My Fantasy TBR – Top 5 Tuesday #WyrdandWonder

Magic portal artwork by Tithi Luadthong

It’s Tuesday and so it’s time for this week’s Top 5 Tuesday post. Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm, and it is now being hosted by the lovely Meeghan at Meeghan reads!! For details of all of the prompts for Apr to June, see Meeghan’s post here

All this month, I have been linking my Top 5 Tuesday posts to #WyrdandWonder which is taking place all this month. This week’s prompt is a freebie and as I have managed to get several new fantasy books this week, I thought that I would end my #WyrdandWonder posts by sharing my next 5 fantasy reads with you.

The Endless Song by Joshua Phillip Johnson

I read The Forever Sea during lockdown and loved it but had given up looking out for a sequel so I was really excited to spot this in Waterstones last week.
After setting fire to the Forever Sea and leaving the surface world behind, Kindred Greyreach dives below to find a Seafloor populated by roving bands of scavengers. Among them, Kindred discovers a familiar face working to save the Sea from the continued spread of the Greys and the ravages of the world above. But when Kindred finds herself at odds with them, she and her friends will have to use every power available to them—including their link to the surface world—to forestall disaster.

I might need to go back and reread The Forever Sea first though as my memory of what took place is a bit hazy.

The Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

I’ve seen some great reviews for this one and was really pleased that the library had a copy which I collected today.

Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general—also known as her tough-as-talons mother—has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.
But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away…because dragons don’t bond to “fragile” humans. They incinerate them.
With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter—like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant.

She’ll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise

The Battle Drum by Saara El-Arifi

I loved The Final Strife last year and although I rarely buy hard back books, I couldn’t resist this when I saw it in the bookshop today.

Murder. Secrets. Sacrifice: Three women seek the truth of the empire’s past. And the truth they find has the power to ignite a war

The three women find their answers, but they’re not the answers they wanted. The drumbeat of change thrums throughout the world.
And it sings a song of war.

The next two are the fantasy novels that are next up to be read on my Net Galley shelf.

Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong

This is the adult fantasy debut by Chloe Gong and like her previous novels, it’s inspired by Shakespeare. This time the inspiration is Antony and Cleopatra.

Every year, thousands flock to San-Er, the dangerously dense capital twin cities of the kingdom of Talin, where the palace hosts a set of deadly games. Those confident in their ability to jump between bodies can enter a fight to the death – for the chance to win unimaginable riches.
Princess Calla Tuoleimi has been in hiding for five years, ever since she murdered her parents to free the people of Talin from her tyrannical family. Only one person stands in her way of finishing the job: her reclusive uncle King Kasa. However, she knows he always greets the victor of the games. If she wins, she will finally get the chance to kill him.

Dark Water Daughter by H M Long

Mary Firth is a Stormsinger: a woman whose voice can still hurricanes and shatter armadas. Faced with servitude to pirate lord Silvanus Lirr, Mary offers her skills to his arch-rival in exchange for protection – and, more importantly, his help sending Lirr to a watery grave. But her new ally has a vendetta of his own, and Mary’s dreams are dark and full of ghistings, spectral creatures who inhabit the ancient forests of her homeland and the figureheads of ships.
Samuel Rosser is a disgraced naval officer serving aboard The Hart, an infamous privateer commissioned to bring Lirr to justice. He will stop at nothing to capture Lirr, restore his good name and reclaim the only thing that stands between himself and madness: a talisman stolen by Mary.

These are the next 5 fantasy books that I am hoping to read in June. Have you read any of them or are any of them on your TBR?

Advertisement

Eye of Newt – Top 5 Fantasy Ingredients #WyrdandWonder

Magic portal artwork by Tithi Luadthong

May is the month of Wyrd and Wonder. If you don’t know what it’s all about then why not pop over to Imryil’s blog to find out what’s happening. One of the things is Fantastic Fives, lists of Top 5’s throughout the month and the finalone of these is Eye of Newt. This could be anything from your top 5 magical ingredients, top 5 magical stories or in my case, my top 5 ingredients for a fantastic fantasy novel.

