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Month: October 2019

Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”

The origin of this novel is almost as famous as the book itself. A group of friends seek to outdo one another with their ghost stories. Mary, the youngest and least famous of the group, writes not a ghost story but a brief novel that has far outlived the works of every other member of the party, and that is often cited as the first science fiction novel. I recently attended a lecture on Frankenstein, in which the lecturer pointed out that there was no real science present in the novel as Mary had not been well educated in the subject, and so cannot really be considered science fiction. While I admit that she has a very valid point, I still believe that Frankenstein is indeed science fiction because the plot could not have existed without some nebulous and unexplained scientific discoveries, and helped propel this speculative genre into the popularity it still enjoys today. Even though Shelley was poorly educated in the sciences, she created something that continues to entrance and repel members of the scientific community hundreds of years after she first penned her only famous work of literature.

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Guest (Adam Weller) Post: In Defense of Elitism by Joel Stein book review

Guest (Adam Weller) Post: In Defense of Elitism by Joel Stein book review

Today, Novel Notions is hosting a guest post by Adam Weller aka Swiff from Fantasy Book Review.  Adam will be reviewing an upcoming non-fiction political humour book by Joel Stein.


In Defense of Elitism: Why I’m Better Than You and You Are Better Than Someone Who Didn’t Buy This Book by Joel Stein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Non-fiction, Politics

Pages: 336 pages (Hardcover)

Published: 22nd October 2019 by Grand Central Publishing


Twenty-nineteen America: some of the country wonders what the hell happened, and how the hell we got to this point. Others wonder what took so damn long. ‘The real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between the mainstream American… populists and the ruling political elites,’ argues humorist and journalist Joel Stein in his new book, In Defense of Elitism: Why I’m Better Than You and You’re Better Than Someone Who Didn’t Buy This Book. It is a smart, incisive, and very funny collection of Stein’s adventures and revelations as he attempts to bridge the gap between the country’s divided parties while shedding light on the values that fuels each side.

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Book Review: Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Book Review: Angel Mage by Garth Nix

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

Angel Mage by Garth Nix

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars.

Series: Stand-alone

Genre: High fantasy

Publishing date: 1st October, 2019 by HarperCollins, US and 17th October, 2019 by Gollancz, UK.


Angel Mage is a stand-alone fantasy novel that engages with its fascinating magic, but less so in its plot and character development.

I’ve enjoyed Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy and was particularly impressed with the worldbuilding in that series of books. Similarly, I found the premise of Angel Mage to be intriguing as magic is bestowed by the ability to call upon angels with the use of icons. To make it even more interesting is the cost of magic, i.e. the lifespan of the person who employs angelic magic. The more powerful the angel which was called upon, the more life is literally sucked out of the caller. The lore is also fascinating where different regions or countries are governed by different Archangels and their respective pantheons – from Cherubims to Seraphims, and Principalities, to name but a few.

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Book Review: The Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3) by Brent Weeks

Book Review: The Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3) by Brent Weeks

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Lightbringer (Book #3 of 5)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 864 pages (US paperback edition)

Published: 26th August 2014 by Orbit


The Broken Eye is an installment filled with an intense focus on secrecy, revelations, politics, and world-building.

The Broken Eye is the third—and the second largest—book in the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks; it’s quite crazy to think that this is the third book already and yet I still found myself constantly surprised by the revelations, plot twists, and developments. I’ve mentioned this before, there aren’t many high-fantasy series with a plotting level that reached what Weeks achieved with this series. On my reread, the benefit of hindsight allowed me to witness the hidden breadcrumbs planted into the previous two books that weren’t possible on my first read. I can’t stress this highly enough, as far as the expansion to the plotline and lore of the series goes, The Broken Eye contained a lot of crucial information surrounding the mythology and secrets that have been mentioned several times in the previous two books. The prophecy of the Lightbringer, Diakoptes, Orholam, the Nine Kings, the Order of the Broken Eye, Paryl drafting, & the Blinding Knife; all of these are wonderful and, honestly, needed additions to the series which I’m sure will end up being super important for the remaining of the series.

