KEEP IT OR CUT IT | WEEK FOUR

Hey Everyone and welcome back to KEEP IT OR CUT IT!

I hope you are all doing great and have had a lovely week so far.

As you know, in a bid to maybe reduce my TBR, I am taking ten books from it and checking to see if I still want to read said book.

Ohh goodness guys any progress I made reducing my TBR, albeit minutely, has gone out the window! My Sundays Seven feature last Sunday, 7 Books Not Set In Medieval Europe, had me adding a good few more books to my TBR.

So you know…NO PROGRESS! Though, I don’t mind adding books I want to read, I do want to get rid of the ones I no longer want to read.

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 if I still can’t decide…

TO THE BOOKS…

BOOK #1

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Goodreads Link

Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.

Date Added: June 2019

KEEP IT

Reasons:

  • I would literally buy this book for the cover alone. It is so pretty but thankfully many reviews suggest this books insides are as gorgeous as its outsides, so I don’t feel lo bad about that fact!
  • Also, it is a debut. I have a thing about debut books, I love seeing what it takes to be published and at what point authors start their literary journey.
  • This book is also meant to have a lot of war and court politics within its story, which I am quickly finding is one of my favourite elements in fantasy.

BOOK #2

The Witchwood Crown (The Last King of Osten Ard #1) by Tad Williams

Goodreads Link

THE WITCHWOOD CROWN continues the story of Simon, servant boy made king and his queen, Miriamele, 30 years after the events of the concluding part of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. In TO GREEN ANGEL TOWER the might of the Storm King was conquered by The League of the Scroll. Now new troubles have come to the kingdom of Osten Ard, a world where humans, Norns and the Sithi can only live in peace for a little time before war raises its head…. 

Date Added: Jun 2019

CUT IT (BY DEFAULT)

Reasons:

  • Ok, so don’t hate. This is a default cut it. As this book is the start of a series that follows the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn books, I don’t always do the but I get the feeling its pretty close in timescales. It is to be removed until I have read and loved the previous books. It is the same as me removing the third book of a trilogy when I haven’t read book two.
  • If I’m wrong and this can be read without knowledge of the other series’ let me know!

BOOK #3

A Time of Dread (Of Blood and Bone #1) by John Gwynne

Goodreads Link

A race of warrior angels, the Ben-Elim, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands, but their peace is brutally enforced.

In the south, hotheaded Riv is desperate to join the Ben-Elim’s peacekeeping force, until she unearths a deadly secret.
In the west, the giantess Sig investigates demon sightings and discovers signs of an uprising and black magic.

And in the snowbound north, Drem, a trapper, finds mutilated corpses in the forests. The work of a predator, or something far darker?
It’s a time of shifting loyalties and world-changing dangers. Difficult choices need to be made. Because in the shadows, demons are gathering, waiting for their time to rise…

Date Added: Jun 2019

KEEP IT

Reasons:

  • KEEP IT. KEEP IT. KEEP IT because John Gwynne’s debut series is one of my all time favourites, so I will be reading this. It’s funny it has come up this week because I keep eyeing it on my shelves at home, and I even went to check some of its reviews the other day and reread the synopsis as I keep wanting to read it.
  • I may very soon break my TBR and get this series done!

BOOK #4

Broken Throne (Red Queen #5) by Victoria Aveyard

Goodreads Link

Return once more to the deadly and dazzling world of Red Queen in Broken Throne, a beautifully designed, must-have companion to the chart-topping series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Aveyard.

The perfect addition to the #1 New York Times bestselling Red Queen series, this gorgeously designed package features three brand-new novellas, two previously published novellas, Steel Scars and Queen Song, and never-before-seen maps, flags, bonus scenes, journal entries, and much more exclusive content.

Fans will be delighted to catch up with beloved characters after the drama of War Storm and be excited to hear from brand-new voices as well. This stunning collection is not to be missed!

Date Added: Jun 2019

CUT IT

Reasons:

  • While I enjoyed this series when I read it, and I actually think if I was to read it again I would still enjoy it, I’m not really one to really tackle novellas. I don’t know why I’m just not. If I reread this series and really feel like I want more of the world I know of the book so may read it but it isn’t on my list to just pick up and read, thus this is a CUT IT.

BOOK #5

Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire #1) by Michael J. Sullivan

Goodreads Link

Age of Myth inaugurates another six-book series set in Elan.

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between humans and those they thought were gods changes forever.

Now only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over. The time of rebellion has begun.

Date Added: Jun 2019

KEEP IT

Reasons:

  • This sounds epic and its audio sounds great to!
  • Now, this is the same world as some of Sullivan’s other books but Sullivan said himself said that it is 3,000 years between books, so I don’t feel the need to delete this of my TBR.

BOOK #6

Wizard’s First Rule (Sword of Truth #1) by Terry Goodkind

Goodreads Link

Deep in the upper Ven Forest, close to the Boundry, woodsman Richard Cypher is intent on tracking down his father’s killers. Richard has no idea of how far his quest will take him from home, nor that his world, his very beliefs, are about to be shattered… 

Kahlan Amnell, tormented by treachery and loss, is being hunted, pursued remorselessly by a bloodthirsty tyrant’s assassins. A monstrous evil is about to be unleashed upon the world and she knows her one hope of halting it is to find the last great Wizard… 

Together, Richard and Kahlan have a destiny that will not be denied, a destiny that will embroil them in a war three-millennia past… a war that is about to re-ignite with world-devouring violence.

Date Added: Jun 2019

CUT IT

  • This book just doesn’t take my fancy. I read a few reviews, which by the way are pretty split apparently it is a book you either love or hate, and I’m still not hugely bothered for it!

BOOK #7

Elantris (Elantris #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads Link

ELANTRIS WAS A PLACE OF GLORY

The capital of Arelon, the home to people transformed into magic-using demigods by the Shaod.

But then the magic failed, Elantris started to rot, and its inhabitants turned into powerless wrecks.

And in the new capital, Kae, close enough to Elantris for everyone to be reminded of what they have lost, a princess arrives. Sarene is to be married to unite Teod and Arelon against the religious imperialists of Fjordell. But she is told that Raoden, her husband to be, is dead.

Determined to carry on the fight for Teod and Arelon’s freedom, Sarene clashes with the high priest Hrathen. If Hrathen can persuade the populace to convert, Fjordell will reign supreme.

But there are secrets in Elantris, the dead and the ruined may yet have a role to play in this new world. Magic lives. 

Date Added: Jun 2019

KEEP IT

Reasons:

  • I think I will try and read any of Sanderson’s books, not because everyone dies over him but because he seems like a fairly cool guy. I actually listen to his podcast Writing Excuses, and he comes out with some really great things in that and knowing how he came to some of his ideas is always interesting. So, I will give this book a go and if I love it yay, if not then meh!

BOOK #8

The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn #1) by Tad Williams

Goodreads Link

A war fueled by the powers of dark sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard—for Prester John, the High King, lies dying. And with his death, the Storm King, the undead ruler of the elf-like Sithi, seizes the chance to regain his lost realm through a pact with the newly ascended king. Knowing the consequences of this bargain, the king’s younger brother joins with a small, scattered group of scholars, the League of the Scroll, to confront the true danger threatening Osten Ard. 

Simon, a kitchen boy from the royal castle unknowingly apprenticed to a member of this League, will be sent on a quest that offers the only hope of salvation, a deadly riddle concerning long-lost swords of power. Compelled by fate and perilous magics, he must leave the only home he’s ever known and face enemies more terrifying than Osten Ard has ever seen, even as the land itself begins to die.

Date Added: Jun 2019

KEEP IT

Reasons:

  • I have this on my shelves and have every intention of reading it.
  • I love war stories, it has the good ole humble origins trope and a quest. What’s not to like?

BOOK #9

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy #1) by N.K. Jemisin

Goodreads Link

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.

