Tag Archives: Fantasy

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Overview
Shadow and Bone: Siege and Storm : Leigh Bardugo : 9781510105263

Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Shadow and Bone Trilogy #2, Grishaverse #2
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Magic, Young adult
Dates read: 4th September 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Square Fish
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: The wound in my shoulder felt like it was on fire, but I was unhurt and my whole body was thrumming from using my power again.

Synopsis

SOLDIER. SUMMONER. SAINT.

Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner – hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long.

The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army.

But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice – and only she can face the oncoming storm.

Thoughts

Ever since reading Shadow and Bone, I’ve been seriously wondering what was going to be thrown in Mal and Alina’s way this time. And, you know, when the Darkling was going to reappear. He’s a great villain – I don’t really get the sexy vibes off him that others have claimed, but he is dark, mysterious and undoubtedly evil. A wonderful combination for a villain in my opinion.

Even though I think Mal is a wonderful lead love interest, he’s also kind of a knob. I mean, he’s got a woman who is obviously being thrown into a situation she’s not comfortable with. But instead of trying to communicate and support her? He runs. And just acts… well, knob-like. By the end of the book I was finding him to be a bit much and a bit frustrating in this area… im hoping Ruin and Rising will redeem him a bit more…

The build up that Bardugo creates in this story is wonderfully and seriously intense. Not only is there the clash between Alina and the Darkling, but there’s now royalty and a cult… I mean, if that set of trials and tribulations isn’t gearing up for a massive one, then what is?

I honestly couldn’t put this book down. Even in the moments that I wanted to cringe and look away, I just… couldn’t. The majority of this was read in one sitting. Late at night. When I should have been sleeping. Always a good recommendation for a book in my eyes…

<- Shadow and BoneRuin and Rising ->

Image source: Bookdepository

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Overview
Shadow and Bone : Leigh Bardugo : 9780805094596

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Shadow and Bone Trilogy #1, Grishaverse #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Magic, Young adult
Dates read: 4th – 5th April 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Square Fish
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: He didn’t say a word to me, and as the hours and days wore on, I started to worry that I’d somehow offended him.

Synopsis

SOLDIER. SUMMONER. SAINT.

Orphaned and expdnable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first rek across the Shadow Fold – a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes dromant magic not even she knew she possessed.

Now Alina will enter a lavish world of roaylty and intrigue, as she trains with the Grisha – her country’s magical military elite – and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war-ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift.

As the threat to the kingdom mounts and Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she lvoes and the very future of a nation.

Thoughts

I can seriously understand why this series, and this story in particular is so damn popular. I knew that I’d probably love it from the fact that I have loved all of the short stories which Bardugo has written. But I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy this. I mean… wow. It is an amazing, unforgettable journey and I can’t wait to read more of this series! hopefully before the Netflix series comes out…

Alina is a lovely and soulful lead character. I honestly fell in love with her from the very beginning. There is something about her loyalty and strength that makes you love her from the first page. And the fact that she will do anything for the boy that she loves… that just makes it all so much sweeter and cuter. Particularly when you discover the depths she’s actually gone to for him…

I seriously can’t wait to dive into the rest of this series – not just he trilogy, but the whole Grishaverse. Alina and Mal may have found a way to escape the first obstacle. But there are so many more to come. And the Darkling doesn’t seem like the kind of villain that is going to be easy to escape – he is kind of terrifying if I’m being completely honest.

I love that this is most definitely a friends to lovers romance. Particularly since you can see Alina’s loyalty and love from the very beginning. Boys are stupid and tend to take a little bit longer, but that tie is there from the very beginning. I can’t wait to see how this all grows and blossoms throughout the series. Everything about writing this review and reading the story just make me want to pick up the next novel in this series!!!

All in all this is an amazing story. One that has pulled me into the Grishaverse reality completely. I can’t wait to read more of the series. And then, hopefully, when I’ve finished, dive into the Netflix show too…

<- More Leigh BardugoSiege and Storm ->

Image source: Bookdepository

The Glory Days by Isobelle Carmody

Overview
Image result for green monkey dreams isobelle carmody book cover

Title: The Glory Days
Author: Isobelle Carmody
In: Green Monkey Dreams (Isobelle Carmody)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Fantasy
Dates read: 31st March 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Year: 1996
5th sentence, 74th page: She touched the pencil with the tip of her finger.

Synopsis

The Glory Days are long gone. But some people still remember them…

Thoughts

I always love the post-apocalyptic feeling of Isobelle Carmody’s writing. There is just something so poignant about it all. And she always points out the things that are horribly wrong with our society. And honestly, this short story was no exception.

Ultimately, I finished this short story with a hurt-heart feeling. It was just… intense. There is something about looking at our society and reflecting that can really and seriously pull on the heart strings.

