Book Review: The Wall of Storms

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Rating Five Star

Title: The Wall of Storms

Author: Ken Liu

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Series? Yes, 2 of 3.

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Harper Voyager Australia in exchange for an honest review.

NOTE:  The following review will contain some spoilers for The Grace of Kings, the first novel within this series.

After reading The Grace of Kings, I knew that Ken Liu has changed the game for epic fantasy. With The Wall of Storms, he continues to push on the boundaries of expectations and raised the bar even higher.

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The Dandelion Dynasty was established within the first novel, with the text raising some tough questions about the philosophy of governance in times of war. In The Wall of Storms, the book take these ideas one step further by discussing economic and infrastructural development in the time of peace. While that may all sound like cumbersome and tedious reading, The Wall of Storms manages to be a page-turner despite its hefty length and ambitious themes. It’s no secret that I adore Ken Liu’s writing, and The Wall of Storms has become my favourite of his published books. Continue reading “Book Review: The Wall of Storms”

Book Review: Red Sister

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Title: Red Sister

Author: Mark Lawrence

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Series? Yes, 1 of 3

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Disclaimer: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the Harper Voyager Australia in exchange for an honest review.

 

From its very first lines, Red Sister had me hooked and wholly invested. It promised warrior nuns, political and religious intrigue, along with a cast filled to the brim with complex ladies. Red Sister delivered on all counts. I especially loved its exploration on relationships between females, from friendship, to mentorship, to rivalry.

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It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent, Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.

The first lines of Red Sister are some of the most captivating I’ve read in several years, and it sets the tone for the entire book. Mark Lawrence’s writing style is meticulous and vivid, his sentences pulse with life and intrigue. In particular, I love the way he writes action scenes – I’ve admitted several times in the past that I am not a particularly visual reader when it comes to fight scenes, but Lawrence’s writing are cinematic even to someone like myself.  Continue reading “Book Review: Red Sister”

Book Review: Crooked Kingdom

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Title: Crooked Kingdom

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 5/5 stars

Series? Yes. 2 of 2.

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Note: This post will contain spoilers for the prequel, Six of Crows. It will be completely spoiler-free for Crooked Kingdom.

Six of Crows was one of my favourite releases of last year, making Crooked Kingdom my #1 anticipated book of 2016. The conclusion to this epic duology delivered in every way possible. Crooked Kingdom enthralled and delighted, even while some of the content reduced me to tears. Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Jesper, and Wylan will forever be marked as one of my most beloved fictional crew.

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Graphic by me. Kaz Character Art by Kevin Wada.

No Mourners, No Funerals

First, let’s talk characters! The friendship forged between our beloved six outcasts remain my favourite thing (in a very long list) about this series. Not only do the characters have meaningful, heartbreaking relationships with their respective romantic partners – they also share beautiful moments with platonic members of the crew. Crooked Kingdom is filled with character bonding, as well as interaction and development within the numerous friendships within the main group. Continue reading “Book Review: Crooked Kingdom”

Recs: Diverse SFF Short Stories

Diverse SFF Short Stories

If you’ve been on Twitter this past week, you’ll notice that the community is abuzz with discussions on representation in fantasy. I can barely believe that it’s still up for debate. I am continually disappointed that while white and heteronormative narrative continues to dominate the genre, we still get people leaping to its defense when someone questions about the absence of diversity.

Somehow, there’s an idea that diverse fiction is a genre unto itself, that we should not demand to see ourselves reflected in popular fiction. In my mind, good fiction should be relatable and to some extent, it should accurately reflect the real world – even if it’s a fantasy.

To soothe my anger at the twitter debate, I went on Tor’s website to read through several of the SFF short stories they publish. I love the fiction published on this site because i) it’s free! and ii) it’s always quality and pushes to be inclusive. At the end of the day, the best way to support inclusive stories is to read them and shout your love to the world about them. So here’s a list of great SFF stories you can enjoy by just clicking on the link!


THE WEIGHT OF MEMORIES by Cixin Liu / translated by Ken Liu

We made a terrible mistake in thinking that replicating memories was sufficient to replicate a person.

Cixin Liu took the world by storm with The Three-Body Problem, one of the first Chinese science fiction to be translated into English. I love how he uses daring ideas on science, and reapplies it to answer questions about humanity. This short story about engineered and inherited memories between a mother and her unborn child captures his style perfectly. Ken Liu delivers a smooth and technically impressive translation, as always. Continue reading “Recs: Diverse SFF Short Stories”

Book Review: Nevernight & Recap Of The Melbourne Book Launch

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4-star

Title: Nevernight

Author: Jay Kristoff

Series? Yes. 1 of 3.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Harper Voyager Australia in exchange for an honest review.

I posted a list of ‘5 Reasons You Should Preorder Nevernight’ a couple of months back, so it should come as no surprise that I absolutely adored the book. Nevernight has just the right blend of nostalgia and fresh, original elements. It dares to go dark places, but is also never afraid to poke fun at itself and its genre, making it one of the best fantasy I’ve read this year.

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The book starts off with a bang, seamlessly mixing sex and death in a memorable opening sequence. It’s a hint of things to come, as Nevernight is filled to the brim with both lust and love, violence and despair, and ceaseless heartstopping action. Within the book itself, Jay Kristoff also employs a myriad of different story telling techniques, from occasional changes in point of views and narration, to the use of those clever little footnotes. Like the story, the craft employed within this book is unpredictable and ever-changing. Despite employing all of these narrative techniques, the book never becomes confusing, and the narrative voice is usually a perfect fit for a the scene at hand. Continue reading “Book Review: Nevernight & Recap Of The Melbourne Book Launch”

Pre-Release Thoughts: 5 Reasons You Should Preorder Nevernight

I want to start a new blog series focusing on pre-release hype and what I think of the book in question. This is because I sometimes get the opportunity to read ARCs months before publication date and I have to wait entirely too long to talk about them, and forget stuff along the way. I will always post full reviews closer to the date, just think of these posts as a taster.

The first in this series will look at Nevernight!

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Nevernight by Jay Kristoff will be released August 9th (US) and August 11th (UK/Aus)

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Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book from Harper Voyager Australia in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way contributed the intensity of my fangirling.

Hype Met? EFF YES!

I finished this book earlier on in the month and enjoyed it so much, I thought I’d write a short post urging you all to i) read it immediately if you have access to the ARC and ii) go and preorder it, because you’re worth it. I buddy-read this book with the wonderful Aila, which made the experience all the more enjoyable. I’ll write a full review closer to the date of release. Continue reading “Pre-Release Thoughts: 5 Reasons You Should Preorder Nevernight”

Book Review: The Lyre Thief

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4-star

Title: The Lyre Thief

Author: Jennifer Fallon

Rating: 4/5 stars

Series? Yes.

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Harper Voyager Australia in exchange for an honest review.

Looking for an immersive fantasy with female centric stories, filled with court intrigues and a smattering of romance? Look no more because The Lyre Thief has got you covered. Jennifer Fallon elaborates on her existing series and adds a multitude of dimensional, relatable characters in the process with this new series.

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Admittedly, The Lyre Thief is my entry into Jennifer Fallon’s expansive world. She has previously laid down a lot of worldbuilding and history with previous series like The Demon Child trilogy and The Hythrun Chronicles. If you’ve read these series in the past, there’s undoubtedly a layer of the book only long time fans can appreciate. Fortunately, I was not confused at all during the read – as Fallon did a great job of easing her reader into this vast universe. The concepts of gods and various court politics at play and introduced slowly – in fact, I did not realise I was reading a new addition to a pre-existing series until I read the blurb. Most of this is because the events in The Lyre Thief follows a fresh cast of characters and different setting to previous entries in the series. Continue reading “Book Review: The Lyre Thief”

Book Review: A Gathering Of Shadows

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5star

Title: A Gathering Of Shadows

Author: V. E. Schwab

Series? Yes, 1 of 3.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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This review contains spoilers for the first book of the series: A Darker Shade of Magic.

A Gathering of Shadows was one of my most anticipated release of 2016. Its predecessor, A Darker Shade of Magic, was one of the first books I reviewed on this blog and a top ten read from last year. Victoria Schwab is back in fine form in this sequel – once again giving us banter, heartstopping action, and Lila Bard – with more swagger than ever. Although I wish our main characters developed more depth, I can’t argue too much as the book was thoroughly entertaining.

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Vector of the warriors by freevector.com used under CC License, graphics by me :D!

“She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.”

It’s no secret that my favourite character in this series is Lila Bard. She’s quite the polarising figure, with reviewers either loving or hating her – and to be fair, I would find her incredibly obnoxious if we met in real life. However, as a fictional character, I love her bull-headed selfishness and penchant for showmanship. Lila Bard fights with all her extensive might to be different, to buck against everyone’s expectations, to be more. With her mix of grand ambitions, coupled with the inability to keep a low profile – Lila is quite unique amongst fantasy’s offering of noble-hearted protagonist. She speaks in one liner, she weaves songs and superstition about herself, she seems to think she’s invincible, she keeps insisting she’s ‘not like most girls’ – in other words, she’s one flawed heroine. However, Lila does it all in such style, I can’t help but be smitten. Continue reading “Book Review: A Gathering Of Shadows”

Book Review: Emperor Of The Eight Islands

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4-star

Title: Emperor Of The Eight Islands

Author: Lian Hearn

Series? Yes. 1 of 2.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review.

Lian Hearn returns in top form with Emperor Of The Eight Islands. Once again, she seamlessly weaves Japanese myth and history into a brand new tale. This is a first in a series, and it features a sprawling epic, with much of the novel feeling like a prelude to an even grander story. I am already clamouring for more.

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Your life is not your own. You will die to one life and rise to another, to become what you are meant to be.

Continue reading “Book Review: Emperor Of The Eight Islands”

Book Review: Passenger

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3star

Title: Passenger

Author:  Alexandra Bracken

Series? Yes. 1 of 3.

Rating:  3.5/5 stars

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I received a review copy of this book from HarperCollins Australia in exchange for an honest review.

Passenger and I had a good start, but the slowpacing and directionless plot lost me towards the end. Nonetheless, I could recommend this book based on the merits of the well-developed characters alone.

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Touted as one of the most awaited time travel release this year, it’s little wonder that Passenger struggled to live up to immense expectations – such is the curse of a hyped book. The mythology behind the time travel is vague, with protagonists leaping through wrinkles in time that allow them to transcend spatial temporal boundaries. There are no apparent rules which dictates where the portal are or where they may lead. Our leads haphazardly uses musical notes to locate these wrinkles in the fabric of the universe – poetic, yet admittedly unpractical. Continue reading “Book Review: Passenger”