#Friday56 – Six Crimson Cranes

Happy FriYAY Bibliofriends!

This week’s Friday 56 comes from Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim. I was blown away by the magical storytelling in this refresh of The Wild Swans! The attention to detail in descriptions was exquisite and I particularly love Kiki the sentient origami crane which was one of my reasons for choosing this part of my Friday 56 extract today!

Hosted by Freda’s Voice, the Friday 56 is a weekly bookish prompt. It’s quite easy to do and could cover no end of different books and genres so seems great if you’re looking for a quick snippet to discover something new!

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.


A fine, silvery-gold thread of magic rushed out of my lips and twisted across the bird’s wings before settling there, as if stitched onto the paper. Then her wings flapped once. Twice. And she lifted, circling my face.
“Kiki!”

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

You can check out my full, spoiler-free review of Six Crimson Cranes here.


Drop me a comment below or connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

#Friday56 – These Violent Nights

Happy FriYAY Bibliofriends!

This week’s Friday 56 comes from These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden. This 3-part story set in a fantastically dystopian version of Earth introduces us to a memorable band of characters as they seek to repair a tear in the universe and bring two warring communities together.

Hosted by Freda’s Voice, the Friday 56 is a weekly bookish prompt. It’s quite easy to do and could cover no end of different books and genres so seems great if you’re looking for a quick snippet to discover something new!

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.


He was the first Suriia she’d ever met who acted… almost human.
Not sure what to make of the strange encounter, Thorn spent a few minutes testing the locks on the windows before she wandered into the bathroom. She’d never been able to take a hot shower that wasn’t filled with panic at the thought of being caught and killed.

These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden

You can check out my full, spoiler-free review of These Violent Nights here.


Drop me a comment below or connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

Biblioshelf Musings – The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Hello Bibliofriends!

This week’s Biblioshelf Musings is about a fantastically rich, character and culture driven YA fantasy called The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. I first received this book as a physical ARC in June 2020’s FairyLoot box and it has taken me until now to finally get around to reading it – although what better time with its release date set for this week! With a premise of Children of Blood and Bone meets Black Panther, I definitely went in with high expectations and – there were definitely not disappointed!


Book: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
Genre: YA / Fantasy
Publication Date: February 4th 2021
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 432
Rating: 📚📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

The start of a bold and immersive West African-inspired, feminist fantasy series for fans of Children of Blood and Bone and Black Panther. In this world, girls are outcasts by blood and warriors by choice.

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

My Musings

One of the 2021 reading goals I wanted to set myself was a quest to read more diversely. Spending so much time with my head in the pages of authors such as Cassandra Clare, Sarah J Maas and Holly Black was lovely (and great for my ‘modern fantasy must-reads’ game), but with more prominent and widespread news coverage about issues surrounding race and diversity – now was as good a time as any to kickstart my goal with The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna.

There were so many things I enjoyed whilst reading this book, but the biggest one by far was the group of characters. These girls were pulled together from all across Forna’s fictional kingdom of Otera and were made up of all different heritages, classes and backgrounds. I loved the way their friendship knitted together as they showed each other their vulnerabilities and then supported and empowered each other to become fierce, strong warriors. You can’t help but have empathy for these girls, especially people like Deka and Belcalis whose sufferings are so brutally told – then admire the loyalty people like Britta, Asha and Adwapa show to Deka even at a time when they may be unsure of her motives.

The beginning of the novel is pretty much atypical of other YA fantasies – you can see what is coming and where it’s going, but when the group of alaki (the girls whose blood runs gold) get to their training camp, the author really kicks things into gear and the story begins to unfold in a riveting fashion. I loved learning about the mythology surrounding the alaki and it was on the deathshriek raids where I found the world-building to be particularly strong – there were a couple of particularly amazing scenes in temples which really appealed to the wanderlust in me! 

