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Month: November 2019

Book Review: Between Two Evils by Eva Dolan (DI Zigic and DS Ferreira, #5)

Book Review: Between Two Evils by Eva Dolan (DI Zigic and DS Ferreira, #5)

 

 

Between Two Evils by Eva Dolan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published: 5th May 2020 (Raven Books)

Between Two Evils, the 5th instalment of the DI Zigic and DS Ferreira series, has Eva Dolan turning her searching gaze towards yet another significant social question: the multifaceted forms of racism and abuse experienced by immigrants to the UK. When a doctor is found dead in his home, his work in the local all-female detention centre provides an obvious avenue for investigation, especially when the detectives discover his role in whistle-blowing a culture of horrifying misconduct. But that’s not all the officers have on their plate. A violent serial rapist has been freed thanks to police malpractice and Zigic and Ferreira know that it’s only a matter of time before he attacks again. And this time it might be even closer to home…

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Book Review: Starsight (Skyward, #2)

Book Review: Starsight (Skyward, #2)

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

My rating:  5 of 5 stars

Series: Skyward (Book 2 of 4)

Genre: Science fiction, young adult

Published: 26th November 2019 by Gollancz (UK) and Delacorte Press (US)


Starsight proves once again that Brandon Sanderson is a masterful storyteller across genres and age groups, and who simply excels at writing sequels. 

I’m actually at a loss as to how to start or write this review without sounding like a broken record. As far as I’m concerned, Sanderson is a genius and he has never failed to deliver a captivating story, whether he was writing adult or young adult, fantasy or science fiction. And after reading so much from him and listening to him talk at signings and interviews, I honestly believed that it comes from his passion in just wanting to tell good stories. Notwithstanding the excellent worldbuilding and fantastic magic systems he is so well-known for these were, first and foremost, stories about people.

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Book Review: Khan: Empire of Silver (Conqueror, #4) by Conn Iggulden

Book Review: Khan: Empire of Silver (Conqueror, #4) by Conn Iggulden

Khan: Empire of Silver by Conn Iggulden

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Conqueror (Book #4 of 5)

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 416 pages (US paperback edition)

Published: 2nd September 2010 by Harper Collins (UK) & 28th December 2010 by Delacorte Press (US)


An impressive penultimate installment. Who was more terrifying, Genghis Khan or Tsubodai?

“It was difficult not to look on Tsubodai with awe if you knew what he had achieved in his life. The army owed their success to him as much as to Genghis.”

I’m nearing the conclusion of this series now. Khan: Empire of Silver is the fourth and penultimate installment in the Conqueror series by Conn Iggulden. I’ll try to keep this review as brief and spoiler-free as possible. In the previous three books, the title of each installment starts with the name “Genghis” at the front of their title; this one starts with “Khan.” That should give you a vague idea about what kind of stories you’re getting here. The previous three books focused on Genghis Khan’s life and conquest, Khan: Empire of Silver revolves more around the life of Temujin’s children and Tsubodai’s extraordinary conquest of Europe.

“If a man has gold, he lives with the terror that someone will take it away from him, so he builds walls around it. Then everyone knows where the gold is, so they come and take it. That’s the way it always goes, brother. Fools and gold, together.”

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Book Review: The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy, #2) by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

Book Review: The Shadow Saint (The Black Iron Legacy, #2) by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

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

The Shadow Saint by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Black Iron Legacy (Book #2)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Dark Fantasy

Pages: 592 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 9th January 2020 by Orbit (UK) & 7th January 2020 by Orbit (US)


The Shadow Saint, the sequel to my favorite debut of 2019, is here and it successfully met my high expectations with so much energy.

Firstly, a shout out to one of my favorite artists, Richard Anderson, for creating another gorgeous cover art. Remember what I said at the beginning of my review of The Gutter Prayer? I tend to find the content of an SFF book with Anderson’s cover art to be as good as the cover, and this statement holds incredibly well once again. Secondly, if it’s been a while since you’ve read the first book, please remember that the author has a detailed recap (thank god!) of the previous book on his website. I finished reading The Gutter Prayer almost exactly a year ago. Back then, despite the book being released this year, I made a bold claim that The Gutter Prayer would be my favorite debut published in 2019, and seeing there are only five weeks left in 2019, I don’t see any possibility of this claim being proven wrong. I loved The Gutter Prayer so much, and with that in mind, The Shadow Saint managed to not only live up to my high expectation but also, once again, become one of my favorite reads of the year.

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Book Review: Death’s End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #3)

Book Review: Death’s End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #3)

 

Death’s End by Cixin Liu, (Translated by: Ken Liu)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Remembrance of Earth’s Past (Book 3 of 3)

Genre: Hard science fiction

English translation published: 2016 by Tor Books (US) and Head of Zeus (UK).


Death’s End is an incredibly epic conclusion to the insanely imaginative and unpredictable hard science fiction trilogy, Remembrance of Earth’s Past.

I’ve read the first two books of this trilogy more than a year ago. The reason why I did not read Death’s End till now was not because I didn’t enjoy these books. On the contrary, just on those two alone I was already touting Remembrance of Earth’s Past to be one of my favourites. It was due to how well the sequel The Dark Forest seemed to have wrapped up the story then that I didn’t immediately continue with the final book. Each book in the trilogy was so thought-provoking and full of creativity that I found myself needing time to absorb and digest what I’ve read. Death’s End is the ultimate entry in this incredible trilogy which utterly floored me with its mind-blowing ideas that employed real world theoretical and astrophysics in an all-out epic and fascinating narrative.

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Book Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Book Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern


The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

“We are all stardust and stories.”

