Review: The Last Namsara

October 11, 2017 in Book Reviews, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Last NamsaraThe Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
Series: Iskari #1
Published by Gollancz on 12th October 2017 (UK)
Genres: Fantasy, YA Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-stars

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

Asha is the daughter of the dragon king. The people are afraid of her because she brought dragonflame upon the city as a child, telling Old Stories which attract the dragons. She herself was badly burned, but was rescued by the commandant’s son, Jarek. Now she is a hunter of dragons, a dragon slayer for her father the King who has also named her Iskari, from the Old Stories.

Asha is betrothed to the very boy who saved her. He’s commandant now, leader of her father’s armies and one of the few people who isn’t scared of her. In fact, if anything, she is scared of him.

When her father offers her the chance to call off their impending marriage, Asha leaps at the chance. Should she finally capture the First Dragon, Kozu, the very one that burned her skin and torched her city, her father would be willing to cancel the ceremony but Asha doesn’t have much time. Her quest leads her to cross paths with her betrothed’s slave, a boy called Torwin who doesn’t seem to fear her. In fact he breaks laws to look directly at her face.

There is much to love in this book – not least the dragons! Our story is told around Asha but also shares the Old Stories that she holds dear, those that remind her of her late mother. However, not only do the stories make people ill and are therefore banned, but they also draw dragons. The telling of the Old Stories attracts the dragons, which is a tempting proposition when you are hunting them, tasked with returning with their heads.

I enjoyed the storytelling style of this novel – the way the old and new cultures and beliefs were conveyed, so integral to the story yet also told as part of the tale.

I was unsure of Asha at first but I grew to like her. Honestly, and probably unsurprisingly, Torwin was my favourite character in this novel. As for other characters, I’d have liked to have seen more of Safira (Asha’s cousin) and Dax (Asha’s brother). I felt that they were kind of peripheral although they played a role in the story.

I will admit to feeling slightly overwhelmed by the world at times. It took me a while to get things straight in my mind, the different peoples, regions, names etc, but that’s probably down to my foggy brain!

I really enjoyed the writing in the novel and found it so easy to get swept up in this tale. This is the first book in a trilogy and I will most definitely be picking up book two.

four-stars

Review: Godblind

September 15, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: GodblindGodblind by Anna Stephens
Series: The Godblind Trilogy #1
Published by Harper Voyager on 15th June 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars

The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.

Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbors deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.

Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?

I’d heard a lot of great things about this book prior to picking it up. Fantasy told from the perspectives of multiple characters, Gods trying to regain entry to the world, people and cultures with their own beliefs, men vying to be King, it all sounded pretty good. And it was. I really enjoyed the first half of the book, maybe even up to 70% but then I kind of got bored, which surprised me as the last part of the book has fighting, battles, action. Yet I got bored of reading passages of fighting, injury, blood, death. Why? Well, I’ve been trying to figure that out. I think there was just too much description, too many fight scenes and I just lost interest. Also, I’m not sure that I really cared about any of the characters, except Crys.

Believe me, I’m really disappointed, I wanted to love this. Indeed to begin with I was absorbed by the story and the world. I kept hoping I’d get back to that but it just didn’t happen for me.

If you’ve read this I’d love to know your thoughts. I think I’m definitely in the minority with this. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood?

All that said, this is a creative book – I enjoyed the world building and concepts, but sadly it didn’t hold my attention.

three-stars

Review: Final Girls

August 4, 2017 in Book Reviews, Thriller

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Final GirlsFinal Girls by Riley Sager
Published by Ebury on 11th July 2017
Genres: thriller
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-stars

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Quincy Carpenter is a Final Girl, the sole survivor of a massacre that killed her five friends. It’s ten years since that horrific night in the woods and Quincy seems to be getting on just fine. She has a successful baking blog, her own apartment, and a lawyer boyfriend. She also has the unwavering support of Coop, the police officer who found her that night.

She is one of only three Final Girls. Lisa and Sam both found themselves the only survivor of horrific massacres years before. Lisa, Sam and Quincy are collectively known as the Final Girls, a term coined by the media.

