Heart.  Another book that’s firmly on my wishlist.  I love books about Norse mythology so this is right up my alley.

TheWitchsHeart

Dan Stout – The Carter Archives by this author look awesome.  Again, they’re on my wishlist, I’m waiting to see if they become available in electronic format.  These look so good.

Connie Willis – I have to say that I’ve been wanting to read Doomsday forever – I mean, seriously – what is wrong with me.  Just read the book already woman. Gah.  Plus a couple of other great looking books.

Stuart Turton.  I have a copy of the Devil and the Dark Water – because, The Devil – and – The Dark Water.

G.S. Denning – the author of the Warlock Holmes series which I love the sound of. Plus I love Sherlock Holmes and tend to enjoy books that spin alternative tales.

Josiah Bancroft for his Books of Babel which by all accounts are fantastic.

Burn Red Skies by Kerstin Espinosa Rosero 

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Stage 2 of the  SPFBO competition is now well underway and the Critiquing Chemist and I have been reading the finalists.  Today we post our review for our fourth finalist Burn Red Skies by Kerstin Espinosa Rosero.  Don’t forget to stop over to the Critiquing Chemist to check out their review.

burnredskies

Burn Red Skies is high fantasy, set in a world with elemental magic. It is predominantly a story of siblings, separated by cruel events and set on diverging paths.  This is a book set in an intriguing world where dragons can be summoned to wreak destruction.   I would say before starting this review that the writing was really good. I love Rosero’s style and the fact that this is a debut makes that even more impressive. 

This is a story with multiple povs.  We are introduced to Dove who survives the destruction of her village only to be enslaved by the tyrant that caused it’s destruction. Born mute Dove is a strong character and wielder of fire magic, although she is untrained and only made the discovery when she survived the fires that consumed her home. She now lives day to day at the whim of the King who seems to take perverse enjoyment in his cruelties.  Her one dream centres around finding the brother that she lost – if she can stay alive long enough to do so. Dove’s story takes an interesting turn when she is given the chance of freedom and the opportunity to join the rebellion that fights against the King.

Valerya is General to the tyrant king and the first summoner of dragons for hundreds of years.  I liked this character, well, that’s not strictly correct, I liked the way she’s written.  She’s a conflicted character, definitely morally gray, not entirely happy with her role and she has her own agenda to push.

I’m not going to elaborate too much on the other characters.  We do eventually meet Dove’s brother Gryff.  His path takes a strange turn when he also comes to the notice of the King and is given a place working for Valerya who takes an interest in pushing him – or punishing him depending on which way the wind blows.  

As is quite often the case with multiple pov fantasy stories I found myself gravitating more to certain story lines, in this case my absolute favourites were an unlikely pair known as Bard and Dancer.  I found their chapters fascinating, they brought humour to the story, I was intrigued and I found myself looking forward to their return every time the pov switched.  Personally, I found their introduction to the story a real boost.  I enjoy a good dose of realism in my fantasy as much as the next reader but I have to say that the inclusion of some kind of respite to the constant death and bloodshed is always welcome to me and these two brought that in spades.  They were refreshing to read, there was definitely a spark of chemistry (although no romance – just banter) and they felt excitingly dangerous.  

As I mentioned above.  I enjoyed the writing, I think the pacing was good for the most part and this was undoubtedly an easy read. If I was going to try and sum up the plot I would say this is essentially about the two siblings and the different character arcs that see them going in quite different directions.  It will be interesting to see how the two develop further and the impact they have on this world. 

The world itself was only briefly drawn and did leave me with some questions.  The elemental magic, fire, ice, storm, water, seem to link to location, for example, ice wielders have an aversion to the sun and seem to hail from colder climates.  Fire wielders are immune to the flames – also in rare cases (Valerya) they can summon dragons – I couldn’t help wondering if the other magical abilities will have similar exceptional talents but that remains to be seen.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I didn’t feel that I had an absolute grip on the world and the point that we were at within this story.  I don’t have a problem with being dropped into a world where events seem to be in the middle of things but I wanted a little more clarity as the story progressed and I’m not entirely sure that was the case for me.  Of course this is a first in series so I’m sure that issue will be addressed in future instalments.  I did think the pacing stuttered a little in areas although for the most part I think this was a story with a good pace, there were just certain points where I felt things slowed down and I found myself losing concentration.  I was also not totally convinced by Gryff’s story arc which felt a little rushed and lacking in believability especially when compared to Dove’s.

The above aside, Burn Red Skies is a great start to a series, set in a fascinating world.  

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

My rating 7 out of 10 or 3.5 of 5 for Goodreads

The Critiquing Chemist rating is 7.5 out of 10

Our average rating is 7.5

 

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:

This week I’ve read another of my SPFBO finalists which means I have one more book to complete. For the next three weeks The Critiquing Chemist and I will hopefully be posting two reviews per week in order to make the timeline.  I’ll also be continuing with my review books. Unfortunately my dad is still in hospital and this is having a very bad impact on my mum.  I’m hoping that things improve soon.

