Tag: Book Review

Book Review: Crowfall – Ed McDonald

I’m really excited for today’s book review of Crowfall by Ed McDonald. Why I hear you ask? Well, only because this is my favourite read of the year!!! So far, at least.

Having read the earlier books in the series, I requested and gratefully received a copy of Crowfall from Gollancz for the purpose of reviewing this epic conclusion to the Raven’s Mark series. I can’t wait to get started, but first, you can check out my review of the previous book in the series, Ravencry using the link here. Once you are all up to date, here are the details, and my thoughts, on Crowfall: –

 

Crowfall – Ed McDonald

Goodreads – Crowfall

Crowfall is a gritty epic fantasy for fans of Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch and Daniel Polansky.

‘Dark, twisty and excellent . . . Grimdark with heart’ Mark Lawrence

A sorceress cataclysm has hit the Range, the final defensive line between the Republic and the immortal Deep Kings.

Tormenting red rains sweep the land, new monstrosities feed on fear in the darkness, and the power of the Nameless, the gods who protect the Republic, lies broken. The Blackwing captains who serve them are being picked off one by one, and even immortals have learned what it means to die. Meanwhile the Deep Kings have only grown stronger, and are poised to deliver a blow that will finally end the war.

Ryhalt Galharrow stands apart from it all.

He has been deeper into the wasteland known as the Misery than ever before. It has grown within him – changed him – but all power comes with a price, and now the ghosts of his past, formerly confined to the Misery, walk with him everywhere.

They will even follow him, and the few surviving Blackwing captains, on one final mission into the darkness.

 

My Thoughts…

You know that bittersweet feeling of wanting to finish a series to find out what happens, but then not wanting to finish it because then it’s all over? Crowfall is definitely one of those for me. The world, the magic and fantasy setting are truly unique. And the characters have to be some of my favourites. It turns out I’m a sucker for a reluctant, non-altruistic hero.

Grimdark is a genre I want to read more of as a result of this series. I have read a few other grimdark fantasy novels, namely Mark Lawrence’s The Broken Empire series and I have plenty more on my TBR. I enjoy the blurred lines around “heroes” and the amorality of the characters. As a genre, I feel it has a sense of gritty realism – uncertainty as to how events are going to pan out. Classic fantasy has a lot of overused tropes, in my opinion. I want to be worried about my favourite main characters. In dark and life-threatening situations, I don’t want to trust that a character will make it through because they are pivotal to a story. As a reader, I thrive off the danger of knowing anything could happen at any moment… that no one is safe from harm.

Ryhalt is one of my favourite fantasy characters of all time. Before the events of Blackwing and Ravencry twisted him into the man he has become in the opening pages of Crowfall, he already had a sarcastic sense of humour that I loved. He has always had a cynical, pessimistic view of life which fits in so well with the tone of the novels. Corrupted my magic born of death and devastation wrought years earlier, he is far from the ideal candidate to prevent such devastation again.

Crowfall truly is the epic conclusion to this series, and I was hooked on it. I read it from cover to cover in a matter of days and I was absorbed from start to finish! I don’t want to spoil even a single thing so I am trying to comment as little on the plot as possible. All I will say is that I don’t think you will be disappointed. I wasn’t!

Will I be re-reading this series again? Absolutely! The world captured in the pages of these books is truly unique, and one I could re-visit again and again without getting bored.

 

 

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Discussion Post: How to write book reviews… (and how I write mine!)

How do you write a review?

Everyone has their own way of approaching the task – there really is no right or wrong way to do it. Naturally, you are taking the opportunity to express your opinion, so it’s a completely personal experience.

I like reading other bloggers reviews. I love the variety of style and structure to other bloggers writing, compared to my own. There are the same underpinning conventions, but we all have creative licence to do things our own way.

In today’s post, I want to touch on some of the things I do (and don’t do!) when writing my book reviews. So, shall we get into it?

 

Make Notes Beforehand?

I don’t really make notes as I read. I have tried, but I never stick to it. It interrupts my reading flow and does more harm than good in the end.

If I don’t wait too long to write my reviews then usually my thoughts are fresh in my head and the review is easy to write. That’s also the case if a book makes a good impression on me. I do struggle occasionally. I’ll freely admit in that case that I’ll look at other people’s thoughts and reviews. I would never copy a review, but I’ll shamelessly admit that I’ll use it as a prompt to ask myself what I thought about the same subject. It works!