Date Added: Jun 2019

KEEP IT

Reasons:

  • Over he last few days N.K Jemisin seems to be popping up all over my radar. I saw people dying over her books on a thread on Twitter, then I featured her in my latest post and now this one. She has also popped up on my Goodreads a fair amount lately. One might argue it is a sign?
  • Guess I will have to keep it.
  • Barbarian north, mysterious deaths and courtly power struggles…I’m sold.

BOOK #10

The Wolf’s Call (Raven’s Blade #1) by Anthony Ryan

Goodreads Link

PEACE NEVER LASTS 
Vaelin Al Sorna is a living legend, his name known across the Realm. It was his leadership that overthrew empires, his blade that won hard-fought battles – and his sacrifice that defeated an evil more terrifying than anything the world had ever seen. He won titles aplenty, only to cast aside his earned glory for a quiet life in the Realm’s northern reaches. 

Yet whispers have come from across the sea – rumours of an army called the Steel Horde, led by a man who believes himself a god. Vaelin has no wish to fight another war, but when he learns that Sherin, the woman he lost long ago, has fallen into the Horde’s grasp, he resolves to confront this powerful new threat. 

To this end, Vaelin travels to the realms of the Merchant Kings, a land ruled by honour and intri
gue. There, as the drums of war thunder across kingdoms riven by conflict, Vaelin learns a terrible truth: that there are some battles that even he cannot hope to win.

Date Added: Jun 2019

KEEP IT

Reasons:

  • I love Anthony Ryan sooooo KEEP IT!

There it is! So, this week I have cut 3 books and kept 7.

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

BYE, AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING!


BOOK REVIEW | THE GIRL AND THE STARS BY MARK LAWRENCE & NARRATED BY HELEN DUFF

Good Afternoon Bookish Folk!

Today I will be posting my review of Mark Lawrence’s ‘The Girl and the Stars’. Firstly, I would like to thank Harper Voyager/Harper Collins for approving of my NetGalley request of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A few facts about The Girl and the Stars:

  • Title: The Girls and the Stars
  • Author: Mark Lawrence
  • Series: Book of the Ice (Book One)
  • Published by Harper Collins UK
  • Pages: 480
  • Narration Length: 18 Hours 31 Minutes

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.

On Abeth the vastness of the ice holds no room for individuals. Survival together is barely possible. No one survives alone.

To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is not the same.

Yaz is torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her days with, and has to carve out a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of difference and mystery and danger.

Yaz learns that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. She learns that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she learns to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.

Only when it’s darkest you can see the stars.

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from The Girl and the Stars:

  • YA;
  • Stunning prose;
  • Amazing world building rich in lore and filled with stunning landscapes; and
  • An imaginative and visual magic system.

On to the full review…

As usual when I have listened to a book through audio I shall start my review with a few comments as to that experience.

This audiobook is narrated by the super talented Helen Duff, I do believe she does most, if not all, of Mark’s books. She has such a lovely voice and, as with the others I have listened to, she is great for even a new listener of audiobooks.

I did knock the speed up of this audio a little but she still sounds great when doing this, she really brings the characters and world to life.

Her voice really reminds me Gemma Arterton, so if you like her voice you will LOVE Helen Duff.

Now, to the book itself…

Firstly, a little praise to the cover of this book, I really like the cover, it is such a lovely and neat cover with such emphasis on the beautiful artwork.

It would appear that Mark is brilliant at writing an absolutely cracking first line of a book! It instantly captivates you has you wondering what world we have just entered.

“Many babies have killed, but it is very rare that the victim is not their mother.”

In this book we follow Yas on her journey both atop the ice and below it, it is all done through her eyes with a single POV. While I did want more from the characters as a whole, Yas was enjoyable to read and showed often that she was loyal to those she cared about and willing to take risks. Yas’ journey is one of survival, in which she has to navigate an entirely new world to find her brother and save him.

“…it’s better to die trying for a life we can take for ourselves than to die fighting each other in the dark for an existence we were condemned to.”

This book doesn’t really stop, I didn’t feel like there was much down time in this book, the characters never stop moving but that is to be expected in a journey such as Yas’ so that isn’t a complaint!

The Girl and the Stars is such a beautifully written book in its entirety, Lawrence builds a stunning world despite the fact that is it essentially a frozen wasteland and really demonstrates the harshness of the environment that our characters are subjected too.

“Now though, with darkness and despair literally reaching out to engulf her, she knew how cruel and fragile a thing hope is, and how sharp the edges of new forged dreams can be once shattered.”

There is so much detail about the world you are in, its traditions and its history both known to its people and some history now lost to them.

“Even so, it held a beauty and a peace: black rock, ice in every shade of pearl between white and clarity, the marbled seams of stardust glowing in all the colours that can be broken from the light.”

This book focuses on themes such as finding ones self and accepting the realities of who you are, it focus’ on friendships and family too, so yanno it has one of my favourite tropes…the found family. I have such a soft spot for groups of unknowns who soon become a tight nit unit together.

I also quite enjoyed the magic of this frozen wasteland, it was really fun and paired with Lawrence’s wonderful prose and worldbuilding it also became a stunning one visually.

“There’s no such thing as magic. If a thing is part of the world, part of how it works, then it’s real and obeys laws just like gravity and electricity do.” 

One of my issues – and I say issues loosely because I can’t think of another way to say it – was the young adult nature of this book. I don’t have an issue with YA when I know I’m reading it, and I was of the opinion that this book would be more of an adult fantasy, but it isn’t…in my opinion at least. I would certainly tag this as YA, and no that has absolutely nothing to do with the age of the characters. It was more to do with the storytelling, its narrative if you will, despite being beautifully written it still felt YA through its characters, their interactions and the relationships they develop very quickly and deeply throughout this story.

The Girl and the Stars seems to fall victim to some of the common YA themes also, namely the instalove vibes going on in this book. I think Yas had at least three admirers and I am pretty sure there was definitely the beginnings of a love triangle.

The characters were a little surface level at times, I did enjoy reading them I did also want more, a greater depth to them all. Some more than others.

I really liked Erris, I think he was probably my favourite character and I found myself listening the much more intently when he was present.

I think my “issues” with the characters in this instalment will however be dealt with in book two, the characters have so much more to face and I think it will really bring more out about them.

While this book fell short in some areas it is a good first instalment with a really interesting and creative plot. It is a series I will continue as I am eager to find out what the world has planned for Yas and her companions.


As you are now aware I rate on a buy the hardback, buy the paperback, buy eBook or library rental/wait for a sale scale.

I think this book would fall into the BUY THE PAPERBACK.

  • This is an enjoyable book, and one in which I will read the next book of the series.
  • If the eBook was not the same price as the paperback I would probably rate this as a buy the ebook but that’s also because I listened to this via audiobook and really enjoyed the experience. This is a really costly eBook at £7.99. The paperback is actually £0.08 cheaper!

AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


SUNDAYS SEVEN | 7 AUTUMNAL RELEASES TO READ…

It’s Autumn!

I love Autumn, it is my favourite season, or at least it is in theory! I say in theory because well, the UK is WET.

The whirling mass of crimson and lurid leaves, mother natures finale exhalation, the mild autumnal breeze drawing everyone to that pumpkin spice latte… You feel them all, the inexhaustible influence to hunker down with a warm drink by the roaring fire. It is the season that draws out all the cosy blankets, fluffy socks or some attempt at wholesome comfort. Until it rains and we have wet slippy orange mulch everywhere. So, you see favourite in theory.

Autumn officially started on Tuesday 22nd September 2020 and is with is all the way through to Monday 21st December 2020, which always throws me because for how cold it get here in the UK you’d think you were in bloody Winter!

Here are seven book, give or take maybe one, that have been or are due to be released this autumn…

Enjoy!


The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

Release Date: November 12th 2020

At Montverre, an exclusive academy tucked away in the mountains, the best and brightest are trained for excellence in the grand jeu: an arcane and mysterious contest. Léo Martin was once a student there, but lost his passion for the grand jeu following a violent tragedy. Now he returns in disgrace, exiled to his old place of learning with his political career in tatters.

