Teaser Tuesdays: The Ashes of London


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: August 11 |

The Ashes of London

Book One of Marwood and Lovett

by Andrew Taylor

Historical Fiction | 496 Pages | Published by Harper Collins in 2016


“Even I could see that the place was a sad tangle of branches and bushes and fallen trees. The air smelled of rotting vegetation. The path we followed was muddy underfoot, and slippery with dead leaves. It looked as if deer and foxes used it far more than humans.

~ Chapter 24 | Page 206 | The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor


| Synopsis |

London, September 1666. The Great Fire rages through the city, consuming everything in its path. Even the impregnable cathedral of St. Paul’s is engulfed in flames and reduced to ruins. Among the crowds watching its destruction is James Marwood, son of a disgraced printer, and reluctant government informer.

In the aftermath of the fire, a semi-mummified body is discovered in the ashes of St. Paul’s, in a tomb that should have been empty. The man’s body has been mutilated and his thumbs have been tied behind his back.

Under orders from the government, Marwood is tasked with hunting down the killer across the devastated city. But at a time of dangerous internal dissent and the threat of foreign invasion, Marwood finds his investigation leads him into treacherous waters – and across the path of a determined, beautiful and vengeful young woman.

Amazon Book Depository | Goodreads


| Join In |

  • 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!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books I Loved but Never Reviewed


Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish, now hosted by ThatArtsyReaderGirl. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… Books I Loved but Never Reviewed |

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday where this week we’re looking at our Top Ten Books that didn’t quite make it to review.

After a two year hiatus, I have a veritable mountain of un-reviewed but brilliant books and, since my return, I’ve written quite a few posts featuring teeny reviews, such as the Red and Black posts of the last few weeks and My Top Ten Books of the Past Two Years. Consequently, I’ve decided that each book featured this week will be one I haven’t featured since my return and will be limited to one series per author.

Scroll down for this week’s Top Ten… Books I Loved but Never Reviewed!heart

| 1. |

The Waking Fire

Book One of the Draconis Memoria

by Anthony Ryan

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| My Thoughts |

With a surfeit of deadly assassins, explosive naval battles and dragons’ blood, The Waking Fire is an epic fantasy suffused with action, intrigue and betrayal. The first in The Draconis Memoria is well-written, brilliantly paced and stunned with a cliffhanger ending at its close.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

Throughout the vast lands controlled by the Ironship Syndicate, nothing is more prized than the blood of drakes. Harvested from the veins of captive or hunted Reds, Green, Blues and Blacks, it can be distilled into elixirs that give fearsome powers to the rare men and women who have the ability harness them—known as the blood-blessed.

But not many know the truth: that the lines of drakes are weakening. If they fail, war with the neighbouring Corvantine Empire will follow swiftly. The Syndicate’s last hope resides in whispers of the existence of another breed of drake, far more powerful than the rest, and the few who have been chosen by fate to seek it.

Claydon Torcreek is a petty thief and an unregistered blood-blessed, who finds himself pressed into service by the protectorate and sent to wild, uncharted territories in search of a creature he believes is little more than legend. Lizanne Lethridge is a formidable spy and assassin, facing gravest danger on an espionage mission deep into the heart of enemy territory. And Corrick Hilemore is the second lieutenant of an ironship, whose pursuit of ruthless brigands leads him to a far greater threat at the edge of the world.

As lives and empires clash and intertwine, as the unknown and the known collide, all three must fight to turn the tide of a coming war, or drown in its wake.

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| 2. |

The Way of Kings

Book One of The Stormlight Archives

by Brandon Sanderson

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| My Thoughts |

The Way of Kings is a stunning introduction to The Stormlight Archives and may be one of my favourite books ever. With incredible magic systems, brilliantly portrayed characters, and a jaw-dropping plot, this novel is an action-packed and beautiful adventure that I cannot wait to continue.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

According to mythology mankind used to live in The Tranquiline Halls. Heaven. But then the Voidbringers assaulted and captured heaven, casting out God and men. Men took root on Roshar, the world of storms. And the Voidbringers followed…

They came against man ten thousand times. To help them cope, the Almighty gave men powerful suits of armor and mystical weapons, known as Shardblades. Led by ten angelic Heralds and ten orders of knights known as Radiants, mankind finally won.

Or so the legends say. Today, the only remnants of those supposed battles are the Shardblades, the possession of which makes a man nearly invincible on the battlefield. The entire world is at war with itself – and has been for centuries since the Radiants turned against mankind. Kings strive to win more Shardblades, each secretly wishing to be the one who will finally unite all of mankind under a single throne.

On a world scoured down to the rock by terrifying hurricanes that blow through every few day a young spearman forced into the army of a Shardbearer, led to war against an enemy he doesn’t understand and doesn’t really want to fight.

What happened deep in mankind’s past?

Why did the Radiants turn against mankind, and what happened to the magic they used to wield?
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| 3. |

The Impossible Times Trilogy

by Mark Lawrence

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With time travel, Dungeons and Dragons, and action aplenty, this fast-paced science fiction series is a love letter to 80’s geek culture. Skilfully plotted, beautifully written and at just over two hundred pages apiece, The Impossible Times Trilogy is a short but brilliant read that I only wish would continue.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now.

He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.

Challenge accepted.

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| 4. |

A Gathering of Shadows

Book Two of Shades of Grey

by V.E. Schwab

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| My Thoughts |

A Gathering of Shadows is a beautiful, exciting and wonderfully realised tale full of magic, honour and friendship. A more than worthy successor to A Darker Shade of Magic, I only wish I had picked up the third in the series sooner.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

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| 5. |

Company of Liars

by Karen Maitland

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| My Thoughts |

Company of Liars is a disturbing tales of lies, murder and deception told in the year of the plague. This was my introduction to Karen Maitland’s brilliant historical fiction and, like her other novels, is a tale steeped in suspicion, folklore and grim visions of the past.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

The year is 1348 and the first plague victim has reached English shores. Panic erupts around the country and a small band of travellers comes together to outrun the deadly disease, unaware that something far more deadly is – in fact – travelling with them.

The ill-assorted company – a scarred trader in holy relics, a conjurer, two musicians, a healer and a deformed storyteller – are all concealing secrets and lies. And at their heart is the strange, cold child – Narigorm – who reads the runes.

But as law and order breaks down across the country and the battle for survival becomes ever more fierce, Narigorm mercilessly compels each of her fellow travellers to reveal the truth … and each in turn is driven to a cruel and unnatural death.

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| 6. |

Matthew Shardlake Series

by C.J. Sansom

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| My Thoughts |

With a brilliant but flawed protagonist, a wonderfully rendered vision of the past, and more criminals, murderers and traitors than you can shake a stick at, the Matthew Shardlake series is undoubtedly one of the greatest historical fiction series of all time. If you like historical crime fiction, this series is a must.

Rating 

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| Synopsis |

Dissolution is the first in the phenomenal Shardlake series by bestselling author, C. J. Sansom.

England, 1537: Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved.

But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell’s Commissioner Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege – a black cockerel sacrificed on the altar, and the disappearance of Scarnsea’s Great Relic.

Dr Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death. But Shardlake’s investigation soon forces him to question everything he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes…

Dissolution is the first book in this bestselling phenomenon, where C. J. Sansom creates both a stunning portrait of Tudor England, and an unforgettable character in Matthew Shardlake. Follow Shardlake into the dark heart of Tudor England with the bestselling Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone, Lamentation and Tombland.

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| 7. |

A Time of Dread

Book One of Of Blood and Bone

by John Gwynne

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| My Thoughts |

 Mysterious fires are appearing on the outskirts of civilisation, tales of human sacrifice abound and four characters tell a tale of dark magics, a growing rift, and the ultimate fight between good, bad and something far darker and more terrifying. With brilliant characters and a truly absorbing plot, A Time of Dread drew me in at the start and didn’t let go until the end.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

Set in the same world as the Faithful and the Fallen quartet, the first novel in John Gwynne’s Of Blood and Bone series, A Time of Dread, takes place one hundred years after the end of Wrath.

The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient enemy may not be as crushed as they thought.

In the snowbound north, Drem, a trapper, finds mutilated corpses in the forests – a sign of demonic black magic. In the south, Riv, a young, tempestuous soldier, discovers a deadly rift within the Ben-Elim themselves.

Two individuals with two world-changing secrets. But where will they lead? And what role will Drem and Riv play in the Banished Land’s fate? Difficult choices need to be made. Because in the shadows, demons are gathering, waiting for their time to rise. . .

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| 8. |

The First Law

by Joe Abercrombie

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| My Thoughts |

The First Law needs no introduction – it is quite literally one of the best fantasy series of all time. With brilliant and terrifying characters, bloody and brutal battles, and an intricately woven plot, this grimdark series is the best possible introduction to Joe Abercrombie’s writing.  If you haven’t read it, read it; and if you have, then read it again!

Rating

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| Synopsis |

Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body – not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers.

Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain, shallow, selfish and self-obsessed, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men.

And Logen Ninefingers, an infamous warrior with a bloody past, is about to wake up in a hole in the snow with plans to settle a blood feud with Bethod, the new King of the Northmen, once and for all – ideally by running away from it. But as he’s discovering, old habits die really, really hard indeed…

…especially when Bayaz gets involved. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Glotka, Jezal and Logen a whole lot more difficult…heart

| 9. |

Age of Assasins

Book One of The Wounded Kingdom

by R.J. Barker

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| My Thoughts |

A castle full of secrets, an enemy within the walls and a plot suffused with mystery. Age of Assassins is an utterly absorbing tale full of interesting politics, detailed settings and dynamic characters that I just couldn’t put down. With Blood of Assassins and King of Assassins already on my bookshelf, this series is sure to entertain for many months to come.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

Girton Club-foot, apprentice to the land’s best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But his latest mission tasks him and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince’s murder.

