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Book Review: The Institute by Stephen King

Book Review: The Institute by Stephen King


The Institute by Stephen King
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

“Great events turn on small hinges.”

I love Stephen King. This has not been a lifelong truth, and my infatuation began a mere 5 or so years ago. Since then, I’ve read a third of his body of work, and I’ve been largely impressed. While I do believe that King would benefit from a harsher editor, and that he often fails to stick that landing with his endings, Stephen King has an incredible mind. The plots he dreams up, and the characters he creates to populate those stories, are pretty spectacular and always feel original. While I’ve enjoyed everything of his I’ve read at least in part, some of his books are more successful than others. The Institute is just such a book. The plot was disturbing and vaguely supernatural without seeming implausible. The cast of characters was beautifully fleshed out and varied. And the ending didn’t suck!

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Book Review: Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #3)

Book Review: Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #3)

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Book of the Ancestor (Book 3 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, high fantasy

Published:  4th April 2019 by Harper Voyager (UK) and 9th April 2019 by Ace (US)


Incredibly satisfying, Holy Sister is a powerful conclusion to a remarkable trilogy that shines most brilliantly with its superb characterisation.

I am truly impressed with Mark Lawrence’s ability to write such realistic and relatable female characters, and to achieve that across such a wide range of age, backgrounds and personality of all the nuns and novices. I loved how he managed to make each and every one of them shine in different ways. To top it all off, it was the amazing portrayal of friendship, love and bonds between these characters that tied it all together in a most emotionally captivating narrative of sisterhood.

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Book Review: The Black Prism (Lightbringer, #1) by Brent Weeks

Book Review: The Black Prism (Lightbringer, #1) by Brent Weeks

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Lightbringer (Book #1 of 5)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 688 pages (US paperback edition)

Published: 25th August 2010 by Orbit


An incredibly original and entertaining start to a memorable high fantasy series.

The Black Prism, the first book in Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks, was one of my first forays into an adult high-fantasy novel. I can’t honestly say that I’ve been a devout follower of this series since its conception; The Black Prism was first published in 2010 and I started this series almost exactly three years ago, all the way back in October 2016; it was near the release date of the fourth book of the series: The Blood Mirror. Now that the fifth and final book of the series, The Burning White, is coming out in less than three weeks, I figure that it’s about time I finally reread this series that I loved before from the beginning again. Why? Because I’ve forgotten TONS of details about it and this reread strongly proved it.

“All power is a test.”

Rereading is always a fascinating experience for me; I won’t lie that I have my share of issues—mostly due to overwhelming TBR and unfinished series I’m stuck in—with the idea of rereading just for the sake of refreshing memories in order to be able to appreciate the next/last book of a particular series. However, statistically speaking, rereading a book/series actually deliver a superior reading experience compared to my first read-through more often than not; The Black Prism is another great example of this situation, and it makes me wish I have more time to re-read many books that I’ve read before.

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Book Review: The Lost War (Eidyn, #1) by Justin Lee Anderson

Book Review: The Lost War (Eidyn, #1) by Justin Lee Anderson

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

The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Eidyn (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Dark Fantasy

Pages: 572 pages

Published: 30th August 2019 by King Lot Publishing (Indie)


Thrilling mysteries, powerful magic, tangible tension, and great characters to root for; The Lost War has it all.

I honestly had no idea what the book was about when I started it. I’ve never even heard of the author before, not until a few weeks ago where I stumbled upon Anna Stephens’, the author of Godblind trilogy, review of this novel on the Fantasy-Faction Facebook group. Stephens recommended it highly, and after I took a look at the cover art and synopsis, somehow everything about it just clicked with me. I decided to give it a shot based on instinct. This isn’t an easy thing for me to do because I’m more of a plan-oriented reader when it comes to reading through my ARC/review requests. However, giving this a go as soon as possible has paid off satisfyingly for me.

“People who are responsible for everyone eventually feel responsible for no one.”

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Book Review: The Bone Ships (The Tide Child, #1) by R.J. Barker

Book Review: The Bone Ships (The Tide Child, #1) by R.J. Barker

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

The Bone Ships by by R.J. Barker

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Tide Child (Book 1 of 3)

Genre: High-fantasy

Published: September 26th, 2019 by Orbit (UK) & September 24th, 2019 by Orbit (US)


Bold and inventive, R.J. Barker sailed through new, uncharted waters with The Bone Ships and emerged with a brilliant tale of seafaring adventure and deeds of derring-do.

With The Bone Ships, Barker’s sophomore series is quite a departure from the tone and style in his debut The Wounded Kingdom, which I loved, but the most important that remained is his engaging voice. Let me first state this pertinent fact – I am not typically a fan of seafaring stories – be it in the medium of books or movies. To set some context before I proceed, I have not read The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobbs and not seen the movie, Master and Commander. Why? Because ships. Throughout my many years of reading, whether it’s fantasy or otherwise, I usually dreaded the part of the story where the main characters had to undertake a sea voyage, always hoping that it’ll be as short as possible. There had been exceptions where I’ve found it to be more than just agreeable, but these were rare and usually do not make up the bulk of the narrative.

