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Breathless by Sarah Sanders

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Short, sweet and sexy – we loved this book. Lara is a movie star whose career has crashed and burnt. She is in the throes o...

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #1) by Tamsyn Muir, Performed by Moira Quirk (Audiobook)

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆


Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None meets Hunger Games and ends in a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-like action-packed climax in this totally immersive sci-fi fantasy peopled with unique characters.

Gideon Nav has had enough of terribleness on the Ninth planet. She packs her beloved two-handed sword and dirty magazines, arranges for a shuttle and is ready to leave. Minutes before her shuttle arrives, the Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House, Harrowhark Nonagesimus, arrives and challenges Gideon to a duel with a deal that is surprisingly almost entirely in Gideon’s favour, win or lose. Gideon and Harrow have a history of hatred and while Gideon doesn’t trust Harrow, the stakes are too good to refuse and Gideon is drawn into the duel, missing her shuttle. The Emperor has asked all the heir-nacromancers of each house and their cavaliers to try and become Lyctors. Harrow wants to win the trial of wits and abilities badly because she can then save her fast-extinguishing House. But she doesn’t have a cavalier and orders Gideon to be her cavalier for the trial and then Gideon would be set free without strings. And Gideaon Nav becomes Gideon the Ninth, cavalier to the Reverend Daughter. Gideon’s and Harrow’s prickly relationship continues when they reach the first planet but the trials demand that the teams work together and then people start dying mysteriously.

The book entirely follows Gideon’s PoV but develops most characters excellently. The chemistry between Gideon and Harrow is crackling from their very first interaction. In fact, as soon as she arrived on the scene, Harrow totally reached us deep within our hearts. She is not around for quite a bit in the beginning of the trial and we missed her so badly, despite the extremely engaging new characters being introduced during that period. This is being listed under lesbian fiction but sexuality is entirely immaterial to the this main storyline of action, adventure and mystery. Yes, Gideon is attracted to other women, but there is no physical follow-up on the attraction. All the relationships develop organically. While there is no real romance track, the emotions and emotional connections are strong enough to tug at your heartstrings.

We are not completely convinced about the ultimate antagonist in the story. Her reasons, background and actions didn’t completely jell together.

There are some books and characters with whom you get so involved that you want to write your own story for them. When you don’t like what the author has done with favourite characters and relationships you’re rooting for and itch for other outcomes ranting against the reality the author has given them, it is a huge achievement for the writer. This is one such book. There are characters and relationships dear to us and we are forever going to be imagining our own realities for them.

The audiobook is performed by Moira Quirk and she is absolutely outstanding. She adds personality to each character, depth to every emotion and atmosphere to every description. Her performance is so captivating that we found ourselves abandoning all work and conversations till we finished the book.

All in all, and absolutely great sci-fi, young adult fantasy.

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
 


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