Tag Archives: readinglist

To Add To Your TBR: The Unspoken Name

I was lucky enough to get my grubby little hands on an advance copy of A.K. Larkwood’s The Unspoken Name, and if you like epic fantasy, kick-ass protagonists, strange worlds, amazing characters and a story that’s effortlessly readable, add this to your TBR and pre-order it, because it’s fabulous. No further spoilers than that!

(And I’m only slightly biased;  A.K. isn’t one of our authors! I’m not telling you what favours I had to promise to get an ARC, though… (hint: they possibly involved cake.))

Does she owe her life to those planning her death . . .

Csorwe was raised by a death cult steeped in old magic. And on her fourteenth birthday, she’ll be sacrificed to their god. But as she waits for the end, she’s offered a chance to escape her fate. A sorcerer wants her as his assistant, sword-hand and assassin. As this involves her not dying that day, she accepts.

Csorwe spends years living on a knife-edge, helping her master hunt an artefact which could change many worlds. Then comes the day she’s been dreading. They encounter Csorwe’s old cult – seeking the same magical object – and Csorwe is forced to reckon with her past. She also meets Shuthmili, the war-mage who’ll change her future.

If she’s to survive, Csorwe must evade her enemies, claim the artefact and stop the death cult once and for all. As she plunges from one danger to the next, the hunt is on . . .

My TBR pile: September 2019

Why do I even bother picking up print books?! (I mean, I know why I bother picking them up. They’re pretttttty. But I never get round to reading them…)

I still have Moon’s Artifice, Jonathan Strange, The Prince Thief, Truthwitch, Dreamwalker, Stranger Tempest and Autodrome on there, but I have added The Bone Season and I’m a chapter into The Book Thief. Plus I did get a rather snazzy proof copy of Jessie Burton’s The Confession, which I plan to read… sometime…

On Kindle, I’ve mostly got a stack of submissions; however, I did get a copy of Distaff (a science fiction anthology that came highly recommended),  A Big Ship At The Edge of the Universe, and Any Way The Wind Blows, a short from Seanan McGuire (which actually I have read, so shouldn’t really be on the list; it’s short and cute.) I’m part-way through The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin, three chapters into The Poppy War by RF Kuang, 30% through Everless by Sara Holland (not getting on with it, so that may be a “not for me” one) and still attempting Sorcerer To The Crown and The Tethered Mage. I’ve still got Ben Galley’s The Written, Lucy Hounsom’s Starborn, The Ninth Rain, The Unwrapped Sky and Shattermoon that I haven’t yet started…

I need to finish some books!*


*Actually, I need to finish some home-reading books. In terms of work, I’m slowly getting through them!

Review: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.

This is ridiculous amounts of fun! If you like The Invisible Library, Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series, Phil & Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius series, or any of the Sherlock Holmes adaptions… you’ll love this.

The story starts with Mary Jekyll having to lay off the servants: her mother having just died, the money has run out, and she’s not sure what to do next… until she gets an intriguing message about money being paid to a charitable fund, and discovers that she has a sister whose surname is Hyde…

And that’s just the start. Mary and Diana start collecting allies – and friends. The Poisonous Woman, The Puma Turned Human, and the Giantess – humans created by scientists trying to push the boundaries of knowledge, and possibly working for a mysterious society. But pushing the boundaries of knowledge can lead to people getting hurt – and creations that cause harm. Aided by Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, the Athena Club – as they name themselves – are on the trail of those who don’t consider the human cost of their experiments…

The book is a lot of fun; the interactions between the members are easy and amusing, and I love the little asides in the text as they tell the stories, each interjecting some detail or argument. It’s a wonderful piece of character building that adds to the story, and is great fun as you read more and are introduced to the characters! I also loved the literary details that get tugged in. The story is fast-paced, rattling onwards – it never takes itself too seriously, and it’s an action-filled romp with some seriously kick-ass – and thoughtful – heroines who display a wonderful range of character and a heart-warming rapport.

The series continues with European Travel For The Monstrous Gentlewoman, which sees the Athena Club tracking down van Helsing’s daughter and meeting some old friends… as well as some old – and new – enemies!

A Quick Kate Update: July 2019

This Is How You Lose The Time War is now out (wheee!)

Peter Cat got himself hurt on something on Sunday, which meant a worrying trip to the vets and a very fetching bandana, and also a rather large vet’s bill. Yay. He’s now home and Very Grumpy that we won’t let him outside… I don’t think anyone’s broken it to him yet that he’s not allowed out for two weeks. He’s going to be Exceedingly Grumpy at that point! However, he is fairly stylish in a bandana-bandage sort of thing, and is being more affectionate to everyone in the hopes this will bribe us into opening a door for him. (It hasn’t worked yet.)

Uncanny Magazine and Strange Horizons both have Kickstarters on at the moment – consider supporting excellent writing! (I really need to get my budget for writing magazines sorted… there’s so many I want to subscribe to!)

At the moment I’m reading The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, and it’s one of the first things I’ve enjoyed outside work for a while – I’ve had a bit of a reading slump so it’s nice to want to read something.

My curtains are currently moving strangely. I think this is due to the Small Black Fluff on my windowsill, staring intently at passers-by.

I’m using Drops to learn Norwegian; while I’m mostly building up vocab at the moment, it has a strong insistence on being able to say “I am allergic to peanut butter” and that I know the words for “body”, “umbrella” and “goodbye”. I am wondering at what point I need to ask it if it’s ok. (The app is actually very good; it drips new vocabulary in and uses images instead of English words, plus it’s very easy to use. Currently doing twenty minutes a day!)

I am still ridiculously lacking in motivation… not been doing great recently, so that’s been fun. It feels a bit like wading through treacle? I had a conversation with my partner about anti-depressants, anyhow, which I Do Not Want To Go Back On but if the swings get too bad then I may. We’ll see.

And finally: the groan that goes around the Editorial Team when someone risks asking, “So, is this a series…?” confirms this meme!

Review: Murder on Millionaire’s Row

Murder on Millionaire’s Row by Erin Lindsey

Rose Gallagher might dream of bigger things, but she’s content enough with her life as a housemaid. After all, it’s not every girl from Five Points who gets to spend her days in a posh Fifth Avenue brownstone, even if only to sweep its floors. But all that changes on the day her boss, Mr. Thomas Wiltshire, disappears. Rose is certain Mr. Wiltshire is in trouble, but the police treat his disappearance as nothing more than the whims of a rich young man behaving badly. Meanwhile, the friend who reported him missing is suspiciously unhelpful. With nowhere left to turn, Rose takes it upon herself to find her handsome young employer.

The investigation takes her from the marble palaces of Fifth Avenue to the sordid streets of Five Points. When a ghostly apparition accosts her on the street, Rose begins to realize that the world around her isn’t at all as it seems—and her place in it is about to change forever.

Put it this way; I’ve got the second book on pre-order…

It’s a fun, period-piece romp with a very readable central character, and some fun situations and scenarios! The magic slides in fairly slowly, so it doesn’t feel like a slap in the face; we learn along with Rose, and definitely appreciate her worries and problems with it. The antagonists are nicely done, as is the plot, which is complex enough to stay interesting but simple enough that I didn’t have to focus too hard!

The only character that I felt was a little vague was actually Mr Wiltshire; but then I’m not entirely sure what I did expect, as Rose goes from having a crush on him to being a partner in crime, as it were. I liked the worldbuilding, even though I don’t really know New York at all – there was a helpful little map at the start, and everywhere was nicely sketched out. I liked the historical details as well, which were woven nicely into the plot.

Overall: Miss Marple if she was twenty-something, in New York and had added magic – a light, easy and fun read!