Book cover: Resistance - Mikhaeyla Kopievsky (two sides of a womans face sketched in different styles and colours)
2
7/10
Review: Resistance by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky
Reviews / January 19, 2017

Anaiya is an elite Peacekeeper tasked to guard the Co-operative of Otpor from Unorthodoxy. Bred to be competitive, she strives to be the best – but when Resistance rises in the Precincts, the best way to bring it down is to join it. In a culture that defines its people by their dominant Element, can a passionless, disciplined Fire Elemental believably become a Bohemian Element of Air? Australian author Mikhaeyla Kopievsky’s debut novel is the first in a new series (Divided Elements) set in a post-apocalyptic Paris (Otpor) – a lonely city that survives in the blasted Wasteland. The Co-operative has developed a strict social framework to ensure its survival, which has helped it flourish in what appears to be an otherwise empty world. “Orthodoxy – the right belief and true knowledge that all humans, born or created, have an innate dominant Element that determines their attitudes, perspectives and abilities. An Element that, when properly aligned and strengthened through conditioning, produces maximum productivity and optimal functioning of the individual, the Element and the Cooperative.” Resistance is a deceptively simple story – it’s easy to dismiss as just another dystopian struggle, probably best aimed at younger readers with its present tense narration and focus on feelings. But there’s more here…

0
9/10
Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Reviews / January 18, 2017

Once upon a time there were two sisters who lived upon the tiny Isle of Trisda.  Every year the older sister wrote a letter to the man simply known as ‘Master Legend’, begging him to visit their Isle, and every year her letters remained unanswered.  That is until the seventh year when the elder sister having woken in the morning, barely days away from her marriage to a mysterious Count, finally received the long awaited invitations to attend the spectacle known as ‘Caraval’.  Entry to Caraval is by invitation only and the most important thing to remember is that ‘it is only a game!’ Yes, Caraval is told in an almost fairytale style. We have two beautiful sisters who are treated harshly by their tyrannical father.  Their mother disappeared many years ago and their father, a powerful man on the Isle rules over them with an iron rod.  Scarlett and Donatella (or Tella as she is more often known) finally have escape within their grasp, even if that comes in the form of Scarlett marrying a man she knows nothing of it seems to be the only acceptable way that they will ever escape the Island.  Until their golden tickets…

0
9/10
Review: Heartstone by Elle Katharine White
Reviews / January 17, 2017

When I heard this book described as “Pride and Prejudice with dragons,” my first reaction was “Yes!” But then I thought, “Huh? That sounds…weird?” This was an odd book for me because of the strange mix of elements that don’t quite seem to fit together. And yet, I loved it! How can one book evoke such mixed feelings? Even as I was gasping at White’s wonderfully unique world building, I couldn’t get over the fact that her story was literally matching the plot of Pride and Prejudice beat for beat. It was an unsettling feeling for me, as I knew exactly what was going to happen next in some spots. The story had two distinct parts for me–the conservative and proper beginning, and the all-out violent battle at the end. But one thing is certain: I could not stop turning the pages. If you’ve read Jane Austen’s classic, then you have an idea of what you’re in for—well, at least until the dragons show up. Aliza Bentaine (Elizabeth Bennett) lives with her parents and three sisters Anjey, Leyda and Mari in Merybourne Manor, a modest home in Hart’s End. But their peaceful life has been shattered by a recent influx of…

0
8/10
Review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
Reviews / January 11, 2017

Great science fiction addresses the concerns of the author’s times and A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers is no exception. Following on from the acclaimed, and originally self-published, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, this is the story of an AI coming to terms with its identity. The ship in Chambers’ debut was called the Wayfarer and its artificial intelligence was Lovelace. Lovey wakes up in a physical, humanoid body in a world of aliens and varied cultures that she now must negotiate without access to all of the knowledge. Meanwhile, we’re introduced to Jane 23, a 10-year-old who is working in a scrap recovery factory. It’s a horrendous life. With the rest of the Jane’s she lives a harsh existence controlled by the AI Mothers. Jane 23 becomes the human who is helping Lovey adjust to her new life. The novel is told in two time-streams. Pepper – the name Jane 23 has taken for herself – who is a mechanic and streetwise fixer, and her artist friend Blue are looking after the new physical Lovelace. This alternates chapter by chapter with Jane 23’s early life as she escapes from the factory and finds shelter…

0
7/10
Review: The Librarians and the Lost Lamp by Greg Cox
Reviews / January 10, 2017

I have to confess, I have never watched the TV show The Librarians that this book is based on. Because of that it really wasn’t on my radar, mostly for fear that I would be at a disadvantage from not knowing anything about the show. But when I received a review copy of the book, I had to admit it still sounded like a fun quick read, so I figured it was worth a shot. I mean, come on. Combining libraries and magic? Who doesn’t want to give that a read? And I am happy to say, that based on my experience, I would say this book can definitely be read without prior knowledge of the series. The pace is quick, the characters entertaining, and I never felt like I was missing some crucial backstory or information. The premise of the series is something I think any avid reader of fantasy has to love. There that a secret group called The Librarians that serves to protect the world from all those dangerous magical things. What the Librarians are protecting people from are very familiar things we hear about in folklore, fairy tales and legends. In this particular story, the conflict…

