This week my random pick has one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen this year – Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim!
Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
Peniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.
I’m always a sucker for retellings of the Wild Swans fairy tale, and this version mixes it up with East Asian mythology for a new spin on things. I actually haven’t yet read Lim’s earlier duology, though it’s also on my TBR, but I’ve heard really good things about how lyrical her writing is, so I’m thinking this will be a great winter read. Have you read this one? I’d love to see more reviews!
I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Cytonic, the third book in the brilliant Skyward series! I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of the first few chapters before its release, so here are my first impressions…
This book has only recently arrived, but that’s how the numbers shake out sometimes – it’s #293, Terciel and Elinor by Garth Nix!
A thrilling, atmospheric dive into the history of the Abhorsen, featuring Sabriel’s parents, Terciel and Elinor.
In the Old Kingdom, a land of ancient and often terrible magics, eighteen year-old orphan Terciel is learning the art of necromancy – but not to raise the Dead, rather to lay them to rest. He is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, the latest in a long line of people whose task it is to make sure the Dead do not return to Life.
Across the Wall in Ancelstierre, a steam-age country where magic usually does not work, nineteen year-old Elinor lives a secluded life, her only friends an old governess and an even older groom who was once a famous circus performer. Her mother is a tyrant, feared by all despite her sickness and impending death . . .
Elinor does not know she is deeply connected to the Old Kingdom, until a plot by an ancient enemy of the Abhorsens brings Terciel to Ancelstierre. In a single day of fire and death and loss, Elinor finds herself set on a path which will take her into the Old Kingdom, into Terciel’s life, and will embroil her in the struggle of the Abhorsens against the Dead who will not stay dead.
I fell in love with Sabriel and its sequels when I was younger, with their mix of magic, horror, adventure, and practical young women getting stuff done, so I was delighted when this popped through my letterbox unexpectedly from Hot Key Books! I actually missed reading Goldenhand, the most recently published book before this one, but as Terciel and Elinor is set well before everything that’s happened so far,I think I should be okay to start this soon, and I’m really looking forward to returning to the Old Kingdom world. Hopefully it will capture the magic that enthralled me as a kid!
Is this on your TBR, or have you read it? I’d love to see your reviews!
It still seems very early to me to be talking about Christmas, but since you have to be prepared, here’s a selection of adorable new festive reads for little ones! All these books were sent to me free of charge, but opinions are my own.
I Love You More Than Christmas by Ellie Hattie and Tim Warnes, from Little Tiger Books
This picture book is adorable! I really love the way these bears are drawn – they have such kind faces and feel so full of love. They kind of remind me of Bear in the Big Blue House, but I might be dating myself with that reference! This is a sweet book full of the chaotic joy of Christmas – so much to be done and made, so many people to see – with a clear message that what matters the most in all of these things is who you celebrate with. There’s a mixture of rhyming text and plain prose, which sounds odd but works really nicely in context for reading aloud. And bonus points for not giving Little Bear a gender on page, which makes this easy for a kid to see themself in. Between the warm, cozy artwork and the cute family feel, I think this one will easily be a favourite for years to come.
Is It Christmas Yet? by Jane Chapman
Ted can’t wait for it to be Christmas, but there’s so much to do beforehand! This sounds similar to the previous book, with bears doing a whole host of Christmas activities, but it’s got a more humorous slant than a cosy one, with lots of things going wrong – Big Bear will ring very true with stressed out parents whose festive to-do lists are miles long! I was surprised to find that this actually has a lot of text for a board book – it’s more like a sturdier, smaller picture book than a book for really tiny ones, so it packs a lot into its small size. The illustrations are sweet and funny, and overall this is a very cute read.
Nibbles: Christmas by Emma Yarlett
This is my first time coming across Nibbles, but I’m thoroughly charmed and will definitely be looking up the other books in the series. This is a board book that makes great use of flaps and cutouts to get kids to interact with Nibbles the Book Eating Monster – you might not be able to tell at first, but he’s chomped a hole through every page of the book (even the back cover!). The story is told in a clever counting rhyme that had me smiling, and I can’t resist Nibbles’ cheeky little face. It’s great fun!
Mondays are coming around so fast – after today, there are only six left in the year! This time around the random number generator picked #178, Shadow of a Dead God by Patrick Samphire.
It was only supposed to be one little job – a simple curse-breaking for Mennik Thorn to pay back a favour to his oldest friend. But then it all blew up in his face. Now he’s been framed for a murder he didn’t commit.
So how is a second-rate mage, broke, traumatized, and with a habit of annoying the wrong people, supposed to prove his innocence when everyone believes he’s guilty?
Mennik has no choice if he wants to get out of this: he is going to have to throw himself into the corrupt world of the city’s high mages, a world he fled years ago. Faced by supernatural beasts, the mage-killing Ash Guard, and a ruthless, unknown adversary, it’s going to take every trick Mennik can summon just to keep him and his friend alive.
But a new, dark power is rising in Agatos, and all that stands in its way is one damaged mage…
I’ve read most of Patrick Samphire’s other work, and really enjoyed it, especially his two series set on a Regency Mars, so it was a no-brainer for me to preorder this. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet, even though everyone I know who’s read it thinks it’s great! After loving The Last Smile in Sunder City, I’m definitely up for more noir-ish, secondary world urban fantasy, and it sounds like there’s a good balance of humour and mystery here. I’m really looking forward to it.