Review: The Lions of Al-Rassan

y648.jpgTitle: The Lions of Al-Rassan (1995)
Author: Guy Gavriel Kay
Pages: 510


As I continue to work my way through Guy Gavriel Kay’s work, I’ve arrived at The Lions of Al-Rassan, a book that many consider to be Kay’s best work. It certainly has the swiftest pacing of any of his books (that I’ve read so far). He deftly moves his characters around the map, while their allegiances shift and swirl and their cultures clash. It was a bit dizzying trying to piece together who was siding with whom at one point or another and sometimes the characters motivations didn’t always make sense to me. This made it difficult for me to connect with the main players. In the end, it was a solid story about complex heroes and compelling cultures. It was not my favorite GGK book, but I had a good time with it.

★★★¾ out of 5

Most-Anticipated Books of 2019

There are loads of books coming in 2019 that I’m looking forward to. I’ve broken them down below into categories as they pertain to my reading life. I’ll let their covers do the talking.

New Sequels


Buzzy Titles


New from Favorite Authors


Need to Catch-up on Series/Author


Already Read, but look forward to their release…


Looks Interesting…


No release date on the horizon…

The Non- List of 2018

This blog is devoted to reviewing current works of speculative fiction…however…I branch out in my normal life to consume other types of books/media. Below is a snapshot of my favorites from a smattering of miscellaneous “Non” categories.

Non-2018 Speculative Fiction Favorites


Non-Fiction Favorites


Non-Book Speculative Favorites (Film)


Non-Book Speculative Favorites (TV)


Non-Book Non-Speculative Favorites (Film)


Non-Book Non-Speculative Favorites (TV)

 

 

Review: A Song for Arbonne

ASongforArbonneTitle: A Song for Arbonne (1992)
Author: Guy Gavriel Kay
Pages: 510


After Tigana and now A Song for Arbonne, it is clear that Guy Gavriel Kay can weave a complete, satisfying story in one standalone book. This novel is a beautiful tale of love and loss in the land of Arbonne. Kay’s character development and worldbuilding are outstanding and his lyrical prose is a perfect match for a sweeping story of troubadours amid a unique medieval world.

★★★★½ out of 5

Review: Atlas Alone

AtlasAloneTitle: Atlas Alone (April 16, 2019)
Author: Emma Newman
Pages: 336
Series: Planetfall #4 (Series Tracker)


Atlas 2 hurtles away from Earth, leaving a broken planet in its rearview mirror. Passenger Dee knows that those responsible for the mass genocide they left behind are on board as well, but who are they and how can she punish them?

Emma Newman’s writing continues to be very smooth and easy to read. She explores Dee’s complex emotional state quite effectively and I was invested in her journey. Her VR-like “mersive” environments were incredibly vivid and fun to read, as well.

The story itself, although dealing with big events and themes, is a little too straightforward and its perspective is so fixed on one character that I felt like I was reading about a ship of twenty people instead of the thousands that are supposedly on board. Because of this, some of the big moments lack the impact that they should have had.  

Luckily, Newman writes killer endings and this book was no exception to that trend. I wasn’t as intrigued by the buildup to the finale, but Newman certainly left me wanting more by the ending. I really hope there will be more Planetfall novels in the future as this continues to be a wonderful series with countless story threads left to explore!

★★★½ out of 5

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Top 10 Books of 2018

 

ROSEWATER-2

10. Rosewater

Author: Tade Thompson

Really inventive…I enjoyed this novel on a conceptual level, but didn’t find the story to be compelling until it all comes together at the end. I’m interested to see where author Tade Thompson takes future installments in this trilogy because he’s set up a good foundation with this excellent first book. See full review here.


a-conspiracy-of-truths-9781534412804_hr

9. A Conspiracy of Truths

Author: Alexandra Rowland

An unexpectedly delightful story featuring a wonderfully eccentric narrator…When writing a book about a gifted storyteller, it helps to be a gifted storyteller. Luckily, author Alexandra Rowland shows a knack for spinning a charming and heartwarming yarn.  A Conspiracy of Truths is an impressive and enchanting novel that was a joy to read. See full review here.


Foundryside RD4 clean flat

8. Foundryside

Author: Robert Jackson Bennett

This book has pieces of everything I want in a fantasy novel — an intriguing magic system, rich worldbuilding, interesting characters, humor, and heart. Those pieces coalesce into something really interesting and make for an enjoyable reading experience. Foundryside is swiftly paced, has great action, and features loads of sharp, snappy dialogue.  See full review here.


BeforeMars

7. Before Mars

Author: Emma Newman

A wonderfully captivating read that I really enjoyed…Before Mars is a compelling mystery box novel and a worthy addition to the Planetfall universe. With three books released and another on the way, Newman is crafting a superb series of interconnected works. See full review here.


Iron Gold

6. Iron Gold

Author: Pierce Brown

A wholly worthwhile addition to Darrow’s story that breathes fresh life into the overall saga. Iron Gold is sprawling, electrifying, bloody, and represents a welcome return to form for the series. See full review here.


AchingGod.jpg

5. Aching God

Author: Mike Shel

A thoroughly engrossing debut novel that I enjoyed immensely. It’s certainly one of my favorite books of 2018 and I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series, as Aching God builds a very solid foundation from which to jump off from. It feels like sword and sorcery Indiana Jones — and I’m very here for that.  See full review here.


Unholy Land // Lavie Tidhar

4. Unholy Land

Author: Lavie Tidhar

Unholy Land is a stunning achievement. It is packed to the brim with engaging ideas and features a captivating story that I could not stop puzzling over. There is such an ethereal and intoxicating quality to the story and Tidhar’s writing that I found myself floating through the chapters, not always sure what was happening, or whose perspective we were seeing, but knowing that I wanted to keep reading. The intersecting story threads twisted my brain into a pretzel and I loved it. See full review here.


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3. The Poppy War

Author: R.F. Kuang

Wow, this was a gem of a debut novel. I have never read a book that evolves so thoroughly from beginning to end. This is bloody, brutal, and unrelentingly dark fantasy. Overall, Kuang has crafted a complex and absorbing debut novel that is unsettling and enthralling in equal measure.  See full review here.


Philosopher's Flight

2. The Philosopher’s Flight

Author: Tom Miller

Author Tom Miller displays an impressive aptitude for storytelling as he deftly spins this wholly engrossing yarn. The Philosopher’s Flight is a wonderfully inventive historical fantasy that sinks its hooks into you and doesn’t let go. I truly enjoyed Tom Miller’s debut and hope a sequel is on the horizon. (The cover is great, too!) See full review here.


 

 

1. Senlin Ascends & Arm of the Sphinx*

Author: Josiah Bancroft

I was completely taken with Senlin Ascends right from the outset. Author Josiah Bancroft’s words paint a vivid picture of a peculiar world where nothing is as it seems. Bancroft’s prose is lyrical and conveys a sense of grand adventure that I rarely find in my reading life. See full review here.

Every page of Arm of the Sphinx is a delectable treat, with countless delightful passages, characters, and a story that gets more intriguing as mysteries build and questions are answeredIt’s inventive, clever, and imbued with a sense of virtuousness and humanity. Bancroft is weaving together a wonderful series that has all the makings of a modern fantasy classic. See full review here.

*Okay, #1 is a bit a cop-out since Senlin Ascends was originally published in 2013 and Arm of the Sphinx in 2014…HOWEVER, Orbit made the smart decision to snatch up the rights to Bancroft’s series and re-released these first two books in 2018…so, they qualify for this list on a technicality! They’re wonderful books, so I’m happy to bring attention to them in any way I can.

Review: Kings of Paradise

KingsofParadiseTitle: Kings of Paradise (2017)
Author: Richard Nell
Pages: 601
Series: Ash and Sand #1 (Series Tracker)


This was a solid dark fantasy. The characters and setting are well-drawn and the writing is quite good. I connected with some POV characters more than others and this meant that there were long stretches where I was disengaged from the story as I just tried to get through the POV chapters I enjoyed less. I’m undecided as to whether I’ll pick up the next book in the series, but I had a good time with this one.

★★★½ out of 5

Review: The Luminous Dead

TheLuminousDeadcoverTitle: The Luminous Dead (April 2, 2019)
Author: Caitlin Starling
Pages: 352


When Gyre Price is recruited to survey a dangerous cave system on a far off planet, her only chance of survival is to trust an enigmatic overseer and her own wits, which are slowly diminishing the deeper she journeys into the abyss.

Author Caitlin Starling creates a palpable sense of dread and foreboding as the book progresses. The cave itself is so claustrophobic and unsettling that by the end I was very ready to rid myself of such a sinister setting.

The story itself never really unfolded in the way I wanted it to, though. I was hoping for and expecting more hair-raising horror and thrills, but the book leans more heavily into psychological trauma, which it does communicate in an effective way. The book itself is well-written and engaging, and while the ultimate endgame did not leave me satisfied, I was captivated enough to go along for the ride.

★★★¼ out of 5

My thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Outlaw and the Upstart King

TheOutlawtheUpstartKing_144dpi.jpgTitle: The Outlaw and the Upstart King (January 1, 2019)
Author: Rod Duncan
Pages: 384
Series: The Map of Unknown Things #2, Gas-Lit Empire #5 (Series Tracker)


After leaving the Gas-Lit Empire behind and surviving a run-in with a floating city of pirates, Elizabeth Barnabus has landed on the inhospitable island of Newfoundland in less than ideal circumstances. While seeking a seemingly impossible escape to the Free States of America she runs across Elias, a thumbless outlaw who hungers for revenge against those who wronged him.

I appreciate that each book in this series does something markedly different while remaining true to the spirit of the overall saga. Here, in a brand new setting, Elizabeth takes a backseat to newcomer Elias and he drives the narrative for most of the book. Elias adds a new element to this story as his bitterness and reckless nature serve as a nice counterbalance to Elizabeth’s kind heart and sharp mind.

Author Rod Duncan continues to convey atmosphere in an engaging way. You can smell the brine, feel the mud, and hear the gulls in the sky, which is a testament to Duncan’s skills as a storyteller. Even if I wasn’t always enraptured by the story, I could enjoy the vivid imagery and worldbuilding that Duncan employs.

Overall, this is a strong entry in the ever-expanding Gas-Lit Empire saga and I enjoyed this one slightly more than the first book in this new trilogy. I’m excited to see how the story rounds out in the final book.

★★★¾ out of 5

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.