Book Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (audiobook)

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Publishing Info: Audiobook, September 2019 by Recorded Books

Star Rating: 4.5/5

Back Cover Summary:

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.

Tamsyn Muir’s debut is an enthralling and unique science fantasy which propels the reader into an unexpectedly delightful, yet dark, tale about necromancers in space. Gideon the Ninth is complex and difficult to summarise, and in some ways difficult to define due to the way it draws together multiple genres, stitching them together into something entirely new.

Despite the significant amount of devoted fans Gideon the Ninth has garnered, it was with a little trepidation that I picked it up. It didn’t sound like my kind of book, but the glowing reviews for the narration encouraged me to give the audiobook a try.     

Rather than taking your hand and guiding you through the world, Tamsyn Muir thrusts you straight in, immediately immersing you in an unfamiliar and slightly daunting new world in which you feel like you could easily sink, rather than swim. There were times where I felt like I was floundering, struggling to keep my head above water and absorb all of the new words and concepts crashing over me in waves. There are few explanations about the world, how it came to be, how the system of nine necromantic Houses works, or what the different types of necromantic abilities are. There were many times where I was simply confused. However, the lack of pausing for explanations meant that reading Gideon the Ninth was an immersive experience, and once I had realised that the author wasn’t going to stop to explain anything, I simply allowed myself to be carried on the wave and enjoy the experience. I might not have understood every word or every aspect of the worldbuilding, but it didn’t seem to matter.

Forming a reluctant alliance, Gideon and Harrow of the Ninth House travel to the First House, where they join the necromancers and cavaliers of the other Houses for trials which they hope will see them rise to Lyctorhood. They find themselves in a once grand but now crumbling palace served by skeletons. Tamsyn Muir blends the old and the new in Canaan House, combining classical architecture with modern experimental labs, to create an eerie and sinister atmosphere which builds over the course of the novel. There is a significant mystery element to Gideon the Ninth which kept me turning the pages, and plenty of unexpected twists which kept me on my toes. The novel concludes with a thrilling climax. However, while I usually love action scenes, I found the final battle a little repetitive, and the pacing dragged in this section.   

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November 2021 Wrap Up

After taking a bit of a hiatus over the summer and autumn thanks to illness, moving house and being very busy at work, I am pleased to have been able to come back to blogging more regularly again in November! I’m still in pain with my back and shoulder, and am currently trying to get a diagnosis for that and am waiting for a hospital appointment, so have mostly been listening to audiobooks. I’ve been slowly reading a paperback of Girls of Paper and Fire and have nearly finished it.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (audiobook) ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 – I really didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did, but it’s so imaginative, unique, dark, funny and memorable, that it’s become one of my favourite books. The narration by Moira Quirk is fantastic and breathes life into the story and characters.

Among Thieves by M. J. Kuhn (audiobook) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This is a short, fast-paced Adult fantasy featuring a heist and ragtag crew of characters with secret agendas, but despite an intriguing set up, it didn’t keep me turning the pages.

I received some really helpful feedback from beta readers on my Arthurian legend retelling, but I decided I needed a bit more time to consider what direction I want to take the book in before proceeding with my next draft. Instead, I have been planning for a redraft of a novel I wrote a few years ago and set aside, and am really excited to completely refresh it with new ideas and more detailed and creative world building.

What books have you enjoyed this month? Chat with me in the comments!

Fairyloot June 2021 Unboxing

This unboxing is very very late as I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus for a little while, but since I had already taken the photos before I hurt my shoulder, I thought I would still post my unboxing and share what was inside Fairyloot’s June box now that I am getting back into blogging again!

The theme for June was ‘Animal Companions’ and I have to say I love books that have animal companions in them, so I was looking forward to this box. Let’s see what was inside!

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Let’s Talk Bookish: What Truly Makes a Blog Hiatus

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. It’s been a long while since I took part in this meme for various reasons, and I am excited to be back!

This week’s theme comes at a very relevant time for me, as I have just been on a hiatus from blogging. It’s been a… difficult… year for me. In August I injured my shoulder so had to step away from blogging for a long while. In September I moved house, and then in October I got COVID and was unwell. So I only posted twice in August-October. I’m hoping to get back into blogging more now, but may still not be as active as I used to be, for the sake of my health.

A hiatus is an extended period of time away from blogging and sometimes they are necessary e.g. because of health or personal life. But I think they can also be important for our mental health. It’s easy to feel a lot of pressure to post regularly, so a hiatus can be a good way to reset and recharge.

I find myself worrying about not tweeting enough, not interacting enough, not blog hopping enough, not posting on my blog regularly enough. It’s not healthy to feel constantly pressured in this way. Being ever present online is exhausting. But there seems to be a growing expectation for us to be always accessible online, whether that’s on a blog or on Twitter or Instagram. Everything moves at such a fast pace, that it feels like if you’re not present enough online, what you do share can disappear, and if you’re not around often enough, you’ll be forgotten.

Although my hiatus was for health reasons, I thought it might help my mental health as well, and help break myself from that self-pressure and expectation. But I’ve found myself returning to those thoughts, worrying about whether I’m active enough, even though I should be putting my mental and physical health first, something that is important all the time, but especially during what has been a tough year for me in my personal life.

Taking some time away from blogging and social media has made me take a look at my relationship with these platforms and whether or not they are good for my mental health. I love being part of the blogging community, and being part of the writing community on Twitter makes me feel inspired and encouraged to keep writing. Being part of these communities can be wonderful and positive. But it can also be bad for mental health. I need to accept that, as a chronically ill person who suffers with fatigue, I just can’t be ever present online. And I need to stop trying to be. I’m here because I enjoy it, because I enjoy writing, because I enjoy chatting to people about books. Shedding the weight of pressure and expectation is difficult, but it’s something I need to try and do.

How do you feel about taking a hiatus? Do you feel pressured to post regularly? Chat with me in the comments, I’d love to know what you think.

Book Review: Among Thieves by M. J. Kuhn (audiobook)

Among Thieves by M. J. Kuhn

Genre: Fantasy

Publishing Info: Audiobook by Simon & Schuster Audio 2021

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

In just over a year’s time, Ryia Cautella has already earned herself a reputation as the quickest, deadliest blade in the dockside city of Carrowwick—not to mention the sharpest tongue. But Ryia Cautella is not her real name.

For the past six years, a deadly secret has kept her in hiding, running from town to town, doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the formidable Guildmaster—the sovereign ruler of the five kingdoms of Thamorr. No matter how far or fast she travels, his servants never fail to track her down…but even the most powerful men can be defeated.

Ryia’s path now leads directly into the heart of the Guildmaster’s stronghold, and against every instinct she has, it’s not a path she can walk alone. Forced to team up with a crew of assorted miscreants, smugglers, and thieves, Ryia must plan her next moves very carefully. If she succeeds, her freedom is won once and for all… but unfortunately for Ryia, her new allies are nearly as selfish as she is, and they all have plans of their own.

Among Thieves has been pitched as perfect for fans of Six of Crows, and it has a lot in common with that work which many will enjoy, namely a ragtag crew from a criminal gang taking on a massive heist. The novel follows five POV characters as they are forced to work together, each with their own secrets and agendas. While I enjoyed Among Thieves, it didn’t quite keep me turning the pages the way I had hoped, especially for such a short, fast-paced Adult fantasy. 

In the opening chapters, we’re introduced to our main characters – Ryia, Tristan, Nash, Ivan and Evelyn. Three of these five characters had very similar backstories – they are on the run and their real identities are a secret that none of the others know. This similarity made it difficult to remember who was who at first, and also meant their stories didn’t feel unique enough to hold my interest.

The plot moved fast, was engaging, and the stakes were high. Inevitably, all their plans for the heist go wrong, and they have to adapt. Some parts kept me guessing, others felt a little too predictable.

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September & October 2021 Wrap Up

Having moved house at the end of September, I was hoping to return to blogging more actively. Unfortunately, I got COVID at the beginning of October. Having spent most of the pandemic shielding due to being clinically extremely vulnerable, it was a bit of a blow! But the vaccine did its job and I didn’t get seriously ill. It did wipe me out pretty badly though, and I’m still recovering now and feeling very drained. So I think it will be a little while yet before I’m feeling properly better.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson (audiobook) – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I really enjoyed this one! How could I not love a book about magical libraries? I found it a little slow in places but on the whole it was a great book. It was nice to read a standalone fantasy book for a change as I so often read series.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (audiobook) – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This is a novel in verse and it was my first time listening to a verse novel in the audio format. Hearing the rhythm of the verse audibly was an interesting experience and I would definitely read more verse novels in audiobook form. This book was a definite 5 star read as it was just so emotive, engaging and insightful.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (audiobook) – ⭐⭐⭐ – Although this book was good, it didn’t quite draw me in. Though I have heard that the sequels are better, so I will likely keep reading this series. The ending did pique my curiosity, and I’m interested to see how Tea becomes the character we see in the flashforwards.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This is easily the best Agatha Christie book I’ve read so far. The suspense was high all the way through and I was totally gripped.

I’ve been trying to keep my book buying down until my shoulder gets better as I’m not able to read physical books much at the moment and I don’t want to stack up even more books on the TBR pile! I did, however, get the Fairyloot edition of Gods & Monsters, and I couldn’t resist buying Iron Widow as it sounds absolutely amazing.

Due to moving house and illness I haven’t had much time for writing in quite a long time. However, I have been doing some thinking about my projects and making some notes. I can’t wait to get back into it again when I’m feeling a bit better.

What books have you enjoyed this month? Chat with me in the comments!

July & August 2021 Wrap Up

So, I’ve not been around here much lately! I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus and will probably not be here much for a little while longer. At the beginning of August, I hurt my shoulder and I’ve been in a lot of pain. I’ve been managing to work but not been able to use my computer or phone much. Or, unfortunately, do much reading! I have been listening to audiobooks though.

I just wanted to do a quick post to let you know I haven’t disappeared completely! I will be back, I’m just not sure when, as it depends how long my shoulder takes to get better. I’m also moving house at the end of September (talk about bad timing to have a painful shoulder!) so things are a bit hectic at the moment.

Here is a quick wrap up for July and August. Hopefully I will be back to posting more regularly again soon!

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman – ⭐⭐⭐.5

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor – ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran – ⭐⭐⭐

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Hobbit audiobook – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐

I got a book voucher for my birthday and I was able to go to a book shop in July for the first time since the pandemic which was incredibly exciting! I got The Invisible Library, The Poppy War, Pride and Premeditation, and The Cruel Prince. I also had pre-orders arrive for Six Crimson Cranes, The Wolf and the Woodsman, Fire With Fire, and Broken Web.

What books have you enjoyed this month? Chat with me in the comments!

Book Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor  

Genre: Fantasy

Publishing Info: 10th Anniversary Edition, 2020 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published 2012)

Pages: 528

Star Rating: 4.5/5

Back Cover Summary:

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living – one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was like a jewel-box without a jewel – a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of my favourite books of all time. It’s two years since I read it and I can’t believe it took me this long to get to the sequel. I think, perhaps, because the first book blew me away so much, I was nervous to read Days of Blood and Starlight. I needn’t have been worried, because although I don’t love it quite as much as the first book, it was still absolutely phenomenal.

I found the first half a little slow and wasn’t really sure where the story was going, but the last third or so was filled with so many twists I was absolutely glued to the page and audibly gasped at multiple points. There’s not too much I can say without spoiling the first book, but this one is at times very bleak and very grim, but despite that, the words and way Laini Taylor tells the story is so captivating and heart wrenching. There are also a few lighter moments provided by Zuzana and Mik who are gems bringing some much-needed smiles amongst all the darkness. 

I’ve read three of Laini Taylor’s books now and I just can’t get over how stunning her writing is. It paints a picture and envelops you like silk, delivering gentle moments and violence with a brush stroke that captures every emotion and movement so beautifully and vividly. Her words draw me into every story she writes and makes me want to never let go of the book in my hands.

Days of Blood and Starlight is an excellent sequel – dark and heart-breaking, yet full of hope. I’m excited for the final book in the trilogy – Dreams of Gods and Monsters – but I also don’t want the story to end, and I have a feeling it’s going to be devastating. Brilliant, but devastating, in the way the first two books have been. In a way that makes it unforgettable.            

500 Followers + Book Giveaway!

I’m so excited and amazed that I now have 500 followers!! I started this blog way back in 2012, had a bit of a hiatus while I was at uni, and have loved being back and more active again the last two or three years. Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog and liked or commented on my posts! I can’t believe so many people are interested in hearing me ramble about books haha.

I’ve met so many amazing people while blogging and I appreciate you all so much! I love being part of the book blogging community. You’re all such an awesome bunch! I love getting to chat with you about books and share our love of reading.

I haven’t had as much time for blogging and blog hopping recently because life has been a bit manic lately! But I am still around and will hopefully be more active again when things have calmed down as we have hopefully finally found a house and should be moving in September.

To celebrate 500 followers, I’m hosting a book giveaway over on Twitter! Check out my tweet here to enter. It closes at midday BST on Friday 30th July.

Thank you all again! And I look forward to having even more bookish chats with you in future! 🥰

Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag 2021

I really can’t believe we’re halfway through 2021 already! So far, I’ve read 25 books this year and I’m on target to hit my goal of 40 books in 2021 so I am very happy with that. I’ve read some great books so without further ado, let’s jump into the tag.

Best Book You’ve Read So Far In 2021

The Midnight Star by Marie Lu – This book destroyed me. Can’t say too much since it’s the last in the series, but honestly it was so emotionally heart wrenching I’m still not over it.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far In 2021

I’ve read some really great sequels this year but two that stood out are Blood & Honey and Days of Blood and Starlight. A lot of people didn’t seem to like Blood & Honey and I went in with low expectations, which might have helped, but I really enjoyed this one and was surprised by it. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of my all-time faves and Days of Blood and Starlight was so good as well.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To

The Gilded Ones came out earlier this year and I am so excited to read it!

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