Monday, February 29, 2016

Book review: Ice Forged by Gail Z Martin

Title: Ice Forged
Author: Gail Z Martin
Publisher: Orbit
Series: #1 of the Ascendant Kingdoms series
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Source: Borrowed

Description: Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine "Mick" McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor's mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.

Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead...

My thoughts: I love a good epic fantasy, and this is an excellent start to just such a series. Blaine is sentenced right at the beginning of the story, and takes on the name Mick to hide from the past and give himself a new start. The story covers his long journey on the ship full of other convicts to Velant, where the winters are long, harsh, and with virtually no daylight. However the story is equally focussed on a young man (whose name I can't find just now, it's a while since I've read this one!) who lives in the capital city of Dondareth, Blaine's homeland. He is the aide to someone on the ruling castle and through him you see some of the events that cause the supply ships to stop going to the colonists.

As the reader, seeing both viewpoints, you get a much clearer view of what's going on than the characters and that made it frustrating sometimes to see one group discussing a course of action based on what they knew, when to me it was clear that they should be taking a different path. This is particularly relevant nearer the end, when one group of characters knows that a bad thing will happen if someone does a certain thing, and the other group, unable to talk to them, decides to do that thing. It actually added a lot more tension to the story, having the collective knowledge which the characters lacked, and knowing they were walking into danger when they were unaware of it.

There is a slight supernatural element to the story, which I wasn't expecting. It caught me completely by surprise when it was revealed. I'm still not sure why it was necessary to bring in but I'll hold my judgement until I've read the second book.

Overall I'm giving Gail Z. Martin's 'Ice Forged' 7 out of 10. I'm planning on picking up book 2 next time I'm home and can raid my parents' bookshelves.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Book review: Beyond Ruin by Kit Rocha + GIVEAWAY

 Title: Beyond Ruin
Author: Kit Rocha (aka Moria Rodgers or Bree & Donna)
Series: Beyond #7
Genre: Dystopian/Romance
Source: eARC from author

Description: The sectors will never be the same...
Adrian Maddox fled his royal life—and tragic past—in Sector One, choosing instead to join up with the O’Kanes. For years, he’s lived by one rule: love fast, love hard, and always be willing to walk away. He’s managed to guard his heart, keep it whole and untouched—until now.
They couldn’t be more different—Dylan, the brilliant, burned-out doctor from Eden who drowns his pain with drugs and self-destruction. Scarlet, the sensuous, sexy rocker from Three, a woman unafraid to embrace the world. And Jade, the whore turned spy from Sector Two, who battled addiction and came out stronger than anyone he’s ever met.
Separately, they make Mad long to open his heart, to tumble head-first into a sea of possibilities and wild love. Together, they make him burn, inside and out, with lust and unbearable, unimaginable pleasure.
Then one fateful moment shakes their world to its foundations—and leaves the sectors on the verge of all-out war with Eden. It’s the biggest fight the O’Kanes have ever faced, and Mad and his lovers are at the dead center of it. They could end up with everything they never knew they wanted—or lose it all. Including their lives.

My thoughts: A dystopian future, political intrigue, lots of sex, and a happily ever after - what more could you ask for in a story? And Kit Rocha delivers that with every single book in the series.

The political posturing and scheming has been a growing issue in the past few books but in Beyond Ruin it really comes in to front and centre. As part of one of the strongest groups in the Sectors, Mad, Scarlet, Dylan and Jade will join the other O'Kanes in playing a critical role in what happens next, now that Eden is drawing lines in the sand.

Four people trying to figure out how to love each other was always going to be complicated and messy so it seems fitting that it takes place against a background of the first volleys of open war. While I found it interesting to see them figure out how they all fitted together (figuratively and literally!) I had two favourite overarching things in this book: how the four of them grew individually and getting to see more of the other Sectors. Jade was my favourite, stepping up and pushing forward to find a version of herself that she knows she can be, trying to embrace all of her past and make it into a good future, for herself and those around her. But Scarlet was also a favourite, being one of the quieter ones in the background, more of the glue holding other people together and with all the doubts which can come with holding that sort of position. And then there is Mad, one step away from the throne of Sector One, forced to spend a lot of time in Beyond Ruin looking at why he's running so hard away from any ties there and the status his family have there as religious leaders as well as sector leaders. There's a fascinating world in Sector One and this book gives the most detailed picture of it so far. (There's just two more books left in the Beyond series, then Kit Rocha will write a spin-off series, set in Sector One - there are several characters introduced in this book who I can't wait to get to know better in that new series.)

Decisions are made early on in Beyond Ruin which decisively bring the O'Kanes onto a path against the rulers of Eden. Then when you think you're starting to guess where things might lead, something else happens, forcing the hands of the sector leaders. Then something else. My favourite twist came near the end - yes, there's something of a cliff hanger at the end of this book, but the story is wrapped up enough that this is a good stopping point. I'm desperate to see what happens next! While I wait for the next one though, I'm going to get stuck in to a re-read - there are so many developments, reveals and hints in this books that I know I will have missed things on my first read through. So excuse me, I've got a sector war to get back to.

I'm giving Beyond Ruin 9/10 - definitely one of my favourite books in the series so far!


If you'd like to win an ebook collection of the first three Beyond books, just:
1) Leave a comment
2) Say how you follow - via GFC, email, or Twitter. 

The giveaway closes on 24th March and is open internationally.
Here's the blurbs for the first book in the series, Beyond Shame:
BEYOND SHAME (87,000 words, 354 pages)

All Noelle Cunningham has ever wanted is a life beyond the walls of Eden, where only the righteous are allowed to remain. But ruins lie outside the City, remnants of a society destroyed by solar storms.

Those ruins house the corrupt and the criminal--men like Jasper McCray, bootlegger and cage fighter. He'll defend the O'Kane gang with his life, but no fight prepared him for the exiled City girl who falls at his feet.

Her innocence is undeniable, and so is their attraction. But if she wants to belong to Jas, she'll have to open herself to a world where passion is power, and freedom is found in submission.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Stacking the Shelves: February Book Haul part 1

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews as a way to share books you've received recently. 

Between things I've bought, been given, borrowed, and got from work, I've got quite a stack of books this month! I know we're not quite at the end of February yet but I'm going to break it into two haul posts and do the other one next week.

I went on a 'London Bookshop Crawl' a couple of weeks ago, visiting lots of independent bookshops, organised by Bex at An Armchair By The Sea. I was very restrained and came home with two books:

The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers. I've seen so many people talking
about this book and loving it since it cam out, I had to give it a go. It's space opera, I'm a couple of chapters in and really enjoying it so far.

Vendetta, by Gail Z Martin. Second book in an urban fantasy series, the main character is a
psychometric who runs an antique shop and takes dangerous magical objects out of public circulation.

A couple more books I'm very excited about are:
Dumplin, by Julie Murphy. I've seen great reviews from a lot of US book bloggers about this, and it just came out in the UK. Hopefully I'll get to reading this one soon.

Beyond Ruin, by Kit Rocha. The latest book in the 'Beyond' series, this one is
an ARC and comes out on Tuesday. I'll be doing a release day post with a giveaway, so come back on Tuesday to enter!

And then there were these, which I don't know much about (with the exception of the Julia Kagawa books, which my friend Karen has been raving about for years), but they sounded good, and were in the freebie box at work:

My final book is one my Dad got me, and that's The Death Of Dulgath, by Michael J. Sullivan. It's book 3 of the Riyria Chronicles. I haven't read the rest of the series yet, but my parents (who got me in to reading fantasy in the first place) have all of his other books and love them. 

What books did you get recently? Have you read any of these? Don't forget to come back on Tuesday for the Beyond series giveaway!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mini Review: Autumn Bones by Jacqueline Carey

Title: Autumn Bones
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Publisher: Roc
Series: Agent of Hel #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Bought

Description: Fathered by an incubus, raised by a mortal mother, and liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, Daisy Johanssen pulled the community together after a summer tragedy befell the resort town she calls home. Things are back to normal—as normal as it gets for a town famous for its supernatural tourism, and presided over by the reclusive Norse goddess Hel.
Not only has Daisy now gained respect as Hel’s enforcer, she’s dating Sinclair Palmer, a nice, seemingly normal human guy. Not too shabby for the daughter of a demon. Unfortunately, Sinclair has a secret. And it’s a big one.
He’s descended from Obeah sorcerers and they want him back. If he doesn’t return to Jamaica to take up his rightful role in the family, they’ll unleash spirit magic that could have dire consequences for the town. It’s Daisy’s job to stop it, and she’s going to need a lot of help. But time is running out, the dead are growing restless, and one mistake could cost Daisy everything…...

My thoughts: This is the second book in Carey's 'Agent of Hel' series. I really enjoyed the first one so I was really excited to get to this. I loved getting to see more about the various potential romantic interests in Daisy Johanssen's life - all of whom have a lot of complications! Particularly this book focuses on Sinclair, who is her sort-of boyfriend for most of the book. I've heard a very little bit about obeah magic, and it was really interesting to learn more. I haven't read many books with supernatural elements that utilise magic from Caribbean culture.

I found the mystery of this book - who was responsible for setting the evil spirit on the town - quite interesting. There are two big enemies facing and her friends in the story, the person setting the evil spirit, and Sinclair's family. I think that made it more interesting. It wasn't just a two strand story, mixing Daisy's personal life with a fight against one bad guy. It made it a more complex story, which is always good.

My favourite of Daisy's potential romantic partners is Stefan the ghoul, who can feed on her enhanced, otherworldly emotions and help balance her out. I loved the glimpses of him in this book and the progression in their friendship and working relationship. I finished the book really hoping that more would happen between the two of them soon.

Overall I'm giving Autumn Bones 8/10.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Four reviews: My top reads of 2015

I read some amazing books in 2015, and these four really stood out. I had planned to review each of them individually on the blog here, but I think most people will have read them already, and honestly, if I try to write about everything I read last year before I start reviews from this year, I'll never post anything. So, here are my thoughts on my four favourite books from last year - All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doer; An Ember In The Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir; A Darker Shade Of Magic, by V. E. Schwab; Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell.  (I have already reviewed ATLWCS.)

Have you read any of these four? What did you think of them?


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Stacking the Shelves: January Book Haul

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to share the books you have got recently.

It's been a couple of weeks since I did a book haul post, so here's everything I got in January:

Books mentioned:
The Rest Of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness
Always The Bridesmaid, by Lindsey Kelk
The Queen's Choice, by Anne O'Brien
The Shock Of The Fall, by Nathan Filer
Prudence, by Gail Carriger
The Boy Who Wept Blood by Den Patrick
The Girl On The Liar's Throne by Den Patrick
Just Like Heaven, by Julia Quinn
An Offer From A Gentleman, by Julia Quinn

What books have you read recently?