Tag Archives: epic fantasy/science fiction

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook Muse of Nightmares – Book 2 of the Strange the Dreamer series by Laini Taylor #Brainfluffbookreview #MuseofNightmaresbookreview

Standard

I recently completed Strange the Dreamer, the first book in this amazing series and immediately went ahead and bought the second book – I had to know what would happen next…

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old. She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise. She was wrong.
In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

That’s as much of the blurb I’m happy to share with you, given that if you have picked up this book without reading the first book, then put it back down and track down Strange the Dreamer. Muse of Nightmares immediately picks up the tale from where Strange the Dreamer left off, so you’ll be floundering without appreciating the full awesome specialness of either Sarai or Lazlo if you try to plunge straight into the middle of this duology.

In this book, we also are introduced to two sisters, Kora and Nova. While Sarai and Lazlo are battling with Minya, we also learn of the hard-scrabbled existence endured by Kora and Nova as their mother was taken by the blue-skinned gods. They are both convinced they are also worthy to serve – that when the time comes, they, too, will be taken away from their cruel step-mother and uncaring father before they end up being married to men old enough to pay for them. And then the silver skyship comes… I particularly love this story arc and would have enjoyed more of it and a little less of the romantic scenes between Lazlo and Sarai. But it is supposedly a YA read, so I’m aware that I’m not the target audience. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, more of an observation.

What I particularly enjoyed was the way the story morphed from being a magical fantasy tale into a science fiction story – and then was linked with the Daughter of Smoke and Bone universe – nicely done! However, I was interested to note that most of the characters – at least the ones we cared about and even some of the ones we didn’t – had their story arcs completed in a more positive manner than I’d been expecting. While I knew that Taylor wasn’t writing grimdark or anything close to it, – I had rather assumed that there would be more losers, given the stakes were so very high and I’m not sure that I was completely convinced by some of the character transformations.

That said, I couldn’t put this one down until I’d finished it and if it didn’t contain quite the same atmosphere and magic of Strange the Dreamer as far as I’m concerned, it is still an amazing read and one I very highly recommend.
9½/10

Advertisements

Sunday Post – 4th March, 2018

Standard

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

It’s certainly been a different week… I loathe the snow – particularly driving in it, so was very relieved when Northbrook announced on Tuesday morning that it would be cancelling the afternoon and evening classes. In the event, the weather cleared up and there was bright sunshine, but throughout the week we had flurries and then blizzards, though fortunately it never snowed long enough to create any real depth or the drifts that afflicted other parts of the country. What was miserable was the bitterly cold easterly which howled through the cracks in our double-glazed windows and revealed just what a shoddy job the installers did when fitting them. Shame on you Anglian Windows! After I sellotaped over the cracks, I couldn’t believe the difference it made to the temperature in the house.

I was very lucky to be able to stay indoors for the duration of the sub-zero temperatures and when we woke up yesterday to the significant rise in temperature and everything once more snow and ice-free, I did a happy dance. My heart goes out to those who were stranded, or homeless and those families who are running out of supplies.

The only damage we sustained was that the tap in the outbuilding sheared off after the water pipe was frozen, creating a stream of water shooting across shed and soaking me as I attempted to put on the washing machine for the first time in three days.

Writing-wise, it has been a week where I’ve slowed down to take stock and ensure I’m on the right track, but I’m hoping now to be able to get the final third of Miranda’s Tempest rewritten this month.

This week I have read:

Blunt Force Magic – Book 1 of the Monsters and Men trilogy by Lawrence Davis
Janzen Robinson is a man lost between two worlds. Five years removed from a life as an apprentice to a group of do-gooding heroes who championed the fight against supernatural evils, the once-promising student is now a package courier going through the daily grind, passing time at a hole-in-the-wall bar and living in a tiny, run-down apartment on the south side of Cleveland, Ohio.

