Sunday, 24 November 2019

Blog Tour: The Sky Weaver

The Sky Weaver 
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Safire, a soldier, knows her role in this world is to serve the King of Firgaard-helping to maintain the peace in her oft-troubled nation.

Eris, a deadly pirate, has no such conviction. Known as The Death Dancer for her ability to evade even the most determined of pursuers, she possesses a superhuman ability to move between worlds.

When one can roam from dimension to dimension, can one ever be home? Can love and loyalty truly exist?

Then Safire and Eris-sworn enemies-find themselves on a common mission: to find Asha, the last Namsara.

From the port city of Darmoor to the fabled faraway Sky Isles, their search and their stories become threaded ever more tightly together as they discover the uncertain fate they're hurtling towards may just be a shared one. In this world, and the next. 

I'm going to say it....I think this might be my favourite book in the trilogy!? It has everything I love in books...combined in to one book! We've got pirates, dragons and Gods and I was absolutely loving it as I was reading, and as much as I loved the first book this is at least tied with it, if not above it! 

Just a reminder, these books are stand alone books even though it is a trilogy, and you can read the three books in any order you like but I personally think it's best to read them in order! Especially as this one brings everything to such a fantastic close! On to the actual review....

We have a dual POV in this book, Safire and Eris. We've already met Safire before, and after first meeting her in The Last Namsara I had wanted to see more of her...and this book delivers on that! We also get to see some more of Asha and Torwin which I was extra excited about. I love Safire and her loyalty and love for Asha, as well as her determination and strong sense of justice. She's also such a badass too, it has to be said! 

Then we have Eris who's a thief and a pirate! She's got a seriously cool power and was incredibly intriguing. I loved her personality and her banter with Safire, but I also felt quite sad for Eris. She feels very alone in the world, and like no-one cares for her, and so why should she care for others and it was so lovely to see Safire become closer to her and change that and prove to her that she isn't alone. I knew I was going to love Eris from the moment we met her, and I so thoroughly enjoyed the banter she and Safire had and I loved the dynamics between the two of them. I was practically squealing with glee as I was reading, and so ready for the romance to develop. Hello enemies to lovers! 

Alongside our two wonderful main characters, as I said, we get some more of Asha and Torwin and more so than the previous book I think! We also get more of Roa and Dax, and although I knew why Dax was behaving the way he was...I can't say I wasn't disappointed in him and wanting to smack him up the back of the head at one point. We also get possibly my favourite dragon, Sorrow, who bless him is a little wary of people and has been through some things and is still struggling with that and I was here for Safire becoming closer with him and bonding with him! 

As well as our dual narratives, in true Ciccarelli fashion, we have another story woven in between those chapters all about the book's namesake and Gods and so on. I honestly love this aspect of the storytelling when it comes to these books, it has a real old legend, folk tale feel to it that I love but I also love that it gives you these little pieces of a story for you to put together and try and figure out what's going on with it and how it's going to fit in with the main story and impact it. This one in particular, had me changing my opinion/theories multiple times and as we ramped up towards the end of the book, there were so many twists to it that had me screeching at the reveals! 

The Sky Weaver is fantastically written as always, the little slices of the Weaver's story slotting in nicely with the narratives of Safire and Eris. The pace is fantastic, and it ramps up even  more towards the end with the shorter chapters at one point adding to it even more so and having you frantically turning pages as you switch from POV to POV. There's wonderful banter, plenty of action, mystery and legend as well as sea creatures, Gods, dragons and pirates! Oh and did I mention the romance? Because the romance was just...*chefs kiss* 

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Manga: The Heroic Legend of Arslan 11

The Heroic Legend of Arslan Vol 11
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

After Gieve leaves under fraught circumstances, Arslan and the Parsian army are finally ready to march to the capital of Ecbatana. Guiscard and the Lusitanian government have their own plans, but Pars finds victory in their first encounter thanks, once again to Narsus's brilliant foresight and strategy. However, an unexpected run-in with Lusitanian scouts forces Arslan and his allies into a bloody battle neither side is prepared for. After the prince finds himself locked in conflict with Etoile, he faces a dilemma: How does one treat an enemy who would rather die for their beliefs than receive any form of mercy? 

We open the volume with tension as Gieve picks a fight and swords are drawn. However, it ends quite devastatingly, at least for me as Gieve is my favourite, as we lose Gieve. However, we're also off to battle in this volume, so there's a lot to focus on besides being sad about the lack of Gieve. 

I have to say, some of Arslan's men/Officers really need their heads banging together and I was happy to oblige at one point in this volume! Luckily we have Narsus to teach a lesson, and make sure everything is in order. 

Throughout this volume, we go from battle to battle as Arslan and his army march to Ecbatana and we encounter fortresses along the way. As you can then imagine, we have quite a lot of action and fight scenes throughout this volume, as well as some interesting twists, a fantastic reveal and a meeting between two characters that I've been anticipating since early on in the series! There's a lot going on in this volume, and a lot to keep you occupied so it's once again a shame that it has to come to an end and we have to start the wait for the next volume! 

Alongside all of that, we have a fascinating conversation between Arslan and Etoile that lends some weight to the volume, and we get to know Etoile a lot better too which should herald Etoile having a bigger role to play in the coming volumes. I'm quite looking forward to getting to know Etoile more, and seeing more interactions between them! In addition, we also get a closer look at Luisitania, it's motivations and its faith and so on...a closer look at the enemy if you will. 

As Arslan marches to Ecbatana, we lose one character and gain another as all of our characters move around the board with plenty of action and humour to keep us invested in the story. Things are heating up once again! 

Monday, 18 November 2019

Review: Angel Mage

Angel Mage 
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

I'm a huge fan of Garth Nix, though I haven't managed to work my way through all of his books yet, and I've been so excited for this ever since I first heard about it at Gollancz's blogger evening. Inspired by the Three Musketeers was enough to draw me in, let alone the angelic magic system! Unfortunately, me reading this coincided with my rather stressful, messy start at university so it took me longer to get through this than it normally would have! 

I loved the sound of the magic system when I first heard it described, and it certainly delivered on my expectations in the book. It was so original to me, and very cleverly done. I was utterly fascinated by it and eager to read as much about it as I could, and we do get a lot thrown at us from the start to do with it. It did take me a minute to process everything, but it was all I'd been hoping for and more. I loved delving further and further in to the magic and the angels and what they could do, not to mention the consequences to the magic, plus we had the mystery of what exactly Liliath was up to as well. 

I was hooked from the first chapter by the action, though this does have some slower parts. When I had the time, I binged through chunks of the book with no problem. The world building was excellent as is to be expected from Nix, and it so easily pulls you in. The settings really take shape around you as you read, and there are lots of maps at the front of the book to help you with placement. The language used by Nix too, also helps to visualise the world our characters live in. He picks his words very precisely to help evoke the setting and aesthetic. Another thing I particularly enjoyed about this world was we had a lot of swashbuckling female characters as the world is gender equal. We've got lots of ladies in positions of power, getting to be complete badasses and I was living for it. Especially as there are no stereotypical gender types to be seen.

I will also say that I did screech when I recognised names like Rochefort or Dartagnan and so on. Speaking of Rochefort, I wasn't too sure about her at first. I did quite like her, but I wasn't sure if I was supposed to and I only ended up loving her more and more as the book went on. I was rooting for her to side with Dorotea, and shipping it too, I can't lie! 

When it comes to Liliath, the way she's described as 'having a madness in her eyes' and 'corrupting Palleniel' had me unsure of whether she was the hero, the villain or just very morally grey. I was unsure whether I was rooting for her or rooting against her, but as a character she fascinated me. She gets more sinister, I think, as the book goes on, until she's truly revealed but I still couldn't dislike her.  She was determined in her goal, she was ruthless, so very, very cunning and she made no apologies for any of it and I loved that. She was an excellent character, and a fantastic villain. 

As for our four, I really, really loved them. They were each different, but they fit together and came together so well, and I loved the dynamic between them as they bonded more and more throughout the book. Simeon I will admit I didn't immediately take to, he seemed a bit superior or like he thought he was but he ended up being strangely humorous in his own way and he worked his way in to my affections. Henri, again, I wasn't quite sure about him, though I liked him well enough. He does love gold, and I did end up rolling my eyes at him a few times though in a fond way. After all, we'd all like to get our hands on some treasure I'm sure! Dorotea...I loved how chill she was, she was like 'oh, I'm going to the tower? Cool, I'm gonna have a nap'. She always remains calm and level headed, she's smart and I did end up genuinely shipping her with Rochefort! Last but not least we have my absolute favourite character, Agnez. I loved her from the start, we got a hilarious introduction to her and that scene will forever be imprinted in my brain to pull out when I need a chuckle. She's our Musketeer and she's very...rowdy. She's always up for a fight and very in to the Musketeers and her duties. I so fond of her throughout the entire book, even when she was doing crazy things like trying to duel with Rochefort! I need more Agnez! 

I enjoyed meeting each of the characters and watching them come together as they happened to bump in to each other, or at least seemingly so. I wouldn't put it past the lurking Refusers to have orchestrated it all but I liked how it was done and I got excited as each of them came in to contact with the others. I loved how they teamed up to go on this adventure together and worked through everything as a group, and like I said, each brings something different to the table. 

There's a nice blend of action, intrigue and world building, each of our characters has different personalities so you can never be bored by their interactions and their actions in general...especially Agnez. The writing was such that while there were slower parts as things built up, you didn't have to slog through pages and pages of description and so on. As I said before, Nix picks his words precisely, a single well chosen word going a long way to describe a character's clothing or a setting without using multiple ones and helping to evoke the setting and the world he was aiming for, pulling you in that little bit more. The writing is so very vivid and atmospheric, the world and the magic system able to be easily understood without making it too wordy and everything comes to a fantastic conclusion though I am sad that this is a standalone! I was ready to sink my teeth in to a full series of this, but everything is wrapped up wonderfully. I'd like it to be known I wouldn't be against to another book though...

Manga: Angels of Death 7

Angels of Death Vol 7 
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

On Floor B2, Gray passes judgment on Ray, declaring her a witch who is deceiving the building's residents. Forced to face this sentence alone, what will Ray do...? Justice will be served in Volume 7 of Angels of Death! 
This volume takes a turn for the strange as Rachel finds herself being judged by Gray, who has some harsh words for her, before he puts her on trial as a witch. Which, as I said, is perhaps the strangest turn this series has taken so far and I was side eyeing it a little bit. However, we get some interesting insights in to Rachel and her psyche from her previous foes. It becomes apparent that Rachel is also hiding something, and Danny appears to now what so the mystery ramps up even further. 
Zack also has a hard truth for Rachel that sees her struggle a little in the aftermath of it, plus we get the revelation of her motivations behind wanting Zack to kill her. 
While this volume does, for me, seem to stall a little as we embark on this little witch trial, it does have it's merits by giving us further insight in to Rachel. Though Zack's chilling, bleeding out on the floor and every time I saw him I was looking at him like....shouldn't you be dead by now? But apparently not. 
More mystery is piled on in this volume, and there's tension as Zack is gravely injured apparently. We also spend this volume getting better acquainted with Rachel and her state of mind a lot better.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Manga: Killing Me

Killing Me
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Borrow 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Vampire hunter Saki Fujimiya is the epitome of poise and finesse-that is, when she's not around Miyoko Kujou! Why does Miyoko get such a rise out of her? Well, to begin with, Miyoko's a vampire -- Saki's natural enemy...but that's not the only reason Miyoko gets under Saki's skin. Despite Saki's best efforts to kill Miyoko, something keeps stopping her from biting the bullet and ending it all for good. It's hard to tell who's really the prey in this love comedy packed with bite! 

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this one, but I did end up quite enjoying it! The art is cute as are the character designs, I also liked the colour palette used for the colour pages. This volume is fast paced, it doesn't hang around and dives straight in with things. I was intrigued, though it was a little repetitive at a few points. But it was still quite funny with action, humour and the romance blossoming as Saki gets to grips with her feelings. I'm not sure I'll carry on with it though as it was a little too choppy for me, and there wasn't as much to it as I'd thought there would be plot wise. 
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