So when Lisa is found dead, wrists slit in her bathtub and Sam turns up unannounced on Quincy’s doorstep, it becomes apparent that despite having no real memory of that night ten years ago, Quincy isn’t quite as ok as she thought.

Upon reading the synopsis of this book I knew it was one I had to read. Told from Quincy’s perspective, it’s hard to put this book down. Yes, there was the occasional lull in the story but if anything that just served to build the tension more. This, coupled with interspersed chapters from ten years ago, as well as the sudden shift in Quincy’s world following Lisa’s death make this the thrilling read it is. Quincy’s attempts at normal life, baking for her blog and working from home, are a stark contrast to what happens when Lisa dies and Sam appears in Quincy’s life.

This is a well written, gripping thriller that is sure to keep you reading and speculating until the last chapter.

 

four-stars

Review: Royal Bastards

July 29, 2017 in Book Reviews, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Royal BastardsRoyal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
Published by Disney-Hyperion on 30th May 2017
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .

Royal Bastards is an easy-to-read, action packed read, that although fantasy is not super-intense fantasy. Narrated by our main character Tilla, the story is told in a modern style. It’s banterous, playful and witty while simultaneously dangerous, bloody and violent.

We follow a bunch of five teens, 4 ‘outsiders’ and a Princess who are thrust together when they see something they shouldn’t have and find a bounty set on their heads.

Tilla is the daughter of Lord Kent of the Western Province and a low born woman. All she has ever wanted is to be legitimised, allowed to sit at her father’s side rather than at the bastard table at the back of the hall. But her father now has trueborn heirs and so Tilla spends the majority of her time with her half brother (same low born mother) Jax. I really liked Jax and the playful nature of their sibling relationship.

Then we have Miles, the bastard and only son of a Lady, Lord Kent’s best friend. We have a Princess who seeks to defy convention and a Zitochi warrior, Zell, who is sullen, serious and strong.

I very much liked the fact that although narrated through Tilla, we got to know the other characters and their back stories. I felt we saw the progression of each of the characters, with Tilla obviously being the predonimant one.

As fantasies go this isn’t too heavy. If you feel intimidated by fantasy then perhaps this YA fantasy would be a good place to start?

I did find the light narrative style to be somewhat at odds with the violence and implied violence. I guess it showed Tilla’s naivety as this disparity definitely seemed to lessen as the story progressed.

All in all, a good read with some interesting characters. I believe this is the first book in a trilogy so I look forward to book two.

three-half-stars

Review: Gather The Daughters

July 22, 2017 in Book Reviews, Dystopian, General fiction

I received this book for free from NetGalley, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Gather The DaughtersGather The Daughters by Jennie Melamed
Published by Tinder Press on 13th July 2017
Genres: Dystopian
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Gather The Daughters tells the story of an end-of-the-world cult founded years ago when ten men colonised an island. It's a society in which men reign supreme, breeding is controlled, and knowledge of the outside world is kept to a minimum. Girls are wives-in-training: at the first sign of puberty, they must marry and have children. But until that point, every summer, island tradition dictates that the children live wildly: running free, making camps, sleeping on the beach. And it is at the end of one such summer that one of the youngest girls sees something so horrifying that life on the island can never be the same again.

I can’t quite bring myself to use the word ‘enjoyed’ to describe how I felt about this book. I mean it’s deeply unsettling but it’s so compelling, I couldn’t put it down!

Melamed’s writing is in itself beautiful, but for me, it’s her telling of the story through multiple characters that really makes this book. You slowly develop an understanding of what’s going on, aided by the perspectives of the multiple daughters.

I’m truly hesitant to reveal too much as I feel it could impact upon Melamed’s storytelling. However, if you’re looking for a book to keep you reading and don’t mind battling that constant unsettled feeling, that deep unease that comes with reading about families, relationships and communities that lie out with the social norm then get reading!

**WIN A COPY**

If you are in the UK the publisher is currently giving away TEN copies over on Goodreads. Here’s the link. Good luck!

four-stars