Category Archives: SJardine

Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb : Review

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After nearly killing his oldest friend, the Fool, and finding his daughter stolen away by those who were once targeting the Fool, FitzChivarly Farseer is out for blood. And who better to wreak havoc than a highly trained and deadly former royal assassin? Fitz might have let his skills go fallow over his years of peace, but such things, once learned, are not so easily forgotten. And nothing is more dangerous than a man who has nothing left to lose…

I knew before I even began reading this book that I was going to enjoy it, there’s no denying the fact that Robin Hobb is an amazing author. What I did not expect was to enjoy it so much I had to take a small break from reading when I realized whatever I followed it up with wouldn’t compare. While I really loved Fool’s Assassin and all the previous books in the series,  I though this newest offering put them all to shame. Robin Hobb has pulled out all the stops for what is most likely the last set of books about the Fitz and the Fool.

So when we last saw Fitz he had nearly stabbed the Fool to death and had sent his daughter back to Withywoods while he took the Fool to Buck keep via the Portal Stones in an attempt to get him the Skill healing he needed. When Withywoods is attacked and his daughter Bee abducted we find Fitzchivalry doing everything he can to locate her. There is really nothing I can say about Fool’s Quest without spoiling some sort of scene or plot detail, so I will only say one thing. If anyone who has read the rest of the series thought they knew what Fitzchivalry is willing and capable of doing to protect his family then they are greatly mistaken. In Fool’s Quest Fitz is willing to cross just about every line there is to find and protect his daughter.

I really don’t have the proper words to describe how hard this book hit me, I probably laughed or cried the entire way through it.  When I wasn’t laughing or crying I was most likely clutching the book in my hands as I paced around my bedroom in an attempt to process what I had just read. The only bad part about the book was that it had to end, I have never wanted a book to be endless so badly, the wait for the last book in the trilogy is going to be excruciating, the only thing that will keep me going crazy is to start a full reread now and hope it lasts the year!

Anyone who is a fan of Robin Hobbs Fitzchivalry Farseer and the Fool will love Fool’s Quest, it is the book we have been waiting over 10 years to read.

Fool’s Quest is set released August 11th by Del Rey.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

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Armada by Ernest Cline : Review

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Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

I discovered Ernest Cline back in 2011 when a friend of mine suggested I read his first book Ready Player One, which quickly turned into one of my all time favorite books. I have been waiting the nearly four years since them for him to follow up with a second book with the hope that his first book would not be just a fluke. After finishing it I can honestly say Armada is one of the corniest, most ridiculous books I have had the pleasure to read. I can’t count the number of times I had to laugh out loud at some corny science fiction cliche or shake my head at an extremely over the top scene. I absolutely loved it. I am glad to see that Ready Player One was definitely not a fluke and for Ernest Cline to prove once again he knows exactly which nostalgic buttons to press to make someone love a story.

Zach Lighman is what I would call your typical teenager — he goes to school, has an after school job, and would love nothing more than to spend all his free time at home playing video games. More than any other game Zach loves playing Armada, an MMO about fighting off an alien invasion through the use of remotely controlled drones, a game where Zach holds a place among the top 10 players in the world. Zach’s life quickly turns to chaos when he discovers a secret organazation run by the worlds top governments have been using television, movies and video games to slowly prepare the world for the revelation that aliens are real and an invasion is on its way. Zach will soon have to use all the skills he has managed to pick up playing Armada to help fight off an alien invasion and save the world.

While there are plenty of other books, movies and television shows with the same basic plot as Armada, Ernest Cline does something all of these other things never do. he acknowledges them. Cline takes some of the best tropes and cliches from almost every one of them and manages to shove them into the pages of his book, and he somehow manages to make it all work in an amazing way. Like Ready Player One this book is full of enough pop culture references to either make your head explode or have you digging out all your old DVD’s and video games in an attempt to relive them all once again.

