Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday PostI’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 last year 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:

Last week

I completed and reviewed The Mask of Mirrors.  I also started and finished The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell (review to be posted this forthcoming week).  I’m also 50% into Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest which I’m buddy reading with Mayri over at the Bookforager.  I’m also listening/reading to We Lie With Death by Devin Madson.

Next Week

I’m hoping to complete We Lie With Death and start listening to the audio version of Paternus: War of Gods by Dyrk Ashton.  I will also be reading my SPFBO book Nether Light by Shaun Paul Stevens.  Ambitious?  Perhaps a little bit – let’s see how I get on.  Something about the best laid plans.

Reviews Posted since last Sunday:

  1. Mask of Mirrors by MA Carrick
  2. Pawn’s Gambit by Rob J Hayes

Forthcoming Reviews:

  1. The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell
  2. Ink and Sigil by Kevin Hearne
  3. Shiver by Allie Reynolds

What’ve you been up to the past week?

Friday Face Off : An Alien Encounter

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 week’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’m currently linking up with Vintage Sci-Fi and if you also want to link up then please do so but this isn’t a requirement simply my way of highlighting events.  This week’s theme:

An Alien Encounter – ‘we come in peace’ or maybe not.

This week I’ve gone for another vintage sci-fi book and one that I haven’t read yet but have picked up for the Vintage Sci Fi event this year – and I may be able to squeeze it in before the end of the month.  The Time Traders by Andre Norton.  Have you read this one?  Did you enjoy it.  Anyway, here are a few of the covers:

My favourites this week :

Do you have a favourite?  And have you read this book?

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

Next week –A favourite classic or vintage sci-fi.

2021

January

Vintage Sci-Fi month – if you’re taking part you could try and find some vintage style covers

29th – A favourite classic or vintage sci-fi (or use any favourite sci-fi cover)

February

5th – A Book with a romance that you enjoyed

12th – Furry – a beast, something cuddly, or a fur covering

19th – Serpentine – could be a snake, could be a snake-like font, could be a snakeskin style cover

26th – A book with ‘Magic’ in the Title

March

5th – March is named for the Roman God of War – a Roman style cover or a cover with a God or Gods or simply a book about war

12th – Middle Grade – choose whatever pleases you

19th – Ruin or derelict, old and worn, could be the book itself, a building, a place

26th – A picture within a picture

April

2nd – A train or tram – travelling down the track, could be old style, futuristic, overhead, down below.

9th – Cartoonish or graphic

16th – I have to have it – a cover that gave you ‘grabby hands’

23rd – Your current read (if it has covers to compare) or any recent read

30th– A series that you love – highlight all the books in the series

May

Month of Wyrd and Wonder

7th – A Series where the cover changed midway through – which style do you prefer most

14th – The earliest fantasy you recall reading – or the first fantasy book you really loved, maybe the book that kickstarted your love of fantasy

21st – The Top Hat

28th – The Hood

June

4th – The nose boop – any animal, or human, with a close up shot.

11th – A cover that annoyed you and why

18th – Out of Perspective, or make you feel a bit dizzy

25th – Upside down, back to front or topsy turvy

July

2nd – A book with a landscape you’d like to visit

9th – A Wicked Grin

16th – Books with ‘book’ in the title

23rd – A Black Hole – could be in the universe or going deep into the ground

30th – Chaos – maybe too much going on in this one

August

6th – “They cluck their thick tongues, and shake their heads and suggest, os so very delicately!” – The Motel

13th – A favourite holiday read

20th – Dressed to kill (could be literally someone dressed to kill, or someone dressed up for a big night out

27th – Sunbathing or on the beach

September (RIP event)

3rd – 1920s feel, noir detective

10th – I’m Henry the Eighth I am – let’s look at Kings or other Emperors/rulers

17th – Books with ‘Murder’ in the title

24th – A favourite thriller

October

1st – A Halloween read

8th – Chills – anything at all that almost makes you too scared to pick up the book (your own pet hate)

