Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, First Read, Genevieve Gornichec, NetGalley, Novel, Top Books

#TheWitchsHeart by @gengornichec

Angrboda’s story begins where most witch tales end: with being burnt. A punishment from Odin for sharing her visions of the future with the wrong people, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the furthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be the trickster god Loki, and her initial distrust of him—and any of his kind—grows reluctantly into a deep and abiding love.

Their union produces the most important things in her long life: a trio of peculiar children, each with a secret destiny, whom she is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.

Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family—or rise to remake it.

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Long ago, when the gods were young and Asgard was new, there came a witch from the edge of the worlds.

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(@TitanBooks, 4 May 2021, 342 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I knew I had to read The Witch’s Heart when I read the premise. I’m a huge fan of Norse Mythology and have read a lot of retelling’s and alternative versions. Loki is my favourite characters. The Witch’s Heart touches on events I’ve read in other books but from a completely different perspective, that of Loki’s giantess mistress and the mother of the monsters who will set the end of the world in motion. I couldn’t wait to see where the author went with the story. I really loved this. Angrboda and her monstrous offspring are humanised in the book and I felt empathy for them and their plight against the arrogance of the God’s, specially Odin. I thought this was amazing.

Posted in 2021, Comic Book, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Graphic Novel, Neil Gaiman, Top Books

The Sandman Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by @neilhimself

Neil Gaiman’s seminal series, THE SANDMAN, celebrates its 30th anniversary with an all-new edition of THE SANDMAN VOL. 1: PRELUDES & NOCTURNES!

New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series THE SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.

In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.

This book also includes the story “The Sound of Her Wings,” which introduces us to the pragmatic and perky Goth girl Death.

Collects THE SANDMAN #1-8.

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Wake up sir, we’re here.

JUNE 6TH, 1916, WYCH CROSS, ENGLAND (SLEEP OF THE JUST)

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(@vertigo_comics, 30 October 2018, ebook, 237 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite writers. I’ve wanted to read The Sandman for ages. I’m glad I finally got round to starting the series. I loved Volume 1: Prologue and Nocturnes and can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I don’t often read graphic novels / comic books but tend to enjoy them when I do so I plan to branch out a book and read more. This has everything I’d expect from a Nail Gaiman book, a dark, dazzling delight. I loved it.

Posted in 2021, Fantasy Fiction, First Read, historical fiction, literary fiction, LRB Book Subscription, Novel, Russell Hoban, Science Fiction, Top Books

Pilgermann by Russell Hoban

‘Superb … Pilgermann is history, metaphysics, a tangle of mysteries, profound and simple’ Guardian

It is 1097 and a traveller arrives in the great, walled city of Antioch with a vision of a beautiful and mysterious geometric design that will change the lives of all those who see it. Pilgermann is a mesmerising recreation of the world of the Crusades, following its unlikely hero and those he meets on a journey of picaresque horror across a Europe of hatreds, visions and a desperate wish for salvation.

‘A dark treatise on the mysterious nature of things … The world according to Pilgermann is a brutish place borrowing from Hieronymus Bosch, pilgrimage narrative, allegory and the historical novel’ The New York Times Book Review

‘A strange and beautiful work’ Evening Standard

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Pilgermann here.

1

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(@PenguinUKBooks, 25 March 2021, paperback, 288 pages, bought from @LRBbookshop via a Subscription Box)

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This is a new author for me. Pilgermann blew me away and I’ve already identified a few other titles by the author that I find strangely appealing. This is an astonishing book. It’s not like anything I’ve read before. I also said that recently about The Starless Sea and the same can be said of both even though they are very different. Pilgermann is an unusual book and hard to describe. Think of the book as a sort of re-telling of the Crusades with lots of religious overtimes and some science fiction and fantasy elements. There are even black and white sketches of the strange geometrical patterns that capture and fundamentally change the world in the book (you need to read it to understand what I mean). Pilgermann is beautifully written and mesmerising. It completely absorbed me. I thought it was amazing.   

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Erin Morgenstern, Fantasy Fiction, library book, literary fiction, Novel, Top Books

The Starless Sea by @erinmorgenstern

Are you lost or are you exploring?

When Zachary Rawlins stumbles across a strange book hidden in his university library it leads him on a quest unlike any other. Its pages entrance him with their tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities and nameless acolytes, but they also contain something impossible: a recollection from his own childhood.

Determined to solve the puzzle of the book, Zachary follows the clues he finds on the cover – a bee, a key and a sword. They guide him to a masquerade ball, to a dangerous secret club, and finally through a magical doorway created by the fierce and mysterious Mirabel. This door leads to a subterranean labyrinth filled with stories, hidden far beneath the surface of the earth.

When the labyrinth is threatened, Zachary must race with Mirabel, and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, through its twisting tunnels and crowded ballrooms, searching for the end of his story.

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There is a pirate in the basement.

SWEET SORROWS

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(@vintagebooks, 5 November 2019, ebook, 488 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @BorrowBox)

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I loved The Night Circus and this has been on my TBR for ages. It’s hard to describe how I feel after reading this incredible piece of work. I’ve never read anything quite like it and that’s saying a lot coming for a book freak like me. The Starless Sea may be one of the best if not the absolute best books I’ve ever read. I had to force myself to put the book away after each reading session because I didn’t want to leave Zachary’s incredible world. The imagination behind this stunning piece of literature is quite incredible. I loved everything about it. This is stunning, just stunning. I need to lie down now and sigh happily into a jar of honey.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, library book, Ransom Riggs, Short Fiction, YA Fiction

Tales Of The Peculiar by @ransomriggs

A new set of stories from the world of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

In this collection of fairy tales, Ransom Riggs invites you to uncover hidden legends of the peculiar world. A fork-tongued princess, a girl who talks to ghosts, and wealthy cannibals who dine on the discarded limbs of peculiars are just a few of the characters whose stories will have you hooked.

Featuring stunning illustrations from world-renowned artist Andrew Davidson, this compelling, rich and truly peculiar anthology is the perfect gift for fans – and for all lovers of great storytelling.

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The Peculiars in the village of Swampmuck lived very modestly.

THE SPLENDID CANNIBALS

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(@PenguinUKBooks, 3 September 2016, ebook, 352 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @OverDriveLibs)

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I’m a huge fan of the Peculiar Children book so was really looking forward to reading these stories. The book is aimed more at children or a young age-group but if you’re a fan of the series you’ll enjoy these. Each story focuses on a different Peculiar in history and their life, experiences and strange abilities. I really loved The First Ymbryne which reveals how Miss Peregrine and co came about and how the loops the Peculiar’s live in came about. The Pigeons of Saint Paul’s and The Boy Who Could Hold Back The Sea are also stand-out stories. Now I can’t wait to read the final book in the series.

Posted in 2021, Fantasy Fiction, historical fiction, library book, Novel, Ransom Riggs, YA Fiction

#TheConferenceOfTheBirds by @ransomriggs

A fragile peace.

An apocryphal warning.

Chaos waiting in the heart of the storm.

With his dying words, H – Jacob’s final connection to his grandfather Abe’s secret life – entrusts Jacob with a mission: Deliver newly contacted peculiar Noor Pradesh to an operative known only as V.

Noor is being hunted. She is the subject of an ancient prophecy, one that foretells a looming apocalypse. Save Noor, save the future of all peculiardom. With only a few bewildering clues to follow, time is running out.

With enemies behind him and the unknown ahead, Jacob Portman’s story continues as he takes a brave leap forward into The Conference of the Birds, the newest instalment of the beloved, #1 bestselling Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series.

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Deep in the green-glowing bowels of a Chinatown food market, down a dead-end hallway lined with crab tanks, we crouched in a puddle of dark the light-eater had made, watched over by a thousand alien eyes.

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(@chickenhsebooks, 11 October 2011, ebook, 336 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @OverDriveLibs)

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I’m a huge fan of the Peculiar Children books and couldn’t wait to read this latest outing. I believe there is one last book in the series and I can’t wait to read it. It’s been a while since I read the last book so it took a few chapters to get back into the swing of it. I really enjoyed this book, not quite as much as the earliest book in the series but I still had a good time reading it. I had some technical issues with my book as it kept freezing every time it got to a page with one of the numerous photographs of Peculiars which I had to report to my library and this spoiled my enjoyment of the book a little. I know the characters pretty having read the other books and I liked getting to know the new Peculiar, Noor a lot better. She might be my favourite. If you’ve enjoyed any of the other books you’ll have a good time with this one.

Posted in 2021, Fantasy Fiction, frances hardinge, historical fiction, Horror Fiction, Novel, Top Books

#TheLieTree by @FrancesHardinge

The Lie Tree is a wonderfully evocative and atmospheric novel by Frances Hardinge, award-winning author of Cuckoo Song and Fly by Night.

Faith’s father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered.

The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father’s murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as her tales spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter . .

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The boat moved with a nauseous, relentless rhythm, like someone chewing on a rotten tooth.

CHAPTER 1, EXILES

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(@panmacmillan, 7 May 2015, ebook, 417 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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This is the first book I bought by the author because I’d heard so much about it and I find it strange that I’ve read some of her other books first. I thought The Lie Tree was a fantastic read, part historical fiction, part horror, part gothic mystery. I wish I’d read it sooner. The author’s style and subject matter is similar to her other books. I got pulled right into the book within the first few lines and it consumed me until I finished. The Lie Tree was in my head all the time in between reading sessions and I couldn’t wait to return to it and find out what happened next. This is a terrific book.

Posted in 2021, ARC, David Liss, Fantasy Fiction, First Read, historical fiction, Horror Fiction, Novel, Top Books

#ThePeculiarities by @David_Liss

All of his life, Thomas Thresher has been free of obligation and responsibility, but that is over now. He is a twenty-three-year-old man whose best days are behind him. Thomas’s older brother Walter has trapped him in a tedious clerical job at the family bank in London, and Thomas is expected to wed a wealthy young woman in whom he has no interest.

But Thomas has more serious problems than those of a disaffected young man. There are irregularities at the bank he cannot explain. His childhood friend has mysteriously turned up dead. Worse, a verdant skin malady has infected him: leaves have begun sprouting on his skin. Thomas must conclude that it is due to the long-rumoured Peculiarities. London’s famous grey fog has been concealing a rash of unnatural afflictions–and worse, the murderous Elegants.

As Thomas grows leafier, the conspiracies surrounding him become more apparent. He cannot determine whom to trust: his own family; his banking co-workers and superiors; the beautiful widow of his companion; the woman he is to marry. Or perhaps a lycanthropic medium; the members of a secret occult society…or even Aleister Crowley.

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Thomas stands in the ballroom of the massive house near Belgrave Square wishing he were somewhere else.

ONE, ABUNDANCE

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(@TachyonPub, 7 September 2021, 336 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed)

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This is a new author for me. I thought this was a terrific, original read. I will definitely read more of the author’s work. I knew I’d love the book within a couple of pages and I was right. The Peculiarities is a blend of historical fiction, horror and fantasy and offers something very different. I’ve never read anything quite like it. I loved the way the author blends the supernatural events plaguing London and magic and more everyday common events such as the Thomas uncovering suspicious transactions at the bank and the tense family relationship between Thomas and Walter. Aleister Crowley, the real-life, notorious occultist plays a key role in the novel. I’ve read other books featuring him and liked the way he’s portrayed here. This is a fantastic, unique read.  

Posted in 2021, Blog Tour, Fantasy Fiction, Horror Fiction, Novella, stephen zimmer, Top Books

#DarknessEnthroned by @SGZimmer

In the heart of a frigid northern winter, Rayden Valkyrie takes refuge in the lands of the Sarvan people when a mounted column of Attun warriors is seen passing along the outskirts of their territory heading west.

Far from their steppe domain in the east, the Attun warriors are journeying into a remote, unpopulated wilderness, drawing great alarm from the Sarvans about their purpose. Learning of the situation, Rayden joins with a band of warriors from the area’s villages to investigate.

Following the tracks of the Attun warriors, they are led to the base of an enormous, ancient burial mound, where the trail vanishes abruptly. A mystery looms, and Rayden seeks to discover the nature of the burial mound and the reason why the Attuns have travelled so far from their homelands to enter it.

Darkness Enthroned is a stand-alone adventure that is part of the Rayden Valkyrie Tales.

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‘Attuns’ Rayden told the others, closely eyeing the straight track of hoof impressions marring the smooth, white blanket of snow draped across the ground.

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(@7thStarPress, 21 December 2020, 86 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher via @TCMPublicity and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 18 April)

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I’ve never read any of the Rayden Valkyrie books so I had no idea what to expect from this novella. I thought it was a terrific read. I loved it and didn’t want it to end. I’d have been happy to read another couple of hundred pages. I will definitely check out other books featuring Rayden Valkyrie as I’m in for a treat if Darkness Enthroned is anything to go by. I got caught up in the book within a few pages and couldn’t stop reading. What are the Attuns up to? What is the purpose of the mound? Rayden is determined to get to the dark truth and eliminate the threat posed by the strange events. The book embraces horror and fantasy as Rayden finds out what darkness lies within the mound. This is a terrific read.

Posted in 2021, Blog Tour, Fantasy Fiction, historical fiction, Novella, stephen zimmer

#TheAwakening by @SGZimmer

Following the end of a brutal war, Ragnar Stormbringer travels across the sea channel to the west with the warrior Thorsalla to visit her brother’s new settlement in the fertile lands of Ulstara.

Coming upon a scene of total devastation, they find no bodies, but there are a large number of strange tracks heading in one direction and signs of a few survivors in another.

Ragnar will soon discover that some mysteries are the gateways to even greater ones.

The Awakening is a stand-alone adventure that is part of the Ragnar Stormbringer Tales.

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Sleek and elegant, in both form and motion, the longship sliced through the glistening waters, heading upriver in the golden morning light.

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(@7thStarPress, 17 February 2021, 134 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher via @TCMPublicity and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 18 April)

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I’ve read a few books by the author, mostly stories from the Ragnar Stormbringer series but never a full length novel. I’ve no idea. I really enjoyed The Awakening and plan to read the whole series at some point. If you love Viking’s you’ll enjoy the book and likely other books featuring Ragnar Stormbringer. The Awakening is a little different than the books I usually read and all the more enjoyable because of it. It combines historical fiction, Vikings and fantasy to create a very entertaining tale about dark magic and death. It’s well-written, compelling and I enjoyed the time I spent with it.