Blog Tour: Blackwing – Ed McDonald

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Series: Raven’s Mark #1
Release Date: 27th of July 2017
Pages: 384
Publisher: Gollancz
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: Gollancz kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis:

Nothing in the Misery lasts…

Under a cracked and wailing sky, the Misery is a vast and blighted expanse, created when the Engine, the most powerful weapon in the world, was unleashed against the immortal Deep Kings. Across the wasteland, teeming with corrupted magic and malevolent wraiths, the Deep Kings and their armies are still watching—and still waiting.

Ryhalt Galharrow is no stranger to the Misery. The bounty hunter journeys to a remote outpost, armed for killing both men and monsters, and searching for a mysterious noblewoman. He finds himself in the middle of a shocking attack by the Deep Kings, one that should not be possible. Only a fearsome show of power from the very woman he is seeking saves him.

Once, long ago, he knew the woman well, and together they stumble onto a web of conspiracy that threatens to unmake everything they hold dear and end the fragile peace the Engine has provided. Galharrow is not ready for the truth about the blood he’s spilled and the gods he’s supposed to serve…

Review:

What can I say? This is one bloody brilliant book. Blackwing is set in a sort of post apocalyptic land, The Misery is a wasteland fraught with danger, monsters and who knows what else. The story follows Captain Galharrow, a man tasked with finding and executing any criminals who have fled into The Misery.

The book is full of action and excitement. It’s also very dark and vivid. Ed McDonald certainly holds nothing back and the reader is treated to all the sights, sounds and smells of life in this world. It felt like a very unique read, and unlike any other fantasy book I’ve ever read.

Blackwing also has quite a lot of terminology and names relevant to the story such as ‘Spinners’, ‘gracked’ and ‘darlings’. This was a little confusing at first, but you quickly pick up who is who as you delve into this absorbing story. This book is really fantastically written and in between the action the reader is treated to plenty of world building and explanation about the magic and monsters of The Misery.

The story’s main protagonist – Captain Galharrow is also a truly fascinating character. He’s straight to the point and unlikeable to many, but he’s also loyal and stands by those in his team. Galharrow is supported by some other really excellent characters – Nenn who I just loved, she’s battle crazy and has no nose, as well as Tnota who can find the team a route of just about anywhere, and Ezabeth the mysterious Spinner that Galharrow has to protect. The chracters were all really excellently portrayed as flawed human beings, and the story was all the more enjoyable for that.

Blackwing is a magnificent read. I was sucked in by the first few chapters and before I knew it I’d read half the book in one sitting. It has easily jumped into my top books for 2017. If you love books by authors like Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie, you should pre-order this one now. It’s dark, gory and full of action and magic. I mean honestly what more could you possibly need? This is a stunning debut, and I definitely cannot wait to see what’s in store next!

Thanks for checking out my stop on the Blackwing blog tour, make sure to check out the other stops listed on the banner below!

 

 


Blog Tour: Court of Lions – Jane Johnson

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Release Date: July 6th 2017
Publisher: Heads of Zeus
Pages: 496
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: Heads of Zeus kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis:

Kate Fordham, escaping terrible trauma, has fled to the beautiful sunlit city of Granada, the ancient cap

ital of the Moors in Spain, where she is scraping by with an unfulfilling job in a busy bar. One day in the glorious gardens of the Alhambra, once home to Sultan Abu Abdullah Mohammed, also known as Boabdil, Kate finds a scrap of paper hidden in one of the ancient walls. Upon it, in strange symbol

s, has been inscribed a message from another age. It has lain undiscovered since before the Fall of Granada in 1492, when the city was surrendered to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Born of love, in a time of danger and desperation, the fragment will be the catalyst that changes Kate’s life forever.

Review:

Welcome to my stop on the Court of Lions blog tour! This is such a beautifully written book, and the first I’ve read from Jane Johnson, but it definitely will not be the last. This book engrossed me from start to finish and seamlessly combines two fascinating narratives.

One narrative is set in Spain, during the 15th century, and the other in present day, and they work very well together. Both times and settings are very well portrayed, and the characters – Abdullah and Kate, are equally interesting and well depicted. They’re both very realistic characters, with plenty of emotion and hopes for the future.

