#Review: The Wind Singer by William Nicholson @WB_Nicholson

Description

“I hate school! I hate ratings! I won’t reach higher! I won’t strive harder! I won’t make tomorrow better than today!” In the walled city-state of Aramanth, rules are everything. When Kestrel Hath dares to rebel, the Chief Examiner humiliates her father and sentences the whole family to the harshest punishment. Desperate to save them, Kestrel learns the secret of the wind singer, and she and her twin brother, Bowman, set out on a terrifying journey to the true source of evil that grips Aramanth . . .

Review

“You like fantasy don’t you? I’ve got a set of books you’ll like they’re the only books I’ve ever read” says a friend to me before handing over his set of The Wind of Fire trilogy a YA Fantasy series putting me in an awkward position because as we know, I don’t do YA. Deciding to make an exception this once because this friend was so enthusiastic about these books and some other fellow bloggers online showed similar enthusiasm I decided to give them a go and now having finished the first one I’m starting to see why the rave reviews.

Living in a dystopian world where everything is determined by the rank your family has as a result of how well they perform in school, work, and examinations. I just kept thinking of the poor people with dyslexia I mean horrific! Anyway Kestrel has enough and has a bit of a breakdown which is unheard of getting herself and her family into a whole heap of hot water. What she also does is stumble onto a quest to save the whole city from this awful way of life and with her brother, Bowman and a classmate, Mumpo she sets out to find what has to be found and bring it back to save them all.

This is a great quest based fantasy, with danger lurking on every page, lots of interesting characters, some good some bad. Plenty of character development, especially on Mumpo’s part, it’s fair to say I could happily have pushed his stalker like self off a cliff for about two-thirds of the book.

The ideas in this book were quite refreshing and the pace was quick without too much hanging around anywhere. Lots happens in this book there is a lot to take in and there isn’t much down time between different scenes. While it was enjoyable as an adult I imagine kids will get immense enjoyment from everything it has to offer.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Wind Singer
Series: Wind on Fire #1
Author: William Nicholson
Genre: Fantasy | Young Adult
Publisher: Egmont Books
Publication Date: 1 June 2001
Review Format: Paperback
Other FormatseBook | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 352
Buy books2read.com/u/baz6ex

#Review: Clockwork City by Paul Crilley @paulcrilley @HodderBooks

This is book two in the Delphic Division series if you missed my review of book one, follow the link to read it now. Poison City.

Description

Cop. Drunkard. Low-grade magic user. My name is Gideon Tau, but most people just call me London. (Because that’s where I’m from. Get it? Hilarious.)

Three years ago, someone killed my daughter. I sacrificed everything (the human race included) to learn his name – and then had to allow that knowledge to be erased from my mind in order to save the world I’d doomed. Fantastic.

Now I have to start over from scratch, and who do I have to help me find my daughter’s killer? The reanimated corpse of my boss, a low-rent P.I. who’s heavily into conspiracy theories, and my alcoholic, foul-mouthed demonic sidekick dog.

Our journey will take us from Durban, South Africa to London, England, where we’ll have to contend with Fae gangs fighting for territory, the murder-suicide of two Delphic agents and the seven deadly sins.

Oh, and did I mention planning a heist to break into the most secure bank in Faerie? Because that’s on the agenda too. And if we fail? An ancient horned god will destroy London. (The city, not me. Although, to be fair, I don’t think I’ll survive either

Review

Gideon Tao, nicknamed London because that’s where he comes from is on a mission, he needs to know what happened to his daughter, to take down the monster, literally, responsible for taking her and countless other children.

This time his investigations take him and his spirit guide, the alcoholic smartarse dog, back to London where he has to investigate what happened to two of his Delphic Division agents who were murdered and he somehow gets caught up in a fae bank heist.

It was wonderful to be back in the world of Gideon and Dog. Their relationship lightens the mood when things get serious. Dog is hilarious and while he should be a great reassurance to Gideon he often opts for the easy way out as his first choice and is instead dragged into danger by Gideon.

Gideon hates his situation, he hates that he is running headlong into danger, but he needs answers and will die before giving up on his search, his desire to know what happened to his daughter means he makes some terrible decisions and acts like he is invincible at times. But he also gets shit done and somehow he manages to get answers, even if he does come across as desperate…well, he is, so…!

