Booking Ahead: September 2021

Booking Ahead is an opportunity to glance through my never-ending TBR list/pile and select a few potential reads for the coming month. If I’m not reading books I love talking about books I’d like to read, so this post is a perfect excuse to do just that.

The arrival of autumn usually sees me craving something a little gothic or slightly spooky in my reading choices, and this year is no exception. I always look forward to choosing potential reads for when the afternoons are rainy and cool or the nights are beginning to draw in and I want to get lost in a great read.
There are many titles I’m interested in reading at the moment, so this month I’m going very much overboard with my list, knowing that there’s no chance I’ll read them all in September, but thinking more that they’ll see me through the whole season.
In keeping with a change of reading mood, and Readers Imbibing Peril (#RIPXVI) happening throughout September and October, here are a few (or a lot of) titles catching my eye at the moment…

To begin, books I hope to try in September – gothic, historical, mystery, magical, academic settings, I can’t wait to get started…

The Secret History by Donna Tartt – you know that autumn and particularly September are upon us when this title appears on my TBR list again. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve thought I would like to read this book and yet so far I still haven’t managed to get around to it. It’s always this time of year when I remember it too.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik – A magical school setting? Next book available very soon? Sounds good.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow – I loved The Ten Thousand Doors of January when I read it earlier this year, so I’d like to find time for this over the coming weeks.

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers – Two timelines – Paris, 1925 and Virginia, 2005 – a circus setting, and a possible family curse. This sounds mysterious and magical.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – I’ve seen a lot of good reviews for this one, and I’ve had it on my TBR list for ages now, so hopefully this season I’ll finally discover it for myself.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters – This would be a reread, which I’ve been doing quite a lot recently having never done it before. It’s so long since I first read this. It was probably pre-blogging days because I don’t think I ever wrote about it.

And possibly getting slightly more strange and spooky towards and during October with…

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward – Have seen so many reviews for this that say just enough without giving anything anyway and I’m intrigued. I’ve wanted to read this for a while but kept saving it for this time of year.

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell – I’ve read all of Laura Purcell’s novels so far and enjoyed every one. I think my favourite is still The Silent Companions, which is definitely one I’d recommend for the dark nights of autumn. This latest is another title I’ve been saving for my seasonal TBR list.

The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier – It’s a long time since I read anything by Daphne du Maurier and the mention of apparent time travel makes this sound interesting.

It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan – A decaying mansion on the edge of a swamp and plenty of spooky goings-on by the sound of it, this sounds like a great choice for Readers Imbibing Peril.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager – Another tale with a possibly haunted house, in this case Baneberry Hall, a place to which Maggie Holt returns after many years to renovate and prepare it for sale.

So, there’s a list guaranteed to keep me reading well into autumn. There’s little chance I’ll read all of these, and I’ll probably narrow my choices down a little for my Readers Imbibing Peril post later this week.


What are you hoping to read this month? Have you read of my picks, and if so what did you think?
See you again next month for another Booking Ahead.

Series Review: House of Crows (All My Darkest Impulses, Fog Descending, Circling the Drain, Love the Way You Lie) by Lisa Unger

AllMyDarkestImpulses FogDescending
CirclingTheDrain LoveTheWayYouLie

That long-ago summer, four friends came face-to-face with strange, dark events they couldn’t explain away. As they grew up and left town, they all tried to forget. Instead, their secrets shaped their lives, haunting each of them in their own way. Now, in this chilling four-part serial by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger, it’s time to come home.

My Rating:

4ddiamonds

My Thoughts:

All My Darkest Impulses – 56 pages
Fog Descending – 60 pages
Circling the Drain – 60 pages
Love the Way You Lie – 76 pages

All books were published on May 27th 2021 by Amazon Original Stories

AllMyDarkestImpulsesAll My Darkest Impulses is the first in a four part collection of short stories that make up House of Crows. I read The Sleep Tight Motel by Lisa Unger last year, another short story, and enjoyed it so much that as soon as I saw this series of four connected stories, I knew I’d have to give it a try. Apparently the series is loosely inspired by The Haunting of Hill House and that’s just one more reason it found it’s way onto my endless list of books to read as autumn approaches.

In this first instalment we’re introduced to the house at the centre of it all. Merle House – massive, decrepit, an unwanted inheritance to Matthew Merle, who goes there with his family with the view to making it saleable and being free of the place, for of course, there’s a history attached, one that is teased at in this opening tale, and it involves Matthew and a group of friends during their younger days.
We also meet Claire, one of Matthew’s childhood friends who knows something of the history of Merle House. Years later it still seems to haunt her, and a traumatic experience during work starts Claire thinking that it may be time to return.

Creaky old house, strange noises in the night, visions that may be dreams, things that can’t be possible and yet in the moment they are, all courtesy of Merle House. There’s an air of mystery and menace about the place, and All My Darkest Impulses is a great introduction to what I hope is going to be en entertaining series. After something of a swift conclusion I think I’m going to read the rest of the series right away as they’re all already available, so, on to book 2…

FogDescending Fog Descending is the second volume of the story, and focuses on another of Matthew’s friends, Ian, a man working as a ‘spiritual cleanser‘, ridding homes of negative energy. Ian shared that summer with Matthew and his group of friends, when a girl went missing, and strange things happened.
The narrative goes between Ian, his memories of the past, and continues the thread set up in the first book, resolving that cliffhanger and continuing the tale of Merle House and introducing the Dark Man – a myth, or something inexplicable but real? Who knows?
There are some wonderfully creepy moments in this short tale, all adding to the overall mystery of Merle House and a past that draws this varying group of people back together. It also reveals more about the mysterious Havenwood, briefly mentioned in the previous story, now brought to atmospheric and eerie life as Ian recalls the abandoned place in the woods that he and his friends stumbled across all those years ago. As with the previous story, this one concludes with Ian’s realisation that he must return home, that things from the past need dealing with.
And so, with one remaining member of the childhood friendship group to meet, I’m moving on to…

CirclingTheDrainCircling The Drain, the third in the House of Crows series, and our introduction to Mason. I moved straight on to this volume without reading the blurb, it’s the continuation of one larger story after all, so I had no idea we would meet the adult Mason working with troubled teens suffering from anxiety. He’s doing his best, grateful for the opportunity he’s been given, and trying to make the most of it, so when the past comes calling via one of the group members looking him up online and finding out about a missing girl from years ago, it’s not great news.

The story switches between Mason and the Merle family, back at Merle House, where Matthew’s daughter Jewel is experiencing things that cannot possibly be real, and getting involved with an online friendship with someone called Eldon, apparently a boy she met in an online game, to whom she confides some of her worries and fears.
I enjoyed the ongoing mystery and general air of the supernatural around Merle House, from the weird noises, to Matthew’s late-night wanderings, to the realtor in search of answers about her family’s past.
Mason’s willingness to assist someone asking for help gets him into all manner of trouble and leads to the inevitable return to face the past of Merle House. And so we proceed to…

LoveTheWayYouLie Love The Way You Lie, the fourth and final volume in this enjoyable series. The final book blends past and present, truth and revelations, and things long hidden finally come to light. The myth and legend of the Dark Man is finally revealed as Matthew and his friends reunite once more to try and find Matthew’s daughter Jewel, missing and presumed to have ventured out to Havenwood, and put to rest their shared and troubled past.
It made for exciting reading as the conclusion drew closer. It’s fraught and I couldn’t put the book down, needing to know whether Jewel would be safe and what had really happened to this groups of friends years ago.

I really enjoyed reading this series. The narrative switching between the present and past, the way the group came back together, the darkness at the heart of Merle House, bleak, tragic and awful. I don’t want to say too much more and risk spoilers, but this series is well worth a read.

Book Review: The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Name:  The Devil and the Dark Water
Author: 
Stuart Turton
Number of Pages: 
498 (ebook)
Published:
  October 6th 2020 by Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Mystery

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent.But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered. Anyone could be to blame. Even a demon.And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

My Rating:

5diamonds

My Thoughts:

There’s trouble at sea in the latest novel from Stuart Turton. After enjoying The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle so much I had high hopes for this book and it certainly didn’t disappoint with a marvellous blend of murder mystery, eerie and possible supernatural goings-on, and intrigue amongst a varied group of people drawn together within the confines of a ship bound for a long voyage back to Amsterdam. When the ship is threatened before the journey even begins, it sets the tone for what is the come…

I’m not quite sure where to begin as there are many things that made this a gripping read.
It is a great mystery with a slightly claustrophobic air as all those people board the ship bound for Amsterdam. It’s wonderfully eerie as rumours abound that some kind of demon going by the name of Old Tom is actually what threatens the voyage. The air of malevolence and threat from this apparent demon – the presence of a shadowy figure glimpsed at portholes and in darkened corridors, whispers that it may be able to possess people and therefore walk undetected – all adds to the air of suspense and paranoia among the passengers and crew, many of whom are convinced that something evil is onboard the Saardam.

Amongst a memorable cast of characters are Samuel Pipps, Arent Hayes and Sara Wessel.
Pipps is a famous detective, perfect to get to the bottom of the strange happenings, but on this occasion he’s also a prisoner, confined to a darkened hole of a cell within the depths of the Saardam, awaiting his fate as he’s transported back to Amsterdam to face trial for an alleged crime.

Arent is a famous solider, and protector and companion to Sammy Pipps. He reluctantly comes to the fore to pursue leads that Pipps himself is unable to, having previously worked on cases with the great detective. He searches for the truth whilst seeking out his friend and mentor for advice whenever he can, doubting his own abilities after past experiences.

Sara is the wife of the Governer General. Having witnessed the initial threat to the voyage she’s reluctant to endure the journey and put her daughter at risk, but unable to convince her husband not to travel she immerses herself fully in the mystery, trying to find answers whilst exploring parts of the ship she really shouldn’t be venturing to. She’s driven by an urge to protect her daughter and never shies away from potential danger. Sara and Arent Hayes are drawn together despite being very different.

There are some wonderfully written moments which I was going to describe but it’s better to discover them in the reading of the story, a story that really keeps you guessing. Is there anything to this talk of Old Tom, or is it being magnified by a group of scared and superstitious people adrift and under threat from some unknown source?
I found myself trying to anticipate whether there was a human element, someone with a vendetta or reason to cause all this trouble, or whether it’s all so extraordinary that there’s no other explanation than something supernatural, and if that’s the case then how on earth will the passengers of the Saardam survive their journey?
I tried to guess for a while before the narrative just grabbed me and I sat back and went along for the ride. The final third of the novel was all action, as the situation gradually became clear, and I couldn’t tear myself away from needing just one more chapter to discover what would happen next.

I loved The Devil and the Dark Water. A group of people stranded at sea, confined together, the crew awash with colourful characters, from the rich and powerful to the roughest sailors, all at the mercy of someone or something, the ambiguity of the threat, the eeriness, the fact that there is such a mix of people to suspect of the various crimes and many possible reasons for someone to want vengeance, the potential that it’s something supernatural after all, it all made for an exciting read.

Booking Ahead: August 2021

Booking Ahead is an opportunity to glance through my never-ending TBR list/pile and select a few potential reads for the coming month. If I’m not reading books I love talking about books I’d like to read, so this post is a perfect excuse to do just that.

It’s time to select a few potential reads for the month. As predicted, due to reading Wizard and Glass I didn’t have chance to read much else last month, so there’s at least one book here making a reappearance. I’m reading slowly again at the moment, so this month I’m only going to choose a couple of books…

The Wind Through the Keyhole (The Dark Tower #4.5) by Stephen King – Roland Deschain and his ka-tet—Jake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy, the billy-bumbler—encounter a ferocious storm just after crossing the River Whye on their way to the Outer Baronies. As they shelter from the howling gale, Roland tells his friends not just one strange story but two . . . and in so doing, casts new light on his own troubled past.

In his early days as a gunslinger, in the guilt-ridden year following his mother’s death, Roland is sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape-shifter, a “skin-man” preying upon the population around Debaria. Roland takes charge of Bill Streeter, the brave but terrified boy who is the sole surviving witness to the beast’s most recent slaughter. Only a teenager himself, Roland calms the boy and prepares him for the following day’s trials by reciting a story from the Magic Tales of the Eld that his mother often read to him at bedtime. “A person’s never too old for stories,” Roland says to Bill. “Man and boy, girl and woman, never too old. We live for them.” And indeed, the tale that Roland unfolds, the legend of Tim Stoutheart, is a timeless treasure for all ages, a story that lives for us.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow – In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.


What are you hoping to read this month? Have you read of my picks, and if so what did you think?
See you again next month for another Booking Ahead.

Book Review: Later by Stephen King

Name:  Later
Author:  
Stephen King
Number of Pages: 
248 (ebook)
Published: 
March 2nd 2021 by Hard Case Crime
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Goodreads

The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine – as he discovers when an NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who has threatened to strike from beyond the grave.
Later is Stephen King at his finest, a terrifying and touching story of innocence lost and the trials that test our sense of right and wrong. With echoes of King’s classic novel IT, Later is a powerful, haunting, unforgettable exploration of what it takes to stand up to evil in all the faces it wears.

