Monthly Archives: October 2016

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook novella The Imlen Brat by Sarah Avery

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I saw this offering on Netgalley and was attracted by the intriguing title and blurb – although I hadn’t appreciated it was a novella when I requested it.

theimlenbratStisele of Imlen knows she’s in trouble, but not how much. The young adopted daughter of Beltresa’s sovereign longs to be a weapon in her mother’s service — even against her birth family, should Utroneth ask it. If only Stisele could master the temper that drives her to pepper the royal heir with petty kin-curses. But Stisele’s dreams are bigger than the balance of intrigues that keeps her alive and captive in this perilous royal court. She can be more than a speaker of kin-curses. She deserves a life beyond the palace islet she’s never left. Her two imaginary friends, if indeed that’s what they are, tell her so. If Stisele is to make her own life in a world that’s not ready for her, she must regain the trust of wary allies. She must begin to control the power of the kin-curse — her imaginary friends are as much hindrance as help. And she will have to give up her place in the only home she’s ever known.

Stisele is a hot-tempered, impetuous child who comes across as just that, which is very refreshing. It is very difficult to write convincingly as a child without appearing to be just that bit too wise and self-aware – and Stisele isn’t either. She is also in a very difficult place and I enjoyed the fact that we appreciated her precariousness well before she did. Her two imaginary friends also produce a nice plot twist near the end of this story.

The cast of characters – from her spoilt step-sister who is to be the future ruler, to her loving and very concerned step-mother  – all jump off the page, giving us an opportunity to view them both through Stisele’s eyes and gauge our own opinions about them. This is far harder to accomplish than Avery makes it look and for me, this was a large part of the joy of this novella, also providing some welcome shafts of humour, even while I was wincing.

Overall, this novella is a delight. But the moment I completed it, I went looking for more from this talented writer and found nothing else, which was quite frustrating as this clearly reads as an opening salvo to a longer adventure in a politically complicated, well depicted world with clear magical rules. I  hope that Avery has plans to release a full-length novel in this world soon – I for one, will be only too pleased to scoop it up and become engrossed once more in Stisele’s adventures.

My copy of The Imlen Brat was provided by the publisher via Netgalley, which has not affected my unbiased review of the novella in any way.
9/10

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Review of KINDLE Ebook Heirs of Empire – Book 1 of The Scourwind Legacy by Evan Currie

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One of the Netgalley arcs I have waiting to be reviewed is An Empire Asunder, the sequel to this one. So given Heirs of Empire was already in my TBR pile as Himself is a solid Currie fan, I decided to read it first. I hasten to add this is not me turning over a new leaf, as I’ll be back to my usual disorganised – let’s-crash-midway-into this series, anyhow – mode in due course…

heirsofempireThe Scourwind family legacy brought the empire to the height of its power and prosperity and defended it against all enemies. Now one man’s machinations aim to shift the balance of power—with violent and devastating consequences.

The blurb continues at some length, but frankly that’s all you need to know before starting Heirs of Empire. The story is so fast-paced and punchy, as events stack up in quick succession, I think it would be a shame to go into it with any more information. Currie is good at writing action and letting his unusual world unfold through the storyline, although I’m still not quite sure what it is or where it is situated. However, given that this is the first in a series, I’ll run with that. It is an interesting mash-up in that this one reads like a classic epic Fantasy novel, but is clearly science fiction as all the big, scary weaponry run on lost technology, rather than magic.

There are three main protagonists – two are teenagers on the run and one is a former elite soldier turned privateer. I really like Mira Desol, who isn’t on anyone’s side except her own and a sense of obligation to those who have thrown in their lot with her. To say she has a reckless streak is putting it mildly. Currie is good at depicting nuanced characters with edges that make them difficult – both teenagers have a reputation for being a pain. But this book isn’t all about their moody angst – they’re too busy trying to simply stay alive to even begin to come to terms with what has overtaken them.

The other major character is General Corian, who is another elite soldier on a mission to rid the empire of those wrongdoers he believes are allowing too much corruption to fester. If I have any grizzles with this very enjoyable, engrossing adventure it is that I would have liked to have seen him more nuanced. He is continually short-fused and furious, but clearly something drove him to take the drastic steps he does and I would like to have seen at least one scene showing his reasoning, given we are in his viewpoint at intervals throughout the story.

However, this isn’t a dealbreaker – Currie has provided an action-packed tale and the climactic ending had me unable to put the book down until it was completed – for starters, I wasn’t sure exactly who was going to survive. I can now see why Himself has got hold of so many books by this author and I look forward to plunging back into this world very soon.
8/10

Friday Faceoff – Toil and Trouble…

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week we are looking at covers celebrating Halloween and I have chosen Equal Rites by the wonderful Terry Pratchett.

 

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This is the cover that I own – published by Corgi 1989, I think it is the best cover by a long country mile. Yep. I’m aware I probably come across as a bit of a fossil here, ranting about, ‘Back in my day…’ but in this case I’ll stand by it. This cover brims with mapcap energy and fun – just like the book. Love it, love it, love it…

 

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This offering is, produced by Harper Torch in 2000, is obviously aimed at women with the natty female gamete symbol zipping across a tasteful mauve cover with an equally tasteful colour-matched hat. Really? Equal Rites is a GIRLY read? It’s for EVERYONE people! It ridicules sexism by poking fun at it – surely men need to get that message, too?

 

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Harper Perennial in 2005 are still ALL about gender-specific covers. The F-word even appears in the strapline *sigh*. Course THAT’S going to encourage all the blokes to read it, isn’t it? Again we have the tasteful mauve cover – this time with a witch wearing a tablecloth and an awkwardly positioned hand holding a globe/world/who cares covering her face. Another ghastly, lack-lustre effort that doesn’t begin to hint at the quirky, off-beat humour and general craziness Pratchett has to offer.

 

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And now we lurch from politically correct to stygian gloom… You’d think this was a horror or dry literary offering, wouldn’t you? WHY the anvil?? I’ve reread this book twice and I cannot recall a hammer featuring. The wizard’s staff – yes! Hilarity and daft footnotes – yes! Gloomy anvils – not so much… For shame, Transworld Digital – this is plain DREARY.

 

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At least Gollancz in 2014 has managed to move away from insisting this book is exclusively for women – or attempting to market a madcap comedy to horror or literary fans. Again with the mauve – a colour I’m learning to HATE, by the way – they are at least flagging the fact it’s funny. But the figures are crude and simplistic, something that Pratchett patently isn’t and once more the book is woefully betrayed by a sub-standard cover that doesn’t begin to hint at the riotous fun within.

Happy Halloween, by the way…

The Spirit Animal Award Nomination

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I am honoured to have been nominated for this award by Charles French at https://charlesfrenchonwordsreadingandwriting.wordpress.com/. Do drop in and visit his blog if you haven’t already. He is presently busy at an exciting stage in his writing career as he has recently released his horror novel Maledicus – Book 1 of The Investigative Paranormal Society series.

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The rules of the award:
*Thank the blogger who nominated you, and link back to his/her blog.
*Post the award picture on your blog.
*Write a short paragraph about your blog and what it means to you.
*Answer this question: if you could be any animal, what would it be?
*Choose and notify ten  three nominees (yep – I’ve changed the rules on this one…)

What does my blog mean to me?
I love blogging about books. Reading is my main hobby and the fact that I can now share my thoughts and opinions with other book lovers around the world never fails to fill me with awed delight. I grew up in an era when reading was mostly a private affair and while I could discuss books with family members as we swapped our library books about, there was no way I could reach out to anyone else. However, now I can read reviews on any type of book I choose and exchange recommendations with readers who share my tastes. I am now in a position where I can request review copies through the likes of Netgalley and help spread the word about new releases that I’ve enjoyed. It is truly a wonderful time to be alive.

This other consequence is that as I exchange opinions and chat about books, I’ve got to know a community of wonderful people online – people I now count as friends. People from all over the world who I’ll probably never meet, but I now know what they read, what they do for a living and their views and opinions on all sorts of subjects. People who can have me laughing aloud as I sit reading their words, or whose kind comforting words cheer me up when I’m down. Thank you, all of you…

What is my spirit animal?
As for my spirit animal – it’s the elephant. I’ve loved these amazing creatures since I was a child and feel very sad they are being continuously hunted for their ivory. There was an excellent programme on Radio

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4 about them, where I learnt that most of their communication is carried out sub-sonically, below human hearing range and that they choose their matriarch leaders for their kindness and nurturing skills. Which just goes to show how much more evolved they are, compared the sickening violence we visit upon each other by dint of choosing the most ambitious to be our leaders.

The females live in family groups and they look after each other when they are ill or injured and raise babies together. When not hunted, they can live up to the age of seventy. They are nomadic and roam across large tracts of land and their apparent destruction can help vegetation as their manure contains seeds and fertilises the land, while they snap off dead and dying branches during grazing. I just hope when my grandchildren and their children are adults, elephants will still be roaming around Africa and Asia – the outlook for them right now isn’t looking all that good.

