Review: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

POWER IS A LIGHTNING ROD FOR PERIL. AND A STORM IS BREWING.

ARRAM DRAPER IS ON THE PATH TO becoming the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial Univeristy of Carthank, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness — and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “left-over prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms.

As Arram’s education continues, he discovers a disturbing dark side of the Carthaki Empire — one that not even his powerful masters at the university can protect him from. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realises that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

Series: The Numair Chronicles 1
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Random House Childrens' Books (6th February 2018)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)

Tamora Pierce returns to the realm of Tortall with Tempests and Slaughter, the first book in The Numair Chronicles a prequel of sorts to her Wild Magic series. The book follows Arram Draper during his first year at the Imperial University of Carthak. He is one of the youngest students attending the university, but his powerful Gift places him in some very difficult classes. Being friends with Varice and Ozorne, a younger prince in the Imperial Gamily, allows Arram some protection and access to influential people within the Imperial Court, which brings its own brand of trouble. Readers of the Wild Magic series can expect the return of more than a few familiar faces.

I went into this book with high expectations. To be honest, they were probably too high. I found Tempests and Slaughter an uncomfortable read, not because of the storyline or the book itself but because I recognised a LOT of the characters and knew things that influenced my feelings. I knew going in that I would probably have this issue, but honestly I was not expecting how much it unsettled me and consequently it took me a long time to finish the book. Having said that, I did actually like reading it and I found the plot of the book interesting and I enjoyed getting to see a new side to familiar faces. Pierce also manages to sneak in a couple of surprises.

Tempests and Slaughter allows us our first real glimpse into Carthak from a resident’s point of view. The story is primarily set within the Imperial University, though we do get to explore a few other places. This is very much has a boarding school feel to it; we see Arram and his friends attend classes, deal with their teachers and other students. But we also get a glimpse of some of the members of the Imperial family, which I found quite interesting and there were definitely overtones of empire and colonialism. Carthak is a more brutal country than Tortall and it really shows in this book. I enjoyed learning a little bit more about the Gift in a more structured setting.

The book focuses Arram’s first year at the Imperial University, but Pierce weaves a few subplots throughout the story. Some of these subplots are dealt with in more detail than others, and I think that is because this is the first book in the series so Pierce is setting up for events to come. I did find it a bit frustrating, but honestly it’s also made me curious about the next book. This book also deals with the onset of puberty, and what that means for Arram. There is a lot of potentially good set-up for later books, but at the same time not a lot really happens in this book. Tempests and Slaughter was both what I was expecting and something else entirely, so I’m looking forward to what the next book will reveal.

Review: Serpentine by Laurell K. Hamilton

Serpentine by Laurell K. Hamilton (UK edition)

MY NAME IS ANITA BLAKE AND I’VE ALWAYS OVERCOME ANYTHING I’VE FACED. BUT THIS TIME, THERE’S A MONSTER THAT EVEN I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FIGHT . . .

A remote Florida island is the perfect destination for my fellow U.S. marshal and best friend Edward’s wedding. And for me, it’s a welcome break as it’s the first trip I’ve ever taken with just wereleopards Micah and Nathaniel for company. But it’s not all fun, games and bachelor parties . . .

In this tropical paradise, Micah has discovered a horrific new form of lycanthropy, one that has afflicted a single family for generations. Believed to be an ancient Greek curse, it turns human bodies into a mass of snakes.

The last thing I need is more drama, but when women start disappearing from the hotel – and worse – my own friends and lovers become the prime suspects. A strange power is afoot, a force that’s rendering those around me helpless in its thrall. I can’t face this alone and am willing to accept help from even the deadliest places – help that I will most certainly regret. If I survive at all . . .

Series: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 26
Genre: Erotica, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP (7th August 2018)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

The twenty-sixth novel in Laurell K. Hamilton’s brilliant Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, Serpentine follows Anita, Micha and Nathaniel to Florida for Edward’s wedding. Life has been busy for Anita and her beaus, so romance and even sex have been on something of a back burner. The wedding is their chance for a break in tropical paradise; only like most things in Anita’s life it’s just not that easy. Micah has discovered a horrific form of what appears to be lycanthropy. And then women start disappearing from the hotel they’re staying at.

I was really looking forward to getting my hands on this book. I know a lot of people are disappointed with the later books in the series, and whilst I can understand why I’m just really invested in the characters and actually really enjoy the reading experience. So I’ll just straight out say it – if you are looking for a more plot based story, like the early Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter books, then you are going to be disappointed. Hamilton has again gone back to focusing more on Anita’s relationships than on the plot. Having said that, there is a plot that whilst small is interesting and I wish it could have been explored more.

A lot of the drama of this novel comes from interpersonal relationships. Things are not all sunshine and roses for Anita and her family, or for her friends. Getting caught up in a case when she’s supposed to be on vacation certainly doesn’t help matters, but Anita wouldn’t be Anita if she didn’t. The case is actually rather interesting. Hamilton drops little hints about what’s going on, but although I had some guesses it wasn’t until the big reveal that I actually knew what was going on. It would have been nice if the book had been a little more case focused, but I think it does work well the way it is and it does fit in with the style of Crimson Death .

Although Serpentine is not in St. Louis we do get to meet a lot of familiar faces – there’s even a namedrop of a character from near the beginning of the series – and we are introduced to some new faces. As you can tell from the blurb, the main focus of this book is Anita, Micah and Nathaniel’s relationship. I enjoyed catching up with them. I also really liked seeing Edward and his family again – and it was nice to see how different he is in this book from when we first meet him. I wasn’t that impressed with the new faces that are working for Anita and Jean Claude. Most of them felt like you’d blink and you’d miss them, and the ones that got the longer page time just seemed a little flat to me – though to be fair this might have been because Anita is the narrator and she’s dealing with the aftermath of the events in Crimson Death. Fans of Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter will not be disappointed with Serpentine as long as they have enjoyed the more recent additions to the series.

Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (UK edition), with bookcover from Illumicrate.

ON THE DARKEST NIGHT, THE STARS STILL SHINE.

Feyre’s first Winter Solstice as High Lady is drawing near. With it will come a hard-earned rest from the work she. Rhys and their friends have done to rebuild the Night Court and the vastly changed world beyond. Yet the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows from looming. Even as her own heart heals, she finds that those dearest to her have wounds that go deeper than she knew.

AND THE SCARS OF THE PAST WILL TOUCH HER COURT IN TIMES TO COME.

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses 3.1
Genre: Fantasy, New Adult, Romance, Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: BLOOMSBURY YA (1st May 2018)
Source: Illumicrate - The Starfall Edition.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

A Court of Frost and Starlight is a companion tale set in Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses universe. It follows after the events of the third book A Court of Wings and Ruin and it is set around the Winter Solstice. It is the first Winter Solstice since Feyre became High Lady, and she is nervous about what to expect. The Night Court is rebuilding itself, but it has meant a lot of work for Feyre and her family. Despite then festive atmosphere shadows are hanging over Feyre and her family, as they try and cope after the war.

A Court of Frost and Starlight was one of the books I was most anticipating in 2018, curious about what story Maas wanted to tell. At over two hundred pages A Court of Frost and Starlight is considerably shorter than the three main novels in the series. It is therefore quite a quick read, and one I really enjoyed perhaps more because of the brevity of it. I went into the story without any real knowledge of what to expect apart from the blurb, which I think worked well. I fell straight back into the world of Prythian without feeling lost at any point.

There is, in my opinion, not a lot going on in A Court of Frost and Starlight in terms of the plot. If you are looking for something as filled with plot as the main novels of the series, then I think you will be disappointed. In the two hundred plus pages not a lot happens. But that is for me the cleverness of A Court of Frost and Starlight. Instead of plot Maas focuses on the characters; on Feyre and her family, and how they are coping with the fallout from the events in the previous books in the series now they have had time to take stock.

Seeing more of Feyre and her family and learning more about them was really interesting. I enjoyed how realistic the different ways everyone was coping were, and how the different narrators really helped to illustrate this. I also enjoyed getting to see how Feyre was settling into her role as High Lady without the threat of war looming over her. I would have liked to read more about how everyone was settling in, but even with that A Court of Frost and Starlight does feel like a complete story: Maas does a good job with leaving me wanting more, helped along by the sneak peek of the next novel at the end of the book.

Fans of Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses will not be disappointed by the addition of the companion tale A Court of Frost and Starlight. It may not add much to the overall story arc of the series in terms of plot, but it does add extra dimension to the characters and allow you to get to know them a little more. It has left me looking forward to getting my hands on the fourth book in the series, as if the hints in this book is anything to go by it will be a great read.

Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Title: Etched in Bone (The World of The Others, 1)
Author: Anne Bishop
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace (6th March2018)
Blurb:

In this thrilling and suspenseful fantasy set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Others series, an inn owner and her shape-shifting lodger find themselves enmeshed in danger and dark secrets.

Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others – vampires, shape-shifters, and even deadlier paranormal beings. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget . . .

After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns such as Vicki’s don’t have any distance from the Others, the dominant predators who rule most of theland and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what is out there watching you.

Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger , Aggie Crowe – one of the shape-shifting Others – discovers a murdered man, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the death on her, despite evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, ancient forces are roused by the disturbance in their domain. They have rules that must not be broken – and all the destructive powers of nature at their command.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

LAKE SILENCE is the first book in Anne Bishop’s new series The World of The Others, a spin-off from her brilliant The Others series. This book is set in the same world as the first series, but features new characters in a different place. This book follows the story of Vicki DeVine, a divorcee, who has taken over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. The new move was supposed to signal a new start for Vicki, but the discovery of a dead man on her property brings a lot of trouble instead.

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Review: Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

Title: Hero at the Fall (Rebel of the Sands, 2)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Genre: Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Faber and Faber (1st February 2018)
Blurb:

Once, there was a desert under siege, and no one to defend it . . .

The rebels are crushed: most are captured, burned out or dead. Except Amani, and it’s up to her to protect the survivors.

But how can one girl save a whole rebellion?

Then foreign armies begin advancing across the desert plains and the Sultan stars hunting the rebels through the streets of Izman.

Now Amani must prove that she’s not  just a  desert girl any more, that she’s learned a few tricks since then. . .

Here begins the final battle for the throne. Who will lead, who will triumph, who will live and who will die?

All heroes are mortal in the end . . .

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

HERO AT THE FALL brings Alwyn Hamilton’s fantastic Rebel of the Sands trilogy to a spectacular close. It continues the story of Amani and the Rebellion after what looks like the end of their uprising: their story is not over yet. Amani must work out how to save the rebellion, and in doing so prove that she is more than just a desert girl as the final battle for the throne begins. There is more than just the Sultan to be wary of, as foreign armies have begun advancing across the desert as the realm appears up for the picking.

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Bout of Books 24

Bout of Books 24

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 7th and runs through Sunday, January 13th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 24 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

From the Bout of Books team

Writing this post has been an interesting experience, as WordPress seems to have updated/changed the writing posts portal. It’s been interesting learning how to use it. I guess I really have been away for a long time…

This post is going to act as a permanent spot to keep track of my progress during Bout of Books 24, rather than creating a new post every day. So be sure to check back here if you want to see how I’m doing.

  • Monday Jan 7th
    • Currently Reading: Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh
    • Pages Read: 109
    • Challenges: Currently Reading (on Instagram)
  • Tuesday Jan 8th
    • Currently Reading: Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh
    • Pages Read: 164
      • Total Pages Read: 273
  • Wednesday Jan 9th
    • I didn’t do any reading today.
  • Thursday Jan 10th
    • Yeah, no reading from me today either. This is really exciting, and top content right?! 🤔
  • Friday Jan 11th
  • Saturday Jan 12th
    • Aaaand back to no reading. 😓 I did however take part in the Twitter chat, and I had lots of fun. An hour is just not enough!!!
  • Sunday Jan 13th
    • The final day. Eek. And what do you know…
    • Finished Reading: Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh
    • Pages Read: 99
      • Total Pages Read: 372

Bout of Books 24 Wrap-Up!

So Bout of Books 24 has finished. Where did the time go?! I guess I better get this wrap-up written and stop procrastinating.

Although I only read one book, I do think for me Bout of Books 24 has been a success. I did actually read 372 pages. In an ideal world I would have loved to have hit 700 pages or at least finished a second book. Archangel’s Prophecy was a really enjoyable read, and a good set up for the next book in the series – which I now have to wait for, boo!

I took part in a Twitter chat, and a couple of the Instagram challenges. I think next time, if I can take part, I want to be better at visiting other people’s blogs and leaving a comment to say hi. I was really bad at that this time. Normally I manage to leave a couple of comments a day, or maybe every couple of days, but this time I did not visist any blogs at all.

Thank you to everyone who reads this far, and who has stayed with me for this journey. 😘

2019

I can’t believe it’s 2019 already! 2018 just seemed to fly by. 2018 was not a good year for reading for me. I completely failed my reading goal – I didn’t even make it half way to my goal of reading 52 books. I also stopped posting on here. Sorry about that. I don’t even really have an excuse, except that reading just wasn’t happening for me. Still, I hope you had a better 2018 reading-wise than I did and that you managed to reach your reading goals. So we’re now in the first month of 2019, and I am back and determined to keep on track. Thank you to everyone who has stayed with me, I really appreciate it.

Jan In Books

#JanInBooks19

 

Bout of Books 24

So what do you have to look forward to? Well nothing is set in stone yet, but there will be reviews from me this month for Serpentine by Laurell K. Hamilton and A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas. I’m also planning on taking part in Bout of Books, which starts on January 7th (you can sign up to take part yourself here). In February I will be taking part in the London Bookshop Crawl and I will of course be documenting that (click here if you think you’d like to take part too). On Instagram I’m taking part in bookisglee’s photo-a-day challenge (you can find me here). I’m still subscribed to Illumicrate so there will be unboxings of that. I am also considering doing a monthly Books I’m Looking Forward To post that would include both new releases and books I’ve already got, but we shall see.

Here’s to reaching 52 books this year, and keeping up here on the blog. I hope you had a great December, and saw 2019 in in the style of your choosing. I’d love to know what you are most looking forward to this year, bookish or otherwise, so please leave me a comment. Until next time.

Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

Title: Burn Bright (Alpha and Omega, 5)
Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit (8th March 2018)
Blurb:

NO. 1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER PATRICIA BRIGGS RETURNS WITH A THRILLING NEW ADVENTURE IN HER ALPHA AND OMEGA SERIES.

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana.

Mated werewolves Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the moutainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf – but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn . . .

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

BURN BRIGHT is the fifth book in Patricia Brigg’s brilliant Alpha & Omega series, a spin-off from her fantastic Mercy Thompson series. As I’m sure you can tell, I’m something of a fan of this world. In BURN BRIGHT Charles and Anna are in Aspen Creek, Montana covering for Bran who is busy with business elsewhere. Whilst they are there they receive an urgent call for help from the fae mate of a werewolf too damaged to live safely amongst other werewolves. They head out to help, but ultimately cannot stop blood being spilled. The only recourse they have left is to track down those who dared to harm ones under the Marrok’s protection.

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Review: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Title: The Waking Land (The Waking Land, 1)
Author: Callie Bates
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (29th June 2017)
Blurb:

It’s been fourteen years, since King Antoine took Elanna hostage. Fourteen years since her father’s rebellion failed. Fourteen years spent being raised by the man who condemned her people to misery. A man she’s come to love as a father.

Now 20, Elanna is about to be taken prisoner once again… but this time by her father’s mysterious righthand man.

Her father wants to reignite his rebellion, this time using Elanna as figurehead. He will tell his followers she is the legendary Wildegarde reborn, a sorceress who could make the very earth tremble.

But what no one knows is that magic really does flow through Elanna’s veins. Now she must decide which side she’s on, and whether she’ll use her powers for mercy… or revenge.

– blurb from Amazon.co.uk

Rating:⭐️ ⭐️ (2 stars)
Review:

THE WAKING LAND is Callie Bates’s debut novel. It tells the story of Lady Elanna Valtai who has lived in the court of King Antoine for fourteen years; a hostage in a foreign court because of her father’s failed rebellion. Elanna knows she does not belong in King Antoine’s Court, but at the same time it is the world she has known for most of her life and she wants nothing to do with her father. Still, rebellion is in the air and when events come to a head Elanna finds herself in the middle of them. Torn between two worlds Elanna must choose which path to follow forward.

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Review: Ocean Light by Nalini Singh

Ocean Light by Nalini Singh

Title: Ocean Light (A Psy-Changeling Trinity Novel, 2)
Author: Nalini Singh
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Gollancz (14th June 2018)
Blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh dives beneath the surface of her Psy-Changeling world into a story of passionate devotion and selfless love . . .

Security specialist Bowen Knight has come back from the dead. But there’s a ticking time bomb in his head: a chip implanted to block telepathic interference that could fail at any moment – taking his brain along with it. With no time to waste, he should be back on land helping the Human Alliance. Instead, he’s at the bottom of the ocean, consumed with an enigmatic changeling . . .

Kaia Luna may have traded in science for being a chef, but she won’t hide the facts of Bo’s condition from him or herself. She’s suffered too much loss in her life to fall prey to the dangerous charm of a human who is a dead man walking. And she carries a devastating secret that Bo could never imagine . . .

But when Kaia is taken by those who mean her deadly harm, all bets are off. Bo will do anything to get her back – even if it means striking a devil’s bargain and giving up his mind to the enemy.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

OCEAN LIGHT is the second book in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling Trinity series; a continuation of her brilliant Psy-Changeling series. At just over four hundred pages, it is slightly smaller than the first book in the series. OCEAN LIGHT tells the story of Kaia Luna, a woman who chose to leave a scientific career and become a chef, and Bowen Knight, a security specialist in the Human Alliance who fans of the series may be familiar with. Their paths cross whilst Bowden is recovering from his brush with death hidden at the bottom of the ocean, and even with all that is against them sparks soon fly.

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