Montverre has changed since he studied there, even allowing a woman, Claire Dryden, to serve in the grand jeu’s highest office of Magister Ludi. When Léo first sees Claire he senses an odd connection with her, though he’s sure they have never met before.

Both Léo and Claire have built their lives on lies. And as the legendary Midsummer Game, the climax of the year, draws closer, secrets are whispering in the walls…

ADD IT YOUR GOODREADS


Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 13TH 2020

I saw this on Twitter a wee bit ago and after reading the synopsis I couldn’t wait to read it, it sounds bloody brilliant. A dark fantasy historical fiction novella that takes the Ku Klux Klan and twists it up.

D. W. Griffith is a sorcerer, and The Birth of a Nation is a spell that drew upon the darkest thoughts and wishes from the heart of America. Now, rising in power and prominence, the Klan has a plot to unleash Hell on Earth.

Luckily, Maryse Boudreaux has a magic sword and a head full of tales. When she’s not running bootleg whiskey through Prohibition Georgia, she’s fighting monsters she calls “Ku Kluxes.” She’s damn good at it, too. But to confront this ongoing evil, she must journey between worlds to face nightmares made flesh–and her own demons. Together with a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter, Maryse sets out to save a world from the hate that would consume it.

ADD IT YOUR GOODREADS


The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

RELEASE DATE: October 13th 2020

I know, I know. Another witchy book, but its coming up to spooky season so I guess it must just be a sign! I can’t wait to read this and I am so happy to have the NetGalley eBook waiting patiently on my Kindle.

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.

ADD IT YOUR GOODREADS


Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

RELEASE DATE: October 27th, 2020

A YA Fantasy filled with all you could want from a supernatural world. I love the supernatural world and find it and its history incredibly fascinating, so this book really attracts me as a reader. It won’t be everyones cup of tea but i’m pretty excited for it.

Two sisters. One brutal murder. A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself… And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems… 

ADD IT YOUR GOODREADS


The Fires of Vengeance by Evan Winter

RELEASE DATE: November 10th, 2020

The second book in The Burning books by Evan Winter is due to release this November. With praise as high as can be found Winters debut received an incredible reception.

Desperate to delay an impending attack by the indigenous people of Xidda, Tau and his queen craft a dangerous plan. If Tau succeeds, the queen will have the time she needs to assemble her forces and launch an all-out assault on her own capital city, where her sister is being propped up as the ‘true’ Queen of the Omehi.

If the city can be taken, if Tsiora can reclaim her throne and reunite her people, then the Omehi might have a chance to survive the coming onslaught.

ADD IT YOUR GOODREADS


To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Release date: September 15th, 2020

I know this technically falls before Autumns official start but I couldn’t help it. It’s been what NINE YEARS!

Paolini is back, and from what some of the reviews have said his work is even stronger than before! From YA to adult. From Fantasy to SCI-FI I am super excited to read this!

Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.

Now she’s awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human. 

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .”

ADD IT YOUR GOODREADS


The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Release date: October 6th, 2020

I haven’t read any of V. E. Schwab books before, I have some on of hers on my TBR but as it is with the larger TBR lists, some books just fall victim to the abyss that no mere mortal can come out of alive. However, after coming across this ‘The Invisable Life of Addie LaRue’ I was pretty intrigued. Set over several hundred years always to be forgotten something changes.

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

ADD IT YOUR GOODREADS



Book Tour: Kings and Daemons by Marcus Lee

Welcome! Today it is my turn to follow in the footsteps of some incredible bloggers on the Kings and Daemons Book Tour hosted by the amazing Storytellers on Tour. It is day five and my turn to gush about this gem of a book.

For full details about this tour then head on over to the Storytellers on Tour Book Tour Page.

Firstly, the giveaway…

Click on the picture above for a chance to win one of five paperback copies of the brilliant Kings and Daemons! Ends in three days!

