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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Mini reviews: Unpopular opinions

So far this year I’ve read 70 books – and written reviews for only a fraction of these. The chances are that I’m never going to get around to writing full reviews for every book I’ve ever read, so I thought I’d group together a few recent reads from the YA fantasy genre and do a post of mini-reviews!

The reason why these ones haven’t yet made it into full reviews is that I didn’t enjoy them enough to recommend them, and I generally don’t like writing full length negative reviews unless I feel really strongly about them.

Judging from reviews of these books I’ve seen on the blogosphere, I get the feeling that my opinions on most of these are going to be unpopular. I know others loved them, but for the most part, these ones just weren’t for me.

I know that some people might ask why I’m writing reviews that are mainly negative. Well, the reviews and the opinions of other bloggers have a big impact on the books I pick up, and there are plenty of books in this genre that I’ve really enjoyed recently because of blogger recommendations.

But I think it’s really helpful to read a range of reviews with different opinions. I mainly saw positive reviews of these books on the blogosphere, but I think if I’d read reviews that were more varied I could have been a bit pickier and chosen books that I personally would have enjoyed more.

Let me know what you think! Did you enjoy/not enjoy any of the books below?
Do you write reviews for every books you read even if you weren’t a fan?How do you feel about writing negative reviews?  Continue reading

Top 5: Books about time travel

The idea of time travel is one that’s always fascinated me, and especially the idea of going back to a previous time while retaining a knowledge of the present. I’m sure that writing about time travel without tying yourself in impossible knots or paradoxes must be one of the most challenging things for a writer to do, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve always loved reading about it. That’s why I’ve pulled together a list of five of my favourite books about time travel. I’ve actually never reviewed any of these on this blog – but I’d recommend any and all of them. Continue reading

How to Stop Time – Matt Haig

How to Stop TimeThe story: Tom Hazard, currently working as a teacher living in London, has spent his life hiding a secret – he was actually born in 1581. Tom has a condition that means that he ages so slowly that he has lived through many lifetimes. Now under the protection of others like him through the Albatross society, Tom is given all he needs to reinvent his identity every eight years. The only rule is never to fall in love.

But although Tom tries to stick to the rules, being back in the city where he was born brings back long forgotten memories and desires. He’s also been searching for something for a long time which seems to finally be within his reach.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book and the way it was written, and once I’d started I couldn’t put it down. I loved how Tom’s past was overlaid with the present throughout this book – over the centuries he’s been on a stage with Shakespeare, sailed with great explorers and drank in a bar in Paris with the Fitzgerald’s – and when he’s teaching his students history, he’s drawing on all his own personal experiences to really bring the past to life. Continue reading

My recommendations: If you liked… (Part 1)

One of my favourite things about book blogging is getting new book recommendations, so I’ve pulled together some of my top recommendations based on other popular books out there. These are all books that I’d recommend based on my own experiences and similarities in theme, writing style or general feel. This is part one, which mainly looks at the fantasy, urban fantasy and dystopian genres. Other genres, such as crime/thrillers and general literary fiction, are still to come! Continue reading

Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh

Flame in the MistThe story: Mariko is on her way to be married to a member of the royal family when her carriage is attacked and her companions murdered. Disguised as a boy, she sets out to find and infiltrate the notorious Black Clan, defend her family’s honour and discover who wants her dead and why. At the same time, her twin brother will stop at nothing to find her again, while others are scheming away in the background to manipulate events to suit their own agendas.

My thoughts: Mariko is a strong main character, and over the course of the novel she undergoes a real transformation. Disguised in a male dominated environment, the characteristics she was always taught to value above all others are useless and she has to learn from scratch the practical skills that others take for granted. As the novel progresses, she also has to come to terms with various home truths about herself and the world she was brought up in, casting off her privileges to become her own person for the first time in her life.

As a female in feudal Japan, she feels that her life has been mapped out for her based on duty and honour. She feels that her gender has her boxed into a corner with no other options available. However, her experiences and the characters that she meets help her to redefine herself, her relationships with the people around her and her place in the world. Continue reading

Golden Son – Pierce Brown

Golden SonThe story: Having made it through the Institute and secured a patronage from one of the most powerful men on Mars, Darrow has continued his studies in warfare and leadership. This goes further afield than his own planet and includes commanding fleets of ships in epic space battles. He’s fully embedded in the Gold ruling classes, while also working hard to break it apart from within.

My thoughts: I’ve read enough YA thrillers to know that sometimes they fall down flat when they try and move past the trials of book one into the wider universe of their fictional book world. Golden Son manages this feat magnificently, despite having a far vaster and more complicated world than any other series I’ve ever read.

Where in Red Rising we were focused on just one tiny part of the universe Pierce Brown has created, in Golden Son we see much more of it. We also learn more about the structure of society and how it all fits together. Politics and strategy play a far greater role in this book, and there’s an emphasis on how all actions and decisions have consequences. Continue reading