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The Broken Eye

The Broken Eye - Brent Weeks There's not so much action in this one, but you can see that all the pieces are being set up for the final play. Again, the ending sucks because now I'm not sure how long I can wait for the next book!

Toll the Hounds: Book Eight of The Malazan Book of the Fallen

Toll the Hounds: Book Eight of The Malazan Book of the Fallen - Steven Erikson After the action-packed [b:The Bonehunters|478951|The Bonehunters (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #6)|Steven Erikson|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1399934281s/478951.jpg|3898723] and [b:Reaper's Gale|459064|Reaper's Gale (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #7)|Steven Erikson|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1356447867s/459064.jpg|4379974], Toll the Hounds fell a little flat for me. However, there were some brilliant moments, the standouts being the meeting of two insane characters, and this:

Sadness was, she well knew, not something that could be cured. It was not, in fact, a failing, not a flaw, not an illness of spirit. Sadness was never without reason, and to assert that it marked some kind of dysfunction did little more than prove ignorance or, worse, cowardly evasiveness in the one making the assertion. As if happiness was the only legitimate way of being. As if those failing at it needed to be locked away, made soporific with medications; as if the cause of sadness were merely traps and pitfalls in the proper climb to blissful contentment, things to be edged round or bridged, or leapt across on the wings of false elation... Sadness belonged. As rightful as joy, love, grief and fear. All conditions of being.

The King Must Die

The King Must Die - Mary Renault Unfortunately “The King Must Die” was a disappointment. I was expecting something more like [a:David Gemmell|11586|David Gemmell|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1202771023p2/11586.jpg]’s epic re-imagination of the fall of Troy; a masterpiece recast of a legendary myth.

Part of the novel’s problem lies with its one-man cast. Theseus is neither a conflicted nor complex hero -- he’s emotionally detached, a little bit narcissistic and adheres to a strict moral code, but not in the interesting “Dexter” way. The story really suffers from the first person POV and, perhaps, could have been stronger with the addition of other characters.

The second problem was the slow-moving plot-line -- things only spiced up after the half-way point of the book! Although, the first part was necessary to explain Theseus’ actions in Crete, it was a boring necessity. And even when the plot picked up some pace, it spluttered into a halt, never really reaching a climax.

However, “The King Must Die” is not an overall failure. Moments where the myth shines through -- the Minotaur, the string, Ariadne’s fate -- were imaginative and inspirational.

Initiate's Trial

Initiate’s Trial: First book of Sword of the Canon - Janny Wurts

Star rating may change depending on the second book of this ARC, but it's good to see Lysaer getting some attention!

The Light of Other Days

The Light Of Other Days - Stephen Baxter, Arthur C. Clarke Flipping between 3 stars and 4 stars because although it was an enjoyable read, the ending was rushed. Towards the end it seemed as though the authors just wanted to throw in some crazy (but cool) scientific and anthropological theories with no thought as to how it would fit in with the rest of the story.

The rest of the book offered a less glamourous, but poignant view on past-viewing (a non-interactive version of time travel). I particularly liked the sensitive, but touching exposition of Christ's life, and the fact that some historical mysteries are best left buried.

Waking (Clockwork Twist #1)

Waking (Clockwork Twist #1) - Emily  Thompson

I received a free copy of this book in return for a review.

"My word, you are cute!" pretty much summarises Twist's character -- he's a little reserved, quirky and oh so innocent; you can't help but like him. Other than Mr. Twist himself, some of the shadier characters (Idris, Vane, Quay) were far more interesting than the "good" ones and I hope they reappear in future novels.

I actually wasn't expecting a romance in this book, but I ended up with a double surprise -- it wasn't the straightforward type of romance. And thank the gods it wasn't because what Thomson wrote was refreshing!

This is only the second Steampunk book I've read (the first being Airborn by Kenneth Oppel), so I found the mixture of Victorian etiquette, clockwork technology and magic really engaging. Although the story is complete, there's a lot more to explore in Thomson's world -- I look forward to learning more about the world in future books.

The Curse of the Mistwraith (Wars of Light & Shadow, #1; Arc 1, #1) - Janny Wurts The first time I read "The Curse of the Mistwraith", it endowed a great sensation of frustration upon me. The characters' motivations were beyond me, Arithon was the only engaging character, but Lysaer bored me and the Fellowship of Seven seemed just as bad as the Koriathain. The prose was overwhelmingly flowery, which made the plot as easy to grasp as the eponymous Mistwraith. I gave it three stars, but decided to give the rest of the series a chance because it had potential.

Less than three months later I ended up stuck in the middle of Initiate's Trial….the ninth book in the series…I was, and still am, totally engrossed by the series. I realised that (a) I needed to see these characters again, and (b) I needed to re-read Curse.

All the frustrations I had with Curse disappeared - there are very few problems with this book that relate to the author or the plot. I was the problem.

Wurts' prose is unique. It reminds me a little of Steven Erikson, but their voices are completely different and, despite its density, Wurts' prose can be quite jovial. I paid more attention to the plot, especially the parts I struggled with the first time round, although there are parts of the book where the plot lags. And after nine books, and despite the number of times I've shout abuse at him, Lysaer is one of my favourite characters.

It's a shame that there are readers who are missing out on the series because of Curse. Yes, the prose is difficult to get into, but it's worth the investment :)


Salvage - Russell W. Libonati I was given a free (digital) copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Salvage is a story that focuses on the crew of a salvage ship (surprise surprise) as they attempt to rescue an attacked space station. What initially appears to be a straightforward rescue mission ends up going dangerously wrong...

The strengths of Salvage lie mainly in the style of writing and the science. Libonati writes in a manner that is to the point - there's no flowery bs, just straightforward prose. The science is impeccable and I really appreciated the details (one of my favourite gadgets was the pressure measuring device).

There's quite a large array of (interesting) characters, but I didn't quite feel I was emotionally involved with them. However, I did think their reactions to certain situations were completely human and not out of the ordinary. Because of this, Salvage is actually an interesting character study as to how humans would react whilst in space.

My main problem with the story was the plot. There was plenty of tension throughout the book, which was great as it kept me reading. However, I felt the climax of the novel fell a bit flat. I didn't feel like there were enough clues for the reader to piece the puzzle. The main plot point was just exposed in a few pages and so the ending felt rushed.

Overall I did enjoy the book, although it did take me a little longer than usual to finish. I liked the style of writing, but I was left disappointed by the ending. The scifi aspect of the book was excellent, so I'll definitely be looking out for future books by Libonati.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Book 1 (The Inheritance Trilogy)

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - N.K. Jemisin

I read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms in mere hours. I was up until around 3am trying to finish the book - it was that good.

I loved the narration. Usually first person narration falls a bit flat, but it actually felt like I was inside Yeine's head, listening to her thoughts. I did have to go back a few pages a couple of times as the storytelling isn't (always) chronological.

Despite not having a voice of their own, the other characters are exceptional too. I wasn't quite convinced of Scimina's character though - she was incredibly sure of herself for someone who knew she was a bitch.

I've actually had one of N.K Jemisin's books on my to-read shelf for a while, but I didn't realise she had authored The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms until after I had finished the book. I have to say, after reading this book, The Killing Moon (and the rest of the Inheritance Trilogy)is definitely getting a bump up on the to-read list!

Soul Meaning

Soul Meaning - A.D. Starrling
I received a free (digital) copy of the book in exchange for a review.

The immortal Crovir and Bastian races have been at each other's throats for centuries. So, when Lucas Soul (a half-breed) finds that half the immortals want him dead, Lucas and his best bud Reid bomb their way through Europe trying to figure out why.

Soul Meaning is very much a plot-driven book. I usually have a preference for books that are slow paced, centred on world building and character development, but I actually quite enjoyed the change of scenery Soul Meaning provided.

Although this book is good, it didn't blow me away. There were far too many action scenes in the first half of the novel for my liking and not enough exposure of the plot. Thankfully the focus shifted in the second half of the book. The two main characters (Lucas and Reid) were solid creations, but the secondary characters didn't particularly shine, mainly due to the first person narration. I also couldn't see how the Crovir and the Bastians were different races - they seemed pretty much exactly the same to me. Perhaps this will be clarified in later books (or maybe I missed something?).

However, I will continue reading the series. I liked the premise and there were some cool ideas thrown in (especially the ones at the end).

Edit: I went onto the author website and was really impressed by the amount of research she put into the book. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series as I'm sure she's been just as thorough there!

The Way of Shadows (The Night Angel Trilogy)

The Way of Shadows - Brent Weeks

On hindsight I should have read The Way of Shadows more carefully because I'm really not sure how I feel about it. Although I wasn't expecting Lightbringer standards, I didn't think I'd find the storyline unclear or that I'd be confused. And I don't know if my confusion was from laziness due to my part or if some of the plot wasconfusing.

My confusion lies with the sudden (and, to me, jarring) introduction of the kakari. Although it gave the characters purpose, it just seemed a little out of the blue. I think a second read will clarify the role of the kakari within the story (I hope).

A lot of fans seem to hero worship the two main characters, Durzo and Kyler. This is what I feel about them: meh. They were interesting enough, but not so much that I'd tattoo their names across my face {for the record I don't think anyone has done that}. I wish some of the non-main characters had more page time though. Dorian the cheeky oracle {now his name I would tattoo across my face}, Niner the creative curser {"You shitting… shitting... shit!" - best line in the book} and Logan the oblivious hormonal teenager.

Still, the main annoyance of this book was only a minor one and it was one regarding romance. Kyler and Elene's romantic interactions were soppy; some of the dialogue was pretty cheesy too. On the other hand, Durzo's romantic escapades were far more to my taste. Maybe it's cos I'm an evil heartless b*tch, but I loved the Momma K twist at the end .

I'm not really mad about this book - it hasn't made me go "OMG when the hell does the next one come out???" like I did for The Black Prism.

The Iron King (The Accursed Kings, Book 1)

The Iron King - Maurice Druon

I picked up this book mainly because of George R.R. Martin's comments about it - how it was one of the books that had inspired him to write A Song of Ice and Fire.

The Iron King is not anywhere near as complex as A Game of Thrones, but it is clearly a set up for the rest of the series (which probably will get more complex).

Comparisons to GRRM aside, the Iron King is still a brilliant piece of historical fiction. I especially appreciated the historical notes dispersed throughout the novel - the author really did his research, even some of the smaller historical details weren't left out (e.g. there's a nice little note on the production of paper).

For fans of A Song of Ice and Fire, the Iron King is a great distraction whilst waiting for the next GRRM book!

Night Circus

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern The Night Circus is a charming and enjoyable, if not slow, read, but it is far from perfect.

The novel comprises of two stories woven together. One story is about a young man (Bailey) who encounters and is enamored by the circus and the other, the main story, is of two star-crossed lovers (Marco and Celia) who use the circus as a highly elaborate (and magical) "love letter"/competitive arena.

The characters are quite flat in this book, although I did very much enjoy Bailey's side of the story. I wasn't quite convinced of Marco and Celia's love for one another - would they have fallen in love if they hadn't been bound by magic? - and I found them to be annoyingly perfect. One of the characters goes through quite an abrupt shift in personality too - Chandresh literally went from eccentric to batsh*t crazy within pages.

I was more disappointed with the magic system and the competition between Celia and Marco though. There seemed to be no bounds as to what was achievable with magic. Perhaps there were some hidden rules, but they were never explained despite many of the characters being quite adept at using magic. Again with the rules - the competitors are not told the rules of the game. Despite the game being played over the course of several years, the competitors only manage to figure out one! What kind of game is that???

But despite all this I still enjoyed the book. There's an air of mystery around the circus and its mystery translates into the story itself.

The Dirty Streets of Heaven

The Dirty Streets of Heaven  - Tad Williams

Bobby Dollar is an angel who isn't particularly angelic. He's cynical, swears a lot, gets into epic bar fights, tells the occasional untruth, pines after demonic women and questions the existence of god and Heaven.

Usually, writing a book in first person can get dull - only having one perspective can make you want to rip your eyes out if the character has less personality than trigonometric functions. Luckily Tad Williams' character Bobby is a pretty cool guy. He's funny, quite charming in a "I can't believe you have the audacity to say that" way and too curious for his own sake.

It's Bobby's curiosity that gets him into trouble really. His angelic duty is to act as a heavenly lawyer and defend dead souls when they are judged to go to Heaven, Purgatory or Hell. Unfortunately, Bobby's life becomes violently chaotic when a dead soul magically disappears and he decides to investigate; it doesn't help that Hell thinks that he's stolen the soul!

Despite the whole Heaven and Hell thing, the story is not at all preachy. There's no preference towards a particular religious order (thereby neatly avoiding offending anyone). Through Bobby's eyes we see that Heaven isn't quite as perfect as it is made out to be and not all of Satan's servants are crazy evil. It's impressive that Williams managed to pull off moral ambiguity despite the black and white nature of the stage his story plays out in.

I really can't wait for the next book, especially as (part of) the story will be set in Hell.

As an aside I actually, quite embarrassingly, thought that the city Bobby lived in (San Judas) was a real city. The descriptions were vivid, but the main reason for believing in the existence of the fake city was the historical excursions the character made every so often. I guess my exceptionally poor knowledge of American geography is also a big factor....

Rogue Genesis (Shimmer in the Dark, #1)

Rogue Genesis (Shimmer in the Dark, #1) - Ceri London I was given a free (digital) copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Niall Kearey is a Major in the US Air Force; he's also a psychic with the ability to mentally travel to a planet called Astereal. Astereal is a doomed planet - being surrounded by seven black holes isn't exactly a healthy environment for a civilisation. Astereal is also simultaneously a peaceful, but belligerent planet - on the one hand, crime is low, but there is an ongoing war between two species. The story is set both on Earth and Astereal, guiding us through Kearey's journey to becoming a powerful psychic and saviour of the Astereans.

This book reads like a Dan Brown novel. Unfortunately I really dislike Dan Brown novels…

My initial thoughts on the writing was actually quite positive - the prose is continuous and not at all jarring as it can be with debut authors. I was thrown by the amount of military jargon flung about in the first few chapters of the book though. Despite the positive start, my thoughts on the book steadily declined.

The writing did nothing to stir feelings for the characters and the Astereans. The characters go through some pretty emotional stuff in this book, but I felt completely disconnected and more like an observer rather than someone drawn into the book. This was mainly due to the author's focus on the pace of the story rather than the world she'd created.

I realised very early on in the book that the descriptions of the Astereal and its people were very vague. In general the world building is very poor - I know very little of Asterean culture, architecture, history, their planet etc. This extends to parts of the story on Earth too - very little description is given to the surroundings and the characters. For example, the reader only finds out that one of the Asterean species have square pupils only 80% of the way through the book!

In all honesty though the writing wasn't too big of a problem for me to deal with. The science, however, is something else entirely. Kearey is a psychic so most of the science was what one would call "pseudoscience", but with some Physics and Geology thrown into the mix too. I found the "science" confusing and quite difficult to understand. I'm not a Geology graduate, so I could make neither head nor tails of the Geology terminology - to be frank, I'm not even sure how many of the terms were actually real. I am, however, a Theoretical Physics graduate, so a review of the Physics is something hard to resist.

First, how far are the black holes from Astereal? Being close to just one black hole would make any sort of intelligent life impossible, let alone seven! Astereal's sun has also managed to retain its planet - with seven black holes it's quite an exceptional feat to hold on to a stable, predictable orbit. Time also runs at a different pace on Astereal, which is, in fact, a legitimate piece of Physics. However, I'm not sure if this pacing was due to time dilation or some other pseudoscientific reason. If it is from time dilation, then the author has massively abused the theory of General Relativity.

There are some good ideas contained within this novel (e.g. the anthropology experiment), but this isn't enough for me to pick up the next book. At one point I just wanted to give up reading the book and it was only obligation that got me to complete it. My advice is that if you like your science fiction hard and want meticulously detailed worlds then avoid this book.

Thinblade (Sovereign of the Seven Isles, #1)

Thinblade (Sovereign of the Seven Isles, #1) - David A. Wells

This is simple fantasy novel with an exceptionally strong good versus evil theme. The premise of the novel is the rise of a great evil (Prince Phane Reishi) and a quest our hero/the Chosen One (aka Alexander Valentine) must embark on in search of a mythical sword, which will help him scare off the baddy.

Despite the predictability of the plot, I actually quite enjoyed it - it's fast paced, full of action and, surprisingly for a free book, has a rich magical system. Plus, it was a nice break away from really dense novels. However, the book is very far from perfect.

The main problems lies with the writing and the characters. At times the writing is repetitive - there are only so many times I can stand being told that a particular character has a prodigious appetite! At one point the author chooses to recount the first half of the story. This was completely unnecessary as the reader was THERE for that part. Not to mention that if a story can be condensed in ten pages then why bother writing an entire book?

Secondly, the two main female characters were virtually indistinguishable from one another. Perhaps if they were likeable this would have been ok, but as it was, they were about as interesting as the back of my hand (probably less as the back of my hand has some very interesting biological, chemical and physical mechanisms behind it). Plus, they seemed to have no place in the novel, but as serving as love interests for two of the characters.

I had some trouble dealing with the "black and white" nature of the story too. I really enjoyed the scenes with Prince Phane, the resident evil of the story - he's a total (psychotic) badass and I only wish the author had a few more words for him. It was the "white" part of the story that particularly irritated me. I'm not exaggerating here but, ALL the characters were either morally perfect individuals or they were vicious conniving bastards - there was no middle ground. The moral grey area of humanity is the best quality we have, but it doesn't seem to exist in this world.

Despite its flaws, Thinblade is an easy read with a captivating world to escape to. This is the first book in the series and not a standalone, so be warned. I'm pretty sure what the outcome of the series will be and I can't be bothered to read a series where I found so many faults, so I won't be returning to this world to see how our morally righteous hero will defeat his charming, omnipotent nemesis.