Book Review: Sweet Black Waves – Kristina Perez

Book Review: Sweet Black Waves – Kristina Perez

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Series:
Sweet Black Waves #1
Release Date: June 5th 2018
Publisher: Imprint
Pages: 448
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

Review

Copy of book cover (85)Sweet Black Waves is the first in an all new fantasy series inspired by the legend of Tristan and Eseult. I must admit that I am not all that familiar with the famous tale. I know it’s a romance but little else, so when I went into Sweet Black Waves I wasn’t sure what the story would entail. I must admit I got completely hooked on the story of Branwen and Tristan and I am absolutely dying to read the next book in the series.

The story follows Branwen, cousin to the Queen and last survivor of her family after they were killed by raiders. She one day finds a man on the beach and rescues him, and discovers he is one of the enemy. As the two spend time together in secret, feelings start to bloom between them, but could the world ever accept a couple from the two opposing nations? As Branwen begins to fight for peace, she discovers she has magic in her blood and must to everything she can to keep it secret.

This book was honestly just so addictive. I’m not normally someone who loves romance stories but I completely fell in love with Branwen and Tristan. The characters were brilliantly written. Branwen is so complex, dealing with the loss of her family, the love of her country and her desires for peace. Tristan is likewise a fascinating character and I loved watching the two characters grow and develop as the story went on.

Kristina Perez has created a really fascinating world, and one that is steeped in history and culture. The world building was just perfect and I found it so easy just to sink into this world of magic and enemy kingdoms. Perez has a gorgeous writing style and I found myself getting so absorbed in the story that I ended up staying up way later than I planned because I just had to know what was going on next. Sweet Black Waves is a phenomenal start to this bright and vivid series and I’m definitely planning to dive straight into Wild Savage Stars.
4 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: The Black Hawks – David Wragg

Blog Tour: The Black Hawks – David Wragg

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Synopsis

Copy of book cover (74)Dark, thrilling, and hilarious, The Black Hawks is an epic adventure perfect for fans of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch.

Life as a knight is not what Vedren Chel imagined. Bound by oath to a dead-end job in the service of a lazy step-uncle, Chel no longer dreams of glory – he dreams of going home.

When invaders throw the kingdom into turmoil, Chel finds opportunity in the chaos: if he escorts a stranded prince to safety, Chel will be released from his oath.

All he has to do is drag the brat from one side of the country to the other, through war and wilderness, chased all the way by ruthless assassins.

With killers on your trail, you need killers watching your back. You need the Black Hawk Company – mercenaries, fighters without equal, a squabbling, scrapping pack of rogues.

Prepare to join the Black Hawks.

Q&A

 1. For those that haven’t checked out The Black Hawks yet, how would you sum it up?

Hi! The Black Hawks is a work of (extremely) low fantasy, about a young man who falls in with a feeble prince and a dysfunctional mercenary company, and tries to save the kingdom in his own inept but well-intentioned fashion. It has intrigue, shocks, ambushes, wolves, weather and a whole lot of furious swearing.

2. What was your inspiration for book?

The story is both a misty-eyed love-letter and a contrarian take on the kind of fantasy I grew up reading. It’s firmly quest fantasy with a journey (both geographical and emotional) at its heart, but also a reaction to all the things I found wearing or just a bit naff about Classic Fantasy Works – the main character has no particular skills or knowledge, he’s just a young fellow with some ideals, and most of the characters in the world are just trying to get by.

3. What drew you to writing fantasy books?

I adore genre fiction, and my early life was steeped in all things fantastic and science-fictional. I grew up on SFF books, pen & paper RPGS, board games and video games (I dread to think how many hours I’ve sunk into computer RPGs over the last decade alone), and I couldn’t imagine writing anything else. Second-world fantasy in particular is fascinating as a way to explore themes and ideas – the other side of the coin from SF in that regard – but sometimes you just want to put characters in ridiculous situations and enjoy what happens next.

4. What was the writing process like for the book? Did you map everything out or just let it flow?

I wrote the first draft in 2015, when I was young and full of hope, based on an idea that had been kicking around for at least 5 years before that (I wrote some other stuff in-between as practice). I mapped out what I thought would be a quick-ish outline, spent several months reading research (13th Century Georgia and northern Turkey, for reference) and drawing up maps and family trees, then went for it. It took about 9 months, and stuck *more-or-less* to the outline. Then after a quick hiatus to have another child, I started planning the sequel.

5. What have you found hardest about writing The Black Hawks?

The opening. One problem with having an idea in your head for a long time is that it becomes part of your narrative bedrock, never to be questioned, and the rest of your work builds up from there. This can make it a real challenge when you realise that the weakest ideas are the earliest ones, and they could do with tweaking or replacing, because you’ve built a ridiculous narrative house of cards on top of it and the slightest change will bring the entire plot crashing down. I hope I’ve learned something from the process!

6. What are you working on next?

Black Hawks 2 is now with my editor, and I’m currently working on a standalone follow-up in the same world, set a while after the events of the second book. It’s set in the wild, untamed plains to the far north, and is a sort of fantasy western: think True Grit meets Terminator 2, with a bit of Fury Road thrown in, but with swords.

7. Finally can you recommend a good book you’ve read recently?

A Stranger in Olondria, by Sofia Somatar. It’s both a ghost story and an adventure, with spectacular, lyrical prose and an abiding respect for the power of the written word at its core, and about the closest thing to a literary hallucination I’ve experienced.

Massive thank you to David for answering my questions – The Black Hawks is publishing today from HarperVoyager.
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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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July Wrap Up!

July Wrap Up!

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I’m a bit behind on posting wrap ups so I thought I would do a quick post of all the books I read in July! I moved house in July and things were a bit manic so I only managed to read a few books.

book cover - 2019-03-11T211035.2501. The Furies – Katie Lowe
The Furies follows a girl named Violet who is starting at the elite Elm Hollow Academy. There she is befriended by a group of girls who attend a study group focusing on Witch trials and the occult. The girls start to believe that magic is real, but when a former member of the group turns up dead, Violet starts to wonder if she can trust these girls, and what really happened to Robin. I adored this book so much. It’s definitely a favourite of the year it was dark and intense and I completely fell in love with the characters. I can’t wait to read more from Katie Lowe. Full review can be found here! (5/5 stars)

Copy of book cover (30)2. Aphrodite Made Me Do It – Trista Mateer
My quest to broaden my reading and try and read things outwith my comfort zone meant I picked up this gorgeous little book of poetry. Poetry isn’t something I read much of but I found myself really enjoying this powerful collection mixing feminism and Greek mythology. I definitely found some of the passages quite inspiring and I really want to try and read more poetry in the future. I love the eye-catching cover too and if you want to read my full thoughts you can check out my review here. (4/5 stars)

Copy of book cover (70)3. Wanderers – Chuck Wendig
Chuck Wendig is an author I’ve always wanted to check out so I jumped at the opportunity to read his laterest book Wanderers. This story was completely unlike anything I had read before and it had me hooked from the outset. The story a group of people who wake up one morning and just start walking. Nothing will stop them from walking and if they are restrained things start to go wrong. The story follows the loved ones of the walkers, attempting to stay with their family and keep them safe. This story was so addictive and even though it’s a tomb I raced through it. I can’t recommend it highly enough and I’ve already forced several family members to read it. (4.5/5 stars)

Copy of book cover (56)4. Night Film – Marisha Peshl
This is without a doubt my favourite thriller of all time. I got this book for Christmas and picked it up on a whim, but I’m so glad that I did. The story follows the murder of a young woman who’s father is a famous and reclusive film director. Disgraced investigative journalist Scott McGrath starts looking into the case after his previous investigation into the Cordova family cost him his job. As he delves into the mysteries surrounding the family he starts to wonder if there’s more to them than meets the eye. I honestly couldn’t put this book down, I loved it so much. I was constantly questioning what was real and what wasn’t. There are tons of really spine tingling moments and I genuinely had to google to see if Cordova was a real person because the story felt so real. Night Film is a brilliant brilliant read. (5/5 stars)

Copy of book cover (69)5. Lies You Never Told Me – Jennifer Donaldson
Lies You Never Told Me is a fun and fast paced YA thriller. The story follows two seemingly unconnected characters and the relationships they develop – one a young girl with her drama teacher and another a young boy with a manipulative and controlling girl. As both try to escape from their relationships things get more and more out of control. The story is interesting, with quite a few plot twists but felt very much like your typical YA thriller. The characters were quite one dimensional and I guessed the ending quite early on. (3/5 stars) 

So those are the five books I read in July! Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought and what books you’ve been reading and loving recently!

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

Blog Tour: Kingdom of Souls – Rena Barron

Blog Tour: Kingdom of Souls – Rena Barron

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Series:
Kingdom of Souls #1
Release Date: September 3rd 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 496
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received an E-ARC of this through Netgalley
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.

Review

Copy of book cover (67)Kingdom of Souls follows Arrah, the daughter of two incredibly powerful witch doctors. She has a lot to live up to, and things are made worse by the fact that she doesn’t seem to be able to use magic at all. As she returns to the Kingdom she hears that children have been mysteriously vanishing and when she uncovers the reason why she discovers she might have to pay the ultimate price to stop an ancient evil being released.

I’ve really been loving dark, addictive fantasy books so this sounded right up my street. I was hooked straight away and this book ended up being a whole lot darker and grittier than I was expecting. It’s full to the brim with magic, sacrifice, demons and power. It does also contain quite a few trigger warnings, so please bear that in mind before reading.

The story is quite a complex one, there are quite a lot of characters and at times I found myself getting a bit lost with who was who. Our main protagonist Arrah is brilliant though, I really liked her perspective and she undergoes lots of character development as she goes from being a young girl desperate for magic to trying to stop the demon king at any cost.

The world building is also fascinating, the author has steeped the whole world in magic and lore and there’s so much detail surrounding the magic system, the gods and the demons. I really love when stories really built an in depth world and it really felt easy to fall into the world of Kingdom of Souls.

I really enjoyed the story in this one, it was gripping and engaging. I think this book would have been a five stars for me but I just felt the pacing was a little off in the second half of the book, losing its edge a little toward the end. Despite that I still thoroughly enjoyed Kingdom of Souls – it’s a dark, vivid tale of family, magic and sacrifice and it’s definitely worth checking out and I’m so looking forward to book two!
4 stars