BOOK REVIEW | PRIEST OF GALLOWS BY PETER MCLEAN

Good Afternoon Bookish Folk!

I figured it was about time I reviewed this book. I actually thought I had but this book deserves more than the original temporary review I wrote 🙈😂

Which was…

“Holy fucking wow! I have been way ill and have finally been well enough to finish this incredible book and just wow! I freaking love this series.”

What can I say? I have a way with words.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: Priest of Gallows
  • Author: Peter McLean
  • Series: War for the Rose Throne | Book Three
  • Published by Jo Fletcher Books
  • Pages: 400

Synopsis:

Review:

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

  • Gritty and authentic violence
  • Gang warfare
  • Political intrigues
  • Fantastic characters and bonds of brotherhood

On to the full review…

Priest of Gallows is as addictive as its two previous books and satisfies my fix for Tomas perfectly. I finished Priest of Gallows back in June and I find that I am still reeling waiting for Priest of Crowns.

If you don’t know already the War for the Rose Throne series started out heavily inspired by the TV show Peaky Blinders and is set in a fantasy world. It definitely falls in low fantasy in my opinion but do not think for a second that this book doesn’t stand out amongst its peers. In many cases, it exceeds and outshines other books in its genre. A bold statement I know but once you have read these books you will be inclined to agree. McLean writes gang warfare and violence like you wouldn’t believe, though he doesn’t sprinkle it in glitter no he packs all the emotional grit into it and I’m doing so showcases some of the best character relationships I have read while maintaining a single POV.

This being is the third book of the series and it has grown so much, and while McLean has retained all the elements I appreciated in the previous books he has also upped several other ones. For instance, in this book, we see more political maneuverings and intrigue as we explore new sprawling locations. The shift in this book was well done and completely natural.

“The world of intrigues wasn’t my natural environment. I was a soldier and businessman, for Our Lady’s sake. Politics was a foreign country to me, and I would have been quite happy for it to stay that way, but it seemed that wasn’t going to be the case.”

I don’t plan to go much into the areas I have already covered in my previous reviews but know this book stands out and deserves all the praise. Tomas is one of my favourite characters read, as it Bloody Anne. These characters are multi layered and fully fleshed out they are expertly written. The world is vast and interwoven into the plot with a finesse I rarely see.

Gritty and thought provoking Priest of Gallows is an incredible addition to an already addictive and captivating series.

“People may revere the idea of heroic veterans, but they very seldom have the time or the charity for the broken, battle-shocked men and women that are the reality of what war produces.”


THE RANKS: 

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

I would buy the hardback for this whole series and probably any future book McLean writes. Though, I highly recommend the audiobook for this series too as the narrator is perfect and increases the wow factor that comes with this books main character, Tomas.


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


SUNDAYS SEVEN | COMING UP IN THE NEXT FOUR WEEKS…

Happy Sunday Bookish Folk!

We are now firmly settled into the new year, or at least I pretend to be! We are only 23 days into January. I thought I would change up my Sundays Seven a little and talk about a few of the new books coming our way next week. Hopefully I can find seven I want to sing about!

I am also going to throw in a few Sci-Fi books that intrigue me, as I don’t read much sci-fi even though I want to. Apparently I’m a little too comfortable with fantasy and romance!

ON TO THE BOOKS…

GOLIATH BY TOCHI ONYEBUCHI

Goliath is one of Tor’s upcoming releases and sounds incredibly interesting with a varying and fun cast of characters from all backgrounds. We have a journalist, a space dweller and a group of labourers all trying to make their way in a violent and harsh world!

SYNOPSIS:

In the 2050s, Earth has begun to empty. Those with the means and the privilege have departed the great cities of the United States for the more comfortable confines of space colonies. Those left behind salvage what they can from the collapsing infrastructure. As they eke out an existence, their neighbourhood’s are being cannibalized. Brick by brick, their houses are sent to the colonies, what was once a home now a quaint reminder for the colonists of the world that they wrecked.

A primal biblical epic flung into the future, Goliath weaves together disparate narratives—a space-dweller looking at New Haven, Connecticut as a chance to reconnect with his spiralling lover; a group of laborers attempting to renew the promises of Earth’s crumbling cities; a journalist attempting to capture the violence of the streets; a marshal trying to solve a kidnapping—into a richly urgent mosaic about race, class, gentrification, and who is allowed to be the hero of any history.

You can find the Goodreads link here.


ONLY A MONSTER BY VANESSA LEN

I love monsters so a story about finding out your family are terrifying monsters calls to me. I am a little sceptical with it being romance and the protag being 16 but it might be a wholesome romance and not be smutty but we shall see!

I also really like this book cover, something about it just works form me.

Plus, I am always intrigued about debuts and what makes them stand out in todays market, so let us see!

SYNOPSIS:

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .

. . . she is not the hero. 

You can find the Goodreads link here.


THE STARLESS CROWN BY JAMES ROLLINS

Apocalypse. Impending death sentence. Team of outcasts. Thief. Hunted by enemies…

It is like this authors just got all the things I like to read and threw them into one awesome sounding book!

SYNOPSIS:

A gifted student foretells an apocalypse. Her reward is a sentence of death.

Fleeing into the unknown she is drawn into a team of outcasts:

A broken soldier, who once again takes up the weapons he’s forbidden to wield and carves a trail back home.

A drunken prince, who steps out from his beloved brother’s shadow and claims a purpose of his own.

