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Book Review: Hollow Empire (The Poison Wars, #2) by Sam Hawke

Book Review: Hollow Empire (The Poison Wars, #2) by Sam Hawke

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

Cover illustration by: Greg Ruth

Hollow Empire by Sam Hawke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Poison Wars (Book #2)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Mystery

Pages: 560 pages (US Hardcover)

Published: 26th November 2020 by Bantam Press (UK) & 1st December 2020 by Tor Books (US)


An incredibly well-polished and absorbing sequel; out of all the books and series I’ve read this year, Hollow Empire is quite likely THE sequel that has the most significant improvement in overall quality over its predecessor.

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Book Review: Dead Man in a Ditch (The Fetch Phillips Archives, #2) by Luke Arnold.

Book Review: Dead Man in a Ditch (The Fetch Phillips Archives, #2) by Luke Arnold.

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

Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Fetch Phillips Archives (Book #2)

Genre: Fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery, noir

Published: 24th September 2020 by Orbit (UK) & 22nd September 2020 by Orbit (US)


Dead Man in a Ditch continued the compelling tale of Fetch Phillips and Sunder City, and I welcomed its melancholic embrace.

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Book Review: Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon

Book Review: Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon

Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Historical fiction, magic realism, horror, mystery

First Published: 1991


Boy’s Life is a beautifully written and captivating coming-of-age story.

I would like to highlight first of all that while this book might have won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1992, I would say that it was more akin to magic realism with a dose of horror in historical and fictional setting of a small town named Zephyr in Alabama.

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Book Review: The Angel’s Game (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #2)

Book Review: The Angel’s Game (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #2)

The Angel's Game
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (translated by Lucia Graves)
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

For close to a decade I’ve thought that The Shadow of the Wind was one of the most brilliant novels I had ever read. I had no idea that it was a preamble, setting up for an even bigger story. And I truly believe that The Angel’s Game just scratched the surface; I can feel in my bones that there’s far more to come. I’ve also been reliably informed by TS and Petrik that all of the questions I found left frustratingly open at the end of this book will indeed be answered later in the series, which does nothing but add to my excitement.

“Poetry is written with tears, novels with blood, and history with invisible ink.”

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TS’s Top 11 Books Read in 2020 So Far (1st Jan to 30th June)

TS’s Top 11 Books Read in 2020 So Far (1st Jan to 30th June)


2020 has so far been a truly strange, stressful and complicated year, but reading wise it has been pretty incredible for me.  I’ve read/listen to 73 books during this first six months of the year and quite a sizeable chunk of these garnered 4-stars and above.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I’ve added so many books onto my favourites shelf in the same period of time.  If you’re interested, you can see my year in books for 2020 right here.

Similar to my previous list, I do not limit this to only books released this year.  There are simply too many great books that have been published prior and that I’ve yet to read, so there will always be older books included.  Below are the parameters that I’ve set for the list.

  • Rereads don’t count
  • One book per author
  • Not limited to books which are released this year.

None of these are ranked except for the top three, of which two are tied for first place.  The rest, I’ve listed them in the chronological order of when I’ve read them this year.  All of these have been reviewed by me on Novel Notions and Goodreads.

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Book Review: The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

Book Review: The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

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

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Genre: Historical fiction, mystery

Published:  23rd June 2020 by Tor Books


The Angel of the Crows was a decent and fun read, though not at all what I was expecting from the blurb. This book is Sherlock Holmes fan-fiction written in the subgenre of wingfic, where some of the characters have wings (in this case, they are angels).

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Book Review: The Labyrinth of the Spirits (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #3) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Book Review: The Labyrinth of the Spirits (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #3) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Cover illustration by: Matt Duffin

The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

My rating: 6 of 5 stars

Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books (Book #4 of 4)

Genre: Historical fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Translated Edition Published: 2018 by Weidenfield & Nicholson, Orion Books (UK) & Harper (US)


The Labyrinth of the Spirits is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It has it all – evocative history, engrossing mystery, atmospheric setting, compelling characters, incredible emotional depth – wrapped up in writing so beautiful that it moves your soul.

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Book Review: The Kingdom of Liars (The Legacy of the Mercenary King, #1) by Nick Martell

Book Review: The Kingdom of Liars (The Legacy of the Mercenary King, #1) by Nick Martell

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

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: The Legacy of the Mercenary King (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Mystery

Pages: 608 pages (US hardcover edition)

Published: 7th May 2020 by Gollancz (UK) & 5th May 2020 by Saga Press (US)


Kingdom of Liars was one of the most hyped up debuts in 2020, and I believe it’s partly due to Sanderson’s blurb.   It is a commendable debut, but while I’m not disputing what Sanderson said about this book, the enjoyment I derived from reading it was a whole lot more mixed than his blurb would suggest.

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Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1)

Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1)


The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“There are worse prisons than words.”

The planet lost an incredible talent today. Carlos Ruiz Zafón, the author of this truly magnificent book, lost his battle with cancer, at the age of 55. Zafón had a brilliant, gorgeous way with words, and told stories in a way that sink into your bones and stay with you long after you read the last pages. Though he left the world too soon, he left behind him an amazing legacy in the novels that have touched countless readers across our world, which have been translated into more than 40 languages. I’m so thankful to have read and been touched by The Shadow of the Wind, and I’m grateful to have the rest of his catalogue in my future.

“Well, this is a story about books.”
“About books?”
“About accuse books, about the man who wrote them, about a character who broke out of the pages of a novel so that he could burn it, about ta betrayal and a lost friendship. It’s a story of love, of hatred, and of dreams that live in the shadow of the wind.”

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Book Review: The Prisoner of Heaven (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #3) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Book Review: The Prisoner of Heaven (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #3) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books (Book #3 of 4)

Genre: Historical fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Translated Edition Published: 2012 by Weidenfield & Nicholson, Orion Books (UK) & by Harper (US)


The Prisoner of Heaven was another captivating entry in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books that provided a more balanced tone of light and dark.

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