#Review: The Little Theatre by the Sea by Rosanna Ley @RosannaLey @QuercusBooks

Description

Faye has just completed her degree in interior design when she finds herself jobless and boyfriend-less. While debating what to do next she receives a surprise phone call from her old college friend Charlotte who now lives in Sardinia and is married to Italian hotelier, Fabio.

When Charlotte suggests that Faye relocate for a month to house-sit, Faye wonders if a summer break in sunny Sardinia might be the perfect way to recharge her batteries and think about her future.

But then Charlotte tells Faye that there’s something more behind the sudden invitation: her friends Marisa and Alessandro are looking for a designer to renovate a crumbling old theatre they own in the scenic village of Deriu.

The idea certainly sounds appealing to Faye, but little does she know what she’s letting herself in for if she accepts this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity . . .

Review

Faye has taken a chance and changed career directions, having been back to university to complete an interior design degree which she has just completed she is ready to get started in her new career, the only snag she has no work. Her boyfriend left her while she was studying and she is stone cold broke.

When her close friend Charlotte invites her to Sardinia to stay with her and her husband it all sounds too good to be true, so when it turns out the invite comes with strings, house sitting and consulting for some friends who are refurbishing a local theatre style strings Faye has to decide if she is ready to jump into a fire of this size.

I enjoyed the style that Rosanna Ley used to tell the story, Faye’s story being the central string with other characters taking the lead for a chapter here and there, Faye’s parents and characters within the Sardinian village as well. there was a lot of emotional drama and a mystery which slowly unravelled and romance which for me was far too slow to burn and didn’t really fulfil my need to see romance in a novel.

I didn’t really like Faye either, now I know liking a character isn’t essential for enjoying a novel, and for the most part I did enjoy this novel. But I just found Faye really immature, and hard to relate to. I despised her parents, honestly, I couldn’t understand how they got into the mess they did…communication people! I loved our Sardinian characters though, their feisty blunt approach to everything was really refreshing and I had a real soft spot for them particularly Alessandro.

Overall, an enjoyable but slightly slow read with not enough on the romantic side for my liking and a really disagreeable main character.

I have to thank Rosanna Ley and Quercus for the eARC via NetGalley so that I could read and provide my honest opinion.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Little Theatre by the Sea
Series: N/A
Author: Rosanna Ley
Genre: Contemporary Fiction | Travel | Romance | Romantic Suspense | Mystery
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: 9 March 2017
Review Format: eBook
Other FormatsHardcover | Paperback | Audio
Pages: 464
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#Review Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson @BrandSanderson @Gollancz

Description

Welcome to New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller Brandon Sanderson’s first collection of short fiction.

These wonderful works, originally published individually, have been collected for the first time and convey the true expanse of the Cosmere. Telling the exciting tales of adventure Sanderson fans have come to expect, Arcanum Unbounded include the Hugo Award-winning novella ‘The Emperor’s Soul’, an excerpt from the graphic novel ‘White Sand’, and the never-before-published Stormlight Archive novella ‘Edgedancer’.

The collection will include nine works in all:
‘Edgedancer’ (Stormlight Archive)
‘The Hope of Elantris’ (Elantris)
‘The Eleventh Metal’ (Mistborn)
‘The Emperor’s Soul’ (Elantris)
‘Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania’ (excerpt; Mistborn)
‘White Sand’ (excerpt; Taldain)
‘Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell’ (Threnody)
‘Sixth of Dusk’ (First of the Sun)
‘Mistborn: Secret History’ (Mistborn)

This superb collection also includes essays and illustrations which offer an insight into the numerous worlds in which the stories are set.

Review

Arcanum Unbounded is the first short story collection from Brandon Sanderson, centred around the Cosmere, the universe that Sanderson has built his worlds upon you get a real feel for how each world relates to each other with this book a sense of just how big his worldview is and yet how small it is as well.

These short stories take you on journies, introduce you to new characters in familiar worlds, new worlds, new magic and in some cases bring us back to familiar faces and familiar places bringing a sense of homecoming.

