The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings @Magicknegro @orbitbooks #compulsivereaders @Tr4cyF3nt0n #mysterious #urbanfantasy #magick #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings. This is a brilliant read set in New Orleans with a wonderfully magical, musical and dangerous vibe.

I also want to add that the author did include a playlist for Spotify, this was so good to listen to. A mix of Jazz and Blues, some remixes and some that were new to me, and some rather modern ones!

My huge thanks to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for my PB copy of the book from the Publisher – Orbit Books

In a fantastical version of New Orleans where music is magic, a battle for the city’s soul brews between two young mages, a vengeful wraith, and one powerful song in this vibrant and imaginative debut.

Nola is a city full of wonders. A place of sky trolleys and dead cabs, where haints dance the night away and Wise Women keep the order, and where songs walk, talk and keep the spirit of the city alive. To those from Far Away, Nola might seem strange. To failed magician, Perilous Graves, it’s simply home. Then the rhythm stutters.

Nine songs of power have escaped from the magical piano that maintains the city’s beat and without them, Nola will fail. Unexpectedly, Perry and his sister, Brendy, are tasked with saving the city. But a storm is brewing and the Haint of All Haints is awake. Even if they capture the songs, Nola’s time might be coming to an end.

MY REVIEW

This is a book that I adored. A mix of urban fantasy, music, family friends and enemies. They are wrapped around songs and music. New Orleans is an area that has a mix of races, nationalities and ethnicities. Each brings its own traditions, religions, faiths, legends and myths. In this book, the author has mixed all of these together to create a slightly weird, oddball, wacky and wonderful story.

Music is magic and magic is music. In this story, it is what makes Nola a special place to live. It keeps the city thriving, in check and safe, that is until a vengeful spirit decides to cause chaos. It will be down to a group of children and some of their relatives to try to work out what is happening to the magic and the songs.

This is a story that I occasionally wondered ‘what on earth is going on!’ as it flitted from one person to another, and from one group to another. Even though I had trouble following where the author was going I found myself sticking with the book. I didn’t once think of putting it down because I wanted to know the outcomes. I am really glad I did because things gradually started to merge, make sense and become more clear. Did I fully understand everything about the story? No, probably not, but that doesn’t take away the entertainment value of the story. I also really enjoyed the music references such as Stagger Lee, Buddy Bolden and songs from the old Jazz and Blues eras. There are also mentions of spirits, haints, dead cabs, and so many different other things.

Essentially this is a story that starts out as a mystery. Jaylon and Daddy Deke have gone missing. Their respective families or friends are trying to find them and discover that not everything is as they think it is. There is another side that is separated by a thin layer. There is a storm coming, one that could be catastrophic unless the main characters can work out exactly what, how and when to do what they need to do.

I do think this is one of those books that may well divide the readers. It is quirky but I do love quirky, and when it is mixed in with urban fantasy, a rich setting and has some good music vibes running through it then it makes it a book that will catch my eye. In fact, it was the cover that did it for me, it made me think of voodoo, magic and death!

This is a fabulous read, I have been wavering between giving it a 4 or a 5 star. Five for the fact that I really enjoyed the style of the story but a four because I did feel a little lost at times.

This is one for those who like adventure, to take a risk and maybe for those looking for something a little bit different. I really enjoyed it and I would definitely recommend it. 

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When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill @bonnierbooks_uk #fantasy #feminism #histfic #NetGalley #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill. This was a fabulous book to read and while it is a fantasy story, the Dragons in this book could be seen as a metaphor for the feminism that lies behind it. As a fantasy read I thoroughly enjoyed it, as a metaphorical read, I can see the points that the author is making. (I hope this makes sense!!!) However you read this or take the message, it is a brilliant story. And… I love the cover 😍

My huge thanks to Bonnier Books UK for granting my request to read this e-book via NetGalley.

Learn about the Mass Dragoning of 1955 in which 300,000 women spontaneously transform into dragons…and change the world.

Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours. But this version of 1950’s America is characterized by a significant event: The Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales and talons, left a trail of fiery destruction in their path, and took to the skies. Seemingly for good. Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex’s beloved Aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn’t know. It’s taboo to speak of, even more so than her crush on Sonja, her schoolmate.

Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of dragons: a mother more protective than ever; a father growing increasingly distant; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and a new “sister” obsessed with dragons far beyond propriety. Through loss, rage, and self-discovery, this story follows Alex’s journey as she deals with the events leading up to and beyond the Mass Dragoning, and her connection with the phenomenon itself. 

MY REVIEW

Ok, so I will admit the title of this book really called to me when I saw it. When Women Were Dragons is a reimagining with a definite fantasy thread, the dragons kind of give it away really!

Set in the 1950s this is a brilliant book that mixes historical with fantasy. Women through the years have transformed into dragons, they are never seen, mentioned or talked about ever again. In 1955 when 1,000s of women worldwide changed were still covered up. No one is allowed to mention the word dragon or anything to do with this event.

The thing is, the women have very little control over this change, some could hold it back and others just went with it.

This is a brilliant story that is about women empowering themselves and making the choice as to how they live their own lives. This is a time when women stay home, cook meals, look after the house, raise the children and have a meal ready on the table for when their husband walks in the door. It is very much a patriarchal society and while this story is set in a small area in the US, it was something that was a worldwide thing.

The focus is on Alex, a young girl who is confused by events that are happening, not just to family and neighbours who have changed, but also the changes in her own body. As a young girl, there are expectations of her and what she is to do with her future. Alex however has other ideas, she wants to go on with her education and go to university. Others think that a piece of paper to say you are clever isn’t much use when you are a mother and wife.

This story is very much about discrimination and there are times I got so angry with the attitudes of some of the characters, this is all credit to the author. I do love a story that makes me go through various emotions and this one definitely did that. Anger, euphoria, happiness, sadness and a sense of justice are just some of them. The way the author portrayed Alex and other women was just so good, the way they carried themselves with eyes down at the ground while all the time wanting to look up and to the future made it quite a powerful read.

This was a brilliant book to read, at times I admit it did get a bit far-fetched, but it still kept up the flow and feel of the story. I think at times I actually forgot some of the characters were dragons!

I adored this book and I did like the mix of fantasy with historical fiction. The concept is such a good one and it really appealed to me. This is a story about empowerment as well as a coming of age story. It does carry a powerful message and it is one I would definitely recommend.

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The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield @kateheartfield @RandomTTours @fictionpubteam @HarperVoyagerUK #histfic #histfantasy #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review for The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield. This is an amazing read and is definitely one for fans of historical fiction and fantasy.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my gorgeous paperback of this book from the publisher Harper Voyager UK.

‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman,
it is a little more difficult, that’s all

1768 – Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has
never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles, they
rename her Marie Antoinette.


The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered
a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.


In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take
control of their lives.


But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send
Europe spiralling into revolution.

MY REVIEW

If you are looking for a historical fiction based on fact but with a fantasy reimagining to it then look no further than The Embroidered Book. This is based in Europe and concentrated on one generation of the Hapsburg family.

How does a little insignificant-looking book that has an unfinished embroidered cover lead to the rise and fall of some of the most famous monarchs of Europe? Well, this book is one that has something rather special in it and it opens up a fantastical world of magic. Where there is magic there is greed, there is the hunt for more power and not everyone has access to it, in fact, most people don’t even know that there is magic in Europe.

This story is set in the late 1700s when a young woman leaves her family and home in Austria to marry the king of France. She will have her name changed to help her fit in, she will have to change her style and her whole way of presenting herself. She will be known as Marie Antoinette. Her sister, Charlotte is her closest sibling and they have always been close. The Hapsburgs have been arranging marriages to bolster their own heritage, remain in power and always look to improve or stabilise countries through marriage. They are the power family of the time.

The author has picked such an interesting time in history, it is turbulent and there are revolutions and uprisings to come. Using this period makes the weaving of the fantasy element work so well. There is already a sense of distrust and of poverty. While the Kings and Queens of Europe are living lavish and opulent lifestyles, the common people are starving. So adding this twist into the story is just a great way of not only showing Europe at the time but of giving the reader an exciting alternative.

