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Author: TS Chan

Fate Lashed (Ethereal Earth, #2)

Fate Lashed (Ethereal Earth, #2)

I received a copy of the audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Fate Lashed by Josh Erikson
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Josh Erikson does it again with his stellar narration in Fate Lashed, and this time with a faster-paced, action-packed and riveting plotline.

In the previous book, we got the origins story of Gabriel Delling – how he became intertwined with supernatural entities and ended up as a human with the ability to use magic (well, just somewhat at this stage). After losing the evil God from his head and spending time hiding out in a remote cabin to ruminate, he returned to civilization and in no time landed himself into trouble again. As fate would have it, the powerful inner circles of the Umbras are now contending to seek a ‘Key to the Universe’ which has revealed its existence just about the same time that Gabe got himself unwittingly embroiled in the affairs of these creatures from the Ether. That he survived what he did in Hero Forged, Gabe became a wildcard that fate has neither a read nor a hold on. In other words,  he is now the key much sought-after player in this quest for the Key, for better or for worse.

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Age of War (The Legends of the First Empire, #3)

Age of War (The Legends of the First Empire, #3)

I received an advanced reading copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Age of War marks a fine conclusion to the first act of the series, revealing the true story behind the legends spoken of in Riyria Revelations which was not all fairy tales, rainbows and butterflies.

Before I start, let us take a moment to admire the stunning cover for Age of War by the one and only, Marc Simonetti. In my opinion, this is the best cover he has produced for any of Sullivan’s books to date, and it is most fitting that the book dedication is made in his honour.

This book is dedicated to the artist Marc Simonetti. People are told not to judge a book by its cover, but so long as Marc is creating them, judge away.

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A Book Review That Became An Essay

A Book Review That Became An Essay

A prelude to a possible series of essays on books and reading. 

I usually have bookmail delivered to my workplace, for there is no better way to break the dreariness of work, and it is always a delight when I see an email from the office mailroom titled “1 Package For You”. One afternoon, I saw one such email popping up in my Inbox and was most perplexed since I was not expecting any packages at all (it was nowhere close to my birthday or Christmas either). As I picked up the ubiquitous Amazon package from the mailroom, I was still trying very hard to remember if I ordered anything lately that I might have forgotten about. To my utter surprise and delight, I opened the package and saw this lovely bound hardback copy of I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel. The book’s cover featured a beautiful rendition of a cosy reading spot, which I later discovered is a watercolour painting of Anne Bogel’s home library. Ah, so envious!

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The Procurement of Souls

The Procurement of Souls

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Procurement of Souls by Benjamin Hope
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars.

A commendable debut, The Procurement of Souls is a dark and fantastical tale that will satisfy gothic fans.

Right from the very start, there was a disturbing scene of a man trapped and strapped down on a chair by a mad scientist, Dr Weimer, who duly inserted a long tube with a metal barb at its end down his victim’s mouth, throat and even further to extract something out of that poor man. And that something is where the book got its title.

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Forever Fantasy Online (FFO, #1)

Forever Fantasy Online (FFO, #1)

I received an advanced reading copy from the authors in exchange for an honest review.

Forever Fantasy Online by Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent characters, an engaging story and geek humour. What more can one ask for?

Forever Fantasy Online is one of my first LitRPG novels, but thanks to the powerhouse couple of Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach, it will not be my last. I will start by talking just a bit about my experience with RPGs as this will provide some context for my review. While I had been quite a geek during my younger days, my RPG days (via books and PC) ended over two decades ago, and I did not have any exposure to multi-player online RPGs. Neither have I been in the anime scene to appreciate the inspiration of this trilogy, which is a hugely popular anime series called Sword Art Online.

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Uncanny Collateral (Valkyrie Collection, #1)

Uncanny Collateral (Valkyrie Collection, #1)

I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Uncanny Collateral by Brian McClellan
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Uncanny Collateral is an entertaining, fast-paced urban fantasy novella that packed a surprising amount of character development for its size.

McClellan was best known for his Powder Mage trilogy which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. His ongoing Gods of Blood and Powder trilogy which is based off the same world is reputedly even better than his debut efforts but I’ve yet to read them; something which I intend to rectify sometime in the future. If this novella was anything to go by, his writing now has an even more natural and practised ease that flows and ebbs with the story. In Powder Mage, the writing was slightly clunkier in the first book, but improvements were noticeable as we progressed to the third one.

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The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy, #1)

The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy, #1)

The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Incredibly hard to put down and absolutely captivating, The Ninth Rain is classic high fantasy transfigured with a unique voice.

Jen Williams’ debut fantasy trilogy, The Copper Cat, was a grand fun-filled adventure with great characters that I’ve grown to love throughout the three books. In my review of The Silver Tide, I commended the author in crafting a modern high fantasy tale that was her own instead of emulating the increasingly popular grimdark sub-genre. As much as I loved The Copper Cat trilogy by the end of it, I can put my hand to my heart now and say that without a doubt The Winnowing Flame is going to top that easily.

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All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)

All Systems Red by Martha Wells
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

The introduction to The Murderbot Diaries is simply great fun! All Systems Red is a refreshing and diverting sci-fi novella with wide appeal; a marvellous package of wry humour, suspense and a healthy dose of compassion.

As much as I love science fiction, I don’t consider myself as a hardcore reader of the genre, and there are a lot of popular series or “required reading” which I have yet to catch-up on. In this respect, I find this book to be original; it is not a space opera, cyberpunk and it is not about an alien invasion. This is a first-person perspective narrative of a humanlike bot, a construct of both organic and inorganic parts, who finds it/him/herself becoming weird and messed up with increasing ‘emotions’ while dealing with her human clients even though the bots are not programmed as such. (Okay, I am going to call the bot a ‘her’ because even though it is technically genderless, I can’t help picturing it as a female. The voice of her first-person perspective just sounds feminine, in my opinion).

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A Time of Dread (Of Blood and Bone, #1)

A Time of Dread (Of Blood and Bone, #1)

A Time of Dread by John Gwynne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We shall never forget.

And how could I ever forget? A Time of Dread served as a brutal and stunning reminder that Gwynne is one of the greatest modern fantasy writers.

The Faithful and The Fallen (“TFaTF”) was a superb epic fantasy series with one of the most well-written stories about prophecies and good vs evil that I’ve read in a very long time. And judging from what I’ve read in this book, I believe Gwynne is on track to surpass what he did in the earlier series. AToD is the stamp of a great writer that never stops learning and always keeps improving. While Malice was a great debut that any author would and should be proud of, AToD demonstrated that Gwynne has once again upped his game.

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Age of Swords (The Legends of the First Empire, #2)

Age of Swords (The Legends of the First Empire, #2)

Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Age of Swords is a great sequel in developing the characters that I’ve grown to love in Age of Myth.

I could appreciate why the author named this as his favourite book of the series, even at this early stage. Every author should be fond of the characters that they have created, and writing that one book that brought most growth had to be the most fulfilling.

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