Reading Rush 2020 TBR

Last night, I impulsively decided to sign myself up for The Reading Rush 2020. For those who don’t know, it’s a week-long readathon where you try to attempt to read 7 books in 7 days. For more information or if you want to sign up, click here. Now I’m not sure if I’m actually going to be able to complete it because I have been reading incredibly slowly recently, only 1-2 books a week. However I’m going to give it a go and trying to only use books I already own. Without further ado, I will introduce the seven book categories and what I will be reading for them. Probably.

There is also an instagram challenge, but I only have so much organisation and taking pictures of myself as a character is a bit of a stretch. If you do take part, I’d love to see your pictures so feel free to tag me @beebliophil3.

1. Read a book with a cover that matches the colour of your birth stone.

This is the first book I looked for was this one, and I immediately saw The Map of Knowledge by Violet Moller. My dad got it for me a week or two ago and it is a nonfiction book about seven ancient cities. I am a big classics geek, so reading about ancient history has me super excited to begin this book.

2. Read a book that starts with the word “The”.

This was a little harder, but not much. I only had to open a couple of books, and I’ll be honest I haven’t decided which book to read yet. I guess I’ll see what I feel like? The two books I’m thinking of are Damsel by Elana K. Arnold or Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi. I have Damsel in the form of an ARC, and it’s a fairytale type story where a princess wakes up and is expected to marry a prince. Unravel Me is the second in a series, about a girl whose touch is lethal.

3. Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve already seen.

This was a hard one and I didn’t have a physical book for this, so I went to my online library and found a copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I watched the movie over a year ago and I can’t actually remember what happened so I figured now was the perfect time to read it without the ending being spoiled.

4. Read the first book you touch.

The first book I touched yesterday morning was The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. I had forgotten about the challenge and I read the first 2 pages of this book on Sunday 19th, so when I picked up a book to read over breakfast, this book became part of my challenge. It’s abut a boy who becomes emperor when his father and older brothers are all killed in a crash.

5. Read a book completely outside of your house.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko was a random choice, something I’ve been really looking forward to reading. It only arrived a couple of days ago so I haven’t read any of this book and I will be reading it outside in the garden most likely. It is about a girl raised by a mysterious lady to eventually go and assassinate the crown prince. The cover is beautiful and the premise is awesome so I’m excited, even if I have to leave my house every time I want to read a bit.

6. Read a book in a genre that you’ve always wanted to read more of.

I had trouble finding a book for this, mainly because I read fantasy and only occasional books from other genres. I haven’t decided which book I’m going to go for, but it’s between No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter (contemporary) and one of my nonfiction books about Ancient Greece. Again, with this one I’m just going to see how I feel in the moment. No Big Deal is about a fat girl finding her footing and body positivity. The books about Ancient Greece are about various elements of Ancient Greece.

7. Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live.

If I was buying a book for this I would have chosen somewhere a bit more exciting, but unfortunately I don’t, so I am reading The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern which I believe is set in America. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to finally reading this because I adored The Night Circus, but it has definitely got me thinking that I should read more books based in different continents. Also, I read loads of fantasy so technically they’re all on a different continent, just not a real one. I didn’t know if that counted so I played it safe.

Those are the 7 books I will be attempting to read this week. In an attempt to stop myself getting distracted by other books, I have set them up in a pile on my desk so I cannot ignore them! If you’ve read any of these books or you’re taking part in the reading rush I’d love to hear from you, so use one of the social links or comment below. I hope you’re all well and have a great week (and finish all your books if you’re participating!)

Friday Favourites

Hello bookbees! I’ve decided to try something new this Friday and so as well as my favourite book, I’m also going to include my other favourites from this week! I haven’t been the most productive this week, but in my defence it’s the first week of the summer holidays. I keep forgetting which day it is which is both funny and alarming. The picture for this post isn’t book-related, but it is taken by me and I thought it was quite pretty 🙂

Favourite book: Queen of Storms by Raymond E. Feist

Yes, technically this is the only book I’ve read this week but I’d like to point out it is really awesome. He writes quite traditional fantasy which has its pros and cons, the pros being it’s great fun with cool world-building and pretty interesting plot, the cons being some traditional gender roles and a disappointing lack of LGBTQ+ characters. It was an eARC from Edelweiss, and the app doesn’t work on my phone so I am reading this book on my laptop. A bit of a strange experience, but here I am and it’s not that bad.

Favourite movie: The Old Guard on Netflix

I started watching this movie because I was a little bored and quite like action/adventure movies with a hint of sci-fi. I kept watching this movie because it’s awesome. Now, I’m not an expert on movies but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I think it had a good plot, characters I absolutely fell in love with (especially Charlize Theron, my current celebrity crush) and a cool concept, with a plot point that’s stuck in my mind since.

Favourite TV show: Scorpion

At my brother’s recommendation, I started a new series called Scorpion. I have been watching it non-stop since I started it, and although it’s not exactly realistic I love the characters and the drama. The series is roughly based off the life of a real guy called Walter O’Brien, and it’s about a group of geniuses who work for homeland security in the USA. There’s a great balance between character relationships and high-adrenaline scenarios.

Favourite food: Crunchy Nut Cornflakes

I am a big fan of cereal. Cereal is good, whether you’re eating it first thing in the morning or last thing at night and the other day my Dad bought a big box of crunchy nut cornflakes, which we haven’t had for a while. It’s delicious and sweet and crunchy and tastes great with a sprinkle of sultanas (I adore sultanas for some reason at the moment.)

Favourite animal: Wombat

It was a hard decision between wombats and muntjac deer, but in the end the cuteness of wombats won out. Especially baby wombats, have you seen a baby wombat?! The reason wombats are on my mind because I am currently growing out a buzzcut, and my hair is now too long to look like a buzz-cut but too short to look like any sane haircut. Then I realised- I look like a wombat, my hair is even the perfect colour! The reason muntjac deer are on my mind because I’ve seen several round my local area, including one with a baby deer!

So those are my favourite things from this week! I might do this again since I had a lot of fun doing it, but I’d love to hear what you think of it. Feel free to let me know in the comments or using one of my social media linked down below. I hope you’ve all had a great week and achieved whatever you wanted to.

June 2020 Roundup

Here we are again, another monthly roundup! I have literally just written the May 2020 Roundup, so it feels a little strange to be writing June’s directly after. However, I’m on a blog post writing roll and have a scheduled post for the first time in a couple of months so I’m just going for it. I didn’t have many choices for favourites in June, mainly because I haven’t read much. I’ve only read 9 books, although in my defence I did a lot of writing so I could get my current project finished before the July camp NaNoWriMo began.

Book 1: Islander by Patrick Barkham

Genre: nonfiction, travel writing

What I liked: the islands chosen, the unique mixture of personal experience on the islands and history/ culture of the islands, the nature and setting descriptions

What I didn’t like: I would have loved a sequel, or more islands included because I absolutely loved the style of writing

Who I would recommend it to: Anyone interested in learning more about the islands of Britain, or anyone who just likes hearing about cool, isolated places

Book 2: May Day by Josie Jaffrey

Genre: vampires, fantasy, contemporary

What I liked: the humour, all the characters especially the bisexual, badass main character, the setting of Oxford

What I didn’t like: that there’s no sequel yet. I devoured this book in one sitting and I was 100% primed for another one.

Who I would recommend it to: fans of urban fantasy, vampires and awesome, humorous writing

Book 3: The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Genre: sci-fi

What I liked: Really cool, fresh concept and the world-building was good. I liked the main character and the plot twists. Also: amazing ending.

What I didn’t like: I would have enjoyed more emotional depth to the story. I felt like I was missing a connection.

Who I would recommend it to: science fiction fans, people looking to try something new

Book 4: The Peace of Wild Things and Other Poems by Wendell Berry

Genre: poetry

What I liked: there are not enough words to describe how much I adored this poetry collection. Its writing is so evocative and peaceful, I just want to move to the countryside and live in a cottage and tend to my orchard

What I didn’t like: Nothing.

Who I would recommend it to: poetry-lovers, people who don’t like poetry, anyone who asks me for a poetry recommendation, people who love nature and want to reconnect with it

Book 5: The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones

Genre: middle grade, fantasy

What I liked: the magic, the seemingly unconnected plot strands which pulled together, the richly developed characters

What I didn’t like: I don’t really have any complaints. This is not a book written for adults but I really enjoyed it.

Who I would recommend it to: People who want a good book which is a bit easier to read, kids, people who want a book to read with their family

I might not have read many books this month, but I am happy to say I have definitely read quality books. I loved every single book on this list, and I took the time to really engage with each book so maybe reading 9 books in a month isn’t so bad. There’s also the fact I keep starting books and not finishing them, which means despite reading my total books doesn’t actually go up because I don’t finish them before starting something new! Do you stick to one book at a time or have bookmarks here, there and everywhere? I’d love to hear, so comment down below or click on one of the links to check out my social media!

The Girl the Sea Gave Back Review

The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young.

I’ll start off by saying I absolutely adored the cover for this book, it was what first attracted me to it. A girl in Viking-esque style stepping out of a choppy sea? Amazing. As usual I did no research on this book before reading it, and therefore had no idea this was the second in a series. Thankfully it doesn’t directly follow on from the previous book, because that would have been very confusing. Instead the main character from the previous book appears as a very minor relation to one of the main characters in this book, Halvard. This review is a bit messy, but so were my thoughts about this book so it couldn’t be helped. The synopsis:

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

Now, if you’ve read the first book, I’m assuming you went into this book knowing about the history between all the clans and who the Svell are. I didn’t, and if you are going to read this book, I highly recommend reading The Sky in the Deep first. You can read this one and understand it, but it takes some detective work to have any idea what’s going on.

Some basic details I picked up were that Tova comes from a territory not connected to the mainland, from a people called the Kyrr. They’re mysterious and no one messes with them. On the mainland there are the Svell, who Tova lives with, and the Nadhir, who are made up of two joined clans, the Aska and the Riki. Some people called the Herja attacked the Nadhir a while ago. While this book is described as a standalone, I think I would have got less distracted by random details if I had read the first one.

The book is written in first person from two perspectives, Tova and Halvard. Tova is a Truthtongue, which means she can read the runes. The Svell hate her and think she is an insult to their god, so want to kill her while their Tala (holy person) keeps her alive for his own uses. Tova is uniquely in tune with the spinners, who control the destiny of gods and men. She can sense the web the spinners weave, and occasionally hears things. I did a bit of research and while the spinners are called the Norns in Norse mythology, they are roughly equal to the fates in Greek mythology. This book definitely felt more historical fiction than fantasy. Halvard is the heir to the Nadhir chieftain and the link to the previous book.

The writing of this book was the best bit about it. There were some stereotypical features such as memory flashbacks to provide background to Halvard and Tova and some outsiders who save the day, but the plot got better as the book went one, with the mysterious Kyrr who Halvard knows and the brief encounters between Tova and Halvard before they meet properly. I really enjoyed the simple, evocative descriptions of setting and the vivid writing of action, the mixture of fate and free will, inevitability and brutality.

The ending was my favourite part of The Girl the Sea Gave Back. That sounds like an insult, but I don’t mean it as one, it’s just the book took me a while to get into and everything pulls together very dramatically near the end. It had the contrast between Tova and Halvard tentatively trusting one another, Tova finally not feeling like an outcast and a great final battle. There was a bit of romance if you like that kind of thing, although I slightly thought Tova and Halvard should be left as friends. Overall I would recommend this book, but only after reading the first one. Would I survive? Maybe not, I’m not a particularly violent person.

Storm’s Clouds Review

Storm’s Clouds by J.W. Golan

I could not wait to get into this book, and thankfully I had it within arm’s reach when I finished Storm’s Herald. Like I said in my review of Storm’s Herald, I did indeed receive Storm’s Herald and Storm’s Clouds in exchange for review, but all opinions expressed are my own! VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: this review does contain a spoiler for the first book (Storm’s Herald). Nothing that will change the plot dramatically or ruin it, and I did suspect this once I was about ¾ through the book, but if you want to read it completely spoiler free then don’t read this review! All my other reviews are spoiler free unless explicitly stated.