The key words that jumped out at me with this story – sorrow, anguish, betrayal, pain and love…

<- Green Monkey Dreams CollectionRoaches ->

Image source: Allen & Unwin

A Universe of Wishes by Tara Sim

Overview
A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology by Dhonielle Clayton

Title: A Universe of Wishes
Author: Tara Sim
In: A Universe of Wishes (Dhonielle Clayton)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, LGBTQI, Young adult
Dates read: 31st March 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Crown
Year: 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: “If you make this wish come true,” the boy said, holding up the figurine, “then yes.”

Synopsis

He’s been storing up his wishes for something big and important. But what he might find on the journey could be everything he ever needed.

Thoughts

This was an absolutely fantastic short story. In fact, I made sure that I added a Tara Sim novel to my wish list the moment I finished this. It was just great, fantastic and fun. The fact that it featured a queer relationship alongside wishes and desires made me ridiculously happy. Particularly when you added in that final splash of magic.

Sage and Thorn are one of the most gorgeous couples. They are just cute and I like how their relationship slowly grew. It wasn’t a love at first sight, sappy story. But just one that I ultimately enjoyed for the sake of enjoying the romance. Plus, the way that their story ended was seriously brilliant. It made me want more stories set in this world!

There is power to wishes and desires. I mean, there’s a pretty strong reason why they feature so strongly in many of the stories that I read. This short story really drove that wonderful idea home and made me think of what I wish for in life.

<- A Universe of Wishes CollectionThe Silk Blade ->

Image source: Goodreads

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

Overview
Over Sea, Under Stone | Book by Susan Cooper | Official Publisher Page |  Simon & Schuster

Title: Over Sea, Under Stone
Author: Susan Cooper
Series: Dark is Rising #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Adventure, Camelot, Fantasy, Young adult
Dates read: 27th – 28th January 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: McElderry Books
Year: 1965
5th sentence, 74th page: But they seemed to go for the books, and I can’t vouch for those.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

All through time the two great forces of Light and Dark have battled for control of the world. Now, after centuries of balance, the Dark is summoning its terrifying forces to rise once more – and three children find themselves caught in the conflict.

Simon, Jane, and Barney, on holiday in Cornwall, discover an ancient map that leads to a grail: a vital weapon for the Light’s fight against evil. The search for the grail becomes their quest, and they risk their lives in a race against sinister human beings who serve the dreadful power of the Dark.

Thoughts

I bought the box set of Dark is Rising ages ago. Partly because it was on sale, but I also have a tv series based on this series and I’ve heard good things about it. But then, because the covers of my versions aren’t the most attention-grabbing, I kind of kept forgetting about them. And wow, am I kind of regretting that fact. This book was wonderful and intense and seriously, wonderfully enjoyable. Most definitely a great start to a series. One that I plan on reading more of in the (hopefully) near future.

In the past year I’ve started to find and enjoy some Camelot stories. I don’t know a lot about Arthurian lore, not anything that isn’t seriously mainstream. But it’s definitely something that I’m beginning to enjoy more and more. A theme and base that is used beautifully in this story. The whole tale is about the search for the Grail. And I’m getting some serious King Arthur vibes from Simon. There was also that nice little crumb at the end of the story about Merlin which I’m really looking forward to unpacking…

From the moment you open this book, you are pulled into this great adventure. As a child, I might have even tried to solve the little riddles and clues that are riddled throughout the novel. But, as an adult, it was just a lot of fun to be pulled along on this adventure. This unexpected journey that takes you all over the countryside pulling you into a story that you won’t forget anytime soon. One that had me smiling and gleefully turning to the next page again and again throughout.

This is a fantastic, wonderful and very, very enjoyable adventure story. One that has introduced me to a whole new world that I can’t wait to sink further and further into. I love that although the battle is over in this story, you can feel all the hints and horrors of the war to come. And now I can’t wait for the next mystery to be revealed!

<- More Susan CooperThe Dark is Rising ->

Image source: Simon & Schuster

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Overview
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1) by Holly Black

Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fae, Fantasy, Paranormal fantasy, Young adult
Dates read: 3rd – 9th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: My blood is on fire, boiling in my veins.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered. The fearsome assassin abducts all three girls to the Faerie court, where Jude soon realises that to survive she needs to be as cunning and deceitful as the Fey themselves. But the stairway to power is fraught with shadows and betrayal. And looming over all is the arrogant and charismatic Prince Cardan.

Thoughts

I seriously can’t stop thinking about this novel. Even though I’m writing this review days after I finished reading it, the words, the occurrences, the entire story is still in my mind’s eye. It was just amazing. Which really isn’t surprising since it was written by Holly Black and everything that I’ve had the pleasure of reading by her is a book that quickly finds its way to the top of my list.

