Guest (Adam) Book Review: Empire of Shadows (The Coraidic Sagas, #3) by Alicia-Wanstall Burke

Guest (Adam) Book Review: Empire of Shadows (The Coraidic Sagas, #3) by Alicia-Wanstall Burke

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by Adam Weller

Cover art illustrated by: Pen Astridge

Empire of Shadows by Alicia Wanstall-Burke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Coraidic Sagas (Book #3 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy

Pages: 610 pages (Kindle Edition)

Published: 25th January 2022 (Self-Published)


Alicia Wanstall-Burke’s Blood of Heirs fashioned one of the more devious second-book cliffhangers in the trilogies I’ve read in recent years. Up until the last few chapters, the story of Lidan, Loge, Ran, Sellan, and others twisting the fates of the Northern and Southern empires was an entertaining saga with strong-willed characters you could get behind. But its last few chapters really stood out, as it set the story careening off into truly exciting territory, and I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Empire of Shadows to see how the final pieces were going to fall.

Read More Read More

Book Review: A Narrow Door (Malbry, #3) by Joanne Harris

Book Review: A Narrow Door (Malbry, #3) by Joanne Harris


A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a digital copy of this novel from the publisher, OrangeSky Audio, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Narrow Door is one of the smartest, most interesting and sympathetically voiced pieces of crime fiction I’ve read in a very long time. The only other modern book in the genre I’ve enjoyed this much was We Begin at the End, but this book had more in common with The Maidens and The Divines, both of which disappointed me last year. It was a perfectly paced, pitch perfect blend of mystery and academia that captivated me from the prologue through to the epilogue. I hung on every word. This is a story that felt so incredibly real, which such a delicious building tension, that I thought about it almost constantly when I wasn’t reading it. It found its way into my dreams, which has become a rare thing as I’ve gotten older. And the ending was something that, in hindsight, I might should have been able to see. Especially considering the opening. But I didn’t.

Read More Read More

Book Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Book Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Cover art illustrated by: Nico Delort

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy, Retelling

Pages: 480 pages (US Hardcover Edition)

Published: 10th July 2018 by Del Rey (US) & Pan Macmillan (UK)


If Uprooted is my Hell, then Spinning Silver is my Heaven.

Five years. It’s been exactly five years since I’ve read Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Honestly speaking, I never intended to read Spinning Silver. I consider Uprooted one of the worst fantasy novels I’ve read, and I had no motivation in trying out more of Novik’s works for five years. However, after hearing from many readers—one of them being my friend, Elliot Brooks—who disliked Uprooted that Spinning Silver worked wonderfully for them, my curiosity was piqued. And then, another good friend of mine—Mary—who also disliked Uprooted decided to sent me a copy of Spinning Silver. She said that Spinning Silver is one of the best standalone novels she has ever read. So here I am, nodding my head and adding my opinion to their praises; they were all 100% right. Spinning Silver is one of the best standalone novels I’ve read. This high rating you’re seeing is not a fairytale. It’s well-deserved, and Spinning Silver rightfully deserves the gorgeous cover art (US edition) illustrated by Nico Delort.

Read More Read More

Book Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Book Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik


Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I could not have started the year off with a more pleasant surprise. I read another of Novik’s high fantasy novels, Uprooted, in 2016 and…I was not a fan. While I didn’t loathe it with every fiber of my being like Petrik did, it took me a couple of months to trudge through 435 pages. That’s not my general reading experience. There were a lot of things I really didn’t like about that book and, because of that dislike, I was skittish about picking up Spinning Silver . But, as I own both a physical and digital copy, I knew I was going to have to pick it up eventually. So when Petrik suggested we do a buddy-read as soon as the new year started, I jumped at it. He, Eon, TS, Haifa and myself all started it together, and the consensus has been overwhelmingly positive. Spinning Silver is a thoughtful, intricate, powerful novel that is one of the most atmospheric books I’ve ever read. I’m incredibly glad that we gave Novik another try.

Read More Read More

TS’s Best Reads of 2021

TS’s Best Reads of 2021

This is my journey in books for 2021!

Hi everyone, TS here!  Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge that I’ve been inconsistent in my blogging/reviewing on Novel Notions this year.   I couldn’t find the energy or will or brain-power as I found myself in a new expanded role at work that has a challenging learning curve, and discovered that I enjoy cooking and baking (even embarked on sourdough) so much that I started spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

I did manage to meet my reading challenge of 100 books this year regardless, and it’s probably the most diverse year of reading that I’ve had in my entire life.   While fantasy remains my favourite genre for its sense of wonder, I found myself gravitating a lot towards mysteries this year, and also reading a lot more non-fiction.

