Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books That Take Place in Another Country


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 That Take Place in Another Country |

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday! When the majority of your books take place in a fantasy world, finding ones that take place in another country is a far more difficult task than you might expect; particularly when the majority of historical fiction, classics and crime fiction you read take place in your own country! Scroll down for my Top Ten… Books That Take Place in Another Country!heart

| 1. |

Chicago, USA

The Dresden Files

by Jim Butcher

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In this gritty urban fantasy, Harry Dresden, a wizard P.I. who consults for the Chicago P.D., takes the reader on a journey through the streets, morgues and and crime scenes of Chicago. heart

| 2. |

San Francisco, USA

The October Daye Series

by Seanan McGuireheart

The Changling October ‘Toby’ Daye awakes from a curse to find herself living in modern day San Francisco; a San Francisco populated by the courts of the Fae where fairytale creatures abound.heart

| 3 |

Venice, Italy / Bangkok, Thailand / The World

The Gameshouse Novellas

by Claire North

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The Gameshouse has no fixed location but has appeared in various countries over the course of history to play with the lives and fates of kingdoms, countries and players of the ultimate high stakes game.
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| 4. |

Azincourt, France

Azincourt

by Bernard Cornwell

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This piece of historical fiction tells the story of Henry V’s invasion of Normandy, from the prolonged siege of Harfleur and the subsequent march to Calais, to the Battle of Agincourt itself. This is a tale of war and blood and death.
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| 5. |

USA

Vicious

by V.E. Schwab

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Vicious follows the lives of two college students, Eli Cardale and Victor Vale. Absorbed in their research into EOs, or ExtraOrdinary people, their discoveries lead them down a dark and dangerous path where morality, ethics and caution are thrown to the wind in their quest of discovery.
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| 6. |

Colditz Castle, Germany

The Colditz Story

by P.R. Reid

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Colditz Castle, located in the town of Colditz in Germany, was considered an impossible fortress to escape from. Over the course of its four-year history as a military prison, however, over 300 men escaped its walls, 31 of whom completed the dangerous journey home.  The Colditz Story was my introduction to military escape memoirs, which has since become one of my favourite sub-genres of non-fiction. 
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| 7. |

Stalag Luft III, Germany (Then) / Poland (Now)

The Great Escape

by Paul Brickhill

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The Great Escape tells the story of the escape attempt of 600 prisoners from Stalag Luft III during the Second World War. Like The Colditz Story, The Great Escape highlights the skill, ingenuity and bravery of those held captive; a group of men who would stop at nothing to attempt escape and make their way home.
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| 8. |

The Great Hunting Ground (Most of Europe + Part of Asia)

The Mortal Engines Quartet

by Philip Reeve
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One of my favourite series from my early teens, The Mortal Engines Quartet is set in a post-apocalyptic world where people live and work on traction cities, great tiered metropolises that move across the land on caterpillar tracks and hunt smaller towns in what is known as Municipal Darwinism.
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| 9. |

Rome, Italy

The Leone Scamarcio Thrillers

by Nadia Dalbuono

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Set in Rome, the Leone Scamarcio series tells the story of a young detective in Rome’s Flying Squad who must escape his mafia past whilst solving a number of complex and dangerous crimes. With beautiful description of Rome and its criminal underworld, this series transports the reader onto its streets and into the heart of danger itself.

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| 10. |

Edinburgh, Scotland

The Frey + McGrey Series

by Oscar de Muriel

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Combining crime, history and horror, The Frey and McGrey series transports the reader to Victorian Edinburgh, where paranormal crimes abound the unlikely duo of Inspector Ian Frey of Scotland Yard, and Adolphus ‘Nine-Nails’ McGrey must work together to solve dastardly murders and bring peace to its streets.
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What is your favourite setting? If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to ThatArtsyReaderGirl and sign up!

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The Monthly Round-Up: February 2016


Welcome to The Monthly Round-Up. Join me as I look back on the past month to see which books I’ve read, the reviews I’ve posted, the goals I’ve completed and my all important Book of the Month!


| Books Read |

February 8

February has flown by in a torrent of amazingly bloody, beautiful and brilliant books. I only managed a respectable eight but every single one of them was fantastic – I expect that there won’t be less than a four star review amongst them! I may have completely ignored my goals of the month but never mind! February was a blast. It also featured a book so good it required its own rating!

Here’s the run down of the books I devoured last month:

| 1. |

The Tiger and the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky

| 2. |

The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

| 3. |

Broken Banners by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

| 4. |

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

| 5. |

The Grim Company by Luke Scull

| 6. |

Legend by David Gemmell

| 7. |

The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

| 8. |

Dragon Hunters by Marc Turner


Book of the Month


Promise of Blood

by Brian McClellan


| February Goals |

To finish NOS4R2 and Emma before the month is out!

Status: Incomplete (I haven’t even picked one of them up!)

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And to really challenge myself to be organised…

To post every day in February

Status: Incomplete (22 of 29 days Complete)


| Goals for 2016 |

Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge: 18/100 Books Read (18%)

Status: +8% in February


| Reviews Posted |

5+

Promise_of_Blood

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan


5 Stars

The Thief by Claire North


Faith and Moonlight by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

The Tiger and the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire


three point five

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer


Rising Tide by Rajan Khanna


| Other Posts From February |

The Monthly Round-Up: January 2016

The Month Ahead: February 2016

Cover Reveal: Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Cover Reveal: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho – Paperback Edition

Cover Reveal: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan

Bookish Beats: Bonobo – Black Sands

Bookish Beats: Massive Attack – Mezzanine

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Historical Settings

Teaser Tuesdays: February 02 – The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

Teaser Tuesdays: February 09 – Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

Teaser Tuesdays: February 16 – The Grim Company by Luke Scull

Teaser Tuesdays: February 23 – A Fever of the Blood by Oscar de Muriel

The Friday Face-Off: February 05 – The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

The Friday Face-Off: February 12 – The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

The Friday Face-Off: February 19 – Vicious by V.E. Schwab

The Friday Face-Off: February 26 – The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Book Haul: February 06 – The Frey and McGray Series by Oscar de Muriel

Book Haul: February 08 – Drake, Servant of the Underworld and The Crimson Ribbon

Book Haul: February 10 – Low Town Series and City of Bohane

Book Haul: February 13 – The Rats, The Folding Knife and The Electric Church

Book Haul: February 23 – The Raven’s Head, And Then There Were None and Ink and Bone

Book Haul: February 24 – Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Review: The Thief by Claire North



The Thief

The Gameshouse II

by Claire North

Fantasy | Novella | 100 Pages | Published by Orbit in 2015


| Rating |


The Serpent, the first novella in The Gameshouse series, impressed with its enchanting and opulent setting and its calculated narrative which resonated with political intrigue and decisive manoeuvres. The second novella, The Thief, follows on from The Serpent several hundred years later in an equally beautiful but entirely different tale which is utterly gripping from start to finish.

The Thief is a heady, exotic and thrilling tale which takes the reader on a journey – one of survival and victory – across Thailand and Asia. Through jungles and cities, on railroads and by foot, North weaves across the landscape as she spins her tale of The Gameshouse, where bets, debts and the game remain king. This is an exciting, intoxicating and incredibly beautiful tale and, much like The Gameshouse, once it has it hooks in you, it is impossible to let go.

The Gameshouse is an unusual institution.

Many know it as the place where fortunes can be made and lost though games of chess, backgammon – every game under the sun.

But a select few, who are picked to compete in the higher league, know that some games are played for higher stakes – those of politics and empires, of economics and kings . . .

In 1930s Bangkok, one higher league player has just been challenged to a game of hide and seek. The board is all of Thailand – and the seeker may use any means possible to hunt down his quarry – be it police, government, strangers or even spies . . .

The Gameshouse is preparing itself for The Great Game but, first, another pieces needs to be manoeuvred into place. Once more we take up the die and play the game which transcends all boundaries, the game which fells empires and topples kings and where the cost of victory leaves an indelible imprint on the world. Anonymous sentinels stand watch as they recount a tale of hide and seek, a game where whole countries are the board and governments, military and warbands are the pawns.

It’s the summer of 1938 and Remy Burke has made a bet with the notorious Abhik Lee; a bet he made whilst drunk and in no fit state to call terms. The wager: Twenty years of Abhik Lee’s life versus Remy Burke’s memory. The deck is stacked against him and his pieces, those people and forces that he holds in his power like pawns on a chessboard, cannot compare to the powerful hand that Lee holds.

Under such circumstances a game of hide and seek is no easy feat, not when you’re a near six-foot Anglo-Frenchman in the heart of Asia; not when your opponent has such powerful forces to call upon; and not when your opponent would never have made a bet unless he knew he could win. For Remy, victory and survival may just be one and the same thing.

Throughout The Thief, North stuns with her sumptuous and compulsive writing. She paints a picture of 1930’s Thailand, and Bangkok in particular, with such skill and ease that it’s hard not to feel you’ve suddenly been transported there. From the heart of the city, to the wilds of the jungle, to the cracked and dry deserts, North conjures up a world of politics and alliances, of cities and wilderness, and saturates her writing with a wealth of history in this fantastical and enchanting tale.

The Thief is almost reminiscent of those great chase stories, such as The Thirty-Nine Steps or twentieth century escape memoirs, which share a protagonist fleeing across expansive stretches of wilderness and jungle with unknown enemies hidden within the landscape. North delights in stacking the decks against her creation; everyone and anyone could be a piece in Lee’s hand. Trust the wrong person and Burke may lose more than just the game. But even an underdog may yet have a few tricks to play.

Once more the silent observers take the reigns of the tale and steer our course, recounting Burke’s tale in additively florid prose. Their identity remains a mystery and their allegiance remains unknown, but their desire for Burke’s unlikely victory lends them a friendly if other-worldly air. They seem both part of The Gameshouse and separate from it, transcending time and earthly boundaries to observe and record the unfolding of the game.

Remy Burke is an affable and likeable protagonist who, in his own terms, has become a little sloppy when it comes to the game. His fundamental flaws of character leave him with no time to assess and no time to think, his game becoming a chase from start to finish, and the pursued outwitted and outmatched at almost every turn. But friendship may be found by our beleaguered protagonist, even within The Gameshouse, as The Thief sees the return of the enigmatic Silver.

The Thief is an incredibly well written tale which rejoices in its own prose and is almost impossible to put down. This is a series of novellas which, although close to perfect in their own short format, consistently leaves me yearning for more. The writing is poetic, the premise is full of intrigue and excitement, the characters are both likeable and other-worldly, and the power and draw of The Gameshouse is almost tangible. Once it has you in its sights, The Gameshouse will not let go.

I wholeheartedly recommend The Thief, along with the other Gameshouse novellas, to anyone wishing for a beautiful, tense and exciting break from reality. Fantasy, history and intrigue are entwined throughout the narrative for something which, for me, bordered close on perfection. Claire North has once again left me with the distinct impression that I really do not have enough of her work in my life.

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The Monthly Round-Up: January 2016


The Monthly Round-Up - JanWelcome to The Monthly Round-Up. Join me as I look back on the past month to see which books I’ve read, the reviews I’ve posted, the goals I’ve completed and my all important Book of the Month!


| Books Read |

Well hasn’t January flown by! It feels like only yesterday I was putting together the end of 2015 post and here we are a month later. January has been a month of some fantastic reads, I only wish there had been time to write and post more reviews and continue with some of my more neglected features. Here’s hoping my scheduling will be a little better in February! (A wish that will no doubt be expressed at the close of next month!)

A definite highlight of this month was the exceptional crime thriller The American by Nadia Dalbuono, which had me on the edge of my seat and almost desperate for her next novel, along with Daniel Polansky’s brilliant The Straight Razor Cure. And of course there was the wonderful Read Along for Rosemary and Rue, the first book in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. This is a book which surpassed all my expectations and has more than peaked my interest in this urban fantasy series. A review will be forthcoming and a Read Along for book two, A Local Habitation, is planned for March.

Unfortunately I became far too distracted by other books to complete my personal goal of finishing all my ‘currently reading’ novels. I did however manage to cross two of them off my list! That means, yes! I finally finished The Daylight War! And it was certainly worth the wait. Whilst the first half had me a little nervous, the second half more than made up for it. The two preceding novels may have been incomparably stunning but The Daylight War certainly has its place as an (incredibly huge) intermediary novel. I just can’t wait to get stuck into The Skull Throne… and hopefully it won’t take me a year to read this one!

So let’s have a look at what literary delights consumed in January:

| 1. |

The American by Nadia Dalbuono

| 2. |

Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan

| 3. |

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie

| 4. |

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

| 5. |

The Master by Claire North

| 6. |

Faith and Moonlight by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

| 7. |

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

| 8. |

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

| 9. |

Low Town: The Straight Razor Cure by Daniel Polansky

| 10. |

The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel


Book of the Month


The American

by Nadia Dalbuono


| January Goals |

To finish ALL of the poor neglected novels which I am currently reading

1 of 4 | The Adventure of the Christmas by Agatha Christie

2 of 4 | The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

Status: Incomplete

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| Goals for 2016 |

Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge: 10/100 Books Read (10%)

Status: +10% in January

More goals and challenges coming up in a separate post!


| Reviews Posted |

5 Stars

The American by Nadia Dalbuono


Rend the Dark by Mark Gelineau and Joe King


                  

Best Left in the Shadows by Mark Gelineau and Joe King


three point five

House-of-Shattered-Wings-UK-resized

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard


| Other Posts From January |

The Monthly Round-Up: December 2015

2015: A Year in Review

The Month Ahead: January 2016

Author Interview: Mark Gelineau and Joe King

Cover Reveal: Stranger of Tempest by Tom Lloyd

Bookish Beats: Moby – Play

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Bookish Resolutions for 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… 2015 Releases I forgot to Buy!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Classics I’ve Recently Added to my TBR

Teaser Tuesdays: January 05 – The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

Teaser Tuesdays: January 12 – Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Teaser Tuesdays: January 19 – Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

The Friday Face-Off: January 01 – The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Friday Face-Off: January 15 – The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe

The Friday Face-Off: January 29 – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Read Along: Throne of Glass – Part 1

Read Along: Throne of Glass – Part 2

Read Along: Throne of Glass – Part 3

Read Along: Throne of Glass – Part 4

Read Along: Rosemary and Rue – Week 1

Read Along: Rosemary and Rue – Week 2

Read Along: Rosemary and Rue – Week 3

Read Along: Rosemary and Rue – Week 4

2015: A Year in Review


2015


| Books by Proxy – A Year in Review |

Welcome to my first end of year post – and what a year it has been! I started this blog on the last day of July and, over the last half of 2015, have found myself as part of a wonderful community of readers and bloggers. In my albeit limited experience, we book bloggers are lucky to enjoy a very friendly and supportive community, where sharing our books, our reviews and our experiences is all done for a love of reading and can be enjoyed by many. So thank you readers and thank you bloggers for making 2015 such an enjoyable year. I hope you all have a fantastic 2016!heart


| A Year in Books |
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I think we can all agree these two very similar and equally profound books, Blood Song by Anthony Ryan and The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, deservedly made it into my longest and shortest book categories.heart


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Donna Leon

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Leon 10

with ten books in her Commissario Brunetti series

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2015 - 6

P.G. Wodehouse

with nine books in total including seven from his Blandings series

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Jim Butcher

with eight books in The Dresden Files series

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AC - 6

Agatha Christie

with six books in her Hercule Poirot series

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best fantasyBlood Song

Book One of the Raven’s Shadow Series

by Anthony Ryan

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Best SciFiRed Rising

Book One of the Red Rising Trilogy

by Pierce Brown

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best novellaThe SerpentThe Serpent

The Gameshouse I

by Claire North

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best crimeThe Few

A Leone Scamarcio Thriller

by Nadia Dalbuonoheart

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best historicalLamentationLamentation

Book Six of the Matthew Shardlake Series

by C.J. Sansom

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best classicSomething FreshSomething Fresh

Book One of the Blandings Series

by P.G. Wodehouse

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There were so many more amazing books which deserve to be on this list but then it would just be most of 2015’s books!

Thank you all for reading and have a wonderful 2016!

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Review: The Serpent by Claire North



The Serpent

The Gameshouse I

by Claire North

Fantasy | Novella | 100 Pages | Published by Orbit in 2015


| Rating |


Claire North has been on my radar ever since she was Catherine Webb and publishing novels at the grand old age of sixteen. However, despite this early success, it wasn’t until The Gameshouse series appeared on my feed that I picked up her any of her novels. With a sumptuous, seventeenth century Venetian setting and an enchanting premise, The Serpent is a novella which had me trapped in its web of intrigue and politics from the very start. This is The Gameshouse, where fortunes are made and empires are broken. Will you place a bet?

In 17th Century Venice exists a mysterious establishment known only as the Gameshouse.

There, fortunes are made and fortunes are broken over games of chess, backgammon and every other game under the sun.

But those whom fortune favours may be invited to compete in the higher league . . . a league where the games played are of politics and empires, of economics and kings. It is a league where Capture the Castle involves real castles, where hide and seek takes place on a scale as big as the British Isles.

Not everyone proves worthy of competing in the higher league. But one woman, who is about to play, may just exceed everyone’s expectations.

Though she must always remember: the higher the stakes, the more deadly the rules…

Trapped in a loveless marriage, Thene must stand by a husband who whiles away his days gambling and whoring, falling into debt and dishonour as he spends every last coin. Finding herself at The Gameshouse, in the company of gamblers and gamesters, fortune makers and fortune breakers, she watches as her husband sinks further into ruin. Unable and unwilling to change his fate, she takes up the dice.

She plays for gold and plays for coin and, when the scales tip in her favour, her actions capture the attention of the house. Called to the higher league, Thene finds that she is playing for far more than she could ever have imagined. This is a game which transcends all boundaries, where players control people like pieces on a board, and where the fate of empires and kings is decided by a roll of the dice. In this game of politics she must claim victory for her king or risk losing all.

The Serpent is a richly imagined tale, brimming with mystery and intrigue, and reminiscent of the old morality tales of centuries past. Venice is depicted in gloriously vivid detail, the architecture of the city and the spirit of its people captured in remarkably lyrical prose. North weaves the fantastical throughout a narrative which in all other ways could be real. This is a novella which lives and breaths its time and place, where it’s as easy to become lost in the pages as in the narrow calles and campos of Venice. North has captured the spirit of a city – the revelry, politics and intrigue – whilst basking in its grandeur.

The narrative is told from the perspective of unseen observers who watch as Thene plays her game of kings; silent sentinels who recount the unfolding of events whilst giving little away as to their form and purpose. Thene is an intelligent and thoughtful character who conjures up an instant rapport, the hardship she endures balanced by her power as a player. The other characters, or pieces – the Priestess, the Fool, the Queen of Cups, and the four kings eager to be crowned – are lent an air of mystery, creating an exciting and unpredictable read which keeps you guessing until the very end.

Claire North has proven herself to be a skilled author whose way with words is sure to impress. Her use of language and her beautiful, poetic prose conveys the excitement and thrill of the game whilst carving out a city and a compelling narrative in wonderful detail. This is a novella centred around politics and power – instantly captivating and utterly absorbing; North is the Gamesmaster and the readers are puppets on her strings.

The Serpent surprised and impressed me in equal measure, and I would recommend  it to fans of fantasy and historical fiction alike. With two more novellas in The Gameshouse series awaiting my attention, along with numerous feature length novels, I’m sure 2016 will be a year in which Claire North features heavily on my reading list – I seriously can’t wait!

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