The only complaint I would have against this book is that it had to end, I would have been happy to still be reading it weeks later. Like Ready Player One it’s only just a matter of time before Armada is picked up by a movie or television studio and this is something I can’t wait to see happen, it will translate well. I am already waiting to see what kind of story Cline will manage to come up with next. The wait is going to be unbearable.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan : Review (Or the Ravings of a Fanboy)

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The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. 

 

It has proven surprisingly difficult for me to write any sort of review for any book in the Wheel of Time series over the last few years. I seem to make it a few short sentences in before my review becomes the incoherent ramblings of a rabid fanboy. This time around I have given up on even trying to be unbiased in any sort of way. I consider The Eye of the World to be one of the greatest pieces of Epic Fantasy I have ever read. It has become the standard to which I hold every other book I now read, which is a bit funny considering it took me weeks to even make it past the first chapter.

I remember picking up a copy of The Eye of the World from my local library around 10 years ago only to return it the next day after I couldn’t even get through the first chapter. I proceeded to do this at least twice a week for the next few weeks, picking the book up over and over again because the story just sounded so good. All that it took was for me to get through that first chapter and then I was hooked, unable to put it down until the very end. I still consider the day The Eye of the World‘s cover caught my eye as one of the luckiest days of my life, who knows how long it would have taken to discover it otherwise.

I’ve never been able to really decide what kind of story this really is — whether its a coming of age story, an adventure story, or something else entirely. It’s probably a little bit of them all — Robert Jordan did an amazing job taking inspiration from so other cultures, religions and even other authors and turning it into something EPIC. I can seriously read the Eye of the World and then turn around and reread it again just a few days later, that is how much I enjoy the story and the rest of the series is just as good.

I can’t honestly believe that there are people out there who haven’t heard of or read the Wheel of Time but If there is I would strongly suggest they drop whatever they are doing and go out and buy a copy. Buy two copies even, I myself tend to go through about two a year from all of my rereads.

 


Moon Called by Patricia Briggs : Review

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Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy’s next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy’s connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water…

I remember picking this book up for the first time at the used book store near my house back when I was in the middle of an urban fantasy kick — as I am right now, mainly because it was just sitting near the Dresden Files book shelf. It then proceeded to sit on my book shelf at home for two long years before I finally remembered I had it and decided to give it a try. I have been kicking myself since that day for waiting so long to read this book, Patricia Briggs has turned into one of my favorite urban fantasy authors, second only to Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files.

In a genre full of wizards, werewolves and vampires it’s always nice to see a main character who stands out from the pack, and Mercedes Thompson does just that. Mercy isn’t just the best Volkswagen mechanic in the entire state of Washington, she’s also a Native American being known as a walker — a shape shifter with the ability to turn into a coyote at will. When her werewolf neighbor Adam is attacked and his daughter Jesse is abducted it is up to Mercy to everything at her disposal to help Adam save his daughter before it is too late.

There are just so many things that I love about this book that I have trouble even talking about it sometimes without spewing my fanboy all over people. For a protagonist Mercy is pretty bad-ass, in a world of werewolves, vampires, powerful Fae creatures and a government determined to control them all you wouldn’t think one little coyote would be able to hold her ground, but she does. It’s also always fun to read some urban fantasy where all the preternatural elements aren’t hidden from the world, but out there for everyone to see, it adds a really interesting element to the story.

With the Mercy Thompson books Patricia Briggs has managed to take all of my favorite tropes from the genre and twist them into something completely her own. A feat that is not easy to do considering just how many books that are out there nowadays, it gets more impressive the more I think about it.

I can’t count the number of times I have read and reread Moon Called, it is from one of those series that I always seem to be in the middle of a reread of. I would definetly give this book 6 out of 5 stars and would suggest anyone looking for some great urban fantasy with a kick-ass heroine pick up this book.


Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris #1) by Jim C. Hines : Review

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Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines was a really fun book to read, it is another book series that I wish I had discovered much sooner than I did. As I mentioned in my last review is really easy to find urban fantasy to read these days as it seems to be everywhere I look, it’s difficult to find good urban fantasy. So when I find books like Libriomancer I tend to read through them ridiculously fast. This book was so good I ended up reading the entire series in under a week and am already desperately waiting for the next book to release. It probably has the greatest magic system I have ever read about in any book, I can’t say how much I wish Libriomancy really existed in our world.

Founded by Johannes Gutenber over 500 years ago the Libriomancers are a secretive group of men and women with a very unique gift — they are able to reach into almost any book that exists and pull out an item from within to use. Need to sneak through a building undetected? Why not just pull an invisibility cloak from Harry Potter, or a shrink ray from pretty much any sci-fi book in existence. Isaac Vainio is one of these Libriomancer, but unlike the rest of his brothers and sisters in magic, Isaac has been stuck with a desk job in the middle of nowhere Michigan, about as far away from the rest of the world and Libriomancer politics as it is possible to get. However, when a group of Sanguinarius Meyerii — sparkling vampires who have been accidentally released between the pages of a book attack him in an attempt to learn Libriomancer secrets Isaac soon finds himself on the run. It will take his magical fire spider Smudge, a beautiful Dryad and his vast collection of science fiction noels to help Isaac find out just what the hell is going on, and keep himself alive long enough to do something about it.

I really can’t say enough how much I loved the magic system contained within this book, it is just awesome. There is just something about reading a book and have it mention another book or series I enjoy reading. This not only happens all the time in Libriomancer, but when it does it is usually when someone is reaching into the book references and pulling an item out of it to use. These references aren’t just used as gimmicks either, some of the items pulled from the books act as maor plot points for the story. Just trying to catch all the different books referenced and trying to figure out what item the Libriomancer is going to pull from the books is really fun. It makes the book and series really rereadable — at least to me it does.

I think anyone who enjoys reading urban fantasy will really enjoy the Magic Ex Libris series as a whole, I think about every book I’ve ever loved is mentioned in some way in the series. Just writing this review makes me realize I have to start rereading it again, which is not a good thing when I have to be up for work in less than 5 hours.


Skinwalker by Faith Hunter : Review

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Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind-a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. But now she’s been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps…

Urban fantasy has quickly become my favorite sub genre of fantasy these days, the only bad thing about it is there is so much available now that at times it is difficult to sift through all the bland or mediocre stories to get to the really good stuff. Sometimes I will try and read two or three books a week only to toss them aside after just a few chapters for one reason or another. However with Skinwalker by Faith Hunter I was hooked from the very first page, it quickly turned into yet another book I was unable to put down until I finished it. I will learn one day not to start a new book at 10pm at night when I know if I like it I will read it until 6am like I did with Skinwalker.

Jane Yellowrock is a shapeshifter, the last living skinwalker in all the world — or so she thinks. When a rogue vampire starts killing people in the heart of New Orleans Jane finds herself hired by Katherine Fontaneau, the proprietor of the brothel Katie’s Ladies and one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans, to hunt down and kill the rogue vampire before it becomes a PR nightmare for the vampire council. Oh, and she has 10 days in which to do if she wants to receive her full pay and a bonus on top of it. To complete her job she will have to accept help from wherever she can get it, all while fighting off the Beast within who wants nothing more to take control of the hunt.

One of the things I loved most about this story was the fact that other than our shapeshifting heroine there were only vampires and witches in the story. It was a nice change to read some urban fantasy where you are not provided with a bunch of different supernatural creatures to learn about and keep track of. While Jane and the rest of the world may only know about the vampires and the witches hints are dropped all throughout the book that there may be other races hiding out in the world still.

It was also nice not to read some urban fantasy where the focus was not on sex or romances, Jane Yellowrock is in town to get her job done and she has no time for anything that may get in her way. I think anyone who enjoys the Dresden Files or Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson books will love this book as much I do. I have already bought the next two books in the series and I plan to start the next one soon, never mind the fact that I know it will keep me up till early tomorrow morning.

 


The Gods of Laki: A Thriller by Chris Angus : Review

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A race to unveil the secret of Laki, a volcano on the southern shores of Iceland, pits our heroes—a sixteen-year-old Viking girl from the tenth century, a German geologist from World War II, and a former Secret Service agent protecting a female volcanologist—against evil forces with a plan to cause an eruption using explosives, altering the global climate through the release and forcing the price of oil to skyrocket.

Everyone and everything on Laki is in danger, including the possibility of ever unraveling the mysteries of the place, as it faces burial beneath a carpet of lava flows. Caught underground by the fracturing physical breakup of Laki, everyone finds themselves ensnared by Laki itself—an unseen, implacable foe that seems everything but a benign presence. Every move they make appears to be guided and controlled by an intelligence that permeates the netherworld.

Only gradually, through all the conflict between the various factions, does everyone begin to realize that it is Laki itself that has always been in charge.

 The Gods of Laki: A Thriller by Chris Angus is definitely not the type of book I would normally pick up and read, as I don’t branch outside of science fiction or fantasy all that much these days. Chris Angus has managed to write a book that touches on just about every genre there is and yet still manages to stand out in a genre all its own, I’m still a little surprised at how much I enjoyed reading it.  This was another book that I was unable to put down once I picked it up and started reading, it cut into my precious sleep two nights in a row when I had to work early the next day.

There really isn’t much I can say about the plot that I can say without spoiling anything but I will try my hardest to do so. The Gods of Laki is told mainly from three different view points, each in a different point in time. In 940 AD a group of vikings fleeing from their homeland find refuge in the land of ice and fire, and quickly find out that their new home is not as safe as it seems. In 1940 Fritz Kraus is the only German student at the University of Iceland and he soon finds himself involved in events that may change the world forever.

Lastly, in the present day former Secret Service agent Ryan Baldwin has been asked to protect the volcanologist daughter of a high ranking government official while she studies a volcano in Iceland.

Chris Angus manages to take all three of these story lines and weave them into one amazing story that I think any reader will find themselves unable to put down. I can honestly say I was glad to lose the sleep I did to read this story, and I’m already keeping an eye out for more great stories by Angus. I don’t know many authors who can take Vikings, Nazis, an almost sentient volcano and tie them all together so well.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


The Hidden Masters of Marandur (The Pillars of Reality #2) by Jack Campbell

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Someone wants to kill Mari, a young Steam Mechanic in the Guild that controls all technology. She has learned that her world of Dematr is headed for a catastrophe that will destroy civilization, and that Mages really can alter reality for short periods. Someone also wants to kill Alain, a young Mage who has learned that Mechanics are not frauds as his Guild teaches, and that Mechanic Mari is the only person who can prevent the oncoming disaster.

The Hidden Masters of Marandur (Pillars of Reality Book 2) by Jack Campbell is probably one of the two best steampunk and fantasy mash-ups that I have read so far, which is fitting considering it is the sequel to the other best.

I was a bit worried when I picked this up to read that I wasn’t going to enjoy this book as much as I did the first, or that Campbell wasn’t going to be as good an author as I remember him being, but I’m glad I can say I was worried for no reason at all. Jack Campbell took everything I loved about the Dragons of Dorcastle and just piled on top of it with more awesomeness to create its sequel. I was yet again surprised by the originality of Campbells work with both of these books, it’s rare to find so many new ideas in a book these days.

The Hidden Masters of Marandur takes place directly after the events of the Dragons of Dorcastle— Master Mechanic Mari and the Mage Alain have managed to stop the dragon that was terrorizing the people of Dorcastle, but in doing so have revealed their rebellious nature to each of their respective guilds. Challenging the status Quo is something neither the Mechanics or the Mages guilds are prepared to accept however, and Alain and Mari soon find themselves sent out on dangerous missions by their respective guilds in attempt to silence their rebellious questioning. The Mechanics and Mages guilds don’t know everything however, Alain and Mari are in love and will not let anyone or anything come between them.
This book was another good reminder for me that there is good steampunk out there to read, you just have to look in unexpected places. I did not expect to pick up a book series originally created as an Audible exclusive and to have it turn out to be something I was unable to put down. After I finished both the Dragons of Dorcastle and the Hidden Masters of Marandur I found myself suggesting the series to everyone I knew or met who reads, the lady I met in the fantasy section of my local book store probably thinks I’m absolutely crazy at this point. The only bad thing about enjoying a book this much is how fast you finish it, now I don’t know how long it will be until the next book in the series releases, or what I will do to hold myself over until then.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Our review of The Dragons of Dorcastle


Listen below for a free preview of The Hidden Masters of Marandur narrated by Macleod Andrews; courtesy of Audible.


The Darkling Child by Terry Brooks : Review

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After taking up his enchanted sword against the dark sorcerer Arcannen, Paxon Leah has become the sworn protector of the Druid order. Now a critical hour is at hand, as a beloved High Druid nears the end of her reign and prepares to pass from the mortal world to the one beyond. There is little time for Paxon to mourn his friend and benefactor before duty summons him. For in a distant corner of the Four Lands, the magic of the wishsong has been detected. Paxon must accompany a Druid emissary to find its source—and ensure the formidable power is not wielded by the wrong hands.

But danger is already afoot in the village of Portlow. Gentle traveling minstrel Reyn Frosch possesses the uncanny gift, and curse, of the wishsong. And now his coveted abilities have captured the malevolent interest of none other than Arcannen—whose quest for power is exceeded only by his thirst for vengeance. The lone survivor of a brutal assault on a notorious pirate city, the sorcerer is determined to retaliate against the Federation’s elite military guard—and use the devastating power of the wishsong as his ultimate weapon.

The Darkling Child by Terry Brooks is the second book in his Defenders of Shannara series– a trilogy of stand alone novels loosely tied together by a small cast of recurring characters. While I actually enjoyed this book more than I have the last few Shannara books that have been published, I struggled at times to get through it. I think the fact that we only have one more Shannara book after the conclusion of the Defenders series weighed heavily upon me as I read. That being said, I started on my reread of the book not even a full 24 hours after I finished reading it the first time.

It has been 5 years since the events of the High Druid’s Blade and Paxon Leah’s run in with the dark sorcerer Arcannen, and all has been relatively quiet for the Druids in the Four Lands. But now duty sends Paxon and the Druid Avelene out into the world once more, the scrye waters that the Druids use to watch for magic have shown a disturbance, one that bears a striking resemblance to the magic of the Wishsong. Paxon will soon find himself running into old friends and enemies as he attempts find its source and ensure its safe transportation back to Paranor.

While the Darkling Child is loosely connected to the High Druid’s Blade by Paxon Leah and a few other characters, each book is clearly meant to stand on its own and I don’t think new readers will have a problem starting with either of the two books. For me this book proved to be a great reminder of why I fell in love with this series in the first place, it was nice to rediscover the magic of Shannara once again and I can only hope that Terry continues to surprise me with the last few books he releases in the series.

I think all fans of the series, new or old, will absolutely love this book, I know I did. Already I am counting down the days until the release of the last book in the trilogy, and already I am finding that wait unbearable.

The Darkling Child is set to be release on June 9th by Del Rey.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.


Listen to a brief preview of The Darkling Child!


Uprooted by Naomi Novik : Review

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“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

There is no denying that Naomi Novik is an amazing author and anyone who has read her Temeraire series would probably agree with me. With Uprooted Naomi Novik shows she can move books about dragons and feuding governments and still manage to write a great story. I wasn’t really sure what to make of Uprooted in the first couple chapters but I knew right away I was reading something special. Like every other book by Naomi Novik I found myself sucked into the book as the story progressed and by the last chapter I didn’t want to see it end.