 

Describe the Plot

I am not a big fan of reading detailed, lengthy plot descriptions, hashing out 80% of the book before reading a person’s review. I do read posts by bloggers who do this, and to be honest I just skip this section. I’ll have already read the synopsis of the book. If I read a post that summarises the vast majority of a book (minus the spoiler /ending), do I want to read the book then? Honestly, no. You may not have given the ending away, but the plotline and enjoyment of the rest of the book has been taken away from me. Why waste several hours reading something I already know?

Sometimes review points need a little context and I don’t have a problem with that. There is a balance, however.

 

Expressing views

I always write my reviews as honestly as I can. That is the point, after all. Reviewsfeed is my place to express my views. As a reviewer, I couldn’t in good conscience lie about my experience of a book. How could readers ever trust me to be honest again? It’s probably one of the easiest ways for others to lose their respect for you… and yet, it’s so easy to feel pressured into not saying something that may not be popular.

I’m not saying all bloggers should be brutally honest about their opinions. Saying that a book that an author has poured hundreds of hours into to publish is **** is uncouth. That doesn’t mean you have to lie or even gloss over the fact in your review; there is a way to be tactful about it. If I thought a book was that bad and I had nothing good to say about it, truthfully, I just wouldn’t review it.

I once gifted a handmade jumper to a family member for Christmas. It is one of the very first big crochet projects I completed, and I am really proud of it! That jumper has remained in that person’s wardrobe to the present day, unworn. They’re being tactful; they won’t get rid of it but they haven’t worn it either. I know I love it more than they do because I know how much time and effort went into it, and that’s okay.

That said, I really wouldn’t mind if they got rid of it now. It is several years old.

 

Star Ratings

Some bloggers like to breakdown their ratings based on various aspects of a book and then average the ratings. From other bloggers, I actually quite like reading these. It’s not something I will ever do though. Don’t get me wrong, I am quite an organised and orderly person (mostly), but I find this approach a bit too regimented.

In a sense I do take this approach, but I am a lot more flexible with it. I would describe myself as more of a mood reviewer. In my mind, sometimes character development may be more important than world-building. Personally, narrative style is a make-or-break thing with me and books. The story could be fantastic, but if I don’t enjoy the way a story is written it will hamper my enjoyment of it. I like to rate the overall experience of the book in a less rigid manner.

Also, I rarely put star ratings on my blog. I have used them in my Throwback Review posts, but I try to avoid them. In my opinion, star ratings are well and good, but the more important bit is the explanation of why I have rated a book a certain way. So, that’s what I focus on in my reviews on my blog. My star ratings are for Goodreads.

How do you write a review? What do you do differently? Do you agree with me?

 

 

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Book Review: Thran Book 1 – Brian McLaughlin

For day 2 of Blogtober I am sharing a book review of Thran Book 1: The Birth, which was sent to me by Voracious Readers Only in exchange for review. Thank you to them and to the author, Brian McLaughlin, who I have been working closely with lately. In addition to today’s review, I will also be sharing an interview with Brian tomorrow. In that post we talk about the fictional world of Thran, the influences behind the book and Brian also shares some of his knowledge and experiences in publishing.

That’s for you to look forward to tomorrow! Today’s post is all about the book, and my honest thoughts on it.

 

Thran Book 1: The Birth

Goodreads – Thran Book 1: The Birth

Set in the mythical world of Thran, a young warrior named Brutal Mixnor sets out on an adventure to uncover the truth about his father’s mysterious disappearance after a battle years earlier. Some longtime friends and new acquaintances join him in his search, each with their own reasons for braving the danger-filled wilds of the Cruel Pass. Follow the young adventurers and watch as their powers grow, along with the strength of the enemies they encounter. Discover the complex, imperfect, characters of all races, comprising the full spectrum of alignments (good, neutral, and evil) that weave their way into and out of the story, leaving their mark on the reader as the world of Thran is pushed towards cataclysmic war and suffering.

For readers familiar with the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons(R), Thran Book I: The Birth will feel like a warm wave of nostalgia washing over you, and the unfamiliar will get a glimpse of what it’s like to be immersed into the heart of an adventure that transports you into a world where magic abounds and almost anything is possible, but nothing is certain. Visit https: //www.worldofthran.com/ to learn more about the world of Thran, including: character portraits, the world map, the pantheon of deities, and more!

 

Purchase Links:  Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

When I say Thran is an epic fantasy book, I am not kidding! At 655 pages, this novel stands its ground in the fantasy genre. If you enjoy role-playing games you will recognise the format of the narrative and character types. The structure of the narrative is like Dungeons and Dragons, or perhaps a more modern example, Dragon Quest.

One of the biggest factors that I judge fantasy novels on is the world-building. It was very clear to me from the beginning that a lot of work has gone into developing the world and framing the narrative. The detail illustrates an advanced world, without being excessive or stalling the storyline at any point. This is consistent throughout so the pace of the narrative and balance between action/information is achieved.

The only place I would suggest that there was a little too much detail for me is in the combat scenes. It’s probably a matter of personal preference, but I envisage these as being a little punchier (excuse the pun!) What I will say is that evidently Brian has sequenced these out before committing pen to paper. I was a lot more interested in the continuation of the plot and development of the storyline, so I confess I started to skim-read some of these.

I really enjoyed the dual timeline structure and the narrative of Anthall, perhaps slightly more than the present-day narrative. This contributes to a lot of the historical side of the world-building, and there are subtle ties to the present-day if you can pick up the clues! Having the two intertwining storylines breaks up each storyline so as not to become too lengthy. It makes a refreshing change to read the different perspective. It is too early for what I think will be a complex storyline to be experienced by one set of characters without a rushed conclusion.

I am interested to see how the storyline will pan out throughout the rest of the series. Thran Book 1 provides a strong foundation to a unique fantasy tale and there is plenty more to explore in the world of Thran.

 

 

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Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

Good evening readers and fellow bloggers! I hope you are having a lovely week so far!

In today’s post I am reviewing a book that had been on my TBR for a number of years before I finally picked it up in June – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. I read the book within two days, which to my mind speaks volumes about how much I loved it. It has a unique narrative and character perspective, which is the reason I wanted to read it in the first place. For readers unexperienced with Asberger’s Syndrome, it is a real insight into the perception of someone who has it and the difficulties that come along with it.

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

Goodreads – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

 

My Thoughts…

Christopher has such a unique way of looking at life. He doesn’t understand social cues and hates being stuck in a crowd. Despite being a remarkably intelligent young man, who at fifteen is taking his A-Level in Maths, there are elements of his personality that remind you just how endearingly childlike he is.

The neighbour’s dog Wellington is murdered and Christopher’s carefully controlled world spirals into chaos. He resolves that he is going to solve the murder, despite his father’s insistence on keeping his nose out. He finds himself discovering far more than he anticipated and embarks on a journey that pushes his boundaries to the limits.

By the end of the narrative, Christopher has matured in his own way. He still battles with the Asberger’s, but he endures the discomfort and steps outside of his comfort zone in order to uncover the mystery that presents itself in his own life. It’s a difficult experience for him, but he emerges on the other side a wiser boy, better equipped to experience some of the wider world. One step at a time, perhaps, but he has broader horizons.

In terms of the narrative, I think a very fine balance was achieved to complement the personality of Christopher. The overall cohesiveness of the narrative reflects Christopher’s older and more developed side. He is able to write about a subject with clear ideas and without wandering too far astray. His recollection of events and conversations is remarkable too. There are times, particularly with Christopher is under stress, that his literacy regresses a little. The sentences can become simpler and more childlike in their focus.

One quote from the book has stuck with me because it is completely true: –

 

Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.

 

I love Mark Haddon’s portrayal of such a unique character. As a reader, you cannot help but will Christopher on when he is struggling. We take every step of the journey with him and watch him grow into the young man he is due to become. His faultless logic on topics allows us to see things from a completely different and refreshing point of view.

I loved the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time! It is definitely a book I will revisit and read again.

 

 

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Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: The Beltane Choice – Nancy Jardine

Today’s review of The Beltane Choice is the second blog tour post of the week! The Beltane Choice was the first book I picked up this month, despite not being the first tour date. I was in the mood for historical fiction, so why not? I knew I had plenty of time.

As always, I would like to take the chance to say a huge thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour. She has just celebrated her second year of starting up her blog tour business – so congratulations are in order too!

 

The Beltane Choice – Nancy Jardine

Goodreads – The Beltane Choice

AD 71 Northern Roman Britain

Lorcan of the Brigantes knows that unity of the northern tribes is essential when the Ancient Roman legions advance northwards to Brigantia. Yet, everything comes at a price. Using his captive, Nara, as a political bargain with the Selgovae comes with impossible stipulations. Battle at Whorl – Iron Age tribes against the Romans – is inevitable.

