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Month: November 2019

Book Review: Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee

Book Review: Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee

 

Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published: 14th November 2019 (Harvill Secker)

Fourth in the Sam Wyndham series, Death in the East continues the trend of Smoke and Ashes in significantly upping its game. It offers a more challenging read, deepening the themes and character relationships, and marking a significant reshaping of both the form and the content of the books. And to top it off, it’s all done through two locked-room murder mysteries that have you guessing right till the end…

 

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Book Review: Genghis: Lords of the Bow (Conqueror, #2) by Conn Iggulden

Book Review: Genghis: Lords of the Bow (Conqueror, #2) by Conn Iggulden

Genghis: Lords of the Bow by Conn Iggulden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Conqueror (Book #2 of 5)

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 547 pages (US Kindle edition)

Published: 2nd January 2008 by Harper Collins (UK) & 25th March 2008 by Delacorte Press (US)


A compelling, brutal, informational, and terrifying depiction of Genghis’ conquest of Yenking.

“Some words can be a cruel weight on a man, unless he learns to ignore them.”

Genghis: Lords of the Bow is the sequel to Genghis: Birth of an Empire; it’s the second book in the Conqueror series by Conn Iggulden. The story takes place approximately eight years after the end of the first book. Temujin, now called Genghis Khan, is 26 years old and the entirety of the book is about Genghis and the Mongol’s invasion of Yenking (Beijing today.) Genghis: Lords of the Bow was almost as good as the first book; the large-scale action scenes—more on this later—was definitely better. I felt like a lot of what makes Conqueror so enjoyable to read was because of Iggulden’s writing style that still follows the same engaging head-hopping narrative that he utilized in the first book, and I personally believe that many authors who use the same storytelling style could learn a thing or two from Iggulden here. As I’ve mentioned in my review of the first book, I never felt lost with the narration; Iggulden makes head-hopping narrative—which I usually despise—very easy to follow and instead of confusing the readers, his writing style made every scene full of emotions due to the constant exchange of dialogues accompanied by the speaker’s thoughts and feelings. I found all of these to be an incredibly positive point in my read.

“If you are asking if my family will take what they want, of course they will. The strong rule, Chen Yi. Those who are not strong dream of it.”

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Book Review: The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2)

Book Review: The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2)

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu, (Translated by: Joel Martinsen)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Remembrance of Earth’s Past (Book 2 of 3)

Genre: Hard science fiction

English translation published: 2015 by Tor Books (US), 2016 by Head of Zeus (UK).


The Dark Forest is a stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed The Three-Body Problem and in my opinion, surpassed it by the magnitude of astronomical units.

While I hold the first book in high regard, I had to admit that characterisation was sidelined in the narrative which focussed heavily on the science and plot. The sequel’s storytelling approach was more balanced with the hard science toned down somewhat and character development emerging more prominently. The leading character in this respect is Luo Ji, an astronomer and sociologist, who was given cryptic advice by the person responsible for the events leading to the impending extraterrestrial invasion. Luo Ji cuts an anti-hero figure who wanted nothing to do with saving the world and just continue flitting around in life, almost frivolously, as an ordinary person. On top of becoming invested in his person, I was also delighted that arising from his POV we have the return of my favourite character from the previous book, Shi Qiang (nicknamed Da Shi), the hard-boiled ex-policeman who works for the Planetary Defence Council security department. Between Luo Ji and another prominent character, Zhang Beihai, a naval political commissar turned space officer, the story and its central plot weave a compelling, fascinating and unpredictable path through the epoch-spanning narrative.

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Book Review: The Library of the Unwritten (Hell’s Library, #1)

Book Review: The Library of the Unwritten (Hell’s Library, #1)


The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d like to thank NetGalley and the publisher (Ace) for providing me with a complementary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

“No story is insignificant.”

Books are one of the most magical of mankind’s creations. Our ability to tell ourselves stories, to reshape reality and craft worlds of our own using nothing more than ink and page and the random scribblings we’ve agreed on as an alphabet, is in my opinion one of our most human capacities. Every life is a story, and those who write have been gifted with the rare talent for immortalizing the tales that live inside their minds. But what about the rest of us? What about those of us whose minds are filled with stories that we never find time to jot down, or authors who pass away with a multitude of tales still living inside them that never made their way onto shelves next to their kin? Where do those stories go? Do they die along with us, or does the world find a way to keep them? According to Hackwith, it’s the latter.

“Stories are, at the most basic level, how we make sense of the world.”

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Book Review: Genghis: Birth of an Empire (Conqueror, #1) by Conn Iggulden

Book Review: Genghis: Birth of an Empire (Conqueror, #1) by Conn Iggulden


Genghis: Birth of an Empire by Conn Iggulden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Conqueror (Book #1 of 5)

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 403 pages (US Kindle edition)

Published: 2nd January 2007 by Harper Collin (UK) & 1st May 2007 by Delacorte Press (US)


Unbelievably good; this marked the first time I finished reading Iggulden’s work, and it’s VERY promising that this will become one of my favorite series.

Conn Iggulden isn’t exactly an unfamiliar name to me; despite the fact that he’s most well-known for his historical fiction works, Iggulden’s blurbs have been featured on some of my favorite fantasy books such as The Faithful and the Fallen series by John Gwynne and The Realm of the Elderlings series by Robin Hobb, to name a few. For years I’ve been interested in reading his books, and from what I’ve gathered, his Conqueror series seems to be the most often regarded as his best works by his readers. And so here we are and my god, I seriously didn’t expect it to be this great.

“Mongolia is an unforgiving land. The boy, Temujin, was never cruel, and there is no record of him ever taking pleasure from the destruction of his enemies, but he was capable of utter ruthlessness.”

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Book Review: Full Throttle: Stories by Joe Hill

Book Review: Full Throttle: Stories by Joe Hill


Full Throttle by Joe Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vary rarely do I review the audio of a book. Though I’m a big audiobook reader/listener, I tend to swap between the physical and audio versions of I’m reading and generally just review the actual book itself, not the audio production. There have been a few notable exceptions, most especially Daisy Jones & The Six, but those exceptions are few and far between. Today, I have another exception to add to the list with Joe Hill’s most recent short fiction collection, Full Throttle. And it was such a strong collection! There were only two stories that I really didn’t care for and two that I felt were just okay, as opposed to the nine stories that were either 4, 4.5, or 5 star experiences.

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Book Review: Steel Crow Saga (Steel Crow Saga, #1) by Paul Krueger

Book Review: Steel Crow Saga (Steel Crow Saga, #1) by Paul Krueger

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

Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Steel Crow Saga (Book #1)

Genre: Fantasy, Asian-inspired Fantasy, High Fantasy

Pages: 528 pages (US hardback edition)

Published: 26th September 2019 by Gollancz (UK) & 24th September 2019 by Del Rey (US)


Multi-cultural, diverse characters & superbly character-driven narrative; Steel Crow Saga is a brilliant Asian/anime-inspired fantasy.

As an Asian who loves watching anime and reading mangas and SFF novels, Steel Crow Saga is a novel that felt as if it was written for me. Steel Crow Saga has been published for more than a month now, and I feel like I’ve sinned—Sloth—for postponing reading this book. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of my favorite anime of all time (seriously, watch the anime if you haven’t) and I also love Pokemon and Avatar: The Last Airbender; these three are the most dominant anime inspirations imbued into Steel Crow Saga. I REALLY would’ve read this book months ago, and I did have the chance to do that because I received the eARC from Gollancz in August. But here’s the thing, the eARC I received was so terribly formatted—it didn’t even include the entire prologue, for one—that I had to give up reading through it 15% in. Thankfully, what I’ve read so far back then was enough to solidify my decision to wait and read the finished copy instead. I’m super pleased that I made this decision; the wait was worth it because this is an amazing Anime/Asian-inspired fantasy book that’s worth reading without any hindrance.

“All the books in the world will never convey the technical realities of a procedure.”

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Book Review: The Once King (FFO, #3)

Book Review: The Once King (FFO, #3)

ARC provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review

The Once King by Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series:  FFO (Book 3 of 3)

Genre:  LitRPG fantasy

Publication date:  12th November 2019 (Independently published)


Gripping and thoroughly satisfying, The Once King, concluded the FFO trilogy with yet another compulsive read.

The entire series has been incredibly fun and addictive with lots of action and humour, while packing some solid emotional punches at the same time. Tone and style-wise, FFO is similar to Aaron’s earlier series like Heartstriker, Eli Monpress, and Paradox; they tended towards being lighthearted and hopeful.  While Aaron and Bach had worked together on every book she has written, this was the first time that they shared the writing process, and the result was fantastic.  So much so that I finished reading The Once King in one day, I just didn’t want to put the book down.

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Book Review: The Three-Body Problem ((Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)

Book Review: The Three-Body Problem ((Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, , (Translated by: Ken Liu)

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Remembrance of Earth’s Past (Book 1 of 3)

Genre: Hard science fiction

English translation published: 2014 by Tor Books (US), 2015 by Head of Zeus (UK)


This critically well-acclaimed science fiction novel certainly deserves its laurels.

“Wildly imaginative, really interesting..” so proclaimed Barack Obama about this trilogy. From what I can gather after reading this book, I already wholeheartedly agree. The Three-Body Problem is a truly unique and original science fiction within the realm of plausibility. Melding real-world science, history, philosophy, religion and fantastical ideas, this novel delivers a beautifully-written (and translated) narrative which engages the mind, heart and soul.

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Book Review: The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates, #1) by A.K. Larkwood

Book Review: The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates, #1) by A.K. Larkwood

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

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Serpent Gates (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy, Science-fiction, Space Opera

Pages: 496 pages (UK hardcover edition)

Published: 20th February 2020 by Tor (UK) & 11th February 2020 by Tor Books (US)


The Unspoken Name is a terrifically-written debut that merged science fiction, space-opera, and high fantasy into one inventive book that’s incredibly suitable for SFF enthusiast.

One look into the striking cover art by Billelis, and I already wanted to speak about this book. My urge to read this book increased when both Nicholas Eames—the author behind The Band series— and Dyrk Ashton—the author behind Paternus trilogy—recommended the book to me. Then I found out that Lindsey Hall, the editor behind two books—Kings of the Wyld and the upcoming The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson—I truly loved edited this book too, suffice to say that The Unspoken Name has attained all the package that made it a necessity for me to read; I’m glad I did.

“Csorwe had spent a lifetime readying herself to die, not to talk to strangers.”

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