Nettle & Bone by T Kingfisher, #WyrdAndWonder : Book Review

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Wyrd & Wonder is a month long celebration of all things fantasy check out this post for everything you need to know.  This month I will be posting predominantly about fantasy books in all its guises.

Nettle

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Fantastic, I absolutely loved it

Fairytale style stories are absolutely one of my favourite reads and I’m always on the lookout for more.  This is an author that I haven’t read before but have wanted to do so for quite some time and now, with the benefit of Nettle and Bone under my belt, I can genuinely say that I will be visiting all her previous books.  I loved this book so much.  It’s full of everything that I enjoy, it’s got elements of old fairy tales but as the same time feels unique.  It takes us on a wild ride to a far away kingdom.  There are princesses in distress, people who can talk to the dead, a dog that came back to life, amazing characters and the beginnings of a sweet romance.

As the story begins we meet Marra as she strives to complete an impossible task, we then backtrack to discover how she found herself on this quest and find ourselves in a small kingdom, far, far away, where the Queen, striving for the safety of her people, arranges a political alliance with a much larger neighbouring kingdom in the North.  The first Princess is given in marriage to the Prince but unfortunately meets with an untimely death.  Hoping to remain allied the second Princess is wedded to the Northern prince and the third Princess is sent to a convent (basically being kept in reserve in case the fate of the second Princess follows that of the first).  Marra is the third Princess in the tale and far from being unhappy at being sent to the convent she thrives in this world where she is permitted to complete regular tasks and use her intelligence to help others.  I won’t elaborate too much here other than to say that Marra becomes aware of the cruelty of her brother-in-law and strives for a way to save her sister.

To cut to the chase the characters here are a strange but lovable bunch.  Marra is a great character to read.  She’s warm and loving, intelligent and quite forward thinking.  She is determined to help her sister at any cost and although her mission is basically a recipe for disaster for all concerned she makes herself press on.  She is aided on this quest by a dust-wife and her demon-possessed chicken.  A crotchety old woman who can converse with the dead and whose pockets are filled with an odd collection of potions, string and other strange items.  I loved this character.  What a fantastic creation she is, I would definitely read more about her adventures.  We also have a Fairy Godmother who is in denial about her true magic – but I won’t say more about that here.  Agnes was the Princesses’ Fairy Godmother, granting the three ‘good health’.  She joins this eclectic crew and finds friendship where she least expected.  The two final members are both given a second chance in life.  Fenris is a disgraced warrior who is rescued from the Goblin Market and becomes loyal to Marra and determined to help.  The two have a lovely chemistry and a slow burn romance that is both naive and captivatingly charming.  Finally, the bone dog, a quirky, fun, crazy, reanimated dog skeleton that has forgotten that he ever died and likes to lick his nether regions – even though he doesn’t have nether regions! Or a tongue for that matter.

The plot is really good and the pacing just excellent.  There’s always something new and intriguing which prevents this becoming too much of a simple A to B quest style story.  I mean, fundamentally, it is a quest story and the characters do spend time going here and there but there are so many new encounters that the story feels fresh and exciting.

On top of this, although you may be thinking that a fairytale type story might lack depth, this is a wonderfully layered story.  It draws on well known tales and yet manages to give things a new twist.  The author manages to create interesting backstories for the places and also comes up with plenty of new and imaginative creations.  The Palace in the North, for example, is a fascinating place with a huge haunted catacomb full of former kings, their wives and children and a few other hideous surprises.

In terms of criticisms.  I haven’t got any, it’s that simple.  I loved this book from beginning to end and whilst, technically speaking, this is a quest with a deadly motive the characters are so warm and lovable  that the dark endeavour they pursue feels less dark than it otherwise might.

Overall, a fantastic read and one that I can’t recommend enough.  Plus that ending.  Tears and laughter.

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

My rating 5 of 5 stars

Wyrd & Wonder banner image credit: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com

The Girl and the Moon (Book of the Ice #3) by Mark Lawrence #WyrdAndWonder : Book Review

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Wyrd & Wonder is a month long celebration of all things fantasy check out this post for everything you need to know.

Girl and the

My Five Word TL:DR Review : What the f**k just happened

To be honest I’m in two minds writing this review.  One is that you simply have to read all of Lawrence’s books to understand the magnitude of what he achieves in this third instalment of the Book of the Ice series.  There are a number of reveals and little surprises included here that were great to read with the benefit and hindsight of having read Lawrence’s other books.  At the same time I do appreciate that the idea of backtracking through so many books can be off putting for some readers in which case I would say simply pick up the series that most appeals to you and enjoy it for what it is.

