Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.
When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.
Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.
But no one has ever survived.
With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.
While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.
But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.
Thank you to Orbit Books and Netgalley for the review e-copy!
This was a journey for me to read! In a good way! I really enjoyed it but I would be lying if I didn’t say it took me a while to get through and that is in no way a negative reflection on the book. Winter’s Orbit is ultimately a science-fiction YA novel but actually it is so much more. Maxwell has woven such a detailed plot, I found myself blown away when I first picked this book up – there is very much a political backstory within Winter’s Orbit. And with that backstory comes a whole heap of backstabbing, mystery, loyalties and connections. I’m not quite sure how Maxwell kept this book to it’s 432 pages as there is so much to take in. Every character has thorough thoughts, feelings and agendas – nothing is skipped out on.
So, when I first picked up this book back in February, I had just come out of a reading frenzy of fantasy which meant when I started to read Winter’s Orbit I just couldn’t get my head in the right place at all so I wasn’t following the story. I paused my read and took on some lighter bits before returning to Winter’s Orbit in early April. I was ready and eager and honestly, I sped through the final 300 pages at light speed. I did not want to put this book down!
I loved the relationships between the characters – Jainan and Kiem very much have my heart and I want to see more of them. Maxwell’s fluid use of genders and sexality in this book is frankly, refreshing and needed. I will be shoving Winter’s Orbit under several people’s noses I can assure you. The way we saw a vulnerability to Jainan (and Kiem) broke my heart so much, their awkward interactions in the beginning were so real for me I couldn’t help but become invested.
The setting for this book is notably, in another set of worlds where space travel is a usual and common thing which really gave Maxwell free reign in her use of character design, world building and storytelling. There are so many elements to touch upon. I feel like I need to re-read it already to get my head around my words. I did feel like I needed a road map at the beginning! I would love to have more books in this universe, so that I can see all of the wonderful nations included in the narrative. I really do think this book has everything, even a royal family.
I’ve rated this at 4.5 and would easily push that to a 5 on a re-read I think!
1906: Being a woman is dangerous, being different is deadly.
Maud Lovell has been at Angelton Lunatic Asylum for five years. She is not sure how she came to be there and knows nothing beyond its four walls. She is hysterical, distressed, untrustworthy. Badly unstable and prone to violence. Or so she has been told.
When a new doctor arrives, keen to experiment with the revolutionary practice of medical hypnosis, Maud’s lack of history makes her the perfect case study. But as Doctor Dimmond delves deeper into the past, it becomes clear that confinement and high doses are there to keep her silent.
When Maud finally remembers what has been done to her, and by whom, her mind turns to her past and to revenge.
Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan and Black Crow PR for my gifted finished copy, it’s a stunning book – dressed in warrior blue with gold foiling. I’m excited to receive my Goldsboro edition in a few weeks time!
535 AD. In the ancient kingdom of Dumnonia, King Cador’s children inherit a fragmented land abandoned by the Romans.
Riva, scarred in a terrible fire, fears she will never heal.
Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, when born a daughter.
And Sinne, the spoiled youngest girl, yearns for romance.
All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold – a last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. But change comes on the day ash falls from the sky, bringing Myrddhin, meddler and magician, and Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear the siblings apart. Riva, Keyne and Sinne must take fate into their own hands, or risk being tangled in a story they could never have imagined; one of treachery, love and ultimately, murder. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.
Thank you Quercus for the early review copy and inviting me to be part of the blog blast!
Ally’s relationship is over, and she’s taking the cat …
Wounded and betrayed, after being dumped by her girlfriend, Ally makes off to her dad’s in Sheffield with the one thing that might soothe the pain and force her ex to speak to her again: Emily’s cat, Malcolm.
Back home and forced into a ‘date’ by their parents, Ally and her first ever beard, Jeremy, come up with a ridiculous plan to win their exes back… to revenge-run a half marathon. Given neither of them can run, they enlist the support of athletic, not to mention beautiful, Jo. But will she have them running for the hills… or will their ridiculous plan pay off…?
Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…
Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.
Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.
I thought I would bring you something different today in the blogging department! My February was a bit slower than my January but that’s okay! I enjoyed the majority of my reads and I am carrying two of them over to March because I read nothing last weekend – the sun was calling me to walk outside instead so no regrets! My stand out read of the month was Madamby Phoebe Wynne – definitely keep an eye out for that one!
Five Star Reads
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
My only five star read of the month and also my only re-read! I love love love this book and it will stand the test of time with my reading I think! Lynch creates such a fantastic world, it’s almost overwhelming the amount of detail he puts into it. Locke holds a special place in my readers heart and I hope he stays there forever! The Gentleman Bastard series is supposed to be five books long but only up to three has been released! I’m nervous about the amount of time it is taking to bring out book four now!
Four Star Reads
Madam by Phoebe Wynne
I actually reviewed this one here so feel free to read the whole thing. Ultimately, this was a great debut novel – beautifully written and well rounded as a story. “A mystery at its heart and feminism in its veins”.
Act Your Age, Eve Brownby Talia Hibbert
A fantastic end to the trilogy for the Brown sisters – I love Hibbert’s writing, she makes me laugh so much and Eve was such a wonderful character to read about. Her relationship with Jacob is my favourite! I’ll be posting a full review of Eve Brown here soon!
For 150 years, high above rocky Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat untouched, a beacon of excellence in an old ancestral castle. A boarding school for girls, it promises that the young women lucky enough to be admitted will emerge “resilient and ready to serve society.”
Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie: a 26-year-old Classics teacher, Caldonbrae’s new head of the department, and the first hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose is overwhelmed to be invited into this institution, whose prestige is unrivaled. But she quickly discovers that behind the school’s elitist veneer lies an impenetrable, starkly traditional culture that she struggles to reconcile with her modernist beliefs—not to mention her commitment to educating “girls for the future.”
It also doesn’t take long for Rose to suspect that there’s more to the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor—a woman whose ghost lingers everywhere—than anyone is willing to let on. In her search for this mysterious former teacher, Rose instead uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, forcing her to confront the true extent of the school’s nefarious purpose, and her own role in perpetuating it.
Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker – and she now speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honour bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.
She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan . . .) as she calls on Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets. And in the process, she discovers an occult library and some unexpected allies. Yet as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?