An imprisoned thief, who escapes the crushing dark and discovers a gleaming artifact – one that will ignite a power struggle across the globe.

On the run, hunted by enemies old and new, they must learn to trust each other in order to survive in a world evolved in strange, beautiful, and deadly ways, and uncover ancient secrets that hold the key to their salvation.

But with each passing moment, doom draws closer.

You can find the Goodreads link here.


LIGHT YEARS FROM HOME BY MIKE CHEN

This book is out of my normal reads but it sounds really quite fun and a little dang emotional.

Imagine your brother vanishing and then coming back older and with news of a war…One of the elements I loved about Sword Of Kaigen was the family drama and the emotional punch it had so the fact I loved that, despite the difference in books, is really drawing me in to this one.

SYNOPSIS:

Every family has issues. Most can’t blame them on extraterrestrials.

Evie Shao and her sister, Kass, aren’t on speaking terms. Fifteen years ago on a family camping trip, their father and brother vanished. Their dad turned up days later, dehydrated and confused—and convinced he’d been abducted by aliens. Their brother, Jakob, remained missing. The women dealt with it very differently. Kass, suspecting her college-dropout twin simply ran off, became the rock of the family. Evie traded academics to pursue alien conspiracy theories, always looking for Jakob.

When Evie’s UFO network uncovers a new event, she goes to investigate. And discovers Jakob is back. He’s different—older, stranger, and talking of an intergalactic war—but the tensions between the siblings haven’t changed at all. If the family is going to come together to help Jakob, then Kass and Evie are going to have to fix their issues, and fast. Because the FBI is after Jakob, and if their brother is telling the truth, possibly an entire space armada, too.

The perfect combination of action, imagination and heart, Light Years From Home is a touching drama about a challenge as difficult as saving the galaxy: making peace with your family…and yourself.

You can find the Goodreads link here.


SCORPICA BY G. R. MACALLISTER

Ohhhh this book has me hella interested. It sounds different and filled with drama. Warrior women, mothers, queendoms and so much more. this one could truly be something amazing.

SYNOPSIS:

A centuries-long peace is shattered in a matriarchal society when a decade passes without a single girl being born in this sweeping epic fantasy that’s perfect for fans of Robin Hobb and Circe.

Five hundred years of peace between queendoms shatters when girls inexplicably stop being born. As the Drought of Girls stretches across a generation, it sets off a cascade of political and personal consequences across all five queendoms of the known world, throwing long-standing alliances into disarray as each queendom begins to turn on each other—and new threats to each nation rise from within.

Uniting the stories of women from across the queendoms, this propulsive, gripping epic fantasy follows a warrior queen who must rise from childbirth bed to fight for her life and her throne, a healer in hiding desperate to protect the secret of her daughter’s explosive power, a queen whose desperation to retain control leads her to risk using the darkest magic, a near-immortal sorcerer demigod powerful enough to remake the world for her own ends—and the generation of lastborn girls, the ones born just before the Drought, who must bear the hopes and traditions of their nations if the queendoms are to survive.

You can find the Goodreads link here.


THE EMPIRE’S RUIN BY BRIAN STAVELEY

I was recently introduced to Staveley’s work and loved it so just based off his previous work I am really excited for this book. Though I do want to finish his other works first before tackling this.

SYNOPSIS:

The Annurian Empire is disintegrating. The advantages it used for millennia have fallen to ruin. The ranks of the Kettral have been decimated from within, and the kenta gates, granting instantaneous travel across the vast lands of the empire, can no longer be used.

In order to save the empire, one of the surviving Kettral must voyage beyond the edge of the known world through a land that warps and poisons all living things to find the nesting ground of the giant war hawks. Meanwhile, a monk turned con-artist may hold the secret to the kenta gates.

But time is running out. Deep within the southern reaches of the empire and ancient god-like race has begun to stir.

What they discover will change them and the Annurian Empire forever. If they can survive. 

You can find the Goodreads link here.


THE JUSTICE OF KINGS BY RICHARD SWAN

This one has been on my radar for a while now as I received an ARC of it a good while ago! I have waited and waited to read this but I have a week off now so it is time to dive into this!

SYNOPSIS:

The Justice of Kings, the first in a new epic fantasy trilogy, follows the tale of Sir Konrad Vonvalt, an Emperor’s Justice – a detective, judge and executioner all in one. As he unravels a web of secrets and lies, Vonvalt discovers a plot that might destroy his order once and for all – and bring down the entire Empire. 

As an Emperor’s Justice, Sir Konrad Vonvalt always has the last word. His duty is to uphold the law of the empire using whatever tools he has at his disposal: whether it’s his blade, the arcane secrets passed down from Justice to Justice, or his wealth of knowledge of the laws of the empire. But usually his reputation as one of the most revered—and hated—Justices is enough to get most any job done. 

When Vonvalt investigates the murder of a noblewoman, he finds his authority being challenged like never before. As the simple case becomes more complex and convoluted, he begins to pull at the threads that unravel a conspiracy that could see an end to all Justices, and a beginning to lawless chaos across the empire. 

You can find the Goodreads link here.


There you have it, seven books that I have found that are releasing very soon and looking back at them 2022 looks pretty damned promising. We have futuristic and intriguing sounding books and some awesome sounding fantast too!

Thanks for reading.