I adore The Night Circus, and have been eagerly anticipating Morgenstern’s sophomore novel for eight years. I really should have tempered my expectations. The Starless Sea is the type of book that, in the beginning, I believed would strong feelings. You should either love it and be completely entranced by the atmospheric quiet of the tale, or be bored to tears by the apparent lack of action and a more common pacing. That’s what I expected when I read the first few pages. Unfortunately, if fell short for me. Instead of either loving or hating it, I mostly just find myself disappointed by it.

“If all endings are beginnings, are all beginnings also endings?”

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Book Review: Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Book Review: Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Non-fiction, Philosophy, History, Science

Pages: 464 pages (US paperback edition)

Published: 8th September 2016 by Harvill Secker (UK) & 21st February 2017 by Harper (US)


Not as good as Homo Sapiens but Homo Deus did provide me with additional informative knowledge and intriguing speculations told in an engaging and thought-provoking style.

“People are usually afraid of change because they fear the unknown. But the single greatest constant of history is that everything changes.”

I will first say that Harari is a good writer, he really knows how to make interesting topics more compelling and he also kept me focused on information that would’ve been boring to read usually. Frankly speaking, there were indeed some sections in Part II—liberalism—that in my opinion was super dull and dry to read, but Part 1 and Part 3 of the book was superb; I found the majority of my attention grabbed by the way Harari discussed topics that evidently relevant in our society. Unlike Homo Sapiens which mostly dealt with facts and how humanity progressed—or stay the same—from the past up to the present, in Homo Deus Harari tells and speculates what comes after; what kind of futures humanity might be facing or going for based on the data and theories gathered from our history and present timeframe. There are so many topics that I could talk about here, but I feel like talking too much would diminish the benefit of reading this book itself; I’ll refrain from doing that and gives a bit of my opinion regarding one of the topics discussed: the power and curses of social media.

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Book Review: Alexander X (Battle for Forever, #1)

Book Review: Alexander X (Battle for Forever, #1)


Alexander X by Edward Savio
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had never heard of Alexander X or its author before picking this up. It’s not something that would have ever come across my radar. My decision to purchase it was twofold. First, it was an Audible Daily Deal. It’s hard to pass up a less than $4 audiobook, no matter what it is. Second, Alexander X is narrated by Wil Wheaton. In my opinion, narrator really matters when it comes to audiobooks. If you’re going to have someone talking in your ear for 6, 13, 27 hours, it needs to be a voice you like. No matter how wonderful the story, if I don’t jive with the narrator I’ll abandon an audiobook in a heartbeat, promising myself that I’ll try it again one day in a visual format. I have a list of narrators I love, and Wheaton is a name on that list. On the flip side of this, the best narrator in the world can’t save a lackluster story. Happily, Alexander X was a fun, addictive, and pretty darn original story that was paired with a wonderful narrator.

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Book Review: Best Served Cold (First Law World, #4)

Book Review: Best Served Cold (First Law World, #4)


Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Grimdark isn’t my thing. I prefer my fiction hopeful, with good at its heart even when bad things happen. That being said, I’ll give anything a shot if it’s well crafted, and I’ve read some pretty incredible fantasy novels that throw hope out the window and bask in their darkness. The best in the grimdark business has to be Joe Abercrombie, hands down. He has a way of creating characters and plots that really shouldn’t work for me, but that shine in spite of their dark cores. I loved the First Law trilogy enough that I was actually hesitant to read the standalones set in the same world, because I didn’t see how Abercrombie could possibly top or even match the greatness he achieved with that original plot and cast of characters. I needn’t have doubted him. In Best Served Cold, Abercrombie not only gives us a compelling plot but a wonderfully engaging cast of new and returning characters.

“Good steel bends, but never breaks. Good steel stays always sharp and ready. Good steel feels no pain, no pity, and above all, no remorse.”

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Book Review: Genghis: Bones of the Hills (Conqueror, #3) by Conn Iggulden

Book Review: Genghis: Bones of the Hills (Conqueror, #3) by Conn Iggulden

Genghis: Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Conqueror (Book #3 of 5)

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 434 pages (US Kindle edition)

Published: 1st September 2008 by Harper Collins (UK) & 24th March 2009 by Delacorte Press (US)


A seriously astounding piece of historical fiction that left me speechless in many ways.

“We are not here to earn riches with a bow. The wolf does not think of fine things, only that his pack is strong and no other wolf dares to cross his path. That is enough.”

I can’t help but start this review by saying that I’m thoroughly impressed by Iggulden’s talent for the creation of this series. Genghis’ conquest on its own, even if they’re written or told in a textbook manner, are very attention-grabbing already, but Iggulden successfully elevated the quality of Genghis’ legend so that it became much more engaging and emotional. Genghis: Bones of the Hills is the third book in the Conqueror series, and it—along with the first installment—are my favorites in the series so far. In the previous book, the story focused on Genghis’ conquest of The Chin; this book centered on Genghis’ breathtaking conquest of the Arabs. I must remind you, this series—especially this book—isn’t for the weak of heart; the atrocities and devastations committed in this war were terrifying in every sense of the word. I’m talking about wars with casualties that reached more than hundreds of thousands of deaths; innocents were instantly marked for the afterlife just for living in the opposing city. Genghis: Bones of the Hills is a bleak, intense, and also bittersweet book; it’s heavily centered around war, death, loyalty, heritage, achievements, and what truly matters in life and what legacies will continue after death.

“All men die, Genghis. All. Think what it means for a moment. None of us are remembered for more than one or two generations.” He raised a hand as Genghis opened his mouth to speak again. “Oh, I know we chant the names of great khans by the fireside and the Chin have libraries running back for thousands of years. What of it? Do you think it matters to the dead that their names are read aloud? They don’t care, Genghis. They are gone. The only thing that matters is what they did while they were alive.”

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