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: 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: 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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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: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Title: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, 1)
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Hot Key Books (2nd January 2018)
Blurb:

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered in front of them. The fearsome assassin abducts all three girls and brings them to the world of Faerie, where Jude is installed into the royal court. Mocked and tormented for being merely mortal, Jude soon realises that to survive in this treacherous, dangerous, new world, she needs to be as smart, cunning and deceitful as the Fey themselves.

But the stairway to power is fraught with shadows and betrayal. And looming over all is the infuriating, arrogant and charismatic Prince Cardan. Jude must take the utmost care . . .

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)
Review:

Holly Black returns to the world of fairy with a new book and series. THE CRUEL PRINCE follows the story of a human girl who grows up in fairyland. Jude and her sisters grow up in the fairy courts, where being mortal comes at a terrible cost – it is easy to fall under its spells. Even with the everyday cruelties and despite knowing she doesn’t belong, it is the only home Jude has known. She no longer fits into the mortal realm; to her it is as foreign and strange as fairyland is to mortals. It is a fight for survival.

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Illumicrate – The Starfall Edition | Unboxing

As those of you who follow my blog will know I’m an Illumicrate subscriber, but I have never purchased one of their special edition boxes until now. The Starfall Edition celebrates the release of the latest book in Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series – A Court of Frost and Starlight. It was originally available in two editions hardback and paperback (and priced accordingly). I chose to go with the paperback edition so it matched the rest of my series.

I was also lucky enough to acquire one of the boxes in the first batch (there was such a high demand for this box that after they sold out Illumicrate created a second batch that did not contain all the items from the original, but I believe had some new ones too). At the time of posting all editions of this box have sold out. It should be obvious but, from this point there will be spoilers.  So stop scrolling now if you don’t want to find out what’s inside, otherwise continue scrolling to see the brilliant content of this box.

Seriously, stop if you don’t want to see what’s inside.

At first glance inside this box I am pleased with the contents. Although the box is by no means bursting, there looks like there are a reasonable amount of items and from what you can see in this picture they look, at least in my opinion, promising.

By the way, items are posted in the order I removed them from the box.

So the first item I pulled out from the box is this lovely Prythian inspired constellation book sleeve by Sparrow + Wolf.

I think both the front and the back look amazing – the colours are absolutely gorgeous! It feels incredibly soft and squishy, so it will be great for protecting my books when I carry them in my bag. It’s a reasonable size and is holding the book well, as well as several more items.

This stunning illustration is by Kat Adara (you can find her stop here) and it is of Rhys and Feyre during Starfall. I think it looks absolutely lovely. Really magical.

So this is the edition of A Court of Frost and Starlight I chose – the UK paperback edition – it comes hand-stamped with an exclusive ink stamp (which I totally forgot to take a picture of – sorry). There is also this cute note from Sarah J. Maas.

And because it didn’t really pick up in the first image, I wanted to show you some of the gorgeous filigree on the cover.

The final item hidden in the book sleeve was this shiny exclusive bookmark from Bloomsbury.

Both front and back look lovely, and it was interesting trying to take a photo of it without accidentally appearing in the bookmark. I don’t think I quite managed it in the above photo, but oh well.

So, the first item that caught my attention was this Stars Eternal and Night Triumphant enamel pin set by  Fable & Black. I like the fact that it offers you the option of wearing it as one badge, or two.

This box intrigued me, so of course I had to pick it up and have a closer look at it.

According to the card these cards were designed by Keeper of the Suns’ and feature favourite characters and items from the series. This item really surprised me. I don’t think a deck of cards has been included in a box before. I actually think it’s really neat.

This is perhaps one of the smallest items in the box, and I really like it.

It’s called Truth-teller and it’s by Lovely Lip Balm. It’s inspired by Morrigan’s red lips and Azriel’s magic knife. It smells absolutely gorgeous – the scent of roses just wafts from it.

This is a Illyrian wingspan inspired necklace made of mirrored enamel by Mirror Image Accessories.

This is a lovely, almost delicate looking necklace. I like the fact that it’s quite subtle about what it’s referencing.

What is a book subscription box without a candle?

This gorgeous smelling candle is a layered glass candle from Two Candle Thieves inspired by Feyre and Rhys, and by how stars look against the night sky.

It’s a bit warm now for this (at the time of writing), but I still think it’s a great addition to the box.  It’s a lightweight double-sided summer scarf by Evannave that proudly depicts the symbols of the seven courts.

This gorgeous set of six cards is by Monolime and depicts the Inner Court in tarot style cards.

These bright socks were designed by Illumicrate and show Feyre’s tattoos. I think they will look wonderful on.

This is an absolutely gorgeous tote bag. The artwork is by Ink & Wonder, and the colours are amazing. I like the fact that they tied it together with one of the favourite quotes from this series.

And last but not least we have this enamel mug.

As Illumicrate say in the card, “No Starfall Edition would be complete without featuring something from Charlie Bowater!” For me (and a lot of others) Charlie Bowater’s artwork is really tied to this series, and is actually one of the reasons I decided to pick up the first book.

And the card which lists all the items contained in this book was designed by Hey Atlas Creative.

So that’s it. We’ve reached the end of this unboxing.

I am really pleased with this box. It might have cost more than Illumicrate’s quarterly boxes, but I think it was well worth it. I’m really pleased I decided to give it a try. If you liked this box then be sure to follow Illumicrate on Instagram and Twitter to keep track of their new boxes – and to keep an eye out for special edition ones.

Review: Wolf Children Ame & Yuki by Mamoru Hosoda

Wolf Children Ame & Yuki by Mamoru Hosoda, Illustrated by Yu

Title: Wolf Children Ame & Yuki
Author: Mamoru Hosoda
Illustrator: Yu
Character Design: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Magical Realism, Manga, Young Adult
Publisher: Yen Press (7th April 2014)
Blurb:

When Hana falls in love with a young interloper she encounters in her college class, the last thing she expects to learn is that he is part wolf. Instead of rejecting her lover upon learning his secret, she accepts him with open arms. Soon, the couple is expecting their first child, and a cozy picture of family life unfolds. But after what feels like a mere moment of bliss to Hana,  the father of her children is tragically taken from her. Life as a single mother is hard in any situation, but when your children walk a fine line between man and beast, the rules of parenting all but go out the window. With no one to turn to how will Hana survive?

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

WOLF CHILDREN AME & YUKI by Mamoru Hosoda, with art by Yu, is a magical story about love and choices. It is a beautifully illustrated story that follows Hana from college, where she meets a mysterious young man in one of her classes. She is immediately taken with him, and after offering to share her textbook with him the pair grow closer. When he reveals his secret, that he is part wolf, to her Hana is quick to accept him. They soon start a family together and are very happy, until tragedy strikes and Hana is forced to face the future with two small children alone.

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Review: Truth or Dare by Non Pratt

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt (UK edition; front cover)

Title: Truth or Dare
Author: Non Pratt
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publisher: Walker Books (1st June 2017)
Blurb:

How far is too far when it comes to the people you love?

Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take. Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you’re willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose?

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
Review:

TRUTH OR DARE by Non Pratt is a contemporary young adult book set in the UK. It tells the stories of Claire and Sef, who get together and create a YouTube channel designed to raise money for their friend who was very badly injured. They do this by creating alter egos who play a version of truth or dare. The story follows them as they become friends and try to help. The book itself is split into three sections. The first tells the story from Claire’s point of view; the second from Sef’s; and the third section is split between them.

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Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

The Names The Gave Us by Emery Lord (UK edition)

Title: The Names They Gave Us
Author: Emery Lord
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books (1st June 2017)
Blurb:

Lucy has her perfect summer planned out: perfect boyfriend, perfect job and quality time with her perfect parents.

Then her mom’s cancer comes back, and suddenly life makes no sense.

Before she knows it, Lucy finds herself agreeing to volunteer as a counselor at a camp for troubled kids, where lives are more different from her own than she could have imagined possible. Here Lucy meets the dashing but mysterious fellow counselor Jones, who will change the way she sees the world forever.

With tragedy hovering at the edges of Lucy’s life, this summer she must find out who she really is and what it means to love.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

THE NAMES THEY GAVE US is the fourth book from Emery Lord. It’s a standalone young adult novel that tells the story of Lucy Hansson. The story takes place over several months – it starts in April and ends in August. When the book starts Lucy already has her summer planned out, but after she returns from prom she learns her mother’s cancer has come back and that changes everything. Her mom talks her into volunteering as a counsellor at a camp for troubled kids, that’s close enough for a weekly visits; hopefully allowing Lucy space to come to terms with everything. There, despite the tragedy hovering on the edges of her life, Lucy meets some great people and makes some wonderful friends.

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Review: Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

Picture of the cover of the UK hardback edition of Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff.

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff (UK edition)

Title: Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicles, 2)
Author: Jay Kristoff
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Voyager (7th September 2017)
Blurb:

From the bestselling author, Jay Kristoff, comes the second book in the Nevernight Chronicle.

Mia Corvere, destroyer of empires, has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry do not believe she has earned it.

Her position is precarious, and she’s still no closer to exacting revenge for the brutal death of her family. But after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it is announced the Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself into slavery for a chance to fulfill the promise she made on the day she lost everything.

Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold, secrets are revealed and the body count rises within the collegium walls, Mia will be forced to choose between her loyalties and her revenge.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

GODSGRAVE is the second book in Jay Kristoff’s wonderful Nevernight Chronicles. It continues Mia Corvere’s story as she seeks revenge on those who slaughtered her family, when she was a child. After the events of the first book, NEVERNIGHT, Mia’s place within the Red Church is precarious; accepted not because of her skill, but because after the slaughter of their members they have need of her. After a confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to fear that there is more going on than she is aware of. After discovering an opportunity to gain her revenge on the men who killed her family, she decides to defy the Red Church.

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