15th – Your favourite book of magic

22nd – Books with ‘Queen’ in the title

29th – Must be gothic

November – Sci Fi Month

5th – Your earliest sci-fi read or the first sci-fi you reviewed

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

19th – Futuristic vista

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

December

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

10th – A fairytale retold

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

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

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

The Mask of Mirrors (Rook and Rose #1) by M.A. Carrick

My Five word TL:DR Review : This was absolutely my catnip or I can’t wait for more

MaskofI absolutely loved this, it’s a sumptuous novel that took me places I really didn’t anticipate.  I couldn’t help thinking of The Gentleman Bastard series whilst reading it but this is the female version of Locke that I hadn’t realised I needed in my life.

At a whopping (almost) 700 pages this might not be for everyone but it worked perfectly for me.  A fantastic combination of solid worldbuilding, captivating characters and intriguing plot I just loved it  Fast paced this may not be but nonetheless it won me over with ease.

Mask of Mirrors is a slow burn story that takes its own sweet time to build up the people and place before turning into a fairly dramatic and jaw dropping finale.  And, there’s a reason for that.  This is a story with plenty of characters, all with complicated names and in fact nicknames and an intricate plot that turns into a spider’s web of tangled threads and both these elements take time to become firmly rooted.

At the centre of the story is a character known as Ren (at least for the purpose of this review that’s the name I’m going to use) who, at the start of the story is embarking on her opening  gambit to become part of one of the noble families of the city of Nadežra.  Aided by Tess the two have planned a long con with much at stake.  Ren’s beauty coupled with the stylish concoctions that Tess can whip up on a budget will not be enough though.  Ren needs to make herself invaluable to the family.  Unfortunately, in doing so not only does she become more deeply involved with surrounding characters, each with their own political or financial motivations but she also runs the risk of forming attachments.  Basically, without giving too much away or going into the plot any further I can say that Ren is not the only person with something to gain and in fact her con is, relatively speaking, only a small fish in a larger pond.

I’m not sure if I have the right end of things with my assumptions about the setting but for me this story played out in an alternate Venice (maybe during the late renaissance although tbh I’m not a history buff so that could be completely off the mark) with nobles vying for power whilst the poor struggle against oppression.  There is much talk about charters and merchants, skiffs, elaborate masks and fashion and all the names sound Italian.  In terms of history.  Following war between Vraszan and Nadežra, a peace treaty was signed pretty much leaving the Nadežra nobility in control.  Five ruling families make up the Cinquerat (a controlling Council) with each family having a specific responsibility, for example Caerulet is responsible for anything relating to the military and also oversee the Vigil (known as the Hawks – the Vigil keep law and order).  As you can imagine keeping in favour with these families is highly desirable for the other noble families.  Magic is used in two ways.  Items can be imbued, so for example, Ren’s make-up is imbued to make her disguises seem more polished and to last longer without smudging or wearing off.  Numinatria is a form of geometry based magic whereby Inscriptors channel power using numbers and gods (this is greatly over-simplified on my part).  There is a long history here and suspicion and unrest runs rife between the Vraszenians and the Nadežra, particularly surrounding different religions and traditions not to mention the Nadežra nobility ultimately controlling everything.  I think you can see that there’s a lot to take on board and I’ve only barely scratched the surface here to be honest – but, I think the length of the book lends itself well to getting all the different clans and factions across and, just be aware there is both a glossary of often used terms and a very useful list of ‘Dramatis Personae’ which would be useful to check out before reading (can’t help thinking this would be more useful sitting at the start of the story though).

The key characters here are Ren and her two associates, the members of House Traementis (the family that Ren is hoping to infiltrate), the Rook, an unknown outlaw and hero of the poor folk, Grey Serrado, a captain of the Vigil who is investigating not only the continuing disappearance of a number of street children but also an explosion that caused the death of his brother and finally Derossi Vargo, a businessman keen to leave his dodgy past behind.  Did I mention that this is a complex web.

