Fire and Sword by Dylan Doose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reading this book was a welcomed chance of synchronicity. I had been craving a good medieval read, it’s one of my favorite eras for stories. I’d checked out a few books and bought some online to read when all my scheduled reads and blog tours were over, and I couldn’t wait for my much deserved holiday. Once I began reading Fire and Sword I was so excited that I wasn’t going to have to wait for my medieval read at all.
From the first page, I was instantly transported to a time period of not only lords and ladies, kings and queens, but of mages and seekers, witches and enough horrendous creatures to cause a year’s worth of nightmares. Not for me, though, I love this stuff. Bulging, pestilent rat creatures controlled by an evil witch were the villains du jour. Fighting them off were a skilled brother and sister hunter duo, a repentant killer, and one wet behind the ears wizard who would eventually come into his own. Thrown together by violent happenstance, they soon become a tight knit band of compatriots that you come to know so well, cheering for their wins and feeling deeply their tragic losses.
This was a fun adventure that kept me completely immersed from beginning to end. It’s extremely graphic and gory but it just made it that much better to imagine the carnage and defeat of the Rata Plaga. How glad am I that I signed up for this blog tour, hesitantly volunteering for the first one, knowing that I may not have the time for an entire series, but little did I know that the minute I finished Fire and Sword, I would be purchasing the next in the series to begin reading right away. It wouldn’t be the first time I bought books intending to read them and only ignoring them for a different series that I just started.
Thank you Pump Up Your Books and Dylan Doose for my gifted copy of this book. The thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Finally, to wrap up my 12 Days of a Literary Christmas, I chose 12 of my most memorable reads this year (in no particular order).
Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First off, I enjoyed this book immensely, not because it was a “page-turner” in the traditional sense, or that it was an incredible and extraordinary story, but because it was absolutely ordinary, sometimes crass and graphic, and 100% real.
Another in the long line of books I’ve read this year set in Ireland, I was taken from the usual scenic landscapes or busy cities to a small, gritty town with a tense past. Beginning with a tragedy, the story follows Majella through her everyday routine and interactions, specifying her likes and dislikes outright. I was absolutely thrilled that despite her less than “fit” physique or being classically attractive, Majella is comfortable in her own skin, confident in her abilities, and content in her unremarkable life. She’s honest and loyal without gushing and responsible without ambition.
I like to describe these types of books as being more about the journey than the destination. Focusing on relationships and engagements, recalling significant events and memories, and reveling in the tasks at hand, this brand of storytelling takes talent and finesse to be successful. Gallen has proven that she knows how to capture the reader’s attention with the perfect blend of commonplace and introspection. Taking a walk in Majella’s shoes and experiencing her life firsthand allows the reader to get a sense of what it’s like to live in post-conflict Northern Ireland with its unique trials and adversity.
It would be remiss for me to not warn the reader about the challenge of reading this book on an empty stomach. Descriptions in this book are so vivid and detailed that I craved fish and chips throughout the entire story and ended up making them upon finishing the book. They were delicious and I devoured them as quickly as I devoured this novel.
Thank you Algonquin Books and Michelle Gallen for an advanced copy of this book. The opinions are my own.
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