Tag: Gollancz

Book Review Banner

Book Review: Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean

Earlier this year, I received an ARC of Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean to read, for the purpose of an honest review. Firstly, can I say a huge thank you to Gollancz for the opportunity to read such a beautiful, stand-out book?!

Today, I want to tell you how glad I am that I requested this book to review! I do read a little YA fantasy, but I wouldn’t describe myself as a YA reader. Instead, what compelled me to request the book is the Japanese influence and culture. Most fantasy I read is heavily influenced by Western ideals and society… so Empress of All Seasons was going to be a completely new experience for me!

 

Empress of All Seasons

Goodreads – Empress of All Seasons

In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

 

My Thoughts…

The Eastern culture really shines through in this novel, as I hoped it would! Combined with several well developed main characters, a complex social structure and growing unrest giving rise to conflict and rebellion, Empress of All Seasons is the whole package.

Mari is the fierce strong female lead I hoped she would be. She is brought up to take part in the competition to win the title of Empress. She is naturally competitive, thanks to her mother’s tutoring. But she has a secret. She isn’t the girl her mother thinks she is. Mari fights to become Empress to end depravity against her people. She longs to be treated as equal.

Animal wives, in human form, are famed for being the most beautiful. They seduce and marry rich men so they can take off their wealth and have their children to sustain the population. If caught, they are enslaved. Mari’s village is isolated and remains hidden from everyone for protection. Such is the price of freedom from the collar. Mari longs to change that.

As Empress of All Seasons is so different from my usual reads, immersing myself in Emiko Jean’s fantasy world, steeped in an unfamiliar culture, took a little getting used to. I spent three or four days of picking this up and putting it down periodically to digest who was who and what was happening. At that point, I had only gotten around halfway through the narrative, but quickly after that everything fell into place. The conflict in the plot piqued and I was hooked. I read the rest of the book in less than two days.

Mari, Taro and Akira are all vastly different characters whose lives collide in this tale. Even though they each have their different backgrounds and privileges, what struck me the most is that despite this, they are all desperate to break away from the expectations others have of them. That’s something I think we readers can all relate to.

For all the reasons above, Empress of All Seasons is a really enjoyable standalone read. For that reason, I think it will appeal to all fantasy readers – especially those in the market for a breath of fresh air in a popular, saturated genre.

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 23rd June 2019

Good evening everybody! I hope you have all had a good week and an even better weekend! I’ve really enjoyed mine because I have spent a fair bit of it (more than usual) with my mum. Dad has had to go to America for work; whilst he’s enjoying the sights today, we’ve just been doing the usual. At least we’re together though!

I’ve also had quite a good week blog-wise. I’ve been trying to catch up on some reviews I have still to write, particularly for audiobooks. I’ll be the first person to admit that I listen to them, move onto the next and forget to add them to my review list. To that end, I reviewed my listen of Lock In by John Scalzi earlier this week.

I’ve also started one of two new regular posts I’ll be featuring. I’ll be sharing these posts fortnightly on alternate weeks, so long as I don’t have any blog tours or other commitments. This week’s post was a First Lines Friday post, featuring Blackwing by Ed McDonald. My choice was inspired by a current read at the time, Crowfall, the final instalment of the trilogy.

 

***Announcement***

In addition to the above, my blog has officially broadened its horizons! For a long time, I’ve been putting off setting up a Facebook page for my blog and promoting myself. I guess I was worried about what people I knew would think. I needn’t have worried though really. I’m proud of the time and effort I put into my hobby. Why should I worry about what someone I went to school with thinks? The people that matter to me already knew of it, even if they hadn’t seen it.

So, I’m now on Facebook! It’s going to take a little while to build up my page and presence, but it’s a move I’m glad I made. If anyone wants to follow me there, there’s a link to my page in the sidebar, or alternatively, you can find me here!

And now, back to the usual Sunday Summary schedule: –

 

Books Read

Following on from my last Sunday Summary post, I left off with two current reads, Three by K. J. McGillick and Crowfall by Ed McDonald. At the top of the week, I was just over halfway through Three, however, I confess I allowed myself to be sidetracked with that book. I only just finished reading this early this afternoon.