The twist at the end of the story was only obvious about a paragraph before it happened. So, really not obvious or something that I guessed at all. And it was the best twist ever. Luckily, I couldn’t find The Wicked King in my TBR immediately after I finished The Cruel Prince… considering I have a massive stack of books that I’ve already started reading…

Jude is an awesome, completely kick ass lead character. I’m not necessarily in love with her as a person… she’s a little too confrontational and kind of nuts in my opinion. But as a product of being raised by the fae? Yeah, I absolutely loved her. It kind of makes me fear what Taryn will be like in the later books… I mean, they’re twins and whilst they’ve taken a different route to power… it’ll be interesting to see what happens next is the least that I can say.

I’ve only read the one series by Holly Black, and the thing that I loved the most about it was that she depicts the fae beautifully. She continues that vein in this story – the fae aren’t fun, happy, or light. This already feels so much darker than her Modern Faerie Tales series. But it’s still a great indication of the horrors that are in the traditional faerie tales….

<- More Holly BlackThe Lost Sisters ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Stone Mage and the Sea by Sean Williams

Overview
THE STONE MAGE AND THE SEA: First Book of the Change eBook: Williams, Sean:  Amazon.com.au: Kindle Store

Title: The Stone Mage and the Sea
Author: Sean Williams
Series: The Change #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Elements, Fantasy
Dates read: 29th – 31st October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Fantastica
Year: 2002
5th sentence, 74th page: “But my dad -“

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

In a world…
where the huge, red-sanded deserts are ruled by Stone Mages and the vast coastlines by Sky Wardens, any child with magic ability is taken away to the Haunted City to be trained in the Change.

Fundelry is a small town much like any other in the Strand. The people have little tolerance for anyone who stands out, and Sal and his father are strangers, running from someone… or something. Sal is rescued from the local bully by Shilly and her teacher Lodo, a mysterious tattooed man who seems to know more about Sal than Sal himself. And, strangely, Sal’s father seems to want to stay put for a while.

But soon the Sky Wardens will come to Fundelry – before then Sal must uncover the connection between Lodo and the mother he never met, in order to escape a fate that seems to have been chosen for him before he was even born…

Thoughts

This has everything that a traditional fantasy novel should have. The fantasy novels that I grew up with and first introduced me to the genre had this same kind of amazing mystical feel to it. From the very first page, I was swept into Williams’ world and really, seriously didn’t want to leave. I could imagine this small town, the confused Sal and the immensity of the sea from the very beginning. Even now, when I close my eyes, I can picture it all in my mind’s eye.

The characters in this story are really strong and well thought out. Sometimes it can take me a little while to get attached to characters and find the rhythm of the story. Or, as the case may be, the world building that has constructed the story and characters. That’s not the case with The Stone Mage and the Sea. From that very first scene with Sal and his father driving into a town, you are there. Right in the moment. Pulled in, whether you like it or not.

Lodo is everything that a mysterious teacher should be. I’m hoping that he doesn’t just disappear off the face of the earth after this book. He is tattooed, enigmatic and completely impossible to predict. Partnered with his apprentice, Shilly, they are great duo that help to build Sal up and help him start on a new path in life. Which, considering how this novel ended, I think is incredibly and wonderfully important. Sal grows so much in this first novel, I can’t wait to see how he’ll grow in the next two novels.

The Stone Mage and the Sea is everything I haven’t realised I’ve been missing in fantasy novels. I have been reading a lot of urban fantasy and paranormal fantasy and all such. So picking up a novel that bought me back to the fantasy novels that first got me enthralled in the genre… well, I’m glad that I have the rest of the trilogy sitting on my shelves, ready to go.

<- More Sean WilliamsThe Sky Warden and the Sun ->

Image source: Amazon

Renn and the Little Men by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Overview
Image result for westward weird book cover

Title: Renn and the Little Men
Author: Kristine Kathryn Rusch
In: Westward Weird (Martin H. Greenberg & Kerrie Hughes)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Weird western
Dates read: 31st October 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Daw Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: Yeah, not for me either.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

In a world where gunslingers rule all, Renn si the one who tuaght her brother, Kid Vicious to shoot. But how will she ever be taken seriously herself?

Thoughts

I knew that there were going to be little men in this story just from the title. But the way that they were in this and how the story evolved… that was something new. And fun. I really and seriously enjoyed this short story and, even after turning the final page, I couldn’t quite get it out of my head.

I love that Renn is the better shooter in her family. That even her brother, who is recognised as a gunslinger, admits that she is better. There aren’t many stories (or indeed brothers I believe) who would necessarily admit that. It made me really love her brother and left me smiling after I turned the final page.

The little twists and turns throughout this story were seriously enjoyable and kind of cute. I had a good giggle throughout and would most definitely read this short story again.

