Thursday, 18 April 2019

New on my Shelves (2)

I added Gene Wolfe even though I received it as a Christmas gift from my girlfriend, but I thought it was fitting since he died this week. Essays by Arthur Miller to balance out Circe by Madeline Miller.

What's new on your shelves? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence

Book Title: One Word Kill
Author: Mark Lawrence
Genre: Science Fiction / Time Travel
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Paperback, signed by the author, plus a Kindle copy

Amazon UK, Goodreads

Plot Summary: In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.
Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now.
He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.
Challenge accepted.
What did I think?

This made me want to play Dungeons and Dragons, and after not playing Dungeons and Dragons for thirty-five years, I finally did. Partly because a friend kept nudging me, and partly because damn, now I had to.

Mark Lawrence has an amazing voice, and by the end of the first page it's clear One Word Kill can only turn into a great book, and there's nothing that can stop it.

"But as it turned out, I would die even before February got into its stride."

What a sentence. On the first page.

The story is told through Nick who is an incredibly likeable and compelling character. The rest of the cast is well developed, and I cared deeply about their relationships with each other.

Lawrence's writing is imaginative and hilarious. He's got the reader chuckling, then welling up three sentences later.

The biggest theme here is friendship, but the novel has a bit of everything: The kids from Stranger Things meet Donnie Darko's time travel, topped with a healthy dose of young adults growing up in England.

It's a short book, the pacing is impeccable, and it can be swallowed in one swift gulp. And the best part? This could be a standalone. It wraps up neatly, and I actually thought it wasn't part of a series. I am pleased to hear there will be more, but people who are afraid of cliffhangers: don't be.

I recommend this to all Mark Lawrence fans, of course, and beyond that anyone who enjoys time travel, the 80's, Dungeons & Dragons, Stranger Things and anything else I've mentioned. Basically: read this, and you will love it.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

By The Feet Of Men by Grant Price

Book Title: By The Feet of Men
Author: Grant Price
Genre: Science Fiction / Post-Apocalyptic
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Paperback provided by the author

Amazon UK, Goodreads 

Plot Summary: The world's population has been decimated by the Change, a chain reaction of events triggered by global warming.
In Europe, governments have fallen, cities have crumbled and the wheels of production have ground to a halt.
The Alps region, containing most of the continent's remaining fresh water, has become a closed state with heavily fortified borders. Survivors cling on by trading through the Runners, truck drivers who deliver cargo and take a percentage.
Amid the ruins of central Germany, two Runners, Cassady and Ghazi, are called on to deliver medical supplies to a research base deep in the Italian desert, where scientists claim to be building a machine that could reverse the effects of the Change. Joining the pair is a ragtag collection of drivers, all of whom have something to prove.
Standing in their way are starving nomads, crumbling cities, hostile weather and a rogue state hell-bent on the convoy's destruction.
And there's another problem: Cassady is close to losing his nerve.
What did I think?

I love post-apocalyptic fiction and read this one in go. The prose is straightforward and simple, with no distractions. By The Feet of Men offers a lot of action, and the pacing doesn't let up. Not a dull moment in sight.

Grant Price takes a lot of care to build his characters. Instead of focusing on the world as so many post-apocalyptic novels do, he decided to focus on his characters, and it works.

While the world building is definitely immersive with no info dumps, the apocalypse has already happened, and this is how humanity lives now.  The world is a backdrop, an intriguing one, but a backdrop nonetheless, amidst a varied cast of three dimensional characters.

They're all well developed, well written, and I found myself fully invested in all of them. A ragtag group of people, thrown together in an attempt to do something they think will help the world. They form bonds, work with each other, protect each other and support each other.

Loyalty, friendship, but also working together for the greater good, even though one might not like each other all that much are themes Grant Price examines. Besides the aforementioned, there's the usual: is this shit worth dying for. And really, that last theme will always be interesting, and I'll always love reading about characters who decide they're willing to risk their lives for a cause they believe in.

I recommend this to all fans of post-apocalyptic fiction.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

New on my Shelves (1)

My tbr pile is growing and it seems like the only thing standing between me and these books is a lack of time...

Monday, 11 March 2019

Never Die by Rob J. Hayes

Book Title: Never Die
Author: Rob. J. Hayes
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: E-book copy provided by the authors

Amazon UK, Goodreads 
Plot Summary: Ein is on a mission from God.
A God of Death.
Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight year old boy to render the judgement of a God. Ein knows he can't do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die.
Ein has four legendary heroes in mind, names from story books read to him by his father. Now he must find them and kill them, so he can bring them back to fight the Reaper's war.
Thank you to the author for providing me with a review copy of this book. Also a big thank you goes to Esme over at the Weatherwaxreport for setting up TBRindr.

What did I think?

Rob J. Hayes impressed me with Drones, and this one promised to be a fast-paced fantasy, so I dove straight in.

I was not disappointed.

It's a captivating story, and Hayes is a gifted storyteller. I couldn't put the book down. I did not want to put the book down. Tight prose and short chapters make for excellent pacing.

Never Die shows that a simple story can turn into a memorable tale in the hands of a skilled author. Not a word is wasted. The characters are fleshed out, interesting, and their dynamic feels real.

With its Asian inspired setting filled with plenty of sword fights, Never Die reminds me of playing a video-game.

Hayes' prose is simple, yet accessible. He paints scenes in a vivid, captivating way. Despite lacking the meticulous descriptions which the fantasy genre usually offers, I was able to visualise everything. At times, I felt like I was watching a movie. Hayes' style is super entertaining, with plenty of surprising twists and turns in the story.

I highly recommend Never Die to everyone who loves their fantasy topped with a ton of action. If any of this sounded interesting, give it a shot, it's well worth a read.

Friday, 25 January 2019

The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan

Book Title: Our Child of the Stars
Author: Gareth Hanrahan
Genres: Fantasy
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 
Source: I own a copy

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Plot Summary: A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.
The city has always been. The city must finally end.
When three thieves - an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man - are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born. Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know. Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city's underworld. Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh.
Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon.
What did I think?

This book is simply fantastic. First of all, look at this cover. It's beautiful. Second of all, I read this in two days. I couldn't stop. It's innovative, original, and simply a treat to read. I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed The Gutter Prayer. Amazing characters, fabulous world building, and I think every fantasy fan should read this.

Fantasy is rarely unique, but Hanrahan managed to deliver a book that is a breath of fresh air.

Once you start reading, the first thing you'll notice is the use of second-person narration in the prologue. Don't worry. The whole book is not like that, and the second person narration makes perfect sense once you get to the end of the prologue.

Hanrahan's displays his vast imagination by creating developed characters and detailed, intricate world building. All three protagonists have clear, distinct voices. I clicked with all of them almost immediately. I didn't have to warm up to them or the book for that matter. From the very first chapter, I knew I was in for something special.

Even the antagonists are unique. My favourite were the Tallowmen, made of wax, burning. Monsters, inhumanly fast, they will end you with no sign of mercy.

The pacing is great, no dull moment, and the prose is pleasing. In fact, Hanrahan plays with language in a way that I thoroughly enjoyed. A fresh, unique voice.

I recommend this wholeheartedly to every fantasy fan.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Our Child of the Stars by Stephen Cox

Book Title: Our Child of the Stars
Author: Stephen Cox
Genres: Science Fiction
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Netgalley

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Plot Summary: A lost child, the family who try to protect him and the secret that refuses to stay hidden . . .
Molly and Gene Myers were happy, until tragedy blighted their hopes of children. During the years of darkness and despair, they each put their marriage in jeopardy, but now they are starting to rebuild their fragile bond.
This is the year of Woodstock and the moon landings; war is raging in Vietnam and the superpowers are threatening each other with annihilation.
Then the Meteor crashes into Amber Grove, devastating the small New England town - and changing their lives for ever. Molly, a nurse, caught up in the thick of the disaster, is given care of a desperately ill patient rescued from the wreckage: a sick boy with a remarkable appearance, an orphan who needs a mother.
And soon the whole world will be looking for him.
Cory's arrival has changed everything. And the Myers will do anything to keep him safe.

What did I think?

I received this book from Netgalley UK.

Imagine an alien spaceship crashes on Earth in the 60's somewhere in the middle of the United States, and the only survivor is a small child.

A boy.

How many people would be after him? Of course, both the government and the FBI would love to get their hands on this child. Awaiting him: experiments galore. Poor thing.

Instead, a caring couple hide him away, adopt him as if he were their own and give him the possibility to grow up in a protected and nurturing environment. But Cory looks nothing like a human child, and sadly, it's impossible to hide him forever.

This story is about family, love, trust, caring for each other, and the good in humanity prevailing.

Cox takes care to build a wonderful home for Cory, expanding on his family life for almost half the book. Despite that, there are no dull moments. The author's prose flows nicely, and the pacing is steady.

However, if you're looking for non-stop action, this isn't the book for you. Cox builds his characters with care, and by the time Cory is in danger you'll have fallen in love with him and his parents.

Our Child of the Stars is uplifting and heart-warming. It's neither groundbreaking nor does it explore any new ideas, but it's a welcome moment of warmth. I highly recommend it to readers who are looking for something comforting in these cold days where the news batter us constantly.