The one thing that particularly struck me about Court of Lions is the great amount of detail and research that makes up the book. Jane Johnson has certainly made the history come alive, and I appreciated the story all the more for the immense amount of detail that was included.

The book covers a whole host of themes, from loyalty and betrayal, to love and friendship. It is a very moving and passionate story, and I enjoyed it from start to finish. It also has one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen, and I really loved taking it out and about with me. History is also something that I find really fascinating, and I loved the opportunity to gain some insight into a period I know so little about. Court of Lions is quite a long read – it comes in at just under 500 pages – but it is well worth reading. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, or looking for a really absorbing read, Court of Lions will be exactly what you’re looking for.

Thanks for checking out my stop on the Court of Lions blog tour, be sure to check out the others listed on the banner above!


Blog Tour: Lost Boy – Christina Henry

Synopsis:

There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.

Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.

Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever.

Welcome to my stop on the Lost Boy blog tour! Check out an excerpt from the book below!

Excerpt:

I was smaller then, and Peter was big and brave and wonderful. He said, “Come away and we’ll have adventures and be friends always” and I put my hand in his and he smiled and that smile went into my heart and stayed there.

We ran through the streets of the city where I lived, and Peter was so swift and silent I could hardly believe it. He ran like the wind was part of him and his feet barely touched the ground and I thought, watching him run in the dark, that he might take off and fly and take me with him. It would be lovely to fly away from the city and into the stars, for the city was dark and dirty and full of big people who would grab at you if you were small and say, “Here now, what’s all this?” and cuff you around the head just because they could and they would take your bread and your apples and leave you with your insides all twisted up and then throw you back in the mud and laugh and laugh.

But Peter said he would take me away from all that, he was taking me to a place where there was all the food you could eat and no one would hit you and no one to tell you what to do and when to do it and to get out of the way and go sleep in the trash where you belong. He said that on his island you could sleep in the trees and taste the salt from the sea on the air and there was treasure and fun all day long.

I wanted to go there. I couldn’t wait to go there. But I was scared about getting on a ship to go to the island. I’d never been on a ship before, but I’d seen them in the port. Peter might not like me if I told him I was scared so I didn’t say anything, but I was certain that once we got out to sea that a monster would come and break the ship into a thousand pieces and we would fall, fall, fall to the far bottom of the water and never be seen again.

Peter tugged me along and I was getting tired and he said, “Come on, Jamie, just a little more and we’ll be there” and I wanted to make him happy so he would smile at me again so I ran and tried to be as fast and quiet as he.

I thought we would go to the docks, but Peter was taking us away from there and I tugged on his hand and said, “Aren’t we going to a ship?”

And Peter laughed and said, “Why would we go to a ship, silly?” But he said it in a way that didn’t hurt and didn’t make me feel stupid – more like he had a secret and was laughing because he was going to share it with me soon.

We went away from the city, far away from the place where I slept, and I didn’t know where we were or if I would ever find my way home again, and then I remembered I didn’t want to go home anymore because home is where

they hit you and you sleep in the dirty straw and she screams and screams and screams…


Book Review: The End We Start From – Megan Hunter

33858905Release Date: May 18th 2017
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 160
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: Picador kindly sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis:

In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z’s small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.

This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with love.

Review:

I loved everything about this book. From the eye catching cover to the beautiful prose, this book took my breath away and I devoured it in one sitting. The story is set in a dystopian world that has been ravaged by floods and follows a young mother as she seeks to survive in this new world. It’s a very short book, only one hundred and sixty pages, but in that short space of time a lot happens to the young protagonist.

The thing I really loved about this book was Megan Hunter’s writing style. It’s very lyrical and absolutely beautiful to read. It was part of the reason why I kept turning page after page and before I knew it I’d finished it. The book is a somewhat cautionary tale on the negative effects that pollution have on the environment, and I think it’s a really superbly written story. It’s full of heart and emotion, and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it.

This book is really haunting, and it stayed with me long after I finished reading it. In fact several days afterwards I was still thinking about what a stunning book it was. The young mother’s plight as she gives birth, searches for food and is housed in a refugee camp is both harrowing and also realistic, as it’s infinitely possible with today’s destruction of our environment.

If you’re looking for a small book that packs a big punch, The End We Start From is definitely going to be one of the big books of 2017.


Book Review: A History of Running Away – Paula McGrath

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Release Date: June 15th 2017
Pages: 245
Publisher: John Murray
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: John Murray kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis:

In 1982 Jasmine wants to box, but in 1980s Ireland boxing is illegal for girls.

In 2012 a gynaecologist agonises about a job offer which would mean escape from the increasingly fraught atmosphere of her Dublin hospital. But what about her mother, stuck in a nursing home?

And in Maryland Ali, whose mother has recently died, hooks up with a biker gang to escape from grandparents she didn’t know she had.

Gradually revealing the unexpected connections between the three women, A History of Running Away is a brilliantly written novel about running away, growing up and finding out who you are.

Review:

I found it difficult to review this book for a number of different reasons. I enjoyed the story and it is very beautifully written, but it frustrated me in a few ways as well. The story follows three different women: Jasmine, a young Irish girl who runs away from her home in 1982, and takes up boxing even though it is illegal for girls to participate in matches. Then there’s Ali, who’s mother has passed away. She’s been forced to leave everything she’s ever known and live with grandparents she didn’t even know she had, and who ultimately aren’t that interested in her. Then there’s the final unnamed character, a doctor living in Dublin with an ailing mother. She’s been offered a new job that would mean a move to London, but then she’ll need to leave her mother, and they’ve been through so much already.

This story is really powerful, the three points of view are woven together seamlessly and as their journeys become linked together it’s a very masterfully written story. The settings are all well written and come alive in McGrath’s prose: London in the 1980s, followed by Dublin at the same time. The reader is then transported to Tennessee in 2012. Each setting is vivid and realistic, bringing the to the forefront of the story. I really liked the way the stories joined together, and I thought the ending was satisfying, giving the reader the answers they’re looking for and giving the story a good ending.

For me though, there were a couple of things I wasn’t so keen on. The three points of view are not split evenly – the story predominantly focuses on Jasmine in the 1980s, learning to box and escaping the life she left behind. I was less interested in the boxing and more interested in what was happening to Ali in Tennessee and the unknown doctor dealing with the job offer and her ailing mother. It frustrated me because I really wanted to know more about these characters, but the story predominantly focused on Jasmine. My proof copy also has a slightly different blurb to what the final one is, and it suggests a completely different tone of novel. There’s also no mention of boxing, as sport is not something I am particularly interested in, I found it difficult to enjoy those aspects of the book.

Despite this I still enjoyed the story. The characters are really fascinating, they’ve complex human beings who make mistakes and pick themselves back up. It also highlights the social attitudes of the time – being unable to box, but also about issues such as racism, sexism and abortions. It is certainly a thought-provoking novel, and although I guessed what the link between the characters was, that by no means lessened my overall enjoyment of the book. If you’re looking for a masterfully written story that seamlessly weaves different voices together – this is definitely a book you’re going to love.


Feature: July Book Haul!

I’ve been trying to be good and not buy as many books as my TBR is (slightly) out of control at the moment, but I’ve caved and picked up quite a few new goodies, so I thought I’d do a quick book haul!

1. Nevernight – Jay Kristoff (Nevernight Chronicles #1)

This is a book I’ve been hearing about for what feels like forever. Everyone I know in the blogging community seems to love it and is really passionate about it. I did try my hand at getting it in my local Waterstones, but alas they had no copies left – so I ordered this one off Amazon!

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

 

2. Those Below – Daniel Polansky (Empty Throne #2)


I was kindly sent a copy of Those Above on BookBridgr when it was released in 2015. I really really enjoyed it, so when I spotted this in The Works for £1.99 I knew I had to pick it up – I hadn’t even realised there was a second book in the series! I really can’t wait to dive into it. If you fancy you can also read my review of Those Above here!

For centuries humanity has served Those Above, god-like Eternals who rule from their cloud-capped mountain-city.

