Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

I will be honest here: I chose to read the novel because of its cover. It looked so interesting and beautiful and I just had to give it a shot. Now, I know I didn’t like Annihilation by this same author… but when has that ever stopped me from giving a book a shot? So here is my review:

In a city destroyed by drought and conflict, a young woman named Rachel tries to survive, scavenging through the ruins. The city is dangerous, littered with remnants of experiments gone wrong by the Company, a biotech firm now derelict. There is also a giant bear lurking around, attacking whomsoever it pleases. Rachel tries to make ends meet in a run-down sanctuary she shares with her partner, Wick. One day, Rachel finds Borne and take him home. Borne is a mysterious green lump but there is something about Borne that grabs Rachel’s attention. Against her instincts – and against Wick’s wishes – Rachel keeps Borne and helps Borne grow. As Borne learns to speak and learns about the world, Rachel find herself feeling motherly feelings. She wants to protect Borne – even though she knows she can’t. But as Borne grows, he begins to threaten the balance of power in the city and to put the security of her sanctuary with Wick at risk. What Borne will lay bare to Rachel as he changes is how precarious her existence has been, and how dependent on subterfuge and secrets. In the aftermath, nothing may ever be the same.

The writing style may have been the same between Borne and Annihilation, but it worked for me here. This is a difficult novel to read because it is not only complex in its ideology, but also in the way it is written. It took me quite a bit of time to read and process this novel … but it was well worth the effort. Something that I found very unique about this book is that the author leaves the bigger picture vague; we don’t know all of the details that led to the ruined city. However, it is the emotions and the little things that the author expands upon. By doing this, he keeps the reader focused on the characters, as they grow, develop, and come upon their truths. The reader isn’t bogged down by useless details; everything that happens and everything that is described is relevant in painting this beautiful story. I loved the relationship that develops between Borne and Rachel, and I love how it affects various aspects of Rachel’s life, including her relationship with Wick. I wish I could say more but I don’t want to ruin the experience for others. Suffice to say, this novel is incredibly written and extremely deep. It is not something that you can read in a rushed manner; you have to take your time in order to go beyond the surface. This isn’t just a tale of survival; this is a story about identity and relationships. It is definitely a worthwhile read. 5/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

 

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Wytches by Scott Snyder – Wytches Volume 1

I read about this awesome comic in a newsletter where it was recommended for fans of science fiction and fantasy. I’ve recently become more interested in graphic novels and I love anything to do with witches and the supernatural so I was super excited to try this story! Here is my review:

Everything you thought you knew about witches is wrong. They are much darker, and  much more horrifying. When the Rooks family moves to Litchfield, they are hoping for a brand new start. They want to leave the trauma of their past behind and work on getting better together. But there is something evil waiting for them, watching them in the woods just beyond town. It is waiting in the trees. And it is ancient … and it is hungry …

This comic had a very interesting take on wytches. For one thing, they weren’t humans but more monsters that liked to eat people. While some people may not like this, I thought it was a cool take on the stereotypical view of what a wytch is. I also thought that the premise of the story was really cool. There was this whole father-daughter relationship that was beautifully depicted by the author, with this whole nightmarish horror story meshed in. And it worked! Both of these elements worked well together and complemented each other to create a well-developed story. I wish I had gotten to know more about the Rooks family, especially their daughter (since she was pretty much the main character); it felt like the end reveal could have been drawn out better to give a more tense feeling. I will say that this graphic novel wasn’t as creepy as I was expecting. It was still really good but I was expecting a little more horror; maybe if the story was drawn out more and I had had more of an opportunity to connect with the characters, it would have made the horror more heightened. This was a pretty interesting graphic novel and I will probably check out Volume 2! 4/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

 

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

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

I don’t know what is with this trend of giving vague blurbs for novels but it seems to be my weak spot! It’s probably because I love surprises so much … a book that doesn’t give me any clues is sure to surprise me! Anyways, here I go with my review:

In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z’s small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds. This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees.

See, when I read this summary, I thought there would be more to it than what was mentioned. Something about the actual environmental situation or about the actual dangers of the new world. There is not. This is literally what the novel is about. To be fair, I don’t even know if this should be considered a novel because it was so short. Not only was it short, it didn’t have much substance. The story is told from the mother’s perspective and she uses the alphabet to name everyone (there is a character named N, and another one named R). I really didn’t like the whole alphabet naming thing because it always took me a minute to realize who she is talking about. I had absolutely no connection with any of the characters because you don’t really know much about anyone except for the protagonist … but there wasn’t much to her, either. The struggles that she went through didn’t really seem like struggles because they weren’t described very well. And while I like babies, I don’t like reading about their normal development. Barely anything happens in this book and the only reason I got through this novel was because of how short it was. I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

 

Seventh Decimate by Stephen R. Donaldson

Thank you to Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

So I’ve been trying to give high fantasy a chance, and I was told by a friend that this would be a good place to start. I was really happy to receive this ARC so here is my review:

For centuries, the realms of Belleger and Amika have been at war. On both sides are sorcerers who use the Decimates to rain blood and pain upon their enemies. But, somehow, the Amikans have found a way to use the seventh Decimate, and it is a power that strips all lesser sorcery of its powers. Now, the Bellegerins are defenseless. Prince Bifalt, eldest son of the Bellegerin King, hates sorcerers with a passion. But it is he who is given the task of finding the book of the seventh Decimate and reversing the fate of his land. All hopes rests on Bifalt. But the legendary library that houses this book is in a dangerous place, where Bifalt has never been before. Wracked by hunger and fatigue, sacrificing loyal men along the way, Bifalt will discover that there is a game being played by those far more powerful than he could ever imagine. And that he is nothing but a pawn.

I really wanted to like this book. But I didn’t. The problem wasn’t with the concept but rather the way the author told the story – it just didn’t do it for me. First of all, I didn’t like Bifalt. As in, I hated him. And that’s never a good sign when you are reading a book. This led me to not feel as connected with him and to also not care about what was happening to him. I also found that the story was a little hard for me to get into. For some reason, I couldn’t get myself to feel interested in what was being described or the events that were happening. I found myself skimming through passages looking for something juicy… but coming up empty. I will say that the author was very good at describing battle scenes; he made it realistic and didn’t glorify death and carnage, which I really appreciated. Overall, this novel has the potential to be a really great fantasy series but it’s just not for me. 2/5 stars from me!

Happy reading !

 

 

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff – Nevernight Chronicles #2

I loved Nevernight so much so that I bought it. I have been eagerly anticipating the release of this novel and I had to wait FOREVER to get my hands on it. But I did. And I kid you not, I put every other book aside so that I could devote all of my time to this novel. I even skipped out on doing work (sorry not sorry) to finish it and savour this amazing sequel. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here is my review:

Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church don’t think she’s earned it just yet. As she successfully completes one mission after the other, she finds herself no closer in her quest to kill Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo. And after a deadly confrontation with an enemy, Mia starts to suspect the allegiance of the Red Church itself.  When she finds out that Scaeva and Duomo will be making an appearance in the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia hatches a plan. She defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium in the hopes of reaching the conclusion level of the games and finally getting the chance to seek her revenge. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

This was one of the best sequels I’ve ever read. Usually, I find that in a trilogy, the second book is just filler. NOT THE CASE WITH THIS GEM! The darkness, brutality, and violence that made this story so believable in the first book carried over here. If anything, it was more intense than before! Mia is an amazing character and I love how sneaky and cunning she can be with her friends – and the reader. I love how she grows and changes, and I love that this novel showed a different side to her world than what we had seen in Nevernight. The gladiator battles were amazing, and I liked the new characters that were introduced. The writing style was just the same (meaning BRILLIANT) and it was great to see how the author flitted between past and present in the first part of the story. I think what really makes this story work for me is that the author doesn’t cheat the reader out of the experience. This book promises gore and then it delivers it. It promises an evolving and fast-paced story and that’s exactly what the reader gets. And there are so many surprising events that occur, which the reader could never have guessed and they just add to the intrigue and make you want to know more! Suffice to say, it was worth making all of the sacrifices that I did (like skipping work, and not studying or reading anything else). Now, I just have to wait in agony for the next book to be released!

Happy reading ~

 

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Thank you to Penguin Random House and First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

I love reading fantasy novels that have a different cultural influence. It adds a lot more intrigue and differnet perspectives for me to view the story in and it also gives me the opportunity to gain exposure to different cultural norms that are out there. I was super excited to get this ARC so here is my review:

In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages use their magic to bring out the sin from a sinner in the form of beasts. These sin-beasts are then eaten by sin-eaters, otherwise known as aki. However, it is a difficult livelihood and comes at a price. For every sin-beast killed and consumed, a tattoo appears on the skin of the sin-eater while the guilt of committing the sin stays in the mind of the aki. Taj is the most talented of the aki but he suffers the most, as his tattoos never fade in time. He knows his fate: most aki are driven mad by the process… but Taj must survive in order to provide for his family. When Taj is sent to eat the sin of a member of the royal family, he finds himself thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy. Now Taj must fight to save the lives of those he loves – and his own.

This novel had such an interesting concept. However, it suffered quite a bit in its execution. Many people were not able to finish this novel, but I chugged through. I will say that this novel has a great deal of description and the author does a very good job fleshing out Taj’s character. You really get to know him and understand him. However, there isn’t much happening. There are loads of moments in the story where nothing is happening and it can get quite boring to go through it to get to the good stuff. While the beginning was intriguing enough to give the story momentum, it didn’t continue all the way until the end. This is probably the reason that a lot of people gave up on this novel. It finally ramped up speed near the end, but I wasn’t too happy with the way it was done. For one thing, it felt very rushed and had not been built up too well. The other problem was that it was quite predictable, which was a bit disappointing for me. I felt like I had invested a lot of time into this story, but I got the short end of the stick. So while this novel had an interesting premise, it really suffered in its plot development. For this reason, I’m giving this a 2.5/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Burning Girls by Veronica Schanoes

I haven’t read a novella in a long time but this one seemed very interesting so I decided to leave off of my longer novels in lieu for this novella.

The story follows a young Jewish girl whose mother is a healer and witch. When it is discovered that the girl also carries this power, her grandmother begins to educate her in the ways of a witch. However, it is a dangerous practice, especially as Poland becomes increasingly hostile. When a demon plagues her family, it is up to this young girl to protect those she loves.

When I first read this premise, I thought it would be more fantasy based but this story ended up being so much more. This was such a refreshing and poignant novella and I really loved every minute of it. The main character is cheeky and practical and just such a unique and amazing protagonist, who really makes you connect with her struggles. This story portrays the struggle of a Jewish family as they try to find peace from persecution, only to discover horror in their new home. I can’t say more without spoiling this story but I really think this novella is one that everyone should read so please do yourself a favour and check out this amazing story!

Happy reading ~

Badlands by Melissa Lenhardt – Sawbones #3

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

This was a long time coming. I remember reading the second novel in this series and wanting to get started on this one right away … but life (and other books on my TBR list) got in the way. However, I’ve finally done it and I’m ready to review:

Just when Laura thought things were going to get better, her worst fears have been realized: she is separated from Kindle and is once again on the run. She can’t go back to New York without risking death, and it is almost certain that Kindle will be tried and hanged. The only person Laura has as an ally is a woman that she cannot trust. Will Laura be able to survive? Or is it finally time for her to face her past?

This was a really good conclusion to an interesting series. In this concluding novel, the story was focused almost entirely on Laura, which I really enjoyed. Kindle, while always present, took a backseat in this story and it actually worked for the better. This novel had 2 female protagonists (including Laura) and I really liked reading about how they fought and worked with each other throughout the course of the story. Again, the author did a great job maintaining the historical setting of the novel. All of the open ends were tied up really nice with this book. After all the negative things that occur in this novel, it still ended on a positive note, which I was happy about. This was definitely a successful Western historical fiction series and I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of this genre!

Happy reading ~

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 ~

The River At Night by Erika Ferencik

I’ve been looking for an interesting thriller to read and this one has been on my TBR list for a while. Now that I’m on vacation, I thought this would be a good opportunity to catch up and reduce that list as much as I possibly can. So here is my review:

Wini likes to play things safe, but when her friends decide to celebrate their middle-aged life by doing something drastic, she decides to take the plunge. Wini and her friends decide to go to Maine to do some white water rafting, something that none of them have any experience with. A fun trip quickly turns into a horrific nightmare as the women find themselves trapped in the wilderness with no way out.

I recently read another novel that deals with survival, a YA fiction called Feel Me Fall. Compared to that, this one was a softie. This novel had a lot of positive aspects to it: it had a great premise, and an interesting friendship group. But with all of that potential, I felt that the action was lacking. The beginning started off great, and I found myself intrigued with where the story was going. However, as the story continued, I found that there needed to be more action happening. That kind of made the story fall for me a bit. Overall, this was an interesting story but it needed way more action to carry it through until the end.

Happy reading ~