Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Ivory Tomb by Melissa Caruso (Rooks and Ruin #3)

Posted On 6 July 2022

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 3 responses

CWW

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

TheIvoryTomb

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

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

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

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

Expected publication : December 2022

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

TTT

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

Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the Second Half of 2022

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

Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

BlackMouth

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

Just Like Home Final for Peter

Priest of Crowns by Peter McLean

Priestof

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Daisy

The First Binding by RR Virdi

TheFirstBinding

Ithaca by Claire North

Ithaca

Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Signal

A Dowry of Blood by ST Gibson

ADowry

The Ghost Woods by CJ Cooke

TheGhost

Small Angels by Lauren Owen

SmallAngels

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

FFO

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

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

This week’s theme:

Epic – any book that fits into the genre

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

Here are the covers:

2022

Jul  
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie

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

CWW

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

TheWitch

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

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

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

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

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

Expected publication : September 2022

The Path of Thorns by AG Slatter

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

Pathof

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My rating 5 of 5 stars

Friday Face Off : Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role

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:

Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role

Well, I struggled with this one – I just couldn’t find a lot of books with a strong father role – no doubt lots will spring to mind as soon as this post goes live.  I had a couple of ideas that I eventually picked up but then a scroll back through my shelves eventually pulled out a book, in fact a series, that I really enjoyed and is perfect for this week’s theme.  The Mancer series by Ferrett Steinmetz.  Flex, The Flux and Fix.  In this series a desperate father goes to extreme measures to help his injured daughter.  There aren’t a range of covers for this one so I’m going to compare the three book covers in the series instead.

Here are the covers:

2022

Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie

The Bay by Allie Reynolds

Posted On 23 June 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 3 responses

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

TheBay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My rating 4 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Unraveller by Frances Hardinge

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: Unraveller by Frances Hardinge.  

Unraveller

A dark YA fantasy about learning to use your power and finding peace, from award-winning author Frances Hardinge

In a world where anyone can create a life-destroying curse, only one person has the power to unravel them.

Kellen does not fully understand his talent, but helps those transformed maliciously—including Nettle. Recovered from entrapment in bird form, she is now his constant companion and closest ally.

But Kellen has also been cursed, and unless he and Nettle can remove his curse, Kellen is in danger of unravelling everything—and everyone—around him .

Expected publication : October 2022

Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Didn’t foresee that twisted ending

hiddenpictures

Well, I picked up Hidden Pictures without virtually any knowledge aforethought and I had a slight feeling of ‘is this going to be a bit gimmicky’ given the angle with the pictures, etc – I soon found out that wasn’t going to be the case and the pictures in fact added a sinister note as the images they depicted became steadily more shocking.  Within barely a few pages I found myself hooked and a few chapters down the line I couldn’t put this one down.  It’s brilliantly twisted in a way that I didn’t expect and I feel like Rekulak just literally led me down the garden path with his cunning and devious  plot.

As the story begins we meet Mallory Quinn.  Mallory had a bright future ahead of her until personal tragedy struck and she instead went down the line of strong painkillers eventually becoming addicted to stronger drugs until finally seeking help at rehab.  A year and a half later Mallory is coming out of rehab and needs a job and a place to live so when her sponsor lines her up a live-in nanny position for a pre school boy, in the very well-to-do area of Spring Brook, New Jersey – she is more than happy.  Her new employers are the perfect couple, high earners, beautiful, amazing house with pool, clean living and very supportive of Mallory.  Their little boy Teddy immediately clicks with Mallory and so she moves into the small pool side cottage and starts work.

At first, everything seemed ideal.  The days pass in a dreamlike state of playing, exploring the woodlands and swimming in the pool.  One small issue is that Teddy has an imaginary friend who seems to be encouraging him to draw pictures.  Over the weeks the pictures become increasingly detailed and depict what can only be assumed is a murder scene.  Teddy starts to become more introverted, he doesn’t like to mix with other children and he also begins to keep his drawings secret – but, mysteriously, they always seem to find their way into Mallory’s hands.

On the face of it this feels very much like a typical ghost story.  The haunted forest, the little boy helping the ghost to find closure, the history behind the pool house itself which seems to have something of a reputation and that strange sixth sense of something always watching.  However, this takes a very unusual turn that I really didn’t see coming, even though, with hindsight, the author was clearly leaving little clues and building the tension.

What really helped for me is that I liked Mallory.  She’s a young woman with a grim past who is trying hard to get back on her feet.  I liked the way she cared for Teddy and stood up for what she thought was right and she worked hard to stay on the straight and narrow, even starting the beginning of a relationship with a local gardener.  Now, given her past she does spin a few tall tales, she wants to fit in, her history is complicated and she’s just enjoying the lifestyle and having the attention of a good looking young man who doesn’t know about her past.  Obviously, this does give you little issues, like, is she really a reliable narrator?  And, in fact this is something that the author does really well because he begins to drop little incidents that make you begin to distrust everyone.  Pretty soon cracks are beginning to appear in this perfect, picture postcard family and before you know it everyone feels like they have something to hide.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, the ending does go a little bit crazy but I confess I didn’t mind one little bit because I was seriously enjoying this one and was desperate to see how things would pan out.  The pictures, well, they didn’t work quite as well for me as I would have liked but I think that’s a technical issue  related to the settings of my e-reader more than anything else so rather than having the shock value that was the aim I found myself having to piece  things together a little bit.  Again, I didn’t find this an issue, it may have lessened the ‘wow’ factor a little but in some ways having to root around and piece things together played into the mystery for me.  I have to say, I think it’s a great concept and I think it would work really well if this story is adapted to the big screen.

Overall this was a fast and entertaining read.  Thrilling, creepy and a little disturbing it really was a tricky plot with subtle supernatural elements and an ending that I simply didn’t foresee.

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

My rating 4 of 5 stars

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Posted On 19 June 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 2 responses

Sunday Post

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

Books read this week:

Okay, so this week, I can’t deny, I’ve been having a purely good time going out and socialising which means I haven’t read as many books as I’d hoped.  However I did read The Bay by Allie Reynolds which is another little cracker.  I’ve also managed to continue with my buddy read of Joe Abercrombie’s Before They Are Hanged which I can’t deny I’m loving.

TheBay

Next Week’s Reads:

Well, complete the Abercrombie book because I’m so close.  Also continue with last week’s plans, Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald and Sons of Darkness by Gourav  Mohanty.

  1. Land of the Dead by Stephen Hopstaken by Melissa Prusi
  2. The Echo Man by Sam Holland
  3. Stringers by Chris Panatier

Friday Face Off : So pretty

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:

So pretty – exactly what it says

Another, hopefully easy week for everyone and I’m really looking forward to seeing some very pretty, easy on the eye covers.  This week I’ve gone for a book that I haven’t read yet, in fact it isn’t released yet, but I have a copy that I will be tucking into soon (it releases in August) and it’s so unusual to have different covers for such a new book I simply had to go for it.  Plus, these two covers are dramatically different.  Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney.