This is a superb book, as expected. I love how this ended, untied story arc’s that lead me to hope there will be a third book, I’m so not done with these characters yet.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleClockwork City
SeriesDelphic Division #2
Author: Paul Crilley
Genre: Fantasy | Urban Fantasy | Magic
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 14 December 2017
Review Format: Hardcover
Other Formats: eBook | Paperback | Audio
Pages: 320
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | SpeedyHen | Wordery | Audible

#Review: The Little Theatre by the Sea by Rosanna Ley @RosannaLey @QuercusBooks

Description

Faye has just completed her degree in interior design when she finds herself jobless and boyfriend-less. While debating what to do next she receives a surprise phone call from her old college friend Charlotte who now lives in Sardinia and is married to Italian hotelier, Fabio.

When Charlotte suggests that Faye relocate for a month to house-sit, Faye wonders if a summer break in sunny Sardinia might be the perfect way to recharge her batteries and think about her future.

But then Charlotte tells Faye that there’s something more behind the sudden invitation: her friends Marisa and Alessandro are looking for a designer to renovate a crumbling old theatre they own in the scenic village of Deriu.

The idea certainly sounds appealing to Faye, but little does she know what she’s letting herself in for if she accepts this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity . . .

Review

Faye has taken a chance and changed career directions, having been back to university to complete an interior design degree which she has just completed she is ready to get started in her new career, the only snag she has no work. Her boyfriend left her while she was studying and she is stone cold broke.

When her close friend Charlotte invites her to Sardinia to stay with her and her husband it all sounds too good to be true, so when it turns out the invite comes with strings, house sitting and consulting for some friends who are refurbishing a local theatre style strings Faye has to decide if she is ready to jump into a fire of this size.

I enjoyed the style that Rosanna Ley used to tell the story, Faye’s story being the central string with other characters taking the lead for a chapter here and there, Faye’s parents and characters within the Sardinian village as well. there was a lot of emotional drama and a mystery which slowly unravelled and romance which for me was far too slow to burn and didn’t really fulfil my need to see romance in a novel.

I didn’t really like Faye either, now I know liking a character isn’t essential for enjoying a novel, and for the most part I did enjoy this novel. But I just found Faye really immature, and hard to relate to. I despised her parents, honestly, I couldn’t understand how they got into the mess they did…communication people! I loved our Sardinian characters though, their feisty blunt approach to everything was really refreshing and I had a real soft spot for them particularly Alessandro.

Overall, an enjoyable but slightly slow read with not enough on the romantic side for my liking and a really disagreeable main character.

I have to thank Rosanna Ley and Quercus for the eARC via NetGalley so that I could read and provide my honest opinion.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Little Theatre by the Sea
Series: N/A
Author: Rosanna Ley
Genre: Contemporary Fiction | Travel | Romance | Romantic Suspense | Mystery
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: 9 March 2017
Review Format: eBook
Other FormatsHardcover | Paperback | Audio
Pages: 464
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | SpeedyHen | Wordery | Audible

#Review Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson @BrandSanderson @Gollancz

Description

Welcome to New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller Brandon Sanderson’s first collection of short fiction.

These wonderful works, originally published individually, have been collected for the first time and convey the true expanse of the Cosmere. Telling the exciting tales of adventure Sanderson fans have come to expect, Arcanum Unbounded include the Hugo Award-winning novella ‘The Emperor’s Soul’, an excerpt from the graphic novel ‘White Sand’, and the never-before-published Stormlight Archive novella ‘Edgedancer’.

The collection will include nine works in all:
‘Edgedancer’ (Stormlight Archive)
‘The Hope of Elantris’ (Elantris)
‘The Eleventh Metal’ (Mistborn)
‘The Emperor’s Soul’ (Elantris)
‘Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania’ (excerpt; Mistborn)
‘White Sand’ (excerpt; Taldain)
‘Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell’ (Threnody)
‘Sixth of Dusk’ (First of the Sun)
‘Mistborn: Secret History’ (Mistborn)

This superb collection also includes essays and illustrations which offer an insight into the numerous worlds in which the stories are set.

