Tag Archives: fantasy

In My Mailbox (5)

Welcome to In My Mailbox, hosted each week by The Story Siren. Allow me to squee over the books I received this week!

For Review

Two very interesting-looking ARCs from NetGalley this week:

Plus a copy of Covenant of the Faceless Knights from the author, Gary F. Vanucci. Thanks!


A Random Act of Kindness gift from Cait of Escape Through the Pages:

and I won a giveaway from Anjana at Kindle and Me. Thanks!


I have been so self-controlled with freebies this week that I actually didn’t download any! I’m pretty sure the control will be a short-lived.



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Five For Friday: Books to be Read

It’s Friday! That means it’s time for Five Things.

This week:

Five books on my to-read pile that I’m really looking forward to reading.

Books that I actually have a copy of, that I look forward to reading once I get through a few review copies!

1. Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay

Eight of the nine provinces of the Peninsula of the Palm, on a world with two moons, have fallen to the warrior sorcerers Brandin of Ygrath and Alberico of Barbadior. Brandin’s younger son is slain in a battle with the principality of Tigana, which the grief-stricken sorcerer then destroys. Years later, a small band of survivors, led by Alessan, last prince of Tigana’s royal house, wages psychological warfare, planting seeds for the overthrow of the two tyrants.

I received a paper copy of Tigana this week as a Random Act of Kindness from Cait of Escape Through the Pages. Thanks! I’ve heard great things about this book and I can’t wait to read it.


2. The Iron King, Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined. Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

Once again, the reputation of this series precedes it. I only have the first book but I’m willing to get my hands on the others if it lives up to the hype.


Pyxis, KC Neal3. Pyxis, K. C. Neal

Corinne lives an average teenage life working at her dad’s cafe, hanging out with her best friend, and trying to forget a falling-out with her almost-boyfriend Mason. Things take a strange turn when she uses her late grandmother’s food dyes for a bake sale, and her customers suddenly find her irresistibly alluring.

All the reviews I’ve read say that Pyxis is brilliant. Also, KC Neal is one of the friendliest twitterers you’re likely to meet!


Everneath, Brodi Ashton4. Everneath, Brodi Ashton

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld… this time forever.
She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

There seems to be a recurring theme here – everyone’s read it, everyone says it’s great! I got this copy as a RAK from Ladystorm last week, thanks!


Exiled, MR Merrick5. Exiled, M. R. Merrick

Chase Williams is a demon hunter in the Circle, or at least he was supposed to be. On his fifteenth birthday, Chase stepped up to the altar to claim his elemental power, but it never came. Elemental magic is passed down to a hunter through the bloodline, but on Chase’s birthday, the bloodline stopped.
Exiled without the Circle’s protection, Chase has spent two years trying to survive a world riddled with half-demons and magic.

I got Exiled when it was free a couple of weeks ago, and it looks awesome.


There seems to be a bit of a young-adult theme going on this week – at least the YA books tend to be slightly shorter and lighter going than the high fantasy tomes.

Are there books on your to-be-read pile that are calling out to you?

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Review: Gate to Kandrith, Nicole Luiken

Gate to Kandrith, Nicole LuikenTitle: Gate to Kandrith (Goodreads)

Author:   Nicole Luiken (@NicoleLuiken)


Series: Kandrith 1 of 2(?)

Genre: Adult High Fantasy/Romance

Published: Carina Press, March 26, 2012

My copy: Ebook ARC from NetGalley

Pre-order an E-copy: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • Diesel eBooks

Sarathena Remillus, daughter of the newly elected Primus of the Republic of Temboria, has been given a mission: discover the secret of slave magic. Anxious to escape the corruption and treachery of the capital, Sara welcomes the chance to finally prove herself far away in Kandrith, the tiny nation of former slaves.

Accompanying her on the journey is Lance, a Kandrithan to whom Sara owes her life. Lance despises the nobility, and is determined to resist his desire for Sara, despite her attempts to entice him into divulging the secret of his magic. (Goodreads)


Gate to Kandrith drew me in from the very first chapter and didn’t let go. The story moves along at a cracking pace, introducing elements of romance right away and weaving them around an interesting society and world.

The countries of the Republic and Kandrith are very different. The Republic is ruled by a Primus who has seized power, attended by a court of nobles with slaves to serve them. Kandrith was founded by escaped slaves, headed by one chosen by the Goddess of Mercy and protected by magic. Kandrith is rather utopian –  even though they do have a fairly fool-proof justice system in the “Listeners” who cannot hear lies, surely even in a nation of escaped slaves there would be someone ambitious enough to seize power? In any case, it sounds like an idyllic place.

The magic system used by the slaves is based on sacrifice – you must give up something in order to receive power. I like systems like this where balance is preserved more than those where magic is freely available to be used. It seems more realistic to me – as realistic as magic can be, anyway.

When this book is described as “adult fantasy”, it’s not wrong – right from the first chapter we’re introduced to jazoria, a drug that increases desire against the victim’s will. There’s quite a few raunchy and violent scenes throughout the book, and I can’t help feeling that these scenes may prevent the book from reaching as wide an audience as it might otherwise have. Not that I didn’t enjoy the romance – Sara and Lance are rather swoon-worthy!

The characters were, perhaps, a little shallow. That didn’t stop them from being likable though. It was great to see Sara’s journey as she discovered that there were ways to live other than how she had been raised in the Republic. Lance was just a total sweetheart! Absolutely no complaints there, I loved him.

Gate to Kandrith was a brilliant read and was very difficult to put down.  It will be tough to wait for the next book to come out to find out what happens next!

Read this book to your little ‘uns? Absolutely not! Contains some grisly deaths, graphic adult scenes, rape and torture.

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In My Mailbox (4)

Welcome to In My Mailbox, hosted each week by The Story Siren. Allow me to squee over the books I received this week! It’s a big one!

For Review


Two ARCs and a freebie from NetGalley this week:


I won an amazing giveaway this week – a collection of launch ebooks from Momentum – the new imprint from Pan Macmillan Australia. Thanks!

Two more lovely gifts:


I tried to avoid freebies this week, I really did. Sadly, I failed – Smashwords are having a massive promotion for read an ebook week, so check it out!

Aaaand, these were from Amazon:

That’s twenty new books. What on earth am I doing to myself? Who am I kidding, I love it!


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Five For Friday: Fantasy Books for Children

As you know, I’m still fairly new to this book blogosphere. Here’s the thing – as I went through my reader for the last few days, I realised that many of the book blogs post about the same things as each other each day. While I’m sure the memes help with deciding what to write about, I can’t help but feel that if I join in with them, my posts will just be lost to the ether – one more in an endless stream of bookish ramblings. So, I’ll ask you to please humour me while I go off on my own for a bit.

Each Friday I’m planning on posting about Five things. It may not be every Friday, but it will give me a chance to write about something other than what I’m reading right now.

This week:

Five Fantasy books or series that I enjoyed as a child.

There were many more than five, of course – these are just the ones that stand out as my favourites.

1. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

My Dad first read The Hobbit to my brother and sister and I when we were very small. I don’t remember much about that first reading but I know we loved it and were Tolkien fans for life. I think my Dad started reading us Lord of the Rings afterwards as well, but had to stop because it was a bit scary once the black riders came along. It wasn’t until after he had introduced us to the BBC radio version of LotR (my aunt had a copy on something like twelve cassettes, recorded from the radio) that I had another go at reading it. They both remain timeless classics even today, some 75 years after The Hobbit was first published.


2. The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper

It’s Midwinter’s Eve, the day before Will’s eleventh birthday. But there is an atmosphere of fear in the familiar countryside around him. And why does Mr Dawson the farmer give him an iron talisman, as if for protection? It turns out to be a birthday like no other. For Will discovers that he has the power of the Old Ones, and that he must embark on a quest that will enable the terrifyingly evil magic of the Dark to be vanquished. (cover blurb)

The Dark is Rising and the other four books in this series were such favourites of mine that I read them several times each and occasionally pick them up now for another read through. I’m sure this series is partly where my  love of Cornish fishing villages and having to find Green Men in cathedrals comes from. It was a strange co-incidence that I ended up living at the place where a few of the books are set for a few years. I can’t even describe why I loved these books so much, I just… loved everything about them.  If you haven’t read them, go do!

The sequence: Over Sea, Under Stone, The Dark is Rising, Greenwitch, The Grey King, Silver on the Tree


3. To The Dark Tower, Victor Kelleher

Awake and asleep, Tom has increasingly different lives. Awake he is a climber, scaling the cliffs by Tower Rock, and asleep, he finds himself in a vivid dream-world where he is the carrier, responsible for a strange and beautiful child, and forever in search of the elusive Sleeper. (cover blurb)

This book was introduced to me at my primary school library. I haven’t read it for some time now but I remember that I loved it at the time. I’ve just discovered today that I have a copy in my shelves! It’s now on The Pile.


4. The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

Another primary school favourite, four of the books were filmed for BBC TV during the late 1980s. I don’t remember whether I read the books or saw the series first, but either way the books were better, as they always are. I don’t actually have a copy of them – I’ll have to fix that before my little boy is old enough to enjoy them!

The series: The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobePrince CaspianThe Voyage of the Dawn TreaderThe Silver ChairThe Horse and His BoyThe Magician’s NephewThe Last Battle


5. Asterix comics, René Goscinny

The tale of Asterix the Gaul, his large friend Obelix, and the last Gaulish village against a host of bumbling Romans. My siblings and I took great delight in borrowing these out from the library whenever we found them. They may not be strictly fantasy, but they must have opened some kind of door to historical fiction.  Besides, they’re hilariously funny!


Do you have a fondly-remembered book or series from your childhood? I’d love to hear about it!


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Review: How To Be A Pirate, Cressida Cowell

Title: How To Be A Pirate (Goodreads)

Author:   Cressida Cowell


Series: How To Train Your Dragon Book 2 of 9

Genre: Childrens Fantasy

Published: Little, Brown and Co, 2004

Pages: 211


Paper copies: Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Book Depository

Not available as an e-book.

Hiccup is a Viking and a member of the Hooligan tribe. When Hiccup and his fellow classmates and their pet dragons are taking part in Pirate Training, a huge storm wrecks their ship and washes them, and a strange coffin onto the shore. Could this coffin hold the treasure of the legendary Grimbeard the Ghastly, the greatest pirate who ever struck Terror into the Inner Isles?


You may have seen the movie version of the first book in the series, How to Train Your Dragon. I borrowed this second book in the series, thinking it would continue the story on from the end of the movie.  In fact, the movie version was changed quite a bit from the original story. The vikings don’t ride the dragons as they are way too small. Hiccup speaks to Toothless (who really doesn’t have any teeth) in Dragonese. The characters names are there but the characters themselves seem quite different.

That aside, How to Be a Pirate is a very cute story. Almost every page has a little sketch illustration from the author that littlies are sure to love. While the movie version of How To Train Your Dragon was a more grown-up story of adults trying to protect their homes and families, the adult vikings in the books are much more silly and cartoonish, with plenty of fart jokes in there with the adventure.

I must hunt down the other books in the series (this copy came from the library) – I have a little boy who I am sure is going to love these in a few years time.

Read this book to your little ‘uns? Yes, they will love it!


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Review: City of Bones, Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones (Goodreads)

Author:   Cassandra Clare


Series: The Mortal Instruments, Book 1 of 4 (5 & 6 planned)
Genre: YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008
Pages: 512 (paperback)

Paper copies (paperback): Amazon.com Amazon.co.ukBook Depository
E-copies: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk • Diesel Ebooks

Clary Fray has just witnessed a murder in a nightclub, committed by three teenagers that only she can see. Things only get more strange as her mother disappears, she is attacked by a demon, and she and her best friend Simon are drawn into the world of the Shadowhunters.


Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, Faeries – The Mortal Instruments has it all. This is not, however, another Twilight clone. City of Bones begins what promises to be a great story of good against evil, tolerance against bigotry, falling in love with the wrong people and learning that all the stories are true.

City of Bones came well-recommended to me and I was looking forward to seeing whether all the hype was deserved. As I read the first few chapters of this book though, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.

Here were Clary and Simon, ordinary teenagers. They meet a trio of mysterious, tattooed youths who seem very free with information about their secret world.

As more and more details about the Shadow World are revealed, I couldn’t help but cringe at the dialogue even though it was quite funny at times. Pretty much everything Simon says in the whole book is a chucklesome one-liner, and the other characters engage in witty repartee even in the most dramatic of situations. Teenagers, at least the ones I know, just don’t talk like that. I just felt a little like such an epic story deserved characters who took the whole thing a little more seriously.

Despite their dialogue, I did become quite fond of the characters as the book went on. Clary, despite being blind as a bat when it comes to relationships, was a sweet character. She did seem to spend rather a lot of time looking at Jace’s muscles – but who wouldn’t, right? The obligatory love-polygon (it’s more than a triangle!) aspect was well written and left me wanting to read the next book to tie up the loose relationship ends.

The second half of the book was action-packed and left me unable to put it down – I nearly missed my station on the train a few times this week! I loved the Shadow World that Cassandra Clare has created. The storyline (in the first book, anyway) was quite reminiscent of the Harry Potter series – I was unsurprised to find out later that Cassie Clare had previously written Harry Potter fanfiction and has supposedly used some of that material in City of Bones. I’m hoping that the story will take on some more unique elements in the rest of the series.

City of Bones was an entertaining and exciting read. Read this book if you loved Harry Potter and if you’re a Young Adult fantasy fan.

Read it to your little ‘uns? Not really. There’s no swearing or naughty bits, but it’s really a story for bigger ‘uns.

Challenges: City of Bones fits neatly into the Immortal Challenge in several categories, but I’ll slot it into Werewolves since my Angels/Demons section is looking pretty full.


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