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Blackwing – Ed McDonald

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Synopsis:

Set on the ragged edge of a postapocalyptic frontier, Blackwing is a gritty fantasy debut about a man’s desperate battle to survive his own dark destiny…

Nothing in the Misery lasts…

Under a cracked and wailing sky, the Misery is a vast and blighted expanse, created when the Engine, the most powerful weapon in the world, was unleashed against the immortal Deep Kings. Across the wasteland, teeming with corrupted magic and malevolent wraiths, the Deep Kings and their armies are still watching—and still waiting.

Ryhalt Galharrow is no stranger to the Misery. The bounty hunter journeys to a remote outpost, armed for killing both men and monsters, and searching for a mysterious noblewoman. He finds himself in the middle of a shocking attack by the Deep Kings, one that should not be possible. Only a fearsome show of power from the very woman he is seeking saves him.

Once, long ago, he knew the woman well, and together they stumble onto a web of conspiracy that threatens to unmake everything they hold dear and end the fragile peace the Engine has provided. Galharrow is not ready for the truth about the blood he’s spilled and the gods he’s supposed to serve…

Copied from Goodreads
Review:
Galharrow is the ultimate anti-hero. He is a take no shit, hold no punches kind of guy, who realizes he is going to have to do something to save his people. His gritty personality, coupled with his determination, make him one of the most likable characters I have read to date.
The Misery… I am just going to say this… Can we PLEASE have a movie? Pretty please.
McDonald’s description of this world is amazing. I could picture each nuance in his landscapes from blades of grass that were as sharp as glass to mazes of ruts blown into the surface of the world.
His creativity blew my mind. The Deep Kings, the monsters he presented, the way magic is filtered through the moonlight.
This is easily one of the best novels I have ever read. I am thrilled this book has a #1 because that means there is more!
Quotes:
“I saw you stand,” I said. “Saw your courage, back at Twelve. Saw the steel in your will, the power you command. You say there’s nothing of woman about you? You aren’t some painted vase, delicate and useless. You’re a fucking lioness. The strongest damn thing that ever lived. There’s nothing of you but woman.”
“The world is a cruel mother, a matron of darkness, selfishness, greed, and misery. For most, their time suckling at her breast is naught but a scramble through stinging, tearing briars before a naked, shameful collapse as the flesh gives out. And yet in the bright eyes of every newborn, there lies a spark, a potential for goodness, the possibility of a life worth living. That spark deserves its chance. And though most of them will turn out to be as worthless as the parents who sired them, while the cruelty of the earth will tell them to release their innocence and join in the drawing of daggers, every now and then one manages to clutch to its beauty and refuses to release it into the dark.”  ― Ed McDonaldBlackwing
Recommendations:
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Posted by on October 20, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Stealing Snow – Danielle Paige

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Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric—but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent…when Bale, her only love, turns violent.

Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away—dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking—if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.

Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all.

Copied from Goodreads.

Review:

This is a retelling of The Snow Queen, by Hans Christian Andersen.

I absolutely loved the beginning of this novel. It opens up in a mental institution, where Snow dubs the medication she is taking, her dwarves. Each medication she is given has a certain effect, even with one she is slightly allergic to and makes her sneeze. It was a great twist to the tale.

The innocence of Snow in this novel isn’t as pure in this retelling. While most have Snow with a sweet disposition and sheer gullibility, Paige gives us a harder, more jaded Snow. She is innocent of the world but harbors inner demons. I think this gives readers a more believable character, or maybe, a more relateable character.

As with most fairy tales, romance takes center stage in this retelling. Snow doesn’t even know the world of her past exists, until her beloved Bale is pulled through a magical mirror and into another realm. The same night a stranger appears in her bedroom, telling her where Bale has gone. She follows this strangers instructions to a tree that has been haunting her dreams. She crosses through the portal and every step of the way, she tries to find people to help her reach Bale.

However, this does not stop her from making a connection with two other boys during her journey. Kai, who never acts like he wants anything to do with her, until he plants one on her in the heat of the moment, and Jagger, the orderly from her dreams.

This novel takes the love triangle trope and gives us even more. It is apparent that Snow is looking for human connection in any form but it causes others to view her need for connection as wanting more.

I had heard many good things about her other series Dorothy Must Die, and I am now super excited to pick that one up as well, but this was an impulse buy… Just look at that cover 🙂

Quotes:

“…this boy I had known for less than a heartbeat, was the boy of my dreams. Only my dreams were nightmares.” ― Danielle PaigeStealing Snow

“I don’t know who you are. You hide your real faces from one another. How is that living? I don’t want to hide my scars, I wish I didn’t have magic and I’d rather dance with my feet on the ground! I don’t want to live in a dream- I just want to live. Like a normal person. And I want to feel things for free.” ― Danielle PaigeStealing Snow

Recommendations:

Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles, #1) by Gena Showalter

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) by Victoria Aveyard

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1) by Marissa Meyer

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1) by Renee Ahdieh

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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October = Horror

My favorite month/holiday is forthcoming. I am excited and ready to pursue the realm of Horror once again. This used to be the only genre I would read. My mother is a huge Stephen King fan and I grew up on the movies based on his works (excited for the It remake). I watched Tales From the Crypt, my favorite movie for years was Demon Knight (Ahh, Billy Zane), followed closely by The Craft. As a child Goosebumps (along with, Are You Afraid of the Dark?) was my go-to followed by Fear Street. When I got older, I was drawn to even darker works. That being said, I am truly difficult to scare. Now, I search and search for something even remotely capable.

