Spotlight on the Backlist: The Relic Guild Trilogy

Welcome to the first post in my new occasional series! Well, it’s intended to be a series, but the last one I started didn’t fare too well, so we’ll see how this one goes quite frankly.

The idea behind these posts is to give older titles a bit of love. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding that I’m always attracted to new shinies instead of giving older books a bit of attention, particularly on the blog when you have a pile of review copies which need to be read and reviewed. So this series will highlight some of my old favourites, as well as books that have been around for a while that I haven’t read.

We’re going to start with a series that falls into the latter category. When I started going to conventions more regularly, in 2014, there was a lot of chatter about The Relic Guild by Edward Cox. Ed was actually a participant at some of these conventions, and I remember listening to him talk about his book, which was his debut, and thinking ‘oh, I need to read that’, and then I didn’t. Because I’m a terrible person whose TBR pile was already a mountain. I did buy it on kindle, but see above re new shinies taking priority. So when I got an email from Gollancz (in August. I’m so sorry this is so late!) offering the chance to read and review the entire trilogy, just as I was thinking of starting this series of posts, well, it seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. I’m very glad I did jump at the chance!

(The Relic Guild Trilogy was gifted to me for free by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review)

Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us.

It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls a hundred feet high.

Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh.

The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth – and the lives of one million humans – Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.

People, the lack of love for this series is criminal! It’s so good! I’m not sure in which subsection of fantasy it should be classified – probably epic, but that doesn’t feel quite right as Labrys Town is dark and dirty – but however you want to class it, if you’re a fantasy fan, this series should be on your TBR. I raced through all three books and loved the characters and the settings. I especially loved seeing the younger versions of the Guild back in the last days of the war and realising how decisions made 40 years earlier had affected the present.

Labrys Town is a really interesting setting. Although The Cathedral of Known Things and The Watcher of Dead Time open things out somewhat, Labrys Town is always the centre of the story, and it’s a fascinating place. Cut off from all outside influences, surrounded by demons, and essentially reliant on one man for 40 years, it’s exactly the town you would imagine would develop under those circumstances. While it’s not somewhere I would like to live, it’s definitely the sort of place I like to read about! I also found the effect that living in a place like that had had on our heroes was interesting – the present day versions are much harder and tougher, not to mention more bitter and cynical, than the people we meet in the earlier story, and while I think this happens to everyone with age, to some extent, it was clear the circumstances of the last 40 years, and of course the losses they’d experienced during the war, had had a huge impact.

The story was well paced over the three books, and the two different chronologies worked very effectively in building the world and emphasising the terror engendered by the villains. There were many points in the plot where I couldn’t see a way out, and obviously that heightened the tension to almost unbearable levels. I’ve mentioned before that I’m pretty good at seeing where a book is going, but this series had some twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting at all, and I love it when that happens!

I’m so glad Gollancz offered me the chance to read The Relic Guild trilogy. It gave me the kick up the backside I needed to read the series. I’m not sure I’d have ever got around to it otherwise, and I would definitely be missing out – as are you if you haven’t picked it up yet either!

4/5

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Top Ten Tuesday: The Ten Most Recent Additions to my TBR

top ten tuesday

I wasn’t planning on doing a Top Ten Tuesday post this week, but then I saw everyone else’s posts crossing my reader, and I couldn’t resist the theme. Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and this week’s theme is the ten most recent additions to my TBR. I’ve decided to do the ten most recent (physical) books I’ve acquired, because yep, there have been more than ten of them in January. I don’t think I’ve got the hang of reducing the TBR pile!

1. King of Scars

Bought today. Well, technically bought a few weeks ago, because I pre-ordered this one, but I collected it today. I’d say I can’t wait to read it, but I need to finish the Grisha trilogy first!

2 . The Curses

3. Oh My Gods

4. Fierce Fragile Hearts

5. Shadowscent

All bought on Sunday after the Waterstones Deansgate bloggers meet-up (more of which in another post soon)

6. Women: Our History

7. The Feminism Book

Kindly gifted to me by DK Books, as they sponsored the aforementioned bloggers meet-up.

8. This Is What Happy Looks Like

9. Afterworlds

10. The Monsters We Deserve

All gifted to me by other bloggers on Sunday as part of our unofficial book swap.

Oh my goodness. I’ve acquired ten books in the last three days! I didn’t even get far enough back to include the books I picked up at the Headline New Voices event last Wednesday. Oh my goodness. This is why I have huge book piles in front of my bookcase!