If I’m going to be perfectly blunt I’m both dazzled and dazed by this third instalment.  It is without doubt mind blowing but at the same time it makes me feel like I might need a reread.  It makes me think of the film Interstellar (hear me out).  I love that film but I feel no shame whatsoever in admitting that I needed to watch it at least three times before I really felt I’d grasped everything – and when I say ‘everything’, let’s be honest, I probably still missed things.  In a very long winded way what I’m really trying to say is that Lawrence’s creation rewards patience by delivering a stunning work that encompasses multiple genres and a long picture that is cunningly clever.

You may be pleased to know that I’m going to keep this review fairly short(ish) which is not a reflection on the book but an admittance that spoilers could easily and inadvertently be dropped at this stage in the story and I have no desire to deprive readers of surprises along the way.

The story kicks off virtually where book 2 left off and we find Yaz and her companions in danger of losing their heads!  I won’t elaborate on that point but can say that the action and pace is intense from the get-go.  Yaz and her friends are embroiled in a desperate race to save their world and staying alive would also be nice.

We return here to the Corridor and the Convent of Sweet Mercy where novices are trained in the deadly arts and this is where our companions go, for a while, in two separate directions.  I loved this part of the story, the strange conundrum that happens to one party whilst the party that remain behind help us to revisit the Convent once again seeing it through their amazed ‘eyes’.

As with all the books I’ve read by this author his writing is just my catnip.  I love the way he writes and I’m not simply referring to the story or the plot, or even the pacing, the actual style just works for me on a very fundamental level.  It pulls me in easily and keeps me wanting to read more.  Another confession at this point – I did read until the early hours of the morning on one occasion and was so tired that when I picked it up the next day I realised that I’d have to backtrack as my brain had rebelled and although I was, technically speaking, ‘reading’ I wasn’t actually absorbing.  Again, the beauty of good writing that can entrance you so much that you’re hypnotised!

In a nutshell.  This book has so many winning elements.  A thrilling adventure.  A twisted ending.  Characters that you can love (and hate), a jaw dropping conclusion and also one that is packed with emotion and a series that manages to be fantasy and science fiction combined (which shouldn’t be a surprise when you have a former research scientist in control).  What a ride this has been, I’m not sure whether to unbuckle or not.  I feel like this ended on a note of completion but then again when you have multiple possibilities and time travel who knows.

In terms of criticisms.  A slight feeling of build up before the grande finale when it felt like things were being put into place and the pacing slowed a little but it was nice to have a breather.

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

My rating 5 of 5 stars

Top Ten Tuesday : One Word Reviews, #WyrdAndWonder

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TTTTop 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:

One-Word Reviews for the Last Ten Books I Read

For the past few weeks my reading has been reduced due to all sorts of events and also I predominantly focused on my finalists for the SPFBO competition (which has been a thrilling race that I will be writing a roundup post for soon).  For the purposes of this week’s theme I’ve used the winner of the SPFBO together with nine other recent review books and in the spirit of Wyrd & Wonder I’ve mostly used fantasy books (although the Paris Apartment is more thriller).

The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne – Brilliant

Hungerof

Reign and Ruin by JD Evans (SPFBO Winner) – Romantasy

Reign

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough – Compelling

Insomnia1

The City of Dusk by Tara Sim – Mixed

Cityof

Last Exit by Max Gladstone – Mind-bending

Lastexit2

Sundial by Catriona Ward – Unputdownable

Sundial

Gallant by VE Schwab – Unexpected

Gallant

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley – Twisted

ParisApart

The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn – Interesting

The hemlock

The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan – Gripping

Justice

It’s a lot more difficult than I thought giving a one word review.  I may have cheated slightly by including some hyphenated words.

Wyrd & Wonder banner image credit: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com

The Hunger of the Gods (The Bloodsworn Saga #2) by John Gwynne. #WyrdAndWonder : Book Review

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : Even Better Than The First

Hungerof

Almost a year ago today I posted my review for The Shadow of the Gods.  It was gushing.  TSofGs was an absolutely fantastic start to series, I gave it an unabashed 5* for the absolute joy in reading that it inspired in me.  So, how did The Hunger of the Gods stack up?  It was even better.  I don’t know how that’s possible but there you go – does that mean I rated the first book too highly?  Not at all it simply means that I’m going to have to start adding extra little stars to this series.  Be aware that this review may contain spoilers for book 1 so bear that in mind before reading.

