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Month: February 2019

I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life

I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life

I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d Rather Be Reading is a light, sweet little ode to books and the joys they contain. Though the cover is lovely and the title immediately resonated with me, I might never have known it existed if not for the author’s podcast. For those who are unaware, Anne Bogel runs a popular blog by the name of Modern Mrs. Darcy, as well as my very favorite podcast appropriately named What Should I Read Next? On this podcast, she interviews book lovers from all walks of life and readerly tastes. After giving us a chance to get to know these readers a bit she asks them to tell her three books they love, one book they don’t, and what they’ve been reading lately. Using these answers, Anne gives each person a list of three books they might love in hopes they will choose to read at least one of these next.

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We Lie With Death (The Reborn Empire, #2)

We Lie With Death (The Reborn Empire, #2)

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

We Lie With Death by Devin Madson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is no calm after the storm, Devin Madson has crafted a sequel rich with wonderful character developments and illuminating revelations.

It’s been roughly seven months since I finished reading We Ride the Storm. Ever since I finished it, We Lie With Death instantly became one of my most anticipated books of 2019. Considering the unreasonably high expectations I had for this book, I honestly think that it’s truly praise-worthy that Madson was able to create another novel that repeatedly grabbed my attention. Before I begin my review, I would like to first inform everyone that there’s a “Story So Far” and a Characters List section at the beginning of the book that will help refresh your memories of the first book.

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Kellanved’s Reach (Path to Ascendancy, #3)

Kellanved’s Reach (Path to Ascendancy, #3)

ARC received from the publisher, Random House UK, in exchange for an honest review.

Kellanved’s Reach by Ian C. Esslemont
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Kellanved’s Reach was a great continuation to the story behind the rise of Kellanved and Dancer, and the beginnings of the Malazan Empire.

Judging from the direction of the narrative in this book, I strongly doubt that this would be the end of the series (which was marketed initially as a trilogy). Compared to the previous books, the number of character POVs in the third book had more than doubled. There were multiple storylines told from the perspective of all the different warring city-states within the continent of Quon Tali. Arising from these were several new characters being introduced. While most of these individuals will have significant roles in the later Malazan books, their respective subplots at in this book seemed largely detached from the main story. There was one character whose nickname was yet to be known by the end of the book, and it made me want to tear my hair out. I was certain that he’s a prominent person in the later books, but his character development at this stage did not provide sufficient clues.

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Magic for Beginners

Magic for Beginners

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Something I’ve noticed over the course of my recent reading life is that, if you’re in the mood for weird, you should definitely look into short story collections. Some of the strangest and most memorable fiction I’ve read in the past five years or so have been short stories. This is not a format I thought I enjoyed, as I prefer to dig more deeply into a story than twenty pages or so can accommodate.

Honestly, I probably never would have given short stories the chance they deserved if it weren’t for the fact that I started writing my own, and the fact that Neil Gaiman reads his own collections in their audio format. For those of you who aren’t aware, Gaiman has an incredibly smooth, sultry, expressive reading voice, very similar to Benedict Cumberbatch in my opinion. Listening to him read his own work is a fantastic auditory treat.

Because I’ve enjoyed Gaiman’s short stories so much, I decided it was time to try out some other authors known for their short stories. After doing some research, I decided on Kelly Link, as she’s a big name in both the short story form and the literary fantasy and horror genres. I’m so glad I did. While I didn’t love every story in this collection, there were quite I few that I really enjoyed. Below I’ve given each story its own tiny review. Overall, I think they came together to create a strong collected work.

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Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow, #1)

Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow, #1)

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A masterwork you don’t want to miss; it is with temerity that I declare Blood Song as one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read.

Why do I love this book? The simple answer would be because this is a book that has everything I love in epic fantasy and that it hit all the right notes for me. I could practically end my review with that answer but that wouldn’t do justice to how great this book is. Now, it’s time for me to take on the role of the Chronicler and inform you why it’s essential for you to read Vaelin Al Sorna’s coming-of-age story.

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A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Feast for Crows was quite good but it’s far below the incredible standard set by the previous three books.

I’ve mentioned in my previous review that A Storm of Swords could truly be the height of Martin’s writing career and I still stand by that statement confidently. Unfortunately, there’s a huge chance that this book will be the other way around by being the lowest point of the series. There’s a lot of circumstances to consider here. If I’ve waited 5 years before I read this book, I definitely would’ve hated it and give this at max 2 stars rating. If I haven’t received any warning on the odd structure of the story and character’s POV choices, I most likely would’ve disliked it more. If I haven’t watched the TV series, I probably would’ve enjoyed or disliked it more. And if I haven’t read A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms or in the midst of reading The World of Ice and Fire, again, I most likely will dislike this book even more. Putting all circumstances into consideration, my experience of reading A Feast for Crows wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but it was truly a disappointment after the brilliance of the previous book.

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Deadhouse Landing (Path to Ascendancy, #2)

Deadhouse Landing (Path to Ascendancy, #2)

Deadhouse Landing by Ian C. Esslemont
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Deadhouse Landing was another fantastic novel in this prequel trilogy of two of the most notorious characters from the Malazan series.

This sequel continued to expand on the origins story of Dancer and Kellanved, by bringing us to the infamous Malaz Island – where it all began. For readers of Malazan, some of the names in the Dramatis Personae were enough to make one incredibly excited for what’s in store. It was so hard for me to write this review without giving away even the smallest detail, which might diminish the impact of the “Aha!” or the “OMG, it is HIM/HER!” moments. These names alone aren’t actually spoilers in its truest sense. Nonetheless, my take is that a Malazan fan will derive more delight from reading these prequel books without prior knowledge of whom among the Old Guard might be featured.

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Relic (Pendergast, #1)

Relic (Pendergast, #1)

Relic by Douglas Preston
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

My introduction to Preston and Child was unfortunately lackluster. I found Relic to be solidly okay, the literary equivalent of tuning into a television show just to let it serve as background noise. While the premise was interesting and isn’t something I’ll be forgetting anytime soon, I just couldn’t make myself care. There were two main contributors to this lack of interest: poor characterization and an overabundance of science.

Let me start with the science first. This is very much a personal preference thing. Anytime a book begins getting very scientific in its content, I just start tuning out. It’s why I stay away from hard science fiction. I know that many people love when there is science present to back up a wild claim that is central to the plot, as it helps readers suspend their disbelief in the moment.

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The Hod King (The Books of Babel, #3)

The Hod King (The Books of Babel, #3)

The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Hod King is Bancroft’s best work so far; a novel that’s stunning in originality enhanced with suspenseful and exciting moments.

Before I start my review, I would like to mention that, if you need a detailed summary of the series so far as I did, check out www.bookseriesrecaps.com for their great plot overviews—tons of spoilers, of course—of both Senlin Ascends and Arm of the Sphinx. I finished reading Arm of the Sphinx in July 2017 and since then I’ve read and reviewed almost 200 novels. Saying that I needed a reread of the series or at least a memory refreshment is a massive understatement. A reread is always preferable but if you’re being crushed by your TBR tower—I know you are—and don’t have the time to reread the series at the moment, this website is your solution; without it, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate this book without rereading the entire series. For the sake of making this review as spoiler-free as possible, I’ll keep this review shorter than usual and there won’t be any in-world characters’ names mentioned.

“My sense of being, my identity, whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t reside in my parts. It lives in my past, and in the continuity of my present thoughts, and in my hopes for the future. I’m more afraid of losing a memory than a limb.”

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Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #3)

Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #3)

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher. While I am thankful for the gift, the giving of it had no impact on this review. All views below are completely my own.

Holy Sister keeps you on the edge of your seat from the first page. It’s an incredibly smart conclusion to a standout, action-packed series, with heartbreak and triumph mingled on nearly every page. I can’t remember the last time I felt so satisfied upon finishing a book.

“Some lessons must be written in scars.”

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