Can’t Wait Wednesday : Nettle and Bone 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: Nettle and Bone by T Kingfisher. I love the description:

Nettle&Bone

After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra—the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter—has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself.

Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince—if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.

On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra’s family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last.

Expected Publication : April 2022

Top Ten Tuesday : 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To

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:

2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To

I actually did a very similar post just before Christmas but the theme today gives me the opportunity to highlight a few more books that I didn’t manage to get to.  I know, I am suitably ashamed.  I tried to read them all but my over enthusiastic optimism of wanting far too many books got the better of me I’m  afraid. Plus, last year was definitely a bit of a write off for me and my blogging and reading suffered as a result.  Hopefully, I can catch up with some of these books this year in fact I have a couple of ideas for challenges that I think some of these books will be perfect for:

Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

GameChanger

Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

unsettled

The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan

TheBrokenGod

The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry

The22

Spirits of Vengeance (A Mortal Techniques novel) by Rob J Hayes

Spirits of

Given to Darkness by Phil Williams

GiventoD

The Infernal Riddle of Thomas Peach by Jas Treadwell

ThomasPeach

I shot the Devil by Ruth McIver

ISTD

The House of Dust by Noah Broyles

THoD

Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger

LastGirl

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

My Five Word TL:DR Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this one

AFlicker

A Flicker in the Dark is a psychological thriller that kept me turning the pages into the dead of night looking for clues.  I loved this, it held me absolutely gripped, the premise is really good and the execution impressive, even more impressive when you consider this is a debut.  Let’s just say I will be eagerly awaiting this author’s next book.

So, why did I like the premise for this one.  Well, it takes a look at things from a slightly different angle than I’m used to but let me first set the scene.  Twenty years ago Chloe Davis, a young and impressionable 12 year old, was instrumental in the arrest and conviction of her seemingly mild mannered father for the murder of six young girls.  The impact on the family was terrible.  Chloe and her brother Cooper (Coop) were shunned and their mother, unable to live with the shame tried to take her own life.  Twenty years later Chloe and Coop have been able to move forward with their lives.  Chloe now lives in Baton Rouge, she managed to escape her childhood home and is a successful woman running her own psychology practice and about to marry the man of her dreams.  I don’t think I’ve read many books from the point of view of the serial killer’s family, or in this case, the daughter and this really intrigued me.

On the face of it Chloe is coping well but scratch the surface and she is in emotional turmoil, barely keeping her head above water and desperately trying to hold things together with the aid of illicit drugs so you can imagine the downward spiral she suffers when young girls from Baton Rouge start to go missing in a strangely similar style to the murders from her past.  Is a copycat on the loose?

The story pretty soon spirals.  Chloe manages to get herself involved in the investigation and subsequently discredited and there’s very much a feeling of her losing the plot and in fact becoming an unreliable narrator.  She makes some questionable decisions that leave you feeling flabbergasted and there’s this bewildering increase in tension as she jumps from one theory to the next.  I loved that the author kept me guessing.  I was jumping about wildly in much the same way Chloe was, which I admit may be down to the fact that I’m not a seasoned crime reader, but I found myself suspecting everyone at one point or another.  I did guess one of the plot points but I won’t give that away here.  No spoilers from me, nosirree.

I enjoyed the writing, I thought the pacing was excellent and I had no problem liking Chloe in fact I felt a little exasperated on her behalf at times (although, she did make some dodgy decisions not to mention was keeping a couple of skeletons in her closet that didn’t make her look good).  I really liked the way we flipped back and forth from the ‘now’ to the ‘then’ and I thought Willingham provided an impressive number of red herrings to lead me astray.

Basically, I don’t think there’s too much more I can add without walking the path of spoilers.  All I can say is that I really enjoyed this, it was totally gripping and I would have no hesitation in recommending it.

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

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 feel I’ve been getting back into the swing of things.  I feel like my reading is also getting back on track.  Basically, I lost my reading mojo a little over late December/early January so I’ve put down the books I was reading and tried some different styles to freshen things up a little – a factory reset if you will and I will return to those books soon.  So, my reading has been picking up, I completed and reviewed Rachel Hawkin’s Restless Girls.  I liked it but I think the ending took me by surprise a little.  I also read and loved A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham – my review will be up tomorrow – and I started A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross.  This is maybe slightly slower than I anticipated, I’m almost a third in but its an easy read and I’m keen to see what’s going on in the enchanted Isle of Cadence.

Books read this week:

Next Week’s Reads:

I’m hoping to complete  A River Enchanted by Rachel Ross and make a start on Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt.  I also can’t deny that The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan is not so much calling me as positively shouting my name right about now – so who knows, I might swap things around.

Reviews Posted since last week:

  1. The Maid by Nita Prose
  2. Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

Outstanding reviews:

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

Mid Monthly Musings: positive reviews

Once a month I thought I’d muse about something that has occurred to me and might be of interest.

This month my thoughts centre around reviews.  How do you review – the good and the bad?

As a reviewer I’m probably considered to be something of a raging softie.  Most of my reviews are positive and glowing and I have a high average rating on sites such as Goodreads (4.2).

Harsh reviews are not really my style – and that isn’t a criticism of other reviewer’s style but more a reflection of my nature.  Basically, I think I’m anti-confrontation and even if I start out a review that is a bit snarky I eventually work my way back and remove all the sarcasm. I think In that respect I’m probably a bit old school, you know, ‘if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all’ although I think I’m much better these days at including criticisms in my reviews.  But, more than that, over the years I’ve changed my reading ethos.

Years ago, if I picked up a book – I completed a book.  It was almost like a badge of honour or something.  Even if I really wasn’t enjoying that book, even if picking it up was slowly robbing me of my reading mojo and making me miserable, I’d press on to the bitter end.  And, let’s be honest, reading a book that you’re not enjoying does make you feel a little bitter and resentful.  I think part of this was also related to eternal optimism – like, any minute now this book is sure to pick up coupled with my ‘need to know how everything concludes’ personality.  But, really, how far are you going to read on before you come to the realisation that this book just isn’t for you?  How far do you read before deciding to put a book down?  This is where my change slowly but surely came about.  For me, life is too short to read something I’m not enjoying.  There are plenty of books out there and a lot of those books I simply know I’m going to love.  What there isn’t a lot of out there is time.  Time is a precious thing and something I want to use to make me happy whenever possible. Selfish much?

Now of course, that means that most of my reviews are positive (because obviously I still have the odd book where the desire to know the ending wins the battle over the ‘I’m not enjoying this and want to put it down’ battle).  Obviously this is a mixed bag because how can all my reviews be so positive?  Does this mean I have no real discernment?  Can I be trusted to write honest to goodness reviews that others can believe in?  I hope so and that’s partly what these musings are about.  Of course my reviews are mostly positive – I don’t read anything I’m not enjoying.  Of course, there is the odd spanner in the works where I’m really enjoying a book right up to the point that the ending takes a nosedive and goes totally crazy.  I do review such books – oddly enough those reviews where I have very mixed feelings are usually the most popular!

That brings me to another issue.  Negative reviews.  Yes, they are necessary imo.  They help to strike a balance and I admit that I always read the negative reviews along with the positive because it’s interesting to read other people’s take.  We’re all different after all and to find a book without any negative reviews is probably impossible.  I take my hat off to those people who press on and read a book to the end even if it’s a bit of a struggle.

There is an element to my psyche that thinks I should complete some of the books that I’m not really enjoying so that I might have some less than positive reviews.  But, you know, I just can’t do it.  It brings me down.

So, I’m not entirely sure where this month’s musings are going other than to get something out there that’s been on my mind for a little while.

What do you think?  Should I read the Good, the Bad and the Ugly?  How far do you read up to if you’re not enjoying a book?

Friday Face Off : As pure as the driven snow

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:

As pure as the driven snow – a cover that is white

This is a difficult choice to make because I like both sets for different reasons.  I love the stark imagery of the black and white covers.  They’re simplistic and something about the tone speaks of the grim times within the pages.  I also love that the imagery blends traditional fantasy elements with something new and modern which is very much a reflection of the changing times depicted.  The second set of covers are also amazing.  The artwork is outstanding.  If you really scroll in past the central images and take a look at everything that’s going on.  Again, they have imagery that shows the turbulent times of change and the colours make them absolutely pop.  It’s so difficult to choose a favourite so I’ve gone for a favourite cover from each series:

I love these two – the first feels like traditional fantasy imagery but the extra details like the broken chains, and are they little spatters of blood?  I love that cover.  The very colourful cover for a Little Hatred has a fantastic skyline with chimneys belching out smoke – it’s a real reflection of the changing times.

Do you have a favourite?

If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week  – Like a fine wine – a sci fi book written on or before 1975

2022

Jan – Vintage Sci-Fi
21st Like a fine wine – a sci fi book written on or before 1975 –
28th In space nobody can hear you scream – murder mystery in space
Feb The month of romance
4th  brooding and dull like a cloudy sky – a cover that is grey
11th Sealed with a kiss – lips, or the impression left by a kiss
18th Tough Travel Tropes – Hate to Love
25th Made for each other – interpret this any way you please
March
4th Genre – Gadgets and airships – a book that is ’steampunk
11th The most recent book you’ve read that has covers to compare
18th – Somewhere over the rainbow – a very colourful book cover
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 series

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

Posted On 13 January 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 10 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Idyllic island is anything but.

RGs

Okay, there are two sides to this review because whilst I enjoyed this in a number of respects there are other issues, I think primarily where I misled myself, that prevented me from absolutely loving it.  In fact that’s not totally true, I think on reflection I was really enjoying this until certain events occurred that stopped me in my tracks.  I also really think I was expecting something different, perhaps something a bit more sinister – and I had no reason to have such expectations other than my own overactive imagination.

I think for this post I’m not really going to discuss the plot much other than to say that a group of relative strangers head off to a remote paradise for an adventure.  Unfortunately, not everyone is being totally honest and before you can crack open a coconut things are going very wrong.

What I really liked about this.  There’s a lovely sense of tension almost from the get go.  You know something is going to go wrong and that suspense and uncertainty about what form this potential mishap – or, lets face it, disaster – will take is enticing.  So, even though the build up is slow in some respects it allows you to get a feel for the characters all the while knowing that something is lurking.  I really think Hawkins manages to prod you into that ‘I got a bad feeling about this’ state of mind.

The setting is great.  I mean it feels strange to call it a ‘locked room’ mystery because this is an island but the description works because basically it’s self contained.  No escape!  The island is mysterious.  It has a history that makes it both intriguing and macabre.  In one respect it’s a paradise with idyllic coves, crystal water and sandy beaches, on the other there’s the dark unwelcoming jungle with it’s claustrophobic feel, creeping vines, poisonous creatures and stifling humidity.

The characters themselves are, on reflection, really well done.  At first I was tempted to say that I didn’t like any of them but really this isn’t entirely true.  For the most part I liked Lux  although her later actions changed that, I mean really Lux, could you be any more hypocritical!  Anyway, that little tease aside, things clicked into place for me with all of them when I came to the realisation that they’re all pretty shallow not to mention excessively entitled. In that respect, as soon as they gathered on this island you could see the way certain threads were going to develop – it was inevitable.  On top of that some of them are very much motivated by revenge and in fact take this to whole new depths which you could be forgiven for saying are definitely over the top.

The story definitely takes inspiration from other novels, it initially put me in mind of The Beach in that a bunch of young people wanted to find that special unspoilt place.  It has elements of Lord of Flies in that the group splinters into factions and things start to go wrong pretty quickly.  But, all that being said this is it’s own beast.  I didn’t put together all the different pieces here and certainly didn’t see that ending coming at all.

In terms of criticisms.  I actually enjoyed this but I found the ending a bit surprising and not at all what I expected – which could be a good thing really (in fact I think this style is very on trend at the moment with books and films going in a slightly different direction than you would normally think).  Having given this considerable thought the only thing I would say is that similarly to Hawkin’s The Wife Upstairs, this is the sort of story where you need to adjust your expectations.  It’s not totally believable, there are little plot holes, the characters are fickle and also a little overblown, like the author took the worst aspects of them and magnified them – but, now I’ve had time to consider that what comes across for me is that this is very much a novel with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  Not everyone is likable here and equally not everything is realistic.  I mean, would people really act like this – let’s hope not.  Although truth is often stranger than fiction, so, be afraid.

I have to say that I’m very curious to see what this author comes up with next and given the way she writes I think next time around I’ll have a much better idea of what to expect  – although maybe I should completely go into the next read with no knowledge whatsoever – maybe not even read the description.

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 : The Path of Thorns by AG Slatter

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 Path of Thorns by AG Slatter (because I loved All The Murmuring Bones and so was super excited to see this):

Pathof

Alone in the world, Asher Todd travels to the remote estate of Morwood Grange to become governess to three small children. Her sole possessions comprise a sea chest and a large carpet bag she hangs onto for dear life. She finds a fine old home, its inhabitants proud of their lineage and impeccable reputation, and a small village nearby. It seems an untroubled existence, yet there are portraits missing from the walls, locked rooms, and names excised from the family tree inscribed in the bible. In short order, the children adore her, she becomes indispensible to their father Luther in his laboratory, and her potions are able to restore the sight of granddame Leonora. Soon Asher fits in as if she’s always been there, but there are creatures that stalk the woods at night, spectres haunt the halls, and Asher is not as much a stranger to the Morwoods as it might at first appear.

Expected publication : June 2022

Top Ten Tuesday : Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection

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:

Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection

For this week’s theme I’m going to highlight the last 10 books I’ve received for review.  Nice and simple with links to Goodreads and covers where available:

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham – I read a rave review (here) for this at the Bibliosanctum so can’t wait to pick it up.

AFlicker

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel, I’ve loved everything I’ve read so far by this author so this was an absolute no-brainer for me.

Seaof

A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross – billed as Crescent City meets Uprooted – how could I resist?  I couldn’t.  Plus, this was a wish granted, woohoo!

Ariver

The Maid by Nita Prose – which I’ve already read and loved.  My review is here.  If you want a quirky and original character and a closed room cosy mystery in a grand hotel then the wait is over.

TheMaid

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins which is so far proving to be a page turner – watch this space for a review soon.

RGs

Stringers by Chris Panatier – I can’t wait for this because I adored The Phlebotomist

Stringers

Traitor in the Ice by KJ Maitland – Drowned City was very good and I was hoping for more from Daniel Pursglove and the world he inhabits.

Traitor

Small Angels by Lauren Owen – no cover for this one yet but it sounds absolutely incredible with hauntings and malicious spirits. *chills*

Black Tide by KC Jones ‘It was just another day at the beach. And then the world ended.’

Blacktide

The Origin of Storms by Elizabeth Bear, I’m loving this series and this is the third and final instalment.

TheOrigin

The Maid by Nita Prose

My Five Word TL:DR Review: A cosy, quirky murder mystery

TheMaid

I really enjoyed The Maid.  I was looking for something different that would help me find my reading mojo and this book certainly helped with that and then some.  This is a cosy mystery with a central character that you can’t help but be charmed my.  Molly the maid is a lovely character, splendidly old fashioned, delightfully articulate, perfectly well mannered and ever so slightly obsessed with blitzing dust and grime.

I quite fell for Molly.  She’s the sort of character that you can’t help wishing to meet.  She is very quirky, she sees things slightly differently to others and unfortunately this has often led to bullying, taunting and name calling.  She definitely can’t read a room or gauge other people’s emotions and takes the things that people say quite literally which often leads to some strange encounters. Molly has been raised by her grandmother after her mum ran away with a ‘bad egg’ and her gran has been helping her to navigate life by giving her guidelines and rules for certain situations, an etiquette code if you will.  Unfortunately, Molly’s gran passed away a few months before this story starts and so although we constantly share snippets of the wisdom she imparted we don’t actually make her acquaintance and her demise has left Molly alone to fend for herself.

As the story starts Molly shares with the reader her love for her job at the Regency Grand Hotel where every day she takes great pride in returning rooms to ‘a state of perfection’.  We start to get a feel for her as she guides us through her day which ends when she returns to her quiet and orderly, but ever so lonely apartment.  Molly misses her gran and is also struggling to cope financially but she faces each day with optimism.  That is until she finds one of the guests dead in his room and within fairly short order she finds herself embroiled not only in various illegal activities but also becoming ‘a person of interest’ to the police.

This is such a good book to get along with.  The writing is perfectly balanced, the setting just pops into your mind’s eye with remarkable ease and the plot slowly but surely becomes more out of control as Molly is sucked from one situation to the next.  The thing is, Molly frequently misunderstands signals, body language, facial expressions etc, she’s innocent and truthful to a fault and so the notion that she could be set up to take the blame for murder simply doesn’t occur to her.  She has the most remarkable memory which makes her statement to the police invaluable but at the same time her desire to protect certain others leaves her story lacking somewhat. You can’t help but read with your heart almost in your throat when Molly makes certain decisions that you know are going to come back to bite her.

There is a fairly standard cast of characters, the sort you would probably expect with this type of setting but this just adds to the easy way that you slip into this book.  And what about the names – Mr Black/Mr Snow/Miss Grey – I love these.  Then there’s the handsome barman, the rather snippy supervisor, the steadfast doorman and the wealthy couple who rent the penthouse plus a few other shady characters who pop up from time to time.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t really have any to be honest.  This isn’t a dark or gritty murder mystery.  the humour is a little dark in that Molly is often unaware of what is actually taking place around her but for the most part this is the very epitome of ‘cosy’ mystery. and I was totally enthralled. I wouldn’t say that this resembles police procedure in any way so if you’re looking for a slice of reality then this probably isn’t the book for you but I have no hesitation in recommending this, it has a lovely found family vibe and Molly is a refreshingly unique character to read about.  I can’t wait to see what Nita Prose comes up with next.

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

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 been trying to catch up with my blogging.  December was a bit crazy, Christmas was chaotic and frankly I’m glad to have started a new year.  My reading and blogging has been quite slow for the past few weeks as a result of everything going on.  So, this last week I read The Maid by Nita Prose which was really good and I started Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins.  I will be starting a new SPFBO book very soon and also hoping to make some headway on my February review books.

Books read this week:

TheMaid

 

Next Week’s Reads:

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins, possibly A River Enchanted by Rachel Ross and Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt.

Outstanding reviews:

The Maid by Nita Prose

 

Friday Face Off : Simply the Best – A top 10 read of 2021

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:

Simply the Best – A top 10 read of 2021

Difficult choice this week because I like both covers, in fact as a rule I would normally be drawn to the red cover with all the little details – the colour is lovely and vibrant and I like the overall effect.  But, and maybe it’s due to familiarity, I find myself more drawn to the blue cover, it feels slightly ominous which is quite fitting for this story:

Ladies1

Do you have a favourite?

If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week  – As pure as the driven snow – a cover that is white

2022

Jan – Vintage Sci-Fi
14th As pure as the driven snow – a cover that is white
21st Like a fine wine – a sci fi book written on or before 1975 –
28th In space nobody can hear you scream – murder mystery in space
Feb The month of romance
4th  brooding and dull like a cloudy sky – a cover that is grey
11th Sealed with a kiss – lips, or the impression left by a kiss
18th Tough Travel Tropes – Hate to Love
25th Made for each other – interpret this any way you please
March
4th Genre – Gadgets and airships – a book that is ’steampunk
11th The most recent book you’ve read that has covers to compare
18th – Somewhere over the rainbow – a very colourful book cover
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 series

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Bay by Allie Reynolds

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 Bay by Allie Reynolds (because I loved Shiver).  Here’s the description:

TheSwellThere’s a darkness inside all of us and The Bay has a way of bringing it out. Everyone here has their secrets but we don’t go looking for them. Because sometimes it’s better not to know.

The waves are to die for at The Bay. It’s a paradise they would kill to keep. The Beach meets Point Break in the thriller of the summer by Allie Reynolds.

Kenna arrives in Sydney to surprise her best friend, shocked to hear she’s going to marry a guy she’s only just met. But Mikki and her fiancé Jack are about to head away on a trip, so Kenna finds herself tagging along for the ride.

Sorrow Bay is beautiful, wild and dangerous. A remote surfing spot with waves to die for, cut off from the rest of the world. Here Kenna meets the mysterious group of people who will do anything to keep their paradise a secret. Sky, Ryan, Clemente and Victor have come to ride the waves and disappear from life. How will they feel about Kenna turning up unannounced?

As Kenna gets drawn into their world, she sees the extremes they are prepared to go to for the next thrill. And everyone seems to be hiding something. What has her best friend got involved in and how can she get her away? But one thing is rapidly becoming clear about The Bay: nobody ever leaves.

Expected publication: June 2022

Highly Anticipated Book Releases 2022/Top Ten Tuesday

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:

Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the First Half of 2022

I’m excited about a lot of books that are releasing during the first half of this year, far more than 10 to be honest and I was going to post a separate post including all my highly anticipated forthcoming reads.  But, as today’s TTT is the same topic I’m going to combine the two ideas.  Which in effect means I’m posting more than ten books (for which apologies but I figure one post combined is the way to go with this) – and it’s all bookish loveliness after all.  This list is the next six month’s worth of books that my little grabby hands are twitching to get hold of – this is not a definitive list of all the books due for release during the first half of this year, nor do I have copies of all these books at the moment (although I remain, as ever, optimistic).  So, hold onto your hats?

JANUARY

  1. The Maid by Nita Prose
  2. Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

FEBRUARY

  1. This Charming Man by CK McDonnell
  2. The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan
  3. Last Exit by Max Gladstone
  4. Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham
  5. Good Neighbors by Stephanie Burgis

MARCH

  1. Seven Deaths of an Empire by GR Matthews
  2. Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough
  3. Sundial by Catriona Ward
  4. Gallant by VE Schwab
  5. The Bone Orchard by Sara A Mueller
  6. The City of Dusk by Tara Sim
  7. Traitor in the Ice by KJ Maitland
  8. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

APRIL

  1. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel
  2. The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne
  3. The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence
  4. The Fervor by Alma Katsu
  5. The Priest of Crowns by Peter McLean
  6. Stringers by Chris Panatier
  7. Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse
  8. Elektra by Jennifer Saint

MAY

  1. Book of Night by Holly Black
  2. The Night They Vanished by Vanessa Savage
  3. The Origin of Storms Elizabeth Bear
  4. The Pharmacist by Rachelle Atalla
  5. The Hourglass Throne by KD Edwards (cover not available)

JUNE

  1. In the Shadow of Lightning by Brian McClellan
  2. The Seawomen by Chloe Timms
  3. Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald
  4. Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert
  5. Soul Taken by Patricia Briggs
  6. The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison
  7. Games for Dead Girls by Jen Williams
  8. The Swell by Allie Reynolds

The ‘Good Intentions’ Book Tag

Today I thought that instead of making a lot of resolutions that I have no intention of keeping (I just know I won’t so there’s no point in denial) I’d make a book tag based on some of the most popular best intentions.  I googled the top ten resolutions and the following tag is based upon those.  This is my Good Intentions Book Tag – after all you can have good intentions at any point in the year:

 ***

Gym

Exercise more : This is a book that is a real chunkster, in fact you will need help to even pick this book up:

For my first good intention I’ve chosen a book that I haven’t read yet but would love to pick up soon because it’s all about vampires and I feel hungry for a book with fangs.  Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff – I’m looking at you.  This book (the hardcover at least), weighs in at a lovely 752 pages – the gauntlet is down.  I must read this book.  For this particular choice there are two covers – do you have a favourite.  I’m partial to the first in this case although what’s not to love about a dishy hunk with his shirt off?:

***

 

novella

Lose weight : A book that is not a chunkster; a short story or novella.  A book you could probably read in one sitting:

In this instance I’ve gone for a book that I just managed to squeeze in towards the end of 2021.  Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M Valente.  This is such an unusual book.  I struggled at first to write a review because I didn’t want to give away spoilers – here is a snippet of my tangled thoughts ‘This is a strange tale that is strangely compelling. I had no idea what to expect and yet it managed to defy any expectations that my subconscious had secretly formed and it’s the sort of book that makes you want to read it again, and probably again after that, I mean a fourth read would probably help to pick up those few pesky clues you missed in your haste to reach the end.’  This is an author who manages to charm and delight with her evocative and fairytale-style writing and at just over 100 pages this definitely fits the brief for this particular ‘good intention’.

Comfortme

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IMG_8014

Eat healthy : A book that is good for you.  This is a book that made you feel so happy that you wanted to give it a big hug:

Now this was a struggle because I could have gone for a number of books for this particular intention.  There are a lot of books over the years that I may have waxed lyrical about (*ahem, Lord of the Rings*) so I thought I’d choose something unexpected.  Unexpected because although I loved this book I don’t think I’ve banged on about it anywhere near enough.  The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow is a beautiful book.  It’s a book that overwhelmed me with feelings.  The writing is lush – I kid you not – and it gave me that feeling, I’m sure you all know what I mean, where it felt like the author had written this especially for little old moi!  (Also, talking recently of ‘cover catnip’ – will you just take a look at this gorgeous cover:TenThousandDoors

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BusyBees

Fulfill your ambitions : A book that has a lot going on.  Plenty of different threads, points of views and action but everything eventually comes together in a very satisfactory fashion:

Again, I had a few books that I could have used for this one.  Books that feel so busy that at first they feel like they’re going to overwhelm you with their ‘busyness’.  The book I’ve eventually chosen is a book I loved.  There is plenty going on here but it’s all so good and the imagination on display is absolutely outstanding.  The Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley (#1 Ashes of the Unhewn Thrown).  This was already on my ‘best of‘ list but I couldn’t help using it for this particular prompt because it has a slew of wonderful characters, a fantastic plot and it really does take the reader on a voyage of discovery.

Empires

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TheSimpsons

Spend more time with the family : A series of books that you love and that has developed more than you ever anticipated:

I had a few series of books that I could have used for this.  Series where you come to love the characters over the course of time.  Good examples are the Harry Potter series of books where the characters literally went through school as the series progressed, The Toby Daye books are another fine example as are the Sookie Stackhouse books but eventually, I couldn’t help myself.  I had to go for the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs which I’m now waiting for the next release (#13)(I’ve not listed all the covers for this one but below are a small selection:

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IMG_8022

Tick off an item from your bucket list : Reduce the tbr.  Choose a book from Mount TBR that you would like to read this year:

This is an easy one – well, I say that but I’m actually going to include two books here that I’m really keen to read –

These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant.  I’ve seen some excellent reviews for this one and I’m excited to read it.  

And, December Park by Ronald Malfi because I read and loved his latest book Come With Me (in fact it’s on my ‘Best of’ list this year and so I wanted to check out some of his earlier books.

***

 

IMG_8017

Save money : A book that was an absolute bargain – you would have to be crazy in fact not to have bought this book:

The Hollow Places by T Kingfisher is the last bargain I bought for Kindle at only £1.99.  It sounds amazing and I can’t wait to pick it up.  Here’s the blurb:

A young woman discovers a strange portal in her uncle’s house, leading to madness and terror in this gripping new novel.

Pray they are hungry.

Kara finds these words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring the peculiar bunker—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more you fear them, the stronger they become.

HollowPlaces

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IMG_8029Get Organised : A book with a glossary, maps, useful words, lists of people – this book is one helpful book, it wants you to know ALL the things and it’s not afraid to use footnotes and other devices to help you do so:

Again, I could easily have used Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings here because he certainly provides a lot of additional information.  However, I’ve used another book that I read a few years ago and that really stood out to me because of its use of footnotes.  I confess that this method of writing doesn’t always work for me but on this occasion I just went with it and the additional information added a perfect extra level of detail to the story – although I confess I didn’t read all the footnotes *hangs head with abject shame*.  My book is Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke.

Strange&Norrell

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IMG_8024-1Start a new hobby : A book that is outside your comfort zone.  Perhaps everyone was raving about this book, maybe it was over-hyped, you hesitated to pick it up in fact, but when you did – you loved it:

Finally, a book that is outside of my comfort zone.  To clarify, for the most part I read SFF, I also like to read a little crime/thriller/horror and also some history.  So, I’m not really going to include those in books that fall outside my usual reading zone.  I’ve gone for romance.  I could have actually kept this within the fantasy genre and opted for the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon but I’ve decided to go for something different.  The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons.  I loved this book when I read it and still have lovely memories of it – it would be interesting to reread it actually to see if I still feel the same way.

Thebronze

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That’s my top ten Good Intentions Book Tag. 

I’m going to tag a few bloggers but, obviously, no pressure at all to take part.  Also, if you’re not tagged but would like to take part please feel free to join in and drop me a link so I can check out your answers.  Here’s to good intentions for 2022.

Books, Bones and Buffy 

The Bibliosanctum

Space and Sorcery

Powder and Page

Bookforager

Cupcakes and Machetes

Confessions of a YA Reader

Greg’s Book Haven

The Bookworm Chronicles

Way Too Fantasy

Evelyn Reads

Dab of Darkness

Pages and Tea

The Captain’s Quarters

Brainfluff

Lexlingua

The Critiquing Chemist

One More

Bookertsfarm

Book Den

 

 

 

Some more Goodies

Posted On 2 January 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 7 responses

So, I made a list of ten books that I absolutely loved in 2021.  You can find it here.  I also decided to post some of my other great books because there were plenty (I tried to keep this within reason although this could very easily have been doubled or trippled!)

I wanted to highlight some of the other great books I’ve read this year because, although it has been a funny year (with a very strange ending (see this!) there has been some very good books.  My thanks to the bloggers, authors and publishers that make up this wonderful community.  Anyway, to the list and don’t spare the keyboard:

Great start to series

MaskofThe Mask of Mirrors by MA Carrick

Great second books in series

queen 154304266The Two Faced Queen by Nick Martell

Great ending to series

TheFallofThe Fall of Koli by MR Carey

Gothic

ShapeofThe Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Thriller

Shiver1Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Myth

iddenThe Hidden by Melanie Golding

Apocalyptic

LastoneLast One to the Party by Bethany Clift

Fantasy

M7The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston

Romantic Fantasy

Scales andScales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis

Science Fiction

EchoThe Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

Standalone

AlltheMurmuringAll The Murmuring Bones by AG Slatter

Historic Fiction

Drowned CityThe Drowned City by KJ Maitland

Ancient History

the womenofThe Women of Troy by Pat Barker

Norse fiction

hallHall of Bones by Tim Hardie

Horror

LaterLater by Stephen King

Retelling

MrsRochester'sghostMrs Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott

Best of the Best

Posted On 31 December 2021

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags:

Comments Dropped 22 responses

Every year I make a list of my ten favourite books for the year.  This is never an easy list to make  because I want more than ten so, as a result, I will be posting another list (probably tomorrow) about all the other books that I’ve loved this year and want to highlight.

Here for now are the ten books that immediately stand out for me as being most excellent and highly recommended.  *These books are not necessarily releases from 2021.*.

This year I read over 100 books and for the most part I’m happy to say I had some amazing reads.  My blog and book reviews are mostly positive because I don’t read or review books if I’m not enjoying them (that’s a personal thing as I find if I make myself continue to read a book I’m not enjoying then everything kind of grinds to a halt).  Also, life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

This list is in no way intended to be insulting or derogatory to the other books and authors I’ve read during the year – these are the immediate  books that really leap out at me when I revisit my list (this top ten also clearly demonstrates my love of fantasy, with a little bit of something different mixed in for good measure).

These are listed in no particular order.  All reviews are linked and covers are included at the bottom.

  1. The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
  2. The Ladies of the Secret Service by Constance Sayers
  3. The Girl and the Mountain by Mark Lawrence
  4. The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne
  5. The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman
  6. Priest of Gallows by Peter McLean
  7. Come With Me by Ronald Malfi
  8. The Bone Ship’s Wake by RJ Barker
  9. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
  10. The Empire’s Ruin by Brian Staveley

Friday Face Off : My catnip

Posted On 31 December 2021

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 10 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 have a new list for next year – I’ve added the 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:

What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

Do you have a favourite

If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week  – Simply the Best – A top 10 read of 2021

2022

Jan – Vintage Sci-Fi
7th Simply the Best – A top 10 read of 2021
14th As pure as the driven snow – a cover that is white
21st Like a fine wine – a sci fi book written on or before 1975 –
28th In space nobody can hear you scream – murder mystery in space
Feb The month of romance
4th  brooding and dull like a cloudy sky – a cover that is grey
11th Sealed with a kiss – lips, or the impression left by a kiss
18th Tough Travel Tropes – Hate to Love
25th Made for each other – interpret this any way you please
March
4th Genre – Gadgets and airships – a book that is ’steampunk
11th The most recent book you’ve read that has covers to compare
18th – Somewhere over the rainbow – a very colourful book cover
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 series

Of Bones and Other Things

Posted On 29 December 2021

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 18 responses

PHOTO-2021-12-02-12-18-31

Today’s post is of a completely different nature to my usual blog instalments.  No books in sight at all.  Instead I’m giving a little bit of an update on various issues which have kept me absent from the blog just recently.

This year has had its share of ups and downs for everyone.  Apart from the dreaded Covid having a negative impact on everyone earlier this year my 16 year old dog passed away.  I can’t deny that this hit me very badly and in fact I would say for the first time in my life I experienced depression and I seriously hope that I never go into that particular headspace again.  Anyway, a few months down the line and we decided to start walking the dogs from the local dog shelter on a regular basis.  Everyone said ‘oh, it won’t be long before you adopt one’ but we were both adamant that no such thing would happen.  A few months down the line again and as sure as ‘eggs are eggs’ we fostered and then adopted one of the dogs that we’d become attached to.  Okay, you can all smile and say ‘I told you so’.

His name is Bones (he was named for the condition he was found in!).  When he was rescued he had been living wild for a few months and was very cautious about everything.  We walked him fairly often and I just fell for his nature.  He’s gentle, he loves other dogs (in fact I think he could be a therapy dog because he has a calming influence), he’s very shy around strangers but is gradually gaining confidence and he’s very intelligent.  All was happiness and light.  We started getting him into a routine, slowly gaining his trust and with little steps every day he was really beginning to fit in more and more.  Then, the unspeakable happened.

On Christmas Day our daughter took him out for a walk around lunchtime.  It was a lovely day, I was home preparing the dinner and then we got a phone call.  Bones had bolted.  Long story short, they were approached by another dog off the lead, it’s owner was unable to recall it and in a panic she threw her lead at her dog to try and scare it off (I’m assuming she thought it was about to attack Bones).  Unfortunately the whole ‘lead throwing’ episode scared Bones even more and he bolted.  He’s a large dog and quite powerful.  My daughter was pulled over and lost hold of his lead and he ran.  Everyone was out searching but after a few initial sightings everything went quiet.  You may imagine that Christmas Day was not the most enjoyable time for any of us.

The good news is that we now have him back.  After four very long days and three excruciatingly worrying nights he returned home this morning.  We’ve been out searching for him every day but were basically beginning to think he’d ran too far and was hopelessly lost.

Anyway, we were given lots of advice by other people who have suffered similar experiences.  We left the gates continually open, his bed, food and water placed out at the front of the house.  We went into the undergrowth searching hard for any sign, gradually covering different areas and posting missing leaflets.  Our friends have all been amazing as have the community we live in, we posted to Facebook about our missing Bones and this was shared continuously.  A couple of people advised us to try scenting the area and willing to try anything we gave it a shot.  Basically, and stop reading now if you’re squeamish, this involves placing certain ‘smelly’ items around the area.  Using your house as the central point you create a wagon wheel of spokes going out from the centre.  We used socks, a shredded pillow case and also (as ‘eugh’ as this may seem) a kind of revolting soup made from soaking other unmentionables and putting the water into a squirtie bottle to spray on posts.  It sounds awful, I know, the idea is that it might calm your animal down if he smells your scent, snap him out of his fear or feral state and lead him home.  Anyhow, I didn’t hold out much hope, I thought our best chance would be that he found his way back to the shelter he’d been living in for the past few months.

In the early hours of the morning I got up and went to the kitchen for some water, as per the norm I looked out the front window and there was Bones, curled up asleep on his blanket, his food all eaten, I confess at first I thought I was imagining it.  We laid a trail of goodies into the front door and after only five minutes he was back in his bed in the front room.  I think I can genuinely say that today is the ‘best day ever’.

The reason I was writing this was really to explain my absence for the past few days.  I certainly wasn’t myself and I can’t deny that I was starting to let despair take a hold.  My final message is that if you find yourself in a similar situation, ask for help and don’t give up hope.

As I write this I’m sat outside.  Bones is lying asleep on his blanket and I’m almost afraid to let him out of my sight.  I think we’ve learnt a few invaluable lessons over the past few days but the real ‘take away’ from this is how much Bones already means to us and what a fantastic set of friends, family and the general community at large we are lucky enough to be surrounded by.  We’ve also ordered a GPS tracker to put on his collar because I seriously couldn’t handle it if he was to go missing again.

Final note, I hope you’re all well, safe and happy.  I hope the holidays have been kind to you all and I hope that 2022 will be a lovely year for everyone.  Lets just say that our dog returning home in such an unexpected way has given me renewed faith in everything and at this moment I just want to hug everyone.

IMG_3625

The Dude. My constant companion of 16 years. Never forgotten.

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Night They Vanished by Vanessa Savage

Can't Wait Wednesday

“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 Night They Vanished by Vanessa Savage.  I really enjoyed The Woods and so was super excited to see what this author would come up with next:

TheNightA family with a secret.

A past about to catch up with them.

Hanna has barely spoken to her family since the tragedy that rocked their lives fourteen years ago. The tragedy for which they held Hanna responsible.

Then she sees her family home listed as the scene of a horrific crime. Number of victims: three. Date of crime: today. Frantic, Hanna tries to contact her family, only to find they have disappeared.

To find them, Hanna will have to confront what happened all those years ago.

And the person determined to make her pay for it . . . 

Expected publication : May 2022

Friday Face Off : All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

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 have a new list for next year – I’ve added the 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:

All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

This week I’ve gone for the whole series.  Of Blood and Bone by John Gwynne.  A face off between the three covers of a series that is simply excellent.  I loved this series and can’t recommend it highly enough.  Here are the covers:

I haven’t chosen a favourite this week – I like all three.

Do you have a favourite

If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week  – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

2021

December

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

2022

Jan – Vintage Sci-Fi
7th Simply the Best – A top 10 read of 2021
14th As pure as the driven snow – a cover that is white
21st Like a fine wine – a sci fi book written on or before 1975 –
28th In space nobody can hear you scream – murder mystery in space
Feb The month of romance
4th  brooding and dull like a cloudy sky – a cover that is grey
11th Sealed with a kiss – lips, or the impression left by a kiss
18th Tough Travel Tropes – Hate to Love
25th Made for each other – interpret this any way you please
March
4th Genre – Gadgets and airships – a book that is ’steampunk
11th The most recent book you’ve read that has covers to compare
18th – Somewhere over the rainbow – a very colourful book cover
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 series

Top Ten Tuesday : Books on my wishlist

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 I Hope Santa Brings

So, yesterday I posted about the books I wanted to read during 2021 but didn’t manage to pick up, so obviously today I’m talking about all the other books that I still want and are sitting on my wishlist.  Oh the irony.  This list will be easy – the only problem will be sticking to ten books (all these books are from blogger recs – for which my everlasting gratitude – you keep my tbr alive!).

Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman

ccb

These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham

TSW

Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest

GRs

Ten Low by Stark Holborn

TenLow

The Frozen Crown by Greta Kelly

FC

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

CS

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

wh

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

Y

Titanshade by Dan Stout

TS

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

FH

Books I hoped to read in 2021

Let the lists begin.  December is definitely the month of lists.  I saw this on the Bibliosanctum earlier today and it reminded me that I wanted to do something similar.

It doesn’t matter how many books I read I can never quite seem to catch up with my own optimistic ideals.  I want all the books, it seems greedy on the face of it but I can’t help myself.  Books are my passion and until I can find the secret of immortality or someone invents a time turner I shall simply keep muddling along, hoping for the best and believing I can read everything.  So, here is a list of some of the books I was confident that I’d read this year, books that I still intend to read:

Brother Red by Adrian Selby

Brother Red

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

Theendofmen

The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley

Kingdoms

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Shewhobecame

The Pariah by Anthony Ryan

ThePariah

The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith

WitchHaven

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Onceupon

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Vespertine

Midnight in Everwood by MA Kuzniar

Midnight

Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

Underthe

Have you read any of these?

Friday Face Off : cold and seasonal

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 have a new list for next year – I’ve added the 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:

Anything Cold and Seasonal

This week I’ve gone for a book that I read and enjoyed at the start of the year – Shiver by Allie Reynolds.  A locked room mystery set in an isolated ski resort.  Here are the covers:

My favourite this week:

Shiver2

Do you have a favourite

If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week  – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

2021

December

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

2022

Jan – Vintage Sci-Fi
7th Simply the Best – A top 10 read of 2021
14th As pure as the driven snow – a cover that is white
21st Like a fine wine – a sci fi book written on or before 1975 –
28th In space nobody can hear you scream – murder mystery in space
Feb The month of romance
4th  brooding and dull like a cloudy sky – a cover that is grey
11th Sealed with a kiss – lips, or the impression left by a kiss
18th Tough Travel Tropes – Hate to Love
25th Made for each other – interpret this any way you please
March
4th Genre – Gadgets and airships – a book that is ’steampunk
11th The most recent book you’ve read that has covers to compare
18th – Somewhere over the rainbow – a very colourful book cover
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 series

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Posted On 16 December 2021

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 10 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review: Conflicted with Likes and Dislikes

survive

Survive the Night is an unusual book.  I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, it made me furious at times and I couldn’t stop reading it.  Without doubt it went where I didn’t expect but unfortunately I think this is a classic case of too little too late.

The story begins on campus where Charlie Jordan is looking for a shared ride home.  Charlie’s best friend has been murdered by a serial killer and she can stay no longer in the place where her memories have become torture.  Unexpectedly, given the time of year, it appears that someone is going her way, Josh Baxter is similarly in a rush to return home and offers to take Charlie with him.  The thing is, can Charlie trust Josh or is this road trip about to take a nosedive into hell?

Okay, I do like the premise for this.  And, I did want to love it.  As it happens, although I can’t say this one wowed me, it was strangely addictive and I seemed to read it at breakneck speed BUT – so many frustrating things. Just, so many.

To be fair to the author he got the period right, this story wouldn’t really fly right at all in the current era but set back in the 90s it definitely has the ‘it could just happen’ factor.  Sager also does a good job of making both characters untrustworthy leaving you in a constant state of suspense.  Charlie isn’t exactly reliable and to some extents I found her difficult to get along with.  She has this whole escaping into her head condition going on where she seems to completely disappear into the land of make believe with almost cinematic movies playing out in her mind rather than what’s really taking place.  I really struggled with this concept to be honest and I’m not totally certain that I really understood it – but given some of the other things taking place I decided to just go with the flow.  Josh comes across oddly, sometimes evasive, sometimes as though he’s baiting Charlie, he definitely knows too much about her and he seems to waiver between good guy/bad guy.  So, both characters are a bit dubious and definitely leave you doubting yourself – which is impressive as this is what Charlie is undoubtedly feeling too.

I also have to hand it to Survive the Night – it’s a book that I simply had to complete, there was never a chance that this was going to be a DNF because I needed to know what the heck was going on.  Which leads me to the conclusion which delivers a couple of twists that I really didn’t see coming at all – well more than a couple if I really consider it.  And, I have to say that was certainly an unexpected ending.  A little bit crazy, a little over the top and a lot twisted – my jaw literally dropped.

So how come this one didn’t knock my socks off?  Well, firstly, Charlie drove me mad.  I didn’t buy her need to get off campus that very night, especially when her boyfriend had offered to drive her in a couple of days.  Then there’s the whole standing outside by yourself in the dark waiting for a stranger to rock up in his car.  Of course you would.  Then there are the times during the trip where she has the chance to escape the situation but doesn’t take it.  Just some of her decisions were so off the chart annoying that even the ending couldn’t redeem it – although the author does make a good go of it.  Plus, I wasn’t on board with who had engineered the whole escapade and I think there was a certain point of the story where the author gave away a little too much too soon.

All that being said I can’t deny that this was a story that held me in it’s grip. I think if you’re looking for a quick read that will intrigue you enough to push through any little annoyances and that will in fact give you a couple of real ‘wtf’ moments then give this one a shot.

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

My rating 3 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Hunger of the Gods (Bloodsworn Saga #2) by John Gwynne 

Posted On 15 December 2021

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 8 responses

Can't Wait Wednesday

“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 Hunger of the Gods (Bloodsworn Saga #2) by John Gwynne.  Check out the description and fantastic cover:

ThotGods

The Hunger of the Gods continues John Gwynne’s acclaimed Norse-inspired epic fantasy series, packed with myth, magic and bloody vengeance.

Lik-Rifa, the dragon god of legend, has been freed from her eternal prison. Now she plots a new age of blood and conquest.

As Orka continues the hunt for her missing son, the Bloodsworn sweep south in a desperate race to save one of their own – and Varg takes the first steps on the path of vengeance.

Elvar has sworn to fulfil her blood oath and rescue a prisoner from the clutches of Lik-Rifa and her dragonborn followers, but first she must persuade the Battle-Grim to follow her.

Yet even the might of the Bloodsworn and Battle-Grim cannot stand alone against a dragon god.

Their hope lies within the mad writings of a chained god. A book of forbidden magic with the power to raise the wolf god Ulfrir from the dead . . . and bring about a battle that will shake the foundations of the earth.

Expected publication : April 2022

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers

Posted On 14 December 2021

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 9 responses

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

AWiT

I’ve had A Witch in Time waiting to be read for a little while, a review book to boot – which makes me feel very bad for not reviewing it much sooner – but this year has been a tad strange for me and you know what they say about the best laid plans?  Anyhow, one of my blogger buddies recently left me a comment basically asking what I was waiting for so I thought – ‘what the heck, I’ll pick this up next’, and I’m pleased to say that this book bewitched me (so, many, many thanks to Tammy for the nudge).  Of course I’d read and loved The Ladies of the Secret Circus so I had an inkling this might work it’s magic and I’m happy to say I was totally gripped.

I’m not going to elaborate on the plot too much here.  The story revolves around a young girl in Belle Epoque France who embarks on a disastrous romance with an artist and is mistakenly cursed by her own mother.  The curse itself involves the two characters being reborn throughout eternity, fated to meet and fall in love over and over again but never to find happiness together.

The winning elements of this story are threefold.  I loved the time periods that the author chooses to bring each different iteration to life in, I really enjoyed the character’s individual stories and I thought the writing was beautiful.

So, firstly, the settings.  We start the story with a modern setting where we meet Helen, a successful journalist, recently divorced and about to embark on a blind date.  Helen plays a main role throughout the course of the story, in fact she starts and concludes the book.  Helen is soon to discover that this is not her first time round, in fact she has three previous ‘versions’ of herself to catch up with – and this is where the fascinating settings come into play.  The youngest version is the young girl called Juliet, muse to artist Marchant.  Living in rural France, Juliet’s future has been mapped out already and it’s not one she likes the idea of.  Ultimately Juliet wants to see Paris and strangely enough her doomed relationship sets off a string of events that will eventually take her there.  I loved this setting, the descriptions of the apartment, the different areas and the way Sayers, almost casually, manages to capture the essence of the place and time.  From there we find ourselves travelling to New York, onwards to Hollywood, over to Los Angeles and New Mexico.  I loved all these settings and was totally caught up with each story.

This brings us to the characters.  Effectively there are three central characters.  The original artist Marchant, Juliet (his muse) and a character known as Luke Varner who is a demon roped into administrating the ‘curse’ (which basically means he helps bring the characters together and facilitates their different lifestyles).  Juliet is reborn a further three times. Nora, an aspiring actress in Hollywood during the 1920/30s. Sandra, a talented musician on the brink of success with her newly formed band and finally Helen who we met at the start.

Each time Juliet is reincarnated it takes time for her to become aware of her former life or lives and so we follow Helen’s story as she gradually becomes familiar with the three previous versions of herself.  Marchant is similarly reborn into each different period and the two are relentlessly drawn together (although he is more an unwitting player in each thread and never reminds his previous roles).  Luke, well, he waits around until he’s needed, never really changing, just ticking along waiting for his next gig. What I really enjoyed about this aspect is that each version of Juliet becomes stronger than the last. she eventually shares all their memories and experiences and with each rebirth learns something new about herself.  Interestingly each character seems to find a way of making their own mark – Juliet is forever immortalised in paint, Nora is a short lived but successful movie star permanently caught on camera, Sandra enjoys a brief moment of ‘almost’ fame when the band she plays with are given the opportunity to make an album which brings us to Helen.  She’s slightly different in that her talents lie more in the magic she is able to wield, the history of which will all be revealed during the read.

What I really admire here is that the author brings to us a very unusual love story which made for great reading.  I would point out though that this isn’t what I would typically define as the ‘romance genre.  What I also hadn’t really thought about until writing this review is that Sayers has included a love triangle.  So, here am I, I don’t like love stories and love triangles are one of my pet hates – and yet I loved this.  I raise my hat to the author and confess myself gobsmacked.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I mentioned above that this is unusual by which I mean it doesn’t follow the traditional course for a love story.  I would also point out that all of Juliet’s reincarnations suffer in some very dark ways and certain aspects will definitely be triggers so think about that before picking this up.  I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone based on those aspects but just wanted to be clear that this is sometimes a spattering of grim rather than a sprinkling of fairy dust.  Also, the actually, ‘witchy’ elements to the story are written with a very light touch.  The magic here is more the rebirths of the characters over and over and the way their stories collide and interlink.  There is a little magic but it’s more the power of suggestion (thank Obi Wan ‘these are not the droids…’ as oppose to broomsticks, wands and ‘hubble bubble’).

Slight criticisms aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this.  The writing is excellent, I loved the historical elements and the way that so many other aspects tied into each story.  It was compelling, interesting and incredibly entertaining.

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

Friday Face Off: A fairytale retold

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 have a new list for next year – I’ve added the 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 fairytale retold

This week my book is Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marilier which is a retelling of the Six Swans fairytale:

I’m not in love with most of these covers but the two that stand out for me are:

Do you have a favourite

If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week  – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

2021

December

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

2022

Jan – Vintage Sci-Fi
7th Simply the Best – A top 10 read of 2021
14th As pure as the driven snow – a cover that is white
21st Like a fine wine – a sci fi book written on or before 1975 –
28th In space nobody can hear you scream – murder mystery in space
Feb The month of romance
4th  brooding and dull like a cloudy sky – a cover that is grey
11th Sealed with a kiss – lips, or the impression left by a kiss
18th Tough Travel Tropes – Hate to Love
25th Made for each other – interpret this any way you please
March
4th Genre – Gadgets and airships – a book that is ’steampunk
11th The most recent book you’ve read that has covers to compare
18th – Somewhere over the rainbow – a very colourful book cover
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 series

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Gallant by VE Schwab

Can't Wait Wednesday

“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: Gallant by VE Schwab:

Gallant

Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source.

#1 New York Times–bestselling author Victoria Schwab weaves a dark and original tale about the place where the world meets its shadow, and the young woman beckoned by both sides. The Secret Garden meets Crimson Peak in this stand-alone novel perfect for readers of Holly Black and Neil Gaiman.

Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.

Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?

New York Times bestselling author Victoria Schwab crafts a vivid and lush novel that grapples with the demons that are often locked behind closed doors. An eerie, standalone saga about life, death, and the young woman beckoned by both. Readers of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Melissa Albert, and Garth Nix will quickly lose themselves in this novel with crossover appeal for all ages.

Expected publication : March 2022

Top Ten Tuesday : New to Me Authors from 2021

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 a ‘freebie’ so I’ve chosen a past topic that allows me to shine a light on some of the books I’ve read and enjoyed so far this year (this isn’t my ‘best of’ list just a snippet of good books:

New to Me Authors of 2021

  1. Shiver by Allie Reynolds
  2. The Survivors by Jane Harper
  3. Last One to the Party by Bethany Clift
  4. The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey
  5. Witherward by Hannah Matthewson
  6. All The Murmuring Bones by AG Slatter
  7. The Ladies of the Secret Service by Constance Sayers
  8. Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
  9. The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  10. Come With Me by Ronald Malfi

All of Us Villains (All of Us Villains #1) by Amanda Foody and Lynn Herman

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Took its time, but then…

AllofusVillains

All of Us Villains turned into a book that I really enjoyed.  It did take me a little while to become invested but slowly but surely it worked it’s magic.

For me, and yes, I can see where all the Hunger Games comparisons come into play, this is a strange meshing of a few concepts that actually succeeds in standing on it’s own two feet.  Similar to Hunger Games this book contains a tournament to the death, similar to Red Rising the participants form allegiances and teams but, uniquely, rather than the contenders rushing for supplies and weapons they instead fight over magical landmarks and relics.

This is a book set in a world of magic – think low and high magic.  Most people can perform low magic which is pretty basic and non threatening.  High magic, conversely is much sought after and for centuries seven ruling magical families have fought tooth and claw for the privilege of wielding it.  The tournament is a curse, once it starts seven champions will fight to the death, the last person standing will gain the right for their family to wield high magic for the next twenty years.  It’s almost like throwing seven students straight out of Hogwarts into the mix and see how they fare chucking unforgivable curses at each other.

The setting is a remote place called Ilvernath.  For centuries the tournament has remained hidden from the rest of the civilised world, until an anonymous author wrote about the tournament and turned the place into a media circus.  Most people are shocked by the brutality of the contest, although little can be done to divert the course of the curse, and there are certain government agencies who are definitely interested in what takes place in this small village every twenty years.  You may ask why every twenty years – it’s certainly a long time to wield such power after all, I think that aspect is more about logistics, after all you have to wait for each of the seven families to have had sufficient heirs to be able to choose a viable contender.

There are a number or povs to get on board with but I think the authors do a really great job of bringing each character to life with their own personalities and traits.

Central to the plot is Alistair Lowe (whose family wins the tournament two out of every three times).  The Lowes are disliked intensely.  They have created a dark and menacing aura around themselves and raised their champions ruthlessly to think of themselves as the monsters of the story.

Isobel Macaslan was surprisingly named champion for her family over a year before the contest was due to start.  This was an unexpected development that occurred at the same time as the release of the anonymous book leading many to point the accusatory finger in the Macaslan direction.  Isobel, however, has risen to the challenge well,  Beautiful and accomplished in terms of magical ability she uses the media attention to her advantage.

Briony Thorburn used to be best friends with Isobel but the two no longer speak – I don’t suppose entering a tournament to the death engenders such friendly connections (difficult to curse to death your bff after all).

I won’t highlight the other contenders.  Suffice to say that some of them are more favoured than others and these different expectations drive the story here as each strives to even the odds.

In terms of criticisms. I think the story takes a little time to establish itself so be patient.  There is a feeling of depth to the place and the history behind the contest, plus all the vying for position which takes a little while to set in place.  I think I was a bit keen to get to the tournament to be honest but you can’t rush these things.  Also, the title, ‘All of Us Villains’ – for me, I think All of Us Victims might be more appropriate.  I mean, at the end of the day everyone treats the champions as though they’re blood thirsty maniacs but each of them knows they are entering a contest to the death – there is no two ways around it.  Fight, or be killed.  If it was me – I’d be failing all the magical lessons just to ensure I wasn’t champion – imagine growing up knowing that come your late teens you could enter a contest that there is no walking away from.  So, villains or victims?

Anyway, all in all, slowish start notwithstanding, I enjoyed this.  It’s a great concept and given the ending I think it has the capacity to develop in very interesting ways and I look forward to reading more.

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

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Friday Face Off : Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with hair blowing out in a fetching way

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.

So, firstly, I have a new list for next year – I’ve added the 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.

Secondly, I meant to post this list earlier but I’ve been busy looking after a friend’s dog this week so that took up quite a bit of my free time, especially as he’s quite elderly and I didn’t want to leave him alone.  Such an affectionate little dog though. Consequently I am a week behind with comments, etc, but should now be able to get back on track.

This week’s theme:

Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with hair blowing out in a fetching way

This week I’ve gone for the first book in a series that I’m loving.  I think I’ve tried to use this cover before but there maybe weren’t the same choice of covers that are now available.  My book today is Trail of Lightning (the Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse.  Check out the covers:

Do you have a favourite

If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week  – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

2021

December

3rd – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

10th – A fairytale retold

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

2022

Jan – Vintage Sci-Fi
7th Simply the Best – A top 10 read of 2021
14th As pure as the driven snow – a cover that is white
21st Like a fine wine – a sci fi book written on or before 1975 –
28th In space nobody can hear you scream – murder mystery in space
Feb The month of romance
4th  brooding and dull like a cloudy sky – a cover that is grey
11th Sealed with a kiss – lips, or the impression left by a kiss
18th Tough Travel Tropes – Hate to Love
25th Made for each other – interpret this any way you please
March
4th Genre – Gadgets and airships – a book that is ’steampunk
11th The most recent book you’ve read that has covers to compare
18th – Somewhere over the rainbow – a very colourful book cover
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 series

Nanny Dearest by Flora Collins

Posted On 2 December 2021

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 6 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Mixed feelings for this one

nanny

Nanny Dearest is a well written and engaging book by an author that I would definitely check out again, however, I didn’t completely love it.

This is a story about a woman in her mid-twenties who bumps into a person from her past that she doesn’t recall.  Sue Keller is a woman in her mid-twenties, lonely and suffering mentally following the death of her remaining parent in a tragic accident. She doesn’t recall the nanny who took care of her when she was a toddler but she’s desperate to hear stories of the time and happy to meet up with Annie to discover more of the mother she lost to illness so long ago.

What immediately becomes apparent is that Sue is desperately looking for someone maternal in her life, someone she can lean on a little. What isn’t immediately apparent is that Annie is equally in need of this connection for her own reasons.

Nanny Dearest is told through two alternating povs, Annies account of events when she first started nannying for the Kellers and current day with Sue first meeting Annie when she’s going through such a bad patch in her life.  I have to say that I do love dual timelines like this and it works particularly well here because all though Sue does sometimes recall certain events, for the most part, it’s Annie that’s giving us an account of what took place way back when – and oddly enough, although I wouldn’t particularly say she’s trustworthy I think she is a reliable narrator here.

For a debut novel I have to say that I’m really impressed with the writing.  Collins can certainly set a scene to perfection and also manages to achieve a steady drip feed of tension as the cracks in this strange relationship begin to show.

So, why did I have mixed feelings.  Well, firstly, this is a slow build of a story – but on this occasion that isn’t in fact a criticism, in fact, to be honest I preferred the first half of the book where there was the expectation of something being revealed later down the line.  The tension and expectation kept me pretty much glued to the page and there was this deliciously easy build up that something was about to happen.  But, yes, I admit that this is a slow burn.  My mixed feelings come more into play regarding the characters.  I mean, I didn’t really like any of them.  Even the periphery characters.  The thing with that is that I think the two central characters are struggling with mental health issues so it feels wrong to say I didn’t like them – but, some of the decisions and actions they made just baffled me.  And, the ending.  What just happened?  There was a feeling that the reveal was working up to something really huge but ultimately it felt a little disappointing for me.