Here are the covers:

2022

June
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie

Land of the Dead (Stoker’s Wilde #3) by Stephen Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Resist everything, except this series

Land of the dead

I am loving this series.  It’s just a fantastic combination of great writing, great characters and ridiculously outrageous adventures.

This is book No.3 in the Stoker Wilde series.  Having read the previous two I would heartily suggest that you start at the beginning because why deprive yourself the pleasure of reading them both.  That being said, and time being precious, etc, etc, I think you could easily step in at this point if you wish to do so.  Just, please, do yourself a favour and read the other two, pretty please.

At the risk of repeating myself from previous reviews what I really love about this is the style it’s told in.  Once again we have the epistolary style with diaries, reports and other items delivering the story.  I just adore this.  It’s so appropriate for the era in question and it also works well given the two central characters – I think Oscar Wilde famously kept a diary (because it made such sensational reading) and Stoker wrote his famous Dracula in the same fashion.  Plus Stoker’s excerpts take the form of reports which are written in a no-nonsense style and relate the facts without embellishment which totally feeds into the way his character comes across in this series.

The plot here once again channels things well renowned from the period. Séances for example were very popular as was a general taste for anything macabre.  Shelley’s Frankenstein was already popular feeding into the obsession with mortality (not to mention grave robbing) and all these things conspire to create a sinister novel where bodies are reanimated and used as vessels to bring back the souls of those that have passed away.

In this story mad scientist Victor Mueller still has an obsession with Bram’s blood believing it holds the key in his search to bring his wife back to life.  This leads us to repeated kidnap attempts that escalate dramatically as the story progresses.  On top of that we have a young girl called Lorna Bow, a medium who is gaining popularity for her ability to channel the spirits.  Of course the set up is a con but as it happens Lorna has a measure of talent which becomes easy to understand when her mother finally returns to collect her daughter.

Once again Stoker and Wilde are central and foremost in the story, but I loved the inclusion of so many strong females.  Stoker’s wife, Wilde’s fiancee, and even one of the actresses from the Lyceum Theatre, they all had great roles as did the young medium and her mother.

This takes us to the other element of this series that I’m loving.  It seems that each book has a fascination with some form of horror from the period.  We already have werewolves and vampires, plus the existence of an organisation that looks into the supernatural.  This particular story seems to take us down the route of monsters of a different ilk, it gave me decided Frankenstein vibes and this combined with travel to a completely different world that smacked very much of the Land that Time Forgot made me wonder what else these authors might have up their sleeves.  My tiny brain is running amok thinking of all the possibilities we still have left to explore.  The Mummy? Jekyll and Hyde, The Time Machine.  Maybe we will end up with an appearance by the famous Ripper or, well, I don’t know, my mind is going into overdrive thinking of all the possibilities and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

In terms of criticisms.  I did harbour a tiny moment when certain people were being resurrected of thinking ‘this is batshit crazy’.  But, I got over that feeling quite quickly.  Things do go decidedly over the top but to be honest I loved that element of the story.

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 : Fairy tale by Stephen King

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: Fairy tale by Stephen King.

FairyTale

Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.

Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. When Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and her aging master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.

Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world.

Expected publication: September 2022

The Echo Man by Sam Holland

Posted On 14 June 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
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My Five Word TL:DR Review: Read it if you dare

echoman

The Echo Man by Sam Holland is an impressive debut.  The main concept of a copycat serial killer is chilling and horrifying to read and the pace and tension are ramped up as the police try to stop the killer before more lives are lost.

Jess Ambrose’s life is shattered when her house goes up in flames killing her husband and leaving her as the chief suspect.  Determined to prove her innocence she runs from the hospital and the police and goes into hiding with the help of a renegade, and currently suspended, detective called Nate Griffin.

At the same time Cara Elliott is taking the lead on a number of recent and grisly murders.  These cases are believed to be unconnected until one of the most recent murder scenes triggers a connection and the police become aware that these cases echo the  MOs of previous serial killers.  With this in mind, the manhunt is stepped up and at the same time the body count climbs ever higher as the murderer becomes over confident.

What I liked about the Echo Man is that the author manages to provide the characters with their own stories, background, family and tragedies.  Both Jess and Nate have personal issues that they struggle with on a daily basis and are drawn to each other in an almost protective way.  Cara is also struggling.  She has a devoted police team but the surge in murders means that most of the time time she’s in work, missing her husband and daughter and the simple everyday things that they usually enjoy.  On top of this Cara and Nate are brother and sister, which doesn’t necessarily make working together easy, particularly as Nate is liable to blow up, has a hate/hate relationship with one of the other detectives and doesn’t really follow orders.

Now, I’m just going to point out that this book makes for some shocking, vivid and almost nightmarish descriptions of murder.  This is not for the faint hearted.  I’m not saying the blood and death here is gratuitous because that certainly isn’t the case.  The murderer is mimicking famous serial killers and posing his death scenarios in a way that is almost like a tribute to them – the fact that these are real murderers is probably what gives this the real shock value.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I had to suspend my disbelief in relation to certain things.  I found myself reading and at first harboring niggles about the unlikelihood of certain elements that took place.  Then I gave my head a wobble and decided that regardless of a few plot holes here and there I was going to read this for the murder mystery/chiller element that I thought was really well done.  I must say that the one thing that really struck me though was the timeframe at the end – the murders were stacking up with almost indecent haste and it felt too frantic.

Overall, I think this is an impressive debut.  It’s chilling, bloody and fast paced.  I practically whipped though this one with indecent haste because I was desperate to know the who/what/why element and in spite of the grim bloodfest I barely put this down and in fact found myself missing the characters when everything came to an end.

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

My rating between 3.5 and 4 stars.  Rounded up to 4

Stringers by Chris Panatier

My Five Word TL:DR Review : A Blast of a Book

Stringers1

Having read and loved The Phlebotomist by this author I was absolutely jumping for joy when I was granted a review copy of Stringers.  Three things must ye know of Stringers.

Firstly, it’s completely unlike Panatier’s debut novel – they stand at the furthest opposing points that I can think of to be honest and this being sci fi I did feel a little nervous about requesting a copy.

Secondly, and this could just be the mood I was in when I picked this up, but, this made me laugh out loud on so many occasions that it was practically addictive.  It was like that moment when you open a huge bag of crisps, sweets, popcorn (or whatever it is that takes your fancy) and before you know it you’ve eaten the entire (family size I might add) bag and you’re puzzled about where they’ve all gone.  Basically, this made me feel good, even down to the fact that I persisted with the ‘harder sci-fi’ elements and actually felt like I was on board, and when something makes you feel good you don’t want to stop. Hence I read this almost in a day.

Thirdly, I can safely say this was one of my most anticipated reads this year and we all know how damaging over hype can be to any book.  Seriously, my expectations were up there amongst the stars but I’m happy to report that on this occasion the anticipation and hype were rewarded with a fantastic read and then some.

The plot.  I can see where the comparisons to Hitchhiker’s Guide come from here.  You have your two witless humans, abducted by a space bounty hunter, you have a really amusing (although obviously humour is very subjective so whereas I found this pretty darn amusing others may not) cosmic space opera with a really unique concept. Now, I can’t tell you too much about the plot other than to say that one of the abductees has a wealth of information stored in his brain, something that certain other ‘aliens’ would pay handsomely for.  As you may imagine, our two humans are about to go on the ride of a lifetime, dangerous, life threatening and very strange.  I seriously don’t want to give away anything else because I had a lot of fun finding out in what direction this story was going in without any prior knowledge.