Then fate (or a case of bad timing) brings him face to face with a door that’s got his old life written all over it. From the ancient recesses of unyielding darkness known as the Abyss, a creature has been summoned: a Stalker, a predator whose real name is forbidden to be spoken aloud. It’s a bastardization of the natural order, a formidable blend of dark magic and primal tenacity. Its single-minded mission? Ending the life of a fiery, emerging young witch.

I loved this! Attracted by that amazing cover, I had thought I was getting an epic fantasy, swords and sorcery adventure – but this is firmly in the territory of urban fantasy, which plenty of gritty action and an intriguing, sympathetic protagonist. I shall be reviewing this one in due course.

 

The Bitter Twins – Book 2 of The Winnowing Flame trilogy by Jen Williams
The Ninth Rain has fallen, the Jure’lia have returned, and with Ebora a shadow of its former self, the old enemy are closer to conquering Sarn than ever.

Tormalin the Oathless and the Fell-Witch Noon have their hands full dealing with the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for nearly three hundred years. But these are not the great mythological warriors of old; hatched too early and with no link to their past lives, the war-beasts have no memory of the many battles they have fought and won, and no concept of how they can possibly do it again. The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists, but finding it will mean a dangerous journey at a time of war…

Meanwhile, Hestillion is trapped on board the corpse moon, forced into a strange and uneasy alliance with the Jure’lia queen. Something terrifying is growing up there, in the heart of the Behemoth, and the people of Sarn will have no defence against these new monsters.

I have included the entire blurb for this one – something I rarely do – as this time, it was a shame I didn’t read it before I plunged into the novel. It was a while since I’d read The Ninth Rain and this book picks up immediately from the end of the last one, without any kind of pause or roundup to give readers a chance to rebond with the main characters and recall exactly what was going on. And as you can see – a lot is going on… So it took me a while to get back into the fray. However, once I became immersed in the story once more, I thoroughly enjoyed the action. Aliens and dragons in the same adventure – what’s not to love?

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 25th February 2018

Review of Split Feather – Book 1 of The Daughter of the Midnight Sun series by Deborah A. Wolf

Teaser Tuesday featuring Blunt Force Magic – Book 1 of the Monsters and Men trilogy by Lawrence Davis

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring Meet Me in the Strange by Leander Watts

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Into the Fire – Book 2 of the Vatta’s Peace series by Elizabeth Moon

Friday Face-off – The king is dead, long live the king… featuring The King Must Die – Book 1 of the Theseus series by Mary Renault

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Hyperspace Trap by Christopher G. Nuttall

 

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Explorer Chick Adventure Co., The Perfect Reason To Get Outside and Play https://roamwildandfree.com/2018/03/03/explorer-chick-adventure-co-the-perfect-reason-to-get-outside-and-play/ For those of you in the process of compiling your bucket list…

Melfka’s Birthday Week: The Sweet Tooth Witch http://melfka.com/archives/2683 As Joanna gleefully lists her favourite guilty pleasures, other than chocolates, of course – it got me wondering what the rest of you lovely folks like eating from the sweetie aisle in the supermarket…

Little Walter: 50 Years Dead but he will never be gone! The King of the Blues Harmonica
https://theimmortaljukebox.com/2018/02/19/little-walter-50-years-dead-but-he-will-never-be-gone-the-king-of-the-blues-harmonica/ Do yourselves a favour and click on some of these recordings – you will never have heard harmonica playing quite like it before – unless you’re already a fan of this extraordinary musician.

Wrting Microfiction: The Sometimes Stellar Storyteller Six Word Story Challenge https://thenaptimeauthor.wordpress.com/2018/02/23/writing-microfiction-the-sometimes-stellar-storyteller-six-word-story-challenge/ Sometimes, short can be very sweet…

#Snowmaggedon And if you don’t happen to live this side of the pond and have been wondering what the fuss is about regarding the weather – put this hashtag into the Twitter searchbox and take a look at what we’ve all been obsessing about this week…

Have a great week and thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site.

