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!

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?

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?

January wrap up

January was a really good reading month for me. The month felt like it went on forever – and the amount I managed to read reflects this. In total in January I read 12 books – mostly ebooks but I also managed to fit in 3 audiobooks and two paperbacks that I already owned.

I finally got around to reading A Conjuring of Light and I don’t know why I waited so long – it was great! I also got to the latest in The Invisible Library series – which in case you haven’t read it, is a brilliant adult fantasy series based around a secret library that connects worlds, book loving librarians and all sorts of other fun stuff like dragons.

This month I also binge read most of a UK crime series that I’d somehow missed out on but is rapidly becoming one of my favourites. If you like crime novels and haven’t read any David Mark, I’d suggest checking his books out.

Reading more physical books at home is one of my goals for the year, as over the years I’ve managed built up quite a collection of unread books that I really want to start making a dent on. Earlier this year I published a blog post on the books I really wanted to read in 2018 – I haven’t managed any of these yet, but most as physical books that I do really want to get to sometime soon.

My blogging schedule over the past few months has slowed down quite a bit, as various other commitments have been taking priority and I just don’t have so much time to dedicate to post writing. This year I’m going to try and take it as it comes, write about what I’m interested in and not put too much pressure on myself to post at set times – I hope you all bear with me! Continue reading

8 books I’m definitely going to read in 2018

A few months ago I did a post where I looked at the books that I’ve collected over the years but haven’t yet got around to reading. Inspired by this, this year I really want to start making a dent in my backlist rather than constantly being seduced by shiny new books!

Last year I had the same goal, and so decided to take part in the Beat the Backlist challenge – where I aimed to read at least one book a month that I had owned since pre-2017 (it’s running again in 2018 if you’re interested). I didn’t do too well on this one, so this year I feel like I need to be more specific!

I’ve picked 8 specific books from my own backlist that I’m going to prioritise in 2018. I’m planning to review this after six months and see where I’m at with this list. Hopefully I’ll have made some good progress and will be able to add some more titles!

The books I’ve chosen are from all different genres, and there’s a good mix of page counts too – as I was conscious not to choose too many huge books that might feel intimidating! They’re all ones that I originally bought or acquired, in one form or another, because I really wanted to read them, so I’m really looking forward to starting to work through the list.

So, in 2018 I’m definitely going to read… Continue reading

September/October wrap up

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I missed my wrap up post for September thanks to an unplanned break from blogging, so this month I’m combining both September and October into one big post.

Books read: 14
I’ve managed to read some really great books over the last couple of months. In particular, City of Circles, The Ninth Rain and American War all stand out as favourites.

  • City of Circles, Jess Richards
  • Three Days and a Life, Pierre Lemaitre
  • The Last Tudor, Philippa Gregory
  • The Ninth Rain, Jen Williams
  • American War, Omar El Akkad
  • Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Mercy, Jussi Adler-Olsen
  • The Children Act, Ian McEwan
  • The Break, Marian Keyes
  • Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey
  • The Thousandth Floor, Katherine McGee
  • Artemis, Andy Weir
  • Death is a Welcome Guest, Louise Welsh
  • The Burning Page, Genevieve Cogman


Books acquired: 18
Over the past couple of months I’ve been on a tighter budget for book buying, so all of the books I’ve acquired have been ebooks on sale on Amazon (£2 or less), found in second hand shops or got through my Audible membership. Continue reading

August wrap up

Books read: 5
This month I read fewer books than usual, but those that I did read were longer and quite intense (4 3 2 1 was just under 900 pages while The Ministry of Utmost Happiness tackled some really complex social and political issues and was definitely not a quick book to read). I really enjoyed The Word is Murder – which was a really unique take on the classic detective novel.

  • The Good Daughter, Karin Slaughter
  • The Word is Murder, Anthony Horowitz
  • The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy
  • The Readymade Thief, Augustus Rose
  • 4 3 2 1, Paul Auster


Books acquired: 7
I was much more reserved this month than I was last month – acquiring just 7 books compared to last month’s 24. I’m really looking forward to reading City of Circles and American War, both of which have been on my wishlist for a while. Continue reading

Writing book reviews: how to get started

As book bloggers, writing book reviews is a core part of what we do. However, I’ve heard from lots of people who say that review writing is the most challenging or least fun part of blogging.

I’ve written posts in the past that set out some of the reasons that I personally find writing reviews difficult. There are a lot of times where I’ve gone to write a review but put it off – sometimes I can’t seem to get the thoughts in my head down on the page in a way that makes sense or think of the right phrasing, or sometimes just I draw a blank and can’t think of anything interesting to say.

Assuming that at least some other people out there also suffer from the same issues – I thought I’d share some of my experiences, processes and tips for writing book reviews.

I know that everyone writes their reviews differently and I’m by no means an expert! If you’ve been blogging for a while and already have your own style for review writing, this post might not be so useful for you!

However, if you are at all interested in hearing my thoughts and top tips for writing book reviews, please read on! Continue reading

Discussion post: Overused expressions in book reviews

Overused phrases in reviews

We all know that sometimes reviewing books can be hard (I’ve written a post on this here), and that finding the right words to express yourself clearly and coherently is sometimes a struggle!

I’ve recently noticed that I tend to fall back on many of the same words and phrasing in many of my reviews because I know they work and help me to get from one part of a review to another more easily. At the risk of all of my reviews sounding the same, I have to actively try and not use these phrases when I’m writing.

Looking back over my posts from the last three years, these five expressions have popped up more times that I can count and stand out as being some of my most overused fall-back phrases…

  1. ‘It soon becomes clear’ – This is the perfect way to round off a plot summary with a bang and get onto the actual analysis of what I thought about a book, and I seem to be able to use it while talking about literally every book!
  2. ‘That said’ or ‘having said that’ – If I’m trying to write a balanced review that looks at both positives and negatives, this is a quick way to get from one to the other. I write it in every review and then have to force myself to go back and rewrite!
  3. ‘I wasn’t overly keen on…’ – Usually to be read as ‘I didn’t like this at all but I’m trying to be polite’.
  4. ‘Kept me gripped’ – If I’m scrambling to explain exactly why I was so absorbed in a book, this phrase inevitably pops up. It says nothing but hopefully conveys there was a certain something that kept me reading!
  5. ‘Ultimately though…’ – I sometimes struggle with ending a review. You can’t just stop, you need a way to round it all off nicely. This is my go-to last sentence starter.

Not using these phrases is harder than you’d think. My fingers type them automatically out of habit. As writing is literally what I do for a living (not the exciting creative writing kind though unfortunately), I feel like I should be better at finding alternative ways to express my opinions about books.

How do you write book reviews? Are there certain words you come back to time and time again? What are your most overused expressions?

April wrap up

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Books read: 6
Compared to usual, I haven’t had a great month for reading. Of the books I did read, my favourite was probably Flame in the Mist, followed by Magpie Murders and How to Stop Time.

Books acquired: 5
I spent less on books this month than usual. Three of these books were reduced on Amazon and I got a couple of ARCs from Netgalley. I also put in a couple of pre-orders for May but I haven’t received them yet.

  • Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh
  • How to Stop Time – Matt Haig
  • The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel
  • Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

Blog posts published: 9
April was actually my second best month for blogging in terms of visitor stats since I first began blogging in January 2013 – so thanks everyone for reading my posts and chatting to me! Unsurprisingly, my giveaway of A Court of Wings and Ruin was the most popular post. Other top posts were my discussion post looking at what makes fan fiction and a review of Hannah Tinti’s The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley.

 TBR for May:
Realistically I don’t think I’ll get around to reading the last one on this list, as it’s been on my TBR list since January. But you never know, May might be the month I finally get to it. I’m already part way through The Green Road, so hopefully should finish this one off quite quickly.

  • A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J Maas
  • The Green Road – Anne Enright
  • House of Names – Colm Tobin
  • The Ice – Laline Paull
  • Into the Water – Paula Hawkins
  • The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss

Challenge progress:

Goodreads Challenge: My Goodreads reading goal is to read 50 books this year. I’ve now completed 27 books – meaning that I’m currently ahead of schedule by 11 books. (27/50)

Beat the Backlist Challenge: The Beat the Backlist challenge is all about knocking off titles that have been on your TBR for a while. Books need to have been published prior to 2017, and I’m only including books that I actually bought before 2017 and that have been sitting around waiting for me to read them – so no new purchases or library reads.

This month, none of my reads qualified, so my total remains at just two books towards a goal of twelve. (2/12)


How was your April? Did you read anything great?
What do you have planned to read in May?