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.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: A Little Hatred – Joe Abercrombie*

Introducing a cast of unforgettable new characters, A LITTLE HATRED is the start of a brand new trilogy set in the world of the First Law which will have you gripped from the very start . . .

War. Politics. Revolution.
The Age of Madness has arrived . . .

The chimneys of industry rise over Adua and the world seethes with new opportunities. But old scores run deep as ever.

On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield, and defeat the marauding armies of Stour Nightfall. He hopes for help from the crown. But King Jezal’s son, the feckless Prince Orso, is a man who specialises in disappointments.

Savine dan Glokta – socialite, investor, and daughter of the most feared man in the Union – plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary. But the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control.

The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye. Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another . . .

 

My thoughts:

It’s been a while since I last read a Joe Abercrombie book and the First Law series was something of a favourite, so this, the first in a new series (The Age of Madness) set in the same world was something of a treat. The world has moved on a bit since Logen Ninefingers and the few characters from his time are old and fading, but their children and grandchildren are beginning to stake their place in the world.

The writing is as good as ever, gripping hold of you and racing along across Adua and the cold north of Angland, from battlefields to ballrooms, from soldiers to socialites, Abercrombie spares no one, all will suffer if they try to rise too far too fast.

Not many authors would revisit a world they’d previously written about, drag it forward in time and yet preserve the things that made it so interesting in the first place, but Abercrombie does just that, and it’s very enjoyable.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Deaths and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley – Ian Thornton*

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Aleister Crowley, also known as the Great Beast, is one of the most reviled men in history. Satanist, cult leader, debauched novelist and poet, his legacy has been harshly contested for decades.

Crowley supposedly died in 1947, but in Ian Thornton’s new novel, set in the present day, the Great Beast is alive and well and living in Shangri-la. Now over 130 years old, thanks to the magical air of his mystical location, he looks back on his life and decides it is time to set the record straight.

For Crowley was not the evil man he is often portrayed as. This was just a cover to hide his real mission, to save the twentieth century from destroying itself and to set humanity on the road to freedom and liberty.

The Death and Afterlife of Aleister Crowley is an epic novel that will make you see this notorious figure in a completely new light, as he encounters an impressive cast of real-life characters including Timothy Leary, The Beatles, Princess Margaret, Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock.

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Ian Thornton’s debut novel, The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms (How One Man Scorched the Twentieth Century, but Didn’t Mean To) was published by Simon & Schuster Canada in September 2013. Harper Collins published worldwide on June 28th 2014 to coincide with the centenary of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the pivot of the novel. It was translated across Europe and taught at the Sorbonne.

Prior to becoming a novelist, Ian worked for Broadcast magazine in London and also for Variety. He is a co-founder of the global television industry publisher, C21 Media and http://www.c21media.net. He covered the Royal wedding in London for CTV, Canada’s premier independent broadcaster, and has recently written for Wisden Cricketer, The Guardian, The Hindu and for the Soho House magazine, House. He also wrote on the football World Cup in South Africa for the Canadian sports channel, The Score, and has worked for Queen’s University in Ontario, where his project was presented at the White House as part of President Obama’s new media initiative.

Ian is the official biographer of the Compton cricket club in California and has been a judge on the largest Latin American film festival, Expresion en Corto. He is currently producing a feature documentary.

Originally from Leeds, Ian currently resides in Toronto with his wife Heather Gordon and their children, Laszlo and Clementine.

 

My thoughts;

I don’t know a huge amount about Aleister Crowley other than what I’ve gleaned over the years from various places so I can’t extract the truth from this fiction precisely.

Crowley founded his own religion and was regarded as a Satanist and The Great Beast, not exactly popular with late Victorian/early Edwardian Britain.

From the facts about his life Thornton has spun a fascinating web of mystery and intrigue; positing Crowley as a spy and servant of the British Empire, a friend of Winston Churchill and a man you should never cross.

This was a fun romp across early 20th Century Earth – taking in America, both World Wars, an expedition to Sri Lanka and eventually a retirement of sorts to Shangri-La in the Himalayas.

All sorts of famous faces pass through Crowley’s life and hijinks, making this at times a who’s who of the first half of last century.

I really enjoyed this and found it great fun, well written and very clever.

*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: Bright Steel – Miles Cameron*

Every war come down to the flash of bright steel.

Even when the air is full of magic . . .

Aranthur and his friends have come together across different continents and realms with one purpose: to strike back against the forces which have torn a hole in the heavens and threaten to tear the world beneath them apart as well.

With time running short, and treason at home, there are battles to be fought on the field, in the magical arena, and in the ever-deadly realm of politics, and they cannot fail anywhere or everything will fall. Victory will require enemies to trust one another, old foes to fight together, spies to reveal the truth and steadfast allies to betray long-corrupt rulers.

Is Aranthur, a twenty-year-old student, really the master strategist to bring it all together?And can he and his friends build enough trust to overcome aeons of lies when their plans inevitably fall to pieces?

Do they even know, for sure, who the enemy is . . . ?

Aranthur is a student. He showed a little magical talent, is studying at the local academy, and is nothing particularly special. Others are smarter. Others are more talented. Others are quicker to pick up techniques. But none of them are with him when he breaks his journey home for the holidays in an inn. None of them step in to help when a young woman is thrown off a passing stage coach into the deep snow at the side of the road. And none of them are drawn into a fight to protect her.
One of the others might have realised she was manipulating him all along . . .
A powerful story about beginnings, coming of age, and the way choosing to take one step towards violence can lead to a slippery and dangerous slope, this is an accomplished fantasy series driven by strong characters and fast-paced action.

Some are warriors, some captains; others tend to the fallen or feed the living.

But on the magic-drenched battlefield, information is the lifeblood of victory, and Aranthur is about to discover that carrying messages, scouting the enemy, keeping his nerve, and passing on orders is more dangerous, and more essential, then an inexperienced soldier could imagine . . . especially when everything starts to go wrong.

Battle has been joined – on the field, in the magical sphere, and in the ever-shifting political arena . . .

 

My thoughts:

This is not a series you can skip reading in order, otherwise it makes no sense. Aranthur and his friends work as Cold Iron – a secret ring of powerful people protecting the Empire from within. They’ve come through wars fought on battlefields and in boardrooms, councils and soldiers alike.

Now they must finally defeat the Pure, a quasi-religious organisation intent on taking over the world.

This is a cracking series, racing along as Aranthur is dragged deeper into the web of conspiracies and lies at the heart of both the Empire and the Pure cult; his friends are sometimes revealed to be more than they originally appeared and he learns a lot about trust and honesty as he goes along. Becoming more and more powerful and showing the people who mock him for his ethnicity and innocence, precisely why they shouldn’t.

This series may be fantasy but the truths about friendship and loyalty are universal themes that too often get lost in the clash of swords or the swirl of magic.

I think this series will appeal to fantasy fans of all types; there’s magic, mischief and battles within the pages, as well as firm friendships, love and passion.

 

Bright Steel blog tour graphic

 

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