Every ten years the Dragon comes down from his tower to pick a young girl from one of the local villages to take back up to his tower with him. No one can say what happens to a girl chosen by the Dragon once the doors of his tower close behind her. The only thing people know for sure is she will emerge in 10 years a changed person who quickly leaves her village far behind her, never to return. It has now been 10 years and the Agnieszka, along with all the other girls of the nearby villages are lined up and waiting for the Dragon to emerge and make his choice.

This book was simply amazing, it was bar far one of the better books I have read this year, and while I probably say that after every book I read, there is just something enchanting about Uprooted. I don’t know if its the almost fairy tale like plot and setting or the the enjoyable cast of characters, but i was unable to put this book down from start to finish. I would warn anyone who has read anything else by Naomi Novik not to go into this story expecting anything remotely similar to her Temeraire series, because if they do they will find themselves greatly disappointed. Uprooted was really like nothing else I have ever read, and considering how much I read that’s really saying something.

I would easily give Uprooted 6 out of 5 stars, and put it on my list of books I will probably be reading over and over again for the rest of my life. I really hope this turns out to be a long and drawn out series of books.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik is set to be published on May 19th, 2015 by Del Rey


The Dragons of Dorcastle by Jack Campbell : Review

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For centuries, the two Great Guilds have controlled the world of Dematr. The Mechanics and the Mages have been bitter rivals, agreeing only on the need to keep the world they rule from changing. But now a Storm approaches, one that could sweep away everything that humans have built. Only one person has any chance of uniting enough of the world behind her to stop the Storm, but the Great Guilds and many others will stop at  nothing to defeat her.

I have been disappointed in every steampunk novel I have read for years now and I was prepared to wait for Jim Butcher’s new series to find one, but I am more than glad that I didn’t have to wait quite that long. The Dragons of Dorcastle by Jack Campbell is the first book in his Pillars of Reality series and is the perfect mix of steampunk and fantasy. I once again found myself unable to put what I was reading down to sleep and I found myself reading into the early hours of the morning when I had to work the next day. I am excited to have found a new series to read and enjoy, but I am already a little worried that it has set the bar to high for any steampunk that I decide to follow it up with!

The world of Dematr has been controlled by the Mages and Mechanics guilds for as long as history has been recorded, and for that entire time the two guilds have been at odds. The Mages believe that the Mechanics are nothing but frauds and that all of reality is an illusion– and the people who live in the illusion are nothing but shadows and therefor do not matter. The Mechanics believe that the Mages are nothing but charlatans and the commons– anyone who is not a Mage are below their notice. That all starts to change when Alain and Mari find themselves in circumstances that force them to work together, something that is forbidden by both of their guilds, and they start to realize that maybe their respective guilds have not been very truthful with them.

I was really surprised with how much I enjoyed this book, like I said about I’ve been looking for some good steampunk to read for a long time now, and I didn’t expect to find it between the covers of this book. The story is well plotted and the world building is just phenomenal, Campbell does a great job of dropping hints about the world into the story here and there, instead of using the massive info dumps that are all too common in fantasy these days. I really enjoyed the characters as well, Alain and Mari were surprisingly complex for the first book in a series and their budding friendship was almost too cute to handle.

I would recommend this book to just about anyone I know, especially people who are fans of steampunk and fantasy as it really was the perfect mix of the two. I have already pre-ordered the ebook release of the next book in the series and can’t wait until it releases.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Listen to a free excerpt of the audiobook courtesy of Audible:


Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson : Review

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God-Emperor Kairominas is lord of all he surveys. He has defeated all foes, has united the entire world beneath his rule, and has mastered the arcane arts. He spends his time sparring with his nemesis, who keeps trying to invade Kai’s world.

Except for today. Today, Kai has to go on a date.

One of the things I have come to love about Brandon Sanderson is that he proves with every new release that he is not done growing as a writer and that he isn’t afraid to let his stories get a little weird.  And there is no denying how weird I found Perfect State to be, it is an odd combination of science fiction and fantasy. Throughout all the years that I have been a reader I have only ever found one author who can combine elements of science fiction and fantasy and not have it turn out horrible–Anne Mccaffrey. I probably shouldn’t be as surprised as I am that Brandon Sanderson nailed that combination so well with Perfect State.

In the last 300 years God-Emperor Kairominas has managed to conquer and unify all of his known world, and has managed to master all aspects of his Lancing ability except weather control, and one day he knows he will learn that as well. There is only one thing left in the world he has yet to do, and it has been determined it is time for Kai to find an appropriate mate and procreate. When you have the power of a god you would think that there would be nothing left that could scare you, but Kai is terrified.

Despite the fact that this is a non Cosmere novella– I haven’t been a big fan of the non Cosmere stories Brandon has released so far, Perfect State has turned out to be one of my favorites. Despite being another of his shorter novella’s, I found the world building of Perfect State to be surprisingly solid and detailed without feeling rushed or crammed. Plus, Brandon Sanderson almost wrote a sex scene…I almost dropped my book while I was reading it thinking he was going to take the scene to its conclusion, it’s a very risque book by Brandon’s normal standards!

I really hope Brandon continues the story of this novella in the same way that he has continued the story of Legion and that we really get to see exactly where Kairomina’s story ends up going.


Ghosts In The Yew by Blake Hausladen : Review

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A novel of violent magic, intrigue, and statecraft, Ghosts in the Yew is the story of four who are banished beyond the edge of the map to a land of gnarled forests, ancient magic, and the site of a terrible murder. Their struggles to survive will put them at odds with their families, their nation, and the very powers that shaped the world.

I have decided that when everyone you meet at a convention is telling you to meet this author and to read his book that you should definitely listen to them. I was worried that they had set the bar just a little too high with everything they had said about it, but I’m glad I was not disappointed in the least. I think Blake Hausladen is going to be an author to keep an eye on, his first book Ghosts in the Yew was everything people told me it would be and more. It has been weeks since I finished it and I still catch myself drifting off into daydreams about it as I walk to or from work.  Ghosts in the Yew is what I wish every self-published book I’ve read could be.

I don’t know if it’s what the author intended, but at its heart I found this book to be the coming-of-age story of Barok, one of the many selfish and self-centered princes of Zoviya. When one of Barok’s political schemes to ruin his brother Yarik goes awry Barok finds himself exiled to the the long abandoned and ill kept  boundaries of the kingdom. He’s joined by his new drunken Alsman Leger and the beautiful but naive Dia as they struggle to survive without the support of the rest of the kingdom and they soon find themselves preparing to fight a secret war at the same time.

One of the most interesting aspects of this book for me was the fact that is told in the first person, but from the perspective of four separate point of view characters, something I don’t think I’ve seen done outside of a few YA books. I was a bit worried that the view points would just blend together and I would find myself struggling to keep track of who’s view point I was reading at the time, but Blake does a great job of giving each of the characters their own unique voice that stands out from each of the others.

I found it just a little too easy to get lost in the story that Ghosts in the Yew was telling, which to me, is one of the greatest signs of a good story and author. I remember sitting down to read a little bit of the story and get an early feel for what I would think of it and got hooked. Fast forward five or six hours and you would see the panic set in when I realized I had to be to work in just a couple more hours. It was not the panic for the lack of sleep though, it was the panic that sets in when I realize I would have to stop reading a good book and go join the real world once again. I really did not want to be left wondering just how the story ended all day at work.

.I ended up taking the book with me to read on my lunch break– something I haven’t done with a physical book in a very long time. I would strongly suggest this book to just about anyone who enjoys fantasy, it is both money and time well spent in my opinion. I’ve been eying the sequel sitting on my book shelf since I finished it, but I feel the need to ration out the story over the weeks to come, or I may regret reading it so fast.


Shadows For Silence In The Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson : Review

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When the familiar and seemingly safe turns lethal, therein danger lies. Amid a forest where the shades of the dead linger all around, every homesteader knows to follow the Simple Rules: “Don’t kindle flame, don’t shed the blood of another, don’t run at night. These things draw shades.”

Silence Montane has broken all three rules on more than one occasion. And to protect her family from a murderous gang with high bounties on  their heads, Silence will break every rule again, at the risk of becoming a shade herself.

I wasn’t sure what I would think of Shadows For Silence In The Forests Of Hell when I started reading it, I had heard a little too much about how short it was compared to the rest of Brandon’s stories. While I don’t think it was long enough to justify it being called a novella, the fact that it’s so slow is a testament to Brandon’s skill as a writer. He has taken a very short story and filled it with an impressive amount of character and detail without having the story feel weighted down.

 Silence Montane is a Forescout–those who were the first people to leave the Homeland to explore and settle a new continent. She has learned to survive in a world where the very trees around you seek your blood, and the shades of the dead seek to destroy you. The owner of one of the safest waystop in the Forest, Silence will do whatever it takes to protect her waystop and keep her family safe, even if it means breaking every rule of survival she has learned from birth.

Despite the lack of the interesting magic systems that have become the trademarks of a Brandon Sanderson story, Shadows For Silence In The Forests Of Hell is probably one of the best things I have read this year so far. I did not expect to read one of Brandon’s stories and be glad I left my bedroom light on while I did so, it is truly the creepiest story I have seen him write so far. Threnody may not be one of the more important Shard/Cosmere worlds, but I really hope Brandon chooses to revisit it some time in the near future.

While any fan of Brandon Sanderson would love this story as much as I do, I would really suggest anyone who has not read any of Brandon’s works read it as well. I would be shocked if they were not a die-hard fan by the end of the story.


Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2) by Sebastien de Castell : Review

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Tristia is a nation overcome by intrigue and corruption. The idealistic young King Paelis is dead and the Greatcoats – legendary travelling  magistrates who brought justice to the Kingdom – have been branded as traitors. But just before his head was impaled on a spike, the King swore each of his hundred and forty-four Greatcoats to a different mission.

 

When my co-blogger last year told me of a new author and series I might be interested in reading, I found myself intrigued by the story of Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell, then completely blown away by its execution. It had been awhile since I had found what I would consider an exciting adventure story that could keep me on the edge of my seat, and its shocking ending left my completely stunned. I was both eager and apprehensive for the release of the next book in the series, I honestly couldn’t see how it could even compare. I’m glad to say I worried over nothing, Knight’s Shadow was everything I had hoped for and more.

Knight’s Shadow takes place right where Traitor’s Blade left off, Falcio Val Mond has completed the last task given to him by his king, he has found his Charoites– and in doing so has thrown the kingdom into even greater upheaval than it was in before. Now a poisoned Falcio finds himself fighting to survive long enough to help his fellow Greatcoats Kest and Brasti protect their fallen kings daughter, long enough to see her safely on the throne.

A hard enough task on its own, but only made more difficult by the legendary Daishini assassins trying to kill them, or the nations Dukes who are determined to retain their power at all costs.

I don’t know if I can properly convey to people how much I loved this book, it took everything that made the first book in the series so great and just added to it. Sebastien de Castell has created a truly fantastic world and filled it with great characters and concepts. Falcio Val Mond, Kest, and Brasti have turned into three of my all time favorite characters. Despite everything they have gone through, they are still loyal–to each other, to the memory of their king, and to the very kingdom that now condemns them. They and the Greatcoats all seem to be pretty heavily inspired and influenced by the Three Musketeers.

Knight’s Shadow is the best book I have read this year so far and I’m not sure anything coming out this year can hope to top it! I think everyone who enjoys a good story of adventure should pick up their copies of Traitor’s Blade and Knight’s Shadow first chance they get!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 


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