Books read this week:

1 x SPFBO finalist

Next Week’s Reads:

  1. The Mortal Blade (Magelands Eternal Siege #1) by Christopher Mitchell

Mortalblade

Friday Face Off : Fresh and Green – a cover that is predominantly green

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:

Fresh and Green – a cover that is predominantly green

Hopefully another easy theme this week. Looking forward to seeing some lovely green covers.  This week I’ve chosen a book that is on my reading list this month: Stringers by Chris Panatier.  Only two covers but they both meet the brief:

2022

Apr
15th Genre – a book or series that is urban fantasy
22nd – Tough Travel Tropes – unknown magical ability
29th – Long/pointed ears
May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
6th All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
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

The Mortal Blade (Magelands Eternal Siege #1) by Christopher Mitchell

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Stage 2 of the  SPFBO competition is now well underway and the Critiquing Chemist and I have been reading the finalists.  Today we post our review for our third finalist The Mortal Blade (Magelands Eternal Siege #1) by Christopher Mitchell.  Don’t forget to stop over to the Critiquing Chemist to check out their review.

Mortalblade

‘A city ruled by Gods, a mortal champion, a misfit girl and a disobedient dragon…’

I would start my review by saying that Mortal blade was an easy book to read and a story told by four unique points of view.  The story immediately intrigues you by following one of the povs as they undertake a dangerous nighttime mission that definitely whets the appetite and leaves you wanting more.

The City of the Eternal Siege is quite aptly named as it seems to be continually under siege by a fierce and overwhelming (in terms of numbers) enemy known as the Greenhides.  The City is ultimately ruled by a God King and Queen although at this point they’re more figureheads than anything else.  Their demigod children instead have been allocated different parts of the City to govern, an arrangement that seems to cause friction and jealousy at best.  Not of help in this respect is the fact that the Gods went to war with each other 300 years ago.  With their long lives come bitter memories of the death and destruction caused during that war and resentments still bubble beneath the surface.  The place feels like it sits on a knife edge of tension and the everyday mortals who live in the City feel rather like fodder for the Gods to use in their political maneuvering.

The four main characters are: a demigod named Alia.  Alia was on the losing side during the war of the Gods and although she has been pardoned and given a role in this new domain I would say her position is tenuous, although this doesn’t stop her sneaking around and trying to help the mortals who live in the city as part of her own ongoing rebellion.  Corthie has been brought to the City as a Champion to help with the relentless onslaught of the Greenhides.  Corthie is quite unique in that he seems to be the only human with godlike ability that translates into a form of battle vision, giving him a constant edge over his enemies.  In one respect Corthie’s ability enables the City to begin to experience some sort of respite from this continuous onslaught but in another way his ability  brings him to the notice of the Gods and this is not necessarily a good thing.  Maddie is a young Blade (soldier) who seems to have been thrown out of every unit she’s been allocated to as a result of unruly behaviour.  She has one more chance to redeem herself before being allocated to the almost suicidal unit known as the Rats, basically the soldiers who go beyond the wall on a regular basis to face the Greenhides.  As it happens Maddie’s new role is probably just as life threatening.  Finally, we have Daniel, a recently graduated officer and part of the nobility.  Daniel is the last in line and his family are desperate for him to redeem their name and status by succeeding in his military career and forming a beneficial alliance with one of the other noble families through marriage.  No pressure there then.  To say that Daniel isn’t overly keen on either prospect is an understatement.

The writing is easy to get on with, the pacing is fast and this is an enjoyable read.  However I did have a few issues that prevented me from absolutely loving it.

Firstly the characters.  To be fair I think with most stories that have multiple povs it’s usually easy to like one or two of the storylines more than the others.  With this one, I actually found my interest waxing and waning.  I started off really enjoying Alia.  I also thought Corthie got off to a strong start and was intrigued to see his role develop.  However, two things ultimately changed this for me.  I felt like Alia came across much younger than she actually was and this wasn’t helped at all by her forming a relationship/insta-love with Corthie and becoming almost immediately smitten.  That element of the story didn’t work well for me and somehow lacked conviction, she’s not a giddy teenager after all and this isn’t her first time falling in love.  Also it felt like Corthie became younger in attitude as his story progressed, taking risks and acting more like someone going on a jolly jape than a soldier entertaining life and death almost every day.   Maddie and Daniel on the other hand were the opposite.  I found Maddie frustrating to begin with, in fact a little annoying, but really started to come round to her as the story progressed.  Likewise Daniel.  His storyline is a little dry at first, he’s unhappy with his lot in life and to an extent he comes across as a bit privileged and mopey but as his military career begins he starts to come into his own and his character improved for me.  I felt like the world building was a little flimsy and I had a scattering of small niggling issues that eventually left me feeling that this book was perhaps aimed at a younger audience.  I’m not sure if that’s the case or not and that statement isn’t intended to be derogatory, simply I find myself reading less YA these days as they more often than not don’t provide the detail that I’m looking for.

