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Month: June 2022

Book review: The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Book review: The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3) by Brandon Sanderson


The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I am, unfortunately, the Hero of Ages.”

The Hero of Ages is exactly as epic a conclusion as I remembered. I feared that knowing all of the big twists and reveals might lead to it not being as powerful upon rereading as it was when I experienced it the first time, but those concerns were unwarranted. My anticipation of said reveals made for a reading journey that was just as fulfilling as my first read-through. Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy isn’t quite a perfect series, but it’s very, very close. With fantastic world building, high stakes and palpable tension, mysteries to be solved and a whole plethora of wonderful characters to root for, philosophical musings on belief and hope balanced with brilliant action scenes and some of the most cinematic and interesting magic systems I’ve ever encountered, I don’t think it’s at all a stretch to call Mistborn a masterpiece.

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Cover Reveal: Defiant (Songs of Chaos, #3) by Michael R. Miller

Cover Reveal: Defiant (Songs of Chaos, #3) by Michael R. Miller

Hi everyone! Petrik Novel Notions here.

We’re honored to once again welcome Michael Miller to our blog. When Michael was last here, it was for the cover reveal of his Dragon’s Blade Trilogy and Unbound, the second book in the Songs of Chaos series. This time around it’s for the cover reveal of Defiant, the sequel to his best-selling Ascendant and Unbound! If you are unfamiliar with this series, The Songs of Chaos is a dragon rider epic that takes inspiration from such celebrated works as Eragon and Pern. In Michael’s own words “It’s about a serving boy who defies society to save a blind dragon from death and rises to become a dragon rider. A bit of cultivation/progression magic is sprinkled into this one.”

And now, without further ado… check out the cover art of Defiant!

Cover art by Randy Vargas

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Cover Reveal: The Alchemy of Sorrow

Cover Reveal: The Alchemy of Sorrow

Hi everyone! Petrik here. We have something exciting to post today! Novel Notions will participate in revealing the cover art to The Alchemy of Sorrow, a Fantasy & Sci-fi Anthology of Grief and Hope! I haven’t read this one yet, but everything I’ve heard about it seems to be showing that this is an anthology to watch out for. And before I show you, allow me to quickly show you the details regarding the book!

Title: The Alchemy of Sorrow

Public release date: Nov. 1st 2022

ISBNs for all editions:

eBook – 978-1-952667-92-3 

Hardcover –  978-1-952667-93-0 

Paperback – 978-1-952667-94-7

Audiobook – 978-1-952667-95-4 

Editors:

Sarah Chorn – Lead editor

Virginia McClain – acquiring editor/coordinator

Authors: M.L. Wang, K.S. Villoso, Intisar Khanani, Sonya M. Black, Angela Boord, Levi Jacobs, Krystle Matar, Virginia McClain, Quenby Olson, Carol A. Park, Madolyn Rogers, Rachel Emma Shaw & Clayton Snyder

Publisher: Crimson Fox Publishing

Pre-order link for ebooks: https://books2read.com/AoS

Pre-order link for audiobooks: https://books2read.com/AoS (currently not available for pre-order in audio but it will be in the next few months)

Print pre-orders coming soon!

And without further ado, here’s the blurb and cover art to The Alchemy of Sorrow!


Book Description:

Here be dragons and sorcery, time travel and sorrow.

Vicious garden gnomes. A grounded phoenix rider. A new mother consumed with vengeance. A dying god. Soul magic.

These stories wrestle with the experience of loss—of loved ones, of relationships, of a sense of self, of health—and forge a path to hope as characters fight their way forward.

From bestsellers and SPFBO finalists to rising voices, 13 exceptionally talented authors explore the many facets of grief and healing through the lens of fantasy and sci-fi. 

About the cover illustration: 

For the cover of The Alchemy of Sorrow, we wanted to create an image that was evocative of all the stories contained within its pages, without being specific to any single one of them. 

Since most of our stories have female protagonists, we chose to center the image on a grieving woman. We wanted her to be a woman of color, to celebrate the diversity of our stories and authors, and to represent the majority of the world’s population. We asked the artist to portray her standing among ruins, with her grief transmuting into light, which in turn begins to transform her surroundings. 

We also took inspiration from the Japanese practice of kintsugi – in which a fractured piece of pottery is restored using precious metals mixed into the lacquer so that the item’s cracks become a beautiful feature of the piece rather than a flaw to be hidden away – and we asked if the woman’s skin could feature cracks lined with gold.

From those sketchy details, Zoe Badini conceived of this stunning image of a woman standing before a broken stained-glass window, with light coming from the cracks in her skin. The light forms swallows, a symbol of rebirth, and renews the dying jasmine around her. 

The cover illustration for The Alchemy of Sorrow
to the right of the image (the front cover) a woman of color stands before a broken stained glass window. Her body is riddled with glowing golden cracks. A pair of similarly glowing swallows flitter above her hands, held at chest level. She is surrounded by dead vines that curl around the window as well–here and there, a few glowing golden flowers are blooming. To the left of the image (the back cover), a pair of glowing swallows face each other in midair, framed by a few glowing flowers. The rest of the cover shows dead vines and a sense of decay, including a broken ewer.

After receiving Zoe’s gorgeous artwork, the task then went to Virginia to design a text layout that didn’t detract from it. She did her best to convey all the information necessary and make it legible without obscuring too much of the artwork.

The cover art for The Alchemy of Sorrow
to the right of the image (the front cover) a woman of color stands before a broken stained glass window. Her body is riddled with glowing golden cracks. A pair of similarly glowing swallows flitter above her hands, held at chest level. She is surrounded by dead vines that curl around the window as well–here and there, a few glowing golden flowers are blooming. To the left of the image (the back cover), a pair of glowing swallows face each other in midair, framed by a few glowing flowers. The rest of the cover shows dead vines and a sense of decay, including a broken ewer. The text laid out across the front cover reads “The Alchemy of Sorrow” in gold across the top with a portion of the text hidden behind the woman’s head but still legible. Below that in white, the subtitle “A Fantasy & Sci-Fi Anthology of Grief & Hope” and below that, “ M.L. Wang, K.S. Villoso, Intisar Khanani, Sonya M. Black, Angela Boord, Levi Jacobs, Krystle Matar, Virginia McClain, Quenby Olson, Carol A. Park, Madolyn Rogers, Rachel Emma Shaw & Clayton Snyder” below that “Edited by Sarah Chorn & Virginia McClain” The spine of the paperback layout shows the publishing logo for Crimson Fox Publishing the the bottom in a light gold color, above that the names Chorn and McClain written in white are separated by a pair of swallows depicted in line art in a light gold color. And above that “The Alchemy of Sorrow” is written out in a stylized font to match the front cover. The back cover text reads as follows “Here be dragons and sorcery, time travel and sorrow. Vicious garden gnomes. A grounded phoenix rider. A new mother consumed with vengeance. A dying god. Soul magic. These stories wrestle with the experience of loss—of loved ones, of relationships, of a sense of self, of health—and forge a path to hope as characters fight their way forward. From bestsellers and SPFBO finalists to rising voices, 13 exceptionally talented authors explore the many facets of grief and healing through the lens of fantasy and sci-fi.” And below that it reads “Find out more at books2read.com/rl/alchemyofsorrow” and then next to the ISBN Barcode it says in small white text “Cover Illustration by Zoe Badini ©2022, Cover Design VM Designs ©2022”)

 

The cover art for The Alchemy of Sorrow
a woman of color stands before a broken stained glass window. Her body is riddled with glowing golden cracks. A pair of similarly glowing swallows flitter above her hands, held at chest level. She is surrounded by dead vines that curl around the window as well–here and there, a few glowing golden flowers are blooming. The text laid out across the ebook cover reads “The Alchemy of Sorrow” in gold across the top with a portion of the text hidden behind the woman’s head but still legible. Below that in white, the subtitle “A Fantasy & Sci-Fi Anthology of Grief & Hope” and below that, “ M.L. Wang, K.S. Villoso, Intisar Khanani, Sonya M. Black, Angela Boord, Levi Jacobs, Krystle Matar, Virginia McClain, Quenby Olson, Carol A. Park, Madolyn Rogers, Rachel Emma Shaw & Clayton Snyder” below that “Edited by Sarah Chorn & Virginia McClain

I also have a Booktube channel

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Andrew, Andrew W, Amanda, Annabeth, Ben, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Elias, Ellen, Ellis, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Meryl, Mike, Miracle, Nanette, Neeraja, Nicholas, Reno, Samuel, Sarah, Sarah, Scott, Shawna, Xero, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.

Book Review: Locklands (The Founders Trilogy, #3) by Robert Jackson Bennett

Book Review: Locklands (The Founders Trilogy, #3) by Robert Jackson Bennett

ARC was provided by the publisher—Del Rey—in exchange for an honest review.

Locklands by Robert Jackson Bennett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Founders Trilogy (Book #3 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Science Fantasy, Urban High Fantasy, Science Fiction

Pages: 560 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 28th June 2022 by Del Rey (US) & Jo Fletcher (UK)


Locklands is a truly inventive, emotional, genre-blending, and reality-defying finish to The Founders Trilogy.

“We’re all the result of countless actions and choices made throughout the centuries, and the odds of those actions and choices going the exact same way again are basically nil.”

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Petrik’s Top 10 Books of the Year So Far (1st January-27th June 2022)

Petrik’s Top 10 Books of the Year So Far (1st January-27th June 2022)

 

Click here if you want to see the list of all the books I’ve read so far this year: Petrik’s Year in Books (2022)

Between 1st January 2021 and 27th June 2022, I’ve read 39 novels + 55 manga/manhwa volumes (31k pages).

Please read this first. There will be three rules I set in this list in order for me to give appreciation to more authors rather than having only a few authors hoarding this list. These rules allow me to highlight more authors, and at the same time, I’ll also be able to include both new and older books (many of them still need attention) that I read within this year.

  • Rereads aren’t included.
  • One book per author.
  • The books listed here are not all exclusively published this year; the list consists of the top books I read for the first time within this year. Non-2022 published books on this list will have their first date of publication included.

Do note that although there’s a rank to this list, I HIGHLY recommend every book/series listed below because I loved all of them immensely, and they received a rating of 4.5 or 5 out of 5 stars from me. Without further ado, here are the top 10 books I’ve read this year so far! (All full reviews of the books listed can be found on Novel Notions and my Goodreads page.)

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Book Review: Slewfoot: A Tale of Bewitchery, by Brom

Book Review: Slewfoot: A Tale of Bewitchery, by Brom


Slewfoot: A Tale of Bewitchery by Brom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brom is almost distressingly talented. Not only is the man a brilliant artist, he has a deft hand and quick wit when it comes to storytelling. Krampus was the first book I had ever read by him, and it was one of my top reads of 2021. This book didn’t hit me quite as hard, but it did prove to me that Krampus was definitely not a one-off. Slewfoot is an exploration of control through religion, the subjugation of women under the patriarchy, the dangers of suppression when mingled with superstition, and the near mystical ability of nature to heal herself from wounds inflicted by man. And on top of all that, it’s just a fun, if brutal, story.

“Angels must often do dark deeds in the name of the Lord.”

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Book Review: The Exile (The Bound and The Broken, #2.5) by Ryan Cahill

Book Review: The Exile (The Bound and The Broken, #2.5) by Ryan Cahill

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

Cover art by: Books Covered

The Exile by Ryan Cahill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Bound and the Broken (Book #2.5 of 4 or 5)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Pages: 184 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 19th May 2022 by Ryan Cahill (Self-published)


Incredibly action-packed, engaging, and surprisingly emotional, The Exile is hands down the best installment in The Bound and The Broken series so far.

“War is no different to peace. It is simply more honest. Do not hesitate, do not contemplate mercy. Remember everything I have taught you.”

I know that sounds crazy, especially considering how relatively small The Exile is compared to the main novels. But I have to give my praises to Cahill on this. He’s one of the few fantasy authors I know who can pull off not writing not only big-sized novels but novellas as well. Technically, at almost 200 pages long, The Exile can be considered a short novel. But regardless, I stand by my point. The Exile is an impressive novella about Dayne, my favorite character in the series that appeared for the first time in Of Darkness and Light, and he immediately left an impact on me. In a way, it’s even more impressive that Cahill could pack this much content and emotions as efficiently and effectively into a novella. After reading Of Darkness and Light, I wanted more of Dayne, and I certainly got what I wanted here. This isn’t me saying I don’t want more of him, though. If The Exile became a novel, I won’t complain. But for now, I’m content with this until Of War and Ruin is released.

“We will always want for time, Dayne. That is the human way.”

The story in The Exile revolves around Dayne’s vengeance against those responsible for taking everything from him. His family, his home, his people. The Lorian Empire took them from him, and Dayne is determined to carve a bloody path through Epheria to kill the perpetrators. By blade and by blood. In Of Darkness and Light, the beginning of Dayne’s story revolves around him coming home to Valtara after being away for twelve years. In that novel, we never know the details of what happened to him. The Exile tells the main points of Dayne’s exploits and journey in these twelve years. And yes, twelve years is a long time. It was never possible for the narrative to tell all of Dayne’s past in one novella or even one novel. I mean, his story could’ve easily worked as a trilogy! And I will not complain about it if that end up happening. However, I think Cahill did a great job telling the main points of his exploits by dividing the novella into four parts with different timelines.

“He had not found peace in a single death, not even the slightest of joys. Though any man who took joy in killing was a man worth killing.”

Dayne instantly became my favorite character in the series despite his relatively brief appearances in Of Darkness and Light. Obviously, it’s easy to say that it goes without question that Dayne was the highlight of the novella for me. Seeing the tragedy that visited him changed him dramatically has made me care for him even more. And yet, he still tries his best to stay true to his ideal of justice and virtue. Kindness for the innocents and his loved ones, no mercy for his enemies. But although this novella kinda works as an origin story for Dayne, it will be a mistake to think that you can just jump into The Exile without reading the other books in the series first. As the author mentioned, this is a companion novella, and it will be hugely beneficial for you to read the other two novels and one novella first before reading it. This is to get you interested in Dayne first, and more importantly, important supporting characters from the main series appear in The Exile. If you haven’t read the other books first, I think their appearance here will lose their impact.

“Part of me did die that day. Unfortunately for you, it was the kinder part.”

Cahill is an author that keeps getting better with each book. And one of the ways he exhibited this is through how fast he hooks his readers into being attached to a new character. It’s true that Cahill’s action scenes improved significantly from the time of The Fall and Of Blood and Fire. His action scenes felt vivid, brutal, and fast-paced. He’s not there yet, but at the fast rate he’s improving his craft, he might even reach John Gwynne’s and Joe Abercrombie’s level. But personally, it’s worth noting that great combat scenes lack substance if an author fails to make their readers care about the characters, especially the ones involved in the combat, first. And this, similar to what occurred to Dayne in Of Darkness and Light, is what I experienced again in The Exile for the new character named Belina.

“What idiot isn’t afraid of the dark? Did you not hear me? Nothing good happens after dark. You’re a storyteller. You, of all people, should know this. Tell me one happy story that takes place on a mountainside at night in an abandoned fortress.”

The passage above is spoken by Belina, and I won’t even be surprised if fans of the series think of her as their favorite character. Belina is a riot; not only hilarious but having her in the novella gave Dayne’s story opportunities for more emotional displays other than wrath, rage, and killings. Plus, I genuinely think Dayne and Belina have one of the best friendships I have ever read in a fantasy novel. This kind of thing is what made this revenge-centered novella even more powerful. The themes of family, justice, grief, love, and friendship drove the narrative. They act as the oil that powers the vehicle of Dayne’s vengeance. Similar to Abercrombie’s famous “You can never have too many knives.” Belina told Dayne that you can never have too many blades. But we’re also accompanied by beautiful passages about love and grief. For example, this lovely quote about love reminded me of the famous quote from The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. You will know what it is if you have read The Wise Man’s Fear.

“Love, my son, cannot be quantified by how and why. It is the intangible tether that connects your heart to others. It holds no conditions or rules, for if it did, it would not be love, but simply convenience. It is not found in the ‘because’, it is found in the ‘and yet’. Your father is strong, compassionate, and understanding, but it is not because of those things that I love him. Rather, they are why I admire him. He is also foolhardy, pig-headed, and he always says the wrong things. And yet, I love him anyway.”

As a novella, The Exile is easily one of the best fantasy novellas published. With this, I am finally caught up with all of Cahill’s published works, and I can safely say Cahill is on his way toward becoming one of my favorite authors. On top of telling a heartfelt and epic story in the series so far, he has laid a lot of groundwork for an epic convergence in the third main novel of the series, Of War and Ruin, and I am seriously excited to find out how he will execute it. If he succeeds in transforming Of War and Ruin into a book that top Of Darkness and Light and The Exile, then you will see me praising him as one of my favorite authors. Honestly, though… it’s only a matter of time until that day transpired. If you have not read The Bound and The Broken series, get to it ASAP! By the time I have access to the ARC of the next book, I will be reading it immediately.

“It is never weak to grieve for the ones you love… To hide your tears is to do them a disservice. They have earned your love. Let them have it.”


You can order this book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US

I also have a Booktube channel

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Andrew, Andrew W, Amanda, Annabeth, Ben, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Elias, Ellen, Ellis, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Meryl, Mike, Miracle, Nanette, Neeraja, Nicholas, Reno, Samuel, Sarah, Sarah, Scott, Shawna, Xero, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.

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Book Review: A Spindle Splintered (Fractured Fables, #1) by Alix E. Harrow

Book Review: A Spindle Splintered (Fractured Fables, #1) by Alix E. Harrow

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“..Even among the other nerds who majored in folklore, Sleeping Beauty is nobody’s favorite. The romantic girls like Beauty and the Beast; basic girls like Cinderella; goth girls like Snow White. Only the dying girls like Sleeping Beauty.”

A Spindle Splintered is a spitfire of a novella. Here we are introduced to Zinnia Gray, a dying girl who is doomed to expire young. Because of this, Zinnia has been obsessed with the story of Sleeping Beauty since she was a small child, and has basically made that fairy tale her entire personality. On the eve of her twenty-first birthday, as she begins to feel her time running out, Zinnia finds herself thrust into a fantastical, impossible situation. Is she the damsel in this situation, or does she finally get to become the hero?

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Book Review: Of Darkness and Light (The Bound and The Broken, #2) by Ryan Cahill

Book Review: Of Darkness and Light (The Bound and The Broken, #2) by Ryan Cahill

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

Cover art by: Books Covered

Of Darkness and Light by Ryan Cahill

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Bound and the Broken (Book #2 of 4)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Pages: 710 pages (Hardcover edition)

Published: 31st December 2021 by Ryan Cahill (Self-published)


Of Darkness and Light is a vastly superior sequel to Of Blood and Fire

“There is nothing more important in the darkness than a ray of light.”

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Book Review: The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower, #7) by Stephen King

Book Review: The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower, #7) by Stephen King


The Dark Tower by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Dark Tower is the pentacle of Stephen King’s magnum opus, and I’ve been terrified to get to it. King isn’t known for nailing his landings, and this one is especially controversial. I was afraid that, after reading 8,781 pages, or 3,951,408 words, on my long road to the Tower, I would be left feeling woefully disappointed, and as if I had wasted my time. I’m here to tell you that, thankfully, that isn’t the case. After reading the final pages of The Dark Tower I can safely say that this is my favorite completed series of all time. I’ve never read anything else like it. The only series that I think will eventually surpass it is Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives, but it will be well over a decade before that is completed. In the meantime, The Dark Tower stands alone among completed series for me. As it should.

“The road and the tale have both been long, would you not say so? The trip has been long and the cost has been high… but no great thing was ever attained easily. A long tale, like a tall Tower, must be built a stone at a time.”


There will be some vague spoilers here, though I’ll not mention any name save Roland’s. I simply don’t know how else to discuss a final book in a series so large. Skip to the end or turn back now if you wish to go into or continue this series knowing as little as possible.

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