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Tag: 4.5 stars

The Forgetting Moon (The Five Warrior Angels, #1)

The Forgetting Moon (The Five Warrior Angels, #1)

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Forgetting Moon by Brian Lee Durfee
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A severely underrated epic fantasy debut.

The Forgetting Moon is Brian Lee Durfee’s debut and it has been published for almost three years now. Honestly, it’s quite sinful that this book has less than 500 ratings on Goodreads at the moment; not only this is THE biggest fantasy debut I’ve ever read so far, The Forgetting Moon is also one of the strongest beginnings to an epic fantasy series I’ve come across. I’m truly flabbergasted by how underrated this debut is. Gorgeous cover art by Richard Anderson, a beautifully drawn map by Robert Lazzaretti, high-quality floppy paperback (yes, this is a plus), and most importantly, amazing content. Why is no one talking about this book!? I seriously wish someone had recommended this book to me; I never heard about this series until the author himself sent a review request to me and I’m gratified that he did.

Picture: My signed copy of The Forgetting Moon (I have to share this. Check out the badass signature!)

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The Light Brigade

The Light Brigade

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Light Brigade is my first sci-fi read of the year (shocking, I know) and it’s also the first time I’ve read a book by Kameron Hurley; I assure you it won’t be the last.

“I suppose it’s an old story, isn’t it? The oldest story. It’s the dark against the light. The dark is always the easier path. Power. Domination. Blind obedience. Fear always works to build order, in the short term. But it can’t last. Fear doesn’t inspired anything like love does.”

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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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The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War, #2)

The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War, #2)

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

The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The newest rising queen of fantasy is back with her newest book, The Dragon Republic, and it managed to live up to my super high expectations.

Can we first appreciate just how damn gorgeous the cover of this book is? JungShan has created another spectacular cover-selling ink illustration and I’m confident that many readers will pick up the book/series even if they don’t know anything about it. The same situation as its predecessor, the quality of the content of the book did justice to the beautiful cover art and vice versa. I’m pretty sure practically everyone who knows me on bookish social media knows how much I loved The Poppy War. I even created a Twitter account just to wish the author a congratulatory message on her debut’s publication day. If you don’t know/remember, here’s a short snippet of what I said about the first book:

“I have no doubt this will end up being the best fantasy debut of the year… a book that will go down as one of the best grimdark/military fantasy debuts of all time. […] I have absolutely no doubt that [Kuang’s] name will be up there with the likes of Robin Hobb and N.K. Jemisin.”

Yeah… suffice to say that I highly loved the first book. Since then, The Poppy War has also garnered well-deserved praises, nominations, and awards; my high expectations towards its sequel were inevitable and I’m glad to say that after reading this book, my worry was unfounded and Kuang entranced me once again with her newest installment.

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The Priory of the Orange Tree

The Priory of the Orange Tree

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Priory of the Orange Tree is among the most beautiful works of literature I’ve ever read. In an age of fantasy where grimdark is by and large the king of the genre, Priory breaks the mold by showcasing breathtaking beauty in its prose.

”We mean to reforge with love what greed has broken.”

If grimdark views the world through a filter of ashy sepia, Priory instead views the world through a filter that oversaturated each and every color, giving every inch of itself an otherworldly brightness that I’ve found in very few fantasy tales. The best comparisons I can think of in tone would be The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle and Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. In both of these books, as well as in Priory, there are terrible, nigh-apocalyptic happenings, as are found in nearly every fantasy novel that has captured the imaginations of their readers. The difference is that if you took a deep breath inside the worlds of these three books, you would fill your lungs with the heady scent of orange blossoms and lavender and life, as opposed to the heavy ashen air that would clog your throat in the worlds of their grimdark counterparts. I feel that the beauty of these worlds only increases the tension and the stakes if our heroes cannot find a way to save the day. It’s far sadder to me to watch something heartbreakingly lovely go up in smoke than it is something weathered and grimy. That’s my opinion, at least.

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Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen, #1)

Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen, #1)

Malice by John Gwynne
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Do you ever have this feeling, just after you finished reading the first book of a series, you knew immediately there’s a huge potential for the series to become one of your favorite series of all time? Malice, the first book in The Faithful and the Fallen quartet by John Gwynne is one of those rare cases for me.

What started out as a simple classic tale of Good vs Evil ended up being not as simple as I thought. As the story progressed, the story evolved darker gradually while keeping the theme ‘Good vs Evil’ at its heart. Has this theme been done before in the past? Yes, more than a million times already. Will I ever get bored with it? No, never. It’s my favorite kind of story; it’s the essence of the majority of epic fantasy books, video games, and movies. What this theme requires to reach greatness has always been a touch of creativity, to make the story unique, make it the author’s own story to share and this, John Gwynne did phenomenally.

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Soulkeeper (The Keepers, #1)

Soulkeeper (The Keepers, #1)

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

Soulkeeper by David Dalglish
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Soulkeeper captivated my attention with its seductive storytelling. My inner bookworm is gratified to find another fantasy author’s backlog to go through; I can’t say the same for my bank account.

David Dalglish is not an unfamiliar name to me. For the past two years, I’ve occasionally seen his Shadowdance and Seraphim series being reviewed with positive ratings on bookish social media. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get around to any of his work despite being interested in them—especially Shadowdance. Soulkeeper, the first book in The Keepers trilogy, is my first experience reading Dalglish’s work; I loved it, so I know it definitely won’t be the last.

Devin Eveson is a Soulkeeper, a priest and a healer who travels through remote villages. When a mysterious and deadly black water appears and washes over the land of Cradle, the veil between worlds is torn, causing a return of ancient magic and forgotten races. The story revolves around Devin and his unlikely new companions as they try their best to adapt and survive the changes caused by all the new unprecedented dangers and situations. Here’s the good news I’m sure you want to hear: the execution of the story is even better than the premise. From the first chapter, I was immediately pulled into the solemn, melancholy, and dark mood of this world. The narrative has a voice that’s so compelling and addictive, imbued with resonating topics such as the nature of humanity, death, afterlife, and faith; all of these elements combined in a way that made it difficult for me to put the book down.

“I have studied history extensively, Tommy. Any force for good, if capable of evil, will inevitably be used for evil. It’s just the nature of humanity.”

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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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The Rage of Dragons (The Burning, #1)

The Rage of Dragons (The Burning, #1)

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Rage of Dragons is a blazing African-inspired epic fantasy debut that was so possessive of my attention, it simply wouldn’t allow me to read anything else until I finished it.

This book was originally self-published and released in September 2017. Honestly speaking, I have seen and known about this book since then but the book wasn’t able to move up the monstrosity that is my TBR tower for some reason. However, its acquisition by Orbit, which resulted in a brand new gorgeous cover art done by the ingenious Karla Ortiz, is a total cover seller—look at the Zulu shield and the intricately apt mural in the cover!—that practically screamed “Buy and read me now” to me, and so that’s what I did.

“I’d rather live with a thing done poorly than do nothing and always wonder how things could have been.”

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14

14

14 by Peter Clines
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

A fascinating and engaging genre-bending novel with excellent characterisation, elevated by the narrator’s superb voice-acting.

14. Firstly, the number, when spoken in Chinese sounds like “will/must die”. Due to this superstition, there are numerous buildings in my part of the world which do not use this number. You will instead get Level 13a or Unit 13a in place of 14, and sometimes even a jump from 13 to 15. I started the book with this notion at the back of my head. And all I knew about the story then was that the building was strange and mysterious. A potent and thrilling combination, and yet I was still pleasantly surprised with the direction the story took.

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