All that being said, I have to say that Mortal Blade was easy to read, fast paced and entertaining.

My thanks to the author for a review copy.

My rating 7 out of 10 or 3.5 out of 5 for Goodreads.

The Critiquing Chemist rating is 7.5 out of 10

Our average rating is 7.5

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Babel by RF Kuang

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: Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by RF Kuang. Here’s the gorgeous cover and the description:

Babel

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.

1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel.

Babel is the world’s center of translation and, more importantly, of silver-working: the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation through enchanted silver bars, to magical effect. Silver-working has made the British Empire unparalleled in power, and Babel’s research in foreign languages serves the Empire’s quest to colonize everything it encounters.

Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is a fairytale for Robin; a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge serves power, and for Robin, a Chinese boy raised in Britain, serving Babel inevitably means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to sabotaging the silver-working that supports imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide: Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? What is he willing to sacrifice to bring Babel down?

Babel — a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal response to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell — grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of translation as a tool of empire.

Expected publication : August 2022

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:

This week has had a few ups and downs culminating with my dad going into hospital.  It’s a bit of a worrying time to say the least and I don’t think my mind is entirely focused. I’ve completed my SPFBO finalist and started finalist No.8.  I haven’t read any of my review books so need to do some catching up.  Unfortunately Pennyblade was not really working for me so I’ve set it to one side for the moment because clearly it could be related to my mood rather than the content of the book. I am hoping to pick up Seven Deaths of an Empire this week.  Hope you’re all doing well?

Books read this week:

1 x SPFBO finalist

  1. Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough
  2. Legacy of the Brightwash (Tainted Dominion #1) by Krystle Matar

Friday Face Off : compare the covers for two books you’re excited about

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:

Compare the covers for two books you’re excited about

Hopefully another easy theme this week – the only problem is limiting this to two books you’re looking forward to.

I have a good number of books that I’m looking forward to over the next few months but I’ve chosen two books that both have eye catching cover designs.  The first book has two covers and I’ve chosen to show both.  My books are Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald and In the Shadow of Lightning by Brian McClellan.

2022

Apr
8th – Fresh and Green – a cover that is predominantly green
15th Genre – a book or series that is urban fantasy
22nd – Tough Travel Tropes – unknown magical ability
29th – Long/pointed ears
May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
6th All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
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

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

Posted On 31 March 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 10 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : I liked it a lot

Insomnia1

I’m always indescribably happy when I see that SP has a new book.  I’ve followed her work for a while now and really enjoy her writing.  To put the cat among the pigeons I would say that not only did I like Insomnia but I liked it more than Behind Her Eyes.  It’s a perfect jumble of crazy mixed up, spiralling out of control, sleepless insanity.  Every time I thought I had a handle on what was going on it turned out I was wrong and I just love the way that the ending is totally out there – let’s just say #wtfthatending – in fact maybe that hashtag will apply for all SP’s books.

To be fair, if you’ve read Pinborough you’ll be aware that her books often wander into strange territory, tales of the unexpected if you like.  There are usually elements of magical realism that surface as the book progresses but this is usually coupled with such a straightforward and contemporary style that it’s always a surprise.

Insomnia starts with Emma Averell approaching her 40th birthday.  Lots of people approach the big 4-oh with a little bit of trepidation but in Emma’s case this is exacerbated by events from her past.

Emma has an almost picture postcard existence.  A successful career, a loving-stay-at-home husband, two lovely children, a gorgeous house and an impending partnership.  Things are looking peachy until a few days before her birthday she wakes in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. I’m not going to discuss the plot any further because this is a book that is probably best explored with no knowledge beforehand.

Why did I like this book.

Well, firstly it’s deceptive.  When I first picked this up I thought I knew what was going on, but I really didn’t.  You need a level of patience here because as Emma’s sleepless nights continue her grip on reality begins to crumble.  She reflects on things from the past, particularly when people she hasn’t seen for years show up. And then the cracks start to appear.  Maybe Emma’s life isn’t as perfect as it first appeared.

Secondly, it’s frustrating, repetitive and mind bending in the best ways possible.  Here is a woman who thinks she’s going crazy.  Hell, I thought she was going crazy at many points during the story.  It’s an acknowledgement to the power of sleep and that period of restoration that your brain needs to function in a productive way.  I veered between perplexed, annoyed and flummoxed.  Why has Emma’ s life suddenly gone so haywire, why weren’t her family more supportive and what was going on at night when she completely lost periods of time – scary.

