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review 2016-07-21 09:19
Not Quite A Book Review: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan.
The Waking Fire - Anthony Ryan

The Waking Fire is set in a vibrant new world where the blood of drakes—creatures similar to dragons—is valued beyond reckoning, and can be distilled into elixirs that grant fearsome powers to those who are “blood-blessed.” The novel follows an unregistered blood-blessed as he searches for an elusive variety of drake so potent, its capture would mean unrivalled riches; the second in command of a blood-burning ironclad ship; and a young woman in a lifelong contract to a trading syndicate, whose espionage mission places her on the front lines of a newly declared war. As empires clash and arcane mysteries reveal themselves, these characters are tested again and again and soon discover that the fate of the world rests on their shoulders.

Always Watch Lizanne's Hands - by Kristy M (Book Frivolity)


I liked it so much, I just fan-arted over it. It's pretty much the highest compliment I can give, cause I'm a fickle creature when it comes to fan-arting (my childish side just likes saying fan-arting..).


I'm pretty sure everyone else has said something about the details: the characters, the world building, the pacing etc... But honestly, I really don't want to! Yeah, occasionally I do shut-up. It'll be fleeting, I'm sure. 


When I adore a book this much, I don't want to spoil it by putting my own words to it. I can't do it justice really. It's one of the things about reviewing that I dislike - I put my words to it, I potentially stop it from speaking for itself... The Waking Fire can speak for itself :)


Just read it. You'll either like it as much as I did, or you won't. Either way, I'll be happy that you just gave it a shot - cause it is absolutely worth the effort.  


Lot's of book-lovin-huggin,



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review 2016-06-08 09:20
Bare Bones Book Review: The Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay
Children of Earth and Sky - Guy Gavriel Kay

From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy.
The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.
As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world...



Thanks to Hachette Australia for the review copy!


The Good Stuff:


  • Guy Gavriel Kay wrote it! :)


  • In other words, beautiful prose and brilliant wordery. I really enjoyed the (rather rarely used these days!) break out thoughts in parentheses that gave an almost 'stream of consciousness'  feel on occasion.


  • Interesting past to present tense flips to give emphasis on important character voice, and information being presented.


  • Great cast of characters, with outstanding development and progression.


  • Enchanting storylines for each character's point of view.


  • Steady pacing.


The Not So Good Stuff:


  • Not sure the extent of the plot progression justified the length of the book.


  • The world building could've been engrossing, if it had been a few more degrees separated from the real world. It felt much closer to historical fiction, than fantasy.


  • Not particularly enamoured with the quick wrap up, considering the lengths Kay goes to to thoroughly explain everything preceding it.




It's a beautifully written book, but it's not particularly action packed, and that may put some fantasy readers off. However, if you are looking for exquisite character voice and development, rather than heavy handed plot pushing - you'll be enamoured by The Children of Earth and Sky!


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review 2016-04-10 08:33
Book Review: The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor
The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death) - Nnedi Okorafor

Find it at: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo

A fiery spirit dances from the pages of the Great Book. She brings the aroma of scorched sand and ozone. She has a story to tell…. 

The Book of Phoenix is a unique work of magical futurism. A prequel to the highly acclaimed, World Fantasy Award-winning novel, Who Fears Death, it features the rise of another of Nnedi Okorafor’s powerful, memorable, superhuman women.

Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. She is an “accelerated woman”—only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.

Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape.

But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future. 


Thanks to Hachette Australia for a review copy of this book.


So, I rarely review books that I’m not particularly optimistic about, mainly because I try very hard to keep this a positive space, and about books that I genuinely think deserve promoting. However, I actually really wanted to try and explain why I found The Book Of Phoenix problematic. It’s been niggling at my mind for days; the need to give a full explanation for my lower end rating. It comes down to the fact that I was incredibly in love with parts of the book, and yet really disappointed with others;  I find I am unable to let this lie without an explanation. I usually find books with this sort of dichotomy really hard to level out in my mind, and so my opinion is always a bit disorderly. But, not with this book. I can pretty much tell you exactly what I loved, and what I didn’t, because it is actually glaringly obvious this time.


So, break it down really simply. What I worshiped, is Nnedi Okorafor’s ability to create characters, and explore their back story. There are explorations of culture, of gender, of diversity, and of politics. The clash that can occur between cultures that don’t fully understand each other, or want to: the prejudice, racism, and ignorance that can exist between co-exiting races and cultures.  All of these perfect details, sewn within each characters background.


I absolutely adored the sections of this book when the various characters sat down with Phoenix, and they told her about how they got to the place they are at now, almost like a parent telling a child a story. It is akin to oral storytelling, rather than written words on a page; that’s how beautifully composed those sections are. I love the explanations of places, cultures, and characters, that I would never have the opportunity to explore for myself, and therefore never have first-hand experience of. Points of view that I will never fully comprehend, even though I try to. They are so well done, so completely engrossing, that it kept me reading the book, when frankly it might have ended up in the DNF pile.


The thing that didn’t impress me so much, was the over arcing plot. Around a third of the way through, the intensity, and sincerity of the narrative started to fall flat. It became tired. I’ve read variations of the same narrative, so many times before, that I could predict what the ending would be. And, I’ll be honest, it annoyed me that Okorafor put so much effort into creating these extremely beautifully rendered characters, with such rich backgrounds and unique stories, but the plot line fell into a generic pattern. In a way, I think it might have been done on purpose, to show that a strong, black African female, could play the role of the hero (or villain), as well as any other cookie-cutter heroine within this type of storyline. Unfortunately, I wanted more for Phoenix, I wanted to see her shine brighter than those common cookie-cutter heroines. She didn’t, because the plotline flattened her out.


I am not an author, I’m certainly not the author. So I’ll only say what I wish had happened with this book, rather than saying what should have happened with this book. And, ask that you take it with a grain of salt. I personally would have loved to have seen this, as a book of short stories based on each character individually, in that first person, oral tradition tone that Nnedi Okorafor used so well. The stories of not only how these characters ended up in this situation, but their background, their cultures, their experiences; everything that Okorafor was able to bring out so exceptionally during those times exposition in The Book Of Phoenix. It didn’t need that bland, predictable, plot line to showcase Okorafor’s  ability to bring out the most poignant parts of a characters story, and make them gleam. I would have devoured every single word of that…


Full disclosure, I haven’t read Who Fears Death, the book that this is a prequel to, so maybe in some way I have missed the importance of the plotline, I don’t know. However, it certainly didn’t make this book stand out as a book that could be read as a standalone, or something you would want to read before Who Fears Death.


(and the very end of the book made absolutely no sense… I’m guessing that is where the crossover between the two books occurs? Maybe a character that is in Who Fears Death)


I feel relieved now that I’ve written that down!



Has anyone else read The Book of Pheonix? What did you think?


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review 2016-03-30 08:45
Book Review: Those Below by Daniel Polansky
Those Below - Daniel Polansky

Grab it at Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo


For centuries beyond counting, humanity has served the Others, god-like Eternals who rule from their cloud-capped mountain-city, building a civilization of unimagined beauty and unchecked viciousness.

But all that is about to change. Bas Alyates, grizzled general of a thousand battles, has assembled a vast army with which to contend with the might of Those Above. Eudokia, Machiavellian matriarch and the power behind the Empty Throne, travels to the Roost, nominally to play peacemaker - but in fact to inspire the human population toward revolt. Deep in the dark byways of the mountain's lower tiers, the urchin Pyre leads a band of fanatical revolutionaries in acts of terrorism against their inhuman oppressors. Against them, Calla, handmaiden of the Eternals' king, fights desperately to stave off the rising tide of violence which threatens to destroy her beloved city.


Thanks to Hachette Australia for providing a review copy.


So, firstly I thought I should let you know that I am currently trying out speech to text software, so if there are any extreme mistakes, I am blaming the software, and not myself.


It’s only fair! :)


I am trying to think of how to explain the many ways The Empty Throne series has impressed me. Those Below in particular, I believe, is a masterful piece of fantasy literature. Firstly, there is Polansky’s writing style. I don’t know if he sits at a desk, and ponders over every word that he puts in a sentence, or it simply passes from brain to page, but every word used is absolute perfection. Every word encapsulates the exact sound, feeling and attitude that the scene requires. It’s almost hard to explain, how precisely each word fits; it’s like a jigsaw piece snapping into place. No, this isn’t purple prose, it’s the work of a writer that has a firm grasp on how to use vocabulary to its fullest potential.


 He also manipulates the use of grammar, to create the exact amounts of urgency, and tension, within a paragraph that is required. This is particularly evident in scenes of battle, or high action, in which he uses punctuation to instil true forward movement and momentum into the scene. I’ve seen other authors try to do this before, but none have actually mastered it quite like Polansky has in The Empty Throne series.


Another outstanding achievement, is Polansky’s ability to create tension. I don’t mean tension in certain places, or in certain situations, I mean throughout the whole novel. Usually, I prefer my books to crescendo, but Polansky left that behind in the first book of the series, Those Above, and seemingly decided to have the readers on the edges of their seat, from go to woe in Those Below. It feels as though he has each character walking on a tight rope, and he could flick any one of them off it, at any given time. I rarely feel the need to flip to the back page of a book, but there were plenty of times in Those Below that I was truly tempted, due to the tension leaving me in this weird state of anxiety about what the outcome might be. It actually works incredibly well, and it kept me devouring pages long after I should’ve been asleep.


That being said, the pacing in this book can feel slightly wonky at times, due to the changes in point of view. It’s not a major complaint, but it is slightly jolting when you go from a back street knife fight, straight into, say, a dress shop choosing fabrics. It’s not an uncommon thing to happen in any book where each point of view is so glaringly different,  but it is slightly more noticeable in this, because of that high tension level.


The characters in Those Below, aren’t particularly likeable, and all are approaching the final destination from different angles. Yet, each has a quality that can be described as endearing: Pyre for his complete conviction. Eudokia for her intelligence, and cunning. Calla for her dedication, and willingness to die for the sake of her master’s race.  Bas for his no bull shit attitude, who is hard in the face of battle, yet can still mourn a friend. However, there is no sense that the reader should be inclined to be on any character’s side. None of these characters, are good characters. They are as grey as a winter sky, and if you’re expecting otherwise, you’ll be severely disappointed.


The nitty-gritty, the stuff happening below the surface plotline, is actually quite unnerving. The four main characters, could each be representatives of the archetypal figures, that have created the world that we live in today. A man who is marginalised, denigrated, desperate, and  is an easy target for what we would call becoming “radicalised”, simply because finally someone is willing to accept him, and give him the power he’s been denied from birth. Another who has power and privilege, and seeks no more, but refuses to share it. A woman, who to prove her power within a patriarchal society, can only do so by claiming power over everything in her path*. A man, who is simply fighting, because he’s been told to, but has no desire for power at all. And the results are disastrous, for all the characters involved. It’s quite chilling to read Polansky’s bleak outlook, and believe that it could be absolutely relevant in “real life”. But, it is absolutely believable, and absolutely relevant.


I will admit, that is much as I love this book, this series isn’t for everybody. It is one of the darkest novels I have read. The resolution is harrowing, and it is that way because of its believability, even though it is fantasy. This book is bleak, brutal, and will leave you with the taste of copper on your tongue, until you can finally put it aside. But, It is so very hard to put aside.


However, those are the exact reasons that I adored it. Sometimes, it’s only the taste of copper that will finally jolt you awake.





I eagerly await the next Polanksy novel, whatever it may be..


*NB. This does not mean that the book is some kind of MRA “Gah! The wimmins are trying to kill the mens” propaganda. This is a “don’t underestimate a person due to their gender, appearance,  or age.” book. The characters are all well balanced in their machinations, no matter the reasoning behind them.


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review 2016-03-17 08:36
Book Review: The Spider's War by Daniel Abraham
The Spider's War (The Dagger and the Coin) - Daniel Abraham

This is an audio review! You can listen to it here on SoundCloud or via the player embedded at the bottom on the post!


Grab The Spider's War at: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo


Thank you to Hachette Australia for supplying a copy for review!


The epic conclusion to The Dagger and The Coin series, perfect for fans of George R.R. Martin.

Lord Regent Geder Palliako's great war has spilled across the world, nation after nation falling before the ancient priesthood and weapon of dragons. But even as conquest follows conquest, the final victory retreats before him like a mirage. Schism and revolt begin to erode the foundations of the empire, and the great conquest threatens to collapse into a permanent war of all against all.

In Carse, with armies on all borders, Cithrin bel Sarcour, Marcus Wester, and Clara Kalliam are faced with the impossible task of bringing a lasting peace to the world. Their tools: traitors high in the imperial army, the last survivor of the dragon empire, and a financial scheme that is either a revolution or the greatest fraud in the history of the world.


Also contains a simple overview of the series for those yet initiated with The Dagger and The coin!



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