My Rating:

4ddiamonds

My Thoughts:

Later is the story of Jamie Conklin, who discovers as a young boy that he can see dead people. Not only that, for the brief time that the dead linger, he can converse with them, and they are bound to tell the truth if asked questions. At first this unique skill is used to harmless ends, bringing small comfort to a recently bereaved neighbour, but it’s a skill that can also be used for less well-intended means should the wrong sort of person become aware that it’s possible.
And of course, that’s what happens, leading Jamie into all manner of trouble as he grows up and he’s dragged into danger in the real world whilst also somehow managing to attract the attention of something entirely other, something that he’s not sure he’ll never be rid of.
So, for the most part Later is a thriller, but there’s a supernatural twist to the tale which I enjoyed. 

I always enjoy one of King’s epic-length novels, and am currently working my way slowly through the Dark Tower series for the second time, but this novel, at less than 300 pages was a really nice change. There are a lot going on in a short space of time – great characters, awful characters, and an engaging narrative from Jamie as he tells of his unique talent and the things he encountered because of it.

I liked the family relationship between Jamie and his mother, trying her best to support herself and her son, her knowing about his talent and accepting that it’s real whilst trying to make sure it stays a secret, and the friendship between Jamie and Professor Burkett, who becomes convinced that the things Jamie confides to him aren’t just tall tales spun from a vivid imagination.
There’s also Liz Dutton, former partner of Jamie’s mother Tia, who wants to use Jamie for her own career salvaging prospects, regardless of his reluctance. She’s more unlikeable than any of the otherworldly things that Jamie sees, and will go to great lengths to get what she wants. Talking of the supernatural, there’s certainly one figure I would have liked to know more about. So much more. I would love another novel featuring Jamie, just to know more about that particular story.

Later is a fast-paced, exciting, slightly creepy read with an good narrator and quite a small but interesting set of characters. Definitely one to pick up if you’re looking for something exciting with a hint of the supernatural.

Book Review: The Naturalist (The Naturalist #1) by Andrew Mayne

Name:  The Naturalist (The Naturalist #1)
Author:  
Andrew Mayne
Number of Pages: 
382 (ebook)
Published:
October 1st 2017 by Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Goodreads

Professor Theo Cray is trained to see patterns where others see chaos. So when mutilated bodies found deep in the Montana woods leave the cops searching blindly for clues, Theo sees something they missed. Something unnatural. Something only he can stop.As a computational biologist, Theo is more familiar with digital code and microbes than the dark arts of forensic sleuthing. But a field trip to Montana suddenly lands him in the middle of an investigation into the bloody killing of one of his former students. As more details, and bodies, come to light, the local cops determine that the killer is either a grizzly gone rogue… or Theo himself. Racing to stay one step ahead of the police, Theo must use his scientific acumen to uncover the killer. Will he be able to become as cunning as the predator he hunts—before he becomes its prey?

My Rating:

4ddiamonds

My Thoughts:

The Naturalist is a page-turning thriller and proved to be addictive reading for me. The story follows Professor Theo Cray, an academic working in bioinformatics who finds himself suspected of murder when one of his former students is found dead. So begins a hunt for a serial killer who most of the police are not convinced even exists.

Theo is an intriguing central character. He knows how to analyse information and data in ways that others may not see, to look for patterns and use his knowledge and skills to make discoveries and connections that are not initially obvious. This comes in useful when he finds himself initially at the centre of a murder inquiry. A former student turns up dead and Theo is brought in for questioning.
That would be alarming enough for most, but when the death is declared the result of a bear attack Theo isn’t happy. The evidence and the signs point to human involvement and instead of getting out and back to his usual life, Theo immerses himself in tracking the data and following where it leads, despite this putting him back under the eye of the police.

The plots drives on at a rapid pace that left me wanting just one more chapter before I had to put the book down as Theo follows the patterns and becomes increasingly convinced there is a serial killer operating in the area and that it’s been going on for many years. There are some wonderfully creepy moments throughout as Theo narrows down the options as to who this killer might be and where they might be.
Alongside all the action the story includes all kinds of science information and it’s delivered in a fascinating way without being overwhelming.

Some of the actions Theo takes as he discovers more evidence seems likely to raise suspicions against him again and yet he doesn’t stop, he’s so convinced there is more going on that random animal attacks. He puts himself in danger more than once and the lengths he goes to to convince the police become more and more extreme.
Following a trail that becomes more grisly with each revelation leads inevitably to an exciting final showdown.

