0
10/10
Review: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
Reviews / March 29, 2017

Red Sister is the first book in the third series written by Mark Lawrence and I’ll start by saying it gets off to an excellent start. I’ll give a brief overview of the plot.  We make the acquaintance of Nona at the start of the story.  She’s about to be fitted for a hangman’s noose for attempting to murder the son of a rather prominent member of society.  Unsurprisingly, and not a spoiler to say, she never makes her final fitting – that would have been a very short book would it not! Before her execution can be carried out she finds herself rescued, or more succinctly put, stolen away by Abbess Glass of the Sweet Mercy Convent.  Not yet ten years old Nona is different.  The people of her village knew this, and mostly avoided her, until that cruel day on which she was given away to a child collector to be sold in the City.  Abbess Glass recognises this difference and believes that rather than making Nona something to fear it makes her something special. From them on we spend time with Nona as she is initiated into the school and undertakes a number of trials and tribulations,…

0
9/10
Review: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
Reviews / March 28, 2017

  I’m embarrassed to tell you that it took me nearly a month to read this book. But wait, before you laugh at me, a book review blogger, for not being able to read a mere 544 pages in a timely fashion, the truth is, I got myself into a scheduling bind and had to abandon Kings of the Wyld and read several books for some scheduled reviews, before I could finally get back to it. And it is perhaps because of the talent of the author that I had no trouble whatsoever picking up right where I left off. Reading Eame’s debut was one of the most fun times I’ve had in a long while, and I honestly cannot wait to see what he’s going to write next. Eames uses the tried-and-true plot of the reluctant traveler—think The Hobbit with an aging mercenary and you’ll have an idea of what to expect—well, sort of. Clay Cooper is a guard and lives in the small town of Coverdale with his wife Ginny and his young daughter Tally. He used to be part of a group of mercenaries called Saga, back in the days when merc bands swept through the Heartwyld,…

0
8/10
Review: Phantom Pains by Mishell Baker
Reviews / March 21, 2017

Phantom Pains continue’s Baker’s wonderfully fresh style of keeping Urban Fantasy a bit more “real” and grounded without compromising on the fantastical. Millie’s life might be full of the extra ordinary, she might be a person that a reader can admire, may be able to deal with fae and break their magic with a touch, but there’s no denying her life is trying. I don’t envy her harsh reality of being a double amputee, but at the same time, her story and challenges are just part of her life, they don’t prevent her from being able to liver her life and do what needs doing. The author does not gloss over her disability, nor does she dwell on it, but rather incorporates all of the extra challenges Millie faces as just a part of how she lives and copes. And while Millie is not always upbeat, she does an amazing job handling both her disability from losing both legs as well as her borderline personality. I find it interesting how the author can explain some of the Borderline personality traits and behaviors that Millie struggles with in a way that helps us understand her, gives us better insight when she…

0
9/10
Review: Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Reviews / March 15, 2017

Hunted by Meagan Spooner is an absolutely gorgeous retelling of Beauty and the Beast that borrows from the Russian folklore of Ivan and the Firebird and in doing so manages to bring something unique to the tale whilst still remaining faithful enough to be the beautiful tale that I love.  I have to confess upfront that I’m a bit of a pushover for fairytale retellings but that doesn’t mean they always win me over and for a book that has received quite as much hype as this particular one I couldn’t help feeling a little bit wary.  In this case there was no need to fear.  This is literally the retelling of Beauty and the Beast that I’ve been waiting for, the writing is evocative, the setting moves from cold and austere to gothic and dilapidated.  The characters are fascinating and the key to the puzzle of the Beast keeps you compelled to the end. At the start of the story Yeva, her sisters and father, live a prosperous life on the edge of town.  Yeva is a lady in waiting, all day she sits listening to idle gossip and trying to conjure up ways to escape the confines of polite society.  Basically,…

Book cover: Wintersong - S Jae-Jones (a white rose in a glass ball, with snow falling)
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8/10
Review: Wintersong by S Jae-Jones
Reviews / March 9, 2017

Plain, dutiful Liesl has given up her dreams of music to help her mother tend their inn, but when she was a child she played in the woods with the Goblin King. Her beautiful younger sister Käthe is tone deaf, engaged to the man Liesl once hoped to marry, but she dreams of bigger places than their small village in the Bavarian forest. But the Goblin King does not forget and if he does not take a bride the world will fall into eternal winter. Which sister will he take? Which sister will he keep? I have a soft spot for books that take well-established sources and weave old tropes into something magical and new. In Wintersong, S Jae-Jones takes an inch of Labyrinth, a pinch of Rossetti’s Goblin Market, and a hint of the Rape of Persephone to create a Germanic fairytale romance: dark, Gothic, and sultry. The disadvantage of retreading a well-worn path is that it can rob a story of surprises. Thankfully, Jae-Jones can write – her prose is as lush as her narrative – so even when things feel a little too familiar (peaches, masked balls, heterochromia), they’re still a delight to read. The better news is that Wintersong lays out its stall, entices you to buy something familiar, then sweeps you off to a dimly-lit…