What I really loved about this.  Well, the attention to detail that gives a very strong sense of place.  The writing flows well and dealing with such a lot of ideas, strange names, customs, etc, without the need to constantly dump huge swathes of information is impressive.  I loved a number of the characters, including ones that are maybe a bit dodgy.  It’s an impressive concept that is very well executed and managed to create for me, not only a jaw dropping moment of surprise about half way through but then went on to make my eyes pop out as things went from ‘what the hell’ to ‘all out crazy’.  There is tension and intrigue, politics and backstabbing and it’s all played out against a fabulous backdrop with a degree of thought that is awe inspiring.

In terms of criticisms.  Okay, I didn’t really have any but that doesn’t leave me immune to certain aspects that I would mention here.  Firstly, this is not a book that you can rush through.  I found myself rereading some chapters and that’s not a fault of the authors but lies at my own door because I was trying to read too fast without really absorbing the information I was being given.  I can’t deny that sometimes the need to read quickly becomes very real when other review books are sitting in judgement of you but this is a book that needs your full attention and, no two ways about it, it isn’t a speedy read.  Secondly, this is complicated and highly detailed.  This is personally an aspect that I love but feel it deserves a mention because some people are not fond of this particular style so be aware.

This book is positively sumptuous and given the ending I can’t wait to see what the second instalment brings.  The Mask of Mirrors is a book that lived up to my expectations in every way, in fact I think it surpassed them by throwing in a couple of surprises that I didn’t see coming at all.

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

My rating 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Empire of the Vampire (Empire of the Vampire #1) by Jay Kristoff

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 : Empire of the Vampire (Empire of the Vampire #1) by Jay Kristoff – because VAMPIRES – okay, I had a spell a few years ago where vampire books were flooding the book stores and becoming something of a muchness.  Having quietened down for a while I think I’m ready now for a good vampire book and check out this description below (it doesn’t yet have a final cover but I couldn’t resist using this when I saw the blurb):

“From holy cup comes holy light.
The faithful hand sets world aright.
And in the seven martyrs’ sight,
Mere man shall end this endless night.”


EmpireTwenty-seven years have passed since the last sunrise, and for almost three decades, the creatures of the night have walked the day without fear. Once, humanity fought bravely against the coldblood legions, but now, we exist only in a few scattered settlements—tiny sparks of light in a growing sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León is the last of the Silversaints, a holy order dedicated to defending realm and church, now utterly destroyed. Imprisoned for the murder of the vampiric king, Gabriel is charged with telling the story of his life.

His tale spans years, from his youth in the monastery of San Michon, to the forbidden love that spelled his undoing, and the betrayal that saw his order annihilated. Most importantly, Gabriel will tell the story of the Grail—the legendary cup prophesied to bring an end to the eternal night, whose location is known to a single person: A smart-mouthed teenage urchin named Dior.

Their journey with a band of unlikely allies would see Dior and Gabriel forge an unbreakable bond, and set the broken paragon on a road to redemption.

But now, the Grail is shattered. And with the cup of the Redeemer destroyed and the last Silversaint awaiting execution, what can bring an end to this undying empire?

Expected publication : September 2021

TTT: Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To

ttt

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

Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To 

Ten books that I meant to read – add another zero to this and it’s probably closer to the mark. Okay, maybe slight over exaggeration but not much of one. I didn’t read nearly as many books as I would usually do last year. I’m going to choose a selection of books that got beyond me during the course of the year which includes bought and review titles:

The Midnight Bargain by CL Polk

Midnight

A Chorus of Fire by Brian D Anderson

AChorus

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

TheMercies

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Theonlygood

Feathertide by Beth Cartwright

Feathertide

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Sundown

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs

WhatLies

The Island Child by Molly Aitken

TheIsland

Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe

Owl and the Tiger Thieves by Kristi Charish

Owl

 

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