In her author’s letter at the end of the novel, Namina Forna explains to the reader that this book is an examination of patriarchy. She outlines the questions that she wanted to try and answer through her narrative and boy-oh-boy did she deliver on them. This story is all about the idea of the ‘Goddess’ and how women have been continually supressed by a male-dominated world, practically forcing themselves to become monsters and demons just to survive. Whilst the sad reality is that this is probably a more true-to-life reflection of what some girls and women may face in cultures and civilisations left in today’s world, the incredible storytelling of the author has managed to address this in a creative and magical plot which provides an intriguing and interesting story.

After the ending, I’m still left with so many questions about where this story goes now. Whilst I could predict parts of what happened and what was revealed at the final showdown, I’m definitely intrigued and curious to see how the next instalment plays out and what else lies in store for Deka and her fearsome group of friends!

Why Should I Read This?

For a well-paces, character-driven plot where you can really get inside the mind of Deka, the MC.
For an empowering group of women who support each to overcome the stigmas and suppression enforced on them by the patriarchy.
For a lavishly dark, rich fantasy stepped in West-African culture and magic!

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | Waterstones | Goodreads | Author’s Twitter | Author’s Website

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

The TIME 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time

Aloha Bibliofriends,

Several months ago (back last year!) I was scrolling through my news feed and the Time 100 Greatest Fantasy Novels of all time popped up! I couldn’t resist clicking on it and I knew back then in October that I wanted to do a post on it. If you love your fantasy fiction and you haven’t seen the list yet, you should definitely check it out here! Each cover takes you to a link giving more information about each novel that made the cut – very helpful for the ones you may not have heard of!

I wanted to see how many of them I had read altogether so split the 100 up into 3 different parts:
Books I’ve already read = 📖
Books currently purchased and on my physical TBR = 📚
Books I’m wishing to buy and read in the future = ✨


The run down – in chronological order:

The Arabian Nights ✨

Le Morte D’Arthur by Thomas Malory

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 📖

Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll 📖

Five Children and It by E. Nesbit ✨

Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers 📚

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis 📚

The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis 📖

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien 📖

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Amos Tutuola

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien 📖

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien 📖

A Hero Born by Jin Yong

The Once and Future King by T.H. White ✨

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl 📖

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

The Wandering Unicorn by Manuel Mujica Lainez ✨

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin 📖

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart ✨

The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin 📚

Watership Down by Richard Adams 📚

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

The Princess Bride by William Goldman 📚

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter 📖

The BFG by Roald Dahl 📖

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce ✨

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Redwall by Brain Jacques

Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Whynn Jones

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman 📖

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie 📚

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Tigana by Guy Gabriel Kay ✨

The Golden Compass (Northern Lights) by Philip Pullman 📖

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman 📖

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman 📚

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling 📖

Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley ✨

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin 📖

American Gods by Neil Gaiman 📖

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling 📖

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson ✨

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss ✨

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare 📖

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin ✨

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin ✨

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor ✨

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern ✨

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller ✨

Angelfall by Susan Ee

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell 📚

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro 📚

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir 📚

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin ✨

Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo 📖

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh ✨

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders 📖

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir 📚

The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

The Black Tides of Heaven by Neon Yang

The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

Jade City by Fonda Lee ✨

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi 📚

Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore ✨

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi 📚

Circe by Madeline Miller 📖

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang 📚

Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Witchmark by C.L. Polk

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James ✨

Children on Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi ✨

The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang 📚

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia ✨

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal 📚

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez 📖


Books I’ve already read: 22/100
Books purchased and on my TBR: 16/100
Books I want to buy/read in the future: 22/100

Total: 60/100


Normally I’m quite bad with lists so I don’t feel that this isn’t too bad for me although it could be way better – hopefully 2021 will have me ticking lots more of these off my list as part of my reading goals! Obviously one of my all time favourites Tolkien was on the list (yay!) – not gonna lie, I’m happy my favourite Harry Potter book Half-Blood Prince was on there too! I was amazed to see one of my favourite reads of 2020, Woven in Moonlight, made it onto this list as well – I’m so excited for the sequel to come out later this month! I also can’t wait to start reading The Poppy War Series which is one of the ones I definitely will be reading in 2021 – I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it.