Each story has a small note to inform of which novels it relates to and if there are spoilers so that you can skip those stories that may be an issue. There were a couple that I skipped because I’m behind on a couple of the series but I’ve marked the stories to return to them later.

It wasn’t really a surprise that the two stories I connected with the most were linked with novels I had loved the most. Firstly The Emperor’s Soul which was an Elantris story, to this day Elantris remains my all-time favourite Sanderson novel, and The Eleventh Metal which is a Mistborn story and sees us following a favourite character.

These stories given their short length are complex and detailed, they draw you in and as you would expect from Sanderson have plenty of twists and drama. This is a definite must-have for any Sanderson fans bookshelf.

I must thank Gollancz and Brandon Sanderson for the review copy of this book so that I could provide my honest opinion.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleArcanum Unbounded
SeriesThe Stormlight Archive 2.5
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Short Stories | Anthology
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 24 November 2016
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 672
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#Review: The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams @sennydreadful @headlinepg

If you missed my review for book one in this trilogy The Ninth Rain…check it out today.

Description

 

The Ninth Rain has fallen. The Jure’lia are awake. Nothing can be the same again.

Tormalin the Oathless and the fell-witch Noon have their work cut out rallying the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for three centuries. But these are not the great winged warriors of old. Hatched too soon and with no memory of their past incarnations, these onetime defenders of Sarn can barely stop bickering, let alone face an ancient enemy who grow stronger each day.

The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists – a distant island, mysteriously connected to the fate of two legendary Eborans who disappeared long ago.

But finding it will mean a perilous journey in a time of war, while new monsters lie in wait for those left behind.

Join the heroes of THE NINTH RAIN as they battle a terrible evil, the likes of which Sarn has never known.

Review

I have been anxiously awaiting The Bitter Twins, desperately wanting to know what happens next in the story that Jen Williams so masterfully started weaving in The Ninth Rain. At the beginning of The Bitter Twins, Williams catches us up on where everybody is successfully without needing to do a recap chapter which I really like about the way she writes.

We move around the characters in this novel who are mostly separated fighting different battles, investigating different avenues, and discovering new things to help in the fight against the Jure’lia. Then of course we have Hestillion who is now with the enemy, will she fight back or will she cross over? I didn’t like her much in The Ninth Rain but her personality develops wonderfully through The Bitter Twins to become one of my favourite characters this time around.

We meet new characters, some fleeting and some more permanent members, one of those that really dug a hole into my heart Eri, an Eboran teenager, by which he was a few hundred years old, you know how those Eborans are! The way he starts in the book then integrates into the group is incredible and again a testament to Williams writing that a brand new character can become so important to you by the end of the book when there is already such a vast cast to choose from.

The existing cast are bonding with their war beasts and we definitely start to bond with them as well, they have very individual personalities of their own and their were some I loved more than others. I found myself more connected to Noon and Tor, they are a pair who need a good kick up the backside most of the time but there is something incredibly special about them and as they investigate the origins of the Eborans before the war really kicks off I had a lot of lump in throat moments.

Aldasair and Bern are so special and would make everybody coo over them in our world.  Funnily Vintage who was by far my favourite character in The Ninth Rain, irritated me in this book, I’m not sure what changed but I just didn’t connect with her this time around.

Overall, the world building continued to blow my mind, the battle scenes for the most part moved to the sky in this novel and were incredibly vivid, my brain was creating them as I was reading and it was epic. The Bitter Twins has shocking twists that leave you gasping; with love, betrayal, friendship, and The Ninth Rain war really kicking off.

A huge thanks to Jen Williams and Headline for the eARC of this book in return for my honest review.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Bitter Twins
SeriesThe Winnowing Flame Trilogy #2
Author: Jen Williams
Genre: Fantasy | Magic | Epic Fantasy | Dragons | Sword & Sorcery
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 8 March 2018
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Paperback
Pages: 624
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Most Popular Reviews 2017: The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins @MLTompkins @PenguinUKBooks @penguinusa

This week, I am sharing the five most popular reviews this year by visits to the blog. Thank you to all of you for visiting and supporting me, and the blog, but most importantly your support for all of the authors I’ve featured.

The most popular review on the blog this year is a book which swept me away into a world of history, myth and magic was The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins. I posted my review for this on 5 April and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Description

What became of magic in the world? Who needed to do away with it, and for what reasons? Drawing on myth, legend, fairy tales, and Biblical mysteries, The Last Days of Magic brilliantly imagines answers to these questions, sweeping us back to a world where humans and magical beings co-exist as they had for centuries.

Aisling, a goddess in human form, was born to rule both domains and—with her twin, Anya—unite the Celts with the powerful faeries of the Middle Kingdom. But within medieval Ireland interests are divided, and far from its shores greater forces are mustering. Both England and Rome have a stake in driving magic from the Emerald Isle. Jordan, the Vatican commander tasked with vanquishing the remnants of otherworldly creatures from a disenchanted Europe, has built a career on such plots. But increasingly he finds himself torn between duty and his desire to understand the magic that has been forbidden.

As kings prepare, exorcists gather, and divisions widen between the warring clans of Ireland, Aisling and Jordan must come to terms with powers given and withheld, while a world that can still foster magic hangs in the balance. Loyalties are tested, betrayals sown, and the coming war will have repercussions that ripple centuries later, in today’s world—and in particular for a young graduate student named Sara Hill.

The Last Days of Magic
introduces us to unforgettable characters who grapple with quests for power, human frailty, and the longing for knowledge that has been made taboo. Mark Tompkins has crafted a remarkable tale—a feat of world-building that poses astonishing and resonant answers to epic questions.

Review

The first time I read the description of this novel I knew I had to read it. My feeling that this book was for me wasn’t to be disappointed as I started reading the first few pages set in our time, an air of mystery swept over the story before Mark Tompkins took us back several thousand years to where the real story happened.

Set mainly in Ireland with some trips around Europe this story weaves magical myth, historical fact, papal legend, and pure fiction to bring together a beautiful yet heartbreaking magical fantasy about how magic left not only Ireland, the centre of all magic, but the world.

Using Goddesses, witches, fairies, vikings, kings, queens, angels, knights, mermaids/men and just about every other creature from legend you could think of without them being out of place or it feeling overcrowded Mark Tompkins has made this feel like a world full of infinite possibility under attack from people who don’t understand.

I couldn’t help but see connection between the way the church were portrayed in this book as pursuing the end of magic and the way over the years they pursued and tortured different groups for things they saw as a threat such as women they called witches, and those from other religions. I think this contrast was on purpose, it certainly wasn’t lost on me and I found many of the papal characters unnerving and in some cases quite sickening!

Our Goddesses on earth Aisling and Anya are twins and between them hold the power of the goddess all the magical creatures worship and follow. They are strong girls and will only become stronger. They each had strengths, Aisling, the fighter, Anya the bookworm and I loved the both for each of the their strengths as I could relate to both.

You know from the title of the book, it’s not going to be a happy go lucky novel. Things aren’t going to go the way you want them to and I’m almost tempted to pigeon-hole this a dark fantasy as it gets pretty grim in places. Despite this I couldn’t help feeling like there was hope, all the way through I just felt like something was going to turn around make things better.

I’m hoping beyond hope that there will be a second book as this was an astounding read. I haven’t read anything like this in, well, ever!

A huge thanks to Mark Tompkins for so kindly sending me a signed copy, I will treasure it. I also thank Penguin for the eARC to read in return for my honest review.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Last Days of Magic
Series: N/A
Author: Mark Tompkins
Genre: Fantasy | Dark Fantasy | Magic
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 1 March 2016
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 400
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Most Popular Reviews 2017: Skullsworn by Brian Staveley @BrianStaveley @UKTor

This week, I am sharing the five most popular reviews this year by visits to the blog. Thank you to all of you for visiting and supporting me, and the blog, but most importantly your support for all of the authors I’ve featured.

Today, Skullsworn by Brian Staveley is making an appearance. I posted this on 6 May and to this day thinking about it can send me into emotional turmoil. It has all of the elements I look for in a fantastic epic fantasy with the addition of a some exceptional emotion strings that just ripped me apart.

Description

For one apprentice assassin, the clock is ticking . . .

Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the description skullsworn. It doesn’t capture the beauty of her devotion to Ananshael, God of Death. And she’s not an assassin, but a priestess. Or she will be, if she can pass her final trial. The problem isn’t killing, as Pyrre has spent her life training for this. The problem is love. To pass the trial, she will have fourteen days to kill seven people detailed in an ancient song, including one true love, ‘who will not come again’. However, Pyrre has never been in love, time is short, and if she fails she’ll be given to her god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail. So a month before the trial begins, she returns to the violent city of her birth, where she once offered an abusive father to the god. Here Pyrre hopes to find love – and end it with the edge of her knife.

Review

I don’t even know where to start with this review, I don’t think a book has affected me so deeply, has got right into my heart and torn it out the way this has in years. I felt completely broken by this book by the time I finished it. Was a mess of tears trying to battle my way through the final pages not quite believing the direction the book had taken and how it was ending.

Skullsworn is a standalone novel connected to the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series, which having now read this I am deeply ashamed to have not started, and will be rectifying at the first opportunity I get. Our main protagonist is Pyrre, a trainee Priestess of Ananshael, the God of Death. These Priests and Priestess’ are known as the Skullsworn more commonly outside of their order, although Pyrre makes it very clear this is not a term of endearment in her eyes and it doesn’t fully represent just how her devotion to the Ananshael works.

She’s at the end of her training and must complete a trial to become a full Priestess, kill seven very particular types of people and nobody else within a two week window, this is not something she has an issue with, she is a trained assassin. But the final person is an issue, it is must be someone she loves, except she has never loved anyone. So travelling to the city she was born in Dombâng, with her Witnesses Kossal and Ela, she pursues the only man she has ever come close to loving in the hope she can rekindle their relationship.

Ruc Lan Lac once a professional fighter and now Leader of the Greenshirts is the man Pyrre intends to pursue and kill once she falls in love.

Now this book had the set up for everything a girl like me who loves fantasy and romance could possibly want, a beautifully in depth fantasy world with some of the best world building I’ve encountered in a long time, I could smell the different parts of the town as I read (and honestly didn’t want to some of the time, nope really didn’t want to) I could perfectly see the areas travelled to they were so perfectly described. And yet the characterisation wasn’t let down at all for this. The characters were given ample time to build their stories, with the romance element worked on the way I love although in true fantasy fashion nothing went the way I would expect it to!

Some of this book was funny, some of it was sad, some of it was heartbreaking, some of it was beautiful. There were many life lessons, some we definitely shouldn’t bring into our world! I love Ela who was the Priestess who aside from being a Witness to Pyrre was also a guide to her and she spent a lot of time talking and offering her advise much like a big sister would.

The fighting wasn’t cut down on because of the more unusual angle of the story, there was the expected amount of swordplay, blood and carnage throughout the book with it starting very early on. Pyrre accidentally triggers a rebellion with horrendous consequences in her quest to fulfil her trial which is thrilling.

I recommend this book highly, as highly as I possibly can. Now I’m still piecing myself together so I need to find those pieces of my soul if you please.

A huge thanks to Brian Staveley and Tor UK for the eARC so that I could read and honestly review this novel.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleSkullsworn
SeriesChronicle of the Unhewn Throne #0
Author: Brian Staveley
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy | Romance
Publisher: Tor UK
Publication Date: 20 April 2017
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Paperback | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 320
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#Review: Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur @kezarthur @PiatkusBooks

Description

A rare hybrid of vampire and werewolf, Riley Jenson and her twin brother, Rhoan, work for Melbourne’s Directorate of Other Races, an organisation created to police the supernatural races – and protect humans from their depredations. While Rhoan is an exalted guardian, aka assassin, Riley is merely an office worker – until her brother goes missing on one of his missions. The timing couldn’t be worse. More werewolf than vampire, Riley is vulnerable to the moon heat, the weeklong period before the full moon, when her need to mate becomes all-consuming…

Luckily Riley has two willing partners to satisfy her every need. But she will have to control her urges if she’s going to find her brother. For someone is doing some illegal cloning in an attempt to produce the ultimate warrior – by tapping into the genome of nonhumans like Rhoan. Now Riley knows just how dangerous the world is for her kind – and just how much it needs her.

Review

This has been sat on my bookshelf for so long waiting for me to read it and I finally broke the spine and read it, I’m so glad I did as well. Riley works for the Directorate of Other Races in Melbourne, she’s pretty much a pencil pusher, much to the dismay of her boss who wants her as a Guardian due to her mixed race heritage, part vampire, part werewolf. When her brother goes missing on a mission she gets pulled into the life of a Guardian and has to find out where he is and why there are people after her.

I really loved this world and Riley especially, the werewolf call to the moon, means she has multiple mates and they have different relationships with Riley and different connections to the investigation. It’s an interesting approach to the genre and I love how she holds herself and is so upfront about sex. As a Guardian she is incredible, she’s strong, clever, and despite her hesitance in taking on the role she takes it on fully without hesitation and does what she needs to to get the job done.

There are some great sub-characters in the book as well. Riley’s brother Rhoan is brilliant and very protective of his sister and Quinn a vampire who gets involved is a strong character who I hope we see more of in future books.

Looking forward to seeing where this goes with the next book in the series.

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleFull Moon Rising
SeriesRiley Jenson Guardian #1
AuthorKeri Arthur
Genre: Urban Fantasy | Paranormal Romance | Erotica
Publisher: Piatkus Books
Publication Date: 3 February 2011
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: Audio | eBook | Hardcover
Pages: 368
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#Review The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson @BrandSanderson @Gollancz

If you missed my review of Book One: The Final Empire check it out here.

Description

The impossible has happened. The Lord Ruler is dead has been vanquished. But so too is Kelsier the man who masterminded the triumph. The awesome task of rebuilding the world has been left to his protege Vin; a one-time street urchin, now the most powerful Mistborn in the land.

Worryingly for her Vin has become the focus of a new religion, a development that leaves her intensely uneasy. More worryingly still the mists have become unpredictable since the Lord Ruler died and a strage vaprous entity is stalking Vin.

As the siege of Luthadel intensifies the ancient legend of the Well of Ascension offers the only glimmer of hope. But no-one knows where it is or what it can do.

Review

Vin, Elend and the remains of Kelsier’s crew are left managing the remains of Luthadel after the events of The Final Empire this sounds simple but there are armies descending on them from all sides wanting to take control of the city in addition to weird goings on in the mists which mean this unlikely bunch have to be stronger than ever to overcome everything being sent their way.

Yet again Brandon Sanderson presents a tome with a solid epic fantasy, this is not a quick read but there is so much going on all the time that you can delve in for hours at a time. The allomantic play by the mistborns is wonderful to read, so vivid that you can see them dancing around on the page clearly, pushing and pulling bouncing around on rooftops. We meet a new mistborn in this novel, Zane, and I very much liked his character and the way he connected with Vin.

There are a lot battles in this novel, some brutal, and the way Sanderson has written them from multi-POV’s and over multiple chapters to really bring you as a reader into the depth of the battle is just how I like it. I love Sanderson’s knack of writing plenty of detail, of reeling you in so that you can see, hear, smell everything, exactly how I like to read my fantasy. The worldbuilding in these books has been stellar and I have such a perfect picture in my head of every location, every building, every outfit and every person.

I’m really looking forward to delving into the next book in this series. Lucky it’s on my bookshelf already!

Rating

Book & Buy Links

TitleThe Well of Ascension
SeriesMistborn #2
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy | Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: 10 December 2009
Review Format: Paperback
Other Formats: eBook | Hardcover | Audio
Pages: 800
Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon USWaterstones | Foyles | Book DepositorySpeedy Hen | Wordery | Audible