Re-arranging the shelves

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I was re-arranging my shelves after giving them a thorough dusting when I actually got a good look at my collection after quite some time. There are books that I’d almost forgotten I had and books that now that I remember them (or don’t), I’d like to re-read once again.

Out of all these, The Castings Trilogy by Pamela Freeman is the one I read most recently, two years or so ago. I can honestly say that even though I picked it randomly, it was worth it.

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“The road is long and the end is death. If we’re lucky.”                    

A thousand years ago, the Eleven Domains were invaded and the original inhabitants were driven onto the road as Travelers, belonging nowhere, welcomed by no one.

Now the Domains are governed with an iron fist by the Warlords, but there are wilder elements in the landscape that cannot be controlled and that may prove the Warlords’ undoing. Some are spirits of place – of water and air and fire and earth. Some are greater than these. And some are human.

Bramble: A village girl whom no one living can tame, forced to flee her home for a crime she did not commit.

Ash: A safeguarder’s apprentice who must kill for an employer he cannot escape.

Saker: An enchanter who will not rest until the land is returned to his people.

As their three stories unfold, along with the stories of those whose lives they touch, it becomes clear that they are bound together in ways that not even a stonecaster could have foreseen – by their past, their future, and their blood.

This omnibus edition includes all three novels – Blood Ties, Deep Water, and Full Circle – together for the first time.

Heart of the Mirage by Glenda Larke
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The Exaltarch rules the Tyranian Empire through force and a network of spies known as the Brotherhood. In Kardiastan, Tyrans has forced out the Magor ruling class and imposed their own leaders.

Ligea Gayed, one of the top agents of the Brotherhood, is ordered to find a Kardiastan rebel leader and bring him to justice. A straightforward enough assignment for her, but all Ligea finds is mystery upon mystery. The rebels seem able to come and go at will and any attempt to pursue them across the desert ends in disaster.

Ligea has to face her own demons and her own violent past to discover the secrets of Kardiastan…

This was Glenda Larke’s first book I read and I liked her writing style. The same can’t be said about her character’s in this book, though I like her characters in the Stormlord series.
Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson
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Something frightening is happening to time. Time tornadoes are ripping people from the present, never to return them, while a woolly mammoth inexplicably appears on banks of the River Thames. Eleven-year-old Silver and her guardian live in a house called Tanglewreck, which is somehow at the center of these mysterious time warps. A strange heirloom called the Timekeeper is hidden somewhere in the house, and Silver must find it and protect it . . . because whoever gets hold of the Timekeeper will have the power to control time-and life as we know it-forever.
 
‘Yet at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity’
It’s a really great concept and an awesome kids fantasy. Though so-saying, it is kind of complicated for a kid but interesting.
I think it’s been at least 5 or 6 years since I read it.
Tommy Sullivan is a Freak by Meg Cabot
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Liar, liar.
Katie Ellison is not a liar.

It’s just that telling the truth is so . . . tricky. She knows she shouldn’t be making out with a drama club hottie behind her football- player boyfriend’s back. She should probably admit that she can’t stand eating quahogs (clams), especially since she’s running for Quahog Princess in her hometown’s annual Quahog Festival. And it would be a relief to finally tell someone what really happened the night Tommy Sullivan is a freak was spray-painted on the new wall outside the junior high school gymnasium-in neon orange, which still hasn’t been sandblasted off. After all, everyone knows that’s what drove Tommy out of town four years ago.

But now Tommy Sullivan has come back. Katie is sure he’s out for revenge, and she’ll do anything to hang on to her perfect (if slightly dishonest) existence. Even if it means telling more lies than ever. Even if, now that Tommy’s around, she’s actually-no lie- having the time of her life.

Where Rainbows End by Cecilia Ahern

714985From naughty children to rebellious teenagers, Rosie and Alex have stuck by each other through thick and thin. But just as as they’re discovering the joys of teenage nights on the town and dating disasters, they’re separated. Alex’s family move from Dublin to America – and Alex goes with them. For good.

Rosie’s lost without him. But on the eve of her departure to join Alex in Boston, Rosie gets news that will change her life forever – and keep her at home in Ireland.

Their magical connection sees them through the ups and downs of each others lives, but neither of them knows whether their friendship can survive the years and miles – or new relationships. And at the back of Rosie’s mind is whether they were meant to be more than just good friends all along. Misunderstandings, circumstances and sheer bad luck have kept them apart, but when presented with the ultimate opportunity, will they gamble everything for true love?

I think it’s been quite a number of years since I read these novels but even so, they haven’t lost their pull.

