Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton, #wyrdandwonder

W&W

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

HollowkingdomHollow Kingdom is quite literally a bird’s eye view of the zombie apocalypse.  I cannot lie that I felt slightly skeptical going into this novel, I wasn’t completely convinced about reading a book told from a crow’s perspective but this story completely won me over.  It succeeds in being amusing, cynical, a little horror filled in parts (zombie parts more often than not), fascinating and hopeful all in one little nugget of a story. Win. Win.

As the story kicks off we meet ST, a domesticated crow who loves life and humans equally.  Big Jim has raised ST to be wise to the world of MoFos and together with his dog Dennis the three make up a great team watching the world go by whilst scoffing cheetos as though they’re about to go out of fashion.  Life was perfect, right until Big Jim’s eyeball just happened to fall out one day.  The zombie apocalypse has arrived, and before you start to roll your own pair of still perfectly attached eyeballs thinking this is going to be another platform for us to witness humans madly scrambling about in search of brains, think again.  This book is totally different because it’s being told from the perspective of the animals (which isn’t to say that some zombie scrambling doesn’t take place, just it isn’t the main focus).

You can’t simply explain what zombies are to your pet dog or cat, even if you had an inkling to do so given that your brain has transformed to mush, and they have no idea why you’ve suddenly stopped lavishing attention and snacks on them and are instead trying to gnaw off their hind leg.  So, yes, unusually, this is about survival of the animals and I have to say it’s both original and highly entertaining.

I’m not going to tell you too much about the plot other than ST is on a mission.  He and Dennis, like Batman and Robin but without the capes, are about to save the world. Well, they’re about to save the pets of the world, one poodle or labrador at a time.

What I really liked about this is ST’s perspective on things.  It’s really cleverly achieved, in fact it seems almost devilishly simple and yet I suspect that a lot of thought had to go into this to make all the characteristics of the various animals feel so very lifelike and critical to the story rather than simply amusingly incidental.

On top of this the idea of ST is very well thought through, he’s in a great position to be able to help the other animals out in the wild because he’s been so clued in to many of our human ways and this makes him not only pivotal to a lot of the action but also boosts him into an almost ‘leader’ status simply by dint of his knowledge.

The pacing here is really good, there’s plenty of momentum and frankly never a dull moment.

In terms of criticisms.  Nothing really to speak of although I would use this opportunity to mention that being a book involving zombies there is bloodshed, and there is also sorrow – so be warned.

Just to be clear, this is not a grimdark story even though elements of the tale make for harsh reading.  And, yes, I realise that humour can be very subjective and someties difficult to pull off but I think the author really succeeds in making this a hopeful story told with real heart.

I listened to an audio copy of Hollow Kingdom bought through Audible and have no hesitation in recommending that format.

My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.

 

 

 

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison : readalong, week 2 #wyrdandwonder, #TheGoblinEmperor

ReadalongGE

Today is the second week in the readalong for the Goblin Emperor.  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 and I hope you’ll join in with the discussion if this is a book you’ve already read.

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 and don’t spare the horses:

So many verbal encounters. So much political muck! Let’s start with Princess Sheveän, who seemed so very outraged at the idea of the late emperor’s body being ‘desecrated’. Do you buy that as her reasoning? Or do you think she was making a scene for another reason?

I don’t really understand what that was all about tbh. I mean she seemed absolutely furious didn’t she?  Perhaps she’s hiding something or maybe she just really doesn’t like Maia and is all too eager to pounce on anything he does and find fault with it. At this point – I suspect everyone (almost).

Cala and Vedero both have some hard but pragmatic advice for Maia here: Cala’s concern is for the emperor being seen to be weak for treating his nohecharei as equals when their job is to protect him; and Vedero’s situation is different but her concern is basically the same as Cala’s. She seems alarmed at the idea that Maia might go against society and tradition by refusing to bargain for a marriage for her. How do you feel about these scenes, and the conversations between them? Are they being too harsh and/or cynical, or is Maia simply being too naive?