Below is my list of Horror books that came close, in no particular order:

10. The Omen

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9. The Woman in Black

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8. The Ritual

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7. The Best of H. P. Lovecraft

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6. The Child Thief

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5. The Darkest Powers Series

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4. Let the Right One In

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3. The Vanishing

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2. The Terror

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1. The Hellfire Club

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Again, these are in no particular order, just my top 10. I do have a young-adult series in here and I would encourage any horror fan to pick it up. There are some moments where I was even taken aback. This series played on my particular fears.

What are your favorite Horror novels? I’d love to add to my collection.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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The 4 Books I am Always Reading

I saw a post on Book Riot with this exact title. I was intrigued and inspired. The author of the post stated the types of books she always has at hand, and I realized there are four types of books I always have on hand as well. I decided it would be fun to share my four with you.

Original post here.

1. NetGalley e-book

I read for NetGalley. This is a site where bloggers can get access to ARC’s of books and/or read and review the books shared on the site. It is a wonderful way to find new voices, get your hands on books you love early or find a way to advance your blog and the author’s reach by having advanced reviews upon release. I am always reading one and since they come in e-book, I always have it on me.

2. Audio Book

Next is my Audible listen. Audio books are the easiest way to get my reading goals in for the year. I have come across some great voices in audio books. The performances can make a huge difference. A good delivery and a great novel, there is no better combination.

3. My TBR Clean Out

I have a TBR shelf filled with books that I have yet to read. These are the books I have been longing to read for a while. Sometimes I just randomly pick one up, sometimes I follow a list.

4. Book Club Read

I run The Gothic Novel Book Club on Goodreads. We are a very active bunch and always choose two new books each month. We love all things Gothic and read everything from the most loved Classics to genuine Horror. We tend to focus on the paranormal, but all Gothic novels are up for nomination.

Some others find their way into my reads and I can be reading as many as seven books at a time, but I always have these four at hand.

Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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The Black Prism – Brent Weeks

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Synopsis:

Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: Seven years to achieve seven impossible goals.

But when Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.

Copied from Goodreads

Review:

I have been a fan of Brent Weeks for some time now. His Night Angel Trilogy is one of my favorite Fantasy series. Brent Weeks is a master world builder. His vision for his worlds play out through the story. Little nuggets of lore, scene and atmosphere are dropped along the way. In this novel, we see him build a world through the eyes of an adolescent, an all-powerful mage and a military woman. He is able to bring certain nuances within the world to the forefront in each telling. THIS is how you make multiple perspective work!

I absolutely love that one of his lead characters is a fairly pudgy boy with no real understanding of the world around him. Kip is an endearing character for many reasons but making him fat and clumsy (in words and in action) make him an unexpected hero. I adore this. So many times we see the hero in a story and say to ourselves “Of course they will win. Look at what they can do.” Kip is not so easily thrown into that category.

We are given a “hero” with those qualities in Gavin, The Prism. However, Gavin is not quite what he seems to be. Early on, Weeks ensures you are drawn to Gavin, that you like him and that you believe him to be a hero of legend. However, as events unfold, you see Gavin is not quite the hero you thought he was. His story takes turn after unexpected turn throughout the course of the novel.

One other thing I loved, and honestly I don’t know how he did it so well, was his explanation of a woman going through menses. I know it seems odd to find this episode to be a favorite, but come on, he had to have a woman’s insight here. It was so well thought out and had me going “Damn, straight” that I was checking the cover to make sure I was still reading a book written by a man (not really). Weeks simply puts that much thought into his characters and I love it!!

I always love when a novel keeps me guessing until the end, however, the ending of this novel you see coming a mile away. It is foreshadowed many times throughout the course of the novel, but I was okay with this because there were so many twists and turns throughout that it didn’t matter when it came to the end. I knew it was coming and still found it enthralling to the last page.

This will be joining the ranks of my absolute favorite novels.

Quotes:

“You might want to think twice before you try to use a man’s conscience against him. It may turn out he doesn’t have one.” ― Brent WeeksThe Black Prism

“Will covers a multitude of flaws, just as love covers a multitude of sins.” ― Brent WeeksThe Black Prism

“You have to be a little bad to make history.” ― Brent WeeksThe Black Prism

“When you don’t know what to do, do what’s right and do what’s in front of you. But not necessarily what’s right in front of you.” ― Brent WeeksThe Black Prism

“At some point, you have to decide not merely what you’re going to believe, but how you’re going to believe. Are you going to believe in people, or in ideas or in Orcholam? With your heart, or with your head? Will you believe what’s in front of you, or in what you think you know? There are some things you think you know that are lies. I can’t tell you what those are, and I’m sorry for that.” ― Brent WeeksThe Black Prism

“I was a bad child. Fortunately, I’ve come a long way since then. Now I’m a bad man.” ― Brent WeeksThe Black Prism

Recommendations:

The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria, #1) by Anthony Ryan

The Warded Man (Demon Cycle, #1) by Peter V. Brett

Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire, #1) by Michael J. Sullivan

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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A Full List of My Recommendations

I often have people request recommendations from me. I absolutely love giving them. This is one of my great passions in life, introducing people to their next favorite novel. I read nearly every genre out there and I try to get to know a person’s likes before giving a recommendation. So, with that in mind, I decided to create a full list of my “must-reads”.

*Note: If I am recommending the first in a series, I am recommending the entire series.

Fantasy:

Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow, #1) by Anthony Ryan

The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria, #1) by Anthony Ryan

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Shadows (Night Angel, #1) by Brent Weeks

Blackwing (Ravens’ Mark #1) by Ed McDonald

Wizard’s First Rule (Sword of Truth, #1) by Terry Goodkind

The Warded Man (Demon Cycle, #1) by Peter V. Brett

The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1) by Joe Abercrombie

*Note: While this is my favorite genre, it is still fairly new to me. I have only been reading fantasy in the last few years, so I realize this list is far from complete. I will add to it as I read more.

Urban Fantasy:

Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1) by Kim Harrison

Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #1) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Darkfever (Fever, #1) by Karen Marie Moning

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1) by Jim Butcher

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1) by Darynda Jones

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld, #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1) by Charlaine Harris

The Scent of Shadows (Signs of the Zodiac, #1) by Vicki Pettersson

Paranormal Romance:

Fantasy Lover (Dark-Hunterverse #1) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Goddess of the Sea (Goddess Summoning, #1) by P.C. Cast

Morrigan’s Cross (Circle Trilogy, #1) by Nora Roberts

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1) by J.R. Ward

The Warlord Wants Forever (Immortals After Dark #1) by Kresley Cole

A Girl’s Guide to Vampires (Dark Ones #1) by Katie MacAlister

Young Adult:

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1) by Marissa Meyer

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1) by Richelle Mead

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1) by Renee Ahdieh

Mystic (Mystic, #1) by Jason Denzel

Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1) by Kresley Cole

Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1) by Susan Dennard

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) by Victoria Aveyard

Rot & Ruin (Rot & Ruin, #1) by Jonathan Maberry

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1) by Laini Taylor

The Iron King (The Iron Fey, #1) by Julie Kagawa

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1) by Libba Bray

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare

My Soul to Lose (Soul Screamers, #0.5) by Rachel Vincent

Fiction:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Firefly Lane (Firefly Lane, #1) by Kristin Hannah

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

These are the genres I read the most, below are a few from other genres that I don’t read often.

The Burning Times by Jeanne Kalogridis

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, #1) by Janet Evanovich

Tin Men by Christopher Golden

Zero World by Jason M. Hough

Artemis by Andy Weir … due out in November

I could go on and on about my favorite books but these are the one’s I always recommend to people. There are others in my favorites list that I didn’t list, simply because I tend to like darker things than most. And you will see many obvious choices (i.e., Harry Potter) missing, mainly because I’m just going to assume most people have already read them.

I hope you enjoyed this list!

Happy Reading!

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Uprooted – Naomi Novik

Synopsis:

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Copied from Goodreads.

Review:

I am so glad that I purchased the audio book version of this novel. Had I not, some of the names would have thrown me.

Agnieszka is the type of character I love to read about. She is clumsy and can not seem to keep herself clean, the epitome of a tom-boy. She is determined and a bit self-righteous, but that always makes for fun character development.

I loved the constant back-and-forth between her and “The Dragon”. He is seen as an all-knowing, all-powerful being, yet she pushes him to see things her way, to do things her way.

I loved the moments they shared while performing mutual magic. The bond between the two continued to grow and develop, even as both fought it.

I am usually not big on romance stories, but the way this one played out left much more story to be explored outside of a budding romance.

The Wood was an amazing aspect of this story. I was intrigued and at times a little terrified at what it represented. I needed to know what this corruption was and where it came from. I needed to see how they planned to vanquish it. With each step they took to combat it and with each new introduction of the forms the corruption could take, I found myself at the edge of my seat.

This novel was a thrilling read from beginning to end. The novel never goes where you expect it to. I love books that keep me guessing.

Quotes:

“If you don’t want a man dead, don’t bludgeon him over the head repeatedly.”
― Naomi NovikUprooted

“What an unequaled gift for disaster you have.”
― Naomi NovikUprooted

“Magic was singing in me, through me; I felt the murmur of his power singing back that same song.”
― Naomi NovikUprooted

Recommendations:

Black Wolves (Black Wolves, #1) by Kate Elliott

Wake of Vultures (The Shadow, #1) by Lila Bowen

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Shadow and Bone (Shadow and Bone, #1) by Leigh Bardugo

 

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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