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A few facts about Kings and Daemons:

  • Title: Kings and Daemons
  • Author: Marcus Lee
  • Series: The Gifted and The Cursed (Book One)
  • Publisher: Self Published by Mr Marcus Lee
  • Pages: 416

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

A tale of conquest, dark kings, and daemonic heroes. A spellbinding story that will enchant you with its plot of ambition, love, betrayal, sacrifice and redemption.

Over fifty years have passed since Daleth the seemingly immortal Witch-King and his army conquered the Ember Kingdom.

Now, with the once fertile lands and its enslaved people dying around him, the Witch-King, driven by his insatiable thirst for eternal youth, prepares his forces to march on the prosperous neighbouring Freestates. It will be the beginnings of a conquest that could destroy nations, bringing death and destruction on an unimaginable scale.

Then, when a peasant huntress whose rare gift was concealed from birth is exposed, it sets in motion a chain of events that could alter the destiny of generations to come.

Review:

I really bloody enjoyed this book!

Kings and Daemons is Marcus Lee’s debut novel and the first in the series, I loved it and I am excited to read the next book in the series.

As I said on my Twitter and Goodreads update I truly loved Marcus’ writing, it read perfectly to me, and by perfectly I mean it is exactly the tone and style of writing I adore in fantasy. It made me feel like I was reliving a tale told by someone who knew the characters and witnessed the story unravel. 

I really enjoyed my time in the world, it was a dark and punishing world with a history as bloody and harsh as it’s present. Really early on it the book, when we hear a little of Kalas’ history, I was thinking give me that book too! I wanted to know more and more and could have read about the previous wars and beauties of the Ember Kingdom for longer and that’s saying something! For this not to come off as an unwanted info dump is a feat all in its self. These glimpses into the characters and the worlds history were utterly enjoyable.

Spoiled vegetables in the fields, dead or dying fish in the rivers, the whole land was teetering on a knife-edge.

Marcus really managed to make the world something in its own right, yes the witch king was an epic villain and always the root cause of it, but the world was almost a character unto its self, it was so evil and utterly corrupted. People were taught to relish in bloodshed and revel in the gore of war and death, it was so corruptive you saw glimpses of it’s corruption even in your ’good’ characters. 

His dreams, full of killing and bloodshed, he would once have considered nightmares, had shown him his destiny in all its blood-drenched glory.

Throughout we see glimpses of quite a few characters in Kings and Daemons, I’m going to say this is third-person omniscient because the narrator knows all the characters and their inner thoughts not just our leads, but I could be wrong. As I was saying, you see into other people’s minds in between our main characters. This is done brilliantly, I enjoyed the breaks in main character pov’s and found that they really added to the story and the scenes. In some cases it showed the awe of someone in response to one of our leads actions or the disgust. It is done fluidly and does not come across as disjointed or clunky. 

Maya is one of our main characters and I found I quite liked the nimble-footed little hunter, at one point she says something a little flirtatious and I was a shocked and giddy at it, as was who it was said too, because I was like oh hello new playful Maya. Then the nitpicker in me thought is that really in character for her and it was, because all her life she had been told to stay away and keep to herself, play herself down whereas now she was in the company of folk whole knew her so she had nothing to hide and could be her true, playful and nature-loving self. 

Mmmm, and the grey hair! You know I love this, I mean I named my dog Rogue (after the x-men and not rogue one star wars) so I was digging this little detail. 

Kalas was also quite an intriguing fellow, I adored his history and thoroughly enjoyed reading of it. Kalas was at sometimes infallible though, there didn’t seem to be any risk to him. I would have liked to have seen more go wrong for him, or at least provide a few wee hiccups in his journey. Though saying this I don’t think this will be an issue in the next book!

From there, chaos reigned. But inside the chaos, as men ran forward, swords clashed, blood flew and screams shattered the afternoon air, there danced the daemon, moving fluidly, every blow deadly, men falling behind him like leaves from a tree.

Rakan was a great character too, I actually liked him from the start despite his horrible nature. Something about him just seemed redeemable and to see his character grow and develop was an absolute treat.

