The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse

Posted On 11 October 2018

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TheburningThe Burning Chambers is a book I read a few weeks ago but I’m late reviewing (apologies to the publisher and author in that respect). In a bid to catch up with my errant reviews I’m trying to keep some of my late reviews a little more short and sweet.

I enjoyed The Burning Chambers, I’ve read a number of books by Kate Mosse and sometimes I’m really just in the mood for this author’s particular style of historical novel.

Once again, The Burning Chambers takes us to the Languedoc region of France and plunges us into the middle of the religious wars between the Catholics and the Huguenots.  This is a fascinating historical period and one that the author is clearly knowledgeable and enjoys writing about.  The main plot involves a mystery that begins when the main protagonist, Minou, receives a note that simply states ‘she knows that you live’.  I’m not going to delve deeper into the plot as there are plenty of helpful reviews already out there.  The blurb for the book is here if you want more information about the book or author.

What I particularly enjoyed about this book was the writing style and the way Mosse evokes the period with descriptions of everyday life. I always feel that I’m able to immerse myself fully into the place and the period when reading her work and it makes the read that much more enjoyable. These were frightening times.  Neighbour speaking out against neighbour and the fear and tension so heightened that almost anything could be taken the wrong way.  People lived in fear, unable to trust anyone, and that really comes across here.  I’ve visited Carcassonne and Toulouse which provide the two main settings for the story and it was really great to visit them again in a different period through the pages of this book.

I felt that once again Mosse gave us a strong and easy to like female character.  Minou has her head screwed on well.  She’s sensible and cares for people in general – not just family but others who she perceives to be in need – and is keen to help.  In fact it’s this side of her character that first leads her to meet Piet – who is himself on a dangerous mission.  She loves her family and will take risks in order to protect them.  I had no problem in finding myself drawn to Minou and being scared about what would happen to her as she ran head first into danger.

Alongside Minou is another female character, something of a religious zealot who thinks that God speaks to her.  This woman will go to great lengths to achieve her aims and in fact I was surprised by just how single minded and ruthless she was.

In terms of criticisms.  Nothing that prevented me from enjoying the read but I would mention that this feels more like historical romance, there is an element of mystery involved, particularly in terms of family secrets, but I felt like the unlikely romance between two people from different religious stances stole the limelight a little.  I missed, a little, the dual timeline that I expected – which is my own fault as there was no indication that there would be a dual timeline and with that missing I probably didn’t enjoy this quite as much as Labyrinth.

Also, not a criticism, I would mention that this isn’t a fantasy novel.  I only point that out as my reviews more often than not lean towards fantasy or magical realism so I don’t want people to pick this up expecting that element.

Overall, this delivered exactly what I expected and wanted.  An entertaining historical read, wonderfully evocative and a read that I was able to sink into and enjoy.

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

 

 

 

 

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Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Everlasting Rose (The Belles #2) by Dhonielle Clayton

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Everlasting Rose (The Belles #2) by Dhonielle Clayton.

Everlasting RoseIn this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, Camille, her sister Edel, and her guard and new love Remy must race against time to find Princess Charlotte. Sophia’s Imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep the rebels from returning Charlotte to the castle and her rightful place as queen. With the help of an underground resistance movement called The Iron Ladies-a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely-and the backing of alternative newspaper The Spider’s Web, Camille uses her powers, her connections and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orleans.

Expected publication: March 2019

 

No Sleep till Doomsday (Dru Jasper #3) by Laurence MacNaughton Review + Giveaway

no sleepToday I’m reviewing the third (and possibly the final) instalment in Laurence MacNaughton’s Dru Jasper series plus I’m very pleased to offer a giveaway – so check out the information at the bottom of the post if you want to chuck your hat into the ring – because who doesn’t want to win free books (especially when they’re this good)??

This is a series that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.  It’s a popcorn read for sure but if you’re in the mood for a blast of fun with a bunch of crazy characters racing around trying to save the world then this is going to be just the ticket.  Grab yourself a seat and some snacks and settle in to the Dru Jasper series.  My reviews for book 1 and 2 are here and here, All of the stories so far have been self contained and in that respect I think can be read as standalones and please be aware of potential spoilers before reading the following.

I must say that No Sleep wasted no time whatsoever in racing into the plot.  There was no build up here but an all out dash from the starting gate as the most recent threat to the world began it’s countdown.  As the story starts Dru’s crystal shop is broken into and an ancient artifact stolen by somebody who seems to be a crystal sorceress – which is very surprising as it appeared up to this point that Dru was the only one.  This sorceress is incredibly powerful though.  At the same time Rane and Salem are attacked by a huge bat and Salem loses his defensive amulet in the melee that ensues.  A number of other coincidences feed into the story and sightings of other unnaturally large beasts on a similar scale to the bat.  Something is about to go wrong and Dru and her crew seem to be outnumbered and outmanoeuvred.  Still, what they lack in strength and magical ability they more than make up for with their cheery disregard for personal safety and grim determination against the odds.  The gang need to find the Apocalypse Scroll but in order to do so they need first to find a way to all get along and work together.  Not easy when one of the gang is possessed.

What I love about this series is the characters.  Every book has added extra layers and made me fall a little more for them – all of them to be honest.  Dru.  She comes across as a bit dippy, a tad insecure maybe but she is actually deceptively strong willed and incredibly loyal.  Her own abilities have increased considerably and with them her confidence has grown.  Greyson on the other hand seems to be suffering something of a confidence crisis.  Sure, he’s definitely the eye candy of the piece and Dru becomes a babbling mess whenever she’s in his presence, but, his power is a result of the demon that possesses him.  If the demon goes he’ll return to being a regular guy won’t he?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Greyson loves the whole demon, red eyed, easy to flare up into a temper possession but, it does make him different, and powerful.  And it comes with a beast of a car – Hellbringer.  I love this car.  It’s truly developed a moody and almost dog like persona as it stalks the streets protectively with it’s engine growling.  Then we have Salem and Rane and their fiery on/off relationship.  Salem I guess is the character that you’re not supposed to really like.  He tries particularly hard to remain aloof and contemptuous of the others, although to get back to the dog analogy his bark seems to be worse than his bite in that respect.  He really doesn’t trust Greyson and thinks it’s only a matter of time before the demon takes control.   The only person he has any affection for his Rane.  Rane and Opal, Dru’s stalwart friends – both so very different and yet such good friends.  I love these two.  Rane’s ability to change into any number of different materials or metals just fascinates me – as does all the mention of the crystals and what they are used for and Opal brings a certain stylish attitude to the cast.

So, you see what the author did.  He went and created a bunch of characters that have only gone and worked their magic on me and it makes me happy.  A series I would definitely have no hesitation in recommending.

I realise I’ve not said much about the plot or world here.  Well, the world here is a modern one so easy to envision and the plot – well, I think I could be forgiven for saying that the plot is another ‘stop the evil person and save the world’ storyline which is much the same as the first two books.  However, don’t be put off by that it’s not a criticism.  There’s plenty of creativity, crystals, muscle cars, and death defying rescues not to mention giant bats and other creepy critters.  the relationship between Dru and Greyson is becoming much more concrete and the strong bonds of friendship are further strengthened.

For me, this is urban fantasy the way I love it.  The series has gone from strength to strength and I’ve formed strong attachments to the characters.  On top of this there is just plenty of fun.  It all feels a little tongue in cheek, it’s definitely not taking itself too seriously and it gives me a sort of Scooby Doo/Wacky Races vibe but in written format and for grown ups.  The only thing missing here is somebody shaking their fist and saying “darned pesky kids”.

I’m not sure if this is the end of the series or not.  The story is, as with the previous books, self contained, but I think there is scope for more yet to come.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed in that respect.

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

GIVEAWAY

The lovely people at Pyr have generously provided two copies of No Sleep Till Doomsday for a giveaway.  This is international, you don’t need to follow me or any such.  Just leave me a comment below if you would wish to be entered into the competition or leave me your twitter handle and I can let you know when the winners are announced, or leave me your email.  The competition is open for one week.

Don’t be shy and don’t forget you have to be in it to win it!

For more information the Goodread’s page is here.

Good luck everyone.

 

 

‘The bigger they are the harder they fall’

ttt

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

Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

The page counts are approximate so don’t hold me to them!  And, I think these are possibly the longest books I’ve read although It’s equally possible that I’ve forgotten one or two here and there.  I suspect that we may all share a few books this week:

  1. JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings 1200 pages (Not sure if this one really counts because technically speaking this is three books.  But, I read it as a whole so I’m going for it.LOTR.jpg
  2. Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson just over 1000 pagesWoK
  3. A Song of Ice and Fire by GRR Martin just over 800 pagesAGameof
  4. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell over 1000 pagesGoneWTW
  5. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Duman1276 pagesthe count of
  6. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke 1006JonathanStrange
  7. The History of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding over 900 pagesThe history of Tom Jones
  8. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey over 1000 pagesKushiel
  9. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova 700 pagesThe Historian
  10. American Gods by Neil Gaiman over 600 pagesAmerican Gods

 

 

 

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail ofThe short and sweet version of this review is that I really loved Trail of Lightning and I can’t wait to read more of Maggie Hoskie’s adventures in this post apocalyptic world.  For a debut novel this is most impressive, gradual and layered world building, great pacing and characters that really do jump off the page.  For me, Roanhorse manages to introduce myths and legends in a way that breathes heart and soul into this world and not only that she makes you like the characters.  There may be gushing.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter.  As the story opens she is enlisted to help find a young girl who has gone missing.  This is a world where Gods and monsters roam with abandon and when Maggie finally catches up to the girl, high in the mountains, her abductor is much worse than she had anticipated.  A golem like creature, terrifying and difficult to kill but on top of that is the realisation that a powerful witch created this monster and Maggie needs to find out why.

I’m going to keep my description of the plot to the above.  There are plenty of reviews for this book that already do a fine job of outlining the storyline.

Why I loved this?  Threefold.  (1)  Characters that are flawed.  They make mistakes.  They feel real.  The story slowly reveals their histories and that makes them relatable.  In a nutshell they’re not perfect, but then who is.  I loved these characters. On top of that  great chemistry, between the two central characters. I’m not a romance reader (not a judgement call just personal preference) and yet I loved the relationship that began to bloom in this book.  None of that instalove that I find so irritating but a realistic build up of feelings that can’t be denied.

(2) Great worldbuilding.  This is a world where climate change has devastated the world and a cataclysmic event known as the ‘Big Water’ not only raised the water levels but at the same time released magic, gods and monsters.  Some of the clan members found themselves with certain abilities, related to the heritage of the person’s clan, in this case Maggie finds herself with certain powers.  However, most people don’t consider these powers a gift.  They’re more like a curse and in Maggie’s case they’ve lead to her living a rather isolated existence, shunned by most of the clans.  This is a fantasy world inspired by Native American myth and culture and it’s a world that I found fascinating to read about.  I was literally hooked to this book and in fact I was really disappointed when I reached the end.  I wanted more.

(3) The writing.  I don’t know how to put it into words other than to say the writing here just works for me.  There’s a perfect balance of creativity and description.  There’s a light touch and an expectation that readers will go with the flow.  For example Maggie.  She comes across as hostile, frosty even – she pushes people away and I guess at the start it makes her something of a puzzle.  I love that Roanhorse doesn’t try to rush in with explanations to make you like her immediately but instead leaves things to develop at a natural pace so that you can make your own mind up gradually.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, to be honest, I’m so enamoured by this book that I can barely recall anything and I’m not overly anxious to scrabble around to come up with things.  I think that the plot played second fiddle a little but, honestly, I think this is near damn perfect for me.

People, believe the hype.  In this case it’s all well deserved.

An incredibly entertaining novel, and an introduction to an author that I will definitely read again.  A gritty and fascinating world and a tough and yet at the same time vulnerable protagonist that I can’t wait to get to know better.

I bought the audio version of Trail of Lightning and it was brilliant.  I practically spent two full days with earplugs in ignoring my family until I reached the conclusion.  The narrator was Tanis Parenteau.

 

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