Fantasy

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London

By: Garth Nix

Blurb:

In a slightly alternate London in 1983, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father, a man she has never met. Crime boss Frank Thringley might be able to help her, but Susan doesn’t get time to ask Frank any questions before he is turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive Merlin.

Merlin is a young left-handed bookseller (one of the fighting ones), who with the right-handed booksellers (the intellectual ones), are an extended family of magical beings who police the mythic and legendary Old World when it intrudes on the modern world, in addition to running several bookshops.

Susan’s search for her father begins with her mother’s possibly misremembered or misspelt surnames, a reading room ticket, and a silver cigarette case engraved with something that might be a coat of arms.

Merlin has a quest of his own, to find the Old World entity who used ordinary criminals to kill his mother. As he and his sister, the right-handed bookseller Vivien, tread in the path of a botched or covered-up police investigation from years past, they find this quest strangely overlaps with Susan’s. Who or what was her father? Susan, Merlin, and Vivien must find out, as the Old World erupts dangerously into the New.

Review:

Finally, a book I loved. It’s been so long I was starting to think something was wrong. I’m a Garth Nix fan, but I don’t always love his books. Sabriel was one of the first female-led fantasy books I read, and I still go back and re-read it.

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London starts with a great tagline on the cover, “Authorized to kill, and sell books.”

Set in 1983, Susan is in London, the summer before university starts, to search for her father. It ends up being a lot more complicated than she previously thought.

At the beginning of her search, she meets a member of a family of booksellers. He also happens to battle mythic and legendary creatures. His world is complicated and scary, but Susan handles it very well. She was calm and cool, with the occasional what the hell is happening moments. It’s a fine line to balance, but Nix did a great job.

There are very few lulls in the story, with something almost always happening. It managed not to be exhausting, though. There was a nice little romance between two of the characters and an entertaining family dynamic that helped with the pace. I thought it was cool that Merlin was gender fluid or non-binary. It was never explained; it was just who he was. It was the first time I’ve read a character like him.

The book didn’t get as dark as Sabriel does, but there is still a satisfying climactic conclusion. It’s written like a standalone book, but I would love to see more. The world of the booksellers was fascinating, and I liked all of the characters.

4.5/5

Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5)

Emerald Blaze

Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5)

Release Date: August 25, 2020

By: Ilona Andrews

Blurb:

As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart.

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart.

Review:

When I got the email saying I’d won an ARC of Emerald Blaze, I screamed. I then proceeded to be so swamped with library books that I had to set it aside. Three, or so, weeks later, I was finally able to read, and it was definitely worth the wait.

At this point, it should be clear Ilona Andrews is my favorite author.

Catalina is very different from Nevada, her older sister and the star of the first three books. They’re both smart, but Catalina is more analytical. She’s also an overachiever. If a teacher mentions a book in passing, she is the type of student who would go out and read the book, then probably the author’s entire catalog. She is thorough.

She has the weight of taking care of her entire House on her shoulders, and Catalina does everything she can to protect them. It’s a trait that she shares with the rest of her family. She keeps things closer to her chest than Nevada did and plans years in advance like a chess player. She’s a woman after my own heart.

Alessandro is not as cocky as he was in the previous book. Things have happened to him that has made him reassess his life and goals. He’s still a badass, he’s still gorgeous, and he’s still into Catalina. But he’s matured, and it looks great on him.

The story in Emerald Blaze might be the biggest in the series in terms of threat. However, since the family is so overpowered, you never doubt that they’ll succeed. I like that in my books, but I can see why others wouldn’t. The entertaining part is discovering how they’re going to save the day, not in wondering if they will.

There is a decent amount of development with the entire Baylor family in Emerald Blaze. Unlike the last book Nevada and Catalina talk in this one several times. It was nice to see Nevada again. Everyone in the family has their moment, and all the characters I liked from previous books were here as well. That’s one of the difficult things with later books, the cast of characters is larger. It never felt like people were being forced into the story, though.

If you haven’t read the previous books, you would be able to follow the story, but you’d miss out on so much that I wouldn’t recommend jumping in here. Emerald Blaze was a great addition to the series and more than lives up to what I’ve come to expect from Ilona Andrews. I’m incredibly excited to see what happens next.

5/5

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #1)

Gideon the Ninth

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #1)

By: Tamsyn Muir

Blurb:

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

Review:

I’ve wanted to get back into reading Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and this is a combination of both. It is about necromancers, which has never been my favorite, but it sounded interesting.

Gideon is a smart-mouthed swordswoman. No matter how much she’s been beaten down, she still gets back up. Her entire life, her house has been nothing but mean to her. They beat her, they all seem to loathe her openly, and the only other person there her age appears to have made it her mission to make Gideon’s life horrible. At the beginning of this book, the only thing Gideon wants is to escape.

Harrow is not a sympathetic character. She’s been Gideon’s chief tormentor, and even after some of her backstory is revealed, I don’t personally feel like it made up for what she’d done to Gideon. She’s mindlessly focused and full of her own ability and intelligence.

Almost every single character I even remotely liked in this book was killed. That seems to always happen with necromancer books. It was dark but not depressing until the end. I didn’t find the conclusion to the book satisfying, but it’s possible the next two books could change that. However, I’m not sure if I’ll push through to the next. I miss reading Sci-Fi/Fantasy, but my heart just isn’t in it.

3/5

Of Blood and Bone

Of Blood and Bone

Of Blood and Bone (Chronicles of the One #2) By: Nora Roberts

Plot:

They look like an everyday family living an ordinary life. But beyond the edges of this peaceful farm, unimaginable forces of light and dark have been unleashed.

Fallon Swift, approaching her thirteenth birthday, barely knows the world that existed before—the city where her parents lived, now in ruins and reclaimed by nature since the Doom sickened and killed billions. Traveling anywhere is a danger, as vicious gangs of Raiders and fanatics called Purity Warriors search for their next victim. Those like Fallon, in possession of gifts, are hunted—and the time is coming when her true nature, her identity as The One, can no longer be hidden.

In a mysterious shelter in the forest, her training is about to begin under the guidance of Mallick, whose skills have been honed over centuries. She will learn the old ways of healing; study and spar; encounter faeries and elves and shifters; and find powers within herself she never imagined. And when the time is right, she will take up the sword, and fight. For until she grows into the woman she was born to be, the world outside will never be whole again.

Review:

So, I wasn’t a fan of the last book, but it properly set my expectations so I knew what I was getting into with the second. Of Blood and Bone is still much darker than I’m used to with Nora Roberts, but there is a lot more light too.

Fallon is young, just 12 when it starts out, but her true training begins shortly after her 13th birthday. For two years she is taught and excels, and passes test after test, until she’s done. The entire book is getting to know her, her strengths and weaknesses. The world has already been created, and the setting feels mostly built, this book was about introducing us to The One.

She loves her family, she’s smart and analytical, but she doesn’t ignore her emotions. I liked that, I liked that going cold and logical wasn’t her goal, and while she could be passionate she wasn’t always hot-headed.

The side characters from the previous book weren’t ignored, we got glimpses into their lives. A lot has happened for them since we left, and thankfully, most of it was good. People are thriving. The world is different, but there is still a lot of darkness and unrest and basically anarchy in most places. It’s not a pretty place, but there are bubbles where it isn’t bad, yet.

If this was any other Nora Roberts book I would assume that Deacon is Fallon’s fated love, and it really does look like that will happen, but I can’t say I’m much of a fan of his. He’s fine, but their relationship is imbalanced. They’re both powerful, magically, though Fallen is definitely stronger. My problem is that he is a year older than Fallon and already has quite a bit of experience with sex. She doesn’t, which is fine, but I don’t want her to be this virginal prize for him. I’m not a fan of that trope.

We’ll see what happens. The book ends with a minor battle. Some people die, but no one you’re really attached too, but it means something to the characters. Deacon says some thoughtless things, but they seem to make up, and he goes off because he can’t be near her. Fallon is left with her family and to raise an army.

I am more excited for the next book than I am for this, but I’m also cautious because I’m afraid of what Roberts will do. We’ll see.

3.5/5

 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Crimes of GRindelwald

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Director:

David Yates

Starring:

Eddie Redmayne

Katherine Waterston

Dan Fogler

Plot:

The second installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” series featuring the adventures of Magizoologist Newt Scamander.

Review:

I was…not really impressed by this. To be honest, I watched it a few weeks ago and I barely remember it. I remember being disappointed. My sister is a HUGE Harry Potter fan and really liked it, so maybe I was over hyped? I don’t know.

Newt was disappointing. Dumbledore was really disappointing. All the romance relationships were disappointing. Tina was the only person I don’t remember being disappointed in and I could have just forgotten something.

It was just…not what I was hoping for? Even though I wasn’t hoping for anything. I don’t know, it just wasn’t for me and not really anything I would recommend.

2/5