Everything is really well explained at the start of the book, not explicitly but through the first few pages of character interaction so if you forgot anything in the previous book you can work it out pretty quickly. Of course, I had finished the other book seconds earlier so that wasn’t such a problem. The chapters in this book are really long, and it can be a bit on the nose sometimes, but there are moments of real humour where I genuinely laughed. I loved that they set off on a quest with no clear plan except ‘find a dragon’ when they had no idea where it was. Again there is a lot of jumping to random perspectives for a few pages to see what is happening elsewhere, but I had got used to it at this point and I could generally tell how they were linked to the main story at this point. There was a lot more of the Fae court and the magic school in this book as well as the quests, including lots of focus on Princess Elise and what she was up to. There was more tension in this book than in Storm’s Herald, which had me reading faster and faster!

THIS IS THE SPOILER. Okay, I’m done yelling about it being a spoiler. What I want to talk about here is Garth. Garth has enough personas to fill a city here people, and they are very varied. Garth is actually Gwythr, a guy who was a hero in the Fae’s war. He’s now human and wanders around as Garth, except when he is Gyaltso, an old dude who turned Kalden’s hair white then straight up left him which I found hilariously random. I have several problems with Garth. The first is quite petty but I think Garth’s nickname of ‘little bird’ for Lynette is so creepy and it made me cringe and my skin crawl every time he said it. Maybe it’s meant to be cute, but NOPE. And even weirder, a trope I hate, is Lynette being *strangely attracted* to the bad guy (Garth) who is nice only to them. I know Garth isn’t technically bad, but he isn’t exactly good either. Also, this isn’t a problem but how does Garth get around so fast? Can he teleport? What?!

Anyway, back to the rest of review. Princess Elise was a lot more prominent in this book and although she was a little irritatingly perfect, I did like seeing what she was up to. It was quite stereotypical that the lady in waiting was a spy, like it wasn’t even subtle. At some points I felt there were too many characters, but if I just thought of the characters from the random jump arounds as one time things it was a lot easier to focus on the main ones. There were some giants who inexplicably spoke like Scottish people. Not sure what was going on there. Then there is Waya. Waya is introduced as a boy and it is later revealed they are transgender, or at least very confused about their gender and sexuality. You see, Waya is in love with a girl, and to impress her parents they go on a quest to act manly. While I liked Waya as a character and I would definitely be interested in knowing more about them and whether they decided to have Garth magically change their body, it did feel a bit like a token because Waya is the only character I can think of who is on the LGBTQ+ spectrum.  Once again in this book time jumps around with no respect for how much time it seemed had passed.  One minute I’m chilling, and the next two years have passed, and I am like WHAT.

In conclusion I really enjoyed Storm’s Clouds. Especially the sentient library which moves books around to mess with the librarians. I could read a whole book about that library. I really liked the ending, and I very much need to know what happens next. Would I survive this book? Yeah I would, I’m living in that library.

Storm’s Herald Review

Storm’s Herald by J.W. Golan

Happy Easter everyone! Or just happy Sunday if you don’t celebrate Easter, I hope you have a great day with chocolate regardless. If you want to read these books, Storm’s Herald is free as an ebook on Amazon 10-12th April, and Storm’s Cloud 24-25th April.

I received both Storm’s herald and its sequel, Storm’s Clouds, in exchange for a review. All views expressed are honest and my own. I have a very terrible habit of writing notes while I’m reading a book, then writing the actual review quite a while afterwards. It means that sometimes my notes are very vague and incomprehensible, but not this time. I had so much fun rereading the notes I made, I think they are possibly some of the best notes I’ve ever made. And you can’t have good notes without an interesting book to make them on, so kudos to Storm’s herald. Here’s the synopsis:

A peasant girl who dreams of becoming a sorceress, a boy who imagines himself a knight – trailed by a ruthless mercenary armed with an ancient sword.

All Lynette wanted was to leave her boring village life – to attend the Fae Academy and become a Druid priestess like her teacher before her. Her clumsy attempts at magic are a reminder of how much she has yet to learn. But if they would only accept her, if the Fae Kingdom – closed to human visitors for centuries now – would only just open its doors, she is certain she could become a master of the magical arts.

Yet her journey puts her on a collision course with a reawakened evil – offering a king’s ransom for the recovery of a long-lost relic. Treasure hunters of every variety – werewolves, mercenaries, common thieves and undead alike – are soon locked in pursuit of its promised riches. Together with Baxter, a young squire who fled his own kingdom, and Eirlon, a gnome who trades in rare antiquities, Lynette is drawn unwillingly into the hunt for the elusive relic.

