Currently Reading: 7/16/18

Cover- Age of War

Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan

The fact that I didn’t immediately read this book when it arrived should be a testament to my self control, but the fact that I’m only just now reading it and it’s now two weeks after the release should be a crime. That aside, I AM SO HAPPY TO START THIS BOOK!!! MJS is going to deliver an awesome book once again I’m sure and all the reviews are looking great so far!

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Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio – Review

Cover- Empire of Silence

Published: July 3, 2018

Publisher DAW Books

Series: Sun Eater #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 624 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.

It was not his war.

The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives—even the Emperor himself—against Imperial orders.

But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.

On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world.

Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.


Empire of Silence is one of those rare books that just impressed me beyond expectation. I knew very little of it beyond what the synopsis gives and understood it to be ROME IN SPACE. Which is awesome. This theme is becoming more popular (though perhaps not common) in the SFF community and I’ve found that it’s totally my jam. I love it – from Red Rising to the underrated gem that is Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator, I am completely hooked on this kind of book. I love the idea that these ancient traditions from Earth might be so revered by future progeny that they create a whole stupid empire that spans galaxies based on the philosophy that I hated studying in college. Actually, I must admit Rome was cool, but generally talked about far too much in college courses when there were so many other fantastic ancient cultures that could have been studied.

Hadrian Marlowe is the eldest son of a powerful lord, distantly kin to the emperor, and unfortunately not destined to sit his father’s throne. He just doesn’t have the casual cruelty sought after by those in power and so his father decides to ship him off to the Chantry to be a priest or a torturer or something equally awful. Hadrian has other plans and sets out to be a Scholiast and though not everything (well, nothing) works out as he anticipated, he sure has a more exciting life than his brother Crispin. Hadrian spends time in the gutters of a foreign planet begging and thieving, the sands of the gladiatorial fields as a myrmidon, the halls of a palace as a languages tutor, a field expedition pack mule, and a translator for Inquisitors. This is no small book, but Hadrian sure has a lot happen to him in 600+ pages and it’s only the beginning!

Empire of Silence is, in my opinion, the science fiction version of The Name of the Wind. There are quite a few similarities and I am in no way complaining about it because it was such a great book! Hadrian is telling the story of his life from his wealthy, cushioned beginning as the son of a lord to how he becomes known as the Sun Eater. Obviously we don’t get to the Sun Eater part in this book because it’s only the first in a series, but I love pondering how the events I did get to read about will ultimately bring him to that point. There are a few character/story line similarities including Hadrian’s time as a street rat and the double-edged sword of his cleverness, but the two books take very different directions as I would expect them to. The biggest similarity I think, is the quality of writing. Christopher Ruocchio is an excellent writer and had some elegant turns of phrase that practically screamed Patrick Rothfuss’s style. Hadrian is a very well-written character and there were interesting side characters, though only Volka truly had a thorough development.

This was such a fantastic book and I think it’s especially awesome that this is a debut! I can only think that the author will improve even further with time and I am definitely looking forward to news of the sequel. I’m sure we’ll see more of the alien Cielcin, battles, and exotic new planets and/or locations which even this book had a number of. I think this book would appeal to a wide variety of readers and if you were a fan of Red Rising, The Name of the Wind, or anything with a bit of gladiatorial combat + a deep world you’ll probably love this book! Pick it up now because it will take you ages to catch up if you wait until the next book is out!

Stacking the Shelves: 7/14/18

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


Received for Review:

1307-2018-115288970814223592

Thanks to Orbit for the finished copies shown here!!

Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell

I don’t know too much about this book, other than the author and synopsis caught my eye. This sounds like a fun series and the best part is that there are already three books out.

Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw

I absolutely loved last year’s Strange Practice so of course I jumped on the opportunity to get a copy of it’s sequel. I absolutely can’t wait to dive into this one!

The Tower of Living and Dying by Anna Smith Spark

I can honestly say I just want to see how terrible a person Marith can become in this book. It’s a monster of a book too, so I sure hope it’s as good as the first one so I can feel compelled to read the whole thing in a reasonable amount of time.

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

This sounds like it’s going to be a hit, just from the synopsis. It’s Indian inspired and just looks so appealing. It’s not out until November, so it will be a couple months before I even begin to think about this one. Thanks to Orbit for the eGalley.

In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey

Creepy forest, creepy fairytale, vaguely sinister cover – I’m sold. I don’t know much beyond that and I’m curious to see how this book turns out. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the eGalley.

Purchases/Gifted:

Year One by Nora Roberts

What an utterly addictive book! I loved it and will have a review up in the next week or so (as I try to catch up on like 6 reviews).

The White Tower by Michael Wisehart

My current read is shaping up to feel like a very traditional fantasy, which is not a bad thing. It’s interesting!

Sufficiently Advanced Magic by Andrew Rowe

Yet another addictive read that I was surprised by. It was ridiculously fun and I can’t wait to share a review of this one!

On the Shoulders of Titans by Andrew Rowe

I liked the first book so much that I bought the sequel as soon as I finished it!!

A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

I’ve never read any of Daniel Abraham’s fantasy, so when tor.com offered this as their free ebook of the month I of course downloaded it! By the way, if you haven’t signed up for their newsletter you should, solely for the free ebook offers they do!!

A Study in Brimstone by G.S. Denning – Review

Cover- Warlock Holmes

Published: May 17, 2016

Publisher: Titan Books

Series: Warlock Holmes #1

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy

Pages: 336 (Paperback)

My Rating: 2.5/5.0

Synopsis:

Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius who uses the gift of deduction and reason to solve the most vexing of crimes.

Warlock Holmes, however, is an idiot. A good man, perhaps; a font of arcane power, certainly. But he’s brilliantly dim. Frankly, he couldn’t deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are the might of a thousand demons and his stalwart flatmate. Thankfully, Dr. Watson is always there to aid him through the treacherous shoals of Victorian propriety… and save him from a gruesome death every now and again.

An imaginative, irreverent and addictive reimagining of the world’s favourite detective, Warlock Holmes retains the charm, tone and feel of the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle while finally giving the flat at 221b Baker Street what it’s been missing for all these years: an alchemy table.

Reimagining six stories, this riotous mash-up is a glorious new take on the ever-popular Sherlock Holmes myth, featuring the vampire Inspector Vladislav Lestrade, the ogre Inspector Torg Grogsson, and Dr. Watson, the true detective at 221b. And Sherlock. A warlock.


I’m not really sure what to say about this book… it was definitely quite the interpretation of the usual Holmes and Watson duo. Rather than Sherlock being the brains of the operation, he is instead a mad warlock who isn’t all that bright. Watson is much cleverer (or is it just common sense?) and proceeds to guide Warlock through a number of cases. It was rather unusual.

Another interesting thing is that this, much like the actual Sherlock Holmes stories, is not a single novel, but rather a collection of short stories. I had a hard time getting immersed in the stories and kept getting distracted, so it definitely wasn’t the most engaging book I’ve ever read. The stories weird and at times kind of funny – especially the wild west donut flashback, but this book just wasn’t hitting the right notes with me.

I thought this was a unique retelling, though it just wasn’t for me. Perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood for this type of book, but I didn’t think it was particularly funny and couldn’t wait for it to end. I’ve definitely read some Sherlock retelling that I enjoyed more and will definitely find more to check out in the future, but I’ll be avoiding the rest of this series. I’ve seen plenty of positive reviews for this book, so please check those out before you make a decision based solely on my review!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- The Sisters of the Winter Wood

First of all, let’s state the obvious – this cover is SO beautiful and I would buy this book just because of that. Beyond the surface, The Sisters of the Winter Wood sounds fantastic. It has that strong fairy tale vibe, where people can shape shift into animals and everyone lives on the edge of a deep, dark wood full of secrets and danger. I love books like this and hope this can compare with books like The Bear and the Nightingale as far as quality and that magical feeling it can leave you with. This one isn’t too far away and will be released September 25th, 2018!

Waiting on Wednesday: Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- Of Blood and Bone

I finished Year One up last week and you better believe I went hunting for news of the sequel as soon as I did. Okay, before I even finished I was doing that, but anyhoo… Much to my relief I found that the sequel, Of Blood and Bone, will be released December 2018!! It will take place almost 13 years after the events of the first book (if you’ve read it, you’ll understand the significance). I cannot wait for this to come out! Turns out Nora Roberts can rock the post-apocalyptic fantasy vibe and I’m pleased that my expectations were kind of blown away.

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye – Review

Cover- Jane Steele

Published: March 22, 2016

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Standalone

Pages: 416 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:

A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement.  Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.

Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past?

A satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies.


Jane Steele is not my normal genre, but it sounded like so much awesomeness that I just couldn’t resist. This is essentially a re-telling of Jane Eyre, but our Jane is a murderer and she’s quite the fan of the original Jane Eyre story. This is written as almost a memoir style, in that Jane speaks to the reader on occasion to make commentary. I loved the style, and while I can’t compare it to the original (haven’t read it) I can say that this is fabulously entertaining and addicting book. I couldn’t bear to pause it!

This book follows Jane from a very young age up until approximately her mid-twenties. Her younger years are spent at the family home with her mother until tragedy strikes and she goes away to school. We spend quite some time going through Jane’s formative years at a nightmarish boarding school where she forms a tight friendship with one of her classmates. Tragedy (or should I say Jane?) strikes again and Jane and Clarke flee to London to start anew. After many years in London, Jane sees an ad for a governess position at her former home and she returns with the idea of claiming her inheritance. Turns out it’s being inhabited by a fantastic group of people that she quickly becomes a part of. Charles Thornfield, his young spritely charge, and his Sikh compatriots were so instantly likable and full of mysteries!

This whole book is great, but I did have my favorite parts. Of course I intensely disliked Jane’s school years, but it was entirely because of the environment and the tyrannical creep overseeing the school girls. I loved the last portion where Jane returns to her home and meets Charles Thornfield. Heck, I was practically swooning over him too! He had such a fascinating backstory and fortunately, his secrets didn’t include a mad wife locked in a tower. Jane was at her very best during this portion of the book and I loved every page of it!!!

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic book and a great homage to the original Jane Eyre story it was inspired by. While I haven’t read the book, I’ve seen multiple adaptations that I enjoyed and were apparently pretty true to the story line. I definitely want to re-watch the BBC version to see the parallels and just enjoy the whole experience again. If you’re looking for some great historical fiction, I would highly recommend this, particularly the audio version. The narration really made it!

Currently Reading: 7/2/18

Cover- The White Tower

The White Tower by Michael Wisehart

I don’t really know what I’m getting into with this book, but it keeps appearing in my recommendations on Audible, so I thought I’d give it a try. It won several awards in 2017 and seems to have pretty positive reviews overall. I’m trusting the crowd on this one!

I’m also still reading Empire of Silence from last week, which is good so far but it’s quite the door stopper.

 

Eden Conquered by Joelle Charbonneau – Review

Cover- Eden Conquered

Published: June 5, 2018

Publisher: HarperTeen

Series: Dividing Eden #2

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

The electrifying conclusion to the Dividing Eden series by the New York Times bestselling author of the Testing trilogy, Joelle Charbonneau..

The Trials of Virtuous Succession have ended. Prince Andreus is king—and Princess Carys is dead.

But even as he’s haunted by what he did to win the throne, Andreus discovers that his dream of ruling only brings new problems. The people love his twin even more in death than they did when she was alive. The Elders treat him as a figurehead. And worst of all, the winds of Eden are faltering.

But despite what everyone believes, Carys is alive. Exiled to the wilderness, Carys struggles to control the powers that have broken free inside her. And as she grows stronger, so does her conviction that she must return to the Palace of Winds, face her twin and root out the treachery that began long before the first Trials started.

The Kingdom of Eden is growing darker with each passing day. Brother and sister, former foes, must decide whether some betrayals cut too deep to be forgiven—and whether one will wear the crown or both will lose everything.


It took me 50+ pages to even begin to remember what happened in the previous installment of this series which isn’t all that surprising since I read 100 books last year. I am surprised that I enjoyed this one as much as I did, despite remembering so little of the plot. I suppose that speaks to the author’s skill at gaining and retaining an audience throughout the book. After the book though… I’m struggling to remember what happened (though I’ve read several books since then) so it’s not exactly memorable.

The story was pretty entertaining, with plenty of action, and two POVs that didn’t bore me to death. Carys spends most of the book hiding out from her own people because everyone thinks she’s dead and it’s beneficial. She’s also trying to learn to use her magical wind powers (she’s emergency windmill fuel). Andreus has taken the crown and has quickly learned that being King isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He’s got meetings galore and the council is trying to control/manipulate him for various personal reasons. Oh yeah, and he’s got to find out who’s endangering the kingdom by cutting the power. Of course, both characters end up doing some fantastically stupid things. I was pretty relieved that this book continues to avoid the love triangle trope. It pleased me especially that Carys, while she develops some feelings toward one of the characters, doesn’t turn towards hormone filled stupidity as a valid life choice.

The whole book was very entertaining, though like I said, not particularly memorable. It doesn’t stand out from the crowd of YA novels being released this year though I will say if you enjoyed the first book, you’ll probably like this one just as much. The author managed to throw some curve balls that I didn’t really see coming, which I always appreciate, especially when the curve balls actually make sense once they hit you. As of right now, this is still standing as a duology and I hope it stays that way since most series get profoundly worse once extended.