book reviews, q&a, spoiler free

The Unspoken Name

Book Review

45046552The Unspoken Name by A.K Larkwood

Rating: XXXXX

Published February 20th by Tor Books

“Nothing in this world has earned the power to frighten you Csorwe…You have looked your foretold death in the face and turned from it in defiance. Nothing in this world or any other deserves your fear.”

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honoured 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.

I was lured in by a pretty cover and I stayed for the orc assassin. Usually, I have a good long paragraph at the beginning of my reviews explaining how and why I chose this particular book to review but it’s really that simple and I’m so glad I let my fickle mood reading self, pick this book because folks, it’s a doozy.

I haven’t read a lot of big or high fantasy in a good while, mainly because they tend to be chunky books and I’ve found it really hard to slog through larger books lately and when this turned up I panicked that I’d made a mistake. At over 450 pages it’s not huge but it was large enough to intimidate me a little. Within 100 pages I don’t know why I worried and by the end, I wanted to go back to the beginning and read the whole thing again or even better read the next book immediately (can I have the next one yet? Please. I’m desperate). The pacing was a little slow by the end of the first third but not terribly slow and by the time I was just over halfway through I was ravenously turning pages. I’m someone who procrastinates over the last 100 pages of a book but I’m honestly shocked I managed to accomplish anything else when I still had some of this book to read because it absolutely hooked me in and that last third is crazy. I kept turning to my husband to tell him “There aren’t enough pages left.”

One great thing about The Unspoken name is that although it really feels like high fantasy, to begin with, it has such a great mix of genres swirled in, we have some science fiction and space opera elements even. The world that Larkwood has created is rich, stunning and at breathtaking; the image of all these worlds connected to each other, some thriving and full of life, while others are dying and decaying, is just hauntingly beautiful. The way magic works too, as a warlock player in dungeons and dragons I felt was particularly interesting and alongside the world-building, all of the information is just introduced and explained in such a natural organic way throughout the story.

Pretty much all of the characters in this book are a hot mess, in the best way. There is no one main antagonist and almost every character is a beautiful shade of morally grey in some way or another and honestly, I am absolutely here for it. I love characters that aren’t black and white and don’t tend to fall fully towards particularly ‘good’ or ‘evil’ which I’ve seen a lot of in the high fantasy I’ve read previously which made this book even more of a breath of fresh air. I love the messed up relationship between Csowre and Tal (No hard feelings) and I really hope we get more of that in the next book.

The Unspoken Name is out now and I cannot recommend it enough, especially if you’ve had enough of your garden variety fantasy books! Thank you once again to Tor Books and the ever fantastic Jamie-Lee for sending me this early copy for review. When can I get my hands on the next one?

 

 

book reviews, spoiler free

Sanctuary Blog Tour

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Sanctuary by V.V James

Rating: XXXXX

Published: August 8th 2019 by Gollancz

“The bad days were behind us, and our friendships and theirs were stronger than ever. Lies, lies, lies. And they all knew it.”

The small Connecticut town of Sanctuary is rocked by the death of its star quarterback.

Daniel’s death looked like an accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch – and she was there when he died.

Then the rumours start. When Harper insists Dan was guilty of a terrible act, the town turns on her. So was his death an accident, revenge – or something even darker?

As accusations fly and secrets are revealed, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a trial that the whole world is watching . . .

I received an e-Arc via Netgalley from Gollancz in exchange for an honest review. One of my friends has been recommending Vic James books to me for a couple of years now and I’ve never quite made it around to them but when she got mega excited after reading Sanctuary, Vic’s newest book I knew it was finally time and this witchy murder mystery was just the place to start.

Sanctuary, out August 8th, has been one of the most intense page-turning books I have read this year and has already become a firm favourite. I absolutely flew through it in just a couple of days. In the world Sanctuary is set in, almost everything is the same as we already know it except Witchcraft is a normal every day, mostly accepted occurrence with its own rules and state-mandated laws and such, which I found fascinating but also very grounded. I also loved the particular brand of witchcraft we see used with charts, herbs, hand gestures and energy as well as the fact that different witches from around the world use different varieties of spell casting derived from their personal culture and traditions. One particular detail I really enjoyed was the explanation that witches familiars are considered an important role as they are a witches connection back to the earth and nature. You could really feel Vic had done her research, there’s not a huge amount of really obvious world-building to be done but all the tiny details, as well as the big ones, were executed brilliantly and so organically as well as the general feeling of the town which almost felt like it’s own entity at times.

The story is told from three main points of view, two distraught mothers on either end of a possible murder and police officer, Maggie trying to unravel it all. Following these particular characters was a fantastic choice, watching events unfold from each ‘side’ was particularly interesting and then seeing how Maggie dealt with said information or revelation and the conclusions she then came to as a result, not to mention that she was fantastic at injecting a little humour into the narrative here and there which impressively didn’t feel out of place in a book that is otherwise fairly dark. I loved seeing how far each of the three women were willing to go to protect themselves, what they believed in and the ones they love as well as the way their friends and neighbours reacted to the turn of events. Every character, even ones who weren’t what I would call “main” supporting characters felt interesting and solid, I found most of these characters very easy to picture and each had memorable traits without falling into stereotypical troupes (for the most part). Sanctuary has an insanely interesting and thrilling narrative but it also very much feels like a startling study of the darker corners of human nature.

To start with, the plot seems simplistic in nature and like any other “whodunnit” kind of mystery with a few extra additions such as the inclusion of witchcraft but still enjoyable and as the story continues on it becomes a whole other creature full of secrets, lies, twists and turns leaving you pointing fingers every which way and really taking a good hard look at your own morals in the process. I’m not ready in any way shape or form to talk about that ending so you’ll have to wait for the spoilery book talk on Youtube for that because right now when I try to type about it I just bash my keyboard keys while making incoherent noises of pain and anxiety. Every secret feels expertly layered as each revelation becomes tangled in a web of persecution and fear, author Vic James has a terrifying gift and I can’t wait to read more of her books if this standard of writing is the norm because it absolutely blew me away.

Sanctuary is out August 8th but if you were lucky enough to have picked up an early copy at YALC or the beautiful green sprayed edges edition in July’s Illumicrate you may have already read it but if not make sure you check out your local bookstore or most convenient retailer to preorder if you fancy a twisty, witchy murder mystery with bite.

Trigger Warnings: Rape of a minor by an older minor, gaslighting.

Also don’t forget to check out all of these other lovely bloggers taking part on the Sanctuary blog tour too!

 

 

 

book reviews

Nexus Review

43257123Nexus by Lindsay Cummings and Sasha Alsberg

Rating: XXXX

Published: May 7th 2019 (Kindle Version)
June 13th (Paperback version) by HQ Young Adult

“There was only one person who might have the power to free the galaxy from Nor’s rule – and yet completely unaware that the lives of millions now rested in her hands.”

From the #1 New York Times bestselling authors of Zenith comes the dazzling finale to the Androma Saga, where stunning betrayals and devastating secrets expose an embattled galaxy to the ultimate nightmare. 

Her ship is gone, her crew is captured and notorious mercenary Andi Racella is suddenly a fugitive, ruthlessly hunted across the galaxy. The bloodthirsty Queen Nor now rules most of the galaxy and she’ll stop at nothing to destroy her most hated adversary. Andi will risk anything, even her precious freedom to stop Nor. However as her crew fight to regain their freedom, Andi and her unlikely ally Dex discover a threat far greater than anything they’ve faced before. Only by saving their mortal enemy can they make one last desperate strike to save the galaxy, unaware that a shattering, centuries-old secret may demand the most wrenching sacrifice of all.

Despite being a little disappointed in the first book, Zenith I had high hopes for its sequel, Nexus. I requested it via NetGalley a few weeks back and was pleased to be approved quickly so I could get to reading it during my sci-fi binge. Thank you so much to YA HQ for providing me with this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Zenith had some great ideas and character outlines but fell short for me, it just seemed lacking in too many areas and I mourned that lost potential. Nexus, however, seems to have thrown off any shackles placed upon it by its predecessor and is a much better, interesting and enjoyable read. A warning that this review will probably be comparing the two works because the difference is so pleasingly apparent. I would say, despite this being a sequel you don’t absolutely need to read Zenith beforehand because it recaps the events that have unfolded previously although it does make it a little easier to know what’s happening from the get-go; that being said although this review will be spoiler free for Nexus there will be spoilers for Zenith.

Although I missed having the crew around for a larger part of this book than previously I think it actually really worked and I found Lira much more interesting in Nexus while she was away from Andi, the same goes for the Bloody Baroness herself who also was much improved. In Nexus, Andi is still very (understandably) focused on her friends devoutly it feels much more in the right place here and I think giving Andi a much more direct purpose she cared for really worked out well as well as giving her a legitimate reason that made sense as to why she’s so important in the fight against Nor. Her space pirate persona is, thankfully, much less overhyped this time around, even with there not being a huge amount of action involved and don’t even get me started on Dex becasue I actually liked him in Nexus which was a nice surprise, I think the events of Zenith really caused him to see what’s important and to grow a bit more of a spine without making him too overconfident to a fault. All the characters in-fact were much improved and although characters don’t have to be likeable for them to be good I think it is preferred that we understand their motives which we got in truckloads during Nexus and I couldn’t be happier about it.

