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review 2020-06-12 20:10
Delightful, tragic, and beautiful
The Once and Future King - T.H. White

I totally understand why this is a classic now. It's long but powerful. It's humorous and serious by turns. Just a fun and yet deep take on King Arthur, Guenever, and Lancelot. 

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review 2020-03-07 07:05
Review: The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood
The Unspoken Name - A. K. Larkwood

I must say it has been a long time since I was as disappointed in a book as I am in this one. My expectations for this book were sky high. I had seen a lot of good buzz about it and the premise sounded amazing. A high fantasy with orcs and elves, mages and assassins? And brought to me by Tor Books? Sign me up! Here just have my money!! Then, in the end, it was just a giant feeling of “whomp whomp”. That makes me sad. Especially because this book had a ton of potential.


Csorwe had the potential to be an amazing character. She was raised her entire life to know that she will be sacrificed to her god on a specific day and that is her only purpose. And then, at the last moment, she is offered an alternate destiny. A chance to become an assassin, a sword hand for a wronged wizard who wants his power back. And she just so happens to be an orc priestess too. Unfortunately, she was also incredibly boring. I had no emotional connection to her at all. Probably because we only see her in action packed moments. We only see her in the moments preceding battle, the midst of battle and the immediate aftermath of battle. Characters are created in the little moments. The moments that the character spends training, planning, preparing, and theorizing about what is to come. There was absolutely none of that in this book. We go from Csorwe leaving behind her destiny to several years later when she’s already largely trained. We are told that she really enjoyed training with a mercenary group, but we never actually see that happen. We are told that she is a remarkable fighter and assassin. Except she only does this actual task one or two times, neither of which could be considered wildly successful. Mostly she gets her ass kicked. To the brink of death. Seemingly every day.


Tal’s character was slightly more fleshed out but I got the feeling that he was there purely as an adversary for Csorwe and occasional comic relief. That was a shame because I felt like there was untapped potential there. Shuthmili was a good character and I found myself connecting with her at times, but since she isn’t a major factor in a lot of the book it was hard to develop any lasting feelings about her.  And her romance with Csorwe was very sweet.


The most memorable character was Oranna. I had some deep feelings about her and thought she was the best character as a whole. She actually felt like a real person instead of a cardboard stand-in for a real person. She was wonderful although I don’t think that I ever completely grasped her motivation behind everything that she did. I know what she told us her motivation was but it seemed hollow and shallow. I suspect it wasn’t entirely the truth.


The writing was technically solid and I found myself reading large swathes of pages at a time without realizing the time was going by. That was the good part. The problem was the disjointed nature of the narrative. We start with Csorwe at 14, then we jumped a few years to about 17 or 18, then jump again to her at around 22. Every time we arrive in a new time period, things are already figured out and a plan is already well underway for what needs to happen. It was confusing. I never got a chance to get invested in a particular narrative before it was over and we moved on to the next thing. There was also absolutely no showing in this book, just telling. We are told that people felt a certain way. We are told that things work a certain way. We are told that this is the answer to the entire thing. We are told that this is what will happen next. It made things very boring and without a connection to the story.


I am not sure why the author tried to make different races of beings. I forgot that Csorwe was an orc for most of the book because it is never mentioned and it doesn’t influence how she behaves, speaks or her interactions with others. Similarly, I completely forgot that Tal was an elf until I was writing this review and remembered some tidbit about his ears and skin color. I don’t need Tolkien levels of race building here. Frankly I am glad it wasn’t because Tolkien’s 4 page narratives about a tree bore the bejesus out of me (I know, I pronounced myself a heretic on that one, haha!). But you need to give me something because these characters were painfully human.


Because of all this showing and not telling, I also have no idea how this world looks or how it works. I got some vague stuff about gates that remind me of Stargate and some kind of ship. It is alternately described as a wooden ship or a barge, and has an “alchemical engine” which gives me steampunk airship vibes. But I have no idea if any of these interpretations are correct. The world itself was not fleshed out well. So as interesting as a Maze that eats dead worlds is, unless you can describe it for me then it’s just an interesting idea and nothing else.


