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Book Review: A Time of Blood (Of Blood and Bone, #2)

Book Review: A Time of Blood (Of Blood and Bone, #2)

A Time of Blood by John Gwynne

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Of Blood and Bone  (Book 2 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Published: 18th April 2019 by Pan Macmillan (UK) & 16th April 2019 by Orbit (US)


A fantastic sequel in the Of Blood and Bone trilogy, A Time of Blood is yet another testament to John Gwynne’s extraordinary ability to write incredible stories.

The tone and direction of the narrative stayed true to Gwynne’s approach of escalating the stakes, and ratcheting the tension to a penultimate cliffhanger ending that makes one go “Why are you doing this to me?”

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Book Review: Skysworn (Cradle, #4) by Will Wight

Book Review: Skysworn (Cradle, #4) by Will Wight

Skysworn by Will Wight

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Cradle (Book #4 of 12)

Genre: Fantasy, Progression Fantasy, Xianxia

Pages: 292 pages

Published: 30th September 2017 by Hidden Gnome Publishing (Indie)


Wei Shi Lindon may not have any advancement happening to him in this book, but the series did. Skysworn, just like each respective previous books, once again upgraded the overall quality of the Cradle series.

I honestly think that Skysworn was even better than Blackflame; imagine my surprise when I found out that many readers thought of this one as a downgrade for the series. I respectfully disagree. What happened in Skysworn is the direction that the series needs, although I highly enjoyed Blackflame, I didn’t have that uncontrollable urge to continue with the series. But now? I might be having nightmares if I don’t continue with the series.

“I don’t have any love for the Jai clan, but as for you, if I saw you on fire I’d hold an umbrella for you so the rain didn’t put you out.”

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Book Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Book Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls


The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I’ve discovered that I have a thing for memoirs about wild, unbelievably difficult childhoods and the children who grow up to overcome them. Educated was one of my favorite books of 2019, and I quite honestly didn’t expect to find anything else in its genre to rival it, especially not so soon. The Glass Castle, which is kind of the OG of the rough childhood, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps type of memoir, proved to be just as compelling as Educated. I don’t know why I put off reading it for so long, as I’ve owned a copy for years. Whatever led to that wait, I’m so glad that the wait is over. The Glass Castle was brilliant and beautiful and made me incredibly thankful for the type of upbringing I had and the (very stable) parents who raised me.

“I lived in a world that at any moment could erupt into fire. It was the sort of knowledge that kept you on your toes.”

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Book Review: The Last Smile in Sunder City (The Fetch Phillips Archives,#1)

Book Review: The Last Smile in Sunder City (The Fetch Phillips Archives,#1)

ARC received from the publisher, Orbit, in exchange for an honest review. 

 

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Fetch Phillips Archives (Book 1)

Genre:  Urban fantasy, mystery, noir

Published:  6th February 2020 (Orbit UK) & 25th February 2020 (Orbit US)


The Last Smile in Sunder City was an impressive debut by Luke Arnold; a dark urban fantasy that enraptured me with its stellar worldbuilding and writing style.

Firstly, I’ve never been exposed to much noir elements in my reading so far, so I won’t be able to make any comparisons. However, I can still safely say that this book accurately captured that feel in its worldbuilding and the characterisation of its main character, Fetch Phillips. In a world where magic was destroyed, creatures or beings dependent on magic for their existence suffered delibitating effects. The setting has a truly bleak, post-apocalyptic feel.  Sunder City couldn’t be more appropriate a name for a progressive city where all hopes and dreams have been torn asunder when magic was lost.

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Book Review: Fate Lashed (Ethereal Earth, #2) by Josh Erikson

Book Review: Fate Lashed (Ethereal Earth, #2) by Josh Erikson

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

Fate Lashed by Josh Erikson

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Ethereal Earth (Book #2)

Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Pages: 401 pages

Published: 7th February 2019 by Josh Erikson (Indie)


I’m so exultant that I followed my instinct and took another chance on this urban fantasy series.

It’s been a year since I’ve read Hero Forged, Josh Erikson’s debut and the first book in his Ethereal Earth series. I enjoyed reading the first book, Hero Forged was good, not amazing, but it showed glimpses of the potentials of better things to come for the series. I promised the author back then that I would come back to the series when I feel like I’m in the right mood, honestly speaking, though, I didn’t plan to read Fate Lashed, the sequel to Hero Forged, this soon, it’s not until my co-blogger, Emma, told me that the upcoming third book of the series— which is releasing soon—is shaping up to be so amazing that I contacted Erikson immediately telling him that I’m ready to jump back into the series. However, I certainly didn’t expect to be this impressed by the significant improvement poured into the series. I gave Hero Forged a 3.5 out of 5 stars rating, and I’m going to give Fate Lashed a 4.5 out of 5 stars rating.

