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Month: August 2019

Book Review: The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)

Book Review: The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)


The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Subtle Knife picks up almost where The Golden Compass ended, except that this second installment took a slight detour in order to introduce us to a second main protagonist in the form of Will Parry. I quite enjoy Will, and found him a great counterpart for Lyra. Their personalities are very different, but they are both defined most by the protectiveness that fuels them and the fierceness that courses through them. Will is both more civilized and more violent than Lyra, which shines a softer light on our original protagonist than we saw in her first book. The two children on the cusp of their adolescence are quite obviously being set up as either the salvation or damnation of the countless worlds they now know exist.

“It’s like having to make a choice: a blessing or a curse. The one thing you can’t do is choose neither.”

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Book Review: Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle, #2) by Jay Kristoff

Book Review: Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle, #2) by Jay Kristoff

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Nevernight Chronicle (Book #2 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 448 pages (US hardback edition)

Published: 7th September 2017 by Harper Voyager (UK) & 5th September 2017 by St. Martin’s Press (US)


I applaud The Droogs who finished Godsgrave before or around its publication date, thank you for your sacrifice; may the Lady of Blessed Murder bless your patience.

“That’s the power of words; twenty six little letter can paint a whole universe”

Godsgrave is the sequel to Nevernight. The story still follows our beloved ruthless assassin, Mia Corvere, as she continues her journey for vengeance. Godsgrave didn’t start off easy for me to get into. Nevernight was a revenge story with a battle-school setting; Godsgrave is the continuation to that revenge story without any of the battle-school trope. Almost the entirety of the book revolved around a new mission: Mia’s struggle to win the gladiatorial collegium for a chance to complete her unfinished revenge. Although familiar faces and characters—such as Mister Kindly and Eclipse—still played a huge role, many previous characters only appeared briefly; there were a lot of new characters introduced in this installment and for the majority of the time, Mia spent her time with them rather than the characters from the first book. Also, I’ve mentioned in my Nevernight review that the footnotes didn’t bother me; they were entertaining and they provided insights into the world-building of Itreya. This is still true in Godsgrave, but admittedly, the footnotes in this installment were often too long to my liking. I’m talking about one or two pages long footnotes. The longevity of the footnotes ended up being distracting to my reading immersion, and this was especially true in the first half of the book. Because of all these, Godsgrave ended up taking me longer—around 40% of the book—to fully engross myself into. Were all this necessary though? Yes. Rest assured that the build-up and groundwork were put to good use; resulting in an incredibly engaging second half of the book.

Picture: Pale Daughter by Nan Fe

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Book Review: The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)

Book Review: The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 6 of 5 stars.

Series: The Stormlight Archive (Book 1 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, high fantasy

First published: August 31st 2010 by Tor Books


The Stormlight Archive is Brandon Sanderson’s “love letter to the epic fantasy genre”. His magnum opus. From my perspective, he had lovingly and painstakingly crafted a masterpiece that was not just his greatest but one of the greatest of all time.  And thus, this is my love letter to The Stormlight Archive and I hope it can do some justice to this favourite series of mine.

There are many great fantasy books out there; some have a compelling story to tell supplemented with great characters; some have awesome magic and epic battle scenes, and some come with an interesting world that was richly imagined and detailed.  The Way of Kings is a huge opening act to The Stormlight Archive which took every single one of these elements of a good fantasy story and elevated the art of storytelling to a different league. You might think that “Yeah, you say that because you’re a Sanderson addict”. Then let me say that I’ve read The Way of Kings before I became addicted to his books. Or to phrase it the other way, I became an addict because of it.

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Book Review: The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)

Book Review: The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)


The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read this book before, but it was long ago. When I was in elementary school, I was just beginning to develop a lot for fantasy. Harry Potter was fairly new, with only the first couple of books having been released. I had consumed those, and A Wrinkle in Time, and the majority of the Redwall books that had been published. But my favorite series was The Chronicles of Narnia. I loved the Christian allegory, as I had come to my faith quite young. When I picked up The Golden Compass, I enjoyed it almost as much, even though I found the concept of dæmons both fascinating and disconcerting. However, a well-meaning teacher informed me that His Dark Materials was known as the anti-Narnia, and proceeded to spoil some plot points of the next book in order to discourage me from continuing the series. I was appalled at the thought of a series that was so vehemently opposed to my faith, so I steered clear of it and let myself forget about how enjoyable I found the first book.

“We are all subject to the fates. But we must act as if we are not, or die of despair.”

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Book Review: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1) by Jay Kristoff

Book Review: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1) by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Nevernight Chronicle (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 448 pages (US hardback edition)

Published: 25th July 2016 by Harper Voyager (UK) & 9th August 2016 by St. Martin’s Press (US)


O’gentlefriend, Nevernight was incredible. Allow me to join The Droogs from now on.

The Nevernight Chronicle is not a series I’ve never heard of. If you’re active on Book Twitter, Bookstagram, or Booktube, you’ll most likely have seen or heard of this series. How could you not? The fans are very loud and devoted; aesthetically, both US & UK editions of this series look gorgeous as fuck; the content? Let’s just say that the beautiful cover artworks really did the content justice and vice versa. To Emily Fox and Emma, thank you for recommending this book to me. I can’t believe I almost missed such an awesome book just because the series has been falsely labeled as a book/series specifically for YA audience. Now, there’s nothing wrong with YA—this isn’t me judging the quality of YA books—but it feels wrong to immediately label Nevernight or any book as a book targeted for YA audience just because the main character is young; 16 years old in this case. In my opinion, Nevernight sits comfortably in the hybrid stage between YA and adult fantasy; a novel that can be read and enjoyed by both YA & adult SFF reader, just like Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson or Red Rising Saga (just the first three books) by Pierce Brown. So yes, don’t let the occasional mislabeling of this series put you off from giving the series a go.

“Too many books. Too few centuries.”

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Book Review: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Book Review: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly


Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“I changed what I could, and what I couldn’t, I endured.”

I’m a former history teacher, and yet I still somehow didn’t realize how large a role racism and segregation played in the Cold War. When I watched the movie inspired by this book with an American History class I was temporarily teaching, my eyes were opened to just how little I knew about the Cold War and Civil Rights eras, and how the two were so deeply entwined. I’m thankful for the information; I just wish I had realized it sooner. After having read the book as well, I have a new appreciation for the story overall, but also for the title of the book. I love anything with a dual meaning, and both the math behind these amazing advancement and the women who calculated them were indeed hidden figures.

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Book Review: Beartown (Beartown, #1) by Fredrik Backman

Book Review: Beartown (Beartown, #1) by Fredrik Backman


Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Hate can be a deeply stimulating emotion. The world becomes easier to understand and much less terrifying if you divide everything and everyone into friends and enemies, we and they, good and evil. The easiest way to unite a group isn’t through love, because love is hard, It makes demands. Hate is simple. So the first thing that happens in a conflict is that we choose a side, because that’s easier than trying to hold two thoughts in our heads at the same time. The second thing that happens is that we seek out facts that confirm what we want to believe – comforting facts, ones that permit life to go on as normal. The third is that we dehumanize our enemy.”

I would’ve never picked up this book had I not enjoyed another book of Backman’s so much. But Beartown couldn’t have been more different from A Man Called Ove; honestly, I wouldn’t have even guessed they were by the same author. That being said, they were both masterfully done. A Man Called Ove made my heart swollen and tender in the best way. Beartown shattered my heart and sharpened the fragments into deadly shrapnel that threatened to rip into those I love. It absolutely wrecked me. And not at all in a healthy, cathartic way. No, I wasn’t myself the entire time I was reading this. I was barely suppressed rage.

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Book Review: Dark Age (Red Rising Saga, #5) by Pierce Brown

Book Review: Dark Age (Red Rising Saga, #5) by Pierce Brown

Dark Age by Pierce Brown

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Red Rising Saga (Book #5 of 6)

Genre: Science fiction, Space Opera, Dystopia

Pages: 800 pages (UK Hardback edition)

Published: 30th July 2019 by Hodder (UK) & 30th July 2019 by Del Rey (US)


Gory (literally) damn insane, violent, bleak, and ruthless. Helldivers, prepare your soul to be hell-drilled by Dark Age’s brutality.

“During war, the laws are silent.”—Quintus Tullius Cicero

Two things first. If it has been a long time since you’ve read Iron Gold or Red Rising Saga, I strongly recommend you to reread the entire series before you read Dark Age. I didn’t do this and I truly believe that my reading experience of this book suffered from it. Secondly, throughout the years since Red Rising publication, many people still insist that this series is for YA audience; by the time you read this book, you’ll probably be traumatized or maybe even loathe this book for its extreme darkness. Seriously, Dark Age is one of the darkest, bleakest, and goriest novel I’ve ever read in my life; the humor and heartwarming aspect of the series that’s usually common to find are close to non-existent in this installment. I will edit this review in the future when I’ve reread the series from the beginning in preparation for the sixth and—maybe—last book of the series, but for now, this is my thoughts and opinions on my first read-through Dark Age.

“With every new endeavor, there’s always the hope that you will find happiness, be less lonely.”

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Book Review: Rise Against (The Foundling, #4) by Hailey Edwards

Book Review: Rise Against (The Foundling, #4) by Hailey Edwards

Rise Against by Hailey Edwards

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published: 22nd August 2019 (Piatkus)

 

Luce: ‘Didn’t your mother teach you to wait until you’re invited in to enter a room?’

Santiago: ‘No. My mother ate one of my siblings because she wasn’t a fan of uneven numbers.’

 

After what felt like a slight wobble in Death Knell, this is a blinding return to form. Fourth and penultimate book in the Foundling Series, this instalment gives us a Luce who seems ready to be herself, finally reconciled with who she is as both human and charun. The theme of self understanding and self acceptance has been important throughout the series, but it’s especially relevant as things begin to escalate out of control. Luce has found her own way to deal with each aspect of her character, including the treacherous remnant of Conquest, always eager to resume control. Now that the dangerous, more powerful part of herself is needed for the fight, she must let it out more often. It’s a slippery slope that might well lead to oblivion. But while Luce has been knocked down hard by all the revelations, betrayals, and losses, this book is about her finding a sense of peace with it all. Or at least an accommodation. And there’s a reason for that beyond the simple passing of time. There are no more closed eyes, there’s no more holding back. It feels like the calm before the storm. Like the end is coming…

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Book Review: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep

Book Review: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep


The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Orbit US/Redhook) in exchange for an honest review.

It’s.
Not.
Fair.
I know that life isn’t.
But stories are. Or if they’re not fair, they’re not fair with purpose.
I wish I could tell better where stories end and life begins.

Sometimes you just need to escape into a good book. But if you’re Charles Sutherland, sometimes you inadvertently facilitate the escape of fictional characters into the real world. Imagine being able to read out your favorite character from a story and have an actual conversation with them. That sounds like a dream come true for most bookworms, but it’s been a nightmare that Rob, Charley’s big brother and our first person perspective character, has spent his life trying to avoid. He’s had to clean up Charley’s fictional messes a multitude of times throughout his life, but the current fictional mess they find themselves in is the zaniest and more far reaching, and frankly the most dangerous, that the Sutherland family has ever faced. Their world is going to be changed forever if they can’t figure out a way to thwart what’s coming.

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