As this is a historical-based novel there is a lot of historical and political references to events. This has been done in a great way and is very much part of the story rather than a dry narrative. The author really brought the characters to life, rather than being figures from history she gave them thoughts, personalities and opinions. Even though this is an age of mistrust from regular people, it was also interesting to read the authors take on how the thoughts of the monarchs could have also been.

This is an absolutely fascinating read, the magical aspects are such a good inclusion and for me worked really well. The balance of it felt right within the contest so even if you are not a reader of fantasy I think you will get on well with this.

I adored this book and it ticked many, many boxes. It is riveting, exciting, mysterious, politically charged, has loads of research, a touch of magic, mistrust, infighting, double-crossing, treachery and treason, I could go on! It shows the wranglings and machinations of the powerful leading historical figures and thought it was done brilliantly. This is a book I would absolutely recommend. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Heartfield is the author of The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy novel out in February 2022.

Her debut novel won Canada’s Aurora Award, and her novellas, stories and games have
been shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, Sunburst and Aurora awards. A former
journalist, Kate lives near Ottawa, Canada.

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This Charming Man by C. K. McDonnell @Caimh @Thomassshill @TransworldBooks #crime #mystery #magic #fantasy #bookreview

Vampires do not exist. Everyone knows this. So it’s particularly annoying when they start popping up around Manchester . . .

I am delighted to share my review today for This Charming Man by Caimh McDonnell. This is the second book in The Stranger Times series, I adored the first book and this one is just as good. Great for fans of crime/mystery and Magic/fantasy novels.

My huge thanks to Thomas Hill at Transworld Books for sending me a copy of this book and also the first one.

Vampires do not exist. Everyone knows this. So it’s particularly annoying when they start popping up around Manchester . . .

Nobody is pleased about it. Not the Founders, the secret organisation for whom vampires were invented as an allegory, nor the Folk, the magical people hidden in plain sight who only want a quiet life. And definitely not the people of Manchester, because there is nothing more irksome than being murdered by an allegory run amok. Somebody needs to sort this out fast before all Hell really breaks loose – step forward the staff of The Stranger Times.

It’s not like they don’t have enough to be dealing with. Assistant Editor Hannah has come back from getting messily divorced to discover that someone is trying to kidnap a member of their staff and while editor Vincent Banecroft would be delighted to see the back of any of his team, he doesn’t like people touching his stuff – it’s the principle of the thing.

Throw in a precarious plumbing situation, gambling debts, an entirely new way of swearing, and a certain detective inspector with what could be kindly referred to as ‘a lot of baggage’ and it all adds up to another hectic week in the life of the newspaper committed to reporting the truth that nobody else will touch.

This Charming Man is the second book in the critically acclaimed The Stranger Times series.

MY REVIEW

The Stranger Times is the first book in this series that I read and thoroughly enjoyed last year. It is also the name of the newspaper that caters for those with a slightly obscure/different/unique view of the world. This is the sort of paper that will report on alien sightings, mysterious noises in the basement and weird and wonderful goings-on that regularly appear.

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise when a Vampire suddenly turns up, but then everyone knows such things don’t exist! I love how the author uses this vampiric occurrence and it is almost tongue in cheek that his reporters don’t quite know what to call a pale, pointy-toothed anomaly. It struck me as funny that the reporters are fine with demons, aliens etc, but not calling a vampire a vampire. Anyhow, I do digress.

The main characters are the same that appeared in the first book, so we have Banecroft the editor, along with Grace, Stella, Ox, Stanley, DI Sturgess, Hannah who gallantly report the news while Banecroft is breathing down their necks, wanting answers and a story to print in his paper.

The bodies are a unique find and they are shrugged off as such, some things are not that easy to hide and it doesn’t take long for things to start to heat up. Tensions are brittle as lack of sleep and deadlines are approaching as well as some interest from someone higher up!

This is a humorous and quirky read that I really adored, it is a great mystery novel and the one-liners, little snide comments and the unrelenting thick-skinned Banecroft just add to the humour. Magic and special powers work alongside many other phenomena in this story and as I immersed myself in this story I found bizarre things as quite normal.

This is one that those of lighter fantasy and humorous fantasy readers will enjoy. It is witty and fun to read. There is mystery and magic, the odd body because even though Vampires do not exist, you need a corpse, don’t you? I would suggest reading the first book as it does bring you in and introduce you to the characters that you will also find in this second book, and it is also a really good read. This Charming Man is a fabulous read and one I would definitely recommend.

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The Book of Sand by Theo Clare #NetGalley @CENTURYBOOKSUK #fantasy #dystopian #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Book of Sand by Theo Clare. This is a good-sized fantasy book that has a dystopian and mystery/ thriller feel to it. It is due for Publication tomorrow and I wish to thank Century Books UK for my e-copy that I received via NetGalley.

The Book of Sand: the first novel in an epic series created by the late Mo Hayder, one
of the UK’s finest and most inventive storytellers.

SAND. A hostile world of burning sun.

Outlines of several once-busy cities shimmer on the horizon. Now empty of inhabitants, their buildings lie in ruins.

In the distance a group of people – a family – walk towards us.

Ahead lies shelter: a ‘shuck’ the family call home and which they know they must reach before the light fails, as to be out after dark is to invite danger and almost certain death.

To survive in this alien world of shifting sand, they must find an object hidden in or near water. But other families want it too. And they are willing to fight to the death to make it theirs.

It is beginning to rain in Fairfax County, Virginia when McKenzie Strathie wakes up. An ordinary teenage girl living an ordinary life – except that the previous night she found a sand-lizard in her bed, and now she’s beginning to question everything around her, especially who she really is …

Two very different worlds featuring a group of extraordinary characters driven to the very limit of their endurance in a place where only the strongest will survive.

MY REVIEW

This is a book that completely caught me by surprise, I was aware that there were two stories involved here but how they connected was a complete curve ball!

One timeline is a group, or as they refer to themselves, a family who are surviving in an inhospitable desert. Each member has a different background and they have random memories from their previous life.

The second is of a young girl, fascinated by wind and sand. She lives in the US and is looked at as a bit of an oddity, her family don’t understand her and her obsessions.

I really don’t know how to start this review so it may be a little disjointed and most likely very vague! The two storylines don’t seem to have any connectors in them, two completely different worlds and people. One is a world we would recognise, as it has a present-day “normal world” setting. The other is definitely not, think of something like Dune but with scarier creatures that emerge at night and that has a time limit to it.

The two stories are very good in their own right, and it took me a while to realise how unconnected they both are. It is not until a lot later in the book that there is that sudden OMG moment when the author literally drops the bombshell. And it was a massive one that suddenly changed the story.

Given the slower and slightly disjointed storyline at the start of the story, I found something about this that kept me reading. I have seen very different reviews of this and some feel that it does go on a bit long. Others and I am one, think it is perfect. I thought it was a way of the author making sure we really get to know the characters. I also found that it very subtly ramped up the mystery and intrigue and I didn’t realise that until the bombshell moment.

This is a book that I really enjoyed, it is a mix of dystopian, fantasy, contemporary and mystery. It is from the pen of Mo Hayder who sadly passed away this year (July 2021) at the age of 59. This book is the first time I had read anything by her and I will be going through the back catalogue.

The Book of Sand is a story that I do think will divide readers, it is one that I found was really intriguing and it was the two separate timelines and the different worlds that really drew me in. The end section does change things a lot and it becomes darker and more dangerous.

I really enjoyed this and I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for something engaging, mysterious, dystopian and a little bit different.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mo Hayder

THEO CLARE left school at fifteen. She worked as a barmaid, security guard, filmmaker, hostess in a
Tokyo club, educational administrator and teacher of English as a foreign language in Asia. She had an
MA in film from The American University in Washington, DC and an MA in creative writing from Bath
Spa University, UK. She wrote crime novels under the name Mo Hayder, and her fifth novel Ritual was
nominated for the Barry Award for Best Crime 2009 and was voted Best Book of 2008 by Publishers
Weekly. Gone, her seventh novel, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and her novel Wolf was nominated
for Best Novel in the 2015 Edgar Awards and is currently being adapted for the BBC. Theo Clare was
diagnosed with motor neurone disease in December 2020 and passed away in July 2021.