The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon is how you do a standalone fantasy novel! Well, I may have just spoiled this review. It’s going to be a good one to say the least. This was just a beautiful story all around. If you want a fantasy novel to break from trilogies (or longer) than I highly recommend this book. Let’s get into why though. 

It’s hard to put into words how Samantha Shannon snuck up on me in this story. In the beginning, I would say the first 10 chapters, I was kind of curious as to why people love this book. We are thrown into an interesting world and unknown characters. I was like yah okay Dragons are cool there’s west and east of the world who have the same enemy, but different beliefs on the wider world in some kind of cold war. Reel me in Shannon what ya go….oh…oh that is what you got…oh yah….that’s the spot….so what happened you ask?

I got to know the characters more. I got to learn more about the lore of this world’s beliefs. That’s right, give me fascinating characters and lore! Oh, wait did I mention we have representation here? Like people are bi-sexual, gay, lesbian, and we have us straights here though let’s be honest, we are a bit more boring at times. Did I also mention there’s this weird thing that skin color can vary because of that big star in the sky? It’s crazy how humans can be different, but come together for a compelling story, right?

Though what drives humans apart in this world are beliefs of 1000 years ago around Dragons, a Knight or Liar, and a Mother or Damsel depending on who you ask. You have the West Ruled by Virtuedom believer in a Knight who became their Saint and his Queen the Damsel. They despise all dragonkind. Ever since then they have been a Queendom and every Queen only has daughters, yes ONLY GIRLS ALLOWED. As long as the bloodline continues, they believe the Nameless One will stay locked away.

Then you have the East. Who worship water dragons They ride them into battle & consult with them on politics. They despise only fire dragons and the nameless one. They do fear the west as the home of the ilk of fire dragons that can pass on a plague to humans. They have a strict code around dragons and are at war with pirates who like to kill and harvest dragon parts. 

Think that was all? No then you have the Mages of the Priory of the Orange Tree in the South. They believe the Saint of Virtuedom is a liar and fake. His Damsel he claims married him actually spurned him. Instead, she became the Mother of the Priory after she sealed the Nameless one away. The Saint claims he defeated the Nameless one. The Priory teaches he actually ran from the Nameless One and the Mother picked up his magical sword to defeat him instead. So then who did he marry to have a child with? Who is Sabran’s female ancestor? Where is this magical sword? What really happened 1000 years ago?

The mystery of why all these beliefs differ especially in the West and South is one of the main draws of this book. It gives a great look into how history, religion, and beliefs can be altered by lies of the powerful and stories handed down. There is manipulation, shame, ego, etc. Is the truth worth destroying stability? People will believe what gives them hope and purpose. The belief is not the only part, but how it is used. Onto characters!

First up is my favorite PoV Ead Duryan as her public name, but Eadaz uq-Nāra is her real name. She is a mage from the Priory of the Orange Tree sent to Virtuedom in order to join the court of its current ruler Queen Sabran IX.  Eadaz mission is to protect her juuust in case her line really does keep the Nameless one at bay. Eadaz may be a mage, but these mages are also extremely skilled warriors and dragon slayers. Eadaz is quite an amazing figure throughout this story. She goes through a wild transformation and discovery about who she is and what she wants. Oh yah mages are feared in Virtuedom too, I’m sure this will not be an issue. 

Next we have Tané who is training in the east to hopefully be a Dragon Rider or if deemed unfit for that role will become a Scholar. Early on she breaks the rules and it causes a huge domino effect not just in her life, but another interesting PoV Niclays Roos who was banished from the west and in a controlled settlement in the east. These two interact with a character I found super annoying in the beginning chapters. I was so grateful he was not a PoV character. I think he was one of the reasons the book started slow. Luckily, he wasn’t as dominating a figure as I thought he’d be. Tané is a skilled warrior. No, I mean do not mess with her at all, you will die. The sad part though is she is way too hard on herself. My heart aches for her at times because I believe she is doing her best and when things go wrong, she deeply feels she deserves it. Her arc is tough to go through, but pays off. 

Niclays Roos I feel pity for at times and other times he angers me. This makes him a great character. His motives always make sense and can go from aggravating to interesting. I’m never 100% sure on what his decisions will be. Then our last main PoV we have Arteloth ‘Loth’ Beck. Now this man that gets around to different parts of the world. While he comes from Virtuedom and is Queen Sabran’s best friend, the man gives us some fascinating adventures and constantly has to deal with his beliefs and assumptions being shattered. 

The relationships and character dynamics in this story are so well done. They flow so realistically. I believe it can all happen this way in real life and is not just written that way because the story needs it. Then we have the magic system, which is so unique, at least to me. I don’t want to give much away because if I say too much then you wont get to explore it and interpret it yourself. It is simplistic, but not at the same time. There so much we learn about its place in this world as the story unfolds. 

This is of course a standalone novel so there will be jumps in time a bit. It leaves some imagination to fill in how things transpired as they go. It’s not a huge time jump, but you will not be with them traveling long from point A to B. There will be moments between characters that keep moving along off page, but it’s all set up to make each time make sense.It is not complicated at all to follow.

I think the weakest part of this is not getting a feel for the size of the world. The land masses or overall scenery. This is a book I wish I had a map on hand to figure out exactly how everything looked and where places are. It’s not a big thing. You know the important places for lore and story sake. I just always like a bit more of an idea of what the landmasses and kingdoms look like on a grander scale. 

Overall I love this story and I hope Samantha Shannon writes more stories in this world at a future time. The ending is pretty final, but I’m sure an intelligent author can have more going on in this world. I mean humans and dragons still exist so it’s not like there will not be conflict in the future. I know many people have this on their list. Well get to it already! It has dragons, magic, romance, fight scenes, warriors, intrigue, mystery, and Lore. This story has heart. What are you waiting for Slackers!


Book Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Welcome to my first addition to the site. The five people who read my blog may know me already, but if you do not, my name is William, a life long rural New Yorker in the United States. I love Fantasy, but am also a fan of Science Fiction & Horror. For my introduction here I bring you my review of Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. This is book one of Muir’s Locked Tomb series. I have to say, I’m impressed. Gideon the Ninth is such a unique story. It combines Soft Science Fiction, Necromantic Fantasy, and Punk Rock Insanity. I honestly cannot come up with a more suitable description than that. I had wanted to read this before it was even available. I only put it off so long because it seemed so insane and knew more books were going to follow it. Finally, needing something different to dive into, I give you my review of Gideon the Ninth.

“One flesh, one end, bitch.”

This book aptly follows Gideon Nav, an indentured servant of the Ninth House within a Galactic Empire. She is the young adult ginger warrior of this series, complete with skull face paint, dark cloak, sword, and snarky attitude. Quite the picture painted for you there. Even as an indentured servant of a Necromantic space faring empire with an Immortal God Emperor, she gives zero shits about angering anyone. To say she is confident would be an underrepresentation of an amazing character.

“Why was I born so attractive?”

In the beginning of this, depending on your sense of humor, Gideon may overwhelm some readers. Her humor hits me just fine, but others maybe not. Do not fear though dear readers. Gideon has to adjust quite quickly, based on new circumstances that forces her to alter how she interacts with others. You will find much of her over the top attitude is directed toward our other major character, Harrow, the Ninth House’s Heir. While Gideon is a master with the sword. Harrow is a master of Necromancy. Quite the dysfunctional duo. What they do have in common is that they are both amazingly written. A servant and an heir. Completely different statuses. Different personalities. Different viewpoints. A great adventure for us.

“Because everyone would have throttled you within the first five minutes otherwise”

While this is a very character driven story there is much going on in the backdrop. This galactic empire has nine noble houses. The Ninth house guards a locked tomb for the empire and are essentially a death cult. You will get to meet and learn about all the houses in this book though. Muir does this without revealing much about the wider universe. She’s super tricky here. Another thing she is quite good at is there is not much future tech, or weapons in this book…yet you won’t care. The only thing that really lets you know there is space travel, are spaceships. Even then we do not get much of even them. This is a brave choice, but one that works exceptionally well in this book.

“I cannot conceive of a universe without you in it”

This space faring empire relies heavily on Necromancy and swords as their primary fighting tactic. Though how they wage war will be interesting to see. I cannot imagine other civilizations rely on necromancy and swords. We get teased that there is a war against someone out there, we will need to wait on that it seems. This intro book is mostly a complex mystery that takes place in a huge, haunted structure, perfect! All the heirs and their cavaliers (specially trained bodyguards) are invited to this place to seemingly compete to become a Lyctor.  Lyctors are powerful immortal Necromancers that work directly with the emperor. This is of course Harrow’s seemingly main goal and as for Gideon, well, she just wants her freedom. Well actually she also wants to be awesome. These characters grow exceptionally well throughout this mysterious place full of death and intrigue. You will be trying to figure out what is happening and every time you think you might know, you’re wrong!

“Yes you can, it’s just less great and less hot”

The fact that Muir combines fantasy and science fiction but doesn’t reveal too much about either while giving you amazing character work shows me that she is an author to watch. The characters in Gideon the Ninth feel extremely unique, special in their own right, they really come alive. You would think a bunch of noble necromancers would be similar, but they’re oddly not. Muir is able to break apart fields in necromancy and types of house personalities exceptionally well. I cannot wait to read book two to see how she expands on this. Of course, I should also warn people as a world of necromancers there will be a lot of gross descriptions of blood, sinew, corpses, bones…well you get the idea.

“Maybe it’s that I find the idea comforting…that thousands of years after you’re gone…is when you really live. That your echo is louder than your voice is.”

Personally, the most important thing I took from this book, is that we are not all so different. As a thirty-nine-year-old heterosexual male, I felt connected to this young gay warrior woman in a futuristic landscape. Representation in media is important for this very reason. We’re all not so different as we believe. I digress though. Gideon and Harrow are two characters that have shot up my favorites list. Not just as individuals, but as a duo. Book two I know will be from Harrow’s perspective and I’m betting it will be quite wild to get the PoV of a necromancer in this world. If you’re looking for something quite different in the SFF genre I highly recommend this book. I will be keeping an eye on Tamsyn Muir as her career grows.

Thank You for choosing to read my first write up for the site. If you wish to connect with me more I’m quite active on Twitter @thatdarkrogue.


BOOK REVIEW | THE BLACK COAST BY MIKE BROOKS

Good Afternoon Bookish Folk!

Today I will be posting my review of, as the title of this post suggests, Mike Brooks’ book ‘The Black Coast’. I would like to thank Orbit for providing me with a copy of this book this book in exchange for an honest review.