I’ve decided to organise my best reads of 2021 a bit differently from prior years, somewhat thematically instead of the usual parameters and rankings.

And we’ll start with….

Read More Read More

Book Review: The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake (The Atlas, #1)

Book Review: The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake (The Atlas, #1)

 

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Rating: 2 out of 5

Published: 3rd March 2022 (Tor)

What would you do if someone offered you knowledge? Power? The potential to be part of a secret society tasked with looking after the hidden (not lost) Library of Alexandria? I know what you’d say, because’s precisely the reason I picked up the book. Power, I could take or leave, but the books? Those I could never resist. And it is a good hook. Except… everything was promised and nothing delivered.

Read More Read More

Celeste’s Top 21 Books of the Year (2021)

Celeste’s Top 21 Books of the Year (2021)


At last, 2021 is drawing to a close.  Or, as I like to call it, 2020 part 2.  While the year wasn’t the best, I did have a pretty great reading year.  According to Goodreads, I read 110 books this year.  According to my own spreadsheet, I read 192.  That 82 book difference is comprised largely of various long, spicy romance series that I didn’t want to have to review because I was consuming them so quickly, so I made the decision to not include them on Goodreads.  But I wanted to acknowledge them here.  This was the year of the romance novel for me.  Romance has never been my genre of choice, but I found so much solace in it this year.  For the first time, I truly understand why there are so many dedicated romance readers out there, and now I happily consider myself one of them.  Four novels on this list are romances, in fact.

While I read a metric ton of romance, I think I read fairly widely this year.  This list includes fantasy, mystery, thriller, horror, sci-fi, and literary fiction.  One of the biggest common denominators on this list is actually Greek mythology.  I’ve always loved mythology, and this year I read some amazing books retelling some of those myths in fun and refreshing ways.  This is something I hope to find even more of next year.

As always, I’m following Petrik’s example here.
– One entry per author. (But not always only one book.  I’m cheating this year.  You’ll see what I mean.)
– Rereads aren’t included.
– The books on this list were new to me, not necessarily new. They might not have been published this year, but this was my first time reading them.
– All of these books were either 4.5 or 5 star reads for me.

Links to my Goodreads reviews of each book will be included below. And now, without further ado, here are my favorite books of 2021!


Read More Read More

Book Review: Leviathan Falls (The Expanse, #9) by James S.A. Corey

Book Review: Leviathan Falls (The Expanse, #9) by James S.A. Corey

Cover Illustration by: Daniel Dociu

Leviathan Falls by James S.A. Corey

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Expanse (Book #9 of 9)

Genre: Sci-fi, Space Opera

Pages: 543 pages (Kindle Edition)

Published: 26th March 2019 by Orbit


My last review of 2021 is for the conclusion to the first big space opera series of novels I’ve ever finished to its completion, and I’m glad it’s The Expanse.

Read More Read More

Book Review: Krampus: The Yule Lord, by Brom

Book Review: Krampus: The Yule Lord, by Brom


Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Picking up Krampus: The Yule Lord started out as a bit of a joke. I was reading A Christmas Carol, which has been my Christmas tradition for about a decade now, and decided to balance it out with something completely different. I went into Krampus fully expecting a horror novel that ripped Christmas apart. What I got was wildly different and infinitely more powerful. This book was profound and though-provoking and so much more emotional than I anticipated. Strangely enough, Krampus ended up being one of my favorite books of the year, providing a depth and nuance to famous and infamous figures that surprised me, as well as giving me a cast of new characters to root for. I have never been more pleasantly surprised by a book with such a disturbing cover. Which was also done by Brom. The man is an incredible artist.

Read More Read More

Book Review: War Lord (The Last Kingdom, #13) by Bernard Cornwell

Book Review: War Lord (The Last Kingdom, #13) by Bernard Cornwell

War Lord by Bernard Cornwell

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Last Kingdom (Book #13 of 13)

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 333 pages (Hardcover edition)

Published: 15th October 2020 by HarperCollins


It’s over. I finally finished The Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell, and it was an impressive conclusion.

Read More Read More

%d bloggers like this: