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Book Review: Rebirth (Divinity’s Twilight, #1) by Christopher Russell

Book Review: Rebirth (Divinity’s Twilight, #1) by Christopher Russell

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

Cover illustration by: Chris McGrath

Divinity’s Twilight: Rebirth by Christopher Russell

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Divinity’s Twilight (Book #1)

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Sci-fi, Steampunk

Pages: 498 pages (US Paperback edition)

Published: 2nd June 2020 by Morgan James Fiction (Indie)


This was good, an ambitious SFF debut to what I foresee will be a large series.

Due to my TBR pile that continues to exponentially grow uncontrollably, I have to say that I rarely accept an ARC/review copy from an unknown author these days. My gut, however, told me to accept the request to review Christopher Russell’s debut, Divinity’s Twilight: Rebirth, and I’m glad I gave this one a go. I mean, how could I say no when Russell himself said that he’s a huge fan of The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson; the inspirations from that epic series was evident in his debut.

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Book Review: Of Darkness and Dawn (The Elder Empire: Shadow, #2) by Will Wight

Book Review: Of Darkness and Dawn (The Elder Empire: Shadow, #2) by Will Wight

Cover illustration by: Micah Epstein

Of Darkness and Dawn by Will Wight

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Elder Empire: Shadow (Book #2 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy

Pages: 364 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 10th August 2015 by Hidden Gnome Publishing (Indie)


This review is an unpopular opinion; please feel free to ignore this if you’ve read and enjoyed the first book, but in my opinion, Of Darkness and Dawn was a huge downgrade from its predecessor.

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Book Review: Of Shadow and Sea (The Elder Empire: Shadow, #1) by Will Wight

Book Review: Of Shadow and Sea (The Elder Empire: Shadow, #1) by Will Wight

Cover illustration by: Micah Epstein

Of Shadow and Sea by Will Wight

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Elder Empire: Shadow (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy

Pages: 406 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 30th December 2014 by Hidden Gnome Publishing (Indie)


An incredible start to an assassin high fantasy trilogy with a strong potential to be even better than Cradle.

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Book Review: The Fury Yet To Come (The Raincatcher’s Ballad, #0.5) by Steven McKinnon

Book Review: The Fury Yet To Come (The Raincatcher’s Ballad, #0.5) by Steven McKinnon

Cover illustration by: James T. Egan of Bookfly Design

The Fury Yet To Come by Steven McKinnon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Raincatcher’s Ballad (Book #0.5 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Grimdark Fantasy

Pages: 124 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 25th June 2018 by Steven McKinnon DBA Vividarium Books (Indie)


This incredible action-packed grimdark novella is free. If you’re a fan of the sub-genre, I highly suggest you take this opportunity to get the book by subscribing to the author’s blog.

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Audiobook Review: Blight Marked (Ethereal Earth, #3)

Audiobook Review: Blight Marked (Ethereal Earth, #3)

Review copy of audiobook received from the author in exchange for an honest review

Blight Marked by Josh Erikson

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Ethereal Earth (Book #3)

Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Published: 11th March 2020 by Josh Erikson (self-published ebook) and Audible Studios


Josh Erikson has utterly upped his game in Blight Marked. A heady concoction of compelling character development, interesting worldbuilding, exhilarating action scenes and great humour, the only thing that made it even better was Erikson’s stellar self-narration.

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Book Review: The Brightest Shadow (The Brightest Shadow, #1) by Sarah Lin

Book Review: The Brightest Shadow (The Brightest Shadow, #1) by Sarah Lin

ARC received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Brightest Shadow by Sarah Lin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Brightest Shadow (Book 1)

Genre: Fantasy, Progression fantasy, Wuxia

Published: 6th March 2020 (self-published)


Eastern-inspired with great classic wuxia elements, The Brightest Shadow is a commendable fantasy entry with impressively thoughtful worldbuilding, and an interesting diverse cast of characters.

I grew up watching a lot of wuxia classics, the most famous being The Legend of the Condor Heroes. Sarah Lin paid homage to these great classics by incorporating cultural and martial arts elements which would feel very familiar to wuxia fans into her new fantasy series, The Brightest Shadow. The worldbuilding in this novel is really impressive and well thought out with multicultural people that although share some common traits are quite distinct from one another. Aside from physical looks, the differences could be demonstrated from the food they eat to the way martial arts are practised. Even the concept of sien (somewhat akin to qi in our world sense) differ from one people to another.

“A person who wants for nothing, who is at peace with themselves, cannot be seduced by simple stories.”

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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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The Gods of Men (Gods of Men, #1)

The Gods of Men (Gods of Men, #1)

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

The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been having the most awful reading streak in my favorite genre—adult fantasy—this month, The Gods of Men is a new adult fantasy that might have just saved me from an encroaching fantasy slump.

Thank you, Barbara Kloss, for offering your book to me. If you’ve been following my reading progress for this month of May, you’ll probably notice that I’ve been having one of the worst reading months of my life; only one book I finished—that isn’t a reread—this month was able to earn a 4 stars rating, and this was for a sci-fi novel; all my fantasy read ranged disappointingly between the rating of 1-3 stars. The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss recently just won the runner-up spot in this year’s SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off) competition that’s held annually by Mark Lawrence. That being said, I didn’t actually expect to read The Gods of Men this soon, not when there’s already a stack of ARC/review requests I haven’t finished yet. However, finishing the prologue immediately made me want to continue reading and I ended up finishing the book within two days.

“I take people as they are,” Tolya had always said. “Not who they’ve been or who they want to be. The pat and future are for the Maker. The present is for us.”

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Kingshold (The Wildfire Cycle, #1)

Kingshold (The Wildfire Cycle, #1)

I received a copy of the audiobook from Tantor Media in exchange for an honest review.

Kingshold by D.P. Woolliscroft
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars.

An enjoyable classic fantasy romp with some modern touches, Kingshold is a commendable debut by D.P. Woolliscroft.

This first book of The Wildfire Cycle is heavy on politics as its major plotline is centred around the election of a new Lord Protector to the Kingdom of Edland. With the current King dead and after many generations of useless monarchs, the ancient wizard, Jyuth, who founded the kingdom refused to take any further responsibility in choosing the next one. Instead, an election was proposed and the story ensued with political scheming and assassinations (which are perfectly legal if performed under a contract).

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Solace Lost (Pandemonium Rising, #1)

Solace Lost (Pandemonium Rising, #1)

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

Solace Lost by Michael Sliter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A brutally gripping story tinged with despair; Solace Lost is a character-driven grimdark fantasy debut that earned its title mercilessly.

Solace Lost is Michael Sliter’s debut; the first book out of five in the Pandemonium Rising series. Before I begin my review, I strongly urge that you read this novel only IF you’re a grimdark fantasy enthusiast. I don’t usually include content warnings in my review but I feel like this book truly warranted one; as it involved a minor spoiler, I’ll mention it at the end of my review.

The main story in Solace Lost follows four main characters: Fenrir, Merigold, Hafgan, and Emma. Ardia is on the brink of a civil war and these four distinctive characters will have their fates intertwined, for better or worse. As I mentioned before, this is utterly a character-driven story and its main strength lies mostly within the characterizations. Each main character has different personality traits, and the inner voices given by the author to these characters made them feel real. Living up to the grimdark genre, none of the main characters can simply be defined as good or bad. The only character that started out as good and kind-hearted was Merigold. That too, for only a while before atrocious things happened to her and she found her life completely turned upside down. I won’t go as far as saying that I loved these characters but I did find myself totally invested in knowing about their journeys. This was especially true for Fenrir and Merigold’s POVs; they dominated the plot of this book and I found their storyline to be the most engaging out of all the characters.

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