My nominations
I’m going to nominate three awesome bloggers:-
The Captain’s Quarters – https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordpress.com/. A fabulous nautical blogger whose reviews on a range of entertaining books are a delight to read.
SCy-Fy – the blog of S.C. Flynn – https://scflynn.com/. Author Stuart Flynn is bound to have an interesting spirit animal, given the subject matter of his book Children of the Different.
Kristen Twardowski – https://kristentwardowski.wordpress.com/. A writers’ blog, whose blogs on writing are always worth reading.

Review of KINDLE Ebook A Darker Shade of Magic – Book 1 of the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab

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This is another book that’s been tucked away in my TBR pile for far too long – so I gave myself a treat and dusted it off for a train journey to London. Would it keep me suitably engrossed?

adarkershadeofmagicKell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city. There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

That is most of the rather chatty blurb, which gives an idea of the intriguing backdrop to the mayhem. I  love the idea of the parallel worlds that have been influenced by an escape of magic, which is both sentient and hungry. If magic-wielders aren’t sufficiently powerful, or too dark, then the magic turns carnivorous with some nasty consequences.

When one of the most powerful magic-users in the land, used as a courier to hop between worlds, goes on indulging in some risky behaviour, he finally finds sufficient danger to satisfy him. Indeed, he finds more than he can cope with… Schwab’s characters are well depicted. Kell’s smuggling is depicted such that I found myself completely sympathising with him – and I generally have little sympathy with rule-breakers and rebels as protagonists. And I plain fell in love with Lila – madcap adrenaline junkie and dreamer who’d rather go out in a blaze of glory than continue trudging in gritted misery to make ends meet.

This grimdark fantasy quickly hooked my attention and as the body count started to rise and an evil plot was uncovered, I was hoping the train journey wouldn’t end too soon – not normally my attitude at the end of a packed day in London. The pace quickly picked up and the plot cantered along at a clip. While I generally don’t enjoy antagonists who revel in their wickedness – most people simply aren’t like that – there are occasions when a thoroughly psychotic villain does tick the box. In this book, there are a pair of them and it is a testament to Schwab’s imaginative ingenuity that she manages to give us a very powerful magic-user and then provides two terrifying characters who are capable of overwhelming him.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I look forward to getting caught up in the next slice of the adventure where this well thought out magic system prevails. If you haven’t yet encountered this one, then get hold of it – the magical laws and characters are a delight.
9/10

Teaser Tuesday – 25th October, 2016

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Teaser

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This is my choice of the day:
Heirs of Empire – Book 1 of The Scourwind Legacy by Evan C. Currie
2% “Well, slaughter a few thousand people and you do get a bit of a reputation,” he said, standing up. “I heirsofempirehonestly should have killed more. No one really seems to mind if your kill list tops a million for some reason. The difference between a murderer and a statesman, don’t you know?”
“Statesman? You led a revolt against the lawful government, using chemical warfare as your lead weapon. That’s not statesmanship, that’s a psychotic break,” Mira told him.

BLURB: The Scourwind family legacy brought the empire to the height of its power and prosperity and defended it against all enemies. Now one man’s machinations aim to shift the balance of power—with violent and devastating consequences. As the stakes rise, loyalists, mercenaries, and political opportunists rally around the heirs in a desperate bid to unseat the usurper. But if their risky gambit fails, will the empire crumble into oblivion?

As you can see, I’ve only just started this one. However, I have high hopes for it – Himself has read one of his other series and enjoyed it. I will be reviewing the sequel to this book for Netgalley in due course and thought it might be an idea to be organised enough to read the first book before tucking into it. So hopefully, I’ll be writing a review for this one next week…

Review of KINDLE Ebook The Steerswoman – Book 1 of The Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein

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I read this book longer ago than I care to recall and when I discussed this with Himself, it transpired that somehow this one passed him by. On my recommendation, he bought the ebook which meant I could revisit it – yay!

thesteerwomanSteerswomen, and a very few Steersmen, are members of an order dedicated to discovering and disseminating knowledge. Although they are foremost navigators of the high seas, Steerswomen are also explorers and cartographers upon land as well as sea. With one exception, they are pledged to always answer any question put to them with as truthful a response as is possible within their own limitations. However, they also require anyone of whom they ask questions to respond in the same manner, upon penalty of the Steerswomen’s ban; those under the ban do not receive answers from the steerswomen.

This is a delight – an adult fantasy with a nuanced, capable heroine who is comfortable with who she is and commands respect without being a Mary Sue. The world is sharply depicted, mostly through Rowan’s viewpoint without any info dumps and I enjoyed the way the pace steadily picks up as her interest in the jewels begins to attract the wrong sort of attention. The supporting cast are also excellent – no one is depicted as being entirely evil and the gulf between wizards and the rest of the populace is well demonstrated. I love how Kirstein manages to portray the ‘magic’ so the reader is immediately aware of how it works, while it continues to flummox the characters within the story. It’s one of the many deft little touches that continued to please me throughout this well written and thoroughly enjoyable story.

Plenty occurs throughout and the pacing is beautifully judged as the consequences of Rowan’s initial curiosity about those gemstones continue to snowball. By the end, it became an effort to put the book down and I read far later than I should to discover the denouement. I’m aware this is part of a series and couldn’t quite recall how it ended, but was concerned that there might have been the dreaded cliffhanger.

However, the storyline running through the book is satisfactorily tied up, while leaving a couple of major plotpoints dangling for the next book. I’m delighted that Himself decided to buy the other books in the series, so I won’t have to wait before diving back into this enjoyable and fascinating world.
10/10

Sunday Post – 23rd October

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Sunday Post

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

vegfestThis has been another busy, busy week. I had visitors staying for the week who I don’t get to see all that often, so I eased off with the blogging, etc while we caught up and had long, leisurely chats over cups of tea. They left on Friday and I went up to Vegfest in London yesterday with my son, Robbie. We had a lovely time together and I learnt a lot more about feeding a vegetarian/vegan family in a friendly supportive atmosphere. Rob got the chance to talk to some lovely vegan body-builders, who were only too happy to explode some myths about needing meat to add muscle and bulk. The bonus – there was also stacks of scrummy food…

I picked up the children today and am grannying again.

This week I have read:

The Imlen Brat by Sarah Avery
theimlenbratStisele of Imlen knows she’s in trouble, but not how much. The young adopted daughter of Beltresa’s sovereign longs to be a weapon in her mother’s service — even against her birth family, should Utroneth ask it. If only Stisele could master the temper that drives her to pepper the royal heir with petty kin-curses. But Stisele’s dreams are bigger than the balance of intrigues that keeps her alive and captive in this perilous royal court. She can be more than a speaker of kin-curses. She deserves a life beyond the palace islet she’s never left. Her two imaginary friends, if indeed that’s what they are, tell her so. If Stisele is to make her own life in a world that’s not ready for her, she must regain the trust of wary allies. She must begin to control the power of the kin-curse—her imaginary friends are as much hindrance as help. And she will have to give up her place in the only home she’s ever known.

This is a cracking premise – I’m always a sucker for tense political intrigue and seeing through the lens of a child where I understood more about what was going on than she did was a treat. My only grizzle – the novella ended too soon…

 

 

The Steerswoman – Book 1 of The Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein
The Steerswoman is the first novel in the Steerswoman series. Steerswomen, and a very few Steersmen, thesteerwomanare members of an order dedicated to discovering and disseminating knowledge. Although they are foremost navigators of the high seas, Steerswomen are also explorers and cartographers upon land as well as sea. With one exception, they are pledged to always answer any question put to them with as truthful a response as is possible within their own limitations. However, they also require anyone of whom they ask questions to respond in the same manner, upon penalty of the Steerswomen’s ban; those under the ban do not receive answers from the steerswomen.

I read this fantastic book longer ago than I care to remember and on discussing it with Himself, he decided to buy it now that it’s available on Kindle. I took a breath and reread it – something I rarely do and remembered all over again why it has lodged in my head when so many others have faded away…

 

Return to the Secret Garden by Holly Webb
returntothesecretgardenIt’s 1939 and a group of children have been evacuated to Misselthwaite Hall. Emmie is far from happy to have been separated from her cat and sent to a huge old mansion. But soon she starts discovering the secrets of the house – a boy crying at night, a diary written by a girl named Mary and a garden. A very secret garden…

This is the sequel to Frances Hodgeson Burnett’s classic, The Secret Garden, which was a huge favourite of mine when I was a child as my grandmother read it to me back in 1963. Webb has managed to revisit Misselthwaite Hall with another spiky heroine every bit as angry and alienated as Mary Lennox and we rediscover all over again the magic of a forgotten garden – and some hard life lessons along the way.

 

 

A Darker Shade of Magic – Book 1 of the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab
Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes adarkershadeofmagicconnected by one magical city. There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now. Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand…

Yes – I realise I must be one of the last people on the planet to have read this one, but I’m very glad I did. It entertained me on the train journey to and from London yesterday.

My posts last week:
Sunday Post – 16th October

Teaser Tuesday – featuring The Steerswoman – Book 1 of The Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of So Many Boots, So Little Time – Book 3 of The MisAdventures of Miss Lilly by Kalan Chapman Lloyd

Favourite Time Travelling Novels – Part 2

Friday Faceoff – There’s no place like home… featuring Crooked House by Agatha Christie

Review of Penric’s Demon – A World of Five Gods novella by Lois McMaster Bujold

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:
The Character Evolution Files, No 13: Answers to Lingering Questions About the Journey Through the Character Arc https://saraletourneauwriter.com/2016/10/18/more-answers-journey-through-character-arc/ Once more Sara LeTourneau provides an excellent article on this intriguing aspect of plotting – do take note of that awesome graph she has constructed…

Space Features of the Week (16th October) http://earthianhivemind.net/2016/10/16/space-features-week-16-october/ Steph gives a quick overview on what is going on offplanet. The feature regarding Asgardia particularly caught my eye.

…eat yer heart out Mel Gibson… yer Braveheart’s got NUTHIN on Master Gallacher for courage… https://seumasgallacher.com/2014/11/18/eat-yer-heart-out-mel-gibson-yer-bravehearts-got-nuthin-on-master-gallacher-for-courage/ Successful indie author Seumas Gallacher is always worth reading – and this article had me spluttering my tea all over the keyboard.

Many thanks for visiting and taking the time and trouble to comment – and may you have a wonderful reading and blogging week.

Review of KINDLE Ebook Penric’s Demon – A World of Five Gods novella by Lois McMaster Bujold

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Anyone who has read my blog will know that I am a huge fan of Bujold’s work – see my review of Cryoburn. And this short offering is set in the world she created with The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls and The Hallowed Hunt. It’s a measure of the mess I’m in with my TBR mountain that gems like The Hallowed Hunt and Penric’s Demon exist in there unread.

penricsdemonOn his way to his betrothal, young Lord Penric comes upon a riding accident with an elderly lady on the ground, her maidservant and guardsmen distraught. As he approaches to help, he discovers that the lady is a Temple divine, servant to the five gods of this world. Her avowed god is The Bastard, “master of all disasters out of season”, and with her dying breath she bequeaths her mysterious powers to Penric. From that moment on, Penric’s life is irreversibly changed, and his life is in danger from those who envy or fear him.

It’s a great premise and Bujold handles it beautifully. During the rest of the story, we witness the unworldly, poverty-stricken younger son grapple with the challenge of facing an ancient demon used to residing within highly trained women. I love the way she unfolds the story and I get lost in her worlds in a way that rarely happens with anyone else. There are no bells and whistles with Bujold’s writing style, nevertheless its smooth unobtrusiveness doesn’t so much hook as harpoon me into her story – it was almost physically painful to put down the book before finishing it.

Penric is very well handled – it would have been easy to write him as an unknowing innocent or some appalled victim flailing around helplessly, but while he is inexperienced and naïve, he is also intelligent. I love the little details she adds – the demon’s fascination with Penric’s body, for instance. Bujold’s wry humour regularly surfaces throughout this novella, so that along with the growing tension and danger I also had moments where I found myself grinning.

The supporting cast are also vividly depicted and this world leaps off the pages as only worlds can when an author knows and loves an establishing setting. So although this isn’t a long book, it covers a lot of ground in a short space of time and while I was aware I was burning through it fast, it didn’t suddenly come to an abrupt halt just as it was getting going – an ongoing issue I have with some poorly paced novellas.

As you might have gathered, I LOVED this one. It’s a gem and before the month is over, I’ve promised myself the pleasure of sitting down with the sequel Penric and the Shaman – and it’s promises like this that make Life so very sweet.
9/10

Friday Faceoff – There’s no place like home…

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week we are looking at covers featuring abandoned houses and I have chosen Crooked House by Agatha Christie.

 

crookedhouseThis is the cover that caught my eye – published by Minotaur Books in 2002, I think it strikingly evokes a sense of unease and disfunction using a ruined house as a very effective metaphor. This is my favourite.

 

crookedhouse1This offering is also eye-catching with the bright red cover and the stylised font giving the impression of the crooked house. Published in 2011 by William Morrow, I also very much like this cover.

 

crookedhouse2This offering, produced in 2010 by Harper Collins, is a facsimile of the first edition. While I love the beautiful etched rendition of the crooked house in the spooky wood, it is just a bit too muted to really catch the eye on a crowded bookshelf.

 

crookedhouse3This Turkish cover, produced by Altın Kitaplar in 2014 is another atmospheric offering. I like the sepia colour palette, punctuated by the bright red splash in the corner, which emphasises the sense of menace.

 

crookedhouse4This French edition, produced by Livre de Poche in 2010, again has a strong sense of something amiss. The unusual perspective of the house with the brooding storm clouds above is eye-catching and appealing. Which is your favourite?