Taran was a joy to read too and I thoroughly enjoyed the blossoming relationship between him and Maya. 

His life which was hardly gifted by the gods, was now certainly cursed.

And. Don’t judge me. I like the Witch-King, its almost as if by calling him by his given name I feel more understanding towards him. He didn’t have a great start and was pushed to some degree in the direction he took. Don’t get me wrong he continued in that direction with a ruthless brutality but I still kind of like the guy. It is understandable how he masterfully manipulates those around him perfectly, by knowing his soldiers and gifting them his attention and actual gifts! Heck, he manipulated me into kind of liking him! Thats how well written his character is. Marcus managed to create a brilliant cast of characters who are all fun and unique.

Marcus takes you on a great journey with his plot and his writing, I love the burst of colour when Maya works her magic and his descriptions of such create such vivid imagery. The plot is filled with many of the aspects I love from fantasy and constantly had me wanting to read more. We are treated to dark fantasy elements, a natural feeling and stunningly written romance and your classic fantasy elements. 

I’d rather die fighting next to you, than live without you. Don’t ask me to go again. I won’t.‘

The magic in this book is satisfying to read, I love that it always comes with a cost and Marcus does a brilliant job at slowly showing you the rules of said magic. Without saying much I am really excited to see the costs of said magic for some of the characters, we find a few out in this book but I expect we may find out some others in the later books too.

This book is really good, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series, it was a super easy read and you will find yourself reading and reading and reading.


Sound good? I can confirm it is! If you want to pick up your own copy you can do so through Kindle Unlimited or treat yourself to a physical copy from Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com


What Marcus had 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 the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

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

Ways to get in touch with Marcus…

Author Website:

Head on over to Marcus’ website where you can see his upcoming books and also other version of his book cover.

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:

What I just said! But for Facebook 😉

Thank you for reading!


Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

MY RATING:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A few facts about The Scorpio Races:

  • Title: The Scorpio Races
  • Author: Maggie Stiefvater
  • Series: Standalone
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press 
  • Pages: 409

I read The Scorpio Races on my Kindle.

Synopsis:

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

(Goodreads)

Review:

This book got my attention for a number of reasons, one being animal companions because, well animal companions are awesome and the other the actual premise of the book. The idea of monstrous water horses competing in a deadly race was something new to me, having not read anything similar to it at the point of reading. The lore in which this book is based off wasn’t anything I was familiar with and so I was drawn in.

This is a decent read and I enjoyed it but it also didn’t exceed anything beyond average falling flat in a few areas.

I loved Sean and Puck and their natural and realistic relationship. I was a little skeptical at first with it being YA, but it felt both mature and realistic in its development. It was not instant love or littered with meaningless exchanges and it actually felt somehow powerful, a little profound. I don’t really know how to explain it but I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

The plot of this book, as previously said, drew me in enough to pick this book up but unfortunately it was weak in several areas and fell flat for me. I would have liked a more emphasis on a few areas and I didn’t understand certain character motivations and felt like they were really underdeveloped. For example, I didn’t understand the drama that unfolded with Gabe (Puck’s brother). It seemed surface level at best and I couldn’t quite understand the sudden decision to leave and then the avoidance of his siblings. For him then to be all ‘I can’t do it anymore’ when we have seen nothing of his struggles. That whole side of the story just felt off, as if it was purely there as a reason for Puck to enter the race. 

I would have quite liked to see more from the encounters with the emerging water horses and their origins instead of riders simply using previous mounts. Especially when there was actual emphasis on this time, a time when the island changes becoming more deadly as these creatures begin stirring from their depths and coming ashore.

In terms of world building Stiefvater created a heartfelt and weighty world, you felt the desolation of this odd little island in which the story is set and the community that filled it was well developed. I appreciated the split within the island for too, of those longing to leave and those wanting to stay having a deep love with the island and its values. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I liked Puck and Sean and the emotional depth of this book but it was still weak in several areas.


