Book Review: The Unspoken Name – A. K. Larkwood

Book Review: The Unspoken Name – A. K. Larkwood

BOOK REVIEW - 2020-02-12T180706.446
Series:
The Serpent Gates #1
Release Date: February 11th 2020
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

Review

Copy of book cover (96)Epic fantasy on the grandest scale, The Unspoken Name is a bloody brilliant read and I didn’t want it to end.

The story follows Csorwe, Chosen Bride of the Unspoken. She knows how her life will end. On the allotted day, she will enter the mountain and sacrifice herself to the god known only as the Unspoken One. When that day comes and Csorwe is given the opportunity to live she takes it. Her new destiny? To help mysterious wizard Sethennai overthrow an empire and reclaim his title.

One of the things I loved most about this book is how richly detailed it is. There’s so much research about the many worlds Csorwe visits, the people, places and religions. Every aspect of this story was so well fleshed out and it was so easy to dive into this vivid and richly imaginative world. The world building is excellent and the story is well plotted and cleverly executed. Despite the many worlds and many gods the story never got confusing and it was so easy to understand the systems Larkwood has built within the story.

The characters were really fascinating and I loved Csorwe so much. She’s a really interesting protagonist and I enjoyed seeing her grow from appointed sacrifice to something so much more. There is so much character depth in each of the characters in this story. There’s also some diverse representation within the novel too. The romance was so sweet and I really enjoyed watching the relationship evolve (I won’t say which characters because I don’t want to spoil this wonderful book for anyone).

The Unspoken Name is a brilliantly addictive tale of vengeance, magic, relationships and so much more. If you’re looking for a new binge worthy fantasy read, this is definitely a must buy. Your only trouble will be counting down the days until the next book is released.
5 stars

Blog Tour: The Foundling – Stacey Halls

Blog Tour: The Foundling – Stacey Halls

BOOK REVIEW - 2020-02-09T230719.281
Release Date:
February 20th 2020
Publisher: Manilla Press
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

London, 1754.

Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why. Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

From the bestselling author of The Familiars, and set against the vibrant backdrop of Georgian London, The Foundling explores families, secrets, class, equality, power and the meaning of motherhood.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-02-02T170148.607The Familiars by Stacey Halls was one of my favourite books of 2019 so when I heard she was releasing a new book I was incredibly excited. The story follows a young woman named Bess, who is forced to leave her newborn baby at the foundling hospital to be looked after. After six years of scrimping and saving, she returns to reclaim the illegitimate child, only to be told that the child was reclaimed the day after she was given to the hospital by Bess herself. Bess goes on a search to discover who has taken her daughter, and for what purpose. Meanwhile not far from the hospital lives the widow of a merchant who has become a recluse since the death of her husband. When a family friend persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her young daughter, it turns her world upside down and forces her to confront the truths from her past.

This beautifully told story captured me from the very begin and I very quickly became engrossed in the tale of Bess and Alexandra. Halls has a really gorgeous and vivid writing style and it was so easy just to sink into the story and be completely absorbed for hours on end. I loved the setting, it was so vibrant and really came alive in Halls writing. The sights and sounds of Georgian London were definitely brought to life in this story and it made for a very realistic and well researched read.

The two main characters in this book are both incredibly fascinating and I really enjoyed the way the book was split into parts, allowing you to see things from both women’s perspectives. They’re both very different people, but both have dealt with some really difficult things. The plot was cleverly weaved and well executed and towards the end I definitely found myself turning pages faster and faster to find out how it was going to end.

I loved that there were aspects of the story that were true to life – such as the foundling hospital (something I had never heard of before – and that the story explored issues that weren’t talked about at the time, like mental health and grief. The story is definitely a dark and atmospheric read and if you’ve read The Familiars I would absolutely recommend picking this one up. The Foundling is an intricately told story of motherhood, secrets and class and honestly I couldn’t put it down. I can’t recommend this highly enough and I can’t wait to see what Stacey Halls writes next.
5 stars
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Book Review: A Queen in Hiding – Sarah Kozloff

Book Review: A Queen in Hiding – Sarah Kozloff

BOOK REVIEW - 2020-02-02T173114.458
Series:
The Nine Realms #1
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 496
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Amazon.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

Orphaned, exiled and hunted, Cérulia, Princess of Weirandale, must master the magic that is her birthright, become a ruthless guerilla fighter, and transform into the queen she is destined to be.

But to do it she must win the favor of the spirits who play in mortal affairs, assemble an unlikely group of rebels, and wrest the throne from a corrupt aristocracy whose rot has spread throughout her kingdom.

Review

Copy of book cover (98)I know I’ve only read nine books so far this year, but I’m calling this as one of my favourite books of 2020.

A Queen in Hiding is the first in a four part fantasy series from Sarah Kozloff. The story follows Cerulia, princella and heir to the throne of Weirandale. When a scheme is uncovered to overthrow her mother the Queen, Cerulia is sent to live in hiding to protect her from those that wish her harm. As she lives in hiding she must master her magical talent, and learn the skills she will need to reclaim her throne.