On top of this there are a few characters who dip in and out and Pinborough manages to paint them all in differing shades of suspicion.  The husband, does he resent his wife’s success?  The neighbours and the possibility of affairs.  Emma’s sister appearing out of the blue?  The client’s ex.  Even (especially) Emma.

For me, the best part of this novel is that I felt immersed in Emma’s world.  I was going slightly crazy myself and i don’t mean simply because I was staying up too late to function, I wanted to shake Emma, come on woman, snap out of it, pull yourself together.  Stop doing things that make you look insane.  But then, maybe she is insane!  She’s a hot mess of fear to put it bluntly.  She doesn’t know if she’s following in her mother’s footsteps, she doesn’t know if she’s a danger to her family, she doesn’t know if she’s committed terrible acts, she doesn’t know if somebody else has committed these terrible acts and, like Emma, I didn’t know either and it was driving me a little crazy too.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I’m not sure that the eventual reveal will wow everyone.  It takes something of a leap but it was a leap that was easy for me to take so not a criticism so much as a ‘be aware’.

I found Insomnia an easy book to read.  It took me through plenty of emotions along the way not least of all my extreme happiness that I can fall asleep at night.  A twisty thriller with plenty of tension, well written and easy to conjure in the mind’s eye.

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

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

#SPFBO Review : Legacy of the Brightwash (Tainted Dominion #1) by Krystle Matar 

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LOTBW_FNL_PRINT_6x9Stage 2 of the  SPFBO competition is now well underway and the Critiquing Chemist and I have been reading the finalists.  Today we post our review for the second finalist we read: Legacy of the Brightwash (Tainted Dominion #1) by Krystle Matar.  Don’t forget to stop over to the Critiquing Chemist to check out their review.

Legacy of the Brightwash is a story that definitely left me conflicted.  On the one hand, as I started to read I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the writing and the sharp contrast between that and the world being described.  I mean, literally, I adore the way Matar turns a phrase.  It’s as though she’s writing just for me and I love that feeling.  On the other hand, and whilst I can’t fault the author for the love of this world and the characters, I felt that there was too much padding.  I have no problem reading weighty tomes and at not much shy of 700 pages this is certainly something of a door stopper, but I do have a problem when they feel weighty and for me this one dragged its feet a little.

Brightwash is the name of the river that runs through the City of Yaelsmuir that belongs to a grouping of various states known as Dominion. As the story begins we make the acquaintance of a Regulation Officer known as Tashue.  Regulation Officers work for the Authority responsible for keeping the population within the letter of the law and Tashue is almost regimental in the way he maintains his duty without deviation.  The early chapters set us on the course of a murder mystery.  The body of a mutilated young child washes up on the river banks, the only mark a tattoo on the back of the neck and Tashue is determined to discover the identity of the person responsible for this atrocity.  One thing that seems strangely coincidental is that the body seems to be down river of the facility used to imprison those who have fallen foul of the law.  

By way of background some of the people within the Dominion have what is known as ‘talent’ or quite often the more disparaging term ‘tainted’ is used.  This is a form of ability that gives the users certain specialities and there are also differing strengths of ‘talent’.  For many years the authorities have oppressed those with such ability.  All talent users are required to register with the Authority, they are assigned case officers and regularly monitored.  Talent can be used for operating machinery, lighting street lights or helping to cure diseases or other injuries.  Non compliance leads to incarceration in the Rift, a prison not renowned for it’s gentle approach.  Unfortunately for Tashue his son Jason has been imprisoned in the Rift for three years for failure to comply and he fears that something terrible will eventually befall him.

The world building is really good.  I love the idea of the Dominion and the magic of the talented.  Without doubt this is a grim and seedy world with plenty of morally grey characters.  For the most part the majority of the people feel subdued or beaten down by life apart from the small percentage who live at the other end of the extreme.  

Matar has given her story a political stance with the character Tashue being roped into campaigning being paraded around events and the like as a war hero.  This is not something that Tashue is fond of but he’s manipulated into taking part with all sorts of talk of improvements, more authority officers to help with heavy workloads and perhaps better conditions for his son.

On top of this there is a romantic element to the story with the introduction of Stella Whiterock and her young daughter.  Stella is a woman with Talent  who has captured the attention and heart of Tashue, a feeling that she returns.  This is part of the storyline that feeds into the overall disillusionment  that Tashue begins to experience as his eyes are finally open to the prejudice and harsh treatment of those judged to be different.

Clearly there is a lot to explore here with background stories, political sidelines, the whole setting out of the world and the abilities of those with Talent and I think the author does a great job in bringing all these things together so well.  Why the mixed feelings then?

As I mentioned above, I think this is quite simply too long and whilst it clearly demonstrates the love that Matar has for this world and the characters it feels almost like too much book for the story being told.  As I already mentioned, I loved the writing and was also really intrigued by the mystery but every time I thought things were going to take off they went off on a tangent and this constant roller coaster of tacking along slowly followed by a rush of speed followed by another tack in progress, well, it pulled me out of the read in fact I found myself losing interest.  Also, to be fair to the author, the romance here plays quite a central role, particularly in swaying the beliefs of Tashue and helping to nudge along his disillusionment, and romance is something that I can take or leave.  I don’t mind a romance as part of a story but I prefer it to take a backseat as opposed to being fairly central and I can see that the author was going for a slow burn romance with the gradual build of tension but, again, in keeping with my other feelings this just felt too drawn out.  

Overall, the writing is lovely, the world is intriguing and this is without doubt a character led drama which is something I enjoy.  I think it could be tightened to make the story have a little more punch and I wasn’t enamoured by the romance but this is a personal preference.  I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading this.  This is a talented author and definitely one to keep a close eye on.

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

My rating 6 out of 10 or 3 out of 5 for Goodreads.

The Critiquing Chemist rating is 6 out of 10

Our average rating is 6

 

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Fervor by Alma Katsu

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 Fervor by Alma Katsu.  I really like this author.  Here’s the description and the stunning cover:

Fervor

From the acclaimed and award-winning author of The Hunger and The Deep comes a new psychological and supernatural twist on the horrors of the Japanese American internment camps in World War II.

1944: As World War II rages on, the threat has come to the home front. In a remote corner of Idaho, Meiko Briggs and her daughter, Aiko, are desperate to return home. Following Meiko’s husband’s enlistment as an air force pilot in the Pacific months prior, Meiko and Aiko were taken from their home in Seattle and sent to one of the internment camps in the Midwest. It didn’t matter that Aiko was American-born: They were Japanese, and therefore considered a threat by the American government.

Mother and daughter attempt to hold on to elements of their old life in the camp when a mysterious disease begins to spread among those interned. What starts as a minor cold quickly becomes spontaneous fits of violence and aggression, even death. And when a disconcerting team of doctors arrive, nearly more threatening than the illness itself, Meiko and her daughter team up with a newspaper reporter and widowed missionary to investigate, and it becomes clear to them that something more sinister is afoot, a demon from the stories of Meiko’s childhood, hell-bent on infiltrating their already strange world.

Inspired by the Japanese yokai and the jorogumo spider demon, The Fervor explores a supernatural threat beyond what anyone saw coming; the danger of demonization, a mysterious contagion, and the search to stop its spread before it’s too late.

Expected publication : April 2022

Top Ten Tuesday : 21st Century Books I Think Will Become Classics 

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 is:

21st Century Books I Think Will Become Classics

I really like this topic.  It makes you sit and think.  I had a much longer longlist (hence the name eh!) and had to narrow this down.  I started off with books that I was thinking are already pretty huge in terms of massive ratings on Goodreads and elsewhere – such as Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander or GRRM’s Game of Thrones.  Then I thought about choosing some of my more recent reads.  Ultimately I’ve gone for a mix of newish and slightly older reads.  In no particular order, here they are:

The Red Queen’s War series by Mark Lawrence

The Bone Ships (The Tide Child) by RJ Barker

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

TSC

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

LHoNS

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

MG

The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium series) by Stieg Larsson

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

AG

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow

Ten

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Song

The City of Dusk (The Dark Gods #1) by Tara Sim

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Slow pacing and overly long

Cityof

City of Dusk is a book that I wanted to love, a dark adult fantasy with fascinating worldbuilding and noble houses whose heirs are descendents of the Gods.  Unfortunately, I think my expectations going into this one may have muddied the water a little, I was so excited to pick it up and as with most of my reads these days I went into this one with very little knowledge beforehand so the fall from ‘up on a pedestal’ to ‘considering not finishing the book at all’ felt like a long way down  In fact I left off writing this review for a few days to give my mind time to absorb what I’ve read but in actual fact the delayed period in between completion and now has probably only served to heighten my confusion and mixed feelings.

This is a story of four heirs, all potentially in line to become the next ruler and therefore in competition with each other.  At the same time, the world on which they live is starting to suffer all sorts of shortages.  500 years ago the ‘Sealing’ took place, closing off the city from the other godly realms leaving them unable to trade, etc.  On top of the political vying between the four noble houses there are a number of strange occurences that are causing huge problems.  A group of Conjurors are undertaking practices that have been banned for many years and as a result the world is suffering from the repercussions.  The four heirs tentatively team up to try and figure out how to open up the realms again.

So, we have four realms, life, death, light and dark.  Each realm has a God and each God is represented by a noble house (the nobles actually descend from the Gods), each house has an heir with their own particular brand of magic.  There is Risha, a necromancer descended from the God of death, Angelica, an elementalist who really struggles with her ability to wield magic, Taesia, not actually the heir to her noble house but who has strong magic and can wield shadow magic with skill and Nik, from the house of light who also struggles to fulfil his role having had to step into the shoes of his older brother who died in a tragic accident.  