I think that the scene with Cala giving Maia advice was very touching.  I felt so sorry for Maia because he does seem to have latched onto the two as friends and so with that in mind I think the advice was good – particularly if he wants to keep the two of them close.  I think if he makes his feelings towards them too obvious in public then somebody will find a way of replacing them by saying they’re not doing their job properly.  And then he could be left with two people with a very different agenda. The same with Vedero – I think she was genuinely trying to give good advice to Maia, even if it isn’t advice that she likes herself.  Maia is being naive but that’s understandable given he hasn’t been brought up in court or with expectations of ever being there and so it’s good that he has some people around him to give advice.  But, I like that he still makes his own decisions, the case with Vedero being a perfect example.

Setheris attempts to come at Maia from his more abusive position, clearly intending to railroad his cousin into giving him a position at court he feels is worthy of him. Yet Maia sticks to his intention of sending Setheris somewhere he will not have so much easy access to the new emperor. Do you think, with that, that Setheris’s days of troubling Maia are over?

It’s interesting because Setheris has tried his bullying tactics now and they haven’t worked, so he’s seeing that Maia can and will stand up to him.  I don’t think he will be happy though and I definitely don’t think that’s going to be the last we hear from him.  Perhaps he will try something more subtle.  Maybe he’ll pull Hesero out of his bag of tricks and see if she can work her magic on Maia.

A discovery is made that the sabotage of the Wisdom of Choharo may have been caused by the Cetho Workers League – a “dissident group”. Do you think this will lead to a resolution of the investigation, or did the plot just thicken?

I think the plot did just thicken.  Clearly there are unhappy people in the empire and I’m sure that’s going to be due to a catalogue of unfair treatment from the previous Emperor.  I don’t think the Workers League will be responsible for the crash but I do think that someone will try to use them as a very convenient scapegoat.  It’s just too easy to pin this on a bunch of unhappy people and point the finger, plus it skirts round the issue of what they’re unhappy with and removes them from the picture.  Maia will probably be interested in hearing what others have to say and making change for the better so if the crash can be pinned on them it removes any justified complaints they might have.

Maia’s grandfather is coming to court for Winternight, though this seems to please Maia far more than it pleases Chavar … What do you make of Chavar’s open disagreeableness during the dinner at the ambassador’s home? Is it plain arrogance (albeit the racist kind), or do you think his disapproval of goblin folk runs deeper than that?

Well, I think there is a lot of racism at this court – and it’s not particularly well hidden, but with a new Emperor, and one that is half Goblin, people will have to be more careful.  Hopefully, Maia’s kindness will help people to see things in a new light – but such changes don’t usually happen overnight.  I imagine that Chavar’s open opposition to all of this runs slightly deeper.  He’s probably worried that the goblins will now use the opportunity of Maia being Emperor to their own benefit.  Or perhaps he’s worried that Maia will have more of an ear to what the goblins have to say?  It’s also another potential ally for Maia.  I’m really looking forward to the visit though, for Maia’s sake and also to learn more about his family.

 

Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3) by Julie Kagawa #wyrdandwonder

W&W

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

NightoftheNight of the Dragon is one of the books I was reading as part of Wyrd and Wonder’s month long celebration of fantasy – (details here).  My review is below and the TL:DR is: this is a great series.  Fun, epic, packed with creativity, creatures of myth and legend and characters trying to save the world against the odds.

Night of the Dragon is the concluding episode in the Shadow of the Fox series by Julie Kagawa and brings to an end a highly entertaining, well written and completely absorbing story.  Ahh, that bittersweet feeling when a series you’ve enjoyed comes to an end but what a spectacular ending this was and one of the most enjoyable YA series that I’ve read for a long time.

So, this is the final leg of Yumeko and her companions’ quest and in true fantasy fashion things get real.  This is packed with drama, there is a much bigger picture going on here than is immediately apparent and the twists and turns at the end are almost none stop.

I’m not going to go into the plot too deeply.  Suffice to say this is a desperate race by a ragtag and unlikely bunch of characters trying to save the world from the demon hoards that concludes in a dramatic finale on the stormy cliffs of Iwagoto.  Did I mention a dragon?  There may be a dragon.

What works so well for me with this series is a combination of things.