All that being said, I very much think my over active imagination didn’t help with this read.  I think I was expecting a psychological horror where this felt more like a suspense with strong obsessive vibes. As I mentioned I think the writing was really good though and although this particular book didn’t quite work for me I think this author shows great promise.

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

My rating 3 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Girl and the Moon (Book of the Ice #3) by Mark Lawrence

Posted On 1 December 2021

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 6 responses

Can't Wait Wednesday

“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 Girl and the Moon (Book of the Ice #3) by Mark Lawrence.  And, here’s why (also two fantastic covers):

The fate of the world hangs from the Moon

The green world overwhelms all of Yaz’s expectations. Everything seems different but some things remain the same: her old enemies are still bent on her destruction.

The Corridor abounds with plenty and unsuspected danger. To stand a chance against the eyeless priest, Eular, and the god-like city-mind, Seus, Yaz will need to learn fast and make new friends.

The Convent of Sweet Mercy, like the Corridor itself, is packed with peril and opportunity. Yaz needs the nuns’ help – but first they want to execute her.

The fate of everyone squeezed between the Corridor’s vast walls, and ultimately the fate of those labouring to survive out on ice itself, hangs from the moon, and the battle to save the moon centres on the Ark of the Missing, buried beneath the emperor’s palace. Everyone wants Yaz to be the key that will open the Ark – the one the wise have sought for generations. But sometimes wanting isn’t enough.

THE GIRL AND THE MOON is the third and final volume in The Book of Ice trilogy.

Expected publication : April 2022

Top Ten Tuesday : Bookish Reminiscing

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 :

Bookish Memories (Share stories of your reading life as a child, events you’ve gone to, books that made an impression on you, noteworthy experiences with books, authors you’ve met, etc. Reminisce with me!)

So, for this week’s theme I thought I’d do a little recap of my reading journey – in a very compressed form!  Here goes:

1. My earliest memory of a book I owned (well two books actually) were a couple of story books.  One was a traditional book of fairytales, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, etc.  The second book was a book of totally unusual stories that I absolutely loved.  It wasn’t a picture book but there were little sketches every few pages.  I’d never read anything like it and I think that (and the fairytale book) shaped my reading in terms of speculative fiction.  You can’t go wrong with a bit of Grimm (although this isn’t the book from my childhood):

Fairy tales

2. One of my early teachers also had a big influence on my reading.  I was probably aged 8 (or thereabouts).  I wanted to read but didn’t always know what exactly to pick up and she was always giving us suggestions such as the Borrowers, Wizard of Oz and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

3. My Dad’s books made up a lot of my reading, he had lots of collections and I slowly but surely made my way through them.  I was older at this point – early teens perhaps.  So I read a lot of classics during that period.  The Brontes, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, a little Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, etc before finally stumbling on a book that I loved and still love in fact.

4. Lord of the Rings.  Wow, did I have a crush on Aragorn?  Oh yes I did.  Another book crush at the time, and you couldn’t really get further apart in terms of style was Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind.  I devoured that book.

5. By the age of about 19 I was starting to run out of books on my dad’s shelves – well, certainly ones that I was interested in reading.  So I realised my brother had some books.  I don’t think he was a massive reader but he had a bookshelf and so off I went to explore.  Most of his books didn’t really appeal to me although I did return every now and again and read the odd one.  But on my first visit one book really stood out to me.  The Far Pavilions.  The cover appealed so I packed it off into my bag to read on the way to and from work.  I’d been reading it a few days (and loving it) when I overheard a discussion (or argument) between my brother and dad.  Basically my brother was saying he’d bought a book for my dad’s approaching birthday, put it on his shelves and now it was gone. Yeah, the book currently sitting, a little battered in my work bag, crammed in next to the empty wrappers and hairbrush, oh yes, that was the birthday prezzie. Obviously I had to confess – how we laughed.  In fairness, we did actually laugh and it’s a story that stuck with me.

TFP

6. I had a fabulous colleague that I worked with for a number of years called Caroline.  Every time she read a good book she’d bring it in for me to read to see what I felt.  Caroline gave me the Bronze Horseman to read on holiday and I absolutely loved it. In fact I think I’ve probably read all Paullina Simons books as a result (or a lot of them at least)!  Caroline’s sister also got me hooked onto the Outlander (known as Cross Stitch when released in the UK).  That was another holiday read that I devoured on holiday in Cornwall – I actually went in search of a bookstore so I could buy the second in series because I couldn’t wait until I got home to read the next instalment.

7. Two further influences.  My husband – who set up my blog in the first place. Long story short I was keeping a book diary on my laptop and it was deleted by accident so along came ‘Lynnsbooks”.  Secondly, my OH bought me my first kindle.  I wasn’t very impressed at the time and was stubbornly determined to not use it, then I discovered how easily I could have books at my disposal within minutes, I could take hundreds of books on holiday and still have room for clothes in the suitcase.  My kindle was backlit.  I could made notes.  So many things. Well, consider me a convert. I still love actual physical books but the kindle wins out for most my reading these days.

8. Leading on from there was one of the earliest blogs I can recall interacting with which was The Little Red Reviewer.  So many great books and other blogs came my way as a result of that blog not to mention readalongs and taking part in other reading events.  I still take part in the Vintage Sci-fi event that was originally created by the LRR and undoubtedly it took my SFF reading in a whole new direction. To those who recommend great books – I salute you.

9.  Another blogger who influenced me a lot was Wondrous Reads. I met the host of WR in a bookstore and we got talking about books, we had such a lot to say we started meeting and exchanging recommendations regularly.  Those were some very good times.  We live many miles apart now so rarely meet up – especially with all the Covid restrictions over the past couple of years – but we will get together again eventually I’m sure.  In the meantime – I Am Legend – that is all.

IamLegend

I will leave the 10th spot free for you to tell me a story about your reading influences.

The Bone Shard Emperor (The Drowning Empire #2) by Andrea Stewart

My Five Word TL:DR Review : A solid second in series

BoneShardEmperor

The Bone Shard Emperor is a very strong second instalment in The Drowning Empire series by Andrea Stewart.  This is such a unique concept with excellent world building, strong characters, plenty of twists and great writing.

Before I start this post.  Firstly, this review may contain spoilers for book 1 so if you haven’t started this series yet then keep that in mind before continuing.  Secondly, this is not a series that you can easily jump aboard half way through (imo).  The first book established a lot in terms of the history of the place and the central characters so if you dive straight in here then I think you will missing a lot of context.  Thirdly, I won’t be elaborating on the set up because I covered a lot of that in my review of the Bone Shard Daughter and I don’t want to repeat it here.

Instead, lets focus on events that take place in No.2, look at character arcs and hint at developments.

This instalment once again brings to us a number of povs so plenty here for everyone to enjoy (I think).  The story picks up almost immediately following the Bone Shard Daughter.  Lin is Emperor but her rule is fair from secure.  Rogue constructs roam the islands attacking people and causing chaos and Lin needs to travel around the empire to try and gain support for her rule from the Governors.  Lin and Jovis begin to form an attachment of sorts but this is also hampered by the number of secrets both are keeping. Primarily Lin, having a very personal secret that if it was discovered would have disastrous consequences, plus she’s also struggling to come to terms with all the hidden secrets in the palace and the lack of knowledge she actually has about ruling an empire. Jovis, no longer a smuggler but given control of Lin’s army also keeps secrets which could see him executed were they discovered.  What I really enjoyed about seeing these five different povs is the insight into the other character’s way of thinking.  Of course, sometimes, this can also be frustrating because you can sometimes see how much easier things would be if they simply opened up.   I really enjoyed Phalue and Ranami’s chapters this time around.  It felt like they really grew and in fact I found myself really looking forward to their storyline (much more than in book 1).  Again, I  think that the companion talking critters are undoubtedly show stealers here and I suspect will be absolute favorites.

There are a lot of twists and turns with this one.  Spies, construct armies, the return of the Alanga, the nature of Lin herself, strained relationships, politics between the islands, scheming and some pretty cool reveals.  In fact with this instalment I felt like I came away with a much better understanding of the place and the interactions between all the different factions.  There is, without doubt, a lot to unload but fortunately this episode gives enough time for all the aspects to unfold naturally and with enough attention to prevent confusion.  Also, did I mention sinking islands?

In terms of slight reservations.  There is a little bit of going back and forth in some respects.  Plus a feeling of slight frustration with Jovis with a number of his decisions, but, neither of these caused any issues for me and I found the pages turning with ease.  Also, there are a number of open threads at the conclusion of this one that have me jumping up and down for the next book (no pressure at all!)

Overall I have to say that I am really enjoying this series.  It’s very easy to get along with.  The writing is confident and the world is so wonderfully creative.  I can’t wait for more

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.

Friday Face Off : A Black Hole – in the universe or going deep into the ground

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.

This week’s theme:

A Black Hole – in the universe or going deep into the ground

This week I’ve gone for a book that I’ve used before – to be honest this is a tough theme so I hope you all did better than I did (although I confess that sometimes it feels good to revisit a book and give it some more of the spotlight).  The Ring by Kōji Suzuki:

Let’s take a look at the covers:

In other news I’ve come up with a new list for next year, it needs a little switching around and polishing so will publish it this weekend if it’s all complete to allow people to plan ahead. This list is slightly different in that I’ve gone for a lot of book themes, so, still a cover face off but a little bit more flexibility which hopefully will give a new boost to the FFO.  If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week  – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

2021

December

3rd – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

10th – A fairytale retold

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Triple Whammy

Posted On 24 November 2021

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 7 responses

Can't Wait Wednesday

“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 I’m very excited to have a triple whammy in that (1) this is a book I’m looking forward to; (2) It’s a cover reveal plus information about the new Angry Robot logo; and (3) this fits in perfectly with Sci-Fi Month.  Bigbadaboom!  Multipass is me.

scifimonth

For more information about sci-fi month check out this link.  I’ve been a little tardy with my reading this month so I’m very excited to be able to provide information about a forthcoming sci-fi book before the event comes to a conclusion.  If you’ve not taken part yet there’s still time 😀

So, to the description for a little bit of information about the book:

Even in a technologically-advanced, Kennedy-Didn’t-Die alternate-history, Brooklyn Lamontagne is going nowhere fast. The year is 1975, thirty years after Robert Oppenheimer invented the Oppenheimer Nuclear Engine, twenty-five years after the first human walked on the moon, and eighteen years after Jet Carson and the Eagle Seven sacrificed their lives to stop the alien invaders.

Brooklyn just wants to keep his mother’s rent paid, earn a little scratch of his own, steer clear of the cops, and maybe get laid sometime in the near future. Simple pleasures, right? But a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes is about to make his life real complicated…

***

So, this title is due for release in May 2022.   I won’t keep you waiting any longer, (imagine a drum roll about now), here is the cover:

. . .

. . .

. . .

. . .

Mercury Rising Front New Logo-1

Title: Mercury Rising
Author: R.W.W. Greene
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
Cover Designer: David Leehy

Finally, Angry Robots have been doing a little revamping, they’ve come up with a new logo, designed by Kate Cromwell and in fact this cover reveal is part of the celebration for this new branding which includes a revamped website where books can be purchased direct:

Angry Robot Books Full Logo

For more information check out angry.robot.com

Top Ten Tuesday : Characters I’d Love An Update On

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 :

Characters I’d Love An Update On

I would actually really like to know what happened to the nameless woman who was the last survivor of a pandemic in Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift.  This was a fairly recent read that I picked up this year and although I had reservations prior to picking up (having been living through a time of Covid and lockdown and this being about an even worse pandemic) I can say I was very easily turned around.  So, if you’ve been sitting on the fence with this one, because it perhaps feels to close to home, the main pov is a very easy to like character with a wonderful story telling voice.

