1
9/10
Review: The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
Reviews / December 21, 2015

The Grace of Kings really is a work of epic proportions.  A story of rebellion and war, victory and defeat, friend and foe and ultimately an incredibly poignant and sometimes sad look at friendships.  The story is dripping with issues of trust, deceit and betrayal whilst also telling some incredibly moving stories of love and loyalty. I’ve only read one of Liu’s short stories before The Grace of Kings and on the strength of that was keen to read this and, yes, it is a book that takes time to read but its also a book that is definitely worth the time. The main thrust of the story revolves around an uprising of the common people, driven to despair by despot rulers and seeking fairer rule.  At least on the face of it that’s what I would say this is about.  Of course, war very often has little to do with the common people and that is certainly the case here – even though very many of them will lose their lives fighting most of them could just as easily be on one side as the other, and, as the book itself acknowledges, perhaps the people with the differences should get together…

0
5/10
Review: Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden
Reviews / December 17, 2015

The concept behind Dead Ringers is definitely a bit creepy and as you get further into the book, there are some seriously haunting scenes. The thought of suddenly coming across another person that is so identical to yourself, to the point that even close family can not tell the difference is strange. I will admit at times something about this tested my willing suspension of disbelief, I think because it happened to a number of characters. But really I think the reason I was not as easily swayed had more to do with the number of central characters. Horror books really rely on the readers emotions for them to be fully effective. The best way to get a very emotional reaction from the reader is to get them to really, really care about the characters. There were more perspectives in this than there tend to be with horror (pretty sure there were 4), and while I understand the need, I do feel like it put a little bit of a barrier for the reader to really get attached to any of them just because the pages were split amongst several people which gives the author less time to form that…

0
10/10
Review: Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb
Reviews / December 16, 2015

At one time, the second (or middle) book of a trilogy was a thing to be dreaded – a book to be endured as a necessary sort of narrative bridge, with the built-in expectation that any lack of enjoyment is to be tempered by anticipation for the concluding book to follow. While there have been a few ‘new’ authors (such as Jeff Salyards and Sebastien de Castell) who have bucked that trend, I really didn’t expect the same from an established author like Robin Hobb. After all, her style and her writing are already polished, and she had her growth/development moments almost 20 years and 20 books ago. Whether or not Fool’s Assassin was a stumble depends on who you ask, but I had serious issues with the pacing, the characters, and a few of the core plot elements. It was one of my most disappointing reads of last year, and almost soured me on the whole Realms of the Elderlings saga. Hobb had a serious uphill battle for my appreciation going into the second/middle book of this series, and I tempered my expectations accordingly. So, you can imagine my surprise when Fool’s Quest not only proved to be a…

0
8/10
Review: Time and Time Again by Ben Elton
Reviews / December 15, 2015

While I enjoy time travel books as much as the next reader, I still recall my doubts when I was first pitched this book: What if I don’t know that much about World War I? How much history do I need to know in order to follow the plot? Will I still be able to enjoy this story? Looking back at those questions now, I have to laugh. Really, I needn’t have worried about a thing. Even though history is at the center of this plot and WWI is the inciting incident that sparks the fuse, Time and Time Again turned out to be about so much more. With shades of Stephen King’s 11/22/63, this novel is a suspenseful and heartfelt adventure through time and alternate realities. In truth, it focuses more on the repercussions of changing history and what it means for the main character—as well as for the whole world and the generations after him. In a not too distant future from now, Hugh Stanton is an ex-soldier and a washed up celebrity who has lost everything. The army wants nothing to do with him, and his once popular survival webcast had to be shut down after ratings…

1
10/10
Review: The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence
Reviews / December 14, 2015

The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence is the second instalment in the Red Queen’s War trilogy that once again follows in the footsteps of two of fantasy’s most unlikely companions in Prince Jalan Kendeth and Snorri ver Snagason.  I awaited this book with eager anticipation and can say from the outset that it lived up to my expectations and then some. The story begins as Snorri and Jal take a somewhat less than cheerful departure from the Northern town in which they’ve been Winter bound.  Whilst Jal dreams of returning to his sun soaked home and jumping back into his former hedonistic lifestyle Snorri has other ideas and ultimately, the two being connected by strange magic, and Snorri having a mission of sorts, it looks like Jal’s desires will meet with temporary suspension.  Joined by the one remaining member of Snorri’s clan, Tuttugu, the three set sail on a dark quest.  Snorri has designs to use the magical key that he now owns to unlock the Gates to the Underworld and recover his family.  This key is very powerful, it can open any doors, it was forged by a trickster however and it is ultimately sought by others.  Snorri’s road is certainly…

0
8/10
Review: Angel of Storms by Trudi Canavan
Reviews / December 10, 2015

With Angel of Storms, the Millenium’s Rule series continues to fascinate me. While I enjoyed The Black Magician Trilogy, I will confess to never loving it. This trilogy is turning out to be a much better match for me. Perhaps this is mainly because The Black Magician trilogy is young adult, where as this one,  I believe is not. Regardless of the reason, I tend to be captivated by this series and find it incredibly fun to read. This is the second in the trilogy, and while I felt like there was a good deal of progression in this book including wonderful details about the world, there is still so much left to resolve that I actually had to verify if this was a trilogy or a longer series. And it is definitely listed as a trilogy, so I suspect that final book is going to be packed with lots of excitement! For readers of the first book, I know many were hoping for a quick joining of Rielle’s and Tyen’s story lines in this book. For those that are new to the series, the first book, Thief’s Magic, is told through those two POVs with no apparent connection  between them. In the first book…

0
8/10
Review: The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer
Reviews / December 9, 2015

I almost didn’t write a review. I wasn’t sure if I should be reviewing something that was important enough to me that I contributed to a kickstarter for the first time.   But upon reflection I realized that was pretty silly; of course it is ok for me to review The Labyrinth of Flame. After all I am not profiting from it and in reality my contribution just amounted to a long term pre-order of the e-book. That said, consider this a disclosure for those who may think one was needed. A quick rundown for those not in the know. The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer is the third book of the series The Shattered Sigil. Despite getting rave reviews from everyone that matters (oops, personal bias coming through) the series was unfortunately caught in the fiasco that came from Night Shade shutting down; two books released and one short of a finished story.   For various reason Schafer decided to take the self-published route for book three. This series has always been a buddy adventure taken to an extreme level.   It is the story of Dev and Kiran, best friends after two books who will do anything for each other,…

0
7/10
Review: Ash and Silver by Carol Berg
Reviews / December 8, 2015

Last year I had the pleasure of reading Dust and Light by Carol Berg. It was my first experience with her work and I was introduced to the wonderfully enticing world of the Sanctuary Duet. I had a feeling things were just getting started for protagonist Lucian de Remeni, so I’ve been waiting on pins and needles for the sequel ever since. But even though Ash and Silver is the second half of this duology, the story surprised me by taking a much unexpected turn. This book differs from its predecessor in many ways, not least of all because it begins two years after the events of Dust and Light with our main character having forgotten everything about himself. The heartbreaking conclusion of the first book left Lucian with no choice but to leave his old life behind, and he ends up in an isolated stronghold of the Order of Equites Cineré. They wiped his memory so that he doesn’t even remember his name, and now he goes by “Greenshank”, just another loyal follower of the Order. But the last two years of rigorous magical training has served Greenshank well, and the story begins as he prepares to embark on…

4
9/10
Review: Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
Reviews / December 7, 2015

After my exhilarating reading experience with Valente’s novella Six-Gun Snow White, I was excited to dip into something longer, and Radiance promised to be just what I was looking for. But what I got was not quite what I expected. Here are some words to describe Radiance, in case you’re looking for a “nutshell” type of review: weird, strange, wonderful, unexpected, magical, tedious, frustrating. Wait—tedious and frustrating? As much as I loved Valente’s vision, and let’s be honest—her brilliance—there were times when I almost put this book down. Radiance is not going to be for everyone, let’s get that out of the way. This is a tough book, one that requires patience, and a reader who is not afraid of the confusion that comes from an unconventional story format. Valente teases the reader with a mixed-up recounting of the events that lead to the disappearance of one Severin Unck, a documentary film maker who mysteriously disappears while investigating the destruction of a colony on the planet Venus. This is but one of the mysteries in the story, and it’s the main thread that binds everything together. Not only are the events of the story told out of order, but the…

0
8/10
Review: The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman
Reviews / December 2, 2015

The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman is the second in series that got off to a great start with the Invisible Library.  I think that this book could probably be read as a standalone however I would personally recommend reading the first in series because it’s just so good.  I will forewarn you that whilst I will try to avoid spoilers for The Masked City the review may contain spoilers for the first book so please bear that in mind. By way of context the Invisible Library is a library that exists in a different dimension.  From within there appear to be no boundaries and the library is a vast labyrinth that can take days if not weeks to traverse.  The role of the Librarians is to travel to alternate worlds and recover books that are about to disappear and then preserve those books for all time. Using an unusual form of magic the librarians are able to travel to alternate worlds by stepping through a portal within the library and coming out in a library ‘elsewhere’.  The number of possible alternate worlds is immense and each one is different in terms of magical ability or occupants.  In the first…