Blog Tour: Smoke In The Glass

Smoke in the Glass blog tour

Today I am thrilled to sharing my review of Smoke In The Glass, by Chris Humphreys, as part of the blog tour. Huge thanks go to Stevie at Gollancz, for the opportunity and my gifted copy of the book!

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Three lands, peopled by humans and immortals.

In Corinthium a decadent  endlessly-lived elite run the world for profit and power. But when a  poor, honest solider dies, and is reborn, everything changes.

In wintry  Midgarth, where immortals are revered as deities, one of them has realized that something – or someone – is killing the gods.

And in Ometepe there is only one immortal, for he has murdered every other. Until one woman gives birth to a very special baby.

Yet there is a fourth, hidden land, where savage tribes have united  under the prophecy of ‘the One’: a child who is neither boy nor girl.  Now they plan to conquer the world. Unless a broken soldier, a desperate  mother and a crippled god can stop them…

So I’m not going to lie to you, I was wary when I saw the blurb for Smoke In The Glass. “Savage” tribes and an intersex baby? So much potential for fail. But actually, I was pleasantly surprised. There are some derogatory terms used, so you might want to be careful when reading, but they’re generally from characters who are supposed to be “bad”, and they’re challenged by other characters. It is something to be aware of though.

The point of view is split between the three lands (none of which know of the existence of the others), with the occasional interlude from the fourth. Our main characters are Ferros from Corinthium, the land where immortals represent the elite and the rich, Luck from Midgarth, a land which bears a strong resemblance to Scandinavia and where immortals are seen as gods, and Atisha from Ometepe, where there is only one immortal who is worhsipped as a god. Ferros and Luck are immortals themselves, and Atisha is the former consort of immortal Intitepe, abandoned and sent to the City of Women after becoming pregnant. Each point of view offers something different for the story – Ferros is finding his feet as an immortal, whereas Luck is already hundreds of years old, and Atisha provides the non-immortal point of view. We also hear from Lara, Ferros’s lover, who is disappointed with the change she sees in Ferros.

Luck was by far my favourite character. I enjoyed the Norse-like setting of Midgarth, and the constant battling of Luck’s village with their neighbours. It’s also the land where we find out much of the detail of the plot, which I think helps you to like it. Luck is also the brains of the story – he’s the one who notices something weird going on and investigates it, he’s the one who takes the initiative to travel across the land, he’s the one who persuades his fellow gods to unite Midgarth so they are better able to face whatever’s coming.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy Ferros’s and Atisha’s parts of the story, because I did. I particularly enjoyed Atisha’s time in the City of Women, among other women who had been in her situation, and the support some of them gave her. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but there are some great humorous scenes here, as well as a rollicking action sequence. Ferros is a little bit harder to talk about. The book begins with him, and I thought I was really going to love him, but his story actually got a little bit boring to be honest. He seems to spend a lot of time not learning anything, and while it’s true he’s being manipulated by other immortals, he started off seeming much cleverer than he ended up being. I felt very sorry for Lara, who’d given up everything to be with him. However, despite that, there were moments in this strand of story that I found very interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

Smoke In The Glass has to do a lot of work in setting up the world, and Humphreys does a great job here. I love the information we get about where immortality comes from – it’s different in each land – and how each land is completely separate from the others. Ferros and Lara give us the perfect opportunity to see Corinthium from an outsider’s point of view, and because Luck is essentially the history keeper of Midgarth, he can provide lots of interesting tidbits through explaining them to the other gods. I also really liked the idea that there’s no way to tell if you’re immortal unless you die. Each main character is surrounded by a bevy of interesting supporting characters – again, Luck’s fellow gods are my favourites, mostly because they actually listen to him and work hard to make sure his plans succeed, although I did love Atisha’s older companions in the City of Women.

Humphreys has a fairly traditional style of writing which might not be for everyone. As someone who grew up on traditional fantasy, this didn’t bother me at all, but Smoke In The Glass is quite slow-paced and doesn’t reveal its secrets easily. It’s also very much the first book in a series, designed to bring all our protagonists together, and it ends on something of a cliffhanger. I’m intrigued to see what happens next – it’s clear we’re going to get more information from the fourth land and I think that will be fascinating – so I’m really looking forward to book 2. If you’re looking for a new dark fantasy series, I don’t think you’re going to go wrong with Smoke In The Glass.

4/5

Smoke In The Glass is out now from GollanczDon’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

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Blog Tour: As Far As The Stars

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I am delighted that today is my stop on the blog tour for As Far As The Stars by Virginia MacGregor. Many thanks to Nina Douglas and HQ for my gifted copy in exchange for an honest review!

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How do you change what’s already written in the stars?

Christopher is the sort of guy that no one notices, yet when Air catches sight of him making intricate paper birds in the airport, she can’t look away.

But their worlds are about to collide in ways they never expected. Someone they love is on Flight 0217 from London Heathrow. And it’s missing.

Convinced that her brother was on a different flight, Air drives them hundreds of miles across the country, on a trip that will change their lives forever.

But how do you tell the person you’re falling for that you might just be the reason their life has fallen apart?

So I’ll be honest. It took me a while to get into As Far As The Stars because I just couldn’t understand why Air and Christopher were acting the way they were. I mean, sure, Air convinced herself her brother was on a different flight, but Christopher knew his dad was on the missing one, and yet he still left the airport to go on a cross-country trip with a stranger. But then something suddenly clicked with me, and I found myself really enjoying the story, and the romance that was developing.

Air is clearly someone who can be frustrating. She is very much the organiser of her family, especially when it comes to her brother, Blake, and everyone relies on her to be the sensible one, but this also means that she’s very introspective and doesn’t tell anyone what’s going on. There were moments when I wanted to shake her, and certainly part of the book is about her learning to trust other people.

That obviously comes from the other main character in the book, Christopher. He has his own issues, but their road-trip allows both characters to learn from each other and really start living their own lives and not the ones laid out for them by other people. The romance does develop quickly, but given the situation they’re in, I think it’s entirely realistic that it would do, and it’s written well. I also found that the way the relationship developed gave me insights into the characters. It can sometimes be hard to understand the other characters when a book is written in the first person, but As Far As The Stars is written in such a way that you learn as much about Christopher’s feelings as Air’s.

I also really liked the flashbacks, which meant we got to see just why Air adores her brother so much. Blake is mostly thoughtless, careless and focussed on himself, but it’s clear from the flashbacks that Air is the exception and the adoration goes both ways. Even though they’re opposites in many ways, they absolutely get each other, and I thought Virginia MacGregor did a wonderful job in showing that. I did feel sorry for Jude, Air’s sister, though – it can’t be easy to see your younger siblings form a clique without you!

As Far As The Stars is beautifully written and deals with grief and how different people handle it really well. I was sobbing by the end of the book, and the final third in particular is fantastic. Although it did take me a while to get into, I would definitely recommend it. Just remember your tissues!

4/5

Book Review: Thanos: Death Sentence

I’m a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I’ve delved into the comics a few times, so when Julia at Titan Books asked if I’d like to review a prose novel based on the comics, I jumped at the chance. Obviously, Thanos: Death Sentence has been re-released to take advantage of the hype for Avengers: Endgame (which I have seen and loved, but no spoilers here!), but it was interesting to see a different take on Thanos, and particularly to see his actions from his point of view.

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A new life for the Mad Titan! Thanos’s pursuit of the Infinity Gems has always defined him. But when the Marvel heroes defeat him once again, Thanos’s beloved Mistress Death grants him one fi nal chance. Stripped of his powers and his old skin, Thanos embarks on a cosmic walkabout to reassert his power over himself and the Multiverse. This all-new, original tale explores the inner life of one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe. Haunted by family – or the semblances of it – the Mad Titan may become something else entirely. Will he maintain his illusions of grandeur, or is this a new path for a lost god?

