Review: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (Tess of the Road #1)

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There are many, many stories about roads and journeys in fantasy, and just as many sayings. Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker? Journey before destination. The Road goes ever on and on. So in a way, Tess of the Road is a story in the oldest of fantasy traditions.

The road was possibility, the kind she’d thought her life would never hold again, and Tess herself was motion. Motion had no past, only future. Any direction you walked was forward, and that was as must be.

Walk on became her credo; she repeated it to herself every morning upon deciding to get up and exist for one more day.

At the same time, it’s also a fresh take. There’s no grand objective to work towards. And instead of the world, Tess saves herself.

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DNF: Unsouled by Will Wight (Cradle #1)

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DNF 44%

Tried it cause it was free, I wanted something light and fun, I still need a self-pubished book for the r/Fantasy Bingo square, and I know a lot of people who love it. I went into it with an open mind – from the positive reception, there was a chance of it winning me over – but it just confirmed that nope, that stuff’s not for me. And that I should trust my gut, no matter how enthusiastic friends are.

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Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #3)

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I forgot how much I loved this series.

This was Confection, land of the culinary art become miracle: land of lonely children whose hands itched for pie tins or rolling pins, for the comfortable predictability of timers and sugar scoops and heaping cups of flour. This was a land where perfectly measured ingredients created nonsensical towers of whimsy and wonder—and maybe that was why they could be here, logical creatures that they were, without feeling assaulted by the world around them.

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Review: Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke (The Coraidic Sagas #1)

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The ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blood of Heirs was a very pleasant surprise. I needed a quick read, something that wouldn’t take me weeks to finish and boy has this book delivered.

He was no different to the rabbit, no different to any game animal pursued through the woods, whether for sustenance or pleasure. He was as hunted as that rabbit, and he’d turned his power on it, despite his already superior strength. What might he do if his pursuer cornered him the way he’d cornered the rabbit? Was it only a matter of time before the walls closed in and the escape routes vanished, only a matter of time before his father’s men tracked him to a dark corner and he too stared at his death without the power to run?

The book follows two characters. Lidan is the heir of a clan chief (or daari, as they’re called) without any sons. She wants nothing more than to be trained as a ranger, ride horses, learn to fight, but her mother won’t let her, saying it’s too dangerous for a heir…then things get a lot more complicated. Ran is the son and heir of a duke. He saves his city from disaster, but in the process, his magic is discovered and he is forced to run for his life.

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Review: Faithless by Graham Austin-King

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I wasn’t much of a fan of Fae: The Wild Hunt, the author’s other book I read, but I decided to give Faithless a try for this year’s Bingo challenge, after a sale, quite a few friends’ recommendations, and a nudge from the Random Number God. Absolutely no regrets.

The decision came easily. Perhaps every betrayal does. In the end, they all begin with a lie. The small ones we tell ourselves to make what we do bearable.

It’s not your fault.
There is no real alternative.
Anyone would do the same thing in your place.

I often complain about a lack of protagonists who have more ordinary professions – a lack of fantasy books about healers, farmers, tailors, cooks, and, yes, why not miners? Well, first two thirds or so of Faithless has this in spades. We follow Wynn, a farmer’s son sold to the temple by his father and forced to work as a miner, and Kharios, a novice priest who seemingly gets a second chance to prove himself. A lot of it is mundane, learning about how things in Aspiration work, mining, forging, interacting with the miner crew or other priests. And I loved it.

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Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2)

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A short review for a short book.

It can be easy, in the end, to forget that children are people, and that people will do what people will do, the consequences be damned.

Forced into roles since they were born by perfectionist parents, Jack and Jill were never allowed much choice in their lives…until a door opens and adventures begin. They were the two characters I was the most curious about in Every Heart a Doorway and was very excited to learn more about them. It did not disappoint.

It suffes a bit from its length – I wish we got to spend more time in the Moors and that most of their life there wasn’t as glossed over – and gets a little heavy on its message sometimes, but the prose is as amazing as in the first book and fairytale atmosphere, the worldbuilding, and the illustrations(!!!) are all great. I also liked the complexity of their relationship.

It’s a quick, delightful read and a perfect palate cleanser between longer books.

Enjoyment: 5/5
Execution: 4/5

Recommended to: those who wanted to learn more about Jack and Jill, fairytale enthusiasts
Not recommended to: people who like less message-heavy books

Review: The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan

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As a rule, I prefer reviewing books that are brilliant but flawed, since usually they are the only ones that can’t be reduced to a couple of sentences. This is not one of those. Since I finished it, I’ve been gushing about it to everyone who’d listen. Seeking out fanart. Taking pauses and breaks, because just like its inhabitants I didn’t want to leave. It’s brilliant, it’s criminally underrated, and while I realise that it’s not for everyone, it’s probably the best book I’ve ever read.

The House demands a reverent attitude. A sense of mystery. Respect and awe. It can accept you or not, shower you with gifts or rob you of everything you have, immerse you in a fairy tale or a nightmare. Kill you, make you old, give you wings … It’s a powerful and fickle deity, and if there’s one thing it can’t stand, it’s being reduced to mere words.

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