Top Ten Tuesday : New to me authors from 2019

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:

 Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019

This week my list is all about ‘new to me’ authors.  I read quite a lot of new authors in 2019 and so it was difficult to chop this list down to 10 but here are the books that really stood out at a glance:

  1. The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
  2. A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by CA Fletcher
  3. Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young
  4. Westside by WM Akers
  5. A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
  6. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

  7. Strange Practice by Vivien Shaw
  8. Ration by Cody T Luff
  9. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow
  10. Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein

The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy #2) by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

ShadowSaintThe Shadow Saint is a solid instalment in the Black Iron Legacy series.  No suffering from the dreaded ‘middle book syndrome’ to be found amongst these pages, and although this was a read that took a little time to fully grab my attention it really is another very impressive book.

Firstly, I would point out that as this is a review for the second book in a series you might want to be aware that potential spoilers may be lurking, I do try to avoid these but sometimes they’re determined to break out regardless of my intentions.  Also, without doubt, if you’re planning on picking up Shadow Saint you need to have read Gutter Prayer first.  This book is quite different in a couple of ways from the first book.  The main characters are mostly new although some of the previous cast do make appearances, and although there was plenty of world building in the first book, given the ending, it feels like we’re learning about the place all over again.  Conversely, given those two elements, you would think you’d be able to pick this one up as a standalone but I would strongly advise against doing so.

What both books have in common is a need to read at a pace that allows thought and reflection.  There is no blasting through these pages just as there wasn’t with the first book.  This is, dare I say, a convoluted read.  Guerdon is in the throes of political upheaval and there is much posturing and party political hobnobbing not to mention the potential threat of war increases the tension dramatically.  In fairness I wasn’t really a fan of all the campaigning and matters of state and this aspect of the story, coupled with the new characters slowed me down quite a bit at first until I became more involved in the story and started to understand what was really happening.

Similar to my review of Gutter Prayer, I’m not going to elaborate on the plot.  There will be plenty of other descriptions out there not to mention the cover blurb and given the covert nature of a lot of the story I’d sooner not go there.

In terms of the characters this time we have two new faces, a spy with many identifies and a Haith noble who seems to be somewhat disgraced in the eyes of his family.  We also follow Eladora who appeared in the first book and is Cari’s cousin.  All of them are easy to read about and feel fully fleshed out but I admit it took me a while to really get on board with them and that’s probably my own fault.  I think I naturally assumed, or wanted, more of the old faces from The Gutter Prayer and so these changes at first made me feel a little resentful and I had to get over that before I could really start to care about the fates of any of them. Cari was my favourite and that’s probably because I enjoyed where her story led to in more ways than the other two.

Once again the writing is just excellent and the imagination is, frankly, superb.  I really enjoyed the elements of the story surrounding Cari and the creative ways that she managed to elude capture and traverse the city.  It’s really difficult to say anything more about that aspect because it would involve spoilers but I really loved it whenever she made an appearance.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, as already mentioned, this certainly isn’t a fast paced read.  There are political machinations and lots of double dealing and back stabbing and, as with any story with more twists and turns than a busted corkscrew, it can sometimes feel like walking up a sand dune or trying to run in water but, at the same time, I have to say, stick with it.  I think my own impatience got the better of me at times but that’s an ‘it’s me not you’ thing really.  Sometimes you just need to slow down and enjoy the book, stop worrying about deadlines and the like and let yourself become fully immersed.  It may have taken me a while but I eventually got there.

In conclusion, I probably didn’t love Shadow Saint as much as Gutter Prayer but it was still, without doubt, a very good read with some fantastic elements that I absolutely loved.  I wasn’t as keen on the politics of the piece but the dark undertones, the tension and the world building were really good.

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

Rating 4 of 5 stars

 

 

 

 

Weekly Wrap Up : 12th January 2020

A little later than planned here is my weekly wrap up.   This is in fact my first weekly wrap up of 2020, I’m still catching up following my two week Christmas break.  So, this week I’ve read two books.

Here’s my week in books:

  1. The God Game by Danny Tobey – I loved this and my review can be found here.
  2. The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy #2) by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

What I’m reading next week:

  1. The Other People by CJ Tudor
  2. The Woods by Vanessa Savage
  3. Crownbreaker by Sebastien deCastell

Upcoming Reviews

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Queenlayer by Sebastien DeCastell
  3. The Absinthe Earl by Sharon Lynn Fisher
  4. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
  5. King of Assassins by RJ Barker
  6. Where Gods Fear to go by Angus Watson
  7. The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy #2) by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

Friday Face Off : “Live long and prosper.” 

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.  This week’s theme:

Vintage sci fi – “Live long and prosper.” 

A lot of the new themes are open to interpretation which might make choosing the covers and seeing other’s choices very interesting.  I can’t stress enough that this is all about your own interpretation and hopefully this new open feel to the meme will bring a larger selection of books and covers.  It’s not supposed to be hard work, there are no rules, just enjoy yourself.

This week I confess I’m not entirely sure what I had in mind – but, hopefully everyone will put their own spin on this.  Thinking of living long and prospering I’ve gone for a modern sci fi book that’s all about finding new planets to colonise.  This was a good read, very different from what I expected but very good.  And, whilst this is a new book it has a cover that feels vintage so I wanted to use it.  This week I’ve gone for Semiosis by Sue Burke.  As with last week, not a lot of covers but one in particular feels quite retro:

Semiosis3

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  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 😀

Next week –  Horizon – remember, this doesn’t need to be a vintage cover, I’m using sci fi themes because it’s Vintage Sci Fi month.

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  

2019

(2020 – January is Vintage SciFi month so I’ll be including possible themes to take that on board.

17th January – Horizon – “Your “beautiful” ship killed its crew, Doctor.”

24th January – Chinese New Year – Year of the Rat – this could be a chinese style cover, something with a rat or rates, or any interpretation that comes to mind.

31st January – First Contact – “Ack, Ack, Ack, we come in peace”

7th February – Lion- “Is that a lion with horns and a pitchfork?”

14th February – romantic – “thus with a kiss I die”

21st February – meringue – the puffy dress? – Lots of covers with ‘big’ dresses

28th February – Leap Year – One Ring to rule them all – A cover with a ring

6th March – Skeleton – them bones, them bones, them dry bones…

13th March – Exotic – ‘That which yields, is not always weak”, a place, a person, a flower – anything that represents something from distant lands.

20th March – Brown – a cover or covers that are brown

27th March – Freebie – choose one of your favourite covers

3rd April Fools – a trick of the eye – a cover that is more than meets the eye.

10th April – Moody – a cover that is atmospheric,

17th April – out of focus – double vision or all a blur

24th April – Armour – ‘“Pretty armour doesn’t make a warrior.”

1st May – Canine – “And then there were cats, thought Dog.:

8th May – graphic novel cover – “Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel”

15th May – pink – as pink as cotton candy – any cover that is pink

22nd May – Sorrow – a cover that makes you feel sad

29th May – Silhouette – an island, a person, anything you like

5th June – Flight – any type of flight – to flee, to fly

12th June – The bodice ripper – exactly as it seems

19th June – Time – time waits for no one

26th June – Windows – windows to the soul?

The God Game by Danny Tobey

Posted On 9 January 2020

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 11 responses

TheGodGameThe short version of this review is that I really enjoyed The God Game. It was fast paced, a little bit crazy in parts, quite scary in others, totally addictive, in fact virtually unputdownable and it took me completely by surprise because whilst I liked the blurb for the book the combination of high school, geeky nerd squad and insidious AI just really wowed me.

So.  The game revolves primarily around five characters who call themselves the Vindicators.  They’re all slightly (okay very) geeky and their little club like to pull silly stunts, nothing too over the top and certainly nothing dangerous or that will threaten their future prospects in terms of college prospects and the like.  The main character is Charlie and the rest of the club are Peter, Vanhi, Alex and Kenny.  In fact, thinking about it now the characters are really what makes this read for me.  They’re good friends but at the same time they all have secrets that are starting to see that friendship splinter slightly.  There are small jealousies and insecurities and it’s these elements that are very much played on to propel the story forward.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Basically, the five become involved in a game known as G.O.D.  This is a game that promises great rewards.  All their dreams could come true.  Of course – the COULD element of that promise is really the focus in my opinion.  At the end of the day there’s no such thing as a ‘free lunch’ and the group are about to find out how easily they can be sucked into danger and how quickly their friendships will start to fray as they’re pitched against each other.

Like I said, the characters really made this for me.  There are so many secrets and hidden agendas that the five of them are a foregone conclusion for easy manipulation. The game starts off with such promise.  Played through their smartphones the five become hooked almost immediately to what they think of as a harmless game that shows things in a slightly different light, creeping vines and strange creatures inhabit this space and the virtual world that surrounds them is exciting and fun, at first.  Well, having said that, the game is pretty sneaky and this can be seen almost from the get go, it works pretty quickly at splitting the group and giving them individual tasks and before they all know it, they’re deep in its clutches.  This is when things go seriously pear shaped.

In terms of setting, this is a modern setting and easy to visualise, the majority of the story takes place in the high school setting with all the usual shenanigans that this brings.  There are the usual cliques, the beautiful ones, the ones good at sport, the nerds, etc, and the story includes social commentary on various aspects of high school such as bullying, stress, exclusion, relationships involving abuse.  Things are not always what they seem and the author successfully brings other characters into the story with ease.

The characters that make up the Vindicators are a mixed bag.  Charlie seems to be the linchpin of the group.  His mother died a year ago and his school work took a dive as he struggled to cope, particularly with his father suffering to hold things together.  He shared a pact with Vanhi to try for Harvard but that dream seems to have long since broken.  Peter is the mystery element of the club.  Good looking and enigmatic he’s the most recent addition and has already caused a slight change in the hierarchy that hasn’t gone completely unnoticed.  Alex is one member of the group who seems to be really struggling.  He suffers from low self esteem and is constantly second guessing how everyone feels about him which is made worse by his home situation which is far from ideal.  The only character that I got less of an attachment to was Kenny – not because he was unlikable at all but I just didn’t really come away with much strength of feeling for him as a character – but, there are plenty of characters to choose from here so Kenny could certainly be a favourite for other readers even though he didn’t really jump off the page for me.

The only real negative for me was a slight feeling of the game becoming too chaotic in the later stages.  I almost become over soaked if you will.  Things escalated quite quickly and as a reader it felt there was just too much going on – it gave me a feeling of ‘how come the adults are so unaware of what is really going on’ – but then at the same time there is a credibility to this – do parents always know where their children are or what they’re doing?  And, do children always confide in their parents or go to them for help?

Overall however, and slight niggling issue aside, this was a gripping read that kept me hooked.  The pace was great, the characters were flailing around like headless chickens as the game sucked them into it’s machinations and there was a great feeling of rising hysteria.  I thoroughly enjoyed this and have no hesitation in recommending it, there is a definite need to suspend your disbelief a little but then I didn’t find this an issue at all, I read about dragons and dwarves so cunning AI is an easy stretch.  And on top of that the ending is deliciously twisted – but obviously I can’t share that with you.

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

I would rate this 4.5 of 5 stars for GRs.

 

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