  1. A strong female protagonist
    These used to be so rare in my early days of fantasy reading but now it’s great that there are so many sparky female leads in fantasy novels. One of my recent favourites is Amina al Sirafi

2. A great cast of characters
Nearly all of my favourite fantasy novels have a brilliant cast of characters who bounce off each other. This goes right back to the fellowship in LOTR and you can’t beat a group travelling together to achieve something impossible. An enduring favourite company of characters is the group that Belgarath collects together in The Belgariad. A new favourite is the cast of characters in Chris Woodings The Ember Blade and The Shadow Casket.

3. A believable world
I need a world that I can imagine so world building is really important. I love it when you are transported to a completely new world. Glenda Larke is really good at this.

4. Dragons
It’s not compulsory but the best fantasy stories have to have dragons in them.

5. Lots of political intrigue
This is something that I’ve come to enjoy more recently but I do love a good political fight and characters having to negotiate a court or society or quite often, a woman fighting for her rights in a male dominated society.

All of these have so much politics and Marla Wolfbane, Mara of the Acoma and Emperor Maia are three of my absolute favourite characters.

What do you need to make a good fantasy story?

Stacking the Shelves 96

It’s the weekend again and we’ve got yet another long weekend as it’s the Spring Bank holiday. This always used to be known as the whit holiday and when I was at school, was always on the Whit weekend or Pentecost. Now it’s fixed on the last weekend in May but this year, it does coincide with Pentecost. The weather forecast is sunny for the next week and more so it looks as if Summer is really on the way.

Saturday means that it’s time for my weekly Stacking the Shelves post. Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Marlene at Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

As usual, my STS post is all about highlighting my library loans for the week. I’m very aware of how lucky I am and how many people don’t have access to public library service and I hope that maybe, these posts might encourage a couple of people to use their library more.

A great haul this week with 2 of my reservations arriving and a book that I really wanted to read just sitting on the shelf waiting for me.

The Serpent in Heaven by Charlaine Harris
The library ordered me another copy after last week’s mysteriously disappeared. This is the fourth in the Gunnie Rose set in an alternative 1930s USA where the Russian Empire has taken refuge in what we know as California and magic is an outlawed talent. This book isn’t about Gunnie Rose but her younger half sister who is granddaughter to the Tsar. She is treated as somebody of no importance until she is snatched from outside her school. Then her history becomes known and people realise that she is a lot more than first appeared.

Happy Place by Emily Henry
A new Emily Henry is always perfect holiday reading and I was so happy to see this one on the shelf as I walked into the library. A sunny bank holiday weekend feels like the perfect time to read about a group of friends on holiday for the last time on the coast of Maine

Before I Sleep by Cynthia Harrod Eagles
Apparently this is the 24th mystery to be solved by Inspector Bill Slider. I’ ve enjoyed all of the previous and hopefully this won’t be a disappointment in the same way that the Ann Granger was last week.

The Lost Daughter of Venice by Charlotte Betts
I’m on a run of Venetian stories at the moment. This one is set in 1919 when the recently widowed Phoebe Wyndham returns to Venice at the request of her aunt. Phoebe just wants to sell her villa and return home but dark secrets begin to emerge and it begins to look as though her aunt’s death might not have been natural . And there’s romance too so it sounds like a brilliant read.

What have you added to your shelves this week.

Book Blogger Hop – ebooks

 The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer @ Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. With Jennifer’s permission, it was relaunched on February 15, 2013 by Billy @ the Ramblings of a coffee addict. . Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end the following Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.

This weeks question is: Are you reading more ebooks lately? (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver’s Reviews)

No! That was an easy one.

I went through a phase a while back when I was reading more ebooks than physical ones. I had begun to feel that I possibly had too many actual books and was running out of places to put them. Also ebooks were cheaper so I any book that I bought was usually an ebook. I still got physical books from the library though.

Then I began to feel that I missed the actual feeling of holding a book and turning real pages. As we’re empty nesters we have some empty room so my husband and I created an actual book space in our house which gave us room for more books.

I also found that if I read too many ebooks especially in the evening, that it affected how well I slept. I’ve noticed on more than one occasion that if I read books on my kindle for too many evenings, it becomes hard to go to sleep and I don’t sleep as well. I’m also beginning to think that I read a book better if it’s an actual book rather then on a screen. I do seem to remember details much more clearly when I’ve read the real book.

Now, the only ebooks that I generally read are my ARCs and everything else is a physical book. Those empty book shelves are filling up fairly quickly. 😍

WWW Wednesday May 24

Happy Wednesday. The sun is shining and it’s warming up. It’s beginning to look as though Summer is on the way. We took advantage of the clear blue skies and drove to the Norfolk coast for the day on Saturday. There’s something very satisfying about walking along a beach by the sea and in Norfolk, you can walk for miles.

As it’s Wednesday again, that means it’s time for WWW Wednesday. This is one of my favourite memes and I love taking part in it and reading everybody else’s posts. I get so many great book recommendations from them! The meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm, and it’s currently hosted by Sam. It can be found on her blog Taking on a world of words which can be found here.

The idea of WWW Wednesday is just to answer three simple questions about what you are reading, have just finished and are about to read so here goes for this week.

What I’m currently reading

Hammer of Fate by G N Gudgion
This is a Net Galley ARC and is an epic fantasy. It’s obviously parted inspired by the Knights Templar and their destruction by Philip of France as there is a religious order which has been disbanded and its members accused of shocking crimes. There is also a young girl in a sort of convent against her will. I’m assuming that these two threads will come together at some point. It’s well written and I’m enjoying it so far.

Across a Waking Land by Roger Morgan Grenville
This is another ARC and it’s one man’s journey up the length of the UK looking for evidence that we are fighting against species loss in the UK. I’m really enjoying it so far although much of what he says about how we are protecting our wildlife and its habitats is very depressing.

What I have recently finished reading

Venetian Gothic by Philip Gwynne Jones

This is the fourth book that I have read in this series. I love the Venetian setting and always end up with at least one place written down for us to go and visit if we ever return to Venice. I enjoyed this one as much as the others and the graveyard/gothic element certainly added to the atmosphere.

Deadly Company by Ann Granger
I used to love the Mitchell and Markby mysteries and reread many of them during lockdown. This new one after several years was a bit of a disappointment though. There wasn’t really much of Meredith in it at all and it just felt a bit flat.

The Medici Murders by David Hewson
This was very different to the previous novels that I have read by David Hewson. The story was mainly told by a retired archivist, now living in Venice so everything was seen from his point of view which took me a while to get used to as it takes the reader one step further away from the action. There was a lot of historical detail as well as details about places and food in Venice which I loved. The mystery wasn’t that gripping but I did love the resolution.

Beyond by Mercedes Lackey

Feeling in the mood for some fantasy, I reread this prequel to Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series and my review is here

What I am intending to read next

I’m in the mood for something nice and relaxing so hopefully this new book by Catherine Alliott will fit the bill.

What are you reading this week?

Books about Air – Top 5 Tuesday #WyrdandWonder

Magic portal artwork by Tithi Luadthong

It’s Tuesday and so it’s time for this week’s Top 5 Tuesday post. Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm, and it is now being hosted by the lovely Meeghan at Meeghan reads!! For details of all of the prompts for Apr to June, see Meeghan’s post here

All this month, I will be linking my Top 5 Tuesday posts to #WyrdandWonder which is taking place all this month. The four elements are perfect for choosing fantasy novels and this is probably my favourite week out of the four especially as Meeghan gave an alternative theme of flight for this week and who doesn’t want to be able to fly?

My immediate thought about this week was that I would make it a dragon week as I love all things dragon connected and obviously they fly. However, I was then reminded of a few different books where flight is a key element so the dragons are only a part of this week’s post.

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
My ultimate dragon book. I love this opening book in the Pern series. It’s a brilliant coming of age story as well as featuring telepathic dragons who can fly you anywhere you want to go. They breathe fire and destroy the thread that fills the air too so doubly fitting for this week.

The Cloud Roads Queen by Martha Wells
Martha Wells’ Murder Bot books get loads of love but I just love her Raksura books. The Raksura are a shape changing people who appear human in one guise but can transform themselves into magnificent winged creatures. The world building in these books is incredible and the Raksura themselves are unforgettable.

The Black Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey
More amazing fantasy from Mercedes Lackey. Set in the land that will eventually see the kingdom of Valdemar, the gryphons are a created race who take a vital role in the war between two powerful mages. Skandranon is a brilliant character, vain and boastful but still charismatic. This is one of her earlier works which are much better than her recent books in my opinion. There is a new gryphon book due out this Summer which I have been told is a return to form so my fingers are crossed.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
Far more famous for The Dresden Files, this fantasy by Jim Butcher was released in 2016 and then no more until now. Apparently the next book in the series is being released this November. It’s steam punk fantasy with powerful families having fleets of airships to travel over their cloud covered world.

Ilse Witch by Terry Brooks
The epic Shannara saga needs no introduction. It spanned 35 books although, as always, I tend to prefer the early novels as they became quite formulaic as they went on. I did enjoy the Jerle Shannara books though which introduced the airships and gave the books a slightly steam punk vibe.

So after thinking this was going to be a dragon based week, I’ve ended up only having one dragon book in my top 5! However, next week is a freebie so the only thing that’s certain is that it will be fantasy based as Wyrd and Wonder month draws to a close.

Stacking the Shelves 95

It’s the weekend again and the sun is shining. Today we’re going to drive to the coast for the day. It’s a 2 hour drive but it will be nice to walk along a beach by the sea. It is beginning to look as though Summer is on the way.

Saturday means that it’s time for my weekly Stacking the Shelves post. Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Marlene at Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

As usual, my STS post is all about highlighting my library loans for the week. I’m very aware of how lucky I am and how many people don’t have access to public library service and I hope that maybe, these posts might encourage a couple of people to use their library more.

This week was interesting as I should have had two reservations arrive. One was sitting on the shelf but the other, Charlaine Harris’s latest Gunnie Rose novel, was nowhere to be seen. Apparently this is third book to go missing lately so it looks as though someone is helping themselves to the books on the reservations shelf and just walking off with them. It’s a bit annoying as I was looking forward to reading that one this week but hopefully it will turn up soon. Meanwhile, these are the books that I did manage to find.

The Medici Murders by David Hewson
I used to love David Hewson’s Nic Costa series and enjoyed his novelisations of The Killing TV series so I was excited to see a few reviews this as the blog tour took place for his latest novel. It’s set in Venice when a British historian is stabbed to death on exactly the same spot as Lorenzino de Medici in 1548. Venice, history and a murder mystery, what could be better?

Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton
This was a random pick off the shelf. A detective currently on sick leave moves into a small seaside town. There is an incident where two teenagers end up in hospital and a local man disappears without trace. The problem is that nobody is prepared to say anything.

Deadly Company by Ann Granger
I used to love the Meredith and Markby series and in fact I reread them and collected second hand copies of them all during lockdown. I thought that the series ended several years ago so was surprised to find this one which was published last year on the shelf. Hopefully it will be as good as the earlier books.

The Pink House by Catherine Alliott
This is my only non crime novel for this week. I think that it’s probably a family saga as much as a romance. Hugo and Emma take on the Pink House, Hugo’s childhood home together with all the responsibilities that go with it such as hosting their eldest son’s wedding and converting the barn into an art gallery. Into this new life walks an old flame of Emma’s and she begins to wonder what might have been.

What have you added to your shelves this week.

Poetry Reading Challenge #WyrdandWonder

Welcome to week 20 of my poetry reading challenge for 2023. I’ve challenged myself to read at least one poem a week during 2023 and during the month of May, they are all going to be fantastical or magical as it’s the month of #wyrdandwonder.

This week I’ve been rereading the poetry of JRR Tolkein. LOTR is full of poems and songs from the drinking songs of the Prancing Pony to the sad epics sung by the elves. One of my all time favourites though comes from the very beginning of the journey when Frodo, Sam and Pippin had just spent their first night under the stars.

The Road goes ever on

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now far ahead the Road has gone
And I must follow if I can.

Pursuing it with weary feet
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And wither then? I cannot say.

I love poems about roads and paths in the same way that I love stories about quests and journeys. This seems to me to have the same sort of mood as The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

Beyond – A Review #WyrdandWonder

Magic portal artwork by Tithi Luadthong

I first read this book as an ARC but then I had to buy it to add to my Valdemar collection. Irritatingly, the UK cover is incredibly boring so I add to buy the USA version where the cover matched my other books.

As a long-time lover of all things Valdemar, I was thrilled when I heard that Mercedes Lackey had written a book about the founding of this marvellous place. I was a bit wary though as the last few novels haven’t been any where near as good as her earlier series. However, although this doesn’t have the emotional impact of the Vanyel or Talia series, I did enjoy it more than the recent Herald Spy series.

The story is set in the Eastern Empire which has become corrupt and static and a place where the rulers generally have no interest in their people. An exception to this is Duke Kordas of Valdemar who cares deeply for his duchy and is in the process of carrying out a plan devised by his father and Grandfather to escape the empire with as many of his people as he can take with him.

This book has strong links with the Mage Storms trilogy and Duke Kordas reminded me a lot of Duke Tremaine. It has a similar feel too in that the novel spends a lot of time detailing exactly how the people live. This has the effect of slowing the story down but it also gives you a real feel for the society that Mercedes Lackey has created.

The story is told mainly from the viewpoint of Kordas and we learn a lot about his character. Parts of the story are also told from the view of his young sister in law, Delia. These are the only two characters that we get to know in depth and it would have been nice to have a deeper feel of more  characters especially Korda’s wife, Isla.

I enjoyed this book and appreciated all of the links with the earlier series. This felt like a much more adult book than some of the more recent Valdemar books which I felt was an improvement. I loved the concept of the dolls and knowing what they eventually become. The descriptions of the Empire and the court were a brilliant contrast to the life that Kordas wants for his people and Delia’s contrasting point of view is really important too especially when she begins to doubt whether she actually wants to be part of Korda’s grand plan.

If you have read the author’s previous Valdemar books, then I’m sure that you will enjoy this too. However, if you are new to Valdemar, this might not be the best place to start and The Arrows or Last Herald Mage might be a better starting point.

Mercedes Lackey has been writing books about Valdemar since 1987 which is a long while to keep writing. Sadly, I don’t think that that her writing has quite the spark and engagement with characters that it once did. However, I am looking forward to reading Into the West as soon as it becomes available in paperback and also the new gryphon novel which is being released later this year. The one that I am really looking forward to of course, is the final volume about the founding of Valdemar when I assume we will finally get to meet the companions.

WWW Wednesday May 17

It’s Wednesday again and that means it’s time for WWW Wednesday. This is one of my favourite memes and I love taking part in it and reading everybody else’s posts. I get so many great book recommendations from them! The meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm, and it’s currently hosted by Sam. It can be found on her blog Taking on a world of words which can be found here.

The idea of WWW Wednesday is just to answer three simple questions about what you are reading, have just finished and are about to read so here goes for this week.

What I’m currently reading

Venetian Gothic by Philip Gwynne Jones

This is the fourth book that I have read in this series. I love the Venetian setting and always end up with at least one place written down for us to go and visit if we ever return to Venice.
This one begins with Nathan, the honorary consul in Venice, taking part in a church service for All Souls day. At the same time work is being done in the English cemetery on San Michele and a coffin is damaged. When they look further, they discover that the coffin is actually empty! It’s certainly a gothic start to a novel and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.

What I have recently finished reading

The Fury of Kings by R S Moule

Another one for #WyrdandWonder and off my Net Galley shelf. I am gradually getting more up to date with my ARC reading thankfully.

This was a fairly typical epic fantasy. Lots of different POV characters and locations and a medieval type setting. The characters were all interesting and they were all well portrayed as being both good and bad which was nice. There was only one character who really stood out as being a villain. It didn’t really grip me though and I found it easy to put the book down for several days at a time. I’m not sure why but it’s maybe that I’ve read an awful of this type of story before and this one didn’t really add anything new.

Killers of the King by Charles Spencer

I enjoyed this account of how the men responsible for the execution of Charles I were hunted down by the restoration government of Charles II. The beginning was a bit tricky as there were a lot names to try and keep track of but once I got past the first few chapters, it improved.

The Hawkling by Rebecca Zahabi

I enjoyed this sequel to The CollarBound and my review is here

Done to Death by Charles Atkins

This is the third book about Ada and Lil and their life in the retirement community in Conneticut. This time they get involved with making a TV show when the show’s producer is murdered. It was a fun read but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous two. I think it was that it all seemed to have got a bit far fetched and their characters were less interesting.

What I am intending to read next

I’m in the mood for a nice cosy mystery and this series was recommended by Carla at Carla Loves to Read so I’m hoping to really enjoy it.

What are you reading this week?