Review | The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Book cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. HarrowTitleThe Ten Thousand Doors of January (2019)
Author: Alix E. Harrow
Publisher: Little, Brown
Imprint: Orbit
Read: 2nd – 5th September 2019
Genre: historical fiction; fantasy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored and utterly out of place. But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page reveals more impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.” (Synopsis from publisher)

Continue reading

Review | Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

godsofjadeTitleGods of Jade and Shadow (2019)
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publisher: Quercus
Imprint: Jo Fletcher Books
Read: 5th August – 1st September 2019
Genre: historical fiction; fantasy; mythology
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy scrubbing floors in her wealthy grandfather’s house to do more than dream of a life far from her small town in southern Mexico. Until the day she accidentally frees an ancient Mayan god of death, who offers her a deal: in return for Casiopea’s help in recovering his throne, he will grant her whatever she desires. From the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City and deep into the darkness of Xibalba, the Mayan underworld, Casiopea’s adventure will take her on a perilous cross-country odyssey beyond anything she’s ever known. Success will make her every dream come true, but failure will see her lost, for ever…” (Synopsis from publisher)

Continue reading

Review | Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

redwhiteandroyalblueTitleRed, White & Royal Blue (2019)
Author: Casey McQuiston
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: 14th May 2019
Read: 19th – 20th April
Genre: LGBTQIA; romance; contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse. Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic. (Synopsis from publisher)

Continue reading

Review | The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

Title: The Wicked Cometh (2018)
Author: Laura Carlin
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: 1st February 2018
Read: 1st – 6th January 2018
Genre: historical fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

‘This newspaper has taken note that the past month has been remarkable for the prevalence of cases where men, women and children are declared missing. Scarcely a week passes without the occurrence of an incident of this type’ – The Morning Herald, Tuesday 13 September 1831

Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and the city’s vulnerable poor are disappearing from the streets. Out of these shadows comes Hester White, a bright young woman who is desperate to escape the slums by any means possible. When Hester is thrust into the world of the aristocratic Brock family, she leaps at the chance to improve her station in life under the tutelage of the fiercely intelligent and mysterious Rebekah Brock. But whispers from her past slowly begin to poison her new life and both she and Rebekah are lured into the most sinister of investigations, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking… (Synopsis from publisher)


“My advice is don’t rely on a man to be on time and don’t trust all what the newspapers write in their dailies.”

The Wicked Cometh marks a departure for me – it’s the first time in quite a while that I’ve chosen to read a book that has no hint of fantasy or magic, and is purely historical fiction, albeit with a generous helping of the Gothic. The Wicked Cometh is the kind of historical fiction I enjoy – it doesn’t sugarcoat or glorify the Victorian age, instead it presents a London that is more about the blood and excrement in the back alleys of the busy thoroughfares than the refined drawing rooms of the elite in society. It proclaims to be “a novel of darkest London” and this book goes to some very dark places indeed, with the book opening with its protagonist, a parson’s daughter, now down-and-out, Hester White, asleep in an outside shed with only the ragged clothes she’s wearing as protection against the cold wind of the night that whistles through the slums in which she lives, a slum from which many people are going missing, with no explanation, or concern raised. What emerges from this less than auspicious start, via the fortuitous happenstance of a carriage accident putting Hester in the path of the aristocratic Brocks, is a story about how far it is possible to rise and fall and what nature of crimes both the upper and under classes commit in everyday life. It concerns the question of the period – can the lower classes be educated and, therefore, have a better “value” in the eyes of the government and society at large? These macrocosmic concerns are, naturally, dealt with through the journey of the novel’s protagonist Hester, as she meets some unsavoury characters along the way, in the slums and drawing rooms alike.

Continue reading

Friday Reads | 19th May 2017

Another week, another Friday rolls around. You may remember in my last Friday Reads, I was still absorbed in the weird and wonderful world of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (a review of which will be up later today) and having quite the run of longer books.

In wanting to break away from that I decided to pick up what I thought was the most fun and fluffy of the books I felt like reading – Gail Carriger’s Soullessthe first book in The Parasol Protectorate, her steampunk paranormal series in which vampires and werewolves are part of Queen Victoria’s society and, indeed, her government. The heroine, Alexia Tarabotti, is “soulless”, an individual whose touch can reverse supernatural states, so, if say, she touches a werewolf, their fur disappears and their eyes become a little less wolfish. The hero of the piece? Well, he’s an Earl, Lord Connal Maccon, a gentleman (kind of), he occasionally slips into his Scottish burr, and he’s obviously an Alpha of a werewolf pack because this part paranormal romance so of course he is. He’s also gruff and he and Alexia argue a lot so we can all see where that’s headed from the moment of their very first tiff in the book.

But, hey, it’s a fun romp, it’s very diverting and it’s steampunk so I am all over that … the one thing that slightly disrupts my otherwise easy reading pace? You can kind of tell it’s written by someone who isn’t, themselves, English. There are very subtle differences between British English and American English that most people don’t realise until they write with someone from the other nation – by which I mean, I myself have come to terms with this only through writing forum roleplay with an American who found it forever amusing that I would say things like “fortnight” (apparently that’s not used generally as a word in America??) and “half an hour” instead of “a half hour” as others might say. Little nuances like that that are difficult to handle correctly (mostly because you’re not aware of them being nuances) and you’re bound to slip up.

Although, one stonker of a mistake in the first few pages: “jelly” was used to describe what we English call “jam” (you know the stuff you spread on toast and scones?)… I just cringed at how glaringly obvious it stood out. (I bought the book used and the previous owner had angrily circled the word “jelly” in pencil – they clearly took issue with it too!) The more I re-read this book the more I notice them, and that’s what probably means I’m struggling a bit with this book. Lord Maccon, in particular, says things that just… no – even if he’s meant to be Scottish, they’re not Scottish, they’re not even English, couple of case in points:

“How on earth did you finagle that?” (Um excuse me, what’s “finagle”?)

“What in tarnation is that?” (We don’t say tarnation, sorry Lord Maccon)

Of course, really, it’s a book about vampires and werewolves so I mean if I’m already suspending disbelief for them then I can let a few language issues go and just enjoy it. Or, I hope I can let it go anyway because the whole point of re-read the first book was so that I could swiftly continue on with the series ahead and get to Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless in quick succession. I’m also kind of hoping that after the first book someone might have pointed out the more blatant Americanisms and they were corrected. We shall see.

(Wow ok I didn’t realise how long this post is getting… apparently that rant about British English needed to be expressed or I would have burst.)

But, aside from everything that is The Parasol Protectorate, I also have a digital pile of eARCs to get to as soon as possible. Yes, my friends, I finally discovered NetGalley and was astounded to learn that I did have enough online presence to be approved for some titles after all. (Is it weird I find that strangely flattering?) I’ve already took advantage of that and got my grubby little mitts on Matt Haig’s How to Stop Time and bloody loved it – I have such love for Matt Haig’s writing in general, to be fair, so it wasn’t a hard sell – but I think I’ll be re-reading it before writing a review for it, since it doesn’t come out until July. Aside from that I also have these titles to choose from this weekend:

  

  • Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott
    This just sounds odd and mysterious and I’m all for that. I hear it’s a bit Victorian and a bit Gothic in its tone, and that’s plenty enough to intrigue me. The cover is intriguing and Hilary Mantel has praised it. That’s all I know, that’s all I want to know.
  • Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
    I’m 17% through this and I’m not really old enough to appreciate the topics it covers, I think, but I’ll still try to finish it for the sake of reviewing it because it’s an easy enough reading experience. There are 4 and 5-star reviews of this on Goodreads so clearly I’m in the minority here.
  • Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell
    ‘Magic is a con game’ – that’s quite enough of a PR selling phrase to grab me, hook, line, and sinker. Yes, I am that easy.

Yeah, I have a lot of reading to do, especially since 2 out of 3 of these books have been already released so I’m definitely behind. But I have little to no plans for this upcoming weekend currently so hopefully I can breeze through a couple of the books from this list – fingers crossed anyway! The galleys really ought to be my priority and they will be, provided I don’t get distracted by whatever shenanigans Alexia and Lord Maccon get up to in The Parasol Protectorate books!

That was my Friday Reads for this week but enough of me – what are you currently reading going into this weekend? Are you planning much for the next couple of days? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear it!


Goodreads | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Bloglovin’