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Month: December 2019

Book Review: The Holdout by Graham Moore

Book Review: The Holdout by Graham Moore

 

The Holdout by Graham Moore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published: 20th February 2020 (Orion)

Being a juror on a high profile murder case has got to be a thrill ride and a half: looking at the bloody evidence and weighing witness statements, the savage craziness of the media interest, then finally getting to decide the fate of a man charged with murder. It’s got to be just like tv, right? Exciting. Maybe even a shot at your own fame… 15 minutes or otherwise.

But what Maya Seale got wasn’t quite fame, it was INFAMY. Not convinced of Bobby Nock’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt, she campaigned for a Not Guilty verdict and eventually persuaded, or wore down, all the other jurors. The result was spectacularly unpopular, provoking uproar in both the courtroom and the real world, and changing the jurors’ lives forever.

Now it’s 10 years later and they’re back together again. Apparently there’s new evidence to consider and more questions to be asked. Everyone wants to know if they got it wrong. But when one juror ends up dead, it looks like someone’s willing to kill to keep their secrets buried for good.

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Book Review: Sins of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder, #1) by Brian McClellan

Book Review: Sins of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder, #1) by Brian McClellan

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Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Gods of Blood and Powder (Book #1 of 3), Powder Mage (Book #4 of 6)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy, Flintlock fantasy

Pages: 604 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 9th March 2017 by Orbit (UK) & 7th March 2017 by Orbit (US)


That was amazing. So glad I ended up giving this a go. What an explosive return to McClellan’s beloved Powder Mage universe.

It’s been two years since I finished reading the Powder Mage trilogy. Honestly, I felt satisfied with the ending I got in The Autumn Republic that I thought I would’ve been fine with not reading the Gods of Blood and Powder trilogy. Thankfully, so many reviews and word-of-mouth have spread throughout the years, and they convinced me that this trilogy is even better than the first one. And it’s highly probable that they will be proven right. Just from the experience of reading this book, I know I would’ve made a grave mistake if I didn’t continue. I’ll go as far as saying that Sins of Empire alone is better than the first trilogy already.

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Book Review: The Rise of Magicks (Chronicles of the One, #3)

Book Review: The Rise of Magicks (Chronicles of the One, #3)


The Rise of Magicks by Nora Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s something about a culmination that makes me hesitate. Whether it’s a fear that the ending won’t live up to my expectation or a desire for the journey to never end, it leaves me inclined to never finish anything. Not in life, mind you; I’m incredibly dependable and the opposite of a procrastinator when it comes to reality. But when it comes to entertainment, I’d rather let the story live on unfinished in my mind than risk a final chapter that sours something I grew to love. Constant Readers of Stephen King can relate, I’m sure; though I love his work, the endings are rarely satisfying. However, there are some authors I always trust to really deliver with their endings, and Nora Roberts is high up on that list. She knows how to stick the landing every single time. The Rise of Magicks is no exception, and has actually shot this series into my list of best loved series of all time, alongside The Kingkiller Chronicle and The Stormlight Archive.

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Book Review: Legacy of Ash (The Legacy Trilogy, #1) by Matthew Ward

Book Review: Legacy of Ash (The Legacy Trilogy, #1) by Matthew Ward

Achievement unlocked: This is the 100th ARC/Review Copy I’ve read and reviewed!

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

Legacy of Ash by Matthew Ward

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Legacy Trilogy (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 784 pages (UK hardback edition)

Published: 5th November 2019 by Orbit (UK) & 9th April 2020 by Orbit (US)


Legacy of Ash is an epic fantasy debut aptly designed for well-seasoned epic fantasy readers, and I wouldn’t recommend newcomers to the genre starting to start their epic fantasy adventure here.

We all know how it goes; if it’s an epic fantasy debut, the particular book will immediately be advertised as A Song of Ice and Fire or Game of Thrones meets (insert another author/series/book here,) and Legacy of Ash isn’t excluded from that tradition. As much as I often find this kind of advertisement misleading most of the time, Legacy of Ash may have just done justice to this often-misleading claim. Legacy of Ash is an epic fantasy debut with many characters and names to remember, imbued with the hint of huge scope found in A Song of Ice and Fire and action sequences that bear a resemblance to Bernard Cornwell’s.

“The Tyrant Queen’s reign is done, but vigilance remains. For just as the shadows are strongest on the brightest of days, we are never more imperiled than when we think ourselves safe.”

Have you ever heard the argument that prologue sucked and unnecessary? I won’t lie, it’s an opinion that I can’t understand, or maybe I’m just lucky because I haven’t found any prologue that ends up becoming unnecessary to the main story. Prologues have the capability to set the tone, background, and premise of what’s to come in the main story, and Legacy of Ash, the first book in The Legacy Trilogy by Matthew Ward, did this wonderfully; it begins with a prologue that’s integral to the main conflicts that start fifteen years after the prologue.

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Book Review: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

Book Review: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride


As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was such a delightful experience. Nonfiction isn’t anywhere near by genre of choice, but The Princess Bride is among my favorite movies of all time, so I decided to give it a go. Also, Carey Elwes is an absolute treasure. But even the fact that the book was the backstory of one of my favorite movies as told by its lead actor wasn’t enough to entice me into buying a copy of this book. Until I came across the audio version. Let me tell you, I jumped right on that, especially once I learned that Carey Elwes himself, along with the majority of his Princess Bride co-stars and those who were involved with filming, directing, writing, and producing the movie, narrated the audio. Getting to hear these people, whose work together has been delighting countless viewers for over 30 years, talk about their experience with the movie was a wonderful experience. It just made me appreciate even more this movie that has been so special to me for nearly half of my life. So many lines from this story have worked their way into my family’s vocabulary and, while that is in large part due to the brilliance of Goldman’s writing, the voices in which we heard them spoken are what have kept them in our heads for well over a decade.

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Cover Reveal: A Time of Courage (Of Blood and Bone, #3) by John Gwynne

Cover Reveal: A Time of Courage (Of Blood and Bone, #3) by John Gwynne

Hi everyone! Petrik from Novel Notions here.

No long introduction from me; the title of this post is self-explanatory, and I’m sure it’s why you’re here. But for those of you who somehow don’t know, John Gwynne is one of my top favorite authors and I will ALWAYS recommend his books to every epic fantasy reader. I’m simply gratified to be given the extraordinary honor of doing an exclusive cover reveal for A Time of Courage, the third—and final—book in Of Blood and Bone series. If you love epic fantasy with fantastic characterizations and phenomenal battle scenes, make sure to do yourself a favor and read ALL of Gwynne’s books. I truly believe that Gwynne is one of the greatest fantasy authors in the making; he already is one for me. Without further ado, here’s the epic cover of A Time of Courage!

Cover art by Paul Young

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Book Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2.5) by Patrick Rothfuss

Book Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2.5) by Patrick Rothfuss

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle (Book #2.5 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy

Pages: 159 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 28th October 2014 by Gollancz (UK) & 28th October 2014 by DAW (US)


Atmospheric, bizarre, and absolutely enchanting.

Before you start reading The Slow Regard of Silent Things, please make sure you read the author’s foreword first and set your expectations accordingly. Rothfuss has mentioned it himself, this is a different kind of storytelling from his main series, and we won’t get a continuation to Kvothe’s story here; I didn’t listen to his advice on my first read, and it indeed stopped me from enjoying the novella to its fullest potential. I expected something different, found myself disappointed, and I also made the mistake of rushing through the novella on my first read because I decided to read it in the middle of reading The Wise Man’s Fear.

Don’t do what I did on my first read.

On this reread, I savored each page, paying proper attention to the beautifully composed structure of words that gives life to Auri, one of the most enigmatic characters in The Kingkiller Chronicle series; I’m blown away by how much I loved this book upon rereading it.

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Book Review: Conqueror (Conqueror, #5) by Conn Iggulden

Book Review: Conqueror (Conqueror, #5) by Conn Iggulden

Conqueror: A Novel of Kublai Khan by Conn Iggulden

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: Conqueror (Book #5 of 5)

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 512 pages (US paperback edition)

Published: 27th October 2011 by Harper Collins (UK) & 21th December 2011 by Delacorte Press (US)


I have mixed feelings regarding the final book of Conqueror, one of my favorite historical fiction series.

I’m starting to think that there’s a real curse contained within five books series that haunts me. I don’t even know why or how this happens, but I’m never left completely satisfied by the concluding installment of all five books series I’ve read so far. Lightbringer by Brent Weeks, Heartstrikers by Rachel Aaron, The Shadow Campaigns by Django Wexler, and unfortunately, this series. All of them, somehow, felt plagued with the same issue that they either felt too long or unnecessary to be one whole book. That’s the thing with Conqueror: A Novel of Kublai Khan, it felt more like a spin-off of the previous four books rather than a direct sequel or a concluding installment.

“What sort of a man would I be if I could just wipe out my errors with talking? A man has to live with his mistakes and go on. That is his punishment, perhaps.”

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