To avoid this review turning into a dissertation I’m going to give only a brief overview of the plot here.  We continue immediately where book 1 left off with the release of a dragon God.  I mean, seriously, people, who would ever have thought that was a good idea?  But, here we are, Lik-Rifa is released and has a vision of a new age wrought in blood.  Meanwhile, Orka remains steadfast in the hunt for her son and has some fearsome company in her quest.  The Bloodsworn have their very own mission with one of their own, Varg, having his own side quest and then we have Elvar and the Battle-grim, determined to win fame and glory and make daring rescues of their own.

I mean, on the face of it, when you spell it all out in that way, it seems like there’s a lot going on here but in actual fact it doesn’t feel overly complicated or busy when you’re reading.  If anything it’s quite the opposite, it just all comes together so very well.  I enjoyed all the switches in storylines and can genuinely say that this is such an exciting read because of that.  There’s a lot of action, battles, politics and squirm-inducing critters but at the same time Gwynne takes the time to weave in the history and lore of the place and develop the characters really successfully as the story moves forward.  The motivations are all so believable and there’s an epic sense of scope, particularly when you look at the Gods.  In fact, let’s just take a moment to look at this aspect of the story.  Clearly, this won’t be the first time that seasoned fantasy readers will have encountered Gods on this scale with all the sibling rivalry involved but what I love here is that all the Gods have their own natures linked to particular animals and over time, through interactions with humans, some of these traits have been passed on – such descendants being known as the Tainted.  I love this aspect of the story and the way it changes the nature of the battles involved.

Gwynne is an author who excels at action scenes and all them are breathtakingly described.  I had my heart in my throat every time shields locked wondering whether any favourites would fall under the axe, and I’m not going to lie, this is an author who isn’t shy of killing off some of his people so don’t become complacent in that respect because anything can happen.  But, it’s not all action.  There’s wonderful moments of camaraderie and banter, or cunning snippets of other scenes playing out and weaving the story together.  The pacing is just so well planned and I loved the way that as the story progresses you have these shorter chapters that really pack a punch.  I mean in one respect, as the tension rose I found myself thinking ‘nooooooo’ when we jumped pov just as something tantalising was revealed, everything became so intense and yet at the same time I have to acknowledge it drove my reading on into the early hours with the age old ‘just one more chapter’.

I don’t know what more I can say, I feel like I’m waxing lyrical about this and I’m in danger of going overboard with the praise but I can’t help myself.  I’m having such a good time with this series that I don’t want anyone to miss out.  A fantastic storyline, amazing characters, pacing perfection, sublime writing, some downright icky characters – all I can say right now is the thing with the tongues!  Why, just why was there a need to go there?  If you love fantasy and you’re not reading this series then I implore you, do yourself a favour and get on board.  I have so much emotion right now – I’m watching Gwynne and thinking it’s going to be a long wait for the next book.

That is all.

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

My rating 5* (I would actually give it 5.5 if I could!)

IMAGE CREDITS: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com

#WyrdAndWonder – “Oh my fur and whiskers! I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!”

Posted On 2 May 2022

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W&W

I’m a little late (or absent minded) with my introductory post for this year’s Wyrd & Wonder but better late than never I always say.  Join me down the rabbit hole if you will.

Wyrd & Wonder is a month long celebration of all things fantasy be it in book, film or any other format you enjoy.  I won’t reinvent the wheel here because, besides anything else, this post includes everything you need to know and does so in a far more eloquent manner than I could achieve.  In a nutshell this is probably the most easy going and yet exciting event of the year.  Lots of people coming together to discuss all things fantasy – what more could you possibly want?  All you need to do is…

 ‘Speak Friend and Enter’

I’m a little behind with some of my reads at the moment (life having other plans occasionally) and so I’m hoping to cram lots of lovely fantasy books in this month if I can.

I’ve just finished reading an amazing book – a second in series and a series that I can’t say enough good things about.  Seriously, if you love fantasy, epic-Norse-inspired fantasy with amazing characters, Gods, battles and other strange critters you would go a long way before finding anything as absorbing.

I’m also well into the third book in a series that I’m loving by a favourite author.  I’m keeping all of this vague because I will be posting about both these books and series during the event so stay tuned.

On top of that I have a few other great reads lined up – here are a few of the covers to entice you in:

I’m going to leave it there for now.  Expect lots more posts during the month of May.  I’ll be using the #WyrdAndWonder Twitter Tag for my posts and also the lovely banner at the top of this post which has been created by chic2view.

IMAGE CREDITS: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com

Have fun storming the castle everyone. 😀

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