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Book Review: Blackflame (Cradle, #3) by Will Wight

Book Review: Blackflame (Cradle, #3) by Will Wight

Blackflame by Will Wight

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Cradle (Book #3 of 12)

Genre: Fantasy, Progression Fantasy, Xianxia

Pages: 370 pages

Published: 30th April 2017 by Hidden Gnome Publishing (Indie)


The dragon advances; Blackflame advances Cradle into an addictive series to read.

If I were to defined Unsouled as an invitation to Cradle, Soulsmith would be the appetizer, and Blackflame would be where the main course begins. Don’t get me wrong, the first two books were fun, they were great, and they were necessary installments full of proper foundations that made the ravaging Path of the Blackflame so compelling to read, but it truly felt like the meat of the story begins here. The cast of characters has been expanded, and the protagonists and antagonists are clearer now.

“The Path of Black Flame was stolen from ancient dragons. It is the art of pure destruction.”

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Book Review: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Book Review: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara


I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I’ve heard amazing things about I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. One of my resolutions for 2020 is to read more nonfiction that I find interesting, and true crime is a topic that is endlessly fascinating to me. I expected to be caught up in the chase for an elusive killer. What I didn’t expect was breathtaking, engaging prose dripping with compassion and empathy for the victims. Beautifully written and deeply insightful, this book was an experience unlike any other I’ve yet found in the genre.

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Book Review: Valley of the Free (Pandemonium Rising, #0.5) by Michael Sliter

Book Review: Valley of the Free (Pandemonium Rising, #0.5) by Michael Sliter

Valley of the Free by Michael Sliter

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Pandemonium Rising (Book #0.5 of 4)

Genre: Fantasy, Grimdark Fantasy

Pages: 128 pages

Published: 18th December 2019 by Dragyn Press (Indie)


Short, violent, and bloody; this is a good place for you to try Sliter’s writing.

Valley of the Free is a prequel novella to Mike Sliter’s grimdark fantasy series: Pandemonium Rising. The story follows Ferl’s quest for vengeance, and this little novella depicts the conception of the infamous Ferl’s Company. Having read—and loved—the two available books in the main series so far, I can safely vouch that no prior reading of the main series is required. You can enjoy Valley of the Free without any knowledge of the main series; excluding the main character—Ferl—only one or two other characters appeared briefly. In fact, I do honestly think that this is a very starting point for you to try Sliter’s work. Valley of the Free is not as dark/brutal as Sliter’s debut work, Solace Lost, and it’s good to familiarize yourself with his writing style and gritty content first. I would say that Valley of the Free is more attuned to Wisdom Lost in terms of content and quality, which, in my opinion, delivers a more balanced narrative and also encapsulates Sliter’s craft at his best so far.

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Book Review: The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle

Book Review: The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle


The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

If I had to choose one word to describe Beagle’s writing, I think I’d have to break the rule and use two: melancholy whimsy. He is absolutely brilliant at mingling the lovely and imaginative with the quietly heartbreaking. Before picking up this collection, I had only read two books by him: The Last Unicorn and Summerlong. I thought that The Last Unicorn was achingly lovely, and I completely get why it’s considered such a foundational classic of the fantasy genre and why it is so beloved by some of my favorite authors. Summerlong, on the other hand, fell flat for me, but I’m beginning to think the reason behind that lack of connection was my reading it in the wrong mindset and with impossible expectations. Both are books I plan to revisit, the first to see if my appreciation for it has changed, and the second to find out if reading it at the wrong time could be why I didn’t enjoy it more.

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Emma’s Best Books of 2019

Emma’s Best Books of 2019

The featured image above was specifically designed by Felix Ortiz for Novel Notions’ Top 20 Lists. 


Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m cheating… my Best Books of 2019 post is a little different from the rest of the Novel Notions team.

It’s felt like a bit of a strange reading year for me, with a lot of study, non-fiction, and comfort rereads. My number is sitting at 164 so far, with a whole load getting that very respectable 4 star rating. However, there have only been a small amount that have truly floored me, that have deserved the 4.5 or the big, shiny 5 star rating. These are the kind of books that stay in your memory forever, that you recommend EVERYWHERE and as often as possible. They’re the ones where it’s almost impossible to stop your eyes from flicking forward to see what’s coming next because you’re so excited to get there. When I made that feeling the criteria for my list, it made things immediately clear. I don’t have 20, I have 10. They were all published this year and I loved them all. I hope you consider giving them a go too…

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