In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted, and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire kingdom.

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| 10. |

The Grim Company

by Luke Scull

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| My Thoughts |

Somewhat unfairly compared to the likes of Joe Abercrombie, The Grim Company is a deftly plotted and action-packed series with bloody battles, anti-heroes and terrifying enemies aplenty. Having read this entire series prior to reading a single review, I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable grimdark adventure that is deserved of a better reputation.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

The difference between a hero and a killer lies in the ability to justify dark deeds. But this is the Age of Ruin. And there are no heroes…

Five hundred years ago, the world was destroyed in the celestial Godswar. Seeking to throw off the shackles of the deities who created them, a cabal of mages rose up and made war upon the Gods. Though they won out, it was at a great cost: the ensuing cataclysm brought forth the Age of Ruin to the world.

Five hundred years later, the world limps on, seemingly winding down to an inevitable end. Dystopian city states have arisen, each presided over by one of the Magelords who first made war.

Corrupted, near-immortal, and far too powerful, those wizards who once sought to free the world now make war upon each other, while the helpless populace limp on from day to day.

Into this blighted world, steps Davarus Cole, a boy obsessed with notions of heroism and adventuring, who burns to do great deeds. One night, in a reckless act, Cole gets himself into a brawl with the authories. He quickly finds himself sent away from the city, where the world still groans from the ancient cataclysm, and the corpses of Gods lie deep beneath the bedrock, leaking wild, uncontrolled magic into the world.


Click here to see some past Top Ten posts:

My Top Ten Books of the past Two Years

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books with Red in the Title

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books with Black in the Title

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Which ‘Black’ book is your favourite?

If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to ThatArtsyReaderGirl and sign up!

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This Week by Proxy: 03 – 09 August


Welcome to This Week by Proxy. Join me as I link up with the Caffeinated Reviewer to look back on the past week and see what I’ve been reading, posting, watching and playing!


| This Week by Proxy: 03 – 09 August 2020 |

Another hot and sunny end to a busy week spent indoors! Yesterday we took an expedition along the canal to feed the ducks, and my stepdaughter took us on a detour down some wooded paths to find some fairies where, by (not unintended) chance, we came across Rapunzel’s tower. Now it is, in fact, either a folly or what was meant to be a chimney for an unfinished mining ventilation shaft but it suited a three year old’s imagination very well. We then spent the rest of the day in the garden, watering plants, playing with the bunnies and reading books. Not a bad weekend at all!

I hope you are all well and have had a wonderfully, bookish week! 


| Books Read |

This week I finished Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie and Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey and they were both wonderfully entertaining reads in very different ways. It has taken me an awfully long time to get round to reading Sharp Ends, so I’m particularly happy to have finally read it, and Leviathan Wakes really was an incredible start to a series that I cannot wait to continue. 


| Currently Reading |

This week I started The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor, a historical crime fiction novel set in the year of The Great Fire of London. It is an excellent read so far, very detailed and beautifully written with interesting characters and details – Taylor’s writing is most definitely a feast for the senses. The architect in me is particularly enjoying the ties to Christopher Wren’s vision of London and the rebuilding of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

I have also started listening to the audiobook for The Doors of Eden, which I try and squeeze in any time I can, and have finally (hurrah!) picked up All Systems Red, the first novella in The Murderbot Diaries.


| Upcoming Reviews |

I am still slogging my way through the review list, making slow and steady progress. Now that a few deadlines are out of the way at work I’m hoping the time I spend doing unpaid overtime is finally going to be minimised and I can spend more of my time writing reviews! 


| Watching |

The other half and I have finally finished the second season of The Order, which was both silly and highly entertaining, and have started watching the second season of The Umbrella Academy. I have also made it to the third season of Humans, which I am enjoying very much. 


| Gaming |

I submitted to peer pressure this week and started playing GTFO, a survival horror cooperative first-person shooter which is both a challenge and brilliantly entertaining. I hadn’t expected to enjoy it as much as I am doing and , seeing as the other half is playing it while I write this post, it will probably be top of the list for the coming week too! I have also played limited amounts of both Apex Legends and No Man’s Sky, both of which I am still thoroughly enjoying.


| Posts |

Review: Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler

Music Mondays: 0:59

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books with Black in the Title

Teaser Tuesdays: Leviathan Wakes

Waiting on Wednesday: The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Friday Face-Off: Action

Friday Firsts: The Ashes of London


I hope you all have a wonderful, book-filled week!

What have you been reading, watching and playing this week? Have you accomplished any goals?

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Friday Firsts: The Ashes of London


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. First paragraphs. First impressions. A new favourite?


| Friday Firsts: August 07 |

The Ashes of London

Book One of Marwood and Lovett

by Andrew Taylor

Historical Fiction | 496 Pages | Published by Harper Collins in 2016


| First Paragraphs |

The noise was the worst. Not the crackling of the flames, not the explosions and the clatter of falling buildings, not the shouting and the endless beating of drums and the groans and cries of the crowd: it was the howling of the fire. It roared its rage. It was the voice of the Great Beast itself.

Part of the nave roof fell in. The sound stunned the crowd into a brief silence.

Otherwise I shouldn’t have heard the whimpering at my elbow. It came from a boy in a ragged shirt who had just pushed his way through the mass of people. He was swaying, on the brink of collapse.

I poked his arm. ‘Hey. You.’

The lad’s head jerked up. His eyes were wide and unfocused. He made a movement as if to run away but we were hemmed in on every side. Half of London, from the King and the Duke of York downwards, had turned out to watch the death throes of St. Paul’s. 

Amazon | Book DepositoryGoodreads


| First Impressions |

The opening paragraphs of The Ashes of London are an incredibly evocative start to the book. The fall of St. Paul’s is captured so vividly – the heat and the flames and the ash falling from the sky – that you are instantly transported to the terrifying and chaotic Great Fire of London of 1666.

This is a book which quite clearly provides a richly detailed backdrop on which to hang its tale of freedom and murder, and I cannot wait to unravel what happens next.

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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The Friday Face-Off: Action


Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe. Check out Lynn’s-Books for upcoming themes!


The Empire of Ashes by Anthony Ryan


Welcome to the Friday Face-Off where this week we’re comparing book covers that depict action!

Amongst the many action-packed and bloody covers that grace the fantasy genre, I decided that it was about time some awe-inspiring and dynamic dragons featured on Books by Proxy. The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan was one of my favourite reads of 2017 and it just so happens that the series, The Draconis Memoria, has some incredibly beautiful and action-packed covers to choose from – The Empire of Ashes being the third and final instalment of the trilogy.

With Orbit’s cover by Jeffrey Read going head to head with Ace’s cover by Leesha Hannigan, scroll down to see which one is your favourite!


Orbit | Cover #1

Cover Art by Jeffrey Read

Ace | Cover #2

Cover Art by Leesha Hannigan


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

The Ace cover is a dramatic and beautifully rendered image of two dragons in the midst of a battle. In a swirl of water and wings, the two dragons snap and snarl at one another in this action-packed composition. Despite Leesha Hannigan’s beautiful illustration, I feel this cover is let down by the blocky typeface and the flames that eat away at the page. This artwork, like the Orbit cover, deserves a clean, full-page spread to truly appreciate it.

The Orbit cover on the other hand is, for me, as close to perfection as possible. Jeffrey Read has captured a dramatic and suspenseful scene as two figures throw up a glowing shield as they are wreathed in flames. The dragon is menacing and terrifying, a true vision of a ‘monster’, and the bright colours of magic and flame provide a stark contrast to the dark and smokey backdrop. The typeface is clean and simple and only complements this simply stunning cover.

I highly recommend that you check out Jeffrey Read’s website too, his concept art is truly second to none.

Cover Art for The Draconis Memoria by Jeffrey Read

Which cover wins your vote this week? Have a cover of your own? – Post the link below!

Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads


Next week’s theme is:

Spectacular

  A cover featuring glasses or spectacles

Remember to check Lynn’s Books for upcoming themes


| Links |

Lynn @ Lynn’s Books

Steve @ Books and Beyond Reviews

Mogsy @ The Bibliosanctum

Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy

Sarah @ Brainfluff

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Review: Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler



Ashes of the Sun

Book One of Burningblade & Silvereye

by Django Wexler

Fantasy | 592 Pages | Published by Head of Zeus on 21st July 2020


| Rating |


| TL;DR |

This vibrant, rich and detailed novel tells the tale of two siblings on either side of an ages old war. As Maya, agathios of the Twilight Order, attempts to clear her mentor’s name and Gyre, Maya’s brother, searches for a powerful artefact to help him bring about the the Order’s destruction, their two intertwining narratives dramatically converge in this exciting and action-packed epic.

With strong characters, a unique magic system and a beautifully rendered landscape, Ashes of the Sun straddles the line between good and bad, right and wrong, and paints this broken empire in exquisite shades of grey.

| Synopsis |

Long ago, a magical war destroyed an empire, and a new one was built in its ashes. But still the old grudges simmer, and two siblings will fight on opposite sides to save their world in the start of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy trilogy.

Gyre hasn’t seen his beloved sister since their parents sold her to the mysterious Twilight Order. Now, twelve years after her disappearance, Gyre’s sole focus is revenge, and he’s willing to risk anything and anyone to claim enough power to destroy the Order.

Chasing rumors of a fabled city protecting a powerful artifact, Gyre comes face-to-face with his lost sister. But she isn’t who she once was. Trained to be a warrior, Maya wields magic for the Twilight Order’s cause. Standing on opposite sides of a looming civil war, the two siblings will learn that not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two.

| Review |

The ages old war between the Chosen and the ghouls has obliterated the landscape and left it in ruins. Spearing from the earth and tunnelling under mountains, relics from the past are now home to the ever expanding towns and cities of man, and all that was left behind has either been salvaged, scavenged or stolen.

But more than one war continues in this shattered landscape. From the Forge, the Centarchs of the Twilight Order, powerful champions of the Chosen, are charged with keeping order and fight to eliminate dhakim – those who practice ghoul magic and use it to create the abominable plaguespawn. In the cities, the rebellion fight for freedom and against those who would suppress the tunnelborn, a subjugated people living on the outskirts of society, even if it means taking on the local militia, the Legions of the Dawn Republic, and the Twilight Order itself.

Born to one household but raised apart, Maya and Gyre find themselves on opposite sides of this insurmountable divide. Maya, an agathios – or novice – of the Twilight Order is gifted with a connection to the deiat, and wields the unimaginable power of Creation. Gyre, driven by this troubled past and his burning hatred for the Order, fights for the rebellion under the pseudonym Halfmask. As trouble brews across the realm, Maya and Gyre’s lives converge in an explosive and action packed tale where the line between good and evil are hopelessly blurred.

Told form two entirely different perspectives: one which champions discovery, order and the power of good and the other that champions vengeance, liberation and, ultimately, destruction; Ashes of the Sun pulls the reader into the midst of a conflict which questions the very nature of good and bad, right and wrong, for a non-stop, whirlwind of a tale. Narrated by two distinct voices and personalities, these two opposing viewpoints work together to paint a vivid picture of a world that, in reality, comprises shades of grey.

With ruined constructs, great metropolises and fallen skyships, this post-apocalyptic and fantastic vision unveils a colourful world with a unique and inventive magic system. The weight of history is woven into the landscape in the ages old struggle between the forces of chaos and order, and in the people and their struggle to survive under such deprivation. The divide between the rich and the poor, between the repressed and their suppressors, is depicted with a clear and direct vision which emphasises Maya’s naivety, her steadfast belief that the Order are solely good, and Gyre’s bitterness, that the world’s ills stem from the likes of the irredeemable Order.

From auxiliaries and legionaries to dogmatics and pragmatics, Wexler has created a strong foundation on which to build his series; the two tangled narratives threatening to derail plans, destroy hope and eliminate what little respect Maya and Gyre had for one another in the first place. This is a tale that thrives on its worldbuilding, that celebrates its diverse characters and that is all the better for its use of politics and intrigue throughout its plot.

Maya and Gyre are two siblings defined by their differing experiences and entirely disparate lives, with Maya’s comfort and innocence contrasting sharply with Gyre’s hardship, anger and resentment. With unique and memorable viewpoints, neither protagonist outdoes the other in either drama, suspense or action, with the endearing qualities of one complementing the bravado of the other.

Similarly, the supporting characters provide an interesting and diverse backdrop to the protagonists. Those of the Order – Bec, Tanax and Varo – show the complex hierarchy of the Order and their devotion to the Inheritance, and those of the rebellion – Yora, Lynnia and Harrow – show a driven and like-minded community who will fight for the rights of their people at almost any cost. Providing plenty of interest, intrigue and diversion throughout the narrative, these characters are only surpassed by the enigmatic and ultimately dangerous Kit Doomseeker who steals more than just the show.

Well written and highly-enjoyable throughout, this series opener succeeds in setting a perfect scene from which to read the remainder of the series. While there may be a lot of new terminology to absorb throughout the novel, the steady pace and the intricacies of the narrative give plenty of time to fully absorb the different terms – in between bouts of plaguespawn, skirmishes and bar fights, of course.

Ashes of the Sun is a well-written, exciting read that I barely put down over its six hundred pages. While I could have lived without many of the romantic aspects of the storyline, these remained only secondary to the narrative and didn’t inhibit my enjoyment of the story as a whole. With more fights, skirmishes and powerful artefacts than you can shake a stick at, the first in Burningblade & Silvereye promises the start of something quite special.

Thank you to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for providing a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Amazon Book Depository | Goodreads

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Doors of Eden


Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme linking Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking The Spine and Can’t Wait Wednesday by Wishful Endings


| Waiting on Wednesday: August 05 |

The Doors of Eden

by Adrian Tchaikovsky


They thought we were safe. They were wrong.

Four years ago, two girls went looking for monsters on Bodmin Moor. Only one came back.

Lee thought she’d lost Mal, but now she’s miraculously returned. But what happened that day on the moors? And where has she been all this time? Mal’s reappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by MI5 officers either, and Lee isn’t the only one with questions.

Julian Sabreur is investigating an attack on top physicist Kay Amal Khan. This leads Julian to clash with agents of an unknown power – and they may or may not be human. His only clue is grainy footage, showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.

Dr Khan’s research was theoretical; then she found cracks between our world and parallel Earths. Now these cracks are widening, revealing extraordinary creatures. And as the doors crash open, anything could come through.


To be published by Tor on 20th August 2020

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books with Black in the Title


Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish, now hosted by ThatArtsyReaderGirl. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… Books with Black in the Title |

Following last week’s post, in which I discussed all my favourite books read and unread featuring the colour red, this week I will be looking at books with the colour black in their title. With books I’ve read, books I’ve reviewed and books that are firmly planted on my TBR, scroll down for this week’s Top Ten… Books with Black in the Title.

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| 1. |

Shadowblack

Book Two of Spellslinger

by Sebastien de Castell

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| My Thoughts |

Shadowblack, and the Spellslinger series as a whole, are some of my favourite YA novels to date. They’re frequently action-packed and engaging, always funny and fast-paced, and often keep you guessing to the very end. Kellen’s character is only surpassed by the wonder that is Reichis, the angry, thieving and quick to bite squirrel-cat that accompanies him on his journeys – his business partner, some might say – and the swaggering Argosi, Ferius Parfax. A highly recommend series which I only wish hadn’t concluded after Book Six, Crownbreaker.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

It’s a few months since Kellen left his people behind. Now aged sixteen, Kellen is an outlaw, relying on his wits to keep him alive in the land of the Seven Sands. He misses home, he misses family and more than anything, he misses Nephenia, the girl he left behind.

Then he meets Seneira, a blindfolded girl who isn’t blind, and who carries a secret that’s all too familiar to Kellen. Kellen and Ferius resolve to help – but the stakes are far higher than they realise. A Shadowblack plague is taking hold – and Kellen can’t help but suspect his own people may even be behind it.

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| 2. |

Empire in Black and Gold

Book One of Shadows of the Apt

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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| My Thoughts |

Despite the fact that I’ve still not finished this series – book eight here I come – I have so much love for the Shadows of the Apt series. They were my introduction to Adrian Tchaikovsky’s writing and I can honestly say that I have never looked back. Empire in Black and Gold, the first book in the series, introduces a detailed and complex world full of insectoid humans and their struggles between race, power and warring kingdoms. This is a unique world with unique characters which I could easily rate as one of my favourite series of all time.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

The city states of the Lowlands have lived in peace for decades, bastions of civilization, prosperity and sophistication, protected by treaties, trade and a belief in the reasonable nature of their neighbours.

But meanwhile, in far-off corners, the Wasp Empire has been devouring city after city with its highly trained armies, its machines, its killing Art…And now its hunger for conquest and war has become insatiable.

Only the ageing Stenwold Maker, spymaster, artificer and statesman, can see that the long days of peace are over. It falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of his people, before a black-and-gold tide sweeps down over the Lowlands and burns away everything in its path.

But first he must stop himself becoming the Empire’s latest victim.heart

| 3. |

Blackwing

Book One of Raven’s Mark

by Ed McDonald

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Ed McDonald’s debut is a solid and vividly written fantasy which follows the tale of Ryhalt Galharrow – Blackwing Captain and bounty hunting mercenary – as he undertakes the bidding of the Nameless master, Crowfoot, in an ages long war against the Deep Kings. With battles, magic and grim-beings aplenty in a landscape blighted by a catastrophic war, this is a unique and refreshing grimdark novel which has me itching to read it’s sequel, Ravencry.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery – a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

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| 4. |

The Black Prism

Book One of Lightbringer

by Brent Weeks

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| My Thoughts |

With a fascinating and unique magic system, and a wonderfully imagined but complex world, The Black Prism is a stunning start to the Lightbringer series. Well-written and exquisitely rendered throughout, The Black Prism features engaging characters, interesting politics, and a fast-paced narrative that I couldn’t tear my eyes from. The only let down is that I still haven’t picked up the next in the series!

Rating

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| Synopsis |

Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.

When Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.

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| 5. |

Black City Saint

Book One of Black City Saint

by Richard A. Knaak

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| My Thoughts |

With Black City Saint, a book filled with saints, dragons and long-dead emperors, Richard A. Knaak has created an instantly compelling protagonist on a backdrop of dark magic and mob violence. An absorbing, inventive and humorous read, this stunning debut is high on my list of urban fantasy favourites. And, had I remembered this series sooner, I would have had two further black titled books to add to today’s list – Black City Demon and Black City Dragon.

Rating

My review of Black City Saint can be found here.

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| Synopsis |

For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal realm and that of Feirie separate, seeking in vain absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.

Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the Gate has not only remained fixed, but open to the trespasses of the Wyld, the darkest of the Feiriefolk. Not only does that mean an evil resurrected from Nick’s own past, but the reincarnation of his lost Cleolinda, a reincarnation destined once more to die.

Nick must turn inward to that which he distrusts the most: the Dragon, the beast he slew when he was still only Saint George. He must turn to the monster residing in him, now a part of him…but ever seeking escape.

The gang war brewing between Prohibition bootleggers may be the least of his concerns. If Nick cannot prevent an old evil from opening the way between realms…then not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal realm.

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| 6. |

The Black Jewels Trilogy

Daughter of the Blood

Heir to the Shadows

Queen of the Darkness

by Anne Bishop

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| My Thoughts |

I first discovered this trilogy when I was fifteen years old and my rating almost certainly reflects that. It was like nothing else I’d ever read before – dark, passionate and grim with highly adult themes throughout and a female-dominated world and magic system to boot. It hit teenage me right in the sweet spot.

Despite my young age, I can almost certainly say that this is not a YA book (sex, violence, torture and slavery abound) and I wonder, given the mixed reviews, whether I would enjoy it as much now. It would, however, be dishonest of me to not give the same rating I gave all those years ago so perhaps The Black Jewels Trilogy is due a re-read.

Rating (Sixteen Years Ago)

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| Synopsis |

Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch saw an ancient prophecy come to life in her web of dreams and visions.

Now the Dark Kingdom readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But she is still young, still open to influence–and corruption.

Whoever controls the Queen controls the darkness. Three men–sworn enemies–know this. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love–and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining…

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| 7. |

The Black Magician Trilogy

The Magician’s Guild

The Novice

The High Lord

by Trudi Canavan

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| My Thoughts |

Despite none of the individual titles having the word ‘black’ in them, it would be remiss of me not to include The Black Magician Trilogy in this list. I first read The Magician’s Guild when I was sixteen years old and, like The Black Jewels Trilogy, my rating will be influenced by that fact.

The first in the Black Magician Trilogy is an exciting and magical tale of a young girl with strange and dangerous powers who finds herself elevated to the position of novice in the Magicians’ Guild. This is a YA fantasy that began my love of Canavan’s writing, which I have enjoyed over the many years since, and I would be more than happy to re-read this trilogy again.

Rating (Fifteen Years Ago)

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| Synopsis |

Each year the magicians of Imardin gather together to purge the city streets of vagrants, urchins and miscreants. Masters of the disciplines of magic, they know that no one can oppose them. But their protective shield is not as impenetrable as they believe.

Sonea, angry, frustrated and outraged by the treatment of her family and friends, hurls a stone at the shield, putting all her rage behind it. To the amazement of all who bear witness, the stone passes unhindered through the barrier and renders a magician unconscious.

The guild’s worst fear has been realised… There is an untrained magician loose on the streets. She must be found before her uncontrolled powers unleash forces that will destroy both her, and the city that is her home.

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| 8. |

The Black Hawks

Book One of Articles of Faith

by David Wragg

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| My Thoughts |

The Black Hawks is a dark, action-packed and witty fantasy featuring a whole host of mercenaries, pompous princes and strangers willing to stab each other, quite literally, in the back. This debut novel by David Wragg is a solid read, which leaves the reader on a knife’s edge and was just shy of greatness.

Rating

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| Synopsis |

Life as a knight is not what Vedren Chel imagined. Bound by oath to a dead-end job in the service of a lazy step-uncle, Chel no longer dreams of glory – he dreams of going home.

When invaders throw the kingdom into turmoil, Chel finds opportunity in the chaos: if he escorts a stranded prince to safety, Chel will be released from his oath.

All he has to do is drag the brat from one side of the country to the other, through war and wilderness, chased all the way by ruthless assassins.

With killers on your trail, you need killers watching your back. You need the Black Hawk Company – mercenaries, fighters without equal, a squabbling, scrapping pack of rogues.

Prepare to join the Black Hawks.

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| 9. |

The Black Song

Book Two of Raven’s Blade

by Anthony Ryan

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| My Thoughts |

Having still not completed the brilliant Raven’s Shadow series, it may be a little early to put the second book of the follow-up series on the list, but it does feature the colour black and Anthony Ryan is a masterful writer. It really is about time I delved back into the world of Vaelin Al Sorna.heart

| Synopsis |

The Steel Horde has laid waste to the Venerable Kingdom, unleashing a storm of fire and blood. Now the leader of this mighty host – Kehlbrand, the warlord who thinks himself a god – turns his eyes to the other merchant kingdoms. No one can stop his divine conquest.

No one, perhaps, except Vaelin Al Sorna.

Yet Vaelin is on the run, his own army in disarray. Worse, the new blood song he has acquired is as much a curse as a blessing, and seeks to guide him down a path far darker than he could have imagined…

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| 10. |

The Black Company

Book One of The Chronicles of the Black Company

by Glen Cook

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| My Thoughts |

This classic, dark fantasy has influenced so many fantasy authors that it is a wonder I’ve never read it. Credited with being the progenitor of grimdark, and with mercenaries, anti-heroes and villains by the bucket-load, The Black Company is one book that is firmly placed on my TBR.

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| Synopsis |

Some feel the Lady, newly risen from centuries in thrall, stands between humankind and evil. Some feel she is evil itself. The hardbitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must, burying their doubts with their dead – until the prophesy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more.

There must be a way for the Black Company to find her..


Click here to see last week’s post:

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books with Red in the Title

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Which ‘Black’ book is your favourite?

If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to ThatArtsyReaderGirl and sign up!

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This Week by Proxy: 20 July – 02 August


Welcome to This Week by Proxy. Join me as I link up with the Caffeinated Reviewer to look back on the past week and see what I’ve been reading, posting, watching and playing!


| This Week by Proxy: 20 July – 02 August 2020 |

This week’s post is actually a two-week post, as last week my weekend was so chaotic that I didn’t find any time to wrap up anything! I did, however, do some gardening with a three year old, read many a children’s book, drank copious amounts of wine, and had an insanely lengthy trip to Ikea where I spent a veritable fortune on items that I hadn’t planned on buying in the first place! But such is life.

I have also managed to enjoy several socially distanced meet ups with both my parents and my partner’s parents, which was a lovely change to my somewhat house-bound working week. However, both their areas have now gone into an extended lockdown period and we will be unable to meet up until restrictions have been lifted again.

I hope you are all safe and well and I can’t wait to catch up on your bookish posts during the week!


| Books Read |

I finally finished Ashes of the Sun, the first in a new fantasy series by Django Wexler, which proved to be a beautifully wrought and complex tale of siblings who find themselves on opposite sides of a war that has lasted the ages. This was a joy to read from beginning to end and has me itching to see what else Wexler has to offer.

I also finished Becky Chambers’ novella, To Be Taught, If Fortunate, which tells the tale of the crew of the Merian as they explore, study and catalogue their findings of strange, new worlds. While not in the same league as the Wayfarers series, this was still an enjoyable tale which explores several interesting concepts.

I also completed my second Jeeves novel, Right Ho, Jeeves, which I rather enjoyed, and a collection of Blandings short stories, Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best.


| Currently Reading |

I just can’t cope with how in love I am with Leviathan Wakes. If a book can be devoured, then every time this one is opened up it is a feast for the mind. The worlds, the ships, the people – they’re all so clearly and wonderfully wrought that I feel lucky to be reading it.

I have also finally gotten around to reading Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie which, for some unknown reason, I’ve left high and dry on my bookshelf – pristine signed hardback looking down at me in stunning blue. I am thoroughly ashamed! With short tales of new and familiar characters, I couldn’t be happier to be back in the world of The First Law.


| Upcoming Reviews |

I am definitely struggling to stop myself from reading and start reviewing at the moment. I partially blame my excessive hours behind a computer whilst working from home but, in all honesty, everything I’m reading is so exciting that I’m too eager to go onto the next thing before I’ve given myself some time to process. I will, however, be playing a bit of catch up this week (as I certainly don’t want to fall any further behind!) and should have all the above reviews out in the next two weeks.  


| Watching |

The other half and I are slowly making our way through The Order in between bouts of gaming, while I’ve been watching Humans, an addictive science fiction series about AI and synthetic consciousness. I first started watching Humans when it was first released and, for some unknown reason, failed to continue – so I have plenty to catch up on!


| Gaming |

For the past two weeks I have been playing copious amounts of No Man’s Sky and Red Dead Redemption 2, interspersed with Apex Legends. No Man’s Sky is a beautiful and expansive game of planetary exploration which I now believe I’m slightly addicted to. Likewise, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a stunning, chaotic and wild ride across the Wild West. Had I not already chosen my Top Ten Games of the Past Two Years, which will be posted next week, these two would almost certainly be featured.


| Posts |

Review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Music Mondays: Huggin & Kissin

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Book Festivals in the UK

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books with Red in the Title

Teaser Tuesdays: Ashes of the Sun

Teaser Tuesdays: To Be Taught, If Fortunate

Waiting on Wednesday: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Waiting on Wednesday: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Friday Face-Off: Framed

The Friday Face-Off: White

Friday Firsts: Leviathan Wakes


I hope you all have a wonderful, book-filled week!

What have you been reading, watching and playing this week? Have you accomplished any goals?

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