Tag: ya fantasy

Book Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters – Laini Taylor

In today’s review, I will be sharing my thoughts on the final book of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and honestly, I just hope I can do the book justice! I fell in love with this series the moment I started it… as you could probably have guessed based on the speed I binge-read it! If you haven’t read my reviews of the first two books, you can find my reviews of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight using these links.

Now that you’re all caught up, shall we get into today’s review?

 

Dreams of Gods and Monsters – Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor | Goodreads

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited – not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as – from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond – humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

 

My Thoughts…

Dreams of Gods and Monsters is an epic conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. I had such high expectations from the previous books; a lot was at stake. Disappointment in the conclusion would have been a bitter end…. but, of course, Laini Taylor pulled all her tricks out of the bag. The synopsis isn’t wrong in calling this last instalment stunning. It has made the series one of my favourites of all-time, and one I will read again and again!

YA, or young adult isn’t a genre I read a lot of. I’ve read a few in my time but compared to a lot of other bloggers my age it isn’t a go-to genre for me. I would say the vast majority of YA books I have read are Laini Taylor’s. I find that typically the stories have a ‘coming of age’ element to them, which is a trope I have read a lot from the fantasy books I read. Honestly, I think it’s a tad over-used, but Laini manages to incorporate it quite discreetly so that it feel s more like character development rather than the whole event the book/series is based around. It’s natural and effortless to read. Arguably, I would say that Dreams of Gods and Monsters has almost a collective coming-of-age element to the book as each character has their existence threatened, allegiances tested and a new reality.

The history between the angels and the monsters is conflicted. They have fought each other for their own survival for so long, and neither side is innocent. The gritty reality of their world and the shades of grey in the morality of their behaviour make the novel (and series) far more interesting than a black and white good vs. evil conflict. It’s something I have praised the series about in my earlier reviews and I will do so again. It is one of my favourite things about it, especially how this mindset and reality is tested to the limit in Dreams of Gods and Monsters.

Another aspect of the book that I love and want to champion (again) is the relationship between Karou and Akiva. I am not one for romance in books at all, but their relationship isn’t like most portrayed in YA novels. Yes, it’s a forbidden love and they are kept apart by the divides in their people (I think this is a common enough trope of romance from what I gather). What I like about it is that it isn’t sexualised. Karou and Akiva see the world differently from others; they don’t see the need for the divide and the conflict between their people. They dreamed long ago of a world in which they could live and be together – of companionship, free from the prejudice and discrimination that keeps them apart.

I could keep going on forever about this book, I really could! But, I have to stop rambling at some point. Honestly, if you didn’t get the vibe from the review, then all I can say is this. Read it! Read them all. I binged the whole series I loved it that much! Normally I like to take my time and savour a series, but I couldn’t with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I couldn’t wait to read the next instalment. I was gutted it ended, but I’m equally satisfied and I know I’ll be picking it up again one day.

 

 

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Audiobook Review: Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

Hi guys and welcome to today’s audiobook review of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Crooked Kingdom is the second book of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology. If you haven’t read my review of Six of Crows yet, you can find a link to that here. Please note that inevitably this review may well contain spoilers for the first book. So, if you haven’t read it yet or don’t want anything to be spoiled for you, I suggest you don’t read this review until you’ve caught up with the series.

 

Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo | Goodreads

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.

Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties.

A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

 

My Thoughts…

The Grishaverse is a well-established setting from Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy. I, however, haven’t read any other books by Leigh Bardugo to date, so I went into this completely brand-new. That didn’t matter one bit however as I have really gotten into the universe the novels are set in without having any difficulty understanding what was going on and the political/societal backdrop. Everything is nicely explained and recapped without delving into too much detail. It was the perfect balance between providing the backdrop and reminding me of previous events whilst not compromising the action. 

Events in Crooked Kingdom take place immediately after Six of Crows. The gang have just completed the most epic heist ever, miraculously unscathed, but now manage to find themselves in even greater danger. Kaz’s past really comes to light in this book and shapes the current events that risk everything the group has obtained so far. Kaz so far had been a bit of a mystery, and so I enjoyed seeing how his past has shaped the man he has become. Plenty of hints were given in Six of Crows, so I enjoyed the development of his backstory. 

There are plenty of plot twists in Crooked Kingdom to keep readers on their toes. When I first picked the book up I had no idea how events would pan out. The plans of the gang oft go awry – in fact, as far away as planned, but that’s exciting. Seeing how the events play out and how the characters react in stressful situations is the bread and butter of the series. It’s also what Leigh Bardugo is good at writing. It’s chaotic, high-risk, thrilling and still cohesively written and easy for the reader to follow. 

I said it before in my review of Six of Crows, but I love how unperfect the characters are. They have all done bad things, awful things; they steal, fight and will even kill, and yet still you can’t help but find yourself rooting for them. In Crooked Kingdom especially, the odds are stacked against them. For those of you that like that sort of thing, there are also a number of budding romances between various characters of the book. I read that other people quite enjoyed this aspect, and I certainly didn’t object to it. I’m just not a very romantic person… it has to be said! Still, based on my experience of this duology, I will definitely go on to read more books by Leigh Bardugo. I have fallen in love with the Grishaverse and the characters she brings to life in her novels!

Have you read or listened to either Six of Crows or Crooked Kingdom? Let me know in the comments! 

 

 

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Audiobook Review: Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

Hi guys and welcome to today’s review of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Crooked Kingdom is the second book of the Six of Crows duology. If you haven’t yet read my thoughts on the first book, Six of Crows, you can find a link to that here!

And now without further adieu, here are my thoughts on the second instalment of the series!

 

Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo | Goodreads

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.

Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties.

A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
 

 

My Thoughts…

Crooked Kingdom is one of the best audiobooks I have listened to, to date. A charismatic cast accentuates brilliantly-written characters, who together attempted one of the most daring and epic heists of all time in Six of Crows and won. Life should be cosy in this sequel, with all their newfound riches, and yet they find themselves back in the deep end almost immediately. The result? Another exciting, action-packed fantasy novel full of betrayal, backstabbing, and the usual shenanigans we can expect from Kaz and his crew.

I listened to Six of Crows back in 2019, finishing the audiobook in September. I then moved on to Crooked Kingdom reasonably quickly. I’m not a big listener of audiobooks, however, completing crooked kingdom within six months of listening to the first audiobook is quite speedy for me. It’s not my main way of reading! I enjoyed the first book so much that I wanted to jump into this sequel and experience the action and adventure I knew I could expect, and I wasn’t disappointed!

As in the first book, I enjoyed the narrative being broken down into chapters narrated by different characters. This gives variety to the story and provides different perspectives at different times to add depth to the narrative. Each character has their own distinctive personality, quirks and traits. Some are definitely better (as individuals) than others but this is also something else I enjoyed. More often than not, fantasy novels are littered with altruistic characters. So, to come across some more devious, nefarious or just downright out for themselves is a refreshing change. Many of the characters have developed since the first instalment of this series. Some who have grown on me most include Kaz, Mattias and Nina. Each character has their flaws, but this makes them all the more relatable to us as listeners.

The dynamic between sets of characters adds intrigue to an already tense situation. They have already pulled off the impossible and yet further trouble looms; rising tensions and conflict between them threaten to jeopardise their lives.

You know me, I am a huge fan of magic systems within fantasy novels, and Crooked Kingdom did not disappoint in this respect either. Crooked Kingdom is my second read by Leigh Bardugo, and I sense that there is a whole range of novels also set in the same universe as this book. Despite not having read these, I didn’t find it made any difference to my understanding of the universe and the magic systems involved in this series. If anything, it has made me want to pick these up all the more!

I really enjoyed listening to this duology, and I have high expectations about reading other books by Leigh Bardugo. Sometimes that can be a risk if the books don’t live up to expectation, however, from my experience of the six of crows trilogy I don’t think I have any reason to doubt her writing style and the stories not working for me. This is why it is good to listen to recommendations and try new authors. These are the first two books I have read/listened to by this author and I am very grateful to have had the chance to read other reviews before taking the plunge. I hope others can find my review useful and please, if you have not read these books already, you won’t regret it!

 

 

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Book Review: Days of Blood & Starlight – Laini Taylor

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s book review of Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor! After reading and enjoying her Strange the Dreamer duology, I decided I wanted to try her Daughter of Smoke & Bone series. I read the first book on holiday last October (isn’t that a far and distant memory now…) and binge-read the rest of the series shortly after!

I wouldn’t describe myself as a YA reader or fan particularly, but I will make all the exceptions for Laini Taylor. Her writing is brilliant, the stories easy to read and the characters have, in my opinion, a lot more depth than most. I find some YA to be a little trope-y and a bit shallow at times, but not with this series (or Strange) at all.

If you haven’t read my review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone yet, you can find that post here.

 

Days of Blood & Starlight – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Days of Blood & Starlight

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

 

My Thoughts…

I wasn’t sure how Laini Taylor was going to follow up such an epic start to the series, but I should never have doubted her! In fact, Days of Blood and Starlight has one of my favourite introductions. I featured it in a First Lines Friday post back in February this year; if you haven’t read it yet and want a chuckle I think you’ll like it.

The idea of my championing a book/series with such a prevalent plotline around a character relationship may seem strange to you. It’s not the sort of thing I normally go for at all. I talked about this in my review of the first book of the series as well, and everything I said there still applies. The relationship isn’t awkward or uncomfortable to read. It has a maturity to it and consequently, there isn’t any of the sappy stuff that I can’t read without wanting to gag. The dynamic between Karou and Akiva is a longing for companionship. In a world where they are on different sides of a bitter war, they struggle against their respective people for acceptance.

Events in Days of Blood and Starlight draw the reader into a completely new plotline. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, whilst brilliant, is really only the introduction to this explosive series. Karou has only just discovered her place in her world of monsters and in one fell swoop, her life is changed forever. And it’s Akiva’s fault. Shunned and friendless, she has plenty to grieve but steps up to do her part in the war between hers and Akiva’s kind.

The truth about Karou and the world she was being protected from is a harsh reality compared to her relatively normal human life back in Prague. Luckily for us readers (and especially me as a huge fan of world-building), Days of Blood and Starlight explores a whole new alternate world and the history of Chimaera and the Angels. The narrative becomes grittier, takes sinister turns and deadly secrets must be kept in order to fight to survive. Karou herself, whilst trying to earn the trust of her peers, must do her part in a dangerous deception. What has she got to lose?

Hope, love, and her dream for a better life. Everything.

 

 

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Blog Tour Book Review: Magical Intelligence – M. K. Wiseman

I’m really excited to be taking part in the blog tour for Magical Intelligence by M K Wiseman. Today kickstarts the blog tour for Magical Intelligence, which will be running up until its publication next week! As a huge fan of fantasy, magic and the concept of wizard spies, I have been looking forward to reading this book and sharing my thoughts with you about it.

Before I start these posts I always like to take the time to thank both Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and to the author for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!

Would you like to find out a little about Magical Intelligence before we jump into my thoughts of the book?

 

Magical Intelligence – M K Wiseman

Goodreads – Magical Intelligence

When you are a member of Britain’s first team of wizard spies, every mission might be your last. But as the dawning of the 20th century draws ever nearer, magic grows weak. Violectric Dampening, the clash of man-made electricity with the Gifts of magekind, threatens M.I.’s existence. And if that isn’t enough, they’ve now been discharged from their own government. Obsolete. Distrusted.

And now hunted by one of their own.

Myra Wetherby has always feared her so-called fits, strange visions of people and places that she cannot explain. It is the emotional manipulation, however, a strange empathic connection to those around her, which threatens her very sanity. A danger to her family, Myra runs away, falling straight into the hands of the newly ousted Magical Intelligence team. Who just so happen to need an ability like hers.

Which makes Myra one of them . . . whether she likes it or not.

 

Purchase Links –   Amazon UK     Amazon US

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-LocPwqQiU

 

My Thoughts…

The first thing that caught my attention about the book was the plotline. I love how it revolves around magic and how scientific discovery (electricity) has a negative impact on wizardry. Those of you that read my other reviews may remember that one of my favourite things about fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson is that his magic systems have a physical element or limitation to them. I love when magic interacts with the world we know and love. It lends a sense of realism to what is going on; it has rules and that way it can’t be used to make a plothole problem disappear randomly. For this reason, I really enjoyed the concept behind this story.

Myra is an Empath. She has the ability to experience other’s emotions as well as manipulate them. I really liked this power in our protagonist. I would say I am quite an empathetic person so even though she is a teenage girl, we have common ground and that makes her relatable. As I am sure all women can tell you, handling emotions as a teenage girl is no walk in the park. It’s a confusing, ever-changing mess – just like Myra’s emotions for a good portion of the book. But again, this all adds to her being an overall relatable character.

The age and circumstance are perfect for allowing Myra to mature and really show off her development as a person and with her powers. Having grown up being misunderstood, Myra finds a sense of belonging amongst a ‘family’ she never knew existed. I’m looking forward to seeing how she grows throughout the rest of the series, as well as find out more about her past. There are a few little hints, but a lot of mystery as to how she ended up on her own. Hopefully, all will be revealed!

The Violectric Dampening also serves to build and differentiate a number of characters within M.I. Some of the wizards within the group are more prone to it than others. As Myra quite literally lands herself in the action from one of her visions, she is chucked in the deep end. We are introduced to a number of different wizards and magical abilities that, up until now, have served them in serving the Crown. Now working in an unofficial capacity to protect their magic from one threatening it, they train Myra to control her abilities as well as teach her about their own to aid them in their difficult mission.

Magical Intelligence is a fun read for fans of fantasy, magic and action-packed adventure! I really enjoyed the unique storyline, the setting and how well this whole package comes together. Thanks again to the author for the opportunity to read and review the book!

 

Author Bio

M. K. Wiseman has degrees in animation/video and library science – both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, her office is a clutter of storyboards and half-catalogued collections of too, too many books. (But, really, is there such a thing as too many books?) When she’s not mucking about with stories, she’s off playing brač or lying in a hammock in the backyard of her Cedarburg home that she shares with her endlessly patient husband.

 

Social Media Links –

Website: http://mkwisemanauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FaublesFables/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/FaublesFables

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/faublesfables/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7073540.M_K_Wiseman

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Hey guys and welcome back to another review post! I’ve already reviewed one book (audiobook) this week and I’m back again in an effort to catch up with the number of reviews I need to write! Today’s review is going to be a joy to write because I absolutely loved this book! In fact, I loved the whole series! I wouldn’t describe myself as a binge reader particularly, but I read this series really quickly by my standards. I read this on holiday in October last year and I read the remaining two books in November and December respectively. I can tell you now that it’s one I will be picking up time and again.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Goodreads

Purchase Links:  Amazon UK    Amazon US     Waterstones

 

My Thoughts…

If I haven’t already made it clear from the intro, let me say this one thing first. Ahem. I LOVED THIS BOOK! I was already a huge fan of Laini Taylor’s based on her Strange the Dreamer duology. She really has a way with words, beautiful descriptions and great characters/storylines. If you are a huge fantasy fan, please, please read at least one of her books. Whilst they are marketed at a young adult audience, I didn’t overly perceive them that way. I don’t typically read YA but I’m glad I did on this occasion!

In Daughter of Smoke and Bone Laini Taylor reinvents the classic angels vs demons conflict. Where typical stories have clear cut good and evil sides, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is riddled with moral ambiguity and grey areas on both sides. It makes the conflict element of the storyline really interesting. What makes it even better is that our main character Karou is largely ignorant of what is going on within this conflict for most of the book. To us readers, she begins as a mostly normal young woman studying art in Prague. However, as Karou accidently learns that there is more to her existence than she first realises, we readers are thrown into a whole new world where enemies appear as friends, and friends as enemies. Who is Karou really, and who can she trust?

I really enjoy how well Laini Taylor gives her female characters plenty of sass! If you want an example, I shared a great opening quote from one of the later books in a First Lines Friday post. It’s just one of many brilliantly funny moments that had me laughing out loud. I’m pretty sure I had a few quizzical looks whilst reading this, not least from my sister!

As someone that isn’t a huge advocate of romances in novels, I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of the Karou/Akiva relationship alluded to in the synopsis. I was pleasantly surprised though. It is quite a significant part of the narrative, but it isn’t awkward, forced or uncomfortable to read. I’ll hold my hands up and say that I just get awkward reading romances when they’re overly sexualised. It just makes me cringe. Karou and Akiva’s spark isn’t like that at all – it’s born of longing, a half-remembered past. A re-kindling. That’s all I can say without spoiling anything, but the one thing it is not is sexual. Works for me!

I’m glad I bought Daughter of Smoke and Bone and the rest of the series later, in paperback. I will definitely be revisiting this series again – that’s how much I loved it. Now that I know what happens, I also want to read it again to see what I missed the first time.  

Have you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone or any other books by Laini Taylor? Let me know in the comments!

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Audiobook Review: Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Today I am sharing an audiobook review for Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I listened to this audiobook last year and finished it in September. It’s been a little while since I finished this, however, I have listened to its sequel Crooked Kingdom more recently.

I really enjoyed listening to Six of Crows and today’s post is all about sharing what I loved about it! Before that though, here are the details of the book: –

 

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads – Six of Crows

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK     Amazon US     Waterstones

 

My Thoughts

My favourite thing about this particular book, and series, is the depth and detail of the world that has been created. Whilst I have only listened to this duology from Leigh Bardugo, my understanding is that it ties in with another series she has written (The Shadow and Bone series). It really shows in the detail. Those that read my reviews regularly will know that I talk about the setting and history of a novel a lot. It’s a big factor on whether I enjoy fantasy stories such as these or not. It worked really well for me, and I think I will be reading or listening to her other series based on what I have enjoyed listening to already.

As I listened to the audiobook version of Six of Crows, I got the benefit of a variety of narrators to add to the overall diversity in characterisation. I really liked that the story was split into several perspectives, but not so many that it becomes difficult to understand who our perspective is narrated by and what is going on. Each perspective is distinct, unique and adds to the storyline.

The daring, impossible criminal heist element of the storyline really drew me in and I’m glad I picked up Six of Crows. This was the first book I have read by Leigh Bardugo and I’ll be reading more of her books based on this one. It’s nail-biting and exciting. I agree with some of the reviews offering criticism about how events play out – it does seem a little unrealistic given the circumstances. However, I didn’t really think about it at the time – it was still enjoyable all the same!

Have you read or listened to Six of Crows? What do you think of it?

 

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Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 26th May 2019

Nothing beats writing a Sunday Summary post at the end of the week, but not the end of the weekend! Who else has the day off tomorrow?

My parents are working tomorrow, so I have a few plans of my own. Aside from doing the usual domestic things, I don’t plan to be without a book in hand for too long!

 

I’d like to apologise for not posting on Tuesday as promised. I found choosing my Top Ten characters of the A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones) series a lot harder than I expected. Once I had picked my top ten I started writing brief commentaries on each. By 10:30pm on the Tuesday local time, I’d only written up satisfactory commentaries for half of the characters. At that point, I decided I wasn’t going to get the post ready for publishing to the standard I would like that night. Therefore, I decided to postpone it. When it does go live, I hope it doesn’t disappoint. I think I made the right decision in the end, and I hope you can understand.

I did manage to publish my review of Mythos by Stephen Fry on schedule. My interest in Greek Mythology stemmed from reading The Road to Alexander back in January, which features the story of Persephone and Hades. Mythos is my first non-fiction read of the year and I aim to read another four by the end of December. It’s not a huge number, I know, but we all have to start somewhere right?

 

Books Read

After last week’s Sunday Summary post, I promptly finished Sword Song by Bernard Cornwell. I really love this historical fiction series! The characters (Uhtred in particular) are fantastic and the narrative is easy to get lost in. I had less than 20% left so finishing this last weekend was quite easy.

I’ve spent most of the week reading Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean. I was kindly sent a copy of this to review by Gollancz. YA isn’t a typical genre for me, although I do like to sample it from time to time. I’m glad I requested this book. It gave me insight into a completely different culture and the fantasy element of the tale was really enjoyable to read! I look forward to writing my full review!

With Empress of all Seasons concluded, the rest of this month is dedicated to A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin. When I set my reading list for the month I said I’d be happy if I got around to starting the book. To be nearly 20% through the book with five days of May left is an incredible achievement! Reckon I can get to 60% by the end of the month? That sounds like a challenge to me!

I have also been listening to The Painted Man in the car on the way home from work. I’ll be popping out and about in the car tomorrow, so you can be sure I’ll be chipping into it some more. I have three and a half hours of the story left, so my second challenge is to finish this by the time I publish next week’s Sunday Summary post.

 

Books Discovered

 

Payday has rolled around once again (thank goodness)! This month I was determined to complete my paperback collection of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I was fortunate that my store was stocking each of the books I needed to complete my collection. I have some plans to jazz up my shelves with some GoT related decor, but for now, here they are in all their glory!

 

Coming Up…

 

With half the post already completed, I have absolutely no excuses to disappoint you this week. This week I will be posting my Top Ten A Game of Thrones characters – honest!

As with this week, I plan to share a book review for you later in the week. This time, I’ll be reviewing the final book in The Relic Guild trilogy, The Watcher of Dead Time by Edward Cox. This is another series kindly provided to me by Gollancz that I’ve really enjoyed. I hope you can check in for that post later in the week. If you want to check out my reviews of the earlier books in the trilogy, I’ll be providing links to those too!

 

Top Blog Posts of The Week

A Frolic Through Fiction – Thank you!!

 

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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?

 

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Reading List: February 2019

Hi guys!

Who would have thought it? It’s the 1st February already! Depressing January is over with at last and hopefully, we have all been paid since Christmas (thank goodness…)

Despite the weather being dull and dreary, January has actually turned out to be a productive month. I’m happy with the progress I have made towards my reading goal already. It’s been a while since I read five books in a month. Being skint probably had something to do with it. Long may it continue!

So, what have I got lined up for February, I hear you ask? Well, you have come to the right place to find out: –

 

It Never Goes Away – Tom Trott

From No.1 Private Detective to No.1 Suspect

A cryptic message from an old friend leads Joe Grabarz to an abandoned farmhouse in the middle of the South Downs. But Joe is too late, someone else has got there first: his friend is dead, and all the evidence points to him.

Ten years ago the farmhouse was the scene of three infamous murders when a young boy killed his mother, father, and little sister. Now an adult, he was released from prison with a new identity. Could he be involved? The farmhouse also sits on valuable land, fought over in a struggle between building houses and drilling for shale gas. But could it really be worth killing for? Whatever is going on, Joe knows one thing for sure: his friend’s murder is just a tiny part of it.

To bring the killer to justice Joe must dig up the past, and reckon with his own, because no matter how hard you work, it never goes away.

 

I am really excited to be taking part in the organised Blog Tour for this series a little later in the month! I have already read You Can’t Make Old Friends and Choose Your Parents Wisely; you’ll be able to see my thoughts on all three of these books in my tour post on the 9th February.

 

Karma Never Loses an Address – K. J. McGillick

Goodreads – Karma Never Loses an Address

Betrayal on Every Level

Marley Bennington had brutally murdered her older sister Samantha in a drug fueled rage. Only two people know that fact as true. One of those two people, was sitting in a state prison, serving a sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. Who was that unfortunate person? Alex Clarke, Samantha Bennington’s husband, the man so buried in circumstantial evidence that he confessed to a crime he didn’t commit, rather than face a trial. He was now trapped with no way out.

It all began as sibling rivalry and jealousy, as so many tales of treachery do. Now, that intense jealousy had ended in her sister’s murder. Once Alex was tucked safely away in prison, Marley was set to inherit millions of dollars tainted with her sister’s blood. But suddenly, two obstacles stood in her way preventing her from quickly obtaining the reward for her well executed plan. One obstacle was her brother, and the other a nosy little old lady. But for Marley, this wasn’t a problem. She had killed twice already and cheated the justice system. What were a few more bodies?

Justice delayed is justice denied. Can Marley be trapped by the very people she tried to deceive? Will karma finally visit her door? Another gripping, tangled tale from the author of Facing A Twisted Judgment.

 

I really enjoyed taking part in the tour for Facing A Twisted Judgment last year. When the opportunity to tour with a second book came up, I couldn’t refuse! I’m also touring for this one very soon, (11th February), so I’ll have to get my skates on!

 

Mythos – Stephen Fry

Goodreads – Mythos

The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.

They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry’s hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.

You’ll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia’s revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.

Thoroughly spellbinding, informative and moving, Stephen Fry’s Mythos perfectly captures these stories for the modern age – in all their rich and deeply human relevance.

 

I started reading this book in the last week of January as I pledged to try to read more non-fiction books this year than I have done previously. So far I am enjoying the stories and the informative little tidbits that tie in the Greek Gods and the words that we use in English today. I’ve always liked little things like that. Weird, I know. I wanted to be a speech therapist at one point… if that explains anything to you.

 

Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares – Shaun Hume

Goodreads – Ewan Pendle and the Castle of Nightmares

When Ewan Pendle began his second training year at Firedrake Lyceum, he thought it might at least be easier than the first. Now that he knew he was a Lenitnes, one of an ancient race of peoples who alone can see the real Creatures which inhabit the earth, he hoped things would maybe go a little downhill from here … How wrong he was.

Ewan is summoned by Alice Blazely, the would be assassin who he and his friends Mathilde and Enid helped capture last year, the cunning woman using her final wish after being sentenced to death for her crimes to request a private meeting with Ewan. Alone together in a deep and dank cell, Alice reveals a secret which could turn Ewan’s world upside down – again. Does she hold the answer to deciphering Ewan’s disturbing reoccurring dreams? Can he ever trust the woman who wanted to see him dead?

As if a shocking revelation from a new foe wasn’t enough to handle, Ewan must also tackle a sea monster in the Thames, deal with the evil Rosethorn twins, come face to face with a shadow troll in a London alleyway and bargain with a crafty dragon, and attempt to find a treasure lost for over a thousand years …

As the summer ends, Ewan’s year long initiation into the world of creatures and the Lenitnes is finally over. But it’s then when monsters of all shapes and sizes really do start leaping, clawing and flying at him thick and fast!

 

Not only is this a read-to-review, but I’ll also be offering my feedback to the author. I was actually sent this a couple of months ago, so apologies for the delay in getting around to it Shaun! I read the first book of the series last year – it was one of the first ever reviews on my blog. Where will Ewan’s adventures take him next?

 

The End of Magic – Mark Stay

Goodreads – The End of Magic

There are epic fantasies where magic is a thing of the past, spoken of in hushed tones until some kid pulls a sword from a stone and it all kicks off again… This is not one of those stories. The End of Magic will take you back to a time when magic collapsed, when the world went mad, chaos reigned, and we’ll get to see it through the eyes of three people who have everything to lose…

Sander Bree is a royal mage. The personification of privilege, he lives a cushy life advising the king on matters of court and politics, yet still finds plenty of time to complain that he’s stuck in a rut. Rosheen Katell is an immigrant freelancer and, with Anzu her griffin, she’s worked hard to build a reputation as a trustworthy truth seer. She never lies, never kills.

Oskar is Rosheen’s younger brother. Mute from birth he is a moonchild. Alone and vulnerable, he will endure more change than anyone. Both Sander and Rosheen are entirely dependent on magic. The source of their power is the Lapis Moon in orbit above. Very soon, that magic will be gone, changing their lives and their world forever. Sander must keep a promise that would have been difficult enough with magic, but is a suicide mission without it. Rosheen is forced to side with a murderous warlord, and her once-solid principles are tested and found wanting. Oskar needs to survive unthinkable terror and find his sister.

All are set against one another in a war unlike anything the world has seen before. The End of Magic is an exhilarating wild ride, by turns epic and intimate, funny and dark, and perfect for fans of Jen Williams, Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch.

 

I received a request to provide an honest review from the author; upon reading the synopsis, I couldn’t refuse. I’m intrigued by the characters and the predicament they seem to find themselves in. I love fantasy novels (especially those involving magic) so my mind was made up very quickly!

So, that’s my reading list for the month! What are you reading friends?