There is a little romance in Nexus but it isn’t a huge plot point and I enjoyed it all the more because of that. Romantic scenes didn’t feel out of place or as flat or frustrating as it had done previously and I actually enjoyed them and the paring as a whole.

The writing was much improved which makes sense, whether it be a result of the collaborating authors working together better after already writing one book with each other or perhaps experience over time? I found there were a lot less clunky sentences and I didn’t find myself having to reread parts to make sense of them which I experienced in Zenith. Apart from a small part in the middle, the pacing was spot on and towards the end especially I found myself reading frantically, desperate to know what happened, there was some good tension building for sure. I really enjoyed the ending despite having worried that I was getting perilously close to the end of the book with no clue as to the outcome (a good thing, it just makes me anxious!).

Overall, Nexus was a good read and one I would be happy to recommend, I absolutely loved reading it and would say it’s definitely worth giving it a try even if Zenith fell short for you as you may be pleasantly surprised! Nexus is out now on Kindle and releases on paperback in the UK on June 13th.

(Extra note that isn’t at all relevant to the review at all but I’m meeting Sasha later this month and I’m SO excited!!)

 

book reviews, spoiler free, Uncategorized

The Devouring Gray

Devouring Gray.pngThe Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Rating: XXXXX

“Being invisible when you used to be seen…it’s like being dead, but no one mourns you.” 

Branches and stones, daggers and bones,
They locked the Beast away.

After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn’t: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.

Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray—a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn’t yet know.

The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families’ abilities—before the Gray devours them all.

After hearing about this book going around Twitter I became quickly intrigued by the creepy aesthetic and almost political intrigue based in a small town where four founding families are primarily in power, respected and revered. A lot of people referred to it as a mix of Riverdale and Stranger things, of which I have seen neither but had heard good things about. I was gifted this book by Titan in exchange for an honest review and I was so excited when it arrived, the UK paperback as a chilling cover design alongside hot pink sprayed edge pages! Not to mention as an extra spooky treat there were four tarot cards including at important parts to do with each card already placed inside the book which I kept in place and collected as I read through to give the book an extra dimension.

The Devouring Gray is aptly named because I absolutely devoured this book. I was slowed down a little by the fact I didn’t read it much at night because it was mega spooky in places but I found any spare time I could to read it during the day. There were just so many great aspects to this book I had trouble putting it down.

One thing I got excited about early on is all the fantastic rep in this book. There were not one but two bisexual characters who both mention attractions to same and different genders with one such character not having even experienced an actual relationship with anyone before and all of this is an absolute breath of fresh air in my queer lungs because both happen so rarely in books, let alone together and it is a GIFT. Speaking of gifts, arguably my favourite character, Harper Carlisle is also representing with some disability rep by being amazing with a sword and still managing to kick butt all while being her awesome self and missing one arm from the elbow down. I could honestly talk about her forever.

I don’t say this a lot but, I LOVED all of the romance spread throughout the book too. It’s not super obvious and although it’s threaded through the plot in places it doesn’t take it over and I find all the different dynamics interesting enough that I’m always interested in more and I enjoy the little moments we get here and there whereas often in a lot of books I can’t wait for said moments to end. I’m fully invested enough now that I would read a sequel to find out what happens with who for that alone at this point (although I am looking forward to the second book for other reasons as well of course).

The plot is twisty and I found myself constantly second-guessing myself and being unsure who to trust and/or believe thanks to four different POV’s not all of which are clued up on events or what I could call, particularly reliable narrators and that all just adds a whole other twisty angle to it that really got me turning pages like my life depended on it. The Devouring Gray is a familiar kind of story but author Christine makes it her own. This will be a book I don’t think I’ll be shutting up about for a while and now desperately await its sequel!

 

 

 

 

spoiler free, tbr thursday

April TBR

After March taking forever I’m somehow still in denial we’re now into April, it’s crazy. This was meant to go up yesterday on the first Thursday of the month like usual but it didn’t occur to me what day it was until it was over half gone so although a TBR Friday doesn’t have quite the same ring to it you get the idea!

Some people on Twitter etc have dubbed this month ARC April and although I’m not officially taking part in anything for that I am using April to try and get through my ever growing backlog or ARCs and early finished copies to help give me a nice clean slate, clear some physical shelf space and hopefully improve my currently terrible NetGalley rating! So these are the books I’m planning to read!

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
This is my current read and feels very Vikings meets Game of Thrones so far, I’m enjoying it but it does feel a little predictable at this point, not quite done yet though so we shall see. Gifted to me by Titan books in exchange for an honest review.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
It may look gorgeous with it’s pink sprayed edges but this book sounds seriously spooky and I’m kind of looking forward to it freaking me out a little.  Gifted to me by Titan books in exchange for an honest review.