How did you score? How many of the 100 Best Fantasy Books of all time have you read? Were there any surprises on the list for you or novels which you feel have been tragically missed off? Which ones are on your TBR? As always, drop me a comment to chat! ☺️

T xx

#Friday56 – A Curse of Ash and Embers

Happy FriYAY Bibliofriends!

This week’s Friday 56 comes from A Curse of Ash and Embers by Jo Spurrier. This was a really different style of witchy read and I loved the world building and magical characters created.

Hosted by Freda’s Voice, the Friday 56 is a weekly bookish prompt. It’s quite easy to do and could cover no end of different books and genres so seems great if you’re looking for a quick snippet to discover something new!

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.


I tried, I really did, but it was too late.
The black shadow moved faster than a thought. In an instant it was wrapped around me, and I was swept to an empty, dark place. Dark and cold, so very cold, a cold that felt like needles dragging over my skin, a cold that pierced me right to the heart.

A Curse of Ash and Embers by Jo Spurrier

If you’re a fan of slow-paced, dark and sinister fantasies with wickedly created villains and a gruelling fight between (a morally-grey) good and evil then you might find something to enjoy in A Curse of Ash and Embers. You can check out my full, spoiler-free review here.


Drop me a comment below or connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

#Friday56 – Given to the Earth

Happy FriYAY Bibliofriends!

This week’s Friday 56 comes from Given to the Earth – the sequel to Given to the Sea in the Given Duet by Mindy McGinnis. A Given is the name for the girls who are born to be ‘given’ to the sea each generation to save the kingdom of Stille from being demolished by a giant wave.

Hosted by Freda’s Voice, the Friday 56 is a weekly bookish prompt. It’s quite easy to do and could cover no end of different books and genres so seems great if you’re looking for a quick snippet to discover something new!

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.


Faja is gone, Famoor as well. In a tree I spot what remains of his bridle, slashed to uselessness. I swear in Indira and kick at the ashes of the fire.

The Indiri race, Tangata cats and Hadundun trees were what really made this series for me. They bought something quite unique to a seemingly ordinary fantasy world. You can check out my full review here.


Amazon |

Drop me a comment below or connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

Biblioshelf Musings – Given to the Earth

Hello Bibliofriends,

I read Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (book 1 in this duology) when it came out back in 2017. It was one of the first books I ever received in my FairyLoot subscription and I became totally enamoured with the world featured in the story. As part of my 2020 reading mission to finally tick off some of those unfinished series, Given to the Earth was put on the August TBR list.

I originally intended to reread the first book in the series before attempting the finale however, with many books piling up on my shelves I settled for just reading the last few chapters of book one before embarking on the sequel. Needless to say, there are spoilers ahead for Given to the Sea, so if you haven’t read that yet and intend to… approach with caution!


Book: Given to the Earth
Series: Given Duology
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: YA | Fantasy
Publication Date: 10th April 2018
Publisher: Putnam’s Childrens
Pages: 368
Rating: 📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Duty, fate, desire, and destiny collide in this intricately wrought tale, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.

Although she was born to save the kingdom by sacrificing herself to the rising sea, Khosa’s marriage to King Vincent has redeemed her. As the Queen of Stille, she’s untouchable. But being Queen hasn’t stopped her heart from longing for the King’s stepbrother, Donil. And it hasn’t stopped her body from longing for the sea itself, which still calls for her.

While Khosa is made to choose between loyalty and love, Dara is on a mission for vengeance. Years ago, the Pietra slaughtered the entire Indiri race, leaving only Dara and her twin, Donil, alive. Now, spurned by King Vincent, Dara has embarked on a mission to spill the blood of Pietra’s leader, Witt, and will stop at nothing to show his people the wrath of the last Indiri. 

As the waves crash ever closer to Stille, secrets are revealed, hearts are won and lost, and allegiances change like the shifting sand.

My Musings

OK, first off I feel like I need to address the elephant in the room with this series: the narration.
The Given duology is told from the perspectives of around 6 different characters. Some of the characters have 1st person narration so we read the chapter directly through their eyes; the rest feature third person narrations and we witness the events as an outsider to the story. Although there are character headings at the start of each chapter, there is no pattern as to who talks when and the constant flipping between narrative voices has been a bone of contention between some readers. For me, I wasn’t particularly bothered or distracted by this. Did it make me feel more distanced and less connected to some characters…? Yes, especially coupled with such short chapters. However, it clearly wasn’t enough to put me off reading this sequel and finding out how the story set up in Given to the Sea ended.

The main reason I liked this duology was for three very specific creatures/beings that form part of Given’s world.
> The Tangata cats are vicious and travel in packs called clowders. They are feared by many but the feature of one Tangata cat was a particularly memorable aspect of the story.
> The Indiri are a race of people, of which only the twins Dara and Donil remain. They have spotted skin like that of leopards and have magic that can connect with the earth and nature. I found them to be really intriguing characters and it was Dara’s narrative that I was especially drawn to in this sequel. Her journey, after the events of the first book, leads her upon an unexpected path which kept me guessing as to how it was going to be resolved.
> Finally, the Hadundun trees which soak spilled blood from the earth and have razor sharp leaves were such curious additions. It is their role within the story that ends up shaping certain character’s actions and consequences.
It is these creations which mostly drew me into this series and made me want to read until the very end. Their presence makes the vaguely medieval-style setting come alive and is one of my favourite aspects of the whole duology.

The plot itself was fairly straightforward. In dealing with the aftermath of the events from book 1, the characters now need to find a way to either deal with the consequences or find an escape. At first, this seems like a fairly simplistic trajectory, but typical complications along the way result in a tension-building, action-packed resolution with some shocking twists that I wasn’t quite expecting! There is tragedy, which I probably would have been more heartbroken over had I built a deeper relationship with the characters, but it still feels as if the author was prepared to take some risks with how certain characters fared during the ending of this series and I have respect for McGinnis in doing that.

Overall, Given to the Earth was a very satisfying end to a series which keep me guessing and entertained until the very end.

Why Should I Read This?

For: intriguing creatures and beings which make a plain(ish) world quite unique.
For: a love triangle where you genuinely don’t know which one you’re really rooting for.
For: a fulfilling and enjoyable (and in one case – brave!) ending to a series.

If you enjoyed Given to the Sea then you’ll probably be content with the ending to this series. It’s a hard duology/book to review and describe – a little vanilla, but the good kind…with the bean, and I definitely like it!

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon |

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

Biblioshelf Musings – Ignite the Sun

Happy Wednesday Bibliofriends,

When I came across and read the blurb for Ignite the Sun by Hanna C. Howard whilst scrolling through Netgalley, my interest was immediately piqued from the mention of a witch queen and the battle between darkness and light so I knew I had to click that ‘read now’ button.
Big thanks to NetGalley, Blink YA Books and Hanna C. Howard for my e-arc in exchange for an honest review.


Book: Ignite the Sun by Hannah C. Howard
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: August 18th 2020
Publisher: Blink
Pages: 295
Rating: 📚📚📚📖

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Once upon a time, there was something called the sun…

Sixteen year-old Siria Nightingale has never seen the sun. The light is dangerous, according to Queen Iyzabel, an evil witch who has shrouded the kingdom in shadow.

Siria has always hated the darkness and revels in the stories of the light-filled old days that she hears from her best friend and his grandfather. Besides them, nobody else understands her fascination with the sun, especially not her strict and demanding parents. Siria’s need to please them is greater than her fear of the dark, and so she heads to the royal city—the very center of the darkness—for a chance at a place in Queen Iyzabel’s court.

But what Siria discovers at the Choosing Ball will send her on a quest that could bring back the Light—or doom the kingdom to shadow forever. Accompanied by a ragtag group of rebels, she sets her course for the North, toward the last vestiges of the sun.

