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Threadneedle, Cari Thomas

Threadneedle, Cari Thomas

Threadneedle: SUNDAY TIMES bestseller and most anticipated debut fantasy release of the year by [Cari Thomas]

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult),

I struggled with this. Its classed as Adult yet it feels very YA. I’ve read YA books I’ve loved, some transcend age, but this feels so YA that I struggled with it. The story dragged, and sadly by 40% in I started skim reading to see what happened. There was a lot going on but it seemed very confusing, very muddled and some events seemed to have no real purpose. It could well be my skimming though, that missed the events they led to. I wanted to know what would happen, wanted to see how it would play out but just couldn’t get through the whole story to get to the end.
Would I read next part? I don’t know. Maybe as the characters are aging it’ll feel less YA, Towards the last quarter it began to lose that feeling for me, with the characters facing some very hard situations and decisions.
Of course first books in a series or trilogy also have a hard time delivering a good story while creating a new world, and this one has a different kind of magic, and different magical groups too, so there was a lot to introduce to the reader.

Its a shame I didn’t get along with it better, I was so looking forward to it. It could be that book two lures me in and I love it and read this with different eyes. Who knows, I’ve had that happen before, in the same way as I’ve loved the first couple of books in a series but then it lost interest for me.

Stars: Three, its a good story, just didn’t quite click for me. Like I said, maybe when there’s more to tell, more to understand I’ll feel differently about this one. It has left me wondering “what next” so in that sense it delivers.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

A Grimoire for Gamblers, (The Trove Arbitrations Book 1), Amanda Creiglow

A Grimoire for Gamblers, (The Trove Arbitrations Book 1), Amanda Creiglow


Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Sci-fi and Fantasy

This sounded unusual, and that’s good in a market saturated with so many fantasy reads that are almost copies…so I dived in.
The magic here is different, very different to the usual, and I liked that, it was good to read a protagonist that wasn’t instantly transformed into someone more skilled than others hundreds of years older. Magic here – for humans at least – relies on skill, practice, accuracy- and intention. I really felt that part was one of the things that sets this novel above so many others.

I liked Elizabeth, and understood her grief for her father even though he’d been trying to end his life for some time. Her curiosity – that would be me, I couldn’t leave such interesting papers and items alone either….The grief provides a convenient excuse for her not being at work too, which gives her time to sort out this mess she’s inadvertently involved in. I didn’t see the point of the boyfriend, Faisal, he’s away for most of the novel and doesn’t add anything. Their relationship doesn’t feel like a very solid one, there’s no real pull between them, they feel more like flatmates than lovers.

I did get a little confused by all the different magical creatures, and I’m still not entirely sure what/where the Gravelings come from. That kind of brings up the weakness in the story for me, I have several unanswered questions. I didn’t understand the relevance of some incidents, felt others were too slickly glossed over. Max seems almost manic at times, yet terrified of his masters – why? What was the significance of the train, other than to begin events? The solutions occasionally seemed a bit slick, though the end result, the big problem, worked excellently for me. Complex enough to make me think, yet with a logic that I could understand.

Overall this was a fun read, and the issues I had could easily be put down to first in series syndrome. Those books have a tough ask, delivering a story interesting enough to hook the reader, but a world wide enough to carry future books. I think its successful here, I’d certainly like to read more.

Stars: Three and a half, its a fun fantasy, but with some darker edges. Holds promise for an interesting series.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

A Portrait in Ash and Lace, Casket Girls Chronicles, Sofia Aves

A Portrait in Ash and Lace, Casket Girls Chronicles, Sofia Aves

A Portrait in Ash and Lace: The Casket Girl Chronicles: Book 4 by [Sofia Aves]

Genre: Romance, Sci Fi & Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult)

1) I spent ages looking for casket girls 1-3….Thought I was losing it 😉 but this is a series with each book written by a different author. Found that out from anther reviewer!
That’s why i couldn’t find casket girls 1-3…..i never though to look under different authors!
I felt the story had so much potential but it never quite got there. It is very short, another thing I hadn’t realised, shorts rarely work for me. I felt that everything became squashed into far too quickly over events, whereas the potential for making a longer read was there. Was there is worked well, if a little disjointed at times, confusing at others and that’s where more space would have helped, let the story come out fully instead of being pushed into brief, not always clear, sections.
The ending is very abrupt, in fact for me it doesn’t feel complete. I haven’t read this author before, but I would happily read more if the story was longer.

Stars: Three, its a bit muddled at times, and would benefit from extra length IMO as it has the potential to carry more.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Shadow in the Glass, JJA Harwood

The Shadow in the Glass, JJA Harwood

The Shadow in the Glass: The Extraordinary Gothic Fairytale Debut of 2021 by [JJA Harwood]

Genre: General Fiction (adult).

I saw all the five star reviews and requested this. Sadly, it just didn’t work for me.

I just couldn’t get involved in the story, didn’t like the characters, although at first it seemed promising. I did feel for the girls, life was – and for many still is – hard if you’re female and in that kind of position. It soon lost me though, I wasn’t keen on any of the people, and the plot seemed just strange, rather than deliciously Gothic it just felt forced to me.
Still, that’s how it goes, some love a book and others hate it. I didn’t hate this, just didn’t find anything that made me want to keep reading, and I do not like ambiguous endings so that was a hard pass.

Stars: Two, a well written story that just didn’t suit my taste.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Wild Sign, An Alpha and Omega Novel. Book 6, Patricia Briggs

Wild Sign, An Alpha and Omega Novel. Book 6, Patricia Briggs

Wild Sign: An Alpha and Omega Novel: Book 6 (Alpha & Omega 6) by [Patricia Briggs]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

Well, Patricia Briggs is by far my favourite author – in any genre. Her books are as fresh now as when I first read Moon Called back in Sept 2010!! I had to look that up, can’t believe it was so long ago…I’ve re read bother the Mercy Thompson ( Hauptmann) and the Alpha and Omega ones many times now. I discover things I’d missed in earlier reads each time, there is so much detail and subtle clues.

As these books have advanced in series I’ve noticed they’ve become closer, with characters from each series making cameo appearances in the other. Of course Bran, Charles and Samuel have always featured in both, and the more major secondary characters take appearances and get referred to, but now even the plots seem to be connected, and get referenced to in each story. I love that connection.

So having done my fan-girling about PB and these fab stories what about this book.
I made sure to read in daytime only, as one review mentioned parts verged on horror – and I’m a complete wimp. I get nightmares from the slightest things, My kids laughed when I couldn’t even watch The Mummy with them 😉
However I needn’t have worried, its got mo more “horror” in that the MT one with the Hardesty witches, and as usual everything here fitted the story line perfectly.

What I love is that its not just Charles and Anna, but others that creep in, and along the way seeds are sown for characters, plots in later books. With the story overlaps now, that could be in either series, its become a kind of game for me, trying to see people and events that may become more. One of my favourite “newish” characters from the MT series, Sherwood Post, makes an appearance here, not in person but as a character that’s been involved in the current plot in the past, and some of the mysteries about his past have come forward. I’ve a fleeting thought from this book of who he might be really, given he’s lost his memory and no-one knows – apart from Bran, who may know, but is saying nothing. That man is a real enigma.

Of course there’s the usual slow burn plot development, where things seem relatively simple, but turn out to be anything but, and Anna, Charles and Tag are in real danger. We’re introduced to yet another new supernatural entity, well two really, one is a group rather than one ..person? Creature? I wonder if the new group will take a greater part in later stories? I get the feeling by now that when PB introduces someone or something new its for a reason. Sherwood is a great case, he crept in fairly innocuously and yet he’s become a major, essential character in recent books. As a fellow one leg amputee I have a kind of feeling of kinship with him…though sadly wolf changing is beyond me. Leah features more here, usually she’s just the cold, unfeeling person in the background, the Alpha’s Mate who hates Mercy. PB did what I thought wasn’t possible, made me feel sorry for her.

Its a cracking read, and reminds me its been a while since I revisited the whole series. Over Xmas I reread all the Mercy novels and had a fabulous immersion into that world, so I think its time for an Alpha and Omega immersion, my favourite way to read books like this, allowing me to get totally lost into that world for a while.

And the end..what can I say about that? Nothing, sadly, without spilling too much, but its incredible, unexpected, though again the clues were set in earlier books from both series. Its not a cliffhanger, just a huge surprise ending. Bittersweet in that some folk are very happy and others will be very sad, and of course it makes me wonder whats going to happen about this new development..

 

Stars: Five. Another riveting, drama filled suspense from Patricia Briggs. A fantastic read, bring the series forward and setting openings for future plots. Thank goodness, what would I do if PB stopped now??

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Iron Raven, Julie Kagawa

The Iron Raven, Julie Kagawa

The Iron Raven (The Iron Fey: Evenfall, Book 1) by [Julie Kagawa]

Genre: Teens & YA, Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Oh how I wanted to like this story. I’ve not read any of Julie’s work, but have recently read several excellent YA books.
Sadly this didn’t work for me. Its very well written, and I can see that others love it, but I just couldn’t connect with it. I put it aside a few times and came back to it as I thought maybe it was this strange time we’re living in, that has affected my concentration and reading, but unfortunately it still wasn’t a good fit for me. 😦
I stopped about a third of the way through, knowing it just wasn’t going to suit me. I’m gutted, I was so looking forward to getting my teeth into a new trilogy, but that’s the way it goes.
Not all stories appeal, however well written.

Stars: Two, a story others love but which didn’t connect with me. NB: I only read to just past 30%.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Witherward, Hannah Mathewson

Witherward, Hannah Mathewson

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

What a fantastic read this was. Its very unusual, and at times I was confused about the different factions and how they interacted. I think with any fantasy though that devolves from the norm that happens, and I’m happy to go along with it to read something new, something challenging.
I loved this read, I just wish parts two and three were out now!

Ilsa is a perfect lead, and at times when her age, and that of some of the other leads, was mentioned I found it hard to believe they were teens. They’ve had to grow up very quickly, even though they’ve grown up in different worlds. Ilsa felt so very real, she’s struggled to get by, using her wits, all her life, so although she’s out of her depth in some ways in this new world, her skills she’s honed over the years mean she is well placed to assess what needs doing, what is happening. For other things she’s on a fast track tuition process, learning the skills that the others have has years to acquire.

I really enjoyed the story, there’s lots of minor plots besides the main one, and they all gel over the course of the novel. It was fascinating reading about the different sorts of magics, the benefits and limitations, and the history of the Witherward. I did have characters I liked more than others of course, but there were surprises in store for me, and I love that. When things happen that I didn’t anticipate, it makes the story so much more compelling. Some of the events are hard to read, its a hard, harsh world, and death is never far away for anyone.

Goodreads describe it as YA, don’t let that put you off. The main characters are young, but the story is certainly not any kind of simplistic one, in fact I found myself doubling back a few times checking people, places and acts. I’d highly recommend this to fantasy lovers. Roll on the next book. I know once I have all three books its going to be one I read back to back in a total Witherward immersion!

Stars: Five. Fantastic new, unusual, gripping, compelling, fantasy adventure.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Mask of Mirrors, Rook and Rose Book One, M. A. Carrick

The Mask of Mirrors, Rook and Rose Book One, M. A. Carrick

The Mask of Mirrors: Rook and Rose, Book One by [M. A. Carrick]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

Having been caught before by trilogies that I loved – and series – which never got any further I contacted the authors to see if there were plans for the next two books. Hurrah, there are. Book two, The Liar’s Knot, is out later this year in November, with book three scheduled for November 2022. Given how complex and detailed this story is that’s good going 😉 It must be a nightmare to write, having to constantly check things, unless the authors have become fully immersed in the world they’d created.

I loved this story but…I almost gave up, its so incredibly detailed it took me well into the book before I began to get a sense of this world and its characters. I think I didn’t really feel familiar with the place and characters until about the halfway mark. I’m so glad I stuck with it. The end section with the explanations of who and how people fit together, and some of the terms used was incredibly helpful, I found myself referring to that many, many times! Read it before you start, and then keep checking back, it really helps.
If you’re struggling with the beginning as I did, stick with it, it really is worth it. I already know this is going to be one of my re-reader series, where I indulge in a few days back to back reading of all the novels.

Its really hard to write a review. Its a new world, with, pretty much like here, two main classes, the rich and the not rich….but within that there are different heritages, religions, and those groups are further divided with the ruling classes having a complicated and rigid structure in place and the underclass being divided further into different groups and knots.
For the ruling classes life is about appearance, never showing your hand, never showing or admitting to feelings, and under that there are the deals, the money making, the backbiting, cheating, manoeuvering, but all done with smiles and unseen.

Then of course there’s the actual story, with Ren and Tess being in for a long con, persuading House Traementis that she’s a lost relative, with Grey Serrado of the Vigils, wanting to find out who killed his brother, and who is stealing children from the streets, Derossi Vargo, well, with Vargo who knows what he wants, he’s like spider with bits of web touching everything.
Its seems everyone is hiding something, planning something or doing something they shouldn’t. Ren gets deeper and deeper, constantly involved in deals for different people, all the while pushing her claim forward, but along the way finding there’s much more to this society than she imagined, and finding she hasn’t left her past as far behind as she thought.
I wasn’t sure about Ren at first, but her loyalty to Tess and the things she’s been through make her what she is, and I grew to really hope for her. I loved Tess, clever Tess with her nimble fingers and ways of chatting to staff and finding out what she and Ren needed to know. They work together so well.
Donaia Traementis I really felt for, trying to keep the house together, keep up appearances despite lacking finances. Leatro, her son, I loved him. He’s on the surface all light and fluff but there’s a lot more to him. Then Giuna, his sister. We didn’t really seem to get to know her well, both her mother and her brother seem to keep her incredibly sheltered and I’m not really sure why.
Grey Serrado, one of the Vigil, a kind of police force, though mainly a corrupt force, was an anomaly there. He’s there to do right, to protect people and I wondered why he joined, knowing its full of corruption.
Derossi Vargo – who couldn’t be intrigued by him. And Peabody! He’s from the streets, has a fearsome reputation and yet he can be smooth and cultured when it suits. He’s got a fount of secrets, one of them huge and I really want to know how that came about. Sedge, one of his henchmen was a great character too, we soon find out he’s got more connections than he knew.

I did find some of Ren’s/Renata’s deals went a little too easily, given that the others had been struggling to get things done, but there’s so much else going on that it didn’t really bother me, it was needed to push events forward. At times I just continued reading even when a bit lost, til I found my ground again, the story is so complex that if I tried to reason every event I’d never get through it 😉 The dreamworld events, night of hells, was one of those. Its all made sense later.
I’d got a good idea of who The Rook was and was pleased I was right – that doesn’t happen often, and tbh I just got lucky!
The practice of Pattern and Numinatra was fascinating, I’d love to know more of that.
I loved the ending, wrapping up parts neatly and yet opening up a whole deal more. Yay.
I guess its time to stop. Hopefully I’ve not given anything away, its a really fascinating read, despite my first fears. Stick with it, if you love complex fantasy this is a perfect trilogy.

Stars: Five. Fantastic, complicated story. I really enjoyed it and know its going to be a long time favourite trilogy.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Charmed Wife, Olga Grushin

The Charmed Wife, Olga Grushin
A beautifully written, powerful re-imagining that picks up thirteen years after Cinderella and Prince Charming said ‘I do”

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy, Women’s Fiction

Sigh…women’s fiction. Again. C’mon guys, its 2020 not 1820, men read books like this, men write books like this, lets get rid of this genre please?

So, having got that off my chest, what did I think of this book? Well, I’m not really sure, that sounds like a cop out but I’ve some very mixed feelings.

I enjoyed the idea of “what happened next”, the more in depth look into the fairy tale, and of course the way the story brought in so many other fairy tales, with the original endings, Grimm’s grim ones, not the sanitised Disney version. At times though that got just a bit too much, felt a bit overworked,. It reminded me of going to an art class years ago, where the tutor described when he was learning, and saw how a few highlights really brought his work to life. So added more, and more and then in his words “ it looked like Blackpool Lights instead of a gentle evening landscape” sometimes Less is More.
The mice suffered from this too, they were fun to begin, I really enjoyed them and their part in the tale ( or tail!!), but then it began to drag, getting so in-depth, tied up in yet more stories of right and wrong, and almost feeling like a moral lecture.
The Witch and the Fairy Godmother had some terrific lines, they really were great. Some of their interactions were the best parts of the book.
The main characters though, Cinderella and the Prince, well, we hardly met the Prince, mostly through secondhand stories and the odd interactions with Cinderella.
Cinderella herself, well, I wasn’t sure what to make of her. Was she always this meek and mild person, content with afternoon tea and telling fairy stories to the children, or did she really want more from life? As we didn’t know her before I couldn’t tell. And then slowly her discontent comes through, and she takes action, and the twists begin.

There are long journeys, a quest almost, and that’s where many of the other fairy tales get woven in. Cinderella isn’t totally blameless yet as the book says “ we’re all heroes in our own story”. That really resonated with me, its so true. How we see things isn’t necessarily how they are, and that brings me to another part that I’m uncertain about. The last twenty per cent maybe, everything gets turned on its head, all we’ve read and believed so far takes a different viewpoint, and though for others it’s perfect, it works, I felt kind of cheated.
I didn’t expect that, and for me it explained a lot but I just didn’t like it 😉 It reminded me a little of the Dream trope, and that’s one I really don’t like.

Stars: Three, I enjoyed parts, its well told, but for me personally it had too many issues, things I dislike but that others won’t necessarily, and I found it hard to really enjoy.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Wild Signs, Patricia Briggs

yay, just been approved for the latest Patricia Briggs egalley Wild Signs 🙂 I’m easily pleased.

Wild Sign: An Alpha and Omega Novel: Book 6 (Alpha & Omega 6) by [Patricia Briggs]

Its been weird this last year, I find it really hard settling to anything, where I can ususally lose myslef for hours in a book, my mind is restless, thinking about what weird times we live in, how live has changed so very much in such a short span. So I’ve done a lot of rereading old favourites where my mind doesn’t have to work so hard as I know the story. I’m on the last book in my rereading of PB’s other series ( Mercy Thompson – I’m still in love with Adam though I have a soft spot for Ben, and Sherwood is fast growing on me too) for the Nth time…..so maybe a time to reread this series.

 

Yesterday I read Spinning Silver Naomi Novak but….I didn’t really enjoy it even though I stayed up way too late to finish, I hate when that happens. It was one of those where i had to see what happened, and how they got there.
Spinning Silver by [Naomi Novik]
I loved Uprooted, her first book, so was disappointed not to enjoy this.
Uprooted by [Naomi Novik]
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