BOOK REVIEW | DARK OAK BY JACOB SANNOX & NARRATED BY NIGEL PEEVER

Good Evening Bookish Folk!

This was planned to be an earlier post considering I’m currently at work 🙈 but I forgot to post it before leaving like a dope. Thankful, while I am currently sat on my break eating the most amazing Lotus biscuits I remembered. Yay me. So here it is.

Today, as the post title suggests I will be reviewing Jacob Sannox’s fantasy novel Dark Oak! I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review but I also listened to this via audiobook to. I usually listen to non review books via audio and treat them as my personal reads but I was a little behind with reviews and honestly the audiobook sounded great.

A few facts about Dark Oak:

  • Title: Dark Oak
  • Author: Jacob Sannox
  • Narrated By: Nigel Peever
  • Series: The Dark Oak Chronicles (Book One)
  • Published by Jacob Sannox (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform)
  • Pages: 314
  • Narration Length: 12 Hours 59 Minutes

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from Dark Oak:

  • A high fantasy novel that is beautifully magical but with a darker core feel;
  • An intriguing and unique story concept;
  • INCREDIBLE creatures and magics;
  • Political intrigue; and
  • An incredibly raw and emotional punch from several aspects of this book.

A little bit about the narration…

This was a really good narration, it is the first narration I have ever listened to that has sound effects. Now, I know that for some the may not be a great thing but it really added to the story for me. I LOVED them. It wasn’t overbearing and it wasn’t disruptive my my listening experience. Well, for the most part, there was one single time that it became difficult to listen to, at the point when a group of Dryads were talking as one, pair that with the creaking of their wooden limbs and the throaty tone of their voices I genuinely didn’t know what was said. Luckily, I had the a physical copy so I was able to read that bit. Other than the once instance though I found I really liked the sound effects. They were, more often than not, subtle and only added to my listening experience.

As a narrator I found Peever to be quite good, his pace was easy to follow and his male voices were nicely distinct. Some of his female voices however sounded a like little old cackling witches…

Though saying all of the above, I will listen to the next book via audio narration. Thats how little it put me off.

Now on to the full review…

As I said above Jacob sent me a copy of Dark Oak in exchange for an honest review along with his two other books; The Ravenmaster’s Revenge and Agravain’s Escape. This book is currently sitting with 61 ratings and 25 reviews and has a decent rating of 3.67. I would love to see more people pick this book up as it deserves it, if you look on Goodreads it seems to have a bit of a mix of reviews so many people have loved and a good number haven’t but I would honestly give this book chance!

Dark Oak is a richly imagined world and one I really enjoyed journeying into, it is an incredible fantastical world that is very much in the traditional vein of high fantasy with creatures such as the Dryads, the water folk and even more wonderful elemental beings. Dark Oak gave me Lord of the Rings vibes in terms of its imaginative world!

Jacob does wonderfully at bringing his world to life through his writing and it is a story rich in detail and beautifully described. He brilliantly weaves in the magic that surrounds this world and showcases it impressively, especially the Dryad’s , yet all the while not making you feel as though they are infallible despite their evident power.

At the start of this book there is quite a bit of exposition, which is wholly appropriate and enjoyable. This isn’t the story of the battle that Queen Cathryn won that led our character to be where they are now but in order to fully understand the present you need to know the facts of the past. I really liked the exposition, it was magical and I felt like I was sat wrapped in a cozy blanket cradling a warm cup of tea in my ever cold hands while being told a grand old tale by a wisened old story teller! And that Is something I love.

Each of the characters you come across in Dark Oak are all really good, some I loathed but understood, others I saw the manipulation and others I was rooting for them with everything I had. Some of the character could have had a little more consistency and been a wee bit more well rounded but overall I really enjoyed all of them for some reason or another. While Dark Oak is very high fantasy to me, it has such a dark core to its world and its characters. I knew it had a darker tone before reading it but goodness I didn’t expect what I got! At all.

The Dryads…they are AMAZING! I was so impressed with them as a race, the things they can do, the power they hold and their origins were all so utterly interesting I loved every single moment in which a dryad appeared.

I think for me the strongest point of this book was Jacob’s ability to shock you so profoundly you are left in a state of both confusion and understanding. There are several sequences within this story that you do not see coming, even in the slightest, but once they do happen no matter how shook up you are you understand the reasoning behind it. Which is testament to Jacob’s ability to showcase his characters motivations and emotional states. In a world so vivid and creative the realness of his character and very human responses become all the more impactful, it is touching, sickeningly raw and quite intense at times.

