Blog Tour: The Path and the Way – Michael S. Jackson

Blog Tour: The Path and the Way – Michael S. Jackson

Series: The Ringlander #1
Release Date: April 27th 2021
Pages: 484
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon.
Source: The author kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

Holes between worlds are tearing through Rengas. Firestorms are raging as multiple realities battle for control of the elements. Even the Way, the turbulent channel that separates Nord, Határ and Kemen, the lifeblood of the city of Tyr, has turned.

Kyira’s search for her missing brother draws her away from the familiar frozen lines of Nord and south into the chaotic streets of Tyr where games are played & battles fought. As reality tears Kyira must choose between her family or her path before the worlds catch up with her.

Review

When I first heard about Ringlander: The Path and the Way I was immediately intrigued – partly because of that stunning cover – but also because it sounded like such a unique and engaging tale. In a world in which holes are beginning to tear between worlds, we follow Kyira, a young girl trying to find her missing brother. Her search will take her away from everything she knows – her home in freezing Nord to the bustling streets of Tyr. As Kyira fights to find her brother and stay alive reality begins to tear, forcing her to choose between the things most important to her: her family or her path.

The thing that struck me most about this book was how much I was torn between reading it slowly, savouring the fascinating world and magic system or racing through it because it was so compelling and I just had to know what was going to happen. This is an exceptionally addictive read, one that is well-paced and excellently plotted. The story kept me engaged throughout and as soon as I finished it I was desperate for more. The Path and the Way felt like such a fresh take on this type of story and despite it being a thicker book I read it in only a few sittings.

Jackson really excels at creating multi-layered characters and I find it rare to read a multi-POV story where I’m captivated by all of their storylines. There’s usually always one or two I am less fond of but each one was fascinating. Kyria is a particularly compelling character, battling to find her brother and succeed despite the odds being stacked against her. If you’re someone who loves books with plenty of action, this book definitely has you covered. From the very first page, there is tons to keep you hooked and turning pages late into the night.

The Path and the Way is an impressive tale and one that I did not want to end. If you’re looking for a fantasy read with detailed worldbuilding and incredible characters, this one is a must-read. The Path and the Way is absolutely one of my favourite fantasy reads of the year and I can’t wait to read more from Michael S. Jackson.

Blog Tour: The Shadowing – Rhiannon Ward

Blog Tour: The Shadowing – Rhiannon Ward

Release Date: September 16th 2021
Publisher: Trapeze
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

When well-to-do Hester learns of her sister Mercy’s death at a Nottinghamshire workhouse, she travels to Southwell to find out how her sister ended up at such a place.

Haunted by her sister’s ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth, when the official story reported by the workhouse master proves to be untrue. Mercy was pregnant – both her and the baby are said to be dead of cholera, but the workhouse hasn’t had an outbreak for years.

Hester discovers a strange trend in the workhouse of children going missing. One woman tells her about the Pale Lady, a ghostly figure that steals babies in the night. Is this lady a myth or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?

As Hester investigates, she uncovers a conspiracy, one that someone is determined to keep a secret, no matter the cost…

Review

The Shadowing is the latest novel from Rhiannon Ward and this compelling tale follows Hester, a young woman who learns of her sister’s death in a workhouse. Determined to find out how her sister ended up in such a place, Hester travels to Southwell for answers. Hester is told her sister was pregnant and that they both died of cholera, despite there being no outbreak at the workhouse. Hester soon learns of children going missing from the workhouse, and a sinister pale lady who takes them. Hester must uncover what’s really going on in order to find out what really happened to her sister, but will she be strong enough to discover the truth?

The Shadowing is a dark and creeping story, full of atmosphere and tension. I was immediately hooked on this story and ended up reading it in one sitting. I really enjoyed Ward’s engaging writing style and whilst this is my first book from the author it definitely won’t be my last. I loved the mix of historical fiction and paranormal in this story and the mystery and suspense kept me turning pages because I had to know how it was going to end.

Hester is a really fascinating protagonist and I enjoyed seeing her delve deeper and deeper into the mystery. She’s a determined woman and her shadowings were really interesting. The Shadowing is a haunting story, with a strong sense of atmosphere and unease. The Pale Lady in particular fascinated me and the horror of the workhouse really came to life in the story.

The Shadowing is a book that’s hard to put down. If you’re looking for a tense and spooky Gothic tale to keep you hooked this autumn, this one is definitely worth checking out.