One aspect that I loved was the pantheon of gods, how they are worshipped and the magic system of this world. That was all completely stellar. I am always on board with some good ole fashioned god worship, complete with sacrifices. I also really enjoyed the rules for using magic in this world. Magic comes with a price, exacting a physical toll on the user. So there is a delicate balance that must be struck and maintained. That was all fabulous and one of the big things that kept me going on this book.


My final issue is that I have no idea why this book was called The Unspoken Name. We have the Unspoken One, Csorwe’s patron god. But they are only referred to as the Unspoken One. Never as anything else. The term unspoken name weren’t actually in the book until page 435 and it seemed to be mostly used as an exasperated expletive. “We need to think. We need to – Oh, by the twelve hundred Unspeakable names, what in hell is that?” This probably shouldn’t get on my nerves but it did.


In the end, this book was okay. It shows some signs of brilliance and I can see that the author is very talented. But that brilliance was not curated properly and so the final result ends up being messy and disappointing.

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review 2020-02-26 19:13
Review: Geist (Book of the Order #1) by Philippa Ballantine
Geist - Philippa Ballantine
Book of the Order #1
Philippa Ballantine
High Fantasy - Urban Fantasy - Science Fiction - Steampunk
August 28th 2018


The undead are here and only the Deacons stand in their way.


The Order of the Deacons, stand as protectors of the Empire, guardians against ghost possession, sentinels warding off the malevolent haunting of the geists.


Sorcha Faris, the most powerful deacon of the Order, finds herself thrust into an unwanted partnership with a total novice, Merrick Chambers. That’s bad enough, but when they are dispatched to an isolated village to counter a surge of violent geist activity, they find their fate bound with Raed Rossin. Shapeshifter and Pretender to the Imperial throne he bears a terrible curse which endangers them all.


As they investigate, the strange settlement is reveled to be haunted by a undead creature more predatory and horrifying than any encountered before. Together they quest to uncover the mystery of twisted rituals passed down through the dark reaches of history intent on striking at the heart of the Empire.


Can three powerful and troubled people discover a way to work together to save the citizens and themselves?




Barnes & Noble




Geist is book one in the Book of the Order by Philippa Ballantine. 


This book is appealing and also a bit hard to understand and get into. The world is a cross of old world, steampunk, and fantasy. Not much steampunk, but their are mentions of airships that run on geist, spirits and ghosts magic and time clocks, but for the most part it’s like mid-evil time period. 


Ms. Ballantine jumps right in with introducing us to words we don’t full understand, yet, and a historical type society structure. She has created an elaborate world, rich in details with its own unique mythology. Due to this, the book is not quick nor easy to read. I had trouble with the story and staying interested at the start, the “get to know you” phase, but eventually things pick up and we are pulled into a web of deceit and mortal danger. 


Our three leads; Sorcha, Merrick, and Raed are all battling inner demons and personal issues. They all end up in an isolated village together where they find something more dangerous and powerful than expected. The trio each see things in their own unique way, which brings a full range of views to the situation’s. The lies and manipulation force them to see that they have all been played and what happens in the end will have you feeling for them. Life is not easy and the choices we make are not always easy. 


I’m not sure if I’ll read on, but I am intrigued and curious about what might happen next. Even though they fight back the big bad, it’s clear that it’s not over. 


Rated: 3.5 Stars


Was this review helpful? If so, please consider liking it on Goodreads (Angela)!











I was born and raised in Northern Indiana. I’m an outdoor sun loving reader living near San Fransisco. I’m a mother, wife, dog owner, animal, and book lover. I’m the owner, reviewer, and mind behind Angel’s Guilty Pleasures. My favorite animals are horses & dogs. As for reading I love all things paranormal & urban fantasy. My favorite shifters are dragons!