There are times within this book that you see some inconsistencies in the characters voices, and it can at times feel a little jumpy from POV to POV. This book isn’t perfect and if you going in looking for little hiccups you will find them, as you would with many books, but if you are going in to experience a brilliant and imaginative world filled with REAL characters with REAL motivations you are in the right place. There is a rawness to this book and an emotional grittiness that you don’t see often in books and it was brilliant to experience it within Dark Oak’s pages.


You know the drill, on to the rating…

THE RANKS: 

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

I would definitely pick this up in its paperback form if I didn’t already have it and would strongly recommend the audiobook if you don’t have an issue with narrations accompanied by sound effects, I get that might be a hard no for some people, but im not one of them and I loved it! I actually want to find more with it in so yanno, its a winner to me!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | THE GIRL AND THE STARS BY MARK LAWRENCE & NARRATED BY HELEN DUFF

Good Afternoon Bookish Folk!

Today I will be posting my review of Mark Lawrence’s ‘The Girl and the Stars’. Firstly, I would like to thank Harper Voyager/Harper Collins for approving of my NetGalley request of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A few facts about The Girl and the Stars:

  • Title: The Girls and the Stars
  • Author: Mark Lawrence
  • Series: Book of the Ice (Book One)
  • Published by Harper Collins UK
  • Pages: 480
  • Narration Length: 18 Hours 31 Minutes

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.

On Abeth the vastness of the ice holds no room for individuals. Survival together is barely possible. No one survives alone.

To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is not the same.

Yaz is torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her days with, and has to carve out a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of difference and mystery and danger.

Yaz learns that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. She learns that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she learns to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.

Only when it’s darkest you can see the stars.

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from The Girl and the Stars:

  • YA;
  • Stunning prose;
  • Amazing world building rich in lore and filled with stunning landscapes; and
  • An imaginative and visual magic system.

On to the full review…

As usual when I have listened to a book through audio I shall start my review with a few comments as to that experience.

This audiobook is narrated by the super talented Helen Duff, I do believe she does most, if not all, of Mark’s books. She has such a lovely voice and, as with the others I have listened to, she is great for even a new listener of audiobooks.

I did knock the speed up of this audio a little but she still sounds great when doing this, she really brings the characters and world to life.

Her voice really reminds me Gemma Arterton, so if you like her voice you will LOVE Helen Duff.

Now, to the book itself…

Firstly, a little praise to the cover of this book, I really like the cover, it is such a lovely and neat cover with such emphasis on the beautiful artwork.

It would appear that Mark is brilliant at writing an absolutely cracking first line of a book! It instantly captivates you has you wondering what world we have just entered.

“Many babies have killed, but it is very rare that the victim is not their mother.”

In this book we follow Yas on her journey both atop the ice and below it, it is all done through her eyes with a single POV. While I did want more from the characters as a whole, Yas was enjoyable to read and showed often that she was loyal to those she cared about and willing to take risks. Yas’ journey is one of survival, in which she has to navigate an entirely new world to find her brother and save him.

“…it’s better to die trying for a life we can take for ourselves than to die fighting each other in the dark for an existence we were condemned to.”

This book doesn’t really stop, I didn’t feel like there was much down time in this book, the characters never stop moving but that is to be expected in a journey such as Yas’ so that isn’t a complaint!

The Girl and the Stars is such a beautifully written book in its entirety, Lawrence builds a stunning world despite the fact that is it essentially a frozen wasteland and really demonstrates the harshness of the environment that our characters are subjected too.

“Now though, with darkness and despair literally reaching out to engulf her, she knew how cruel and fragile a thing hope is, and how sharp the edges of new forged dreams can be once shattered.”

There is so much detail about the world you are in, its traditions and its history both known to its people and some history now lost to them.

“Even so, it held a beauty and a peace: black rock, ice in every shade of pearl between white and clarity, the marbled seams of stardust glowing in all the colours that can be broken from the light.”

This book focuses on themes such as finding ones self and accepting the realities of who you are, it focus’ on friendships and family too, so yanno it has one of my favourite tropes…the found family. I have such a soft spot for groups of unknowns who soon become a tight nit unit together.

I also quite enjoyed the magic of this frozen wasteland, it was really fun and paired with Lawrence’s wonderful prose and worldbuilding it also became a stunning one visually.

“There’s no such thing as magic. If a thing is part of the world, part of how it works, then it’s real and obeys laws just like gravity and electricity do.” 

