The Ninth Rain – Jen Williams

The Ninth RainThe story: The once feared and revered Eborans have fallen into ruin. Once they were seen as the defenders of the human race, saving mankind from threat of invasion from the Jure’lia – an ancient enemy believed gone for good. Now they’re dying off, and their city is crumbling around them.

Elsewhere, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon is determined to learn more about the Jure’lia, and hires Tormalin, one of the few remaining healthy Eboran’s, to assist her. Setting out to understand the truth of what happened after the last Jure’lian invasion, they’re joined by Noon, a fell-witch escaped from a prison-like institution known as the Winnowery. Soon they learn that the Jure’lia may pose a new threat – one more deadly than ever before.  text dividerMy thoughts: It’s been a long time since I read a fantasy novel that I enjoyed as much as this one. A unique blend of fantasy and science fiction, it’s the first in an epic new series that draws on elements of many different tried and tested themes – but it manages to take these to a whole new level through excellent writing, fantastic world building and wonderful, well-constructed main characters.

I loved that the main characters didn’t fall into the usual tropes. As an example, Vintage is noticeably older than the average female lead in fantasy fiction. As an independent woman in her forties, she knows who she is and what she wants. She’s intelligent, witty and commanding and really came alive to me. In the same vein, Tormalin, the main male character, is a different kind of hero. He’s vain, proud and a little selfish, but at the same time charming and fiercely loyal. Lastly, Noon has been treated horribly by everyone around her and is terrified to use her powers. She’s slow to trust, and at first, a bit of a liability.

The book is told from the various different viewpoints of the central characters, combined with extracts from letters and various papers, and this really helped to build up a vivid and convincing picture of the world that Jen Williams has created.

Like every great fantasy, there’s plenty of action and some excellent twists that I didn’t see coming, but it’s also well balanced with plenty of humour and emotion. It ends on a massive cliff-hanger, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of the second book in the series – which I’ve finally managed to get my hands on this month!

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Has anyone read this book or its sequel? Let me know what you thought!

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March wrap up

After a fairly disappointing reading month in February, things picked up again in March.

I finally got around to reading Wrath by John Gwynne, the final book in the Faithful and the Fallen series – which was on my list of 8 books that I’m definitely going to read in 2018. So far this is the only book I’ve read from this list – so I’m not doing well! I’m going to aim to get through a couple more this month though.

Wrath was actually a great read and such a satisfying end to an epic series. If you like fantasy, I’d definitely recommend giving these books a try if you haven’t already!

Another book I really loved this month was Ready Player One. I’ve had this on my shelf for about a year, and I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to get to it. I devoured it in just one evening – it was action packed and I couldn’t put it down! I’m looking forward to seeing the film adaptation of this to see if they did it justice. If anyone has seen it already – let me know what you think!

I was fairly disappointed with one read this month though. I’ve been reading DS Aector McAvoy series by David Mark – a crime/thriller series that I raved about a couple of months ago. It took me over a month to get through the seventh book in the series, and I really struggled to get along with the story. Usually I race through this type of book, but I found this one quite confusing and hard to follow. I’ve been finding this with a few book series recently, which have seemed to interest me less and less with each book, and it got me thinking about what writers need to do to keep a series fresh and interesting. Maybe one for a longer post another time!

One thing I’m still way behind on blog-wise at the moment is reviewing books, especially ARCs, so I need to try and pick this up in April!

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Books read:

  • Scorched Earth DS Aector McAvoy #7), David Mark
  • Wrath, John Gwynne
  • Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
  • Dragonfly in Amber, Diana Gabaldon
  • Everless, Sara Holland


Blog posts published:


Goodreads Challenge 2018 progress: 20/80

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What were some of your favourite reads last month? 
What books are on your TBR for April?

Book to screen adaptions I’m most looking forward to in 2018

Everyone has an opinion on whether they love or hate seeing their favourite books being turned into TV shows or movies. I personally really like watching how books get interpreted by different people and how they appeal to a wider audience – although I’ll almost always maintain that the original books are better and I’m always the first to point out if a particular plot point has been skipped or changed!

This year, it sounds like we’ve got some really interesting TV and film adaptations coming up – so I’ve pulled together a few that I’m most excited about.

(This list might be more relevant to UK readers, as the TV section features UK channels, so apologies if you don’t get these where you are!)
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   –   Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Adapted for… TV. Coming to ITV later this year.
This is a classic, and even though I read it some time ago, I remember enjoying it. The length of the novel, the timespan it covers and the huge cast of characters offers endless material for a series, plus I love a good period drama. I can imagine this being perfect Sunday night viewing, so I’m looking forward to this one!

   –   A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Adapted for… TV. Coming to Sky1 later this year.
I loved this book series and the characters, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they come to life on screen. It’s been a while since I read it so hopefully I won’t get too bogged down in minor details and bug bears that sometimes come with watching a book adapted for the screen. I’m also a fan of any TV series that features the supernatural, so I’m confident I’ll enjoy this one!

   –   The Little Drummer Girl by John Le Carre
Adapted for… TV. Coming later this year as a BBC series.
This isn’t a book that I’ve read, but I loved the Night Manager adaptation and John Le Carre can always be counted on to produce an excellent story. Plus this adaption features Alexander Skarsgard (of True Blood fame for those that don’t know) who’s always fantastic.

   –   A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Adapted for… TV. Coming later this year as a BBC series.
This has been on the list of books I want to read for years, but I’ve never managed to get to it. It’s such a long book that I don’t see myself reading it anytime soon, so I think here I might just wait for the TV adaptation.


   –   The Children Act by Ian McEwan
Adapted for… Big Screen. Coming out in the UK in August 2018.
I loved this book, and I can completely see how it could be adapted into a really great movie. It stars Emma Thompson, who I love, and the book was written by Ian McEwan, who I also love.

   –   Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Adapted for… Big Screen. Coming out in in the UK later in 2018.
The book was great (see my review here), and I’m so interested to see how they adapt it. The book uses lots of different types of media to tell the story (letters, reports etc), so I’m looking forward to seeing how this is represented on screen.

   –   Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Adapted for… Big Screen. Coming out in in the UK in March 2018.
I’ve actually just finished reading this book and I can’t even describe how much I loved it! It’s so jam packed full of action and I can already imagine how it’ll make an awesome movie, but I’m so glad I read the book first! Plus it’s being adapted by Steven Spielberg, so guaranteed to be a hit.

   –   On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
Adapted for… Big Screen. Coming out in in the UK in May 2018.
This is another that I haven’t read – but I do actually already own it. As it’s a relatively short book I’m again aiming to read this before seeing the film. This is another one by Ian McEwan, who can always be counted on for a great read, so I’m looking forward to both reading and watching this.


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What are your favourite book to screen adaptions? Are there any coming up that you’re looking forward to?

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

I’ve been putting off reviewing The Ministry of Utmost Happiness for ages – as despite my very best efforts to like this book, it just wasn’t for me!

Arundhati Roy is known for her political activism, and her views and opinions are made abundantly clear in her writing. Through the eyes of her characters, she paints a stark and vivid picture of India after the partition, the conflict in Kashmir and the rigid caste system against a backdrop of politics and religion.

Having a better  knowledge of key events in India’s history as well as important recent political figures would have been so helpful here, as I spent a LOT of the time looking references and background up on the internet.

This was the side of things I did somewhat enjoy, as I like  learning more about different cultures and histories. However, without some existing knowledge (internet based or otherwise!) of recent Indian politics, history and the key players, this book would have been impossible to make sense of.

The parts of this book that have stuck with me are the stories about the ordinary people, caught up in the atrocities and injustices that surround them with no hope of breaking free. From the villagers in the Kashmir to the people living on the street in Delhi, this is a recurring theme. There is a stark contrast between the haves and the have-nots. On the one hand, people are moving forward into the future, with technology and tourism and everything that goes with it, while for others this is hopelessly out of reach.

However, the book is long and meandering. It skips from place to place and time to time, sometimes narrating events from a distance and sometimes homing right in on the details of a particular character. Often the story veers off into a long and extended anecdote or political discussion. I personally found that it really difficult to follow the main thread of the story.

I also found it hard to relate to the characters. We’re told details about their lives but they didn’t come alive to me and it all felt quite detached. There are also so many characters, some of which seem to have nothing to do with the main story. I understand that all of this is intended to build a rich picture of India and the different people that live there, but I would have preferred to have more of a personal connection to the people around who the plot revolves.

Clearly Roy was trying to raise awareness of some really important issues, but for me the writing style felt heavy and dense. It felt like this was a book that was written to make a point, rather than to be enjoyable for readers. Each page felt like a bit of a slog to read and I had to force myself to keep picking it back up. I finished it with a sense of achievement and relief, but I couldn’t say that I enjoyed it.

February wrap up

Compared to January, which was a really good reading month for me, February was definitely a bad month! I managed to read just three new books.

One of these was the latest book in the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch. I was really looking forward to reading this one as I loved the first few in the series, but even though I did enjoy this one, I feel like after six books the series is getting a little repetitive and might need a bit of something different to give it life again.

I’m blaming this on the fact that February was a shorter month, and the days just seemed to fly by. I had a lot on at weekends in February as well, so my reading time was eaten into. I’m also struggling at the moment to find a really good book to get into. I’m finding myself reading the news or browsing social media instead of picking up a book on my commute – which is usually prime reading time for me – so that might have something to do with my lack of productivity!

As well as the new books that I managed to read though, I did re-read the first five books in the Throne of Glass series, as I’d completely forgotten what happened and wanted to catch up before reading the latest one. If you count these into my stats, February actually wasn’t that bad. But in general, I don’t include re-reads in my Goodreads totals.

I feel like other people might have different views on this though – does anyone else include rereads? I don’t reread books that often and when I do, I tend to read them faster and skim read sections that don’t interest me, so they don’t feel like ‘proper’ reads.

Books read:

  • Nameless, T. C. Edge
  • The Witchfinder’s Sister, Beth Underdown
  • The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch


Blog posts published:

Goodreads Challenge 2018 progress: 15/80


I hope everyone else had a great February! What were some of your favourite reads last month? Any plans for March?

Favourite book series’ that I’ve never reviewed here

Even though I’ve been blogging on The Stacked Shelf for years, I recently realised that some of my favourite book series are ones that I’ve never reviewed here. Even though I might have mentioned them here or there in comparisons or top lists, I’ve never got around to writing full reviews.

From experience, I find it much harder to review books that are part of a series than standalone books. With books that are part of a series, I’ve found that if I’ve missed reviewing the first book it’s much harder to write reviews of the rest. By the time I’ve realised this, it’s almost impossible to go back and review the first one, either because I’ve forgotten the details or because subsequent books have changed my opinion. Plus it’s always so tough to avoid spoilers for earlier books in the series while still writing a full and useful review.

So here are some of my all-time favourite book series that I’ve never reviewed on the Stacked Shelf…

Do you have books that you love but that you’ve never reviewed on your blog? What are they and why haven’t you ever reviewed them?!  Continue reading

A God in Ruins – Kate Atkinson

a god in ruinsThe story…

A God in Ruins tells the story of Teddy Todd – a World War II bomber pilot but also a husband, father and grandfather. Having come through the war alive despite all expectations, Teddy faces a new challenge – to live the normal life he never imagined he would have.

My thoughts…

A God In Ruins was maybe my favourite book that I read last year. It is a companion book to Life After Life, which I also loved, and focuses on one of the other members of the Todd family – Ursula’s younger brother Teddy and the life he goes on to lead.

While Life After Life played with the concept of how the smallest things can cause a ripple effect through the future, A God in Ruins plays with the concept of time itself. We’re catapulted backwards and forwards through Teddy’s life, from his childhood to his days in a nursing home. We live with him through his relationships with his wife, Nancy, his daughter, Viola, and his two grandchildren. We swing from past to present – hopping from memory to memory, from the day-to-day tasks and conversations to the major turning points that define his existence. All of this adds up to a picture of who he is, what he wants and how he changes. Continue reading