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Source: angelsguiltypleasures.com/2020/02/review-geist-book-of-the-order-1-by-philippa-ballantine
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review 2020-02-25 11:47
Mein Herz schweigt
Blood Song - Anthony Ryan

Anthony Ryan schreibt unter einem Pseudonym. Ich konnte nicht herausfinden, wie der britische Autor tatsächlich heißt, aber ich habe erfahren, dass er sich zu diesem Schritt entschied, weil er während der Entstehung seines Debüts „Blood Song“ als Beamter arbeitete. Parallel zu seinem Job studierte er damals zusätzlich in Teilzeit mittelalterliche Geschichte, weshalb sechseinhalb Jahre vergingen, bis er seinen Roman fertigstellte. Seine Arbeit war zuerst jedoch nicht von Erfolg gekrönt: er fand keinen Agenten. Daher beschloss er, „Blood Song“ im Selfpublishing zu veröffentlichen. Das Buch wurde von der Leserschaft begeistert aufgenommen und weckte dadurch das Interesse des Verlagsriesen Penguin, der Ryan einen Vertrag über drei Bücher anbot – die Geburtsstunde der Trilogie „Raven’s Shadow“. Ende gut, alles gut.


Nach Jahren der Gefangenschaft erblickt der berüchtigtste Häftling des Alpiranisches Reiches wieder die Sonne. Vaelin Al Sorna weiß, dass er nur befreit wurde, um zu sterben. Ein Schiff soll ihn auf die Meldeneischen Inseln bringen, wo er ein gnadenloses Duell auf Leben und Tod ausfechten wird. Auf seiner Reise begleitet ihn der kaiserliche Geschichtsschreiber Verniers, der nicht widerstehen kann, den Hoffnungstöter persönlich zu befragen. Vaelin erzählt ihm seine Geschichte. Er berichtet von seiner Kindheit und Ausbildung im strikten Sechsten Orden der Vereinigten Königslande, seiner Zeit als Glaubenskämpfer, den Kriegen als Schwert des Königs und dem Blut an seinen Händen. Doch sein größtes Geheimnis behält er für sich: die mysteriöse Macht, die in seinen Adern flüstert und ihn lehrt, zu sehen. Er kann nicht riskieren, Verniers einzuweihen, denn hinter dem Gewebe der Welt giert eine bösartige Kreatur danach, die Kontrolle über die gesamte Menschheit an sich zu reißen. Vaelin ist der einzige, der ihre Pläne vereiteln kann. Er ist der Rabenschatten. Sein Lied ist noch nicht gesungen.


