BOOK REVIEW | PHOENIX EXTRAVAGANT BY YOON HA LEE

Hello Bookish Beings…

Today I am going to be reviewing Phoenix Extravagant. I would like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for approving my request of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: Phoenix Extravagant
  • Author: Yoon Ha Lee
  • Series: Standalone
  • Published by Solaris
  • Pages: 346

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Dragons. Art. Revolution.

Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. They just want to paint.

One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.

But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the awful source of the magical pigments they use—they find they can no longer stay out of politics.

What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight…

ORDER HERE: Audible | Kindle | Paperback | Bookshop.Org

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • A dragon automaton;
  • An exciting setting with colonisation and a beautiful culture at risk of being wiped out;
  • Serious artsy vibes; and
  • Politics, rebellion and war.

On to the full review…

I really love the cover of this book, it is so appropriate for this book and sets the tone brilliantly.

Phoenix Extravagant is quite a wholesome book, with strong themes of family and friendship. It tackles the trials of dealing with grief and the relationship between two sisters with different motivations. In respect of the sisters relationship I would have loved to see more scenes between them to really show their relationship just to give more depth to them, while I understood their motivations and reasons I didn’t feel them of really care for them.

The world and setting is lovely and quite atmospheric, Yoon Ha Lee has imbued this tale with historical influences and has skilfully woven art and culture into it while not neglecting the resistance present to the conquering forces present and the response to the and their actions.

I do feel like my main issue with this book, is that most of the characters and elements I found the most interesting seemed to only be surface deep. There is a massacre that the characters need to unravel and it just had no punch and it falls into the background with little emphasis. It is a massacre for goodness sake that is a horrifying act and I felt nothing for it. It was also the event that set things in motion for the most part and it went nowhere, which also meant that I was constantly wondering where this book was going. What I thought would be the driving plot in this book wasn’t, and I was left wondering how it would end. While I did like the ending because it gave me Mulan vibes it didn’t feel built up.

There are obviously some great points to this book and I did enjoy it, I just wanted more. It is a book that touches on so many issues and historically inspired events that have so much emotion attached to them and I just didn’t get that in this book.

Our main character is a well written character, I quite liked that despite all the external influences they remained themself. There was some growth and the inevitable changes to a person when you come to meet others with different ideals than you but I really liked that our main character didn’t deviate from what we knew to be their character, they remained consistent. They stood strong in the face of so much and that was great to see and experience.

On the fact of characters though, Arzi stole the show! It was such fun reading the scenes in which the automaton was involved. Arzi had a great personality, it had an inner strength and understanding of a world it had not yet truly experienced and seeing Arzi asking Jebi to try this and explain that was such a wholesome experience. Their growing friendship was this books biggest strength.

Even though, I clearly had a few issues with this book I did enjoy it. It has a beautiful setting and is written beautifully, I genuinely cared for the art in this book and it’s destruction. It just a shame that’s all I really cared for. It has its stumbles but with Arzi and Jebi relationship, the art and historically influenced setting it has pulled together three Goodreads stars but it doesn’t have all I personally want from a book.


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

This is my first library rental or sale ranking, which isn’t necessarily bad because this rank covers books i liked but would want to pay the price for or ones that are well written but are not suited to my tastes.

In this are it is a bit f both of the above comments, it isn’t the cheapest eBook, whileI enjoyed certain elements I wouldn’t pay the £6’ish it costs. If it was £2.99 then it would be an eBook rating but it isn’t so this would be a wait for sale for me.


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | COLD FROM THE NORTH BY D. W. ROSS

Hello Bookish Folk!

Today, I am reviewing the first instalment to a new self-published series by D. W. Ross, and his debut no less. A massive thank you to D. W. Ross for sending me a copy of this book I exchange for an honest review.

You can order this book through the affiliate links on the page, of which, I will earn a small commission for qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: Cold From The North
  • Author: by D.W. Ross
  • Published by Self Published
  • Pages: 365

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Driven by the promise of an ancient prophecy which will bring the dark ways of an old god back to power and prominence, an army of invaders swarms Ogulf Harlsbane’s homeland slaughtering all those who oppose them.

Along with his people, Ogulf must seek refuge from this savage force. In his search of sanctuary, he is tasked with finding the one person who can put a stop to the onslaught.

Doing so will send him across lands and seas, have him and his closest friend navigate the intricacies of a civil war, and try to win the help of the princess fighting for her throne.

If he fails, darkness will prevail and the reign of the Onyxborn will begin.

ORDER HERE: Kindle (Free on Kindle Unlimited) | Paperback

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from :

  • A solid debut;
  • A travelling tale that showcases a brilliant nordic/viking’esque world; and
  • A world rich in lore and an oh so interesting history.

On to the full review…

Cold From the North is a very well written debut, it has a very well built nordic inspired world and it is an enjoyable read.

As I said this is a nordic-inspired story and that made for a great world, Ross has gone to great lengths to build this world and make it feel authentic and real. It is in the little details that you get to see this, and it is woven into the plot quite well. I love nordic tales, it is a time and setting I always have fun reading and never seem to get tired of.

This book is a fairly plot driven book, and you are constantly moving forward within the story though it does lull at times and I personally would have liked more action fitting to this world, but as a first instalment it is somewhat expected. Having said that however, when the action did happen it was very well written, I loved that it felt bloody and battle-like.

I enjoyed the character’s Ross created, they were interesting and each felt worthy of your time but I would have liked more by way of character development and dialogue. I found I could go quite a while and not see a conversation, this is an utterly personal criticism though and really isn’t a huge issue, it is just some I noticed while reading.

While reading this I found myself enjoying the lessons in history of this world, I always like past tales and often think to myself, I could read a story about that!

Overall, this is a great first instalment to a series, Ross does not write like a newb and his writing is elegant and well written.


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

BUY THE EBOOK…Despite enjoying this I had a few personal preference points that meant this would be an eBook purchase for me.


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD BY T.L. HUCHU

Good Evening Bookish Folk!

Todays review will be of T. L. Huchu’s The Library of the Dead. I would like to thank Tor for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Library of the Dead
  • Author: by T.L. Huchu
  • Narrated by: Tinashe Warikandwa
  • Series: Edinburgh Nights (Book One)
  • Published by Tor
  • Pages: 288
  • Narration Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

When a child goes missing in Edinburgh’s darkest streets, young Ropa investigates. She’ll need to call on Zimbabwean magic as well as her Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. But as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

When ghosts talk, she will listen…

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children–leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan…), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She’ll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa’s gonna hunt them all down.

ORDER HERE: Audible | Hardcover | Kindle | BookShop.Org

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • An main character with a HUGE personality and a wee bit of a potty mouth;
  • A fun adventure read;
  • A truly fascinating world; and
  • dark happenings you didn’t quite expect.

On to the full review…

The Library of the Dead was such a fun and wild ride, Ropa is the bread and butter of this story. She such an interested kid with so much charisma and personality you cant help but love her spunk! I can’t lie, I do like the whole reluctant hero from time to time, and Ropa was such a fresh take on it. It was the same old trope but because Ropa is such a character and the people that surround her are just as great it didn’t feel repetitive.

I love that Ropa was this quirky and clever girl, her situation is not to great and she makes do with what she can in a world which doesn’t give you anything, so seeing that despite her struggles she still had a heart of gold was endearing to say the least.

The Library of the Dead also has some quite dark moments, despite its almost joyous feel the world is dark, bad things happen and it does not shy from bloody violence when the story requires it.

I think the decrepit world that Huchu has created is great, it was fun imagining this world and all the ghosts that fill it. It has dystopia feels and you can tell that the Scotland of this story is not in a good place, it has unjust and scummy police, gangs and clans and so much more. It is a truly fascinating world Huchu has created. Then infuse that with magic and the paranormal it becomes quite a unique setting. It was fun to see the way the Scottish people live and work in this world, and how the dead still have their roles to play, although some encounters really didn’t feel necessary for the story they were a good tell of what the world was like and how it operated.

Which leads me to what I think is the main weakness of this book. Its plot. It is quite uneven at times, and as I said has full sections of unnecessary encounters, while they are still fun to read because Ropa is amazing they just weren’t necessary.

Though this book is definitely a character driven book it isn’t my typical character driven book, you can feel the youth of Ropa and her cynicism is fun too but it isn’t a deep and complex character story. However, she is a young 14 year old lass and her character and its development was amazing and appropriate to that.

I quite liked the magic within this story too, I didn’t really expect it to be so scientific or structured, when dealing with the ghosts and ghouls is felt quite soft and easy, a little whimsical but this is not the case as we find out when Ropa begins learning it in more depth.

Overall, this was such a fun read set in a unique world, it is a clear page turner and will have you laughing, cursing and even feeling all warm and fuzzy! Ropa is a distinctive and utterly brilliant main character, she was a joy to read as she is just the right amount of bad mouthed, kookiness you will no doubt love.


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

I would pick this up in either audiobook from eBook, it is a great debut and worth a read, especially in the spooky season.


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


Book Tour: The Medina Device by T. J. Champitto

I would jut like to begin by thanking T.J. Champitto and Breakeven Books for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for The Medina Device, and for allowing me to read and review this prior to release.

My Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A few facts about The Medina Device:

  • Title: The Medina Device
  • Author: T. J. Champitto
  • Series: Standalone
  • Publisher: Black Rose Writing
  • Pages: 268

Synopsis:

Former Navy SEAL Cameron Lyle is transitioning to life as a husband, father and government contractor. But his thirst for adventure has driven him to a secret life of high-stakes crime that has gained the attention of the FBI. When a mysterious device is unearthed in the mountains of Bolivia, an ancient brotherhood emerges to offer Cameron the opportunity of a lifetime–to steal the greatest discovery in human history from a rogue cell of U.S. intelligence officers. As a beleaguered FBI agent closes in, and a team of deadly assassins hunt him down, Cameron leads his pursuers on a worldwide manhunt as he sets off to find the scientist who can explain it all. Secret societies, ancient technology and international espionage all converge in a journey that will ultimately test the bounds of reality. 

(Goodreads)

Review:

I want to just highlight my rating criteria first…

FOUR STARS 

★★★★

I REALLY LIKED THIS BOOK.

There is a fine line between a five star rated book and a four star rated book because I still really liked these books, the difference is that these books just slipped up on occasion. They may have fallen flat in a subplot or left certain plot threads unanswered. It will honestly, be something pretty small but enough to knock it off  obsessive gushing level. I will still recommend these books, though only to those who like the genre, and will likely read them again just not at the rate I would reread a five star beauty.

THREE STARS

★★★

I LIKED THIS BOOK.

These books are good solid reads but simply fall into the average category. They tend to be the fun and easy reads that are still enjoyable even though they have their flaws. These are still good books, don’t doubt that, so I would still recommend them but only when they fit a few criteria someone has listed when asking for recommendations. I am unlikely to read these books again, unless I’m really in the mood for the book specifically.

This book, for me, sits firmly in the 3.5 rating, it is a good solid read that I enjoyed and read easily. This book isn’t quite a four star, but I wouldn’t feel right categorising it as average because it isn’t.

I don’t read thrillers often, if at all, but I was contacted by Breakeven Books and asked to participate in this Tour. Having read the blurb and generally wanting to read a little outside my genres I accepted. It sounded super interesting and is exactly the type of movie I LOVE. So, if I can love a movie of this nature then surely I can love a book of this nature, right? Exactly, and I did. I found this book to be really enjoyable.

Champitto really captures an energy in his writing, especially with the main character Cam’s family, there is such a vibrance to their interactions. Once I had adjusted to his writing style I enjoyed it. Though, a few character introductions felt like they were their online dating profiles, Hannah likes long walks on the beach and excels at law. If you feel me? While I noticed this it isn’t a massive issue as you are not introduced to tons of new characters.

Champitto managed to write one of those books that are so well thought out and their characters so nicely crafted emotionally that I wondered if the author had ever been in their position. That was the case for this book, I wondered if Champitto had served in the military, if he had made decisions that either saved or ended others lives. I think that is always a sign of a talented writer, their characters are real to the point you think the author must have a personal knowledge of this stuff!  Though, despite this raving I did want more history from these characters. While Champitto is talented and his writing does evoke quite a lot of emotion I found I didn’t really know the characters beyond this plot. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, this is a shorter book to what I am used to and it still managed to capture me, it may not have had the most developed characters but what you saw you loved, I genuinely found myself quite attached and invested in Cam, Michael and Trip. I found Rand the least fun of the characters but once he was surrounded by other characters I like him a lot more. 

I really enjoyed the plot of this book and found myself constantly wanting to know what happened next, it has great action sequences and is really quite suspenseful. The pace is a nice tight and ever moving thing, and does well to give you the feeling that time is of the essence. 

I definitely wanted a little bit more to go wrong in our characters journey though, there were a few instances when I wondered if the characters would just manage everything. Don’t get me wrong there are definite consequences and bumps in the road but I wanted a few more little hiccups here and there.

Overall, this was a great introduction to a new genre for me, I read it quickly and was pretty gripped by the plot and its characters, while I probably wouldn’t read this book again (more because once you know the twists and ending its not as suspenseful) I would definitely read future books written by this author.

 This is a promising debut and as I said above, I would like to see more from this author! 

Thanks for reading and have a great day!


Review: Never Die by Rob J. Hayes

My Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A few facts about Never Die:

  • Title: Never Die
  • Author: Rob J. Hayes
  • Series: The Mortal Techniques Series
  • Publisher: Self-published by Rob J. Hayes
  • Pages: 274

I read Never Die on my Kindle.

Synopsis:

Samurai, shinigami, vengeful spirits, and an impossible quest.

Itami Cho has earned the name Whispering Blade. She is a Shintei warrior, sworn to the path of oaths and honour. But keeping her oaths has always been more difficult than taking them. When Flaming Fist and his bandits attack the city of Kaishi, Itami swears one last oath: she will protect the city and its people at any cost.

Ein has spent his life dreaming of being a hero, and now the God of Death has given him a chance. The Reaper has set him an impossible quest: an eight-year-old boy sent to stop an immortal Emperor.

Never Die is a stand alone set in the world of Mortal Techniques. It’s a wuxia adventure filled with samurai, shinigami, heroes, and vengeful spirits. 

Review:

At the time of reading this I was going through an eastern-asian themed reading spree, so when I saw this and its damned cool cover it had me. Having read other Goodreads folks I follow and seeing them LOVE this book it wasn’t a chance I was going to miss, especially when like I said I had been reading a lot of books with an eastern-asian settings and loving them.

This book started off really strongly, it was filled with action and gave me real ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny’ vibes with its famed warriors and quirky warrior titles. Knowing we were only going to meet more warriors I was really excited to get into the thick of this book.

Unfortunately, this feeling didn’t stick for me and despite its frequent fight scenes I lost interest. It felt slow, and like it wasn’t really getting anywhere. Yes, Ein was procuring a band of warriors to go and kill the emperor but it still felt stagnant to me. Which is a reason is DNF’d a previous book by this author, it just felt like nothing was happening despite what was actually a fairly fast paced book. 

The battles faced by each of these warriors seemed clunky, each new member was to be killed by those already bound to Ein, yet each battle seemed separate as if they were just wandering through the empire aimlessly. Then came the monsters they faced on their travels, again these encounters all felt singular. I think if the plot was slightly more complex and easy-flowing and the characters had more development this could have been amazing.

The world in which these warriors were travelling also bore little embellishment, I didn’t really know why there were on the mission they were and I didn’t really care. There was only one character I really liked and felt had the depth I was wanting and that was the Emerald Wind, or Green Breeze 😂😂 The rest all seemed distinguishable but not developed. That isn’t to say the characters were bad, we get some insight into their past and personality just not a lot.

I would have loved more tension and conflict. Bloody hell the first two heroes we meet fought against each other in a battle that killed both of them but they seem fine with each other. I would have thought these characters would have series clashes and issues with each other yet they didn’t really have more than bickering. 

I did guess the ending, I guessed Ein’s familial relationships pretty much at the start when there was only the Whispering Blade and the Emerald Wind. 

Despite this I did finish the book, and it was a pleasant read though you won’t hear me gushing over this one I’m afraid. I think, for me, there is just something about the writing style that I just don’t gel well with. I find it really drab, for lack of a better word, it just doesn’t keep me entertained. This is an incredible story and nothing I have come across, so I was super excited for it but I feel like it could have been better. 

If I was you I would read a few other reviews and see if there complaints/praises fall in line with your tastes and maybe give it ago. I mean it won its literary award for self-published books so it is doing something right!! I think a lot of fantasy readers will enjoy this book as many have already but alas it wasn’t for me.


Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

MY RATING:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A few facts about The Scorpio Races:

  • Title: The Scorpio Races
  • Author: Maggie Stiefvater
  • Series: Standalone
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press 
  • Pages: 409

I read The Scorpio Races on my Kindle.

Synopsis:

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

(Goodreads)

Review:

This book got my attention for a number of reasons, one being animal companions because, well animal companions are awesome and the other the actual premise of the book. The idea of monstrous water horses competing in a deadly race was something new to me, having not read anything similar to it at the point of reading. The lore in which this book is based off wasn’t anything I was familiar with and so I was drawn in.

This is a decent read and I enjoyed it but it also didn’t exceed anything beyond average falling flat in a few areas.

I loved Sean and Puck and their natural and realistic relationship. I was a little skeptical at first with it being YA, but it felt both mature and realistic in its development. It was not instant love or littered with meaningless exchanges and it actually felt somehow powerful, a little profound. I don’t really know how to explain it but I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

The plot of this book, as previously said, drew me in enough to pick this book up but unfortunately it was weak in several areas and fell flat for me. I would have liked a more emphasis on a few areas and I didn’t understand certain character motivations and felt like they were really underdeveloped. For example, I didn’t understand the drama that unfolded with Gabe (Puck’s brother). It seemed surface level at best and I couldn’t quite understand the sudden decision to leave and then the avoidance of his siblings. For him then to be all ‘I can’t do it anymore’ when we have seen nothing of his struggles. That whole side of the story just felt off, as if it was purely there as a reason for Puck to enter the race. 

I would have quite liked to see more from the encounters with the emerging water horses and their origins instead of riders simply using previous mounts. Especially when there was actual emphasis on this time, a time when the island changes becoming more deadly as these creatures begin stirring from their depths and coming ashore.

In terms of world building Stiefvater created a heartfelt and weighty world, you felt the desolation of this odd little island in which the story is set and the community that filled it was well developed. I appreciated the split within the island for too, of those longing to leave and those wanting to stay having a deep love with the island and its values. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I liked Puck and Sean and the emotional depth of this book but it was still weak in several areas.