I also bought this as an audiobook too as I was struggling to find the time to read it so opted to listen when I could too.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Black Coast
  • Author: Mike Brooks
  • Series: The God-King Chronicles (Book One)
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 643

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

The Black Coast is the start of a series filled with war-dragons, armoured knights, sea-faring raiders, dangerous magic and battle scenes.

When the citizens of Black Keep see ships on the horizon, terror takes them, for they know who is coming: for generations, Black Keep has been raided by the fearsome clanspeople of Iwernia. Saddling their war dragons, the Naridans rush to defend their home only to discover that the clanspeople have not come to pillage at all. Driven from their own homeland by the rise of a daemonic despot who prophesies the end of the world, they have come in search of a new home. Meanwhile the wider continent of Narida is lurching toward war. Black Keep is about to be caught in the cross-fire of the coming war for the world – if only its new mismatched society can survive.

ORDER HERE: Audible | Amazon.co.uk

Review:

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

  • Fantastic world building;
  • A solid foundational book to start a series;
  • LGBTQ+ rep;
  • Political intrigue; and
  • Epic battles.

On to the full review…

The Black Coast first appeared on my radar when I was browsing through NetGalley, and if I am being honest, I probably would have kept on scrolling if I hadn’t loved the cover. It is amazing what a good book cover can do.

So, as you do I checked out the Goodreads page. The book sounded a little different but definitely intriguing and it had a few good reviews already attached to it so I decided to request it from NetGalley. I am happy to say that I am glad I did. While, I only rated this with three stars on Goodreads it was still a good solid read and a series I will continue.

This book was an interesting one, namely due to its focus on finding a peaceful resolution when war is the usual choice in such books. I honestly think this is what gave this read such a refreshing feel to it. Brooks still managed to create enough tension and hostility in his writing without it being outright war between these peoples.

I am not usually one to sing and dance about a books world building, I always appreciate it and will openly praise it, but as a reader I don’t need too much of it. I am the kind of reader that needs a little here and there and a good few distinctive features thrown in to the mix, then I can let my imagination run wild from there. However, saying this I was continually wowed by Brooks’ ability to build such a seamless world, and yet have so many different cultures woven into it. Brooks managed to throw these people together and create a believable environment, one in which some preferred certain elements of the others way of life and vice versa. Which as you can imagine was a great way to create tension between several character in a authentic and exciting way.

Brooks’ writing was easy to read and despite the level of detail found in its genders, cultures and languages it was still accessible and enjoyable. It is not easy to introduce such a new and detailed world and it not feel to the reader like you a trudging through mud to understand it, but this was not the case for this. It was easy to follow and you understand each cultures way of life quickly.

Brooks also deserves much praise for his dialogue in this book. I laughed, I frowned and I scowled. No word is wasted here, and all of it seems to go that few steps further to showing you who the characters are.

In terms of the characters I found myself enjoying certain ones over others and I found myself wanting to get back to their POV’s more often than not. I felt at times there was quite a disparity between several of the characters we meet, some were a lot more fleshed out than others which led to me not really connecting with some of them. I think we will definitely see more of them in the future books and learn more from them but in this instalment many fell into the background for me.

However, those that seemed to fall into the background a little were ones which seemed to be crucial to the beginnings of future plots. Those relevant to the main plot were utterly brilliant.

I enjoyed this book and the audiobook is great! While I had a few issues with the characters I am excited to see those that fell into the background grow and become more crucial to the plot. This book is definitely a foundational book and brings with it some of the flaws of focusing on preparing for the overall series but in the same breath has me so excited for the next book.

I believe that this will be a brilliant series, and once we get to know all the character to the level we have reached with some of them in this instalment, it is going to be magical.


THE RANKS: 

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

This is a book I would currently rank at BUY THE PAPERBACK, or audiobook with a credit. I was honestly going to rate this as a BUY THE EBOOK but then I remembered how much I liked listening to it via audiobook and if I am spending £7.00 on it via a credit then I would also spend that on the PB!

The Black Coast was a solid foundation to a series and one I will continue to read, I feel like this will be ranked higher when I have read more of the series because there is SO much potential here!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


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!!!



KEEP IT OR CUT IT | WEEK ELEVEN

Hello and welcome back to Keep It or Cut It!

It is Thursday AGAIN! And that means me very slowly going through my TBR, ten books at a time.

As you can see by the title this is the 11th Keep It or Cut It post and you know what…MY TBR IS BIGGER THAN WHEN I STARTED! No lie. Though I don’t actually mind, I feel like the more recent additions are better suited to my tastes than some of the books in the early levels of my TBR, and you can never have to many books to read.I mean, yes, finding the time is problematic but still…I will die trying!

I have also been adding a few more books of the nonfiction variety lately, and on top of that I want to try a few horrors and more historical fiction so growth is as inevitable as Thanos. I love Thanos he is such a great villain! Just saying.

AS USUAL, The Method

  • Go to the HUGE TBR list on Goodreads
  • Gather ten books of the week
  • See if the blurb/synopsis still tickles my fancy
  • Check out the reviews of those I trust
  • Maybe read the sample if I still cant decide

THE BOOKS…

BOOK #1

NAMELESS QUEEN by REBECCA MCLAUGHLIN

Goodreads Link

One girl must make a name for herself–or die trying –in this royal fantasy where an unknown peasant becomes the ultimate ruler. But how long can she keep the crown if everyone wants her dead? Perfect for fans of Furyborn, Red Queen, and Everless.

