Beat the Backlog June

I joined the beat the backlog challenge created by owlbesatreading to deal with my unread kindle books neglected for years. But instead of posting individual reviews, here is my end of month summary. Unfortunately, I only managed two and ended up buying three.

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

Why did I get the book: 

I bought this after I enjoyed reading the second book of the Ambha series,Realm of Ash

How long has this been on my Kindle? : 2019

Review

Read my full review here

A one line summary

Indian and Mughal inspired epic fantasy romance

Do I kick myself for not reading this sooner?

Yes, I enjoyed this despite the romance!

The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso

Why did I get the book:  an Amazon 99p deal and I love fantasy

How long has this been on my Kindle? : Not that long compared to some- 2019

Review

A typical fantasy featuring a young woman with a deadly power battling a deadly enemy with deadly allies and political shenanigans. There is some great world-building and I loved that women and men rule equally without any drama

Do I kick myself for not reading this sooner?

No. I don’t think I will be reading the rest of the books in this series .

Top Ten Tuesday- Books on my summer TBR list

It’s another Tuesday and another Top Ten Tuesday. This time it’s Top Ten Books on  my summer TBR list.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

It’s another TBR list, my favourite TTT. So in no particular order here are the Top Ten Book I want to read this summer.

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday- Books on my summer TBR list”

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri – book review

That’s another book off my #beatmybacklog challenge. I really enjoyed this Mughal inspired fantasy.Here is my review of Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri, the first book of Ambha.

A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.
The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.
When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda
Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…

Review

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri has been sitting on my kindle for about 2 years now. I bought this after I enjoyed reading the second book of the Ambha series,Realm of Ash.

 Mehr  is the point of view character who struggles with her mixed heritage – a complicated blend of Ambhan ( conservative and traditional) amd Amrithi ( magical and free) . She has managed to blend in polite Ambhan society until she finds she has the ability to use dreamfire and attracts the attention of the Maha and his devoted mystics.

I loved the Indian and Mughal inspired world with vivid descriptions of the noble houses, the separation of men and women, the mystics and the dances Mehr and her husband are forced to do ( based on a classical Indian dance Bharatanatyam ). The conflict between the Emperor’s persecution and discrimination against the Amrithi and his need for the Amrithi’s magic to keep his people safe was fascinating.

I enjoyed Mehr battle with the Mystics and the ways she tried to rebel against the Maha. It was realistic as Mehr has to use her intelligence and not her magic to do this.

I’m not a big fan of romance, so the passionate romance between Mehr and her arranged marriage husband felt a like it had to be there as part of the genre. But that could be just me.

Perfect for fans of

The Jasmine Throne, or any who enjoys fantasy in non-European worlds

The Burning God by RF Kuang – book review

I’ve finished the Burning Gods by KF Kuang, the military, historical fantasy set and I have to admit I’m not sure how I feel. Here is my review

Review

I read the first two books in the Poppy wars trilogy as part of the beat the backlog challenge and then bought the balls to the backlog book, The Burning God by RF Kuang to find out how it all ends.

Read more

At the end of the Dragon Republic, Rin is betrayed ( yet again) – this time by Nezha her enemy turned friend and now enemy again. She has had a hand amputated but she can still call fire through her anchor Kitay. Rin realises the only way to defeat the North is to lead the South who have also suffered at the hands of the North, the Muganese and Hesperians. In fact, the villages in the south have been left to suffer at the hands of the Muganese by the dragon republic. So Rin joins forces with the warlords of the South.

But this is Rin and as soon as she wins a battle she is betrayed again and left with no fire or Kitay, so joins forces with another group of people and is disappointed again and so joins another group and so on.

And this is where my problem lies. This book remains beautifully detailed in its description of military warfare, shamanism, the suffering caused by war on normal people, the magic etc. But Rin just doesn’t seem to grow on me as a character. She remains angry, impulsive, and distrusting of her close friends but is so easily betrayed by so many people.

The book remains dark in its theme and sometimes goes on a little about some of the more gruesome aspects ( I’m so tired of hearing how Daji sent an enemy dumpings made out of the meat of their son- why?) and I really hope this is not something that happens a lot in real wars. I did google the inspiration for this series ( and I would recommend this) and the book does reflect a turbulent period in China’s history. Reading how the history that inspired the book made the story a little easier to understand and accept.

I wasn’t sure about the ending but after reading the historical context it made a lot more sense and be prepared- it is heartbreaking in so many ways.

Perfect for Fans of

Grimdark fantasy like Game of Thrones or anyone who would like to read epic fantasy in a non-European setting.

Content Warning

Rape, drug addiction, physical abuse, sexual assault, forced medical experimentation, racism , cannibalism 

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book Three in The Poppy wars

Source: My own

Continue reading “The Burning God by RF Kuang – book review”

The Splendid City by Karen Hueller -Book review

Here is my review of this urban fantasy which has a huge dose of satire and a talking cat. Thank you #NetGalley and angry robot for my copy of The Splendid  City by Karen Hueller.

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Source: NetGalley and Angry Robot

In the state of Liberty, water is rationed at alarming prices, free speech is hardly without a cost, and Texas has just declared itself its own country. In this society, paranoia is well-suited because eyes and ears are all around, and they are judging. Always judging. This terrifying (and yet somehow vaguely familiar) terrain is explored via Eleanor – a young woman eagerly learning about the gifts of her magic through the support of her coven.
But being a white witch is not as easy as they portray it in the books, and she’s already been placed under ‘house arrest’ with a letch named Stan, a co-worker who wronged her in the past and now exists in the form of a cat. A talking cat who loves craft beers, picket lines, and duping and ‘shooting’ people.
Eleanor has no time for Stan and his shenanigans, because she finds herself helping another coven locate a missing witch which she thinks is mysteriously linked to the shortage of water in Liberty.

Review

I received a copy of this book for a free and unbiased opinion.

This book was not what I expected but in a fun and interesting way.

I thought this would be straightforward urban fantasy featuring an underlying mystery that would be solved by the end of the book by the protagonist. But this book was so much more. My own perhaps inaccurate description would be a blend of urban fantasy, satire with feminist slant but with a dose of surreal humour.

Continue reading “The Splendid City by Karen Hueller -Book review”

Through the Water Darkly by Victoria L Short – Book tour and blog tour

I’m so pleased to be part of the @RandonTTours #blogtour for Through the Water Darkly by Victoria L Short- a time-slip romance fantasy..

Caroline Curtis is an avid horticulturalist, who is injured during the restoration of a local country estate. She wakes in a familiar body, but a different time, and with mixed memories of her twenty-first century life and those of a seventeenth century lady, which causes difficult conflicts not only in herself but the people around her.The first English civil war is over, and the king deposed. The Prince of Wales is fleeing the country, and, as Caroline fights to change the future of the man with whom she has fallen in love, she begins to realise that time is not a straight line.

Review

I enjoy a good time-slip novel and when you throw some romance, action, peril and history and Through The Water Darkly by Victoria Short has become one of my favourite reads of the year.

I received a copy of this book for a free and unbiased opinion

Caroline is the first-person narrator and the woman who finds herself thrown into the body of Lady Carolina with all her memories in the turbulent times of the English Civil War. Caroline has to deal with the realities of life in the 17th Century, politics, court intrigue and the lack of women’s rights. Caroline is a realistic heroine, a woman struggling to survive in a different time and the conflict between her missing the advantages of modern life and her appreciation of the unspoilt beauty of life in the past forms was the best part of the story.

She meets Nicholas, a Royalist, who she has to marry but to who she feels connected to body and soul. But both Nicholas and Caroline are pawns in someone’s overall plan to separate their souls through time.

I enjoyed the little details about the food, clothes and life in the 17th century ( my favourite is the use of linen to line copper baths).

I would have liked to have learned more about the powers that seem to be controlling time and have the power to throw Caroline through time. But hopefully, we will learn more in the next book( which I can’t wait to read).

Perfect for fans of

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Saxon’s Bane by Geoffrey Gudgion.

Content warning

References to sexual assault and domestic violence

About Victoria L Short
I’m a mother to two teenagers and since moving from London the Suffolk five years ago I found I
had some spare time, so I started to write. I wrote a little novella Our story coming home, which
being my first I tend to cringe lol. Then in 2018 I re-produce my late grandfather WW2 log book,
A Stoker Logs, HMS Whelp, The Forgotten British Pacific Fleet. my grandfather served as a
stoker on HMS Whelp, alongside Prince Phillip as the ships second in command. My latest novel
is an 80k romance time-slip called Through the water, Darkly which I super proud of. In-between
writing and running a household I work in the film industry doing hair, makeup and wardrobe.

A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari- Book review

I enjoyed this murder mystery featuring a mystery solving botanist in the swinging twenties. Here is my review of A Botanists Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

Genre: Historical fiction/ historical crime

Series: Saffron Everleigh Mysteries

Publication Date :June 2022

Source: Thank you  NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books

London, 1923. Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh attends a dinner party for the University College of London. While she expects to engage in conversations about the university’s large expedition to the Amazon,  one of the professors’ wives to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin.
Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition’s departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor’s name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.
Joined by Alexander Ashton, a fellow researcher, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons. Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list?

Review

I was pleased to be approved for a copy of this murder mystery for a free, unbiased and honest opinion. 

 Saffron aspires to run her own study but this isn’t likely to happen in 1920s London, no matter how hard she tries. So when her only champion and mentor is accused of attempted murder she has no choice but to solve the crime with her knowledge of plants.

Continue reading “A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari- Book review”

The Hourglass Throne by K D Edwards – Book review

I’m still wrecked by that ending in The Hourglass Throne by K D Edwards- the third book in the Urban Fantasy series The Tarot Sequence. Here is my review

A powerful barrier appears around New Atlantis’s famed rejuvenation centre. But who could have created such formidable magic . . . what do they want from the immortality clinic . . . and what remains of the dozens trapped inside?
Though Rune and Brand are tasked with investigating the mysterious barrier, Rune is also busy settling into his new life at court. Claiming his father’s throne has thrown him into the precarious world of political deception, and he must secure relationships with allies in time to keep his  found family safe. His relationship with his lover, Addam, raises additional political complications they must navigate. But he and Brand  discover that the power behind the barrier holds more insidious, far-reaching threat to his family, to his people, and to the world.
Rune finds himself inexorably drawn back to the fall of his father’s court and his own torture at the hands of masked conspirators, the secrets that he has long guarded will be dragged into the light—changing the Sun Throne, and New Atlantis, forever.

Review

This review contains spoilers for the Last Sun and The Hanged Man, There are also spoilers for The Hourglass Throne but these will appear below the heading ‘spoilers’.

The Hourglass Throne is the perfect end to the first trilogy in the nine-book urban fantasy series, The Tarot Sequence series review here, by K D Edwards and there are enough threads to continue Rune’s story.

Continue reading “The Hourglass Throne by K D Edwards – Book review”

Son of Shadow by John Lenahan – Book review and Blog tour

I’m so pleased be part of the Write Reads Tours for Son of Shadow by John Lehanan- I enjoyed this YA fantasy set in the world of Shadowmagic.

A world of faeries, leprechauns and dragons – and magic fuelled by the blood of trees. A mystery portal to the Real World. And a pair of curious young adventurers who know they shouldn’t step through it…
Meet Fergal the Second, nicknamed ‘two’. Or ‘Doe’, in his own language. He can do magic. But, for the moment, he’s forgotten where he’s from. Or what’s happened to his blind friend Ruby. He’s actually from Tir na Nog, the enchanted world of Shadowmagic, where a new generation of the royal House of Duir are cheeking their parents, preparing for adulthood and itching to see the Real World for themselves – whatever the peril. 

Review

I really enjoyed this Young Adult Fantasy -Son of Shadow by John Lenahan is one of my favourite reads this year. The added bonus ( for me anyway) is the fact this was written by the man who was the voice of the Toaster in Red Dwarf ( which deserves its own review).

I received a copy of this book for a free and unbiased opinion

 I didn’t realise this book follows on from The Shadowmagic Trilogy when I started reading this, but this made no difference to my enjoyment. This book can be read without having read any of the previous books ( but I will be adding this to my ever-expanding list of books.

I enjoy books with portals and parallel worlds, and Doe’s reactions to our world and his interactions with people in this world was hilarious. The world-building in Tir na Nog was just as interesting with its sentient trees, were dragons, politics and magic.

The book is told in the first person from Doe’s point of view and his voice had the right amout of humour and snark.

The story has a quest and a rescue at its heart but is made complicated by the fact Doe the rescuer has lost his memory. There is plenty of action and magic for the most ardent of fans. The women and girls in this story are just as strong and magical as the men ( and much scarier). I would have liked to have read more about the villains in the book ( and the ultimate baddie) but hopefully, this will be covered in the next books.

The main story is resolved but the next book is perfectly set up at the end and I can’t wait to read the second part of this trilogy.

Content warning

Abduction

Perfect for Fans

Anyone who loves clean, action-driven fantasy.

About the author

John Lenahan is a popular TV magician who toured with Jack Dee, Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood. He starred on a prime time BBC1 TV show, had his own BBC2 series, and was the voice of the toaster in ‘Red Dwarf’.