Of Charms,Ghosts and Grievances by Aliette De Bodard- Book review

Here is my review of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances , an epic fantasy Aliette De Boddard set in the world of the Dominion of the Fallen.

It was supposed to be a holiday, with nothing more challenging than babysitting, navigating familial politics and arguing about the proper way to brew tea.
But when dragon prince Thuan and his ruthless husband Asmodeus find a corpse in a ruined shrine and a hungry ghost who is the only witness to the crime, their holiday goes from restful to high-pressure. Someone is trying to silence the ghost and everyone involved. Asmodeus wants revenge for the murder; Thuan would like everyone, including Asmodeus, to stay alive.
Chased by bloodthirsty paper charms and struggling to protect their family, Thuan and Asmodeus are going to need all the allies they can—and, as the cracks in their relationship widen, they’ll have to face the scariest challenge of all: how to bring together their two vastly different ideas of their future…A heartwarming standalone book set in a world of dark intrigue.

Review

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

This novella was an enjoyable read with an intriguing ghost story, charming leads and quirky side characters. The plot races along with a satisfying end.

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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.

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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.

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Dead in the Water by Mark Ellis – Book review/Blog Tour

I’m so pleased to be part of the Midas #blogtour for Dead in the Water by Mark Ellis historical crime set in 1942 London.

The Second World War rages on but Britain now faces the Nazi threat with America at its side. In a bombed-out London swarming with gangsters and spies, DCI Frank Merlin continues his battle against rampant wartime crime. A mangled body is found in the Thames just as some items of priceless art go mysteriously missing. What sinister connection links the two? Merlin and his team follow a twisting trail of secrets as they investigate a baffling and deadly puzzle.

Review

I love reading historical fiction but I don’t really read a lot of crime fiction set in World war 2 but after reading  Dead in the  Water by Mark Ellis, I think I will read more( luckily Dead in the Water is part of a series featuring  DCI Frank Merlin).

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The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdula – Book review

I loved this middle eastern inspired fantasy with a plenty of intrigue, magic and lovely little stories scattered through the book- read my review of The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdulla

Genre: Fantasy

Source: NetGalley, Little Brown UK

Series: Book One of the Sandsea trilogy

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

REVIEW

I really enjoyed this middle-eastern, one thousand and one nights inspired fantasy with its beautiful world-building, conflicted characters, magical jinn’s and lovely, little stories scattered through the book.

The story is told from the points of view of Loulie, a merchant dealing with magical relics, Aisha, a battle-weary member of the King’s thieves, and Prince Mazlen, the naïve prince who loves stories. While they have to work together on a quest to find a magical lamp for the Sultan, their motives for undertaking the quest are contradictory (and selfish) which of course leads to lots of fun and peril.

The magical system while not unique is beautifully described for example a description of a tree bearing glass fruit that crunch in your mouth but dissolve into sweetness- something I would love to try. The world-building is fresh with the sinking sands of Sandsea being my favourite

Loulie, Matzen and Aisha are well-rounded and realistic characters and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them with every setback and peril they encountered. The relationship between Qadir and Louie was one of the highlights of the book- sweet and supportive.

I enjoyed the blurring between black and white- there is a lot of grey in this book. Are the Jinn truly evil or are Humans just as bad? Even the villains are sympathetically drawn ( but still evil!).

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series and discover more about the world of Sandsea.

Perfect for fans

Who enjoy fantasy set in a middle-eastern setting.

Mercury Rising by R.W.W Greene -Book review/Blog Tour

I’m so pleased to be part of the blog tour for Mercury Rising by R.W.W Greene. I enjoyed this character focussed science-fiction with an intriguing alternate history where Earth is more technologically advanced and facing an alien threat.

Genre: Science Fiction/alternate history

Source; NetGalley

In an alternate history, earth’s space technology is much more advanced with the Oppenheimer Atomic Engine. Aliens from Venus destroyed cities in the USA and the USSR but Eagle seven and their Russian equivalent manage to stop them from invading Earth. Eighteen years later in 1975, Brooklyn ends up serving in Earth Orbital Forces (EOF) to avoid going to prison and despite his best efforts ends up in spaceships and space battles with a whole load of strange people.

Review

Can I just say how much I loved the opening chapter? The first chapter could be a short story in itself -from the initial tense standoff between the aliens and Earth to the epic space battles to Jet’s (an astronaut) final sacrifice to save Earth.

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

This is a book of many, distinct parts that all fit together at the end to form a complete story. Some parts may seem a little out of place (and I must admit I wasn’t sure why these chapters were there) but these small details made sense by the end of the book.The author creates an interesting world both on Earth where Nixon has been re-elected following an alien attack on Cleveland and in space where there are space colonies with hotels and spaceships manned by a gay crew.

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The Poppy Wars by R F Kuang- Book review

Time to #beatthebacklog and this time it’s the epic fantasy The Poppy Wars by R F Kuang. Here is my review

When Rin aced the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south .Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second and a Third Poppy War is just a spark away. Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity and that it may already be too late. 

Review

The Poppy Wars by R. F Kuang has been on my kindle for a while now and I have to admit the size of the book was a little daunting. But it was finally time to tackle this through the beat the backlog challenge.

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Elizabeth OF York -Alison Weir- Blog tour/Book review

I’m so pleased to be part of the Random Things Tours for Elizabeth of York by Alison Weir , historical fiction set in the War of the Roses following the life of Elizabeth, The Last White Rose.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Tudor Rose Trilogy

Source: Received with thanks from Headline publishers and Random Things Tours

An English Princess, born into a war between two families. Eldest daughter of the royal House of York, Elizabeth dreams of a crown to call her own. But when her beloved father, King Edward, dies suddenly, her destiny is rewritten. Her family’s enemies close in. Two young princes are murdered in the Tower. Then her uncle seizes power – and vows to make Elizabeth his queen. But another claimant seeks the throne, the upstart son of the rival royal House of Lancaster. Marriage to this Henry Tudor would unite the white rose of York and the red of Lancaster – and change everything. A great new age awaits. Now Elizabeth must choose her allies – and husband – wisely, and fight for her right to rule.

Review

I always enjoy readings books set during The War of the Roses, an English civil war between the House of York and The House of Lancaster and have read so many. So, I was pleased to be part of the tour for Elizabeth of York: The Last White Rose, one of the key but rarely heard who influenced the course of history.

Would that I had been born a boy,’ Elizabeth sighed. ‘Although, if I had, I would likely be dead!

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Seven Devils by Elizabeth May and Laura Lam- book review

Here is my review of Seven Devils by Elizabeth May and Laura May fast paced space-opera dominated by a motley crew of women trying to bring down an empire in a star wars kind of way.

Genre: Science Fiction/space opera

Series: Seven Devils book 1

Source: My own

Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission,  Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated.
When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings.
Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy. If they can’t, millions may die.

Review

Seven Devils by May and Lam has been on my TBR list for a while now- I loved the idea of a female-only crew taking down an evil empire in a star wars kind of way and the book was a fun, entertaining read.

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Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings- Book review

I loved this space opera with a touch of time travel with strong Firefly vibes. Here is my review of Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings.

Genre: science- fiction/space opera

Publication date: 12 May 2022

Source: Thank you Jess Gofton at Rebellion Publishing

Blurb

Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven’s freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space, with little chance of rescue—until they encounter the research vessel Gallion, which claims to be from 152 years in the future.
The Gallion‘s chief engineer Uma Ozakka has always been fascinated with the past, especially the tale of the Fortunate Five, who ended the war with the Felen. When the Gallion rescues a run-down junk freighter, Ozakka is shocked to recognize the Five’s legendary ship—and the Five’s famed leader, Eldric Leesongronski, among the crew.
But nothing else about Leesongronski and his crewmates seems to match up with the historical record. With their ships running out of power in the rift, more than the lives of both crews may be at stake.

Review

I just had to read this book after I saw the cover- I haven’t seen many space-opera book covers in pastel and light colours and this cover is just pretty. Yes,I judged a book by its cover.

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