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The City Stained Red – Sam Sykes

Synopsis:

Long before he was sent to hell, the Aeon known as Khoth-Kapira was the closest thing to a living god the world had ever known. Possessed of a vast intellect, he pioneered many of the wonders that persist in the world that lingered long after he was banished. Nearly every fragment of medical, economic and technological progress that the mortal races enjoyed could be traced back to him. But with his wonders came cruelty beyond measure: industrialized slavery, horrifying experimentations and a rage that would eventually force the world to bow to him.

Now, as Khoth-Kapira stirs the world begins to shudder with disasters yet to come.The epicenter is the city of Cier’Djaal. A religious war between two unstoppable military juggernauts begins to brew. The racial fury among many peoples of the world is about to explode. Demons begin to pour from the shadows at the head of a vicious cult worshipping dark powers.

And Lenk finds himself in the middle once more, his fate and the fate of Khoth-Kapira interlinked as the demon attempts to convince him of his earnestness.

“Your world is breaking around you,” He Who Makes says, “let me fix it. Let me help you. Let me out.”

Review:

Everything I had read about The City Stained Red, stated that this series could be read apart from Sykes’s original seires. My advice… Don’t. There are things that will be quite confusing at first. They do get fleshed out later on, but I do wish I had taken the time to read some of the one or two star reviews. Then, I would have known this. I disagreee with the one and two star reviews, but they do mention that.

I first heard of Sam Sykes via Twitter. After following him for almost a month, I couldn’t wait to pick up something he’d written. I was not disappointed. His quick wit and humor come across well in his novels. I enjoyed having serious moments broken up by slapstick.

His characters are quite the rag-tag bunch. I enjoyed getting to know them all individually. However, I do wish there would have been mention of perspective change, i.e. chapter titles with new perspective’s name. It broke pace when the first thing written was “she” coming out of a male perspective.

It was interesting seeing a male character driven by motivations mainly left to female characters in the past. Lenk is a hopeless romantic in many ways. His desire to see his world changed and his motivations for doing so were all centered around his lady-love, Kataria. When they are apart, he morns the loss, literally.

I also enjoyed the many and diverse battles going on within the city. It seemed very human to have so much going on. Not one major battle (as is the case with most novels/stories) but many small interspersing prejudices and bigotries. Humans don’t like oids, the different factions of the city don’t get along, the many faith’s argue over their differences. It is a “city stained red” in so many ways.

Quotes:

“A pair of the shirtless men drew back the curtains to expose what appeared to be something between a man, a grub, and a pillow that couldn’t quite make up its mind.”

-Sam Sykes, The City Stained Red

“It’s a demon, Dread. What the hell are you hoping to do to it?’

He closed his eyes, drew in a deep breath.

‘Oh, you know.’

When he opened them, they were alive with bright red light.

‘Stuff.”

– Sam Sykes, The City Stained Red

“And a certain level of nonchalance was required ot the woman who may or may not have just inadvertently started a war.”

– Sam Sykes, The City Stained Red

Recommendations:

Black Wolves – Kate Elliot

Beyond Redemption – Michael R. Fletcher

Prince of Thorns – Mark Lawrence

The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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The Legion of Flame – Anthony Ryan

Synopsis:

For centuries, the vast Ironship Trading Syndicate relied on drake blood–and the extraordinary powers it confers to those known as the Blood-blessed–to fuel and protect its empire. But now, a fearsome power has arisen–a drake so mighty that the world will tremble before it.

Rogue Blood-blessed Claydon Torcreek, Syndicate agent Lizanne Lethridge, and ironship captain Corrick Hilemore embark upon perilous quests to chase down clues that offer faint hopes of salvation. As the world burns around them, and the fires of revolution are ignited, these few are the last hope for the empire and for all of civilization.

Copied from Goodreads.

Review:

I sat down to read this novel directly on the heels of the first. I fully expected to love this novel because I had fallen in love with the characters the first-go-round. However, Anthony Ryan gave these characters even more depth and an even bigger story than I had anticipated. 

In book one, we are left with Claydon’s vision as our map for coming events. He meets up with Hilemore and they set off on a journey to save the world. Without giving spoilers, I love how the endings of both novels paralleled each other. It gave me an elevated sense of anticipation for the next novel.

Lizanne’s story takes a seriously unanticipated turn. We get to see her use every skill she has. She proves why she has been selected for missions of highest importance. She has become one of my favorite characters of all time.

The additions of Sirus’ viewpoint was a fantastic addition. It honestly reminded me of Dragon Age’s darkspawn/Archdemon storyline, with the added benefit of seeing the story from the darkspawn’s perspective. I do have to say, I was thrown by his addition at first, but after I realized why he was added it, I truly enjoyed it.

I did not think any fantasy novel was capable of the epic scope and fantastic storyline of Vaelin’s intro novel, Blood Song, but I believe Anthony Ryan has outdone himself. I laughed. I cried. I took this book everywhere I went. 

When does the next one come out again? (Not soon enough)

Quotes:

“On behalf of those not born into a life of useless indolence, I bid you welcome to adulthood.”

– Anthony Ryan, The Legion of Flame

I sense our drake god isn’t altogether happy with today’s butcher’s bill.”

 Anthony Ryan, The Legion of Flame

Recommendations:

The Black Prism – Brent Weeks

Malice – John Gwynne

Age of Myth – Michael J. Sullivan

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Truthwitch – Susan Dennard

Synopsis:

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Copied from Goodreads.

Review:

I was reluctant to pick up this novel, simply because there was SO much hype surrounding it. The last few I’ve done that with turned out to be… Let’s just say, not to my taste. I held onto it for a while as it stared at me from the bookshelf. I’d read another rave review and it would scream “See, see, just pick me up!” My fingers would reach for it and then my brain would scream, “No, don’t do this to yourself again.” But, finally, I gave in.

So, I’m about 40 or so pages in and a little light goes off in my head. These names, certain phrases, they all reminded me of something. Within moments it dawned on me, Dragon Age. This woman is a fan. 

Don’t get me wrong this book is not a Dragon Age fan-fic, nor is it set in the Dragon Age world. I just knew in that moment I was faced with the work of a kindred spirit.

I love how brilliantly these characters intertwine. The twists and turns are carefully woven together. Susan Dennard became a Threadwitch herself with the creation of this novel. Pulling people in and placing them directly in line with one another, throwing them into chaos and seeing the threads change and form. 

I feel like this was an expose on how to weave a story properly. 

Excellent, in every aspect!

Side Note: After finishing this novel, I read Windwitch the next day. I can’t wait for the release of Bloodwitch!

Quotes:

“I hate this. Both the storm and the plan. Why does it have to be ‘we’? Why not just me?”
“Because ‘just me’ isn’t who we are,” Iseult hollered back. “I’ll always follow you, Safi, and you’ll always follow me. Threadsisters to the end.” 
― Susan DennardTruthwitch

“It was the circle of perfect motion. Of the light-bringer and dark-giver, the world-starter and shadow-ender. Of initiation and completion. It was the symbol of the Cahr Awen. Cahr Awen.” 
― Susan DennardTruthwitch
“Who the rut is that Nubrevnan Windwitch? And: He should really learn how to button a shirt.” 
― Susan DennardTruthwitch
” How is that for service? Do you know how many men onboard would kill for the use of a spoon?”
“And do you know,” she retorted, “how many men I can killwith a spoon?” 
― Susan DennardTruthwitch
Recommendations:

Graceling – Kristin Cashore

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

The Iron King – Julie Kagawa

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Age of Myth – Michael J. Sullivan

Synopsis:

What does it mean if the gods can be killed? The first novel in an epic new fantasy series for readers of Brent Weeks, Brandon Sanderson, Peter V. Brett, and Scott Lynch.

Age of Myth inaugurates an original six-book series, and one of fantasy’s finest next-generation storytellers continues to break new ground.

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between men and those they thought were gods changes forever. Now, only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over; the time of rebellion has begun.

(Copied from Goodreads.)

Review:

This book is fantasy at its best.  Sullivan’s characters are all quite likeable, which in the fantasy realm lately hasn’t been the case. The premise is fantastic. 

Anyone who’s read previous reviews of mine knows I am a sucker for a strong female lead, and while many times Persephone doesn’t seem to be the “true lead”, she brings what I need to stay invested in the novel. 

Sullivan also fulfills another need of mine. His writing is beautifully flowing, no excessive rambling about unimportant things or events. This is what causes me to set some fantasy novels aside. Yes, I love this world you’ve created. No, I don’t need a 10 page description of this castle you’ve thought up in your head. Some fantasy authors need to remember their key audience already has an imagination, hence the reading of fantasy in the first place. One of the first things people tell a new author is ” show, don’t tell”… But that’s a rant for another time and another blog.

I was also completely satisfied with the ending of this novel… No spoilers… That is another rare thing in the fantasy realm. I love when the author can wrap up book one cleanly and still give you much anticipation for the coming novels, (see, The Waking Fire).

Quotes:

“I swear, the reason for full moons is so the gods can more clearly see the mischief they create. 

—THE BOOK OF BRIN”
Recommendations:

The Waking Fire – Anthony Ryan

The Warded Man – Peter V. Brett

The Black Prism – Brent Weeks

The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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The Waking Fire- Anthony Ryan 

Synopsis:

The Waking Fire is set in a vibrant new world where the blood of drakes—creatures similar to dragons—is valued beyond reckoning, and can be distilled into elixirs that grant fearsome powers to those who are “blood-blessed.” The novel follows an unregistered blood-blessed as he searches for an elusive variety of drake so potent, its capture would mean unrivalled riches; the second in command of a blood-burning ironclad ship; and a young woman in a lifelong contract to a trading syndicate, whose espionage mission places her on the front lines of a newly declared war. As empires clash and arcane mysteries reveal themselves, these characters are tested again and again and soon discover that the fate of the world rests on their shoulders.

The Draconis Memoria is a remarkable new epic fantasy series with steampunk flavor, full of the phenomenal worldbuilding and non-stop action that have gained Anthony Ryan a global fan base.

(Copied from Goodreads)

Review:

It is no secret that Anthony Ryan is my favorite author. In fact, I’m pretty sure even he knows that (yay, Twitter). His Raven’s Shadow trilogy is the best fantasy series I’ve read to date. So, when this book came up on NetGalley, I jumped on it. I was mildly heartbroken when I didn’t receive a copy and posted about it on Twitter. A few weeks later, this lovely thing came in the mail.

I literally squeed and danced around my living room when he said he would send me a copy! Now, let’s end the fangirling adventure and get to the review.

This book is part Indiana Jones, part Pirates of the Caribbean. Add some drakes and you have all elements of this novel.

There is no one better than Anthony Ryan at setting a scene. He paints his landscapes expertly. I have read a few other authors (who shall remain nameless) that take their description way too far. So much so, that I completely lose interest. Examples could be given, but that is not necessary. Ryan’s descriptions are always deliberate. They set the tone, the pacing, and they allow the reader to be immersed, rather than overwhelmed. My favorite examples, within this novel, are the naval battles. I feel as if I am in the midst of the action.

I think my favorite part of this novel is how the characters all fell together in the end. I won’t give any spoilers, just know, you will be satisfied with how it ends. I love a good cliffhanger, but some writers just leave you going “what?!?” 

Another thing I loved was Anthony Ryan’s presentation of a strong female character. I have read many male writers who fall short in their female leads. Ryan has never let me down on this front. While Lizanne may not be the main character, she is still an integral part. She is still emotionally driven but she doesn’t let it control her every move. 

I have recommended this and “Blood Song” to some many people that I have truly lost count.

Quotes:

“Caution favours no-one in battle,” 
― Anthony RyanThe Waking Fire

“A White breathing fire on a group of Spoiled kneeling in obvious supplication. An egg bathed in fire and cracking open to reveal the screaming infant Black inside, the flames fading to reveal an old man in a robe staring down at the fledgling drake with the expression of a proud father.” 
― Anthony RyanThe Waking Fire

“True change has never been bloodless.” 
― Anthony RyanThe Waking Fire

Recommendations:

Blood Song – Anthony Ryan

Age of Myth – Michael J. Sullivan 

The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson 

The Warden Man – Peter V. Brett

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Graveminder- Melissa Marr

grave

Synopsis:

Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville. While growing up, Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual at every funeral: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words, “Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”


Now Maylene is gone and Bek must return to the hometown—and the man—she abandoned a decade ago, only to discover that Maylene’s death was not natural . . . and there was good reason for her odd traditions. In Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected—and beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D. From this dark place the deceased will return if their graves are not properly minded. And only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk.

(Copied from Goodreads)

Review:

When I heard Melissa Marr was writing an adult novel, I was thrilled. I have been a fan of her Wicked Lovely series for quite some time. She is great at world building. She gives the reader just enough to keep them hooked. Her plot twists could make any writer envious. So, I went into this novel with quite high expectations.

While in some ways this novel delivered, in some ways it left me cringing. Let’s hit the good points first.

I absolutely loved the premise of this novel. I have never read anything quite like it. The “Graveminder” is not a new concept. Many religions honor the dead with similar practices.  However, the addition of the combined worlds of the living and the dead took on a new twist in this novel. Not only is the “graveminder” tending to the dead, she is a conduit between worlds.

 The connection between the Graveminder and the Undertaker was interesting. I enjoyed seeing the push and pull of these two characters. However, it allowed the romance between the two to take over the story. 

I also loved the idea of a town “under contract” to some unknown entity. The townsfolk cannot leave, and if they do, they are drawn back almost inexplicably. 

Now, the parts I couldn’t grasp. Mr. D makes no sense to me. Perhaps he is the Devil… Hence D. Perhaps he is a demon (again, D). Perhaps he is just a powerful spirit (aka, Death). There were too many unanswered questions surrounding this character. He vys for the Graveminder, why? She has an inexplicable connection to him, why? 

The scene that bothered me most and made the least sense was the “dinner” at D’s. It just seemed very random.

Quote:

“Some mortals–like you–are already half in love with death. It is who you are, and I’ll not make it harder on you by telling you things you don’t need to know. Ask me again when you die. Then I’ll tell you everything, anything, nothing.” 
― Melissa MarrGraveminder
Recommendations:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Wicked Lovely – Melissa Marr

The Forest of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan

Fallen – Lauren Kate

 

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh

wrath

Synopsis:

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

*Copied from Goodreads.com

Review:

This book captivated me from the very beginning. A strong female lead with values and ideals that get shaken to the core. This is a reimagining of A Thousand and One Nights. I don’t know what I was expecting from this novel but I had heard so much about it that I just had to pick it up. Shazi has become one of my new favorite characters. I have the next novel ready to go.

Favorite Quotes:

“Love is—a shade of what I feel.”  ― Renee Ahdieh, The Wrath & the Dawn

“So you would have me throw Shazi to the wolves?”
“Shazi?” Jalal’s grin widened. “Honestly, I pity the wolves.”
Renee Ahdieh, The Wrath & the Dawn

“Her conviction wavered further. “I told you; don’t try to own me.”
“I don’t want to own you.”

She swiveled her neck to meet his gaze. “Then never speak of sending me away again. I am not yours to do with as you will.”

Khalid’s features smoothed knowingly. “How right you are. You are not mine.” He dropped his palm from the door. “I am yours.”
Renee Ahdieh, The Wrath & the Dawn

“So you intend to go through life never loving anyone? Just … things?”
“No. I’m looking for something more.”
“More than love?”
“Yes.”
“Is it not arrogant to think you deserve more, Khalid Ibn al-Rashid?”
“Is it so arrogant to want something that doesn’t change with the wind? That doesn’t crumble at the first sign of adversity?”
“You want something that doesn’t exist. A figment of your imagination.”
“No. I want someone who sees beneath the surface-someone who completes the balance. An equal.”
“And how will you know when you’ve found this elusive someone?” Shahrzad retorted.
“I suspect she will be like air. Like knowing how to breathe.”
Renee Ahdieh, The Wrath & the Dawn

Recommendations:

Court of Fives (Court of Fives #1) by Kate Elliott

Rook by Sharon Cameron

Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1) by Rae Carson

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2016 in Book Reviews

 

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