One of my issues – and I say issues loosely because I can’t think of another way to say it – was the young adult nature of this book. I don’t have an issue with YA when I know I’m reading it, and I was of the opinion that this book would be more of an adult fantasy, but it isn’t…in my opinion at least. I would certainly tag this as YA, and no that has absolutely nothing to do with the age of the characters. It was more to do with the storytelling, its narrative if you will, despite being beautifully written it still felt YA through its characters, their interactions and the relationships they develop very quickly and deeply throughout this story.

The Girl and the Stars seems to fall victim to some of the common YA themes also, namely the instalove vibes going on in this book. I think Yas had at least three admirers and I am pretty sure there was definitely the beginnings of a love triangle.

The characters were a little surface level at times, I did enjoy reading them I did also want more, a greater depth to them all. Some more than others.

I really liked Erris, I think he was probably my favourite character and I found myself listening the much more intently when he was present.

I think my “issues” with the characters in this instalment will however be dealt with in book two, the characters have so much more to face and I think it will really bring more out about them.

While this book fell short in some areas it is a good first instalment with a really interesting and creative plot. It is a series I will continue as I am eager to find out what the world has planned for Yas and her companions.


As you are now aware I rate on a buy the hardback, buy the paperback, buy eBook or library rental/wait for a sale scale.

I think this book would fall into the BUY THE PAPERBACK.

  • This is an enjoyable book, and one in which I will read the next book of the series.
  • If the eBook was not the same price as the paperback I would probably rate this as a buy the ebook but that’s also because I listened to this via audiobook and really enjoyed the experience. This is a really costly eBook at £7.99. The paperback is actually £0.08 cheaper!

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!


Book Review: Morning Star by Pierce Brown

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Morning Star:

  • Title: Morning Star
  • Author: Pierce Brown
  • Series: Red Rising Saga (Book Three)
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
  • Pages: 544

Synopsis:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Red Rising thrilled readers and announced the presence of a talented new author. Golden Son changed the game and took the story of Darrow to the next level. Now comes the exhilarating conclusion to the Red Rising Trilogy: Morning Star.

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender. 

(Goodreads)

Review:

This is going to be a fairly short review, or at least I think it will be but I can talk for England so you never know. But back to it, what was I saying? Ahh yes, this is going to be shorter review because I am just saying the same bloodydamn things I have said previously.

So, lets get to it ey.

“Drills hot”…

“Helmets up. Let’s burn.”

In Morning Star the journey continues, Pierce Brown forges on, causing me to lose out on much needed sleep, be in a constant state of distress and ignore all other aspects of life.

I have said it before, but I will say it again, I find these types of books really hard to write a review for. They are such a ride, you barely seem to have a minute to comprehend what you have just been a part of.

”Life’s not just a matter of breathing, it’s a matter of being.”

This book has so much, and stays true to its previous themes of loyalty, friendship, family and fighting the oppressive regime that is their life. Pierce Brown continues to show us that he is a brilliant storyteller, with so much emotion and yes heartache. He has managed to continuously raise the stakes with each book, while remaining totally unpredictable and all the while we grow to love the characters even more. 

I did like however that Pierce doesn’t keep all his characters the same. In Morning Star we see them make some questionable decisions and see how they and those around them further develop. Sometimes that development doesn’t go the way you want it to but these are all consequences of the events that have come about. 

”And if we fall, others will take our place, because we are the tide. And we are rising.”

Pierce’s writing continues to bestow upon us his brilliantly provocative, sharp and precise storytelling. It disturbs and it enrages, it is joyous and it is hilarious. He gives us everything.

I am not alone.

I am not his victim.

So let him do his worst.

I am the Reaper. I know how to suffer.

I know the darkness.

This is not how it ends.”

I was totally satisfied with this conclusion. It is hard to explain how epic and amazing this book is without going into spoilers because it, in many cases for me, was the individual events and battles both large and small that really wow’d me. Pierce does justice to all his characters in life and in death. His characters have to work to get their end results and they have to work bloodydamn hard, it is these moments that shine to me!

”Everything is cracked, everything is stained except the fragile moments that hang crystalline in time and make life worth living.”

You will not be disappointed by this series! I know I wasn’t! 

Like I said, short…ish.

Thanks for reading!


Book Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A few facts about Red Rising:

  • Title: Red Rising
  • Author: Pierce Brown
  • Series: Red Rising Saga (Book One)
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
  • Pages: 401

Synopsis:

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars, generations of people who spend their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that, one day, people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.

Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down at Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.

But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

Ender’s Game meets The Hunger Games in this, the first in an extraordinary trilogy from an incredible new voice. 

(Goodreads)

Review:

Red Rising:

“I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.”

I can safely say that all the praise this book gets is well deserved! 

