Friday Face Off : The Hood #wyrdandwonder

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’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:

 The Hood

May is the month of Wyrd and Wonder so for the FFO themes I’m choosing fantasy books.  This is my last FFO that links to the Wyrd and Wonder event – I cannot believe we’re almost into the month of June.  I’ll be writing a wrap up post shortly for what books I read this month.

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I was looking forward to this week.  I read quite a few fantasy books and hoods are quite often used on covers.  I could do a medley but I already did a medley last week so instead I’ve chosen a very recent read and in fact the winner of the most recent Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition.  The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson is a very good book that I heartily recommend, and, unusually (for self published books) it has three covers to choose from  all with hoods.  Feast your eyes on these:

My favourite this week:

TLW2

Do you have a favourite?

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

2021

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 Blacktongue Thief (Blacktongue #1) by Christopher Buehlman #wyrdandwonder

The Blacktongue Thief is one of the books I’ve read as part of the Wyrd and Wonder event (details here) and what a creative wonder this book was.

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My Five Word TL:DR review : Fast paced, inventive, fantasy shenanigans

blackImagine that somebody put all the fantasy tropes in a big bag, shook it up and then upturned the whole thing.  A hot mess of mediaeval style fantasy might be picked from the ensuing chaos.  A quest, if you will, filled with reluctant heroes, witches, trolls, giants, goblins and much, much more.  Now, flavour that concoction with some fantastic creativity, a dash of horror and a healthy glug of humour, stir wickedly and the result is a rich stew of delicious delights.

Yes, I enjoyed The Blacktongue thief, it’s a very entertaining read that runs the full gamut of emotions.  It had me laughing out loud one moment and then staring in horror the next.  Never predictable, fast paced and I must say I can’t wait to read more from this world.

I’m not going to delve too deeply into the plot – in fact I’m not going to go there at all.  To be quite honest the plot feels almost inconsequential in some respects and in fact we, much like the main character, remain in the dark for a good portion of the story.  That isn’t to say there’s a lack of action or motivation to propel the characters forward – more that it’s not the most important aspect and it’s a story that has a number of twists which is another reason I’m not going to elaborate.  Let’s just say, the characters have a need to travel from A to B but will go through a circuitous route that will involve C, D, E and F along the way.

Instead I’m going to chat about what worked for me with the Blacktongue Thief.

Well, firstly let’s take a look at the title which refers to the main character, Kinch Na Shannack, otherwise, thankfully, known as Kinch.  Kinch is from Galt where the people are born with a black tongue.  On top of this particular characteristic Kinch has a lucky streak, a very curious reading ability and a lot of charm.  Kinch has been trained as a thief by the Taker’s Guild.  Of course they don’t take on this burden of training out of generosity.  They expect payment and Kinch is in debt.  I could say his debts force him into a life of thieving but as he’s been trained in the arts that’s hardly the case, he always expected to take this route, its more that his debts have simply pushed him to desperation – which is where we find him when the book begins, sitting in a tree, with an arrow knocked, and a bad feeling inside waiting for a most unlikely victim to come strolling through the trees ahead. The early chapters see Kinch set out on a path, at the behest of the Guild, that team him up with a warrior known as Galva.  Galva is on a quest of her own.  She has secrets and at least one very cool surprise.  Along the way they gather a couple of other companions.  Most notably Norrigal, a witch in training who becomes something of a love interest as the story develops.  And a blind cat known as  Bully Boy who also has surprises in store.

The thing is.  I liked these characters.  I found them easy to read about, I cared about them as the story progressed and I really enjoyed the unusual aspects that each of them bring to the story.  I mean, there is literally never a dull moment with the Blacktongue Thief and the characters seem to ricochet from one outrageous situation to the next.  Which isn’t to say that this is too ‘busy’.  It’s just incredibly creative, full of magic and myths and with a number of genuinely laugh out loud moments that offset events that could otherwise become too grim.

I really enjoyed the writing and in fact I have another book (horror) by this author which I’m now dying (no pun intended) to read.  I mean, there’s a lot of gallows humour here not to mention a sort of tongue in cheek feel to certain elements.  Like I said above, the author seems to have a determination to fit everything into this world, witches, kraken, adventures on the sea, deserted islands, flesh eating goblins, and such a lot of little details that help to strengthen the sense of place, and yet this is all accomplished with apparent ease, it doesn’t feel overdone or cluttered and the world building is great – the history of the wars, songs, games, etc. all infused with enough  unique ideas to help it carve out it’s own little niche in the fantasy world.

I will just point out that this book isn’t shy of a bit of cursing and certain elements where you can really see Buehlman’s experience of writing horror coming into play. I don’t say that to put anyone off.  This isn’t horror as such, just a bit bloody on occasion.  For example, I never expected to read about such an unusual tug of war and its gruesome outcome!

Overall, I had a remarkably good time reading this one.  If I had any criticism at all it would simply relate to a slight feeling of being a little lost just over half way through, a feeling which ultimately relates to the meandering journey that the characters end up on and a fleeting sense of not quite understanding where the story was going.  To be honest though, I actually think that this was intentional on the part of the author.

The conclusion provides a great set up for the second instalment and I look forward to seeing where the author takes the story next.

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

My rating 4 stars.

Wyrd & Wonder : Event recap #WyrdAndWonder

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IMAGE CREDITS: Flaming phoenix by Sujono Sujono | Decorative phoenix by Tanantachai Sirival

June is here and didn’t that rush up on us, probably because we were having such a great time taking part in Wyrd and Wonder.  I had a fantastic time, I didn’t necessarily stick to plan but I had some good reads, joined in the readalong and kept my eye on all the daily challenges.that were sweeping/swamping twitter.

So, check out my post pre event to see what my original schedule looked like  – this was maybe a little ambitious and I didn’t totally stick to it but I did okay and enjoyed my reads:

  1. The Goblin Emperor  by Katherine Addison – the readalong book. (Short recap of my thoughts to follow soon)
  2. Night Of The Dragon by Julie Kagawa (reviewed)
  3. The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso – I’m 30% into this one
  4. The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (reviewed)
  5. The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison – just completed, review to follow
  6. Silver in the Wood (The Greenhollow Duology #1) by Emily Tesh (reviewed)
  7. Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton (reviewed)
  8. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix – review to follow

Finally, I’d like to thank our lovely hosts imyrilLisa and Jorie.and say how much I’m looking forward to taking part again next year (too soon?)  Seriously, though, see you all again for another Wyrd and Wonder next May.

 

Silver in the Wood (The Greenhollow Duology #1) by Emily Tesh #WyrdandWonder

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IMAGE CREDITS: Flaming phoenix by Sujono Sujono | Decorative phoenix by Tanantachai Sirival

SilverMy five word review: Green man myth beautifully reimagined

Silver in the Wood is a book I picked up for part of the month long event Wyrd and Wonder (details here).  This book wasn’t on my original schedule to be honest, but rules and schedules are meant for breaking.  I saw this, I wanted it, I bought it, read it and here we are. Simples.

This will be a short review for a short and beautifully written story.

The story centres on a character known as Tobias Finch.  A giant of a man, wild and woolly with twigs in his hair (or is his hair twigs?), who lives in a small cottage set deep in the forest.  A cottage that is impossible to find unless Tobias and his protective dryad allow it.  Tobias is the Green Man of ancient myth.  He roams the forest (like an ent) protecting the flora and fauna.  He’s feared and revered by the local folk although in essence he is a gentle character.  His world is changed when a young and beautiful man called Henry Silver enters his domain and steals his heart.  Of course there is more to the tale but I don’t want to give too much away.

The writing is what made this story for me.  Tesh is a talented author and I love her descriptions of the forest.  I wanted, and indeed did, immerse myself fully in the place she has imagined.  On top of this there is a lyrical feel to the writing which is exactly what I expect and long for when I’m reading a retelling – in fact a fairytale retelling because this book does include a fae character known as Red Fay.  This is the sort of story that makes you want to wander into the forest and see things with fresh eyes, is that a face in the bark of that old tree? Did you just see something dart into the stream out of the corner of your eye?  It’s a book that takes you back with almost childhood wonder to a time when stories were much more simple but, at the same time, it’s a story that really looks at some of the darker elements and early beginnings of those childhood tales.  There is darkness here which isn’t to be underestimated so be aware, or, beware.