Zwischenzeitlich dachte ich, ich würde es niemals fertigbringen, „Blood Song“ zu rezensieren. Ewig habe ich auf diesem Trilogieauftakt herumgedacht, habe versucht, ihn auseinanderzunehmen und meine Gefühle beim Lesen zu analysieren. Wieder und wieder nahm ich Anlauf. Wieder und wieder rannte ich gegen eine Wand und holte mir eine blutige Nase. Möglicherweise habe ich irgendwann sogar meinen Laptop angeschrien und das Buch gedanklich als fieses, gemeines Biest betitelt, weil ich keinen Ansatz fand, immer wieder abrutschte und mit allem, was ich (digital) zu Papier brachte, unzufrieden war. Ich musste mich fragen, was da los war, warum ich so fürchterlich blockierte. Ich verrate es euch: ich verstrickte mich immer tiefer in meiner Frustration, weil ich den Auftakt der „Raven’s Shadow“-Trilogie besser bewerten wollte, als er ist. Ja, das klingt hart, ich weiß. Doch in meiner aktuellen Lage hilft nur brutale Ehrlichkeit. „Blood Song“ ist kein schlechtes Buch, das möchte ich klarstellen. Ich freue mich für alle, die die Lektüre begeistert genossen und will absolut nicht abstreiten, dass Anthony Ryan einen guten Job machte, als er es völlig im Alleingang schrieb und veröffentlichte. Aber sehen wir den Tatsachen ins Auge: ich hätte keine Schwierigkeiten, diesen Roman zu besprechen, hätte er bei mir mehr Eindruck hinterlassen. Meiner Meinung nach ist „Blood Song“ ganz stinknormale, durchschnittliche High Fantasy. Die Euphorie, die offenbar viele Rezensent_innen dafür empfinden, teile ich nicht. Ich sehe darin nichts Besonderes und erst recht keine Offenbarung. Es enthält einige interessante Ideen und leitet eine verschachtelte, komplexe Geschichte ein, die der perfekte Nährboden für zahlreiche spannende Konflikte ist – das ändert jedoch nichts daran, dass mich Ryans blutleerer Schreibstil emotional nicht abholte. Ich empfand keine Leidenschaft, kein Feuer und habe die meisten Entwicklungen distanziert hingenommen. Mein Interesse war stets rein intellektueller Natur; beispielsweise wollte ich natürlich herausfinden, wie Ryan die Rahmenerzählung der Gegenwart, in der sein Protagonist Vaelin Al Sorna als Gefangener des Alpiranischen Reiches auf die Meldeneischen Inseln verschifft wird und ein langes Gespräch mit dem kaiserlichen Historiker Verniers führt, mit der Binnenhandlung der Vergangenheit, die Vaelins Werdegang detailliert beschreibt, zusammenführt. Ebenso nahm ich das interessante Worldbuilding, das die Kultur des mittelalterlichen Europas mit den religiösen Merkmalen eines Ahnenkults kombiniert, wohlwollend zur Kenntnis. Dennoch funkte es nicht, weil ich nicht an Vaelin herankam, der so wenig in Kontakt mit seinen Gefühlen steht, dass er auch mir den Zugang verwehrte. Ohne eine emotionale Bindung an die Hauptfigur las sich „Blood Song“ für mich spröde und abstrakt. Nicht einmal ich kann rund 600 Seiten High Fantasy bejubeln, wenn mein Herz schweigt.


Die High Fantasy nimmt in meiner Lesewelt eine Sonderrolle ein. Es ist mein Lieblingsgenre, für das ich – zugegeben – gern mal ein Auge zudrücke. Meine Erfahrung mit „Blood Song“ beweist allerdings, dass selbst ich Grenzen habe und gewisse Mindestanforderungen erfüllt sein müssen, um diese Nachsicht zu rechtfertigen. So gern sich mein Kopf durchsetzen wollte und mir immer wieder vorbetete, in welcher Hinsicht der Auftakt der „Raven’s Shadow“-Trilogie bemerkenswert ist, gegen die Stimme meines Bauches, den ich als Sprachrohr meines Herzens interpretiere, konnte er nicht bestehen. Ist der Bauch unglücklich, bin ich es auch. Selbstverständlich ist es schade, dass „Blood Song“ bei mir nicht die Reaktion auslöste, die ich mir wahrscheinlich ebenso wünschte wie der Autor Anthony Ryan, doch entschuldigen werde ich mich dafür nicht, denn meiner Ansicht nach war nicht ich das Problem. Hätte Ryan nur ein klein wenig mehr Wert auf die emotionale Ebene seiner Geschichte gelegt, hätte er mich gehabt. Ich werde sehen, ob ihm das in der Fortsetzung „Tower Lord“ besser gelingt.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2020/02/25/anthony-ryan-blood-song
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review 2020-01-05 17:38
A satisfying ending to a captivating trilogy
The Queen of Nothing - Holly Black

I'm a big fan of Holly Black (ever since her first novel Tithe), and I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, which was wrapped up so nicely in the last novel.


To be honest, the most impressive thing for me in this conclusion of the series is how much I realized I'd come to love and become attached to the secondary characters such as Jude's sister Taryn and her foster father Madoc.


The ending was almost a bit too neat, but there was plenty of intrigue and romance to make up for it. :) 

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