How is it February already! Honestly I really thought this year would drag, especially with us being in lockdown. Luckily I was able to get out for a few walks over January which helped blow away the cobwebs and those January blues. I also, somehow, managed to read 11 books last month! I enjoyed every single one of them, but there were two that really stood out to me, and so this is going to be a slightly shorter post than usual… see I’m getting better already. Did you have any stand out reads in January? I normally fall into a massive slump this time of year so was very impressed I got through the amount I did, and that I liked them all. One of the books I’m going to highlight seems to be a blogger favourite, in that I don’t think I’ve seen a negative review for it yet. I described it as getting wrapped up in a big warm hug, and It definitely managed to cheer me up whilst reading. The Second is a high fantasy Jan release that I managed to snag an early copy of. It was a chunky book, but I loved every single word.
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
“You’re too precious to put into words. I think … it’s like one of Theodore’s buttons. If you asked him why he cared about them so, he would tell you it’s because they exist at all.”
“Regardless of what else he is, he is still a child, as they all are. And don’t all children deserve to be protected? To be loved and nurtured so that they may grow and shape the world to make it a better place? In that way, they are no different than any other child in the village, or beyond. But they’re told they are, by people such as yourselves, and people who govern them and our world. People who put rules and restrictions in place to keep them separated and isolated. I don’t know what it will take to change that, if anything. But it won’t start at the top. It’ll start with us.”
“She buried her face in his neck, beard tickling his throat. “I am going to bury you right here,” she sobbed. “I’m digging your grave, just so you know.”
“I know,” he said, rubbing a hand over her back. “I would expect nothing less.”
“No one would ever be able to find you! And even if they did, it would be too late and you’d be only bones!”
“Perhaps we can hold off on that, for at least a little while, I have something important to say to all of you.”
She sniffled. “Perhaps. But if I don’t like what I hear, we come right back and you will climb inside the hole without arguing.”
You should be very impressed that I only chose 3 quotes there because honestly I could have stuck the whole book in I loved it that much. It’s such a beautiful story, and a lovely break from the blood and gore (which I love) of dark fantasy. I think I could read multiple books in this world, just following the children on their day to day adventures and never get bored… In fact I liked it that much that that I wanted to re-read it as soon as I finished.
Ren is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadežra with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house, securing her fortune and her sister’s future.
But as she’s drawn into the elite world of House Traementis, she realizes her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as nightmare magic begins to weave its way through the City of Dreams, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled…with Ren at their heart.
“Men had often looked at her the way Vargo was looking at her now, but always for her beauty – never her ingenuity. And Ren, who was used to treating that kind of admiration as nothing more than a useful lever, felt her breath catch.”
‘May you see the Face, not the Mask‘
I read a physical copy of this and really need to get better at tagging quotes because there were so many amazing ones I missed. The Mask of Mirrors is one hefty book, and I will admit to it taking me a while to get my head around the characters and the magic system (which could have been developed a little better… book 2 maybe) but once I got into the swing of it, I found it almost impossible to put down. Regency style high fantasy with swashbuckling rogues and some of the most beautifully described outfits ever. I’m so excited book two is out in November so I don’t have to wait a year for it.