Book Review: Wild Savage Stars – Kristina Perez

Book Review: Wild Savage Stars – Kristina Perez

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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

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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

Blog Tour: Angel Mage – Garth Nix

Blog Tour: Angel Mage – Garth Nix

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Release Date:
October 17th 2019
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 560
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

Review

Copy of book cover (63)To say that Angel Mage was one of my most anticipated books of the year is probably an understatement. Garth Nix has been one of my favourite authors since I was a child, and I absolutely credit him with being the reason I love fantasy books so much. So many of his books – Shade’s Children, Sabriel, A Confusion of Princes –  are some of my all time favourites so going into Angel Mage I had the highest of expectations. The story captivated me from the very first page, and I am already considering when I can make time to reread this stunning book.

Like all of Garth Nix’s books, the world building is excellently plotted, allowing you to completely fall into this story of angels and magic.  The magic system felt really unique, I don’t think I’ve ever come across it before and it was a breath of fresh air. The story is quite a slow burn, it’s a big tome and it really gives you the chance to get to know the world and the brilliantly fleshed out characters. Nix has stated that this is a standalone at this stage, but I would honestly love to read more from this world and the characters.

Angel Mage has plenty of action scenes to keep you hooked in and gorgeous writing that I honestly just could not get enough of. Each sentence seems to leap off the page with vivid descriptions of characters and their setting. It features a brilliant cast of characters, each who brings a really interesting perspective to the table. I really liked Simeon and Henri the most, but honestly I thought all the characters were brilliant.

If you love epic fantasy stories with Three Musketeers vibes, you definitely need to pick up Angel Mage now. I for one am now going to start rereading Garth Nix’s back catalogue while I wait for his next book!
5 stars
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Blog Tour: A Little Hatred – Joe Abercrombie

Blog Tour: A Little Hatred – Joe Abercrombie

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Series:
The Age of Madness #1
Release Date: September 17th 2019
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 471
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent a copy of this book for review.
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

The chimneys of industry rise over Adua and the world seethes with new opportunities. But old scores run deep as ever.

On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield, and defeat the marauding armies of Stour Nightfall. He hopes for help from the crown. But King Jezal’s son, the feckless Prince Orso, is a man who specializes in disappointments.

Savine dan Glokta – socialite, investor, and daughter of the most feared man in the Union – plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary. But the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control.

The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye. Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another…

Review

Copy of book cover (72)Joe Abercrombie is one of my all time favourite authors so I was incredibly excited when I heard that A Little Hatred was going to take us back into the world of The First Law. It’s always a bit nerve wracking when a favourite author brings out a new book. My expectations for this book were really high and I’m so happy to say it delivered in every possible way. Dark, bloody and full of bleak humour, this is a terrific start to a new series.

A Little Hatred is the first in an all new series so if you haven’t read Abercrombie’s other books you can totally pick this up and enjoy it as a fun and fast paced fantasy tale, however to really get the full effect of this you should definitely check out his other books in this world. We follow all new characters, some of whom are related to characters from previous books. The story is set many years after the events of Red Country, and the industrial revolution has taken place, bringing with it a new age of machines, trade and politics.

The story is complex and multi-layered, featuring several different POVS. Joe Abercrombie has a talent for writing really well fleshed out and vivid characters, and that is definitely true in A Little Hatred. Although there are quite a lot of character perspectives (seven in total), each is incredibly distinctive and brings something new and fresh to the story. I enjoyed them all, but Rikke and Savine were my favourites.

A Little Hatred brings plenty of bloody, gory moments and is full to the brim with revenge, betrayal and political intrigue. It’s a phenomenal start to a new series and I for one am already itching for the next instalment.

5 stars
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Book Review: Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

Book Review: Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

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Series:
Strange the Dreamer #1
Release Date: March 28th 2017
Publisher: Hodder Books
Pages: 536
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

Review

Copy of book cover (68)Strange the Dreamer is without a doubt one of my favourite books of 2017. I always feel a bit of trepidation when I start a book that is as hyped up as this one, but it absolutely lived up to expectation, it’s a stunning book from beginning to end.

The world building in this book is just astounding. Everything is mapped out and there’s so much depth that I sunk into the story immediately. This is the kind of book I want to carry around with me all the time, it’s fantastically written with the most beautiful prose. Strange the Dreamer isn’t a crazy action packed story – it’s much more of a slow burner – but I enjoyed it all the more for that reason. It gave you the opportunity to really get to know the world you’re in, and of course the exceptional characters.

Normally for me there’s always one or two characters that stick out as my favourite, but with Strange the Dreamer I loved them all – Lazlo, Sarai, Eril-Fane and Ruby, they’re all expertly crafted and fully rounded out characters. Each one is dealing with a complex past and I loved getting to know each and every one of them, I honestly cannot praise this book highly enough. If you only read one book in 2017, it should be Strange the Dreamer.

This book has pretty much everything a reader could want – there’s magic and mystery, action and explosions and of course a dash of romance. As well as all that the story is wrapped around the young characters coming of age and learning their place in this magical world. This book gave me one hell of a book hangover, and now I am (not so patiently) waiting for book two in this fantastic series. I also have to confess that somehow, despite owning several of Laini Taylor’s books, this is the first of her books that I’ve read. I am now away to barricade myself in a room, to catch up on the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series.
5 stars

Book Review: Tunnel of Bones – Victoria Schwab

Book Review: Tunnel of Bones – Victoria Schwab

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Series:
Cassidy Blake #2 (See my review of book one here!)
Release Date: 5th September 2019
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 272
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this from my local Waterstones
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.

Review

tunnelI absolutely fell in love with Cassidy and her ghost best friend when I read City of Ghosts last year. A spooky tale set in Edinburgh, I was so eager for more. Tunnel of Bones was definitely high on my most anticipated releases list, and I ended up reading it in a single sitting.

We’re back following Cassidy as she goes with her parents to film a new episode of The Inspecters, and this time they’re in Paris. They visit all the iconic places, heading up the Eiffel Tower and descending into the eerie Catacombs. As she explores Cassidy awakens a spirit much stronger than those she’s faced before. Hellbent on all kinds of mischief and mayhem, Cass and Jacob have to find a way to send him back before he ends up haunting Paris forever.

This story is so fun, it’s a wonderful spooky read and it’s absolutely perfect to cuddle up with on a dark autumn night. It has plenty of spine tingling moments, and I loved seeing the dark and eerie spin that Schwab puts on those infamous landmarks. The setting is fascinating and really comes alive in the story (I honestly can’t wait to see where Cass and the gang jet off to next!)

Tunnel of Bones also features a bit more character development, we learn more about best friend Jacob, and Cassidy starts exploring her powers as a ghost hunter. I enjoyed seeing plenty of familiar faces from book one as well as the introduction of some new characters, I particularly liked little Adele.

If you’re a fan of Victoria Schwab or you’re read the first book in the series, you’re going to absolutely love this one. If you haven’t had a chance to pick the first instalment up yet, these will make perfect Halloween binge reads.
5 stars

Book Review: The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang

Book Review: The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang

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Series:
The Poppy War #1
Release Date: May 1st 2018
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Pages: 544
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought this in my local Waterstones
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

Review

book cover (41)Pretty much everyone I know has read and loved The Poppy War. I must admit to being a bit nervous going in, I wasn’t entirely sure it would live up to the expectations I had set with so many people giving it five star reviews. I’m so happy to say that I absolutely adored this book, it is without a doubt one of my favourite reads of the year and I can’t wait to read more from R. F. Kuang.

The story follows Rin, a young war orphan who passes the Keju, a test given to every child in the Empire to determine if they should be admitted to the prestigious military schools. The country might be at peace whilst Rin is learning tactics and war, but unease is brewing with old enemies across the sea. Rin also discovers she can yield a shamanic power, but will it help save her people – or destroy them?

I honestly couldn’t put this book down. It’s quite a hefty book but I raced through this, finishing it in only a couple of days. I completely fell in love with the characters, they were so well fleshed out and there was plenty of character development. There were so many characters that I loved, Rin was fantastic and I loved Kitay and Nehza so much. I’m already scared to find out what will happen to them in the next instalment.

I recently went to see R. F. Kuang talk in my local Waterstones and it was fascinating to hear her explain how the story draws real life parallels with Chinese history. It really brought a whole new dimension to the story, and is definitely something I want to know more about.

The Poppy War is a grimdark tale and is therefore full of dark and gory scenes. It contains quite a high number of trigger warnings too so that is definitely something to consider before reading. All in all I found this book fast paced with a tense, exciting plot and a brilliant cast of characters. I’ve already picked up a copy of The Dragon Republic because I’m dying to know what happens next!
5 stars