Review: Nemesis by Rory Clements

Nemesis by Rory Clements (UK edition)

In a great English house, a young woman offers herself to one of the most powerful and influential figures in the land – but this is no ordinary seduction. She plans to ensure his death . . .

On holiday in France, Professir Tom Wilde discovers his brilliant student Marcus Marfield, who disappeared two years earlier to fight in Spain, imprisoned in a camp near the Pyrenees. Wilde secures his release just as German tanks roll into Poland.

Meanwhile, a U-boat sinks the liner Athenia in the Atlantic. Many – including Americans – are drowned. The Nazis claim Churchill blew up the ship to blame Germany and lure America into the war.

As the various strands of an international conspiracy begin to unwind, Tom Wilde will find himself in great personal danger. For just who is Marcus Marfield? And where does his loyalty lie?

Series: Tom Wilde, 3
Genre: Crime, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Zaffre (24th January 2019)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

Nemesis is the third book in Rory Clements fantastic Tom Wilde series. I hadn’t realised this book was out until I stumbled across it during the London Bookshop Crawl back in January. The story begins with Tom Wilde on holiday in France, where he discovers an old student of his imprisoned in a camp near the Pyrenees.  Of course Wilde cannot leave him there, so he cuts his holiday short to return with his ex-student back to England just as things start to gear up for war. With the war looming ever closer on the horizon, Wilde starts to ask some very important questions.

I have been looking forward to devouring this book since I saw it on the shelf, and Mr Clements did not disappoint me. This book was everything I have come to expect from one of his novels in the Tom Wilde series. The tenseness of the read is definitely helped by the dates, as you know as the reader that World War II is looming ever closer despite the characters hopes that it will not come to pass. Nemesis is a quick read, and easy to devour even without having re-read the previous two books in a while.

I really enjoyed the way Clements built the tension of the coming war, the way we as a reader could see it start to creep into life at Cambridge. I also appreciated the way Clements uses Wilde’s dual nationality to highlight the different thoughts and attitudes between the UK and US at the time. It was really interesting. Although it wasn’t a main feature of this book, I really like how the relationship between Tom and Lydia is written.  And of course I enjoyed the return of a few familiar faces; it was nice to find out what had happened to them since the events of Nucleus.

There are three main threads to this story, all of which are closely interwoven: Tom and Lydia’s relationship, the mysterious Mr Marfield, and the looming war. As always in this series, Clements is a fantastic storyteller. He does a great job of entwining the narratives, and at the same time bringing alive the tension of the approaching war and all the questions that brings. As with previous books in this series, I enjoy the way Clements intermingles fact and fiction. The story’s conclusion is well done and very realistic. I’m curious to see where Mr Clements goes with future books in this series.

Review: The Golden Tower by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

The Golden Tower by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

ALL GOOD MAGICIANS COME TO AN END.

Callum Hunt has been both a hero and an outcast.

Now starting his final year at the Magisterium, Call is desperate to find his place at the school, win his friends back, and prove he is a force for good.

But he soon comes face to face with an old enemy, transformed into a being of terrible evil. It must be stopped, and the Magisterium needs Callum’s help.

It is a mission that could save him, or destroy him . . .

Series: Magisterium 5
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Sword & Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Corgi Books (13th September 2018)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)

The Golden Tower is the final book in Holly Black and Cassandra Clare’s Magisterium series. This book concludes the story that started in The Iron Trial, when Callum Hunt was first introduced to magic. It’s Callum’s final year at the Magisterium, and a lot has happened to him and his friends since he started at the school. In this book Callum discovers that an old enemy has returned transformed into a terrible evil, one who is determined to make Call pay. Call is determined to prove that he is a force for good, so when the Magisterium asks him for help he says yes.

It was interesting to return to the world of the Magisterium, to Call and his friends.  The Golden Tower is a good read, and I think fans of the series will enjoy its conclusion, but it just wasn’t a book that really called to me. Don’t get me wrong, the story is appealing and I was curious about how Black and Clare were going to end things. I just wasn’t wowed. There was no real magic, or surprises and it just kind of felt too neat. It’s a good solid read, and it ties-up all the loose ends in the series.

I don’t want to damn The Golden Tower with faint praise. I honestly do think that readers who have followed this series to its conclusion will enjoy this book. They’ll enjoy following Call to the conclusion of his journey, and seeing how far he’s come from the boy first introduced in The Iron Trial: at heart he’s still that same boy, but he’s matured. The plot of the book is very well thought out, and the book is very readable. Once you’ve found your rhythm reading, it’s a very easy story to fall into and enjoy.

I have enjoyed this series, and if you aren’t looking for anything particularly complicated then I think you will too. The Golden Tower is a good solid end to the Magisterium – it dots the i’s and crosses the t’s. And there is nothing wrong with the uncomplicated nature of this book. There are also definitely parallels with the Harry Potter series, and readers of one series will enjoy the other – though I don’t think the Magisterium matures the way the Harry Potter series does in later books. It’s a little sad to say goodbye to everyone, but The Golden Tower brings things to a good conclusion.

* It was only as I collected all the details for this post that I realised I hadn’t read the fourth book in the series, but honestly I did not notice a gap between the end of book three and the start of this one. I won’t be going back and reading the fourth book, but I just wanted to put this here in case anyone was looking for my thoughts on the fourth book.

Illumicrate Unboxing #17: The Final Frontier (May 2019)

This Illumicrate marks the final box of my three month subscription. I mentioned in the February unboxing that Illumicrate had changed how they worked, as well as how much they cost and that I would use the March, April and May boxes to decide if I was going to continue with my subscription. I will be talk about what I am going to do going forward at the end of this post, so let’s dive straight into the unboxing.

Unlike the April box, this month’s arrived on time. That’s why there’s not much of a gap between the two unboxings. I will say I do miss the yellow shredded paper that used to appear in the white box, it was a nice pop of colour. This brown screwed up paper, whilst great at making sure items survive in the post, is not the prettiest thing I have seen.

The contents of The Final Frontier (May 2019) Illumicrate box.

This month’s box contained five specially curated items, the featured book, a collectable magnetic coin, and two samplers. First up this month is the LUNAR CHRONICLES COOLER BAG designed by @po_jainter which would be great for keeping snacks cool for a mini picnic when you read outside. Next up is the ILLUMINAE PILLOWCASE the illustration was designed by @alice_duke and the quote was designed by @chattynora. Both designs look super cute and fun (I’ve only included the illustration in the photo) but I don’t think the pillowcase itself is cotton, which is a little disappointing. Then there is the HOWLER LUGGAGE TAG designed by @fableandblack which would stand out on bags if you do a lot of travelling, though I’m not sure how practical it would be. Next there’s the SQUAD 312 POUCH designed by @iparwing which I think looks super fun. The final specially curated item is the SPACE STICKY NOTES designed by @fableandblack which are super cute. The book of the month is AURORA RISING by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. It has an exclusive cover, pink sprayed edges, and it’s signed by both the authors. It also comes with a letter from them. This month’s magnetic coin is designed by @monolimeart and is of Kady Grant from The Illuminae Files. The final two items, the samplers, are for Emily Eternal by M. G. Wheaton (which was published on April 23rd) and The Furies by Katie Lowe (which was published on May 2nd).

In all honesty I think this is the end of the road for me with Illumicrate. This box, and the March and April ones, haven’t convinced me that the change in price and the increased amount of boxes are worth it. There have been some items in the previous three boxes that I have really liked, but most of them have just been ok and I can’t justify paying £31.35 a month for a box where I’m not excited by at least most of the items. I’m really sad to bring my subscription to an end, but that’s how it’s going to be. I hope you’ve enjoyed the unboxings and if you have any recommendation for book subscription boxes that could replace my Illumicrate subscription then please leave them below. They would be much appreciated.

Thanks for reading this so far. Until next time.

Review: Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Y’all . . . I might not be ready for this. I may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and a very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It’s nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia. First of all? There’s checking. And then, there’s Jack.
. . . You see the problem.

Series: Check, Please! 1
Genre: Contemporary, Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Publisher: First Second (1st September 2018)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)

I was really looking forward to getting hold of a copy of Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu since I discovered that the webcomic I’d browsed briefly on Tumblr was getting published. Hockey really isn’t a sport I know a lot about, or have even watched, but Ukazu’s story of hockey and baking really drew me in. The story follows Bitty a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team who is a former junior figure skating champion, an amateur baker and a vlogger. This book follows his first two years at Samwell University, and focuses on his life with the hockey team.

This book is basically a compilation of the first two years of Bitty’s life at Samwell University, including some of the extra comments and some of Bitty’s tweets.  So if you’ve read the webcomic and are looking for new stories in this universe, then I think you’ll be disappointed. If like me, you’ve read some (or maybe all) of the webcomics but wanted something physical to hold then you will really enjoy this book. New readers are in for a treat! The book feels really good quality, and the paper feels quite thick and I think the colours have translated well from screen to page.

If you’re looking for a plot driven story then Check, Please! is probably not going to be something you will enjoy, as apart from it being Bitty’s first two years at Samwell University there is no real over-arching plot to tie everything together. Rather, each chapter serves as its own self-contained story, which I guess shows the books roots as a webcomic. Personally I really enjoyed this, as it enabled me to dip in and out of the book without having to worry if I’d forgotten an important plot point twenty pages back.

I also really enjoyed the fact that each chapter feels like a vlog; generally with Bitty addressing the camera, and updating us on what’s going on. Although Bitty is very definitely the main character, I thought Ukazu does a good job with making the rest of the team that appears in the comic seem real. Ukazu does a really fab job at showing the friendships within the team. I particularly love Ransom and Holster’s friendship, and Shitty seems like a really awesome person and just super chill. Check, Please! is perfect for anyone looking for a fun, light read. I also think fans of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda will love this too.  I’m really looking forward to the second book in this series, which looks like it will be published at some point in 2020.

Illumicrate Unboxing #16: Your Majesty (April 2019)

The April box is my penultimate box from Illumicrate, and I’m curious to see what is inside it. If you’ve not been keeping up with my Illumicrate posts and want to know why my subscription is coming to end check out the end of my post on the February box here. If you’re thinking of subscribing to Illumicrate you can find more details here.

But enough of that, let’s dive straight into the unboxing.

This month’s box features five main items. First up there’s the Moth & Mirth Mug which is designed by @rosiethorns88. It’s an officially licensed Holly Black mug, and I’m assuming that it’s links to Black’s The Folk of the Air series. I think it looks really pretty, it’s not too heavy, and it looks like it will hold a lot. All pluses for me. Next up there’s the Once Upon A Time Tin designed by @moledrocraftco which features quotes and imagery from Throne of Glass. I think this looks cool, but I’m not sure about its practicality – it’ll be a good prop for photos, but other than that I’m not sure. The third item is the Crown of Power Candle created by @flickerinkuk which is raspberry scented, and it definitely smells strongly of that. The next item is the Iron Throne Phone Ring designed by @fableandblack which is Game of Thrones inspired. It’s an interesting idea. The final items are the Three Dark Crowns Travel Posters designed by @pinapali, which are inspired by Kendare Blake’s series. They look pretty. This month’s featured book is Descendant of the Crane by Joan He, which is a Chinese-inspired epic fantasy. It has an exclusive cover and sprayed edges to this box, it also comes with a letter from the author, a signed bookplate and the preorder incentive character cards. This month’s Illumicrate also comes with a Magnetic Coin which this month is designed by @monolimeart. It is the first in their new collectable series, and this month comes with the necklace and pendant back.This month’s box also includes two samplers. The first is for We Are Blood And Thunder by Kesia Lupo which came out April 4th. The second is for A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson which came out May 2nd.

Overall this is another good box. There is a broad variety of items and fandoms, and there was only one item that I’m a bit unsure about. That being said, I didn’t love this box. For me it’s missing a certain spark. I think a lot of people will love this box, and be really pleased with the contents of it. My favourite item of this box is definitely the Moth & Mirth Mug. It is just beautiful, and very practical.

Thanks for reading this to the end. If you’ve made it this far I’d love to know what your thoughts are on this box. Until next time.

Illumicrate Unboxing #15: Adventure Awaits (March 2019)

Today’s post is about the March 2019 Illumicrate. Yes, you read that right: March. I’m late to the party, but I’m trying to catch up – hence this post. So, the Adventure Awaits box is the first monthly box Illumicrate has curated. So let’s dive right in shall we?

Opened Illumicrate box, with booklet on display.

From the outside this box looks pretty much the same: a lovely warm yellow, with Illumicrate logos and books drawn in white. The most notable change of this box is when you open it up and see the note card. Gone is the familiar yellow card, and in its place is a booklet (in this case various shades of blue) that lets you know what this box’s theme is.

Contents of the March 2019 Illumicrate on display.
Adventure Awaits (March 2019) contents.

Excluding the book, there are five main items in this months box. First there is The Raven Cycle Notebook Set designed by @bookmarkd.tattoos. I like the different sizings and colourings, whilst keeping the same design. Next there’s the Excalibur Water Bottle featuring artwork by @sarahandsweet. I’m not really a fan of it as it’s not something I’d use, but I think the artwork is beautifully done. Then there are the Mistborn Socks designed by @Illumicrate which look lovely, and will be great for adding a subtle bit of bookishness to an outfit. Next up is The Grand Tour Mug Rug featuring artwork by @temporaryplacesshop. A mug rug isn’t something I’ve come across before, but I like the fact that it’s so big – some mugs/cups are bigger than others after all. And the final main item is the Beginning & End Enamel Pin Set designed by @fableandblack. They look absolutely gorgeous, and I enjoy the LotR merch. There are a couple more items that have been included in the box. The first is Muse of Nightmares by Lani Taylor postcard. The second is a bookmark promoting Proud compiled by Juno Dawson, a collection of LGBTQ+ anthology of stories and poetry for a YA audience. The final item is a sampler of Temi Oh’s debut novel Do You Dream of Terra-Two? which came out on March 7th.

Book, signatures, and letter from the authors.

The book that is featured in this March Illumicrate isn’t one I had heard of before. It’s a space fantasy with a King Arthur twist, that I think sounds intriguing. Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy looks absolutely stunning. It’s has an exclusive Illumicrate edition cover and sprayed edges, it’s also signed and comes with a letter from the authors. It’s a US hardback with no dust jacket, which is good news to those of us who hate damaging it.

Overall I think this is a good box. I don’t think it’s anything particularly special. There are things in it people will love, but for me it’s missing a certain spark. I don’t think it’s a bad box, but I wouldn’t pick it as a favourite. The item I like most in this box is probably the pin set because it’s pretty and of all the items in the box I’m probably closest to being a member of this fandom. The notebooks and the mug rug are cool, and I do like the socks even if I had to google to find out the book that inspired them.

Thank you for making it this far down the post. I hope you enjoyed it. Until next time.

Illumicrate Unboxing: #14 Gods and Monsters (February 2019 edition)

Long time readers of this blog will know that I have been a subscriber of Illumicrate since the first box. I have always love the fact that it’s a relatively inexpensive book box you get four times a year, that has had some really awesome books and some great book related merchandise. This box is the final Illumicrate that follows that formula. From this box onwards, Illumicrate has moved to a monthly subscription. I’ll talk more about this and my feelings about the change after I’ve unboxed this Illumicrate for you guys.

I was really excited to get my hands on this box. So excited that I went ahead and opened it before showing you guys, so there’s no video to go along with this post. I was contemplating doing on anyway, but as my procrastination has already got us to May I thought it would be better to just get on with things.

A quick peek.

This box contains ten items, including the book. I think they all look really great. I hadn’t heard of the book or the author before seeing it in this box, so I’m looking forward to giving it a try. I also really enjoyed the variety of the items – there are quite a few that, as far as I’m aware, haven’t featured in a book box before.

The items in Illumicrate #14: Gods & Monsters

The Orphanage of the Gods by Helena Coggan is this quarter’s book. The cover is gorgeous, very atmospheric. The book is a special edition for Illumicrate with an exclusive cover, and comes with lovely blue sprayed edges. The book itself is signed and there is a letter from the author, as well as a metallic notebook. The story is about war between gods and humans, and a girl trapped by it. The next item in the box is a set of six character bookmarks by @lesyablackbird, based on characters from Lani Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. The artwork is on both sides of the bookmark, and looks cool. Then there is the Strange and Dream Umbrella from @hodderscape. Up it looks brilliant, and it’s perfect to slip into a bag to help keep dry in any showers. The next item is the Keep Me Case with artwork by @moledrocraftco, perfect for keeping pens in or maybe just keeping bookmarks safe and easy to find. Girls of Paper & Fire Chopsticks by @heyatlascreative, I definitely have not seen this item in any book box before. Then there’s the Beautiful Thing Pouch with artwork by @stellabookishart, perfect to store make-up in so you don’t loose it in your bag. The next item is the Nectar of the Gods Lip Scrub by @hellolovelyskincare which will be great for getting rid of any dead skin. The final two items are two samplers. The first is for The Binding by Bridget Collins, which was published on Jan 10th by Borough Press. The second sampler is for The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu, the first book in The Eldest Curses series which was published on April 9th by Simon & Schuster. I believe all, or at least most, of the items are exclusive to this box.

Thank you to everyone who made it this far in the post. I mentioned at the start that I was going to talk to you more about what is going on with Illumicrate, and what this means for me. To start with, Illumicrate is now a monthly subscription book box. If you buy the box monthly that means you will pay £26 a month (now, this does not include VAT or P&P which only get added on at the end), but they also offer 3 and 6 month prepaid subscriptions. This honestly made me pause. As much as I have loved getting Illumicrate, these changes with no possibility of keeping the quarterly subscription made me seriously consider what my future with this book box was going to be – this was before I knew the “true” cost for a 3 month prepaid subscription.

When it was a quarterly box the final Illumicrate cost me £29.99 plus £3.70 shipping, so a grand total of £33.69. So based on that 1 year (4 boxes) would cost me £134.76, which I could both afford to do as I only paid every four months. I also liked the fact that it only meant I was getting 4 books a year, as most of the books I got through Illumicrate I hadn’t heard of before so there was no guarantee I would like them. Under the new system, I decided to try the 3 month prepaid subscription which cost me a grand total of £94.05 (including VAT and P&P). Now my first issue here is that the website says this 3 month prepaid subscription costs £75 excluding VAT – it doesn’t mention that it doesn’t include shipping. But forgetting that, a whole year (i.e. 4 subscriptions to this package) will now cost me £376.20. Now that is a lot of money. I don’t even want to think what it would cost paying monthly. Sure it works out as £31.35 per box, but frankly I cannot justify paying £376.20 a year on a subscription box. It’s just too expensive for me. I know going to the 6 month prepaid plan would be cheaper, but it’s still (in my opinion) a HUGE initial amount to pay every six months.

So what does that mean for the future of Illumicrate on this blog? Well. I have paid for the 3 month prepaid subscription, which does mean that the final unboxing will be for the May box (as my subscription started in March). After that, well things are up in the air. I don’t really want to say goodbye to Illumicrate. Daphne has created some awesome boxes, and I think that it’s brilliant that her company has grown this big. The price is a tad prohibitive, and frankly makes me rather uncomfortable. When the three months are up I don’t think I will be re-subscribing. However, I will be using the next 3 boxes to decide if the price increase is worth it. Sorry it has taken me so long to write this. It’s made me super uncomfortable, but I really did feel like I had to say something. I don’t think I’m going to be the only one who has mixed feelings about this. I would love to know your thoughts in the comments – am I overreacting? Do you agree that this is a huge hike in price? Thank you for reading so far, and I’ll see you on my next post.

[I’ve just noticed that I haven’t posted an Illumicrate unboxing since box #11, which I apologise for. I honestly thought I’d posted about them. I will endeavour to get them up ASAP. Thanks for sticking with me.]

Review: Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (UK edition)

‘I seen a kid killed . . . He strangled it, up by the horse.’

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember concrete detrails, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike cam question further, Billy bolts in panic.

Trying to get tot the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott – once his assistant, now a partner in the agency – set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliment, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.

And during this labyrinthine investrigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it has ever been – Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much more tricky than that . . .

The most epic Robert Galbraith novel yet, Lethal White is both a gripping mystery and a page-turning next installment in the ongoing story of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott.

Series: Cormoran Strike 4
Genre: Crime, Detective Novel, Mystery
Publisher: Sphere (18th September 2018)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars

Lethal White is the fourth book in Robert Galbraith’s brilliant Cormoran Strike Novel series.  It continues on from the ending of Career of Evil, as if no time has passed between books, before there is a time jump. Business is going well for Cormoran and Robin, and their agency has a lot of work. A troubled young man called Billy turns up at their office wanting to talk to Strike, he wants them to investigate a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child. The encounter unsettled Strike, and then Billy goes missing leaving them with a lot of unanswered questions. Trying to unravel the mystery, Strike and Robin end up taking a job that brings them to Parliament.

I really enjoyed the first three books in this series. They always keep me guessing, and I love the way that ‘real life’ is mixed in with the mystery of whatever case Strike and Robin are on. I have to confess I didn’t know that there was going to be a fourth book in this series until I saw it on the shelves in my local bookstore. I might be a few months late, in terms of the publication date at least, but I didn’t know a lot going into this book other than the blurb which, I think, worked in my favour.

Lethal White was everything I was expecting from a novel in the Cormoran Strike Novel series. The balance between the main case of the novel and Strike’s and Robin’s private lives was brilliantly maintained; neither section took away from the other. It is a huge tome and there is a lot going on and a lot of momentum to the story, which is great in my opinion. Billy’s story is compelling, and it kept me guessing – long time readers of the blog will know that I’m not great at guessing who did it, and this book is not an exception to that.

I did find Lethal White a little slow going, especially at the beginning. I don’t think that was the novels fault per se, I just ended up mega frustrated with one of the characters and the (unfortunately believable) choice they made. This unfortunately impacted on my reading, and this book was a case of a little at time for me until about the middle of the book I think. That being said, I did enjoy the book and how tangled the plot is. Fans of the series will definitely enjoy this addition to the series.

Review: Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh

Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh (UK edition)

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s darkly passionate Guild Hunter world, where human-turned-angel Elena Deveraux, consort to Archangel Raphael, is thrust centre stage into an eons-old prophecy . . .

Midnight and dawn, Elena’s wings are unique among angelkind . . . and now they’re failing. The first mortal to be turned into an immortal in angelic memory, she’s regressing. Becoming more and more human. Easier to hurt. Easier to kill.

Elena and Raphael must unearth the reason for the regression before it’s too late, and Elena falls out of the sky. Yet even as they fight a furious battle for Elena’s very survival, violent forces are gathering in New York and across the world.

In China, the Archangel Favashi is showing the first signs of madness. In New York, a mysterious sinkhole filled with lava scallows a man whole. In Africa, torrential monsoon rains flood rolling deserts. And in Elena’s mind there’s a haunting voice that isn’t her own.

This time, survival may not be possible . . . not even for the consort of an archangel.

Series: Guild Hunter 11
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz (1st November 2018)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

Eleven books in, and Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series is really raising the stakes. The Cascade has caused problems before but in Archangel’s Prophecy Elena, the first mortal to be turned into angel in angelic memory, seems to be regressing – making her easier to hurt, and easier to kill. With so little known about once mortal angels, it is extremely difficult for anyone to unearth information that may help her. Whilst Elena and Raphael fight to find out what is going on, the rest of the world stands on the brink of chaos: New York has a lava filled sinkhole, the deserts of Africa have monsoon floods, and the Archangel Favashi shows the first signs of madness. Survival is not looking good for anyone, mortal or immortal.

First of all I just want to mention how pretty the cover of my edition of the book is – I really love the grayscale image with the vibrant colours on the wings just pops. I have really enjoyed the Guild Hunter series so far, so of course I was excited to get my hands on Archangel’s Prophecy. Singh always manage to surprise me, and this book was no different.

I did really enjoy it, but in a lot of ways it does read like the first part of a series – there is some serious setting up going on. Archangel’s Prophecy really sets the scene and let’s us know what exactly is at stake. I don’t know how many books there will be in the series, but to me it almost feels like Singh is gearing up for the endgame of the series. I’m probably reaching, but I definitely think there is that quality to the setup in the book. I don’t think that the next book will be the last one, but I do think Singh may be drawing things to a close.

As always, there is a lot going on – I found it easy to keep track of everything, though I did think that one of the resolutions in this book came a bit out of left field. I really admired Elena’s determination in this book, how she never stopped fighting. Although the story primarily focuses on Elena and Raphael, I did enjoy the return of some familiar faces – and I would have loved if there had been more of them, but that’s just a minor gripe. I also thought the way that the voice in Elena’s mind was handled was really well done, and interesting. Archangel’s Prophecy has definitely left me excited for book twelve.

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.