The Age of Witches, Louisa Morgan
Genre: Sci fi and Fantasy
I love books about witches and magic, and loved the connection with the salem witch trials here. Its true, what we don’t understand we fear, and I suspect there are those today who would act that way if they could.
Hands up – a little part of me still believes in the possibility of magic, and reading this, the two sides of it, good and evil, felt very real.
The spells, manikins, herbs, all were so well done I could visualise them. It wasn’t simple easy magic but one which required study and determination, and the knowledge of how to put that study into practice. Spells too had physical effects on the caster as well as those influenced, as if they had to pay a price for the magic.
The ladies were all very strong characters, Annis, Frances, Harriet and of course Lady Eleanor. In contrast the men were weak and fickle. Even James, so strongly disliking Annis at first, ( I could feel his shock – it made me smile) seemed to be quite a weak person. Once he finally stood up to his mother he did seem to be growing a bit of back bone, and was making some firm decisions of his own. I did like him and was glad things worked out in the end, but for a while I could see him knuckling under.
The story unfolds well, interesting female characters, Annis, tomboy, would be horse breeder ( a horse lover myself I understood her feelings), her step mother Frances, highly ambitious and happy to manipulate events to benefit her, Harriet, Annis great aunt but she doesn’t know it til deep in the story and of course Grace, Harriet’s …companion/help. The have more a friend relationship than that of servant and mistress. The asylum – horrific places, and of course a convenient place to stash unwanted female relatives. Note, in a society ruled by men its only ever the ladies that get committed.
Its quite a simple story, and that let the focus be on the witches, the craft and how they worked so differently. I loved the added bonus of the Strega, the lady who ran the supplies shop. She had a special insight into people that was interesting and which let Harriet have the things from her she would need to counteract Frances.
Stars: Four, Its an enjoyable read, not one I’d reread now I know how it plays out, but one which I did enjoy very much.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Follow Me To Ground, Sue Rainsford
Genre: General Fiction (Adult) , Sci Fi & Fantasy
I finished this book three days ago and….usually I write my reviews the following day, but I just don’t know where to start with this, and keep putting it off.
Its….an odd, weird story, and yet I can see from early reviewers that some folks adore it. I guess its the book equivalent of Marmite, you either love it or hate it! And sadly I just didn’t like it, I can’t say I hate it as TBH most of it was just so confusing, and at the end I was left thinking “ what have I read?”
Oddly it shares a few similarities with You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce, which I absolutely loved. They both involve people/creatures who are different to the usual supernatural beings in books. I understood You Let Me In though, well, partly, but that confusion was a deliberate facet of the story. However with Follow Me To Ground I just found it totally confusing. One moment it would be one person telling the story, then it would switch, but without any indication, so I’d be thinking “ What? Whats happened that I missed” before realising it was someone else talking. I had to keep going back, rereading, backtracking to try to understand, follow what had been written. Nothing really seemed to add up, make any kind of sense and even in a supernatural read I do need that.
I read to 50% and skim read the rest, as I wanted to see what would happen and yet was so confused by events and characters that I couldn’t bring myself to waste time in a thorough read. I knew by then it wasn’t going to be a great read for me, but wondered of the second half would be any clearer. Nope, it wasn’t.
One big plot in the book oddly was very clear to me, right from early on – weird that the ordinary events were difficult for me to follow, and yet this big major mystery was so obvious to me. Maybe that’s the way the author intended – I don’t know?
Stars: Two, a weird book, I can’t say I hated it, but I didn’t understand it, or like the characters. By the end I felt strangely irritated that I still didn’t know what it was supposed to be telling me.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Talisman, The Talisman Series Book One, Tam DeRudder Jackson
Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance.
I liked the sound of this, I love fantasy married with romance, and the description sounded interesting. Supernaturals living within our current world? Yes please 😉
Alyssa has been quite sheltered, brought up by her grand after the death of her parents she’s all about the studying, especially after being let down badly by her last boyfriend. Then on a rare night out she meets Rowan. I know he’s a warrior, but at times even I found him overbearing and arrogant, so I can see how Alyssa felt. He just steamrollers his way into her life. I know she’s in danger, but its to his advantage that he protects her and at times I felt he was a bit too thick on the “do it my way”, and thin on actual explanations. I did understand hew was working under time constraints but he always found time to whisk her into bed, and thought that was fun, enjoyable – OK, earth shattering, I felt Alyssa would have appreciated a bit more detail about what was happening.
There’s a lot of characters here that come into play, human, warriors and families, Talismen and of course the Dark Side. The rogue warriors and their leaders. I enjoyed the read but wasn’t bowled over by it. That could be because its first in series. These novels have a hard ask, to deliver a new world setting, charters, supernatural types and of course a story we readers will enjoy. This didn’t quite do that for me but is a good start to a new series.
Stars: Three, a good start to a new series, but I wasn’t quite pulled in by the characters.
Arc via netgalley and publishers
A Throne of Swans, Katharine Corr, Elizabeth Corr
Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA
Well…Wow, what an amazing read. It’s classed as teen and YA, but one of those rare few that really appeal to all ages, not just the younger generation. Like Vic James Dark Gifts, or Sarah J Maas a court of ….reads, they are reads to treasure, to reread no matter what age you are.
I’ve never actually read/seen Swan Lake but I guess everyone knows the basics, and I was hoping this wasn’t just going to be a retelling of the story. That doesn’t work so well for me, but I was happy that its Swan Lake inspired but has a story of its own. There were magical scenes, interspersed with some pretty horrific stuff. The Corr sisters don’t shy away from some solid hard facts in the world they’ve created, where those With get to do pretty much whatever they want to those Without ( flighted and flightless in the main). There’s some harsh rules in this world, some that feel almost arbitrary and yet for decades, centuries they’ve been uncontested.
I loved the world created, with its mix of characters, with its people that can transform into birds, with the sheer political intrigues, when grew almost faster than I could read them. Just as I was thinking one thing something happened that threw that chain of thought into disarray.
There were some fantastic characters. Aderyn’s clerk Lucien, tells her “trust no-one” but its hard for her. Lucien has been used to the cut and thrust of royal politics, of the machinations and intriguing that take place constantly, but Aderyn hasn’t spent time at court, hasn’t actually been anywhere since her mother was killed years ago and the injuries and shock left her unable to transform into her Swan shape. In this world that’s something that would get her removed as protector and could even threaten her life if it gets out.
When they first go to the Royal Castle Aderyn is just determined to find out who killed her mother, who was behind it, but the first day isn’t over before she discovers she’s treading on very thin ice, that she needs her wits constantly. Lucien had warned her but she doesn’t like him, and hadn’t realised just what danger she was in. She’s good hearted but at first had been so sheltered she’d never realised just what else was going on in her world, how the flightless were treated in other dominions. She assumed all were like her father, that they were treated fairly, but soon sees unhappiness and cruelty surround her. She grows up very fast, from that naive 17 year old we first meet, to the girl at the end of the story who’s had a sharp shock about the world she inhabits, who now realises just what it means to be a Protector.
And speaking of the end, what an incredible bounce of surprises those last chapters brought. They kept coming, one after another, after another! I hope book two is around soon, I am desperate to know just whats going to happen, how things are going to come through, and suspect its going to get worse before it gets better.
Stars: Five, an amazing read, full of a magical world, intrigue, politics, interesting characters, and one to reread when part two is out.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Unearthed, A Death Seeker Novel, Cecy Robson
genre: General Fiction (Adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy
I love Cecy’s stories so was keen to read this but…I did find it confusing at times. Its got that “first novel in series” issue that often happens, where there’s so much to deliver, story, world building, type of character and what magics they have, that it can easily get confusing.
Everything here is so very different, for example Olivia is a pixie, but living among humans as so many of the Fae are, but undetected. She has magic that’s so far unknown but when it does come its kind of typical Olivia, she of the rainbow coloured hair has pink magic, deadly, dangerous magic, but pink.
I really liked Olivia’s spark, loved the humour in the book, the loyalty she inspires. I loved Jane, a fellow magic user, an Elder, but who communicates in somewhat different ways. Then there’s Ryker…swoon…who turns out to be more than just a heart throb top legal expert.
There’s a terrific cast overall, some much needed humour at times among all the death and destruction that lifted the tone just when I needed it. I had a hard time believing that all that devastation could go unnoticed by humans though, and it wasn’t really explained that well. A couple of times early in the book we get to hear what story has been put out, but later on when the destruction is massive, I didn’t find any explanations of how humans wouldn’t have noticed, or what they would have thought.
I did find the constant battles with the hell hounds a bit wearying, and too graphic for me. I know it wasn’t easy killing them, I know the deaths they caused weren’t pretty, but after the third time of reading just how they dismembered victims I got the picture, didn’t need a blow by blow account full of gore and detail every time. I ended up skipping those parts, and of course there lies the danger I may have skipped something that’s later a major part of the story.
I enjoyed this story but wasn’t riveted to it. I think its one I’ll come back to further on in the series when I understand more, and get much more from it. For now I just feel a bit overwhelmed by such complex events and characters. Its a three star now, but I suspect when I’m more into the series it’ll actually be a five star read. I’m just still a bit confused and bemused…
BTW thanks Cecy, no awful cliffhanger, my bête noire . This story ties up with indications for future books and that’s just how I like a book in a series to end.
Stars: Three, a story that’s complex, and I found a bit too packed with world setting, new events and characters. I feel when I understand more of this world I’d probably rate this a five but for now its a three.
Arc via Netgalley
I’ve not read this book, not my kind of read, but for fantasy/sci-fy/gamers its worth a look. Its free as an ebook, all that’s asked is you consider a donation to Michael’s charity.
“Michael’s story” was written for Michael Holyland, a 15 year old Elite Dangerous player who died on 22nd May 2019. It was created in 3 days from start to finish, by the combined talents of Frontier Developments and the Elite Dangerous player community.
Best selling novelist Drew Wagar wrote the story, Antony Taylor created the amazing cover, Anthony Hunt created the iconic Eagle glyph, Commander Cryptic Echo, Commander Orange Phoenix, their respective teams and numerous Elite: Dangerous players contributed to the project by creating materials that are still being used to promote this touching tribute to a brave and inspirational Commander.
An audiobook version was also produced as by the end his treatment was affecting Michael’s ability to see. This was produced using the magnificent soundscape of Elite: Dangerous by Frontier Developments and features stunning performances by Amelia Tyler, Richard Reed and Jay Britton. It was edited by Joe Hogan and produced by Zac Antonaci. It is available for free on Drew’s website here.
This story would not exist without Michael’s Uncle Matt Westhorpe reaching out over Twitter to help bring this project together. Thank you Matt, you are the best Uncle a boy could ask for.
Storm Cursed, A Mercy Thompson novel, Patricia Briggs
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy
My all time favourite fantasy author, others come close but she’s still Queen of Fantasy for me, so when I saw this I just had to request it.
I’ve read and reread all the books multiple times and even now find things I’ve missed on previous readings. Its a fabulous series, and unlike some that go on to become long running but tired, its still as fresh as the first one.
Each story is complete but part of a long term story arc.
What I love about good authors is the way they bring in what I think of as story seeds, the little hints that are easy to miss, that become part of bigger plots further down the line, sometimes books later.
Sherwood Post is one of those, we met him a few books back, he’s grown in person as we meet him more and he plays a big part in this book. Being a fellow leg amputee I have a real soft spot for him, and it was great to slowly see more of him in this story.
He’s had a tangled history with witches, can’t recall his past but retains an awful lot of instinctive fear about witchcraft, so its probably a psychiatric issue more than physical one but who knows? The brain is a curious organ. Where usually werewolves can regrow body parts, his leg presumably was spelled in some way and hasn’t regrown. I feel for his struggles, and although he has a below knee amputation and mine is most of my leg his struggles are real. Patricia clearly either knows someone like this or has done research because unlike in so many books ( Horse Whisperer anyone?) Sherwood’s physical issues with his missing limb and prosthesis are genuine. I know, having struggled over the same things. In fact when he talks about his socket for his prosthetic I knew exactly what he meant, it was suggested as possibly suitable for me by a doctor in the early days, and though my prosthesist disagreed he made one anyway, so I could try and he was right. It was incredibly comfortable and perfect for those only missing below knee, but for people like me the weight of a whole limb was too much, and it just wouldn’t stay on 😦 I love that Patricia didn’t just give Sherwood a false limb, but made it the right sort for him. Small touches but those are what make her books so incredible to read for me. I can believe in them, can believe in the weird and wonderful types of folk she dreams up.
Once more its am amazing story, full of suspense and yet lightened with touches of humour ( nudge!!). I love that she brings in so many parts of past stories, and weaves them seamlessly with the current one. So here we’ve Mercy and the wolves still dealing with her perhaps rash proclamation, but the right thing to do, offering protection to the inhabitants of the Tri-cities. That brings in everyone in this story, the Pack, Elizaveta and her family, the vampires, and of course the Fae, including my much admired Zee and Tad. Zee’s actions here reminded me very much of his earth affinity that allowed Mercy and the others into Underhill several books back. I enjoy that kind of continuity.
Wulfe is in this story a lot towards the end and I’m kind of confused about how I feel over him. He’s a real mix, we’ve seen his seemingly uncaring, blase attitude to his menagerie, and to humans in general, his lack of loyalty to the seethe possibly in the Frost book, or maybe he was playing a long game, his strange abilities as the Wizard, and yet he seems to have a thread of doing the right thing running through. Is it because of morals ( unlikely) or just that it appeals to his sense of fun, his fondness for causing change, stirring things up? A bit like Coyote you never quite know whats behind their mechanisms. I guess its part of that long, hundreds- maybe thousands- of years of life, they like entertainment to relieve the ennui that affects some.
Mercy, well, I’ve loved her character right from the start, overlooked so, so often by Wolves, Witches, Fae and humans, yet she’s incredibly intelligent, with the strong sense of morals that guides her, and somehow gets others doing whats right. Adam ( swoon) has always seen her value though, and respects her even while he’s terrified for her as she veers into life changing difficulties. He knows that while he’s love to keep her wrapped up safely away from danger that’s not who she is, and their relationship would suffer so he respects her decisions and always has her back.
I hope she and the others have got lots more stories to come, this world Patricia has created and its evolution can take much more yet before the story gets old.
Stars: five of course. Another riveting read, taking me on a wonderful journey into another world. A book to get lost in, to leave reality for a few hours and immense myslef in the Tri-cities and its inhabitants.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
The Talon & the Blade, Grace Bloods: Book 3, Jasmine Silvera
Genre: General Fiction (adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy
I loved the first book in this series, but found it a little harder to connect with the second, and again with this one. That’s not to say its not an excellent read though, just one of those where I think I’ll get more from it on second ( or more ) readings. I love to go back to back through a series when all books are complete, really immerse myself and this series is one that will work well for that.
Gregor, he’s been an enigma since the first book, and I really enjoyed seeing his backstory, and seeing the attraction between him and Ana. It was interesting too being in another necromancers realm, Raymond is very different to Azreal, seems very distant from his Aegis, where Azreal and his people feel like there are respectful but friends, that he supports them in their actions. Raymond sends Ana off to deal with issues in this book with the minimum of information, which brings her into great danger. Gregor knows Azreal would never do that, and its interesting comparing two such distinct styles of rule.
I love that Jasmine has created such a fabulously different world, but it does take a bit of understanding. Fortunately the books have been released fairly close so the stories, settings and characters are still pretty fresh in my head.
Stars: Four. I enjoyed this story very much, just not as much as the first tow books. At times I was a little lost about what was actually happening, the story behind the story so to speak. I think re-reading will sort that though.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Dancer’s Flame, Grace Bloods: Book 2, Jasmine Silvera
Genre: General Fiction (adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy
I loved the first book in this series, but found it a little harder to connect with this one. There is so much going on, so many new characters and its such an unusual world. I feel its one of those stories where once all parts are out and I do a back to back reading session I’ll get so much more from it, having learned more about the world setting. This has Gods ( definitely plural) who aren’t necessarily benign or even easy to understand, Necromancers who can live thousands of years, the retinue of assorted supernaturals each necromancer has accrued over time, witches, werewolves, no doubt other supernaturals yet to be seen. Oh, and plain old humans….In this story there area couple of new supernaturals, Golems, fitting as its set in Prague and someone that poses a huge threat to everyone even if he doesn’t mean to, who of course Isela wants to save and others are keen to kill.
We see more of Isela and Azreal, which is great, I love those two, Gregor, in his usual taciturn protective self, along with some new folk from Azreal’s team. Of course nothings going smoothly, and once more supernaturals are threatening Azrael’s city, and it culminates in a huge, and at times to me confusing, climax. What’s next for the team.
I love that Jasmine has created such a fabulously different world, but it has the downside that its quite intense to read and follow, to understand who is whom, and how they fit into the story. I know though, that once I’ve fully got to grips this will be a solid five star series.
Stars: Four and a half. The half off is simply because at times the whole story and characters did get a bit confusing, however I know a second read will give me so much more, and I expect I’ll pick up on things I missed first reading.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers