Thursday, October 31, 2019

October Wrap-Up

*This contains spoilers for the October FairyLoot box*

Here's what I planned to read this month . . .


 Good Omens by Terry Pratchett - paperback - 2.5/5 stars
Mr Peacock's Possessions by Lydia Syson - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.
The Good Luck Girls (The Good Luck Girls, #1) by Charlotte Nicole Davis - ARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.

 Nocturna (A Forgery of Magic, #1) by Maya Motayne - eARC - 2.5/5 stars - read my review here.
Angel Mage by Garth Nix - hardback - 3/5 stars - read my review here.

Music and Malice in Hurricane Town by Alex Bell - eARC - 3.5/5 stars - read my review here.
 Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers, #1) by Nicki Pau Preto - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.


The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust, #2) by Philip Pullman - I got both the normal hardback and the exclusive, signed slipcase edition, which is gorgeous.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hinks - I got this in a trade.

The Sky Is Mine by Amy Beashel - this is an ARC copy that I requested and was sent by Rock the Boat.

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo - this is the FairyLoot edition which I pre-ordered before having read my ARC, which I unfortunately didn't like very much :(

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - this was my sister's copy but she didn't enjoy it so I claimed it.

Not photographed is the October FairyLoot book which was The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh. This edition is signed, has red sprayed edges and has character art on the inside of the sleeve.


Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

The Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy, #2) by S.A. Chakraborty


 What books did you read in October?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Blog Tour + Review - Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Title: Angel Mage
Author: Garth Nix
Pages: 560
Publisher: Gollancz
Release Date: 17th October 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

My Review:

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Gollancz*

It has been more than a century since Ystara fell and its inhabitants were either killed or turned into beastlings by the Ash Plague.

The descendants of the Ystarans that managed to escape to the neighbouring country of Sarance are called Refusers. They cannot be touched by angelic magic, otherwise they will be affected by the Ash Plague like their ancestors.

One day, Liliath, a Ystaran with a strong affinity for angelic magic, emerges from the tomb she has been asleep in since the fall of Ystara. She hasn’t aged a day, and is determined to be reunited with the archangel of Ystara, who she loves.

Liliath’s plans include four young Sarancians: Agnez, a Musketeer cadet, Dorotea, a scholar and icon-maker, Simeon, a doctor-in-training, and Henri, who is good with numbers and dreams of money and treasure.

The four feel a strong connection with each other the moment they meet, but will they survive what Liliath has planned for them?
How far is Liliath willing to go to get what she wants?

I’m a big Garth Nix fan, so when I heard that he had an adult fantasy book coming out I couldn’t wait to read it.

There are a lot of characters in Angel Mage. There were several times when I forgot who was who when it came to some of the secondary characters, and I think that a list of characters at the beginning of the book would have been useful.

Agnez was my favourite of the main characters. I liked that she always ready and eager to fight. She was also friendly and seemed like someone who would be fun to be friends with.
I liked Dorotea a lot as well. She was interesting and I felt sorry for her at times. Her relationship with Rochefort was intriguing.
Liliath was a good villain. She was determined and manipulative. It was interesting to read as she put the pieces of her plan into action and used people to get what she wanted.

There were five points of view: Agnez, Dorotea, Simeon, Henri, and Liliath. I liked that Liliath had her own chapters and that we could see what she was up to, but I think that maybe there were one or two too many point of views.

Angel Mage is a long book – over 500 pages – but there were times when it felt even longer for me. I think this was due to the pacing, which was slower than I would have liked. While I did enjoy reading as the four met and became friends, I would have liked more action.

The ending was perhaps slightly disappointing, but I do think that this is one of those books where the journey is more important than the ending.

One thing I really liked and appreciated about Angel Mage is that there were a lot of female characters in positions of power. A lot of the characters were also people of colour.
My favourite thing about the book is that it was inspired by The Three Musketeers, which I thought was unique and a really cool idea.

The angelic magic and the concept of using icons to summon angels was intriguing. I liked that summoning higher order angels took a toll on the summoner, so they would only do it if necessary.
The world-building was very good – I came away from the book feeling like I knew a lot about the histories of Ystara and Sarance.

This was the author’s debut adult fantasy novel, but I can easily see YA readers enjoying this.

Angel Mage throws you in to the deep end from the first page, so it took me a while to wrap my head around what was happening. However, the concept/foundations of the book aren’t simple so I don’t think this is something that could have been avoided.

While I didn’t enjoy Angel Mage as much as I hoped I would, I did enjoy it overall, and I really liked the Musketeer-ness to it as well as the characters and the angelic magic, which I thought was an interesting take on angels.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Garth Nix has been a full-time writer since 2001, but has also worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller, and as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve.

Garth’s books include the Old Kingdom fantasy series, comprising Sabriel, Lirael; Abhorsen; Clariel and Goldenhand; SF novels Shade’s Children and A Confusion of Princes; and a Regency romance with magic, Newt’s Emerald. His novels for children include The Ragwitch; the six books of The Seventh Tower sequence; The Keys to the Kingdom series and others.

More than five million copies of his books have been sold around the world, they have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and USA Today and his work has been translated into 42 languages.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Review - Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers, #1) by Nicki Pau Preto

Title: Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers, #1)
Author: Nicki Pau Preto
Pages: 496
Publisher: Ink Road
Release Date: 25th April 2019

Blurb from Goodreads:


I had a sister once.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Sometimes the title of Queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And, meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders' return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Crown of Feathers is an epic fantasy about love's incredible power to save or to destroy. Throughout is interspersed the story of Avalkyra Ashfire, the last Rider Queen, who would rather see her empire burn than fall into her sister's hands.

My Review:

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Ink Road and NetGalley*

Sixteen years ago, a war led to the two heirs to the throne, two sisters, dying and the Phoenix Riders being wiped out.
Veronyka and her sister Val don't have a home - they are unregistered animages whose magic allows them to communicate with animals. They keep a low profile to avoid being enslaved by the empire.
Veronyka dreams of finding a phoenix egg and becoming a Phoenix Rider.
Val can be cruel and controlling, and one day she goes too far. Veronyka goes off on her own, intending to find any surviving Phoenix Riders. But there's one problem - when Veronyka does find the Riders she learns that only boys are allowed to become Riders, so Veronyka disguises herself as a boy.
Just when things are starting to work out for Veronyka, things are thrown into chaos.
Will her secret be discovered?

The concept of Phoenix Riders was what drew me to Crown of Feathers, and it has to be my favourite aspect of the book. The idea of giant phoenixes large enough to ride was really cool, and I wanted my own phoenix so badly as I was reading this.
I also liked the concept of animages, and that there was a history of fierce, powerful queens.
Crown of Feathers has three perspectives - Veronyka, Sev and Tristan. Veronyka's chapters were my favourite, but it was also interesting to see things from Sev (a reluctant empire soldier hiding his animage abilities) and Tristan's (a trainee Phoenix Rider) points of view.
I also liked that there were letters between the two warring sisters, Avalkyra and Pheronia, in between the chapters. I felt these added to the world-building and history.
The plot was interesting and held my attention, but I wasn't gripped. There were some things that I saw coming and others that surprised me.
The writing style was easy to follow and I would definitely consider reading more from the author.
While I didn't enjoy Crown of Feathers as much as I hoped I would, it was still an enjoyable, unique read.

Overall this was an enjoyable read.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday - The How and the Why

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a feature hosted at Wishful Endings where people showcase an upcoming book they are looking forward to.

This week I am looking forward to . . .
Title: The How and the Why
Author: Cynthia Hand
Pages: 464
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: 5th November 2019
Blurb from Goodreads:
Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.
Why I'm Anticipating This Book:
This sounds like such a heart-wrenching, emotional read.
I'm looking forward to reading it!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Blog Tour + Top 10 List + Giveaway - The Never Tilting World (The Never Tilting World, #1) by Rin Chupeco

Find the tour schedule here.

The Never Tilting World (The Never Tilting World, #1) by Rin Chupeco
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: October 15th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy


Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

Book Links:

Top 10 Favorite Characters

Edmund Dantes (Count of Monte Cristo): 
my favorite character from my favorite book of all time. To me, Dantes was the very first brooding hero I grew attached to as a teen, and that has lasted well into my adulthood. His story is a masterclass in both revenge fantasy and anti-heroism.

Sandor Clegane (Game of Thrones): 
 I think it's his very specific malfunctions that make me like him as a character, especially with his tragic backstory and the fact that he's played by a favorite actor of mine, Rory McCann. I am a sucker for rooting for guys with the best and wittiest one-liners even if part of their jaw has caved in and he's got burn scars as well as the mental ones.

Lan al'Mandragoran (Wheel of Time): 
my very first big crush (Yes. Absolutely age-inappropriate, as I'd read WoT as a teen. Yes, this made it very easier for me to put myself in Nynaeve al'Meara's shoes and swoon along with her anyway). That there's an upcoming TV series out where he'll be played by Daniel FREAKING Henney only reinforces my bias.

Hercule Poirot (Hercule Poirot mysteries): 
I devoured all Agatha Christie novels as a kid and had all her 70+ novels by the time I was fifteen years old. I've always favored him over Sherlock Holmes simply because his method of deduction always seemed to me like basic common sense that didn't require some niche knowledge of cigar ash or footprints to solve a case. (Naturally, it doesn't feel like common sense until the climax where he explains his deductions - and then I'm all OHHH WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF IT THAT WAY)

Death (Sandman): 
I am smitten with Death, and I think she might have been my first ever girl crush. I was into this very odd goth phase as a kid, though more attitude than fashion, and I loved the contradiction she presented: a goth-looking girl who was cheerful and all kinds of sunshine despite being the harbinger of everyone's worst fear.