1
8/10
Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Reviews / March 8, 2017

Perhaps the most striking thing about Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – amazing cover and jacket aside – is that it reads like a Neil Gaiman novel. Indeed, it could possibly fit in as an extended prologue to American Gods. So how is it that an author of comic books, children’s books and the occasional adult novel turn existing myths – from a culture not his own – into something personal and inclusive to all? Norse Mythology is Gaiman’s interpretation of classic Norse myths, inspired by his personal interest. This stems from Gaiman’s love of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s Thor which Gaiman read as a child. So -what we have here is a relatively short retelling – and not a re-imagining – in a series of 16 tales from the dawn of creation to Ragnarok – the Norse end-of-times. You can read each tale in isolation, or taken as a complete piece there is a rough structure, as we’re introduced to all the favourites (Odin, Thor, Loki, Frigg, Baldur, Heimdall, giants, dwarfs and all the rest) and how they came to be the characters that some might know and love. Is it a novel? I don’t think so. A…

0
8/10
Review: In Calabria by Peter S Beagle
Reviews / March 2, 2017

In Calabria is my second book by the author Peter S Beagle, my first being Summerlong.  This book has a different feel in that it’s got an earthy realism to it that was unexpected, especially when picking up a book that is clearly going to feature a unicorn.  It’s quite beautifully written and the fantasy elements are very ‘quiet’ almost like an aside. Anyway, at the start of the story we are introduced to Claudio Bianchi.  Claudio is a forty something year old man living on a remote farm in Southern Italy.  He values his privacy and rarely sees anyone else, other than his animals (which are almost as grumpy as he is) and the postman who regularly visits.  Claudio is definitely becoming fixed in his ways and a little cantankerous.  That is until a unicorn literally arrives on his property one day.  I think if I was living such a solitary life and a unicorn turned up on my property I would probably think I’d gone insane and I think at first there is an element of that in Claudio’s reaction.  That is until he realises that his visitor keeps returning on a regular basis and it seems has…

0
8/10
Review: With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu
Reviews / February 21, 2017

The Shattered Sands trilogy was by far one of my favorite finds of last year. With Blood Upon the Sand continues to deepen the intrigue and entanglements, and displays the harsh desert environment is not the only thing to fear in Sharakhai. It will also take your emotions and bend them to its will, ripping them through fear to excitement, from horror to triumph (or maybe triumph to horror), from sorrow to jealousy, hope, betrayal. Where it lands, I can’t tell you, but be prepared for the roller coaster of events that will evoke a huge range of  emotional turmoil and excitement. I continue to love Çeda as a protagonist. She is fierce not just in battle but also in personality. It’s quite interesting to see her handle life as a Blade Maiden, becoming part of what should be a close knit team, while also still working in secret to take down the Kings. Her every day life and training stands in conflict with what has pretty much been her life’s mission. Çeda is also much more alone in the beginning of this book. Emre, who has always been there for her in the past, is part of the Moonless Host. That alone is hard…

0
8/10
Review: Death’s Mistress by Terry Goodkind
Reviews / February 20, 2017

To put it bluntly, I never thought I would read anything else by Terry Goodkind again. After my disastrous first attempt to get into The Sword of Truth series, I almost turned down the opportunity to read Death’s Mistress, but now I’m very glad I didn’t. It’s been years since I last read Wizard’s First Rule, and it seemed a shame to potentially miss out on a good start to a new series especially when the author’s style or my reading tastes could have changed so much since. And as things turned out, I did have a surprisingly good time with this. I also had initial concerns about jumping in without having read the entirety of the previous series, but that was not a problem. The book follows Nicci, a “Death’s Mistress” and a former lieutenant of Emperor Jagang who has since switched her alliance after being converted to the right side by Richard. Now that the latter has solidified his rule, Nicci travels the world helping spread the word of his benevolence and letting everyone know that the world is free, while accompanied by the ex-prophet and wizard Nathan. At the beginning of this story Nathan decides to seek…

0
7/10
Review: The Black Wolves of Boston by Wen Spencer
Reviews / February 15, 2017

The Black Wolves of Boston is the first book in what I hope will be a series.  I enjoyed this, it was different than I expected, in fact much more deep in terms of the set up.  Basically, this is urban fantasy, there are werewolves, vampires, Virtues and Wickers but none of them are quite as I’ve read about them before.  Definitely a thinking piece with plenty to ponder over.  In fact, to be honest, if I had a clearer reading schedule I might be tempted to read this again just because there is such a lot of material to think about. At the start of the story we meet Joshua. Not more than 24 hours earlier Joshua’s life was torn apart, literally torn apart.  Out at a prom committee event the entire group that Joshua was with were massacred in some sort of frenzied attack and Joshua was left wounded.  He’s not wounded for long though, attacked by not any old animal but a werewolf, Joshua seems to be recovering at a positively indecent rate and pretty soon has to make a dash out of town before any one figures out what he is – or more to the…