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INK AND BONE

Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time. In 48 AD, a fire set by the troops of Julius Caesar destroyed much of the Great Library of Alexandria. It was the first of several disasters that resulted in the destruction of the accumulated knowledge of the ancient world. But what if the fire had been stopped? What would the Library have become? Fast forward: the Great Library is now a separate country, protected by its own standing army. It has grown into a vast power, with unquestioned and unrivalled supremacy. Jess Brightwell, seventeen and very smart, with a gift for mechanical engineering, has been sent into the Great Library as a spy for his criminal family. Magical spells and riots abound in this epic new YA series.

 

MY RATING: *****

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WARBREAKER

WARBREAKER is the story of two sisters - who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, a lesser god, and an immortal trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.

Theirs is a world in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren's capital city. A world transformed by BioChromatic magic, a power based on an essence known as breath. Using magic is arduous: breath can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.

But the rewards are great: by using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be performed.

Brandon Sanderson proves again that he is a master of what Tolkien called 'secondary creation,' the invention of whole worlds, complete with magics and myths all their own.

 

MY RATING: *****

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DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE

 

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is a book unbounded by genre but located at a magical crossroads where THE PASSAGE meets PHILIP PULLMAN and TWILIGHT meets PAN'S LABYRINTH.

Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

'Remarkable and beautifully written . . . The opening volume of a truly original trilogy.' GUARDIAN

MY RATING: *****

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THE WAY OF KINGS

According to mythology mankind used to live in The Tranquiline Halls. Heaven. But then the Voidbringers assaulted and captured heaven, casting out God and men. Men took root on Roshar, the world of storms. And the Voidbringers followed ...

They came against man ten thousand times. To help them cope, the Almighty gave men powerful suits of armor and mystical weapons, known as Shardblades. Led by ten angelic Heralds and ten orders of knights known as Radiants, mankind finally won.

Or so the legends say. Today, the only remnants of those supposed battles are the Shardblades, the possession of which makes a man nearly invincible on the battlefield. The entire world is at war with itself - and has been for centuries since the Radiants turned against mankind. Kings strive to win more Shardblades, each secretly wishing to be the one who will finally unite all of mankind under a single throne.

On a world scoured down to the rock by terrifying hurricanes that blow through every few days is a young spearman, forced into the army of a Shardbearer, led to war against an enemy he doesn't understand and doesn't really want to fight.

What happened deep in mankind's past?

Why did the Radiants turn against mankind, and what happened to the magic they used to wield?

MY RATING: *****

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NORSE MYTHOLOGY

The great Norse myths are woven into the fabric of our storytelling - from Tolkien, Alan Garner and Rosemary Sutcliff to Game of Thrones and Marvel Comics. They are also an inspiration for Neil Gaiman's own award-bedecked, bestselling fiction. Now he reaches back through time to the original source stories in a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great Norse tales. Gaiman's gods are thoroughly alive on the page - irascible, visceral, playful, passionate - and the tales carry us from the beginning of everything to Ragnarok and the twilight of the gods. Galvanised by Gaiman's prose, Thor, Loki, Odin and Freya are irresistible forces for modern readers and the crackling, brilliant writing demands to be read aloud around an open fire on a freezing, starlit night.

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THE HAMMER AND THE CROSS

For those living outside Scandinavia, the Viking Age effectively began in 793 with an attack on the monastery at Lindisfarne, a characteristically violent harbinger of what was in store for Britain and much of Europe from the Vikings for the next 300 years, until the final destruction of the heathen temple to the Norse gods at Uppsala around 1090.