Firstly, the relationships and characters are excellent.  You can’t help but form attachments to them and really care, you read the fight scenes with your heart in your throat and I’m not going to try and pull the wool over your eyes, Kagawa is pretty ruthless, so prepare yourselves, stock up on tissues and get ready to be gutted.  Some of these chapters will hit you hard but the author doesn’t give you a moment’s respite – straight onto the next scene – and I say ‘scene’ because this book is like a movie playing inside your brain.  It’s so cinematic and easy to visualise.  Please, somebody, anybody, the God of Anime – lets do this thing.  This series would be so good if adapted (if adapted well that is).  It’s chock full of fantasy goodness.  Ghosts, dragons, demons and a young and innocent girl who also happens to be a fox.

Secondly, the writing.  Not going to lie, sometimes I find YA a little too skimpy, I end up reading but having questions that remain unanswered and whilst I understand that not every reader wants overly fine detail it can be a difficult balance to strike.  Here’s it’s done well, there’s enough information to see the place and know the characters, to understand the places they’re travelling through and the adversaries they’re coming up against without feeling cumbersome or over wordy to the extent that the tension and plot suffer.

Thirdly, here is a romance in a story that I can really appreciate.  No instalove – which I think deserves a big thank you simply on it’s own.  But, on top of that characters that are getting to know each other, there’s a slow burn of tension and chemistry and at the same time a light touch that prevents it becoming the key focus of everything.  It’s a background issue that you’re aware of, it builds gradually finding a footing in a natural way that doesn’t overshadow the rest of what’s taking place.

In a nutshell this has been such an enjoyable series.  An epic quest, a fascinating world and a coming of age tale of a young girl who wins hearts and minds.  Not to mention all the emotions. Oh, my heart with the final scene.  There could have been tears.

I have no hesitation in recommending this series.

Rating 5 stars

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

Can’t Wait Wednesday : It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan #wyrdandwonder #Gothic #Haunting

 

W&WIMAGE CREDITS: Flaming phoenix by Sujono Sujono | Decorative phoenix by Tanantachai Sirival

“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.  For the month of May I will be joining up this event with Wyrd and Wonder and highlighting fantasy books.  This week my book is : It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan: gothic, haunting, – oh hell yes, sign me up, immediately.  Here’s the description:

ItwillbejustusSam Wakefield’s ancestral home, a decaying mansion built on the edge of a swamp, isn’t a place for children. Its labyrinthine halls, built by her mad ancestors, are filled with echoes of the past: ghosts and memories knotted together as one. In the presence of phantoms, it’s all Sam can do to disentangle past from present in her daily life. But when her pregnant sister Elizabeth moves in after a fight with her husband, something in the house shifts. Already navigating her tumultuous relationship with Elizabeth, Sam is even more unsettled by the appearance of a new ghost: a faceless boy who commits disturbing acts—threatening animals, terrorizing other children, and following Sam into the depths of the house wielding a knife. When it becomes clear the boy is connected to a locked, forgotten room, one which is never entered, Sam realizes this ghost is not like the others. This boy brings doom. As Elizabeth’s due date approaches, Sam must unravel the mysteries of Wakefield before her sister brings new life into a house marked by death. But as the faceless boy grows stronger, Sam will learn that some doors should stay closed—and some secrets are safer locked away forever.

Expected publication : August 2020Can't Wait Wednesday

Top Ten Tuesday : The Purge #wyrdandwonder

 

W&W

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

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 is :

The Last Ten Books I Abandoned set aside – for now

I’m teaming my post up this week with Wyrd and Wonder (details here) and so I’ve chosen fantasy books for this week’s theme.

This is s sad post.  I don’t like to abandon books – it sounds so harsh doesn’t it.  Let’s not say ‘abandon’, lets say ‘set aside’ – at the end of the day you just never know do you.  Here are ten books that I’ve come to the conclusion I probably won’t read, they’re all books I’ve bought some time ago and really wanted but that gnawing urge has, for now, diminished.  Let me be clear – no books were harmed in the making of this post, they’re all still sitting pretty and, lets be honest, i’ll probably never let them go (insert mad cackle) but, I recognise that I probably won’t read them at this point – unless someone absolutely tells me I HAVE TO:

  1. Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce
  2. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  3. The Adamantine Palace  by Stephen Deas
  4. The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty
  5. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
  6. Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler
  7. The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
  8. Written in Red by Anne Bishop
  9. The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
  10. Radiance by Grace Draven

So, which one do you think I absolutely have to read??

« Previous PageNext Page »