Death (Discworld): 
There are two Death characters in my list of favorites, but somehow I feel like this is ery on brand for me anyway. Unlike Death from Sandman, Death looks like the type you'd expect - a skull for a face, scythe, dark robes, pet skeletal rat. But then you start feeling for the guy - he's spent everyone's lifetimes taking souls because that's his duty, but what he really wants to do is to experience what it's like to be human, finding compassion despite himself. How can you not root for that?

Sparrowhawk (Elenium saga): 
 David Eddings was a huge influence on me growing up, so Sparrowhawk from the Elenium and Tamuli sagas have always been the knight's knight to me. Decent, self-effacing, extremely ruthless to his foes if he had a mind to be, but unendingly kind to everyone else.
Alan Shore (Boston Legal): 
Boston Legal was one of my favorite TV series, and it's not really a surprise to a lot of people that I can relate the brash, loudmouthed Alan Shore, who always has a smartass line for everything. But what I like most about him is his ability to admit when he's wrong and own up to his mistakes when it counts, even though that fact is often overshadowed by his showmanship.

Rexy (Jurassic Park): 
 Jurassic Park is my favorite movie and the first career I ever wanted to embark on before writing was to be an archeologist. I could pronounce dinosaur names perfectly at two years old, but could barely say "parrot" withou a lisp. So when I first watched Jurassic Park on screen, of course I wuld consider Rexy the T-Rex the real hero of the film. She was there, minding her own business being dead, up until a bunch of nosy scientists decided to raise her without her permission. Who wouldn't be annoyed by them for that?

Kayako (Ju-on: The Grudge): 
It's no secret that I love horror movies, and Ju-on: the Grudge (the Japanese version - I consider the US version very mild in comparison) is my favorite horror movie of all time. And also not surprising, given my debut book, that I tend to root for the ghost, who didn't really deserve the grudge inflicted on her and was just trying not to be murdered like everyone else. I love how the movie takes all the normal tropes that would comfort people (hiding under blankets, staying in a crowd of people) and subvert them so that you realize that even with all those precautions you're not safe at all.

 About the Author

Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.She is represented by Rebecca Podos of the Helen Rees Agency. She is also fond of speaking in the third person, and may as well finish this short bio in this manner. While she does not always get to check her Goodreads page, she does answer questions posed to her here as promptly as she is able to.

Author Links:

Tour-wide giveaway

Open INT

Friday, October 18, 2019

Review - Music and Malice in Hurricane Town by Alex Bell

Title: Music and Malice in Hurricane Town
Author: Alex Bell
Pages: 384
Publisher: 4th April 2019
Release Date: Stripes Publishing

Blurb from Goodreads: 

“There are no angels in Baton Noir. Only devils.”

Jude Lomax scrapes a living playing the trumpet on the neon streets of Baton Noir. Then she is invited to play at the funeral of the infamous cajou queen, Ivory Monette. Passing through the cemetery gates, Jude finds herself possessed by the murdered queen’s spirit. And Ivory won’t rest until she’s found the person responsible for her death.

If Jude wants to be rid of the vengeful spirit, she must take a journey deep into the dangerous underbelly of the city, from the swampy depths of the Black Bayou to the velvet opulence of the vampires’ secret jazz clubs. But as Jude untangles Ivory’s web of secrets, she is confronted with a few dark truths from her own past…

The first in an eagerly awaited series from the author of FROZEN CHARLOTTE, a WHS Zoella Book Club title in 2016, which is sure to enthral fans of Holly Black, Maggie Steifvater, Amanda Foody and Stephanie Garber.

My Review:

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Stripes Publishing and NetGalley*

Jude Lomax lives in Baton Noir, a place full of magic, witches and vampires.
Jude hates cajou magic and uses her talent for playing the trumpet to earn money, but she struggles to provide for herself and her father.
When Jude's band is asked to play at the cajou queen's funeral, Jude is possessed by the queen's spirit.
Ivory Monette, the dead cajou queen, wants to work out who murdered her. Jude finds herself agreeing to help, and becomes entangled with magic, secrets, and the dark side of Baton Noir.
Who killed Ivory?

Going into Music and Malice in Hurricane Town, I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy it, but I'm happy to say that I did end up really liking it.
Jude was a good protagonist. She was likeable, relatable, and had been through a lot. I thought she handled the situations she was put in very well.
The Phantom of Moonfleet was one of my favourite characters. He was intriguing and I would love to find out more about him. I also liked Sharkey and his grandma, who I would have liked to have seen more of. Etienne the vampire was another character that I would like to find out more about.
The setting was interesting, with the swamp, legba, cajou magic, and segregation in Baton Noir.
The plot was good and held my attention. It did take me a while to get into, but towards the end I found myself reading faster to find out what would happen next as I got caught up in the tension and storyline. I did guess a couple of the plot twists, but not all of them.
The writing was atmospheric and easy to follow. I definitely want to read more by the author, and would absolutely read more books set in Baton Noir.
If you like magic, secrets and a New Orleans-style setting, then this book is for you.

Overall this was an enjoyable read that I would recommend.