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Book review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Book review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

My rating : 5 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

Published:  July 26th 2016 by Broadway Books

“Every moment, every breath, contains a choice. But life is imperfect. We make the wrong choices. So we end up living in a state of perpetual regret, and is there anything worse?

Dark Matter made for an exhilarating, unsettling, intense and thought-provoking reading experience!

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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: The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer, #2) by Brent Weeks

Book Review: The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer, #2) by Brent Weeks

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Lightbringer (Book #2 of 5)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy

Pages: 704 pages (US paperback edition)

Published: 11th September 2012 by Orbit (US) & 13rd September 2012 by Orbit (UK)


Gavin Guile has said that he has seven great purposes to fulfill in his lifetime; one of those is to write a seven paragraphs spoiler-free review so that people will read The Blinding Knife and I’m here to help him achieve that.

The Blinding Knife, the second installment in Weeks’s Lightbringer series, successfully excelled over the previous book. On my first read, I remember that I chose The Blinding Knife as my favorite installment of the series; it seems like I’m going to stand by this notion on my reread. There are many reasons to love The Blinding Knife; multi-layered intrigues in its politics, superb pacing, incredible character developments and intricate expansion to its world-building, to name a few. In the first book, there was quite a lot of pages—necessarily—spent towards the purpose of making sure the reader truly understands the mechanism behind the complex magic system; that info-dumpy section is gone now, everything flows naturally in The Blinding Knife because the concept and rules of the magic system has been established clearly in the previous book. Weeks took every foundation firmly planted in The Black Prism and gradually built upon them wonderfully here.

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Book Review: The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger

Book Review: The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger

 

The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Published: 03 October 2019 (HQ)

Bad people win. They win all the time.

Rain Winter was outraged by the not-guilty verdict that allowed Steve Markham to get away with killing his wife and their unborn child. Her investigation of the murder had left her with no doubts about his guilt, the injustice of his freedom and the inevitable media circus that gifted him the celebrity spotlight leaving her feeling sickened and powerless. Taking time out from journalism to care for her husband and baby seemed like a welcome and necessary step, a break from all the madness. But now Markham’s dead. Butchered by the same method he used to get rid of his family. And word is that it’s not the only time this vigilante has acted. That the first was actually Eugene Kreskey, the man who tried to abduct her as a child. The man who killed one of her friends and tortured the other.

If there’s a link, a story, she needs to find it. All of a sudden, she’s right back in, bringing to light all kinds of secrets that should have stayed buried. Especially her own.

 

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Book Review: Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #3)

Book Review: Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #3)

Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson

My rating: 6 of 5 stars.

Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen (Book 3 of 10)

Genre: Epic fantasy, grimdark fantasy

First published:  2001 by Bantam (UK) and 2006 by Tor (US)


The harder the world, the fiercer the honour.

This in-world quote succinctly explained why Memories of Ice is one of my favourite volumes of my favourite grimdark epic fantasy series.  It is the reason why I even read grimdark in the first place, given that I am so easily assailed by emotions that one wonders why I willingly put myself through such heartbreak. So bear with me throughout this series when I keep waxing lyrical about how humanity manifests its most awe-inspiring qualities in the face of relentless hardship and horrors of a world ravaged by conflict.

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Book review: The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage, #3)

Book review: The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage, #3)

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The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan

My rating : 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Powder Mage

Genre: Fantasy, Flintlock Fantasy, Military fiction

Published: February 10th 2015 by Orbit

 

The Autumn Republic is the third and last book of the Powder Mage Trilogy and again, it’s a brilliant (and equally frustrating) mix of military tactics, fantasy, politics and investigative narrative.

The action began a few days after the closing events of the Crimson Campaign. Some of the main characters found themselves in dire situations, others were beginning new adventures. So to say the least, the book started off with a bang.

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