Showing posts with label book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book. Show all posts

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Hidden Face by S.C. Flynn

The Hidden Face by S.C. Flynn. The Hive, 2017. Ebook. 350 pages. 

Is it weird to say that I feel... winded after reading The Hidden Face? The reason I say that is because this book is an extremely adventurous, fast-paced story that I really had a fun time reading. And really, if you like fantasy that moves at a quick pace and throws plenty of action at you on almost every page, then you should really give this one a go.

What grabbed my attention about this book was this little excerpt from the synopsis: "Once every few hundred years the sun god, the Akhen, takes on human form and descends to earth. Each Unmasking of the Face of the Akhen ends one era and begins another; the last one created the Faustian Empire." I am so intrigued by that premise--gods coming to earth to stop and start eras? Yes, please!--so I was more than happy to pick this book up and find out just what this Unmasking of the Face was all about. (If you want a full synopsis of this book, you can find one here.)

Flynn created a really interesting mythology for this world that I found myself actively engaged with and wanting to find out more about it. There is a lot of exposition regarding the mythology and how the characters are affected by it, but I didn't mind it too much because it was exposition that was actually engaging and did provide important information to the story. Included in the mythology are prophecies that do play a pretty large in the story. Prophecy being used as a plot point is a huge hit or miss for me these days, but I think Flynn did a good job of making it something that isn't overly cliche'd or awkward, but instead flows well with the narrative and plotline of the overall story.

The two main characters, Dayraven and Sunniva, each bring plenty of motivation and intrigue to the story, and I appreciated getting to know each of them and their personality. Sunniva is your rather badass warrior woman who carries an air of confidence around her that I particularly enjoyed. Dayraven is a recently returned 'hostage' from an enemy city who comes across as somewhat lost in the beginning of the book, which is understandable considering he had been cut off from his hometown for the past fifteen years. As the story progresses, though, his confidence grows and more of his personality starts to emerge, leading to him becoming a rather endearing character. There are plenty of other characters involved (this is epic fantasy, of course), but the only other one I want to mention in this review is The Twister, who is one of the 'semi-mad' figures that steals whatever scene they are in. I really enjoyed reading his character and found myself rather partial to any scenes with him.

The Hidden Face is riddled with puzzles and secret codes that must be solved by the characters, but is written in a way that actively engages the reader to solve at the same time. At times, I felt as if I was both reading and playing a game at the same time, which was really unique and also entertaining. I can see how people might dislike the in-depth puzzle solving, but at the same I thought it added a certain sort of authenticity and detail that improved the writing and showed the Flynn knows exactly what he is doing. There are too many books where characters just magically solve things without really allowing the reader to understand how they did it, so I really appreciated that aspect of this book.

There were a few times when the dialogue and word choice in the narrative felt a bit awkward, which briefly jolted me out of the story. I'm not one that usually get too hung up on issues like this as long as they aren't overtaking my ability to enjoy the book, and fortunately this wasn't that bad. I also had a few issues with the worldbuilding, mainly that I wanted more of it. I feel like the world is explained fairly well, but I just couldn't quite get a good understanding of the entire world and how things worked.

Overall, I've given The Hidden Face four stars and would certainly recommend it as a solid start to a new series!

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository
(*only $2.99 Kindle as of my writing this review!)

*I received a copy of The Hidden Face courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the book.*
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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My (Imaginary) Spring TBR!

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly book blog meme now hosted by Jana over at The Artsy Reader Girl!

As I've mentioned on this blog before, I don't really make traditional TBR lists. I do have a 'want-to-read' list on Goodreads and I always have specific books in my head that have priority,  but I don't physically separate out TBR books or make a list. That being said, I decided to make this list with books that have higher priority and that I'm hoping to get to within the next few spring months.

I separated this list into two categories: 1) books I already own, whether via ARC, publisher, or purchase, and 2) books that I don't own, including both backlist and books that aren't out yet and I'm hoping to read. I think we also all know by now that I don't adhere to the 'ten' rule very well, so I actually have a total of thirteen books listed. What are you gonna do? 
*Also, if there's a book on this list that isn't out yet, I'll add the release date next the title. Now let's get ready for spring!

Books I already own:

The Wolf (Under the Northern Sky #1)
1. The Wolf by Leo Carew 
(finished review copy, releases April 3rd, 2018)
"The Wolf is a thrilling, savagely visceral, politically nuanced, and unexpectedly wry exploration of power - and how far one will go to defend it. Violence and death have come to the land under the Northern Sky. The Anakim dwell in the desolate forests and mountains beyond the black river, the land under the Northern Sky. Their ancient ways are forged in Unthank silver and carved in the grey stone of their heartland, their lives measured out in the turning of centuries, not years. By contrast, the Sutherners live in the moment, their vitality much more immediate and ephemeral than their Anakim neighbors. Fragile is the peace that has existed between these very different races - and that peace is shattered when the Suthern armies flood the lands to the north." Read more about the book.
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Cicero, #1)
2. Imperium by Robert Harris
"Of all the great figures of the Roman world, none was more fascinating or charismatic than Cicero. And Tiro -- the inventor of shorthand and author of numerous books, including a celebrated biography of his master (which was lost in the Dark Ages) -- was always by his side. Compellingly written in Tiro's voice, Imperium is the re-creation of his vanished masterpiece, recounting in vivid detail the story of Cicero's quest for glory, competing with some of the most powerful and intimidating figures of his -- or any other -- age: Pompey, Caesar, Crassus, and the many other powerful Romans who changed history." Read more about the book.
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)
3. Obsidio by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
The conclusion to the Illuminae Files trilogy is here and I can't wait to pick this up and find out how it all ends. I confess, though, that I'm a bit scared to because I know how ruthless Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman are. Deep breaths. (I'm actually reading this one right now!)
Read about the book (but not if you've not read up to Gemina!)
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Torn (The Unraveled Kingdom #1)
4. Torn by Rowenna Miller 
(finished review copy, releases today!)
"TORN is the first book in an enchanting debut fantasy series featuring a seamstress who stitches magic into clothing, and the mounting political uprising that forces her to choose between her family and her ambitions, for fans of The Queen of the Tearling." Read more about the book.
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Arm of the Sphinx (The Books of Babel, #2)
4. Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft
"The second book in the word-of-mouth phenomenon fantasy series about one man's dangerous journey through a labyrinthine world." Read more about the book!
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

The Grey Bastards (The Lot Lands, #1)
5. The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French 
(ARC, releases June 19th, 2018,
*note: the book has a new different cover than the one pictured)
Such is the creed of the half-orcs dwelling in the Lot Lands. Sworn to hardened brotherhoods known as hoofs, these former slaves patrol their unforgiving country astride massive swine bred for war. They are all that stand between the decadent heart of noble Hispartha and marauding bands of full-blood orcs." Read more about the book.
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

The Sky Is Yours
6. The Sky Is Yours by Chandler Klang Smith
"A sprawling, genre-defying epic set in a dystopian metropolis plagued by dragons, this debut about what it’s like to be young in a very old world is pure storytelling pleasure." Read more about the book.
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Do not own/Not yet published:

Macedonian Warrior: Alexander's elite infantryman
1. Macedonian Warrior: Alexander's Elite Infantryman by Waldemar Heckel, Ryan Jones, Christa Hook
"During the reigns of Philip II and Alexander the Great, the Macedonian Army (the phalangites) were reformed and drilled into an invincible fighting force with unique tactics and weaponry. The Macedonian warrior during his service would march over 20,000 miles in the most diverse climates and terrains, fighting in four of the epoch battles of the time. This book examines their initial training, rise to an elite unit under Alexander the Great, and eventual defeat at the battle of Pydna, 168 BC."
Military history was one of the many areas I focused on in my histories, and I think this book sounds fascinating!
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Legendary (Caraval, #2)
2. Legendary by Stephanie Garber
The sequel to Caraval! I didn't flat-out love Caraval as much as I hoped, but I love the setting and the magical game so much that I can't help but enjoy these books. I can't wait to read Legendary!
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Witchsign (Ashen Torment, #1)
3. Witchsign by Den Patrick
"It has been seventy-five years since the dragons' rule of fire and arcane magic over Vinkerveld was ended, and the Empire was born. Since, the tyrannical Synod has worked hard to banish all manifestations of the arcane across the lands. However, children are still born bearing the taint of the arcane, known to all as witchsign. So each year the Emperor sends out his Vigilants across the continent to detect the arcane in these children. Those found tainted are taken, and never seen again" Read more about the book.
Buy the book:  Book Depository

The Beast's Heart
4. The Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross (Releases May 3rd, 2018)
"I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both. I am the Beast. 
The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time. My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded."... Read more about the book.
Buy the book: Book Depository

The Hunger
5. The Hunger by Alma Katsu
This is a reimagining of the Donner Party with some supernatural twists... this is one of those books that I never knew I wanted, but I want to read it so badly. 
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1)
6. A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (Releases May 1st, 2018)
A Court of Frost and Starlight is the highly anticipated novella that takes place after the events of the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy and I'm really looking forward to it! I'm expecting it to be a really fun and enjoyable installment, so fingers crossed it is.
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Have you read any of these books? Are you excited for any? What books are on your Spring TBR?

Planning to purchase a book or two? Consider purchasing on Book Depository through my affiliate link! Book Depository has worldwide free shipping and millions of titles to choose from.

I am also an Amazon affiliate, so if you'd prefer to shop through Amazon, just click the banner on the upper right hand side of my blog! (above the 'Follow by email' box, you may need to pause adblock to see it!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday: Patriot Number One by Lauren Hilgers & One Way by S.J. Morden

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Vicki @ I'd Rather Be at the Beach. This is meme in which bloggers share the first chapter of a book that they are currently reading or thinking about reading soon. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Vicki's blog, or simply check it out to find more new books to read!

I always have endless books that I want to read, as most book lovers tend to have, but right now I feel like I have so many books that I want/need to read right now and it's a bit overwhelming. Thus, today First Chapter First Paragraph is a double feature, starring Patriot Number One and One Way. The first, Patriot Number One, is one of my current reads, and the second, One Way, is a book I hope to pick up next! 

Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown by Lauren Hilgers
Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown

"Chapter One: Escape | 逃逸Táoyì

Zhuang Liehong had made three plans to get from his village in CHina to New York. In the first, the American embassy would simply send someone to pick him up. He envisioned a midnight escape--cars waiting in the shadows along the uneven, trash-filled fields on the outskirts of his village. He felt sure, when he considered the plan, that the Amerians would be sympathetic to his situation. He was a lover of democracy trapped in a corrupt corner of Guangdong Province. If the plan were to work, it would have to be secret. His friends would wake the next morning to find him vanished. By the time the news spread, he would be on a plane, heading oward a new life.

In a second plan, Zhuang would flee by sea."

Patriot Number One is "a deeply reported look at the Chinese immigrant community in the United States, casting a new light on what it means to seek the American dream"

Pre-order: Amazon | Book Depository

One Way by S.J. Morden
One Way

Chapter One

"'Put your hands on the table.' 
Frank's hands were already cuffed together, joined by three steel links. His feet were also shackled.The seat he sat on was bolted to the ground, and the table in front of him was the same. The room was all wipe-clean surfaces. The smell of bleach was an alkaline sting in the back of his throat and on the lids of his eyes. It wasn't as if he could go anywhere or do anything, but he still complied with the order. Slowly, he raised his hands from his lap, feeling the drag of metal biting in his skin, and lowered them onto the black vinyl covering the table. There was a large hole drilled in it. Another length of chain was run through the circle made by his cuffed arms and into the back. His guard put a padlock on it, and went to stand by the door they'd both entered through."

One Way: "When the small crew of ex cons working on Mars start getting murdered, everyone is a suspect in this terrifying science fiction thriller from bona fide rocket scientist and award winning-author S. J. Morden."

Pre-Order: Amazon Book Depository

What do you think? Would you keep reading these books? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!) 

I am also an Amazon affiliate, so if you'd prefer to shop through Amazon, just click the banner on the upper right hand side of my blog! (above the 'Follow by email' box, you may need to turn off adblock to see it!)

*Excerpts are taken from the novel itself; I do not claim to own any part of the excerpt.

Monday, March 12, 2018

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey. Back Bay Books, 2017. Paperback. 432 pages. 

I've had To the Bright Edge of the World sitting around in my room for quite a while, always piquing my interest with that beautiful cover, but I never brought myself to actually pick it up until now. 

To the Bright Edge of the World is told mainly in diary entries by Colonel Allen Forrester and his wife, Sophie Forrester. Among these diaries entries are also letters from two people in the present day, as well as additional letters, photographs, artifacts, and other occasional documents that add to the story. The story begins with Allen embarking on an exploration through the previously impassable Wolverine River, while his new wife Sophie spends her time at home, newly pregnant and embarking on her own personal explorations.

This was honestly such a beautiful story. It is what I would call a 'quiet' novel. It's not over-the-top or overly dramatic, but instead it is smooth, subtle, and full of depth. There is a large element of romance in this book in addition to the exploration of the Alaskan wilderness--after all, Allen and Sophie are still newlyweds--and I felt that the way it shined through in this book was just so beautiful. The two may never be in the same space together at any point in this novel, but their passion and commitment are so obvious that it feels as if they are. I would also say that there is a romance between Allen and the wilderness, between Sophie and her passion for birding.

I noticed a similarity between Allen and Sophie's characters in the sense that they both are very practical people and tend to brush off the superstitious fancies of those around them. Despite this, they each have some encounters that seem to lend credence to the superstitions of those around, which forces them to reconsider their own preconceived notions and, in my opinion, further develops their characters in a positive way. The raven, in particular, is a symbol that is found many times throughout this book that I kept my eye out for and found particularly clever. Ivey captures the voice of Allen and Sophie so well, giving them each very distinct voices, but also voices that work so well together. So many sentiments and themes are echoed within each one's narrative that only proved to me how talented Ivey is as a writer. Ivey was clearly born to write and tell stories, and she does it so well in this book.

Among the discoveries and many exciting aspects of this book, there is also an almost continuous sense of intrigue. There is nothing overtly obvious or prominent, but there always hints that certain things that might be more than what they appear, or odd coincidences that make one wonder just what is happening. The stories and folktales that the Alaskan Natives tell Allen and his crew as they explore the natives' land only adds to this incredible, mystical atmosphere.

In regards to the Alaskan Native, I really liked the dynamic that Ivey created between Forrester and his crew and the natives. She seems to have successfully incorporated the same amount of prejudice and skepticism that the white Americans had towards Native Americans at that time while also creating a narrative that gives an understanding of how the tensions and relations between Americans and the Natives were built. They were invaders into the natives' homeland, and the natives very much resented them for that (understandably) and thus many treated them with great distrust. The way the relationships develop and also stay the same in some cases between different tribes and individuals was really well-written and offered a keen insight into this subject.

In addition, I really savored Allen's descriptions of his explorations. There are times when he describes the various images and scenery that his crew has discovered and it is just so apparent that he has a passion for explorations and the land itself, and it even makes me want to travel up to Alaska even more and experience the beauty for myself. Ivey also captures well the fears, the struggles, and the bleakness that often overtook Allen and his crew as they made their journey, but within the despair and feelings of loss, there was always a faint glimmer of hope dangling for the men to hold onto.

Overall, I've given To the Bright Edge of the World five stars! If you love well-written prose, books of exploration--both personal and otherwise--then I highly recommend you pick up this book. 

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Bodacious Creed by Jonathan Fesmire

Bodacious Creed: A Steampunk Zombie Western by Jonathan Fesmire. Bodacious Publishing, 2017. Ebook. 370 pages.

Bodacious Creed is pitched as a steampunk zombie western. You're probably thinking that sounds like a pretty crazy combination, right? If you are, I thought so too (and if you aren't thinking that, then I'd like to hear what sort of books you typically read). Now, I've never really read a Western, I've only read a small handful of steampunk books, and I also don't typically like zombies. So why did I decide to read it? Because sometimes there are things that just sound so unique you have to try it out--plus, almost all of the reviews for this book on Goodreads are exceedingly positive, so I thought there was a pretty good bet that this would work out, so I took the chance. And you know what? It was amazing!

I'm honestly not even sure how to start talking about this book. Everything about it was so unexpected for me, so I'll just dive in headfirst. First, let's talk about the Western/steampunk setting mix. I personally think that Fesmire did a really skillful job meshing these two ideas into something oddly yet incredibly authentic and interesting. Despite how unlikely it seems to have such advanced technology in the 19th century, Fesmire makes the mechanics and technology so realistic and compelling to read about. It's this sharp dose of steampunk that actually made this book have such a strong sense of realism and plausibility.

The main characters are Anna Lynn Boyd and Marshal James Creed, both of whom were really well-written characters. Anna is the madam of a bordello in the town of Santa Cruz, a place where she offers women a chance to make fair work and live a semi-safe and comfortable area. Anna is a really great character overall: shes intelligent,  has common sense, and she's an incredibly hard worker, something that I always admire in a lead character. She also always seems to be one step ahead of people and has a keen mind for business and, of course, for her technological pursuits, which are among the best in the nation. Marshall Creed is another interesting character that brought so much to the book through his forceful yet endearing demeanor. He's a thoughtful man who doesn't necessarily want all of the attention that is given to him, but accepts it all the same and tries to live normally. He does his best to always help out those who need it, but most importantly he hunts criminals that are causing the most trouble to the average citizen.

The rest of the characters portrayed in this book are all equally well-done. There is a small, rather pleasant variety of villainous characters--such as Corwin Blake, a man on the run--that are all very different in personality, as well as characters that are more 'grey' and don't have as defined roles as others, which I think added a lot to the book. I also particularly liked Anna's lover, Jonny, who is unable to speak but still proves to be an incredibly prominent and intriguing character who plays an extremely important role in Anna's life.

The zombie aspect of this book (the part that I was most skeptical about) comes into play when Anna uses her immense knowledge of this steampunk technology to bring him back to life-- and don't worry, this is all in the synopsis, no spoilers. When I think of the stereotypical zombie, it's usually the cliche'd idea of mindless drones that 'must eat brains,' which is what generally turns me off from them. Well this isn't like that at all. This is a much deeper, more nuanced and interesting way to portray zombies and explores the idea of having this new technology and the ramifications of bringing people back from the grave. The trouble comes when the antagonist of this book, who shouldn't have that type of power, gets ahold of the technology begins to use it less skillfully and for more nefarious purposes.

Fesmire has truly created a strong world that felt incredibly real and was full of colorful characters. There is a great balance of action and plot, which is important to the success of any entertaining novel. The action is well-written and kept me hooked on the page, and the areas that were slower and focused more on plot and character development were just as appealing. This is a book that handles a lot of interesting ideas, such as expanding technological abilities and determining good vs. 'evil' people, and I think Fesmire did a really good at combining all of these aspects to create a entertaining story.

Overall, I've give four stars to a book that I had no idea I would enjoy as much as I did! If you like steampunk books, zombies, or western, go check this one out! If you're ambivalent to all of those things, but still want to try something new--check this one out!

 Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Planning to purchase a book or two? Consider purchasing on Book Depository through my affiliate link! Book Depository has worldwide free shipping and millions of titles to choose from.