Thanos: Death Sentence is structured in four main parts. There’s the surrounding story, which starts and ends the book, with the Avengers and Fantastic Four and X-Men, among others, fighting Thanos, and then there are the sections where Thanos lives as three different people, and tries to get his bearings on the journey Mistress Death has sent him on. Along the way, we get to see Thanos remembering his original life and what set him on his path of destruction.

We also get a insight into some of Thanos’s crew, Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive and Ebony Maw. My only previous reference for these three is Avengers: Infinity War, so this was really interesting for me. I loved how lost they were once the original Thanos disappeared, desperately searching the universe for someone to follow, and Proxima Midnight’s conviction that the person she’d found was Thanos, only to lose him again. Her relationship with Glaive was also fascinating, and I really liked getting the chance to get to know these characters a bit better.

I found it interesting that two of Thanos’s lives in this book had a romantic element to them. Romance is really not something I associate with Thanos, and it did make me wonder how much a lack of love has affected his decisions in the past. This is a theme that does run through the book, as Thanos reflects on family and the events that made him, and it was fascinating to see this side to him. I think all villains should be multi-faceted, and Thanos: Death Sentence certainly increased my understanding of his history. There is a chance that this might smack of rehabilitating someone who shouldn’t be rehabilitated, but I think it’s clear from the book that Thanos will never change.

In fact, this is one of the biggest problems in the book. Thanos goes on this journey, but he’s not changed by it. He still causes chaos everywhere he goes. He still wants to please Mistress Death above all else. The only self-realisation he has is that he doesn’t want to change and that he shouldn’t have to. Which is a great message in a YA contemporary romance, for example, but not so good when it’s a book about one of the Marvel Universe’s greatest villains. It’s also overlong, and drags, and I found parts of the last life very confusing in terms of timescale (and that’s before the great rug-pull at the end of it!). There’s also the problem that all the Marvel prose novels seem to have, which is that they’re trying to bridge the gap between the comics and the films, but it doesn’t work because there are too many differences. They want you to bring the affection you have for the film characters, and apply it to the comic characters, but, certainly for my brain, that just ends up confusing because they’re not the same characters.

It’s a valiant effort though, and I definitely applaud Marvel and, in this case, Stuart Moore, for trying, and for giving the purple Titan a bit more attention. It didn’t quite work for me as a story, but I still enjoyed it, and it’s probably worth reading if you want a bit more depth than the comics give you.

3/5

Thanos: Death Sentence is out now from Titan Books

Book Review: The Near Witch

Before I start this review, I would like to tell you a little story. It starts nearly five years ago, when I was attending Worldcon in London, and I happened to attend a panel on urban fantasy (or possible YA), because some of my favourite authors were on it.* Also on that panel was a 27 year old author I’d never previously heard of, even though she’d already published five books. And she started talking about one of those books, and how it was about a library of the dead, and I was completely and utterly sold. I quite liked the sound of her other books too – the already published creepy superhero book, the forthcoming fantasy book which featured four different Londons, and her debut, about witches and fear and consequences. The Near Witch was already out of print at that point, and almost impossible to find, so I was pretty certain I’d never get the chance to read it. And then suddenly, Victoria/V E Schwab became a (well deserved) phenomenon, and even her more recent books were being published in collectors editions, so it was kind of inevitable that her debut would eventually join them. Thank goodness for Titan, who were also kind enough to gift me a copy of The Near Witch in exchange for an honest review.

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The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 

There are no strangers in the town of Near. 

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. 

But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. 

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. 

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate that cover? When they announced it, I thought it was a bit weird, but now I love it! It’s so striking. If you’re not aware, there are actually three covers – the one above is the standard edition, there’s a grey one exclusive to Forbidden Planet (which is the one I pre-ordered – they now come signed too!) and a yellow one that’s exclusive to Barnes and Noble in the US. The boards underneath the dustjacket are also beautiful – the standard edition is a deep maroon with a silhouette of Lexi in gold and it’s gorgeous.

Second of all, if you follow me on twitter, you may have seen me tweet that the introduction to this book made me cry. Yes, the introduction. It’s Victoria talking about how sad she was when The Near Witch originally went out of print, and how unusual it is for a book to get a second chance like this, and it just made me very emotional, ok? I am, if you haven’t guessed already, a huge fan of Victoria. I think she’s amazing, not least in the number of books she has published in the last eight years, and I think it’s wonderful that her debut is getting a new lease of life.

Third of all, it’s actually time for me to talk about the book itself. I know. It’s taken a little bit to get here – I hope you’ll forgive me. So, personally, I loved The Near Witch. If I didn’t know it was a debut, I wouldn’t have picked it up from the writing, although it’s clear that Victoria’s writing has improved with each book. It is quite slow to get going, but to me it was a very lyrical style of writing, and it suited the pacing. I know that’s not for everyone though, so bear it in mind if you’re thinking of picking it up.

The Near Witch is essentially a fairytale, and that’s exactly how it reads to me. The town of Near has a legend that comes with a song even the smallest child knows, and that song is often carried on the wind (incidentally, I’m writing this as Storm Gareth rages outside and the wind is whistling and howling, which seems very appropriate and not a little creepy!). There are no strangers in Near – everyone knows everybody’s business – but that means that when a stranger does appear, he is immediately suspect. The fact that he appears just as children start going missing does not help! Only Lexi is convinced he’s innocent, but she has her own problems, and it’s not easy for her to prove it.

I really liked Lexi. She’s confident in her own skills, but frustrated by the patriarchal society she’s a part of. Her family, particularly her little sister, is her world, and her devastation at the death of her father is an ever-present undercurrent to the story. I was less convinced by her love story with Cole, the stranger who appears one night, but that’s ok, because even Lexi and Cole are tentative about it. I’ve seen some people describe it as instalove, but it didn’t come across that way to me. As it’s a book written in first person, from Lexi’s point of view, we only find out information about Cole as she does, and so he doesn’t have as much depth of character as Lexi, but I liked his story too, and we get to find out more in the novella that’s been packaged in this edition, The Ash-Born Boy.

I thought the world of The Near Witch was beautifully evoked. I live in a city in the north-west of England but I’m close enough to the Yorkshire moors to be able to picture the setting exactly. And I think that’s one reason I liked it so much. It’s never stated where Near is, and I’m sure if you live elsewhere, you can imagine it to be somewhere near you, but for me, it was definitely northern England, and I always have a soft spot for books set in the north!

I’m going to stop rambling on now, but I really loved The Near Witch. It may have been V E Schwab’s debut, but it’s definitely stood the test of time. I’m now sad that it didn’t get the life it deserves the first time round too, but this is a beautiful edition of a beautiful book, and it’s well worth your hard-earned cash. You might think I’m biased, but the only way you can tell for sure is by reading it yourself, so why don’t you?

4.5/5

The Near Witch is out now, from Titan Books

*I didn’t get to spend much time at that Worldcon, thanks to ending up in hospital, and my second most vivid memory of the panel is that the moderator was terrible. But I’m so glad that panel was one I managed to attend anyway, because otherwise, who knows how late to the V E Schwab party I might have been?

Blog Tour: The Everlasting Rose

I am thrilled that today is my day on the blog tour for The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton! I really enjoyed The Belles last year, so I was very interested in seeing how the story was resolved in The Everlasting Rose. Many thanks to Patricia at Gollancz for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

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Camellia Beaureguard is a Belle. She can make you beautiful. Though there is always a cost. With a price on her head, the evil Queen Sophia out for blood, and no idea who to trust, Camellia must race against time to find the ailing Princess Charlotte, who has disappeared without a trace. Sophia’s imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep Camellia, her sister Edel, and her loyal guard, Rémy, from returning Charlotte to the palace and her rightful place as queen. With the help of a secretive resistance movement called the Iron Ladies – a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely – and the backing of underground newspaper the Spider’s Web, Camellia must use her powers, her connections, and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orléans.

So, I actually think The Everlasting Rose is the better book of the series. I did enjoy The Belles, but it had a lot of setting up to do. Clayton is excellent at building her world, don’t get me wrong, but it can slow the plot down, so it was nice to be able to jump straight in to the action. And oh boy, do we jump straight in. The Everlasting Rose starts more or less where The Belles left off, with Camille, Edel, Amber and Remy in hiding from the despotic new queen. There’s very few reminders of what happened in the first book, so you really do need to read that one first if you want the faintest idea of what’s happening!

Having said that we get straight into the action, I don’t want you to think that the worldbuilding is lacking, because it isn’t. We get to visit a lot more of this world this time around, and all of it is stunningly described. We also get to find out more of the history of the world and where the Belles came from, and there’s definitely a part of me that hopes we might one day see a prequel covering this in more detail.

I loved that Camille’s primary motivation was to get the people she loved out of danger. The fact that that involved overthrowing a evil queen was definitely just a side show for her, but it showed us the main facets of her character very easily. It was interesting to see how her situation had changed – now in possession of knowledge she didn’t really want, she has to shoulder a lot of responsibility, and she doesn’t want to let her burden rest on her friends and sisters as well. I also liked that it was Edel we spent most time with, because she was a complete contrast to Camille.

I did think it sagged a little bit in the middle, and I would have liked to have seen more of the Iron Ladies and how they envision the future actually coming to pass, given that their ideas are very different from the way things currently are. But overall I thought it was well paced and definitely a page-turner – I raced through it in a couple of hours because I needed to see what happened, and I found the ending very satisfying. If you enjoyed The Belles, you’ll definitely enjoy The Everlasting Rose!

4/5

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

Book Review: The Ruin of Kings

A free copy of this book was gifted to me by Tor UK/Pan Macmillan and Jamie Lee Nardone in exchange for an honest review.

Oh, The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons is a difficult book to review. The basic storyline and the characterisation are excellent, but kind of hamstrung by the execution. I started reading an e-ARC from Netgalley and ended up having to beg for a physical copy of the book, because I just couldn’t keep track of what was happening on my kindle. Fortunately, the experience of reading it did improve with a physical copy, and I enjoyed the book very much, but I am hoping the next book in the series is written in a different format!

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What if you weren’t the hero?

Kihrin grew up on tales of long-lost princes and grand quests – despite being raised in a brothel, making money as a musician and street thief. One day he overreaches by targeting an absent noble’s mansion, hunting for jewels. There he witnesses a prince performing a terrifying dark-magic ritual. Kihrin flees but he’s marked by a demon and his life will never be the same again.

That night also leads to him being claimed as a lost son of that prince’s royal house. But far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family’s power plays and ambitions. He must also discover why his murderous father finds Kihrin more valuable alive than dead. Soon Kihrin attempts to escape his relative’s dangerous schemes, but finds himself in far deeper waters.

He becomes tangled in a plot to kill the Emperor, rob the Imperial Vaults, claim a god-slaying sword and free bound demons to wreak havoc across the land. Kihrin also discovers the old tales lied about many things: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love – and the hero always winning. But maybe Kihrin isn’t fated to save the empire. He’s destined to destroy it.

That synopsis makes it all seem so straightforward, doesn’t it? It’s not. It is, as I said above, a cracking story but it’s told from two different points of view, on different timelines, in alternating chapters. Yeah. It also has footnotes. Now I love a good footnote, but combined with the alternating viewpoints, these just made everything confusing. Partly this was my own fault – there’d been a gap between me starting it on my kindle and carrying on in paperback and I’d forgotten who was writing the footnotes. But I do also think it was inherently confusing anyway, especially as the storyline involves multiple instances of body swapping. One of the alternating viewpoints is Talon, a mimic who eats people and absorbs their memories, personality and the ability to look like them. She’s using her stolen memories to tell the early part of Kihrin’s story, while he tells the more recent story. (His part of the story also involves people swapping bodies, which actually confused me more than Talon’s tale!)