I really enjoyed The Naturalist, and as it drew to an exciting and tense conclusion I was almost sorry I’d reached the end of the tale, but it’s the first book in a series and I would certainly like to check out more of Theo Cray’s adventures.

Booking Ahead: July 2021

Booking Ahead is an opportunity to glance through my never-ending TBR list/pile and select a few potential reads for the coming month. If I’m not reading books I love talking about books I’d like to read, so this post is a perfect excuse to do just that.

It’s time to select a few potential reads for the coming month. I’m going to list a few titles but the first book I must mention is the next in the Dark Tower series, Wizard and Glass. It’s a very long book, so I may be being a bit overly-optimistic with the rest of this list but there are quite a few books I’d like to try and get around to, and who knows what else will make it’s way onto my TBR list as well?

Here are a few of the books I’d like to read throughout July…

Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower #4) by Stephen King – This is the book that gives a glimpse into Roland’s past – his time with his old friends Cuthbert and Alain and his meeting with Susan Delgado. I remember enjoying this the first time I read it, so I’m looking forward to revisiting the story to see if I still enjoy it as much.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal – On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow – In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.


What are you hoping to read this month? Have you read of my picks, and if so what did you think?
See you again next month for another Booking Ahead.

Book Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Name:  Gods of Jade and Shadow
Author:  
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Number of Pages: 
367 (ebook)
Published:
July 23rd 2019 by Del Rey
Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty, small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it–and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan God of Death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey, from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City–and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.Mixing the excitement of the Roaring Twenties with Prehispanic mythology, Gods of Jade and Shadow is a vivid, wildly imaginative historical fantasy.

My Rating:

4ddiamonds

My Thoughts:

Gods of Jade and Shadow is a magical tale from Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Last year I read Mexican Gothic, and I enjoyed that so much I wanted to check out more by this author. The strikingly colourful cover and the tale of a quest undertaken by a young woman and a Mayan god was intriguing and so I began.
An adventure, a quest, a strong-willed young woman kept in a place she has no desire to be in by an overbearing family, and an immortal being in search of items that will restore him as the rightful ruler of a vast and varied underworld. How could I resist such a tale?

There’s a lot to enjoy here, so let’s begin with the main characters. Casiopea Tun is a young woman longing to escape, to dance, to swim in the sea, to drive an automobile, to experience life. Her family may have other ideas, mainly around Casiopea keeping house and doing chores. Little does Casiopea realise that someone is about to enter her relatively small world with the potential to make all her daydreams and more possible…

Hun-Kamé is the God of Death lured into a trap by his own brother and imprisoned with some help from those in the human world. I liked him just as much as Casiopea, from his remoteness to begin with, him being a god and all, to the way he slowly began to change as the pair travelled across the country, taking in many places and experiences as they moved closer to finding the items that would restore his power and give him his position back in the underworld.

The story evolves as Hun-Kamé becomes more human and as Casiopea takes on small bits of power in the face of all manner of wondrous beings, most of whom are set against them, having allied with Hun-Kamé’s brother.

There are many exotic settings – big cities and towns, the likes of which Casiopea has never seen before, places where there is dancing, colour, and music. The striking contrast to this is the otherworldliness of Xiabalba, a vast and elaborate kingdom where all is dark and grey.

As Casiopea begins to realise that in the end Hun-Kamé is still a god, that it’s unlikely there will be a time ‘after’ their shared adventure, I started to wonder how it could all end, and whether there really would be any future for these two, so different yet so tied together through their adventure.

Gods of Jade and Shadow is a great read – a tale of love, adventure and forgiveness. I’ve enjoyed both of the books I’ve read so far by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and I would love to read more. I like the sound of Certain Dark Things, so perhaps that will be my next choice.

Book Review: The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3) by Stephen King

Name:  The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3)
Author:  
Stephen King
Number of Pages: 
612 (ebook)
Published:
March 11th 2010 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published August 1991)
Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads

Roland, the Last Gunslinger, is moving ever closer to the Dark Tower, which haunts his dreams and nightmares. Pursued by the Ageless Stranger, he and his friends follow the perilous path to Lud, an urban wasteland. And crossing a desert of damnation in this macabre new world, revelations begin to unfold about who – and what – is driving him forward. A blend of riveting action and powerful drama, “The Waste Lands” leaves readers breathlessly awaiting the next chapter. And the Tower is closer…

My Rating:

5diamonds

My Thoughts:

The Waste Lands is the third volume in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King and throws us straight back into the action as new threats in this strange world reveal themselves.
Events from the recent past are starting to catch up with Roland. His previous actions affect his state of mind as he attempts to make sense of the truth of a boy called Jake, whom he is convinced is real but also never existed.
There’s a good recap of The Gunslinger in a conversation between the trio as Roland tries to reason out the mystery of Jake. I’ve gone from one book to the next so far with no break so it’s fresh in my mind still, but worth noting if it’s been a while since you picked up previous volumes.

