Review: The Novice, by Trudi Canavan


This is book two in The Black Magician Trilogy, and I was incredibly disappointed. Sure, I didn’t rate the first book that high (3/5 stars) but I was hoping that by the second book things would have picked up a bit and the author would have found her groove. Instead things seemed to fall apart.

I had high hopes for Sonea as she progressed into the Magicians Guild and attended her classes, but instead she turned into an incredibly weak, meek, shy girl who refused to stand up for herself. The entire novel she let people push her around and did nothing about it. She didn’t retaliate, didn’t ask anyone for help, just sucked it up and dealt with it. I found this incredibly obnoxious and it spoiled what I thought of the entire story. I can overlook plot holes, I can get by with weak descriptions so long as there are outstanding characters and this book simply fell short. Of course by now I have read too much and I will have to continue on with the third book, but I really hope Sonea has grown up a bit.

Yes, the story line did move along, and parts of it were interesting, but they were ALL overshadowed by the weak woman that Sonea turned into and it just simply did not resonate with me at all.

2/5 Stars


Review: Red Rising, by Pierce Brown



This book has been going around my feeds as ‘the next big thing’ as far as books-to-read go. A few of my friends read it and loved it which is always a good sign that I may also enjoy reading it.

While I DID enjoy the book, it reminded me far too much of movies like Ender’s Game, and so I didn’t find the story unique at all. Darrow lives on Mars, and works beneath the surface at a very dangerous job. Some things happen that cause him to question what he’s doing, and who he is doing it for. Eventually through a series of events he gets recruited into an organization hoping to overthrow the caste system, but in order to help he has to impersonate one of the ‘higher’ races. He has to move through their ranks, starting with University, which is an us vs. them tactical game of capture the flag. The game turns all too real as the students are pitted against each other, and the teachers get involve taking sides. There are political undertones to the whole thing, which just makes the twists and turns more enticing.

The writing was fantastic and like I already said, I did enjoy the book but it was pretty much (to me) Ender’s Game, with more fantasy than space in certain parts of it (the university capture the flag game happens on a planet). Still, I do recommend picking up the book and giving it a read. The writing more than makes up for a repeat story, and it’s not COMPLETELY like Ender’s Game, it just reminded me a lot of it.

4/5 Stars

Review: The High Druid’s Blade, by Terry Brooks




The High Druid’s Blade started out with a strong story, but the writing style (in my opinion) did not do it justice. The reader meets Paxon, a young boy doing what he can to help out his family. He has a sister who he is very protective of. She gets herself into some pretty serious trouble, and he goes to rescue her out of it. It felt like the first half of the book was missing a lot of descriptions. I likened it to an overview, it went along the lines of “John got up. John had breakfast. John got on his airship and flew for 5 hours, then John landed.” – I couldn’t relate to the characters or their world because I wasn’t given enough information.

Through an unusual series of events (ie: I couldn’t believe just how things “worked out”) Paxon goes to stay with the Druids who are training him for combat. They need a protector after all. While he is staying with them his sister is kidnapped by the evil Arcannan (or so he assumes) and he once more has to go to her rescue. About mid way through the book the story shifts to the sisters point of view. Things start getting a LOT more detailed but because it’s a torture scene with an underaged girl it felt very awkward. Not because of the scene itself but because this descriptive writing wasn’t in the first half of the book and I found it frustrating that the author had decided to inject it only for the torture scenes. 

It felt like throughout the story things just naturally seemed to be ‘too good to be true’ making Paxon, his sister, the druids, and the small handful of other characters unbelieveable. Near the end things get more realistic, more descriptive and that is the portion I enjoyed. I started connecting to the characters just as the novel was ending. I’m not sure if I’ll continue with the series as this was only the first book, but it was enough to pique my interest. 

The book releases March 11th, and while I did have issues with the writing style I really enjoyed the plot. I received this ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

3/5 stars 

Review: The Adversary by Erin M. Evans



Book three in The Sundering series was a welcome change from the incredible doom and gloom that I felt in the first two books. You’re introduced to two tiefling, Farideh and her sister Havilar. While the book is third in the series you’re more than welcome to read it out of order, the books (like the previous ones) only loosely tie together (they all take place in the same ‘world’). The world is still filled with doom and gloom but there are hints of romance and characters that I didn’t absolutely disdain which always helps.