0
7/10
Review: The Dead Seekers by Barb & J.C. Hendee
Reviews / January 9, 2017

For so long I’ve been wanting to read something by Barb and J.C. Hendee, and with The Dead Seekers being the first of a new series, I figured there’s no better time and place to jump onboard! Better yet, later I was even more excited to learn that the book is set in the same world that was made well-known by the authors’ popular Noble Dead Saga. Things kick off with a prologue which introduces readers to the story’s two protagonists. What should have been a happy time instead turned to sorrow as Tris, the baron’s only son and heir, was born without breath. But even when the baby was revived, the disturbing circumstances around his apparent miraculous recovery only causes more fear and unease. Thirteen years later in another time and another place, young Mari was in the woods with her family making camp after a long day of travel when they were suddenly ambushed by violent spirits. Being a shapeshifter, Mari was able to take her cat form and escape, but everyone else was killed. Ever since that day, she has been searching for the one she believes is responsible for her murdered family—the mysterious figure known as…

0
9/10
Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Reviews / January 4, 2017

The Bear and the Nightingale is one of those gorgeous nuggets of a book that you simply devour.  As soon as I read the synopsis, I wanted this book, in fact, lets be honest, as soon as I saw the cover – I wanted this book – which might sound fickle, because you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover after all.  However, fickle or not, the inside of this book is more than a match for the outer packaging. This is definitely my sort of book.  The writing is really quite beautiful, the author almost hypnotises you, she lulls you into a false sense of security with a beginning that draws you slowly in with the promise of folklore, myth, icy forests and fairytales retold and then before you know it the temperature has dropped further, menace is in the air and threatening shadows lurk in the darkest corners. As we begin the story we make the acquaintance of the Vladimirovich family.  Pyotr the father, a hard but fair man for the times in which he lives, he is thought well of by the people in the village.  He loves his wife and is devastated when he loses her in…

0
9/10
Review: The Heart of What Was Lost by Tad Williams
Reviews / December 28, 2016

This was never going to be an impartial review. Tad Williams’s Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn novels are easily among my favorites in the genre. These fantasy novels are beautifully written, full of vivid and believable characters, and are truly epic in scope. It’s not an exaggeration to say I rarely pick up a fantasy novel without, on some level, wondering how it will compare to Williams’s series. I was therefore thrilled to learn that Williams would be returning to realm of Osten Ard with a new trilogy, the first volume of which will be published in April. Bridging the two series, this short novel (which apparently started out as a novella, but in typical Williams fashion, grew larger than originally planned) is set shortly after the events of To Green Angel Tower, the final volume (or volumes, depending on your point of view) of the original series. So, perhaps inevitably, I loved this book, which is beautifully written and full of Williams’s trademark character development and nuance. It is, however, a small work, without any pretensions to the sort of world-spanning, epoch-changing scope of the previous novels. It’s also a fairly dark tale about war-weariness and despair. Everyone in this…

0
8/10
Review: Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey
Reviews / December 26, 2016

The Expanse has become one of my favorite series in recent years, and it is no exaggeration to say that it has only gotten better with every new book. Of course, the one problem with this pattern is that it works much like gravity—what goes up must come down, after all. And yet, I say this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. In fact, I’d argue that after a major plot event, it’s important to dial things back a bit in order to let your characters regroup, refocus, and rebuild (not to mention give time for the reader to digest the latest bombshell) and this is exactly the way I would describe the circumstances surrounding Babylon’s Ashes. This sixth installment of the series is the immediate follow-up to Nemesis Games, directly addressing the events that happened in that book, so I would strongly recommend catching up before reading this review or others to avoid possible spoilers. If you’ve read the last novel though, then you’ll know that a new villain has come onto the scene in the form of the Free Navy, a violent group of rebels fighting in the name of Belters (a term that describes people…

Review: Roseblood by A G Howard
Reviews / December 20, 2016

Roseblood is a story that breathes new life into the gothic tale of the Phantom of the Opera.  This isn’t a re-imagining as such, more a new tale with a different spin on things that resurrects the Phantom and shines on him an altogether new light.  I wouldn’t say that I loved this quite as much as I hoped but it did hold my attention and I must concede that I went into this with impossibly high expectations! The story revolves around the main character of Rune Germain.  At the start of the story Rune is being enrolled at a private arts school, run out of an old Opera House in France.  As we accompany Rune and her mother on the drive to her new school we pretty quickly discover that things are far from rosy in Rune’s life.  Rune is both gifted and afflicted with an amazing operatic ability.  Her singing is practically hypnotic and could charm the birds from the trees, however, her need to sing controls her and not only does singing leave her mentally and physically drained of energy but she is unable to stop herself from bursting into song, usually at the most unwanted and…