They built a civilisation of unimagined beauty and unchecked viciousness.

They thought themselves invincible.

They were wrong.

The story that began in Those Above comes to an explosive conclusion in this unforgettable battle for the hearts and minds of the human race.

 

 

 

3. The Humans – Matt Haig

I’m currently studying a Masters in Publishing and to get some experience I did a three month internship at Canongate Books around the time preparations were being made for Matt Haig’s newest title – How to Stop Time (It’s a glorious book, I’ll have a review of it up soon). Sadly How to Stop Time is the only Matt Haig book that I’ve read, so when I saw this in a second hand book shop for 50p (50p!) I jumped at the chance to read it. 

After an ‘incident’ one wet Friday night where Professor Andrew Martin is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, he is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confound him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst a crazy alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he’s a dog.

Who is he really? And what could make someone change their mind about the human race. . .?

 

4. Go Set A Watchman – Harper Lee

This is another second hand bookshop find. I read To Kill A Mockingbird as a teenager, but I somehow never got around to buying this when it was released. Looking forward to finding out if it was worth the wait!

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch–“Scout”–returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt.

Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past–a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision–a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

 

 

 

5. Larchfield – Polly Clark

I picked this up in Waterstones a few weeks ago. I have heard quite a buzz about it on Twitter, and had hoped to attend Polly Clark’s event at my local Waterstones but sadly I was working. I’m still really looking forward to reading it though – it sounds fantastic!

It’s early summer when a young poet, Dora Fielding, moves to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland and her hopes are first challenged. Newly married, pregnant, she’s excited by the prospect of a life that combines family and creativity. She thinks she knows what being a person, a wife, a mother, means. She is soon shown that she is wrong. As the battle begins for her very sense of self, Dora comes to find the realities of small town life suffocating, and, eventually, terrifying; until she finds a way to escape reality altogether.

Another poet, she discovers, lived in Helensburgh once. Wystan H. Auden, brilliant and awkward at 24, with his first book of poetry published, should be embarking on success and society in London. Instead, in 1930, fleeing a broken engagement, he takes a teaching post at Larchfield School for boys where he is mocked for his Englishness and suspected – rightly – of homosexuality. Yet in this repressed limbo Wystan will fall in love for the first time, even as he fights his deepest fears.

 

 

6. Sirens – Joseph Knox

Yet another Waterstones find. This is actually a signed copy as well, so I was really excited to get that. I love a good crime thriller, and I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this one. Planning to take it on holiday and probably whizz through it!

Set in a sprawling, twilight northern city, Sirens introduces Aidan Waits, a disgraced young detective caught stealing drugs from evidence and subsequently blackmailed into going undercover. When an MP’s daughter runs away from home, Waits is sent to track her down and finds himself at the centre of a maelstrom of drugs, blackmail and deception.

Uncovering the motives of those involved, he’s thrown forwards through politicians, police and drug lords – towards a conclusion and a truth he really doesn’t want to know.

 

 

 

 

 

7. The Waking Land – Callie Bates

I’ve seen lots of bloggers reading this one and was very jealous. The cover is just stunning and it

sounds like such a good story. I had a £10 voucher to spend in Waterstones from collecting the stamps, so I used it to get this beauty just the other day. Hoping to have some time soon to dive into it!

Lady Elanna Valtai is fiercely devoted to the King who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder and must flee for her life. 

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition powers that suddenly stir within her. 

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

8. Roar – Cora Carmack (Stormheart #1)

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This is another one that I’ve heard quite a lot about online. I recently cancelled my Fairyloot subscription because quite a few of the books that came were ones I’d already read or had been sent review copies for (Caraval, Strange the Dreamer etc) so I was slightly gutted that the book for last month was one I really wanted to read! I consoled myself by ordering a copy from BookDepository. It hasn’t arrived yet which is why it isn’t picked, but I’m very much looking forward to it’s arrival!

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. 

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. 

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

So that’s all the books I’ve bought recently. Have you read any of them? What did you think? And what lovely books have you been buying recently?