<- Maybe Another TimeShowdown at High Moon ->

Image source: Amazon

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn

Overview
Across the Nightingale Floor: Book 1 Tales of the Otori by Lian Hearn -  Books - Hachette Australia

Title: Across the Nightingale Floor
Author: Lian Hearn
Series: Tales of the Otori #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Asia, Fantasy, Historical fiction, Japan
Dates read: 18th October 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Year: 2002
5th sentence, 74th page: He was gone from the garden, and I was beginning to wonder if I’d seen another mirage, when I heard voices from the upstairs room.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

In his fortress at Inuyama, the murderous warlord Iida Sadamu surveys his famous nightingale floor. Constructed with exquisite skill, it sings at the tread of each human foot. No assassin can cross it unheard.

Brought up in a remote village among the Hidden, a reclusive and spiritual people, Takeo has learned only the ways of peace. Why, then, does he possess the deadly skills that make him so valuable to the sinister Tribe? These supernatural powers will lead him to his violent destiny wihtin teh walls of Inuyama – and to an impossible longing for a girl who can never be his. His journey is one of revenge and treachery, beauty and magic, and the passion of first love.

Thoughts

This was a seriously beautiful and powerful novel. I’ve had it sitting on my shelf for a while, and just hadn’t gotten around to it… and wow. Was I missing out (this seems to be a pretty common theme with me though…). I loved the world building, the characters, the story… everything that Hearn constructed in this was just… intense. And wonderful. Definitely looking forward to reading Grass for His Pillow soon.

The setting and historical feel of this story was awesome. I remember going to Japan as a young child, and I’ve studied the language for years. Which just made this feel even more amazing as I journeyed throughout the pages. Not only was it a historical fiction based in an entirely new and unique location (compared to the other historical fictions on my shelves). But it was one that already draws me in and fascinates me. Which may be a pretty significant contributor to my love of this story…

As much as I loved this story. It wasn’t a happy one. Throughout the whole thing I felt like my heart was breaking a little. it didn’t really matter what point of the story I was at, there was a little bit of heart break. This was that bittersweet kind of story that is beautiful, but it’s beautiful because of all the greys, and there is no rainbow. Which, of course, just served to make it all that much more unforgettable.

This is definitely one of the best books that I’ve picked up in a while. I have been steering clear of books with a lot of backstory lately (I have no idea why) and I think that this has cured me of that. There is so much political intrigue, drama and tangled webs. Which just leaves you thinking “what will happen next” after you turn that final page.

<- Heaven’s Net is WideGrass for His Pillow ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Overview
Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha): Children of Blood and Bone  (Legacy of Orisha): Amazon.com.au: Books

Title: Children of Blood and Bone
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Series: Legacy of Orisha #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Africa, Fantasy, Magic, Young adult
Dates read: 31st August – 17th October 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: MacMillan
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: “Thank you,” I whisper into her fur.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

THEY KILLED MY MOTHER.
THEY TOOK OUR MAGIC.
THEY TRIED TO BURY US.
NOW WE RISE.

Thoughts

This is one of those books that I keep looking at, and seriously wanting to pick up. But then, because I’m somewhat of a child… I get distracted, see something shiny and find something else. Plus, it’s a pretty big book, so I did found it somewhat of an intimidating idea to read. And now I’m regretting not reading this as soon as it came out and found a home on my shelves. Because this is freaking awesome. As in turn the final page and then just stare into space with a really bad book hangover kind of awesome…

This story is all about oppression and power. The inequality and narratives that are often told to justify marginalising and preying upon another group. Whilst this is loosely set in Africa, there were many moments throughout this that were cringe-worthy as I thought about what has been done to Australia’s First Nations Peoples. It is a story that is sadly told across the world, and I loved how this novel dealt with such an issue. How a very, very difficult conversation is had in the pages of this story that will, hopefully, help a whole new generation understand a little bit more about the past.

Zel and Amari are the most fantastic female leads I’ve come across in a while. Zel is all hard edges and aggression. She is so obviously trying to fit into a world and identity that is too small for her. But, there is also a lot of sadness and despair there. Which I can’t wait to see how she continues to grow. Because boy does she mature throughout this novel. And Amari is nothing like what I would have expected as a counterpoint. She begins as someone who seems to be all soft edges and gentleness. And then, as the story continues, you find that backbone of steel and strength. And that gentleness and understanding that Zel lacks. I really hope that these two become best of friends, because I can’t really imagine it turning out any other way…

This is an amazing novel. It introduced me to aspects of African culture, which of course I know next to nothing about. It reminded me of my White Privilege. And it manage to intertwine all of this with an amazing young adult fantasy story of magic and mayhem. Power and triumphing over evil. I really can’t wait to see where Adeyemi takes Zel and Amari next…

<- More Tomi AdeyemiChildren of Virtue and Vengeance ->

Image source: Amazon