Review: The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

Published by: Orbit
ISBN: 0356506991
ISBN 13: 9780356506999
Published: February 2019
Pages: 432
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five

As a preamble I haven’t read Leckie’s ‘Imperial Radch’ series; I tried and didn’t manage to get through the first book simply because I didn’t get it though I appreciate that it exists, for sure. I simply didn’t feel smart enough to read it, like how some may struggle to read Shakespeare.

This is Leckie’s first fantasy novel – a genre I’m more comfortable in than science fiction (as much as I love it) so I thought I’d give it a go – Leckie is an amazing writer, after all. Immediately upon starting the book you see that she’s still doing clever things, writing in the usually-avoided second-person narrative, usually reserved for Choose Your Own Adventure books. It soon becomes apparent that that’s not what this is at all – this is a God, who is omnisciently witnessing everything that comes before it. By page six I was hooked.

There are two interwoven storylines, one present and one past, one where the God is talking about their very early days and the trials and tribulations that come with having anything and everything you say becoming immediately true – and one where the God is following young Eolo, who has come with his Lord Mawat (basically a Prince) who has returned home from fighting on the border to be told that his father has disappeared, and the power-hungry uncle has taken over the leadership ‘for the good of the people’. Eolo sounds like a farmer’s boy which lends people to underestimate him, giving chance for Eolo to hopefully discover what really happened to Mawat’s father.

This book is really very gripping – political intrigue aside – as it explores many different Gods and what takes up their time as hundreds and thousands of years pass by. The human characters, too, are interesting. I especially liked Tikaz who has been friends with Mawat since they were children, yet certainly is not in love with him. Daughter to one of the powerful advisors to first Mawat’s father and then his uncle, she is not without her own power which was excellent to see.

A very, very satisfying ending, too.

Review: Merry Happy Valkyrie by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Published by: Twelfth Planet Press
ASIN: B07K8QF79W
Published: November 2018
Pages: 89
Format reviewed: ePub
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended

Lief is going home for Christmas. ‘Home’ is a remote part of Tasmania that rarely gets visitors, all for a very good reason. People who head in that direction get side-tracked, turned around, or face car travel, and few actually make it anywhere near the mountain – let alone up it.

She did the one thing that no one from Mount Valkyrie ever does, and that’s ‘leave the mountain’. After university she just never came back, and instead got a job with a television station as a meteorologist. And that’s something that a few family members have never forgiven her for.

So, one Christmas when being nagged to come home – she does. And brings a junior camera girl with her to get some footage of the infamous mountain that always seems to have snow on it no matter what the weather is like in the rest of Tasmania. She hopes this will satisfy the nosy parkers and will buy her family and friends some peace before the gossip starts up again.

Because there is something strange and mysterious about the mountain. And Lief is doing her bit to protect it, just like the rest of her family.

Only she isn’t the only one with a camera up the mountain, and isn’t the only one who brought others back with her. And then, because of course nothing can be simple, the mountain possible has its own plans to protect its interests… and they possibly don’t align with anyone else.

 

It seems that every thing Tansy brings out makes me want to (nicely) steal her, lock her up to her laptop, and have my own private writing women forever because I don’t know how I’ll survive without more of x, y, z right now. Problematic, no? Especially how it changes, and if I did steal Tansy to write more whatever forever then maybe the next amazing thing wouldn’t happen. So for the greater good, and y’know, Chidi-morals, I should leave her where she is.

This is everything I never knew I wanted. Tansy could possibly write some kind of hidden mystery behind a phone book and I’d still wanna steal her BUT this, seriously, is amazing. I want a crow of my own. I don’t want to detail specifically everything I adore about this as, since it’s a novella, it’s hard to get into details without heading into spoiler territory and this is one of the better ones to leave to the reader to discover as it happens.

So basically, absolutely amazing. I love everything Tansy does, but this is above the rest slightly. So that’s saying a lot, and I can’t wait to read more. Especially involving crows.

Review: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Series: Strange the Dreamer #2
Published by: Hachette Australia
ISBN: 144478904X
ISBN 13: 9781444789041
Published: October 2018
Pages: 514
Format reviewed: eVersion (from NetGalley)
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: Strange the Dreamer #1

We pick up from where the first book left off pretty well seamlessly, except for a brief introduction of the second set of characters that we start to follow in this book – Kora and Nova, twins. Their sections of this book expand infinitely on the world as it was before Lazlo and Sarai etc all exist – how Skathis was when he was younger, what other powers there are in existence, and how there is so much more to everything than we originally thought.

I want to keep this review free from spoilers, so it’ll be short.

For those who’ve read the first book we know we’re in a land of humans and godspawn (blue people who have powers, and whose parents turned the humans below them into slaves and concubines) who are all struggling to survive. Among the humans we have Lazlo who was an orphan and made his way into the Great Library of Zosma, and then to live among the survivors who want to get rid of the last vestiges of the godspawn (not knowing that a few children managed to survive in the towering palace that looms over them, cutting off all sunlight.)

Lazlo was once told that there are great people in the world who will achieve great things. And that there are also people who will help them achieve their greatness. He thought he’d be one of them – there to fetch and carry, and not say a word when others benefit from his grand work as it should be enough to know inside, you were a part of something great.

However, like any great story, it turns out that there was always something more to Lazlo than even he knew about himself.

Throughout this book we get to explore that, the boundaries and abilities of powers by those who hold them, but are still always learning more about themselves too – which is excellent. So often in books you see people with powers and that’s it. In this we get to see them try new things and hope, as, after all, none of them really had anyone left to show them how.

We see a lot of anguish in these characters, and how they need to either come to terms with the poor hands they’ve been dealt or lose themselves to their anger and vengeance.

There are a massive amount of characters in this series and yet they’re all developed, and pulsing with their own lives and manners, and all could easily pull off their own series of their own.

We were told this was to be a duology, and yes, the story could end here. There’s an image at the start and end of the book in what one can only assume are in two of the many languages we hear of in these books – and though I’ve translated them (and happy to share somewhere I won’t spoil anyone who wants to figure them out for themselves), it’s still not enough. I want there to be so much more! Surely Sarai and Lazlo will find the certain someone with that certain gift, and then their story together (although already well on its way) can really take off.

(And I need to see what happens next to Thyon and Ruza! Come on!)

(And what happens to Lazlo. Cough.)

(And who else they find.)

(And what Minya and Kiska eventually talk about.)

(And just, everything!)

Review: Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

Series: The Murderbot Diaries #4
Published by: Tor
ISBN: 1250191858
ISBN 13: 9781250191854
Published: October 2018
Pages: 160
Format reviewed: eBook from publisher
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) | Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) | Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3)

Spoilers will appear beyond this point – novellas don’t really leave room for much to review other than fangirl gushing which I totally have in gusto for this series, however, is probably better for twitter and reaction updates rather than a posted review.

Continue reading

Review: The Dragon with a Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis

Series: Tales from the Chocolate Heart #2
Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 1681196972
ISBN 13: 9781681196978
Published: August 2018
Pages: 240
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five
Related Review: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart (Tales from the Chocolate Heart #1)

We return to the Chocolate Heart, the best chocolate shop in the kingdom of Drachenburg, however where the first book followed our favourite young dragon, Aventurine, this time we follow her friend, Silke. Silke, who also works for the chocolate shop (when she’s not helping her older brother at the small stall they have) who has a silver tongue and could either be an excellent media mogul or perhaps a conwoman… however, she is soon hired by the royal family instead.

When Silke first came to Drachenburg it was as an orphan. She and her brother had been travelling with their parents and a caravan of others when they had to cross a forest that was known for mysterious and terrible things… but they were desperately fleeing their home, so they enter anyway. And Silke never saw her parents again, and now lives on the riverbank in a tent that gets burned down every so often (the people of Drachenburg really do seem awful). So when Silke finds a better paying job in the Chocolate Heart (as we saw in the first book) she’s overjoyed (especially as hot chocolate is amazing generally, but even moreso when made by Marina and Aventurine) but even she can’t say no when the royal family offer her a challenge that, if she were to succeed, would result in her having a home within the castle walls forever.

The only problem is… it’s to do something quite terrifying. And means Silke will have to confront her past and her parents disappearance… something she hasn’t spoken about with anyone. Not even Aventurine.

In this book we get to see more of the royal family – the highly intelligent and ruthless older princess Katrin, as well as her younger sister who wants to be valued far more than she currently is, Sofia. We get to see other races in this world other than dragons, and we basically get nothing but excellent female characters getting things done, no matter what their age is.

This is a fun, middle-grade romp of an adventure. It’s sweet and sassy, and it reaaaally makes you want a super thick hot chocolate while you read.