Blog Tour: The Wisdom of Crowds – Joe Abercrombie

Blog Tour: The Wisdom of Crowds – Joe Abercrombie

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Series: The Age of Madness #3
Release Date: September 14th 2021
Pages: 560
Publisher: Gollancz
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

Chaos. Fury. Destruction.

The Great Change is upon us…

Some say that to change the world you must first burn it down. Now that belief will be tested in the crucible of revolution: the Breakers and Burners have seized the levers of power, the smoke of riots has replaced the smog of industry, and all must submit to the wisdom of crowds.

With nothing left to lose, Citizen Brock is determined to become a new hero for the new age, while Citizeness Savine must turn her talents from profit to survival before she can claw her way to redemption. Orso will find that when the world is turned upside down, no one is lower than a monarch. And in the bloody North, Rikke and her fragile Protectorate are running out of allies… while Black Calder gathers his forces and plots his vengeance.

The banks have fallen, the sun of the Union has been torn down, and in the darkness behind the scenes, the threads of the Weaver’s ruthless plan are slowly being drawn together…

Review

The Wisdom of Crowds is the third and final installment in Joe Abercrombie’s The Age of Madness series. Picking up after the events of The Trouble With Peace, this story is full to the brim with chaos and revolution. A magnificent conclusion to an incredibly gripping trilogy, this final book was everything I wanted and more.

Joe Abercrombie is one of my favourite authors and going into this book I had the highest of expectations, but even with that Abercrombie still managed to blow me away. Abercrombie does a brilliant job of wrapping things up and creates a heart pounding finale that I did not want to look away from.

I won’t say much about the plot as it is the third book in the series but there is an excellent mix of action and political intrigue in the story. Abercombie has a real knack for writing dynamic and engaging battle scenes. The Wisdom of Crowds is the kind of book that hooks you in from that very first page and doesn’t let you go till the very end.

The Age of Madness trilogy has felt like a fresh prospective on the typical fantasy story and Abercrombie has created some truly incredible characters. There are so many complex and fascinating characters but throughout the series Rikke and Savine have been my favourites. This has been such a compelling trilogy and The Wisdom of Crowds is an absolute must read. Though I am sad to see the series completed, I cannot wait to see what Joe Abercrombie writes next.

5 Stars

Blog Tour: The Winter Garden – Alexandra Bell

Blog Tour: The Winter Garden – Alexandra Bell


Release Date:
2nd September 2021
Publisher: Del Rey
Pages: 528
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.75/5 stars

Synopsis

Welcome to the Winter Garden. Open only at 13 o’clock.

You are invited to enter an unusual competition.

I am looking for the most magical, spectacular, remarkable pleasure garden this world has to offer.

On the night her mother dies, 8-year-old Beatrice receives an invitation to the mysterious Winter Garden. A place of wonder and magic, filled with all manner of strange and spectacular flora and fauna, the garden is her solace every night for seven days. But when the garden disappears, and no one believes her story, Beatrice is left to wonder if it were truly real.

Eighteen years later, on the eve of her wedding to a man her late father approved of but she does not love, Beatrice makes the decision to throw off the expectations of Victorian English society and search for the garden. But when both she and her closest friend, Rosa, receive invitations to compete to create spectacular pleasure gardens – with the prize being one wish from the last of the Winter Garden’s magic – she realises she may be closer to finding it than she ever imagined.

Review

The Winter Garden is the magical new book from Alex Bell and the story follows Beatrice, who receives an invitation to a magical garden on the night her mother dies. She spends seven days exploring this strange and beautiful place, but when she returns no one believes it was real. When eighteen years later Beatrice is arranged to marry an English Duke, someone her father very much approved on. Beatrice cannot face the idea of being married to him and cancels the wedding, heading off in search of the mysterious garden. When Beatrice and her friend Rosa receive invitations to compete in a competition to create the most brilliant pleasure gardens, they discover the prize is a wish from the last of the Winter Garden’s magic.

The Winter Garden is my second time reading a book from Alex Bell. I read Music and Malice in Hurricane Town on a whim and completely loved it, so I have been really intrigued to pick up more from this author. I sat down to read The Winter Garden one night and ending up sitting there many hours later. Bell completely sucks you in with her beautiful writing style and I was completely captivated by the vivid descriptions of the gardens. The story was so easy to get swept up in and while it was on the chunkier side, I completely raced through this fast-paced story. I loved the Victorian setting of the book and the story is definitely one I still think about long after turning the last page.