Everyone expected the king’s daughter would inherit the throne. No one expected me. 

It shouldn’t even be possible. I’m Nameless, a class of citizens so disrespected, we don’t even get names. Heck, dozens of us have been going missing for months and no one seems to care.

But there’s no denying the tattoo emblazoned on my arm. I am queen. In a palace where the corridors are more dangerous the streets, though, how could I possibly rule? And what will become of the Nameless if I don’t?

Do I Already Own It? No

Hardcover

Reasons & Thoughts:

I have had this on the TBR for a while now and I haven’t ever looked at it since I added it soooo…Take from that what you will. Reading it again for this post, and I don’t really feel sad about that.

BOOK #2

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by ALLISON GOODMAN

Goodreads Link

Swordplay, dragon magic–and a hero with a desperate secret

Twelve-year-old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye–an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. 

But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.

When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic…and her life.

Do I Already Own It? No

Kindle | Paperback

Reasons & Thoughts:

I was quite close to tossing this on the drop it pile tbh, bu the reviews saved it for me. It sounded interesting but I was thinking is it any different than the others? Well, anyway the reviews show that this is quite a fun feeling book, one where you can easily love the characters and It has asian influences, which I love.

BOOK #3

THE MERCIFULCROW BY Margaret Owen

Goodreads Link

A future chieftain.

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince.

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard.

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own? 

Do I Already Own It? Yes

Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Reasons & Thoughts:

Ohhh, so I actually have this book, and in Hardback form no less. Fugitives, chieftains and a dash of romance. Honestly, reading the blurb for this again I am wondering why I haven’t read it yet! Might have to sneak this in somewhere. I love spirit animals so castes associated with birds works for me.

BOOK #4

FIREBORNE by ROSARIA MUNDA

Goodreads Link

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen. 

Do I Already Own It? No

Paperback

Reasons & Thoughts:

Dragons. I want more dragons. I love them but I don’t actually read too much dragon fantasy. not really sure why, so in order to rectify this I am going to keep this.

BOOK #5

All the Stars and Teeth by ADALYN GRACE

Goodreads Link

Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom. 

Do I Already Own It? No

Audible | Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org

Reasons & Thoughts:

I think I added this to the TBR when it was being hyped, I actually read a few articles about how this book and a few others had reimagined the genre for a modern reader and writer. I’m not sure if it does or not but I kind of want to find out. Plus, its pirates, romance and mastery of a magic. so we shall see how it goes.

BOOK #6

SHERWOOD by MEAGAN SPOONER

Goodreads Link

Robin of Locksley is dead.

Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on, but the people of Locksley town, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, need a protector. And the dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley andMarian’s fiancé.

Who is there to stop them?

Marian never meant to tread in Robin’s footsteps—never intended to stand as a beacon of hope to those awaiting his triumphant return. But with a sweep of his green cloak and the flash of her sword, Marian makes the choice to become her own hero: Robin Hood. 

Do I Already Own It? No

Kindle | Paperback | Audible | Bookshop.Org

Reasons & Thoughts:

I actually read some of this authors other work, though it was really early in my reading life. I read her book Hunted and I enjoyed it then but I am not to sure how it will hold to my tastes now.

BOOK #7

THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS by KATY ROSE POOL

Goodreads Link

The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it? 


For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.

All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:

A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart. 
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer? Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Children of Blood and Bone, and An Ember in the Ashes. 

Do I Already Own It? No

Paperback | Audiobook | Bookshop.Org

Reasons & Thoughts:

Ok, can I just say how much I love this cover! I think this book could either be incredible or so bad! The characters sounds super interesting, and I am hoping it is an epic character driven fantasy with some great romance in its pages. So…

BOOK #8

POISON PRINCESS by KRESLEY COLE 

Goodreads Link

She could save the world–or destroy it.
Sixteen year old Evangeline”Evie” Greene leads a charmed life–until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, killing everyone she loves, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future–and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.
With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally trust Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?
As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side…

In Poison PrincessNew York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces a dark and intriguing world, full of unspeakable danger and irresistible romance.

Do I Already Own It? No

Audible | Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org

Reasons & Thoughts:

Ok, Trin this one is safe because of you, girl! Five stars and the most riveting read…

BOOK #9

THE DEMON KING by CINDA WILLIAMS CHIMA

Goodreads Link

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell—the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana‘Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her…

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards. 

Do I Already Own It? No

Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org

Reasons & Thoughts:

I love the idea of this book, and it sounds great but even a great story can fall flat and from the review (of those I trust) this doesn’t have the best characters, and I love my characters deep.

BOOK #10

REBEL OF THE SANDS by ALWYN HAMILTON

Goodreads Link

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power. 

Do I Already Own It? No

Audible | Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org

Reasons & Thoughts:

I’m pretty sure this is in the same article about doing things for modern fantasy so I gotta see what that is all about.


THREE CUT AND SEVEN KEPT…

Ohh good lord again!!

Thank you for reading, as always, I hope you enjoyed the post and feel free to comment or have a natter with me over on Twitter.


KEEP IT OR CUT IT | WEEK TEN

Hello and welcome back to Keep It or Cut It

Another Thursday has approached, out of nowhere too, so that means it is time to look at ten books on my Goodreads TBR pile and decide if I want to keep them! Because it feels good to cleanse the TBR of sorts, even though some weeks I don’t get rid of any, but…

AS USUAL, The Method

  • Go to the HUGE TBR list on Goodreads
  • Gather the ten books of the week
  • See if the blurb/synopsis still tickles my fancy
  • Check out the reviews of those I trust
  • Maybe read the sample if I still cant decide

THE BOOKS…

BOOK #1

FOUR DEAD QUEENS by ASTRID SCHOLTE

Goodreads Link

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but in fact, she’s one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. Varin runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.

Do I Already Own It? No

Audible | Kindle | Hardcover | Bookshop.Org

Reasons & Thoughts:

This is a pretty solid sounding book you know! I mean for started the title is fairly cool, Four Dead Queens…I meant that alone has you asking questions. then we move onto the blurb and straight away I see we have a thief, and I love their stories, as many of you do. Then throw in some political intrigue and plots of murder…It sounds pretty good!

BOOK #2

THE GIRL KING by MIMI YU

Goodreads Link

In an empire of flames, they must rise from the ashes.

Sisters Lu and Min have always known their places as the princesses of the Empire of the First Flame: assertive Lu, will be named her father’s heir and become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while timid Min will lead a quiet life in Lu’s shadow. Until their father names a new heir—their male cousin, Set.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes in search of allies, leaving Min to face the volatile court alone. Lu soon crosses paths with Nokhai, the lone, unlikely survivor of a clan of nomadic wolf shapeshifters. Nok never learned to shift—or to trust for the empire that killed his family—but working with Lu might be the only way to unlock his true power.

As Lu and Nok form a tenuous alliance, Min’s own power awakens, a forbidden magic that could secure Set’s reign . . . or allow her to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could very well be the other.

This sweeping fantasy set against a world of ancient magic and political intrigue weaves an unforgettable story of ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

Do I Already Own It? No

Audible | Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org

Reasons & Thoughts:

Ohh I am doomed! I love wolf shifters, so to see one not in a paranormal setting but more of a high fantasy setting I am so interested! Ok, I’m not going to lie this blurb has sold it to me. I’m reading this!

BOOK #3

SHADOW FROST BY COCO MA

Goodreads Link

IN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises.

Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes. 
Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm. 
Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.

Not one has ever returned. 


When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields — though has yet to fully understand — Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed. 

To kill it. 

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her companions begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known. 

That is, of course… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.

Do I Already Own It? No

Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Reasons & Thoughts:

I’m just not feeling this book, it has so many good reviews and is even more impressive because I’m pretty sure the author wrote it at an incredibly young age! But alas my reader soul is not feeling it unfortunately.

BOOK #4

KINGDOM OF SOULS by RENA BARRON

Goodreads Link

A girl with no gifts must bargain for the power to fight her own mother’s dark schemes—even if the price is her life. 

Heir to two lines of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. Yet she fails at bone magic, fails to call upon her ancestors, and fails to live up to her family’s legacy. Under the disapproving eye of her mother, the Kingdom’s most powerful priestess and seer, she fears she may never be good enough.

But when the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, Arrah is desperate enough to turn to a forbidden, dangerous ritual. If she has no magic of her own, she’ll have to buy it—by trading away years of her own life.

Arrah’s borrowed power reveals a nightmarish betrayal, and on its heels, a rising tide of darkness that threatens to consume her and all those she loves. She must race to unravel a twisted and deadly scheme… before the fight costs more than she can afford. 

Do I Already Own It? No

Audible | Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org

Reasons & Thoughts:

Oh I really love the cover of this book! I also really love the idea of witchdoctors and priestesses but something is bugging me and I don’t know what. I think it could be the whole disappointing child trope, they can be such frustrating reads because they do dumb shit!

BOOK #5

RELIC by BRONWYN ELEY

Goodreads Link

In the city of Edriast, there is no deadlier duty than to serve as the Shadow.

As the personal servant of the powerful Lord Rennard, the Shadow’s life is all but forfeit. Rennard possesses one of five rare and dangerous Relics – a jewel that protects his bloodline, but slowly poisons everyone else in its proximity. When the current Shadow succumbs to its magic, nineteen-year-old blacksmith Kaylan is summoned to take his place.

It’s an appointment that will kill her.

As the time Kaylan has left ebbs away, hope begins to fade… That is, until she discovers a plot to destroy all five bloodlines in possession of the Relics.

A rebel force plans to put an end to Rennard’s rule and Kaylan suddenly finds herself embroiled in a cause that might just be worth fighting for. But no cause is without its costs…

As her life hangs in the balance and rebellion bears down on Edriast, Kaylan must decide where her loyalties lie – and how she’ll leave her mark on the world.

Relic is the absorbing first novel in The Relic Trilogy, a thrillingly dark YA fantasy series. 

Do I Already Own It? No

Audible | Kindle (Free on Kindle Unlimited) | Paperback

Reasons & Thoughts:

Ok, I am a sucker for rebel causes! There is something about them I just can not get enough of, so I guess it means this book stays.

BOOK #6

LEVIATHAN by SCOTT WESTERFELD

Goodreads Link

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

Do I Already Own It? No

Kindle | Paperback

Reasons & Thoughts:

I’m going to keep this one because I haven’t read much steampunk and I love historical reads, so its the simple.

BOOK #7

THE DARKEST MINDS by ALEXANDRA BRACKEN

Goodreads Link

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living. 

Do I Already Own It? No

Kindle | Paperback | Audiobook | Bookshop.Org

Reasons & Thoughts:

This has a fairly kick ass sounding blurb…I need more dystopia in my life.

