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Book Review: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Book Review: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Sparrow (Book 1 of 2)

Genre: Science fiction, literary fiction

Published: 20th anniversary edition, 2016 by Ballantine Books (first published in 1996)


“Matthew ten, verse twenty-nine: Not one sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.”

“But the sparrow still falls.”

The Sparrow is a multi-award-winning science fiction novel about first contact. After reading it, I could understand why. I came across this title over two separate occasions. First was when a friend recommended it to me many years ago, but I’ve forgotten about it. And then it was mentioned in the Great Course audiobook for How Great Science Fiction Works, which I’ve recently finished, under the sub-topic of ‘Religion in Science Fiction’. The context in which The Sparrow was discussed in that Course finally tipped me over to pick it up.

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Book Review: Blood of Elves (The Witcher, #3)

Book Review: Blood of Elves (The Witcher, #3)

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Series: The Witcher (Book 3 of 7)

Genre: Fantasy, high fantasy

First English translation published: Oct 2008 (Gollancz), May 2009 (Orbit)


Blood of Elves expands beyond the introduction of Geralt of Rivia and brings forth a different level of worldbuilding into the story in a character-driven narrative.

While this book is technically the start of the main series, I wholeheartedly recommend reading the prequel short stories in The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny first. A lot of references to past events in Blood of Elves were covered in those two books – important past events. I even found myself doing a quick read of some of those short stories to jog my memory since I had read them a year ago.

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Book Review: Sword of Destiny (The Witcher, #2)

Book Review: Sword of Destiny (The Witcher, #2)

Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Witcher (Book 2 of 7)

Genre: Fantasy, high fantasy

First English translation published: May 2015 (Gollancz), Dec 2015 (Orbit)


The compelling characterisation of Geralt and imaginative world of Slavic lore and fairy-tale retellings continue in Sword of Destiny, the second collection of prequel short stories in The Witcher series.

Sword of Destiny was published after the first three full-length novels of The Witcher series. As a new reader to the series, however, I was able to read the books in chronological order which is quite essential as this instalment served as the bridge between The Last Wish and Blood of Elves.

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Book Review: The Last Wish (The Witcher, #1)

Book Review: The Last Wish (The Witcher, #1)

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Series: The Witcher (Book 1 of 7)

Genre: Fantasy, high fantasy

First English translation published: 2007 (Gollancz), 2008 (Orbit)


The Last Wish was more than up to task in satisfying my burning curiosity about The Witcher with its compelling eponymous protagonist, Geralt of Rivia.

I abandoned my gaming self a long time ago and as such, have not heard about The Witcher until someone mentioned that the Anomander Rake reminded her of Geralt of Rivia from the video game. That piqued my interest immediately, for Anomander Rake from the Malazan Book of the Fallen series is one of my favourite grimdark characters of all time. And thus, I promptly checked out the cinematic game trailers – the ones for The Witcher III were exceptionally good. I subsequently found out that the game was adapted from a book series by a Polish author and that The Witcher is also soon to be a new series on Netflix. Ah, this is indeed a marvellous time to be a fan of the fantasy genre.

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Book Review: Part-Time Gods (DFZ, #2)

Book Review: Part-Time Gods (DFZ, #2)

Part-Time Gods by Rachel Aaron

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: DFZ (Book 2 of 3)

Genre: Urban fantasy

Published: 11th June 2019 (Amazon, self-published)


Rachel Aaron’s talent in creating effortlessly enjoyable and engaging character-driven stories with fascinating worldbuilding is yet again evident in Part-Time Gods, the second book in the DFZ trilogy.

I probably sound like a broken record by now, but Rachel Aaron is my go-to author whenever I needed a pick-me-up. There is just something inherently comfortable and engaging about her writing and her stories that allow me to immerse myself into an intriguing world with its compelling characters right from the start, and it doesn’t let go until the end. I’ve pretty much devoured every single book she’s written in no more than 2 to 3 sittings and over a couple of days at the most, depending on the length.  As Part-Time Gods is not a long book, by fantasy standards, I finished this in a day. And it was a great sequel.

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Book Review: The Poppy War

Book Review: The Poppy War

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series:  The Poppy War (Book 1)

Genre: Fantasy, military fantasy

First published: 1st May 2018 by Harper Voyager (US) & 3rd May 2018 by Harper Voyager (UK)


I wanted to love The Poppy War quite desperately given its inspiration (and gorgeous cover).

The Poppy War is firstly a welcome change to the standard western Europe medieval setting and secondly, it is an allegory to the history of China. The narrative casts a harsh light on the brutal history of early 20th century China, specifically the genocide of the Nanjing Massacre. The mythology and culture present in the story are also so closely depicted that the novel almost reads like historical fiction, albeit in a secondary world.

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Ghosts of Gotham

Ghosts of Gotham

Ghosts of Gotham by Craig Schaefer
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

Ghost of Gotham is my first book by Craig Schaefer, and it definitely will not be my last.

I’ve heard a lot about the Daniel Faust series by Craig Schaefer. When I saw that he has a stand-alone released recently, I thought that this book will be a good sampler of just what the author offers. And I proceeded to devour Ghosts of Gotham in two days. I really developed an almost compulsive addiction to crime thrillers – when I start, I find it very hard to stop binging. This book gave me that heady and thrilling concoction with an urban fantasy setting, in New York City!

New York City, the original inspiration for Gotham City, is such an appropriate backdrop for a crime noir story touched with the supernatural. A lot of supernatural in this case. The evocative and vivid portrayal of this old and sprawling city that never sleeps lends a hectic yet atmospheric and gothic backdrop that just simply enhances the narrative to another level of intensity.

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Jade City (The Green Bone Saga, #1)

Jade City (The Green Bone Saga, #1)

Jade City by Fonda Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fantasy readers have been calling out for more diversity and Jade City is a resoundingly good response.

The urban fantasy setting that heavily evoked Chinese gangster/crime syndicate movies, which I’ve grown up on, is a paradoxical breath of fresh air that carried the scent of nostalgia. All that was needed to make it even cooler and awesome was magic and martial arts.

I will not rehash the plot since the blurb said it all without spoilers. I found the world-building both refreshing and familiar. The island of Kekon in my mind was a vibrant blend of Hong Kong and Shanghai where both the seedy and sophisticated sat side by side, controlled and protected by powerful clans in exchange for tribute money.

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How to Find Love in a Bookshop

How to Find Love in a Bookshop

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

This was such a charming read; one that I have picked up because I was attracted by its title and cover design depicting one of those enchanting English bookshops. The allure of a story about a bookshop (and by natural extension, books) was just too irresistible, and as such, despite my typical apprehension with romantic novels, I knew that I would attempt reading this book.

And with that, I dipped my toes into the Prologue and came across this beautiful passage which charmed me immediately.

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Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

“Let everyone else call your idea crazy.. just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.”

In other words, Just Do It!

Nike is the ultimate American dream. And it all started when a twenty-four-year-old Oregonian suddenly had this Crazy Idea of bringing Japanese running shoes, specifically the Onitsuka Tigers, into the country way back in 1962, just less than two decades after the United States of America bombed Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

There had been some unauthorised biographies or stories about how Nike came to be, but this is the first time we have been graced with the words from the creator himself, Philip H. Knight. Shoe Dog is a well-written, captivating and candid account of how Knight’s Crazy Idea came into fruition and eventually metamorphosized into the most recognizable name in the athletic shoe and apparel industry.

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