Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review: KING OF THE BASTARDS by Brian Keene

King of the BastardsSwords, sorcery, swashbuckling, and plenty of violence - KING OF BASTARDS by Brian Keene reads like a golden era fantasy pulp pumped up on pulse pounding intoxicants. 

Brutality articulated battle scenes punctuate a provocative narrative that truly enhances the bastardy aspects of lead character Rogan as he traverses the wild seas and dangerous wilderness on his way to forging a legend built on bloody lore. 

Adopting a storytelling approach, insomuch that the events of KING OF THE BASTARDS have already taken place and are being retold to eager listeners whilst hinting at a preconceived outcome it doesn't give up the game - we don't know if Rogan lives or dies through this entertaining adventure, only that someone of his reunite survives to hand down the story which keeps the mystery alive (a lot longer than Rogan's foes!).

Think Red Sonja but more violent and you've got a good idea as to what to expect from reading KING OF THE BASTARDS. I couldn't read it quick enough, fingers crossed we get a chance to read more of Rogan and his widespread adventures and bloody conquests. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic, #1)A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC is an inter-dimensional traveler story that, to an extent, captures the essence of China Mieville's THE CITY & THE CITY and is written in a style not dissimilar to Brent Weeks' the Night Angel Trilogy - fast paced and easily consumable.

The core fantastical element is the use of multiple London's which can be accessed by a scant few who have the ability to travel between worlds. These few, Kell notably are found of taking trinkets as personal hobby or to be used as currency in trade from London to London; though. each time something is taken from one world to another the fabric of peace is threatened - the evil magic of black London is an omnipresent threat that, with the help of a couple of ruthless power-hungry royals looks to break the pattern of peace and establish a new world order.   

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC reads like a Young Adult novel early on, only to get progressively darker as the story unfolds. The characters (Holland, Kell, Lila) are as multidimensional as the London's they traverse with each London having as a unique feel to it that separates them from their namesake be it the language, inhabitants mannerisms or easy / rare use of magic. 

The atmospheric London's are a place the author makes the reader want to visit over and over again. Where danger lurks so do interesting and limitless surreal stories. A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC provides a mere glimpse into the potential of these interesting places and I, for one, can't wait to get lost in that magic once more! 

A Gathering of Shadows FinalMany thanks to New South Books and Titan for the review copy of A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC! 

The second book in the series A GATHERING OF SHADOWS is scheduled for a February 2016 release.

Read more about A GATHERING OF SHADOWS here from Victoria (V.E.) Schwab's blog

Links to publisher websites:

Titan Books

New South Books

Monday, August 24, 2015

Back in the land of fantasy: PROPHECY'S RUIN by Sam Bowring

Prophecy's Ruin by Sam BowringIt started with a brutal battle of magic and wit between mage Elessa and undead soul Fazal over the right to claim the blue haired boy who’d lead them to victory and shape their sides’ destiny. Corlas – the father could do nothing but watch as his newborn’s soul was torn in two by the Gods will through lightning strike leaving each of Kainordas (light) and Fenvarrow (dark) a powerful future leader. 

Whilst more bloodthirsty than not, PROPHECY'S RUIN did have a healthy dose of humor to soften the violence. 

The two factions at war were given equal time to tell their side of the story through their respective heroes (Bel and Losara) raising questions over who is good and who is evil. Unlike traditional fantasy, the sides weren't so easily defined. 

Of the more memorable moments (of which there are many) the battle in the forest of Drel stands out, I could almost smell the blood dripping off the pages and was filled with a sense of dread with each combatant felled or wounded. 

Destiny's Rift (Broken Well, #2)
PROPHECY'S RUIN was a great start to what I’m sure is a highly entertaining Broken Well Trilogy with enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. 

*This review first appeared on my Goodreads profile. Re-posted on my blog for the purpose of revisiting the series. I plan to read the second book in the series DESTINY'S RIFT soon. 

Read more of DESTINY'S RIFT - book 2 in the Broken Well series HERE. 

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading.

Last week I posted the following reviews:


LOST BOI by Sassafras Lowrey (A retelling of Peter Pan)

THOSE WE LEFT BEHIND by Stuart Neville (emotionally charged crime fiction)

CATCH ME WHEN I FALL by Nicci French (a book that reads as a 2 in 1 such is the different character focus)

Here's my fantasy themed reads for the week (continuing from my recent Friday Finds post):

King of the BastardsKING OF THE BASTARDS by Brian Keene

Part sword and sorcery, part extreme horror, King of the Bastards is wild adventure across seas, beaches, and mountains full of horrifying monstrosities, dark magic, and demonic entities. 

Rogan has been many things in his life as an adventurer — a barbarian, a thief, a buccaneer, a rogue, a lover, a reaver, and most recently, a king. Now, this prehistoric bane of wizards and tyrants finds himself without a kingdom, lost in a terrifying new world, and fighting for his life against pirates, zombies, and the demonic entity known as Meeble. And even if he defeats his foes, Rogan must still find a way to return home, regain his throne, save his loved ones, and remind everyone why he's the KING OF THE BASTARDS. 


A Princess of Mars (Barsoom, #1)THE PRINCESS OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs

1866 Arizona, Confederate officer John Carter, Gentleman of Virginia, forever aged 30, wakes naked on Mars. Low gravity increases his speed and strength exponentially, so he impresses green alien Thark captors with fighting, wins high rank. He frees Dejah Thoris, Princess of red men in Helium, only to lose her to the Prince of opposing red Zodanga.

Review: LOST BOI by Sassafras Lowrey

Lost BoiPeter Pan re-imaged, his story revised and lavished in overt sexual themes and street life struggles, yet this distinct and dastardly different story manages to remain loyal to the source material. 

Reader warning - there is a clear distinction between the popular children's tale Pan and LOST BOI - author Sassafras Lowrey's book is decidedly adult, replacing motherly affection with fantasy role-play and fairies with pigeons among other switches that emphasize the sexual connotations of the original in full frontal adult narrative. 

LOST BOI is a clever retelling of the classic tale. Taking every element of the well known lost boy and Neverland and transposing it into a dirty street grime tale of lost souls who only want to feel needed and loved. This results in an interesting page turner that, while won't appeal to all, will tick all the boxes for originality and entertaining storytelling. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Finds - Fantasy Themed Acquisitions (21 August 2015)


Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading where you share the book titles you discovered or heard about during the past week. These can be books you were told about, books you discovered while browsing blogs/bookstores (physical or online), or books that you actually purchased. I think this is a great idea and a way to share my enthusiasm of discovering new books.

It's been a while since I posted a Friday Finds blog entry (though I have acquired books!) so to kick-start what I hope will be a regular return to this series is a fantasy/Sci-Fi themed look at some of the newer additions to my personal library: 


King of the BastardsKING OF THE BASTARDS by Brian Keene (published by Apex Publications - many thanks for the review copy! This novella looks to tick all the right boxes for me, it's pulpy, quick, and works well with my current read THE PRINCESS OF MARS)

Part sword and sorcery, part extreme horror, King of the Bastards is wild adventure across seas, beaches, and mountains full of horrifying monstrosities, dark magic, and demonic entities. 

Rogan has been many things in his life as an adventurer — a barbarian, a thief, a buccaneer, a rogue, a lover, a reaver, and most recently, a king. Now, this prehistoric bane of wizards and tyrants finds himself without a kingdom, lost in a terrifying new world, and fighting for his life against pirates, zombies, and the demonic entity known as Meeble. And even if he defeats his foes, Rogan must still find a way to return home, regain his throne, save his loved ones, and remind everyone why he's the KING OF THE BASTARDS. 


Red CountryRED COUNTRY by Joe Abercrombie (Recently nabbed this off a bargain bin shelf at a local bookstore. It's a lovely hardcover edition that I'm sure reads as good as it looks. Interestingly enough, RED COUNTRY will be my first read by Joe Abercrombie, this despite owning several of his books)

Shy South comes home to her farm to find a blackened shell, her brother and sister stolen, and knows she'll have to go back to bad old ways if she's ever to see them again. She sets off in pursuit with only her cowardly old step-father Lamb for company. But it turns out he's hiding a bloody past of his own. None bloodier.

Their journey will take them across the lawless plains, to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feuds, duels, and massacres, high into unmapped mountains to a reckoning with ancient enemies, and force them into alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, a man no one should ever have to trust.


Leviathan Wakes (Expanse, #1)LEVIATHAN WAKES by James S.A. Corey (I've been hearing a lot about this series lately and decided to take the plunge and get hold of the first volume, another book that's high on the tbr pile!)

Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, "The Scopuli," they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to "The Scopuli" and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations - and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review: THOSE WE LEFT BEHIND by Stuart Neville

Those We Left Behind (DCI Serena Flanagan 1)THOSE WE LEFT BEHIND is more than a crime novel. It's an emotionally charged story that takes brotherly love to another level while focusing on the manipulative ways of the murderous and the malleable alike. 

A murder separated them and time reunited them. Yet the bone chilling incident that set them on their separate ways continues to haunt the brothers, who, at a young age, were forced into foster care and into the hands of a young couple with a child of their own. For the father, taking the brothers in would ultimately result in his death. As to which brother is responsible - that's a secret that gradually unfolds as the book progresses. Fair warning, author Stuart Neville doesn't let this cat out of the bag easily, I constantly found myself switching between the brother I thought responsible despite there being an early conviction though it was clear, things weren't quite what they seemed to be.

The series protagonist DCI Flanagan is caught in the middle having sided with one of the brothers during the initial murder investigation - being seen as a sympathetic shoulder to lean on, only to find herself and her family in grave danger in the present day setting. I liked the way Neville infused some personal identity to the professional role Flanagan has in the book to make the character feel more three dimensional and complex with plenty of threads to explore in subsequent series installments. 

THOSE WE LEFT BEHIND is a fast read that engulfs the reader in a closed case murder where there was meant to be little mystery, only for it to become paramount to proceedings. Different from Nevillie's other books but still the same quality.