I always a little bit nervous when reading works of an author I have not read before, and even more so when said books are so widely loved. Not in the sense id be worried about rating it low, because that doesn’t overly bother me, it is that your expectations are set so high that they can often be the ruin of the book. It works both ways, I have watched films and read books that’s have been slated and loved them because I had such low expectations. Thankfully, those who have praised this book are people who I respect the opinions of and having cracking taste!

It usually takes me a good chunk of time to fall into the rhythm of a new authors writing, especially when in first person. I have nothing against first person, it’s just that for some unknown reason it takes me longer to get into the grove of the writing. However, this was not an issue at all with this book, I fell into it almost too easily.

I have described writing before using words such as clean, simple and sharp. Though, never have I read writing quite so sharp. Pierce does not over embellish his writing, it is straight and to the point, while not seeming inferior or of a lesser standard. There is a quick feeling to his prose, they are swift and effective. That’s not to say there isn’t description there most definitely is, it just felt less prevalent. 

There is something surreal about Pierce’s writing. At first I thought it more magical, when Darrow was describing the beauties of nature he sees or cities but I realised it was actually a part of Darrow. It emphasises the point that he believed his world was baron and red and that it would never be more, that he would never be more. It was incredibly immersive and truly brought out Darrow’s character more and more. 

I found Darrow easy to love, I liked him from the start and that didn’t change. It was very interesting to see the two sides of Darrow, not in a two faced way but we as the reader see a truer version of him whereas the other characters of the book see the image he puts forth.  There is a duel at one point, one of the opponents says ‘to yield’ while Darrow shouts ‘to the death’ and it just clicked how differently the rest of the characters see him to how we see him. I was really cleverly done, I don’t doubt other books do it to some degree but I really saw it in this. 

“Yielding,” Pax says impatiently. “To the death,” I correct. Really it doesn’t matter. I’m just screwing with them at this point. All I have to do is give the signal. “To yielding,” Mustang confirms.”

I felt like I was able to resonate with some of the initial emotions that Darrow experiences. I live in a tiny town, so when I moved to the city for university it was a big shift in gear. I remember I was walking from my university accommodation once and I saw a tractor rolling through Leeds and I nearly peed I was that excited, it is so strange to go from a place you know near everyone and where everyone but the grumps smile at you to a city of drones. A place where you are the strange one for smiling at the person walking past you!

“In Lykos, I would have been jostled by men I’d grown up with, run across girls I’d chased and wrestled with as a child. Here, other Colors slam into me and offer not even a faint apology. This is a city, and I do not like it. I feel alone.”

Pierce also gave us so many other great characters, Sevro was brilliant! Some had past dealings that would make you think them oily and sneaky, others you would pity and some you hated. Pierce makes you feel every brutal emotions for these characters and more.

“Sevro snorts. “What do you think I’ve been doing this whole time, you silky turd? Wanking off in the bushes?”

The descriptions in this book are beautifully done, the forest, the baron slums Darrow lived in, the busy cities full of Colours, are all so vivid and creative. I said earlier that Pierces writing, through the eyes of Darrow, seemed surreal and often magical and it does but Pierce also managed to show us an utterly savage world one win which life is not fair, it is not equal and you do not win. The story gradually gets darker and darker, while still holding tight the dream that this all begun for.

“On Mars there is not much gravity. So you have to pull the feet to break the neck. They let the loved ones do it.”

This book is so fast paced, and it is utterly relentless. I didn’t feel like there was a single point I could put this book down the wheels of the game just kept on churning! Which is probably why I was up until the ass crack of dawn reading this book. So, if you starter reading this book do so early and make sure you have the day free because you will not want to stop.

It is a brilliant start to the series and I cannot wait to read the next book, which is already downloaded on my kindle and ready to be read once I have posted this review!

“Alter the paradigm.”


Book Review: Wrath by John Gwynne

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Wrath:

  • Title: Wrath
  • Author: John Gwynne
  • Series: The Faithful and the Fallen Series (Book Four)
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Pages: 720

Synopsis:

Events are coming to a climax in the Banished Lands, as the war reaches new heights. King Nathair has taken control of the fortress at Drassil and three of the Seven Treasures are in his possession. And together with Calidus and his ally Queen Rhin, Nathair will do anything to obtain the remaining Treasures. With all seven under his command, he can open a portal to the Otherworld. Then Asroth and his demon-horde will finally break into the Banished Lands and become flesh.

Meanwhile Corban has been taken prisoner by the Jotun, warrior giants who ride their enormous bears into battle. His warband scattered, Corban must make new allies if he hopes to survive. But can he bond with competing factions of warlike giants? Somehow he must, if he’s to counter the threat Nathair represents.

His life hangs in the balance – and with it, the fate of the Banished Lands.

(Goodreads)

Review:

What a treasure this series has been to read, and I can safely say without a single doubt that it will be the same when I read it again. 

Five stars do not come close to rating these books. Starting with Malice, all the way to Wrath John Gwynne has continuously improved each book. Which is really hard because Malice was amazing, so to keep getting better and better each book is just monumental.

When I read a book, I jot down the things that spring to mind while reading, and no lie every time I start a new bullet point I always start it with ’one thing I have noted…’ and I don’t know why because there is never just one thing of note, especially not with the Faithful and the Fallen Books.

So one thing I have noted 😉 (I’m sorry I couldn’t help it) throughout this series is the POV structure, albeit a pretty menial thing in the grand scale of things, but it is something I really appreciated. At times of battle Gwynne sometimes has it that the POV’s jumps between two key players while not seeming disjointed or clunky. Gwynne also gives us insights into some of the less than savoury characters, though they are never too long and are just enough to remind you of that persons plans and role in the inevitable betrayals, he manages to ignite the spark of hatred for them and their horrible deeds and wicked ways. It’s bloody marvellous. 

In every book I have read of this series I have found something more, be it about the plot or the writing or the characters. It never stops growing. Gwynne was able to make these books feel personal, the way he writes is filled with emotion even when describing a bright sun in a sheer sky that has no warmth. It is utterly compelling and I can not praise him enough. 

As many reviewers have said previously this book, along with the others, doesn’t take fantasy in a new direction and uses many of the classic tropes found in this genre but the way in which John Gwynne writes these is so refreshingly creative. During Wrath there are moments when you truly see the diversity of everyone involved, instead of having your typical band of races (elf, dwarf, man, wizard, etc) it has the likes of a former slave, a rebel queen, a loyal to the bone shieldman, a tired and beaten warrior, a sister, a brother in arms and so much more. It is nice to see the things that became tropes of the genre reimagined a little. 

I enjoyed everything about Wrath, at no point does it feel slow, at no point did I want to skip a character POV, and at no point did the plot fall flat, literally these books are perfection. The villains are all as well crafted as the hero’s and as we travel through the Banished Lands you experience everything.

Wrath is such an epic and brilliant conclusion to the Faithful and the Fallen Series, and it holds nothing back…not even the heartache. I cried. I actually cried. My Sisters Keeper, Marley and Me and every soppy ass film you can think of did not pierce this stone heart of mine, and this book broke me. I CRIED! I never cry.

Gwynne wraps everything up in Wrath, and in the most satisfying of ways. I loved where the characters went, with nobody ending in a way that felt like it should have ended in a differently, there were no grand gestures that the characters wouldn’t have ever done to dress it up, each ending fell in line with what the character you grew to know and love would have done.  Honestly,  the idea of the school made me want to read the other books in the banished lands just to see how it went! 

I am genuinely saddened to have finished this series, thank you John Gwynne for creating such an epic masterpiece that has done what no other book has managed! 


Book Review: A Storm of Silver and Ash by Marion Blackwood

My Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A few facts about A Storm of Silver and Ash:

  • Title: A Storm of Silver and Ash
  • Author: Marion Blackwood
  • Series:  The Oncoming Storm Books
  • Publisher: Published by Marion Blackwood
  • Pages: 326

Synopsis:

What would you sacrifice to save your friend?
Your soul? Your humanity? Your life?

The Oncoming Storm is a name whispered in awe throughout the Underworld. She’s known as a master thief and a lethal knife-wielder – some even say she has the skills of an assassin. All of it is true. She’s also a sarcastic smartmouth with the social graces of a bull.

You will find her running across rooftops, sneaking in the shadows, and breaking into houses. That is, if she’s not busy getting ambushed and blackmailed into a seemingly impossible mission. Grudgingly caught in a dangerous power struggle, the Oncoming Storm must leave behind the world she knows and maneuver through scheming assassins, calculating elves, and desperate royals.

Before her adventure is over, she will have loved, saved, killed, and double-crossed those around her. The only question is, who? The clock is ticking, and before time runs out, the Oncoming Storm must decide who to trust and who to betray…

(Goodreads)

Review:

A storm of Silver and Ash is a promising debut, was a fun read and I found myself wanting to keep reading.

The synopsis of this book is what really grabbed me, as did the cover. I was sold. A thief with the social graces of a bull, and us getting to see more of Storm utilising her surroundings. It gave the opportunity for incredible world building scenes and stunning descriptions.

Blackwood created a great world, I love a good dingy underworld where it is almost a place unto it’s self. It had a hierarchy, a cast system of the criminals who associate with a guild and the less than savory folk who can’t be apart of it for reasons such as they are too dark or can’t deal with authority etc. 

The underworld hierarchy, while being pretty simple, is a great addition to the world Blackwood created. I enjoyed the concept of the different guilds and their rankings. The idea of a beggars guild, it kind of reminded me of the homeless unit of hitmen from the John Wick films. I would have quite liked to see more of them, as an information source maybe. I thought the world was nicely done but could have been used much more in the actual story. 

Blackwood also created what I found to be a totally a refreshing take on elves, while the elves were not wholly different to those we see in the world of fantasy, it was their culture and social practices I enjoyed. They were a tougher more hunter like people, hardier and less about ethereal grace and such.

I unfortunately I found Storm to be a little off-putting at times, what was one of the main drives to me reading this book quickly became a little disruptive to the story. In terms of the character as a person, she was a cool character, fun and sarcastic but then not so good. I like the morally ambiguous character at times but when done in a way that you can still route for them, Storm just killed at times and felt a little unnecessary.

Now, this is definitely nit picky on my part but these things too often pulled me from the story. More at the start than anything else, but still. There was a lot of ’telling’, yanno the whole show me don’t tell me thing. There was also a lot of emphasis on how bad ass Storm was, and how no one liked to mess with her, but this was told through her own thoughts on how bad ass she was. I thought this could have been shown a wee bit better. 

I also noted a few things I would say we’re inconsistent. For example, Storm may enter a place renowned for being cutthroat, orderless, outside of the guilds and known for being a pretty rough place especially for a women (which she herself tells you). Yet she cleared a table with a glare alone. Or her not knowing a type of material which is so picky, I know, and sounds weird to say but if you are a thief I would expect one to have an eye for details, to know when something is a fake or cheaply made etc yet she didn’t.

The breaking of the 4th wall in this book was also not my favourite. 

Despite my above complaints I did find myself wanting to keep reading, and I enjoyed this book as a whole.

I discussed this with my partner, who had just played both Last of Us Part Two and Infamous Second Sons, and when I told him my thoughts on it he said that it was like what he thought about second sons. It was a fun game that you go back to and complete but when compared to Last of Us you realise that thats all it is, fun, the story and characters don’t really give you any of the feels but you still liked it as a whole.


Book Review: Limbo by Thiago d’Evecque

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A few facts about Limbo:

  • Title: Limbo
  • Author: Thiago d’Evecque
  • Series:  Standalone
  • Publisher: Published by Thiago d’Evecque
  • Pages: 162

Read Limbo on my Kindle FREE with Kindle Unlimited. So, not free because you pay for KU, but it still feels like a free book.

Synopsis:

The fate of the world hinges on a forsaken spirit, a mad god in a sword, and 12 mythological beings.

The Limbo is where all souls — human or otherwise — go to after dying. Some don’t realize where they are. Death is a hard habit to get used to. Gods and mythological figures also dwell in the plane, borne from humanity’s beliefs.

A forsaken spirit is awakened and ordered to dispatch 12 souls back to Earth to prevent the apocalypse. Many don’t take kindly to the return. Accompanied by an imprisoned mad god, the spirit must compel them.

Each of the 12 unlocks a piece of the forsaken spirit’s true identity. Memories unfold and past wounds bleed again.

The journey will reveal buried truths about gods, angels, humanity, and the forsaken spirit itself.

If you like epic fights, diverse mythology reinterpreted, and surprising plot twists, Limbo is for you.

(Goodreads)

Review:

When I woke up, I knew something was wrong. For I only opened my eyes when the world spiraled into chaos.

Limbo comes across as an incredibly intellectual tale, it touches on many aspects of life such as religion but also humanity. Our existence and the way many live, it pulls everything that makes these topics so provocative and inserts them into Limbo through our main characters thoughts and understandings. 

“The past is enticing, and we need it to make sense of our lives. We can only understand who we are when we look back to who were. But it’s a trap. Watch it and leave it, there’s nothing you can change there.”

Limbo is a strange tale to be told, interesting and quite creative with its mixture of many religions, legends and folklore tales. It was interesting to read one story which is made up of many historical tales coming from Asia, Europe and all across the world and done so skilfully as not to feel disorientating.

I found myself really intrigued as to who our main character will enlist next, excited to see what legendary figure was to be chosen and what myths or religion it came from. 

Limbo was a lovely quick read, its chapters were short and snappy and its sentence structure refreshingly sharp. 

Thiago has you intrigued at the start, and does brilliantly to create an interesting world where anything can be conjured. The world Thiago creates, or the Limbo he creates, is written in amazing detail and comes to life for each new person encountered. 

The surroundings took shape, bringing the refreshing scent of wet dirt and leaves. Huge trees obstructed the sky. Spears of light pierced through the swaying branches and canopies.

With any short story there is a degree of difficulty to develop a character to the extent the readers of longer books expect but Thiago bridges this really well. The pace is definitely slower but it feels appropriate with the themes this story utilises, being more thought provoking and meaningful. 

I especially enjoyed reading Thiago’s notes at then end, throughout the book I highlighted each historical person/culture/legend that intrigued me with the intention to research these later but I didn’t need to do this completely blind because Thiago gives some detail as to them and its brilliant.


Review: Valour by John Gwynne

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Valour:

  • Title: Valour
  • Author: John Gwynne
  • Series: The Faithful and the Fallen Series (Book Two)
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Pages: 669

I read Valour in paperback, but gods do I wish i had this beauty in hardcover!

Synopsis:

The Banished Lands are torn by war as the army of High King Nathair sweeps the realm challenging all who oppose his holy crusade. Allied with the manipulative Queen Rhin of Cambren, there are few who can stand against him. But Rhin is playing her own games and has her eyes on a far greater prize . . .

Left for dead – her kin have fled and her country is overrun with enemies – Cywen fights to survive. But any chance of escape is futile once Nathair and his disquieting advisor Calidus realize who she is. They have no intention of letting such a prize slip from their grasp. For she may be their one chance at killing the biggest threat to their power. 

Meanwhile, the young warrior Corban flees from his conquered homeland with his exiled companions, heading for the only place that may offer them sanctuary. But to get there they must travel through Cambren, avoiding warbands, giants and the vicious wolven of the mountains. And all the while Corban struggles to become the man that everyone believes him to be – the Bright Star and saviour of the Banished Lands. 

Embroiled in struggles for power and survival, the mortal world is unaware of the greatest threat of all. In the Otherworld, dark forces scheme to bring a host of the Fallen into the world of flesh to end the war with the Faithful, once and for all. 

(Goodreads)

Review:

If you were an absolute rockstar and read my review of Malice you will know that I enjoyed it immensely. As with Malice, this is probably going to heavy on the gushing and low on the critique. Ahhhh, who am I kidding? I found no faults with this book. Valour is the second book in The Faithful and the Fallen Series, and it was AMAZING! 

In my Malice review I said this series was likely to be my favourite one, and I can say that I still firmly stand by that statement.

John Gwynne does not disappoint, picking up pretty much straight after the ending of Malice, we plunge back into the world that is The Banished Lands. John Gwynne’s incredible writing style remains true in Valour, as he continues to wow with his intricate weaving of facts and simple but profound writing style.

Having read Malice and understanding the level of sly manoeuvrings and betrayals of its characters I was actually able to pick up more little hints of what was to come in this instalment. Now, you might think that a bad thing but I assure it wasn’t. Gwynne did this in such a way that you don’t necessarily notice the first breadcrumb or so, but then maybe three of four down the line something clicks and immediately you are itching to read more to get to what you think know will happen. Simple as these bread crumbs are they give you a whisper of hope, a chance that someone may realise the errors of their ways or a character might just make some choices you wanted and not follow in blind faith! Ohh, and that person you think I’m referring to you are probably wrong. He isn’t that obvious, these breadcrumbs are so finely woven and seamlessly blended you almost miss them. And that my friends is the magic of John Gwynne’s writing.

In Malice we saw a low magic system, so it was nice to see the elemental magic we were introduced to expanded further in Valour. Gwynne better explains the rules of the magic and we see it’s use a little bit more. 

In every book you read there is always a drive to reach the conclusion of the story, a need to finish it and see how it all ends. That need still stands with Valour, but at the same time you are so invested in the smaller things happening to each of the characters own individual stories and relationships. Upon finishing valour I still felt utterly satisfied,  much happens in Valour and Gwynne made it that I wasn’t chasing the end of the greater story but grasping the pages to conclude the smaller plot lines making this book utterly enjoyable.

Gwynne furthers the bonds of brotherhood in Valour, more so than in Malice. I particularly liked the blossoming relationship between Camlin and Dath. Corban also began to show greater levels of camaraderie, not that it wasn’t present in book one, it certainly was especially with his band of friends but Gwynne develops this even more to brother and sisters in arms, bound by the harrowing events of book one and book two.

I also found Valour to be diverse in it’s conflict. In more than one way, as with Malice we saw different levels of good vs evil, some being the greater war, others personal fueds and also that between kings and queens. Gwynne does not fail to keep this diversity in Valour. As a lover of all things military and battle-related I was happy to see that Gwynne treats you to guerrilla warfare, shield walls, magical and monstrous battles between giant and wolven and so much more. He does not fail to mix things up. I also enjoyed seeing the different aspects of a single battle. It was nice to see Corban not fighting but helping Brina in the medical wing at one point.

The plot in Valour is definitely a little darker than Malice, but it fits, we get a deeper look at the prophecy and those who will inevitably play a role in it. The pace is a lot quicker than Malice and things are heating up more and more. This book is amazing, and dare I say more enjoyable than Malice, and if that keeps and these books keep getting better then that’s freaking brilliant! 


Review: The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about the Grey Bastards:

  • Title: The Grey Bastards
  • Author: Jonathan French
  • Series: The Lot Lands (Book One)
  • Publisher: Originally self-published but later published by Ballymalis Press 
  • Pages: 529

I read The Grey Bastards on my Kindle and then proceed to buy it for my shelves!

Synopsis:

LIVE IN THE SADDLE. DIE ON THE HOG. 

Such is the creed of the half-orcs dwelling in the Lot Lands. Sworn to hardened brotherhoods known as hoofs, these former slaves patrol their unforgiving country astride massive swine bred for war. They are all that stand between the decadent heart of noble Hispartha and marauding bands of full-blood orcs. 

Such is the creed of the half-orcs dwelling in the Lot Lands. Sworn to hardened brotherhoods known as hoofs, these former slaves patrol their unforgiving country astride massive swine bred for war. They are all that stand between the decadent heart of noble Hispartha and marauding bands of full-blood orcs. 

Jackal rides with the Grey Bastards, one of eight hoofs that have survived the harsh embrace of the Lots. Young, cunning and ambitious, he schemes to unseat the increasingly tyrannical founder of the Bastards, a plague-ridden warlord called the Claymaster. Supporting Jackal’s dangerous bid for leadership are Oats, a hulking mongrel with more orc than human blood, and Fetching, the only female rider in all the hoofs. 

When the troubling appearance of a foreign sorcerer comes upon the heels of a faceless betrayal, Jackal’s plans are thrown into turmoil. He finds himself saddled with a captive elf girl whose very presence begins to unravel his alliances. With the anarchic blood rite of the Betrayer Moon close at hand, Jackal must decide where his loyalties truly lie, and carve out his place in a world that rewards only the vicious. 

(Goodreads)

Review:

I read this back in August 2019, and loved it so I am SUPER surprised I didn’t get around to reviewing it. So, here is my long overdue review of this fantastic book! And look at that cover, unfortunately that isn’t the cover anymore, but I LOVE it so thought to feature that one, the other is cool too.

Never did I think I would want a hog in place of my motorbike but Jonathan French has taken the Harley Davidsons nickname and brought it to life! As a motorbike lover and owner I can’t promise an unbiased account of this gem! 

“Live in the saddle. Die on the hog”.

The Grey Bastards is a unique and interesting story that will satisfy any fantasy fans needs, in my opinion. We have unforgiving lands that are patrolled by Hoofs, half-orcs brotherhoods, that protect the Lot Lands from full blooded orcs and more while riding warrior hogs!

Here, faith was better placed in a strong mount, a loaded stockbow, and a few solid companions.

This book hits the ground running and doesn’t stop. It is fun and exciting and at no point does it fall into a predictable rhythm. I was beyond impressed with this book.

It is no wonder French stood out with this novel in the SPFBO with his unique plot and brilliant writing. French’s writing is clean and elegant while remaining utterly believable and authentic with its epic fight scenes and great world-building. 

A little warning, this book is filled with hilariously filthy jokes, characters more foul mouthed than a seasoned sailor and unforgiving amounts of violence. Whats not to love?

Would this arrogant ass risk a feud just to save face in front of a gaggle of outcast nobility with new saddles and wet dreams of heroism?

On that note though, it is important to point out that the language in this book is wholly appropriate and authentic to the characters, the world building and the plot, both in the way the speak and the topics they discuss. These are burly, violence-loving, hog-riding orcs, what do you expect? 

The characters are easily the most entertaining aspect of this book, second to its amazing plot. French has created a cast of memorable characters each with great characterisations and overall development that capture you and keep you reading. 

I would recommend this!