Blog Tour: An Act of Silence – Colette McBeth

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Release Date: June 29th 2017
Pages: 352
Publisher: Wildfire Books
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: Wildfire Books kindly sent me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:


These are the facts I collect.
 

My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar. She went home with him. They next morning she was found in an allotment.

Mariela is dead.


Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning

Linda Moscow loves her son; it’s her biological instinct to keep him safe. But if she’s not sure of his innocence, how can she stand by him? Should she go against everything she believes in to protect him?

She’s done it before, and the guilt nearly killed her.

Now, the past is catching up with them. As old secrets resurface, Lind is faced with another impossible choice. Only this time, it’s her life on the line…

Review:

This book literally had me on the edge of my seat. This is a fantastically written psychological thriller that kept me hooked from the opening chapter to the very last page. The premise is a really fascinating one: If your child is accused of committing a crime, and you’re not sure whether or not he’s innocent how do you stand by them? The book very much focuses on the parent child relationship, and the effects such a situation has on it.

I thought that the plot and pacing of this book was really excellent. The deeper you delve into the story, the more enveloped you are until you just can’t tear yourself away from the book. With psychological thrillers it’s often easy to guess where the story is heading, but that definitely wasn’t the case for An Act of Silence. This story is full of twists and turns – some of which you’ll never see coming.

The story feels very realistic and believable and I think that’s a really important aspect of a psychological thriller. It’s a hard hitting story, but it’s also beautifully written too. There are aspects of the story that are currently in the media frequently, and the story hits home all the more for that reason. The book is very much character driven, and that makes the story come alive all the more. I also really liked the way that it alternated between both Linda’s perspective and Gabriel, giving two sides to every situation. Linda is probably the character I was interested in most, she’s determined to find out the truth, no matter how horrifying that might turn out to be.

This really is an unputdownable book, and it’s also the first book I’ve read by Colette McBeth. I’m definitely now itching to pick up some of her other titles, because I really enjoyed this one. If you’re looking for a really twisty unique thriller, An Act of Silence is definitely a book for you. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Thanks for checking out my stop on the An Act of Silence blog tour, be sure to check out the other stops below!


Blog Tour: Chaos Queen Series – Christopher Husberg

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Duskfall

Pages: 557
Release Date: June 21st 2016
Publisher: Titan Books
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: I was given a free copy of the book by Titian Books, in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis:

Stuck with arrows and close to death, a man is pulled from the icy waters of the Gulf of Nahl. Winter, a seemingly quiet young fisherman’s daughter, harbours a secret addiction that threatens to destroy her. A young priestess, Cinzia, must face a long journey home to protect her church from rebellion. A rebellion sparked by her sister.

Three characters on different paths will be brought together by fate on one thrilling and perilous adventure.

Review:

This dark fantasy epic really hooked me in from the beginning, particularly with it’s wide array of fascinating characters. There’s a whole host of different ones that weave seamlessly together, but the plot focuses in on three main ones: Cinzia a priestess who returns home to find her home in the midst of a rebellion, Winter a young woman who on the outside appears to be just a quiet fisherman’s daughter and Knot, a man who is pulled from the Gulf of Nahl with no memory of his past. Sometimes when you have so many characters who have different quests and adventures going on the story can get a little muddled, but it flows seamlessly in Duskfall, and you quickly become attached to the characters.  Duskfall is a very character driven book, and is all the more enjoyable for that reason. Husberg really takes the time to let you get to know the characters and the three are very likeable and interesting to see develop.

World building is important in any fantasy novel, and it’s extremely well done in the Chaos Queen series. I felt that everything was explained and laid out nicely, I was never confused with what was going on and who was what and where. Husberg also lays out plenty of grounding in terms of the history and culture of the setting, and throwing this in with the mix of action, adventure and suspense, as well as plenty of magic, elves (and even a vampire) makes for a really intense and exciting mix.

For a debut novel this is a really impressive book, and the first in a long running series. The plot is well paced, and there’s never a dull moment in this story – there’s always something to keep you wanting more. I was addicted to this book from the get go, and absolutely cannot wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the series. If you love dark fantasy, this should definitely be on your wishlist.