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The Pillars of the World by Anne Bishop

The Pillars of the World (Tir Alainn #1)

by Anne Bishop
Myth and magic combine in a superb dark fantasy of a world in danger of being destroyed by those who deny themselves and their heritage, and let evil loose in the world.

In Sylvalan, a witch hunt is in full force. As witches and innocents are brutally murdered, magic is disappearing from the land, and the roads between the world of humans and that of faeries are vanishing one by one. Ari’s family has tended one of the Old Places, places which hold the key to travel between human and faery lands, for generations, keeping the magic alive and the land lush and fertile. Ari unknowingly takes a Fae lover, the Lord of the Sun, and immediately becomes the target of the unwanted interest of the faery nobility.

To save their world the Fae must trust humankind, but with a few exceptions they do not believe Ari and her friends can help them. Against the Inquisitor and the arrogant Fae, Ari and those who believe in the world of magic and human unravel the secrets of the Old Places and discover that they all need each other if any are to survive.

This is a story which uses all the myriad stories of humankind, good and evil, to weave a breathtaking tale of action, romance and thought-provoking themes to enthrall readers.

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My thoughts
Okay, I have to say that if Anne Bishop is one of those author’s whose every series is just impeccably fantastic, then this is the one and only book so far that I’ll exclude from that. This series on a whole is awesome (truly, truly), which probably seems peculiar after my previous sentence. Thing is, when I first picked up this book, I thought it seemed nice if a bit slow. As I got further into the book, I just started losing interest. I thought of putting it down a number of times but decided to atleast finish it. I think I only truly enjoyed the last portion of the book and a few tit-bits in between.
The Pillars of the World is set in Sylvalan where witches are being hunted down. There is Tir Alainn, the land of the fae, which is above Sylvalan and roads lead down to it which are visible only to the fae. Ari is a witch who lives in an old place, pockets of land which still hold deep magic and anchor the roads. The fae are arrogant and disregard everyone else. The wiches, even though they are being hunted, won’t fight back because they hold on blindly to their creed of ‘Do no harm’. The book was slow to start, had a slow middle and only a fast ending. The ending wasn’t rushed (thankfully) and I quite liked it but it din’t make up for reading the rest of the novel.
Even so, I will say this, its an awesome series. I liked the book better the second time I read it (after going through the whole series) though that has no bearing on anything. After reading this book, I was’nt keen on going further into the series, and I delayed reading it for months. But one day I was extremely bored and had nothing interesting to read so I decided to just read it. I am glad I did. The second book was a vast improvement. And the third was even better. Truly, from the second book onward, it was Anne Bishop’s usual amazing, can’t keep it down variety.
I’ll say this one was about 3.25/5 stars

Lover Mine by J.R. Ward

I would hold you up. I will ever hold you up and hold you dear, lover mine.

I’ve read a lot of paranormal romance and most of them have a similar feel. I like romance and BDB – Black Dagger Brotherhood seemed like a decent series and reading Dark Lover, the first book in the series, it seemed my assessment was correct. J.R. Ward’s writing style was good and the story was nice but I realised as I read the second novel that both her writing style and her story was improving. I still like Dark lover but as the series progressed, the plot kept expanding, and storyline kept getting better and better.

Lover Mine is the eighth book in the series, though John Matthew’s story started long before we reached this book. This is another thing I adore about J.R. ward’s writing style, she threads several stories into her books that continue alongside the main story and all add beautifully to the larger picture. I love that she continues the stories of characters whose books are already done, and shows us that relationships need work and compromises, and that everything is not a happily ever after just as soon as both the characters are done with the ‘I love you’s.

There is anguish; real, heartfelt anguish, and there are funny moments that make you actually startle you. Ever since John appeared, he’s been one of my favourite characters. I went through the parts containing John in the other books again before reading Lover Mine. There are two timelines, John’s and his father’s. It shows how Darius (John’s Father) met Tohrment and the fact that he was present at the birth of Xhex and loved her as his own child though he gave her away so she could have a normal life (and obviously that went well).

Oh the wee one. Ill begotten, never to be forgotten, ever to have a piece of his heart.

John’s life has been no joy ride (in any circumstances) but even so, Xhex was no better off (I think worse).

She felt sorry for the female who had been driven to such straits. Who had kept herself apart from all emotions. The female had been born under a curse. The female had done evil and had evil done unto her. The female had hardened herself, her mind and her emotions becoming steel. The female had been wrong about that locking down, that selfcontainment. It was not a case of strength, as she had always told herself. It was strictly survival . . . and she simply couldn’t keep it up any longer.

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Lover Mine@goodreads

 

The fifth season by N.K. Jemisin

When we say “the world has ended,” it’s usually a lie, because the planet is just fine. But this is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. For the last time.

I had known about N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms for quite some time except I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. I don’t know why I decided to read her newest book, The fifth season, though I’m glad I did. I’m not a fan of tragedies, and this book is a great big mass of tragedy, so much so that I wonder if there will ever be a happily ever after, but oh well, it’s still interesting. The book simultaneously traverses across three timelines. In the beginning you think that these three are different people, but later realise that they are, all three of them, the same person at different ages.

I won’t say that I really like her characters (sometimes I do), they’re sort of hard to connect with. They’re also somewhat distant though I do sympathise with them. They have, from the beginning of their lives, been brutalized emotionally, manipulated and controlled. The orogenes, people who can control how the plates of the earth shift, creating or stopping earthquakes, are despised and feared. The main character, who we first know only as Essun is an Orogene. She comes home to find her son beaten to death by her husband and her daughter missing along with the husband. This is her Journey.

The novel’s not exactly beautiful, more like brutal and painful, like their world itself but I will also say that never once, was it ever boring.

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Summary from goodreads:

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME.

A season of endings has begun.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.

It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.

It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

 

 

 

 

 

If these Quotes don’t convince you…{Dreams of Gods and Monsters}

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts and started the apocalypse.”

I wont write a review or try to convince you to read this book. Maybe later. Maybe people consider them spoilers, but if after reading these quotes, you still don’t feel interested enough to read this series, then nothing can convince you. This was my first YA fantasy series. And I do mean the absolute first. This convinced me that maybe YA was worth reading after all.

“We are the beginning … We always have been. This time, let it be more than a beginning.”

“Wasn’t that what religions did? Squint at one another and declare, ‘My unprovable belief is better than your unprovable belief. Suck it.”

“People with secrets shouldn’t make enemies. People with destinies shouldn’t make plans.”

“It was not a happy ending but a happy middle–at last, after so many fraught beginnings.”

“There are maps in me but I am lost, and there are skies in me but they are dead.”
“Infinities are not for casual exploration. You could fall and keep falling. You could get lost.”
“In the legends, chimaera were sprung from tears and seraphim from blood, but in this moment they are, all of them, children of regret.”
“I’ve seen more stars than anyone alive. I’ve killed more stars than anyone will ever see.”
12633029._SX540_Maybe too many quotes, but I just couldn’t help it. They were so beautiful.
     “What filled her wasn’t desire, but tenderness, and a profound gratitude that he lived, and she did, too. That he had found her, and that he had found her again. And… dear gods and stardust… yet again. Let that be the last time he ever needed to come looking for her.”
“You’re doing so well.” At being Thiago, she meant. “It’s a little eerie.”
“Eerie,” he repeated.
“Convincing. A few times I almost forgot–”
He didn’t let her finish. “Don’t forget. Not ever. Not for a second.” He drew in breath. “Please.”
So much behind that word. Please don’t forget I’m not a monster. Please don’t forget what I gave up. Please don’t forget me.
      “She’d spoken of their happiness as though it were an undeniable fact, no matter what happened–apart from everything else and not subject to it. It was a new idea for him, that happiness wasn’t a mystical place to be reached or won–some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it–but something to carry doggedly with you through everything, as humble and ordinary as your gear and supplies. Food, weapons, happiness.
With hope that the weapons could in time vanish from the picture.”

       “The dead,” she said. “And we have plenty of dead between us, but the way we act, you’d think they were corpses hanging on to our ankles, rather than souls freed to the elements.” She looked up at the chimney overhead, as though she were imagining the souls it had conducted in its time. “They’re gone, they can’t be hurt anymore, but we drag their memory around with us, doing our worst in their name, like it’s what they’d want, for us to avenge them? I can’t speak for all the dead, but I know it’s not what I wanted for you, when I died.”

If you’re convinced, then

Dreams of gods and monster@goodreads

P.s. – If you haven’t read it yet, do start with the first book in the series – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of the blood by Anne Bishop

Have you read an author whose every series is a work of art? Anne Bishop has created four unbelievable worlds with such awe-inspiring detail and beauty, that I’m always left speechless. I have an inkling that more people these days read her latest series – The others and might not have much interest to go back and check her other works.

That is a great folly!

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Daughter of the blood is the first book in the Black Jewels trilogy and also Anne Bishop’s debut novel. There are many amazing characters but there are four main characters namely, Jaenelle, Daemon, Lucivar, and Saetan. Daemon and Lucivar are Saetan’s sons, son’s that are not aware of their parentage. At the opening of the novel, all three are fully grown and several centuries (in Saetan’s case several millenia) old except for Jaenelle who is a child.

Though Jaenelle is a child, she has an interminable mysteriousness that simply does not disappear. One contributing factor might be that we do not see Jaenelle’s point of view. The entire series is juggled between Daemon, Saetan and Lucivar and sometimes other characters also (briefly) but never Jaenelle. Normally this would be a minus point in a story but somehow, I get the feeling that reading Jaenelle’s point of view might disillusion me because nothing can live up to the image I have.

The notions of Honour, of right and wrong in the book are stretched and often skewed. People loathe and fear Saetan and yet, Saetan is the most righteous (in the best possible way), most honourable person in all the realms. Of course, when you have a title like the High Lord of Hell, it might be expected. There are three realms in the book, Terrielle, Kaeleer, and Hell. Hell is the Darkest realm. Though, in a world where darkness is worshipped, why is that such a fearful thing? Terrielle is the light realm and Kaeleer is the shadow. Terrielle is also the most corrupt realm and Kaeleer the most honourable.

A conundrum, right?

This book is filled with them.

The themes in this book are very dark, but somehow it doesn’t diminish the story at all. The world building is amazing and even though it is extensive, it is neither rushed nor confusing. The story is even paced, and not for a moment does it get boring. Some phrases are absolutely riveting and the writing style is beautiful. You’ll fall so in love with the characters and the way they interact with each other. The family dynamic is truly worth reading. For those who like a dose of romance in their fantasy, if you be patient, you’ll get that when Jaenelle’s of age (later in the series).

There are races of people, the short lived races that have a life span of 100-200 years and long lived races that live thousands of years. There is also prejudice about the races and castes and jewel ranks. All of this creates a very complex system but a very interesting one none the less. There are kindred, animals that are a part of the ‘blood’ as those with jewels are known. And I could delve much deeper into the story but for those who are inclined to read it, I will leave it for them to dicover it themselves.

Daughter of the Blood@goodreads

4.5/5 stars

Lord of the White Hell by Ginn Hale

Lord of the White Hell, Book 1 (Lord of the White Hell #1)

by Ginn Hale

Kiram Kir-Zaki may be considered a mechanist prodigy among his own people, but when he becomes the first Haldiim ever admitted to the prestigious Sagrada Academy, he is thrown into a world where power, superstition and swordplay outweigh even the most scholarly of achievements.

But when the intimidation from his Cadeleonian classmates turns bloody, Kiram unexpectedly finds himself befriended by Javier Tornesal, the leader of a group of cardsharps, duelists and lotharios who call themselves Hellions.

However Javier is a dangerous friend to have. Wielder of the White Hell and sole heir of a dukedom, he is surrounded by rumors of forbidden seductions, murder and damnation. His enemies are many and any one of his secrets could not only end his life but Kiram’s as well.

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My Thoughts

Normally, I’m hard pressed to find well written gay fantasy novels, but Ginn Hale’s are always well written. She only writes a combination of the two tropes but so far, I have yet to be disappointed in any of her novels. Lord of the White hell opens with Kiram arriving at the Sagrada academy, a very prestigious school where he is the first Haldiim ever to be admitted. Kiram is brilliant and from a very wealthy family, but the Haldiim are looked down upon and their religion barely tolerated. The fact that the Haldiim religion allows same-sex marriage whereas the cadeleinian religion condemns it is another black mark against the Haldiim.

Kiram has no compunction about being attracted to his own sex but conceals this at the academy where it is unacceptable. Javier as his senior takes him under his wing and integrates him into his group. At first Kiram is hesitant about Javier’s overtures of friendship, but gradually succumbs. Javier is a Duke on who’s bloodline, there seems to be a curse. Kiram and Javier also discover a secret about Javier that will change the course of his life and his beliefs. Kiram and Javier are attracted to each other and though they fall in love, both have reservations and issues, not the least of which is that as a Cadeleonian, Javier is forbidden such a relationship.

The world building is solid and on a need to know basis, and the characters truly bring the book to life. The Hellions, the group which Javier leads and Kiram becomes a part of, has colourful characters with diverse personalities.Its the first book in the series which is broken into duologies, so the story of Kiram and Javier continues to a second book.

This book deserves 4.5/5 stars

P.S. – I try to leave my reviews as spoiler free as possible for those who have’nt read the novel, but if you want to know something, you’re welcome to ask me.