The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #1)

the ninth rain

Book Description

Jen Williams, acclaimed author of The Copper Cat trilogy, featuring THE COPPER PROMISE, THE IRON GHOST and THE SILVER TIDE, returns with the first in a blistering new trilogy. ‘An original new voice in heroic fantasy’ Adrian Tchaikovsky

The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces – talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.

When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.

But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure’lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall… 

My review of The Ninth Rain

The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy, #1)The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jen Williams has written a wonderful fantasy book here, with a cast of warm and lively characters.

Lady Vintage is a travelling scholar, researching the remains of what appear to be alien ships that crashed to earth in a failed invasion attempt. She has a strong and kind personality and she doesn’t let problems stop her, almost refusing to acknowledge them. Vintage is still mourning the loss of her Eboran friend (lover?) Nanathema who disappeared 20 years ago.

Tormalin is an Eboran who Lady Vintage has hired to help and protect her on her travels. Tormalin left his home in Ebora 50 years ago to escape the Crison Flux disease that is slowly killing his people.

Noon is a fell-witch, drawing on a life source she is able to summon green fire. Fell-witches are feared and hated and she has been locked in the Winnory prison since she was young. This is a horrible place that mistreats the women and houses in squalor while profiting from their witch talents.

The story and the world Jen Williams has created has some original and inventive ideas, making it stand out from the bog-standard fantasy norm. She has included some diverse characters too, and the women aren’t just damsels in distress but major players in the story.

There’s a lot to the story, but information and clues are fed to us slowly allowing us to build our own picture of the world and make guesses at what is happening. There are no big information dumps here!

While I liked the story, the characters are what make this book so enjoyable. Their relationships and banter are funny and intelligent and they all just sprang to life in my mind.

The magic, monster fighting and witches that fly on giant bats just make it even better!

The Ninth Rain for me is the book equivalent of a warm blanket and a big cup of tea or snuggling with my partner. It left me with a warm, happy feeling after reading it.

I’m not happy about having to wait for the next book. I had to go out yesterday and buy the first one of The Copper Cat series to keep me going.

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

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The Ninth Rain
The Winnowing Flame Trilogy
Jen Williams
Fantasy
February 23rd 2017
544

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

the lonely hearts hotel

Book Description

Two babies are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in the winter of 1910. Before long, their talents emerge: Pierrot is a piano prodigy; Rose lights up even the dreariest room with her dancing and comedy. As they travel around the city performing clown routines, the children fall in love with each other and dream up a plan for the most extraordinary and seductive circus show the world has ever seen.

Separated as teenagers, sent off to work as servants during the Great Depression, both descend into the city’s underworld, dabbling in sex, drugs and theft in order to survive. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite beneath the snowflakes after years of searching and desperate poverty the possibilities of their childhood dreams are renewed, and they’ll go to extreme lengths to make them come true.

My Review of The Lonely Hearts Hotel

The Lonely Hearts Hotel has an unusual writing style, it’s almost like a fairy tale style of explaining what is happening. Little things are described in great detail like the food that they’re eating, or a girl that has so many holes in her stockings “they looked like oil paint on water”. 

It’s a magical, almost childlike style but at first I felt disconnected from the characters and their emotions. It did take me a bit of effort to keep going but after the first few chapters I got used to it, and I ended up really enjoying it.

It’s a very adult book though, it starts with Rose and Pierrot as children in an orphanage where they suffer physical and sexual abuse. It’s set during the great depression and a lot of the book is about the things people have to do to survive poverty. There’s a lot of sex in it and heroin addiction plays a large part in the book. 

The fairy tale style story telling sometimes felt to me like it was at odds with the darkness in the book. It did stop it from being too depressing and brought a much needed lightness to the story, but at the same time it softened the impact of the abuse and maybe glossed over it a bit.

But the magical style brings the city of Montreal to life, I could almost feel the cold and the poverty, I could see the girls on the streets and picture them in their outfits they were described so well. The story is full of nightclubs, theatres, clowns, make believe and show girls and it sucked me in to it’s world. 

I cared about the characters, and the end of the book was hard for me to read because it’s hopeful but so bittersweet. I got that sad feeling I get when I really love a book and I feel like I’ve lost friends when it ends. It’s not one I would want to read if I was already feeling sad!

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

The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Heather O'Neill
Fiction
February 7th 2017
400

 

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

House of Suns

Book Description

Six million years ago, at the dawn of the starfaring era, Abigail Gentian fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones, which she called shatterlings. But now, someone is eliminating the Gentian line. Campion and Purslane, two shatterlings who have fallen in love and shared forbidden experiences, must determine exactly who, or what, their enemy is, before they are wiped out of existence.

My Review of House of Suns

House of SunsHouse of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

The clones of the Gentian line, known as shatterlings, have spent millions of years travelling the galaxy with the aim of seeing as much as they can and reuniting after every journey to share the knowledge amongst themselves. They are eternal tourists, long lived with deep sleep technology, and time does not mean the same thing to them as it does to us.

One tour of the galaxy can take hundreds of thousands of years, by the time one of them returns to a previously visited planet whole civilisations can have risen and fallen!

To be able to travel this way they have some truly amazing spaceships and technology that allows them to extend their lifetimes or sleep in suspended animation for the journeys between planets.

Alistair Reynolds has a talent for writing massive tales of galaxy and time spanning proportions, and House of Suns does not disappoint. But he also manages to ground these space operas with human and relatable characters. Here we have Campion and Purslane, two Gentian clones that have fallen in love with each other and now risk being shunned by the rest of the shatterlings in their line.

Through their eyes we experience the wonders of the galaxy, and the people they meet on their travels. Campion is a bit of a wild card, prone to risky decisions and ill-advised schemes, and Purslane is a much more sensible and sophisticated character, she is thoughtful and compassionate.

Along the way they pick up Hesperus, a ‘Machine Person’ they rescue from a con-man, almost by mistake. Hesperus is a self-aware robot that is far smarter, stronger and much more adaptable than humans are, but he has lost his memory.

Their spaceships are almost characters in their own right. Intelligent and unique, when one of the characters almost looses her spaceship she reacts as though she is losing a loved friend.

So this has everything I would want in a book, spaceships, robots, amazing tech, I basically loved it from the first page! Then the Gentian line’s reunion is ambushed and the Gentians are almost wiped out, and the story becomes almost a murder mystery.

There are some bigger themes in there too, questioning if the use of torture can ever be justified, and the treatment of less advanced or less powerful cultures

I can’t really be objective about this book so I’m not going to even try. I loved it and I think it’s a must read for anyone that enjoys sci-fi.

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House of Suns
Alastair Reynolds
Sci-Fi
April 17th 2008
502

Feversong by Karen Marie Moning (Fever #9)

Fever Series Playlist

Book Description

#1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning returns with the epic conclusion to her pulse-pounding Fever series, where a world thrown into chaos grows more treacherous at every turn. As Mac, Barrons, Ryodan, and Jada struggle to restore control, enemies become allies, right and wrong cease to exist, and the lines between life and death, lust and love, disappear completely.

Black holes loom menacingly over Dublin, threatening to destroy the Earth. Yet the greatest danger is the one MacKayla Lane has unleashed from within: the Sinsar Dubh—a sentient book of unthinkable evil—has possessed her body and will stop at nothing in its insatiable quest for power.

The fate of Man and Fae rests on destroying the book and recovering the long-lost Song of Making, the sole magic that can repair the fragile fabric of the Earth. But to achieve these aims, sidhe-seers, the Nine, Seelie, and Unseelie must form unlikely alliances and make heart-wrenching choices. For Barrons and Jada, this means finding the Seelie Queen who alone can wield the mysterious song, negotiating with a lethal Unseelie prince hell-bent on ruling the Fae courts, and figuring out how to destroy the Sinsar Dubh while keeping Mac alive.

This time, there’s no gain without sacrifice, no pursuit without risk, no victory without irrevocable loss. In the battle for Mac’s soul, every decision exacts a tremendous price.

My Review of Feversong

Feversong (Fever, #9)Feversong by Karen Marie Moning
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So this won’t be a long review because I rushed through Feversong in just over a day. I think that says something about just how readable this series is, it’s never taken me longer than 2 days to read one.

With Feversong it felt like some of the magic from the first five books was back. The characters just seem more true to how they were originally, in some of the later books they felt a bit like they’d been changed just to fit the story.

But there was some nice character growth for Mac and for Jada / Dani. It was nice to see how Mac has evolved from the first book, and Dani has become my favourite character by far. She seems much more mature now and her point of view is interesting rather than irritating. And Mac and Barrons finally seem to have a mutually respectful relationship.

I liked the story and it ended well bringing the latest story arc to a close, no cliffhangers! I hope this isn’t the end of the series though, I would like to see more of Dani.

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Feversong
Fever
Karen Marie Moning
Urban Fantasy
January 17th 2017
512

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Book Description

Detective Gabi Versado has hunted down many monsters during her eight years in Homicide. But she’s never seen anything like this.

He is a broken man. The ambitions which once drove him are dead. Now he has new dreams – of flesh and bone made disturbingly, beautifully real.

Detroit is the decaying corpse of the American Dream. Motor-city. Murder-city.

And home to a killer opening doors into the dark heart of humanity.

A killer who wants to make you whole again…

My Review of Broken Monsters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a few days to decide what to write about this one. I was on the fence whether to give it 3 stars or 4.

I enjoyed the serial killer / paranormal thriller storyline. It draws you in straight away with this, and the ongoing investigation held my interest. I thought it ended well without going so far into the paranormal side that the resolution is nonsense.

There are a few different viewpoints that the story keeps switching between, but because the characters are all realistic, unique and well developed I found it easy to keep up and keep them separate.

My main problem with the story was the detective’s teenage daughter Layla. She was self-obsessed and veered between acting old for her age and being very childish. All very true and normal for a teenager, but for me she got in the way of the story and became very irritating very quickly.

But Lauren Beukes’ writing and her skill in creating imperfect but likeable characters are what lifts this book above the norm. I even felt sorry for the murderer at times!

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Broken Monsters
Lauren Beukes
Thriller
August 1st 2014
528

Iron Council (New Crobuzon, #3) by China Miéville

iron Council book review

Iron Council Description

It is a time of revolts and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and rioting on the streets at home are pushing the teeming metropolis to the brink. In the midst of this turmoil, a mysterious masked figure spurs strange rebellion, while treachery and violence incubate in unexpected places.

In desperation, a small group of renegades escapes from the city and crosses strange and alien continents in the search for a lost hope, an undying legend. In the blood and violence of New Crobuzon’s most dangerous hour, there are whispers…

It is the time of the Iron Council.

My Review of Iron Council

Iron Council (New Crobuzon, #3)Iron Council by China Miéville

Although any book of China Mieville’s is always a treat, I didn’t enjoy this as much as the previous two books in the series. I think maybe it just didn’t have the same atmosphere. The first book had New Crobuzon, The Scar was set on the floating city of Armarda and both of these were rich and vivid, full of life. A lot of Iron Council is set out in the wide world, it’s almost a wild west novel, and there is no strong sense of place that China Mieville normally does so well.

The journey across the landscape was interesting and eventful, and I loved the parts set in New Crobuzon. I also liked the descriptions of all the different races and the remade, and there’s a lot of magic in this book, which is always a good thing!

I actually really enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book, but after that it gets into the heavy subjects and it gets very serious, and maybe a bit bogged down in it. The right at the end, things start happening so fast it’s hard to keep up with it all.

Iron Council is a very political novel, it’s about imperialism, corporatism, terrorism and revolution, touching on prejudice and discrimination. It’s interesting to read about and certainly made me think, but it was difficult to get through the end. I had to make myself go back to finish the last 40 pages.

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Iron Council
New Crobuzon
China Miéville
Fantasy
May 6th 2011
614

After Atlas (Planetfall #2) by Emma Newman

after atlas book review

After Atlas Description

Acclaimed author Emma Newman returns to the captivating universe she created in Planetfall with a stunning science fiction mystery where one man’s murder is much more than it seems…

Govcorp detective Carlos Moreno was only a baby when Atlas left Earth to seek truth among the stars. But in that moment, the course of Carlos’s entire life changed. Atlas is what took his mother away; what made his father lose hope; what led Alejandro Casales, leader of the religious cult known as the Circle, to his door. And now, on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of Atlas’s departure, it’s got something to do why Casales was found dead in his hotel room—and why Carlos is the man in charge of the investigation.

To figure out who killed one of the most powerful men on Earth, Carlos is supposed to put aside his personal history. But the deeper he delves into the case, the more he realizes that escaping the past is not so easy. There’s more to Casales’s death than meets the eye, and something much more sinister to the legacy of Atlas than anyone realizes…

My Review of After Atlas

After Atlas (Planetfall, #2)After Atlas by Emma Newman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The second in a series, but it tells a different part of a connected story so you can read this one first with no problems or learning curve. The first book Planetfall is about the spaceship that left Earth searching for a new home, After Atlas is about the people that were left behind.

After Atlas mixes two of my favourite things, a not too distant future world setting and a murder mystery. It has a Phillip K Dick vibe to it, but without the relentless depression. As my boyfriend says, it’s like Harrison Ford chasing humans instead of androids!

Anyway, the world Emma Newman has created is familiar yet futuristic and feels real. Food is now printed instead of cooked, cars are automated, your smartphone is now a chip in your head that leaves you always connected and able to access the web in seconds.

The murder mystery is the main focus of the book though. We follow Carlos Moreno as he investigates the murder of a cult leader, found dead in his hotel room. He uses virtual reality to recreate the crime scenes and he has a virtual personal assistant to help him. I loved the way he put it all together and viewed the files and crime scenes in his head!

It’s well written, and is an exciting and suspenseful book. Forget the remake of Blade Runner, they should do this instead!

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After Atlas
Planetfall
Emma Newman
Sci-Fi
November 8th 2016
377

Made For Sin by Stacia Kane

made for sin book review

Description

A lot of bad hands get dealt in Vegas, but E. L. Speare may be holding one of the worst: He’s cursed with the need to commit sins, and if he misses his daily quota, there’s hell to pay—literally. Fortunately, his hometown affords him plenty of chances to behave badly.

But Speare’s newest case really has him going out on a limb. The right-hand man of a notorious crime boss has been found dead in a Dumpster—minus his right hand, not to mention the rest of his arm. What catches Speare’s attention, however, is that the missing appendage was severed clean by a demon-sword, a frighteningly powerful tool of the underworld.

Speare’s out of his element, so he turns to a specialist: Ardeth Coyle, master thief, dealer in occult artifacts, and bona fide temptress. Ardeth’s hotter than a Las Vegas sidewalk on the Fourth of July, but she’s one sin Speare has to resist.

The dismembered corpses are piling up, unimaginable evil lurks in the shadows, and if this odd couple hopes to beat the odds, Speare needs to keep his hands off Ardeth, and his head in the game.

My Review of Made for Sin

Well I really enjoyed reading this one, it was one of those books where I could happily have turned the world off and stayed at home curled up on the sofa until I’d finished it.

I liked Speare and Ardeth, they were both interesting and the attraction between them sizzled nicely. I want more of them, it can’t end the way it did! And I want to see Ardeth again, using her thieving skills more, and generally being clever and winding Speare up.

The only thing that felt a bit off for me was that I couldn’t picture Speare very well. Near the end of the book it says that he’s tall but other than that I didn’t get a good mental picture of what he looked like.

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Made for Sin
Stacia Kane
Urban Fantasy
August 30th 2016
266

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight

Days of Blood & Starlight Description

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

My reviews of Other Books in the Series

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight Review

Days of Blood & Starlight reviewDays of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading the first book and loving the bits set in Prague as much as I did I thought I just wouldn’t like the second book. I thought I’d miss the cosy, magical world of the first book. Well, I was wrong. If anything I think I like Days of Blood & Starlight even more!

There are some big themes running through this book, war and vengeance, and how violent revenge will only cause more violence. The war is the main focus of the book, with the Chimera almost wiped out and Karou working as a resurrectionist, building new bodies for dead chimaera soldiers.

Love is still here too, but it’s certainly not the teenage insta love from the first book. Karou and Akiva are on opposite sides of the war, Akiva has a lot of guilt for his part in killing the Chimera, and Karou cannot forgive him. It’s very dark and heavy on the emotions at times, but the story manages not to get too bogged down in it.

The magical atmosphere from the first book is still here though. The writing is beautiful and lifts the story out of the depths of misery. There are moments of hope thrown in for us too, and Karou’s best friend Zuzana adds some humour and light into the story. There is more actual magic, Karou is building new chimaera and Akiva is using his magic to do what he can to stop the slaughter of the survivors from the chimaera villages.

I’m seriously considering taking a day or two off work to read the next one.

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Days of Blood & Starlight
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Laini Taylor
Young Adult Fantasy
August 15th 2013
528

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Book Description

“Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.”

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

My Reviews of Other Books in the Series

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

My Review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I absolutely loved this one, I finished it in around a day. It’s a beautiful novel and the setting of Prague adds a layer of atmosphere that makes it even richer. I could imagine myself there while I was reading. I’m visiting Prague for the first time early next year so I was making a list of places to visit while I was reading!

The first half of the story moved between Prague and the chimaera Brimstone’s shop, a place reached by portals, where human teeth are exchanged for magic wishes. Karou was raised by Brimstone and now she runs errands for him out in the human world where he can’t go.

I loved how Karou was described, a tattooed art student living in Prague who has wished her hair blue and fills her sketchbooks with drawings of ‘monsters’ from Brimstone’s world, and her friends from the human world. She could easily have tipped over into being too perfect but Taylor gave her enough flaws to keep her realistic; falling for an arrogant actor and wasting magic wishes for trivial things like her hair colour and getting the table she wants in a cafe.

The second half of the book introduces a Romeo and Juliet style romance between Karou and Akiva, an angel warrior. The story takes off in a new direction as we learn the truth behind who Karou is, and while I was a bit disappointed it moved on from Prague and Brimstone’s shop, it still held my attention.

It has a serious cliffhanger ending, and I seriously can’t wait for the weekend so I can go out and get the next book in the series.

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Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Laini Taylor
Young Adult Fantasy
August 5th 2012
420