Review: Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke

My Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A few facts about Blood Heirs:

  • Title: Blood Heirs
  • Author: Alicia Wanstall-Burke
  • Series: The Coraidic Sagas
  • Publisher: Self published by Alicia Wanstall-Burke
  • Pages: 335

I read Blood Heirs on my Kindle.

Synopsis:

Lidan Tolak is the fiercest of her father’s daughters; more than capable of one day leading her clan. But caught between her warring parents, Lidan’s world begins to unravel when another of her father’s wives falls pregnant. Before she has time to consider the threat of a brother, a bloody swathe is cut through the heart of the clan and Lidan must fight, not only to prove her worth, but simply to survive. 

Ranoth Olseta wants nothing more than to be a worthy successor to his father’s throne. When his home is threatened by the aggressive Woaden Empire, Ran becomes his city’s saviour, but powers within him are revealed by the enemy and he is condemned to death. Confused and betrayed, Ran is forced to flee his homeland, vowing to reclaim what he has lost, even if it kills him.

Facing an unknown future, and battling forces both familiar and foreign, can Lidan and Ran overcome the odds threatening to drag them into inescapable darkness?

Reviews:

Blood Heirs is a promising debut and sets itself up for a darkly entertaining second book. I enjoyed reading Blood Heirs due to the amazingly beautiful writing style that is Alicia Wanstall Burkes and the great characters, but I did find myself wondering where the story was going. 

The beasts, magic/curse, ghosts and monsters are all really enjoyable to read and bring the world to life. 

Both Lidan and Ranoth were great characters and I enjoyed their journeys so much, though both did fall flat at times for me. Thankfully, when I found myself wanting more or getting a little bored (for lack of a better word) the POV switched and the pacing shifted, balancing it out nicely. 

Wanstall Burke also did amazing to create complex and well developed secondary characters. Sellan and Erlon were great, as was Ran’s ghost friend and, although a small part, Brit. They fleshed out the word and added much appreciated detail to the characters journey and emotions.

At times I did feel like the two POVs were too separate, they felt worlds apart and totally disconnected. Having read the first installment I am still yet to see the bigger picture. To me this book felt more like a build-up to the second book as a lot, if not everything, is left unanswered. I will definitely read the second book as Wanstall Burkes makes it difficult not too. 

This is definitely a character-driven book, we see Lidan and Ranoth deal with their own problems and emotional turmoil. Both characters worlds are turned upside down and each is faced with a world-wind of emotions. The two need to decide who they are, what person they want to be, in a world filled with betrayal and deep family bonds, and what they want in the end. 

I did enjoy Blood Heir and I am intrigued to read the next book but I found the plot to be a little bland, which is silly because so much happened. I don’t know, it didn’t feel like it had a build up or a climax, and because of that I wasn’t able to rate it higher. Though, that is my only issue really, everything else about this book is brilliant. 


Review: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

My Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A few facts about The Bone Shard Daughter:

  • Title: The Bone Shard Daughter
  • Author: Andrea Stewart
  • Series: The Drowning Empire (Book One)
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Pages: 448

I read The Bone Shard Daughter on my Kindle and was provided with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people. 

(Goodreads)

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

Review:

The Bone Shard Daughter is an exceptionally good fantasy debut. With its imaginative word-building, unique magic and a brilliant cast of characters The Bone Shard Daughter hooks you and doesn’t let go.

The Bone Shard Daughter is set within a failing empire which is made up of several islands. The emperor rules in name only, while he spends his days hidden away in one of his many locked rooms  while his monstrous constructs regulate and police the empire. But at what cost? Rebellion is brewing and his people dying, this debuts follows several characters as they make their way through this world and find their place. 

Stewart tells this unique and intriguing story through the eyes of five very different people, Lin, Jovis, Ranami, Phalue and Sand, and in a slightly different way. Lin and Jovis are both written in first person while the other three POV’s are in third person. At first when I read that this was the case I was worried it would be terrible and come across disjointed and disruptive to the reading experience. This is not the case at all. 

With regards to the plot, Stewarts keeps a great pace and keeps you reading with this quite thrilling plot while thrusting you into a rather heartfelt journey. Stewart’s characters are well developed and rich in detail. I thoroughly enjoyed each characters journey and their growing relationships and loved reading each one of them, though Sand was my least favourite. I simply found myself wanting to get to another characters chapter sometimes. 

I really enjoyed Lin as a character and found her story the most gripping and intriguing but I truly loved Jovis and Mephi. I am an absolute sucker for a companion so this really did it for me. We are still yet to know just what Mephi is but it is obvious he is key. Ranami and Phalue, while having less of a spotlight were brilliant, and such a gem to read. The two characters brought forward a great deal of emotion. Stewart did brilliantly at portraying the issues they faced, one rich and one poor, while not leaning towards one lifestyle in particular. At times I felt, truly felt, for Ranami and the sheer frustration of Phalue’s insistence that the system worked yet in the next beat I was so angry at Ranami for risking Phalue and not thinking past her own needs to change her outlook. 

I loved the idea of the constructs within this story and the use of bone shards, it felt quite Frankenstein’ish in that these crazy constructs are made up of several animal parts and then imbued with life through bone shards. The magic is what caught my attention and it didn’t disappoint, we learn enough and understand it and its relevance but also are teased with a previous kind of magic, one elemental I nature. I suspect we will learn more of this and the mysterious Alanga in the next instalment.

Stewart’s writing style is lovely to read. I always feel like the beginning of a novel is the longest, It’s the waiting to fall into rhythm with the writing style and to form attachments to the characters, but with Stewart it didn’t take long to meet that rhythm. There was some repetitiveness with a few words and phrases but beyond that I felt that Stewarts’ writing was elegant and well written. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this debut and I am excited to read the next book. I can’t really find anything I didn’t like about this book. 

Official release date: 10th September 2020 (UK) and 8th September 2020 (US)

AVAILABLE FROM: | WHSMITH | AMAZON UK | AMAZON USA | FORBIDDEN PLANET | WATERSTONES


Review: Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst

My Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A few facts about Race the Sands:

  • Title: Race the Sands
  • Author: Sarah Beth Durst
  • Series: Standalone
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • Pages: 544

I read The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids on my Kindle.

Synopsis:

In this standalone fantasy, a pair of strong and determined women risk their lives battling injustice, corruption, and deadly enemies in their quest to become monster racing champions.

Life, death, and rebirth—in Becar, everyone knows that who you are in this life will determine what you are in your next life. The augurs can read your fate in your aura: hawk, heron, tortoise, jackal, human. Armed with that knowledge, you can change your destiny with the choices you make, both in this life and your next. But for the darkest individuals, there is no redemption: you come back as a kehok, a monster, and you will always be a kehok for the rest of time.

Unless you can win the Races.

As a professional trainer, Tamra was an elite kehok rider. Then a tragic accident on the track shattered her confidence, damaged her career, and left her nearly broke. Now Tamra needs the prize money to prevent the local temple from taking her daughter away from her, and that means she must once again find a winning kehok . . . and a rider willing to trust her.

Raia is desperate to get away from her domineering family and cruel fiancé. As a kehok rider, she could earn enough to buy her freedom. But she can’t become good enough to compete without a first-rate trainer.

Impressed by the inexperienced young woman’s determination, Tamra hires Raia and pairs her with a strange new kehok with the potential to win—if he can be tamed.

But in this sport, if you forget you’re riding on the back of a monster, you die. Tamra and Raia will work harder than they ever thought possible to win the deadly Becaran Races—and in the process, discover what makes this particular kehok so special.

(Goodreads)

Review:

Oh, this book! It is an absolutely amazing standalone fantasy and I found it even more pleasing as a reader having read the author’s comments at the end. 

I believe that fantasy is a literature of hope and empowerment. It can serve as a light in the darkness, as a guide toward strength, and as an escape from pain. It is my secret hope that someone will read Tamra and Raia’s story and realize that they can be who they want to be, that they can shape the world, that they can race the sands—and win.

Durst, Sarah Beth. Race the Sands.

This was my first time reading Durst’s work, and she certainly made an impression. I loved everything about this book and it is one of the most enjoyable books I have read this year.

Durst’s writing style is also lovely, it is well written and flows seamlessly. She just keeps you reading with each chapter. 

I was in love as soon as I finished the first chapter!

Tamra…just what a character she is. She was incredible because she was so real and strong. I truly appreciated her as a person, for me she was one of the main driving forces. I wanted to see her succeed and gods I wanted her to be able to protect her family. I found her character rather gritty who knew her flaws and had accepted them.

“Maybe they are purer than me. But that doesn’t make their actions right.”

The plot was great, it was filled with political manoeuvrings, intrigue, action sequences and obviously the kehok races. I found the whole thing to be really well paced and Durst kept me reading each chapter. The last ten or so percent of the books were really fun to read too! Though, not taking anything away from the rest of the book, I was so excited reading the conclusion. While I guessed most of how the story would unravel it made it no less enjoyable to read because Durst is an incredible storyteller.

While it was the whole riding monstrous kehok’s in a bid for redemption that initially grabbed me, it was the characters and the world-building that held me. Set in the desert world of Becar, Durst’s world-building is an experience. There was a healthy amount of description and focus on the spiritual culture of Becar.

I would definitely recommend this to fantasy fans both younger and older and feel this book is going to remain one of my favorites this year!! Durst blurs the lines between Young Adult and Adult in this book so it is more than appropriate for both readers. It would also serve, I feel, as a transitional read for those reading younger fantasy books who want to move into Adult Fantasy.

The only thing that prevents this from being a five is that I would like to have known the reason for the Lions ending… 

**Below is kinda spolier’ish. Maybe. I don’t think it tells to much but because I have been vague but if you don’t want to risk it stop reading.** 

Why didn’t it happen? Was the charm lost or corrupted? Did they want to honour him as he was? Would he be reborn a Kehok after this form despite the reasons behind his becoming of a Kehok? Answer those and this is becomes a five star rating in a breath.


Review: The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids:

  • Title: The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids
  • Author: Michael McClung
  • Series: Amra Thetys
  • Publisher: Self published by Mr McClung
  • Pages: 208

I read The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids on my Kindle first but I enjoyed it so much I bought the paperback and the next instalment for my shelves.

Synopsis:

*Winner of the Self Published Fantasy Blog-Off, Hosted by Mark Lawrence*

Amra Thetys lives by two simple rules—take care of business, and never let it get personal. Thieves don’t last long in Lucernis otherwise. But when a fellow rogue and good friend is butchered on the street in a deal gone wrong, she turns her back on burglary and goes after something more precious than treasure: Revenge.

Revenge, however, might be hard to come by. A nightmare assortment of enemies, including an immortal assassin and a mad sorcerer, believe Amra is in possession of The Blade That Whispers Hate—the legendary, powerful artifact her friend was murdered for—and they’ll do anything to take it from her. Trouble is, Amra hasn’t got the least clue where the Blade might be.

She needs to find the Blade, and soon, or she’ll be joining her colleague in a cold grave instead of avenging his death. Time is running out for the small, scarred thief.

Review:

“I think I know you well enough now to say that you’re wrong. It’s become fairly plain that you, Amra Thetys, given the choice between fighting and capitulating, will pick a fight every damned time.”

Mmm, this book guys! This book. It was just what I needed to read.

McClung does an incredible job of building Amra’s world, it is done so well and in a gradual way. Each interactions brings forth more of this amazing world without spending the first however many chapters dumping an enjoyable and excessive amount of information on you. A few times I came across terminology I didn’t know, and at first I wasn’t sure if it was a place or a race of people which was a little distracting. Though, more often than not they were later elaborated on it just sometimes threw me, more because I’d then sit there and wonder if I’d missed something that explained what it was and flick back a few paragraphs to check. Which inevitable pulls you from the story.

The intrigue and mystery that filled this brilliant plot was wonderful and kept me reading throughout. Despite the shorter length of this book none of it felt rushed or underdeveloped. The entire book kept a steady and exciting pace. The world McClung created meant that you were constantly wondering what would go wrong so none of it felt dull. 

I thoroughly enjoyed McClung’s writing style to, it was clean and crisp and enjoyable. At times it reminded me a little of Brian McClellan’s writing style but still remained uniquely it’s own. 

Paragraph length of this book was good, I like short chapters sometimes so I can stop if I need to, so it was good to see certain sections of the book having pauses…perfect for making tea 🙂

With a brilliant world McClung didn’t fail to fill it with great characters. Corbin only appeared shortly in this story and I thought he was great. Amra was fun to read as she was blunt and was stubborn as a mule but was brave, she was truly a great character filled with humour.

”He glanced up when I came in, then fixed his attention back on his carving. I think it was supposed to be a pheckla, but mostly it looked like a turd.”

McClung also filled the world with other characters all unique in some way, making Amra’s interactions with them great to experience. I’m especially liked her dealing with the High Priest. 

“Of course it’s real, you ignoramus. It’s real, extremely nasty, and very unhappy with its job. I shudder to think what would happen if it ever escaped the Necropolis. Gods willing, it would stumble across you first. Now piss off.”

I can not sing enough praises about this book, and fully understand why it won SPFBO. I would recommend this book to everyone, it is a series but can be read alone. I will definitely be reading the others! This is a fun read with a great female protagonist, a creative and gritty world and murder and intrigue. What’s not to love? 


Review: Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Promise of Blood:

  • Title: Promise of Blood
  • Author: Brian McClellan
  • Series: The Powder Mage Trilogy (Book One)
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Pages: 545

I read Promise of Blood on my Kindle first but I enjoyed it so much I bought the trilogy (paperback) for my shelves.

Synopsis:

The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it. 

It’s a bloody business overthrowing a king…Field Marshal Tamas’ coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved…Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should…

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets?

(Goodreads)

Review:

From start to finish, this book was outstanding. I don’t think I can find one thing I didn’t like about it. It was that good.

This was a completely new genre for me having never read flintlock fantasy before and I can definitely say it won’t be my last. I think the fact I had never read a book of this nature before only added to it’s enjoyment because I found the magic system brilliant. It was new (to me) and well thought out. The magic system is a high magic system, being central to the plot and its characters, it is consistent throughout the entire book and at no point do we see a break in the rules surrounding its use. I enjoyed the clarity of the magic, where it came from (black powder) and that it was sometimes costly. 

McClellan’s writing ability is flawless, he creates deep and meaningful connections and evokes a full range of emotions from the reader despite being beautifully crisp and simple. Pair that with the realism his characters possess and you have a winner. 

McClellan also excels in his world building, I didn’t once find myself overwhelmed with information, he gently weaves its setting (industrial revolution), culture and religion into the character interactions seamlessly. Laying what is a solid foundation for the other instalments of a wonderful series. 

Promise of Blood is told from several POV’s; Tamas, Taniel and Adamat (and that is probably the order in which I rate them 🙈). There is Nila too but she isn’t a huge feature. McClellan has crafted an incredible cast of characters for Promise of Blood, with even the smaller parts being memorable and entertaining. Tamas and Olem were particularly fun to read throughout, I loved the contrast between the two of them and how well they worked despite it. 

“Tamas suppressed a smile. He could like this man. Too free with his tongue, perhaps.

Tamas is all about rules and against his better judgment he likes Olem.

“Olem shrugged. “You’re a teetotaler, sir, and it’s well known among the men you won’t abide smoking either.” “Then why are you hiding it behind your back?” “Waiting for you to turn around so I can have a hit, sir.

Then you get another enjoyable duo; Taniel and Ka Poel. The fact that Ka Poel is mute just adds to this relationship, by seeing the way she communicates with gestures and body language is greatly entertaining. I certainly felt more from these two characters and could feel the connection between them, seeing its growth and understanding it more the further into the story and their development you get.

The pacing of this book is somewhat up and down, and does have several stages we’re it is slower and less exciting but I didn’t feel like this took anything away from the book.  This is because the story is filled with action, investigating, revenge, betrayal, political plays and more, all of which require different paces. 

As for the series: I have read the complete trilogy and would rate the overall experience as I have this book, with five big ass stars.