Book Review – Hustlers, Harlots and Heroes by Krista D. Ball

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Get ready to step into the back alleys of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens’s London, and explore the alternative worlds of steampunk in this new guide book by fantasy author Krista D. Ball. Ball takes readers on a fascinating journey into the world of the Have-Nots, and explores the bustling, crime-ridden London during the Georgian and Victorian eras. Discover the world of knocker-uppers (it’s not what you think), mudlarks, and costermongers. Learn how to scrub floors and polish knives, pick for bones, and catch rats. Learn about race and social status, and the difference between a lady’s maid and a scullery maid. With her usual wit, insight, and snark, Ball gives historical, romance, and steampunk authors the tools to create vibrant, realistic worlds. Whether you’re an author, a Janeite, or just a fan of history, Hustlers, Harlots, and Heroes gives you a fresh look into the dark past.

Review:

So, one of the Fantasy Bingo squares is non-fiction relating to Fantasy and so this was my pick for it. I got a free copy from the author during a celebration of 2 years since she quit her job to focus on writing and finally got around to reading it.

This is a very well researched book and I would highly recommend it to anybody thinking of writing a novel in this time period. It’s clear that a lot of work has gone into it and the endnotes and bibliography are fantastic (I adore books with great bibliographies and the bonus for this one is that a lot of the books mentioned are now in the public domain)

What makes this stand out though is the author, it reads like you’re sitting with your friend in the pub and she’s excitedly telling you all these awesome facts that she recently learned while doing research for her novel. The author has such a great voice and includes plenty of humour amongst the facts – I also particularly enjoyed reading about trying to re-create the experiences such as follow old recipes and cleaning in a period outfit. I’m a big fan of history and this was a fantastic and vivid way of bringing it to life, it almost makes me want to start writing a novel set in Victorian London just so I can use all this new knowledge!

If you’re taking part in the Fantasy Bingo, I highly recommend this for the non-fiction square. If you enjoy history or are planning on writing a novel set during this time period then I recommend this as a source of excellent information with a good bibliography to lead you to further sources. Finally, if you don’t like reading non-fiction because you think it’s not as interesting, I recommend this as it had me hooked! Basically, I adored this book and would highly recommend it to everybody.

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Book Review – Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A tale of love, money, and family conflict – among Dragons.

A family deals with the death of their father.
A son goes to court for his inheritance.
Another son agonises over his father’s deathbed confession.
One daughter becomes involved in the abolition movement, while another sacrifices herself for her husband.


And everyone in the tale is a dragon, red in tooth and claw. Here is a world of politics and train stations, of churchmen and family retainers, of courtship and country houses… in which, on the death of an elder, family members gather to eat the body of the deceased. In which the great and the good avail themselves of the privilege of killing and eating the weaker children, which they do with ceremony and relish, growing stronger thereby. You have never read a novel like Tooth and Claw.

Review:

I picked up this book for the “Fantasy of Manners” square on Fantasy Bingo due to a number of recommendations I saw for it and I am so glad I did because I adored this book. I am already a big fan of dragons and always excited to read new books including dragons but this just takes everything to a whole new level with the fantastic worldbuilding and characters.

The novel follows the story of the children of Bon Agornin who passes away at the start of the book. The two younger daughters have to deal with being separated and worry about making good matches while one son is enraged by the behaviour of his brother-in-law regarding the inheritance and so takes him to court. This novel is very Victorian in feeling and I loved all the little glimpses we saw of the dragon society including things such as the importance of wearing the right sort of hat, or that of how the female dragon skin colour changes when she is close with a male. Each character has their own focus and I just couldn’t put the book down as all of them were so compelling to read.

The writing in this is lovely and I felt myself being carried away into their world and unable to put the book down. I’m incredibly happy I read this and I’m already looking to read more of Jo Walton’s books because of how much I adored this. Words cannot express just how much I recommend this book, and due to the heavy Victorian themes I feel it is a novel that even those that aren’t fans of Fantasy will enjoy. If you’re doing the Fantasy Bingo, you should definitely check this out for one of your squares. I’m tempted to read a couple more Fantasy of Manners book now though given how much I enjoyed this one.

Book Review – The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility. Its sparkling wit, breathless adventure, multicultural cast, and enchanting romance will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir and Leigh Bardugo. 

As the daughter of a time traveler, Nix has spent sixteen years sweeping across the globe and through the centuries aboard her father’s ship. Modern-day New York City, nineteenth-century Hawaii, other lands seen only in myth and legend—Nix has been to them all.

But when her father gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. Rae Carson meets Outlander in this epic debut fantasy.

If there is a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place and any time. But now that he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, the year before Nix’s mother died in childbirth—Nix’s life, her entire existence, is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years.

Review:

Wow, so I don’t even know where to start with this book because I adored it so much. I’d hit around 10% complete and was already recommending it to friends because it was just so fantastic and engrossing.

Now, this book is about time-travel and maps and for those that are not aware, I absolutely adore maps and so will instantly adore anything that uses them as an important plot device and the fact that maps were included in the book just made me even happier. Indeed I want to buy a physical copy of the book just so I can sit and adore the pretty maps even more.

Anyway, the main plot of the story is that Nix’s father is trying to get back to 1868 Honolulu to be reunited with Lin, Nix’s mother, and so they are in a desperate search to first find, then acquire, a map that will let them do this as all previous attempts have failed. In order to do this, they travel to all sorts of wonderful locations, both real and mythological. Most of this novel is set in Hawaii and you can really tell how much the author loves O’ahu thanks to her beautiful descriptions of the people and places located within it.

One thing that I really appreciated about this novel is that at the end, there is a section listing the various mythological items that appear and some background on them, along with mentioning some historical information regarding Hawaii.

I’ve not spoken about the characters yet because it’s so hard to do them justice as I loved them all and the interactions between them all were fantastic. Kashmir is by far one of the best and I would happily read a book focused entirely on him and his adventures as he’s so interesting. I was slightly annoyed at the fact that the book contains a slight love triangle as they’re something I hate, but it was handled really well and didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book at all.

There’s so much I want to say about how much I enjoy this book, but one of the things that made me enjoy it so much was going in knowing almost nothing and being constantly delighted and enchanted on every page. The book is rather long at almost 500 pages, however I had no idea as I read it on my Kindle and just devoured it – I stayed up until around 2am because I just couldn’t put it down.

I highly, highly recommend this novel and for those taking part in the Fantasy Bingo challenge, it fits several squares (I’m personally using it for the time-travel square). Also, at the time of writing, it is currently only 99p on Kindle and that is incredible value for how great it is!

Reading Challenge – /r/Fantasy Bingo 2017

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So, for those that don’t know, Fantasy is my favourite genre. I’ve not been reading as much Fantasy lately as I’ve been trying to read more genres, although as you may have noticed the majority of my list posts always focus on SFF (I just happen to have been reading more Sci-Fi recently)

I missed the 2016 Bingo as I discovered it too late, but I’m very excited about taking part in this one. It runs from the 1st of April 2017 to the 31st March 2018 and the squares are all excellent as they’ll definitely help me read more and as a lot of them are very specific I can see myself having a lot of fun hunting down books that fulfill each category. I’m also planning on making recommendation posts for a couple of the squares so if you’re also planning on taking part, then keep an eye out for them!

My plan is to make an update post for this every three months to discuss my progress and what my plans are.

Currently, I’m reading a collection of short stories that will be perfect for the short stories square but I haven’t decided my approach for the rest of it yet as I’m a very big mood-reader so I know if I plan on reading X,Y and Z that I’ll probably end up reading A, B and C instead.

Are you taking part in this too? Let me know! What squares do you think will be the most challenging for you? What squares are you most looking forward to completing?