I honestly loved every second of this epic fantasy tale. It had everything you could possibly want in a book. Full to the brim with magic, political intrigue and adventure I struggled putting this one down and definitely had a few nights where I stayed up way too late reading it. It’s not a short book by any means but I raced through it eager to find out Cerulia’s fate. She’s a fascinating character and I’m so excited to see how she grows through the next three books. The story is told in alternating POVs between quite a wide range of characters and I loved getting to see what was going on in other parts of the world at the same time as Cerulia is living in hiding. The story is expertly crafted with well fleshed out characters. I loved the political intrigue in this story, characters scheming and working against each other to meet their own ends.

As well as the wonderfully written characters I felt the world building in this story was truly superb. There was so much detail in the history surrounding the spirits and the religion, it felt effortless just to dive into this world. The magic system based on elements was also well explained and fit into the world really well. I really liked that magic was present in this world but not in a really overbearing way, it was a very subtle approach that worked so well with the story. Kozloff writes big battle scenes incredibly well too and I loved those epic moments of life and death. She brought them to life so vividly that I couldn’t look away from the book even if I wanted to.

One of the worst things about being a fantasy reader is waiting a long time for the next instalment in the series but amazingly Kozloff is publishing the entire series in four months. With the next instalment due in only a few weeks, so now is absolutely the time to get reading A Queen in Hiding – you won’t be disappointed.
5 stars

Blog Tour: The God Game – Danny Tobey

Blog Tour: The God Game – Danny Tobey

BOOK REVIEW - 2020-01-05T205542.105
Release Date:
January 9th 2020
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

You are invited!
COme inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!
It;’s fun!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

And what of the game’s first promise: win, win big, lose, you die? Dying in a virtual world doesn’t really mean death in real life—does it?

As Charlie and his friends try to find a way out of the game, they realize they’ve been manipulated into a bigger web they can’t escape: an AI that learned its cruelty from watching us.

God is always watching, and He says when the game is done.

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-01-05T203428.948The God Game is the story of Charlie Lake and his friends who enter into a mysterious online game known only as the G.O.D Game. The rules are simple – if you win you win big but if you lose? You die. As the group of friends find themselves getting wrapped up in the dark mysteries of the game, they begin to wonder if they’ll ever be able to escape.

This book had me HOOKED. I picked it up expecting to read the first couple of chapters and before I knew it I was 120 pages in and I was running late. This is a fast paced wild ride and I definitely didn’t want the story to end. It’s a clever tale that blends virtual reality and real life. It’s Black Mirror meets Stranger Things and honestly I couldn’t get enough.

I loved everything about this book, the way the atmosphere starts off quite light hearted and becomes much more sinister, the misfit video game nerds that have to use everything they’ve got to survive. It’s a compelling tale which really kept me on the edge of my seat. The characters are particularly well executed and I loved the explorations of friendship, love and grief that were displayed in the story. I loved watching the characters growing and it was so interesting watching the group dynamics change as they delve deeper into the game. The science and technology is also really fascinating, and I loved the use of augmented reality.

If you’re looking for a dark and mesmerising tale that will suck you in deeper and deeper, The God Game is the perfect binge read, be warned though – you definitely won’t be able to put this one down.
5 starsGOD GAME BLOG TOUR.png

Blog Tour: Black Summer – M. W. Craven

Blog Tour: Black Summer – M. W. Craven

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-12-12T191801.133
Series:
Washington Poe #2 (Read my review of book one here!)
Release Date: December 12th 2019
Publisher: Constable
Pages: 352
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

After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . .

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

Review

When I picked up The Puppet Show (book one in the Washington Poe series) I had no idea what to expect. I finished up with my mind completely blown and The Puppet Show racing to the top of my favourite crime books. My expectations for Black Summer were incredibly high, I couldn’t wait to see what was next in store for Poe and Tilly and honestly if it’s possible, Black Summer is even more brilliant.

This book pretty much consumed my life while I was reading it. I had a few bleary eyed days because I stayed up way too late reading it and I almost missed my bus stop on more than one occasion. Black Summer is a fast paced, addictive read. It’s a wild ride of a book, and you definitely won’t want to get off. This instalment follows Poe as one of his cases comes back to haunt him. Jared Keaton is in prison for murdering his daughter, he’s there because Poe helped convict him. But when a young woman announces she is Jared’s daughter alive and well, Poe finds himself mixed up in the investigation once again but this time it could be the end of his career.

I won’t say too much more about the plot because it’s definitely best left for the reader to enjoy. It’s a gripping story, with plenty of twists and turns that I definitely didn’t see coming. Black Summer could also be read as a standalone if you haven’t picked up The Puppet Show, but they are both highly addictive and well worth the read.

One of the things that really makes this story for me is the characters. Poe and Tilly are a brilliant partnership, it’s fascinating to watch them interact and I loved seeing their relationship develop over the course of a second book. They’re both vivid, well fleshed out and great protagonists. Tilly is definitely one of my all time favourite characters, there’s no puzzle she can’t solve.

Black Summer is an exhilarating read and if you’re looking for the perfect books to binge read over Christmas, the Washington Poe books are a must buy. Your only problem is going to be waiting for the release of book three in 2020!

5 stars

Book Review: Wild Savage Stars – Kristina Perez

Book Review: Wild Savage Stars – Kristina Perez

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-11-11T232211.124
Series:
Sweet Black Waves #2 (See my review of #1 here!)
Release Date: August 27th 2019
Publisher: Imprint
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Iseult, Wild Savage Stars is the spellbinding sequel to Sweet Black Waves.

Branwen has a secret powerful enough to destroy two kingdoms.

Her ancient magic led to a terrible betrayal by both her best friend, the princess Essy, and her first love, Tristan. Now this same magic is changing Branwen. Adrift in a rival court, Branwen must hide the truth from the enemy king by protecting the lovers who broke her heart―and finds herself considering a darker path.

Not everyone wants the alliance with Branwen’s kingdom to succeed―peace is balanced on a knife’s edge, and her only chance may be to embrace the darkness within…

Review

Copy of book cover (87)Wild Savage Stars is the eagerly awaited second instalment in the Sweet Black Waves trilogy, a beautiful tale of magic and romance inspired by the legend of Tristan and Eseult. I completely fell in love with the first book in the series and I was incredibly excited to find out what was in store for Branwen in book two. I absolutely devoured this book and book three is definitely one of my most anticipated releases.

The story follows Branwen, cousin to Princess Eseult as she embarks upon a journey across the sea, where Eseult will be married to the King of what was once an enemy kingdom. Tensions are fraught and the two best friends have difficult relationship following the Essy’s betrayal. As political tensions rise in their new homeland, Branwen embarks on a dark quest to understand her magic and save the ones she loves.

I honestly just adore everything about this series. In this instalment we are treated to a new land, and I loved the vivid descriptions of the castle and the land. The magic system is fascinating and I really enjoyed seeing Branwen learn more about her powers and carry out magic that was beyond her wildest imaginings. There is definitely more political intrigue in this instalment and I found myself fascinated watching Branwen and Essy attempt to manoeuvre court life.

For me the thing that really makes this book are the characters. Branwen is without a doubt one of my all time favourite characters. She’s strong willed, stubborn and not afraid to make hard decisions. She sometimes makes the wrong choice, but she sees it through. I also really like Ruan and Tristan, the cousins have a fascinating relationship and I loved that Perez gave us the chance to learn more of their backstory. Essy is probably my least favourite, I sometimes find her a bit on the childish side, but she is still a vivid and well fleshed out character.

The story has so many twists that I just didn’t see coming, moments where I just could not stop reading because I just had to know what was coming next. It’s an addictive, beautifully written tale and definitely a new favourite series of mine.
5 stars

Book Review: An Illusion of Thieves – Cate Glass

Book Review: An Illusion of Thieves – Cate Glass

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-11-10T202032.508
Series:
Chimera #1
Release Date: May 21st 2019
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. 
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

In Cantagna, being a sorcerer is a death sentence.

Romy escapes her hardscrabble upbringing when she becomes courtesan to the Shadow Lord, a revolutionary noble who brings laws and comforts once reserved for the wealthy to all. When her brother, Neri, is caught thieving with the aid of magic, Romy’s aristocratic influence is the only thing that can spare his life—and the price is her banishment.

Now back in Beggar’s Ring, she has just her wits and her own long-hidden sorcery to help her and Neri survive. But when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they’ll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic.

Review

Copy of book cover (27)This is the sort of book that when I first read the synopsis sounded really intriguing and I thought it would be a fun and enjoyable read. What I didn’t expect was how much I would completely adore this book and how desperate I am to find out what’s in store next for Romy.

The story follows Romy, a young woman who has fought hard to become the favoured courtesan of the infamous Shadow Lord. Despite their closeness when her brother Neri is discovered stealing with the aid of magic, Romy is cast out and left to survive in the beggar’s ring. Using her knowledge of politics and her will to survive, Romy works to protect Neri and keep them both alive. In trying to keep her own magic hidden she discovers a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord, but will thwarting the plan risk their lives?

I loved everything about this book. I fell completely under the spell of this Renaissance inspired world. I thought the world building was excellent and really enjoyed getting to know the magic system. Magic is of course forbidden in this world and I loved seeing the characters attempt to understand and hone their gifts in secret.

The plot was well paced and had quite a few twists – a few I saw coming but a couple were also a complete surprise. I was really gripped by the sense of adventure, the heist like nature of the story and the camaraderie between the characters. I loved Romy and her cheeky brother Neri. They’re great characters and I cannot wait to see what book two has in store for them.

One of the reasons this book really stood out for me is the romance aspect. There is a little bit of romance but the focus is very much on the sibling relationship and that was a breath of fresh air. It was nice to focus much more on Neri and Romy attempting to understand and work together, rather than a swoony romance.

An Illusion of Thieves is a brilliant beginning to what I’m sure is going to be an engrossing series. If you love stories with vivid characters, tons of action and political intrigue, then this is definitely one to pick up soon!
5 stars