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Book Review: Blood of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #2) by R.J. Barker

Book Review: Blood of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #2) by R.J. Barker

 

Blood of Assassins by R.J. Barker

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy, mystery

Published: 13th Feb 2018 by Orbit US & 15th Feb 2018 by Orbit UK


An impressive sequel to an excellent debut, Blood of Assassins draws upon the compelling character development of Girton Club-Foot to underscore a storyline which is at once engaging and unpredictable.

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Book Review: Age of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #1) by R.J. Barker

Book Review: Age of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #1) by R.J. Barker

Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy, mystery

Published: 1st August 2017 by Orbit US & 3rd August 2017 by Orbit UK


An excellent debut, Age of Assassins was a well-crafted and compelling coming-of-age tale – one that’s not exactly what you expect a typical assassin story to be.

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Book Review: We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

Book Review: We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker


We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, Macmillan Audio, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

We Begin at the End has been on my radar since my co-blogger Emma read it and loved it last year. Petrik and TS decided to pick it up as well, even though it’s not something within their usual genre wheelhouses. Again, they loved it. But they warned me that it was heartbreaking and, since I had been going through a particularly rough patch in my life, I held off until I felt like I was emotionally strong enough to handle it. I’m so glad I did, because I can say without a single qualm that it will be only my list of favorite books read in 2021, but the heart-wrenching emotion of it would have kept it from the same list last year. It really pays to wait until the right moment to read this type of book, and I’m glad I had friends to caution me in that regard.

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Book Review: The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Book Review: The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Genre: Mystery, historical fiction

Published: 1st October 2020 by Raven Books (Bloomsbury Publishing, UK), 6th October 2020 by Sourcebooks Landmark (US)


Cunningly crafted and delightfully devilish, the Devil and the Dark Water is not only a masterpiece of a mystery novel but also the most fun I had between the pages in 2020.

And that right there might be all I need to say. While it was a horrible year in most aspects, books were a shining light in the dark, providing the very escapism I needed time and time again with a stellar line-up of stories read. Eeyore-mode averted. (It’s not a pretty sight, I confess.) And if it isn’t already transparently obvious, The Devil and the Dark Water more than did its part in keeping that gloom away. It was one of the stars of the show, making Mr Turton a shoo-in for not only the best new-to-me author I read that year but also my auto-buy author list. This might be your triumph dear author, but it feels like the pleasure was all mine, and I thank you for it.

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Book Review: Dreams of the Dying (Enderal, #1) by Nicolas Lietzau

Book Review: Dreams of the Dying (Enderal, #1) by Nicolas Lietzau

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

Cover art illustrated by: Dominik Derow

Dreams of the Dying by Nicolas Lietzau

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Enderal (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Grimdark Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Mystery

Pages: 826 pages (Hardcover edition)

Published: 28th October 2020 by Nicolas Lietzau (Self-published)


A new masterpiece is here. It is a cliché to say this, but Dreams of the Dying is seriously one of the best books I’ve ever read.

“The mind is a malleable thing. Soil, if you’re feeling poetic. Depending on the seed, anything will grow in it, from graceful gardens to idyllic meadows, from weedy forests to foggy swamps. Harmonious or chaotic, peaceful or perilous, healthy or ill—it’s all a matter of seeds.

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Book Review: The Helm of Midnight (The Five Penalties, #1) by Marina Lostetter

Book Review: The Helm of Midnight (The Five Penalties, #1) by Marina Lostetter

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

Cover art illustrated by: Sam Weber

The Helm of Midnight by Marina J. Lostetter

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Five Penalties (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller

Pages: 464 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 13th April 2021 by Tor Books


This is an incredible book. Character-driven and bloody thrilling; The Helm of Midnight has pretty much confirmed its spot in one of my favorite books of 2021 list.

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Book Review: The Labyrinth of the Spirits (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #4) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Book Review: The Labyrinth of the Spirits (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #4) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón


The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
My rating: 6 of 5 stars

For years, I thought The Shadow of the Wind was a standalone novel. When I learned that wasn’t the case, I ignored that information for more years. I thought The Shadow of the Wind was pretty nearly perfect on its own, and didn’t need expanded upon. I’ve read some marvelous books that should have been left alone, that had further books tacked on later that didn’t measure up to the first, and somehow manage to tarnish that first book. I didn’t want that to happen to my magical experience with The Shadow of the Wind, so I just ignored the rest of the series for a long time. But then, I found a gorgeous copy of The Labyrinth of the Spirits, the last of the quartet, on sale. I had to buy it for the cover alone, because it just captivated me. But I still didn’t think I intended to read it, or the two books between it and that first novel I had so loved.

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Book Review: The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Book Review: The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins


The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I received an audio copy of this book from the publisher, Macmillan Audio, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Wife Upstairs is an updated, reimagined Jane Eyre. It’s an interesting twist on a classic story, and I’m loving how many such novels have come out recently and how many more are scheduled for publication soon.

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TS’s Top 20 Books Read in 2020

TS’s Top 20 Books Read in 2020


2020 has been such a strange, stressful and complicated year.  I took a one-year sabbatical leave from work from mid-2019 and managed to do quite a bit of travelling for about six months before the world got completely turned upside down.  I’ve read/listen over 120 books this year, 73 of which was completed during the first half when I wasn’t working and the entire world was on lockdown.  Getting back to work during the second half in the midst of a global pandemic and a new challenging role did affect my ability to read and also write reviews on a regular basis.

Despite 2020 being such a watershed/dumpster year, it’s been an incredible one for my reading as I’ve completed a lot books ranging from great to masterpieces.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I’ve added so many books onto my favourites shelf (many of which were from the same series).  If you’re curious/interested, you also 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 five.  The rest, I’ve listed them in the chronological order of when I’ve read them this year.  Almost all of these have been reviewed by me on Novel Notions and Goodreads, albeit some are quite brief.

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Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley


The Guest List by Lucy Foley
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Mysteries are one of those hit-or-miss genres for me. Sometimes I’m able to guess the big twist or outcome or both within the first 100 pages, and then lose my patience with the rest of the narrative and the cast for not getting there faster. Sometimes the author includes wild twists for the sake of sensationalism that come out of left and field couldn’t have been predicted. Both types of mystery novels drive me a little crazy. The Guest List was neither of those. Told in a way that leaves you guessing without the sensationalism and populated with an interesting group of characters, I was invested through the final pages.

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