‘You forgot who you were talking to. I am Solomon Pace and I heal fast. I am Solomon Pace and my mind is mine to control.’
I haven’t read the other books in the Storm Series yet, but after listening to Tales of Solomon Pace, I’m going to pick up the other books as soon as I can! [Some of the stories herein take place before some of the other books, so it may help to read Echoes of a Storm, etc, first! That said, I didn’t have trouble settling into the different stories of Solomon and it’s left me very intrigued to dive into the series from the start.]
This was a wonderfully narrated collection of tales that draws you straight into Scott’s rich, fantastical world, with a focus on the character of Solomon Pace. You’re told from the onset that Solomon is unforgiving and brutal, but you still want to learn more about him, about why, and follow along for the journey. Scott’s descriptions are so evocative and really set the scene, and the prose is as lush as it is dark.
Interestingly, the book reminds me of a book of fairy tales – the old kind – but unlike most fairy tales there’s a central figure throughout these stories and he’s certainly not the one who needs saving.
He remembered standing on the shoreline, watching it disappear over the horizon and promising himself that he would return one day to his homeland and fulfil his destiny
dun dun dun
The audiobook makes for such easy listening, too. I’m extremely picky with narrators and I really enjoyed this one! I am also absolutely obsessed with the artwork for this book (and the others in the series!). \o/
❧ audiobook review I swallowed the night, and the night swallowed me.
This sentence is so good for one-lining the theme of the book. Darkness, and what happens when you allow it to devour you.
This is my first of the classic grimdarks, really. I’ve heard so much about the genre and have so many of the books on my list, but other than GRRM’s books (which I think are considered grimdark?), I haven’t delved much into the genre. And now I’m sure I’m going to fall face first. Can’t wait. 😉
This is a book of brittle and bleeding characters. Especially young, furious Jorg, our MC. After the horrific deaths of his family, he’s grown into a boy with no forgiveness and no desire for anything but vengeance and bloodshed.
‘I don’t require your forgiveness.’
My heart absolutely breaks for bitter, brutal, broken Jorg. What a life he’s endured already in so short a time. No wonder he’s as unforgiving and terrifying as he is. That’s all he’s ever known. Mark Lawrence really knows how to make a character study, goodness.
I cut from myself all the weakness of care. The love for my dead, I put aside, secure in a casket, an object of study, a dry exhibit, no longer bleeding, cut loose, set free. The capacity for new love, I burned out. I watered it with acid until the ground lay barren and nothing there would sprout, no flower take root.
Everything about this book left me stunned. It’s dark. Way dark. So very, highly, muchly dark.
But it’s done so, so well.
They say fear lends a man wings.
Mark Lawrence has such a way with characters and words despite this darkness that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading even when you don’t love what the characters are doing. You feel for the same characters you don’t agree with, and that’s a really special talent for a writer to achieve.
It’s the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears. The spirits of the dead have nothing on it. The dead one tried to show me hell, but it was a pale imitation of the horror I can paint on the darkness in a quiet moment.
It must be noted that the narration for this is sublime. Joe Jameson is officially one of my favourite narrators. He narrated The Magnificent Sons, one of my favourite books from last year, as well.
With the recent influx of novels on my reading list thanks to SPFBO and new connections on Twitter, I wanted to post about some of the awesome looking books I’m hoping to read over the summer. I also read this really great blog post recently by Zack Argyle about the great fantasy books coming from indie authors, which of course only made this list longer. (I think I’ve added more than these, but I can’t remember them all off the top of my head! I’ll probably end up making multiple posts.)
There’s a good mix of different types of fantasy in here, from historical fantasy to epic fantasy to urban fantasy, so it’s a pretty broad grouping! They all look so good O___O
Two friends. Two forbidden powers. One chance to change everything.
When Mishi is taken from her orphanage home, she fears she’ll never see her best friend Taka again. And when Taka is taken to the infamous Josankō that same day, it seems as if more than distance will keep them apart.
Suddenly alone in their fight to survive, each girl must come to terms with her true nature—Mishi as warrior, Taka as healer. Years after their separation, the girls’ journeys lead them each to uncover the horrifying secret that the Rōjū council has spent centuries killing to keep.
Now the Rōjū council wants Taka and Mishi dead and they’ll have only one chance to save their people.
How much will Mishi and Taka sacrifice in order to protect all they hold dear?
The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick
Lost with her ship and crew in an unfamiliar land, Min’s first command could be her last.
Nothing here behaves the way it should:
The magic that powers her skyship has been drained, rendering it immobile.
The sky is an endless twilight, lit by the luminous fish that swim in it.
Off starboard, there’s also the country-sized dragon that is looking particularly hungry.
It will take all of Min’s training and experience to get her people safely back home, but as the truth about the Darkstar Dimension begins to be revealed, Min will have to prove to her crew – and to herself – that she is still the best person for the job.
From the twisted mind that created the ‘delightfully weird’ Yarnsworld series comes a fantasy adventure like no other.
Grab it now, to set sail on a journey you’ll never forget!
Sarilla has learnt one thing from stealing memories. Everybody lies.
There’s nothing Sarilla hates more than stealing memories, but the king forces her to take them to keep his subjects in line. She wants to escape to where nobody knows what she is or what she can do, but her plans go awry when she runs into Falon.
Falon has a six month void in his memories that he’s desperate to restore. He doesn’t know why they were taken or what they contained, nor why the man he loves is acting so cagily about what happened during that time. He hopes to use Sarilla to get back his stolen memories and doesn’t care what she wants or why she’s desperate to escape. She will help him get them back, whether she wants to or not.
Oscar Tundale is useless, or at least that’s what he’s always thought. He and his friends are about to discover that not only are monsters real, but some of them are very interested in Oscar. Now, they must find out what the monsters want, before something terrible happens to London; or worse yet, the world.
Lesser Known Monsters is an own voices queer dark fantasy featuring diverse characters on a found family adventure. Perfect for fans of action and paranormal romance seeking LGBTQ+ heroes.
While preparing for the birth of his first child, Chrys Valerian is tasked with uncovering the group responsible for a series of missing threadweavers–those able to see and manipulate threadlight. With each failure, the dark voice in his head grows louder, begging to be released.
A young girl from a secret city in the center of the Fairenwild veers off course to explore the streets of Alchea. She never expected that her journey would end in chains.
Far in the deserts to the south, a young man’s life changes after he dies.
When Chrys learns who is responsible for the missing threadweavers, they come for him and his family. He must do everything in his power to protect those he loves, even if it means trusting strangers or, worse, the dark voice in his mind.
Together, they will change the world–whether they intend to or not.
If Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett had written an earnestly nerdy story in a setting running on the ridiculous logic of Scott Pilgrim, it might have come out something like this.
For two oddball inventors, taking care of an unexpected new arrival – a girl from the stars – is hard enough. Dealing with the things that want her back may turn out to be harder.
A story about love in all its forms (but not a love story), Each Little Universe wonders with wit and insight about what it means to be human in a vast, peculiar cosmos. A celebration of all that is wonderful and strange about people, each member of its cast of twenty-first century weirdos is both larger than life and peculiarly familiar.
Welcome to the monstrous world of Venari. Try not to get eaten.
Elkbury is an idyllic village, hidden away in a rural area of pseudo-medieval Venari. It’s a place free of death and disease due to a mysterious ceremony called the Banishment. It’s a secret system that has worked well for decades. But, secrets rarely stay secret forever. When Hedwin’s grandmother is about to undertake her own Banishment, he and his best friend Laura Beth decide to find out what their beloved Anastasia is about to experience.
Just like disease, murder has no place in Elkbury, but it has wormed its way in. Wren Goodwort takes it upon herself to find the mysterious killer and clear her name in the process.
Soon Wren, Hedwin, Laura Beth, and the rest of the villagers are thrown together to fight for their lives as deadly, monstrous, and hungry secrets are uncovered and Elkbury’s delicate balance is destroyed.
He locked himself away from the dark, but in the Magpie King’s forest nowhere is safe…
Lonan is an outcast, accused of letting the monsters that stalk the night into the homes of his fellow villagers. Now, he will not rest until he wins back the heart of his childhood love and reclaims the life that was stolen from him. However, locked safely in his cellar at night, in his dreams Lonan finds himself looking through the eyes of a young prince…
Adahy has a destiny, and it terrifies him. How can he hope to live up to the legend of the Magpie King, to become the supernatural protector of the forest and defender of his people? But when the forest is invaded by an inhuman force, Adahy must rise to this challenge or let the Wolves destroy his people.
Watching these events unfold in his sleep, Lonan must do what he can to protect his village from this new threat. He is the only person who can keep his loved ones from being stolen away after dark, and to do so he will have to earn back their trust or watch the monsters kill everyone that he holds dear.
The ancient city of Kepos sits in an isolated valley, cut off from the outside world by a towering wall. Behind it, the souls of the dead clamour for release. Or so the priesthood says.
Kala has never had any reason to doubt their word – until her father dies in suspicious circumstances that implicate the city’s high priest. She’s determined to investigate, but she has a more immediate problem: the laws of the city require her mother to remarry straight away.
Kala’s new stepfather is a monster, but his son Leon is something altogether more dangerous: kind.
With her family fractured and the investigation putting her life in danger, the last thing Kala needs is romance. She would rather ignore Leon entirely, however difficult he makes it. But when she learns the truth of what really clamours behind the wall at the end of the valley, she faces a choice: share what she knows and jeopardise her escape, or abandon him to his fate along with the rest of the city.
If she doesn’t move fast, then no one will make it out of the valley alive.
The creatures of old have vanished. Dragonia was once a kingdom where magic roamed freely, but now magic wielders are hunted without mercy. A resistance has formed to fight against the king’s oppression. Legend holds that one called the Dragon Queen will rise to return Dragonia to its former glory.
When Crown Princess Sammaria is kidnapped, the land is thrown into chaos. Her sister Jennica is determined to bring her home safely. Jennica will have to rely on her friends – and the gods – to save her sister, but an ancient force has returned to take control of a weakened Dragonia and threaten her quest. Will Jennica be able to bring her sister home? Will the gods interfere? Will the Dragon Queen rise in time to save the world from destruction?
THE TABLES FOR THE HARVEST FEAST ARE SET. AND THE GHULS OF URIZAN ARE COMING, UNINVITED.
Led by the colossus Krond, the flesh-eating ghuls are ready to blaze and burn across the lands of Soren. The village of Puttle lies in their path, where they will bring fire and death.
The Black Feather is an outlaw, an outcast, a Wandering Knife. But he is the only hope the villagers have in this dark hour. Bandit turned protector, the Black Feather is hired by the villagers to take up his sword against the marauders.
Krond seeks the Black Feather. The ghuls are hungry. And the harvest moon will shine red.
Aletheia Vjolla is a walking heresy: a girl born with a man’s magic, she studies among the city’s revered monks only on the authority of her father, head seer of the temple. Already disliked for her gender and blasphemous magic, things fall apart when her father is deposed and murdered. Searching for answers to his sudden death, Aletheia stays on at the temple only by being the best—and by burying her grief in the quest.
It isn’t enough.
Enemies in her class bring her to the new head seer, who publicly sentences her to death while privately admitting he killed her father. Calling on those few loyal to her father, Aletheia manages to escape, but finds herself alone in a hostile city, unsure how to survive and unable to hide her heritage. Hunted by the temple and darker elements in the city, to vindicate her father she must first learn the lesson he couldn’t teach her: how to find the strength in her heresy.
❧ audiobook ‘I’ve been thinking about dragons all my life, but this is the first time one’s turned up!’
My introduction to Terry Pratchett came with book version of Good Omens many years ago. Watching Neil Gaiman’s incredible, lovely determination to ensure that his friend’s vision was actualised and honoured with the adaptation earlier this year made me really want to go back and read the rest of Pratchett’s works. I recently watched an interview where Gaiman talks about how every single step of the adaptation was taken with Terry’s vision in mind, and if that’s not the most wonderful, beautiful tribute from one author to another, I don’t know what is.
I remember reading about Pratchett’s passing and to this day it saddens me deeply. I’ve always wanted to read his books, and I’m glad I started with The Colour of Magic. It’s a series that SO MANY PEOPLE have encouraged me to read, and they’re absolutely right! This is a tale that brims with imagination, humour, fantasy, eccentricity and, of course, colour and magic!
If you’re waiting to get started on this author, wait no longer! Pratchett has certainly earned his place as a modern classic author and an essential, foundational contributor to the genre. I can’t wait to read more of his works!
I, for one, would love to see the turtle carrying the Discworld through outer space.
Bloodlaced by Courtney Maguire Part of the Bloodlaced blog tour
“Are you a man or a woman?” she asked, her nose millimeters from mine. The same question I’d been asked a million times before. I only ever had one answer.
“I am Asagi.”
I really like how very different this book is from others in the vampire genre. If I was to compare it to any of the ones I’ve read, I’d probably say it fits in with Shari Sakurai’s Demon’s Blood series in that both are set in historical Japan and follow the characters’ struggles around vampirism. Bloodlaced is a nuanced character study and a good bit of the book occurs before the fantasy element comes in. The story focuses heavily on the effects of imbalanced relationships, and especially how these relationships impact those without a say in their circumstances.
There are some spoilers herein.
The story begins with Asagi and Tsukito, two household slaves, the day they are sold to a new master (who is a complete arsehole, let’s be clear). It’s a horrible, brutal place where both are abused. And no matter how hard Asagi works to keep Tsukito safe, things get very dark and bleak for the pair. Eventually, Asagi is bought by a new master, Mahiro.
I was unsure of Mahiro at the start, although Asagi certainly wasn’t:
Like a fool, I’d fallen in love with the moon, and once again it was out of my reach.
To be sure, Mahiro is nothing like Asagi’s previous master and encourages opinions and respect amongst members of the household. And so Asagi quickly falls in love with Mahiro. Asagi also makes friends with Kira, who hides a secret about her relationship with Mahiro and is, awkwardly, madly in love with him. So the closer Asagi and Mahiro become, the more jealous she gets.
Asagi soon learns that Mahiro is a blood-drinking immortal. Though Asagi’s reaction is bad at first, soon they grow closer and become deeply attached to each other. But the joy doesn’t last long. An unfortunate series of events leads to Mahiro turning Asagi into a creature just like him. Something Asagi isn’t remotely delighted about. Worse, the longer they’re together, the more Asagi realises that Mahiro is not an equal, nor views himself as such, and resentment builds slowly on Asagi’s side.
He was still my master. I might not have been bound in chains, but I had become a slave of another kind, bound by blood and time.
I was so glad Asagi realised this and didn’t excuse Mahiro’s views simply because he was kinder than some. (I was worrying, guys. WORRYING.) As time goes on, Asagi begins to push back and I was rooting so hard for Asagi to find Tsukito and get the happy ending that was denied to both of them.
The ending was straight up AN EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER. I wasn’t expecting any of the final twists, but overall I really liked how how everything came together in the end. A very impressive start to a new series!
Really excited to read what happens next!
I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review as part of the Bloodlaced Blog Tour.
If you like Bella Forrest, P. C. Cast, AJ Tipton, or Anne Rice, you will love this beautiful dark paranormal fantasy romance.
Publisher: City Owl Press (September 29, 2020) Releases on: September 29, 2020 Genre: LGBTQIA Dark Historical Paranormal Romance Language: English ISBN 9781648980152
Courtney Maguire is a University of Texas graduate from Corpus Christi, Texas. Drawn to Austin by a voracious appetite for music, she spent most of her young adult life in dark, divey venues nursing a love for the sublimely weird. A self-proclaimed fangirl with a press pass, she combined her love of music and writing as the primary contributor for Japanese music and culture blog, Project: Lixx, interviewing Japanese rock and roll icons and providing live event coverage for appearances across the country.
‘I saw the logic that they used, and the death of a thousand cuts as experimental scientists slowly chipped away at the belief that the world was an inexplicably powerful, magical place. Ultimately they failed, though. The magic never really went away. It waited, quietly, for people to return to it when they found the science wanting.’
TEA! WINE! BOOKS! MAGIC!
This book is basically an ode to all the things a historian loves: archival research in old libraries with numerous texts and tomes, historical tangents, philosophical debates, and an investigation into the inexplicable and wondrous. I’m also fairly certain I’ve never encountered two characters who love the history of wine and tea more than Diana and Matthew. Bless their hearts.
A Discovery of Witches is the first in a trilogy that follows the fantastical adventures of Diana Bishop, a professor/witch who is spending her summer in Oxford for research on alchemical texts. But it’s in the archives that she stumbles upon something: a book that everyone in the magical world wants to get their hands on. Diana, though a witch, wants nothing to do with magic and pretends not to notice the book or its magical ~allure. That is, until a vampire named Matthew Clairmont catches her notice.
Matthew, along with an entire library of magical onlookers (i.e. magical stalkers), all want the book. For some reason, though, only Diana has ever been able to access it. This discovery leads to a spiral of events that put Diana in danger as various vampires and witches try to get the book. Few of the book’s seekers care about Diana’s wellbeing, leaving her with only Matthew and her aunts to help. Her aunts, Sarah and Emily, were wonderful! Very motherly. They’re both witches themselves and I love their scenes. I also loved Matthew’s relationships with his family: especially Marcus, his son and Ysabeau, his mum. The story eventually leads the main couple from England to France and then to the United States, so there’s a good bit of setting changes. The library scenes were probably my favourite, though!
This is a vampire tale quite different from Buffy or Vampire Diaries. I was reminded a bit of Twilight at the start, but not because the storylines are the same (they’re not) or because Diana is similar to Bella (she isn’t), or because the vampires are similar (they’re totally, totally, totally different), but rather because Matthew reminded me a bit of Edward at the start. That sort of quiet, reserved, chivalrous type who lurks in the shadows. That changed pretty quickly, though. Matthew is much, much darker than Edward. His history is long and brutal and he makes no attempts at hiding it. There are some seriously interesting events in history that he’s been party to. This is a book that lauds history, so you do get a lot of historical moments re-imagined through the lens of vampires and witches, which was seriously cool. Diana and Matthew are the epitome of researching academics, which I adore ♡ Their chemistry is also unreal.
I’m definitely curious about book two, Shadow of Night, especially given that ending! OH MY GOSH.
Has anyone else read this trilogy? Or seen the show?
I’m going to have so little time to read very soon, so of course I decided to start three awesome books in tandem.
I’m absolutely loving A Discovery of Witches. It follows a historian witch who discovers a magical book in Oxford and is suddenly a target for magical creatures. Matthew, the vampire she ends up dating, is fascinating. The backstories are really interesting and I’m excited to see where it goes. There’s a television show based on the trilogy, but I haven’t seen it yet and I kind of want to read all three books before I watch it.
Lie With Me is one that came to my notice because it’s a French book by Philippe Besson that Molly Ringwald translated into English. I really like Molly Ringwald and was interested to check it out. It’s a short novella set in France and tells the love story of Philippe and Thomas in the 1980s. I’m really liking it so far and the writing is absolutely lovely.
I also just got Wicked Fox, which is a Korean fantasy novel that I’ve been excited to read for months now. It’s about a gumiho, which is a nine-tailed fox in Korean mythology. I’m listening to this one on audible and the narrator’s really good!
As I was reading this, my mind kept likening it to The Wicker King and The Monsters We Deserve, although neither of those is really similar. Maybe just along the same vibe? Release takes place over the course of the day and tells two stories: one is Adam’s, a gay teenager in an Evangelical home with a family he doesn’t feel loved by; the other is the story of a Queen and her faun. I quite liked both stories, for different reasons. I adored Adam and my heart ached for all he went through (and in the course of a freakin’ day, poor lad!). I really enjoyed the Queen’s tale, too, although I think more of a connection between the two stories would have been nice. Maybe just a bit longer, perhaps?
I really liked Angela, Adam’s bestie, and Marty, his brother. Marty was definitely a complicated character with some frustrating moments, but by the end I really liked his character. I wanted a few more scenes with him and Adam, though!
All in all, a very good story and my first one by Patrick Ness. Can’t wait to read more by him!
Sometimes, as humans, we decide without consultation what would be best for people.
It made for a nice listen and the narrator was quite good. Spike was interesting character and his relationship with Joaquin is explored well. The political conversations and musings are thought-provoking, and Hensher certainly knows how to write witty dialogue. I’m just not sure what my thoughts are on this one. Overall, though, the prose was good, and it made for a nice addition to lgbt+ historical fiction.
This is an inherently sweet spin on the classic fairy tale. Prince Alrik of Edan is set to marry Princess Amriah, whom he doesn’t, and can’t, love. Cos, you know, he fancies the pants off Filip, his valet. He tries to play along and give Amriah a chance, but he can’t. He feels nothing for her. Filled with fear of his secret being discovered, Alrik seeks out the witch Gwydion, for help: he wants to be ‘cured’. 😦 It’s a very sad moment, but rather than take advantage of him, Gwydion tells him there’s nothing wrong with him: I’m afraid there is no cure for such a thing, dear prince. We love who we love, and that is the end of that. No magic can change it, not even mine. Nor would I want it to. I really liked her! She’s such a kind person.
Unfortunately, Alrik doesn’t take this well and Gwydion turns him into a cat. And she can’t change him back cos magic doesn’t work like that. A cat you are now, and a cat you shall stay until you can learn to love yourself. It’s an interesting twist to say the least. In addition to being a cat, he’s now immortal. With no way back to his life as a prince, Alrik watches the world pass him by while trapped as a cat. He travels around, seeking out witches, but to no avail.
One day, centuries later, Alrik finds himself in New York, at a Japanese restaurant. He starts to fall in love with both the food and the chef, Yuuki. Very soon, Yuuki begins taking care of Alrik, and dubs the cat ‘Prince’. ADORBS.
What follows is a very sweet, fluffy *pun totally intended* romance. If you’re a fan of adorable fantasy tales, this one is totally for you (⌒▽⌒)
Show Rec:Because This Is My First Life: I totally recommend this! The main guy’s such an interesting character and the main lady is so wonderful. Let me just say, the otps otp hard. I was a very happy fangirl by the end, haha. And all three couples are just the CUTEST. Without question, the romance in this one is top notch. GO WATCH.
Audiobook Rec:The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl: Okay, this is super cute and I love Kate Winslet’s voice, so I definitely recommend the audiobook version of this. It’s super short, under half an hour, and totally worth it. A must read for kids, definitely, and for burgeoning vegetarians and those who hate hunting. Go Dahl!
Book Rec: Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah: This was a truly strange, deeply melancholy novella. It’s very stream of consciousness style and the main character drifts from day to day, experiencing grim events at every turn. The writing was very good, though.
Book Rec: The Gown of Harmonies by Francesca Forrest: This was such a cool idea! A gown that makes music. LOVE IT.
What’s everyone else watching/reading in lockdown? Hope you’re all well! (✿◠‿◠)