The characters.  We have Ben and his pal Patton.  Ben is a mind of useless information – well, probably not useless if you want to know in depth details about the sex life of insects or the inner workings of a wristwatch, but otherwise, yeah, not terribly helpful during your bog standard day.  He doesn’t know how he knows what he knows, he just knows it.  And, unfortunately it’s like a constant assault of information flooding his brain day in day out.  He’s desperate to find out what it’s all about.  Patton is a good friend and joins in for the ride not suspecting what he’s letting himself in for.  Naecia is another of the abductees, an alien, also with a wealth of strange information within her own brain.  Aptat is the bounty hunter.  He has a sharp tongue, is totally calculating and, I don’t know if I should confess to this, but I really enjoyed reading the chapters where he was involved.  Last but by no means least, we have Pickles.  I’ll leave you to discover that one for yourselves.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I did have a slight slowing down period when I was getting on board with the science fiction elements – but, I’m happy to say that this was only temporary and even more happy to have actually felt like I understood all the explanations.  Also, I’m not going to lie, there is a certain ‘ick’ factor to some of the chapters that maybe could have been shortened a little for me.  But, overall nothing that actually made me want to give up or that spoiled the read.

In a nutshell, Stringers is a witty, madcap, cosmic adventure that was thrilling to read and made me laugh, cringe and (almost) cry and that kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning.  I’m absolutely fascinated to see what this author will spring on us 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

Posted On 12 June 2022

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Comments Dropped 7 responses

Sunday Post

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

Books read this week:

I’m still playing catch up with review books, comments and blog hopping but I am making steady progress so I’m quite pleased with that to be honest.  This week I completed The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison.  I’ve also managed to fit in some other fantastic reads.  I read the The Seawomen by Chloe Timms which was a beautifully written, evocative and strong feminist story about breaking free of shackles and expectations.  I then  read Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak which was completely addictive and I couldn’t put it down.  Finally, I’m just making my way to the end of The Path of Thorns by AG Slatter – which is absolutely brilliant, seriously, I’m loving this book and unless something goes drastically wrong in the next 20% then this one comes highly recommended.  My books this week have all been amazing which is probably why I packed so much reading in.

Next Week’s Reads:

I’d like to pick up Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald and the Bay by Allie Reynolds.  I’m excited about both of these.  Now, depending on how I get on with those my next book is Sons of Darkness by Gourav  Mohanty – this is also having some early rave reviews but I think it’s a chunkster so I recognise I’ll not be squeezing this in alongside any other books – but I can’t wait to dive into this and the others.

  1. Elektra by Jennifer Saint
  2. The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison
  3. The Seawomen by Chloe Timms

Friday Face Off : Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise

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:

Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise

Hopefully this week’s theme was a little bit easier.  I’ve gone for a fairly recent book.  I’m rather ashamed to confess that I have a copy of this but haven’t managed to get to it yet so I need to read quicker!!  Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger.  Have you read this one??  What did you think?

Here are the covers:

2022

June
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie

The Seawomen by Chloe Timms

Posted On 9 June 2022

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 6 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : A Powerful Tale of Oppression

theseawomen

Wow this book.  I barely know where to begin to be honest.  Thought provoking.  Anger inducing.  Beautifully written.  Quite literally I’ve been sitting here for an age just trying to form words.  I’ve deleted what I’ve written over and over because it just doesn’t begin to express my feelings and even now I’m puzzled about exactly where to begin and I know that I’m not going to be able to do this book justice.

Set on the Island of Eden this is a story that is as far from paradise as you can imagine.  A small, claustrophobic world where under the guise of religious piety men rule supreme and the women of the island live under the constant threat of suspicion.  Think witch hunts, think neighbour turning upon neighbour, think living under the doctrines of religious zealots where young girls are brought up witnessing atrocities to keep them under a yolk of fear.

By way of background.  My take on the world here is as follows.  The inhabitants of Eden are akin to a religious cult who have left the trappings of the modern world behind to live a more simple life (although this seems to be set in a near future where the sea water has risen).  The people are kept in the dark, and in their place, by a barrage of constant fear mongering, bullying and coercive behaviour with an extra layer of control being added by the natural isolation of the island setting, the fact that people here are not only not taught to swim but are brought up to fear the water and what it contains and any deviations in behaviour are basically seen as evil.

The central characters of the story are Esta.  A young woman, brought up by her grandmother after the death of her parents in a terrible fire.  Esta is marked with a foreboding question mark from an early age., tarnished by the unknown actions of her mother and constantly watched for any deviations in behaviour.  Esta’s grandmother is a staunch believer in the ethos of the island and raises Esta with a stern hand.  Constantly drumming into her the words of the Book they live by and keeping her down by fasting, harsh treatment and lack of love.  Father Jessop is the Island’s leader.  All I can say about this character is there is not one single thing about him that I liked.  He’s absolutely awful and he actually filled me with dread.  He pervades the story with a sense of ever watchful menace.

In terms of the plot.  Well, this is Esta’s story.  We watch her grow from a young, fearful girl, filled with questions and doubt and natural curiosity to a woman who finds out that not everything she’s been told is true.  The islanders are kept in constant fear of the water by the myth of the Seawomen and their evil ways.  The women of Eden are not permitted to go into the water and in fact even looking at it wistfully can lead to vicious rumours.  Like all the other women of the island, Esta will eventually be expected to marry, more often than not an arranged marriage, where she will carry out her duty, look after her husband and bear children.  Everything here is about control.  Lack of teaching to keep people ignorant, even the year that a woman can bear children is managed and if she fails to become pregnant within the year named for her – well, the consequences are dire.  Known as the Untethering, women who fail their ‘motheryear’ are thought to have given in to evil and are basically tied up and sent in a small boat to drown in the strong waves that surround the harbour.  Esta, her natural curiosity driving her to extremes, finds love in an unexpected place and pushes the boundaries but the restraints of the Island are starting to close around her and she’s basically living on borrowed time.

What I really love about this book.  The writing is amazing, evocative and quite hypnotic.  This is a writer who can push your buttons in the most outstanding way, I found myself gripped at times, furious at times, unable to stop reading for the most part (because – sleep).  The fantasy elements are quite minimal, I would say this is magical realism where a lot of the book relies on hearsay and word of mouth.  We do meet creatures from the sea but these meetings are brief so don’t go into this expecting The Little Mermaid.  In fact I love the twist here in that the monsters are those on the land not in the water.  I think this could be read as a dystopian coming of age tale of one woman’s journey to live life on her own terms and conditions or you can read much more into it.  An allegory of oppression, a fear of anything different.

In terms of criticisms.  For myself I don’t have any.  But, I would say that this can be quite a dark read and in the middle the pace definitely slows a little.  But, the ending is packed with tension and there are moments of love and also hope.