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Book Review: Vendetta in Death (In Death, #49)

Book Review: Vendetta in Death (In Death, #49)


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

After reading four dozen books with the same characters, you’d think I’d be tired of them. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Vendetta in Death is the 49th(!) book following Eve Dallas, a Homicide detective in New York City in the near future. By this point, Eve and Roarke and every person in their lives feel tangibly real to me, and every new installment in this series feels like a chance to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a while.

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Book Review: The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards, #1)

Book Review: The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards, #1)


The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Ace) in exchange for an honest review.

“A person can never hear too many tales. Tales are like honey cakes. Once you have tasted one, you want another, and another, and always more.”

This was my first encounter with Juliet Marillier, but it certainly won’t be the last. I can see her becoming one of those authors I turn to when I’ve just had enough of the darkness, and need something bright and pretty in my life. The Harp of Kings is lovely and lush and bright, a wonderful change from the grimdark that populates the fantasy genre. And from what I gather, that’s par for the course with Marillier’s work. While there are stakes here, it’s still a quiet story, inviting and soothing and somehow peaceful even when the events of the story are not. I found it to be a story that calls one to meander along instead of racing ahead. This book is the first in a new series of standalones, set in a world that will already be familiar to Marillier’s fans. But even if you’ve never read any of her work before (like me), this is a great starting point. I never felt lost in the least, though I am now definitely more curious about her various other series. Also, even thought this book is the first in a new series, it stands on its own perfectly well, with a plot that feels self contained and completely finished.

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Book Review: Smoke and Stone (City of Sacrifice, #1) by Michael R. Fletcher

Book Review: Smoke and Stone (City of Sacrifice, #1) by Michael R. Fletcher

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

Smoke and Stone by Michael R. Fletcher

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: City of Sacrifice (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Grimdark Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy

Pages: 511 pages

Published: 1st November 2019 by Michael R. Fletcher (UK & US)


Utterly remarkable post-apocalyptic grimdark fantasy.

It’s surreal, but as it turns out, it’s been two years and approximately two hundred books since I’ve read anything new by Fletcher. It’s a serious shame that after all this time, Fletcher still hasn’t received the fame and recognition he deserves. When it comes to grimdark fantasy, I find that George R. R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, and Steven Erikson tend to be the most often mentioned names; for many good reasons. However, I do strongly believe that Fletcher should be equally ranked as high as them. I am drowning in books to read, but when Fletcher asked me to read and review his newest book, I accepted, started, and finished reading it immediately within two days.

“The fifth age ended in catastrophe and the death of a world. We live now in the sixth age, the age beyond life, the age of apocalypse. We live a nightmare. We are damned souls, doomed to a slow and rotting demise.”—Loa Book of the Invisibles

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Book Review: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1) by Jay Kristoff

Book Review: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1) by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Nevernight Chronicle (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 448 pages (US hardback edition)

Published: 25th July 2016 by Harper Voyager (UK) & 9th August 2016 by St. Martin’s Press (US)


O’gentlefriend, Nevernight was incredible. Allow me to join The Droogs from now on.

The Nevernight Chronicle is not a series I’ve never heard of. If you’re active on Book Twitter, Bookstagram, or Booktube, you’ll most likely have seen or heard of this series. How could you not? The fans are very loud and devoted; aesthetically, both US & UK editions of this series look gorgeous as fuck; the content? Let’s just say that the beautiful cover artworks really did the content justice and vice versa. To Emily Fox and Emma, thank you for recommending this book to me. I can’t believe I almost missed such an awesome book just because the series has been falsely labeled as a book/series specifically for YA audience. Now, there’s nothing wrong with YA—this isn’t me judging the quality of YA books—but it feels wrong to immediately label Nevernight or any book as a book targeted for YA audience just because the main character is young; 16 years old in this case. In my opinion, Nevernight sits comfortably in the hybrid stage between YA and adult fantasy; a novel that can be read and enjoyed by both YA & adult SFF reader, just like Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson or Red Rising Saga (just the first three books) by Pierce Brown. So yes, don’t let the occasional mislabeling of this series put you off from giving the series a go.

“Too many books. Too few centuries.”

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Book Review: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep

Book Review: The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep


The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Orbit US/Redhook) in exchange for an honest review.

It’s.
Not.
Fair.
I know that life isn’t.
But stories are. Or if they’re not fair, they’re not fair with purpose.
I wish I could tell better where stories end and life begins.

Sometimes you just need to escape into a good book. But if you’re Charles Sutherland, sometimes you inadvertently facilitate the escape of fictional characters into the real world. Imagine being able to read out your favorite character from a story and have an actual conversation with them. That sounds like a dream come true for most bookworms, but it’s been a nightmare that Rob, Charley’s big brother and our first person perspective character, has spent his life trying to avoid. He’s had to clean up Charley’s fictional messes a multitude of times throughout his life, but the current fictional mess they find themselves in is the zaniest and more far reaching, and frankly the most dangerous, that the Sutherland family has ever faced. Their world is going to be changed forever if they can’t figure out a way to thwart what’s coming.

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