Review

Arcanum Unbounded is the first short story collection from Brandon Sanderson, centred around the Cosmere, the universe that Sanderson has built his worlds upon you get a real feel for how each world relates to each other with this book a sense of just how big his worldview is and yet how small it is as well.

These short stories take you on journies, introduce you to new characters in familiar worlds, new worlds, new magic and in some cases bring us back to familiar faces and familiar places bringing a sense of homecoming.

Each story has a small note to inform of which novels it relates to and if there are spoilers so that you can skip those stories that may be an issue. There were a couple that I skipped because I’m behind on a couple of the series but I’ve marked the stories to return to them later.

It wasn’t really a surprise that the two stories I connected with the most were linked with novels I had loved the most. Firstly The Emperor’s Soul which was an Elantris story, to this day Elantris remains my all-time favourite Sanderson novel, and The Eleventh Metal which is a Mistborn story and sees us following a favourite character.

These stories given their short length are complex and detailed, they draw you in and as you would expect from Sanderson have plenty of twists and drama. This is a definite must-have for any Sanderson fans bookshelf.

I must thank Gollancz and Brandon Sanderson for the review copy of this book so that I could provide my honest opinion.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleArcanum Unbounded
SeriesThe Stormlight Archive 2.5
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Short Stories | Anthology
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 24 November 2016
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 672
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon USWaterstones | Foyles | Book DepositorySpeedy Hen | Wordery | Audible

Most Popular Reviews 2017: The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins @MLTompkins @PenguinUKBooks @penguinusa

This week, I am sharing the five most popular reviews this year by visits to the blog. Thank you to all of you for visiting and supporting me, and the blog, but most importantly your support for all of the authors I’ve featured.

The most popular review on the blog this year is a book which swept me away into a world of history, myth and magic was The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins. I posted my review for this on 5 April and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Description

What became of magic in the world? Who needed to do away with it, and for what reasons? Drawing on myth, legend, fairy tales, and Biblical mysteries, The Last Days of Magic brilliantly imagines answers to these questions, sweeping us back to a world where humans and magical beings co-exist as they had for centuries.

Aisling, a goddess in human form, was born to rule both domains and—with her twin, Anya—unite the Celts with the powerful faeries of the Middle Kingdom. But within medieval Ireland interests are divided, and far from its shores greater forces are mustering. Both England and Rome have a stake in driving magic from the Emerald Isle. Jordan, the Vatican commander tasked with vanquishing the remnants of otherworldly creatures from a disenchanted Europe, has built a career on such plots. But increasingly he finds himself torn between duty and his desire to understand the magic that has been forbidden.

As kings prepare, exorcists gather, and divisions widen between the warring clans of Ireland, Aisling and Jordan must come to terms with powers given and withheld, while a world that can still foster magic hangs in the balance. Loyalties are tested, betrayals sown, and the coming war will have repercussions that ripple centuries later, in today’s world—and in particular for a young graduate student named Sara Hill.

The Last Days of Magic
introduces us to unforgettable characters who grapple with quests for power, human frailty, and the longing for knowledge that has been made taboo. Mark Tompkins has crafted a remarkable tale—a feat of world-building that poses astonishing and resonant answers to epic questions.

Review

The first time I read the description of this novel I knew I had to read it. My feeling that this book was for me wasn’t to be disappointed as I started reading the first few pages set in our time, an air of mystery swept over the story before Mark Tompkins took us back several thousand years to where the real story happened.

Set mainly in Ireland with some trips around Europe this story weaves magical myth, historical fact, papal legend, and pure fiction to bring together a beautiful yet heartbreaking magical fantasy about how magic left not only Ireland, the centre of all magic, but the world.

Using Goddesses, witches, fairies, vikings, kings, queens, angels, knights, mermaids/men and just about every other creature from legend you could think of without them being out of place or it feeling overcrowded Mark Tompkins has made this feel like a world full of infinite possibility under attack from people who don’t understand.

I couldn’t help but see connection between the way the church were portrayed in this book as pursuing the end of magic and the way over the years they pursued and tortured different groups for things they saw as a threat such as women they called witches, and those from other religions. I think this contrast was on purpose, it certainly wasn’t lost on me and I found many of the papal characters unnerving and in some cases quite sickening!

Our Goddesses on earth Aisling and Anya are twins and between them hold the power of the goddess all the magical creatures worship and follow. They are strong girls and will only become stronger. They each had strengths, Aisling, the fighter, Anya the bookworm and I loved the both for each of the their strengths as I could relate to both.

You know from the title of the book, it’s not going to be a happy go lucky novel. Things aren’t going to go the way you want them to and I’m almost tempted to pigeon-hole this a dark fantasy as it gets pretty grim in places. Despite this I couldn’t help feeling like there was hope, all the way through I just felt like something was going to turn around make things better.

I’m hoping beyond hope that there will be a second book as this was an astounding read. I haven’t read anything like this in, well, ever!

A huge thanks to Mark Tompkins for so kindly sending me a signed copy, I will treasure it. I also thank Penguin for the eARC to read in return for my honest review.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Last Days of Magic
Series: N/A
Author: Mark Tompkins
Genre: Fantasy | Dark Fantasy | Magic
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 1 March 2016
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 400
BuyAmazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | SpeedyHen

Most Popular Reviews 2017: Made in the Image of the Goddess by Chantelle Griffin @Legacy_Zyanthia

This week, I am sharing the five most popular reviews this year by visits to the blog. Thank you to all of you for visiting and supporting me, and the blog, but most importantly your support for all of the authors I’ve featured.

I was so pleased to see this one appear, Made in the Image of the Goddess is a self-published fantasy by Australian author Chantelle Griffin and the first in the Zyanthia series, my review was published 27 July. I have the next two books in the series to read and I will get to them soon I hope as this first one was fantastic!

Description

Saranon glanced up at the dragons as they flew overhead. The hour of darkness covered them as she watched on. She waited as Pennie examined the stone. It formed part of the shield locking them inside the camp. Shouts rang out on the other side. ‘Is that Galven?’ Pennie asked.

She nodded in reply. A twig broke on the muddy ground. ‘We have company,’ she said.

A lone sorcerer. Just one, but that was enough to give them away. Pennie ran for fear of being caught, while Tasha stood gazing out into the distance, ‘One day that will be us.’

Enter an epic tale of sword and sorcery. More than two hundred years ago a powerful sorceress freed her people then vanished. As time passed truth turned into myth and myth became legend. The time has come again. Saranon must claim her rightful place before Zyanthia falls.

Review

The first book in the Legends of Zyanthia series, Made in the Image of the Goddess see’s Saranaon take on the powers of the Angeon a powerful sorceror. But at just 15 and having been a captive most of her life she struggles at managing the power and now she is exiled from her home and away from her friends and so she needs to find someone to train her and somewhere to call home.

Her quest see’s her crossing borders meeting new people, and running from and to wizards.

Saranon was a wonderful blend of powerful sorcerer and confused teenager. Chantelle Griffin found the balance between the two so that she didn’t become this cocky powerful kid like can sometimes happen in this novel. She was unsure of herself but over time came into her powers and learned what she needed to do.

Different characters came and went through the book and sometimes I felt some were so fleeting that I hope in future books they come back as I really connected with some of them. Anthony and Jedd were two such characters, they both offered Saranon a lot of help at different points in the story and I felt so connected to them and would love to see them again and see their characters develop further.

Pennie and Jacob are childhood friends of Saranon who I think are destined to play a larger role in her story, Pennie especially seems to have her own motives and these don’t necessarily run parallel to Saranon’s but she is an interesting character and I feel like there is a bigger story surrounding Jacob and his involvement with them both.

Mitch is a wizard, a human who can do magic, and he becomes accidentally bonded to Saranon. but it’s not all sweetness and light and he is a few years older than her.  I really liked Mitch and I’m looking forward to learning more about him, I feel like he has a lot of hidden depths and could be the one person who can do the best job at helping Saranon achieve her potential.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, the fighting, the magic, the dragons it all came together in a wonderful introduction to this world and I am really looking forward to what comes next.

A huge thank you to Chantelle Griffin for my signed copy of this novel so that I could read and honestly review it. I will be treasuring it!

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleMade in the Image of the Goddess
Series: The Legacy of Zyanthia #1
Author: Chantelle Griffin
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Sword & Sorcery | Magic | Dragons
Publisher: N/A
Publication Date: 17 March 2017
Review Format: Paperback
Other FormatseBook | Hardcover
Pages:  226
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Speedy Hen | Wordery

Most Popular Reviews 2017: Skullsworn by Brian Staveley @BrianStaveley @UKTor

This week, I am sharing the five most popular reviews this year by visits to the blog. Thank you to all of you for visiting and supporting me, and the blog, but most importantly your support for all of the authors I’ve featured.

Today, Skullsworn by Brian Staveley is making an appearance. I posted this on 6 May and to this day thinking about it can send me into emotional turmoil. It has all of the elements I look for in a fantastic epic fantasy with the addition of a some exceptional emotion strings that just ripped me apart.

Description

For one apprentice assassin, the clock is ticking . . .

Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the description skullsworn. It doesn’t capture the beauty of her devotion to Ananshael, God of Death. And she’s not an assassin, but a priestess. Or she will be, if she can pass her final trial. The problem isn’t killing, as Pyrre has spent her life training for this. The problem is love. To pass the trial, she will have fourteen days to kill seven people detailed in an ancient song, including one true love, ‘who will not come again’. However, Pyrre has never been in love, time is short, and if she fails she’ll be given to her god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail. So a month before the trial begins, she returns to the violent city of her birth, where she once offered an abusive father to the god. Here Pyrre hopes to find love – and end it with the edge of her knife.

Review

I don’t even know where to start with this review, I don’t think a book has affected me so deeply, has got right into my heart and torn it out the way this has in years. I felt completely broken by this book by the time I finished it. Was a mess of tears trying to battle my way through the final pages not quite believing the direction the book had taken and how it was ending.

Skullsworn is a standalone novel connected to the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series, which having now read this I am deeply ashamed to have not started, and will be rectifying at the first opportunity I get. Our main protagonist is Pyrre, a trainee Priestess of Ananshael, the God of Death. These Priests and Priestess’ are known as the Skullsworn more commonly outside of their order, although Pyrre makes it very clear this is not a term of endearment in her eyes and it doesn’t fully represent just how her devotion to the Ananshael works.

She’s at the end of her training and must complete a trial to become a full Priestess, kill seven very particular types of people and nobody else within a two week window, this is not something she has an issue with, she is a trained assassin. But the final person is an issue, it is must be someone she loves, except she has never loved anyone. So travelling to the city she was born in Dombâng, with her Witnesses Kossal and Ela, she pursues the only man she has ever come close to loving in the hope she can rekindle their relationship.

Ruc Lan Lac once a professional fighter and now Leader of the Greenshirts is the man Pyrre intends to pursue and kill once she falls in love.

Now this book had the set up for everything a girl like me who loves fantasy and romance could possibly want, a beautifully in depth fantasy world with some of the best world building I’ve encountered in a long time, I could smell the different parts of the town as I read (and honestly didn’t want to some of the time, nope really didn’t want to) I could perfectly see the areas travelled to they were so perfectly described. And yet the characterisation wasn’t let down at all for this. The characters were given ample time to build their stories, with the romance element worked on the way I love although in true fantasy fashion nothing went the way I would expect it to!

Some of this book was funny, some of it was sad, some of it was heartbreaking, some of it was beautiful. There were many life lessons, some we definitely shouldn’t bring into our world! I love Ela who was the Priestess who aside from being a Witness to Pyrre was also a guide to her and she spent a lot of time talking and offering her advise much like a big sister would.

The fighting wasn’t cut down on because of the more unusual angle of the story, there was the expected amount of swordplay, blood and carnage throughout the book with it starting very early on. Pyrre accidentally triggers a rebellion with horrendous consequences in her quest to fulfil her trial which is thrilling.

I recommend this book highly, as highly as I possibly can. Now I’m still piecing myself together so I need to find those pieces of my soul if you please.

A huge thanks to Brian Staveley and Tor UK for the eARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleSkullsworn
SeriesChronicle of the Unhewn Throne #0
Author: Brian Staveley
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Romance
Publisher: Tor UK
Publication Date: 20 April 2017
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Paperback | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 320
BuyAmazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | SpeedyHen