I’ve spent most of the week reading Crowfall. It’s not even on this month’s TBR, but what can I say? I was just looking forward to reading it so much! I received my copy from Gollancz a couple of weeks ago and it’s been taunting me to pick it up. It’s the final book in the Raven’s Mark trilogy and I had to find out what happened next! I finished Crowfall on Friday evening. Whilst I’m sad it’s over, I’m also happy with the way everything ended.

Last night I began The War Within by Stephen Donaldson. I’ve only read the prologue so far, about thirty pages) but I’m intrigued to see how this second instalment to the series pans out. My understanding is that the writing style is different from the first book, which I think I’ll enjoy. It’s also a lot longer, so I’ll need to get my reading skates on if I want to finish my TBR this month.

I’m sure I’ll manage!

 

Books Discovered

I have a couple of additions to the TBR this week – shock. No sooner do I whittle it down a few books, I add more! The curse of the bookworm I guess!

This week, I’ve added Vox by Christina Dalcher and Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. Vox has the touch of dystopian fiction that I love. As awful as the idea is of the oppression of women, I’m not going to lie, I like reading it. I love to rally behind characters that fight their oppressors, be that for issues relating to gender, racial… whatever! Rivers of London is a blend of fantasy and mystery, with a touch of paranormal. An interesting combination and I can’t wait to see what I make of it.

 

Coming Up…

I’ve been looking forward to reading Three and taking part the blog tour which, you guessed it, is coming up next week! My tour post is to go live on Wednesday, so I really hope you can take a minute out of your busy schedules to read my thoughts on my latest read by K. J. McGillick.

On Friday this week, I’ll be starting my second regular feature post, called Shelf Control. It’s a post originally hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies and I love the idea of dedicating a post to books you are yet to read. Lord knows I have plenty of them to talk about!

I haven’t yet chosen my feature book, but I have a few days to decide! I only have 194 on my TBR to choose from…

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

 

Jo’s Book Blog – Shelf Control 19-06-19

Jo’s Book Blog – Vox by Christina Dalcher

Bookidote – Recursion by Blake Crouch

 

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

First Lines Friday – 20/06/2019

Happy Friday everybody!

I’m celebrating the end of the week with a brand new type of post – First Lines Friday. I’ve seen plenty of other bloggers sharing these posts; I have enjoyed reading them myself and I feel inspired to write my own. It’s a fun way to introduce new books to potential readers!

This is one of two new posts I am scheduling in on a regular basis. Both posts are typically published weekly elsewhere, however, I will be publishing them both fortnightly on a Friday (on alternate weeks) to avoid things becoming too repetitive. This is also dependent on my other blogging commitments.

So, shall we get on with today’s post? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book!

 

 

 

 

Somebody warned them that we were coming. The sympathisers left nothing behind but an empty apartment and a few volumes of illegal verse. A half-eaten meal, ransacked drawers. They’d scrambled together what little they could carry and fled east into the Misery. Back when I wore a uniform the marshal told me only three kinds of people willingly enter the Misery: the desperate, the stupid and the greedy. The sympathisers were desperate enough. I gathered a dozen stupid, greedy men and set out to kill them.

 

 

 

 

Today’s book choice is inspired by one of my current reads. Any ideas on the book the extract is from?

Blackwing – Ed McDonald

BlackwingThe republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery – a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

So, what did you think of the introduction to Blackwing? Have you read the book or added it your TBR?

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Reading List – June 2019

It’s time for me to post June’s reading list… since June has come around the corner already!! Where is this year going?

I fared a lot better with May’s reading list than I anticipated. It’s rare that I get through anything near six books in a month. I would have been happy if I’d read my average of five and to have started the sixth, A Feat for Crows. Turns out, I’ve managed to read nearly 70% of that as well! I’ve far exceeded my expectations! So, I think I am going to push myself a little more this month too. Why not? I relish a challenge.

I have a few books I have been sent for review, as well as blog tours this month and one very early next month. As a result, I’m going to be picking up quite a few ARCS. I also have a copy of a book I’ve requested from Netgalley – try not to faint. I’ve decided to give it another go, but be more selective about what I download and pull my finger out when it comes to reading them.

So, let’s take a look at the books I am planning on reading in June.

 

A Feast for Crows – George R. R. Martin

 

Crows will fight over a dead man’s flesh, and kill each other for his eyes.

Bloodthirsty, treacherous and cunning, the Lannisters are in power on the Iron Throne in the name of the boy-king Tommen. The war in the Seven Kingdoms has burned itself out, but in its bitter aftermath new conflicts spark to life.

The Martells of Dorne and the Starks of Winterfell seek vengeance for their dead. Euron Crow’s Eye, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail, returns from the smoking ruins of Valyria to claim the Iron Isles. From the icy north, where Others threaten the Wall, apprentice Maester Samwell Tarly brings a mysterious babe in arms to the Citadel.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel and the coldest hearts.

 

This one is pretty self-explanatory – I am looking to get this one finished since I am most of the way through the book. With tours coming up in the next week or so for other books, A Feast for Crows is being relegated to the sidelines a little bit. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing as I have been reading this for days. A change is as good as a rest – that’s an expression, right?

 

Game of Crones – Jay Raven

 

Forget Happily Ever After – the most delicious fairy tales end in darkness and despair…
Welcome to a mystical age of cruelty, hexes and treachery, where malicious magic rules and you are but a single necromancer’s spell away from eternal terror.

From malevolent medieval magicians to Wild West witches, this spellbinding volume by a master of the macabre is packed with frightening fables guaranteed to send a supernatural chill down your spine.

If you’re thrilled by exciting dark fantasy tales, with cunning twists, edge-of -the seat tension and unexpected shivers, you’ll love Game of Crones. Pick it up today. If you dare…

 

I’m not generally in the habit of reading many short stories, which is a bit daft really! I should! They’re a great opportunity to have a short break away from a lengthier narrative. I also dabble a little in entering short story competitions, so it makes sense to read them and see what works! It will only improve my own writing (with any luck…)

I’m taking part in the upcoming blog tour for this collection. As this is the most imminent tour, I’ll be prioritising this read first. I expect I’ll have these read in a day or two in anticipation for my post at the end of the week!

 

The Lynmouth Stories – L. V. Hay

 

Beautiful places hide dark secrets …

Devon’s very own crime writer L.V Hay (The Other Twin, Do No Harm) brings forth three new short stories from her dark mind and poison pen:

– For kidnapped Meg and her young son Danny, In Plain Sight, the remote headland above Lynmouth is not a haven, but hell.

– A summer of fun for Catherine in Killing Me Softly becomes a winter of discontent … and death.

– In Hell And High Water, a last minute holiday for Naomi and baby Tommy  becomes a survival situation … But that’s before the village floods.

All taking place out of season when the majority of tourists have gone home, L.V Hay uses her local knowledge to bring forth dark and claustrophic noir she has come to be known for.

 

Here is another short story collection I am reading this month for a blog tour! This is fast approaching next week, so I’ll be getting my skates on to get these read as well! Each of my short story collections is of different genres, with this one being a crime. It’s a genre I read quite a lot of, so I am fairly sure I won’t be long in devouring these at all!

 

Biohacked and Begging – Stephen Oram

 

The future is ours and it’s up for grabs…

Immerse yourself in the future of biohacking and implants, genetic modification, blockchain micro-transactions and futuristic dating-apps with author of ‘Eating Robots’, Stephen Oram.

Prodding and poking the possible in volume 2 of Nudge the Future, Oram starts with another flash fiction foray into the world of Unified Sentience and ends with virtual reality for babies and biohacked fish.

With sharpness and wit, these sci-fi shorts will grab your imagination and refuse to let go.

 

And another collection of short stories I am looking to read this month. This is my Netgalley request! I’ve decided I really ought to give Netgalley another chance. I certainly won’t be the kind of person that reads anything and everything on there because it’s not my favourite site, but if I’m selective then I don’t see why we can’t come to a mutual understanding with each other.

 

The appeal for this book is the genre. I am endeavouring to read more science fiction, and I figured this book ticks two boxes in that respect. I get to explore the genre as well as read more short stories. This way, I’m not diving in too deep if I don’t like this particular branch as well. Win-win!

 

The War Within – Stephen Donaldson

 

Stephen R. Donaldson, the New York Times bestselling author of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, returns to the world of his Great God’s War fantasy epic as two kingdoms– united by force–prepare to be challenged by a merciless enemy…

It has been twenty years since Prince Bifalt of Belleger discovered the Last Repository and the sorcerous knowledge hidden there. At the behest of the repository’s magisters, and in return for the restoration of sorcery to both kingdoms, the realms of Belleger and Amika ceased generations of war. Their alliance was sealed with the marriage of Bifalt to Estie, the crown princess of Amika. But the peace–and their marriage–has been uneasy.

Now the terrible war that King Bifalt and Queen Estie feared is coming. An ancient enemy has discovered the location of the Last Repository, and a mighty horde of dark forces is massing to attack the library and take the magical knowledge it guards. That horde will slaughter every man, woman, and child in its path, destroying both Belleger and Amika along the way.

With their alliance undermined by lingering hostility and conspiracies threatening, it will take all of the monarchs’ strength and will to inspire their kingdoms to become one to defend their land, or all is lost…

 

I have very kindly been sent a copy of The War Within for review by Gollancz. In preparation, I read the first book of the series, Seventh Decimate, last month. Since I am reading a few different things and branching out, it seems only fair that I stick to my roots for at least one book! This is one of my lengthier reads of the month… well, as far as I can gauge from the thickness of the book anyway! It’s a hardback too, so it’s going to be a hefty weight to be carrying around with me whilst I read it.

And for the record, no! Leaving it at home is just NOT an option haha!

 

Three – K. J. McGillick

 

Betrayal. Deceit. Danger. Murder.

How would you feel if you discovered your death was planned by someone you loved? You didn’t know how or when or even why.  Would you feel anger or fear or hopelessness knowing your fate.  All you could do was wait. Tick Tock.

One early spring morning, Emma Collier, an art history professor awakens to find her lover gone. Vanished. In a desperate attempt to locate him, she is stunned to discover that he is not an art dealer at all. But he is part of a powerful organization dealing in international money laundering, forged art, and human trafficking.

Implicated as a willing participant in his malevolent world, she struggles to clear her name. But when her body double is found brutally murdered she knows she is marked for death. As her life is ripped apart she must formulate a plan to stay alive. Now with the help of Agent Cillian O’Reilly, of the FBI Arts Crime Team, they pursue a trail that snakes across three continents and leads her to a  plan for mass murder. Will she survive?

 

I’ve taken a real liking to K. J. McGillick’s books. I was introduced to her as an author via a couple of other blog tours organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. I have loved every book of hers so far, so when the opportunity came up to read this thriller, it was an immediate yes from me! The tour for this book is towards the end of the month, so I plenty of time to kick back and relax with this beaut to hand.

 

 

Storms over Babylon – Jennifer Macaire

 

After winning a prestigious award, Ashley is chosen to travel through time and interview a historical figure. Choosing her childhood hero Alexander the Great, she is sent back in time for less than a day. He mistakes her for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her, stranding her in his own time. What follows, after she awakes under a pomegranate tree, is a hilarious, mind-bending tale of a modern woman immersed in the ancient throes of sex, love, quite a bit of vino, war, death, and ever so so much more.

 

Avid readers of my blog will know that I have read a number of books in Jennifer Macaire’s The Road to Alexander series now. This month is no exception, as I am reviewing Storms over Babylon at the very beginning of next month. I’ve really enjoyed this historical fiction series thus far. Alexander the Great is a historical figure I’m not all that familiar with (until now at least). I can’t wait to see what happens as Ashley and Alexander hurtle toward Alexander’s apparently unavoidable fate!

So, there you have it! These are my planned reads of the month! The question is, what are you reading? Have you read any of the books above? As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Book Review Banner

Book Review: The Watcher of Dead Time – Edward Cox

Today, I am really looking forward to sharing my honest thoughts with you all about the final book of an amazing trilogy. Before I was offered a copy of the series by Gollancz in exchange for a review, I’ll freely admit that I hadn’t heard of Edward Cox before. The Relic Guild series has made a huge impression on me… so much so that Edward Cox has been added to the small list of authors I’ll auto-buy books for.

Quite an impression, wouldn’t you agree?

If you haven’t read my reviews of The Relic Guild or The Cathedral of Known Things, please take a minute to check these out!

 

The Watcher of Dead Time

Goodreads – The Watcher of Dead Time

 

Labrys Town, home to a million humans cut off from the rest of the universe, has been invaded. Those who protected it have been deposed.

The Relic Guild are scattered across the worlds of the Aelfir. Many of them are dead or dying. The Genii control everything. The war is almost over.

Clara, a young woman barely able to control her werewolf side, has seen her friends and mentors killed in front of her. She is the last hope for Labrys Town.

But someone else is watching…

The dramatic conclusion to the award-nominated fantasy trilogy which began with THE RELIC GUILD.

 

My Thoughts…

There are so many amazing things that I really enjoyed about this series that I don’t really know where to begin! The world-building, magic system, characters – each is unique, refined and complements the other. They work together to build a detailed, cohesive narrative that flows and lulls us on to read the ever-famous “just one more chapter”.

First, let’s talk about the world-building! The concept of the Labyrinth and its history is unlike anything I have ever heard of before. Built to serve as a neutral place for warring houses, Labrys Town becomes a sought-after weapon. Each House is separated by what is called the Nothing of the Far and Deep, (which in my head I equate to something similar to Space) but portals can link these Houses and Labrys Town together. After narrowly neutralising the threat 40 years ago, most of Labrys Town’s portals have been deactivated. They are cut off from all houses but one. However, that puts them in more danger further down the line… Genii, powerful magickers strive to take over the Labyrinth.

The rich history of the world really shines through throughout the trilogy.

The entire narrative is split between two timelines, the first during the first Genii War and the second forty years later. Each timeline concludes in this final instalment. Whilst in the latter timeline we have a vague idea of how the war ended previously, there are enough secrets kept to make that ending just as exciting as the present day conclusion! Each timeline is also written cleverly so as to be well-distinguishable from the other. There are many overlapping characters in both timelines, but there are also enough subtle differences to serve as a reminder.

There is such a diverse range of characters that there is someone for every reader to relate to. Clara is new to the Relic Guild, having endeavoured to hide her power of transforming into a werewolf. She is the first Magicker in forty years. Through her we get to learn the history of the Relic Guild and their sacrifices for the residents in the Labrys Town. The veteran Magickers are easy to warm to as well. Despite their struggles to win an impossible war, we cannot forget how human and vulnerable they are. Old Man Sam, a mistrustful sharpshooter and Marney, whose power is empathic, are my favourite characters. I’m not one for gushy romance, but even I lamented the loss of Marney’s potential relationship with Van Bam.

The Watcher of Dead Time has a brilliantly immersive narrative. I was eager to see how events in both timelines reached their conclusions. Alternately switching between then and now keeps a steady momentum, but the chapter lengths aren’t so short that this becomes chaotic.

What’s next…

Once again, a huge thank you to both Gollancz and Edward Cox for the opportunity to read and review this amazing series! It’s the first series I have been sent in entirety to review and I am really glad I have!

I expect great things from Edward Cox, if The Relic Guild is anything to go by! I’ve already been looking ahead to see if he has any other works in the pipeline, and I wasn’t disappointed! The Song of the Sycamore is expected to be published in August this year! I can guarantee I’ll be picking this one up for sure!

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Reading List – May 2019

We are just over a third of the way through the year – isn’t that a scary thought?! Yes, it’s time to publish another reading list; I have lots of plans this month. My recent time off has got me kind of excited and slightly ambitious about this TBR. I have lots of books that I want to pick up now and in order to achieve my goal, I’m thinking of experimenting a little more with reading more than one book at once. This worked really well for me recently, so why wouldn’t it in the long term?

I’m also excited to be picking up more books that aren’t part of blog tours. I am only taking part in one tour this month (in stark contrast to the four I did last month). It affords me more freedom to choose books I have wanted to pick up for some time! I fully expect my last book of the list is going to appear on next month’s list too – it’s an epic in its own right.

 

Sword Song – Bernard Cornwell

 

“Bernard Cornwell ranks as the current alpha male of testoterone-enriched historical fiction….This satisfying tale leaves you hungry for more of Uhtred’s adventures.” -USA Today

The year is 885, and England is at peace, divided between the Danish Kingdom to the north and the Saxon kingdom of Wessex in the south. Warrior by instinct and Viking by nature, Uhtred, the dispossessed son of Northumbrian lord, has land, a wife and children-and a duty to King Alfred to hold the frontier on the Thames. But a dead man has risen, and new Vikings have invaded the decayed Roman city of London with dreams of conquering Wessex…with Uhtred’s help. Suddenly forced to weigh his oath to the king against the dangerous turning side of shifting allegiances and deadly power struggles, Uhtred-Alfred’s sharpest sword-must now make the choice that will determine England’s future.

 

I’ve recently watched Season 3 of the TV adaptation, The Last Kingdom, and it has re-ignited my love for the story! I last picked up the series nearly two years ago now – June 2017. That’s far too long! I had barely started my blog at that point.

 

Son of the Moon – Jennifer Macaire

 

Can you face the consequences of cheating the Fates? Alexander the Great journeys to India, where he and Ashley are welcomed with feasts and treachery. With their son, Paul, being worshiped as the Son of the Moon, and Alexander’s looming death, Ashley considers the unthinkable: how to save them and whether she dares to cheat Fate?

 

This read is my one and only blog tour of the month. I have read the first two books in the series already, The Road to Alexander and Legends of Persia already. I’m really enjoying the series so far; I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say that I know very little of the time period itself. Whilst it’s great to visit favourites (Tudor History, for example), it’s also refreshing to try something new. This is a gamble that really paid off on this occasion!

 

Seventh Decimate – Stephen Donaldson

 

Fire. Wind. Pestilence. Earthquake. Drought. Lightning. These are the six Decimates, wielded by sorcerers for both good and evil.

But a seventh Decimate exists–the most devastating one of all…

For centuries, the realms of Belleger and Amika have been at war, with sorcerers from both sides brandishing the Decimates to rain blood and pain upon their enemy. But somehow, in some way, the Amikans have discovered and invoked a seventh Decimate, one that strips all lesser sorcery of its power. And now the Bellegerins stand defenseless.

Prince Bifalt, eldest son of the Bellegerin King, would like to see the world wiped free of sorcerers. But it is he who is charged with finding the repository of all of their knowledge, to find the book of the seventh Decimate–and reverse the fate of his land.

All hope rests with Bifalt. But the legendary library, which may or may not exist, lies beyond an unforgiving desert and treacherous mountains–and beyond the borders of his own experience. Wracked by hunger and fatigue, sacrificing loyal men along the way, Bifalt will discover that there is a game being played by those far more powerful than he could ever imagine. And that he is nothing but a pawn…

 

I have plans to read a book that Gollancz have sent to me for review next month, called The God Within. That book is the second instalment of a series. You can probably guess where this is leading… There is no way I’ll be able to pick that up knowing that I haven’t read the first book –so here it is! A bit of pre-reading, shall we say…

 

The Drawing of the Three – Stephen King

 

This second volume in the epic series ‘The Dark Tower’ both stands alone and continues the adventures of Roland of Gilead. He has mysteriously stepped through the doorway in time to 1980s America, where he meets Eddie Dean and Odetta Holmes.

 

I have started reading this book already! I finished April’s TBR at the 11th hour (almost precisely) yesterday and decided that I wanted to get stuck in with May’s list. This is my first victim ahem book of choice for the month! It’s been too long since reading the first book really; I need to pick these up sooner!

 

The Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean

 

In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

 

Here is another read sent to me by Gollancz for review. I haven’t really read all that much fantasy aimed at a YA audience lately, so I am looking forward to seeing how I like this book. I think the plotline is really interesting – it’s what has enticed me to read it the most!

 

A Feast for Crows – George R. R. Martin

 

Crows will fight over a dead man’s flesh, and kill each other for his eyes.

Bloodthirsty, treacherous and cunning, the Lannisters are in power on the Iron Throne in the name of the boy-king Tommen. The war in the Seven Kingdoms has burned itself out, but in its bitter aftermath new conflicts spark to life.

The Martells of Dorne and the Starks of Winterfell seek vengeance for their dead. Euron Crow’s Eye, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail, returns from the smoking ruins of Valyria to claim the Iron Isles. From the icy north, where Others threaten the Wall, apprentice Maester Samwell Tarly brings a mysterious babe in arms to the Citadel.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel and the coldest hearts.

 

There is absolutely no way I am going to get all the above books read in one month, but if I can read the rest and at least make a START on this one, I’ll be happy! Naturally, A Game of Thrones is hot-topic at the moment with the final series already halfway through (and wasn’t that last episode epic?!) Now more than ever I am keen to pick up the books and continue to enjoy the experience.

 

What are you reading?

 

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Book Review Banner

Book Review: The Cathedral of Known Things – Edward Cox

***I am grateful to have received a copy of this series for an honest review courtesy of Gollancz. All opinions stated are my own***

 

Goodreads – The Cathedral of Known Things

Divided, hunted and short on resources, the surviving members of the Relic Guild are in real trouble. Their old enemy, the Genii, and their resurrected master have infiltrated Labrys Town and taken over the police force.

