Book Review: The Blue Salt Road – Joanne Harris

Book Review: The Blue Salt Road – Joanne Harris

BOOK REVIEW (28)Release Date: 15th November 2018
Publisher: Orion Books
Pages: 256
Find it on: Goodreads. Waterstones.
Source: I won an ARC of this at YALC.

Synopsis

An earthly nourris sits and sings
And aye she sings, “Ba lilly wean,
Little ken I my bairn’s father,
Far less the land that he staps in.
(Child Ballad, no. 113)

So begins a stunning tale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas, and drama on the land. The Blue Salt Road balances passion and loss, love and violence and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless, wild young man.

Passion drew him to a new world, and trickery has kept him there – without his memories, separated from his own people. But as he finds his way in this dangerous new way of life, so he learns that his notions of home, and your people, might not be as fixed as he believed.

Review

This is the second of book by Joanne Harris based on The Child Ballads. The first being A Pocketful of Crows which I read last year and adored. This time around the story focuses on selkies and Harris weaves a beautiful fairytale of adventure, love and loss.

Untitled design (94)The story follows a young woman named Flora who tricks a Selkie into becoming her mate. Once pregnant she steals his seal skin meaning he can never return to the water. According to myth when the Selkie is separated from his skin he cannot remember who he truly is. The story follows the Selkie as he seeks to reclaim what is his, as well as protect his newborn child.

Joanne Harris really is the Queen of beautiful, lyrical writing and her style fits so well with this kind of story. It allows you to really sink into the story, enveloping you in this world of wild seas, full of danger and violence.

Like A Pocketful of Crows I found this book fascinating. I loved the bold story with memorable characters and the gorgeous illustrations really helped to bring the story to life. Although it’s a short little book (in fact I read in a single sitting on the train from London to Edinburgh), it certainly packs a punch and I still think about it even though I read it a while ago.

With gorgeous artwork both inside and out, this really is a stunning book. The story is a beautifully woven tale of magic, adventure and love. Fans of Joanne Harris will definitely not be disappointed and if you enjoy fairy tales and retellings, this should absolutely be on your wish list.
4 stars

Blog Tour: Shadow of the Fox – Julie Kagawa

Blog Tour: Shadow of the Fox – Julie Kagawa

BOOK REVIEW (27)
Series: Shadow of the Fox #1
Release Date: 1st November 2018
Publisher: HQ Stories
Pages: 454
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis

A single wish will spark a new dawn. Every millennium, one age ends and another age dawns…and whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers holds the power to call the great Kami Dragon from the sea and ask for any one wish. The time is near and the missing pieces of the scroll will be sought throughout the land of Iwagoto. The holder of the first piece is a humble, unknown peasant girl with a dangerous secret. Demons have burned the temple Yumeko was raised in to the ground, killing everyone within, including the master who trained her to both use and hide her kitsune powers. Yumeko escapes with the temple’s greatest treasure – one part of the ancient scroll. Fate thrusts her into the path of a mysterious samurai, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan. Yumeko knows he seeks what she has and is under orders to kill anything and anyone who stands between him and the scroll.

Review

This is the first book in an all new fantasy series from renowned fantasy author Julie Kagawa. The story is told in alternating points of view, following characters with pieces of an ancient scroll that has the power to awaken the great Kami Dragon. This story is exquisitely told and complexly weaved with mythology and lore.

Untitled design (93)This is my first book by Julie Kagawa and I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to her work. I loved her characters – Yumeko is a kitsune, a half fox demon. She’s not altogether human and I love her mischievous cunning side. Kage too was really fascinating and unusually I enjoyed both characters perspectives equally – something that I find doesn’t often happen when you have multiple POVS. Her characters were well developed and I enjoyed the amount of character depth as they found themselves on this wild adventure.

I thoroughly enjoyed Kagawa’s writing style. The story is quick paced and continues to ramp up as the story progresses. The book touches on some really important themes, like friendship, family and ultimately doing what is right. It’s a really gorgeous fantasy story and I loved learning more about Japanese mythology. The setting was beautiful and I loved the sense of atmosphere that shines through in the book. The story is very much a journey, and I am already dying to know what’s going to happen next. If you’re looking for a new own voices fantasy that’s chalk full of fantasy and mythology, Shadow of the Fox is definitely the book for you.
5 stars
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Waiting on Wednesday #7: Holy Sister – Mark Lawrence

Waiting on Wednesday #7: Holy Sister – Mark Lawrence

BOOK REVIEW (25)
Synopsis

They came against her as a child. Now they face the woman.

The ice is advancing, the Corridor narrowing, and the empire is under siege from the Scithrowl in the east and the Durns in the west. Everywhere, the emperor’s armies are in retreat.

Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep.

Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.

The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves, but it’s a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming in which she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle in which her own demons will try to unmake her.

A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.

Thoughts

Untitled design (80)I am so excited for the release of Holy Sister in 2019. I’m a big fan of Mark Lawrence, he always creates these gorgeous worlds with plots that you absolutely cannot get enough of. I race through all of his books but I must say this series – The Book of the Ancestor is one of my favourites. I gave both books one and two five stars and I’m sure Holy Sister will be just as kick ass and intense. Nona is just a brilliant protagonist and I’m desperate to know what happens to her next. Whilst the covers are not really my favourite (I prefer the cover art for The Prince of Thorns), I’m so excited to add this book to my collection. Holy Sister is publishing April 4th 2019 from HarperVoyager UK.

Falling Into Fantasy TBR!

Falling Into Fantasy TBR!

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Am I the crazy person that’s going to try and participate in two readathons at once? Yes yes I am. I recently posted my Tome Topple TBR, in which I’m hoping to read four big books over the next weeks (you can take a look here). But I also really wanted to join in on this readathon because it sounds fun and I have so many good fantasy books to read!

This readathon is being hosted by Penguin books and runs from today (the 18th) to the 25th of November. If you want to know more you can take a look at their website here!

So there are eight challenges and I’ve picked a book for each one. It’s unlikely I’ll manage to read all eight but you never know, so here goes!

Untitled design (76)1. Read the first book in a series
For this I’m going to try and read Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart because it’s been on my TBR for ever and it sounds so good!

2. Read A Book That’s Been On Your TBR Too Long
I thought for this one I could finally pick up The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. It’s such a beautiful book and I can dip in and out because it’s short stories.

Untitled design (77)3. Read An LQBTQ Fantasy
I’m so excited to pick up Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst. I’ve had this book for Christmas a while ago and I keep meaning to read it so I’m definitely making it a priority this time around!

4. Read A Diverse Fantasy
I’m going to pick up Mirage for this one after meaning to read it for another readathon and not getting around to it. It seems quite short too so I’m hoping I can fly through this one.

Untitled design (78)5. Read A book with multiple POVs
Another fantasy I’ve been meaning to read for so long is Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau. This book sounds terrific and I haven’t seen that many reviews for it so I’m hoping it will be a good one.

6. Read A New Fantasy
I recently got sent a copy of Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa and I’m participating in the blog tour at the end of the month so I figured this would be the perfect prompt to read this one.

Untitled design (79)7. Read A Sequel
The author Josie Jaffrey sent me a copy of her book The Gilded King and I loved it so much. She very kindly sent me the second book in the series, The Silver Queen last month and I’m itching to read it so now I have no excuses!

8. A Booktube Recommended Book
For this I’m going with Neverworld Wake by Marisha Peshl. I’ve seen so many booktubers talk about this book that I figured it would be a great one to read for the readathon.

So that’s my TBR for the Falling Into Fantasy readthon! If you’ve read any of these definitely let me know what you thought!

Book Review: The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neill

Book Review: The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neill

BOOK REVIEW (20)
Release Date: May 3rd 2018
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: My boyfriend bought me a copy of this book.

Synopsis

Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice? Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding.

Review

I must admit that part of what drew me to this book was that absolutely stunning cover art. After reading the blurb and finding out it was a feminist little mermaid retelling I was desperate to pick up a copy. This story is beautifully written and has stuck with me well after finishing it. It was dark, disturbing and one of my favourite retellings ever.

Untitled design (69)I’ve never read the Hans Christian Andersen version of this story but I must say it is a far cry from the happily ever after of the Disney version. This story is a brutal one. The world of the mermaids is a tough, patriarchal society in which the women are expected to stay quiet and do as they’re told. Gaia has no say in her life, her future or who she will marry. Her father is a cruel and vile man, who plays Gaia off against her sisters. This world is ugly and dark but O’Neill draws you in deeper and deeper to this engrossing story.

I thought Gaia was an excellent protagonist and I liked seeing the world from her perspective. O’Neill’s world building is superb and I found it easy to read The Surface Breaks and then sink back in a few hours later. The writing is gripping, the plot is really engaging and it definitely brings a fresh perspective to an old tale. If you haven’t picked up The Surface Breaks yet, you definitely need to soon because this one is not to be missed.
5 stars

Predicting Five Star Reads!

Predicting Five Star Reads!

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Today I thought I would try something a little different and make a list of books I think are going to be five star reads. I thought it would be interesting because after I’ve read them I can make a comparison post and see if I was right! So here goes with ten books I’m predicting to be five star reads:

Untitled design (62)1. Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
This has been on my TBR for SO LONG and I don’t even know why. I love Leigh Bardugo but for some reason I haven’t read Six of Crows or Crooked Kingdom yet. It baffles me because I know I’m going to love them. I’m hoping this post will definitely force me to read this duology, and I would especially love to get to them before King of Scars comes out in January.
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2. Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor

I definitely think I’m going to give Muse of Nightmares five stars. Strange the Dreamer was on a whole other level of five star reads so I have no doubt that this is going to be just as full of magic and that beautiful writing that pulls you into the city of Weep.
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3. Vengeful – V. E. Schwab

V.E. Schwab is definitely my favourite author of 2018. Prior to this year I hadn’t read any of her books. I’ve since read City of Ghosts, Vicious, Warm Up and I just recently started The Dark Vault. I loved all of them so so much and I’ve seen so many people saying Vengeful is a brilliant read.