Lastone

Pounce and Ezra from Day Zero by C Robert Cargill.  I loved this book, a prequel to Sea of Rust (which I also loved).  It’s probably a little strange to say that I’d like to know more about these two characters because having already read Sea of Rust I pretty much know what’s in store – however, with my ‘glass half full’ hopefulness I’d like to think we could find out more about what happens to these two.  Perhaps there’s something more yet in store for this world, I’d like to think that the author still has a couple of surprises for us because these two books so far have been wonderful.  As scary as AIs are often portrayed in fiction I seriously want me a plush and loyal tiger AI.

Day Zero

Omat and Brandr from The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky.  Ahh, how I loved this book.  The characters, the setting, the story itself.  Perfection to be honest – in fact here is the concluding paragraph from my review ‘This is a fascinating, superbly written, captivating, emotional rollercoaster of a book.  I loved it and want more.  I’m going to say that this was a perfect read and that I had a wonderful time with it.’  I do want more – this was written as a standalone (I think) and so the ending was complete but I can’t help longing to go back and see what adventures these two take part in next.

The wolf

Vianne from The Strawberry Thief (Chocolat #4) by Joanne Harris.  I just adore this author and the Chocolat books are so special.  The Strawberry Thief was a beautifully written tale and I would love to think something more is forthcoming from this world and this family.

ST

Elisabeth and Nathaniel from Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson.  This is a book that left me on a high note – and, the ending definitely made me think (that although this is a standalone) there is definitely the possibility to return.  I don’t want to say more because of the potential to give away spoilers.

SoT

Dr Greta Helsing – three books in a series with the same name by Vivian Shaw. I loved this series and although I appreciate it when an author has a plan and sticks to it leaving the world before everyone becomes a little jaded I must admit that I still think there’s plenty more that could be explored here and I would definitely pick up more instalments if the author ever has thoughts to revisit.

Helga Finnsdottir who appeared in Kin and Council by Snorri Kristjansson.  I really enjoyed both these books.  Murder mysteries set in a time of vikings.  Long before detectives were ever thought of Helga is simply a young woman who pays attention and observes what goes on around her. I hope for more from this resourceful woman and this dark world.

Kin

The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp. This is a book that was such a lot of fun.  Monstrous vampires and over the top adventure with the most flamboyant character named Asmodeus “Sax” Saxon-Tang.  I would love for Ben Tripp to write more with this world and these characters.

FifthHouse

Scarlett and Rhett from Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – okay, this one is definitely the odd one out in this little bunch.  But, I couldn’t resist.  Now, I’m pretty certain that there has been a sequel written for this (probably more than one), however, what I would have loved was to know how Margaret Mitchell would have finished this tale.

That’s it – eight books in my list this week, two free spots.  Any suggestions?

#SPFBO – Not a Review : Finalist Reading Schedule, Book #1

SPFBO71024_1

Stage 1 of the SPFBO competition is now complete and Stage 2 has now commenced.

During Stage 2 The Critiquing Chemist and I will read, review and score the remaining 9 finalists as will the other judges until a winner is revealed.  We have randomly selected our reading order and have already started reading.  These ‘Not a Review’ posts are my way of shining the spotlight on each of the Finalists as they become our next read.  Today, I’m posting details of our first finalist: The Mortal Blade (Magelands Eternal Siege #1) by Christopher Mitchell.  The Mortal Blade is the Booknest’s Finalist and below is a little more information about the book:

Mortalblade

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

Stolen from his home, Corthie Holdfast has arrived in the City of the Eternal Siege as a new Champion.

He must fight alongside the Blades, whose lives are dedicated to the defence of the City against the hordes of monstrous Greenhides; or die at the hands of the Gods who rule.

Maddie Jackdaw, a young Blade, faces her last chance. Thrown out of every unit defending the City, either she takes on a new role, or she will be sent to the Rats, a company of misfits given the perilous tasks beyond the Great Walls.

Her new role, if she takes it, will bring her face to face with her deepest fears, for beneath the walls, in a secret and hidden lair, lies a dragon, imprisoned and waiting…

CMAuthor Information

I love deserts, which is too bad as I live in Scotland, but the mountains, glens and lochs more than make up for it. My other love is Greek Tragedy, especially Euripides, and I also read history, science, fantasy, and pretty much anything about the Beatles…

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Friday Face Off : Futuristic Vista

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.

This week’s theme:

Futuristic Vista

This week I’ve gone for a book that I read a few years ago.  Artemis by Andy Weir (I’m not sure if I’ve used this title before – I don’t think so)  Here are the covers:

I’ve updated the list now to include themes for next year.  If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week  – A Black Hole – in the universe or going deep into the ground

2021

November – Sci Fi Month

26th – A Black Hole – in the universe or going deep into the ground

December

3rd – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

10th – A fairytale retold

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente 

Comfortme

What can I say.  I’m literally a little (okay a lot) puzzled about how to start or form this review in fact I’ve been sitting looking at a blank screen for some time just figuring out what to write.  The long and the short of it is that I loved this.  It’s actually rather brilliant and the only reason I’m really perplexed as to what to put in this review is that I don’t want to give away spoilers. This is a strange tale that is strangely compelling.  I had no idea what to expect and yet it managed to defy any expectations that my subconscious had secretly formed and it’s the sort of book that makes you want to read it again, and probably again after that, I mean a fourth read would probably help to pick up those few pesky clues you missed in your haste to reach the end.

Firstly, I think that any book that makes me go away and try to discover more about whatever the heck is going on within its pages is a winner for me. I like books that make me think and this is definitely one of those books.  Don’t get me wrong, the only reason I go away to look for answers is I’m ridiculously curious and I like to check out the origins and meanings of certain things – this is a personal thing – and happily there were a number of things here that I had to go away and look up. Colour me happy.

Secondly, for such a short book (which, conversely, is not usually my thing) this packs one heck of a punch.  I mean, it really made me sit up and pay attention.

Thirdly, I love this author’s writing.  She has been blessed by the God of Books with the power of words.  I swear she must have her very own muse. Everything in this book is meaningful.  There is literally nothing wasted amongst these pages and yet you could read this story completely differently from the next person who picks it up. The beauty is that, on the face of it, it’s simply a mystery (with a little pinch of horror thrown in for good measure) – and you could read it as such and go away very happy – because that ending!  There are hints of The Stepford Wives, I was thinking Bluebeard – surprisingly just about everything but the true origins of this one sprung into my tiny brain at one point or another.  There are delicious flavours of fairytale and something sinister that constantly nibbles away at the back of your mind firing you up into a hot mess and making you devour the pages in one sitting.

The real stunner about this book is it certainly isn’t a new or unfamiliar story and yet it had me guessing throughout, leading me down rabbit holes, casting out lines and reeling in red herrings.  I was absolutely intrigued – to the max.

Anyway, I’m going to end this review here. I don’t want to talk about the plot, the characters or the setting.  You can discover all these for yourselves.  I suppose this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is a little unusual but to be honest, given the length, give it a try and see if it grabs you – I think it will.  At the very least it will give you food for thought.  The other thing I would say is pay attention to everything,  I mentioned below that Valente is a wordsmith and that is evidenced here by the bucket load – everything here is relevant so don’t skip anything.  All will eventually be revealed.

Apologies that this is such a tease but I think it’s for the best.

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

My rating 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Stringers by Chris Panatier

Can't Wait Wednesday

“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 : Stringers by Chris Panatier.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting Chris Panatier’s next book since reading and loving The Phlebotomist.  I’m so excited for this, here’s why:

Stringers

Ben isn’t exactly a genius, but he has an immense breadth of knowledge. Whether it’s natural science (specifically the intricacies of bug sex), or vintage timepieces, he can spout facts and information with the best of experts. He just can’t explain why he knows any of it. Another thing he knows is the location of the Chime. What it is or why it’s important, he can’t say.

But this knowledge is about to get him in a whole heap of trouble, as a trash-talking, flesh construct bounty hunter is on his tail and looking to sell him to the highest bidder. And being able to describe the mating habits of Brazilian bark lice won’t be enough to get him out of it.

Expected publication : April 2022

Top Ten Tuesday : If You Love/Loved ‘X” You’ll Love ‘X’

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 :

Books to Read If You Love/Loved X 

This week I’ve come up with a list of books all from this year’s reading and these are all books I loved and recommend.  I hesitate to make too many comparisons between authors and books so take these comparisons with a grain of salt – but definitely check them out:

1. Mask of Mirrors – Well, I loved this start to The Rook and Rose series by MA Carrick and for me it had a flavour of Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastards but a female version.

Mask

2. Shiver bt Allie Reynolds.  If you fancy a locked room mystery set atop a freezing cold mountain with a small group of friends who all seem to have their own secrets then this is for you.  Will perhaps appeal to fans of Lucy Foley.

Shiver

3. The Echo Wife by Sarah Galley – if you like Stepford Wives you might enjoy this strange little story.  Two wives, one dead husband and a lot of unexpected scientific developments that come with their own moral dilemmas.   Described as ‘Big Little Lies meets Black Mirror’

Echo

4. Witherward by Hannah Mathewson – a magical book with not one but two Londons.  Compared with good reason to a Darker Shade of Magic and Six of Crows, I really enjoyed this story and  it is described as ‘perfect for fans of VE Schwab’.

Witherward

5. The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin – futuristic, dystopian world where champions fight in the arena to prevent the need for war.  I think fans of the Hunger Games or Red Rising would enjoy this.  It’s quite unique with excellently described fight scenes and a good master/student vibe.

CC

6. The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman- packed with fantasy elements jostling alongside the occasional dose of horror and full of humour and grimdark(ness).  I really enjoyed this.  I think if you like adult fantasy with a touch of the grim. some colourful cursing and great characters, I’m thinking along the lines Abercrombie/Eames/Remic – then this might work well for you.

Blacktongue

7. Come With Me by Ronald Malfi- psychological thriller/horror, chilling with light supernatural aspects. Think a strange mash of Silence of the Lambs meets Gone Girl.  Definitely a chilling story that is totally addictive.

Comewithme

 

8. The Women of Troy series by Pat Barker- if you enjoy Greek myth and the story of the Trojan War this is a retelling told from the females who survived the sacking of their city.  Highly recommended.

Silenceofthe

9. Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis- Regency rom com a la Austen style with a delicious dollop of dragons, magic and romance – you’re welcome.

Scales and

10. The Hidden by Melanie Golding – a great blend of dark atmosphere, mystery and folklore – I think if you enjoy authors such as Alice Hoffman and Kate Atkinson you will enjoy Melanie Golding.

idden

The Red Monarch (Brontë Sisters Mystery #3) by Bella Ellis

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Yet another winning detectorist novel

Riseofthe

The Red Monarch is the third novel by Bella Ellis and is a story that. again, easily captured my attention.  This time the three sisters, accompanied by their brother, make their way to London to help a friend who finds herself in dire straits.  Lydia Roxby (formerly Robinson) finds herself alone and destitute.  Lydia has been disinherited by her family after eloping with Harry.  The two live in poverty in London and Harry is driven by circumstances to a life of crime. As the story begins Harry is taken by notorious crime lord, Noose, having stolen a valuable jewel.  Lydia has a week to return the missing item or both will suffer the consequences (involving lead boots and a watery grave perhaps).  Anne is the only friend that Lydia can turn to and consequently the family soon find themselves travelling to the Capital to help.

As with the Diabolical Bones I’m not going to elaborate on the plot.  Instead, I will again focus on those elements of the story that worked really well for me.

Firstly, the setting.  This time we are taken away from the wilds of Howarth and the moors that inspired their works. We find ourselves in a London roughly around the year 1846 (the sisters having recently published their poems).  London was a place of extreme contrasts.  Home to royalty, nobles and the upper class with their opulent lifestyles and extreme wealth but on the opposite side of the coin overpopulated by those suffering deprivation and poverty.  This is a city with a seething criminal underbelly. Dirty and unsanitary, people lived in dilapidated slums and were driven to lives of crime.   Ellis uses the period well utilising the infamous slums of the period known as the Rookery.  A seething mess of alleys and a twisted warren of streets where unsuspecting visitors could easily become targets for pickpockets and much worse.  We spend a good portion of time in a theatre where Lydia and her husband lived  in a small apartment.  I just loved this setting. The theatre is an inspired choice, it almost has a world of it’s own contained beneath the stage and seating.  Twisted corridors, rickety staircases leading to the precarious heights of the building and below the bright lights a warren of secret tunnels created for the rich and famous as a way to come and go in secret.  It’s a wonderful contrast between the gilded public side of the building and the worn and dark interior that hides many secrets.