The Waste Lands reveals more about this world, about the way it is formed, and the idea of the Dark Tower being the centre around which everything else is built. There’s talk of the Tower, and the Beams which hold the world together, the fact at the world is getting bigger, but also starting to decay; things are failing, becoming weaker, and Roland thinks that may impact other worlds too. The sheer scope of what may be at stake if the quest fails becomes clearer.

There are still hints of something very similar to our own world, little details such as the name Shardik reminding Eddie of rabbits, and previous mentions of familiar songs. These things, and the descriptions of the technology of the Great Old Ones almost makes it feel as though Roland’s world is possibly somewhere way in the future.

The group grows closer as they learn more about each other, and how to work as a team. Eddie and Susannah learn how to be gunslingers in this dangerous world where a mistake could mean death. As the travels continue Roland opens up, becomes more human somehow, less remote and closed off, especially as the group encounters other people. He’s a fascinating character and the way his history is teased out makes you want to know more.
The lengths these characters go to for each other and the risks they take show their bonds are strengthening. One particular reunion made for wonderful reading, and again showed Roland’s humanity. There’s also the introduction of a unique animal companion in Oy, the billy-bumbler, a stray who becomes part of the group and joins them on their adventures.

Aside from Roland’s world and all it’s mysteries, there are some great settings within our own world, including The Manhattan Restaurant of the Mind, a bookstore that Jake visits on the day he goes truant, and where he finds something that may become very important as time goes on.
The Mansion in Dutch Hill is a fantastic setting for a final ‘drawing’. It is a house with so much atmosphere it’s almost, and literally, a character for the too brief duration of its appearance. That section of the story reminded me of reading about the House of Usher, a tale I hadn’t read the first time I read this book.

Other things to discover in this story include a visit to River Crossing, a place where people try their best to survive in a harsh landscape. There‘s also the intriguing history of the city of Lud with it’s ongoing battles and the way the world moved on.
And, of course, there’s Blaine the Mono, built up from the moment that Jake first picked up a child’s story book about an apparently different train. More on Blaine later.

The build up to Lud and Blaine still somehow doesn’t prepare you for the sheer scale of what happens when our group arrive in the city. They encounter a wild place inhabited by different factions, and discover the way they live, their rivalries, and the perceived threat from the ‘ghosts in the machine’ that fuels their fears. It’s intense, and the last third of the book is a real rollercoaster. There’s so much going on, so much danger, so much threat, and times when it looks like the end for various members of the group.

And then there’s Blaine. How can a monorail train, and one that hasn’t been in use for many many years, possibly centuries, become such a dominant character? I mean, it’s a train! It’s also much more than that. That’s the Dark Tower series for you. And it’s a series that I am very glad I decided to read again, because it’s just as entertaining the second time around, and I cannot wait to venture on to the next volume, Wizard and Glass. I’m really glad the series is complete, because The Waste Lands ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, and even having read the books before, I need to get back into the adventures of Roland and his ka-tet.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Made Me Want to Read More Books Like Them

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Click on the link for more info and to find out about future topics.

This week’s theme is:  Books I Loved that Made Me Want to Read More Books Like Them


I always like it when I find a book that I enjoy so much it leaves me wanting to find something similar whether that’s another book by the same author, or a tale with a similar theme or a particular setting or similar characters.  

This week I’ve chosen a few titles that I experienced this with, some of them standalone, some either a trilogy or a series (because even then you can never have too many books, right?!).  

As always I’ve linked to any reviews just in case any of these covers or titles catches your attention.

ShadesofMilkandHoney

Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal

SilentCompanions

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

SevenDeathsofEvelynHardcastle

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Gunslinger DrawingoftheThree WasteLands

The Dark Tower series by Stephen King

BearandtheNightingale girlinthetower WinteroftheWitch

The Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden

The Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch

promiseofblood CrimsonCampaign AutumnRepublic

The Powder Mage trilogy by Brian McClellan

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

DevilandtheDarkWater

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton


So, what did you write about this week?
See you again next time for another Top Ten Tuesday.