Overall, I found this a beautifully written and compelling read.  Shocking, at times anger inducing at others, tense, strained and absolutely unputdownable.

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

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Stay Awake by Megan Goldin

Posted On 8 June 2022

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 9 responses

CWW

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

StayAwake

Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea where she is or how she got there. When she’s dropped off at the door of her brownstone, a stranger answers―a stranger who now lives in her apartment and forces her out in the cold. She reaches for her phone to call for help, only to discover it’s missing, and in its place is a bloodstained knife. That’s when she sees that her hands are covered in black pen, scribbled messages like graffiti on her skin: STAY AWAKE.

Two years ago, Liv was living with her best friend, dating a new man, and thriving as a successful writer for a trendy magazine. Now, she’s lost and disoriented in a New York City that looks nothing like what she remembers. Catching a glimpse of the local news, she’s horrified to see reports of a crime scene where the victim’s blood has been used to scrawl a message across a window, the same message that’s inked on her hands. What did she do last night? And why does she remember nothing from the past two years? Liv finds herself on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing as she tries to piece together the fragments of her life. But there’s someone who does know exactly what she did, and they’ll do anything to make her forget―permanently.

In the vein of SJ Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Christopher Nolan’s cult classic Memento, Megan Goldin’s Stay Awake is an electrifying novel that plays with memory and murder.

Expected publication : August 2022

The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison (The Cemeteries of Amalo #2)

My Five Word TL:DR Review: I loved returning to Amalo

Griefof

Addison, once again, returns us to the City of Amalo where we follow in Thara Celehar’s footsteps as he provides his unusual services to those who have died and the bereaved who request his services.  Celehar is Witness for the Dead.  A strange occupation indeed and one that involves a complexity of cases.

I’m loving these stories with Celehar.

Firstly, Addison has imagined a very easy to like central character in Celehar and a character that I could happily follow along in to whatever predicament he finds himself in. He’s such an easy character to get on with.  Straightforward, honest (brutally so sometimes), respectful, determined to undertake his duty even in the face of danger, kind and thorough.  I could go on at some length about this character because I’m loving reading about his adventures.

Secondly, Addison once again pays attention to the everyday little details in Celehar’s regular routines that just help to form a clear picture of the place itself.  And clearly this is a place that the author feels comfortable in.  There are all sorts of naming conventions, formalities, protocols, etc, but rather than explaining these in any sort of depth you instead get a feel for them by reading the story and everything just slotting into place with relative ease.

Thirdly, I love the kind of gentle feel to these stories – which to be fair belies some of the brutal or shocking cases that Celehar actually undertakes.  The central case here, for example, is actually quite unpleasant, but at the same time the way Celehar deals with the situation is so respectful and helpful, and indeed intelligent that he brings a quiet sensitivity to the story.  It reminds me almost of reading, say, an Agatha Christie novel, Celehar shares the tenacity and powers of deduction of Miss Marple or Poirot for example.  And, although there tends to be a central investigation there are a series of almost comic threads that help to lighten the overall feel – like the search for a famous scone recipe. I could seriously see myself reading more from Celehar and I hope his journey continues although I will say that there is a very surprising development in this story that knocked both Celehar and me for six – so I need the next instalment in the Cemeteries of Amalo series yesterday.  No pressure at all.

Fourthly, I love it when the title of a book comes to make sense during the read and that is definitely the case here.

Once again the world building is done really well.  We have Celehar visiting haunted temples, tea shops, the opera (where a sweet and slow build romance seems to be developing), schools for foundlings and even a maze.

And, the extra bonus is a new character who becomes an apprentice to Celehar.  I love this development, apprenticeships and mentoring relationships are one of my favourite things to read about and so I hope for more.

I don’t think I can add anything further.  This is well written, very easy to engage with, has a delightful main  character, a central mystery with lots of other shenanigans, set in a fantasy world with Goblins and Elves, ghosts and ghouls and is just a delight to read.

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

My rating 4 of 5 stars.

Elektra by Jennifer Saint

Posted On 6 June 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 9 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review: Greek Tragedy from Female Perspective

Elektra

Elektra is the second book by Jennifer Saint in which she brings to life those characters from Greek myth that are usually overlooked or play only a small role.  The first book by this author was the story of Ariadne, a tale I really enjoyed and so I couldn’t wait to tuck into this one.  I’m really enjoying these stories and think Jennifer Saint does a great job of bringing the characters to life.  For the record I will say that I’m not an expert on Greek myth and that could be a reason why these stories hold so much appeal to me because a lot of the content is new.  Also, from the outset I will say that the characters here are not really having a great deal of fun for the most part.  The Trojan wars provide the backdrop, two of the characters spend the majority of the book thinking of nothing but revenge and let’s be honest, Greek Tragedies are not famed for their light and breezy nature.  And, again, I would mention that these stories are not intended to alter the tales of old so much as shine a spotlight in a different direction and provide a perspective that is little seen.  So, with that in mind.

The story actually follows three characters whose tales are brought together in a fascinating story of love and betrayal..

Clytemnestra – wife to Agamemnon (whose house is cursed).  Sister to Helen, whose famous beauty sparked the infamous Trojan war and the sacking of Troy.  Mother to a number of children one of which led to her all consuming desire for revenge whilst one of the other daughters developed feelings of hatred.

Cassandra – A Princess of Troy, daughter to Priam and a priestess of Apollo.  Cassandra sought the gift of sight from Apollo and having been granted it refused his advances and incurred his wrath.  He cursed her so that although she could see the future no one would believe her prophecies.  People instead assumed she was striving to be important and when that failed they thought she’d had a mental breakdown.

Elektra – daughter to Clytemnestra and Agamemnon. A young woman devoted to a father she barely knows.  Saviour of her brother and complicit in his role in killing their mother.  Talk about a tragedy.

I don’t want to over elaborate on the plot.  Basically, Clytemnestra is tricked by Agamemnon into taking her eldest daughter to be wed to Achilles.   Instead, Agamemnon sacrifices his first daughter to ensure a fair wind for his armies ships to sail to Troy.  I mean, I can’t deny I’d probably see the red mist myself in such circumstances.  From that point forward, stricken with grief and besotted with the desire for retribution, Clytemnestra can think of little else other than the safe return of the King so that she can take her revenge out upon him.  During this time it is fair to say that she neglects her younger children a little.  Elektra develops a fixation on her father, believing he can do no wrong, she was too young to be affected by the death of her eldest sister and she puts Agamemnon on a pedestal.  Her devotion sets her at odds with her mother.  Meanwhile, Cassandra gives us the inside view of what’s taking place at Troy.  Unable to make anyone take heed of her dire warnings she can only watch with dismay as her dreadful prophecies come to pass.

As with Ariadne the writing really stood out for me.  Saint manages to conjure a place easily with an almost casual inclusion of small everyday things such as food and clothing without resorting to heavy descriptions.

The dilemma of course is that this isn’t a pleasant story, the characters gradually spiral into obsession.  Elektra’s excessive devotion to her father, who was actually disliked by many, is almost impossible to understand.  I was aghast that she had so little regard for the sacrifice of her sister and her mother’s grief.  On the other hand her mother was so careless about her children that she really didn’t help the situation at all.  She positively fixated on the need to avenge her first daughter, to the point that the rest of her family paled into insignificance.  It’s like she couldn’t see what she still had in front of her and so before you could say ‘Greek Tragedy’ an insurmountable rift had come between mother and daughter.

Cassandra’s role here, as I mentioned was really to give a view of sorts on the progress of the war and the eventual destruction of Troy.  She didn’t feel quite as deeply drawn as the other two characters.  The curse of Apollo was enough to drive her crazy, her mind constantly barraged by sights of the future, none of which she was able to relay to others in a meaningful way.  I confess I had a good deal of sympathy for her plight.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, as with Ariadne the ending felt a little rushed.  I think I was expecting a bit more of a drawn out intrigue and had a mounting sort of tension as the dreaded deed approached but the eventual act was so swiftly carried out that it took me a minute to realise that we’d moved swiftly on.  Also, there is of course the grim reality of actual life for women from Ancient Greece.  The characters we predominantly follow are of course very privileged but regardless their lives are still squandered cheaply.

Overall, I’m thoroughly enjoying these books, I feel like I’m getting a little glimpse into life from the female perspective and although these stories are quite often tragic I would love to read 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.

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

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

Books read this week:

This week I read two of my intended books and started another which I’m well underway with.  I’m still catching up on reviews and short of posting two a day it’s going to take me a little while but hopefully I should have another three reviews out next week. I completed Stringers by Chris Panatier and The Echo Man by Sam Holland.  I also made a start on  The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison.

Next Week’s Reads:

I need to finish The Grief of Stones and than I’ll be picking up The Seawomen by Chloe Timms.  After that, if I get a chance I have a few books to choose from but think I’d like to pick up Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak.

  1. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel
  2. The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow by Rachel Aaron
  3. Black Tide by KC Jones

#SPFBO 8 First Batch of Books

SPFBO71024_1

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

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

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

Elusion of Freedom by Kelvin Womack

Elusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cutthroats and Traitors by Steven Smith

Cutthroats

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

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

The Prophecy by RE Davies

Reign of

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

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

The Hidden Blade by Marie M. Mullany

HiddenBlade

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

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

Memories of Blood and Shadow by Aaron S Jones

Memories

Guilt cuts sharper than the deadliest of blades.

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

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

Friday Face Off : Under the Sea

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:

Books with ‘Under the Sea

Again, I’ve got to lighten up and find some easier themes!  Anyway, I did have a few ideas this week but I’ve gone for a book that is good with both cover and title: The Girl Beneath the Sea by Andrew Mayne (Underwater Investigation Unit 1).  I loved the first one and seriously need to catch up with the latest instalments.

2022

Jun
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie

Black Tide by KC Jones

Posted On 2 June 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 8 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review: I couldn’t put it down

Blacktide

Black Tide was a great read for me.  It pulled me in very quickly and had me turning the pages so fast that I read it in almost record breaking time.  The writing was snappy and the tension was cranked up.  A quick one night stand turns into the strangest survival story.  This is a slice of life, snapshot of a story that literally takes place at the beach and is packed with horror and nightmare ish creatures.

Okay, so this will probably be a short review because I don’t want to give away too much.  All I can say is that this story grabbed my attention much more effectively than I expected.  The writing was great and I have to say I really enjoyed the characters – not that they didn’t occasionally frustrate me or make me want to shake them – but I liked them.  And the creatures – Jones – what the heck?  I mean, this book is touted as ‘Cujo meets A Quiet Place’ – well, I’m not qualified to endorse that description *ahem, not read them (**coughs**, yet)*.  For me this started out with Day of the Triffid vibes and quickly descended into something equally hideous and scary.  Think Little Shop of Horrors – except not, think some weird Lovecraft-Cosmic style horror – but not, think of your basic tentacled nightmare, think some kind of weird, Predator style, rabid critters, think of much worse.  Basically, horrible monsters doing what comes naturally.  It’s enough to put anyone off stepping foot on a beach ever again – except, let’s be honest, the nightmares are not restricted to the beach so basically be very afraid.

The plot is fairly basic tbh but don’t let that fool you.  We have two characters, both nursing their own ‘hurts’ who meet, drink, get merry and have a what-was-intended-to-only-be-a-one-night-stand.  The universe had other plans.  During the night, what can only be described as an apocalyptic event, takes place.  Unaware of the terrors that now lurk almost everywhere, the two go ‘meteor’ spotting at the beach, as you do.  To say that they’re staggeringly unprepared is perhaps the understatement of the century and yet it is this lack of knowledge and pre-planning that leads to such a punchy story.

In a nutshell the two (and their dog) end up quite literally between the devil and the deep blue sea!  Except it’s not the devil but a number of hideous and aggressive creatures, the likes of which have never been seen before, that have them trapped on the beach.  Infested dunes on one side, rising tide on the other (Clouds to the left of me Oceans to the right, here they are, stuck in the middle with who? Sorry).

As I said, I liked the characters.  Beth is very self deprecating.  I’m not going to quote her directly but she basically says that the world needs a hero and instead it got her, and she knows for a fact that she’s going to screw things up.  Except, at the end of the day, the basic will to survive is strong.  Mike, the alternate POV, has given up.  Life has thrown him some bitter lemons and he doesn’t like the taste.  He’s about ready to quit but meeting Beth is the pick him up that he didn’t foresee.  The two are not the greatest heros.  They’re, well, much like I would be, unprepared, lacking in survival skills and a bit bungling.  Similarly, they stumble upon things as they go along.  It’s actually an element to the story that I really like because seriously, how many people would be similarly unprepared.  I know I would be overwhelmingly useless.

I enjoyed the setting, which is a real testament when you consider we spend almost the entire book trapped at the beach.  I guess you could call this a ‘locked room’ horror.  Yep, those lovely dunes with the long grass blowing gently in the breeze will hold such menace after reading this.  Also, can I just mention clouds that aren’t clouds.  Going to leave that right there as a little tease.

In terms of criticisms.  Okay, I had very little, right up to the end that is.  Firstly, for all the dog lovers out there.  Meet Jake. Loyal and loving and, like plenty of fictional dogs before him, highly alert to the presence of strange, supernatural or alien like critters.  He’s really the hero of the piece.  I don’t want to give away spoilers BUT, slight spoiler alert, I’m not sure what happens to Jake at the conclusion.  He could have met a hideous ending, he could have run away.  I simply don’t know. So, half of me wants to shake my fist at the author and say ‘why, just why’ whilst the other half wants to say ‘there’s still hope, right? And the remaining 10% (maths was never my strong point) thinks, realistically, there was always going to be casualties.  Long story short, I don’t know what happened so I’ve got my own ‘happily ever after’ ending running through my head.  Which brings me to the other slight reservation – this ends on a note that could either suggest (1) scope for another instalment (looks hopefully at the author and publisher??) (2) the author decided to leave things open ended so the reader could fill in the blanks, or (c) the author couldn’t decide whether to go for the grisly, and possibly realistic, finish or not.

If you fancy a horror fueled day at the beach with unnamable creatures, pages that you can’t turn fast enough, ups and downs aplenty and a cinematic quality story that you can’t put down in spite of what might be a slightly bitter sweet ending, or not, then here you go.

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

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

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: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney:

daisyDarker

Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as dark can be, when one of them died all of them lied and pretended not to see . . .

Daisy Darker is arriving at her grandmother’s house for her eightieth birthday. It is Halloween, and Seaglass – the crumbling Cornish house perched upon its own tiny private island – is at one with the granite rocks it sits on. The Darker family haven’t all been in the same place for over a decade, and when the tide comes in they’ll be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. When the tide goes back out, nothing will ever be the same again, because one of them is a killer . . .

Expected Publication August 2022

The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow (The Crystal Calamity #1) by Rachel Aaron #TLSOMGC

Today I’m really excited to be taking part in the book tour organised by Fantasy Book Critic for the first in Rachel Aaron’s Crystal Calamity series – The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow.  Details of the other bloggers taking part and other information that you might find useful are outlined below.  For now, let’s get to the book review.

TheLast Stand

This is my first book by Rachel Aaron – I know, *hangs head in shame*, but, it certainly won’t be my last in fact I’ll be queuing up excitedly for the next instalment in this series. I’m definitely going through one of those phases at the moment where certain types of books just really appeal and anything to do with the Wild Wild West fits into that category so as soon as I was offered a place on this tour, and was told ‘Deadwood meets the Lord of the Rings’ well, before I could say ‘gosh a’mighty’ I’d done gone and signed up and struck lucky. Get me a sarsaparilla!

The Last Stand of Mary Good Crowe is an alternate history that takes us to Medicine Rock, Montana.  Here, instead of a gold rush, crystals have been discovered.  Crystals with miraculous qualities, they can enhance vision, cure diseases, improve the strength and versatility of weapons and give those not afraid to drink the powdered version (with all it’s terrible side effects) the ability to converse with the dead.  As you may imagine crystals have become the most expensive commodity known to man and everyone wants a piece of the action.  Consequently miners and crystal hunters have descended like locusts upon the town, the place is a hotbed of crime and a cavalry presence at the mines is hard pressed to keep order.  Frontier towns were harsh places to live and claim jumping and back stabbing was rife.  On top of this the cavalry were tasked with delivering taxes in the form of crystal and trying to avoid ambushes.  In this respect the book brings in certain characters that readers will undoubtedly recognise but I won’t name drop here.

In terms of the plot.  Well, to put it in a nutshell, one of the wealthiest mine owners in the town has died, rumour had it that he struck ‘big’ before passing and now everyone wants a piece of the action.  The largest contender is the owner of a bawdy house and bar where gunslingers are hired to carry out their own justice on unruly customers.  Unbeknownst to all the wannabes trying to get a slice of this crystal claim, the mine owner left a will bequeathing everything to his niece.  Her arrival certainly shakes things up and her determination to go into the mines and claim the crystal is a deadly venture that she will need help with.

So, Josie Price is the heiress.  Smart but naive josie has her own secrets to keep.  She meets in fairly short order with a sharp shooter known as Reliance Reiner (or Rel).  Rel also has secrets and a hidden agenda.  The two are known to each other and make a reluctant pact to team up (although they don’t have the same goals in mind).  This brings us to Mary Good Crow, half white, half Lakota, hated in Medicine Rock but one of the best guides if you want to go mining.  Mary also has a secret.  The crystals sing and she can hear them do so.  The three set off to find the stake.

The setting.  Well, Medicine Rock is pretty much as you might expect for a frontier town but, without doubt, the show stealer here are the mines themselves.  They’re an absolute movable feast.  There are the over mined and over populated tunnels but beyond that there is a darkness that is forever moving and terrible to move through.  There are huge caverns and claustrophobic crawl spaces, ghosts and other unusual creatures. The mines are inspired indeed and there’s so much more scope still to come from them.

The other thing that I have to throw in here, simply because it really amused me.  Are the nods to Calamity Jane – well, at least that’s the way I thought of them.  I love the musical and that’s my frame of reference here.  You have a young woman who can handle herself – Mary, a young woman who arrives by coach with a wardrobe of clothes that have been handed down to her – Josie.  A gun shooter – Rel, and a man from the cavalry.  Some of these characters have a very original twist that I really enjoyed but won’t spoil.  I’m sure that I probably imagined some of the references but even so – it made me smile and I frankly loved it.

The pacing is really good.  The adventures down the mines are tense and the story takes a turn that I hadn’t seen coming.  On top of this the characters really show development as the plot progresses and I look forward to seeing where they take us next.

In terms of criticisms.  I had one little issue, but, I recognise that it’s something that is probably rather nitpicky and I’m not going to go into it here – it was just something that kind of stood up and said ‘hello’ to me but may very well be overlooked by other readers, plus it would involve spoilers and that’s not a tunnel I want to delve into too deeply right now.

In short, this is a really exciting adventure.  There’s literally never a dull moment.  Plenty of  banter, the early foundations for some strong friendships and an alternate history that has scope to offer much much more.

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

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

The Last Stand Of Mary Good Crow Blog Tour :
The bloggers for the tour:
 Monday (May 30th) – Fantasy Book Critic
 Tuesday (May 31st) – me
 Wednesday (June 1st) – FanFiAddict
 Thursday (June 2nd) – Before We Go Blog
 Friday (June 3rd) – Booknest
 Saturday (June 4th) – Novel Notions
Be sure to checkout all the other blogs.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel

My Five Word TL:DR Review: This book equals mind blown

Seaof

Words actually fail me right now – which isn’t the best start to a review is it?  I am in complete awe of this author and can’t even begin to outline how impressive this book is.  On the face of it this is a standalone story that fundamentally connects the lives of four people who share an experience through a strange anomaly, a glitch in the system if you will, that in the future will be scrutinised and investigated by a time travel agency.  Dig a little deeper and this novel actually brings together elements from the author’s previous works (definitely The Glass Hotel and also I think Station Eleven) in the most eye popping feat.  If that wasn’t enough, one of the characters is an author herself, of a post apocalyptic book that has become a bestseller.  There are so many little twists and turns in this book all finished off with a mouth dropping conclusion that is simply brilliant.

If that doesn’t intrigue you enough to delve into this author’s work then consider also that her writing is absolutely beautiful and I could easily have had a whole stack of quotes at this point but for the fact that I’m so lazy at keeping notes, especially when I’m deep in the throes of a book I’m loving.

So, I know I’m going to make a complete muddle of trying to describe the plot but here goes.  We basically meet four individuals from different times and places.  A young man who in 1912 finds himself exiled from his family who travels to Canada to start a new life.  A teenage girl from the year 1994 who is walking through a forest taking a video, a short film that picks up a strange anomaly.  Her film will be used 26 years later to accompany a musical score that her brother composes.  In the year 2203 we follow an author on an extended book tour, separated from her husband and young child and missing home.  Jump forward again to 2401 where an employee of the Time Institute is given a case to investigate – a case that will tie all these threads together.