Ellis manages to take the siblings into the very heart of danger as they explore London looking for answers.

Secondly, the characters.  Again, the family are really well portrayed.  The love between them all is apparent even as their differences shine out from the pages.  All the sisters have alternating chapters but Emily in particular enjoys the limelight.  Their characters really stand out, Charlotte’s shy yet bold nature, Emily’s complete desire to follow her own singular route, Anne, just maturing enough to have her own voice and Branwell who comes across even better in this instalment as he enjoys a period free from other influences.  On top of this we make the acquaintance of two very enigmatic members of the theatre who help the family stay safe and guide them through the perils of London.  These two characters really play into the story, particularly the actor Louis who is undoubtedly being portrayed as inspiration for Emily’s future writing.  The Machiavellian underworld has some very seedy characters that come from all walks of life, stooping to despicable acts and taking life without thought or regret.

Again, I loved the writing. Ellis manages to really conjure the period, her pacing is great and after a little set up I found myself glued to the page.

In terms of criticisms. Well, I haven’t elaborated on the plot for good reason.  I would say it’s fairly obvious what is going on here in many respects, but, I don’t really think that’s a negative to be honest – you have to remember the time and the characters themselves.  Reading from a different and much more cynical period it’s much easier to think the worst unlike these genteel and sheltered young women.

Overall, I’m loving this series.  There’s the mysteries, the period, the amazing characters and some small fantastical elements that play into the sensibilities and superstitions of the period.  My only quibble is (knowing the short lives of the Brontës I worry how many more novels we can expect and enjoy (hopefully at least a couple more).

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

Friday Face Off : A book with ‘star’ in the 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.

This week’s theme:

A book with ‘star’ in the title

I had a number of books that I could have used this week but I’ve gone with a fairly recent read and an author that is on my favourites list for very good reason.  Only two covers for this one but they’re both good.  This week I’ve gone for the first book from Mark Lawrence’s Book of the Ice: The Girl and the Stars:

I’ve updated the list now to include themes for next year.  If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week : Futuristic vista

2021

November – Sci Fi Month

19th – Futuristic vista

26th – A Black Hole – in the universe or going deep into the ground

December

3rd – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

10th – A fairytale retold

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

The Quicksilver Court (Rooks and Ruin #2) by Melissa Caruso

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Oh What a Tangled Web

QuicksilverCourt

The Quicksilver Court is the second book in the Rooks and Ruin series by Melissa Caruso and was another entertaining instalment that managed to balance both light and dark elements at the same time as packing an emotional gut punch.

Before starting this review I would say that this will contain spoilers for book 1 so if you haven’t yet read The Obsidian Tower then you might want to make a hasty departure right about now. This is not a drill people – get out of here!  Also, this is not a series that you can jump in part way through.  Reading the first book is essential in my opinion if you’re to have any chance of understanding the dynamics at play here.

So, The Quicksilver Court picks up almost immediately after the conclusion of book 1 and shoots straight out of the gate with impressive pacing.  The Rookery sets off on a journey to the Loreician court, on the face of it they’re searching for a missing demon (Hunger) who may well be infiltrating the Summer Palace, in reality they’re in search of a missing artifact, basically a weapon of mass destruction, politics being as they are though, this is all wrapped up with court etiquette, scheming and guarded conversation – well at least it’s all sugar coated for a little while, until everything goes swiftly downhill.

To be honest, the winning element of both books in this series so far is the characters (in fact the plot plays second fiddle to the characters imo) and in this particular instalment we’re due to learn a heck of a lot more about all of them.  Be prepared.  Caruso manages to include plenty of food for thought here particularly with the inclusion of demons that are not totally bad and humans that are certainly not totally good.  All the Rookery are back, a number of demons that escaped that I won’t name here, other than Hunger of course who we met in No.1.  Severin once again plays a key role and the relationship that started to develop with Ryx gathers pace in a beautifully measured way.  And, Whisper, the enigmatic more-than-a-cat and Ryx’s grandmother, The Lady of Owls.  To be honest there’s such a lot to like here that it would be difficult to pin down a favourite.  Of course Ryx and Severin stand out and the Lady of Owls steals the show a little every time she makes an appearance.

On top of these already familiar characters we have the Queen and her advisor, I don’t want to say too much at this point but expect the unexpected.   Finally, the Zenith Society who have teamed up with Hunger/Aurelio.  The Zenith Society are already known to the Rookery and in fact this particular thread leads to a number of reveals that shine a new light on this previously happy-go-lucky team.

The setting.  Well, we’ve moved to the Summer Palace – I couldn’t help think of the elaborately decorated Palace of Versailles with it’s ostentatious rooms dripping with gilt work and ornamentation.  The setting couldn’t be more different than the Obsidian Tower.  Where Gloamingard is all about the twisted passages and dark mystery the Summer Palace is a place of extreme beauty (although of course it’s about to play host to some despicable beings undertaking despicable acts). I’m going to confess that the setting is one of the elements of this instalment that gave me slightly mixed feelings.  In one respect the setting was well drawn and easy to envisage and in fact really adds an extra layer of creativity to the events that take place BUT – and this is a slight spoiler, this story is contained, or restricted to the one setting (not so much locked room as locked palace). Okay, this is a Palace with extensive grounds but it started to feel slightly repetitive and perhaps even a little incredible in terms of the good guys escaping notice and avoiding trouble in such an enclosed space.

Slight hesitation aside.  What I also really enjoyed here, apart from the characters, twists and turns and the emotional rollercoaster that followed is the strange mix of dark and light -not just in terms of the characters as outlined above but more the jump from humour to horror and back again.  Ryx is a great character to follow.  She isn’t all kickass, unbeatable ‘here I come to save the day’ so much as flying by the seat of her pants, improvising all the way barely staying alive by the skin of her teeth.  What also makes her really good is the real sense of vulnerability that is on display.  She now has friends, and potentially a romantic love interest and whilst this makes her ridiculously happy (when she’s not simply trying to stay alive)  it also places her in the position of having things that she can now lose.

In terms of criticisms.  Apart from the ‘locked palace’ element. This ends on a cliffhanger.  Personally I don’t mind a good cliffhanger although they do make me very anxious to have the next book in my grabby little hands.

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

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Elektra by Jennifer Saint

Can't Wait Wednesday

“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 : Elektra by Jennifer Saint.  I was so excited to see this book due for publication next year – I really enjoyed Ariadne and can’t wait for more. Here’s the description:

ElektraThe House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them, and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But, can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?

Expected publication : April 2022

The Lighthouse Witches by CJ Cooke

Posted On 9 November 2021

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : Gothic, atmospheric and cunningly compelling

TLW

I was so happy to be approved for a review copy of The Lighthouse Witches, I’d previously read and enjoyed The Nesting and loved the author’s style, she can certainly create a story with plenty of atmosphere and so when I saw this book, hailed as a ‘chilling gothic thriller’ that takes place on a remote Scottish Island – well, colour me happy.  Slight spoiler for the rest of the review.  I really enjoyed this – it’s one of those books that is set to stealth mode.  It teases you with an intriguing prologue, it then stalks you, hidden from view until finally it pounces and you’re held firm in its grip.

So, following the prologue we are swiftly introduced to mother of three Olivia (known as Liv) and her daughters, Sapphire (Saffy), 15,  Luna 9, and Clover aged 7.  The year is 1998 and Liv has brought her daughters to Lon Haven, to a Lighthouse known as the Longing.  Essentially, Liv is running from something (all will eventually be revealed) and has taken a commission to paint a mural for the lighthouse’s new owner.  The family arrive late on a blustery evening and are introduced to their cosy keeper’s bothy but any romantic notions about the lighthouse are immediately dispelled when they are introduced to the grim interior.  A stark granite cone that covers something sinister from the Island’s past.

The Story is told from a number of POVs.  Primarily, Luna in 2021.  Pregnant, involved in a slightly rocky relationship and still trying to come to terms with the sketchy memories she has of the time spent on the Scottish Isle.  What she does know is that two of her sisters went missing and she was abandoned by her mother so it’s a huge shock when she receives a call to say that her sister Clover has been found – and she doesn’t appear to have aged a day.  We jump back to Liv in 1998 as she begins to get a feel for the Island.  It’s a close knit place rife with superstitions and a turbulent history that culminated in a witch hunt of a number of women who were eventually tried and executed.  Other stories abound – talk of wildlings and missing children run rife and it soon becomes apparent that Lon Haven has experienced more than its fair share of sad events that have undoubtedly led the islanders to harbour some strange beliefs.  The final pov is Sapphire, also from 1998.  Saffy’s pov includes excerpts from an old Grimoire that she found in the bothy and is slowly making her way through.  I won’t elaborate but these excerpts helpt to tie the time jumps together and give a feeling for what took place on the island back in the 1600s that eventually led to the brutal torturing and wrongful executions of a number of women.

The writing is really good.  Again Cooke manages to infuse the pages with a brooding and intriguing story, the atmosphere is like pea soup.  There’s an ever increasing sense of foreboding which is only exacerbated by Luna’s pov.  We know that the storyline from 1998 is slowly building up to something terrible and the suspense is huge.  There’s a great sense of family here, and one that is slightly fraying at the edges.  Liv, struggling to raise her daughters following the death of her partner, Saffy, rebelling against the move away from everything she knows and loves, the sisters being at odds with each other and the ever looming presence of threat that is slowly revealed.  There is a slight move into teenage angst at times where Saffy is concerned and I must admit that sometimes I was astounded by how oblivious Liv seemed to be but then I cut her some slack.  She was struggling so hard to hold everything together and barely coping herself.

This story really does move into the realms of fantasy, more so.than the Nesting  I’m not talking about dungeons and dragons but something much more subtle.  The villages believe almost religiously in the story of wildlings (in my mind I’m thinking of these as changelings – fae that mimic human children, stealing the children away and taking their place in the home).  There’s also the Grimoire and the fascinating story it relates that eventually provides answers to the mystery of Lon Haven.  I won’t spoil the final reveal, this took me in a direction that was completely unforeseen and one that I really enjoyed.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t have very much to be honest.  I did find a few elements, particularly in relation to Clover when she was eventually found and released to her much older sister – a little doubtful – but given the route the story takes I think I was much more willing to give it some leeway.  I think I probably also had questions about the nature of what was taking place here but, to be fair, I think the author’s style of ‘less is more’ was probably more fitting than any attempts to really define what was actually happening.

Overall this was a gripping tale.  I admit that I enjoy stories with alternating timelines.  I also love anything related to the fae which wildlings sound suspiciously akin to and the whole idea of this cursed island where the islanders have bought into their suspicions and fears so strongly, that they go to terrible lengths in order to keep any darkness at bay – coupled with the great gothic setting – well, as I already said, I was very happy to pick this one up and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

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

My rating 4 stars

Friday Face Off : An early science fiction read

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.

This week’s theme:

Your earliest sci-fi read or the first sci-fi you reviewed

My earlier reads are all pre blogs and therefore no reviews and I think the earliest book I can recall that meets this week’s theme was The Time Machine by HG Wells.  I’m guessing I was probably around 13/14.  This was a time when I was slowly reading through books on my dad’s shelves, usually skulking away in my bedroom.  Here are the covers:

Do you have a favourite?

I’ve updated the list now to include themes for next year.  If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week : A book with ‘star’ in the title

2021

November – Sci Fi Month

12th – A book with ‘star’ in the title

19th – Futuristic vista

26th – A Black Hole – in the universe or going deep into the ground

December

3rd – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

10th – A fairytale retold

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

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