Browsed by
Tag: historical fiction

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Ten Thousand Doors of January cover

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Stand-alone

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Published: September 12th, 2019 by Orbit (UK) & September 10th, 2019 by Redhook (US)


“…there are ten thousand stories about ten thousand Doors, and we know them as well as we know our names. They lead to Faerie, to Valhalla, Atlantis and Lemuria, Heaven and Hell, to all the directions a compass could never take you, to elsewhere.”

I have been watching my cats lazing about in the warm, reposeful afternoon sun. Languid stretches and lazy yawns and leisurely rolls. Complete comfort and contentment. The sheer bliss of surrendering to the moment evident in their eyes. Melting, mellow happiness. Felicity.

That is the feeling that came over me upon finishing this book, and I basked in every second of its warmth. Lyrical. Stunning. Beautiful. Spellbinding. Richly imagined. Eloquent. Wistful. A riotous swirl of adjectives, all apt and all applicable. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is an emphatically stunning debut by Alix E. Harrow, delivering a tale that speaks to one of humanity’s oldest fantasies – visiting another world.

Read More Read More

Book Review: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Book Review: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood


Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alias Grace isn’t what I expected. I suppose I thought this would be similar to Atwood’s most famous novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. And it was in some ways, especially in the tone of the main character. Though I can’t quite call Grace a protagonist, as Offred is in the aforementioned classic of dystopian literature. What I wasn’t expecting was very well researched historical fiction.

“Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word – musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.”

Read More Read More

Book Review: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Book Review: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes


The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I was so hesitant to pick up this book. I’ve only read one other book by Moyes, Me Before You, and was absolutely infuriated by it. Not because it was a bad book, mind you; on the contrary, it was incredibly compelling and introduced some characters for whom I came to care deeply. But I felt so emotionally manipulated by the ending that I seriously considered burning my copy. I didn’t, because I consider book burning akin to sacrilege, but in my opinion the ending that Moyes chose to go with felt like it was chosen not because it served the plot, but because it was shocking and memorable. I hated it with my entire being. I don’t believe myself to be a reader who demands happy endings, but the final scenes of Me Before You felt like a right hook when I was expecting a warm handshake or something of the sort.

“… some things are a gift, even if you don’t get to keep them.”

Read More Read More

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Literary fiction, Historical fiction, Mystery

Pages: 384 pages

Published: 17th January 2019 by Corsair (UK) & 14th August 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons (US)


Where the Crawdads Sing is a book that’s massively praised worldwide, and it lives up to all the hype.

It doesn’t matter whether you read literary fiction or not, if you’ve visited Amazon or a bookstore in 2019, it’s quite likely that you’ve heard about Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens’s FIRST novel that’s praised and hit bestseller everywhere. Honestly, I didn’t expect to read this one; my girlfriend and my co-blogger—Celeste—highly recommended it to me even though they know that it’s well outside my usual genre—SFF—of novels to read. However, the immensely high average ratings made the book a must-try for me. At the time of writing this review, it has an average of 4.5 stars out of 463k ratings on Goodreads, and on Amazon US it has an average rating of 4.8 out of 27.3k ratings/reviews! To make things even crazier, this is the author’s FIRST novel, and everything about it lives up to the hype.

“I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.”

Read More Read More

Book Review: A Ladder to the Sky, by John Boyne

Book Review: A Ladder to the Sky, by John Boyne


A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“And you’ve heard the old proverb about ambition, haven’t you?”
He shook his head.
“That it’s like setting a ladder to the sky. A pointless waste of energy.”

I have to say, I’d never have picked up this book had it not been so highly recommended by both Petrik and his girlfriend, Katherine. Not because the subject matter wasn’t of interested, but because I had honestly never heard of it. I’m not sure how, but A Ladder to the Sky completely missed my radar when it was released in 2018. I had heard of two other of the author’s work, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Heart’s Invisible Furies, and while they sound great, the premise of this particular book is far more intriguing to me personally. As someone who loves every single aspect of books, from how they’re made to who wrote them to those who sell them and the stories they actually hold, any novel that involves bookselling or authorship or any other profession or hobby linked to books is always going to draw me in. Not every such book delivers, in my opinion, but this one sure does. A Ladder to the Sky was compulsively readable from page one, even though it took me a bit longer to actually gel with the story it was telling.

Read More Read More

Book Review: Conqueror (Conqueror, #5) by Conn Iggulden

Book Review: Conqueror (Conqueror, #5) by Conn Iggulden

Conqueror: A Novel of Kublai Khan by Conn Iggulden

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: Conqueror (Book #5 of 5)

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 512 pages (US paperback edition)

Published: 27th October 2011 by Harper Collins (UK) & 21th December 2011 by Delacorte Press (US)


I have mixed feelings regarding the final book of Conqueror, one of my favorite historical fiction series.

I’m starting to think that there’s a real curse contained within five books series that haunts me. I don’t even know why or how this happens, but I’m never left completely satisfied by the concluding installment of all five books series I’ve read so far. Lightbringer by Brent Weeks, Heartstrikers by Rachel Aaron, The Shadow Campaigns by Django Wexler, and unfortunately, this series. All of them, somehow, felt plagued with the same issue that they either felt too long or unnecessary to be one whole book. That’s the thing with Conqueror: A Novel of Kublai Khan, it felt more like a spin-off of the previous four books rather than a direct sequel or a concluding installment.

“What sort of a man would I be if I could just wipe out my errors with talking? A man has to live with his mistakes and go on. That is his punishment, perhaps.”

Read More Read More

Book Review: Khan: Empire of Silver (Conqueror, #4) by Conn Iggulden

Book Review: Khan: Empire of Silver (Conqueror, #4) by Conn Iggulden

Khan: Empire of Silver by Conn Iggulden

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Conqueror (Book #4 of 5)

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 416 pages (US paperback edition)

Published: 2nd September 2010 by Harper Collins (UK) & 28th December 2010 by Delacorte Press (US)


An impressive penultimate installment. Who was more terrifying, Genghis Khan or Tsubodai?

“It was difficult not to look on Tsubodai with awe if you knew what he had achieved in his life. The army owed their success to him as much as to Genghis.”

I’m nearing the conclusion of this series now. Khan: Empire of Silver is the fourth and penultimate installment in the Conqueror series by Conn Iggulden. I’ll try to keep this review as brief and spoiler-free as possible. In the previous three books, the title of each installment starts with the name “Genghis” at the front of their title; this one starts with “Khan.” That should give you a vague idea about what kind of stories you’re getting here. The previous three books focused on Genghis Khan’s life and conquest, Khan: Empire of Silver revolves more around the life of Temujin’s children and Tsubodai’s extraordinary conquest of Europe.

“If a man has gold, he lives with the terror that someone will take it away from him, so he builds walls around it. Then everyone knows where the gold is, so they come and take it. That’s the way it always goes, brother. Fools and gold, together.”

Read More Read More

Book Review: Genghis: Bones of the Hills (Conqueror, #3) by Conn Iggulden

Book Review: Genghis: Bones of the Hills (Conqueror, #3) by Conn Iggulden

Genghis: Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Conqueror (Book #3 of 5)

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 434 pages (US Kindle edition)

Published: 1st September 2008 by Harper Collins (UK) & 24th March 2009 by Delacorte Press (US)


A seriously astounding piece of historical fiction that left me speechless in many ways.

“We are not here to earn riches with a bow. The wolf does not think of fine things, only that his pack is strong and no other wolf dares to cross his path. That is enough.”

I can’t help but start this review by saying that I’m thoroughly impressed by Iggulden’s talent for the creation of this series. Genghis’ conquest on its own, even if they’re written or told in a textbook manner, are very attention-grabbing already, but Iggulden successfully elevated the quality of Genghis’ legend so that it became much more engaging and emotional. Genghis: Bones of the Hills is the third book in the Conqueror series, and it—along with the first installment—are my favorites in the series so far. In the previous book, the story focused on Genghis’ conquest of The Chin; this book centered on Genghis’ breathtaking conquest of the Arabs. I must remind you, this series—especially this book—isn’t for the weak of heart; the atrocities and devastations committed in this war were terrifying in every sense of the word. I’m talking about wars with casualties that reached more than hundreds of thousands of deaths; innocents were instantly marked for the afterlife just for living in the opposing city. Genghis: Bones of the Hills is a bleak, intense, and also bittersweet book; it’s heavily centered around war, death, loyalty, heritage, achievements, and what truly matters in life and what legacies will continue after death.

“All men die, Genghis. All. Think what it means for a moment. None of us are remembered for more than one or two generations.” He raised a hand as Genghis opened his mouth to speak again. “Oh, I know we chant the names of great khans by the fireside and the Chin have libraries running back for thousands of years. What of it? Do you think it matters to the dead that their names are read aloud? They don’t care, Genghis. They are gone. The only thing that matters is what they did while they were alive.”

Read More Read More

Book Review: Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee

Book Review: Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee

 

Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published: 14th November 2019 (Harvill Secker)

Fourth in the Sam Wyndham series, Death in the East continues the trend of Smoke and Ashes in significantly upping its game. It offers a more challenging read, deepening the themes and character relationships, and marking a significant reshaping of both the form and the content of the books. And to top it off, it’s all done through two locked-room murder mysteries that have you guessing right till the end…

 

Read More Read More

Book Review: Genghis: Lords of the Bow (Conqueror, #2) by Conn Iggulden

Book Review: Genghis: Lords of the Bow (Conqueror, #2) by Conn Iggulden

Genghis: Lords of the Bow by Conn Iggulden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Conqueror (Book #2 of 5)

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 547 pages (US Kindle edition)

Published: 2nd January 2008 by Harper Collins (UK) & 25th March 2008 by Delacorte Press (US)


A compelling, brutal, informational, and terrifying depiction of Genghis’ conquest of Yenking.

“Some words can be a cruel weight on a man, unless he learns to ignore them.”

Genghis: Lords of the Bow is the sequel to Genghis: Birth of an Empire; it’s the second book in the Conqueror series by Conn Iggulden. The story takes place approximately eight years after the end of the first book. Temujin, now called Genghis Khan, is 26 years old and the entirety of the book is about Genghis and the Mongol’s invasion of Yenking (Beijing today.) Genghis: Lords of the Bow was almost as good as the first book; the large-scale action scenes—more on this later—was definitely better. I felt like a lot of what makes Conqueror so enjoyable to read was because of Iggulden’s writing style that still follows the same engaging head-hopping narrative that he utilized in the first book, and I personally believe that many authors who use the same storytelling style could learn a thing or two from Iggulden here. As I’ve mentioned in my review of the first book, I never felt lost with the narration; Iggulden makes head-hopping narrative—which I usually despise—very easy to follow and instead of confusing the readers, his writing style made every scene full of emotions due to the constant exchange of dialogues accompanied by the speaker’s thoughts and feelings. I found all of these to be an incredibly positive point in my read.

“If you are asking if my family will take what they want, of course they will. The strong rule, Chen Yi. Those who are not strong dream of it.”

Read More Read More

%d bloggers like this: