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Month: September 2019

Book Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Book Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Literary fiction, Historical fiction

Pages: 567 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 9th February 2017 by Doubleday (UK) & 22nd August 2017 by Hogarth Press (US)


The Heart’s Invisible Furies is beautiful, heartbreaking, dark, and occasionally humorous.

If you follow my reviews, you should know already that literary fiction isn’t my favorite genre to read; I probably read, at most, one or two literary fiction book per year. But when I finished A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne, which I enjoyed very much, at the end of last year, I knew that I had to give his most highly-praised work, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, a read and I’m glad I did.

“But for all that we had, for all the luxury to which we were accustomed, we were both denied love, and this deficiency would be scorched into our future lives like an ill-considered tattoo inscribed on buttocks after a drunken night out, leading each of us inevitably toward isolation and disaster.”

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Book Review: The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards, #1)

Book Review: The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards, #1)


The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Ace) in exchange for an honest review.

“A person can never hear too many tales. Tales are like honey cakes. Once you have tasted one, you want another, and another, and always more.”

This was my first encounter with Juliet Marillier, but it certainly won’t be the last. I can see her becoming one of those authors I turn to when I’ve just had enough of the darkness, and need something bright and pretty in my life. The Harp of Kings is lovely and lush and bright, a wonderful change from the grimdark that populates the fantasy genre. And from what I gather, that’s par for the course with Marillier’s work. While there are stakes here, it’s still a quiet story, inviting and soothing and somehow peaceful even when the events of the story are not. I found it to be a story that calls one to meander along instead of racing ahead. This book is the first in a new series of standalones, set in a world that will already be familiar to Marillier’s fans. But even if you’ve never read any of her work before (like me), this is a great starting point. I never felt lost in the least, though I am now definitely more curious about her various other series. Also, even thought this book is the first in a new series, it stands on its own perfectly well, with a plot that feels self contained and completely finished.

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Book Review: The Black Hawks (Articles of Faith, #1)

Book Review: The Black Hawks (Articles of Faith, #1)

ARC provided by the publisher—Harper Voyager—in exchange for an honest review.

The Black Hawks by David Wragg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Articles of Faith (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 429 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 3rd October 2019 by Harper Voyager


Entertaining, intense, and filled with great lines spoken by morally grey characters to root for.

If you’ve been following the adult fantasy market for the past two years, you’ll most likely realize that the cover art is quite similar to Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames—one of my favorite fantasy debuts of all time. The cover art is done by the same artist—Richard Anderson—and as always, he never fails to deliver a striking/distinctive artwork. Excluding the similarity in cover art, does the content actually provided something similar to Kings of the Wyld? It would have to be a no from me. The exposure and advertisements I’ve seen for The Black Hawks so far have led me to think that this is an overwhelmingly comedic and light-hearted book; I have to disagree with this notion. Sure there are some funny lines embedded into the narrative, such as this description about wolves for example:

“To think I left Clyden for this. Eaten by a fucken dog with a hairstyle.”

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Book Review: Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2)

Book Review: Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2)

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 6 of 5 stars.

Series: The Stormlight Archive (Book 2 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, high fantasy

First published: March 4th 2014 by Tor Books


Words. Of. Radiance.
– End of review –

Jesting aside, the title of the book does pretty much sum up the magnificence of this sequel to The Way of Kings. Words of Radiance should be the paragon of excellence by which all sequels should hold themselves to as it was the best second book of a series that I’ve ever read.

If you have read my love letter to The Stormlight Archive, you would know that I pretty much adore everything about The Way of Kings – the characterisation, the worldbuilding, and even the minimal plot progression, given the significant portion of the book dedicated to the former. Words of Radiance took every element which I loved in the first book and enhanced it beyond my imagination.

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Book Review: God of Gnomes (God Core, #1) by Demi Harper

Book Review: God of Gnomes (God Core, #1) by Demi Harper

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

God of Gnomes by Demi Harper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: God Core (Book #1 of ?)

Genre: LitRPG, Dungeon Core

Pages: 485 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 26th September 2019 by Portal Books


Harper’s LitRPG debut combines the resource management of Real-Time Strategy Games and the moral system of The Good Place into a fun, exciting, and wholesome reading experience.

God of Gnomes, the first book in God Core series by Demi Harper isn’t my first experience reading Harper’s work. Demi Harper is a pseudonym for Laura M. Hughes; a freelance editor, and also the author behind the dark fantasy novella: Danse Macabre. I loved Danse Macabre, and also enjoyed the two short stories written by her that I’ve read so far. I have always wanted the author to write a full-length novel, and as far as I know, God of Gnomes is the author’s first take on a full-length novel and the LitRPG genre. As expected, I enjoyed it; the novel which was written in a very different style compared to the author’s past work didn’t change the quality of her work. The story follows Corey as he finds himself reborn as a God Core that must protect and guide his worshippers—gnomes—to escape extinction. The story started off very light-hearted at first, and it gets more serious as the story progressed; I’m thankful for this. Although I do like reading light-hearted stories, a few serious and tense moments are necessary for me to enjoy a book.

“What you were before doesn’t matter. What matters is who you are now.”

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In Defense of IT: Chapter Two

In Defense of IT: Chapter Two

I’ve heard so many mixed opinions on IT: Chapter Two.  I adored the first IT (not the Tim Curry one, the 2017 one), so I was super hesitant to even give Chapter Two a try, fearing that it would sour its predecessor in my mind.  I bit the bullet and watched it anyway, and now I am both confused and just a little angry with the internet.  Chapter Two was AMAZING.  How anyone could watch that movie and not think it was incredibly well done is beyond me.  It was thoughtful and well balanced and more than I even hoped it would be.  