I am also an Amazon affiliate, so if you'd prefer to shop through Amazon, just click the banner on the upper right hand side of my blog! (above the 'Follow by email' box, you may need to pause adblock to see it!)

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

*Tess of the Road will be released Tuesday, February 27th!*
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2018. Hardcover. 544 pages.

This was a book that surprised me in a lot of ways.

The most surprising part of Tess of the Road was that it was much more character-centric than it was focused on the plot, which I didn't expect. There is still definitely a plot, don't get me wrong, but Tess' personal journey was far more important than her physical journey. The personal and physical mesh, however, as Tess has to endure her own physical adventure in order to conquer her mental/personal challenges. If you are someone that prefers your books to have a decent bit of action and excitement, then this probably isn't one for you. If, however, you don't mind a slow-moving pace that acts more as a character study, then you will love Tess of the Road. This book is set in the same world as Hartman's Seraphina books, but the previous series is not required reading before starting this book.

In regards to the character of Tess: I really liked getting to know her. Despite the fact that she was often stubborn, reckless, and made poor decisions, there was still something about her that I was drawn to. I partially think that this is because Tess is someone that most of us can relate to in one way or another. She is most definitely not perfect and in fact makes quite a few less-than-glamorous decisions, but despite all of this... she dreams. She wants for more than what she is, she longs to not just be the side character in her--or anyone else's--life. Her journey was a long one, and at times I felt as if it were moving a bit too slowly, but then Tess would discover some new step or realization about herself and it all made sense again.

The other characters that Hartman introduces are also ones that always seem to be on a bit of a journey themselves. Everyone that Tess meets seems to be at a different stage in their life, which I found particularly interesting because they ended up making many of the same revelations as Tess.

Something that impressed and surprised was how relevant the topics in this book were despite time-period/fantasy setting of this book. The most prominent of these was the inclusion of a person with disabilities and a 'was-it-rape' scenario, both of which were included smoothly and in a smart, informative manner.

The reason that I've given this book only four stars, however, is because it did drag quite a lot in more than one area. I found myself getting a bit bored and frustrated at various times, wishing that the book would just move on and continue the story. This may have been a character-focused story, but it still needed plot to keep it going.

Hartman is clearly an adept writer who knows how to craft a passionate and well-written tale. The overall theme of this book to 'just keep walking the road' was told so well, and I really can't relate to it enough. The world-building is subtle, but distinct, and the creatures and magic within it are really something unique in fantasy. I feel like so much of what is in this novel can be best described as 'subtle,' but also incredibly beautiful and enchanting. If you're looking for a fantasy focused on characters and the world itself, then this is the book for you.

Overall, I've given Tess of the Road four stars!

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

I am also an Amazon affiliate, so if you'd prefer to shop through Amazon, just click the banner on the upper right hand side of my blog! (above the 'Follow by email' box, you may need to turn off adblock to see it!)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Starswept by Mary Fan

Starswept by Mary Fan. Snowy Wings Publishing, 2017. 400 pages. 

I honestly had no idea what to expect from Starswept, but overall iI was so impressed by how well-crafted this book was.

The basic premise of Starswept itself was actually rather interesting. This book takes place in a futuristic setting-- 2157, to be exact--in which an advanced race of humans known as the Adryil have made contact with Earth. This advanced society has developed a somewhat symbiotic relationship with Earth in which it basically hires out talented artists, musicians, singers, dancers, etc. to come to their planet to entertain the Adryil. This is where Iris and the rest of the story enters the picture, as Iris is currently a student at Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school on Earth. It is also worth noting that the advanced technology of the Adryil is used on Earth and specifically at Papilio.

I first want to remark upon how impressed I was with the basic worldbuilding in this book. I'm not usually a big reader of futuristic types of setting, but I found that Fan did a really great job of creating a world that was realistic, but also still unique and different enough to really feel like a different setting. The one issue I had, however, was that this worldbuilding wasn't quite as expansive as I would have liked. Since the story in this book only takes place in one part of the United States, I didn't really understand what the rest of the world was like. I think it was touched upon a few times, but nothing very in depth or in a way that gave me an overall feel, so I did feel somewhat lost in this world when I tried to think of the bigger picture. Perhaps the sequel will expand in this area more.

The characters were well-written overall, although I did find Iris a bit naive at times. I felt frustrated with how trusting and stubborn she was about listening to what other people told her. However, I also can somewhat understand why Iris was naive based upon the circumstances around how she was raised, so therefore I'm not sure if this is something that I can really fault Fan with--I'm really just conflicted. All I do know is that it was a bit frustrating at times. What I thought Fan did really well, however, was craft well-rounded characters. Just about every prominent character, good or bad, was written with real depth to their personality that allowed you to see that they aren't just one shade.

There is some romance in this book that does play a pretty large role, but at the same time... it wasn't overly prominent? I feel like this book would have worked well with or without a romantic aspect, but this romance actually worked. It didn't feel too sudden or unimaginable, but instead seemed to fall into place in a very timely manner that felt more natural to me. I really appreciated that aspect.

The strongest point in Starswept was by far Fan's portrayal and descriptions of Iris playing her viola. It is apparent that Fan herself is a musician who understands the passions for music and how it can be so emotionally affecting to those that love it. Iris' passion for what she does is readily apparent and a joy to read.

On a less positive note, however, I felt like this book was just too long. There were one too many places in which I found myself getting bored and wishing the plot would just move along. I think Fan could have edited out more than a few scenes and areas in which nothing was really added to the book. That being said, the areas that were interesting were really well-written and very enjoyable.

(Also, minor side note and unrelated to the book: The cover of this book has nice aesthetics, but it really almost turned me off from reading it, unfortunately, simply because it gives off a very different type of vibe than what it is.)

Overall, I've given Starswept three-and-a-half stars! I'd definitely recommend this to anyone looking for an interesting story with revolutionary tones.

Buy the book: Amazon 

*I received a copy of Starswept in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the book.*

Planning to purchase a book or two? Consider purchasing on Book Depository through my affiliate link! Book Depository has worldwide free shipping and millions of titles to choose from.

I am also an Amazon affiliate, so if you'd prefer to shop through Amazon, just click the banner on the upper right hand side of my blog! (above the 'Follow by email' box, you may need to pause adblock to see it!)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

TBR Thursday: The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan

TBR Thursdays is hosted by Kim @ Kimberly Faye Reads! This feature was created with the intent of spotlighting a title from your shelf that you planning on reading in order to discuss why you want to read it, as well to discuss the book with others! If you'd like to join, feel free to use the banner created by Kimberley (or your own), and stop by her page to participate.

This week's TBR Thursday choice is The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan. I've had this one sitting on my shelf for too long now and I think I'm finally read to pick it up as soon as I finish up the other books I'm currently reading. I also hear so much about this book all the time and I am really excited to find out more about it myself.

The Crown Tower (The Riyria Chronicles, #1)
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository
About the Book:
Synopsis from Goodreads:


A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels the old wizard is after, and this prize can only be obtained by the combined talents of two remarkable men. Now if Arcadias can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed. 

The Riyria Revelations and The Riyria Chronicles are two separate, but related series, and you can start reading with either Theft of Swords (publication order) or The Crown Tower (chronological order)."

Are you interested in reading this book? What books are on your TBR?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo & Master Assassins by Robert V.S. Redick

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo 
Publication Date: March 6th, 2018
Feiwel & Friends
384 pages
Pre-order: Amazon Book Depository 
From Goodreads:

To Kill a Kingdom
"Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?"

Sirens!? I'm in! I love how fresh this storyline sounds and I am extremely excited to read this one. Also, that cover is amazing!

Master Assassins by Robert V.S. Redick
Publication Date: March 6th, 2018
458 pages
Pre-order: Amazon Book Depository 
From Goodreads:

Master Assassins (The Fire Sacraments, #1)
"Two village boys mistaken for assassins become the decisive figures in the battle for a continent in the thrilling new desert-based epic fantasy by the author of The Red Wolf Conspiracy. 

Kandri Hinjuman was never meant to be a soldier. His brother Mektu was never meant for this world. Rivals since childhood, they are drafted into a horrific war led by a madwoman-Prophet, and survive each day only by hiding their disbelief. Kandri is good at blending in, but Mektu is hopeless: impulsive, erratic—and certain that a demon is stalking him. Is this madness or a second sense? Either way, Kandri knows that Mektu’s antics will land them both in early graves.

But all bets are off when the brothers’ simmering feud explodes into violence, and holy blood is spilled. Kandri and Mektu are taken for contract killers and must flee for their lives—to the one place where they can hope to disappear: the sprawling desert known as the Land that Eats Men. In this eerie wilderness, the terrain is as deadly as the monsters, ghouls, and traffickers in human flesh. Here the brothers find strange allies: an aging warlord, a desert nomad searching for her family, a lethal child-soldier still in her teens. They also find themselves in possession of a secret that could bring peace to the continent of Urrath. Or unthinkable carnage.

On their heels are the Prophet’s death squads. Ahead lie warring armies, sandstorms, evil spirits and the deeper evil of human greed. But hope beckons as well—if the “Master Assassins” can expose the lie that has made them the world’s most wanted men."

Not only does this sound interesting, but Mark Lawrence also has a review up that sings its praises, and he hasn't steered me wrong yet, so... I'm in!

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Planning to purchase a book or two? Consider purchasing on Book Depository through my affiliate link! Book Depository has worldwide free shipping and millions of titles to choose from.

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Middle Grade Double Review: The Thickety (Books #1 & #2) by J.A. White

A Path Begins (The Thickety #1)The Whispering Trees (The Thickety #2)
A Path Begins (Book #1) by J.A. White. Katherine Tegen Books, 2015. Paperback. 512 pages.
The Whispering Trees (Book #2) by J.A. White. Katherine Tegen Books, 2016. Paperback. 544 pages.

As you may or may not know, I love to read middle grade books in addition to all of my regular 'adult' books. I think MG books can be incredibly clever, deep, and present new ideas and stories in unique and entertaining ways.  The Thickety series by J.A. White is one of my favorite middle grade series (Trenton Lee Stewart being one of my other favorites, in particular) and I really can't recommend it enough. I read these books a couple  months ago, but I've been sitting on reviews for them ever since and wondering just how to form them into something adequate enough to share with all of you.

These books are spooky, almost to the point where I started to think, "wait, is this really middle grade!?" And this is why I also say not to underestimate books marketed for younger readers. There are obviously spooky aspects of the book (the haunted woods, witches, etc.), but there are also much deeper, creepier ideas and events that occur as well. The first book, A Path Begins, takes place mostly in the town, and the second book, The Whispering Trees, actually takes readers into the Thickety itself, which is full of endless traps and terrors. There are weird, crazy creatures, haunting settings, and a slew of other magical elements incorporated in these books.

The magic that is used in this book comes from a grimoire that can only be used by witches. This magic is not simply a power that can be used, it is more of a give-and-take situation in which sure, you can use spells, but every time you use that power, a small piece of you is also taken. It's nothing noticeable or tangible, but if you use up all of the pages of the grimoire, you may just lose yourself in the process. I won't go into much more detail than that, but suffice to say... it's an interesting concept.

Grief also casts quite an umbrella over many parts of both novels, and I think White really did a wonderful job portraying how it affects people in different ways, and particularly how Kara, our protagonist, managed to find her own grief and ability to comfort those around her. White managed to develop extremely strong characters that felt very authentic and three-dimensional. There was so much to each person that allowed them to stand out and also transform according to what events occurred in the book. Kara herself is an extremely dynamic character who carries many burdens throughout her journeys in these books, and she is a character that I really liked and admired. There are moments in which she struggles to do what is right and maintain her goodness, but her strength shines in these moments.

Even the villains in these books are well-rounded and fully fleshed out. In the first book, Grace is one of our main villains, and although she at first appears to be your typical 'mean girl' that bullies Kara in school, it eventually becomes apparent that there is much more to Grace than meets the eye.

In addition to the characters, White also plays with the issue of how fear and the unknown can impact the mentality of a large group of people, leading them to treat people wrong and do things to them that aren't right or justified in any manner. These books are intense, but totally worth it. The most prominent and (to me, at least) interesting parts of these novels is the focus on humanity and what it means to have compassion, to yearn for something more, to have power and how to know when its too much, and--most importantly--to remember who we are and who we are meant to be as humans.

If you're someone who is thinking of picking this up for a kid in your life, you might want to make sure they can handle things on the darker side. If so, then it's a great book to introduce a lot of important themes and discussions about many different aspects of life and relationships among people. Overall, I've given both books five stars and I look forward to diving into the rest of this series!

Buy the book:
A Path BeginsAmazon Book Depository
The Whispering TreesAmazon Book Depository

Planning to purchase a book or two? Consider purchasing on Book Depository through my affiliate link! Book Depository has worldwide free shipping and millions of titles to choose from.

I am also an Amazon affiliate, so if you'd prefer to shop through Amazon, just click the banner on the upper right hand side of my blog! (above the 'Follow by email' box, you may need to pause adblock to see it!)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

In The Night Garden (The Orphan's Tales #1) by Catherynne M. Valente

In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente. Bantam Dell, 2006. Paperback. 483 pages. 

I've been debating for a while on whether or not I wanted to try to write a full review for this book, but it was just so beautiful and engrossing it has continued to stick with me quite some time and I really want to share it with you all. Just a note: this review will only cover the basics of this book, as it's hard to go into detail about this book without writing far too much than anyone would actually want to read. 

I have loved Valente's writing ever since I first picked up her Fairyland series, and then onto Deathless and Palimpsest, and I have yet to meet a book of hers that I don't enjoy, but I honestly did not expect to enjoy this one as much as I did because of the formatting. Somehow, though, Valente made it work in her usual magical, captivating manner that completely pulls me in.

In the Night Garden is written in a format inspired by The Thousand and One Nights, which includes an ongoing frame story that contains many stories within. With In the Night Garden, however, the basic premise of a story within a story turns into yet another story within that story, and another story in that one, and so on and so forth. For example, the book begins with a young girl telling a young boy a story, and one character in that story then tells another character their own story, and that idea continues, delving deeper and back out of the story, coming back to the frame every now and then to push the dialogue forward. I really did not at all expect to love this as much as I did, as I'm actually not usually that much of a fan of people telling stories within stories, but somehow each tale managed to fully capture me.

The tales that Valente tells through her characters are not just random stories thrown together, but instead have threads among each one that very cleverly and neatly tie them all up together. Some are obviously connected (especially among the outer stories), but some have connections that tie not only to the stories it is a part of, but even to earlier stories that were a part of a different main plot. (Apologies if that sounds confusing--it's really hard to describe!)

The characters in this collection were all so dazzling in their unique portrayals and their own strengths, each of which was different from the last. All of our main protagonists have fascinating, complex stories and are shown to be very strong people with each showcased in their own way that is displayed at some point in each magical tale. There are influences from so many myths and cultures, from Grimm's Fairy Tales to The Arabian Nights and so much more. If you are at all interested in fairy-tale and myth-like stories,t hen you must pick this one up. There are endless magical events such as animal transformation, witches, and so much more. 

The most notable part of Valente's writing is, of course (and as usual) her stunning prose. To help close up this review, I'm going to share some of the many gorgeous pieces of writing that can be found in this book:

“Never put your faith in a Prince. When you require a miracle, trust in a Witch.”

“We all have someone we think shines so much more than we do that we are not even a moon to their sun, but a dead little rock floating in space next to their gold and their blaze.”

“You wanted Death? This is it. Dirt and decay, nothing more. Death translates us all into earth.” He frowned at me, his cheeks puffing slightly. “Are you disappointed? Did you want a man in black robes? I’m sure I’ve a set somewhere. A dour, thin face with bony hands? I’ve more bones in this house than you could ever count. You’ve been moping over half the world looking for Death as though that word meant anything but cold bodies and mushrooms growing out of young girls’ eye-sockets. What an exceptionally stupid child!” Suddenly he moved very fast, like a turtle after a spider—such unexpected movement from a thing so languid and round... “You want Death?” he hissed. “I am Death. I will break your neck and cover you with my jar of dirt. When you kill, you become Death, and so Death wears a thousand faces, a thousand robes, a thousand gazes.” He loosened his grip. “But you can be Death, too. You can wear that face and that gaze. Would you like to be Death? Would you like to live in this house and learn his trade?”

“Stories,' the green-eyed Sigrid said, unperturbed, 'are like prayers. It does not matter when you begin, or when you end, only that you bend a knee and say the words.”

...and so many more. I have so many marked passages from this book. Overall, I've given In the Night Garden five stars! I really never expect anything less from Valente, and I can't wait to continue devouring the work I haven't read by her. 

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I am also an Amazon affiliate, so if you'd prefer to shop through Amazon, just click the banner on the upper right hand side of my blog! (above the 'Follow by email' box, you may need to pause adblock to see it!)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Age of Heroes by Scott J. Robinson

The Age of Heroes by Scott J. Robinson. 2014. Ebook. 197 pages.

Over the years, I've read many different fantasy books with wide variety of different settings, plots, and inhabitants, but I have to say that The Age of Heroes has managed to stand out from many of those books as something that offers not only an interesting world and variety of characters, but also a protagonist that is markedly unique from most other characters I've read.

The Age of Heroes centers on the life of Rawk, a great Hero who is renowned for his celebrated deeds and battles against beasts and evils of all kinds. In this world, Prince Weaver has outlawed magic, leaving Rawk with even less to battle than ever before. Rawk is also finally nearing a point in his career in which he could--and is encouraged by some-- to retire, but Rawk is not quite ready to give up status as a Hero in return for becoming a "has-been." The story begins when a wolden wolf is spotted within Katamood (which hasn't happened in more than a decade) and Rawk is called in to take care of it.

As I mentioned, Rawk felt unique from many others characters, and I really liked him! He's not necessarily an immediately likable guy, but I found him very relatable and I appreciated his confidence and dry sense of humor. I think we all have a certain amount of pride and would all struggle to give up doing something that has given us a strong, respectable reputation. I loved the concept of portraying a great Hero as a person that gets old just like the rest of us.

Robinson has created an incredibly well-written story that immediately drew me in and kept me engaged. He introduces a brief but vivid world that he brings to life with his characters and the many creatures that are a part of it. I enjoyed the various encounters that Rawk faced in this, which included those that were both serious, frustrating, and a bit silly. I do hope that future books in this world further expand upon it, as I'd love to find out more about this world. 

There is a good mixture of humor and seriousness in this book that make it feel like a true adventure to be a part of. I loved how Robinson took the idea of a 'hero' trope and sort of turned it into something else that went a bit deeper and became more authentic. I also found a smaller subplot that regarded prejudices to be really thoughtful and well-written. This subplot eventually forced Rawk to reconsider some of his preconceived notions about certain races and open his mind to something more, which was a nice addition to the overall story. This overarching theme of change seems to be very prevalent. 

I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book, especially with the shorter length, but I am so glad I picked it up and had a chance to explore this world and the figure of Rawk. Overall, I've given The Age of Heroes four stars!

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

*I receied a copy of The Hero of Ages in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*