Book Review: Spellhacker – M. K. England

Book Review: Spellhacker – M. K. England

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Release Date:
January 21st 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

From the author of The Disasters, this genre-bending YA fantasy heist story is perfect for fans of Marie Lu and Amie Kaufman.

In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.

Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.

But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.

Review

Copy of book cover (95)When I read the synopsis for Spellhacker I thought it sounded like a wonderful blend of science fiction and fantasy and I’d been keen to read M. K. England’s other novel The Disasters so I was excited to give this a whirl. I ended up being completely obsessed with this crazy adventure of a heist gone wrong and a group of friends trying to save the day.

The story follows Diz, a teenager orphaned as a result of the infamous spellplague that killed thousands of people. Years later Diz lives in an apartment with best friends Jaesin and Remi and along with techwitch Ania they run a business siphoning maz from the corporation that controls all magic in the city. When their last job ever goes wrong they find themselves on the run for their lives, but is there something more going on than they know?

Spellhacker is a fast paced tale that hooks you in from the very first page and does not let you go till the very end. There’s constant action and adventure as the friends battle to uncover the truth and save their lives. The world building is fantastic and I loved the fresh concept of magic being controlled by a corporation, and citizens have to buy maz in order to make magic. The story is a really fascinating blend of science fiction and fantasy, and honestly I loved every second of it.

One of the things I loved most about this story are the characters. Diz is a wonderful protagonist. She’s brave and stubborn, but she’s also deeply flawed and struggling to cope with the horrors of her past. Mixing her in with Remi, the crazy talented spellcaster who has also contracted the spell plague, and ‘parents’ of the group Jaesin and Ania. They make for a really interesting group and I found it really interesting seeing the group dynamics change as they travel to Jattapore and Diz begins to feel like the outsider. It really added another layer to the story and made the characters feel more realistic.

If you’re looking for a wild ride of a story, with plenty of adventure as well as wonderful characters and diverse representation, this is absolutely a must read. I can’t recommend this highly enough and I’m definitely going to be picking up The Disasters in the near future! 
5 stars

Book Review: The Last Wish – Andzej Sapkowski

Book Review: The Last Wish – Andzej Sapkowski

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Series:
The Witcher 0.5
Release Date: January 31st 1993
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 360
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was gifted a copy of this for my birthday a few years ago
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin. And a cold-blooded killer. His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world. But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good… and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

A collection of short stories introducing Geralt of Rivia, to be followed by the first novel in the actual series, The Blood of Elves. Note that, while The Last Wish was published after The Sword of Destiny, the stories contained in The Last Wish take place first chronologically, and many of the individual stories were published before The Sword of Destiny.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-01-20T172205.612I must admit I was really intrigued about reading The Witcher series, I had played a little bit of the game and the books sounded like something I would totally love so when I got a copy of The Last Wish for my birthday I was super excited to read it. And then of course it lay on my bookshelf for ages, I got distracted and never picked it up. Fast forward to now with all the buzz around the television show and I figured before I dive into the Netflix adaptation, I might just give the first book a go. I’m so completely annoyed at myself for having waited so long to pick these books up, I absolutely loved The Last Wish and I’ve already ordered a copy of Blood of Elves, this is everything you could want from an epic fantasy series.

The Last Wish is actually book 0.5 in The Witcher series and is a collection of short stories introducing the infamous Geralt of Rivia. Each story heralds one of Geralt’s adventures, and gives you a glimpse at his powers and skill as a witcher. He’s a fascinating character and I loved getting to know him and the world that Sapkowski has built. Full to the brim with evil monsters and fascinating creatures, I got completely swept up in these stories. If I can find myself completely hooked after reading a few short chapters of a short story, I can’t wait to read the full length novels.

Geralt is supported by a whole host of brilliant secondary characters – my favourites were Dandelion and Yennifer. Yennifer is definitely someone I want to learn more about and I’m hoping to see more from her in future books. All of the characters felt well fleshed out and the world building was executed incredibly well. I loved the unique and exciting world that Sapkowski and the stories are definitely fast paced and full of action. I’m so pleased I finally decided to pick this one up, because I’m desperate to read the next one. If you’ve played the game or watched the Neflix adaptation I’d definitely recommend picking up the source material – you absolutely won’t regret it. These short stories will leave you hungry for more but at least there’s plenty of books in the series to keep you going.
5 stars

Blog Tour: All the Rage – Cara Hunter

Blog Tour: All the Rage – Cara Hunter

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Series:
DI Adam Fawley #4
Release Date: January 23rd 2020
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 416
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.

