Fantasy, Review, Wyrd & Wonder, YA

Mini Reviews

Hello!

Another bunch of smaller reviews today, some are netgalley reads (marked with a disclaimer) and others are ones that I’ve picked up elsewhere.


Reviews & Ratings:

Where There be Humans – Rebekah L. Purdy [Release Date 1st June 2020, Entangled Publishing: Entangled Teen]

Genre: YA Fantasy

*Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Book Summary

Book Summary:

This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.

In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings in a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.

Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.

Review:

    This was not the story I expected from the summary, and to be honest it left me with mixed feelings. I really enjoyed the writing style, which has reinforced my desire to check out The Goblin Emperor, and there were aspects of the world that were fascinating. The strongest part of the book were where the author was exploring the supernatural/fantastical aspects of the world, and I would happily have read an entire book focused on that aspect, especially as I would have loved more exploration of the Nameless and other Angels. Unfortunately, this was counterbalanced by the negatives, the main one was that this was too close a retelling of Sherlock Holmes for my liking, and I found myself being jarred out of the story because of that. I understand from the author’s note that this was originally Sherlock wingfic, and I feel that it would have done better if it had leant further into the second part rather than the former. The Ripper storyline was somewhat lost beneath the Sherlock Holmes retelling, and especially from the blurb I feel that should have been more of a focus. Still, it was an enjoyable read despite this.

Rating: *** (3/5 Stars)

Preorder: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

***** ***** *****

Mirrorstrike (Her Pitiless Command #2) – Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Genre: Fantasy
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Book Summary:

With her mother’s blood fresh on her hands, Nuawa has learned that to overthrow the tyrant Winter Queen she must be as exact as a bullet… and as pitiless.

In the greatest city of winter, a revolt has broken out and General Lussadh has arrived to suppress it. She’s no stranger to treason, for this city is her home where she slaughtered her own family for the Winter Queen.

Accompanying the general to prove her loyalty, Nuawa confronts a rebel who once worked to end the queen’s reign and who now holds secrets that will cement the queen’s rule. But this is not Nuawa’s only predicament. A relentless killer has emerged and he means to hunt down anyone who holds in their heart a shard of the queen’s mirror. Like the general. Like Nuawa herself.

On these fields of tumult and shattered history, the queen’s purposes will at last be revealed, and both Lussadh and Nuawa tested to their limits.

One to wake. Two to bind. These are the laws that govern those of the glass.

Review:
Mirrorstrike is a fantastic continuation to the story and world established in Winterglass. At times, it felt as though it could have done with being a little longer than it was – I would like to have seen and learned more about Heron for example – but overall I would say that it was stronger than the first book. The prose is as beautiful and evocative as ever, if not more so, and we got to see and learn more of the world and the Winter Queen’s rule, and the impact it has had on the people, as well as more of her origins. The representation in these books is fantastic, and I particularly liked the ending – as unexpected as it was – which subverted my expectations in the best way, and has left me eagerly anticipating the next book.
Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)
Purchase links: Amazon UK | Amazon US
***** ***** *****
Book of the Night – Oliver Pötzsch (Lee Chadeayne – Translator)
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
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Book Summary:

 

In this thrilling adventure by bestselling author Oliver Pötzsch, thirteen-year-old Lukas has been trained as a swordsman by his father, a nobleman who was once a famed Musketeer. When the threat of war and accusations of witchcraft spread across the land, Lukas’s life is forever changed. He flees his home and vows to find his missing sister.

Surviving as an outcast, Lukas encounters thieves and mercenaries, a strange astrologer, and a master swordsman. He also meets three other fencers—Giovanni, Paulus, and Jerome. Each brings a special talent to their team that leads them to the Black Musketeers, the best fighters in the army. But living with the black-armored Musketeers is nothing like they imagined. In his quest to find his sister, Lukas learns of a legendary book that holds powerful magic. As he fights to keep the Book of the Night out of the hands of his greatest enemy, Lukas discovers the secrets of his own family and what it really means to be a Musketeer.

Review:
This is definitely YA, although on the darker side. There were a few places, particularly towards the end where the pacing felt very rushed and there were new elements introduced without enough time to learn/develop them, although this may be resolved in the second book. I would have liked to have seen more of the Black Musketeers, which was my main attraction to the book, but the plot and characters made up for that and I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish.
Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)
Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones
***** ***** *****
Driftwood – Marie Brennan [Release Date 14th August 2020, Tachyon Publications]
Genre: Fantasy
*Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

 

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Book Summary:

Who is Last?

Fame is rare in Driftwood- it’s hard to get famous if you don’t stick around long enough for people to know you. But many know the guide, Last, a one-blooded survivor who has seen his world end many lifetimes ago. For Driftwood is a strange place of slow apocalypses, where continents eventually crumble into mere neighborhoods, pulled inexorably towards the center in the Crush. Cultures clash, countries fall, and everything eventually disintegrates.

Within the Shreds, a rumor goes around that Last has died. Drifters come together to commemorate him. But who really was Last?

Review:
   It took me a little while to get into Driftwood, but once I did I fell in love. The writing itself is beautiful, but it is the world-building (or perhaps more correctly world-breaking) where this book really stood out. The idea of this place where worlds come after their apocalypse, broken and merging, and breaking even more until they disappear is fascinating, and I would love to see more stories or even a longer novel set withing this concept, because there is something heart-breaking but intriguing about the idea. Driftwood itself is built up of shorter stories, offering different views of this world, all of them tantalizing in their own ways. I also really want to know more about Last, and while I enjoyed how most of what we know about him comes from the encounters with others and their viewpoints, it would be interesting to have something utterly centred on him and his point of view of the world(s) around him.
Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)
Pre-order: Amazon UK | Amazon US
***** ***** *****
We Are Bound By Stars (We Are Blood and Thunder #2)  ) – Kesia Lupo [Release Date 9th July 2020, Bloomsbury
Genre: YA Fantasy
*Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

 

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Book Summary:

On a mysterious island where the very earth holds magic, masked assassins plague the city and strange creatures rise from the desert. Livio has riled against his destiny his whole life. Beatrice longs to escape her life of servitude. But when a twist of fate unites them, it is up to them to stop a deadly revolution.

Are they just puppets in someone else’s game? Will they have to accept the hands they have been dealt or can either change their fortunes?

Another thrilling, plot-driven adventure, with an even bigger twist, We Are Bound by Stars is a tale of masks, politics, desire and deception that will have you gripped once again in Kesia Lupo’s rich fantasy world.

 

Review:

Firstly, I have to say that I love the cover for this book and it was certainly love at first sight. Now, though I think it is the perfect reflection of the story itself. This was an intriguing read, and a fantastic sequel to the first book, taking that world and in my opinion taking the worldbuilding up a notch. The world was beautifully realised in this book, full of detail and intrigue, and it expanded on so much that was only hinted on in book one. The writing itself was brilliant, and the story hooked me in and wouldn’t let up and I read this book in one sitting because I couldn’t look away, and not just because of the world – although that was my favourite part – but because the characters, Livio and Beatrice that we followed were developed so well throughout the story and we learnt so much about them that you needed to find out what happened to them next.

Rating: **** (4/5 Stars)

Pre-order: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

***** ***** *****

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) – Alwyn Hamilton

Genre: Ya Fantasy

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Book Summary:

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.

Review:

This book left me conflicted. It started off really well – the first chapter was gripping, and that combined with the fact that the summary, and what I had heard from others about this book gave me hope, but I found that as time went on, it didn’t grip me. Don’t get me wrong, it was an enjoyable enough read, but it was slow for the most part, and where it should have picked up pace i.e. action scenes it went in the other direction and felt too rushed. In a similar way I liked Amani at the beginning – and I was hoping for another female MC that I would enjoy reading about, but I found myself disconnected from her the further I got into the book, and never really built a connection with the other characters at all. I feel that what really pulled this book – which had such a fascinating premise, and world idea – aside from the pacing that I really did struggle with, was that it ended up a little too stereotypical in places.

At this point, I still want to read at least the next book, in the hopes that it will improve because I understand that this was a debut and the premise has so much potential. I also acknowledge, that I am not the target audience which may impact on my enjoyment of the book.

Rating: *** (3/5 Stars)

Purchase Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

**

If you’ve read any of these, or read them in the future please feel free to shout at me about them.

Rowena

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