So, ignoring my unfortunate book habit, anything on my list also on yours? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!

(I’m just going to go and cry in a corner while I try to figure out where I’m going to put all these books!)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant To Read in 2018 But Didn’t Get To

top ten tuesday

I was determined to finally write a blog post in 2019, and I was trying to decide which of my extremely overdue reviews I was going to type up, when I realised that Top Ten Tuesday would be the perfect kick up the backside I needed. When I toddled off to That Artsy Reader Girl to see what this week’s topic was, I was overjoyed to find it was books I meant to read in 2018. It will surprise absolutely no-one to know that there are a lot of books which fall into this category for me!

1. Vengeful

I have been looking forward to this book for years. Actual years. And now it’s out, and I still haven’t read it. Sort yourself out Donna.

2. Dread Nation

This book looks so interesting and it’s had amazing reviews. I had it on my wishlist for ages and no-one bought it for me, but now I have a copy from the library, so hopefully it won’t be too long before I read it!

3. The Dark Days Pact

Yeah, so this book was also on my 2017 books I should have read list. I still haven’t read it, and the third book in the series is out now. I should probably get round to it.

4. Our Dark Duet

The second V E Schwab book that I really should have read by now. One day!

5. Competence

I am a HUGE fan of Gail Carriger and her Parasol Protectorate series and spin offs, so why haven’t I read her latest book yet? (Because it’s on my kindle and I get too distracted by shiny physical books, is the answer, if you’re wondering.)

6. Witchsign

I was desperate to read this before it came out. I bought it on release day. It’s still sitting in the TBR pile.

7. The Bitter Twins

From one co-founder of the SRFC to the other. I adored The Ninth Rain, the first book in this series, but The Bitter Twins is huge and intimidating, which is the main reason I haven’t read it yet. I need to soon, because the third book will be out this year!

8. The Malice

And The Seven come to that. Had them both for a while. Still not read them, although I have read Pete Newman’s latest book, The Deathless. I’m not the best at prioritising.

9. Before Mars

Well, having mentioned Pete Newman, it would be rude not to mention Emma, right? Oh god, these last three entries are three of my favourite authors – how have I not managed to read these yet?!

10. The Girl in the Tower

I adored The Bear and the Nightingale. I was overjoyed when I got The Girl in the Tower before the UK release date in a book box in December 2017. Still haven’t read it, and The Winter of the Witch is out now. I really need to catch up!

So there you have my top ten books I meant to read in 2018 but didn’t. Maybe I’ll get round to them this year?

Do you have any of these books on your list? Let me know in the comments!

View from a Book: Guest Post by Sophie Cameron

ootb-tour

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Out of the Blue, the stunning debut novel from Sophie Cameron which came out on the 22nd March. On the surface, Out of the Blue is a story about angels falling from the sky, but on a deeper level, it explores the different ways we deal with grief and how we can affect the other people around us. I was sent an arc as part of this blog tour, and I absolutely loved the book. Jaya, the main character, is incredibly relatable and I loved seeing her relationships with Allie and Teacake (the only angel to survive the fall) develop.

Sophie kindly agreed to be the second participant in my View from a Book feature, so without further ado, onto Sophie’s post!

View from a Book

View From a Book

  • Where are you and what are you reading?

I’m in Parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona, and reading Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.  

  • Would you recommend the book?

Definitely! I’m only a few chapters in but so far it’s excellent.

  • Is there anything special about this particular spot?

It’s one of my favourite parks in Barcelona and is just a short walk away from my flat, so I come here a lot when I want a wander or some fresh air. In summer it’s too busy to read in peace, but at this time of year you can still find some quiet(ish) spots.

  • Do you have a favourite place to read?

I love reading on the beach – any beach, as long as it’s not too busy.

  • Can you tell us a little bit about Out of the Blue?

Out of the Blue is about a 16-year-old girl named Jaya, who has recently lost her mother and whose father has dragged her and her sister to Edinburgh in the hopes he can catch one of the angels or ‘Beings’ that have been falling to earth for the past eight months. It’s Jaya who finds one instead – but rather than telling her dad she decides to keep it hidden from him and nurse it back to health.

  • If you could send someone to anywhere in the world as the perfect place to read Out of the Blue, where would you pick?

It’d have to be Edinburgh! Maybe in the Meadows or the Royal Botanic Garden, if it’s a nice day.

  • And finally, if you could pick any book for Jaya and Teacake to read, what would it be?