The Winter Garden is a brilliant, engrossing read, one I think fans of The Night Circus will completely adore. If you love stories with that fairytale-like feel to them I think this is definitely a must-read. I really liked Beatrice as a main character and I loved the way she made the decision to follow her dreams rather than end up in an unhappy marriage. There is quite a lot of character growth within the story and it does focus quite a lot on the theme of regret. The Winter Garden is a captivating and moving tale and if you’re looking for a magical, wintery story to keep you entertained over the Autumn, this is definitely one to order now.

Blog Tour: A Master of Djinn – P. Djèlí Clark

Blog Tour: A Master of Djinn – P. Djèlí Clark


Release Date:
August 19th 2021
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 416
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer.

So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world 50 years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage.

Alongside her Ministry colleagues and her clever girlfriend Siti, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city – or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems…

Review

A Master of Djinn is the first book in P. Djèlí Clark’s Dead Djinn Universe. I’ve been making my way through the novellas and short stories in this world and I was incredibly excited to pick up this full-length novel. The story follows  Fatma el-Sha’arawi, an agent in Egypt’s Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities. When a secret brotherhood ends up murdered in mysterious circumstances, Agent Fatma is on the case. When the murderer claims to be al-Jahiz returned, Fatma must work with her colleagues and girlfriend Siti to uncover who the imposter is or risk the civil unrest in Cairo spreading over the globe.

A Master of Djinn is a brilliant, addictive tale. After thoroughly enjoying the other stories set in this world, I got completely wrapped up in this fantastic story. I would note while this can be read without reading the other stories, I would highly recommend picking up A Dead Djinn in Cairo first. They are of course all brilliant stories and worth picking up. Clark has incredible worldbuilding and I loved learning about the magic and creatures. Steampunk Cairo practically leapt off the page and Clark’s vivid writing really brought it to life. A Master of Djinn is quite a quick-paced story, full of magic, murder and mystery. The book has had quite a bit of buzz around it already, and it’s absolutely easy to see why. This is a compelling book and one fantasy fans will just adore.

One of the stand out things for this book is the fascinating characters. Fatma is a brilliantly, clever detective. She’s a really quick, sarcastic character that you absolutely cannot help falling in love with. I enjoyed learning more about her backstory as well as seeing her cope with getting a new partner. I also really liked the dynamics between Fatma and Siti and enjoyed seeing how their relationship developed as the story progressed.

A Master of Djinn is a fascinating, unputdownable read. If you’re looking for a fantasy story to completely sweep you away, this is an absolute must-read.

Book Review: That Night – Gillian McAllister

Book Review: That Night – Gillian McAllister


Release Date:
June 10th 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

What would you do to protect your family?

ANYTHING.

That night everything changed.

The night Frannie committed a murder, but she didn’t mean to…

That night we helped her bury the body, what else could we do?

One hot summers night in Italy, Joe and Cathy Plant receive a phone call that will change their lives forever.

Their sister Frannie has killed a man, and she needs their help.

They were always close, some might say too close, siblings who worked together, lived next door to each other

And now they’ve buried a body together…

But when they return to England, Frannie, Joe and Cathy become tangled in lies in they’ve been telling,

to the police, to their friends, to each other…

But if you can’t trust your family, who can you trust?

Review

That Night is the newest dark and twisty thriller from Gillian McAllister and follows the Plant family. Whilst on holiday in Italy, Joe and Cathy receive a phone call – their sister Frannie has killed a man and needs their help. They decide to bury the body, pretend nothing ever happened. But as the police start asking questions, Joe, Cathy and Frannie must do everything they can to keep the truth from spilling out. But can you trust your family?

This was my first time reading a Gillian McAllister book and I absolutely raced through this one. The short, snappy chapters had me turning pages late into the night and there were so many tense, cliffhanger moments that I just had to keep reading. There is a brilliant atmosphere in the story, and I really enjoyed the way the tension climbed higher and higher as the story progressed. The story is pretty fast-paced and whilst I did guess a couple of the twists there were more than a few I didn’t see coming.

That Night has such an intriguing premise – how far would you go to protect your family? I thought it was fascinating seeing how one night could change so much for a group of siblings, particularly as the guilt and paranoia set in. I thought the characters were well crafted and I loved the way McAllister portrayed the sibling dynamic. That Night is a compelling read, one that physiological thriller fans are sure to devour. If you’re looking for something to keep you hooked right until the very last page, this one is a must-read.

Book Review: The Last Day – Andrew Hunter Murray

Book Review: The Last Day – Andrew Hunter Murray

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Release Date:
February 18th 2021
Publisher: Arrow
Pages: 416
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 2.25/5 stars

Synopsis

2059. The world has stopped turning.

One half suffers an endless frozen night; the other, nothing but burning sun.

Only in a slim twilit region between them can life survive.

In an isolationist Britain, scientist Ellen Hopper receives a letter from a dying man.

It contains a powerful and dangerous secret.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2021-08-22T211819.097The Last Day is a futuristic thriller set in 2059, when the world stops turning. This leads to a there only being a small part of planet Earth that’s habitual, with one half frozen in the dark and the other burning in the sun. Ellen Hopper is a scientist on a rig in the ocean when she receives a letter from an old college professor. She wants nothing to do with him, but Edward Thorn is dying and has some dangerous secrets. When Ellen goes to visit him, it sets her on a path to uncover the truth behind Thorn’s work – but she’s not the only one looking for the information.

The Last Day had quite a lot of buzz about it and it sounded like such a fascinating premise. I loved the concept, the idea of a world that stops turning and is plunged into chaos. Unfortunately I just didn’t gel with this book. The story was a lot slower paced than I was expecting and it took me quite a while to get through the pages. I found there was quite a lot of info-dumping, pages detailing the history since the world had stopped turning and the tensions between the British and American people. I think because of this I lost interest in the story, so even when the page did pick up, it still didn’t hold my interest.

Hopper was an interesting protagonist, but I didn’t find her particularly likeable. I think this was the other reason that I didn’t mesh so well with the book. I had sort of been expecting a fast paced thriller in a world that was half in darkness and half in the burning daylight and it was more a race to uncover the truth behind her old mentor’s work. I guess a few of the twists quite early on too, which meant I wasn’t racing to find out how it was going to end. The Last Day didn’t work for me, but if you’re a fan of political thrillers with characters chasing clues all around a city, this could be just your kind of book.
2 Stars

Book Review: Poison Priestess – Lana Popovic

Book Review: Poison Priestess – Lana Popovic


Series:
Lady Slayers #2
Release Date: April 6th 2021
Publisher: Abrams Books
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

In 17th-century Paris, 19-year-old Catherine Monvoisin is a well-heeled jeweler’s wife with a peculiar taste for the arcane. She lives a comfortable life, far removed from a childhood of abject destitution—until her kind spendthrift of a husband lands them both in debt. Hell-bent on avoiding a return to poverty, Catherine must rely on her prophetic visions and the grimoire gifted to her by a talented diviner to reinvent herself as a sorceress. With the help of the grifter Marie Bosse, Catherine divines fortunes in the IIle de la Citee—home to sorcerers and scoundrels.

There she encounters the Marquise de Montespan, a stunning noblewoman. When the Marquise becomes Louis XIV’s royal mistress with Catherine’s help, her ascension catapults Catherine to notoriety. Catherine takes easily to her glittering new life as the Sorceress La Voisin, pitting the depraved noblesse against one other to her advantage. The stakes soar ever higher when her path crosses with that of a young magician. A charged rivalry between sorceress and magician leads to Black Masses, tangled deceptions, and grisly murder—and sets Catherine on a collision course that threatens her own life.

Review

Poison Priestess is the second instalment in Lana Popovic’s Lady Slayers series. I really enjoyed the first instalment in this series – Blood Countess – so I was intrigued to see where Popvic would take the series next. The story follows Catherine Monvoisin, who lives a comfortable life with her jeweller husband. It’s far away from the childhood she spent in poverty, and her husband is happy to leave Catherine to pursue her interest in the arcane. When their debts begin to mount and Catherine’s way of life is threatened, she finds herself as sorceress to the Marquise de Montespan – the mistress of Louis XIV. As she rises higher in society she becomes tangled in a web of murder and secrets, but will she be strong enough to survive it?

Poison Priestess is a really engaging story. It sucked me in from the very beginning and the fast-paced writing style had me racing through the pages. It’s a relatively short book but manages to pack quite a lot of story in. I ended up reading it in a single day on holiday and it’s left me desperate for another instalment in this series. Like Blood Countess, this is a standalone, based on a historical figure. I knew a little about Elizabeth Bathory – the inspiration for book one, but knew absolutely nothing about Catherine Monvoisin. It was a fascinating tale and I did end up doing some googling to learn more about her.

Catherine is a really interesting protagonist, one who is flawed and makes mistakes but is determined never to return to that life of poverty. I did really like the relationship between her and Marie but wished there was a bit more time to explore the relationship and see it develop. I particularly loved the seance scenes in the story, and Popovic’s beautiful writing really brought them to life. This is an entertaining and fast-paced read, one that will keep you hooked till the very last page.

Book Review: It’s Behind You – Kathryn Foxfield

Book Review: It’s Behind You – Kathryn Foxfield


Release Date:
July 1st 2021
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of the book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Welcome to the reality game show that’ll scare you to death! Have you got what it takes to last the night?

Five contestants must sit tight through the night in dark and dangerous Umber Gorge caves, haunted by a ghost called the Puckered Maiden. But is it the malevolent spirit they should fear … or each other?

As the production crew ramps up the frights, secrets start to be revealed. These teenagers have hidden motives for taking part in It’s Behind You! and could some of them be … murder?

Review

It’s Behind You is the chilling new YA thriller from Good Girl’s Die First author Kathryn Foxfield. The story follows a reality TV show where five contestants much spend the night in a haunted location. This time around they’re at the Umber Gorge caves, a place rumoured to be haunted by the Puckered Maiden. All the contestants have to do is last the night and the money is theirs. Everyone has their own motivations for being on the show and Lex is determined to win that money. When things start to go wrong the contestants wonder – will they make it out alive?

I absolutely love horror movies and I think I picked this up at completely the right time. I was in the mood for something fun and fast-paced and that was definitely what I got. The story also has some real spine-tingling moments and I got completely captivated by this creepy story. I read it in a single sitting, and there were quite a few surprise moments I didn’t see coming. I really liked Foxfield’s writing style and her descriptions of the dark and eerie caves did freak me out. The dark, claustrophobic setting really comes to life in the story and as the tension increased I found myself turning the pages quicker and quicker, it felt like a race to know how it was going to end.

Foxfield has created some brilliant characters for It’s Behind You. They’ve all got their motivations for why they’re on the show and people are more than they appear. Our main character Lex is determined to win and she’s not above scaring her fellow contestants into quitting. At times she is quite unlikeable but by the end, I was definitely rooting for her. Jackie was another character I was fascinated by. She has everything riding on making this show a success and nothing will get in her way. This is a pretty chilling read, but there are quite a few humorous moments in there too. If you’re looking for a fast-paced and spooky read this Autumn, I highly recommend It’s Behind You.

Blog Tour: The Hand of the Sun King – J. T. Greathouse

Blog Tour: The Hand of the Sun King – J. T. Greathouse


Series:
Pact and Pattern #1
Release Date: August 5th 2021
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 367
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

My name is Wen Alder. My name is Foolish Cur.

All my life, I have been torn between two legacies: that of my father, whose roots trace back to the right hand of the Emperor. That of my mother’s family, who reject the oppressive Empire and embrace the resistance.

I can choose between them – between protecting my family, or protecting my people – or I can search out a better path . . . a magical path, filled with secrets, unbound by Empire or resistance, which could shake my world to its very foundation.

But my search for freedom will entangle me in a war between the gods themselves…

Review

The Hand of the Sun King is a vivid and engrossing epic fantasy debut from J T Greathouse. The story follows Wen Alder, or Foolish Cur who is torn between the two sides of his family. There is the legacy of his father, who can trace his ancestry to the right hand of the Emperor. Then there is his mother’s family, staunch objectors to the Empire and part of the resistance. Wen finds himself torn between protecting his family or his people, but his path could lead him to something much greater – a place of magic and secrets away from the influence of the Empire or the resistance. But taking this path will entangle him in a war greater than he could possibly imagine.

The Hand of the Sun King is such a well-executed story and one I completely fell in love with. The world-building was well crafted and I was completely fascinated by the world Greathouse has created in this story. I also thought the magic system was really intriguing, particularly as the story progressed and we learned more. Greathouse has a really vivid writing style and the setting was really brought to life in the story. I raced through this book in a matter of days and I cannot wait to see where the story goes next. This coming of age tale will appeal to so many readers as it’s full to the brim with magic, action-packed battle scenes and well-crafted characters.

One of the things that really shines in The Hand of the Sun is the complex characters. Wen is a really fascinating story and there is so much character growth as the story progresses. He isn’t always the most likeable of characters as he goes on his journey, but he was certainly a compelling protagonist, dealing with conflicting loyalties and searching for his path in life. The Hand of the Sun King is a brilliant read, one with absolutely beautiful writing and an intriguing world. The book has already been getting lots of hype and it’s easy to see why. This will definitely be in my top books of the year and I cannot wait to read more from J T Greathouse.