Untitled design (63)4. And I Darken – Kiersten White
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of my all time favourite books and so when I saw someone talking about Kiersten White’s And I Darken I pretty much ordered a copy immediately. For some reason I still haven’t read it yet but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a five star read. I read The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein last month and it was a five star read, so I have high expectations.

Untitled design (67)5. An Ember In the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir
I think I’ve been living under a rock because I’m the only person that hasn’t read this series yet. I own this book and A Torch Against the night and I’ve read so many rave reviews and seen so many booktube videos of people gushing about how amazing this book is that I have no doubt I’m going to absolutely love it.

Untitled design (68)6. The Court of Broken Knives – Anna Smith Spark
I recently went to an event with Anna Smith Spark, Cameron Johnston and Anna Stephens and Anna talked about this series and she also read an extract that sounded amazing. It sounded like the perfect high action fantasy series and that is definitely up my alley.

Untitled design (28)7. Sea Witch – Sara Henning
I have tentatively put this on the list because I know it has received some mixed reviews but from the premise it sounds like a five star read. I know it is a retelling of The Little Mermaid fairytale but from the point of view of the Sea Witch. It has a gorgeous cover and it sounds like a really atmospheric read so I’m hopefully going to pick this one up soon.

Untitled design (64)8. Illuminae – Jay Kristoff and Ami Kaufman
This is another one that I swore I was going to get to in 2018. I have a month and a bit left but it’s fairly likely I won’t get around to it in that time. I am also interested in listening to this on audiobook because I’ve heard many people say the audiobooks are perfect for this because it’s told with lots of different formats like interviews and letters and things. I think it sounds like a really phenomenal read and if I don’t read it in 2018 it is the highest priority for next year.

Untitled design (66)9. Three Dark Crowns – Kendare Blake
I love dark fantasy series and this is one that I have been meaning to read for a while. I know Two Dark Reigns came out fairly recently so I’m hoping that maybe I can binge read the series at some point soon. Again I’ve seen quite a few people rave about this and it sounds really intriguing.

Untitled design (65)10. The Girl King – Mimi Yu
This is a recent addition to my TBR that I got at YALC and honestly I’m so excited to read it. The cover is just gorgeous and the tagline is This is coming out in January of next year and honestly I am just so excited to read it. “Two sisters become unwitting rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor in this sweeping tale of ambition, sacrifice and betrayal. All hail the Girl King.” This is coming out in January of next year and honestly I am just so excited to read it.

So those are the books I’m predicting will be five star reads. What are some books you think will be five star reads for you? And if you’ve read any of these let me know what you rated them!!

 

Book Review: Witchsign – Den Patrick

Book Review: Witchsign – Den Patrick

BOOK REVIEW (18)
Series: Ashen Torment #1
Release Date: 22nd May 2018
Publisher: Harper Voyager UK
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I pre-ordered this at my local Waterstones.

Synopsis

It has been seventy-five years since the dragons’ rule of fire and arcane magic over Vinkerveld was ended, and the Empire was born. Since, the tyrannical Synod has worked hard to banish all manifestations of the arcane across the lands.

However, children are still born bearing the taint of the arcane, known to all as witchsign. So each year the Emperor sends out his Vigilants across the continent to detect the arcane in these children. Those found tainted are taken, and never seen again. Steiner has always suspected his sister Kjellrunn of bearing witchsign. But when their father’s attempt to protect her from the Invigilation backfires, it is Steiner who is mistakenly taken. However it is not death which awaits Steiner, but an Academy where the children with witchsign learn to master their powers – some at the cost of their lives. Steiner is determined to escape the Academy and protect his sister from this fate.

But powerful enemies await him at every turn, and Steiner finds himself taken on a journey straight into the heart of the Empire’s deepest secrets, which will force him to reconsider everything he has known about witchsign.

Review

I really loved Den Patrick’s The Erebus Sequence so I was really excited to pick up a copy of this brilliant sounding book. The cover is just gorgeous and it sounds like a captivating story. Witchsign is the kind of book that you want to read all the time, squeezing in a chapter on the commute, on a lunch break and any other possible time.

Untitled design (61)I adored the world of Witchsign. Patrick creates a really fascinating world and the bleak and desolate landscape really comes across in his writing. The magic system and world building are told in a really elegant way, we are told plenty of information without it being a knowledge dump right at the start. It creates a really rich tapestry of magic, dragons and the cruel control of the Empire.

The story is told in alternating POVs between Steiner and his sister Kjellrunn, and I loved both of them as main characters. It’s rare in books with differing POVs that I like both perspectives equally, but in Witchsign I was dying to know what was happening to both characters.

I really enjoyed Patrick’s writing style and I loved the idea that the Steiner as ‘the one chosen’ is actually chosen by mistake. The story was quick paced, full of action and I definitely grew attached to the mix of characters. In Witchsign Patrick has created an enticing world and I can’t wait to delve back in with book two.
5 stars