Review: Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst

My Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A few facts about Race the Sands:

  • Title: Race the Sands
  • Author: Sarah Beth Durst
  • Series: Standalone
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • Pages: 544

I read The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids on my Kindle.

Synopsis:

In this standalone fantasy, a pair of strong and determined women risk their lives battling injustice, corruption, and deadly enemies in their quest to become monster racing champions.

Life, death, and rebirth—in Becar, everyone knows that who you are in this life will determine what you are in your next life. The augurs can read your fate in your aura: hawk, heron, tortoise, jackal, human. Armed with that knowledge, you can change your destiny with the choices you make, both in this life and your next. But for the darkest individuals, there is no redemption: you come back as a kehok, a monster, and you will always be a kehok for the rest of time.

Unless you can win the Races.

As a professional trainer, Tamra was an elite kehok rider. Then a tragic accident on the track shattered her confidence, damaged her career, and left her nearly broke. Now Tamra needs the prize money to prevent the local temple from taking her daughter away from her, and that means she must once again find a winning kehok . . . and a rider willing to trust her.

Raia is desperate to get away from her domineering family and cruel fiancé. As a kehok rider, she could earn enough to buy her freedom. But she can’t become good enough to compete without a first-rate trainer.

Impressed by the inexperienced young woman’s determination, Tamra hires Raia and pairs her with a strange new kehok with the potential to win—if he can be tamed.

But in this sport, if you forget you’re riding on the back of a monster, you die. Tamra and Raia will work harder than they ever thought possible to win the deadly Becaran Races—and in the process, discover what makes this particular kehok so special.

(Goodreads)

Review:

Oh, this book! It is an absolutely amazing standalone fantasy and I found it even more pleasing as a reader having read the author’s comments at the end. 

I believe that fantasy is a literature of hope and empowerment. It can serve as a light in the darkness, as a guide toward strength, and as an escape from pain. It is my secret hope that someone will read Tamra and Raia’s story and realize that they can be who they want to be, that they can shape the world, that they can race the sands—and win.

Durst, Sarah Beth. Race the Sands.

This was my first time reading Durst’s work, and she certainly made an impression. I loved everything about this book and it is one of the most enjoyable books I have read this year.

Durst’s writing style is also lovely, it is well written and flows seamlessly. She just keeps you reading with each chapter. 

I was in love as soon as I finished the first chapter!

Tamra…just what a character she is. She was incredible because she was so real and strong. I truly appreciated her as a person, for me she was one of the main driving forces. I wanted to see her succeed and gods I wanted her to be able to protect her family. I found her character rather gritty who knew her flaws and had accepted them.

“Maybe they are purer than me. But that doesn’t make their actions right.”

The plot was great, it was filled with political manoeuvrings, intrigue, action sequences and obviously the kehok races. I found the whole thing to be really well paced and Durst kept me reading each chapter. The last ten or so percent of the books were really fun to read too! Though, not taking anything away from the rest of the book, I was so excited reading the conclusion. While I guessed most of how the story would unravel it made it no less enjoyable to read because Durst is an incredible storyteller.

While it was the whole riding monstrous kehok’s in a bid for redemption that initially grabbed me, it was the characters and the world-building that held me. Set in the desert world of Becar, Durst’s world-building is an experience. There was a healthy amount of description and focus on the spiritual culture of Becar.

I would definitely recommend this to fantasy fans both younger and older and feel this book is going to remain one of my favorites this year!! Durst blurs the lines between Young Adult and Adult in this book so it is more than appropriate for both readers. It would also serve, I feel, as a transitional read for those reading younger fantasy books who want to move into Adult Fantasy.

The only thing that prevents this from being a five is that I would like to have known the reason for the Lions ending… 

**Below is kinda spolier’ish. Maybe. I don’t think it tells to much but because I have been vague but if you don’t want to risk it stop reading.** 

Why didn’t it happen? Was the charm lost or corrupted? Did they want to honour him as he was? Would he be reborn a Kehok after this form despite the reasons behind his becoming of a Kehok? Answer those and this is becomes a five star rating in a breath.