Hounded by goblins, ogres – and darker things – Baxter carries his own burdens: secrets that have made him the enemy of the crown. And then there is Garth, the mysterious mercenary who both frightens and intrigues Lynette: the weapons-master armed with an ancient blade – snatched from the hand of a long-vanished fae prince.

Willingly or not, Lynette, Baxter and Eirlon must together solve the riddles behind the relic – and stay one step ahead of the ruthless killers that pursue them.

Like many a fantasy, and lots of books now I think about it, Storm’s Herald begins with introductions to various different viewpoints over the first few chapters. Quite quickly I understood the basic worldbuilding and the traditional type of fantasy I was reading. Slightly uncommonly, new points of view were introduced throughout the book, sometimes only for one chapter. These were usually to show what was happening somewhere else in the world, but sometimes I found the switching too frequent, so it took me longer than usual to properly get to know the characters. Slowly all of the various characters crossed each other’s paths, and for once there was none of the hiding information from these people are clearly on your side. I was very thankful for that, because nothing irritates me more than a character being unnecessarily reticent as a plot device. The storytelling is not very complicated, but the story was good, and it was fun and easy reading.

Let’s move onto the characters. There were four main viewpoints I could identify, with several minor ones who would appear once or twice like Kalden. The main viewpoints were Lynette, Elise, Eirlon and Baxter. I don’t know if I have a favourite, but I like them all in different ways and by the end of the book I was very interested in seeing what happened next. The story begins with Lynette, a normal girl with magic her half-fae teacher is teaching her to control. After some *events* Lynette sets off to the Fae-gate from which she can enter the fae lands and join the magic school. Lynette is the typical beautiful, magical peasant in many ways and she does get attached to a very dodgy guy, but when he first meets her in the forest and is very creepy (in my opinion), she doesn’t put up with it which I applaud.

Baxter is apprenticed to a knight and is very accepting of his master being a horrible person because of his nobility but apart from that he’s quite a nice guy. He’s just a regular, hardworking human who predictably ends up with a crush on Lynette, but the focus on the romance is very minor. Eirlon the gnome is pretty cool. A chill guy, albeit with a minorly annoying habit to keep things to himself. Elise is the fairy princess, heir to the fae throne. She doesn’t take any rubbish from anyone and despite her insecurities she pretty much does what she thinks is right. I’m down with that. The other character mentioned in the synopsis, Garth, I have a LOT of opinions on but that would be spoilers so that will be going in my next review. The fae are what you would expect of fae in a traditional fantasy, with longer life spans, few children, attuned with nature and big fans of trees.

This is not a particularly descriptive book in terms of physical descriptions of people/settings, but personally I actually tend to pretty much read those and forget them anyway unless they’re long and lyrical, so I didn’t mind. The one thing that threw me in this book was the passing of time. From one chapter to the next 9 months could have passed and there would only be a brief mention of it which was a bit wild, but once I got used to it, I just rolled with it.

When I got to the end of the book, I was very thankful to have the sequel next to me because I really wanted to know what happened next. I was left like what?!?! But ready to read the next one. Would I survive? I think I would, if I stayed out of the way of goblins.

The Mercies Review

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Mercies Review

Even starting this review, my emotions were tumultuous. I LOVED The Mercies and putting that love into words was not easy. I’m trying to cobble something together from the notes I made, even though most of them are just me going ‘it’s so beautiful. Incredible. Amazing. Beautiful.’ Not especially helpful, but if you want some escapism during quarantine into a standalone fantasy with a historical element, this is the book for you!

The synopsis:

On Christmas Eve, 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardo is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves, the menfolk of Vardo wiped out in an instant.

Now the women must fend for themselves.

Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilized world, Absalom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of Vardo to heel. With him travels his young wife, Ursa. In Vardo, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty and terrible evil, one he must root out at all costs.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardo storm and the 1621 witch trials, Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s The Mercies is a story about how suspicion can twist its way through a community, and a love that may prove as dangerous as it is powerful.

The Mercies is told in present tense from two viewpoints, Ursa and Maren. I found that I liked both viewpoints equally, possibly with a slight leaning towards Maren. Such tension was built between them from the very first time Maren set eyes upon Ursa, and each worried the other would look down on them for their ways. All the characters in The Mercies are fascinating, the way they group and then break apart, swirling like the currents of the ever-present tide. I was completely drawn up into Ursa and Maren’s relationship, the way they felt and thought about everything so intensely illustrated.

The Mercies would not be what it is without its incredible setting of Vardo, Finnmark. It is so isolated, far from what some would consider civilisation. Kiran Millwood Hargrave beautifully evokes the freedom and fear and danger of the sea, surrounding this community who rely upon one another closely. The little details of the scenery are woven in seamlessly amongst the sea, cliffs, heather, houses and sky immersing the reader in this enchanting tale.

The Mercies is elegantly and lyrically written, emotive and full of desperation, reaching a feverish intensity as the cracks in the community widen and the line between religion and superstition is drawn by the arrival of a man. I forgot everything briefly as I was completely absorbed by the danger brewing on Vardo, thrilled by the atmosphere right from its intense beginning. I adored the ending and it is the perfect atmospheric standalone novel. Absolutely spellbinding.

Would I survive? Absolutely not. I get very, very seasick.

Herself, lost inside his name.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave, The Mercies

Enchantée Review

Enchantée by Gita Trelease

Enchantée is a YA historical fantasy, in which Gita Trelease takes us back to revolution era France. The hardest bit about writing this review was definitely finding the é, I searched Word for so long before it occurred to me that I could just google it. I have literally no tech skills!

So my main point about this book is it is definitely more fantasy than historical, at least I found it so. It felt more like a fairytale set in a world roughly based on revolution era France rather than an accurate historical retelling. It took me a moment to get used to it, but once I had adjusted my expectations I really enjoyed this book. Some moments of the French Revolution are mentioned, but they are not graphically described and it misses a sharpness necessary to be a realistic representation of history.

That being said, Enchantée is wonderful. It is sweet and addictive, beautiful and soft. I expected something harsher, but instead got love and magic and revolution all sweetly woven together. It follows the story of Cecile, an orphan who looks after her younger sister and protects them both from her horrible older brother. With money running out, she disguises herself as a Duchess using magic her mother taught her and dives into the glamorous, poisoned apple of Versaille. The story grows more and more intense as Cecile is wrapped up and pulled into the luxurious world of the aristocrats she has hated for so long. The story flows beautifully and carried me along as we met a range of characters all hiding their own secrets as they gamble the nights away.

I really enjoyed the ending and I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants some magical fun set in the French Revolution. Would I survive this? I honestly have no idea. I think I would enjoy being an aristocrat, but having my head cut off and being forced to marry someone I don’t want to doesn’t sound so fun…

A Noble’s Path Review (Blog Tour)

A Noble’s Path by I.L.Cruz

Happy Saturday everyone! I know I don’t usually post on a Saturday, but I guess this week you’re getting four posts- lucky you!

Following on from yesterday’s review of A Smuggler’s Path, I have the sequel, A Noble’s Path. A quick thank you to Rachel, who is hosting this blog tour, and I.L.Cruz who kindly sent me a copy of this book in exchange for a review! All opinions expressed are my own.

Here’s how the book describes itself:

Divided loyalties test Inez Garza.

The infamous incident at the Academy of Natural Studies has forced her to work for the King’s Men while continuing to serve the hidden market.

Supporting Birthright furthers the cause of Magical Return, but the cost may be the fall of the royal house and losing Zavier forever.

And the strongest pull of all is her growing and erratic magic, which demands everything and offers only destruction in return.

Inez must decide where her loyalties lie—saving Canto or saving herself.

I think I must begin with mentioning the cover of the book- the artwork is so pretty! I had great fun photoshopping pictures of both this book and the first in the series. I especially like the little streak of purple in Inez’s hair, I just think it’s so cool.

In a similar style to the previous book, A Noble’s Path feels a bit chaotic, albeit less so because I was now used to all the characters and the world. My favourite thing about these books is definitely the plot, always fast paced and never boring. Inez being forced to work with the people she normally tries to avoid, the King’s Men, was hilarious and fun to watch despite my frustrations at Inez not just giving in and getting together with a certain someone! (If you’ve read either of the books in the series you know who I’m talking about.) A couple of elements of the story feel quite random even after they’ve been tied into the plot, like the magic shells and the mild obsession with farm animals (Froth, the magic sheep).

I like Inez. She is quite realistic and doesn’t let her struggles with magic take over her life, trying to focus on other things as well. Her life is chaotic and she sometimes gets overwhelmed, constantly having to make difficult choices and worrying about an uncertain future. While most of us aren’t worrying about whether we’re being spied on by our friends or whether our magic shells will be stolen, everyone must make hard choices and the world at the moment does feel quite chaotic, making Inez more relatable. I would have liked some of the relationships and characters to be developed further, as the volume of characters and the constantly moving nature of the plot meant some felt a little underdeveloped. I would have enjoyed more of Inez and her mother’s relationship, which is quite tumultuous during the book but doesn’t get much time.

I devoured A Noble’s Path the moment I finished A Smuggler’s Path, desperate to find out what happened next, and I wasn’t disappointed. A Noble’s Path was just as action packed as the first book, I only wish it was a bit longer! I await the next book in the series excitedly and I recommend reading this magical, fun and dramatic adventure. Would I survive this book? Yeah, I would just have been chilling in the smugglers market and wandering around the forest.

A Smuggler’s Path Review

A Smuggler’s Path by I.L.Cruz

I was very kindly gifted a copy of A Smuggler’s Path in advance of the blog tour for A Noble’s Path. The blurb reads:

In Canto, magic is a commodity, outlawed by the elites after losing a devastating war and brokered by smugglers on the hidden market. But some know it’s more—a weapon for change.

Inez Garza moves through two worlds. She’s a member of the noble class who works as a magical arms dealer—a fact either group would gladly use against her. Neither know her true purpose—funding Birthright, an underground group determined to return magic to all at any cost.

But the discovery of a powerful relic from before the Rending threatens her delicate balance.

Inez’s inherent magic, which lies dormant in all the Canti, has been awakened. Now the Duchess’s daughter, radical and smuggler must assume another forbidden title—mage, a capital crime. This will bring her to the attention of factions at home—fanatical rebels bent on revolution, a royal family determined to avoid another magical war, her mercenary colleagues at the hidden market willing to sell her abilities to the highest bidder—and in Mythos, victors of the war and architects of the Rending.

Evasion has become Inez’s specialty, but even she isn’t skilled enough to hide from everyone—and deny the powers drawing her down a new path.

As you can see, this book has A LOT of ideas. In the beginning there is quite a bit of explanation of the world which takes a little while to process, but this could be said of any fantasy book. Inez’s world is a land which was pulled from the sea after people with magic were driven from the mundane world, and it is protected by a magic barrier to hide them. I was a bit confused and overwhelmed for the first few pages of the book, as the reader is thrown right into the thick of the action, but the more I read the more I wanted to read on. Once you have got used to the various ways magic works and the workings of the world the plot is really quite good, and I found myself desperate to know what would happen next.

There are a few fantasy clichés used, such as a letter from a deceased relative and a parent who has hidden something from their child, but these are weaved in amongst many unique and fun details such as Froth, the milk bar where smugglers and guards alike spend time, and the seemingly random appearance of lots of different characters. They can be slightly hard to keep track of, thankfully there is a useful glossary of characters at the start which I made use of frequently. There seems to be a random element to the plot in some places, leaving me wondering what just happened, but it does all have a purpose eventually, it just sometimes takes a while to discover it. I liked Inez, the main character. She never did anything insanely stupid or unreasonable which some fantasy MCs sometimes do in a rather frustrating way, she made decisions and stuck to them the best she could.

I can say with certainty that this book is never boring. It is packed full of action and mystery and intrigue and plenty of plot twists. A Smuggler’s Path takes time to pull everything together, and I wish it happened a bit sooner, but when it does it is awesome. I was definitely missing the presence of any LGBTQ+ characters, and I could have used some more elegant descriptions that I like in fantasy, but overall I really enjoyed this book and could not wait to start the next one! Would I survive this book? Yeah I think so, I’d enjoy being a smuggler or a rich person.

Look out for my review of A Noble’s Path tomorrow as part of the blog tour!