About the Book
For fans of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock and The Doll Factory, The Gifts is a Victorian-esque epic novel that tells of the pitfalls of ambition and the beauty and struggles of womanhood. It is a gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London. It explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition. In a society that dictates how women should live, what happens when they start to break out of the mould created for them…
‘Come Etta, she says to herself. Come. Open your eyes. Whatever it is, the worst must surely be over. Wrung out and exhausted, she edges slowly to her feet, wobbles as she comes to stand. But she has no need to turn her head. The sun emerges from the clouds above, stretching Etta’s shadow far in front and taking her breath away with it. It is impossible. It cannot be……’
October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders. Meanwhile, when rumours of a ‘fallen angel’ cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grips of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger.
About the Author
Liz grew up in London and was a member of the National Youth Theatre for four years before studying Drama at Bristol University. She worked at the BBC’s publicity department for six years on everything from EastEnders, Holby City and Casualty to Radio 4 before going freelance. Since then, she’s been the Film Programme Co-Ordinator at Hay Festival and worked on numerous PR campaigns for books, theatre, festivals and events. She runs creative writing workshops for all ages and is on the board of Wales Arts Review. She lives in the medieval market town of Ludlow in South Shropshire, surrounded by books and plants. She is an aspiring gardener, an amateur naturalist and a keen walker of hills. Follow Liz on Twitter / IG: @londonbessie
Liz Hyder burst onto the literary scene last year with her acclaimed YA novel Bearmouth (Pushkin Press), which won both the 2020 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Readers and the Branford Boase Award 2020. It was named a Book of the Year 2019 by the Financial Times, The Observer, Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, New Statesman, BBC Radio 4 Extra and was hailed overall Children’s Book of the Year by The Times, who also predicted Hyder would ‘become a household name’. Bearmouth has sold in multiple territories across the world, and a film adaptation is currently in development with Binocular Productions.
What I Thought
Woah. This book packs a punch.
I will first share some trigger warnings for: animal (dog) cruelty (aka not one for my friend Jay), dissection, surgery, infertility, narcissism and all of the patriarchy.
This is an historical tale with a modern feminist outlook and a soupçon of magical realism.
It is told from the perspectives of five different characters. Etta, Natalya, Mary, Annie and Edward. The story alternates between them with very short chapters which aids with pacing and helps to keep you reading. There was some head hopping within these chapters which did take me out of the story a little at times in order that I could double check whose perspective we were with.
I read an ARC but am intrigued to see the illustrations alluded to in the final copy – Annie is an artist and Edward also likes to document his discoveries.
One of the reasons given for potential infertility was “Reading too Much.” Not going lie that line hurt. But it also reminded me of the list of ridiculous reasons that women were put into asylums. Be you not meek and docile you are a threat to patriarchy!
The male characters in this were mostly (with a notable exception) fairly rotten; in particular Edward and his colleague. The inhumanity shown in an early amputation scene which was completed as a display of who was fastest and not who was safest was only the start of the cruelty shown. Just because ‘man’ can do something doesn’t mean we should. It might have well been penis measuring or shooting rockets into space or starting an unnecessary war! Edward reminded me of Frankenstein and this book had a gothic slant. Morality, religion and science were themes explored throughout.
All in all this book is sumptuously written and realised but it did bite a little close to home at the moment.
The female characters were all unique and you root for them and there is enough hope to cut through the disturbance.
However, if you like your books neatly wrapped up with all questions answered – such as why the women grow wings – then you may not be as keen on how thus story concludes, but if you are in the mood for a challenging and dynamic read then pick this up and allocate time to dissecting it (pardon the pun).
Thank you to Tracey at Compulsive Readers and the publishers for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review.
Check out the rest of the blog tour by following #TheGifts
About the Book
The Bone Shard Emperor is the unmissable sequel to The Bone Shard Daughter, one of the biggest fantasy debuts of 2020 – a captivating tale of magic, revolution and mystery, where a young woman’s sense of identity will make or break an empire.
The Emperor is Dead. Long live the Emperor.
Lin Sukai finally sits on the throne she won at so much cost, but her struggles are only just beginning. Her people don’t trust her. Her political alliances are weak. And in the northeast of the Empire, a rebel army of constructs is gathering, its leader determined to take the throne by force.
Yet an even greater threat is on the horizon, for the Alanga – the powerful magicians of legend – have returned to the Empire. Lin may need their help to defeat the rebels and restore order.
But can she trust them?
Praise for the series
‘One of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in a long time . . . This book is truly special’ Sarah J. Maas
‘Epic fantasy at its most human and heartfelt . . . inventive, adventurous and wonderfully written’ Alix E. Harrow
‘Brilliant world-building, deep intrigue and incredible heart’ Megan E. O’Keefe
About the Author
Andrea Stewart is the Chinese American daughter of immigrants, and was raised in a number of places across the United States. When her (admittedly ambitious) dreams of becoming a dragon slayer didn’t pan out, she instead turned to writing books. She now lives in sunny California.
What I Thought
Please see my review of book one here: https://kirstyes.co.uk/2020/09/28/the-bone-shard-daughter-by-andrea-stewart-blog-tour-book-review/
I’m going to do something different with my review this time. I’m on a book reading weekend with some friends so I am going to re-read book one and then read this book and post my thoughts as I go over on TikTok here https://vm.tiktok.com/ZM8tSEkb4/ and once I’m done I’ll add a written review of The Bone Shard Emperor to this post. I’m looking forward to delving back into this world.
Thanks to Tracy at Compulsive Readers and Orbit for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review. Do check out the rest of the tour here.
About the Book
Arthur C. Clarke Award winner Tade Thompson makes a triumphant return to science fiction with this unforgettable vision of humanity’s future in the chilling emptiness of space.
The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having travelled light years from home to bring one thousand sleeping souls to safety among the stars.
Some of the sleepers, however, will never wake – and a profound and sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel. Its skeleton crew are forced to make decisions that will have repercussions for all of humanity’s settlements – from the scheming politicians of Lagos station, to the colony planet of Bloodroot, to other far flung systems and indeed Earth itself.
About the Author
Tade Thompson is the author of Rosewater, which was the winner of the 2019 Arthur C. Clarke Award, the inaugural winner of the Nommo Award and a John W. Campbell finalist. His Shirley Jackson Award-shortlisted novella The Murders of Molly Southbourne has recently been optioned for screen adaptation. Born in London to Yoruba parents, he lives and works on the south coast of England.
Praise for Tade Thompson
‘Readers looking for a smart sci-fi mystery should snap this up’ – Publishers Weekly on Far from the Light of Heaven
‘This series is going to be addictive. See you on the other side’ – Stylist on Rosewater
‘Hard-edged and utterly compelling’ – i newspaper on Rosewater
‘Exciting new SF is everywhere, with writers of Nigerian heritage making a particular splash: most notably Deji Bryce Olukotun and Hugo-winner Nnedi Okorafor. With this stellar debut, Thompson takes his rightful place in this company’ – Guardian on Rosewater
‘Hugely satisfying . . . a darkly beautiful gem’ – SFX on Rosewater
‘Smart. Gripping. Fabulous!’ – Ann Leckie on Rosewater
‘Mesmerising. There are echoes of Neuromancer and Arrival in here, but this astonishing debut is beholden to no-one’ – M. R. Carey on Rosewater
What I Thought
For fans of the Illuminae Files, Skyward, Aurora Cycle, The Martian, Firefly, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe and Locked Door Mysteries.
We join the story with First mate Captain Michelle “Shell” Campion pre-mission, stuck in quarantine and saying goodbye to family. She lives in a time where human pilots are pretty much defunct and on board as a tick box exercise. The real Pilots are the AIs and they never go wrong – until they do! I loved the initial exchange between her and AI Ragtime and their discussion of poetry.
Woken from Dreamstate, Shell comes across a disturbing scene – one which when reading actually gave me the shivers – and she sends a distress call which investigator Fin is sent to respond to, despite us learning he’s been on gardening leave from work.
Already we know much about our two protagonists and their lives but also have many questions yet to answer – what made Shell volunteer to give up 20 years of her life? What trouble did Fin get in at work?
Some of the other point of view characters are introduced here too – only by name to start. One of them we are told we won’t be meeting but the ship’s AI – Ragtime – describes her as intense, yet another character refers to her as Odiferous so you just know she’ll make an appearance. But will she live up to her introduction?
Although it starts as a Locked Door as we get introduced more to the different characters and the universe the story becomes much more sprawling. With potential for more in this world though I’m unclear if this will be part of a series.
I found the author’s writing really accessible and engaging and how immediately real he made all of the characters feel – even the artificial ones. I will definitely be checking out his other work now.
If you liked any of the books/films/shows I mention above then I really recommend checking this one out.
Thanks to Tracey at Compulsive Readers and Orbit books for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review. Check out the rest of the tour here.