Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Red Sister - Book Review

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1)
by Mark Lawrence

What is it about:
At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

What did I think of it:
Novices trained to become killer nuns? Count me in!

Yes, the premise of killer nuns and the fact that it's a sort of boarding school story sold me on this book. And luckily it didn't disappoint.

Nona is both relatable and an unreliable narrator and I was hooked from the start. It was fun to read about the training the girls got, and to discover more about Nona and her past. Next to a more sinister plot there's lots of rivalry and teenage pettiness going on, so there isn't a dull moment in this book.

The worldbuilding left me with a few questions. It clearly hints that the people in this world arrived on spaceships. Still they seem to live in a Medieval world. Where did all the technology and knowledge of that technology go? I'll have to read the whole series to see if it is explained, I'm afraid.

That aside I very much enjoyed this book, so I'll be getting my trotters on book two once it's available in paperback.

Why should you read it:
Killer nuns!

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Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Teaser Tuesdays - Burn Bright

He looked around again. Breathed in again. Then he shook his head. "I dont know. Something."

(page 37, Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs)

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: - Grab your current read - Open to a random page - Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) - Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, 19 March 2018

Shade - Book Review

Shade: A Re-Imagining of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (The Frankenstein Saga Book 1)
by Merrie Destefano

What is it about:
A broken heart. An infamous holiday gone wrong. A deadly curse brought to life.

A holiday in Switzerland is supposed to lift Mary Wollstonecroft Godwin’s spirits. She wants to forget the past and have fun. In fact, everyone in her party is running away from one indiscretion or another—from her fiancĂ© Percy Shelley to Lord Bryon to Mary’s stepsister, Claire. But from the moment Mary arrives at Byron’s villa, she knows something is wrong. He rushes her indoors and forbids all of them to go out at night, claiming that the horrible weather has driven wild animals down from the mountains.

The only person who doesn’t seem to be running away from anything is a handsome, young Italian doctor, John Polidori. Instead, he is fervently pursuing local folk legends and a new scientific theory that claims people can be raised from the dead.

But it’s not until they all challenge one other to write ghost stories that the real danger begins. In a nightmare, Mary envisions a patchwork man animated by Galvanism and she begins writing Frankenstein. Likewise, fueled by local legends, John writes The Vampyre—one of the first vampire stories ever written.

What neither one of them knows is that they are conjuring a dark evil. Before long, all of their lives will be in danger—for neither of these characters are imaginary. Far from it.

What did I think of it:
This is the first in a series of three novellas by Merrie Destefano. I love Destefano's writing, so you bet I jumped at the chance to get hold of an ARC of all three novellas.

This first novella is beautiful.

Destefano is a master at setting atmosphere and mood so I was soon engrossed in the story. Destefano managed to give the story a Gothic feel and I loved the building tension and otherness. Slowly you get to know more about all the people at the villa and slowly things shift from suspenseful to sinister.

The story is told from Mary's point of view, and I connected with her easily. The only thing I didn't get was why she is still engaged to Percy, whom I didn't like at all, but there were hints of a dark secret that might hold them bound together.

At the end of this novella things are seriously going wrong, and the ending is quite the cliffhanger. You bet I'll be reading the next novella soon, because I need to know what's next.

Why should you read it:
It's a suspenseful Gothic read.

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Friday, 16 March 2018

Dragon Age RPG Core Rulebook - Review

Dragon Age RPG Core Rulebook
by Green Ronin

What is it about:
The Dragon Age RPG brings Thedas to your tabletop!

Now you can experience BioWare's rich and engaging world in a classic pen & paper roleplaying game. This new Core Rulebook combines the rules and background of the original game under one cover for the first time, and adds a brand new adventure as well.

The game system is easy to learn and play, and the book is packed with lore from the world of Thedas. Dragon Age also features an innovative stunt system that keeps combat and spellcasting tense and exciting.

So gather your friends, grab some dice, and get ready to enter a world of mages and templars, of Grey Wardens and darkspawn, of gods and demons ... the world of Dragon Age!

What did I think of it:
Some of you might know I'm pretty much addicted to the computer game Dragon Age. When I discovered there's a tabletop rpg of Dragon Age as well, I had to get the book.

And this is a great book for those into roleplaying games.

This book combines both the Player's Guide and the Game Master's Guide, so with this one book you have everything you need to play the game. I liked that the game uses standard 6 sided dice, so people new to roleplaying don't need to go out to find special dice. (I myself got a set of special Dragon Age dice from a friend, I'll add: 6 sided dice with special colors and pictures on them. Not needed, but fun!)

There are three basic classes like in the computer game (warrior, rogue, mage), but there are lots of different backgrounds to chose from, all with their own abilities and traits, so the customization of the characters is more than adequate.

The rules seem easy, with some extra rules you could add if you want things to be more challenging.

Next to the character creation and the rules, there are chapters about the world, the history of the world, adventures you can play, and lots of tips on how to roleplay. I myself have been playing all different kinds of roleplaying games for over 20 years, but the way things are explained make that this is a great book for people new to roleplaying games.

There's also lots of cool artwork to give you an idea of how the world and the people in it looks.

All in all this is a great book and I can't wait to convince my friends to give this system and world a try.

Why should you read it:
If you love roleplaying games, or love Fantasy and want to give roleplaying a chance, this is your book!

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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Teasing on a Thursday - Red Sister

"You're not a nun!" Nona wrenched her hand away. "And you let them kill Saida!"

(page 19, Red Sister by Mark Lawrence)

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: - Grab your current read - Open to a random page - Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) - Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Palace Job - Book Review

The Palace Job (Rogues of the Republic #1)
by Patrick Weekes

What is it about:
The most powerful man in the republic framed her, threw her in prison, and stole a priceless elven manuscript from her family.

With the help of a crack team that includes an illusionist, a unicorn, a death priestess, a talking warhammer, and a lad with a prophetic birthmark, Loch must find a way into the floating fortress of Heaven's Spire–and get past the magic-hunting golems and infernal sorcerers standing between her and the vault that holds her family's treasure.

It'd be tricky enough without the military coup and unfolding of an ancient evil prophecy–but now the determined and honourable Justicar Pyvic has been assigned to take her in.

But hey, every plan has a few hitches.

What did I think of it:
Patrick Weekes is one of the writers of my favorite games: Mass Effect and Dragon Age. He also wrote one of the tie in Dragon Age novels - The Masked Empire. High time for me to read one of his other books.

And this is a really fun Fantasy heist story!

There's the smart heroine Loch and her trusty sidekick Kail. At the start of the book they escape from prison and then start building a team to pull off an impossible seeming heist.

I loved Loch and the team she puts together. They're all super talented of course, and succeed easily at challenging tasks, but that's all part of the charm of this particular genre in my opinion. I also really liked the Justicar who had to find Loch and arrest her again.

Apart from the Justicar and Loch and her team, there are some other parties at work. There's the mark of course, and the head of the prison Loch escaped from among others. I didn't really get why the head of the prison hated Loch that much, but his attempts to get back at Loch for escaping did add to the suspense of the story.

Next to this being a cool and suspenseful heist story, there's also a lot of humor in this book. The antics and conversations of Loch's team were really fun to read. I was hooked in no time and kept reading to see how they were going to pull off their heist and where things might go wrong.

All in all a fun and cool read. I'll most probably get my trotters on the next book in this series soon.

Why should you read it:
It's very entertaining Fantasy heist story.

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Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Reluctant Queen - Book Review

The Reluctant Queen (The Queens of Renthia #2)
by Sarah Beth Durst

What is it about:
Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .
And those spirits want to kill you.
It’s the first lesson that every Renthian learns.

Not long ago, Daleina used her strength and skill to survive those spirits and assume the royal throne. Since then, the new queen has kept the peace and protected the humans of her land. But now for all her power, she is hiding a terrible secret: she is dying. And if she leaves the world before a new heir is ready, the spirits that inhabit her beloved realm will run wild, destroying her cities and slaughtering her people.

Naelin is one such person, and she couldn’t be further removed from the Queen—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her world is her two children, her husband, and the remote village tucked deep in the forest that is her home, and that’s all she needs. But when Ven, the Queens champion, passes through the village, Naelin’s ambitious husband proudly tells him of his wife’s ability to control spirits—magic that Naelin fervently denies. She knows that if the truth of her abilities is known, it will bring only death and separation from those she loves.

But Ven has a single task: to find the best possible candidate to protect the people of Aratay. He did it once when he discovered Daleina, and he’s certain he’s done it again. Yet for all his appeals to duty, Naelin is a mother, and she knows her duty is to her children first and foremost. Only as the Queen’s power begins to wane and the spirits become emboldened—even as ominous rumors trickle down from the north—does she realize that the best way to keep her son and daughter safe is to risk everything.

What did I think of it:
I loved The Queen of Blood, so I made sure to get my trotters on the paperback of The Reluctant Queen.

And even though I never got to love Naelin as much as I love Daleina this is a really good Fantasy read.

The worldbuilding is wonderful, and the intrigues in this book kept me reading. Naelin might not have won my love, but I rooted for Daleina and for Ven. I had my doubts when it became clear Naelin's children had a bigger part in the story than I thought when reading the blurb, but they luckily weren't as annoying as I feared (yes: I'm not a big fan of children in SFF books).

All in all this is a very enjoyable read that ends in a way that I will most definitely buy the last book once it is available in paperback.

Why should you read it:
It's a cool Fantasy read full of intrigue.

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