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Month: October 2019

Book Review: The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons

Book Review: The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons

ARC & Review Copy provided by my friend—Traveling Cloak—and the publisher—Tor UK—in exchange for an honest review.

The Name of All Things by Jenn Lyons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: A Chorus of Dragons (Book #2 of 5)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 592 pages (UK hardback edition)

Published: 31th October 2019 by Tor (UK) and 29th October 2019 by Tor (US)


The Name of All Things is vast, complex, and engrossing; a wonderful improvement over its predecessor.

It’s quite surreal to think that Jenn Lyons released her debut, The Ruin of Kings, at the beginning of this year and a week from now its sequel, The Name of All Things, will be published to the world as well. Some of you may be familiar with The Ruin of Kings; it was Tor’s biggest and most advertised debut of the year. If you’ve read my review on The Ruin of Kings, you would know that I’ve had my share of mixed feelings with Lyons’s debut. It wasn’t that it was a bad book per se, but more like it could’ve been an even more incredible debut if it wasn’t due to the storytelling style that in my opinion felt too unnecessarily convoluted; whether you loved it or not though, I don’t think there’s any doubt that The Ruin of Kings was a super memorable debut with a unique narrative style. I can assure you that The Name of All Things is a great sequel that retains the series’ unique storytelling style but it was told in a much less convoluted manner which ends up elevating the book to triumph over its predecessor.

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Book Review: Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)

Book Review: Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)


Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

First off, can I just say that Bardugo hit it out of the park with her first adult novel?

I have a weakness for school stories. And if the school happens to be magical in some way, so much the better. But very rarely have I come across a book that involves a school imbued with magic where only a select few students are aware of the supernatural element. I’ve read books were there were secretly vampires or werewolves on campus, not not sanctioned magical societies that had to fly under the collegiate radar. The fact that said magical society were on the campus of a real university, Yale, made things even more interesting. These slight variations made for a fresh take on a favorite trope.

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Book Review: Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, #3)

Book Review: Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, #3)

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 6 of 5 stars.

Series: The Stormlight Archive (Book 3 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, high fantasy

First published: November 14th 2017 by Tor Books (US) and Gollancz (UK)


That Storming genius has outdone himself. Again!

Words of Radiance was easily the best book I’ve ever read, which naturally resulted in some pretty high expectations going into Oathbringer. As much as I’ve tried to dampen it after waiting for over 3.5 years, I just had to accept that it was futile.

Who am I kidding? Sanderson has completely smashed all my expectations by offering yet another best book I’ve ever read.

Is Oathbringer a masterpiece? I certainly think so. Is it a fantasy classic that will stand the test of time and be remembered in the same vein as Lord of the Rings? That might stretch it a bit too far, but only time will tell. I wouldn’t also call it flawless, as it is not. As far as I am concerned, however, it is a singularly brilliant creation which is both epic in its scope and intimate in its soul.

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Book Review: The Blood Mirror (Lightbringer, #4) by Brent Weeks

Book Review: The Blood Mirror (Lightbringer, #4) by Brent Weeks

The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: Lightbringer (Book #4 of 5)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 704 pages (US hardback edition)

Published: 27th October 2016 by Orbit (UK) and 25th October 2016 by Orbit (US)


A prelude novel to the—hopefully—incredible conclusion.

Since the start of this month, I’ve been binge rereading Lightbringer from the beginning non-stop, and I’d say that my reread experience for the previous three books has been rewarding. The Black Prism and The Blinding Knife were even better on reread; The Broken Eye more or less on the same quality. Unfortunately, I have to say that rereading The Blood Mirror gave me an inferior reading experience compared to the first time I read it. There were two glaring main issues that, somehow, weren’t noticeable on my first read: one of them being that The Blood Mirror felt almost like a filler (more on this later) and the other being Kip’s POV that was just utterly full of sexual innuendo and frustrations.

Picture: The Blood Mirror by breath-art (Jian Guo)

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Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”

The origin of this novel is almost as famous as the book itself. A group of friends seek to outdo one another with their ghost stories. Mary, the youngest and least famous of the group, writes not a ghost story but a brief novel that has far outlived the works of every other member of the party, and that is often cited as the first science fiction novel. I recently attended a lecture on Frankenstein, in which the lecturer pointed out that there was no real science present in the novel as Mary had not been well educated in the subject, and so cannot really be considered science fiction. While I admit that she has a very valid point, I still believe that Frankenstein is indeed science fiction because the plot could not have existed without some nebulous and unexplained scientific discoveries, and helped propel this speculative genre into the popularity it still enjoys today. Even though Shelley was poorly educated in the sciences, she created something that continues to entrance and repel members of the scientific community hundreds of years after she first penned her only famous work of literature.

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Guest (Adam Weller) Post: In Defense of Elitism by Joel Stein book review

Guest (Adam Weller) Post: In Defense of Elitism by Joel Stein book review

Today, Novel Notions is hosting a guest post by Adam Weller aka Swiff from Fantasy Book Review.  Adam will be reviewing an upcoming non-fiction political humour book by Joel Stein.


In Defense of Elitism: Why I’m Better Than You and You Are Better Than Someone Who Didn’t Buy This Book by Joel Stein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Non-fiction, Politics

Pages: 336 pages (Hardcover)

Published: 22nd October 2019 by Grand Central Publishing


Twenty-nineteen America: some of the country wonders what the hell happened, and how the hell we got to this point. Others wonder what took so damn long. ‘The real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between the mainstream American… populists and the ruling political elites,’ argues humorist and journalist Joel Stein in his new book, In Defense of Elitism: Why I’m Better Than You and You’re Better Than Someone Who Didn’t Buy This Book. It is a smart, incisive, and very funny collection of Stein’s adventures and revelations as he attempts to bridge the gap between the country’s divided parties while shedding light on the values that fuels each side.

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Book Review: Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Book Review: Angel Mage by Garth Nix

ARC provided by the publisher, Gollancz, in exchange for an honest review.

Angel Mage by Garth Nix

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars.

Series: Stand-alone

Genre: High fantasy

Publishing date: 1st October, 2019 by HarperCollins, US and 17th October, 2019 by Gollancz, UK.


Angel Mage is a stand-alone fantasy novel that engages with its fascinating magic, but less so in its plot and character development.

I’ve enjoyed Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy and was particularly impressed with the worldbuilding in that series of books. Similarly, I found the premise of Angel Mage to be intriguing as magic is bestowed by the ability to call upon angels with the use of icons. To make it even more interesting is the cost of magic, i.e. the lifespan of the person who employs angelic magic. The more powerful the angel which was called upon, the more life is literally sucked out of the caller. The lore is also fascinating where different regions or countries are governed by different Archangels and their respective pantheons – from Cherubims to Seraphims, and Principalities, to name but a few.

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Book Review: The Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3) by Brent Weeks

Book Review: The Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3) by Brent Weeks

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Lightbringer (Book #3 of 5)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 864 pages (US paperback edition)

Published: 26th August 2014 by Orbit


The Broken Eye is an installment filled with an intense focus on secrecy, revelations, politics, and world-building.

The Broken Eye is the third—and the second largest—book in the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks; it’s quite crazy to think that this is the third book already and yet I still found myself constantly surprised by the revelations, plot twists, and developments. I’ve mentioned this before, there aren’t many high-fantasy series with a plotting level that reached what Weeks achieved with this series. On my reread, the benefit of hindsight allowed me to witness the hidden breadcrumbs planted into the previous two books that weren’t possible on my first read. I can’t stress this highly enough, as far as the expansion to the plotline and lore of the series goes, The Broken Eye contained a lot of crucial information surrounding the mythology and secrets that have been mentioned several times in the previous two books. The prophecy of the Lightbringer, Diakoptes, Orholam, the Nine Kings, the Order of the Broken Eye, Paryl drafting, & the Blinding Knife; all of these are wonderful and, honestly, needed additions to the series which I’m sure will end up being super important for the remaining of the series.

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Book review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Book review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

My rating : 5 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

Published:  July 26th 2016 by Broadway Books

“Every moment, every breath, contains a choice. But life is imperfect. We make the wrong choices. So we end up living in a state of perpetual regret, and is there anything worse?

Dark Matter made for an exhilarating, unsettling, intense and thought-provoking reading experience!

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Book Review: The Institute by Stephen King

Book Review: The Institute by Stephen King


The Institute by Stephen King
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

“Great events turn on small hinges.”

I love Stephen King. This has not been a lifelong truth, and my infatuation began a mere 5 or so years ago. Since then, I’ve read a third of his body of work, and I’ve been largely impressed. While I do believe that King would benefit from a harsher editor, and that he often fails to stick that landing with his endings, Stephen King has an incredible mind. The plots he dreams up, and the characters he creates to populate those stories, are pretty spectacular and always feel original. While I’ve enjoyed everything of his I’ve read at least in part, some of his books are more successful than others. The Institute is just such a book. The plot was disturbing and vaguely supernatural without seeming implausible. The cast of characters was beautifully fleshed out and varied. And the ending didn’t suck!

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