Thursday, April 30, 2015

Book review: Prudence by Gail Carriger

Title: Prudence
Author: Gail Carriger
Release date: March 2015
Publisher: Orbit
Series: The Custard Protocol, book one
Genre: Steampunk


When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances - names it the Spotted Crumpet and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea.

But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier's wife and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone's secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

My thoughts: I'm a big fan of Gail Carriger's so I had high hopes for 'Prudence', the first book in her latest series. Thankfully, Ms Carriger did not disappoint. 'Prudence' focusses on Rue, the daughter of Alexia from the Parasol Protectorate series. Rue is approximately 20 years old in this series, and begins the story by stealing a snuff box at a party then shape shifting into a werewolf to get away. Rue has the power to steal supernatural forms by touching the owner - for example, touching her 'uncle' Biffy the werewolf turns her into a wolf until morning, or touching her adoptive father Lord Akeldama turns him mortal while she becomes a vampire. It seems like a pretty cool power to me and I got the impression that Rue had been a bit of a terror growing up.

Lord Akeldama, apart from being a prominent member of vampire society and one of the best dressed men in London, is a bit of a spy-master, always knowing the gossip and news from across London. It's for him that Rue acquires the snuff box, only to find it contains a new kind of tea - from India. When he gives Rue a dirgible, she takes it to India to set up a venture for him with the tea. Of course things don't turn out as planned, and even before they arrive in India, a lioness has tried to steal Rue's parasol and her Navigator and Chief Engineer are refusing to get along.

I loved the group of Rue's friends who end up on the ship with her. There is Quesnel, very French and very flirtatious, who throws Rue in a duck pond at the start of the book. Her best friend is Prim (daughter of Ivy, for those who've read the Parasol Protectorate series, but very unlike her mother) is the perfect hostess and has been involved in all of Rue's best scheme. And there is Percy, Prim's twin brother, who can never get his nose out of a book, even (shocking!) at the dinner table. I can't wait to see what other adventures the four of them get up to. There are some other interesting supporting characters, too, and as the series goes on I suspect some will have bigger roles to play (Lyall, for one).

Although it's set in the same world as Ms. Carriger's other books, you really don't need to have read them before you start this series. I think the story is different enough from the other books that it's definitely going to keep me interested. It also builds up the world very well - I think it's a fine place to start for new readers of Gail Carriger.

Overall, this was a very fun book. I'm already really looking forward to the next book in the series. I'll give this one 8/10.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Stacking The Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. 

I'm back staying with a friend who has a brilliant college library. I'm making good use of his library card! So here are the books I got this week. All title links go to goodreads.

Not pictured: First Test by Tamora Pierce. (Check my review here!)

Protector of the Small: Page, by Tamora Pierce. This is the sequel to First Test, and I'll probably read it and the rest of the sequence this week. 

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. This has been a huge bestseller in the UK since it was released last year, and it sounds intriguing with a dolls house making things happen. I thought I would give it a look. 

Honor's Knight, by Rachel Bach. This is book 2 in a trilogy. I read the first one in the autumn and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next. It's more sci-fi than I'd normally read but I enjoyed book 1.

The Witch With No Name, by Kim Harrison. The last book in the Hollows series!! Nooo!! I'm really excited to see how things finish for these characters though. 

Prudence, by Gail Carriger. It doesn't have the dust jacket on, so I didn't spot it on the shelf at first! Book 1 of a new series from Ms. Carriger. I love her writing and this was one of my 'Waiting on Wednesday' picks the other week so I was very excited to find it here. I'll probably review this later this week. 

Leave me your links and I'll check out the books you got.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Thorn Of Emberlain by Scott Lynch

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking The Spine to highlight books people are looking forward to.

My choice this week is The Thorn Of Emberlain, by Scott Lynch. It's book 4 in the 'Gentleman Bastard' series.

The Thorn Of Emberlain, by Scott Lynch
Expected publication: September 2015

A new chapter for Locke and Jean and finally the war that has been brewing in the Kingdom of the Marrows flares up and threatens to capture all in its flames.

And all the while Locke must try to deal with the disturbing rumours about his past revealed in The Republic of Thieves. Fighting a war when you don't know the truth of right and wrong is one thing. Fighting a war when you don't know the truth of yourself is quite another. Particularly when you've never been that good with a sword anyway...

I'm really hoping that September publication date turns out right! I can't wait to see what these characters get up to next. Feel free to leave your links in the comments!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book review: First Test by Tamora Pierce

Title: First Test
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Protector of the Small #1
Published: 1999

Description:  Kel is the first girl in ten years to take advantage of the decree that permits girls to train for the knighthood, and she is about to smash everyone's preconceptions about what girls can and cannot do... 

My thoughts: I read Tamora Pierce's 'Immortals' series multiple times in high school, so I was really happy to spot some of her other books at the library the other day. Something I admire in Ms. Pierce's work is that she manages to capture the feelings of a fantasy book and fit the world building, characterisations, and plot you'd expect into an adult novel into a much shorter book aimed at teen readers. 'First Test', the first in the 'Protector of the Small' quartet proves that this is a trait for all Tamora Pierce's books.

The story starts with the king talking to Lord Wyldon, then man who trains the pages & squires to be knights, discussing admitting Kel to the training program. Lord Wyldon is strongly against it even though the law says she must be allowed, and they compromise by putting her on probation for her first year. Kel arrives determined to prove that girls can do just as well and sure that she will be able to convince him in the first year that she should be allowed to stay. 'First Test' covers that first year of training, as she deals with bullies, prejudice, difficult classes and a stubborn horse in her quest to become a knight.

I loved being back in the world of Tortall, in the aftermath of the Immortal Wars. This book starts just a few months after the last one I read finishes, so it's interesting to see familiar characters from a new perspective and see how the kingdom is doing. There are still many creatures which escaped from the Immortal Realms wandering around, and yes, Kel encounters a couple.

This was a fast, enjoyable read for me, and I'm looking forward to the next in the series. I'll give it 7/10.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Stacking The Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's reviews. 

I've actually had 'Farlander' for a while, but my Dad has been saying I should read it, so it's been rescued from the depths of my TBR shelf. The other two were also lent to me by my Dad.

Farlander, by Col Buchanan. The Heart of the World is a land in strife. For fifty years the Holy Empire of Mann, an empire and religion born from a nihilistic urban cult, has been conquering nation after nation. Their leader, Holy Matriarch Sasheen, ruthlessly maintains control through her Diplomats, priests trained as subtle predators.
Ash is a member of an elite group of assassins, the Roshun, who offer protection through the threat of vendetta. Forced by his ailing health to take on an apprentice, he chooses Nico, a young man living in the besieged city of Bar-Khos. At the time, Nico is hungry, desperate, and alone in a city that finds itself teetering on the brink.
When the Holy Matriarch's son deliberately murders a woman under the protection of the Roshun, he forces the sect to seek his life in retribution. Ash and his young apprentice set out to fulfill the mandate, and their journey takes them into the heart of the conflict between the Empire and the Free Ports...into bloodshed and death.

Blood Song, by Anthony RyanWe have fought battles that left more than a hundred corpses on the ground and not a word of it has ever been set down. The Order fights, but often it fights in shadow, without glory or reward. We have no banners.
Vaelin Al Sorna's life changes forever the day his father abandons him at the gates of the Sixth Order, a secretive military arm of the Faith. Together with his fellow initiates, Vaelin undertakes a brutal training regime - where the price of failure is often death. Under the tutelage of the Order's masters, he learns how to forge a blade, survive the wilds and kill a man quickly and quietly.
Now his new skills will be put to the test. War is coming. Vaelin is the Sixth Order's deadliest weapon and the Realm's only hope. He must draw upon the very essence of his strength and cunning if he is to survive the coming conflict. Yet as the world teeters on the edge of chaos, Vaelin will learn that the truth can cut deeper than any sword.

Ice Forged, by Gail Z MartinCondemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine "Mick" McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor's mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.
Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead...

What books did you get this week? Share your links in the comments and I'll check them out!


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review: Tempest's Fury by Nicole Peeler

Title: Tempest's Fury
Author: Nicole Peeler
Release date: July 2012
Publisher: Orbit
Series: Jane True #5
Genre: fantasy/paranormal romance

Description: Supernatural halfling Jane True's not happy. She's been packed off to England to fight a war when she'd much rather be getting busy with her boyfriend Anyan. Unfortunately, Jane's enemies have been stirring up some major trouble and attracting a lot of attention - making it rather tricky for Jane and Anyan to get any alone time.
Catapulted into the role of Most Unlikely Hero Ever, Jane must lead supernatural races in a desperate battle to combat an ancient evil. But she'll also have to fight her own insecurities, as well as the doubts of those who don't think she can live up to her new role as Champion - the most powerful supernatural leader of all . . .

My thoughts: The fifth book in Nicole Peeler's 'Jane True' series about a half-human half-selkie woman from the Northeast USA, Tempest's Fury finds Jane in London, to help fight a war. In this book, Jane must learn to use the extra power she's been given, and wield the giant axe (labrys) which she'll be able to use against their enemies. Most of the usual gang are here - Blondie, Anyan, and some new British friends.

I have to confess this isn't my favourite book in the series. It took me a lot longer to read, as the plot allowed me to get distracted by other books. Basically this book is about Jane's development, while they visit various places in England chasing down ancient enemies.

One thing I did really enjoy about this book is how Ms Peeler paints England through Jane's eyes. You can tell that she has visited the country and seen things for herself - her observations (through Jane) are spot on with what I'd noticed in reverse going to America: the size and shape of houses, the way streets are different, the differences between what a 'city' looks like in the two countries.

With the book ending the way it does, I'm very glad #6, Tempest Reborn, is already out - I'll be reading it soon to find out what happens! I love the series, but this one just didn't hold my attention like the others. Overall, I give it 6 out of 10.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jess at Breaking The Spine.

I have three books to look at this week. They've all been released in the last couple of months, but I haven't had a chance to read them yet, and I'm making myself read a few more books on my kindle (or get my next job lined up!) before I buy... the waiting is hard!

First up:
Deadly Spells, book 3 in the Prospero's War series by Jaye Wells. I've read the first two books in this
series and really enjoyed them. Kate Prospero is a cop, and from a powerful magical clan - one of the clans she's fighting as a cop. I'm loving the developments in her professional life as a cop, seeing how her attitude to magic is changing, and of course the hints at potential love interests that are starting to creep in! I'm not a fan of insta-love at all, so I'm glad that by the end of book two, there were just some things starting to take shape.

Second: Vision In Silver, by Anne Bishop. Book 3 of the 'Others' series. I like
the way these stories are told, following main character Meg who is a seer - when she makes a cut on her body. Meg is making a home for herself amongst the supernatural creatures who live on the edge of a town in North America. In this series, supernatural creatures are way above humans on the food chain, but the humans have a bad habit of forgetting that! At the end of book 2 it looked like things were getting pretty bad for humans in America, but something in far away Europe could be trying to change that... I'm looking forward to seeing what's next for Meg and her friends, and how they deal with the next set of challenges.

Third: Prudence, by Gail Carriger. I'm a big fan of Carriger's work, and Prudence is about the daughter of my favourite of her heroines, Alexia, making her own way in the world. I can't wait to dive into another aspect of Ms. Carriger's world, and see some old friends from the previous series' too, hopefully.

Feel free to share you're WoW links in the comments :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: The Girl With All The Gifts, by M. R. Carey

Title: The Girl With All The Gifts
Author: M. R. Carey
Publisher: Orbit
Release date: January 2014
Genre: Horror

Description: Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

My thoughts: I wouldn't normally pick up a horror book, particularly something with zombies in, but after hearing Mike Carey read the first chapters of this book at an event, I knew I wanted to read the rest of the story. It starts with Melanie going to her daily classes. She sits in her wheelchair with her neck, arms, and legs strapped to it, so she can only face straight ahead. She knows that the classroom is somewhere far from Beacon, the place where everyone lives now, to stay safe from the Hungries. She knows that when Sergeant Parks wipes off his arm and holds it in front of her classmate, the boy snaps at his arm like a wild creature, and she can smell something wonderful in the room. Sometimes she asks her favourite teacher about how long they will stay in the classroom, or what she'll do when she grows up, but that makes the teacher sad.

Then the Hungries break in to the compound, and Melanie, Sergeant Parks, her teacher, and some others flee. They're heading towards Beacon, but no one has been able to get a radio signal from Beacon for months. So maybe they're creeping through zombie infested English countryside towards nothing. But they have to try.

I found the part of the story set in the classroom really interesting, seeing the life Melanie had, and the sort of thing the humanity of the book was doing to try to find a cure for the zombie plague. When they leave the compound, it becomes a lot creepier. It's a very 'Walking Dead' sort of environment, very quiet, with every little noise putting the characters and me reading on edge. The tension builds as they go from the countryside into first a small town, and then the outskirts of London. M. R. Carey moves between the different characters to tell the story, and by seeing from different stances, you gradually get a clearer picture of what happened with the spread of the plague, and the things the government did to try to fight it. The characters pass big craters in the roads where the government dropped bombs, and cross a swathe of land that's been burnt away to nothing from where they tried using fire to stop it. Everything seems like it could have happened, and even the route of the virus itself is something believable, which I enjoyed.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend 'The Girl With All The Gifts' for fans of zombie stories. It's an interesting look at what lengths some people might go to to 'cure' something, and how we deal with outsiders, people who are different from what we know. Melanie's innocence and intelligence combine to make her an interesting character to tell the story, and her gradual realisation about her background and how she can be more than just the girl in the wheelchair is a journey that sticks with you.

I give M. R. Carey's 'The Girl With All The Gifts' 7 out of 10.