So the Relic Guild must flee their home, and set off on a dangerous journey across the worlds of the Aelfir. One that will lead them to a weapon which might destroy the Genii. Or the whole universe…

And forty years before all this, the war which led to the fall of the Genii continues. And what happens to the Relic Guild during that conflict will change the course of their desperate flight.

 

My Thoughts…

My initial impressions of the series can be found in my review of The Relic Guild, the first book of the series. The turmoil within Labrys Town continues in this second instalment, and the Relic Guild are out of their depth.

The dual timeline between The Great War forty years ago and the present day is one of my favourite elements of the book. The circumstances have changed for both sides since the first invasion years ago. Fabian Moor has licked his wounds and learned from his mistakes. On the other hand, the Relic Guild has fewer numbers than before. The odds are stacking against them rapidly in this new attack on the Labyrinth.

It is fair to say that the narrative storyline is well developed, but isn’t hard to follow. In this second book of the series, there is far more action and plot development. It builds on the events of the first book well, so the character relations and world building are carried through. I really enjoyed the characterisation and world-building elements in the first book. Although I didn’t pick up The Cathedral of Known Things straight after the Relic Guild, it was easy to pick up again and felt familiar almost immediately. The world building and characterisation were necessary components of the first book of the series and brilliant besides. However, I am grateful to start to see the action unfold now that I have invested time into the lives of these characters.

Whilst both storylines are narrated concurrently in the book, the main emphasis I took away from it lies in the storyline of The Great War all those years ago. Could it be that the key to winning this present day war lies in events of the past? Perhaps. I’ll only know that once I read The Watcher of Dead Time later this month. I can’t wait to read it and share my thoughts with you all. With any luck though… I’ll pull my finger out and share them with you a bit sooner than three months after the reading of it…

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 16th December 2018

When I haven’t been at work or reading a book, I’ve spent a lot of this week preparing for Christmas! I’m officially on countdown! I love this time of year and I’m finally getting into the spirit!

On account of spending time wrapping presents and attending Christmas parties, I only managed one out of the two blog posts I promised you this week. Whilst it would have been nice to make some further progress in whittling down the TBR pile, I feel that posting my review of The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides was more important. I received an ARC back in July this year so my reading and reviewing this title was overdue. The book is published on the 7th February 2019 – I must insist you get a copy!

 

Books Read

 

I have been reading two books concurrently this week. Earlier in the week, I continued reading The Road to Alexander by Jennifer Macaire. When writing my Sunday Summary post last week I had higher hopes of making more progress with this book than I have. Instead, I ended up reading just over 40% a second book on December’s reading list. The Cathedral of Known Things is the second book by Edward Cox in The Relic Guild series. I totally love the magic system and the world-building, so putting this down has proven rather difficult.

 

Books Discovered

 

I have been really tame this week – I haven’t even added any books to the TBR! *And so I shouldn’t – it’s already out of control*

 

Coming Up…

 

down the tbr holeThis week I promised you a review of the TBR pile, which ultimately didn’t happen. I’m sorry; I don’t have any particular excuse. I just didn’t get around to it. However, I will this week – it’s the first post I am committing to.

 

 

 

The second post I want to publish this week is a review of Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett. I am absolutely in love with the Discworld and its various characters. At the time I read this book on a whim – you can’t really go wrong with that, can you? It’s just what I needed. I love Pratchett’s humour and writing style.

 

 

 

On the reading front, I am going to be bold and say that I want to have finished The Cathedral of Known Things by next week. If I get time to read any more than this, I’ll continue with The Road to Alexander.

 

Are you all set for Christmas? Have you planned to read any festive books for the season? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Reading List: December 2018

When I look back on last month’s approach to reading – only setting a couple of books to read, it is with mixed feelings.

I set myself the task of re-reading A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin and getting around to my last NetGalley ARC, The Mansions of Murder by Paul Doherty. Re-reading A Game of Thrones is no mean feat – it is over 850 pages in its own right! However, I didn’t finish reading any others. I am also 60% through I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson, which is good. I wouldn’t describe this book as “my genre”, but it’s good to try something new. In addition to these two books, I also struggled through half of Season of Storms by Andrzej Sapkowski before setting it aside. For now, at least.

