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10/10
Review: A Time Of Dread by John Gwynne
Reviews , Upcoming Releases / January 17, 2018

A few days ago I finished A Time of Dread by John Gwynne, and I loved it so much that it made my ‘best of’ list for 2017.  This is an author whose previous series, The Faithful and the Fallen, enjoys glowing reviews and yet for some reason I’ve never got round to reading them.  I genuinely don’t know why that is and having now read A Time of Dread my only dilemma is whether I now go back and start with Malice?  Anyway, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition so lets get on with a review and a bit of waxing lyrical about why you need this book in your life. The long and the short of it – this book is epic – it has depth to the characters, it has scope to the story and it has meat on the bones in terms of world building.  I admit I hesitate to use the word epic – I don’t know why but it feels overused somehow and even dated in these days of grimdark so I’ll just say that this is a damn fine book.  The characters are amazing and the tension that Gwynne creates positively grows into a…

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10/10
Review: Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
Reviews / January 16, 2018

Anytime I read the first book in a new series that follows one I love as much as Red Rising, I approach with both a huge dose of excitement but also a touch of apprehension that it won’t live up to the previous series. I am so excited that Iron Gold lived up to every expectation I had and maybe even set some new ones for the rest of the series. It has all the traits that Ioved in the Red Rising series, but the current story stays fresh and exciting. Iron Gold is set about 10 years after the last one left off and the peace that Darrow and Mustang worked to achieve is beginning to show signs of serious strain. There is the threat from the Ash Lord, but internally there is also politcal strife as groups try to jockey for power. Darrow is faced with some incredibly hard choices and some of his decisions, quite frankly, just don’t go over well. It is interesting seeing him go from being the favored son of the land, a living superhero of his time, to, well … you’ll have to read to find out, I don’t want to go into…

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9/10
Review: The Infernal Battalion by Django Wexler
Reviews / January 15, 2018

Often it is said that the final book that can either make or break a series, but I’m thrilled to report that The Infernal Battalion is a finale that exceeded my expectations, bringing about a stunning conclusion to The Shadow Campaigns. As this is a review for the fifth and final installment of the series, the usual caveats apply: beware of possible spoilers for the previous books, if you are not already caught up. A great deal has happened to bring us to this point, including the escape of the Beast—the demon of all demons, and a force of unspeakable evil—from its ancient prison beneath Elysium. Its influence spreads the way it feeds, absorbing the minds and controlling the bodies of all those it infects. Now it has amassed an unstoppable army of these drone-like soldiers, and at the head of this infernal host is none other than General Janus bet Vhalnich, whose faculties the Beast had stolen at the end of The Guns of Empire. But to those who are unaware of Janus’s possession, his actions seemed like the worst kind of betrayal. Vordan has only just emerged from a bloody war, and Queen Raesinia had been looking forward…

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8/10
Review: Marskwoman by Rati Mehrotra
Reviews / January 9, 2018

This debut was such an enjoyable read for me. It had a great balance of world building and character drama and the pace kept things moving. The world in this is definitely interesting. It starts out feeling like a standard fantasy world with magic and swords, etc. But then as you keep reading and details are revealed, you come to realize it also is post-apocalyptic. I’ve seen this in a number of other books, but that certainly did not prevent me from enjoying the reveals in this one at all. There are orders of women called Markswomen, who serve essentially as assassins. They are meant to uphold the law and enforce order, so they are feared as their skills are almost legendary. Plus, as I mentioned before, they are assassins, so its probably natural that the commoners don’t want to buddy up with them and instead keep a respectul (and slightly fearful) distance. One secret to their power is that they are telepathically bonded with a special type of blade, so it becomes a sort of extenstion of themselves. These blades are magical, and provide their owners strength and the ability to do more than just cut or slice. Even at…

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7/10
Review: Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci
Reviews / December 26, 2017

This is a book that was written as a love letter to Star Wars, and it shows.  You enjoy it for the adventure and the crew’s personalities and excitement as they work to defeat a large and ominous force in the galaxy. It embraces all of the tropes and deus ex machina found in Star Wars and if you can’t embrace them as well, then this might not be a great choice of book for you. And that’s fine, no book will please everyone and knowing that is what this book is about is important for setting reader expectations. Cade Sura is both an underdog and a chosen one. He falls into the position of being the one person who is needed to save the universe from the evil empire of Praxis. Whether he actually feels qualified or up to it is another thing. The point is, the weight of saving everyone has fallen on his shoulders, and even if he doesn’t feel like the right man for the job, he’s also not really the type to quit with at least trying whatever he is capable of. Along the way, he picks up an interesting crew that has fun dynamics….

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8/10
Review: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Reviews / December 11, 2017

Meet Nahri, a young hustler who makes a living scamming the superstitious and gullible on the streets of 18th century Cairo. Even though she has the uncanny ability to sense illness in a person simply by touching them, she’s never truly believed that what she does is magic. But then one day during a zar ceremony, in which Nahri was just supposed to go through the motions, she accidentally calls forth a daeva warrior. But said daeva isn’t just any spirit to be summoned, for he is Dara, the greatest warrior to have ever lived. Right away, he recognizes Nahri for what she really is—something not all entirely human—and soon the two of them are on the run, trying to say one step ahead of the dark forces pursuing them. Their only safe haven would be Daevabad, the city of gilded brass walls and enchantments, where Dara claims there will be protection to be found. Many authors have endeavored to tell a similar story, most of which always seem to feature a girl and a guy attempting to reach a magical city while evading the evil creatures hunting them. However, S.A. Chakraborty has achieved something quite unique and remarkable with…

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6/10
Review: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Reviews / December 4, 2017

Here’s the thing: I like Seanan McGuire, but for some strange reason or another her books always seem to rub me the wrong way when she writes as Mira Grant. Because of this, I almost didn’t pick up Into the Drowning Deep, but in the end, I’m glad I did—the premise of a horror novel about mermaids was just too amazing for me to pass up, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have at least bit of fun with it. Still, I wish I’d enjoyed the book more, though like I said, there’s probably a precedent for some of my more conflicted sentiments, namely that some of the same issues I’ve had in the past with her characters and world-building just kept cropping up. While Into the Drowning Deep is the start of a new story, it is also technically the follow-up to Rolling in the Deep, a novella chronicling the tragic fate of the cruise liner Atargatis which set sail for the Mariana Trench seven years ago on a mission to film a mockumentary about the existence of mermaids. Only, no one made it back alive. Every member of the Imagine Entertainment studio film crew was…

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7/10
Review: The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis
Reviews / November 30, 2017

Overall, The Guns Above was an enjoyable steampunk adventure, with a strong female protagonist and airships and battles. Josette Dupre is an enjoyable protagonist who becomes the first female captain of an airship. Whether this assignment is out of earned respect or a setup to see her fail depends on perspective. Either way, its an amazing opportunity that came her way after becoming a hero when her previous airship crashed. And it turns out her new airship is not just any airship, but a brand new, cutting edge model. Again, since its cutting edge, the likelihood of demise is higher, so whether it was an honor or not is a bit debatable. But Josette is up for the challenge and handles everything with skill and humor. She really is a great character to follow as she lightens things with a great sense of humor and she kicks ass at what she does. One of the things that didn’t work well for me was the sexism. I know the author has done this on purpose, but the misogynistic characters in this just felt over the top. We get the view point from a an overly sexist character who’s only real defining…

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9/10
Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
Reviews / November 27, 2017

Mark my words, Katherine Arden is definitely going places. Early this year, she enchanted me with her lovely debut The Bear and the Nightingale, and now she has done it again with its follow-up The Girl in the Tower, which I thought was just as good—if not better—than its predecessor. The story continues the journey of brave Vasya, a young woman with a gift that grants her a special connection with the wilderness and the spirits that dwell within. But in the small Russian village where she lives, her abilities and strange behaviors eventually give rise to rumors that she is a witch, made worse by the town’s zealous priest who holds a grudge against her. Now she has been driven out of her community, her options reduced to either letting her older sister arrange a marriage for her, or spending the rest of her life in a convent. Neither are acceptable to Vasya, so in the end she decides to take her fate in her own hands and attempts to forge a third path. Disguising herself as a boy, Vasya takes to the road with Solovey, her trusty horse. Her adventures are cut short, however, when she encounters a…

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8/10
Review: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Reviews / November 24, 2017

After reading and loving Certain Dark Things, I had no doubt I would read whatever Moreno-Garcia published next. That turned out to be The Beautiful Ones. Just from the synopsis I could tell it would be incredibly different from the vampire underground world created in Certain Dark Things, but I have to confess, I was hoping to still find a bit of that darkness in The Beautiful Ones. Well, I can’t say I found this to be dark like that, and will advise you that you can not read this book looking for world or tone similarities to Certain Dark Things. Moreno-Garcia did create great characters in both, that is the main similarities end. As opposed to most of the books I read, the romance aspect was the strongest plot point in this book. You can also find character growth, and a lesson to embrace who you are, etc. But ultimately, this book was about relationships and romance. I am not stating that as a negative, honestly, sometimes its nice to read a book like that. But I like to know ahead of time so I can save it for when the mood strikes, so keep that in mind if…