Apologies for missing last week but I had my eldest sister visiting and we went to the Peak District last weekend. For those of you who aren't that familiar with British geography the Peak District is in the middle of England AND perhaps more importantly - the home of Mr Darcy from Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. As big Jane Austin fans my sister and I couldn't miss the opportunity to go visit Chatsworth which was used in the 2005 version of the movie as Mr Darcy's estate - Pemberley. Check it out! It was pretty cool but sadly most of my potential 're-enactment' areas were marked as private so I didn't get to pretend I was Eliza Bennett! Oh well, I guess I have will have to resign myself to another re-read of the story instead.
Anyway enough of my holiday you probably want to know what I have been reading since I last posted. I did a bit of a swapsy with my sister on reading devices so I got to read 3 great books on our travels. I started with Skin Game by Jim Butcher which is the 15th book in the Harry Dresden series. This was the book I meant to read a few weeks ago but bought Cold Days by mistake. Skin Days is a bit of a departure from the plots of the previous books with Harry given a task by his new boss Mab to team up with one of his many, but perhaps most hated arch enemies Nicodemus Archleone. The task is to break into the near impenetrable vaults of non other than the king of the Underworld Hades and steal a holy relic. All in a days work for Mab's new Winter Knight.
I did enjoy Skin Game and I was glad that I had just recently read book 14 as I didn't have to jog my memory (too much). There were some quite touching scenes with Michael, who I have always liked, who gives Harry a talking to and makes him realise why he needs to be involved in his daughter's life. Harry gets put through the ringer in this instalment with broken limbs, gunshot wounds and a resolution to the 'bug in his brain' storyline from previous novels. I wonder when Butcher is going to cut Harry a break and have something nice happen to him that lasts more than a few minutes.
One of the books that regularly comes up on my Amazons recommendations is the Reluctant
Concubine by Dana Marton which is the first of the Hardstorm Saga series. This is the story of Tera who is sold as a slave to a more barbarian race where she is expected to use her healing skills before becoming one of lord's many concubines. Before that happens an ancient prophecy comes into play and Tera may be the key to saving the realm.
I found this story a tad dull. Tera's healing skills reminded me of Maria V Synder's Avry in her Healer series but she wasn't as interesting of a character as Avry. There also wasn't much chemistry between Tera and her love interest the High Lorder. I can only describe their romance as lukewarm at best. I won't be continuing with this series.
The final book I wanted to tell you about is Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Agnieszka loves her family, her home and everything about the valley in which she lives. However, her village relies on the help from a wizard to keep the evil powers of a malevolent force in the surrounding forest at bay. In payment the wizard, known as the Dragon, takes one of the girls from the village to live with him and then releases them 10 years later. The girls never return to live in the village and no one really knows what happens to them while they live in the wizard's tower. Agnieszka (and everyone else in her village) is certain her best friend Kasia will be the next girl who is selected to live with the wizard. When the Dragon comes to chose his new companion no one is more surprised than Agnieszka when he doesn't leave with Kasia. Agnieszka finds herself in the Dragon's tower and soon becomes embroiled in a battle to save everything and everyone she holds dear.
This is a great book. I loved reading every minute of it. I even broke one of my own rules and paid almost £8.00 for the Kindle version but it was worth every penny. Novik paints such a clear picture of her characters and the lives they lead. You can really picture Agnieszka's village and feel her pain and sorrow when she thinks she has lost her best friend Kasia. Agnieszka is a great character who you can't wait to read more about. Dragon starts out the antagonist, or so it seems but then you start to see him through Agnieszka's eyes and watch him become very much a hero. There is a real sense of folklore and fairytale in this story and if you enjoy high fantasy I highly recommend it.
That is it for me for this week. I hope you have found some books that you have enjoyed as much as I enjoyed Uprooted and until next week Happy Reading.
Harry Dresden 15
Roc, March 3, 2015
Mass Market Paperback, 608 pages
Hardcover and eBook, May 27, 2014
From Jim Butcher comes the newest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dresden Files…
Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day. Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.
Mab has traded Harry’s skills to pay off a debt. And now he must help a group of villains led by Harry’s most despised enemy, Nicodemus Archleone, to break into a high-security vault so that they can then access a vault in the Nevernever.
Problem is, the vault belongs to Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld. And Dresden is dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess.…
To escape punishment, Tera, a maiden healer sold to barbarians must hide the truth: she has not yet come into her healing powers. Born into a much gentler world, she struggles to survive in a land of savage warlords and their cruel concubines. When ancient prophecies begin to come to pass, can the healer-slave save the realm and awaken the High Lord’s heart?
Del Rey, May 19, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages
North America Cover
Naomi Novik, author of the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.
“Every so often you come upon a story that seems like a lost tale of Grimm newly come to light. Uprooted is such a novel. Its narrative spell is confidently wrought and sympathetically cast. I might even call it bewitching.”—Gregory Maguire, bestselling author of Wicked and Egg & Spoon
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.