Farideh makes a pact (or two, or three) with a devil in order to keep those she cares about safe from harm. Of course making pacts with devils never turns out the way you want it to, and she soon finds herself in over her head, serving a wizard who is rounding up the Chosen of the Gods for a purpose that she can’t figure out. Her sister is bent on rescuing her, along with her old patron, a group of harpers who think she is a traitor, and a red wizard. Each person has their own reason for finding Farideh, with their own outcome of the events.

I can honestly say this third book is my favorite so far. The characters were colourful and came alive in a way that I didn’t see in the previous books. It was nice to see characters that were not all good or all evil; they made mistakes, and paid for those mistakes. I found myself ‘rooting’ for each character as they neared their goal and while the ending may have been predictable, I was satisfied with how it carried out.

This book released in December, so it’s a great time to pick it up. I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and I thank NetGalley as well as the publishers for the opportunity.

4/5 stars

Review: The Godborn, by Paul S. Kemp


I received this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley, my thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity.

When I first saw The Godborn on NetGalley I was very interested in reviewing it because it’s the second book in The Sundering series, started by R.A. Salvatore. Like many, I had assumed that the books would have some sort of link between them, but I was wrong. They do both take place in the Forgotten Realms world, but that is where the similarities end. This is both good and bad, it means you can read them as individual stand alone novels, but if you’re looking for some continuation of a story you’ll be out of luck.

You follow the life of Vasen, who was born in an abbey having never known his father. He meets up with some heroes, and together they set forth to prevent the destruction of the world. Pretty straight forward story. The writing style is incredibly dark which makes sense since the end of the world is a pretty bleak time, but it was so dark and morbid and at times just disgusting that I found myself really wishing for some sort of reprieve. For fans of that sort of writing style I have no doubt that the book will resonate very well, but personally it was a bit too much.

3 / 5 stars


Review: In The Company of Thieves by Kage Baker



I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review, my thanks to NetGalley and the publisher.

I admit, sometimes I’m pretty shallow when it comes to picking a book to read. I judge by the covers (both the front and the back). The cover to ‘In the Company of Thieves’ pulled at me and I just knew that I had to read it.

I was sad to learn that Kage Baker had passed on, and even sadder once I read the first short story in this series. It involves a robotic entity who does nothing but observe time as it passes. Down the same streets, the same city. Eventually he starts to watch and observe a woman who visits a specific park each day. She fights for the restoration of the park but no one listens to her. He watches as she becomes thinner, and thinner, and eventually she dies from her illness. It was a sad yet touching story, filled with emotion and compassion, more so once I heard of the authors own death. Funny how things can touch us that way.

The stories were chosen by the authors sister once she had passed on, and that is probably the reason why they seem to ‘hit home’ as it were. There are six short stories total and while the later ones involve a setting that Kage Baker is known for, the first ones are a bit all over the place. This isn’t a bad thing, it just left me a bit confused as I naturally looked for a tie-in between stories. I loved the writing style and the steampunk-esc settings, but still found myself wanting a bit ‘more’ out of each short story.

The book came out in 2013, so if you’re a fan of Kage Baker or are looking for some new short stories to delve into, this makes for a great choice and it certainly left me with the desire to check out some of her other work.

3.5/5 stars

Review: Board Stiff by Piers Anthony


This book was given to me as an ARC for an honest review from NetGalley.

The world of Xanth is made of puns – and a virus threatens those puns. Of course before you get to the main story of the book you’re introduced to Kandy, a woman who is turned into a literal board of wood at a wishing well. Thankfully she doesn’t have to suffer too long, as she meets up with the love of her life. Being a board, things get complicated, quickly.

The two meet up with other characters along the way, including Com Pewter, and a basilisk. They partake in a quest to get rid of the virus, and meet up with many colourful characters along the way.

The book was highly sexualized and it felt almost needless. It was amusing hearing about men ‘freaking out’ and freezing any time they saw a flash of panties, but it felt like an overused mechanic that was just tossed in there randomly. I really enjoyed the world of Xanth, and the puns made me cackle in delight but again I felt the sex was something that was just thrown about whenever the author wanted a bit of shock value (which was often). Had these parts been left out of the book I would have personally enjoyed it a lot more.

Thankfully there are a few redeeming characters you meet up with along the way, and enough interest to keep wanting to read about the quest and see if the group is finally successful. If you’re familiar with the world of Xanth and the writing style of Piers Anthony then you may want to give this book a try, but otherwise it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

3 / 5 stars

Review: The Magician’s Guild by Trudi Canavan



It is rare that I come across a book that a good portion of my friends list on Goodreads has read or wants to read, but this book fit both categories. It has been on my to-read pile for quite a while, and over the holidays I finally got to it – and I’m glad I did. The base story isn’t anything unique but sometimes when I’m reading that’s not a quality I absolutely must have in my book.

It follows the story of a young woman who is born with the powers of an untrained magician. She lives in the slums and one day while she is out with a gang trying to avoid the purge she accidentally releases those powers and the city magicians take notice. From there the book goes into great detail about the guild trying to catch her so they can properly train her powers, and the steps she takes to avoid them. Her friends rally to her side, and the thieves guild eventually agrees to help hide her (of course they want something in return).

It was simple, quirky, and interesting, which is exactly what I was in the mood for. The story was compelling enough that I picked up the other books to the series, and I’m interested in seeing how it unfolds. While the first half of the book is filled with her adventures in avoiding the magician’s guild, the second half is trying to get her on their side (and of course she meets up with some shady characters along the way). I think I enjoyed the first half better, mainly because I fell in love with the thieves guild and their leader. I would have loved to have read more about that particular group of characters and their stories. The second half was interesting too but it was also more structured and dare I say it, boring?

If you’re looking for an easy going fantasy book I would certainly recommend checking this one out. It’s one of those small hidden treasures that I’m glad my friends suggested.

3.5 / 5 stars

Review: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker



I know I’ve put this book into the fantasy category, but it’s not traditional fantasy, with wizards and magic and what have you. It’s more urban fantasy, or mythology.

If there was one book I read this year that I would call the ‘winning’ book for 2013 (no matter when it was published) this would be it. I don’t even have words to describe it properly. When I first started reading I wasn’t really expecting too much. A few friends had read it and given good ratings, but I didn’t know what to expect. You know those books that just pull you into the story and before you know it your eyes are sore from being open so long and as you look at the clock you realize that it’s three in the morning? It was that type of book.

The main characters are Chava, a clay golem, and Ahmad, a jinni. They don’t meet right away, first the reader lives through Chava’s creation, and then onward to New York City, the year 1899. The detail the writer puts into this book is nothing short of amazing. There’s so much culture and feeling behind every single character and action that you can’t help but realize just how human these two beings actually are. There are many other characters that dot the scene too, and their stories are just as interesting. That’s just one of the (many) reasons I found it hard to put the book down.

I really don’t want to give away the story here, and I know it’s shoddy to say “trust me, read it” but honestly, that’s what this book comes down to. I can guarantee that you won’t regret it. A huge congratulations to  Helene Wecker on her debut novel, what a way to get started.

5/5 stars

Review: The Last Priestess by Elizabeth Baxter



This book was an ARC given to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This book was a pleasant surprise to read and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. The characters were robust and while the story may have had a flaw or hole here and there, it was one of those books I love to curl up and read on a cold weekend. The book is about Maegwin, who is facing trial for killing a handful of men who first killed a bunch of her friends. These friends were priestesses of Sho-La, and now she is the last one. Along the way she meets up with Rovann, who becomes a really important part of her journey.

Without giving too much of the main story away, I will say it follows the typical good vs. evil plot, and it tends to be quite predictable but I had no issue with that. It kept me wanting more the entire time I read it and that is never a bad thing. If you’re looking for an ultra casual page turner that doesn’t have you trying to figure out what the writer is describing, I would highly suggest giving The Last Priestess a read.

3.5/5 stars