blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Doing Time – Jodi Taylor*

Introducing The Time Police, the brand-new series by international bestselling author, Jodi Taylor – an irresistible spinoff from the much-loved Chronicles of St Mary’s series. Perfect reading for fans of Doctor Who, Ben Aaronovitch and Jasper Fforde.

A long time ago in the future, the secret of time travel became known to all. Everyone seized the opportunity – and the world nearly ended. There will always be idiots who want to change history.And so, the Time Police were formed. An all-powerful, international organisation tasked with keeping the timeline straight. At all costs.Their success is legendary, and the Time Wars are over.

But now the Time Police must fight to save a very different future – their own.This is the story of Jane, Luke and Matthew – arguably the worst recruits in Time Police history. Or, very possibly, three young people who might just change everything.

Jodi Taylor is the internationally bestselling author of the Chronicles of St Mary’s series, the story of a bunch of disaster-prone individuals who investigate major historical events in contemporary time. Do NOT call it time travel!

Born in Bristol and now living in Gloucester (facts both cities vigorously deny), she spent many years with her head somewhere else, much to the dismay of family, teachers and employers, before finally deciding to put all that daydreaming to good use and write a novel. Nearly twenty books later, she still has no idea what she wants to do when she grows up.

My thoughts:

I love the disaster magnets of St Mary’s and was thrilled to get the chance to read this book ahead of publication and tell you it is brilliant. The Time Police are often the thorn in St Mary’s side, refusing to even try to blend in when they appear to arrest people for time crimes.

Here the tables are turned somewhat; with three new recruits trying not to mess up the timeline while carrying out their duties. One of them is Matthew Farrell, son of Maxwell and Leon from St Mary’s, genetically attracting chaos!

Funny, silly, brilliantly written and completely marvellous.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five Part One – R.J. Furness*

SHADOWS: Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five (Part One) by [Furness, R.J.]

Have you ever seen something you can’t explain? Did it vanish as fast as it appeared?
Perhaps that thing you saw was lurking in the shadows, and you caught a glimpse of it before it went back into hiding.
There’s a good chance, of course, that the thing you saw simply emerged from your imagination.
Or maybe, just maybe, it didn’t…

Sapphire Smyth is no stranger to rejection. When she was only a baby, her father abandoned her after her mother died. Since then, Sapphire has never felt like she belonged anywhere, or with anyone. To make things worse, her foster carers have now turned their back on her – on her eighteenth birthday. After living with them throughout her childhood, Sapphire has to find a new home. Is it any wonder she finds it hard to trust people?

Abandoned by the people she called family, Sapphire is alone and searching for some meaning in her life. Except that meaning has already come looking for her. When she discovers mysterious creatures lurking in the shadows, Sapphire soon realises that her fate is unlike anything she had ever imagined.

My thoughts:

The serial novel isn’t something new, Charles Dickens serialised his stories in magazines, as did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, back in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. We don’t really do the same thing nowadays, but the rise of e-books could potentially be a new way to serialise stories for a modern readership.

However, I don’t think this particular story needed that treatment, in fact I think it could have done without it. This first tranche is weak, needing to pack a lot of information into its pages, and with multiple chapters, perhaps gives too much. Tighter editing would have been a real blessing as the concept and ideas within the story are pretty sound.

Sapphire Smyth turns 18, inherits an unusual heirloom, and discovers the world beneath the humdrum existence that she never knew was there. That’s a pretty decent concept, and one that could have been really interesting to play with.

But, the plot is all over the place, as is the characterisation. Sapphire isn’t very empathetic or relatable, she’s just a spoilt brat really. And the other characters are so weak as to be non-existent, where they needed to be stronger, in order to balance Sapphire out.

I have the next two instalments to read, and hopefully it improves and becomes a much more interesting and enjoyable read, and this uneven and overly exposition heavy first section is just a glitch as I really did want to enjoy this.

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this e-book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

books, reviews

Book Review: North – Edith Pattou

This is a beguiling epic of magic, love, loss and betrayal based on the traditional fairytale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”. The lyrical writing and bold sweep of the story as Rose travels north will cast a spell over every reader. “A rich tapestry that will resonate with readers…The stuff of epic tale-telling, replete with high drama and compelling characterisations.” – Booklist. Rose was born into the world facing north, and as a north child, superstition says that she will be a wanderer, travelling far from home. This prophecy is fulfilled when she is taken on the back of a white bear to a mysterious empty castle, where a silent stranger appears to her night after night. When her curiosity overcomes her, she loses her heart, and must journey to a land east of the sun and west of the moon to reclaim it.

My thoughts:

I won this book in a Twitter giveaway from Usborne and will be published in November.

This is a beautiful retelling of a fairy tale hailing from Scandinavia, with a clever and resourceful young heroine who goes on a magical quest to find her white bear and bring him home. A love story, not just between the two protagonists, but also between Rose and her family.

While this book is aimed at younger readers (what publishing calls Middle Grade) this gentle, moving tale would resonate with readers of all ages.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Angel Mage – Garth Nix*

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, a genius at making icons to summon angels, and supremely adept in forcing them to do her bidding.
Liliath already knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighbouring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendents. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will become ashes, or they will turn into beastlings. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who fix her interest, for they are the key to her quest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic.

The four feel a strange, immediate kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. Only Liliath knows their secret, and she draws them in to her complex plot, just as she manipulates Queen Louisa and her musketeers; King Ferdinand and his guards; Cardinal Duplessis and her pursuivants; and the Refuser Night King Biscaray and his criminal gangs.
All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else.

 

My thoughts:

I remember when the first Old Kingdom books came out (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorson) and I’ve read some of Nix’s other books over the years, then he went quiet.

And for good reason if this brilliant new book is why, featuring an incredible magic system where people call upon angels to aid them, and a cast of characters whose bravery and friendship help them save the day.

I romped through it in one sitting, completely hooked from page one, the setup and plotting sucked me in completely, immersing me in the world Nix has so carefully crafted.

This book is superbly well written, clever, funny, smart and what you’d expect from a master storyteller, moving from writing for young adults to adult fantasy fiction. While he has said this a standalone text there is scope for another book in the same world, and I think he would be wise to return to it, as I can see a lot of other stories that could be built within this incredibly well created world.

 

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*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books

Book Review: The Steel Crow Saga – Paul Krueger*

A soldier with a curse
Tala lost her family to the empress’s army and has spent her life avenging them in battle. But the empress’s crimes don’t haunt her half as much as the crimes Tala has committed against the laws of magic . . . and her own flesh and blood.

A prince with a debt
Jimuro has inherited the ashes of an empire. Now that the revolution has brought down his kingdom, he must depend on Tala to bring him home safe. But it was his army who murdered her family. Now Tala will be his redemption – or his downfall.

A detective with a grudge
Xiulan is an eccentric, pipe-smoking detective who can solve any mystery – but the biggest mystery of all is her true identity. She’s a princess in disguise, and she plans to secure her throne by presenting her father with the ultimate prize: the world’s most wanted prince.

A thief with a broken heart
Lee is a small-time criminal who lives by only one law: Leave them before they leave you. But when Princess Xiulan asks her to be her partner in crime – and offers her a magical animal companion as a reward – she can’t say no, and soon finds she doesn’t want to leave the princess behind.

This band of rogues and royals should all be enemies, but they unite for a common purpose: to defeat an unstoppable killer who defies the laws of magic. In this battle, they will forge unexpected bonds of friendship and love that will change their lives – and begin to change the world.

My thoughts:

I really liked this, inspired by the author’s own Filipino heritage as well as other South East Asian countries, this creative fantasy novel is the author’s debut and a very accomplished one at that.

The writing is fluid and the plot tight, the characters are fully realised and the world building strong. As each narrative strand begins to interweave and build to the finale the plot becomes more taut and integrates beautifully.

The magic system is unique and clever; soul bonding between a human and animal, a race who can manipulate metals. There are clear magical laws, which when broken can either be extremely dangerous or show a commonality between supposedly disparate peoples.

The relationships between the four main characters are well developed and show the tension between nations being slowly eroded as individuals come together to defeat an enemy that threatens to destroy the fragile peace between them.

I would like to see a second book set in this world – there is the potential for a lot more, both with these characters and with others.

 

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book with no obligation to post, all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Grateful Boys – Francoise DuMaurier*

When seventeen-year-old Hailey’s multi-racial, single parent family migrate to the tiny rural town of Corpus, Georgia (population 700), she would rather have moved anywhere but there.

That is, until she spots him. Mysterious definitely, perhaps even supernatural. Where Hailey is awe-struck by the young man of her dreams, her little brother, Mason, sees a soulless creature of the night, a half-man who may be responsible for a series of grisly murders across the southern gothic town.

Antwan Zeddman, the town’s first African-American Sheriff, must enforce a curfew in Corpus to ensure the safety of the townsfolk. He must contend with sightings of hellish winged beasts and investigate the slaying of an innocent young couple traveling through town. There is a growing sense of racial unrest. Hailey will find herself caught between her family, the residents of Corpus, and the vampire she’s falling in love with.

The Grateful Boys is an otherworldly Young Adult novel which explores the challenges of growing up mixed raced in the southern states of America, and the troubles of a young woman coming of age in a town full of danger and temptation.

Goodreads

Amazon


Françoise DuMaurier is a Special Education Case Worker who works out of a small town in rural Georgia which inspired the Southern Gothic setting of The Grateful Boys. To get to work, DuMaurier passes through miles and miles of farms, as far as the eye can see. Before entering education, DuMaurier attended the Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design where he studied visual art and creative writing. Having worked with an array of students along with his own experiences, DuMaurier is uniquely suited to provide a wry voice that encapsulates #ownvoices fiction.

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My thoughts:

This was an interesting take on vampire mythology, the vampires have a range of magical powers and select a chosen blood donor, who in return receives the vampire’s affection and blood, which has its own beneficial powers. The supernatural creatures appear as teenage boys and live by strict rules which protect their kind.

The humans are confused by some of the goings on, and the sheriff most of all. Trying to investigate strange and violent crimes that have erupted in the previously quiet neighbourhood.

This is a clever, fresh take on well trodden ground, DuMaurier is an interesting new voice in YA.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour.

books, reviews

Book Review: Dominion of the Fallen – Aliette De Bodard*

 

The House of Shattered Wings (Dominion of the Fallen 1)  The House of Binding Thorns (Dominion of the Fallen 2)  The House of Sundering Flames

 

Sneaking three books into one review today. The three books in the Dominion of the Fallen series are out now and I thought a review of the trilogy was the best way to share them with you.

The House of Shattered Wings

Paris in the aftermath of the Great Magicians War. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black, thick with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.
House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, now lies in disarray. Its
magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something
from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.
Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation; or the architects of its last, irreversible fall . . .

The House of Binding Thorns

As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, the great Houses of Paris, ruled by fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital.

House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Phillippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal – to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic might be more than he can bear.

In House Hawthorn, Madeleine the alchemist has had her addiction to angel essence savagely broken. Struggling to live on, she is forced on a perilous diplomatic mission to the underwater dragon kingdom – and finds herself in the midst of intrigues that have already caused one previous emissary to mysteriously disappear . . .

As the Houses seek a peace more devastating than war, those caught between new fears and old hatreds must find strength – or fall prey to a magic that seeks to bind all to its will.

The House of Sundering Flames

The great magical Houses of Paris – headed by Fallen angels and magicians – were, however temporarily, at peace with each other. Until House Harrier was levelled by a powerful explosion. Now that peace has become chaos, tearing apart old alliances and setting off a race in which each House hoards magic and resources to protect itself against another such blast.

Thuan, the Dragon head of the divided House Hawthorn, is still consolidating his power when war comes to his doorstep. Aurore -exiled from and almost beaten to death by House Harrier – sees her moment to seek power in order to protect her family, even if she must venture back to her destroyed former home to get it. And Emmanuelle finds herself alone in the middle of it all, driven to protect others, trying to piece together what has happened, andhoping – eventually – to make sense of it all.
None of them know what destroyed House Harrier, though . . . and when they do uncover that fiery, destructive magic then divided Houses, old enemies and estranged friends will all have to make a decision: stand together, or burn alone . . .

My thoughts:

These books are incredibly well written and fascinating to read, trying to picture the Paris I know as the destroyed, twisted city in the series is interesting, and the diverse cast represent the author’s own heritage, with the dragons having come across oceans from Vietnam, once under French rule. Philippe, another refugee from the war in his homeland seeks to stay beneath the radar of the angels who clash in the city, but is drawn into their endless battles as a former immortal himself who can’t seem to help himself when it comes to saving not only his own community but other humans, even ones who can claim an angel’s protection.

I really enjoyed reading these, and seeing other cultures on the books’ pages, which often seems to get overlooked, especially in fantasy writing; which for a long time has been very white. This is starting to change and that means more amazing books to read by a much more diverse range of authors. I was a bit disappointed to realise there were only three books in this series, but I look forward to seeing what De Bodard writes next.

 

*I was kindly gifted books 2 and 3 by the publisher but all opinions remain my own.