reviews
Blackwing (Ravens' Mark #1)
10, Oct

First thing's first, I want to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of Blackwing and Ed McDonald for writing an awesome book. Though I did end up going audio to finish this one off, all in part to Colin Mace doing the narration, Ace has been, well, aces, in publishing brilliant books this year and I am glad to add this one to my 'Finished' pile. 

The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter (The Riyria Chronicles, #4)
04, Oct

     The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter is an ideal starting point into Sullivan's world.

The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan
26, Sep

SPFBO read #5 of 5.

 

I don't really know where to start with this review, other than The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan felt like a poor man's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. There is so much absurdity going on that, unless you cling to each and every written word, you will be lost without any hope of finding your way back through the wormhole. Never have I been so confused as I was after reading this novel. As you can see (those of you on GR), I finished 4 days ago and still cannot wrap my brain around what just occurred. It is like being on a roller coaster ride, but instead of being given a second to catch your breath after a long drop, your lungs are constantly trying to take in just the tiniest bit of air in order to be satisfied as you are flung into infinity. The reader is introduced to way too many things in the beginning and it doesn't slow down, so you are always playing catchup. 

 

This book is not for everyone, me included. There is humor to be found throughout the pages, but it is so muddled with ridiculousness that it feels like a chore to hunt it down. There is enough swearing, sex, death and more for everyone and a fun adventure to save the planet, but it wasn't enough for me. I have read and enjoyed other novels with stylistic differences when it comes to the writing, like Brothers Jetstream (see The Vagrant by Peter Newman or The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark), but neither hold a candle to the sentence structure presented. It takes quite a mind to read, let alone write this stuff. 

 

I may give this novel another try in future years, but I need some palate cleansers in the meantime.

Paradox Bound
25, Sep

First off, I would like to thank the great people over at Crown for the early copy of Paradox Bound and the opportunity to review it. 

A Star-Reckoner's Lot (A Star-Reckoner's Legacy #1)
22, Sep

SPFBO read #4 out of 5. 

Began as a Kickstarter project a couple of years ago and now has a wonderful new cover illustration by John Anthony Di Giovanni and typography/graphic design by Shawn King. I mean, just look at that gorgeous thing. Flashes of Sanderson and Jordan come to mind.

So, we are introduced to Ashtadukht, a star-reckoner who commands a unique type of magic based on constellations and planet alignments. She is one of mankind's best defenses against divs (false gods with disagreeable tendencies that promote chaos and disorder) but her reckoning doesn't always go as planned... to say the least. She is oft terrible at her "job" and risks her own life, as well as the lives of others, while trying to also keep them out of harm's way. She is on a journey to hunt down the div that killed her husband and sent her life into a downward spiral. On her journey, she is accompanied by her cousin, Tirdad. and an insane half-div named Waray. As they journey across a well documented, yet fictional, Sasanian Iran, they come across several obstacles that will challenge the need to continue, as well as the need to survive.

A Star-Reckoner's Lot is a very different book than what I am used to and has a unique premise to boot. I enjoyed the novel for what it is, but I did feel quite a few flaws. With the Kickstarter campaign being a success, I was expecting a very polished book, but that wasn't what was delivered (having said that, changes could have been made as this is a mobi. file). The story felt jumbled as there are month to several month-long gaps where the need to travel was erased and the characters just ended up where they were supposed to be. There is also lacking backstory to the characters and they aren't as fleshed out as you would expect from, what was supposed to be, a standalone novel. I want to know everything I can about a character if my investment is only around 300 pages (again, this may be expanded upon in Book #2). Last note: the novel tended to follow the same pattern with different foes: travel here, star-reckon, pass out, wake up somewhere new. Rinse, repeat. Having said that, each foe was completely different and shows off Drake's expansive imagination. 

Overall, there is a lot to like here but the flaws tended to overshadow my full enjoyment. But with a unique magic system, tons of interesting creatures, and a vast new land to explore, it is worth picking up and diving into.

Blanky
14, Sep

Another classic horror novella from the demented mind of Kealan Patrick Burke.

The Court of Broken Knives (Empires of Dust, #1)
14, Sep

Where do I even start with this one. Well, I can begin by saying that I listened to the audiobook edition, read by Colin Mace and Meriel Rosenkranz (Mace performed about 90ish% of the book while Meriel's narration was from only one character's perspective and just a handful of chapters). Overall, I thought Mace did a tremendous job capturing the true grittiness of the story, though his pacing could've been slightly better, but it's understandable with how the book is written. Not to say Rosenkranz didn't do a great job as well, but I felt like her chapters were filler and they really broke up the un-putdownableness of the book. I've never been a huge fan of multiple narrator performances (with the exception being American Gods, as it was a full cast and was perfection) but with my TBR being freakishly long, audio was the way to go.

The Land: Founding (Chaos Seeds #1)
13, Sep

Imagine you are watching a Twitch livestream; watching a game being learned/played and hearing the commentary from the gamer that goes along with it. But in this instance, you are reading/listening to it rather than watching it. That probably sounds pretty boring, right? What if, instead of someone playing a game, that person was inserted INTO the game; taken from the comfort of home, thrown into uncharted territory, and forced to survive on instincts learned from gaming? That would make things more interesting, right? 

The Crimson Queen
07, Sep

Ink and Insights Competition - Judge's Favorite

Also currently moving on to Round 2 in Lawrence's SPFBO 2017 via Fantasy Book Critic.

The Tainted Shrine (Fool's Fief, #1)
24, Aug

SPFBO, Book #3 of 5 on my list

The main focus of the story is around three (3) siblings: Crown Prince Atham, the eldest sibling; Prince Alexius, the bastard son of the High Queen; and Princess Amalia. They are all in a power struggle for the throne as the High King's health is quickly degrading. I did enjoy all of the secrecy and undermining undertaken by the siblings as each has a different outlook on how things should be run. Sort of Game of Thrones-esque as Atham is a bit like Tommen, Alexius is a lot like Joffrey, and Amalia is basically Cersei (and no, I'm not dumb. I realize Cersei is the mother of the other 2 but you would understand had you read TTS). Also, Kanika's marriage to Atham sets off some interesting happenings throughout the book that are enjoyable to watch unfold. 

First things first: editing. I know I continue to find myself saying this with almost every self-published novel out there but it continues to be an issue. The only ways a novel can hang with the big dogs are with original, engaging storylines and errorless writing. The chapters in The Tainted Shrine need to be separated and the line ends need to be even. Most chapters began on the same page as the end of a previous chapter. A simple and quick fix. 

The Tainted Shrine is a pretty short read (only around 191 pages) and I think that is why I can't give it more praise. There is so much going on that is neither explained or fleshed out and I feel the author could've taken some more time to bulk up the story. There is also a ton of useless asides by the characters during conversations. At some point, it all just becomes fluff. I also wonder how a known assassin could be thrown into a cell without being searched for weapons. Little confused on that one.

I will say that I have enjoyed this one the most so far because I see the potential it has. Flesh out the characters a bit more, add to the storyline giving the reader some background info and some descriptions of how things work, and quicken the pace.