Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

SorceryofThornsSorcery of Thorns is one of those books that felt like it was written just for me.  I had such a good time with this book and couldn’t put it down.  It’s this wonderful combination of spirited MC, plenty of action, witty dialogue with laugh out loud moments and well – just everything.  I loved it and it put me on a book reading high.  Plus I wanted to speed to the end but also didn’t want to ever reach that point.  I could literally read this again, right now.

The thing is, this doesn’t include a magical library so much as magical books.  They have feelings, some of them are grumpy, some of them are evil and they all communicate with our main character.  We book lovers have a way of talking about our books as though they really are characters don’t we?  We discuss our TBRs and how the books on there  ‘wait patiently for us to pick them up and crack open the pages’.  Well, here is a story where the character not only talks to the books but feels their emotions.  It’s like a dream come true to be honest – although I think some of my books would have long since given up talking to me, they’d be sulking too furiously or probably trying to throw themselves at my head in a desperate attempt to garner some love and affection.

Listen to the hype about this book people.  It’s real.

We start off by making the acquaintance of Elisabeth as she’s about to undergo something of a scary task – the delivery of a grimoire to the Great Library where she lives and is apprenticed to become a warden.  Elisabeth has lived in the library for as long as she can remember.  Left on the doorstep as a youngster she was accepted into its folds by the Director who took a shine to her because of the way her face lit up when she saw the books.  She now endeavours to become a Warden at the library although her mischievous nature doesn’t always win hearts.

A bit of background.  Austermeer is a place where sorcery exists but is regulated.  Grimoires are kept locked away in the five great libraries and are only broken out of their chains upon special request.  Grimoires are precious but also dangerous, they can, with the slightest damage, easily transform into havoc wreaking monsters known as Malefics and this is, in fact, exactly what happens one evening when Elisabeth is awoken in the dark of night and finds a Malefic on the loose.  Acting quickly to prevent bloodshed Elizabeth stops the terror in its tracks but then finds herself accused of instigating the crime and taken to the City to be investigated.  Nathaniel, a sorcerer himself, and his butler, are set the task of bringing Elizabeth back for questioning.  Now, Elizabeth has been brought up in a very small, self contained environment, led to believe that sorcery is the root of all evil and so she thinks that Nathaniel will take this opportunity to kill her in some sort of ‘accident’ but Nathaniel is the least of her worries.  The politics, treachery and polished society of Austermeer are far more of a threat and it soon becomes evident that a much bigger plot is afoot.

I couldn’t even begin to count the ways in which this worked for me but here’s a snapshot.

Firstly the characters.   Elisabeth is like a breath of fresh air, a bit gangling and clumsy even, not refined in particular but she’s just good fun, a bit plucky and not always worrying about her appearance or thinking about how she fits in.  She’s clever too and quite capable of getting herself out of a spot plus she’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind.  Then there’s Nathaniel.  The sorcerer who, yes, does become the romantic interest but, let me be clear, the romance isn’t the main focus of the story, although the chemistry on the page was so compelling that I probably wouldn’t have complained even if it had, and Nathaniel is not only great mind candy but his way of speech is downright entertaining, I found myself laughing at his dialogue all the time.  But, the absolute show stealer is Silas.  A demon no less.  OMG – I loved Silas.  He’s a demon with impeccable manners and fashion sense.  I just couldn’t get enough of this character.  He is wicked and and makes no bones about telling people not to trust him but I just loved him and want more.

Then there’s the dynamics of the relationships.  Firstly there’s the pop and sizzle between Elisabeth and Nathaniel which really was just lovely to read.  Elisabeth starts out with lots of prejudices, she comes across as the country mouse to Nathaniel’s sophisticated city mouse and although it takes a little while she eventually starts to see that she’s been living in something of a bubble.  Many things have been misrepresented to her and so what starts out with a pride and prejudice feel on her part finally comes down with a bump when Elisabeth begins to understand that she’s not been told the complete truth.  Then there’s the Batman/Alfred the Butler feel, or more appropriate maybe Howl and Calcifer feel, to Nathaniel and Silas’s relationship  So, so good.  Did I already mention that – well, one more time couldn’t hurt.  These two have known each other forever and they have that easy feel of being there for each other, second guessing what’s needed, and ignoring each other quite willfully.

The writing is really persuasive.  It’s easy to visualise.  The libraries are beautifully described.  The characters all stand on their own two feet and the dialogue is great to read.  The pacing was also really good, I maybe had one slight lull after the dramatic start but I think that might have been driven more by my own impatience to get to the meat of the story.

And, the action is highly entertaining.  There are coach chases (this being set in what feels akin to the Regency period), all sorts of drama involving breaking into libraries, necromancy, sorcery and a jaw dropping finale in the Grand Library that I’m not going to tell you more about – because of spoilers obviously – but that I loved – it was brilliant.  And that ending.  What?  No.  Give me more.  NOW.  Ahem, I’m shouting now so it’s probably time to leave this alone.

Basically, in case I came across as a little shy with my feelings – this book was just brilliant.  I adored it and in fact, even with that tiny little lull this book gets the full 5 star treatment.

So, the burning question I suppose is do I now need to rush out and grab a copy of An Enchantment of Ravens??

My thanks to the publisher for granting me a copy through Netgalley.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating : 5 stars

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Nocturna (A Forgery of Magic #1) by Maya Motayne

Nocturna“Set in a Latinx-inspired world, a face-changing thief and a risk-taking prince must team up to defeat a powerful evil they accidentally unleashed.”  I loved the sound of this book and was so excited to pick it up but, to be fair, and to get it out of the way quicky, this one didn’t really work out for me and I’m not one hundred percent sure why so this will be a fairly short review I think.

As the story begins Alfehr is returning from a three month absence to his home.  He’s in the bad books with his parents and is delaying the inevitable repercussions following his disappearance.  Prince Alfehr is, following his older brother’s assassination, next in line for the throne and not only is he not keen to pick up the duties he’s also not convinced that his brother is actually dead.

Meanwhile in a slightly seedier part of town we make the acquaintance of Finn – a thief with a difference.  Finn can change her face which makes her pretty difficult to catch as nobody ever really sees her true face.

Alfehr (Alfie) and Finn are about to meet at an illegal card game where the stakes are very high. Alfie is hoping to win a set of black market magic books to try and find some leads about his brother and Finn is hoping to secure the same books.  The two cross paths and things start to go wrong from there onwards.   When Finn is given a job that involves thieving at the Palace their paths cross again and this time the Prince makes a disastrous mistake unleashing evil upon the world.

In terms of the things I liked I have to say the writing was very good and the story intrigued me enough to keep me reading until the end.

I think my main problem with Nocturna was that I failed in the first instance to connect with the two main characters.  I don’t really know why but they just didn’t work their magic on me and this meant in turn that their adventures along the way felt lacking in tension and fell a little flat – basically I didn’t have that feeling where you’re scared that one of your main characters might be hurt.

On top of this I didn’t really get a feeling for the place.  This is a Latinx inspired world but it didn’t feel massively different to me and perhaps that’s because I had unrealistic expectations going into the read – although I don’t think the main character having the nickname Alfie really helped with this.  I liked the magic and thought that it had some very inventive aspects to it but it felt a little too easy at some points and then failed at times when it was desperately needed..

In terms of pacing.  This is something of a slow starter so you need to have patience going in.  The plot does change tack following the ‘incident’ and the focus deviates when the Prince has to take action to try and rectify the mistake he made.  In fact this is one aspect that I meant to mention above in terms of the two main characters.  I think that the author certainly manages to do a great job in portraying the youth and naivety of the two main povs.

Overall, Nocturna didn’t work out for me for a number of reasons during the read but mostly because of my lack of feelings for the two main characters.  I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage anyone else from picking this up.  It could be a mood thing on my part and of course I’m not the target audience so perhaps it felt too young for me overall.  I’m sorry that this didn’t work for me but I will certainly keep my eye on this author in the future.

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

Rating 3 out of 5

 

 

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Paternus: War of Gods (Paternus Trilogy #3) by Dyrk Ashton

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is :  Paternus: War of Gods (Paternus Trilogy #3) by Dyrk Ashton.  This is high on my list of anticipated books – due out in Fall so not too long to wait now and just check out this fantastic cover:

WarofGodsLET SLIP THE GODS OF WAR…

The highly anticipated final installment in the critically acclaimed, epic urban fantasy series, The Paternus Trilogy. Coming Fall 2019.

 

Books on my Summer reading list

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

Books On My Summer 2019 TBR

Last week’s theme was ‘anticipated reads for the rest of the year’.  Today’s post allows me to highlight some more highly anticipated reads that are scheduled in for my Summer reading.  So, another easy week where I literally just lifted the next ten upcoming reads from my schedule and posted them here.  I will also, of course, be starting my Self Published Fantasy Blog Off books as of the start of July but I haven’t listed them here for two reasons – firstly, I haven’t yet drawn up my schedule and secondly, I will be posting my first six books as soon as the competition gets underway.  So, here are some of my summer reads:

Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

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Priest of Lies by Peter Mclean

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The Toll by Cherie Priest

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The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

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This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar; Max Gladstone

This is How

Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham

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Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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Shadows of the Short Days by Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson

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Lord of Secrets by Breanna Teintze

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Missing Person by Sarah Lotz

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The Whisper Man by Alex North

Posted On 24 June 2019

Filed under Book Reviews
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The WhisperI think the best way to start this review is to state quite simply that I loved The Whisper Man.  It’s really that simple.  It scared me and demanded my full attention and on one particular evening whilst I was reading (or devouring) it I completely lost track of the time and everything else going on around me faded into the background.  I was in my own little reading bubble, and when the bubble finally popped I found myself quite alone. The darkness had set in and I was the last one to bed.  So…., yeah, I had to turn the lights off and like a big girlie wuss I had a serious case of the heebie-jeebies.  This  involved me doing that mad dash thing where you have to switch off the light, run across the room, banging into various pieces of furniture with your big toe along the way, followed by an Olympian style dive onto the bed so that the monster underneath can’t grab you by the ankle, then finally cocooning yourself in your bed covers so that not a single piece of you is exposed and you’re nearly suffocating in the process. That, my friends ,is the effect this book had on me.  Reduced to a quivering scaredy-cat.  Did I mention that I’m a wuss though?

