Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

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 from an author that I’ve read two books from already and really enjoyed so I’ve been keeping an eye out for what was coming up next : The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor.  Just feast your eyes on this:

TheBurningAn unconventional vicar moves to a remote corner of the English countryside, only to discover a community haunted by death and disappearances both past and present–and intent on keeping its dark secrets–in this explosive, unsettling thriller from acclaimed author C. J. Tudor.

Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself.

Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.”

The more Jack and daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.

But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village’s bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.

Expected Publication : January/February 2021

Top Ten Tuesday : Books On My Autumn/Fall 2020 TBR

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 On My Autumn/Fall 2020 TBR 

Fairly straightforward this week, my only problem is having more than 10 books to choose from (good problems to have right?):

 

A Wizard’s Sacrifice by AM Justice

AWizardsVictoria of Ourtown believes two things: that the bright, wandering star in the heavens is an abandoned spacecraft which brought her ancestors to this world and that destiny and the will of gods are nonsense. Vic used to scoff at stories of wizards too, until she acquired their powers. Once a warrior, now a secret wizard, she just wants to live an ordinary life and find a way to atone for the mistakes she’s made.

Ashel of Narath knows that the wandering star is the god who created humanity, but this difference of opinion doesn’t stop him from loving Vic. All that keeps them apart is a thousand miles and a tragic loss.

Lornk Korng needs Vic and Ashel to execute his plans for conquest. The fact both want him dead is but a trifling snag in his schemes. A bigger problem are the world’s indigenous aliens and an ancient enemy whose victory could wipe out humankind.

As plots and counterplots clash across time, Vic and Ashel must choose their allies carefully, or risk losing not only each other but everything they know.

A gripping tale of wizardry, warfare, and moral dilemmas unspools in a breathtaking blend of fantasy and science fiction.

 

Witch by Finbar Hawkins

WitchSet in the 17th century, a breathtaking debut, and a potential prize-winner, about the power of women, witchcraft, fury, revenge and the ties that bind us.

After witnessing the brutal murder of her mother by witch-hunters, Evey vows to avenge her and track down the killers. Fury burns in her bright and strong. But she has promised her mother that she will keep Dill, her little sister, safe.

As the lust for blood and retribution rises to fever pitch, will Evey keep true to the bonds of sisterhood and to the magick that is her destiny?

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue be VE Schwab

InvisbleFrance, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.

In the vein of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Life After LifeThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab’s #1 New York Times Bestselling Author genre-defying tour de force.

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Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

magiclessonsIn an unforgettable novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.

Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.

When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.

Magic Lessons is a celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman’s masterful storytelling

 

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers

AWitchA young woman in Belle Epoque France is cursed to relive a doomed love affair through many lifetimes, as both troubled muse and frustrated artist.

In 1895, sixteen-year-old Juliet LaCompte has a passionate, doomed romance with the married Parisian painter Auguste Marchant. When her mother — a witch — botches a curse on Marchant, she unwittingly binds Juliet to the artist through time, damning her to re-live her affair and die tragically young lifetime after lifetime as the star-crossed lovers reincarnate through history.

Luke Varner, the worldly demon tasked with maintaining this badly crafted curse, has been helplessly in love with his charge, in all her reincarnations, since 19th century France. He’s in love with Nora, a silver screen starlet in 1930s Hollywood. He’s in love with Sandra, a struggling musician in 1970s Los Angeles. And he’s in love with Helen, a magazine exec in present-day DC who has the power to “suggest” others do her bidding.

In this life, Helen starts to recall the curse and her tragic previous lives. But this time, she might have the power to break the cycle…

 

The Midnight Bargain by CL Polk

MidnightBeatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken?

 

The Nesting by CJ Cooke

NestingIt was like something out of a fairytale…

The grieving widower.
The motherless daughters.
A beautiful house in the woods.

Deep in a remote Norwegian forest, Lexi has found a new home with architect Tom and his two young daughters. With snow underfoot and the sound of the nearby fjord in her ears, it’s as if Lexi has stepped into a fairy tale

But this family has a history – and this place has a past. Something was destroyed to build their beautiful new house. And those ancient, whispering woods have a long memory.

Lexi begins to hear things, see things that don’t make sense. She used to think this place heavenly, but in the dark, dark woods, a menacing presence lurks.

With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care.

But protect them from what?

 

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow

TheonceandIn 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

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The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn by Tyler Whitesides

TheThousanddeaths“I’m hiring you to steal the king’s crown.”

Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief. Rakish, ambitious, and master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.

When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he’ll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers, and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.

But it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than fame and glory -Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilization.

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The Diabolical Bones by Bella Ellis

DiabolicalHaworth Parsonage, February 1846: The Bront� sisters– Anne, Emily, and Charlotte–are busy with their literary pursuits. As they query publishers for their poetry, each sister hopes to write a full-length novel that will thrill the reading public. They’re also hoping for a new case for their fledgling detecting enterprise, Bell Brothers and Company solicitors. On a bitterly cold February evening, their housekeeper Tabby tells them of a grim discovery at Scar Top House, an old farmhouse belonging to the Bradshaw family. A set of bones has been found bricked up in a chimney breast inside the ancient home.

Tabby says it’s bad doings, and dark omens for all of them. The rattled housekeeper gives them a warning, telling the sisters of a chilling rumour attached to the family. The villagers believe that, on the verge of bankruptcy, Clifton Bradshaw sold his soul to the devil in return for great riches. Does this have anything to do with the bones found in the Bradshaw house? The sisters are intrigued by the story and feel compelled to investigate. But Anne, Emily, and Charlotte soon learn that true evil has set a murderous trap and they’ve been lured right into it…

 

The Trouble with Peace by Joe Abercrombie

TheTroubleMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Let Them Eat Cake

Okay, that’s only four words and also maybe a strange way to start a review but tbh I think it fits perfectly with the themes in this book (nay, series) – or maybe more apt would be Cromwell’s ‘In the Name of God, go’.

This has to be one of the most appropriately named books that I can think of, at this particular moment in time at least (and funnily enough, looking back at my review of A Little Hatred I said the exact same thing about that book too – has Abercrombie been blessed by the God of Book Naming?

The Trouble With Peace is that people start to realise how dissatisfied they are with the smaller things in life that seemed less important when their lives were threatened by war.  The Trouble With Peace is that it makes heroes dissatisfied with their everyday lives, undertaking mundane tasks that are brushed aside in times of strife, longing for the sword and the blood that follows.  The Trouble With Peace is it makes people feel over confident in their own abilities, strutting around like peacocks, preening their feathers and dreaming of yet more glory (or money).  The Trouble With Peace is people forget just how bloody awful times of war really are and start to look upon such times with fondness and rose tinted glasses.  The (real) Trouble With Peace is that it’s a fleeting notion – wars happen regardless (as history shows us), bodies are hacked savagely, desperate pleas for mercy are cried out amongst the mud, blood and tears and disastrous mistakes are made.

I thoroughly enjoyed this second instalment by Joe Abercrombie.  It builds up a veritable mass of tension.  It’s thick with plots and behind door whisperings, clandestine meetings and murmurs of treason.  Of course, before you get too worried that this is all about political posturing and dastardly machinations, let me reassure you that this doesn’t lack the banter or  battle scenes that this author is renowned for and both are near the knuckle and brutal.

I’m not going to really elaborate on the plot for this one.  I will say that some books in a trilogy suffer from middle book syndrome and act purely as a platform between book 1 and 3 – this is not one of those books.

The characters we became familiar with in the first book in series are here again and this is something that Abercrombie excels at.  I might not love all these characters but I unreservedly love the way they’re written.

Savine dan Glokta is probably one of my favourites.  She is a cold blooded, manipulating so and so – I love her.  Let’s be honest, she develops a slightly more soft and fluffy side here (by which I mean she is still a manipulating so and so, but maybe a touch, a teensy tad bit, more vulnerable).  I did love the relationship that she strikes up (not going to spoil it though, my lips are sealed). It  has the feel of master and pupil to it but regardless I just liked it, it turned me into a mushy crust instead of a crusty crust.

Stour Nightfall. Let’s be honest, here’s a guy who is literally one consonant away from being sour.  This is one nasty pasty – don’t underestimate him.  Ruthless but also maybe a bit blinkered in the nonchalant way he’s drumming up enemies.

Leo dan Brock.  Here’s a character I want to shake.  He’s not a bad guy, really.  He’s downright likable but at the same time by God he’s easily manipulated.  I cannot deny that I like this character and at the same time completely despair of him. Could you be any less diplomatic!!

Rikke.  Another character that I just love to read about – okay, there are parts in this instalment where I was like ‘what?’, ‘NOOOOOOO’.  But, then again, on reflection, perhaps I needed the ‘long eye’ to see my way clear.  Her character arc is brilliant, a joy to read in fact, and probably one of those elements of the series that I should have taken notes – so I could look back and have all the ‘ah hah, I knew it!’ moments during the grand finale even if I knew nothing all along.

Orso.  Another firm favourite.  If anybody is more deserving of sympathy and understanding then I don’t know who it is.  Could he be more misunderstood?  The poor fella seems to get the brunt of everything, I swear that if he said the sea was wet he’d be lambasted and thrown into the stocks..  But, he’s becoming a lot more adept? cynical? – like anyone else I suppose, time and repetition start to make everything seem a little more commonplace and he’s started to get tired of being a small cog in a large machine.

There are obviously more characters but this isn’t a dissertation so I’ll curb my chattiness right here.

Basically, to avoid doubt, yes, I really enjoyed this.  The writing is plain good, the banter and dialogue made me want to laugh and cry, the plot is more mixed up than a bag of sand, the characters inspire love and hate, there isn’t a lot of actual fantasy elements, and in some respects it feels more like a snippet of history where the real magic revolved around basic superstition but, what can I say, this was a very fine read indeed.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

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

Kept From Cages by Phil Williams

Kept From CagesMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Fast Paced, Action Packed Adventure

Kept from Cages is an addictive read that is difficult to put down and at just under 300 pages I almost devoured this ‘monster-style’ : aka in one huge chunk swallowed whole.

Phil Williams is the author of urban fantasy series, Under Ordshaw, in which he creates a world full of strangeness and a City with a dark underbelly containing a warren of underground tunnels fairly teeming with supernatural creatures.  Kept From Cages is set in the same world but expands the boundaries and concepts and gives us something less urban  and more akin to wilderness fantasy (that should definitely be a ‘thing’).

For information Kept from Cages is the first in a duology and can be read without having read the Under Ordshaw series so if you haven’t read that series and feel hopelessly behind you can start here.

As the story begins we make the acquaintance of Reece and his companions.  They’ve clearly taken part in some sort of heist-gone-wrong and are approaching a farmhouse looking for aid.  Unfortunately, this strangely silent farmhouse is the last place likely to provide help or sustenance and in fact is the catalyst for events that see the gang racing across the country, wanted criminals, accused of atrocities they didn’t commit with a small girl in tow.

At the same time we follow a different storyline involving Agent Sean Tasker (who works for a secret agency, think along the lines of Men in Black supernatural style).  Tasker has been sent to a remote village in the Northern hemisphere where everyone has been mysteriously massacred.  The only clue to the killings comes from the lips of a dying man whose final words see Tasker racing across the world to the Congo in search of answers.

So, what did I love about this book. In no particular order.

The pacing – it really is fast and furious.  Strangely enough the author manages to create this crazy atmosphere of chaos with ever spiralling, life threatening events and yet at the same time use some sort of super power to miraculously slow things down at certain points to not only give the reader a breather but also to inject some ‘normality’ and time for character building.  It’s actually very effectively and impressively done.

The world building.  Again, the author doesn’t spend time giving flowery descriptions and yet he manages to capture an excellent sense of place using the minimum words possible.  We travel around quite a bit here, in fact the two alternate storylines take us to different corners of the world before coming together in a really satisfactory way.  I have to say I loved the time we spent in the Deep South – and the whole village on stilts idea was brilliant.

The plot.  It’s a little crazy.  As the story begins I almost felt a little lost.  The two completely different stories, the different agencies, spies and underlying corporate machinations and yet, I found myself gripped by the mystery of the massacred village and in fact the larger mystery at play here and without realising I’d jumped onboard and was held captive – but not against my will.  I became hooked.

The writing is really good.  It’s impressive to take something, that on the face of it feels almost a little ambitious, and yet to achieve a gripping story well told in such a deceptively easy way and in such a relatively short time frame.  There’s no wasted words, which is why this has such a snappy feel and I have to say there’s a good balance between storytelling and dialogue.

The characters.  The author manages to give us a variety of characters. We have the Cutjaw gang.  Reece and his musician companions and Zip – the young girl, with the strange powers, that they ‘rescued’ from the farmhouse.  We also have agent Tasker who teams up with a female assassin and her imaginary friend/conscience.  I can’t deny that the assassin stole the show a little for me.  I love kickass females and Williams excels at creating them (Lettie anyone?).  Anyway, you might expect that in such a short and punchy novel the characters would be a little lacklustre but this isn’t the case.  As I mentioned above the author does manage to capture a few moments where the pace slows down and we get to look a little more closely at the who/what/why of things.  I can’t deny that I would like a little more in terms of the characterisation but, at the same time I know that I’m hooked because by the conclusion I was worried about certain characters – and when you’re worried for the characters because you think they might die – then you know you’ve bought in.

In conclusion, this is a fast paced adventure with a twist in the tale that really surprised me and an ending that leaves me eager for the next instalment.

My rating 4 out of 5

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

#SPFBO 6 – Cover love (9)

Artboard 1
300 books           10 Judges            1 winner

The 1st of June marked the start of the sixth Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (details here.)  My Introductory post is here.  This year I’m aiming to shine a little bit of focus on some of the books either through posting excerpts to act as teasers for potential readers or through posting some of the covers and highlighting the book that way (not just for my own books but other entries).  The invitation is open to all authors from the competition – if you’d like to post an excerpt then give me a shout in the comments.

As part of the competition there was a cover contest.  The details can be found here.

So, this week’s chosen SPFBO covers are below. I didn’t have a particular theme this week and in fact just went for three covers that are very different in style but work for me personally. Which is your favourite:

Queensof

BlackStone

Nightof

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