Firstly, time travel books can be very hit or miss for me but when they work well, as is the case here, I find them thought provoking in the extreme.  With this particular story it feels like the potential to become tangled (did you read my synopsis of the plot?) is highly possible.  However, the author’s writing chops prevents that from becoming the case.  Each narrative seems to flow without either beginning or end.  I know that sounds crazy but it’s one of the thoughts I distinctly remember having whilst I was reading.  It’s magical, one minute you’re reading a person’s narrative and thoughts and then you’ve moved to another player and there’s no confusion or muddy waters, just a really elegant transition that is so smooth that each player seems to simply blend into the background or come back into focus as the story dictates, like a camera panning round and zooming in or out to capture a person or moment.  And the story doesn’t necessarily flow in chronological order but jumps backwards and forwards in time, but, again, I would stress that I never experienced any confusion.

Secondly, the author has written of a fictional author who has published a successful post apocalyptic novel that becomes even more poignant when the time in which she lives falls victim to a vicious pandemic.  Layers within layers within layers.

The settings jump about.  We travel not only on earth but on planets that have been colonised, some more successfully than others.  Planets where huge domes provide faux skies, clouds and rain and others where the technology has failed and the skies are permanently dark.

I don’t think I can add too much more.  I liked the characters.  I loved the inclusion of little elements taken from previous stories.  I thought the plot was skillfully managed and the threads all came together in an extremely satisfying way.  I think the only thing I can say further at this point is I feel like a reread is in order.

I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this book, Station Eleven or The Glass Hotel although I would stress that each novel can be read as a standalone.

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

My rating 5 of 5 stars

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

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

This week has been a lovely week and also a little bit lazy so I’ve managed to pack in quite a few books and visit a few blogs.  I’m making good progress and have started to backtrack with my own comments.

Books read this week:

I completed my blog tour book which will be posted on Tuesday.  This is the latest Rachel Aaron book : The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow which I had a very good time with.  Also, as planned, I completed the three books that I outlined last week plus an extra one: The third in the Stoker-Wilde series : Land of the Dead.  I read and loved Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandell.  I picked up Elektra by Jennifer Saint which transported me back to a time of Trojan wars and Greek myth and finally I had an absolute blast with KC Jones Black Tide which is a dark and tentacled day at the beach.  So, I have lots of reviews to post.

Next Week’s Reads:

Well, I have made good progress on the review books I’d got behind with.  I do still have some catching up but I feel a bit more relaxed now I’ve made some inroads.  This week I’m going to read some of my forthcoming review books for June and maybe still try and sneak in one of my books from the catch-up list.

  1. Hide by Kiersten White

Hide

#SPFBO 7 Wrap Up and #SPFBO 8 Introduction #WyrdAndWonder

SPFBO71024_1

First a little bit about SPFBO:

What is SPFBO?  This is a competition for self published authors of fantasy fiction.  It’s the brainchild of Mark Lawrence and its mission is :

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

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

Last year’s SPFBO competition was perhaps one of the closest contests so far with the eventual winner being revealed on literally the final day – it really was that close.

The winner was Reign and Ruin, the first instalment in the Mages of the Wheel series by JD Evans and a lovely Eastern inspired story of magic and politics with a delicious slow build romance.

Reign

I highly recommend this and look forward to reading more from the series.

Check out the finalist scoreboard here.  All the reviews are linked and there is literally something for everyone amongst these finalists.  There were also some other great books discovered during the competition and I highly recommend checking out the other judge’s blogs to discover plenty more reads to topple your tbr.

W&W

This year I’m including my wrap up and intro post alongside an event that runs during the month of May known as Wyrd and Wonder – an event that is a celebration of all things fantasy, which to me makes the two a fantastic fantasy fit. Wyrd and Wonder comes to an end on the last day of May and the SPFBO begins it’s journey on the 1st of June.  It’s a perfect fit and although the event is almost complete it’s never too late to join in.  This is the fifth year that the event has run and it’s simply gone from strength to strength. Check out the details here. (IMAGE CREDITS: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com)

So, this year I will once again be teaming up with the lovely ladies from The Critiquing Chemist. Last year was a lot of fun and we’re hoping to continue in the same vein.  In previous years I’ve tried to give a brief overview of how I intend to sort through my own batch of books.  This year I’m going to change things a little.  I haven’t fully worked out my process yet but would like to keep things flexible and loose for now.  I will certainly give every book in my batch a fair chance.  I will definitely read at least 30% and more than likely complete most of the books I’ve been allocated.  I will also provide a full review for every book I complete and a shorter synopsis for those that I don’t finish with reasonings of why that particular book might not have worked for me but might well work for others.

As with previous years I would reiterate that 300 entrants to this competition will eventually be whittled down to one winner.  Those are some tough odds right there.  My advice is to come for the competition but to stay for the camaraderie.  Reach out to others.  Make friends. Have fun.

Check out the Critiquing Chemist’s intro and book cover post here.  The cover competition has now finished and the winners can be found here.  Stop and take a look – there are some amazing covers.

Finally, a huge thank you to all the authors for entering your precious book babies into this competition, we all understand what a big step this can be and how difficult to have your work held up for such public scrutiny.  Without you there wouldn’t be a competition.

Authors we salute you!

Friday Face Off : Books with ‘You’ in the title #WyrdAndWonder

FFO

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

W&W

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

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

This week’s theme:

Books with ‘You’ in the title

Strangely enough there were fewer books than I imagined with ‘you’ in the title but I did find a few and eventually settled on No.5 of the Sandman Series: A Game of You by Neil Gaiman:

2022

Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie

Hide by Kiersten White #WyrdAndWonder Review

My Five Word TL:DR Review : I wanted to love it

Hide

I really did want to love this one and in fact had high expectations.  However, what I will say is that whilst I didn’t love it this was still a steady read and one that I felt compelled to make a rather mad dash through the pages to discover the reveal.

So Hide brings together 14 contestants who have applied to take part in a competition, the winner of which will receive $50,000.  Each day the contestants will all find a hiding place within an abandoned and now derelict amusement park.  Each day, two contestants will be eliminated.  The final contestant who remains undiscovered takes home the prize.  It sounds fairly simple, however, none of the contestants are prepared for what is actually seeking them.

What really drew me to this was the setting.  I just loved the idea of a game that takes place in an old amusement park.  I mean, the scope for an ever accelerating creep factor is just immense.  Just the thought of all those ramshackle rides, carousels with faded animals and rusted mechanics creaking menacingly, it’s too enticing.  And, I won’t deny that the setting is good, even more so because of its dark history.  The amusement park was a hugely successful endeavour until a tragedy involving a missing child saw the place closed under mysterious circumstances.  Now the stage for a strange and sinister competition with menacing undertones the place is inspired by the myth of the minotaur. The paths themselves like a labyrinth that lead to the centre of the park and the monster that awaits.