Will Nara have her Beltane choice?

The adventures of the Garrigill Clan begin…

 

Purchase Link – Amazon.com

 

My Thoughts…

I signed up to the blog tour for The Beltane Choice as a means of exploring a new period of British History. It isn’t something I have studied extensively. Most of my school history lessons revolved around the World Wars, the Cold War and American History. The ‘oldest’ British history I have read to date goes back to the Viking invasion of Britain, which occurs several hundred years after the events of this series. The year is AD71; Nara and Lorcan are brought together by chance on the road, but little do they know they each have a larger part to play in the face of a new threat – Roman invaders.

One of the most significant elements of the book is the relationship that develops between Lorcan and Nara. It’s pivotal to the plot and the wider series, on the whole, so I’m not going to mark it down for that. It wasn’t my favourite aspect, however. It’s in no way a criticism – it’s relevant and appropriate. I am just not a lover of romantic fiction and I would say the novel is as much romantic fiction as it is historical fiction.

I enjoyed the overall development of the story. The goal of uniting small tribes to face the threat posed by the Romans is clear from the start, yet far from an easy task for the characters to accomplish. Lorcan, a messenger and effectively a mediator, must travel to new and dangerous lands. It is on one such trip that he discovers Nara in her plight. He takes her captive and brings her back to his tribe, where he learns her identity and the role she must play to give them a chance at survival.

I like how the chapters are broken down by location in order to help us keep track of what is happening when. The narrative takes place in various locations across modern-day Northern England, as a lot of travel takes place. Some chapters switch perspective and location from Nara to Lorcan, although this isn’t common. As and when it occurs, the transition flows. Each character is quite distinctive from the other and easy to identify so settling into the new perspective is seamless.

The Beltane Choice and the events within have established the wider plotline to be explored in the remainder of the series. I can’t wait to see where events take us in the later books; how will the Selgovae and Garrigill tribes meet the Roman threat? I’m already signed up to take part in the blog tours for the later books as well, so I don’t have too long to wait…

 

Giveaway to Win x1 signed paperback of The Beltane Choice to one UK winner; X1 kindle copy worldwide

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494276/

 

Author Bio –

Nancy Jardine writes historical fiction; time-travel historical adventure; contemporary mystery thrillers; and romantic comedy. She lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where life is never quiet or boring since she regularly child minds her young grandchildren who happen to be her next-door neighbours. Her garden is often creatively managed by them, though she does all the work! Her husband is a fantastic purveyor of coffee and tea…excellent food and wine! (Restorative, of course)

A member of the Historical Novel Society; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland; Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Independent Alliance of Authors, her work has achieved finalist status in UK competitions.

 

Social Media Links –

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk

Website: www.nancyjardineauthor.com/

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG & http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G

Twitter https://twitter.com/nansjar

Amazon Author page http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5139590.Nancy_Jardine

 

Blog Tour Book Review: Ring Fenced – Zach Abrams

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Ring Fenced everyone! I hope you are as excited as I am for this post. I have not long finished reading this book, and I completed it from start to finish in less than two days. Does that give you an idea of what kind of review this is going to be? It should!

As always, let’s begin by saying a huge thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour. Also, thank you to Zach Abrams for a copy of Ring Fenced as well!

 

Ring Fenced

Goodreads – Ring Fenced

Sex. Money. Power. Control. Benjamin wants it all.

He is Bennie, a loving husband and father; Benjie, a beloved son. He climbs the ladder as Ben, a corporate banker, and rakes in money as a bestselling author. And when he wants to escape it all, Benjamin styles himself as Jamie — the lover of a beautiful musician.

His life, in a word, is perfect. But after years of keeping his separate personae a secret, cracks begin to appear in the façade.

When an unexpected series of events topples Benjamin’s carefully crafted world, his separate lives collide with dire consequences.

 

Purchase Links – Amazon      Next Chapter     Amazon US     Amazon UK

Ring Fenced is on an Amazon Countdown Promotion – selling at 99c /99p from 11-15 Sept 2019

 

My Thoughts…

I started reading Ring Fenced on Saturday and was sucked into the story right away. Benjamin / Ben / Bennie / Benjie / Jamie are all aliases for one man living very different lives simultaneously. He has a penchant for control and has successfully managed to keep each of his lives apart – until now. Extraneous events in each life drag him out of his safely established routine… and that’s where it all starts to go wrong.

Benjamin is not a likeable character. He’s competitive, manipulative and sordid in equal measure. When he is not Benjie, (oppressed by his parents, siblings and the expectations of their religion) or family-man Bennie, a darker side emerges. By night, Benjamin is an erotic writer for a website he helped to build in his early adult years. When the stories aren’t enough he takes on the persona of Jamie to live out his fantasies with other women.

He is a character you love to dislike. I looked forward to watching his life fall apart. It is no less than he deserves.

The writing style and pace of the novel are very easy to slip into. Ring Fenced is really easy to read as a result; it’s one of those books you can either pick up and put down at leisure or lose a lot of time in. At 228 pages, it’s also comparatively shorter than other books I have read recently. That works in its favour though. There is sufficient detail to invest in Ben’s various aliases and lives and explain his choices, without extraneous, irrelevant information that could drag the narrative down.

Ring Fenced is Zach Abrams debut novel, which amazes me! The novel demonstrates all the skill and prowess of a well-crafted, established author. He balances character development and execution of the plot in a way that complements each other brilliantly. After reading Ring Fenced, I would definitely pick up any of a number of novels Zach Abrams has published since.

 

Author Bio –

Having the background of a successful career in commerce and finance, Zach Abrams has spent many years writing reports, letters and presentations and it’s only fairly recently he started writing novels. “It’s a more honourable type of fiction,” he declares.

Writer of the Alex Warren Murder Mystery series, set in Scotland, Zach has also written the psychological thriller ‘Ring Fenced’ and the financial thriller ‘Source’, as well as collaborating with Elly Grant on a book of short stories.

Zach is currently producing a non-fiction series to help small businesses -using the collective title ‘Mind Your Own Business’. The first, ‘So, You Think You Want to be a Landlord’ is already available.

Social Media Links –

Website : http://zachabrams.wix.com/zach-abrams
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Zach-Abrams-author-463346010364540/
Twitter: @authorway

 

Book Review: Kau D’varza – David Noë

Hello fellow readers! I hope you are having a good week?

Today I am taking a brief respite from the older reviews in the pipeline. Instead, I am reviewing a book I have read more recently. I am always trying to read more in the way of science fiction, so when I was approached to read and review Kau D’varza I jumped at the chance. If you have been following my blog since the early days then you may recall I read and reviewed Seeker. Seeker is written by David Noë and Laura Loolaid and set in the same universe.

So, a full disclaimer – I have received a copy of Kau D’varza for the purpose of offering an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Now we’ve gotten the boring bit out of the way, shall we get to the important bit?

 

Kau D’varza

Goodreads – Kau D’varza

Even in the vastness of space, trouble finds a way.

When Elise Rivera arrived on Kau D’varza, a distant station near an anomaly known as the Void Cloud, she’d hoped to escape the troubles of her homeworld. Now, the appearance of a mysterious freighter places her new home under threat; a threat that Elise – along with station commissioner Gierre Nevos, his aide Specialist Kaska Stone, and a team led by Commander-Captain Joseph Raffa – must race against time to avert.

 

My Thoughts…

Our adventures in Kau D’varza begin with Elise being arrested for hacking into the Kau D’varza network. Passionate about keeping civilians in the know about current affairs of the station, she quickly finds herself in hot water. Despite her infringements, officials of the station see potential in Elise. She is given a job at the station that challenges her to prove her intellect and resourcefulness – skills needed to save the station from an outside threat.

Kau D’varza expands on the already established realms of the ChaosNova Universe. As a much longer novel there is greater opportunity to explore the inner workings of the system. Where Seeker follows the adventures of Jewel, Kau D’varza’s narrative has more extensively developed world history and complex political relations. Together, these make ChaosNova a detailed, comprehensive universe. I really enjoyed the elements of travel throughout, as enough action and dialogue keep the narrative flowing nicely.

With new worlds and advanced technology comes a whole host of new language. It is rare that novels ‘work’ when this element is hurried and/or underdeveloped; it can be intimidating or make the reader lose interest. Kau D’varza even has its own terminology for its technology and the passage of time (although not dissimilar to those we are used to). Despite not being a huge reader of science-fiction I didn’t find myself overwhelmed.

A lot of the novel is written in the form of dialogue, but I didn’t find it lacking in action as a result of that. The dialogue allows us as the reader to get a real feel for the dynamics and relationships between all the characters. As you might expect from a space station on the outskirts of an extensive universe, there is a real sense of community between the residents of Kau D’varza. Elise begins the novel as the outsider; however, she quickly becomes part of the community despite her reservations on the matter.

Kau D’varza is a really enjoyable jaunt into the realms of science fiction. That I don’t read as much of the genre as I do others makes the experience more exciting when I do. It was great to take another trip into the ChaosNova universe and learn more about it. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the author David Noë for inviting me to read and review the book- it was a pleasure to read!

 

 

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Book Review: Maskerade – Terry Pratchett

I cannot believe it has been nearly four months since I finished reading Maskerade…but Goodreads doesn’t lie! If my review didn’t feel overdue before (which it did), then it certainly does now…

 

Maskerade

Goodreads – Maskerade

‘I thought: opera, how hard can it be? Songs. Pretty girls dancing. Nice scenery. Lots of people handing over cash. Got to be better than the cut-throat world of yoghurt, I thought. Now everwhere I go there’s…’

Death, to be precise. And plenty of it. In unpleasant variations. This isn’t real life – it’s worse. This is the Opera House, Ankh-Morpork…a huge, rambling building, where innocent young sopranos are lured to their destiny by a strangely-familiar evil mastermind in a mask and evening dress, with a penchant for lurking in shadows, occasional murder, and sending little notes full of maniacal laughter and exclamation marks. Opera can do that to a man.

But Granny Weatherwax, Discworld’s most famous witch, is in the audience. And she doesn’t hold with that sort of thing. So there’s going to be trouble (but nevertheless a good evenin’s entertainment with murders you can really hum…). And the show MUST go on.

 

My Thoughts…

I went into reading Maskerade with both a sense of excitement and a little worry. A Discworld novel with a plot focussed on performing arts should be right up my street. I really enjoyed the theatre (watching and taking part) growing up. Did you know I have a GCSE and A-Level equivalent in Performing Arts? You do now! For the very same reasons, I was really looking forward to reading Moving Pictures. Unfortunately though, that didn’t really live up to expectation.

Thankfully Maskerade finds itself in higher esteem. Not only did the tale centring on the Phantom of the Opera intrigue me, but it helps that this is a Witches story! I love Gytha Ogg and Granny Weatherwax – they never fail to make me laugh with their funny ideas of the way the world works and their meddling!

Of course, Granny Weatherwax made a great play of her independence and self-reliance. But the point about that kind of stuff was that you needed someone around to be proudly independent and self-reliant at. People who didn’t need people needed people around to know that they were the kind of people who didn’t need people.

Maskerade features a variety of characters, old and new. Together they’re a fantastic cast (pun intended!). The combination of new faces keeps things interesting whilst the already established and firm favourites deliver the wit and familiarity of the other Discworld novels.

I love how humorously Terry Pratchett writes his parodies. He has the ability to take any subject and make it hilariously enjoyable to read. The Discworld novels are so easy to pick up and put down at leisure. They’re probably one of the “lightest” reads I go back to time and again. If I’m having a bit of a slump or find myself bogged down in more complicated plotlines, these are always great books to turn to for relief.

Have you read Maskerade or any of the Discworld novels? What’s your favourite?

 

 

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Book Review: Seventh Decimate – Stephen Donaldson

In today’s post I’ll be sharing my review of Seventh Decimate by Stephen Donaldson. After receiving a copy of The War Within, the sequel from Gollancz, I picked up a copy of Seventh Decimate at my local library. I cannot read books out of a series out of order, so I grabbed my copy of this a month before I planned to read The War Within. Seventh Decimate and The War Within have turned out to be on totally different levels of fantasy… but more on that below!

 

Seventh Decimate

Goodreads – Seventh Decimate

The acclaimed author of the Thomas Covenant Chronicles launches a powerful new trilogy about a prince’s desperate quest for a sorcerous library to save his people.

Fire. Wind. Pestilence. Earthquake. Drought. Lightning. These are the six Decimates, wielded by sorcerers for both good and evil.

But a seventh Decimate exists–the most devastating one of all…

For centuries, the realms of Belleger and Amika have been at war, with sorcerers from both sides brandishing the Decimates to rain blood and pain upon their enemy. But somehow, in some way, the Amikans have discovered and invoked a seventh Decimate, one that strips all lesser sorcery of its power. And now the Bellegerins stand defenseless.

Prince Bifalt, eldest son of the Bellegerin King, would like to see the world wiped free of sorcerers. But it is he who is charged with finding the repository of all of their knowledge, to find the book of the seventh Decimate–and reverse the fate of his land.

All hope rests with Bifalt. But the legendary library, which may or may not exist, lies beyond an unforgiving desert and treacherous mountains–and beyond the borders of his own experience. Wracked by hunger and fatigue, sacrificing loyal men along the way, Bifalt will discover that there is a game being played by those far more powerful than he could ever imagine. And that he is nothing but a pawn…

 

My Thoughts…

Seventh Decimate is a classic coming-of-age tale and introduction to an epic fantasy series. Prince Bifalt has lived within the threatened borders of Belleger all his life. Constant skirmishes with their neighbours in Amika have been ongoing for generations. That is, until one day their magic is gone. Convinced Amika is responsible for their plight, Prince Bifalt sets out on a journey to restore their magic. He learns just how small a world he has been living in and that larger forces are at play…

Prince Bifalt himself is far from perfect. As the eldest son, he feels the pressure to perform his role and not fail his mission keenly. As the adventure unfolds the prince is plagued by self-doubt and a stubborn arrogance accompanying his birthright. He is ruled by honour and public perception dictates his behaviour a lot – and not always in a good way. Seventh Decimate has set him up so we can expect a lot of personal development from him.

In addition to Bifalt a number of colourful characters are met along the way, which introduces the wider plot for us as the reader.

Seventh Decimate is an enjoyable tale, however, compared to The War Within it’s a drop in the ocean. An introduction, really. I feel it deliberately mirrors the main character, Prince Bifalt and his experiences. Up until the end of book one, he is very small-minded about the world and his priorities. In book two he has a far larger weight on his shoulders. I’ll save the details for my review on The War Within though. I only mention it in passing to give an idea of how simplistic his character and plight is by comparison.

I think of Seventh Decimate as the prologue of the series, if I’m honest. Whilst the main action of the series will follow in later books, Seventh Decimate is an enjoyable opening narrative to the more complex plot of book two, and hopefully beyond.

 

 

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Audiobook Review: Godsgrave – Jay Kristoff

It’s been a couple of months since I reviewed an audiobook and nearly a year ago since I reviewed Nevernight. I was shocked to see that! I hadn’t realised it had taken me so long to listen to and now review Godsgrave! Since we are less than a month away from the release of Darkdawn, the next book of the series, I’m putting that right! So, without further adieu…

 

Godsgrave – Jay Kristoff

Goodreads – Godsgrave

A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.

Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

Set in the world of Nevernight, which Publishers Weekly called “absorbing in its complexity and bold in its bloodiness,” Godsgrave will continue to thrill and satisfy fantasy fans everywhere.

 

My Thoughts…

As with Nevernight, Godsgrave is narrated by Holter Graham. I’m a sucker for consistency. It wouldn’t matter how good a narrator someone else is, it wouldn’t be the same. There is something about the way that he narrates these books that bring each character into life.

Itreya opens up beyond Godsgrave and the Red Church, introducing us first-hand to new places throughout the Republic. This expands from the lore already introduced by way of commentary throughout the book. As with Nevernight, the details and world-building are blended seamlessly into the narrative. Jay Kristoff does a fantastic job of touching upon details already explained to aid understanding without repeating it constantly and making the listener feel stupid.

The Republic, its structure and politics are more complex than ever. To put herself in a position to avenge her familia, Mia must endure months of intense training and risk her life on the Sands. Her determination is unrivalled, though she isn’t without the upper hand. Being Darken has its advantages, as well as raising a lot of questions. The darkness around Mia and her need for revenge is exciting. She is ruthless and will do whatever it takes to achieve her goals.

I often think that she is so consumed with revenge that she will have no drive once she’s fulfilled her purpose. Will this change in Darkdawn? Who can say? Well, we will find out soon, won’t we?!

Whilst I’m not optimistic, a real part of me refuses to accept some of the events that have happened in the books so far. I’m secretly hoping that things are not as they seem, but I’m not counting on it. The books are certainly on the end of darker fantasy and the current way of things reflects that nature.

Have you read or listened to Nevernight or Godsgrave? Are you excited for Darkdawn?

 

 

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