There are a number of povs represented during the story.  For me, I felt it was a little too much and although I understand the desire to give readers a bird’s eye view of what’s going on it also sometimes results in rather shallow characters and a certain level of repetition.  Taesia is focused on more than the other characters and as a result her arc is a little stronger although at the same time it feels rushed in certain respects.

My main issues are a bit complicated.  I liked the style of writing and yet I felt the story dragged its feet and for the actual length of the book I  felt everything was a little vague, to such an extent that I find myself with more questions than answers about the world, the Sealing, the noble houses and the Conjurors.  The characters themselves felt really young and this gave the story a YA feel to me rather than a dark adult fantasy but having said that I can’t recall is this was marketed as YA or adult.  The world itself lacks the complexity that you would expect from adult fantasy and yet at the same time it’s frustratingly confused. The realms, for example, all now sealed with the Gods prevented from any interaction and yet all the noble houses are shut in this one realm?  Why? Perhaps I missed something with that particular question but it is puzzling me.  There’s mention of the City suffering from shortages but the timeframe doesn’t add up – I think the shortages would have been a lot more obvious a lot sooner.  I was puzzled why the King and the noble houses rely so heavily on the heirs – I mean are there no advisors in this world, why aren’t the people with experience actually helping to solve some of the problems, why is a young, untested man put in charger of a major investigation (unless to see him fail)?  It all feels a little bit skimmed over.  I’m not going to go any further, basically, I think I’ve gone into over-critical mode.

To be fair to the author, as mentioned above, I like the style of writing however this felt like it was more aimed at a YA audience and whilst I do read the occasional YA they tend to be few and far between and I often find myself slightly irritated by the surface level of information.  

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

My rating is 2.5 of 5 stars

 

 

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing 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:

This week has been a busy one although I’m not entirely sure why – the time seems to have flown by and I’ve barely had chance to break open my laptop or write up posts, but, I did manage to complete the two books that I wanted to so I’ll take that.  I read my SPFBO finalist and now have three books remaining (one of which I’ve made a start on) and I also read Insomnia which is quite possibly my favourite Pinborough so far and very aptly named because I feel like I suffered some sleeplessness myself whilst reading!  (Mainly due to ‘just one more chapter’ syndrome).  I haven’t managed to post any reviews so the blog may be a little busy this week.

Books read this week:

1 x SPFBO finalist

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

Insomnia1

  1. We Men of Ash and Shadow by HL Tinsley (SPFBO Finalist)

Wemen

  1. City of Dusk by Tara Sim
  2. Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

Friday Face Off : A book with a one word title

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:

A book with a one word title

Hopefully this is a nice easy theme.  I’ve read quite a lot of books over the years with just one word but as I’m all about showcasing the latest releases as often as possible I’m going to go with a book that I’ve literally just started reading.  Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough.  There’s only two cover this week so lets take a look:

2022

Apr
1st Spring forward – compare the covers for two books you’re excited about
8th – Fresh and Green – a cover that is predominantly green
15th Genre – a book or series that is urban fantasy
22nd – Tough Travel Tropes – unknown magical ability
29th – Long/pointed ears
May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
6th All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
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

#SPFBO Review : We Men of Ash and Shadow (The Vanguard Chronicles #1) by H.L.Tinsley 

SPFBO71024_1

Stage 2 of the  SPFBO competition is now well underway and the Critiquing Chemist and I have been reading the finalists.  Today we post our first review and I think it’s safe to say that the reviews will now start to appear with almost indecent haste.  The first book we will be reviewing is We Men of Ash and Shadow (The Vanguard Chronicles #1) by H.L.Tinsley.  Don’t forget to stop over to the Critiquing Chemist to check out their review.

Wemen

We Men of Ash and Shadows is a book that I have mixed feelings for.  I think it’s an impressive debut, I loved the dialogue, I think Tinsley creates a grim world indeed with harsh contrasts between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ and there’s an alternate French feel to it with the revolutionary plots.  Of course there is a flip side to that but I’ll get to that shortly.  Firstly a little more about the book.

Our central character is a former soldier turned mercenary named John Vanguard. Vanguard now works for a former acquaintance (Sanquain) who now controls the seedy underbelly of the city.  The story takes a little while to give you a feel for Vanguard, he’s a man haunted by his past who lives with constant guilt that plagues him so badly that he believes he should live a life of suffering.  The work he undertakes is that of an assassin carrying out authorized hits only on those that have stepped outside the law of the criminal underworld in which they live.  Strangely enough Vanguard has earned himself a reputation as a vigilante and the people of D’Orsee have a sort of quiet respect for the work he undertakes.  Yes, he’s a morally gray character but he isn’t without feeling. 

In contrast to Vanguard we have a character called Tarryn Leersac whose family have fallen on hard times.  Once part of the upper echelons of society they no longer have money and their home is falling into ruin.  Leersac looks after his mother who is suffering from what I took to be a form of dementia (but that could be wrong).  He’s a deeply resentful man with a very bad temper (to say the least).  Vanguard and Leersac’s paths eventually cross and for a while there is a mentor/apprentice style relationship in place that I enjoyed and would have liked to see expanded a little more).  This is where we come to the fantasy elements of the story and the reason why both characters are so good at quietly murdering unaware suspects.  They are both able to pass unseen, I’m not talking about totally disappearing like the Invisible Man, more a knack of sorts that allows them to almost blend in and makes people glance over them if you will.

There are a number of other characters that help to populate the story and in fact in typical fashion I found myself liking some of the supporting cast more than the main characters.  I find that this is often the case and I want more expansion from the characters surrounding the central pov – but this is obviously a very personal thing.  As it is the two central characters eventually go in very opposite directions but I won’t elaborate and spoil things for other readers.

The plot starts off with Vanguard looking into the disappearance of a couple of guards and from there gathers into a story of revolution with different forces pulling and pushing in different directions.

The setting has an alternate history feel to it.  This is gaslamp fantasy so it has a late Edwardian or Victorian feel to it.  For me there was also a decidedly French feel to the place although that could just be me latching onto the French revolution and ascribing similarities even though that’s a different period.

In terms of criticisms (or the flip side of the coin that I mentioned above).  Well, this is a relatively short book, which I don’t have a problem with except that in some ways it felt like I didn’t get enough time with everyone.  I felt like Leersac’s issues spiraled very quickly and the ending, although I admit it was entertaining, felt a little rushed.  There’s a lot of head hopping which at first I found a little irritating, but, to be fair, I did become accustomed to it very quickly.  I have to admit that I felt a little disappointed with some of the deaths – hear me out – this is grimdark and so I expect a lot of characters to meet a grisly end, but there was some foreshadowing here and in a way it would have been more of a surprise if some of those built up expectations had been flipped on their head.  This is also quite low fantasy and there’s very little knowledge or explanation of what’s actually happening or why which  in some ways  gave the book almost the feeling of a prequel. I would love to know more about this going unseen ability and if there are others with similar or even slightly different abilities in this world and hopefully this will be explored in further novels.

Overall, I found this an easy read.  This is certainly an author that I would keep an eye on and apart from perhaps a little over ambition which quite often happens with a debut novel I think this was a good start to the series.

I would rate this 6 out of 10 or 3 of 5 for Goodreads.

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

The Critiquing Chemist rated this 6.5 therefore our average rating is 6.5 out of 10

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Art of Prophecy (The War Arts Saga #1) by Wesley Chu 

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 Art of Prophecy (The War Arts Saga #1) by Wesley Chu.  Here’s why:

Artof

An epic fantasy ode to martial arts and magic about what happens when a prophesied hero is not the chosen one after all—and has to work with a band of unlikely allies to save the kingdom anyway, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lives of Tao

So many stories begin the same way: With a prophecy. A Chosen One. And the inevitable quest to slay a villain, save the kingdom, and fulfill a grand destiny.

But this is not that kind of story.

It does begin with a prophecy: A child will rise to defeat the Eternal Khan, a cruel immortal god-king, and save the kingdom.

And that prophecy did anoint a hero, Jian, raised since birth in luxury and splendor, and celebrated before he has won a single battle

But that’s when the story hits its first twist: The prophecy was wrong.

What follows is a story more wondrous than any prophecy can foresee, and with many unexpected heroes: Taishi, an older woman who is the greatest grandmaster of magical martial arts in the kingdom but who thought her adventuring days were all behind her; Sali, a straitlaced warrior who learns the rules may no longer apply when the leader she pledged her life to is gone; and Qisami, a chaotic assassin who takes a little too much pleasure in the kill.

And Jian himself, who has to find a way to become what he no longer believes he can be—a hero after all.

Expected publication : August 2022

Top Ten Tuesday : Books With an Adjective In the Title

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 is:

Books With an Adjective In the Title

  1. The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan
  2. This Charming Man by CK McDonnell
  3. The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey
  4. The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
  5. The Drowned City by KJ Maitland
  6. The Two Faced Queen by Nick Martell
  7. The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman
  8. The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd
  9. The Red Monarch by Bella Elis
  10. The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandell

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:

Well this week hasn’t gone wonderfully well although I have been catching up with blog hopping and comments which has been great, I love seeing all the posts I’ve missed and catching up although I still have some more backtracking to do.  So, why hasn’t this week gone well?  Last week I started City of Dusk and although I had made a good start it still took me all week and most of yesterday to complete it (hence this post being late because I was absolutely determined to start the week with a new book).  Unfortunately City of Dusk didn’t really work it’s magic for me which is a shame as I loved the concept.  My review will follow shortly.  As a result I didn’t manage to start my next SPFBO finalist so that will be my next endeavour.

Books read this week:

The City of Dusk by Tara Sim.

  1. Last Exit by Max Gladstone

Lastexit2

City of Dusk by Tara Sim

Friday Face Off : Somewhere over the rainbow

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:

Somewhere over the rainbow – a very colourful book cover

2022

March
25th – A book of few words – a one word title
Apr
1st Spring forward – compare the covers for two books you’re excited about
8th – Fresh and Green – a cover that is predominantly green
15th Genre – a book or series that is urban fantasy
22nd – Tough Travel Tropes – unknown magical ability
29th – Long/pointed ears
May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
6th All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
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

Reading “Firsts” for 2022

I first saw this idea over on Tammy’s Books Bones and Buffy blog last year and thought it was a great idea to highlight some of the books you’ve read during the first quarter of the year.  Take a look at Tammy’s answers for this year (here) and now lets see how I’ve got on so far this year.  I’ve also sneakily added one extra prompt.

First book read in 2022:

TheMaid

According to my list up on the blog (Books Read In… tab) the first book I read this year was The Maid by Nita Prose and what a great start to the year was this quirky and delightful cosy murder mystery set in a hotel with a maid called Molly who loves to blitz dust and grime.


First (aka Second) review posted in 2022:

RGs

The first review I posted this year was the same answer as above – The Maid.  Obviously I was aiming to start the year with some good intentions and post reviews in a timely manner.  So, the second review I posted was for Rachel Hawkins Reckless Girls.  I enjoyed The Wife Upstairs but had slightly mixed feelings for this one although the author certainly succeeds in creating tension.


First (aka Second) book of 2022 by a debut author:

AFlicker

Well, surprisingly, would you believe the first debut I read this year was the first book I read, yep, The Maid.  This post could very soon turn into a one trick pony!  A post of firsts all about one book – that would be a first in itself.  Anyhow, I’ve again gone for the second debut book I read this year which was a thoroughly gripping, tense, psychological thriller by Stacy Willingham : A Flicker in the Dark.


First (aka ‘not the first) book of 2022 by a “new to me” author:

GWoB

Yep – you know it – none other than the author of The Maid herself Nita Prose.  People, this cannot stand.  I’m going to randomly choose another ‘new to me’ author (not including Nita Prose and Stacy Willingham!)  This is a book that I loved and I will definitely be backtracking to read more from this author. The Great witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan – so, so good.


First self-published book of 2022:

BurnRed

Finally a prompt that doesn’t take me back to the first book I read this year!  The first self published book that I read this year was one of the SPFBO finalists that I’m working my way through.   A book called Burn Red Skies by Kerstin Espinosa Rosero.  I don’t have a review posted for this one yet so I’ve linked to Goodreads.  Fabulous cover.


First book of 2022 that slayed me:

Justice

I’ve read some good books already this year but I think my absolute ‘runaway’ so far has to be The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan.  I loved this, it captured my attention so easily and so quickly.  Here’s my review.


First book of 2022 that I wish I could get back the time I spent reading it:

Well, I’ve read some chunky books this year (and also a few that didn’t quite live up to my expectations)  and I can’t deny that a couple of the chunky books took a good while to complete, but, fortunately, I don’t think I’ve read anything so far this year where I regret the time spent (this could also be linked to the fact that I don’t tend to complete books I’m not enjoying).


First book of 2022 from an author that you already know and love

ParisApart

This is an easy one.  The Paris Apartment is the third novel I’ve read by Lucy Foley and I’m just loving her books (The Hunting Party and The Guest List).  I’d like to backtrack and read one of her earlier books if I get the chance – maybe The Invitation or The Book of Lost and Found – has anybody read/recommend either of those??


What are your 2022 “firsts”?

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

Posted On 16 March 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 11 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: Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey.  I’m loving this author at the moment.  Here’s the cover and description:

Just Like Home Final for Peter

“Come home.” Vera’s mother called and Vera obeyed. In spite of their long estrangement, in spite of the memories — she’s come back to the home of a serial killer. Back to face the love she had for her father and the bodies he buried there.

Coming home is hard enough for Vera, and to make things worse, she and her mother aren’t alone. A parasitic artist has moved into the guest house out back, and is slowly stripping Vera’s childhood for spare parts. He insists that he isn’t the one leaving notes around the house in her father’s handwriting… but who else could it possibly be?

There are secrets yet undiscovered in the foundations of the notorious Crowder House. Vera must face them, and find out for herself just how deep the rot goes.

Expected publication : July 2022

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