In terms of characters.  We predominantly follow one character, Mack, who has her own personal family tragedy to contend with, a history that makes her feel like a shoe-in for this competition.  Obviously we meet up with the other 13 characters that are taking part and this is the first issue that I struggled with.  Clearly it was always going to be difficult to make some of these characters feel substantial enough to form a real connection, this is also made more difficult because of the fact that as soon as the competition starts two characters per day would be eliminated so there is a throwaway element to also be considered.  However, I didn’t really find myself forming attachments to any of them.  The early entrants were basically there and then gone, we had a kind of inevitable teaming up of certain characters who then found themselves with the age old dilemma of having formed attachments but still wanting to win – well, until the nature of the competition itself was finally revealed.

I have to say that I enjoyed the writing.  This is an author that I’ve read before and I enjoy her style.  That being said, this is a book that takes the author from her usual YA genre into the adult genre and for me this still felt a little on the YA side.

In terms of criticisms.  I think a good deal of this boils down to my own expectations having gone off in the wrong direction.  I think I had notions that this would be an all out horror-fest, a kind of mindless slasher story where just a couple of survivors are left scrabbling around trying to stay alive.  As it is, there’s an age old underlying story of greed to this one that takes a look at wealth and privilege.  On top of this, in spite of the great setting and the high stakes I just didn’t really feel the tension or fear that I wanted or expected to feel.

Overall, I had no difficulty in reading this one as I was very curious about how everything would come together but it never quite reached the potential that I was hoping for.  I think maybe this also connects to the slight feeling of this erring on the side of YA and perhaps the older side of the YA market might enjoy this one more than I did.

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 : Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

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: Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young.  Here’s the cover and description:

Spellsfor

A rural island community steeped in the mystical superstitions of its founders and haunted by an unsolved murder is upended by the return of the suspected killer in this deeply atmospheric novel.

Emery Blackwood’s life was forever changed on the eve of her high school graduation, when the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her best friend, Lily. Now, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence among the community that fractured her world in two. She’d once longed to run away with August, eager to escape the misty, remote shores of Saiorse Island and chase new dreams; now, she maintains her late mother’s tea shop and cares for her ailing father. But just as the island, rooted in folklore and tradition, begins to show signs of strange happenings, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that no one wants to remember.

August Salt knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night that changed everything. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from the past that has never healed—Emery. But the town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises that span generations threatens to reveal the truth behind Lily’s death once and for all.

Evocative and compelling, Spells for Forgetting is a vivid exploration of lost love and the unraveling of a small town and its many secrets.

Expected publication : September 2022

Top Ten Tuesday : Opening first lines #WyrdAndWonder

W&W

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

Book Quote Freebie

As it’s Wyrd and Wonder all the books I used for this week’s theme are fantasy and in lieu of it being a ‘freebie’ I’m going for first line quotes from recent fantasy – let’s see how I get on.  These are all recent reads and the reviews are linked so if you are intrigued by the opening sentence then check out the review and see if the book calls to you.

Nettle and Bone by T Kingfisher – ‘The trees were full of crows and the woods were full of madmen.’

Nettle

The Girl and the Moon (Book of the Ice #3) by Mark Lawrence – ‘Yaz had walked on water her entire life, and now in this place where it fell molten from the skies they planned to drown her in the stuff.’

Girl and the

The Hunger of the Gods (#2 of the Bloodsworn Saga) by John Gwynne – ‘Orka stood in a tempest of fire and smoke.’

Hungerof

The Justice of Kings (Empire of the Wolf #1) by Richard Swan – ‘It is a strange thing to think that the end of the Empire of the Wolf, and all the death and devastation that came with it, traced its long roots back to the tiny and insignificant village of Rill.’

Justice

This Charming Man (The Stranger Times #2) by CK McDonnell – ‘The Hunger.  The damned hunger. Phillip had never felt anything like it.’

Thischarmingman

Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt – ‘Julia sees the people in the stairwell when she gets up at night to pee’

Echo

The Haunting of Las Lagrimas by WM Cleese – ‘Every night the same things happen.’

TheHaunting

The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan – ‘Thirteen-year-old Ursule Orchiere knelt in the shadow of the red caravan to watch her mother lie to people.’

GWoB

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers – ‘Just after my divorce was final, my friend set me up on a blind date.’

AWiT

Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M Valente – ‘Welcome to a new world of luxury living in Arcadia Gardens, an exclusive, upscale gated community!’

Comfortme

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

#SPFBO 8 Cover Competition

SPFBO71024_1

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

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

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

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

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

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

In relation to the Cover Competition. 

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

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

Scarlight

toaA

HellbornKing

The lich

Reign of

The World Breaker

WttSS

TFU

Falhorne

FountainGirl

Fallingthrough

EverAlice

Wherethevalle

Memoriesof

MissPercy's

Cutthroats

Crownkeeper

Theheretic

oneofone

DenofThieves

SerGhostwriter

Between ink

Elusionof

DarkHilarity\Asteriu&

The Hidden Blade

AKing's Radiance

TheAgeofFire

HIGH RES Cover

BloodofCrows


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

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

 

Which covers are your favourites??


Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

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

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

Books read this week:

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

Next Week’s Reads:

  1. The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper

thehouse

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

FFO

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

W&W

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

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

This week’s theme:

Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow

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

2022

May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie

Can’t Wait Wednesday : What Moves the Dead by T Kingfisher

CWW

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is: What Moves the Dead by K Kingfisher.  I’ve just read my first Kingfisher novel, Nettle and Bone and absolutely loved it so very keen to read more by this author.  Here’s the description and cover:

Whatmoves

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

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

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

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

Expected publication : July 2022

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

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

thehouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My rating 5 stars

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

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

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

Books read this week:

The Night They Vanished

TheNight

Next Week’s Reads:

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

Friday Face Off : A favourite book to film #WyrdAndWonder

FFO

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

W&W

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

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

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

This week’s theme:

A favourite book to film

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

2022

May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie

The Night They Vanished by Vanessa Savage

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

TheNight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My rating 3.5 of 5 stars.

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

CWW

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

EvenThough

Check out the description:

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

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

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

Expected publication : November 2022

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

W&W

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

Nettle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My rating 5 of 5 stars

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

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

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

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

Books read this week:

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

Next Week’s Reads:

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

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

FFO

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

W&W

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

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

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

This week’s theme:

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

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

I’ve decided to compare two different sets:

2022

May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie

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

W&W

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

Girl and the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My rating 5 of 5 stars

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

Posted On 4 May 2022

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 4 responses

CWW

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is: Ithaca (Penelope #1) by Claire North.  Ancient Greece – oh yes, sign me up!  

Ithaca

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

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

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

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

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

Expected publication : September 2022

Top Ten Tuesday : One Word Reviews, #WyrdAndWonder

W&W

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

One-Word Reviews for the Last Ten Books I Read

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

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne – Brilliant

Hungerof

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

Reign

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough – Compelling

Insomnia1

The City of Dusk by Tara Sim – Mixed

Cityof

Last Exit by Max Gladstone – Mind-bending

Lastexit2

Sundial by Catriona Ward – Unputdownable

Sundial

Gallant by VE Schwab – Unexpected

Gallant

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley – Twisted

ParisApart

The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn – Interesting

The hemlock

The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan – Gripping

Justice

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

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

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

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

Hungerof

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

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

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

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

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

That is all.

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

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

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

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