I love this question! For Jaya, I’d pick Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee, I think she’d love that. I think Teacake could probably learn to read in English really fast if she put her mind to it, but to start with I’d give her a recipe book with lots of photos of tasty cakes and puddings – maybe Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Thank you to Sophie for this fabulous post – are you all as jealous as I am of that lovely spot?!

Out of the Blue is out now from Pan Macmillan and really is a fantastic book that I recommend you all get your hands on immediately, especially if you like LGBT and disability rep in your books.

Have you read Out of the Blue? Do you want to? Let me know in the comments!

View from a Book: Guest Post by Yaba Badoe

Jigsaw tour4 copy

Today I am really excited to be welcoming Yaba Badoe onto the blog as part of the blog tour for A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars, her YA debut. Published in hardback in September, this beautifully written book has just come out in paperback, and tells the story of Sante, the family she’s lost and the family she’s found.

Yaba has very kindly agreed to write a guest post and launch my new feature, View from a Book, and I couldn’t have asked for a better launch post! I love the book Yaba has chosen and I think the photograph she has sent me is gorgeous – I wish I had somewhere like this to read!

View from a Book

ViewFromABook_YabaBadoe

This is the view from a book I’m currently reading – an edition of The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm illustrated by Arthur Rackhman.

The book is open at page 72, on the story of the The Goosegirl. A mild-mannered, ‘humble’ princess on a journey to marry a distant Prince is bullied by her bloody-minded Lady-in-Waiting into swapping her clothes and identity. The Lady-in-Waiting marries the Prince while the real Princess is forced to eek out a living as a Goosegirl. Eventually, the Prince’s father, the King, discovers the Goosegirl’s secret. The Lady-in-waiting is put to death and the true Princess marries her Prince!

I’m reading the story on the sofa of our basement kitchen – a great place to read and relax because it’s comfortable, and has a wonderful view of a large sycamore tree in our front garden. Depending on the season, whenever I look up from the page, there’s either a lot of sky or leaves. That upward tilt of my head to gaze out takes me deeper into a state of reverie essential for entering other worlds. And if the sun is out and I’m in tune with the story I’m reading, looking out dazzles me.

At the moment I’m working on a second book, Wolf-light for Zephyr, the YA imprint of Head of Zeus. My debut novel for Zephyr was A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars – a story about people trafficking, migration and dislocation. Sante was a baby when she was washed ashore in a sea-chest laden with treasures. It seems she is the survivor of the tragic sinking of a ship carrying migrants and refugees. Fourteen years on she’s a member of Mama Rose’s unique and dazzling circus. But from their watery grave, the unquiet dead are calling Sante to avenge them.

Wolf-light tells the story of three young women, sisters of the heart, born within hours of each other in Mongolia, Ghana and Cornwall. Zula, Adoma and Linet are custodians of sacred sites and belong to a secret order whose task is to protect and conserve the landscapes they inhabit. When copper miners begin to plunder Zula’s desert home in Gobi Altai and Adoma’s forest and river are polluted by gold prospectors, it is only a matter of time before the lake Linet guards with her life is also in jeopardy.

A couple of the characters in A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars reappear in Wolf-light – so although it’s not a sequel in any sense of the word – it revisits a theme that fascinates me: how, do individuals and communities, in an increasingly globalised world, hold on to what they treasure most.

Thank you for this gorgeous post Yaba! I’m really looking forward to reading Wolf-light in the near future!

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is out now in paperback, published by Zephyr, and is well worth your hard-earned money.

Have you read A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars? If not, are you more likely to after reading this? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour this week!

Six for Sunday: Favourite Tropes

Sunday again! Where do the weeks go?! Anyway, time for this week’s Six for Sunday, which is a meme created by Steph over at A Little But A Lot. This week’s theme is favourite tropes, so here goes!

  1. The chosen one
  2. Insta-love (I’m sorry, I know it’s terrible and unrealistic but can’t help it!)
  3. Friends to something more
  4. Angst
  5. Found families
  6. Meet-cutes

God, they’re all terrible. I am a cliche of a person, but I really do love all of them – with the caveat that they have to be done well.

What would be on your list of favourite tropes? Let me know in the comments!

Six for Sunday: 2017 Books I Didn’t Read

It’s that time of the week again! Six for Sunday is a meme created by Steph at A Little But A Lot. This week’s theme is actually authors you discovered in 2017, but I did that for a Top Ten Tuesday post the other week, so I’m jumping back and doing the first theme of this year (which I missed) – 2017 books I didn’t read.

I actually own all these books. I was excited about all of them before they came out. I’m still excited for them. I just haven’t got round to reading them! The sad thing is, I could have easily doubled this list under the same criteria. Why do things like working and eating and sleeping get in the way of reading?

What did you miss last year? Is your list as sad-making as mine? Let me know in the comments!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Loved, But Can’t Really Remember

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is books you loved, but can’t remember much about at all. It feels terrible to confess, but there are So. Many. I read relatively quickly, so books often merge into each other. On the plus side, I can reread as many times as I want without remembering what happened!

Anyway, the books!

I really loved all of these books (I even recommend some of them!), and I can remember certain things about them, but I couldn’t sit here and tell you the entire storyline of any of them. Which can only mean it’s time to reread!

Do you always remember what happened in the books you’ve read, or are you like me? What would be on your list? Let me know in the comments!

Six For Sunday: Favourite Covers of 2017

Six for Sunday is a meme created by Steph over at A Little But A Lot and this week’s theme is favourite covers of 2017. I love book covers, and there are occasions when I’ve bought a book purely on the strength of what the cover looks like, so let’s see what I’ve gone with!

I commented on Charlotte’s post earlier that I thought my list would be similar to hers, but actually we’ve only got one book in common (Ink, which is so beautifully shiny it should be on everyone’s lists!). I love the optical illusion in Release, and the Waterstones special edition of Strange the Dreamer was genuinely one of the most beautful things I’d ever seen. The Smoking Hourglass is there to represent all the wonderful covers that Karl J Mountford is doing at the moment – I recommend you check out his work, because I love it!

This was so difficult! I think publishers are really pushing the boat out on covers recently, and we’ve been totally spoiled! What would be on your list? Let me know in the comments!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Bookish Goals for 2018

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme that was created and originally hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, but which is, as of this week, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Let us just take a moment to mourn the passing of an era. *Sad music plays*

Onwards and upwards though, and this week’s theme is bookish goals and resolutions, which could not be better timed, as I needed to make a post of these anyway!

1. Read 130 books

This is my goodreads challenge total. Last year I read 150, but it was a struggle to get there, so to take a little bit of the stress out of it, I dropped it to 130 this year. Still a challenge but hopefully not an overwhelming one.

2. Review regularly

I don’t expect to review every book I read, but I should review more than I did last year! I’d like to be posting a review at least once a week here (although I’m happy to average that out over the year. 52 reviews seems manageable, doesn’t it?)

3. Clear the Netgalley shelf

This was one of last year’s resolutions too, and I started well…but then failed miserably. I have about 25 books waiting to be read, some of which are 2 years old now, so I really must do better at clearing them. Relatedly, I shouldn’t be afraid to not finish them and give feedback accordingly if they’re just not for me.

4. Don’t be afraid to be critical

I tend to only write and post reviews of books I liked, because I’m always worried that someone will attack me if I’m critical. Which is ridiculous. If I don’t like a book, I don’t like it. I can’t help that! So expect more reviews of books I hated this year.

5. Crosspost reviews to Amazon, Goodreads and Bookbridgr

I’m a terrible person, and I never review on retail sites, and I only ever put a star rating on goodreads. I need to be better at this this year.

6. Remember to actually link challenge-eligible posts to the challenge

Fairly self explanatory I think. I know I’m not the only person who fell out of the British Books Challenge last year and I’m determined to see it through to the end in 2018! This is true of any other challenges I may yet sign up for.

7. Read more diversely

I read a lot of books by women, but that doesn’t get me off the hook for reading books by other diverse authors. I started this last year, and I shall do better with it this year.

8. Clear out the kindle

My kindle is like the place books go to die. I am terrible at reading on it, not least because I forget what I’ve bought. This year is the year I sort it out. I will read the books I want to read and delete the ones I don’t. It’s not that hard, is it?!

9. Remember that the subtitle of this blog is ‘Tackling the TBR Pile’ and STOP BUYING BOOKS

I mean, obviously not completely, but I really do need to read the books I have before buying more. I am actually being helped in this at the moment, becase I picked up so many proofs at YALC, I don’t need to buy any of the new releases! (It took me ages before I realised that was why I was so underwhelmed whenever I went into Waterstones.)

10. Comment more on other blogs

This is something else I’m terrible at, but I’m going to improve this year. I need to actually schedule time to do blog things, including commenting.

So there are my bookish goals for the year. Four of them were also on last year’s list, but never mind. This year is the year!

What are your bookish goals or resolutions? Let me know in the comments!