This is a thriller with supernatural elements.  The sort of thing though that can be explained away if you really put your mind to it – I’m not talking vampires and shapeshifters here.  More the hint of things.  Its an impressive debut and the main elements of the story revolve around every parent’s worst nightmare – the abduction of their child.

As the story begins we follow a young boy as he makes his way home alone.  Neil is a lonely boy, not entirely happy and prone to lash out on occasion. Strictly speaking he’s a little young to be making his own way home unaccompanied, but, it’s broad daylight after all.  Unfortunately Neil’s remote path home is being watched and he’s about to pay a terrible price for his solo journey.  Neil is abducted and two months later the police are no further forward in finding him.

Meanwhile, Tom Kennedy is about to move home with his 7 year old son Jake.  Tom’s wife has passed away and the family home holds too many painful memories.  He’s still trying to cope with the loss of his partner whilst also getting to grips with the fact that he’s now responsible for bringing up his son alone.  At the same time Jake desperately misses his mother and suffers nightmares about the day she died.  He seems to have acquired an imaginary friend and sometimes the exchanges between the two don’t seem altogether friendly.  So the two pack up and move to Featherbank.  What a wonderful name for their new home.  It sounds positively welcoming doesn’t it – comforting even – you’d think you’d be able to relax in a town called Featherbank and yet the harsh truth is that around 20 years ago this small town was home to a serial killer who abducted and murdered five young boys.  Known as the Whisper Man, because he lured his victims out at night by whispering through their windows, he has now been caught and imprisoned.  However, this latest abduction has brought back memories from the past, particularly as elements from the original case still remain open and haunt the detective who was in charge of the original investigation.

I think that’s probably enough to give you the general idea of what’s going on here.  Featherbank is haunted by it’s terrible past and still holds secrets, Tom is haunted by the loss of his wife and the guilt he feels about not being a good enough parent to his son and Jake is haunted by his imaginary friend and the memories he’s trying to avoid.  It’s only a matter of time before things start to unravel.  Secrets and lies have a way of coming out – they want to be discovered.

Why did I love this?  It’s just an excellent combination of suspense and fear.  It’s one of those stories that has you holding your breath while you read – or wanting to hold a cushion in front of your face like you do when you’re watching a movie – everybody does that don’t they?  It gets off to a great start, the characters are easy to get along with and there’s this overall sense of menace.

There are a few different POVs which I thought worked really well here, you spend time with Tom, with his son and with two of the detectives and the thing is – all the characters are easy to like.  Tom and Jake are very quirky and are only just starting to form a meaningful father/son relationship, they’re both sad and they’re both holding back their feelings from each other.  The two detectives were also easy to get on with.  One a young ambitious female, keen to learn and desperate to find the missing boy and his abductor before it’s too late and the other a slightly jaded chap who struggles to keep the bottle and his own personal demons at bay.  They make a very interesting bunch to read about and I can genuinely say that I enjoyed all the different voices here.  No groaning or eye rolling here when the POV chapters switched.

The world building.  Well, this is a modern world so there’s no need for extensive world building really.  I liked the easy way that Featherbank is brought to life though and also the cunning way that the author actually makes you realise that you never really know what’s going on behind closed doors.  It’s a bit of a chilling thought which I really wish hadn’t occurred to me – but now it’s in my head so I thought I’d share it with you – you’re welcome.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I guess there’s a few cliches thrown into the mix – but nothing that was out of control or spoiled my enjoyment.  I think the ending was a little bit sudden – but then I think that’s a feeling I quite often experience so I’m starting to think that’s a ‘me’ issue really, maybe I’m a bit greedy and always want more.

Overall though, I can’t fault this.  It was a gripping read.  There were certain vibes that other readers will no doubt pick up on – can I just say Silence of the Lambs and Sixth Sense – but, at the same time, let me stress that those are really red herrings because this book is nothing like either, more it has whispers of them (see what I did there!)  Do I recommend this – oh yes.  I hope I’ve not oversold the scary factor here – I know die hard fans will probably take this in their stride but I can genuinely say that this scared me and I definitely advise readers to pick it up during daylight hours. And, on the other hand, readers who are easily scared – well, I’m easily scared too and I thought this was just great so I think you will too.

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

Rating : 4.5 stars out of 5.

 

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