This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books they’ve read and share what they have got up to during the last week.
It’s been half term week, so the boys are at home. Ethan has been out and about visiting friends, while Oscar has been playing computer games, practising chess and outside finessing his football skills. So the weeds in the garden are getting a battering. Unfortunately, I was back in bed on Tuesday after a relapse. It wasn’t anything like the severity of previous attacks of fatigue, but I was – and am – feeling depressed and angry that the minute I try to reclaim anything approaching my old life, I’m sharply reminded that it’s beyond my reach more than two years after I first got sick.
The photo gallery this week is all about the flowers in the garden that are surviving said battered weeds. We’ve now had over a fortnight without any rain worth the name. I’m hoping we get some this week, or some of these blossoms will be suffering. Although the house leeks at the front in the slate won’t mind one way or another… they just suck it all up, bless them. The escallonia bush is covered in pink blossoms, though this year there hasn’t been any nests which is a relief as they generally get predated by the magpies. My black elder is smothered in blossoms, which look fabulous against the foliage and the choisya is also doing well. The heuchera are flowering, and this amber wave is looking fabulous, despite the bindweed trying to strangle it. I thought I’d give you a view of the weed-ridden chaos that is the back garden, away from the shrubbery.
On a more positive note, I was able to finish the line edit for Flame & Blame this week and also rewrote the beginning of Casta and the Giggling Knight. At least I’m still able to write, so I suppose I should stop feeling so sorry for myself. Because it wasn’t all that long ago that I couldn’t.
Books I’ve read in the last week:-
March’s End by Daniel Polansky
The Harrows are a typical suburban family who, since time immemorial, have borne a sacred and terrible charge. In the daylight they are teachers, doctors, bartenders and vagrants, but at night they are the rulers and protectors of the March, a fantastical secondary world populated with animate antiquated toys and sentient lichen, a panorama of the impossible where cities are carried on the backs of giant snails, and thunderstorms can be subdued with song.
But beneath this dreamlike exterior lie dark secrets, and for generation after generation the Harrows have defended the March from the perils that wait outside its borders – when they are not consumed in their own bitter internecine quarrels.
In the modern day the Harrow clan are composed of Sophia, the High Queen of the March, a brilliant, calculating matriarch, and her three children – noble Constance, visionary, rebellious Mary Ann, and clever, amoral Will. Moving back and forth between their youth, adolescence, and adulthood, we watch as this family fractures, then reconciles in the face of a conflict endangering not only the existence of the March, but of the ‘real world’ itself.
I loved The Low Town trilogy – see my reviews of The Straight Razor Cure, Tomorrow the Killing and She Who Waits, as well as the start of his next series, Those Above. This was a particularly bleak read, especially if taken as an allegory of what is happening environmentally and politically around the world. Review to follow.
Demon Siege – Book 4 of the Pacts Arcane and Otherwise series by Joanna Maciejewska
The demons have arrived, and the final battle for Kaighal is about to start.
In preparation for the siege, Kamira has gathered as many allies as she could, but some are more reluctant than others. In the city about to face off against powerful demons and their hordes of demonlings, its defenders are still divided. As it becomes apparent that there’s one or more traitors in their midst, Kamira and her friends will have to take risks to ensure Kaighal doesn’t fall.
While humans struggle with their own challenges, five demons vie for supremacy over one another. If Kamira has her say, that’s five demons too many, and they all have to go, one way or another… even if she and Veelk have to face them on their own.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining and accomplished Sand and Sorcery series – see my reviews of By the Pact, Scars of Stone and Shadows of Kaighal – so it was with mixed feelings that I picked up this final instalment. Maciejewska brings this adventure to a triumphant conclusion – but I want to know more about happens next to Kamira and Veelk and particularly to a particular demon I’ve grown fond off… Spinoff series, please! Review to follow.
Shades of Milk and Honey – Book 1 of The Glamourist Histories series by Mary Robinette Kowal
Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.
Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.
I loved the Lady Astronaut series – see my reviews of The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky and The Relentless Moon. This offering is such a cool premise triumphantly achieved by this talented author. There are plenty of plot twists as Jane tries to negotiate relationships with friends and eligible men knowing that she is plain and shy. Intriguing echoes of Pride and Prejudice ripple through the storyline, providing enjoyable Easter eggs for Austen fans. This was huge fun and came to an end far too soon. 9/10
Scarlet – Book 1 of the Scarlet series by Genevieve Cogman
Revolution is a bloodthirsty business . . . especially when vampires are involved.
It is 1793 and the French Revolution is in full swing. Vampires—usually rich and aristocratic—have slaked the guillotine’s thirst in large numbers. The mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel, a disguised British noble, and his League are heroically rescuing dozens of aristocrats from execution, both human and vampire. And soon they will have an ace up their Eleanor Dalton.
Eleanor is working as a housemaid on the estate of a vampire Baroness. Her highest aspiration is to one day become a modiste. But when the Baroness hosts a mysterious noble and his wife, they tell Eleanor she is the spitting image of a French aristocrat, and they convince her to journey to France to aid them in a daring scheme. Soon, Eleanor finds herself in Paris, swept up in magic and intrigue—and chaos—beyond her wildest dreams. But there’s more to fear than ardent Revolutionaries. For Eleanor stumbles across a centuries-old war between vampires and their fiercest enemy. And they’re out for blood. . . .
I loved The Invisible Library series – see my reviews of The Invisible Library, The Masked City, The Secret Chapter, The Dark Archive, The Lost Plot and The Untold Story so was delighted to get hold of this arc. And I wasn’t disappointed. Eleanor is a wonderful, nuanced protagonist, who has been pitchforked right into the middle of the madness that became the Terror in the aftermath of the French Revolution. And there are also vampires… Review to follow.
NOVELLA – The Keeper’s Six by Kate Elliott
It’s been a year since Esther set foot in the Beyond, the alien landscape stretching between worlds, crossing boundaries of space and time. She and her magical travelling party, her Hex, haven’t spoken since the Concilium banned them from the Beyond. But when she wakes in the middle of the night to her son’s cry for help, the members of her Hex are the only ones she can trust to help her bring him back from wherever he has been taken.
Esther will have to risk everything to find him. Undercover and hidden from the Concilium, she and her Hex will be tested by dragon lords, a darkness so dense it can suffocate, and the bones of an old crime come back to haunt her. 8/10
I’m a long-time fan of Elliott’s writing – see my reviews for the Crown of Stars series, Cold Magic and Unconquerable Sun. So I was keen to get hold of this portal adventure featuring an older protagonist. I love the world and the fact that we are immediately tipped into the middle of the crisis. The dragons are magnificent and I loved the perilous trek between the worlds – but I did feel that the story very suddenly was wrapped up with a speed that didn’t quite match the opening beats and the mid-adventure plot. I’d love to see more adventures featuring Esther. 8/10
My posts last week:
Castellan the Black and his Wise Draconic Musings on Life
*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc Bang Bang Bodhisattva by Aubrey Wood
Can’t-Wait-Wednesday featuring The Rowan by Davis Bunn
*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc I, Julian by Claire Gilbert
Hope you, too, had some brilliant books to tuck into and wishing you all a happy, healthy week😊.