There’s also a feeling that everything is much more than it is.  Not a great description I realise, but for example the names.  They all feel like they lend themselves to the tale and in fact feel like they have much deeper meanings.  Tobias Finch, Henry Silver, Bramble, Fabian, Greenhollow Wood.  They don’t feel like names simply pulled out of a hat – they lend themselves to the story and the descriptions and give it more power somehow.

I’m not going to say too much more.  This is essentially a love story, a tale that is dark and foreboding that concludes on a hopeful note.

In terms of criticisms.  Like with all short stories and novellas, well, I wanted more and in fact I think the story told here really demanded it, particularly given the style of writing.  If this had been written more in a simple fairytale style the shortness would have been easier I think but, for me, this is screaming to be given more page time which had it been forthcoming would have given the characters and their feelings more depth.

Slight criticisms aside this was a very quick and satisfying read, even if it did leave me, like Oliver, wanting more.

I bought Silver in the Wood and the above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 out of 5 stars

I would definitely pick up more books by this author.

 

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison : readalong, final week #wyrdandwonder, #TheGoblinEmperor

ReadalongGE

Today is the final week in the readalong for the Goblin Emperor and things are certainly hotting up.  This is part of the Wyrd and Wonder event taking place during the month of May.  The details of Wyrd and Wonder are here and the readalong details are here.  As always, beware of spoilers which will be lurking.

Here’s the reading schedule at a glance:

  • Week 1: Wednesday 6th May, Chapters 1 through 9
  • Week 2: Wednesday 13th May, Chapters 10 through 17 (end of part 2)
  • Week 3: Wednesday 20th May, Chapters 18 through 26 (part 3)
  • Week 4: Wednesday 27th May, Chapters 27 to End (part 4 & 5)

Lisa at DeerGeekPlace is hosting the readalong .  The questions will be posted weekly in  a Goodreads group page, and will also be tweeted out weekly from the @wyrdandwonder account using the hashtag #TheGoblinEmperor, as well as the standard #wyrdandwonder tag.  so without further ado – to the q&a

Let’s start with Maia’s grandfather! What do you think of the Avar, and his budding relationship with Maia?

I really enjoyed this aspect of this week’s reading.  It felt like they took almost shy steps to begin with but eventually their relationship developed so well and I can’t help thinking that will make such a huge difference in relationships with the goblins moving forward.  Avar was very easy to read – a real force of nature tupe character that swallows up page space as soon as he arrives on the scene.  And, finally, I loved that he left a small army contingent behind to look out for his grandson.  Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

Another plot against Maia is foiled… Were you surprised by the reveal of Tethimar as the one behind the late emperor’s murder? And what are your thoughts on this reveal, in light of the way this part of the story played out?

I wasn’t so much surprised by Tehimar’s involvement in the plot but I was surprised at his method.  It seemed a little crazy storming the dais with a knife – a death wish by any other name really.  In fact, I’d say the plots against Maia were probably, for me, the weakest part of the storyline.  I think I was expecting something with some thought or subtlety – that being said I guess Tethimar was driven a little crazy with hate.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very, very happy that neither plot succeeded but I was a bit surprised at the weakness of both attempts.

For all of the enmity that’s shown to him, our emperor has a much more hopeful nickname by the end… Looking back, are you satisfied with/pleased by the way Maia handled all of these situations in which he had to make or break relationships? Was there anything you were left questioning or that you feel should have gone differently?

Maia is the absolute star of the piece.  I love the way his character has grown during the course of the book.  I love the way he handles himself, others and situations.  He is genuinely caring and even when he lacks confidence his interactions are a joy to read about.  He’s strong when you least expect it and also forgiving.  I can’t help but notice how everyone has warmed up to him, he even turned the ‘we can’t be friends’ issue on it’s head and found a compromise.  And I especially like the ending with the bridge analogy.  The bridge became something much more than a structure.  It helped Maia achieve confidence in himself, it demonstrated his progressive attitude to change and to listen and it also worked as a comparison with the bridges he was building with others.  Even when he acknowledged that he wasn’t able to build bridges with everyone.

I went into this read not really knowing what to expect and ended up loving this.  This is not a sweeping epic drama, it’s much more character focused and Maia is a great character to read about.  I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Thanks to Wyrd and Wonder for this fantastic month long love of everything fantasy and also to Lisa for hosting this readalong which definitely gave me the motivation I needed to pick this up.

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