Review of KINDLE Ebook The Language of Power – Book 4 of The Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein

Standard

I have been reading this series throughout the year and read the final book during my bout of flu as I wanted something to take me away from the misery of feeling so ill…

A STEERSWOMAN ASKS, AND IS ALWAYS ANSWERED

The steerswoman Rowan has learned much about the master-wizard Slado: how his spells are devastating the distant lands known as the Outskirts, and how they will ultimately threaten even the Inner Lands. But she knows nothing else about him, not even why he is hiding his actions from the other wizards. He must be found, and stopped. Now, following the slimmest of clues, Rowan arrives in the city of Donner hoping to learn more about Slado’s plans. But when the answers begin coming in faster than the questions can be asked, a strange tale from the past emerges, a tale behind all the secrets of the present…

My firm advice with this particular slice of the adventure is not to read it. First, go back to the first in the series, The Steerwoman, and start the narrative there. While I’m sure you could follow this slice of the unfolding story without too much trouble, this is such a cracking series with so many clever twists and scenarios that starting here right at the end would be a real shame. Far better to begin at the start to fully appreciate this adventure.

Rowan visits Donner on the trail of the wizards – and Slado in particular. Once there, she needs to be careful as she cannot afford to come to the attention of the wizards. They have lethal powers and arcane methods of tracking people.

And once more we are tipped into the middle of a nail-biting adventure that had me gripped – while I don’t want to venture into Spoiler territory, the scene in the field with the dragons was masterfully handled and will stay in my mind for a very long time. I also loved the manner in which this magical fantasy slowly slides into science fiction. Kirstein beautifully handles the action and unfolding plot. It was also great to have her companion Bel alongside once more. They make a strong team and I missed her presence in the last story. In fact there is only one major problem for me with this particular book – it doesn’t wrap up the adventure.

Kirstein is apparently working on the next two books in the series and I am hoping that they will appear in due course. Though I’m prepared to be patient as she is now self-publishing the whole series – this outstanding adventure deserves a suitably awesome ending. In the meantime, I recommend the series so far – it’s a gem and should have far wider recognition.
9/10

Review of KINDLE Ebook The Voyage of the Basilisk – Book 3 of The Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan

Standard

The discovery of this series has been one of my reading highlights – and the reason I haven’t powered through all the books is because they are too good. I want to savour each one after I’ve read it and reflect on it for a while, before once more diving back into this rich, beautifully evoked world. That said, the gap between The Tropic of Serpents and this one was longer than I’d planned.

Devoted readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoirs, A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, may believe themselves already acquainted with the particulars of her historic voyage aboard the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, but the true story of that illuminating, harrowing, and scandalous journey has never been revealed—until now. Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Isabella embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world to study all manner of dragons in every place they might be found. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is not only her young son, Jake, but a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella’s in ways both professional and personal.

The tone and writing is pitch perfect. Isabella Trent epitomises those gutsy Victorian lady explorers who endured hazardous journeys to distant corners of the world in primitive conditions – often still wearing corsets and long skirts. Although Isabella does adopt trousers for their practicality in scrambling over ruins and running away from enraged dragons. This time, most of the book is spent aboard the ship Basilisk as the expedition she is heading attempts to garner more information on sea dragons, amongst other breeds living inconveniently long distances away from Scirland.

The first third of the book is necessarily episodic as the expedition gets under way – but once events start to spin out of control, as they invariably do for Isabella and her companions, the pace picks up along with the stakes. While she would love to devote all her attention and resources on tracking down and learning more about dragons, the politics of the region has to be taken into account – particularly in relation to her own country’s ambitions and she has learnt the hard way that this is an aspect of her travels she cannot afford to disregard.

The long-running narrative arc regarding the issue of dragon bones being stabilised and used industrially continues to gain momentum through this book. While I think all the books can be easily read as a standalone, it is always gratifying to have at least one ongoing thread to reward readers who follow the series. The climax in this book kept me reading until the end – I simply couldn’t put it down. And while I am not going to dive straight into the next book – I want more time to fully absorb and appreciate Basilisk goodness – I certainly don’t want to leave it too long before I once again delight in revisiting this world with the next book in the series, In the Labyrinth of Drakes. Highly recommended.
9/10