**Beware: Mild spoilers ahead, because I didn’t know how to write this without referring to the ending.**

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Book Review: The Bard’s Blade (The Sorcerer’s Song, #1) by Brian D. Anderson

Book Review: The Bard’s Blade (The Sorcerer’s Song, #1) by Brian D. Anderson

ARC provided by the author and publisher—Tor Books—in exchange for an honest review.

The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Sorcerer’s Song (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 432 pages

Published: 28th January 2020 by Tor Books


Simply exquisite, gripping, and tension-packed; The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson is an enthralling start to a series.

I’ll be honest and say that it wasn’t the premise of the book that got my attention; it was Felix Ortiz’s gorgeous cover artwork that grabbed me, and I’m truly grateful for it because the quality of the content in this book lived up to the exterior. I’m both blessed—because I get to read this early—and cursed—because I have to wait even longer for the next book—enough that the author and publisher sent me an early copy to review. Thank you and congratulations, Tor Books, you have found a winner here; consider giving The Bard’s Blade the same scale of promotion and advertisement you did for The Ruin of Kings.

“Never allow the wickedness of others to dictate who you are.”

The Bard’s Blade is the first book in The Sorcerer’s Song series by Brian Anderson. We follow the perspective of two main characters: Mariyah and Lem. Mariyah is a wine maker that loves her simple and casual life in Vylari, a land magically sealed with an impenetrable barrier from the outside world. Mariyah is betrothed to Lem, a super talented musician (bard) and they’re enamored with each other, believing that whatever comes their way, they’ll get through it if they face it together. A dangerous truth from Lamoria—the world outside Vylari—somehow managed to came through and it ended up changing their lives; dire circumstances force them to live in Lamoria and it’s a vastly different world compared to Vylari in almost every possible way. In a way, The Bard’s Blade sits in the middle of the classic—destiny, rumors of ancient evil resurfacing—and modern fantasy genres; it’s certainly comfortable and familiar territory that somehow also felt refreshing to read for me. Among many aspects, the factor that made reading this book so damn entertaining and engrossing were the incredible characterizations given to the characters in both main and supporting roles.

“Those in power in this age have fought and killed over nothing more important than to whom they offer their prayers.”

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Book Review: Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3) by Jay Kristoff

Book Review: Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3) by Jay Kristoff

Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy

Pages: 512 pages (Hardback)

Published: 5th September 2019 by Harper Voyager (UK) & 3rd September 2019 by St. Martin’s Press (US)


O’gentlefriends, Darkdawn concluded The Nevernight Chronicle trilogy on a bloody high note, and it’s not implausible for me to say that this has become my favorite book in the series.

“Don’t fuck with librarians, young lady. We know the power of words.”

Each installment within the series can be classified as Mia’s journey throughout her life; Nevernight as Mia’s book of birth, Godsgrave as Mia’s book of life, and Darkdawn as Mia’s book death. Don’t worry, if you’re reading this without any knowledge of the series, that’s not a spoiler; the first page within the first book of the series has mentioned that Mia died. Now, the specifics leading towards it, and whether Mia’s death is a lie or truth, I’ll leave that for you to find out for yourself. The Nevernight Chronicle, in a way, is Mia’s revenge story told by an unnamed narrator that the reader didn’t know, not until they’ve read Darkdawn anyway. I can’t tell you anything specific about the story in Darkdawn except that it continues immediately from where Godsgrave left off, and Darkdawn really finished Mia’s story. What I can tell you, however, is what made the book worked so well for me.

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Interview with Alix E. Harrow

Interview with Alix E. Harrow

Hello, everyone! Celeste here for Novel Notions, bringing you an interview with author Alix E. Harrow. We’re celebrating the publication of her debut novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January. As soon as the synopsis and cover art dropped in 2018, this book became my most anticipated of 2019. From its very first page, I knew that my expectations were not only going to be met, but far exceeded. January’s story is utterly delightful and charming, and Harrow’s novel is a lavish love letter to the power of the written word and the people who love words so completely. It’s thrilling and romantic and breathtakingly beautiful, and is a wonderful blend of so many genres, like magical realism and historical fiction and portal fantasy. It’s a book that I can’t wait for the world to read, and I’m incredibly humbled to have been given the opportunity to interview its author. Without further ado, here is my interview with Alix E. Harrow!


Hi, Alix!  Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview.  Before we get started, I wanted to congratulate you on winning a Hugo for  your lovely short story, A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies. It was definitely worthy of the award.

Thank you so much for having me! The thing about the Hugos is that all the stories were deserving of awards this year. I’m glad the finalists and winners are spread out a bit this year, between the Nebula/Locus/Hugo/Eugie Foster, because there are so many excellent authors that deserve it.

  • Tell us a bit about yourself.  When did you know that you wanted to become and author, and how did you first get into writing?

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Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

TS’ rating: 5 of 5 stars

Haïfa’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Stand-alone

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Published: September 12th, 2019 by Orbit (UK) & September 10th, 2019 by Redhook (US)


TS’s Review

ARC provided by the publisher, Orbit.

Incredibly lush, exquisite and enchanting, The Ten Thousand Doors of January has all the makings of a classic. One which I’m certain will be well-loved and much-read. And I dare say not only by those who enjoy fantasy, for this novel is pure joy in literary form that is a tribute to almost every reader out there.

Do you love books? This book is for you.

Do you love the written word? This book is for you.

Do you love stories and escapism? This book is for you.

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