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The Children of Hurin

The Children of Hurin

The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I never expected Tolkien to write a story as dark and tragic as the one portrayed in The Children of Hurin.

First, a full disclosure that might anger Tolkien fanatics. Despite the fact that I’ve watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy more than ten times, I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t able to finish reading The Fellowship of the Rings because I was extremely bored with it. It’s most likely because the movie has tainted me with its fast pacing, I have no idea why but the book was so boring that it drowsed me to sleep several times, not even halfway. I also failed to finish The Silmarillion. Twice I almost made it halfway—the first time was more than ten years ago, the second time was just a few days ago—and twice I just can’t bare through it anymore. Throughout the years, I have asked some fans of Tolkien whether it’s absolutely necessary to read (not watch) the main trilogy and The Silmarillion first before attempting the three Great Tales of Middle-Earth. Some said as long that I have watched the movies and have the basic knowledge from the first half of The Silmarillion or some thorough Wikipedia research (which I did on both account), it should be enough. Heck, some even said it’s better to not read The Silmarillion first for maximum experience of going in blind. Of course, there were also some that weren’t kind—some even felt offended only Morgoth knows why—by the idea that I’m reading The Silmarillion or attempted this without actually reading the main trilogy first. Guess what? I’m going to offend them more because I finished this book without reading The Silmarillion or The Lord of the Rings trilogy and I super loved it.

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Leverage in Death (In Death, #47)

Leverage in Death (In Death, #47)

Leverage in Death by J.D. Robb
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

There is something about Nora’s writing, both as herself and as J.D. Robb, that hooks me from the first sentence and doesn’t let me go until I’ve read the final chapter. So it’s no surprise that Leverage in Death worked incredibly well for me and broke my first ever (and hopefully last!) reading slump. While I’ve picked up some great books in the past month, nothing grabbed me enough to entice me further into its pages. I should’ve known that Nora would prove to be the cure to my dilemma.

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Lord of the Silver Bow (Troy, #1)

Lord of the Silver Bow (Troy, #1)

Lord of the Silver Bow (Troy, #1)Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Lord of the Silver Bow is my first foray into David Gemmell’s work and I must admit, it was a golden read.

David Gemmell has been an inspiration for many modern fantasy authors these days, there’s even an annual Fantasy award named after him that has been established since 2009. It’s quite crazy that it took me this long to finally get to reading Gemmell’s book, especially after hearing from many authors whose books I’ve read and loved mention that Gemmell is one of their main inspiration.

“Be lucky, Xander, and be brave. You will find that bravery and luck are often bedfellows.”

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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: 4.5 of 5 stars

Incredible, the multiple nominees and awards this book has won are all well deserved.

Jade City, the first book in The Green Bone Saga series is also Fonda Lee’s adult fantasy debut. Ever since I knew about the existence of this novel, it has always been a book I wanted to read. As usual, the unbeatable TBR pile delayed me and I was so sure that I won’t be getting into this one until next year. However, after seeing the non-stop praises that Fonda Lee and the book constantly received, as an Asian and avid adult fantasy reader I knew that I couldn’t delay this any longer. I’m really happy that I gave this a read now because lately, I’ve been craving a fantastic Asian-inspired fantasy and Jade City delivered a spectacular Asian-inspired urban fantasy debut.

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Planetside

Planetside

Planetside by Michael Mammay
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Planetside was a very impressive military sci-fi debut.

I’m actually surprised that so few people I know (close to zero) are talking about Planetside this year. Seriously, Harper Voyager and reviewers really should’ve advertised this book more, it’s a fantastic debut and if it weren’t for my friend, Niki Hawkes, I wouldn’t have heard about this gem at all.

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The Iron Jackal (Tales of the Ketty Jay, #3)

The Iron Jackal (Tales of the Ketty Jay, #3)

The Iron Jackal by Chris Wooding
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Iron Jackal greatly built upon the foundations that have been well-established in the first half of the series.

Despite having enjoyed the first half of the quartet, I was getting a bit scared that the fun and enjoyment of the series would start to dwindle in the third and penultimate installment of the series. I’m so glad to be proven wrong, The Iron Jackal ended up being the most fun book in the series so far. Unlike the storytelling structure in the previous two books, The Iron Jackal progressed a bit differently and it’s something I immensely appreciate. Where the first two books were about getting a mission to gain wealth, this book was more of a race against time to save Frey’s own life. It was more intense, more action-packed without neglecting the crucial and great characterizations, and I highly enjoyed reading the book. Don’t get me wrong, as far as predictability, the story was still highly predictable despite the higher stake; no argument from me there. However, everything was just so well-written and well-executed that I just want to continue reading regardless of knowing the outcome.

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Blood of Heirs (The Coraidic Sagas, #1)

Blood of Heirs (The Coraidic Sagas, #1)

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Emotionally gripping and enthralling, Blood of Heirs will leave a mark on character-driven fantasy fans.

I have rejected a lot of ARC and review requests (Sorry authors and thank you for the understanding) over the past three months due to my commitment to thin my TBR pile. I knew literally nothing about this book when the author approached me; there wasn’t even any reviews or cover art yet. Regardless, my gut told me to accept it and I’m gratified I did. I finished the book in less than 24 hours due to how addictive it was, and now I’m hoping that this review will be able to convince more readers to give this book a go.

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King of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #3)

King of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #3)

King of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom #3)King of Assassins by R.J. Barker
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I honestly can’t believe I almost didn’t pick up this trilogy; King of Assassins was a superb finishing touch to The Wounded Kingdom.

Bloody, poignant, intense, heartwarming, tragic, and dark; I finished this entire trilogy within six days, I just didn’t expect it to be this damn good and engaging. The Wounded Kingdom trilogy practically stole my life for an entire week, and the only antidote to my addiction was to finish reading the entirety of the series.

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Blood of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #2)

Blood of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #2)

Blood of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #2)Blood of Assassins by R.J. Barker
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Blood of Assassins magnificently transitioned The Wounded Kingdom into a much darker series in an awesome way.

Girton and his master have been living as a mercenary for five years since the end of the event in Age of Assassins. The past five years experience has changed or repressed Girton’s personality to something worse. This sequel was a much darker book than its predecessor; at times I feel like it totally belongs in the grimdark genre due to how grey the moral code of Girton was. Barker strengthened his storytelling skill in this installment by making sure the story was unpredictable, full of intense twists and turns, and the entirety of the book to focus heavily on the theme of redemption and prejudices against sorcerer/magic. Plus, the murder mystery aspect in the book also was much more engaging to follow than before.

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Age of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #1)

Age of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #1)

Age of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #1)Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A highly enjoyable debut; I finished Age of Assassins in less than 24 hours.

I think people need to set their expectations right when they’re going to read this book. If you expect this to be an Assassin’s Creed type of story where the assassin goes on full throttle killing mode or be involved in a battle against another assassin for the majority of the book, you’re most likely going to be disappointed. I came into this expecting it to be something along the line of Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice and with that mindset, I had a fantastic time with this addictive debut.

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