Review: Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold (Chalion #2)

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Hopeful and pretty damn enjoyable.

Foolish beyond hope to send a middle-aged former madwoman running down the roads of Chalion to fetch up here, and for what? Failed saint, failed sorceress, failed royina, wife, mother, daughter, failed … well, lover was not a role she’d ever attempted.

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Review: A Star-Reckoner’s Lot and An Ill-Fated Sky by Darrell Drake (A Star-Reckoner’s Legacy #1 and #2)

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Well, this was a mixed bag.

Positives first: I loved the setting. Sasanian Iran is something I haven’t seen used before and it seems well-researched – and interesting enough that I want to do some research of my own. Really, if you want me to get interested in a place or topic, just include it in a fantasy book. As far as the characters go, Waray the half-div stole the show completely. She’s blood-thirsty and a bit crazy and a prankster and šo-fun to read about. The highlight of the book for sure. Oh, and I almost forgot: the creative insults and the stupid puns. A nice addition if you’re into that.

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Review: Illusion by Paula Volsky

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Even though it’s a well-written book, I have found it very hard to enjoy. So I apologise if this comes across as less of a review and more of a vent – it’s been a long, long time since I read a book as frustrating and full of pet peeves as this. In general, I’d probably still recommend it, but not without a massive warning.

The blurb and recommendations seemed to promise many things I wanted. A revolution plot! Lower classes rising against their masters! Riches to rags! Character development! Some vague rumours about a guilliotine-like character! I was looking forward to it a lot. It seemed like I’d love it and fuck, I wanted so badto love it. Revolutionary fantasy is seriously lacking. But even a good concept can’t always save a book.

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Review: Heart of Stone by Ben Galley

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He wondered whether this Lundish war was any different from the three dozen or so he’d seen before, whether these Truehard veins ran hotter and truer; whether he might finally find a cause he could rally behind, to blunt his chore of wreaking carnage. To do some good.

Technically speaking, this is an excellent book. The characters are likable and complex, the relationships between the main cast are great (and often adorable). The writing style is polished and quotable, with none of the clunkiness you sometimes see in indie books. The exploration of golem psychology, learning to care about centuries of not caring, also interesting.

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Review: The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso (Annals of the Bitch Queen #1)

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This was quite the page-turner.

A wolf of Oren-yaro fights to make it right, down to the last breath. A wolf of Oren-yaro does not beg. A wolf of Oren-yaro suffers in silence.

It’s a book carried primarily by the characters. They don’t always make the wisest of the least frustrating choices, but they’re likable or interesting enough. The slow unfolding of the truth of what happened between Rayyel and Taliyen was great and so was the ending – just tense enough and tying some things up while still leaving others for the sequels.

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Review: The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich

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I want to shove this book at everyone I know.

Can I find the right words? I can tell about how I shot. But about how I wept, I can’t. That will be left untold. I know one thing: in war a human being becomes frightening and incomprehensible. How can one understand him? You’re a writer. Think up something yourself. Something beautiful. Without lice and filth, without vomit…Without the smell of vodka and blood…Not so frightening as life…

This is a collection of accounts of Russian women who went through WWII – soldiers of all kinds, partisan fighters, and medical workers mostly, but also washerwomen, bakers, mechanics, civilians…both about the war and what happened afterwards. All of them women whose stories were forgotten; silenced or forced to keep to a certain, more traditional narrative of glory. It’s hardly a traditional war book. No listings of great battles, victories, losses. Only very human, personal stories from the perspective of those who did not get to tell them until then.

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