It’s certainly a different style of storytelling, but I’m not sure it served the story terribly well. Which is a shame. Once I’d mostly got my head around the different chronologies (which did start to make sense, especially in hindisght) and who was who, I really enjoyed The Ruin of Kings. It has a full, vibrant cast of characters and excellent worldbuilding, to the extent that three days after finishing it, my brain is still partly in that world. I loved Teraeth, the Black Brotherhood and Kihrin’s time on the island in particular. Once I was into it it was difficult to put down, as most chapters left on a cliffhanger and I needed to know what happened next. I still need to know what happens next and I will be reading the next book as soon as it comes out!

So The Ruin of Kings is epic fantasy as epic as it comes I suppose. Despite my difficulties with the format, I don’t want to put anyone off reading it, because it is a great story, which is why I rated it as highly as I did. It’s definitely worth picking up, but I would recommend a physical copy if it’s possible for you – kindles and foototes don’t mix!

4/5

 

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

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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!

Netgalley Reviews Catch-Up Part 2

My last Netgalley reviews catch up was books I’d read mostly around the time of release, but never got round to reviewing. This post is the books I’ve read more recently – and yes, most of them came out months and months ago. Sometimes life happens.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

midnight bookstore cover

I have to admit, this book was not what I expected at all, but I enjoyed it a lot once I got into it properly. That did take a significant portion of the book, but there was a moment when it all just suddenly clicked and I didn’t want to put the book down. Set primarily in the bookstore of the title, our lead character is Lydia, one of the booksellers. The Bright Ideas Bookstore is something of a haven for people who don’t quite fit in, or are acing hard times, and one night, as she’s closing up, Lydia comes across the body of one of these people after he’s hanged himself. This prompts Lydia to find out what would lead Joey, her favourite ‘bookfrog’ to do such a thing, but it leads into her own past in ways she could never have imagined. Matthew Sullivan is brilliant at drip-feeding bits of information throughout the story, and although I did guess some of the conclusion slightly before the end, I was utterly gripped by the mysteries unfolding in front of me. I highly recommend it, just be aware that it’s slow to get into, and parts of it are quite explicitly gory.

4/5

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

eleanor oliphant cover

To be fair to myself, I will point out that I didn’t get this one until a few months after its original release, so I’m not quite as late as I look. I wish I’d read it sooner, because it really is as good as everyone says it is. It’s a really hard book to try and review, because I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but it’s a proper life-affirming story. Eleanor is prickly and yes, a little bit strange, and she has no idea how to navigate social situations (for reasons that become very clear during the course of the book), but she’s a brilliant character with so much to love and she’s so relatable in many ways. To see her start venturing out of her comfort zone, even though it’s for slightly dubious reasons, feels like I imagine watching your child take their first steps does. There is a plot, but really this book is absolutely character driven, and it’s utterly wonderful. Read it.

5/5

Paris For One and Other Stories

paris for one

I’ve never read a Jojo Moyes book before, so I thought short stories might be a good way to start, but unfortunately I didn’t really connect with any of the stories. I suspect this is more me than Moyes, since I know short stories often aren’t enough for me, but I also think that romance stories aren’t a good fit for me in general. Although I will say that romance in these stories is very much a subjective thing. The ones I liked most were the two longer stories – the title one, and Honeymoon in Paris (which is apparently a prequel of sorts to one of Moyes’ novels). I don’t think there’s really a lot else I can say about about this book though. It was an enjoyable enough read for 90 minutes, but I’m probably not going to search out the author’s other books.

3/5