The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #2) by Jen Williams

The Bitter Twins Cover

The Ninth Rain has fallen, the Jure’lia have returned, and with Ebora a shadow of its former self, the old enemy are closer to conquering Sarn than ever.

Tormalin the Oathless and the Fell-Witch Noon have their hands full dealing with the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for nearly three hundred years. But these are not the great mythological warriors of old; hatched too early and with no link to their past lives, the war-beasts have no memory of the many battles they have fought and won, and no concept of how they can possibly do it again. The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists, but finding it will mean a dangerous journey at a time of war…

Meanwhile, Hestillion is trapped on board the corpse moon, forced into a strange and uneasy alliance with the Jure’lia queen. Something terrifying is growing up there, in the heart of the Behemoth, and the people of Sarn will have no defence against these new monsters.

My Review of The Bitter Twins

The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #2)The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The sequel to the brilliant Ninth Rain kicks it up a notch with more action, scarier monsters and a more expansive story.

There’s also a more desperate feel to the story now. The Jure’lia have returned, their ruins are waking up and piecing themselves back together and Hestellion has been kidnapped and taken aboard the Corpse Moon. The War Beasts have also returned but there are only a few of them, they have hatched too early and apart from the dragon bonded with Noon they don’t have their memories of their past lives. They don’t know how to fight and they certainly don’t know how to work together. How can the four of them possibly stop the Jure’lia from wiping out all the human settlements?

The monsters are creepy and visceral and make my skin crawl. The Jure’lia Queen is terrifying! Hestillion is very brave when she is taken hostage by the Queen, then they start to find common ground and Hestillion’s influence makes the Queen act more and more like a human. I think that just makes her even scarier! In this book, her story has become my favourite. She’s conflicted and unsure really of what she is doing, and whose side she wants to be on.

I loved everything with the War Beasts in! They were born without their memories and are not what they should have been. They find it difficult to get on with each other and they struggle to build themselves into a team, working against each other more than with each other. It brings a lot of humour into the book. Then the action scenes where they fight are just awesome.

A few different plot threads are woven together and there’s so much going on another author might have taken 3 or 4 books to cover all this. Mostly it works and it makes an action-packed story but some parts seem to become a little lost in the action. Bern’s visit to his family and Eri’s story could fill whole books by themselves.

Noon and Tor are trying to find a way to make the War Beasts into a fighting team. They find that an Eborean might have kept records of the War Beasts past lives but he left Eboaria hundreds of years ago on a journey searching for the origins of Ysgeril. Noon and Tor are so desperate to get the records and help the war beasts that they decide to follow his route.

I just love Jen Williams’ writing. She creates such complicated and diverse characters and the world she has created is rich and unique. She’s not afraid to write adult stories that can be dark at times; the ending is heartbreaking.

The Bitter Twins is an imaginative and original story with a cast of complex and diverse characters. Modern fantasy at it’s best and I cannot wait for the third book in the series!

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Bitter Twins
The Winnowing Flame Trilogy
Jen Williams
Fantasy
March 8th 2018
Kindle
320

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the birds in the sky

All the Birds in the Sky Blurb

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever growing ailments. Little do they realise that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together—to either save the world or plunge it into a new dark age.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the Apocalypse.

My Review of All the Birds in the Sky

All the Birds in the SkyAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an unusual book! All the Birds in the Sky mixes magic, sci-fi, climate change, other universes and the end of the world.

There’s a bit of Jonas Jonasson style farce in, especially at the start (2-second time machine!). When it jumps to Patricia and Laurence as grown ups the setting reminds me of the world in Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood, with added hipster style.

It feels to me like a lot of thought has gone into the near future setting and the technology they have. It felt realistic and vibrant and I loved the mix of magic and science.

There’s a strong sense of humour running through it and I really liked the writing style, but some parts were a little confusing. Nothing is explained at the start, I felt a little like I was thrown into the middle of a story. Most of it slowly started to make sense, but some bits felt unfinished. I’m not sure really what the point of Mr Rose was.

I liked Patricia and Laurence, they seem warm, mostly kind, and very human. They are both outcasts but see the world differently, and they have some very funny observations on life. I liked the diversity of the other characters and they all had distinct personalities.

Five-star rating from me because all the good bits far outweigh the few flaws in it. It’s odd and unusual and truly is a wonderful gem of a book. Normally I like finishing books so I can start the next one and I rush through them, but with this one, I wish it were twice as long.

All the Birds in the Sky
Charlie Jane Anders
Sci-Fi
January 26th 2016
432

The Circle (Engelsfors #1) by Mats Strandberg

The Circle

The Circle Blurb

One night, when a strange red moon fills the sky, six school girls find themselves in an abandoned theme park, drawn there by a mysterious force. A student has just been found dead. Everyone suspects suicide. Everyone – except them.

In that derelict fairground an ancient prophecy is revealed. They are The Chosen Ones, a group of witches, bound together by a power, one which could destroy them all. But they soon learn that despite their differences they need each other in order to master the forces that have been awakened within them.

High school is now a matter of life and death. Because the killing has only just begun

My review of The Circle

The Circle (Hammer)The Circle by Mats Strandberg translated by Sara Bergmark Elfgren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Circle is a Swedish Young Adult novel. Set in the small town of Engelsfor in Sweden, The Circle follows six teenagers at the local high school that find out they have magic powers.

For the first few chapters I was a little confused by all the different characters as the viewpoint jumps between the girls, but by the middle of the book, I had them sorted. They are all very different and there is enough character development to start getting to know each of them.

Not all of the girls were very likeable and they didn’t get on with each other, this conflict and the regular action keeps the book moving nicely.

There wasn’t enough use of their magic powers for me though, for most of the book the girls struggled to understand what they were and had no real idea how to use them. It might be more realistic this way, but I want to see more magic!

It’s long for a young adult book, but it all wraps up nicely at the end, no cliffhangers here! So even though there are sequels this can be read as a one off.

I will be reading the next book though, I want to see them getting the hang of their magic powers and using them a bit more.

The Circle
Mats Strandberg
Young Adult Fantasy
June 7th 2012

Hello, Moto by Nnedi Okorafor

hello moto

There is witchcraft in science and a science to witchcraft. Both will conspire against you eventually.

My Review of Hello, Moto

In Hello, Moto, technology and magic merge into one very interesting short story.

Philo had been in Jos when the riots happened. I knew it was her and her wig. A technology I had created. Neurotransmitters, mobile phones, incantation, and hypnosis- even I knew my creation was genius. But all it sparked in the North was death and mayhem.

It left me with more questions than answers and it’s a massive cliffhanger ending, but I feel like that’s a good thing.

You definitely need to use your own imagination when you’re reading this.

Read for free at Tor.com

Hello, Moto
Nnedi Okorafor
Fantasy
Online Short Story

Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She’s Dead (ToadWitch #1) by Christiana Miller

Somebody tell aunt tillie shes dead

Book Description

A little magic can go a long way — to really screwing up a girl’s life!

Mara is having the worst month of her life. At least, that’s what her cards tell her and they’ve never been wrong. She’s evicted from her apartment, loses her job and is banned from Beverly Hills. So when the tarot cards predict her imminent demise, she uses a little magic to make her world right.

Suddenly, an aunt she’s never met dies, leaving Mara as her sole heir. But when Mara moves into her inherited home, she discovers Aunt Tillie never moved out. She’s still one pissed-off old lady, even post-mortem, and she blames Mara’s magical meddling for her death.

When Mara accidentally releases a demon and awakens the spirit of the most powerful witch in history, Tillie’s ready to kill her — literally. It’s the only way she can think of to save the girl from herself. The witch and the demon, however, have other plans for Mara’s body.

My Review of Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She’s Dead

Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead (ToadWitch, #1)Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She’s Dead by Christiana Miller
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The cover and the title fooled me into thinking this would be a cosy paranormal romance story, and it sat unread on my kindle for nearly 2 years.

It feels more like urban fantasy to me (cosy urban fantasy?), the ghosts are actually dangerous and there is a fair bit of adult content towards the end.

But even so, the first half I found boring and I nearly gave up on it halfway through. It consists mainly of conversations between Mara and her friend Gus, which I didn’t find interesting.

Gus could have been a good character, but he doesn’t get out of the stereotypical ‘gay best friend’ role. If the author put a bit more thought into his personality he would have been interesting enough to carry most of the book.

When Mara moves into the cottage the story picks up a bit, and Mara gets more likeable. She’s daft and doesn’t think before she does anything, but still I kinda liked her.

I didn’t understand the attraction to the romantic interest, he seems like a bit of an idiot. And then she spends one night with him and suddenly she’s calling him her boyfriend. It was all a bit odd. It could have been left out as it didn’t add anything to the book.

I was happy to get to the end of this, the story never grabbed me and I didn’t really care what happened.

Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead
ToadWitch #1
Christiana Miller
Urban Fantasy