Dark Immolation

Pages: 556
Release Date: June 20th 2017
Publisher: Titan Books
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: I was given a free copy of the book by Titan Books, in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis:

There are rumours in Ashta – a new religion is rising, and Cinzia, one-time Cantic priestess, has escaped the Holy Crucible. Fleeing from Navone, Cinzia travels with Knot, a man of many parts, and Astrid, the child-like vampire. They are gathering followers, but the murderous Nazaniin are still on their trail. Meanwhile, Winter is losing her grip on sanity, grappling with immense powers beyond her understanding. Where she goes, chaos and death follow.

Review:

Sometimes when you read big fantasy epics you forget quite what has happened at the end of the previous book. Luckily for me I picked Dark Immolation up right after I finished Duskfall and the action picks up right where the previous book tailed off. If you read Duskfall and loved it, you’re going to enjoy Dark Immolation even more. I often feel that the second book is never as good as the first, but this one was just as intense and exciting, and I was completely drawn in again.

This instalment in the Chaos Queen series (which I have learned is to be five books in total, so plenty more to come) features the same characters as before – Winter, Knot, Astrid – as they continue on their adventures. I won’t say too much about where they have ended up, because I don’t want to spoil book one for anyone. We do get answers to some questions that have been lingering since book one though, and there’s plenty more fighting and magic to leave you desperate for more.

Dark Immolation is just as character driven as Duskfall is, and again it makes for truly wonderful reading. I loved that this gave the reader the opportunity to watch the characters grow, to see relationships form and  to watch as these fantastic characters changed and adapted as the story continues. The plot is similarly well paced, allowing the reader the chance to immerse themselves in the world, but with plenty of action to keep them hooked in.

If the fantastically written characters and intriguing plot wasn’t enough to have you desperate to read this series, there’s also plenty of countries looking for a fight, some not so friendly demons running lose, and more than a bit of magic flying around. So what are you waiting for? The Chaos Queen series is magnificent, and I can only hope we don’t have to wait too long for book three to come out!


Blog Tour: Secrets of the Italian Gardener – Andrew Crofts

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Release Date: June 11th 2015
Pages: 145
Publisher: Red Door
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: Red Door kindly provided me with a copy of this book for the blog tour

Synopsis:

Mo, the wealthy dictator of a volatile Middle Eastern country, enlists a ghostwriter to tell his story to the world and enshrine him in history as a glorious ruler. Inside Mo’s besieged palace the ghost forms an unlikely friendship with a wise and seemingly innocent Italian gardener who slowly reveals that the regime isn’t all it appears to be. As a violent rebellion threatens all their lives the ghost struggles to cope with a personal secret too painful to bear. Secrets of the Italian Gardener takes the reader on a heart-pounding journey through the bloody downfall of a doomed tyrant in the company of a young couple struggling to cope with the greatest private tragedy imaginable.

Review:

Welcome to my stop on the Secrets of the Italian Gardener blog tour! This little novella completely surprised me in the best way. It may only be 145 pages long, but it manages to explore a whole lot in that short period. It managed to keep me guessing the whole way though, and there was more than a few shock twists. If you’re looking for a quick read that will grip you from the get go, Secrets of the Italian Gardener will definitely be the book for you!

I think this book has a really interesting premise. Mo is a wealthy dictator of a country dealing with civil unrest, who hires a ghostwriter in order to tell his story. He lives in a beautiful palace, and I found the depictions of the beautiful gardens versus the sounds of explosions and gunfire really striking.  There is that sense of unease that lingers throughout the ghost writer’s time in the palace. There is definitely more going on than meets the eye, and he is unable to find out more due to the extreme amount of security. The writing is really beautiful, and it definitely keeps the reader wanting more. The books characters are all extremely well portrayed, from Mo, the elusive dictator who only wants the good aspects of his character to come out, to Caroline, the wife of the main character. I really liked Lo, who was once Mo’s second in command, but decided that life as a gardener was much simpler.

For such a short novella, the book deals with a lot of different themes. It deals with grief, and the loss of a family member and what that does to those left behind. It also deals with political unrest, and what happens when a country needs to see change in their systems. But most importantly, Secrets of the Italian Gardner deals with family and friendships, and how these are the most important things in life, far more than money, fame and success. I also found it really interesting that Crofts managed to slip in a discussion on the morals of taking such a job as ghostwriting the autobiography of a wealthy dictator. The character’s wife Caroline scoffs and suggests he shouldn’t take it, they only want him for his credible reputation, however he takes it, which raises the question of how far someone will go for a large sum of money, even if it is outwith their beliefs.

Secrets of the Italian Gardener is a very powerful novel, and one that stayed with me long after I’d finished reading. I wasn’t as keen on the ending of the book as I was the rest of the story, but I think that was partly because it was the complete opposite of what I expected to happen. I enjoyed it from beginning to end and it is probably my favourite piece of literary fiction that I’ve read this year. A powerful and thought provoking book!

Thanks for checking out my stop on the Secrets of the Italian Gardener blog tour, be sure to check out the other stops below!


Feature: Top Ten Books of 2017 So Far

We’re just over half way through the year, so it’s about time to round up what the best books of the year have been so far! So far I’ve managed to read 48 books in 2017, it was a tough choice to whittle it down to 10, but here goes:

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1. Godblind – Anna Stephens

This is definitely my favourite book of 2017. Dark and brutal, it’s a stunning example of grimdark fantasy. Featuring vengeful gods, ruthless war chiefs and a kick ass slave turned warrior, it has everything you could possibly want.  Check out my review here!

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2. Showstopper – Hayley Barker

In a dystopian society where anyone not classed as ‘purely English’ is forced to live in poverty or work as servants for the Pures. Some are forced to perform as part of the deadly circus, performing and dying for the entertainment of others. This book is a gripping and compelling YA story. Check out my review here!

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3. The Wages of Sin – Kaite Welsh

Dark and dingy Victorian Edinburgh. Sarah Gilchrist is a fallen woman, attempting to overcome prejudice and become a female doctor, but when one of her patients is murdered, she must risk her reputation even further to uncover the truth. This book is really fantastic, it’s gory and intense, and history fans will absolutely love it. Review here!

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4. Spellslinger – Sebastien de Castell

When everyone in your family is a powerful spellcaster, what do you do when you have no magic? This story of young Kellen as he attempts to find his magic and discover his place in the world is full of adventure, mystery and of course magic. Check it out!

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5. See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one. A fictionalised account of the Lizzie Borden murders, this book is dark and spellbinding. Review here!

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6. Red Sister – Mark Lawrence

This book was probably my most anticipated of 2017. I love Mark Lawrence’s books so much, and this absolutely did not let me down. Kick ass nuns, mystery and adventure, this book was everything I could possibly have hoped for. Review coming soon!

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7. Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

Lazlo Strange is the most perfect character. My first outing with a Laini Taylor book, this story hooked me from the very beginning and refused to let me go. If you haven’t read it yet, you absolutely have to pick it up. Read more here!

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8. The Scarecrow Queen – Melinda Salisbury

The stunning conclusion to the fabulous Sin Eater’s Daughter series. You always wonder if the conclusion to a series you love will live up to expectations, but this one absolutely did. Filled with Melinda Salisbury’s trademark shock and heartbreak, this book has stayed with me long after I finished reading it. See more of what I thought here!

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9. The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

I was sent an ARC of this book without knowing too much about it, however after a few pages I was absolutely hooked and this story completely blew me away. Full of magic and folklore, I am absolutely champing at the bit for book two. Read my review here! 

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10. Dawn Study – Maria V. Snyder

Maria V. Snyder’s Study series is a series that is very close to my heart. I first read the books a long time ago (the original three – Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study) and they are partly the reason that I love fantasy books so much. When Maria announced that she would once again be returning to the story of Yelena and Valek I did a literal happy dance. Dawn Study is the final book in the series, neatly tying up the loose ends, and providing a wonderful conclusion to the most amazing series. Take a look!

That’s my round up of favourite books of 2017 so far. Have you read any of these yet, what did you think? And of course what are your favourite reads of 2017 so far?