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The Hanging Tree by Misha Herwin @MishaHerwin #childrenfantasy #childrenadventure #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Hanging Tree by Misha Herwin. This is the 4th book in the Letty Parker series and it is aimed at 8-12year olds. It is a gothic style fantasy, magical and mystery series that this grown-up is also very much enjoying.

The Hanging Tree (Adventures of Letty Parker Book 4) by [Misha Herwin]

The power of the Dark Ones is growing once more. Watching from their rooftop perches, the gargoyles and dragons have all the gossip they could ever want. Deadly night eels slither through the city streets. The thief-taker is on the prowl. And Jebediah Hill is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Letty discovers that Jeb, her oldest friend, has been keeping secrets, yet refuses to reveal them even though he knows he will pay a terrible price. Letty Parker and Associates set out on a race to save Jeb from The Hanging Tree.
And time is running out…

Purchase HERE

MY REVIEW

I have been looking forward to seeing what the author has in store for young Letty Parker and her Associates. The associates are a group of misfits in some ways as there is Letty who used to sell pies, Jeb a one time pickpocket and scoundrel who is now legitimate, Hepzibah a well off young lady, Mango a sort of fixer and a go-to guy as well as other recurring characters.

Letty and Associates are a tight-knit group who have come together over the past books and formed a mystery-solving agency set in the dark port city of Bristol. It is not a Victorian-era Bristol you would remember from history, this one has monstrous eels, gargoyles, dragons and The Dark Ones!

The author has taken a slightly darker turn with The Hanging Tree as Jeb has been arrested, at one time this would have been sort of expected but not now and especially when he is innocent, yes he really is! Breaking Jeb out isn’t an option as he would have no way of clearing his name, instead, it is up to Letty and Co to dig and delve into the murkiness and the backstreets in this against the clock mystery.

I do adore these characters and the whole group works together really well. They bring their own special qualities and skills as they track down and solve mysteries. As I mentioned this one is a slightly darker feeling as there is more going on with the Count. He is a Dark One and has a bigger game plan in mind. He is a threat and not everyone can see it yet.

Once again the author has created a wonderfully dark and atmospheric mystery that has such a wonderful setting. This setting has been reimagined, adapted and the author brilliantly describes the sights, sounds and unfortunately the smells! There is adventure around every corner and page, with intriguing twists and I adored it.

This is aimed at 8-12-year-olds but is also a great series for any age even the grown-ups. It is a book and actually a series I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Misha Herwin

Misha Herwin is a writer of books for adults and children.
They vary from time-slip to contemporary women’s fiction, family saga and children’s fantasy adventures.
All her books are set in Bristol, whether real, imaginary or remembered from her childhood. 

Social Media Links – WebsiteTwitter

Here are the previous books in the series

Adventures of Letty Parker

From Book 1: Letty Parker lives by her wits. Estranged from her family, she sells pies on the streets of Bristol. But this is a Bristol full of dark secrets, peopled by gangs, monsters, dragons and gargoyles – and by creatures older than time. When her friend and stepsister disappear, when members of Jeb’s gang vanish, Letty is plunged headlong into a conspiracy where homeless children are being spirited away to a place where a terrible fate awaits them. These are the poor and the lost children of the streets whom no one seems to care about – except for Letty. But what if a rich child went missing? Would the authorities then act? Together, Letty and Jeb hatch a plan…

PURCHASE LINK – HERE

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The Bone Shard Emperor (The Drowning Empire #2) by Andrea Stewart @AndreaGStewart @OrbitBooks #fantasy #Tr4cyF3nt0n #compulsivereaders #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart. This is the 2nd book in The Drowning Empire series and I am loving it.

My huge thanks to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for my invite and spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this book from the publisher, Orbit Books, via NetGalley.

Andrea Stewart returns with The Bone Shard Emperor, the second instalment of this unmissable, action-packed, magic-laced fantasy epic.

The Emperor is Dead. Long live the Emperor.  

Lin Sukai finally sits on the throne she won at so much cost, but her struggles are only just beginning. Her people don’t trust her. Her political alliances are weak. And in the northeast of the Empire, a rebel army of constructs is gathering, its leader determined to take the throne by force.  

Yet an even greater threat is on the horizon, for the Alanga – the powerful magicians of legend – have returned to the Empire. They claim they come in peace, and Lin will need their help in order to defeat the rebels and restore peace.  

But can she trust them?

MY REVIEW

Following on from the first book, The Bone Shard Emperor follows Lin, now the Emperor as she tries to unite the Islands. Trying to break the mistrust of the last Emperor and show that she does in fact care about the people is going to be hard for Lin. She does however have Jovis by her side, someone the people look up to him and tell the songs of his smuggling days.

If you have not yet read the first book then I do highly recommend doing so before going into this book. The main characters, the basic premise for the series and of course the events all follow through to this second book.

The islands and their people are worried, some of the islands have sunk, there are rumours of constructs attacking villages and even more worrying is that mentions of the Alanga returning are starting to take hold. Governors and people of the Islands believe Lin to be like her father, the old Emperor, cruel, aloof, and never having time for them. Lin starts as she means to go on, but it is definitely an uphill battle. Return the bone shards to their owners is only part of the process, bringing unity is going to take something more.

I really enjoyed this second book, it felt similar to the previous but more detailed. I found this contained more history, background stories, and legend. The author added more details to her characters and brought the main ones more into play.

I enjoyed the way the author built on the mistrust between several characters and also on the whole within the islands. No one is quite sure how much each other can be trusted, and this adds to the intrigue of the story overall. This did feel slower, and at times I did wonder where it was going, but still very addictive. The pacing may have started a little slower, but my goodness did it speed up as it progressed.

The way the author has created the imagery within the story is fab, especially when it comes to Mephi and Thrana, the bone shard magic and of course the Alanga. Add into this as to why the islands are drowning, why the constructs are attacking and it all builds a magical fantasy empire full of secrets. It makes for an entertaining, absorbing and brilliant read full of adventure and action in the later stages. While this second book has brought Lin to the forefront and has repaired some of the trust that had been lost, there is obviously a lot more to be done.

This book is a fabulous second in the series, while it cements the characters, it also introduces new ones and adds more dimensions, questions and intrigue. This is a series I am absolutely loving and I cannot wait to see what happens next. There are so many possibilities and the author has left some tantalising hints.

If you are a fan of fantasy then this is a brilliant book, as I mentioned this is one you do really need in order. I adored everything about it and I would definitely recommend it. Addictive, magical, vivid imagery, good character development and completely addictive reading.

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She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker – Chan @panmacmillan @MantleBooks #NetGalley #historicalfantasy #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker – Chan. This is the first book in The Radiant Emperor series and ios set in China in1345. It is a reimagined story from history and I adored this a lot. My thanks to Pan Macmillan and Mantle Books for accepting my request to review this title via NetGalley.

She’ll change the world to survive her fate . . .

In Mongol-occupied imperial China, a peasant girl refuses her fate of an early death. Stealing her dead brother’s identity to survive, she rises from monk to soldier, then to rebel commander. Zhu’s pursuing the destiny her brother somehow failed to attain: greatness. But all the while, she feels Heaven is watching.

Can anyone fool Heaven indefinitely, escaping what’s written in the stars? Or can Zhu claim her own future, burn all the rules and rise as high as she can dream?

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan is a re-imagining of the rise to power of Zhu Yuanzhang. Zhu was the peasant rebel who expelled the Mongols, unified China under native rule, and became the founding Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. 

MY REVIEW

The synopsis for this book mentions how it is based on Zhu Yuanzhang, a peasant born in 1328 who led the rebels who brought the end of Mongolian rule in China. This story is a reimagining or alternative version of Zhu and the rise to power.

So how is this reimagining? A young peasant girl decides she wants to live, she doesn’t want to be nothing, she wants to be something. In fact, she wants greatness and for all to know her name. The only way this can happen is she takes on the identity of her dead brother Zhu.

Set in the 1300s this is a story that I absolutely loved. I really like the idea of a woman having the nerve to rise to power especially in a time when women have no power or status, are possession and should bear the next generation of sons. Having a character that has the temerity and the nerve to make her own way in this male-dominated world was great.

As this is a reimagining of a historical period, it means the book falls into a category of historical fantasy, and to a point yes it is fantasy but it is also fabulous reading for those who love historical fiction. AS soon as I started this book and read the first couple of sentences I knew I was going to enjoy reading it. Those opening lines were ideal for drawing me in.

As this is set in the 1300s there is a lot of turmoil in the Mongolian/ Chinese areas, under the Khanate, Mongolia wanted to extend its reach and the size of the kingdom. China was a country that has had a lot of turbulent times, Mongolian rule is just one of those times.

The author created a fabulous set of characters who all have their own desires, some more honest than others but very few I would call trustworthy. The middle ages are about power, land, resources, armies, feuds and dominance. Sides and allegiances can be swapped in a blink of an eye. Families are even worse.

I did like that the author decided to choose a female to be the main protagonist, especially when women hold such a low status in this era. I really enjoyed following the journey from peasant girl to a monk and then the story that followed.

I adored everything about this book, it was also incredibly difficult to put down once I had started it. As this is the first book in The Radiant Emporer, I will be looking forward to continuing the story of Zhu in the next book.

I liked this a huge amount and it is one I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my review, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Midnight In Everwood by M.A Kuzniar @HQstories #fantasy #MidnightInEverwood #PublicationDay #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for a gorgeous story, Midnight In Everwwod by M.A Kuzniar. Also, I would like to wish the author a very Happy Publication Day for such a wonderful book.

I virtually attended an online event and saw an interview with this author. I immediately knew that this was a book I wanted to read and so immediately popped it on my wishlist. The amazing folks at HQ Stories sent me a surprise copy through the post!

A spell-binding retelling of The Nutcracker, filled with enchanted toys, decadent balls, fierce feminine friendships and a forbidden romance. For fans of The ToymakersCaraval and The Bear and the Nightingale.

There’s nothing Marietta Stelle loves more than ballet, but after Christmas, her dreams will be over as she is obligated to take her place in Edwardian society. While she is chafing against such suffocating traditions, a mysterious man purchases the neighbouring townhouse. Dr Drosselmeier is a charming but calculating figure who wins over the rest of the Stelle family with his enchanting toys and wondrous mechanisms.

When Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate set for Marietta’s final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, she is transported to a snowy forest, where she encounters danger at every turn: ice giants, shadow goblins and the shrieking mist all lurk amidst the firs and frozen waterfalls and ice cliffs. After being rescued by the butterscotch-eyed captain of the king’s guard, she is escorted to the frozen sugar palace. At once, Marietta is enchanted by this glittering world of glamorous gowns, gingerbread houses, miniature reindeer and the most delicious confectionary.

But all is not as it seems and Marietta is soon trapped in the sumptuous palace by the sadistic King Gelum, who claims her as his own. She is confined to a gilded prison with his other pets; Dellara, whose words are as sharp as her teeth, and Pirlipata, a princess from another land. Marietta must forge an alliance with the two women to carve a way free from this sugar-coated but treacherous world and back home to follow her dreams. Yet in a hedonistic world brimming with rebellion and a forbidden romance that risks everything, such a path will never be easy.

PURCHASE LINK – Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This is a retelling of the Nutcracker story, I am always a little dubious when it comes to retellings. The story of the Nutcracker always reminds me of Christmas, especially Christmas Eve, it is a fantasy, magical fairy tale that I adore. So, did Midnight in Everwood live up to my expectations? It most definitely did!

Straight from the outset, this book felt right, Marietta is a young girl who lives a life of privilege. Her parents have allowed her to attend ballet classes, but it has been known that this will not be something that they will support her in. She is, after all, a young woman with responsibilities, who needs to marry into the right position that will allow her parents to live in the upper echelons of society.

There is a newcomer to the neighbourhood, a mysterious and enigmatic man, an inventor of toys and mechanical creations of wonder. Mr Drosselmeier is enchanted by Marietta and he wants her to become his wife. Through one of his creations, she is transported into another world, where she is trapped.

I absolutely adored everything about this story, it has a gorgeous magical feel to it with wonderful descriptions that gradually built a vivid image in my mind as I read the story. Everwood is all glittery, sugary sweet with magic. All this glamour and glitz is a front, there are whispers, rumours and hints that all is not as it should be within this wonderland. The King is tyrannical, overbearing and greedy.

The story of the Nutcracker is one I love, there are hints of the original story and I could see the inspiration in this version. If you have not read the Nutcracker, well, it really doesn’t matter as this is a retelling of the story.

The author uses Marietta so well in this version, a strong upright young woman who has dreams of a future. She does not want to be wed to someone who will dictate to her or see her as a possession. She does not want to become a pawn for her parents to rise up through the ranks of society.

This is a wonderfully magical story. It is an adult fairy tale, a fantasy and I loved it. It was everything I hoped it would be, and dare I say a bit more as well. I would very definitely recommend this one.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Map Maker’s Daughter by Caroline Dunford @verdandiweaves @SpellBoundBks @zooloo2008 #yafiction #fantasy #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Map Maker’s Daughter by Caroline Dunford. This is a Young Adult fantasy read that I really enjoyed.

My huge thanks to Zoe at Zooloo’s Book tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-cop of the book.

Sharra’s world is a terrifying place.

Violent seismic ‘Shifts’ and outbreaks of an all-consuming black fire radically alter landscapes on an increasingly frequent basis. Only the Map Makers can predict where the Shift will fall, and Sharra, daughter to one of the most famous Map Makers, yearns to join their ranks and break a cultural taboo which forbids female cartographers. Sharra’s father, Lord Milton, is one of the few to challenge the current order, but his shadowy past limits his political reach and his second wife, Lady Ivory, is determined to manipulate him to ensure a privileged future for herself and her daughter, Jayne.

The main obstacle standing in Ivory’s way is Sharra.

MY REVIEW…

This is a wonderful Young Adult Fantasy book that follows the adventures of Sharra, she is the daughter of a mapmaker. Their role is to warn the world when the earth shift. When shifts happen danger and death follow.

Sharra is not like most girls her age, she’s a bit of a tom-boy, gets into trouble and is interested in the skill of map-making. This skill isn’t just your average map-making, it is a skill that literally can move mountains. Girls and women do not possess this skill, but then Sharra’s mother had the skill so it can happen.

This is a really enjoyable fantasy story, it has some magical intrigue to it and it is easy to follow. I would say that this is more a lighter fantasy book and it would work very well for younger readers. There is enough description to keep the plotline flowing and plenty of mystery and intrigue to keep the attention. I soon found myself caught up in this book and quite unable to leave it until I had finished it.

The character of Shanna is an interesting one, she has a stepmother who is always on at her, a father who is trying his best and also the stereotype of what society expects of a young woman of her position. This gives several elements that make for interesting reading. Add into this the danger that Shanna is in from those who want to have more of a hold over the map-making skills and it makes for a good action-adventure story.

I really enjoyed this, it is a good Young Adult Fantasy that I read in one sitting, I did find it wrapped up a little quick for me, and I could have quite easily read another 50 pages or so. I also think there is the potential here for another follow on book and if that is the case I would definitely be picking that one up. This is a fantasy, coming of age type story and one I would happily recommend. 

About the Author…

Caroline lives for stories. Reading them. Telling them, Watching them. She can’t get enough of them. She can hypnotise people and she sings well in the shower. She enjoys cooking, but hates housework, and has managed to convince everyone who knows her that she doesn’t understand washing up. So much so that when friends visit some of them do it for her. Fortunately she also has a dishwasher. She always feels she didn’t make enough of her teenage years, and hopes that at least the teenagers in her books do!

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Check out the other stops on the Blog Tour…

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx