Hekla’s Children by James Brogden

I actually began this novel a while back but had to stop because of my workload. The novel stayed in the back of my mind and I’m glad that I finally got the chance to read this book now. So here is my review:

10 years ago, teacher Nathan Brookes was supervising 4 students on a walk … when they all vanished. Only one returned, Olivia, and she was starving, terrified, and unable to recollect where she had been. And Nathan has been haunted by this event ever since. When a body is found in the same ancient woodland where the kids disappeared, it is immediately assumed that it is the body of one of the missing children. However, it is soon identified as a Bronze Age warrior. While others may be able to move on from this archaeological curiosity, Nathan finds himself having horrific visions of his students being trapped. Then Olivia reappears, desperate to put the warrior’s body back into the Earth. For he is the only thing keeping a terrible evil at bay.

This novel was both a hit AND a miss for me. The beginning was intriguing and it really grabbed my attention; that’s why I kept thinking about it even when I stopped reading the novel! The author did a great job setting the scene, and I got really invested in Nathan’s character. I suspected that the author would lean towards the fantasy-horror genre combination, and I was pleased to see that my prediction was true. I liked the introduction of the Bronze Age warrior and really wanted to see where the author was going to go with that. Very quickly, the author switched from having Nathan as a main character, to someone else …. and then it switched again to Nathan … and then went back to someone else. That part was a little baffling because it made me feel like I wasn’t reading a continuous story but rather two different stories happening within the same timeline. It worked in the sense that it added more intrigue to the story but it also failed by making things more confusing and muddled. The story itself grew more complex but it had its flaws. A lot of details were skimmed over and could have used some more buildup, and it lost some of its horror feel near the end. The way certain characters were connected didn’t really work for me, and some of the conclusions that were drawn were a bit too unbelievable for my taste. By the end of the novel, I felt like I had read a really complicated and intriguing novel … but one that lacked a consistent flow. Since there were elements that I still enjoyed about this novel, I’m giving it a 3/5.

Happy reading ~

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

After reading urban fantasy novels, I’ve been really wanting to find more books in this genre. It’s so different from high fantasy and stories set in alternate worlds … and it’s really addictive once you get into it! I was super excited to receive this ARC so here is my review:

Greta Helsing is a doctor with a very unusual patient pool: she treats the undead. Whether it is a vocal strain a banshee or entropy in mummies, Greta is known for her skill. After all, this is what she has been groomed for since childhood. But when a sect of murderous monks emerge, Greta is overwhelmed by the deaths of the undead AND humans. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must put her unusual skills to work to stop this cult from ruining her life.

I so so so badly wanted to like this book, you really have no idea! It seemed like the perfect book for me, with its cool protagonist and story setting. However, I just couldn’t get into this story. No matter how hard I tried, it all was just too bizarre. The switching of voices between characters was very jarring and it was hard to keep it straight in my head. One minute, the story seemed like it was set in Victorian times and the next minute, it seemed way more modern. It all just threw me off and I couldn’t enjoy myself. There are a lot of positive reviews on GoodReads so maybe this is just one of those times where I am in the minority. If this book’s premise sounds like something you would like, give it a shot!

Happy reading ~

City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett – The Divine Cities #3

At last! The final novel in this amazing trilogy! What I love about this series is that each novel takes place a few years after the previous one, and it focuses on a different character each time; this means that you can manage to read it as a standalone if you are strapped for time – though I would recommend reading the entire series in order to really understand everything. In the first book, the protagonist was Shara Komayd. In the second, it was Mulagesh. And now, we hear from Sigrud, who was always one of my favorites. Anyways, here I go with my review:

Siigrud je Harkvaldsson is very good at one thing: revenge. So when he learns that his oldest friend, Prime Minister Shara Komad, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what he is going to do. Yet as Sigrud pursues Shara’s killers, he begins to fear that this mission may be unsuccessful. Because discovering the truth behind Shara’s death means taking part in a secret, decades-long war, facing down an angry young god, and unraveling the mystery of Bulikov, the city of miracles.

It was definitely a good thing that I read the previous books in the series because the magnanimity of the truths revealed in this novel was just … WOW. And you really can’t understand how amazing these are unless you read the previous novels. So while I’m sure you can enjoy and understand what is happening in this novel without reading anything else in the series, I would strongly advise against that; take the time and read the first 2 books before getting into this one, so that you can truly fall in love with this serie like I have!

Sigrud…. I love him. This book did him such justice. His personality is just so …. amazing and one cannot help but appreciate him for his kindness, his loyalty, and his ruthlessness. He comes off as simple but the more you read, the more you see his complexity. The author definitely did an amazing job when creating Sigrud! I also loved all of the other characters that were a part of this story; each one was unique and had so much depth that you felt like you truly knew them!

The story and world-building in this novel are incredible but I expected nothing less from the author of this series. I wasn’t expecting all of the mysteries to be revealed in the way it did, which was a really awesome surprise. I really can’t complain at all about anything in terms of the story, characters, or world-building.

This was a stunning conclusion to an epic series and I strongly urge anyone looking for an awesome fantasy series to read this series. You will not be disappointed!

I received this novel from Blogging for Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading ~

 

Bright Air Black by David Vann

Before reading this book, I knew nothing about Medea or Jason and the Argonauts. In fact, I did a quick Wikipedia search into the origins of these characters before delving into this book so that I could properly understand the content. Here is my review:

The story brings us aboard the ship Argo as it makes its epic journey back home across the Black Sea from Colchis – Medea’s homeland where she has fled her father with Jason, the Argonauts, and the Golden Fleece. As Medea sails along with the man she loves, she must decide whether she is a sorceress or a monster. As the journey continues and reality hits Medea, we witness Medea’s humanity, her Bronze Age roots and position in Greek society, her love affair with Jason, and her tragic demise.

It definitely helped that I had a little background on the story before beginning this book because this novel starts at the point when Medea is on Jason’s ship, running away from her father. The story doesn’t really delve too much into the events that preceded this but you eventually do find out as you continue reading. Apart from that, the story is quite indepth in terms of storyline, giving a great amount of detail into the way the journey progresses. Having never read anything about Medea or Jason, I found the story fascinating. There was never a dull moment and with each page comes more violence, brutality, and treachery. If you have never heard of Medea, then you need to read this book and get to know her story!

Medea’s character….. was incredible. She is strong, ruthless, intelligent, and determined in a way that no other female protagonist I have each very read about has been. When she spoke, she voiced the thoughts of countless women over countless generations. She is the epitome of the struggles of a woman who does not fit into the mold created by men. In short, I loved her. She was violent and lacked mercy and yet shred he managed to exude femininity while acting completely unfeminine (according to our views on what a feminine person  is typically like). I cannot stress enough how well the author portrayed her and how mesmerized I was by her strength. She is definitely one badass female protagonist, even if I don’t support all of her violent actions.

At first, the writing style seemed unusual to me. It’s poetic but not in the typical way. It made me take note of every word being used, every transition being made. This was a beautifully written story and it demanded that you pay attention attention appreciate that beauty.

Happy reading ~

The Child Thief by Brom

After reading and adoring Lost Gods, I was eager to get my hands on more of Brom’s work. This novel is one that I’ve heard a ton about and I was interested to see how Brom would take the story of Peter Pan and twist it into something sinister. So here is my review:

Peter is quick, daring, and full of mischief—and he loves to play games. When he smiles at you, he makes you his friend for life … but his promised land is not Neverland. 14-year-old Nick almost died at the hands of drug dealers but Peter saved his life. Now, Peter offers Nick a chance to escape to a secret place full of magic. Even though Nick doesn’t believe in faeries and monsters, Nick agrees. After all, he has nothing left to lose, right?

There is always more to lose.

As Nick follows Peter, Nick finds that the beautiful paradise he was promised is everything but that. And Nick has unwittingly been recruited for a war that has raged for centuries – one where he must learn to fight among the “Devils”, Peter’s savage tribe of stolen children. And it soon becomes clear that Peter will go to any length to save the last wild magic in this dying land.

This is definitely a dark retelling of a childhood story, and Brom does not hold anything back. The author definitely transformed the Neverland of my childhood into something far wilder and I absolutely loved it! Faeries, monsters, references to Avalon…. it was definitely awesome to have this all melded together into one story. As usual, the illustrations were fantastic and really helped me imagine all of the different characters.

This novel was not nearly as dark as Lost Gods but what made it scary was how easily something that I had associated as innocent and fun could be twisted into something sinister. Peter was always just this fun guy but Brom managed to make me fear him … and fear Neverland, too.

This book was a lengthy read for me, and while engrossing, I don’t think I liked it as much as I adored Lost Gods. However, this is still a superb story with that classic artwork style Brom is known for and a dark story that will haunt you afterwards!

Happy reading ~

Monstress Vol. 2 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

GUESS WHO JUST RECEIVED HER COPY OF MONSTRESS VOLUME 2 IN THE MAIL???!?!?!?!?!

Yes, it was me. To celebrate, I read Monstress Vol. 1 before I started reading this one. Here are my thoughts:

After a harrowing escape, Master Ren, Maika, and Kippa make their way to Thyria in search of answers. While they hope to meet their friends and make some allies, there are many who seek Maika for their own personal gain.

I really can’t give a good summary of this volume without giving away major plot details so …. that’s all you’re gonna get from me!

As usual, this volume is filled with stunning artwork. Sana Takeda is a fantastic illustrator and she really makes the story come to life with her beautiful depictions. The story continues to be amazing, with even more world-building and intrigue! There were new characters involved and new truths revealed that have made me even more curious about Maika and her history. A lot of questions from Volume 1 were answered, and it was done in a very satisfactory manner, which is obviously a positive! There is more gore and violence in this volume, but it just makes the story that much more appealing! I found that this volume was a lot more dense than its predecessor, requiring some rereading at parts, but it was all part of the amazing journey that Marjorie Liu has created and it was well worth the effort. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who was a fan of Volume 1 and I would recommend this entire comic series for anyone who likes fantasy and beautiful artwork.

Happy reading ~

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m not going to preface this review with much. I have too many opinions and thoughts going on and I know if I start writing something now, I will literally ramble and never stop. So with that being said, let’s begin:

When Merrick Tremayne becomes crippled after an injury, he thinks his life of adventure as an East India Company smuggler is gone. Well, he’s wrong. When the India Office contacts Merrick to go on an expedition in Peru for quinine, which is essential for treating malaria, Merrick is hesitant. Even able-bodied expeditionaries have struggled to survive, and he can barely walk. But so desperate is he to escape his trapped life at home, that he sets off against his better judgement. He arrives at a tiny mission colony on the edge of the Amazon, where a salt line separates the town from a forest that is forbidden. Anyone who tries to breach the forest is killed by something – but beyond the salt are the quinine woods and there is no other way to get to them. Surrounded by local lore on cursed woods and lost time, Merrick must separate truth from fantasy in order to find out the history behind this place – and the mystery behind its people.

Let me tell you right now: I was really excited to read this novel. There is this historical aspect mixed with magical realism and so much adventure … I was looking forward to going on an amazing journey.

When I first started to read, I was a little bored. I wondered where exactly the story was going and what the personality of the narrator, Merrick, would be like. Within the first couple chapters, the magical elements started surfacing and I began to pay interest. I started putting the pieces together and making sense of all of the different characters being introduced.

However, there were quite a few things that made me feel … off. For one thing, Merrick is described as a young-ish man, around 30 years old. However, he talks like someone much older than his age. It was very hard at times to put these two things together and imagine a realistic character. He was very good at describing the things that were happening, and I really must say that the author did a fabulous job with her depictions of Peru… but I didn’t feel like Merrick really had a voice or personality. Merrick reminds me of the narrator from The Great Gatsby; an observer who is along for the ride but who really doesn’t have much input. I was much more intrigued by Raphael’s character and that of Merrick’s friend. However, I would have liked to have been invested in the main character, as he is the one who is supposed to pull the reader into the story.

The magical realism in this novel is really done quite well. There were loads of interesting facts, mixed with incidents of magical/supernatural happenings that kept me interested in the story. In fact, had those elements not been there, I would probably have given up on this novel a while ago. To be fair, at times it felt like there really wasn’t a plot. Many things were brought up and the timeline was constantly shifting as the author went backwards and forwards into the lives of the different characters. There were many occasions during which I wondered where exactly the author was going, and it made me feel a little disappointed with the story.

Truth is, I really wanted to like this novel but I didn’t feel like it led to anything significant in terms of plot or theme. It was really well-written, with beautiful descriptions and tons of supernatural/magical elements. However, the plot wasn’t focused and the characters lacked that spark to make me care about them. For those reasons, I’m giving this book a 2.5/5 stars rounded to 3.

Happy reading ~

The Book of Bera by Suzie Wilde

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have always been intrigued by the Vikings and I was super excited when I heard that this book would be a Viking fantasy novel. I had no idea what that meant but I was eager to try it and see what it would be like!

When Bera journeys to protect her village from disease, an ensuing battle kills her childhood friend, Bjorn. The shame of her defeat causes her fatehr to wed her to the chieftain of a rival clan. But Bera soon realizes that her new husband’s second-in-command is responsible for her friend’s death. Though she must now take on the role of wife and stepmother, Bera vows to take revenge and begins her journey to power by honing her skills in the rough clan into which she has been sold. As her gifts continue to grow, she receives visions of looming disaster that will finally lead to the ultimate choice: revenge or safety for all?

This novel was a mess from beginning to end. And the entire blame falls on the main character, Bera. She is by far the most hated protagonist I have ever read about. Bera is an impulsive character that is very inconsistent in her behaviour and thought processes. For instance, before Bjorn died, she acted like she couldn’t stand him. But as soon as he died, he was suddenly the most kind person and she adored him. It made no sense, and this trend continues throughout the book. She vacillates between childishness and acting like a grown woman and it makes it hard to get a sense of who she is. Bera is also an extremely immature and annoying character. Perhaps her vicious behavior was supposed to emphasize her “Viking-ness” but all it did was make me not want to read this book. She literally has no redeeming qualities and it was a mission to get through this book. Suffice to say, I hated her every second.

The other problem with this book was that there wasn’t a proper buildup for certain events. Bjorn’s death, for example, was a bit out of the blue and it wasn’t presented in a way that felt complete. This was how I felt for most of the novel. There were also loads of things that just defied logic and made no sense whatsoever… but I won’t say what since I don’t like spoiling things.

In all, this was a very disappointing Viking-based story and I would probably not recommend this to anyone.

Happy reading ~

Owl and the Electric Samurai by Kristi Charish

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I began to read this novel, I had no idea that it was part of a series. I wish I had known because it would have explained away a lot of the confusion I was feeling when I was reading. Anyways, here is my review:

Owl is an antiquities thief who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. And she is in for another adventure. The International Archaeology Association (IAA) is responsible for keeping all things supernatural hidden… but they are also the ones responsible for ruining Owl’s archaeology career. Needless to say, Owl’s still a little sore about that. But now, the IAA has a bounty out for the 2 designed of World Quest, an online RPG that is a whole lot more than it seems. Owl needs to find the gamers before the other mercenaries do … but when every clue points to them hiding in the legendary lost city of Shangri-La. Not only does Owl have to deal with competitors, she also finds herself dragged into a game of wits with someone who calls himself the Electric Samurai. The stakes are high, especially when losing means an all-out civil war between 2 powerful supernatural factions.

I felt that I was really at a disadvantage when it came to this novel because of my lack of knowledge on this series and the characters. There was a lot going on and not everything made sense. You definitely need to read this series in order in order to really understand and appreciate all that is going on. I’ve decided not to rate this book or post my review on Goodreads because I don’t think any of my comments would be a fair assessment of this novel since I didn’t do my due diligence and read this series properly. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of this series or is looking to start a new urban fantasy/supernatural series!

Happy reading ~

Visions by Kelley Armstrong – Cainsville #2

It’s been a while since I read Omens by this author but I really enjoyed that foray into urban fantasy. I hadn’t planned on waiting so long to read the sequel but … life … happens. Anyways, I finally got around to it so here is my review:

In Omens, Olivia Taylor-Jones discovers that she is the daughter of notorious serial killers. She finds an ally in Gabriel Walsh, a selfish, morally ambiguous lawyer. Together, they were able to find a devious killer and partially cleared Olivia’s parents from their crimes. Their success, however, doesn’t last long. While Olivia continues to take refuge in Cainsville, Gabriel’s past comes back to haunt both of them.

When Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed just like her, she is shocked. What makes it worse is that the body disappears before anyone else sees it. Olivia is convinced it’s another omen. But when she learns that a real young woman went missing just a few days ago, it makes Olivia question whether the body she saw was just a simple omen – or a message. Who would have left this kind of warning and why? As Olivia tries to uncover the truth, she finds herself in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces that have their own agenda and secrets.

It took me a while to get into this novel because I couldn’t really remember what had happened. But after just a chapter or two, everything started to fall into place. It helped that the author provided recaps of important events from the first book to help set the tone for this novel. Again, we are thrown into a murder mystery that has some supernatural elements to it. I liked that the novel actually managed to answer some of the underlying questions that I had had from before. She also added a whole host of new elements that led to more questions. I will say that there is a whole new level of romance seen in this book that I was not expecting so …. readers be prepared! The dynamic between Olivia and Gabriel gets better in this novel and you really start to admire their witty friendship. One of the things that made me really happy about this novel is that the supernatural elements of the story were a lot more visible, even though it still maintained its main murder mystery plot; what drew me to the series in the first place was a promise of fantasy, and the author definitely delivered on that account. Overall, this is a novel filled with intrigue, supernatural forces, and an interesting murder mystery. If you liked Omens, you will definitely enjoy Visions!

Happy reading ~