I think my reading (or lack thereof) was a result of “unfortunate events” – combine trying to read one epic book along with another that is completely not your genre at all. Add to that a book you REALLY want to love and can’t really bear to DNF (but have to) and it all ends up a pretty toxic mix. I was also away for a few days, so that knocks out the schedule too.

 

That said, it’s only the 6th December and I have read Facing A Twisted Judgment by K. J. McGillick and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury already.

Perhaps I needed the break… or the start of a new month to breathe in some fresh air and start again. I’m not ready to write off the more relaxed approach yet. I just need to find the middle ground, is all. So, which books are going to make it onto the list for December?

 

The Road to Alexander – Jennifer Macaire

I am looking forward to reading this book in advance of the blog tour next month! The novel is based around time travel, with influences of Greek mythology. I’m not all that versed in Greek mythology I must admit, so I want to see how much influence it has in this book and whether it inspires me to read on further. The synopsis of the book makes it sound like a hilarious read too!

 

Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares – Shaun Hume

When I started my blog early last year, Shaun Hume was the first author to contact me for a review. Well, now he is back! The second book of the Ewan Pendle series has been released and he has asked if I will review the book for him. Obviously, the answer was yes! Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith is a refreshing read in a genre that I really enjoy. Now I get to find out the next step in his adventures!

 

The Cathedral of Known Things – Edward Cox

I fell in love with the fantasy world the Relic Guild series is based in earlier this year. I received copies of the series by Gollancz in exchange for a review and it’s time to delve into book 2. The storyline is intricate and detailed (without being too complicated) and the characters are adorable. I knew when I finished this book that I wouldn’t be able to wait for too long until picking up the next one.

 

So, those are just some of the books I am planning on reading this month! What is on your reading list?

Book Review Banner

Book Review: The Relic Guild – Edward Cox

My review of The Relic Guild by Edward Cox feels well overdue. I mean, I read this book towards the end of August! It’s a shame in a way that I have had so many other blogging commitments, meaning I couldn’t get around to writing this before now.

Better late than never, right?

 

The Relic Guild

Goodreads – The Relic Guild

Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us.

It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls a hundred feet high.

Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh.

The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth – and the lives of one million humans – Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.

 

My Thoughts…

I received a copy of The Relic Guild from Gollancz in exchange for a review, so firstly, a huge thank you to the team. It was one of many exciting book-post packages I received this summer!

Aside from the synopsis, the first thing I look at when deciding if I like a book is the author’s narration style. It’s make-or-break for me; it always has been. I have a natural preference for books narrated in the third person. The narration is also clear and descriptive, balancing the action of the story with descriptions of the Great Labyrinth and Labrys Town etc. The narrative also interchanges between two time periods; the War, which took place forty years previous and the present day. Chapters for each respective time period are clearly marked, making the story easy to follow.

The Relic Guild introduced a whole new concept of magic to me. The members of the Relic Guild are some of the last able to wield magic… and they each have different abilities. These abilities are almost second nature, or like a sixth sense, to the characters. Their attitude to the power differs greatly from each other too. In addition to this: weaponry, portals and other elements of the Labyrinth draw on external forces of magic. I have never found a book that as both “types” of magic, yet Edward Cox makes them work side by side so well.

I love the idea of the Labyrinth. It’s a magical place shut off from the rest of the world. In the centre, the remaining citizens live together in Labrys Town. Out in the maze surrounding the town, danger lurks around every corner. No-one can enter nor leave. Well, so they believed. Yet forty years on from the war he lost, Fabian Moor is out for his revenge against the Relic Guild. He may not be stuck in the Labyrinth, but he is a massive threat all the same.

There are a number of characters that have a crucial role to play and they are all distinct, well-developed people. Each member of the Relic Guild has a unique relationship with one another. With the exception of Clara, all were part of the War forty years ago. Clara, a former prostitute of Labrys Town has been hiding her gift. She is the first gifted person to be identified since the War, so she is a welcome surprise when the Relic Guild rescues her from danger. There is a lot of history, grudges and camaraderie between these characters and that is reflected well throughout the book. They feel like a community, a family even, as you would expect from such a close-knit group.

The citizens are protected by the Resident, who also happens to be head of the Relic Guild. His ever-watchful eye puts them in a position to observe the danger and attempt to protect the Labyrinth as disaster unfolds. The war isn’t over.

It has only just begun.