No Way by SJ Morden
I read and reviewed One Way last year and the ending was left wide open but I had no idea until about two weeks before publication last month when my review schedule was already full to the brim so I’m so glad to finally be able to get around to it at last. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton
Much like the situation with No Way, I read the first book The Belles last year and was swamped during its publication date this year. Although I’ve been a little reserved about reviewing the second one I definitely want to get it read and see how the sequel pans out. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

Empress of all Seasons by Emiko Jean
One of the problems of being a mood reader is when you get books like this one that sound totally up your street, look gorgeous etc but when you get them you just can’t get yourself into the right frame of mind to read them and that can really ruin the experience so I’m hoping that now the time is finally right. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds
A bit of an older book but with the sequel, Shadow Captain having recently been released I was sent a finished copy of this first book in the series to try out as it sounds like a great fit for me and would love to get in the sci-fi mood ready for Aurora Rising in early May. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been a bit behind with my reading of late so I’m really hoping April is a good reading month! What are you reading right now and how are you enjoying it?

spoiler free, tbr thursday

TBR Thursday – February

After what feels like the longest January possible we have finally reached the first Thursday of February and that means it’s time for my monthly TBR (to be read) post! I was hoping to have a Sci-Fi filled February but alas I had forgotten that King of Scars was coming out and that I still hadn’t read some of the other books that are advised to be read beforehand, also my most anticipated contemporary for the year has just arrived ready for me to read in time for the blog tour let alone all of the other stuff happening. I will absolutely be reading a sci-fi book by the end of the month though, you’ll have to read on to find out which one!

A Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare
I’ve been trying to get this finished since it came out and I’M STILL reading it. Well listening to it, I have just under seven hours to go. So close yet so far. It’s not that it’s bad it’s just SO long.

Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
As mentioned above King of Scars is out now and I’ve read the Grisha Trilogy but I still hadn’t managed to get around to Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom! I’m rectifying that this month by finally reading these. I’ve even got the auido book for Six of Crows and enjoying listening to that to avoid listening to AQOAAD, not gonna lie.

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman
I was lucky enough to recieve an early finished copy of this book from Ink Road books and I can’t wait to get stuck into it, I’m not a big contemporary reader but after reading Akemi’s first book, Starfish, she’s became an insta buy author for me.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
I enjoyed most of the Grisha books I’ve read so far (we don’t talk about soggy bread Mal) and I’m excited to read more in the same universe, I figured it would make the most sense to read this after finishing Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. Also the sooner I read it the less likely I am to end up seeing spoilers I hope.

Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
A female pansexual King Arthur. YES PLEASE. Those who know me will no doubt be aware of the fact I love kick ass girls with swords (I mean most weapons are fine but swords or daggers BIG yes) and to top it off she’s queer and Merlin is a gay teenager. This honestly sounds like the best thing and I genuinely can’t wait to get into it. It looks like I’m probably not going to get an ARC of Aurora Rising so I’m instead going to use Once and Future to kick start my incoming sci-fi binge.

 

Tags

The Netgalley Book Tag

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I saw this tag on Charlottes blog, Charlotte Somewhere and knew I had to do it! I know not everyone is keen on Netgalley but I’ve loved using it, even if I do have a bit of a request problem because I just cant help myself!

Auto-Approved: Who is one author whose books you automatically want to read, regardless of what they are about?

Lauren James and Maria V. Snyder

Request: What makes you want to request a book on NetGalley?

I’ll either go directly to a book I’ve been linked to because I’ve heard of it or it sounds good ect or I have a bad habit (which I’m getting better with) of just browsing through requesting things that catch my interest or I’ve heard good things about.

Feedback Ratio: Do you review every book you read? If not, how do you decide what books to review?

Yes, even if I don’t finish it. I only post the review on my blog if I do though. The main reason I don’t get around to reviewing some are if they’re archived before I’ve managed to read them which has happened a couple of times.

Badges: If you could create one badge to display on your blog, what would it be for?

Sleep requester. I have such a bad habit of waking up in the night, being unable to get to sleep and just messing around on my phone for a bit but sometimes I end up on NetGalley and request things that I don’t remember doing the next day and then am confused/panicked when I suddenly get a load of approvals!

Wish For It: What’s one book you’re absolutely dying to read?

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, The quiet at the end of the world by Lauren james or Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder (I COULDN’T PICK ONE OKAY?!)

2018 NetGalley Challenge: What was the last book that you received as an ARC that you reviewed? If you’ve never received an ARC, what’s the last book you reviewed?

The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli You can check it out here
After reading The Last Namsara I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of this!

If you haven’t already done this and you want to take part consider yourself tagged!