BOOK #8

WINTERSONG by S. JAE-JONES 

Goodreads Link

Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and The Cruel Prince.

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones’s Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget. 

Do I Already Own It? No

Audible | Kindle (Free on Kindle Unlimited) | Paperback

Reasons & Thoughts:

I love wintery books, they always make for really atmospheric read, which is something I love! also want to read a few more retellings, plus we have romance too!

BOOK #9

SPIN THE DAWN by ELIZABETH LIM

Goodreads Link

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh. 

Do I Already Own It? No

Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org

Reasons & Thoughts:

I have wanted to read this for a while now, it is such an interesting sounding book.

BOOK #10

CROWN OF CORAL by MARA RUTHERFORD

Goodreads Link

For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.

Do I Already Own It? No

Audible | Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org

Reasons & Thoughts:

Reading the blurb I just don’t really want to read this. What can you do?


THREE CUT AND SEVEN KEPT…

That seems to be a bit of a running theme.

What do you think are there any books I really should have cut and didn’t or are you screaming at me internally because of the ones you cant believe I cut..

Thank you for reading, as always, I hope you enjoyed the post and feel free to comment or have a natter with me over on Twitter.


BOOK REVIEW | THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES BY ALIX E. HARROW & NARRATED BY GABRA ZACKMAN

Hello Bookish Folk!

Today I’m happy to be sharing with you my review of Alix E. Harrow’s second book The Once and Future Witches. I would firstly like to thank Orbit for approving an eArc of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You can order this book through any of the affiliate links attached to this page, in case you don’t know Bookshop.Org is a great store that supports independent book stores from all over.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Once and Future Witches
  • Author: Alix E. Harrow
  • Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
  • Series: Standalone
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 516
  • Narration Length: 16 hrs and 3 mins

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

ORDER HERE: Audible | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Bookshop.Org

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from :

  • A lush and powerful historical fantasy;
  • The most engaging and fascinating trio of sisters you could read about;
  • Themes of family, sisterhood, love, forgiveness and so much more;
  • An incredibly immersive and atmospheric setting; and
  • An amazing story which is winding, wonderful and a pure delight to read.

On to the full review…

I must confess I actually avoided this book like the plague, I read the blurb and was sold, I though yes I want to read this but every time I was choosing my next read I reread the blurb but never chose it. I don’t know why but alas I picked it up and I am so sooo glad I did. I think I enjoyed this as much as I did because it was totally fitting to my mood at the time, though that isn’t to say this book isn’t incredible in its own right. See being a mood reader isn’t always bad because when you do it correctly you find books like this and enjoy the experience of reading it so much.

I always love the idea of a historical setting in a book and get so excited for them, but they are not always done well. This is not the case for The Once and Future Witches at all. Harrow has done incredible work to really give you that feeling you are in New Salem in the 1890’s, you feel the injustice in the air and the fear of witches. Though, that is not all, Harrow has also done exceptionally well to build a solid setting through the factories, the houses and less than lavish accommodations some people were forced to live in, and the mindset of the people at that time. 

This book is a tale about gaining the vote for women and what happens when these women stood up and said they wanted change, but it is also empowering, and witchy and ohh so good. Harrow has done such an incredible job in The Once and Future Witches at blending the magical and the historical while infusing it with folklore and a whole lot of witchy. Every page of this books is written superbly, it is a very enchanting read, though not in a whimsical and magical way but in a hypnotic and addictive way. It fully immerses you into its world and its people. It is so vivid and thought provoking too.

The pace of this book, in my opinion was great, Harrow knows how to continually raise the stakes. I loved the way this story was laid out in it entirety. It is by no means a fast paced plot but with such incredible character development and world-building the slower pace is by no means problematic nor lacking in tension, suspense or anticipation. It is a winding and wonderful story.

This book follows three incredible sisters; Beatrice Belladonna Eastwood, Agnes Amaranth Eastwood and James Juniper Eastwood. All of whom are utterly distinctive and have their own voices. Harrow has done an incredible job at making sure you, as a reader, can tell who is talking without mention of a name! They are so distinctive and each is so fun. No one falls beneath the other, there isn’t a boring one or one you like the least, they all stand up in their own rights. The sisters and the people they slowly come to form relationships with go from strength to strength in this book, even the side/support characters are memorable and a joy to be around.

The Once and Futures Witches has themes of family, sisterhood, love, forgiveness and so much more. It is a powerful novel and a wonder to read. Harrow has also written some lovely romantic interests in this book, I won’t say whom because they enters spoiled territory in my eyes but know they are wholesome and you will be rooting for them! It is subtle and well presented.

I really loved the insertion of common fairytales into this book. At the start of each chapter you have a tale, one you may know of or one you may not. Some are reimagined and some stand as we know them but it was so fun to see them as spells. 

Also, hats off to the cover art on this one, it is so appropriate to the tale and reminds me of the little herbal grimoire pictures of fresh lavender sprigs and nettle. It is the perfect start of your reading journey and sets the tone of the book brilliantly.


THE RANKS: 

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

I wold most definitely grab this book in HARDBACK and I have even spotted a copy on BookShop.Org (its cheaper than Amazon, so winning). The Once and future Witches is an amazing historical fantasy book that is so much more than the words on its pages. It is a book with big themes and so much to show you.


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!