My Musings

Ignite the Sun is a delightful debut novel from Hanna Howard all about the battle between light and the dark. I enjoyed the idea in the plot that the sun had effectively been ‘cancelled’ by the witch-queen Iyzabel (you can tell I’ve been spending a little too much time on Twitter recently) and the land of Terra-Volat had been plunged into a darkness reminiscent of those places at the extremes of Earth where some days never see a sunrise or sunset. It also reminded me a little of those grey days in Britain where you know the sun is up there somewhere but it just doesn’t make an appearance – I could definitely relate to that!

This concept tied in nicely with the fables and history of Luminor and Terra-Volat. These little nuggets of the past were exciting parts of the story and helped me to understand the wider world-building of the setting and the motivations of many of the characters. It added an original dimension to a storyline which is essentially the main thread of many fantasy stories being the battle of good against evil. Howard’s take on how a witch becomes a witch and what attributes/items creatures relied upon to use their magic was really interesting.

I have to admit, I found the main character Siria slightly annoying towards the start of the novel – she came across as very pampered and whiny however it seems this is part of the character journey that she is meant to go through – if that’s what the author meant to do then it was certainly a credit to her character writing! Without giving away spoilers, Siria does undergo a fairly hefty transformation and towards the last third of the novel she gains a purpose, determination and resilience which made me warm to her a lot more. What I will say for that first part of Siria’s character is: thank god for Merrall! She is the perfect yin to Siria’s yang and nicely balances out the more naive and immature parts of Siria’s nature!

The ‘ragtag group of rebels’ and the relationships between them are what truly made this novel shine and is probably my favourite part of the whole story. Comprising of nymphs, naiads, banshees, elves and mages, this cast of characters gave the story classical fantasy/folklore vibes and helped to highlight the mantra that our differences are what make us all special and it is only through coming together that we can truly win against the shadows of darkness.

I always like to see the aftermath of finale events but it seemed that a majority of the novel was spent on the run and the ending came about incredibly rapidly. At times, Ignite the Sun was a little trope-tastic in some places. There was the one bed trope, dead parents trope, disguised as a male trope and on-the-run trope in various guises and forms… due to this, it became slightly predictable in places, but that may be because I read an awful lot of fantasy fiction nowadays. Not all of my predictions came off, or happened in ways I expected, however the overall plot kept me interested and invested in finding out what was going to happen to the characters I was growing to like more and more throughout the story.

Favourite Quotes:

‘…the range of colour on the mountain – the hues of deep purple, rich charcoal and slate greys, shadowy greens and dark blues that compromised such towering heights – was a visual symphony.’

Merrall: ‘”I expected you to be crying by now,’ she said. ‘Well done. You are already braver than yesterday.”‘

‘Bigger than trees, bigger than mountains, and as I gazed up at it – this infinity of glowing colour and fathomless space – I saw with sudden clarity that I was a mere speck on the endless scroll of time.’

Why Should I Read This?

For the brilliant assortment of characters and creatures straight out of a folklore compendium.
For an interesting and inventive plot-line which literally pits light against dark.
For the refreshing yet classical twist that this debut YA fantasy standalone presents.

If you love the more traditional elements of fantasy fiction then you’re bound to find something to enjoy and love in Ignite the Sun.

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | Blink YA Books| Waterstones | Hanna C. Howard on Twitter

Biblioshelf Musings – Esme’s Wish

Hi Bibliofriends,

One of my bookish blogging goals this year was to try and get started on taking author/publisher requests and also start investing some time into improving my NetGalley feedback score.

It was such a thrill when Elizabeth Foster contacted me after reading one of my reviews for Odyssey Books and asked me if I would also be interested in reading her novel Esme’s Wish in exchange for an honest review. I’m so pleased that I did, this was a wonderful fantasy series starter to lose myself in during the last few weeks of what was a really crazy school year! Huge thanks to Elizabeth for getting in touch and sending me her e-book.


Book: Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster
Genre: Middle Grade/YA Fantasy
Publication Date: October 30th 2017
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Pages: 252
Rating: 📚📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?
But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.
After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about her mother, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all. 
Winner of a Purple Dragonfly Book Award for best fantasy.
“A fresh new fantasy of an enchanting world.” – Wendy Orr, New York Times best selling author of Nim’s Island.

My Musings

Esperance is such a beautifully crafted world to lose my bookish mind in. The waterways and canals winding through the city instantly made me reminisce about one of my favourite holidays spent in Venice, Italy. I’m also a huge fan of any worlds where water is a feature (seriously, I think I must have been a fish in a former life!). The frequent references to fountains, sea portals, caves, sirens and sea hawks made me put this world firmly on my fictional travels bucket list.

Esme is quite a young character and her emotions are clearly laid out for the reader to see. You witness her turmoil over the loss of her mother and also her anger at her father for remarrying and beginning a new life. As the story progresses, Esme’s determination and resilience grow alongside the plot and it was nice to see those rites of passage elements in the story as Esme branches off on her mission to discover what happened to her mother. I enjoyed the way her friendships and personality grew throughout the story as she left her world and travelled into the magical world of Esperance.

Mythology and magic run strongly throughout the whole story and I loved picking out those mythology-inspired references which were woven throughout. The book features brilliant creatures such as sirens, stygians and (woohoo!) dragons! I really enjoyed the character Augustine who is a keeper of magic – he added a quirky wizard-like dimension to the story with a diviner rod named Willow which reminded me of Dr. Strange’s Cape in some crazy way that the keeper and his diviner are pretty much a team but the objects are sentient and have a mind of their own.

The story itself is pretty much a quest which is based on a number of clues leading from one to the next, gradually unravelling the story. Whilst in my adult head I was expecting and predicting that some of these would happen, my teacher head was thinking about how perfect this book would be for some of my more reluctant readers and students. Descriptions and vocabulary are on point in this. Vocabulary is such a buzz-word in the teaching world now as children are exposed to fewer words and this has a massive impact upon their reading and writing progress. Esme’s Wish is such a brilliant book to try and inspire this love of words as it is littered with so many wonderful ones and as a logophile myself, this was one of my favourite aspects of the writing. 

Favourite Quotes:

‘The pool settled back into peaceful somnolence, winking at her in the sunlight.’

‘Life is such a fragile thing. Like butterfly wings.’

‘Water has a memory of its own. It stores within itself the history of all it sees.’

‘She was the thread that ran through all things, unravelling the world at will. She could create, or destroy, at her whim. Time had no meaning here. Death was merely an abstraction.’

Why Should I Read This?

For the vocabulary and the writing.
For the sirens, waterways and dragons.
For the amazing world of Esperance.

Esme’s Wish is perfect for the Middle Grade age range and those who are starting out to explore the fantasy genre. Equally, if you’re an adult who loves your mythological references or fantasy islands filled with fountains, seas, magical portals and dragons then this could also be the perfect book for you to escape into a light yet welcoming fantasy world.

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | Odyssey Books | Waterstones | Elizabeth Foster on Twitter

Biblioshelf Musings: These Divided Shores

Hello Bibliofriends!

This week’s Biblioshelf Musing is ‘These Divided Shores’ by Sara Raasch which is the sequel to ‘These Rebel Waves’. I first read TRW when it arrived in the August 2018 Mutinous Pirates Fairyloot box. At first, the series wasn’t quite what I was expecting as the pirates were more riverboat looters (Stream Raiders) than the swashbuckling kind (which I guess speaks more about my stereotyping of what I consider pirates to be…). Given the motivational push of lockdown and my birthday, I finally took the plunge and ordered the sequel to tick the sequel off my TBR list.
[🚨Although there are no spoilers ahead for These Divided Shores, this review may naturally feature some spoilers for the first book in the series These Rebel Waves.]


Book: These Divided Shores by Sara Raasch
Genre: Fantasy / YA
Publication Date: 27th August 2019
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 560
Rating: 📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

The thrilling sequel to These Rebel Waves—full of deadly magic, double crosses, and a revolution—from Sara Raasch, the bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes series.

As a child, she committed unforgivable acts to free Grace Loray from King Elazar of Argrid. Now Elazar’s plan to retake the island has surpassed Lu’s darkest fears: he’s holding her and his son, Ben, captive in an endlessly shifting prison, forcing them to make a weapon that will guarantee Elazar’s success. Escape is impossible—unless Lu becomes the ruthless soldier she hoped never to be again.

Vex failed to save Lu and Ben—and that torments him as much as his Shaking Sickness. With the disease worsening, Vex throws himself into the rebellion against Argrid. The remaining free armies are allied with the stream raider syndicates—and getting them to cooperate will take a strength Vex thought burned on a pyre six years ago.

Imprisoned, betrayed, and heartbroken, Ben is determined to end his father’s rampage. Watching Elazar sway the minds of Grace Loray as he did those of Argrid, Ben knows he has to play his father’s game of devotion to win this war. But how can a heretic prince defeat the Pious God?

As armies clash and magic rises, Lu, Vex, and Ben will confront their pasts . . . or lose their futures forever.


Botanical Magic

For me, the botanical magic elements are my favourite part of the series. Both books have a few page inserts between different phases of the story which contains a drawing of a magical plant and it’s various attributes and uses. This type of magical system felt so fresh compared to the wand-waving, elemental ‘magic-from-within’ types. I was really interested in the parts of the plot which discussed the accessibility and uses of these plants by both Grace Loray and Argrid. If you like plants and potions then you’ll probably enjoy reading about this magical system!

Grace Loray

The setting of These Divided Shores really compliments the botanical magic system in the novels. Places such as the Backswamp and the numerous streams and rivers which dominate the island all added to the jungle feeling and, even though I’m not from the US, it gave me a bayou feeling from somewhere like Louisiana or Florida mixed with a little bit of Amazon. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for any types of ‘water’ features in books or settings so Grace Loray was right up my street and the waterfall episode in the first book was one of my standout parts of the whole series.

Vex, Ben and Character Diversity

I really enjoyed how we got to explore the relationship between cousins Vex and Ben. It brought a fresh dynamic to the story rather than focusing on just the romantic relationships between other characters. I also enjoyed the way in which same-sex relationships were portrayed in the book. One of my pet hates is when same-sex couples feel forced into novels just for the sake of whereas in the Stream Raiders series they were included strongly but subtly at the same time, reinforcing them as normal parts of everyday Grace Loray lifestyles. Gunnar is a particular favourite character and it was nice to see a strong, masculine character also addressing his emotions and feelings openly.

Mini Battle, Mini Battle, Big Battle, End

For me, the pace and plot in These Divided Shores was a little on the slow side to get me through to the end of all 560 pages. In short, the aim of the book is to try and stop Argrid from making permanent magic and enforcing everyone to their rules. The Stream Raiders, having their own cultures and beliefs want to keep Grace Loray as part of a haven for all those who don’t want to surrender to the Pious God. To me, I don’t think I needed all of those pages, and what felt like battle after battle, for all of that to be resolved in the way it was. It always seems that post-battle resolutions get thrown in very quickly at the end even though quite often many nations and lives end up needing to be rebuilt. The ending of These Divided Shores felt slightly rushed compared to all that had happened before the final chapter. Thankfully, I enjoyed the setting, magic and characters enough to finish it all off but at times I did find it rather slow-going for me.


 

The Stream Raiders series is definitely different to other fantasy books I’ve read and I’m glad that I actually bought the sequel to finish it off and see what happened to the characters and magical island which I had enjoyed reading about the first time round. If you enjoy stories about uprisings and the tactics behind different revolts then you’d probably enjoy it. Equally, if you’re after a different style of fantasy setting to the typical medieval castle types then you might just enjoy a little trip along the streams, rivers and botanical magic of Grace Loray!

Have you read These Divided Shores? What is your favourite type of fantasy setting? As always, drop me a comment to chat!

T xx