DI Fawley investigates, but there’s little he can do without the girl’s co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he’s seen a case like this before?

And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back . . .

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-01-05T203203.131When a young girl is abducted off the street, DI Adam Fawley and his team jump to investigate this horrific incident. The young girl refuses to press charges and doesn’t want to talk to the police. The team get the feeling she’s hiding something – but what could it be? Another girl goes missing and suddenly a case from Fawley’s past is back to haunt him – but could the two be linked and will they find the missing girl before it’s too late?

This is the fourth book in Cara Hunter’s hugely popular DI Fawley series. I’m actually completely new to this series, I haven’t read the other instalments. I was completely hooked on this story and am definitely going back to read books 1-3 but All the Rage can easily be read as a stand alone, and you can easily dive into the books now and go back and read the others without getting lost in the story.

Cara Hunter’s writing style is so addictive and easy to fall into, I got absorbed in this tale so quickly. I loved the mix of formats in the story, there’s tweets, court reports, maps and interview transcripts that are all added in to bring the story to life. It really added another layer to the plot and make me want to turn the pages faster and faster. I also really grew to love the characters in this story – the team are a really interesting mix and I loved that the story gave you the opportunity to see not only their police work and how they cope on the job but also peaks into their home lives.

All the Rage isn’t a small book but I ended up reading it nearly over the course of a single day because I honestly just couldn’t put the book down. The story is a fast paced one and there’s plenty going on in this cleverly executed plot. Hunter has weaved a complex tale with quite a few things going on under the surface. The book also touches on a whole range of subjects from hate crime, revenge, grief, relationships and a whole lot of things in between. All the topics are handled well in Hunter’s writing and the story has so many clever twists and turns that you absolutely will not see coming.

If you’re a fan of fast paced police procedurals with brilliant characters, an unforgettable story and plenty of shock twists, All the Rage should definitely be the next book you pick up.
5 stars
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Blog Tour: The Song of the Sycamore – Edward Cox

Blog Tour: The Song of the Sycamore – Edward Cox

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Release Date:
August 22nd 2019
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 496
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

On the broken world of Urdezha, Wendal Finn died on the hostile plains of the wasteland, one more casualty in the endless war between the city-dwellers and the clansfolk. But now Wendal has returned to his home city of Old Castle, possessed by something he brought back from the wasteland, something old and best left forgotten. The spirits are calling it Sycamore, an ancient entity out to avenge all victims of murder. And in a city like Old Castle, no one is innocent.

With his mind trapped inside a dead body, Wendal can do nothing but watch as Sycamore turns him into a serial killer. Until the magicians take an interest in him. Preserving Wendal’s body and trapping Sycamore inside it, the magicians now have the perfect assassin at their disposal. Whenever they need an enemy removed, they can set the killer loose on Old Castle. Between these moments of horror, Wendal struggles to piece together the remnants of his former life. He wants to know why his wife died while he was fighting in the war, but no one will tell him, no one wants him to know. Left to his own devices, Wendal picks at the scabs that cover the dark secrets of the magicians and reveals a threat to every city on Urdezha.

The clans are massing. A supernatural storm is raging across the wasteland. It has already destroyed one city, and now it is heading for Old Castle. And the only one who might prevent oblivion is the murderous entity who the spirits are calling Sycamore.

Review

Copy of book cover (49)This is my first time reading a book by Edward Cox and I can tell you straight away it will not be my last. The Song of the Song of the Sycamore hooked me from the very beginning, and I could not put it down.

This complex tale tells the story of Wendal, who becomes a casualty of war and dies out in the wasteland. He awakes possessed by a mysterious entity known as Sycamore, a spirit hungry for vengeance. With no way of controlling the spirit Wendal must watch as Sycamore murders and destroys, all the while uncovering the dark secrets that surround the war between the people of the city and the clansfolk.

This is book is exceptionally dark and incredibly creepy. Told from both Wendal and Sycamore’s points of view, I loved getting to see things from both perspectives and Wendal/Sycamore made for a fascinating protagonist. The world building was also brilliantly done in the story and it was easy to dive into this complex world.

The plot was engaging and really kept me hooked from the outset. I almost missed my train stop on more than one occasion as I was so sucked into the story on my commute to work.  The story has plenty of dark moments, murder and action as well as a bit of a mystery surrounding the death of Wendal’s wife. Each layer of the plot was blended together seamlessly and it made for an unputdownable reading experience.

The Song of the Sycamore is definitely one of the most original books I’ve read in a while, and if you’re looking for an action packed story that will keep you on the edge of your seat, this is one for you.
5 stars

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