BOOK REVIEW | THE COUNCILLOR BY E. J. BEATON

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening

Hi I’m Dan and I’m going to share with you my review of E. J. Beaton’s The Council.

BOOK SYNOPSIS:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

This Machiavellian fantasy follows a scholar’s quest to choose the next ruler of her kingdom amidst lies, conspiracy, and assassination.

When the death of Iron Queen Sarelin Brey fractures the realm of Elira, Lysande Prior, the palace scholar and the queen’s closest friend, is appointed Councillor. Publically, Lysande must choose the next monarch from amongst the city-rulers vying for the throne. Privately, she seeks to discover which ruler murdered the queen, suspecting the use of magic.

Resourceful, analytical, and quiet, Lysande appears to embody the motto she was raised with: everything in its place. Yet while she hides her drug addiction from her new associates, she cannot hide her growing interest in power. She becomes locked in a game of strategy with the city-rulers – especially the erudite prince Luca Fontaine, who seems to shift between ally and rival.

Further from home, an old enemy is stirring: the magic-wielding White Queen is on the move again, and her alliance with a traitor among the royal milieu poses a danger not just to the peace of the realm, but to the survival of everything that Lysande cares about.

In a world where the low-born keep their heads down, Lysande must learn to fight an enemy who wears many guises… even as she wages her own battle between ambition and restraint. 

ORDER HEREKindleHardback | Audiobook

Page count: 448

Publisher: DAW

DAN’S REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is E J Beaton’s debut novel and is described as a Machiavellian fantasy. Given the inspiration for the novel, the politics of this world are shaped by Beatons passion for that era. The plot involves everything that you would expect, from political intrigue, to sharp insights into privilege and power with fantasy elements intricately woven into this very intelligent, sophisticated and beautifully written novel. I think Beaton has weaved so much intrigue into every aspect of this world, as well as introducing her stunning world building, phenomenal characterisation and brilliant Innovation in the crafting of the history and the lore of this world. This installment has really setup this series so well. I think fans will be so engaged for what’s to come.

Never have I read a novel with so much intrigue as this, every facet of this book presented so many questions, from Lysande humble beginnings at the orphanage and the details surrounding her discovery in a war torn district, to the assassination of Seralin and everything that followed after her appointment as Councillor. It really is fascinating journey following her through the murky world of politics, through a fractured realm, not knowing who to call friend or foe. But the biggest mystery, was the information surrounding the ominous threat of the White Queen and her elemental army, as the details have formerly been hidden within the history books. Everything within this world is a tale of discovery for our main protagonist Lysande Prior, she’s the person that must unlock those secrets to save the realm. With so much to know, those pages keep turning and the eagerness to know more never ceases. For me this level of intrigue is what most readers will really love about this novel.

In all honesty when I started this novel I had misconception that their would be an overwhelming cast, with huge amounts of information to take in, with many complex political machinations, but what I quickly realised is that the execution of the plot is done in such a way that it allows you take in what’s happening at a steady pace and I felt that everything unraveled perfectly. I think multiple PoVs would have made the book feel so much more drawn out and a little tedious. As the execution of the plot was so skillful, it didn’t take the focus off the characterisation and made that aspect of the book shine a little brighter. As a more character driven reader I totally appreciated this approach. I feel some plot heavier books sometimes neglect adding that depth to the characterisation.

I had only basic knowledge of Machiavellian politics when I started the book. I wouldn’t say its essential but I think it would’ve deepened my appreciation. Its definitely inspired me to learn a little more about the history, also potentially do a reread before the second book arrives. You do really recognise the influences mainly in the way the Iron queen rules the realm of Elira. It’s very much about the fact that it’s better to be feared than adored and by extension the treatment of the Elementals is an obvious example of where that comes into play, as most of them find their ways to the gallows. During Lysandes constant reflection on her memories of their relationship, it really puts a focus on the politics and not just there relationship and gives a deep dive into Sarelins character at the same time. You see continuing influences in the strategies Lysande employs and the ruthless nature of the politics in the way that she engages the other rulers . So It’ll be interesting to see the journey that Lysande will take, from where she is in this novel to maybe arriving at the point of seeing the necessity of the Iron Queens philosophy. I found the historical political influences really interesting and very accessible and there are many great insights.

This novel features an incredibly rich well imagined cast of very morally grey characters, lead by the enigmatic Lysande the Councillor to the crown. The characterisation was phenomenal, the whole cast was incredibly well fleshed out , described with a level of intricate detail that totally draws you in and you become totally immersed in these characters stories. Our main protagonist Lysande is such a masterfully crafted character, I have to say that I loved her intellect and lust for knowledge, overwhelmed by her ambition and I envied her tenacity to succeed. Although she is a flawed character, I think her drug addiction really did humanise her and made her a very balanced character. She’s without question a hugely compelling character and is a formidable leading lady. Her constant periods of introspection gave her much greater depth, which fleshed her character out as much as possible. Our villain the ominous White Queen, Mea Tacitus character was so brilliantly executed that you genuinely shudder at the mention of her name! She really has the presence of malevolent god who strikes fear into all those within the realm. On a personal note she is literally one of the most finely crafted villains that ive come across and one of my personal favourites. For a character that only exists in the minds of our characters in this book, her impact was huge! That dynamic was really interesting and worked so well. So considering these two epic characters the battle for the realm seems like it will be an incredible journey. But I have an inkling it may not play out as we think it will…

The world building can only be described as beautifully vibrant, vivid and totally captivating. The attention to detail is astounding really making this novel burst into life.There are several brilliantly crafted kingdoms within this realm, rich with their own histories and cultural identities. Every nation did have its own religious and spiritual identity which helped define each nation with a little more depth. Beaton guides you through the grandeur of the capital, through the gothic cities of Rhime to the desert cities of the south with intricate detail painting some of the most ornate settings that are totally memorising. I really enjoyed seeing Lysande unearthing secrets from the history books as it was such a great opportunity to introduce so more depth to the world building and the magic and the Lore of this world. The strong world building in this first installment has really laid the foundations successfully for this series going forward.

This is a low magic fantasy, it is however central to this books plot, it does have a more of a traditional feel and isn’t overly complex in comparison to most modern magic systems. I really do prefer some mystery surrounding the magic system and I enjoy learning about the history and lore of a world and this is amongst the most memorable. The lore and the alchemy of this world is totally fascinating and very innovative and is totally intoxicating.I loved the fact that Chimaera is central to the elementals lore, really making it quite unique and was a phenomenal choice, as opposed to the over used mythical creature we all know to well. There is definitely more depth to the magic users of this world and you’ll be hooked on their history as much as everything else, I was left with so many questions.

For me the flawless lyrical prose was the best aspect of this novel and is what you’d expect given EJ Beatons background, but it does really heighten the experience of this intricate, nuanced, wonderfully elegant and engaging novel. Beatons prose could be easily compared to Robin Hobbs and I’d imagine going forward that Beaton will be standing shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest authors within the genre.

It’s without doubt a totally fierce debut, it really was totally stunning, this book sets up this world for what promises to be a phenomenal series. This is one author we all need to keep and eye on, as its mind bending to think what heights this series could reach as we go further into this world. It is also an incredible introduction to Lysande Prior and I can see her becoming a totally iconic character amongst fantasy community!! As far as debut novels go, the bar has been officially raised!!!



BOOK REVIEW | THE NAME OF THE WIND BY PATRICK ROTHFUSS

Hello Bookish Folk!

Today I am going to attempt review the book that is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Name of the Wind
  • Author: Patrick Rothfuss
  • Illustrated By: Daniel Dos Santos
  • Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle (Book One)
  • Pages: 752

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

DAY ONE: THE NAME OF THE WIND

My name is Kvothe.

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.


So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature—the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

ORDER HERE: Audible | Paperback | Kindle | Bookshop.Org | The Broken Binding (Use code SAMBOOKINH for 5% OFF)

Review:

“Someone’s parents,” he said, “have been singing entirely the wrong sort of songs.”

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • Stunning prose;
  • Incredible characters from Kvothe all the way to the secondary characters;
  • A well balanced and beautifully structured story; and
  • A book wholly worthy of its praise and status in the fantasy community.

On to the full review…

“Kvothe, Defend yourself well at the University. Make me proud. Remember your father’s song. Be wary of folly.

Where do you even begin with a book such as this, nothing I say feels like it can adequately explain what this book is because it is so much more than a book. 

So many books are good, even incredible but they aren’t always a story, they don’t give you that bone deep feeling of an age old tale told by only the wisest of your community. Rothfuss makes storytelling feel like what it was, old campfires and bringing people together because they are so enraptured by a tale of a person they have never known yet they need to know more, and it is what brings them back the next day. That is what this book is.

The Name of the Wind is a really hard book to describe, and reviewing it is even harder because it isn’t something that I feel should be reviewed in the normal way. It is so much more,  it is about how the book leaves you feeling and you can’t pull that apart into characters, world and blah blah blah. They were all exceptional and this is one of best books I have read, everything within this books pages feels so perfectly balanced.

The Name of the Wind evokes such a level of emotion from you as a reader, it is quite profound. It is the story of Kvothe’s life from his time in a troupe to his time in university, and yes that includes growing up, traveling and going to university. You’re probably thinking okkk but what else happens…well my fellow newcomers to The Name of the Wind, so much happens but it is not a book with huge battles and such but the formation of friendships, lots of rumours, beautiful world building and so much Kvothe. 

“I’m to be whipped and admitted to the Arcanum.” He looked at me curiously, trying to see if I was making a joke. “I’m sorry? Congratulations?” He made a shy smile at me. “Do I buy you a bandage or a beer?” I smiled back. “Both.”

The world building is phenomenal, it is so detailed and well thought out but none is told to you, everything is shown and built so well. Entering this world was like stepping into a lusciously hot bath. First the toes slide in and you feel the sensational heat and you want more, up the legs you go until you are fully emerged into the all encompassing heat of the water and there you want to stay. That is what this world is, you are introduced slowly enough that you don’t get burnt by too much of it but are teased with its skill and you want all of it and you want to stay there.

The character work is also exceptional, this is the epitome of a character driven fantasy and I loved every character I came across even the ones I hated. Yes I am looking at you Ambrose! But each character you meet is purposeful and brings so much to their scenes.

Rothfuss is without doubt an incredible writer, each scene is so well crafted to show you the exact emotions he wants you to feel and his writing style is dynamic and ever changing to match that. At one point, when Kvothe is stricken with grief Rothfuss adjust his writing to really exemplify the tone of those chapters and the same goes for when he is writing a joyous scene. And the music…I have never seen something that is so hard to pin down with words and explain so well explained. You felt it all.

“Words have to find a man’s mind before they can touch his heart, and some men’s minds are woeful small targets. Music touches their hearts directly no matter how small or stubborn the mind of the man who listens.”

I have even begun to scratch the surface on how amazing this book is, these are the times a podcast would be better suited because you can discuss this book and all its glory for hours. From your favourite scenes, to the characters, the worlds history and so much more! Me and Davis S from FanFiAddict talked none stop through this, honestly if you saw our chats you be itching to read it all over again. Just seeing quotes from the books has you wanting to read specific scenes again, if not the whole bloody book.

IT WAS NIGHT AGAIN. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.”


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

I LOVED this book and I picked up the Illustrated 10th Anniversary Edition for my Buddy Read and I am SO glad I did! I think I paid £28.00 for it and honestly I would pay a whole load more too! As soon as I have a little photoshoot of the book I will show you!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


KEEP IT OR CUT IT | WEEK TWELVE

Hello and welcome back to Keep It or Cut It!

I have missed a few of these lately, I have been so busy, work is making the most of the fact we are on furlough and I have so much training to get done by the weekend. I still have so many modules to get done but I feel bad that I have neglected this feature. So pardon me for a shorter post this week…

The Method

In order to find out if I wish to KEEP IT OR CUT IT I will do the following:

  • See if the blurb/synopsis still tickles my fancy
  • Check out the reviews
  • Maybe read the sample

THE BOOKS…

BOOK #1

THE IRON KING BY JULIE KAGAWA

Goodreads Link

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

Thoughts:

I feel like this book will be a bit of a throwback book, I really like fae stories always have but I cant always find one that deal more in the adult fantasy genre than young adult.

“I was greatly impressed with the way Kagawa intertwined the steampunk of today with the fey stories we have always been so captivated by.”

Trin (4 Stars)

BOOK #2

SNOW LIKE ASHES BY SARA RAASCH

Goodreads Link

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Thoughts:

Trusty reviewer I appreciate do not love this book, and the points raised can be a pain sooo…

BOOK #3

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS BY RAE CARSON

Goodreads Link

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one. 

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

Thoughts:

You know, this books sounds like a book I would like to read. I always like these reads when Im in the mood and I don’t feel like im aware of to many that are done well, so considering the reviews I will keep this for one of those days.

For one reason or another, this book didn’t have much initial cover appeal to me, so I passed it over early on without taking the time to find out what it was about. Foolish I tell you – FOOLISH! It wasn’t until I jumped aboard the Throne of Glass bandwagon that I started noticing the many cross-references between the two series.

Niki Hawkes (5 Stars)

BOOK #4

THE LIGHTNING THIEF BY RICK RIORDAN

Goodreads Link

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena – Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods. 

Thoughts:

This is a book I have been meaning to read for so long but never have, and sadly I don’t think I will..

BOOK #5

ERAGON BY CHRISTOPHER PALINI

Goodreads Link

One boy…
One dragon…
A world of adventure.

When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.

Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds.

Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands. 

Thoughts:

I actually have these books on my shelves and I have read them, but it was that long ago I have no clue what happens (not beyond the movie) so I really want to see if it still good.

BOOK #6 THE VINE WITCH BY LUANNE G. SMITH

Goodreads Link

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

Thoughts:

I don’t know why but this book just doesn’t grab me, it did when I first saw it, and I even have the eBook. Maybe I will read it but if I really fancy it and see it on my kindle but otherwise…

BOOK #7 THE NINTH SORCERESS BY BONNIE WYNNE

Goodreads Link

In the blackest dungeon of the Clockwork City, a prisoner lies bound in silver shackles. Who is she? And why are the wizards so afraid of her?

Seventeen-year-old Gwyn has no family and no past. Apprenticed to a half-mad herbalist, she travels the snow-blasted High Country, hawking potions in a peddler’s wagon. Her guardian hides her from the world like a dark secret, and she knows better than to push for answers.

But when she discovers she is hunted by the goddess Beheret, Gwyn is drawn into a deep and ancient tale: of chained gods and lost magic, of truths long buried and the rising of a war she never could have imagined.

Wizards and their magic-sniffing hounds pursue her – as does a stranger in a smiling mask, who calls her by an unfamiliar name… 

But what really terrify her are the dangerous gifts she’s spent her life suppressing. Now, Gwyn must step out of the shadows and take charge of her destiny – even if the price is her own soul.

The Ninth Sorceress is the breathtaking first instalment of The Price of Magic, a sweeping fantasy saga full of rich storytelling and tangible magic. 

Thoughts:

I don’t actually mind the sound of this book, it isn’t doing anything new but it doesn’t sound bd. I just know I won’t read it over other books I have and want to read.

BOOK #8

SEMIOSIS BY SUE BURKE

Goodreads Link

In this character driven novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke, human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance.

Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet’s sentient species and prove that mammals are more than tools.

Forced to land on a planet they aren’t prepared for, human colonists rely on their limited resources to survive. The planet provides a lush but inexplicable landscape–trees offer edible, addictive fruit one day and poison the next, while the ruins of an alien race are found entwined in the roots of a strange plant. Conflicts between generations arise as they struggle to understand one another and grapple with an unknowable alien intellect.

Thoughts:

Character driven, debut and bizarre alliances…what isn’t intriguing about that, plus it has some good reviews. I remember adding this because it was nothing like what I have read or usually read and I want to push the boat out a little.

BOOK #9 NINEFOX GAMBIT BY YOON HA LEE

Goodreads Link

The first installment of the trilogy, Ninefox Gambit, centers on disgraced captain Kel Cheris, who must recapture the formidable Fortress of Scattered Needles in order to redeem herself in front of the Hexarchate.

To win an impossible war Captain Kel Cheris must awaken an ancient weapon and a despised traitor general.

Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris’s career isn’t the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

Cheris’s best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress.

The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own. As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao–because she might be his next victim.

Thoughts:

I did not know this was Yoon Ha Lee! It doesn’t make much a difference because I tried reading this a while back but couldn’t really get it into but I find it coincidental that I have just read Phoenix Extravagant and then this books crops up.

BOOK #10

THE NINTH RAIN BY JEN WILLIANS

Goodreads Link

The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces – talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.

When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.

But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure’lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall…

Thoughts:

This has been on my radar for quite a while, and I actually grabbed a copy of it recently.

The Ninth Rain won the Best Fantasy Novel trophy in British Fantasy Awards 2018; this is a totally well-deserved victory. “

Petrik (4.5 Stars)

There it is!

So, this week I have cut 5 books and kept 5. HALF AND HALF, I think this is the first week I have cut more than three!

What do you think are there any books I really should have cut or ones you cant believe I cut?


BOOK REVIEW | THE SHADOW OF THE GODS BY JOHN GWYNNE

Hello Bookish Beings!

Today I am finally going to review John Gwynne’s newest book The Shadow of the Gods.

I would like to thank Orbit for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, receiving this by no means influences my review but if you don’t know already I am a HUGE John Gwynne fan so…

This review is likely no shock.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Shadow of the Gods
  • Author: John Gwynne
  • Series: The Bloodsworn Saga (Book One)
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 496

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

ORDER HEREAudible | Kindle | Paperback | Hardcover |  Bookshop.Org | The Broken Binding (Use code SAMBOOKINH for 5% OFF)

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • A Norse inspired epic;
  • Phenomenal world building;
  • An incredible first book to what will no doubt be brilliant series; and
  • AMAZING characters and side characters.

On to the full review…

The Shadow of the Gods was easily my MOST anticipated release this year and it did not disappoint. It is just one more example of how spectacular an author John Gwynne is. Set in a brand new norse inspired world it is the start to something incredible and I am desperately excited for book two! AND BOOK ONE ISN’T EVEN OUT YET!

“I am blood. I am death. I am vengeance.”

The Shadow of the Gods is told from three POV’s, we have Orka, Varg and Elvar and as per usual with John Gwynne I loved them all. Usually when reading a book with several POV’s you tend to prefer one to the others and while this is still the case for this book it always changed! The way John Gwynne writes allows for each character to have their limelight, for some chapters I was itching to get back to Elvar and other Varg or Orka. This, in my opinion, is great because you are always on your toes and you are constantly learning more and gravitating to different characters and also to the side characters that surround them.

If you have read any of Gwynne’s work before you will know just how fabulous his characters are, not merely his main characters but also the side characters too. There is such a realness to ALL the characters Gwynne creates and even those with a smaller part to play in the overall story pack a punch and are memorable. There is a curiosity around all the characters you come across and the journey into unraveling their past is such a fun experience. I won’t go into the characters to much because I want you to experience them first hand, but goodness they are fab! Gwynne gives you tiny snippets into their past and following those breadcrumbs is always fun, I loved this in The Faithful and the Fallen so I was so happy to see it in The Shadow of the Gods too.

The depth of all the characters is great, each of our characters brings something to the table and there is such a variety of characters to attract you to the tale. We have battle hardened warriors, retired warriors, a loyal protector, witty and hilarious friends, mysterious witches and so so much more.

Now, for the bloodshed! I have to say this is probably the bloodiest book I have read by Mr. Gwynne and it isn’t like he stays away from it in his other books! There are shield walls, battles, skirmishes, wicked creatures, godly relics and DRAGONS! It is gritty, brutal and oh so good. Every battle in this book was tense and at no point did any character feel infallible, because lets be honest we all know John Gwynne ain’t afraid to kills off his characters! But because of how Gwynne writes his battles I kind of want to tell all fantasy authors to go dabble in battle reenactments just so they can know the weight of a shield, the demands battle has on a person and to know the feeling of bodies throwing themselves again a shield wall! Because these details that Gwynne inserts into his writing will always keep him a step above.

“That is why we fight so hard for each other. We do not abandon the living. We do not abandon those we have sworn oaths to.”

The world that Gwynne has created here is bloody marvellous, and honestly I would like a bestiary just for this world! I was constantly imagining the creatures that fill it and I loved the general world. I spent a weekend in York pre COVID and we went to Jorvik which is an epic recreation of a nordic settlement and I am so glad I went and even more so now because all the world building tidbits we get to see in this book were so on point and ones I had seen at Jorvik. Gwynne truly managed to capture the day to day aspects of this world and it sets the tone of this world brilliantly. I have read quite a few norse inspired books now and none even come close to Gwynne’s ability to capture the authenticity of this time period. Gwynne is meticulous in his world building and none of it is pointless or boring. I am really not a person who needs to much world building but there are books that show me that when it is done right I am all for it! The Shadow of the Gods is one of those books. I could read a whole host of books set in this world!

“Fear can be ice or fire in the veins, freezing the body or setting a blaze within it.”

I am constantly wowed when I read Gwynne’s books because he is just an incredible storyteller, he is constantly building and building to get to the climax and boy when you are there it is nothing short of outstanding. The pace was great for me, the story never felt stale for me and it was constantly moving forward. Another bonus is that I trust John Gwynne implicitly, I was only saying the other day to a friend that Gwynne gets away with some things with me, not errors or flaws but, for example, cliff hangers usually annoy me to no end but I don’t care about that in this book, it has just made me more excited because Gwynne has continually provided and impressed me as a reader. I have utter faith this series will continue to shine and impress me as this book has.

To conclude this review and generally reign in my need to gush even more I will end this review by telling you to pick this bloody book up! It is a brilliant start to the series and is one that gives you so much but lets you know there is also so much yet to come! As per usual Gwynne has created some of the best characters you will read and had me falling in love with them quicker than any other book can.


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

This book is simply brilliant, and lets take a minute to praise the STUNNING cover. If Gwynne’s writing didn’t warrant a BUY THE HARDBACK rank the bloody cover would!

The Shadow of the Gods full cover by Marcus Whinney

AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


SUNDAYS SEVEN | 7 SFF AUDIOBOOKS UNDER 12 HOURS…

***Please note this page contains affiliate links and at no extra charge to you I can earn a small fee on any qualifying purchases. Any and all money earned through these goes straight back into the blog***

Happy Sunday Bookish Folk! Sam here, and I am going to talk to you today about AUDIOBOOKS…

I love audiobooks!

But boy can some of them be long ass narrations, I mean they are long ass books so it not going to be a short narration but still they can be pretty daunting. I find that I quite like the 12 to 16 hour mark, I will listen to longer but I like that it doesn’t take me ages to finish these narration lengths.

They are great for cleaning, cooking, longer drives, commutes and so much more! But this isn’t a post about when you can listen to audiobooks. So, here is a list of seven audiobooks within the Fantasy genre that are less than 12 hours long…

ON TO THE AUDIOBOOKS…

The Black Elfstone NARRATED BY SIMON VANCE

Book One of the Fall of Shannara, TERRY BROOKS

Narration Length: 10 Hours 37 Minutes

A lot of people talk about Terry Brooks and his books and yet I haven’t read any of his books yet but when I saw this audiobook was just over 10 hours I had to pick it up, and then to see it is narrated by Simon Vance…I WAS SOLD!

Simon Vance is a great narrator and has one of those voices I could listen to for quite some time, he always brings his books to life and his characters are always distinguishable and fun. I have started to listening to this narration and straight off the bat he sets the tone of the opening scene and brings to life the characters involved.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!

GRAB THE AUDIOBOOK


THE HOBBIT NARRATED BY ANDY SERKIS

J. R. R. TOLKIEN

Narration Length: 10 Hour and 24 Minutes

This is one of my favourite audiobooks, and it is a favourite book of mien too but to have it read by Andy Serkis is nothing short of amazing! We all love Gollum and his unique voice to to have Serkis narrate this and bring Gollum to life on a whole other level was so fun.

Serkis bring everything from the long descriptions to the singing to life, and I really hope he narrates the LOTR’s audiobooks to then I can listen to them.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!

GRAB THE AUDIOBOOK


RING SHOUT NARRATED BY CHANNIE WAITES

P. DJELI CLARK

Narration Length: 5 Hours and 36 Minutes

Now, this is a super short audiobook as it is a short story but it is so good and it packs so much into its five and a half hours! I loved this when I read it, and I grabbed the audiobook so I could keep reading/listening while I did other things too.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!

GRAB THE AUDIOBOOK


The BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE NARRATED BY KATHLEEN GATI

Book One of the WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY, KATHERINE ARDEN

Narration Length: 11 Hours and 48 Minutes

This absolutely gorgeous novel can be enjoyed in Gati’s soothing and immersive voice. Gati really tells this story, it is so atmospheric and I adore this audiobook. They way she tells the story is just so soulful and brilliant and you really get a feel for the characters and their struggles and triumphs.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!

GRAB THE AUDIOBOOK


BLOOD OF ELVES NARRATED BY PETER KENNY

Book One of the WITCHER SERIES, ANDRZEJ SAPKOWSKI

Narration Length: 11 Hours and 11 Minutes

Ok, so The Witcher series hardly need any introduction, it is a TV show, a book series and a game. It is everywhere. It has epic creatures and Geralt…what more do you need to know?! The narration of this book is really great Kenny has a really unique voice. I will admit at first I wasn’t sure but having a few more narrators and listens under my belt I can appreciate Kenny’s voice for what it is, and that is a gritty and very charismatic voice.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!

GRAB THE AUDIOBOOK


DRAGON FLIGHT NARRATED BY SOPHIE ALDRED

Book One of the DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN, ANNE MCCAFFREY

Narration Length: 10 Hours and 7

In this instance it is Sophie Aldred who needs no introduction, I listened to Sophie’s narration of The Doors of Eden and I also have her narration of Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward. Sophie is an incredible narrator and I had such fun listening to The Doors of Eden, obviously it is as much to do with the book as it is the voice, but I cannot praise Sophie enough.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!

GRAB THE AUDIOBOOK


BLACKWING NARRATED BY COLIN MACE

Book One of the RAVENSMARKS TRILOGY, ED MCDONALD

Narration Length: 11 Hours and 27 Minutes

Ahhh Colin Mace, I love Colin Mace’s voice. He is very similar to Simon Vance in that he is a narrator I can listen to for longer durations. He is such a great storyteller and and his voice…I swear it just is a balm to my soul!

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!

GRAB THE AUDIOBOOK


Also check out 7 AUDIOBOOKS FOR PEOPLE WHO STRUGGLE WITH AUDIOBOOKS for even more audiobook recommendations!

Thanks for reading.


BOOK REVIEW | THE LIGHT OF ALL THAT FALLS BY JAMES ISLINGTON

Hello Everyone and welcome back to The Book in Hand for another review!

As with The Shadow of What Was Lost & An Echo of Things to Come I read this book with David from FanFiAddict and Eleni from Late Night Books continuing with one of the best Buddy Reads.

If you haven’t already listened to me in my last two reviews go and check out their accounts. They ROCK!

Eleni’s Twitter & David’s Twitter.

You can find David’s review of The Shadow of What Was Lost HERE and you can find his review of An Echo of Things to Come HERE.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Light of All That Falls
  • Author: James Islington
  • Series: The Licanius Trilogy (Book Three)
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 864

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

The Light of All That Falls concludes the epic adventure that began in The Shadow of What Was Lost, the acclaimed fantasy blockbuster from James Islington.

The Boundary is whole once again, but it may be too late.

Banes now stalk Andarra, while in Ilin Illan, the political machinations of a generation come to a head as Wirr’s newfound ability forces his family’s old enemies into action.

Imprisoned and alone in a strange land, Davian is pitted against the remaining Venerate as they work tirelessly to undo Asha’s sacrifice – even as he struggles with what he has learned about the friend he chose to set free.

And Caeden, now facing the consequences of his centuries-old plan, must finally confront its reality – heartbroken at how it began, and devastated by how it must end.

ORDER HERE: Audible | Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org | The Broken Binding (Use code SAMBOOKINH for 5% OFF)

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • Mmmm, so it is pretty complex;
  • An epic and utterly satisfying conclusion;
  • Still 10/10 for its characters; and
  • A masterfully complex series but one you can follow and enjoy.

On to the full review…

“Faithful people suffer and evil people prosper all the time, Davian—you must know that is true. Besides, if our actions are driven only by reward or punishment—eternal or otherwise—then they are motivated by greed and selfishness, not faith or love.”

Ok, so I am going to start this review with one of its easier points! There is a lot to love about this book, and the trilogy as a whole but it can be so hard to get your words out, especially ones that truly do justice for the book in hand (see what I did there)…

Ok, I know that was bad. Back to the review…

Something I always appreciate in a book, and what this trilogy has continually impressed me with is the writing. It is no unknown thing that this is a fairly complex trilogy, and this book goes even further than the others but Islington’s writing made it that much more manageable. And good lawddd!! The authenticity of the dialogue in this book is so on point. This trilogy has so much going for it but one of the strengths for me is the humour, in a book that is complex, heartfelt and thoughtful the insertion of humour is much needed and so well done. It is just the humour I love too.

Wirr glowered. “Easy for you lot to say,” he grumbled.

Caeden glanced across at him. “We’ll make sure you’re safe. We’re all painfully aware that you’re the weakest one here.”

“It’s a little awkward,” concurred Asha.

“Lucky you’re a prince, really,” continued Davian absently, peering over the edge into the raging white water. “You wouldn’t have a whole lot going for you if you didn’t have—”

“All right,” growled Wirr.

This book and the books before it are actually quite emotional books, they have such strong themes that are so beautifully written and brought to life with the incredible characters we have come to know and love.

When starting this trilogy the third book was already out and there was a lot of hype for its conclusion. That hype is not over-exaggerated. All I will say on the matter is that it is utterly satisfying and the ending the series needed. You know that feeling, when you are at a concert and everyone is singing the final song, chanting loud and full of life, the music stops and it is just the crowd carrying on the song. You’re both elated from the experience and sad it is going to end…that is what this book is.

I have said it before, but I will say it again…This series has a cast of characters that are simply outstanding and their development and growth both individually and as a group of friends never once failed to surprise and impress me. This book will give you ALL the feels, some good and some bad but all worth it. The level of emotion this books pulls from you as a reader is exceptions to say the least.

There isn’t really much I can say that I haven’t said already in my two past reviews of this series. I totally get why people review a series as a whole after an initial review of the first book, might be the way forward.

This is a series I binged and it is one I will definitely reread, and I suspect a trilogy that I will read again and spot all sorts of little subtle reveals and just be an excited dope! The fact that I am able to have just finished this series and already be excited about any potential rereads just shows you how great this series is!

“It’s not enough to fight for the right side. You have to figure out how to fight the right way, too. If winning is truly all that matters, then we’ve lost sight of what’s actually right and wrong in the first place.”


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

While I don’t actually own the Hardbacks for this, if I could get my hands on them I SO would. These books are incredibly fun, have some of the best characters I’ve read and are books I have no doubt I will reread!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | AN ECHO OF THINGS TO COME BY JAMES ISLINGTON

Hello Everyone and welcome back to The Book in Hand for another review!

As with The Shadow of What Was Lost I read this book with David from FanFiAddict and Eleni from Late Night Books continuing with one of the best Buddy Reads.

If you don’t already know or follow them you totally should! They are simply the best!

Eleni’s Twitter & David’s Twitter.

You can find David’s review of An Echo of Things to Come HERE.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: An Echo Of Things To Come
  • Author: James Islington
  • Series: The Licanius Trilogy (Book Two)
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 704

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Darkness spreads across a land in need of heroes.

In the wake of the devastating attack on Ilin Illan, an amnesty has been declared for all Augurs – finally allowing them to emerge from hiding and openly oppose the dark forces massing against Andarra. However, as Davian and his new allies hurry north towards the ever-weakening Boundary, fresh horrors along their path suggest that their reprieve may have come far too late.

In the capital, Wirr is forced to contend with assassins and an increasingly hostile Administration as he controversially assumes the mantle of Northwarden, uncovering a mystery which draws into question everything commonly believed about the rebellion his father led twenty years ago. Meanwhile, Asha begins a secret investigation into the disappearance of the Shadows, determined to discover not only where they went but the origin of the Vessels that created them – and, ultimately, a cure.

And with time against him as he races to fulfil the treacherous bargain with the Lyth, Caeden continues to wrestle with the impossibly heavy burdens of his past. Yet as more and more of his memories return, he begins to realise that the motivations of the two sides in this ancient war may not be as clear-cut as they first seemed . . .

ORDER HERE: Audible | Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org | The Broken Binding (Use code SAMBOOKINH for 5% OFF)

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • Multiple character POV’s which are all equally interesting and fun;
  • Well written and utterly enthralling time jumps/flashbacks;
  • A closer look at the world and all the that gill it both in the past and the present; and
  • A brilliant bridge book to prepare you for book three.

On to the full review…

“The lesser of two evils, and the greater good. The most dangerous phrases in the world.” 

An Echo of Things to Come is the second book in the Licanius Trilogy and it was a great read. While I enjoyed book one just a smidgen more this was still an incredible book. I got the feeling that this book was more of a bridge book. This instalment gave you more history, character development and even greater foundations for its ultimate conclusion. Which I think is such an apt and cool way to describe this book (thank you Eleni) because it was still a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this book but ultimately it is more about preparing you for book three. Which I really don’t mind when it is done this well.

Though, despite my above comments (not that they are bad) this book was so utterly engaging. We see so much more from all the characters as they develop and grow into some of my favourite characters written! They are so well developed and nuanced. Each character has their own interesting storyline, their own mission if you will, and Islington continues to give each a unique journey and voice. Each is a little bit different than the other, one will give you the political intrigue and all the power plays you love while another will give you that feeling of adventure and keep moving through the world showing you more and more each time. It is brilliantly done.

“Even if our choices are inevitable, it doesn’t mean that they are not our own.” 

Now, some of you may know I look for good characters above all in a book, I like to be a part of their journey and become invested in their goals and on this front Islington did not disappoint! At. All.

As I said, i buddy read this and something we all kept coming back to was just how amazing the characters of this series are, their growth is incredible and goes beyond anything you expect. Caeden for example, Islington really managed to show you his character and his struggles. without spoiling anything, Caeden learns certain things about himself and learns of past friends and acquaintances and the way in which Islington manages to showcase their relationships is nothing short of astounding. You feel everything, and that is no exaggeration, the aching weight all his revelations have on his soul and so much more.

“The danger of evil, the purpose of evil, is that it causes those who would oppose it to become evil also.”

I thought Islington was ambitious with book one and quite the daring writer considering this is his debut series, and I stand by that statement! Islington goes several steps further in this instalment, so yes it does get quite complex and I would recommend reading these books with too much time between them. I read them days apart and felt comfortable (as one can with time hops and flashbacks) with most of this book, though I imagine if you have waited it can be quite daunting, confusing and a little unenjoyable. This books increases the number of timelines we see, so just be prepared for that, but don’t worry too much it is done really well.

Islington’s writing was great in book one, it felt accessible and too easy to read, and he continues this with books two. The writing is descriptive but not in your face, the dialogue is organic and every chapter feels purposeful despite its slower pace and bridge book status. There is so much packed into the pages of this book and you see the scope of this world more in this instalment.

“I’m telling you that you should doubt—as I do my own beliefs. The day on which you decide not to question what you believe, is the day that you start making excuses for why you believe it.”

I’m not going to blabber on to much with this review because I don’t want to repeat myself too much from my review of book one.

Overall, this was a captivating and enthralling second instalment to the Licanius Trilogy and had me so excited to start book three (which I have read) and see how such an epic tale could be concluded! It is ambitious and daring but it really pays off.


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

I rated this five stars on Goodreads and I would happily get the HARDBACK of this book! I enjoyed this instalment so so much.


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


SUNDAYS SEVEN | 7 BOOKS WITH FIERCE ASS MOMMA BEARS…

***Please note this page contains affiliate links and at no extra charge to you I can earn a small fee on any qualifying purchases. Any and all money earned through these goes straight back into the blog***

Happy Sunday Bookish Folk & Happy Mother’s Day to all you beautiful mommas out there!

Well, seen as though it is mothers day I figured what better way to celebrate than to have todays Sundays Seven feature some of the awesome mums that feature in SFF books!

I was talking to David and Eleni a little while ago about tropes and I had myself a wee moan about the orphaned hero trope. I don’t hate it but I always thought to myself why can’t the hero just have a normal and functional family? I get it, the ambiguous origins trope means that you can have an easier route to other tropes such as the amazing trope of found family or the secret heir trope, but there are still ways to get to those with them having a family! Then to add to that, when there is a family dynamic we see the evil step mother or the disgraced child (in the terrible parents eyes) and so you can see how parents have themselves a wee bit of a bad rap in books!

And folks that ain’t on! I have a fierce ass momma bear of my own, and she has been mom and dad for a bloody long time, so as a thank you to her and all the fierce mothers out there I wanted to find some books with some fierce, loyal and loving mums in them!

So, without further ado, here are seven books which feature a fierce momma bear…

ON TO THE BOOKS…

ORKA

(The Shadow of the Gods BY JOHN GWYNNE)

“Fear is no bad thing,” Orka said. “How can you be brave if you do not feel fear?”
“I don’t understand,” Breca said, frowning.”
“Courage is being scared of a task and doing it anyway.”

Having just read this incredible book (which I will post a review for soon) I simply could not have a list about fierce momma bears and not feature Orka! I think I was less than ten pages into this book and I knew I would love Orka, I even tweeted about expecting to see one of the fiercest mums in the book and I wasn’t disappointed!

Orka is such an incredible mum, and not one I would want to mess with…AT ALL! This mum has some serious skills and she will scour the earth for her son and die to protect him! The raw emotions you see within the pages of this book are incredible, from the motherly chastising to her internal worries and fear you will feel it all!

“It is a hard world, and we will not always be here to protect him from it. We are not just his parents, we are his teachers, too.”

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!


MOLLY WEASLEY

(HARRY POTTER SERIES BY J.K. ROWLING)

“You – will – never – touch – our – children – again!’ screamed Mrs. Weasley.
Bellatrix laughed, the same exhilarated laugh her cousin Sirius had given as he toppled backwards through the veil, and suddenly Harry knew what was going to happen before it did. Molly’s curse soared beneath Bellatrix’s outstretched arm and hit her squarely in the chest, directly over her heart.”

I love Mrs. Weasley she is a different kind of fierce mum, she is the stay at home beautiful mother to a brood of seven (I think) and she is such a loving and caring mum and one I adore! She is funny, she cooks the best food, knits the sweater and will shout at her silly kids through a letter for being a dumb kid! I’m sure I have pushed my mum to some of the levels of frustration you see from Molly for being a little shit!

“Now, you two – this year, you behave yourselves. If I get one more owl telling me you’ve – you’ve blown up a toilet or –”
“Blown up a toilet? We’ve never blown up a toilet.”
“Great idea though, thanks, Mum.”

Then throw in the fact that on top of her children already she has no issue taking Harry and Hermione under her wing too!

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!


MISAKI

THE SWORD OF KAIGEN BY M.L. WANG

Oh Misaki! How I love her, she made me feel strong yet beaten and so much more.

Misaki is another type of fierce mother and her journey is a phenomenal one, she goes through so many stages with her children and motherhood, she goes from feeling like her children are husbands and less hers, to longing for her old life and all the way to her realising that isn’t the case and her fighting ! It is an emotional roller coaster!

“What is really important to me was protecting the people I cared about. I’ve never needed a sword to protect you—to raise you the way your father wanted. Caring for my family meant putting away the fighter, so I did.”

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!


ALANA

SAGA BY BRIAN K. VAUGHAN

I love this series! And Alana is funny, kick ass and such a great mum. She is always trying to e better and very rarely has Hazel far from her.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!


TAMRA

RACE THE SANDS BY SARAH BETH DURST

“Tamra’s breath caught in her throat. She spun around and there was Shalla! Dropping to her knees, Tamra pulled her in tight until she yelped.”

Tamra is another mother who just wants what is best for her little girl! She faces so many challenges through her journey and is constantly trying to make the best of her situation. She proves that they don’t need all tings lavish, but what her daughter does need is unconditional love!

On top of that she assumes a mother role of another character within the book too, despite all her struggles.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!


AGNES

ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES BY ALIX E. HARROW

“Agnes almost laughs at her: of course she wants a child. Of course she wants to lay its sleeping cheek against her breastbone and smell its milk-sweet bread, to become on its behalf something grander than herself: a castle or a sword, stone or steel…”

In The Once and Future Witches we see a different take on being a mum, we see it through the eyes of Agnes as her baby grows in her tummy.

Agnes shows the love and care that mothers go through on their journey, from realising they are pregnant to the bond they slowly but surely develop throughout the pregnancy. Agnes develops a fierce love for someone she has never met and you see how it changes the way she sees the world, the people and how she makes some huge decisions.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!


CERSEI LANNISTER, GILLY, LYANNA STARK & CATELYN STARK

GAME OF THRONES BOOKS BY GEORGE R. R. MARTIN

Game of Thrones reps so many mums here, and with such a variety too! We have Cersei who, despite having some seriously messed up traits, can’t be said to not love her children! Yes, she makes mistakes but down to her core her children are her everything.

Gilly is my absolute favourite she goes so far to protect her baby, she is so wholesome and lovely and is always trying her best!

Then we have Catelyn and Lyanna Stark! Lyanna did everything she could before her son was even born to ensure he was safe and it cost her everything, if that isn’t a fierce display of love then i don’t know what is! Then we have the super tough mum, Catelyn Stark she might have been a dick to Jon but she loved her own children fiercely and always seemed to have their best interest at heart.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!


There you have it, seven books that feat a different variety of all the strong momma bears out there!

Thanks for reading. Who are some of your favourite mums in books!?


BOOK REVIEW | SNAKEWOOD BY ADRIAN SELBY

Hello Bookish Folk!

I am writing my review of Adrian Selby’s debut novel Snakewood. First off a huge thank you to Dan for putting this book and author on my radar back in October 2020!

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: Snakewood
  • Author: Adrian Selby 
  • Series: Standalone but he has to other books set in the same world
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 544

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

This debut epic fantasy from a British writer of incredible talent tells the tale of the Twenty, a band of mercenaries hunted by an unknown killer. Filled with unique voices and incredible worldbuilding, this stunning novel will delight fans of Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher, Joe Abercrombie or Mark Lawrence.

Once they were a band of mercenaries who shook the pillars of the world through their cunning, their closely guarded alchemical brews and stone cold steel. Whoever met their price won.
Now, their glory days behind them and their genius leader in hiding, the warriors known as the ‘Twenty’ are being hunted down and eliminated one by one.
A lifetime of enemies has its own price. 

ORDER HERE: Bookshop.Org | Audible | Kindle | The Broken Binding (Use code SAMBOOKINH for 5% OFF)

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • A gloriously grim and dark mercenary fantasy;
  • An ambitious and unique world which you will love;
  • Fight brews and biological warfare;
  • Gruff, battered and grizzled mercs with quite the past; and
  • A risky but brilliant debut.

On to the full review…

I want to start off this review and just explain that this book a little bit of an epistolary, which if I am remembering correctly, is a novel made up of letters and accounts of others to tell a story. Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is an example of such works, but anyway my point is these types of books can feel jarring. I personally didn’t really have a huge issue with this in Snakewood, admittedly it did, at one point, seem a little disjointed and I had to think where I was in the timeline but generally I followed it well and the plot flowed well because there is a dominant POV to keep you grounded.

Snakewood is such a suspense filled story with so much tension and it is filled with all the intrigue and mystery you could ask for. I had such fun unraveling the twists and turns and Selby does an incredible job at redirecting your thoughts on things you feel fairly confident about. Selby writes really well and I had such joy reading his prose. The battles and the fighting in this book was so vivid and captivating to read. He also managed to create really unique and distinguishable voices for his characters which is even more incredible when you know this is a debut and in such a risky format.

Selby also did the whole ambiguous character really well, none of the characters in this have a a well-aligned morale compass. Some are bad yet still relatable, some are a mix and others your are rooting for but they by no means have a clean track record! But what they all are is utterly compelling, well written and complex. For some it is slower than others but you really begin to care for these characters and become totally invested in their journeys, relationships and more.

Also, the brews! The whole biological warfare in this book was just incredible, and that doesn’t even aptly describe this element. It was magic, well it wasn’t in the traditional sense but it was such a refreshing way to represent a magic in a new way, it had limitations and it had consequences both with a more immediate effect and a lifelong consequences of its use. It was utterly unique and incredible to see in action within this world and used by the characters.

Snakewood is also dark, I didn’t really see it until a certain way through it, yes it has dark elements but holy damn it gets grim. It is ruthless in parts.

I can understand a few of the critiques around this book, it does have a unique writing style and the author has created certain phrases that are completely new, but I really felt like he introduced you to them well and then explained them through their use.

Overall, this is a great debut and one I am so so glad I read it. Now a quick note, I asked Dan my go to Selby expert and he said to read these book in the order they were published. If you were to read Brother Red before this is spoils one of the biggest twists in Snakewood. Plus, after speaking to another friend they tried Brother Red and found the language confusing, so for several reasons I would say read this first.


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

I really liked this book and I can not wait to read Winer Road and then Brother Red!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK TOUR REVIEW | THE END OF DREAMS BY MARCUS LEE

Hello Bookish Folk!

How are we all doing today? I hope you are all well.

Today I am once again thrilled to be one of the many incredible bloggers coming together to review Marcus Lee’s final book in The Gifted and the Cursed trilogy! This tour is hosted by Storytellers on Tour, who I have had the pleasure of working with on a few previous occasions, so definitely check out their site!

I would also like to take this time to thank Marcus for sending me a copy of this book!

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The End of Dreams
  • Author:  Marcus Lee
  • Series: The Gifted and the Cursed (Book Three)
  • Published by Marcus Lee
  • Pages: 403

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

‘What the gods give with one hand, they take away with the other, for if you are gifted, you shall also be cursed.’

The End of Dreams is the nervewracking and glorious conclusion to The Gifted and The Cursed trilogy.

—–

As Daleth the Witch-King and his horde ready themselves for the final battle, a small alliance prepares for a desperate last stand.

However, the alliance is weak and fractured, led by a king interested only in retaining his wealth and a lord commander consumed by his thirst for revenge. With a seemingly unbeatable army before them, invisible foes amongst them, and broken hearts between them, the alliance appears destined to fall.

Yet in these dark times, her light almost extinguished, a peasant huntress is soon to be queen. But if she can find what was lost, she might prove to be more powerful than two kings combined.

This war will bring about the end of dreams, but for whom, the gods have yet to decide

ORDER HERE: Paperback | Kindle (Free with Kindle Unlimited)


Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • A dark fantasy romance;
  • Epic battles;
  • A far reaching and magnificent world;
  • Deep, complex and nuanced characters; and
  • An utterly satisfying end to a great trilogy.

On to the full review…

I feel like I have been on such a journey with these books, from its characters and their journey all the way down to mine. I have the joy of saying that I have been able to participate in a book tour for each book from this series, and I am honoured to have been one of the many bloggers to have come together to share our thoughts on these books.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series as a whole and this final book was not a disappointment. I have loved, throughout reading this series, the the detail Lee puts into his writing, it is the little things I wouldn’t think of like Kalas’ armour being to bright to give appropriate camouflage, and it just adds that little extra to his writing that makes all the difference to the readers immersion into the book. 

I also really enjoyed Lee’s knack for showing us the camaraderie amongst those who had survived Tristan’s Folly, and the introduction of new people into their ranks, though I did feel at times that anyone who wasn’t a part of their group were untrained simpletons and that at times felt a little unrealistic.

Lee manages to draw out some serious emotion towards the characters. Lord knows the moment I saw Yana’s name I was sighing at the bitch. Girl, please. He ain’t your man!! But then she surprises you and has you agreeing and appreciating certain aspects of the same damn character and it is such a real and human reaction. You don’t simply hate someone and instantly dislike every word out of their mouth and I like that Lee is able to showcase the complexity of several of his characters, especially within his darker less “good” characters. 

Lawdd, help me but I just cannot get enough of Lee’s ability to blur the lines between what is typically good and evil! It allowed for us to see so many shades to several different characters every time we saw it from their eyes. 

Damn, Daleth!

The man got darker in this instalment, suffering many near fatal wounds at the hands of Kalas he was bitter, showed slight signs of redemption, became even darker and more! I think that is what makes him a great villain, and while they were utterly despicable they were such a great addition to this character and story overall. I think Daleth was one of my favourite characters!

The characters that have filled the pages of this series are all great, some you love, some you hate and some you just can’t decide! But regardless of that I’m sad to see an end to their stories and happy because this was just such a satisfying ending!

It gives you everything!

It wraps up the tory brilliantly, it makes you sad, then happy, then sad again, then smug and so much more. It is simply one of those ending that is truly satisfying.

I don’t want to say much about the plot because you have so much to experience when you read this but know it is very satisfying, we travel and get to experience so much more of this incredible and vivid world Lee has created. It is a world that just keeps giving, I absolutely adored the insertion of the Horselords. I loved them, they are such a great addition to an already great book. It is the fear of their savage nature, the unknown and so much more that I enjoy about these elements and Lee managed to execute it so well, you were genuinely worried about the outcome of certain plot points surrounding them, so kudos to Lee for brilliantly weaving them into this story and with such suspense and tension.

I do have one gripe, and it is petty but the overuse of the word ‘for’ bugged me to no end. It was everywhere, I loved it in the other books because it wasn’t used nearly as much as it was in this book. I got to a point where I scowled each time I saw it.

However, despite my petty gripe this book and series in general is a fab one! When I think bak to the books of this trilogy I just smile, it is one of those trilogy that has a lot of scenes and moments that I love, I can pick out so many scenes that I LOVED and get excited about these books all over again!


You know the drill, On to the rating…

THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

I am happy to say that Tristan’s Folly is a BUY THE PAPERBACK! Yayyy

  • As I said in my review, I enjoyed this book. I have book one and two so it would be rude t not have the complete set!

ABOUT MARCUS LEE…

What Marcus Lee has to say…

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me…but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.  

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book.  Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.  

So, here we are.  The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be my first of many.  I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creative juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and the Illiad as a seven-year-old.  Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others. 

Ways to get in touch with Marcus…

Author Website:

Head on over to Marcus’ website where you can see his upcoming books, other reviews, artwork and more,

Marcus’ Twitter:

Go and follow Marcus, he is a great contributor to the Book Twitter community and is great to engage with too!

Marcus’ Facebook:

AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!