BOOK REVIEW | SNAKEWOOD BY ADRIAN SELBY

Hello Bookish Folk!

I am writing my review of Adrian Selby’s debut novel Snakewood. First off a huge thank you to Dan for putting this book and author on my radar back in October 2020!

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: Snakewood
  • Author: Adrian Selby 
  • Series: Standalone but he has to other books set in the same world
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 544

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

This debut epic fantasy from a British writer of incredible talent tells the tale of the Twenty, a band of mercenaries hunted by an unknown killer. Filled with unique voices and incredible worldbuilding, this stunning novel will delight fans of Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher, Joe Abercrombie or Mark Lawrence.

Once they were a band of mercenaries who shook the pillars of the world through their cunning, their closely guarded alchemical brews and stone cold steel. Whoever met their price won.
Now, their glory days behind them and their genius leader in hiding, the warriors known as the ‘Twenty’ are being hunted down and eliminated one by one.
A lifetime of enemies has its own price. 

ORDER HERE: Bookshop.Org | Audible | Kindle | The Broken Binding (Use code SAMBOOKINH for 5% OFF)

Review:

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

  • A gloriously grim and dark mercenary fantasy;
  • An ambitious and unique world which you will love;
  • Fight brews and biological warfare;
  • Gruff, battered and grizzled mercs with quite the past; and
  • A risky but brilliant debut.

On to the full review…

I want to start off this review and just explain that this book a little bit of an epistolary, which if I am remembering correctly, is a novel made up of letters and accounts of others to tell a story. Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is an example of such works, but anyway my point is these types of books can feel jarring. I personally didn’t really have a huge issue with this in Snakewood, admittedly it did, at one point, seem a little disjointed and I had to think where I was in the timeline but generally I followed it well and the plot flowed well because there is a dominant POV to keep you grounded.

Snakewood is such a suspense filled story with so much tension and it is filled with all the intrigue and mystery you could ask for. I had such fun unraveling the twists and turns and Selby does an incredible job at redirecting your thoughts on things you feel fairly confident about. Selby writes really well and I had such joy reading his prose. The battles and the fighting in this book was so vivid and captivating to read. He also managed to create really unique and distinguishable voices for his characters which is even more incredible when you know this is a debut and in such a risky format.

Selby also did the whole ambiguous character really well, none of the characters in this have a a well-aligned morale compass. Some are bad yet still relatable, some are a mix and others your are rooting for but they by no means have a clean track record! But what they all are is utterly compelling, well written and complex. For some it is slower than others but you really begin to care for these characters and become totally invested in their journeys, relationships and more.

Also, the brews! The whole biological warfare in this book was just incredible, and that doesn’t even aptly describe this element. It was magic, well it wasn’t in the traditional sense but it was such a refreshing way to represent a magic in a new way, it had limitations and it had consequences both with a more immediate effect and a lifelong consequences of its use. It was utterly unique and incredible to see in action within this world and used by the characters.

Snakewood is also dark, I didn’t really see it until a certain way through it, yes it has dark elements but holy damn it gets grim. It is ruthless in parts.

I can understand a few of the critiques around this book, it does have a unique writing style and the author has created certain phrases that are completely new, but I really felt like he introduced you to them well and then explained them through their use.

Overall, this is a great debut and one I am so so glad I read it. Now a quick note, I asked Dan my go to Selby expert and he said to read these book in the order they were published. If you were to read Brother Red before this is spoils one of the biggest twists in Snakewood. Plus, after speaking to another friend they tried Brother Red and found the language confusing, so for several reasons I would say read this first.


THE RANKS: 

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

I really liked this book and I can not wait to read Winer Road and then Brother Red!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | NORTHERN WRATH BY THILDE KOLD HOLDT

Good Evening all my bookish friends!

Today I will be reviewing Northern Wrath and I am, as always, super thankful I got to read this courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: Northern Wrath
  • Author: Thilde Kold Holdt 
  • Series: The Hanged God Trilogy (Book One)
  • Published by Solaris
  • Pages: 616

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Following in the steps of Neil Gaiman & Joanne Harris, the author expertly weaves Norse myths and compelling characters into this fierce, magical epic fantasy.

A dead man, walking between the worlds, foresees the end of the gods.

A survivor searching for a weapon releases a demon from fiery Muspelheim.

A village is slaughtered by Christians, and revenge must be taken.

The bonds between the gods and Midgard are weakening. It is up to Hilda, Ragnar, their tribesmen Einer and Finn, the chief’s wife Siv and Tyra, her adopted daughter, to fight to save the old ways from dying out, and to save their gods in the process.

ORDER HERE: Audible | Paperback | Kindle

Review:

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

  • A Norse inspired viking fantasy;
  • A rich and detailed world filled with known and more unknown lore and myths;
  • Chaotic and bloody battle scenes;
  • A captivating plot.

On to the full review…

Northern Wrath is a norse inspired Viking fantasy and book one of The Hanged God Trilogy. I think I stand with a lot of people when I say Norse Mythology is an incredibly interesting one, it has so so much involved within its lore and the cultures that belonged to it are also incredibly interesting. Thilde managed to incorporate quite a lot of this in her writing too which is testament to the research and knowledge of this area, which meant she excelled in her world building. 

This book has gods, monsters, heroes and so much more and it is all woven well into the world and its plot. I really liked the idea that the diminishing belief in the gods was closing the gateways of sorts to the other realms, and it made the fight for ones belief about more than just their gods but being able to be with their families in the afterlife.

As a debut writer Thilde has done a great job of bringing many of the scenes in Northern Wrath to life from the exploration of the other worlds and the races the fill them to the battle sequences. She manages to really encapsulate the chaos that is battle.

Now let me explain why, for me, this book ended as a three star book on Goodreads, while this book excelled in it world building and its plot was captivating enough for me to finish the book, world-building is my lowest ranked attribute of a book. Characters are my jam, followed by plot and then world-building.

So unfortunately, I’m in a wee bit of a minority here as while I liked this book I did not enjoy this as much as I thought I would. My two main issues for this book go hand in hand with each other in my opinion. In short I felt like this book lacked the character depth I prefer as a reader and it was much too long. 

Northern Wrath has quite a cast of characters, more than I expected to be honest, and at times some felt like they were inserted randomly and generally didn’t need to be a POV at all. 

I honestly feel like with more editing both of my issues could be helped massively if not completely resolved. Now, I am no editor nor have I written my own book but I think, from my experience as a reader, that had this book have had less character POVs it could have both spent more time with other POV’s to achieve a greater character depth and cut down the page count by removing the filler. 

Let me also remind you these are my personal opinions based on my personal preferences, a book is to many readers completely different things. So I urge you to check out the other reviews for this book as many reviewers I respect and trust have LOVED this book and given it full marks!


THE RANKS: 

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

I would still pick this book up in its Kindle form and quite possibly read book two, because like I said it was a good book in parts and I am hopeful, as I am not the only person to share these critiques, that they could be remedied in book two.


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 REVIEW | BLACKWING BY ED MCDONALD & NARRATED BY COLIN MACE

Hello Bookworms!

Today I plan to get through as many reviews as I can as I am a wee bit behind. I just posted my review of The Engineer by Darran Handshaw and I want to get through this and at least one other today!

On to the second review of the day…Blackwing by Ed McDonald!

I listened to this mostly via the audiobook and I can thank my other half for choosing it for me. He has some good taste. I gave him my phone with the Audible App open and told him to chose my next audio. There were quite a few choices and he gave me two based of the blurbs, his words were to read the ‘torturer smuggler’ one and the ‘raven tattoo’ one. Those were The Blade Itself (which I did indeed read and review) and Blackwing. So here we are writing a review for this book.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: Blackwing
  • Author: Ed McDonald
  • Narrated by: Colin Mace
  • Series: Raven’s Mark
  • Published by Gollancz
  • Pages: 360
  • Narration Length: 11 Hours 27 Minutes

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery – a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

ORDER HERE: Audiobook | Amazon.co.uk

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from :

  • A creative and inventive debut;
  • A page turner;
  • A grizzly flawed veteran you can’t help but love;
  • A unique and original feeling world; and
  • A gritty, epic dark fantasy.

On to the full review…

Ok, so as I am writing this review I find out that this is a FREAKING DEBUT! Like whaaaat, this book does not say ‘debut’ to me. At all. Though, saying that the last few debuts I have read have been outstanding. I even did a Sundays Seven post (SUNDAYS SEVEN | 7 GREAT FANTASY DEBUTS) on it because there are some brilliant debuts out there! Anywho, I am happy to add this to my debuts list.

I cant really remember what brought this book to my attention, but I sure know what kept it…When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message. I LOVE tattoos and to see them used in a fantasy story in such a key way truly delighted me and I couldn’t wait to see what else Ed McDonald could do.

I really haven’t read that much Grimdark at all. I’m trying to think now and I think I have maybe read ten Grimdark books but something about this book just feels refreshing to me as a reader. Even the common place elements are redefined in my opinion and made into something new and original.

Blackwing opens brilliantly it is gripping and we are introduced to our main character, Rhyalt Galharrow, and this corrupted and warped world. A world that you are introduced to skilfully, you are eased into its clutches and learn all you need to know cleverly and smoothly.

“Hope, Reason, Humanity: The Misery Breaks Them All.”

This book will grab you in its first chapter, as it did for me! Everything about it is great …from your first impression of Galharrow and the world to the terrifying and warped creatures that come out of the Misery.

I also really liked the horror elements in Blackwing, the monsters and creatures of this world were a thrill to read and took this book even further. It wasn’t just monsters, fantasy has monsters, it was the creepiness he brought with the monsters that increased this books fun.

Blackwing is a book that is really well written, it has you completely bespelled throughout, and has you always wanting more. Ed McDonald is able to mix several elements at once and give you and something refreshing and incredible. You truly experience the grimness of this world.  Ed McDonald also writes in first person as opposed to third person. I don’t have an issue with first person at all, but I do prefer third person, and yet I wouldn’t change this book at all as we see so so much of Galharrow.

“Burning was a bad way to go, but my reserves of empathy were usually exhausted on orphans and puppies, a lot higher up the list than arsonists and arseholes.” 

Galharrow is a brilliant character, as are all the other people who accompany him and fill this world. We have a group of grizzled and seasoned mercenaries with a past! Every single character is well built, and you want to know what made them the way they are. They are all utterly believable. Now, I am an absolute sucker for loyalty among groups in a book and its amazing reading and experiencing just how strong of a bond Galharrow has with his companions and the length he will go to make sure they are ok! It made fro some incredibly heartfelt moments and emotional punches.

“I saw you stand,” I said. “Saw your courage, back at Twelve. Saw the steel in your will, the power you command. You say there’s nothing of woman about you? You aren’t some painted vase, delicate and useless. You’re a fucking lioness. The strongest damn thing that ever lived. There’s nothing of you but woman.” 

The pacing in this book is excellent, I thought, although I imagine it can be described as a little uneven at times  and sometimes quite chaotic but I really enjoyed it. I got my action, my need for political intrigue, character building, emotional punches and exquisite world-building. Ed McDonald is a great story-teller and as such its 360 odd pages fly by. He has a unique and fascinating mix of heartfelt and meaningful moments with a raw grittiness you don’t see often.

This debut is a solid read, it is well paced with incredible characters and a refreshing and original world and magic.


THE RANKS: 

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

Hmmmm.

What

Will

I

Rate

This

Book

FREAKING BUY THE HARDBACK! And on top of it these books are beautiful! I also got them super cheap on Amazon, I am so glad there are people who take care of books because it allows me to grab them either cheaper, when they aren’t in print any more or just that bit easier than before! And this baby is like NEW!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!



Book Tour: Kings and Daemons by Marcus Lee

Welcome! Today it is my turn to follow in the footsteps of some incredible bloggers on the Kings and Daemons Book Tour hosted by the amazing Storytellers on Tour. It is day five and my turn to gush about this gem of a book.

For full details about this tour then head on over to the Storytellers on Tour Book Tour Page.

Firstly, the giveaway…

Click on the picture above for a chance to win one of five paperback copies of the brilliant Kings and Daemons! Ends in three days!

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A few facts about Kings and Daemons:

  • Title: Kings and Daemons
  • Author: Marcus Lee
  • Series: The Gifted and The Cursed (Book One)
  • Publisher: Self Published by Mr Marcus Lee
  • Pages: 416

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

A tale of conquest, dark kings, and daemonic heroes. A spellbinding story that will enchant you with its plot of ambition, love, betrayal, sacrifice and redemption.

Over fifty years have passed since Daleth the seemingly immortal Witch-King and his army conquered the Ember Kingdom.

Now, with the once fertile lands and its enslaved people dying around him, the Witch-King, driven by his insatiable thirst for eternal youth, prepares his forces to march on the prosperous neighbouring Freestates. It will be the beginnings of a conquest that could destroy nations, bringing death and destruction on an unimaginable scale.

Then, when a peasant huntress whose rare gift was concealed from birth is exposed, it sets in motion a chain of events that could alter the destiny of generations to come.

Review:

I really bloody enjoyed this book!

Kings and Daemons is Marcus Lee’s debut novel and the first in the series, I loved it and I am excited to read the next book in the series.

As I said on my Twitter and Goodreads update I truly loved Marcus’ writing, it read perfectly to me, and by perfectly I mean it is exactly the tone and style of writing I adore in fantasy. It made me feel like I was reliving a tale told by someone who knew the characters and witnessed the story unravel. 

I really enjoyed my time in the world, it was a dark and punishing world with a history as bloody and harsh as it’s present. Really early on it the book, when we hear a little of Kalas’ history, I was thinking give me that book too! I wanted to know more and more and could have read about the previous wars and beauties of the Ember Kingdom for longer and that’s saying something! For this not to come off as an unwanted info dump is a feat all in its self. These glimpses into the characters and the worlds history were utterly enjoyable.

Spoiled vegetables in the fields, dead or dying fish in the rivers, the whole land was teetering on a knife-edge.

Marcus really managed to make the world something in its own right, yes the witch king was an epic villain and always the root cause of it, but the world was almost a character unto its self, it was so evil and utterly corrupted. People were taught to relish in bloodshed and revel in the gore of war and death, it was so corruptive you saw glimpses of it’s corruption even in your ’good’ characters. 

His dreams, full of killing and bloodshed, he would once have considered nightmares, had shown him his destiny in all its blood-drenched glory.

Throughout we see glimpses of quite a few characters in Kings and Daemons, I’m going to say this is third-person omniscient because the narrator knows all the characters and their inner thoughts not just our leads, but I could be wrong. As I was saying, you see into other people’s minds in between our main characters. This is done brilliantly, I enjoyed the breaks in main character pov’s and found that they really added to the story and the scenes. In some cases it showed the awe of someone in response to one of our leads actions or the disgust. It is done fluidly and does not come across as disjointed or clunky. 

Maya is one of our main characters and I found I quite liked the nimble-footed little hunter, at one point she says something a little flirtatious and I was a shocked and giddy at it, as was who it was said too, because I was like oh hello new playful Maya. Then the nitpicker in me thought is that really in character for her and it was, because all her life she had been told to stay away and keep to herself, play herself down whereas now she was in the company of folk whole knew her so she had nothing to hide and could be her true, playful and nature-loving self. 

Mmmm, and the grey hair! You know I love this, I mean I named my dog Rogue (after the x-men and not rogue one star wars) so I was digging this little detail. 

Kalas was also quite an intriguing fellow, I adored his history and thoroughly enjoyed reading of it. Kalas was at sometimes infallible though, there didn’t seem to be any risk to him. I would have liked to have seen more go wrong for him, or at least provide a few wee hiccups in his journey. Though saying this I don’t think this will be an issue in the next book!

From there, chaos reigned. But inside the chaos, as men ran forward, swords clashed, blood flew and screams shattered the afternoon air, there danced the daemon, moving fluidly, every blow deadly, men falling behind him like leaves from a tree.

Rakan was a great character too, I actually liked him from the start despite his horrible nature. Something about him just seemed redeemable and to see his character grow and develop was an absolute treat.

Taran was a joy to read too and I thoroughly enjoyed the blossoming relationship between him and Maya. 

His life which was hardly gifted by the gods, was now certainly cursed.

And. Don’t judge me. I like the Witch-King, its almost as if by calling him by his given name I feel more understanding towards him. He didn’t have a great start and was pushed to some degree in the direction he took. Don’t get me wrong he continued in that direction with a ruthless brutality but I still kind of like the guy. It is understandable how he masterfully manipulates those around him perfectly, by knowing his soldiers and gifting them his attention and actual gifts! Heck, he manipulated me into kind of liking him! Thats how well written his character is. Marcus managed to create a brilliant cast of characters who are all fun and unique.

Marcus takes you on a great journey with his plot and his writing, I love the burst of colour when Maya works her magic and his descriptions of such create such vivid imagery. The plot is filled with many of the aspects I love from fantasy and constantly had me wanting to read more. We are treated to dark fantasy elements, a natural feeling and stunningly written romance and your classic fantasy elements. 

I’d rather die fighting next to you, than live without you. Don’t ask me to go again. I won’t.‘

The magic in this book is satisfying to read, I love that it always comes with a cost and Marcus does a brilliant job at slowly showing you the rules of said magic. Without saying much I am really excited to see the costs of said magic for some of the characters, we find a few out in this book but I expect we may find out some others in the later books too.

This book is really good, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series, it was a super easy read and you will find yourself reading and reading and reading.


Sound good? I can confirm it is! If you want to pick up your own copy you can do so through Kindle Unlimited or treat yourself to a physical copy from Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com


What Marcus had to say…

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Ways to get in touch with Marcus…

Author Website:

Head on over to Marcus’ website where you can see his upcoming books and also other version of his book cover.

Marcus’ Twitter:

Go and follow Marcus, he is a great contributor to the Book Twitter community and is great to engage with too!

Marcus’ Facebook:

What I just said! But for Facebook 😉

Thank you for reading!


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!


Book Review: Stormblood by Jeremy Szal

My Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A few facts about Stormblood:

  • Title: Stormblood
  • Author: Jeremy Szal
  • Series: The Common (Book One)
  • Publisher: Gollancz
  • Pages: 544

Synopsis:

Vakov Fukasawa used to be a Reaper, a biosoldier fighting for the intergalactic governing body of Harmony against a brutal invading empire. Now, he fights against the stormtech: the DNA of an extinct alien race Harmony injected into him, altering his body chemistry and making him permanently addicted to adrenaline and aggression. It made him the perfect soldier, but it also opened a new drug market that has millions hopelessly addicted to their own body chemistry.

But when Harmony tells him that his former ally Reapers are being murdered, Vakov is appalled to discover his estranged brother is likely involved in the killings. They haven’t spoken in years, but Vakov can’t let his brother down, and investigates. But the deeper he goes, the more addicted to stormtech he becomes, and Vakov discovers that the war might not be over after all. It’ll take everything he has to unearth this terrible secret, although doing so might mean betraying his brother. If his own body doesn’t betray him first.

A vibrant and talented new voice in SFF: alien technology, addictive upgrades, a soldier determined to protect his family, and a thief who is prepared to burn the world down . . .

Review:

I wrote down so many little jottings while reading this book, and all were good things. So, here it goes, time to cobble them all together into a semi-cohesive review.

This is my first review of a science fiction book, while I read two books prior to this they were of the same series and where young adult books. While I don’t have an issue with young adult, and enjoy reading them, they are light in nature but often more surface level, if that’s an appropriate descriptions. Anywho, I wanted my first review to be of an adult sci-fi and what a first review to begin with. Stormblood was incredible.

The fact that this is Szal’s debut make it even more so. This book does not feel as though it was written by someone who hasn’t been writing for years.

I’m not going to pretend I know anything about the genre, but what you can find from this review is my thoughts on why I enjoyed this book.

I always find writing and publishing a review a little nerve wracking. It is with reviewers, as it is with authors, you let a little of yourself show in you writing, in the way you interpret a book. No review is unbiased, what we take from a book is subject to what we have lived and felt. What we have longed for, what we miss and what we have experienced.

So, while I am utterly new to this genre I’d like to think my review still counts. 

Let’s do this.

Stormblood is such a fascinating and captivating story, and so well thought out. I can’t tell you any references or similar books/authors to who this book’s tastes will suit but I can tell you it is so much more than what the synopsis suggests. I really didn’t expect this to have such a deep and profound emphasis on many of the topics it does, some being siblings/family, drug abuse, poverty, trauma, brotherhood and camaraderie. 

”People compare overcoming addiction to climbing a mountain, but that assumes there’s a peak to climb towards. Stormtech was more like swimming in an endless, churning sea. You never truly beat it. You just found temporary ways not to drown.”

It’s no secret that I don’t often like flashbacks, though to be honest the last few I have encountered I haven’t minded at all sooooo maybe I’m changing on that front. Annyyyway, where I usually dislike flashbacks I actually really enjoyed those I came across in stormblood. It was a nice way of answering the readers questions but what I enjoyed the most was the little insights into these culture rich memories. I got to experience the different places in the world Szal created through them being the home of a fellow reaper or the location of a current battle.

Szal’s writing is sharp and evocative. I genuinely felt gutted every time Vakov thought of the way things had turned out, each time it sunk in what his situation was. The highlight of this read though, has to be Vakov’s relationships. I cannot express how much I enjoyed watching them develop and grow. No relationship is the same, and all elicit such a level of emotion from the reader.

”But I’ve found friends to occasionally be like magnets: opposing forces attract.

Szal has created a thrilling world, one which you truly experience everything. It is so rich in detail, that you can picture each street and bar they visit, and Vakov and Grim visit a good few of those, they like their drink. There is a massive amount of detailing in this book, and not only in relation to the world building but in Vakov’s interactions, in his thought and feelings and in the tech that is used, especially his armour.

I really enjoyed the grittiness of this world, and when I say gritty I mean it has such a raw and real feel to it. The tone, in a way, reminded me of the film ’End of Watch’ in that it has a strong emphasis on the friendship of it’s characters through the difficult times they face.

”No matter how hard someone tries to knock you down, having someone to lean against, someone who’s got your back, makes it possible to stand up again.”

While the list of characters you meet in this story are on the lower side, which is by no means a criticism, they are all brilliantly compelling. I found Vakov to be really well developed, I loved his story and personality. I especially liked his own emotional confusion, whether his decisions were his own and how things could have been different. 

Szal did brilliantly in writing this book, I was filled with dread at times. When I met other members of Vakovs team through flashback I was genuinely worried for them.  Would one of these reapers he had lived and fought with fall victim next to his present-day situations or his past. He had lost so much, given so much already. 

As well, I enjoyed the reversal of character development, whether you call it that or not, it is how I see it. At the start we find out one of Vakov’s old reaper brothers has become the victim of his current shitstorm, and at the start you don’t really care that he died. Yeah, it’s shit for vakov but you yourself don’t care about the character but through vakov’s flashbacks I found myself caring more and more. Seeing this chap with his team and how he was I grew more and more saddened at his loss. It was a nice spin on charcter development. 

”Home isn’t where you’re born, Vakov. It’s where you feel calm and peace, even in a storm.”

Ohhh and the Mass Effect references in this really tickled my fancy. I love the little inserts such as a character being called Saren and a race not so dissimilar to the krogans. 

***A quick note, the quotes in this are from a Netgalley ARC and may have changed in the publishing of this book***


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