Robert Ferguson is a sure guide across what he calls 'the treacherous marches which divide legend from fact in Viking Age history'. His long familiarity with the literary culture of Scandinavia - the eddas, the poetry of the skalds and the sagas - is combined with the latest archaeological discoveries and the evidence of picture-stones, runes, ships and objects scattered all over northern Europe, to make the most convincing modern portrait of the Viking Age in any language. The Hammer and the Cross ranges from Scandinavia itself to Kievan Rus and Byzantium in the east, to Iceland, Greenland and the north American settlements in the west. Beyond its geographical boundaries the book takes us on a journey to a misty region inhabited by Hallfred the Troublesome Poet, Harald Bluetooth, Ragnar Hairy-Breeches, Ivar the Boneless and Eyvind the Plagiarist, in which literature, history and myth dissolve into one another.

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LUSTRUM

Rome, 63 BC. In a city on the brink of acquiring a vast empire, seven men are struggling for power. Cicero is consul, Caesar his ruthless young rival, Pompey the republic's greatest general, Crassus its richest man, Cato a political fanatic, Catilina a psychopath, Clodius an ambitious playboy.

The stories of these real historical figures - their alliances and betrayals, their cruelties and seductions, their brilliance and their crimes - are all interleaved to form this epic novel. Its narrator is Tiro, a slave who serves as confidential secretary to the wily, humane, complex Cicero. He knows all his master's secrets - a dangerous position to be in.

From the discovery of a child's mutilated body, through judicial execution and a scandalous trial, to the brutal unleashing of the Roman mob, Lustrum is a study in the timeless enticements and horrors of power.

MY RATING: ***

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YOU DON'T KNOW ME

It's easy to judge between right and wrong - isn't it?

Not until you hear a convincing truth.

Now it's up to you to decide...

An unnamed defendant stands accused of murder. Just before the Closing Speeches, the young man sacks his lawyer, and decides to give his own defence speech.

He tells us that his barrister told him to leave some things out. Sometimes, the truth can be too difficult to explain, or believe. But he thinks that if he's going to go down for life, he might as well go down telling the truth.

There are eight pieces of evidence against him. As he talks us through them one by one, his life is in our hands. We, the reader - member of the jury - must keep an open mind till we hear the end of his story. His defence raises many questions... but at the end of the speeches, only one matters:

Did he do it?

MY RATING: *****

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GIRL CODE

Girl Code is a roadmap for female entrepreneurs, professionals and 'side hustlers'. Blending personal stories, inspirational quotes and mantras with practical workbook sections, Girl Code will teach you how to build confidence, reconnect with your 'why', eradicate jealousy and use the power of connection.

Master life coach and motivational speaker Cara Alwill Leyba lays down the rules for building a stellar career and extraordinary life. She champions the importance of honesty, vulnerability and positivity and illustrates how women can work together to ensure success. Girl Code is for every woman on the edge of change who is ready to reinvent herself, elevate her thinking and transform her life.

MY RATING: ****

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STREETS OF DARKNESS

Luther meets The Wire, this is the first Detective Harry Virdee novel

The sky over Bradford is heavy with foreboding. It always is. But this morning it has reason to be – this morning a body has been found. And it’s not just any body.

Detective Harry Virdee should be at home with his wife. Impending fatherhood should be all he can think about but he’s been suspended from work just as the biggest case of the year lands on what would have been his desk. He can’t keep himself away.

Determined to restore his reputation, Harry is obliged to take to the shadows in search of notorious ex-convict and prime suspect, Lucas Dwight. But as the motivations of the murder threaten to tip an already unstable city into riotous anarchy, Harry finds his preconceptions turned on their head as he discovers what it’s like to be on the other side of the law…

MY RATING: ***1/2

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VAMPIRE CRUSADER

The immortal knight, Sir Richard of Ashbury, hunts his nemesis through centuries of war...

AD 1190, England. A young knight’s family is slaughtered. As the lords of Europe seek to retake Jerusalem from the mighty Saladin, Sir Richard swears an oath of vengeance against Earl William de Ferrers, who has returned from the dead with an insatiable thirst for violence.

Richard stalks William and his savage knights across Europe to the Holy Land, fights in the crusades' bloodiest battles alongside Richard the Lionheart and unearths a secret of great evil under the hills of Palestine.

MY RATING: ***

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