A Question of Trust – Jonathan Pinnock

44562832.jpgTom’s girlfriend, Dorothy, has vanished, along with all the money and equipment of the company she ran with her friend, Ali. Tom and Ali’s investigations into where Dorothy and their things have gone lead them into some unexpected and dangerous situations, while Tom simultaneously tries to untangle his father from a cryptocurrency scam, locate a missing python, and work out who is messaging him from a dead man’s LinkedIn account.

So, it turns out A Question of Trust is Book #2 in a series. I didn’t realise this, but events from the first book (The Truth About Archie and Pye) were mentioned for context and it became clear very quickly that I’d missed quite a lot. However, although I would say it might be helpful to have read Book #1 first, I think this one also works as a standalone (once you get past the first few chapters).

I wasn’t fully sold on the plot, although I couldn’t tell you why. It’s very fast-paced and there’s a lot going on, but I found myself skimming a fair bit and therefore (my own fault) I wasn’t always entirely sure what was happening. However, I LOVED Tom. He was inept enough to be sweet and funny, but not so much that the whole thing was completely implausible – which is a very difficult line to draw.

Overall, it’s a good read, with a bonkers story-line and some great characters.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

37635562Spensa’s world has been under attack by an alien race called the Krell for hundreds of years. Humanity are forced to take to the skies in defence of their lives, sacrificing pilots and cadets in the name of survival. Spensa has always dreamed of being a pilot, but since her father turned coward and deserted his team years ago, she hasn’t been able to escape from under his shadow. Finally, the opportunity arises for her to go to flight school, where she learns much more than just how to fly…

I haven’t read very many fantasies set in space – I usually prefer dragons and elves and other land-based fantasies – but I did really enjoy this one. Most of the plot unfolds in the air, while Spensa is flying or learning to fly, so in a way it was very similar to Star Wars, but with more of a YA feel.

The character growth in this book is very good. I really didn’t take to Spensa to begin with. She was annoying, whiny and aggressive, while her quirky violent outbursts felt very fake when put together with how insecure she was. However, as the plot developed, she changed. She became more confident and more thoughtful and considerate of others, and considerably more likeable.

Characters that I did absolutely love were Doomslug and M-bot. I also really liked Spensa’s flight mates. They were a witty and diverse group and *slight spoiler alert* the many deaths in this book are very sad.

This was my first Sanderson, and I would definitely read more.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Ravencry – Ed McDonald

36666672It’s been four years since the events of Blackwing when Nall’s Engline drove the Deep Kings back across the Misery, but all is still not well. A new power is rising: a ghostly apparition known as the Bright Lady has developed a fanatical following, and an object of great power is stolen from Crowfoot’s highly protected vault. Galharrow and his Blackwings must recover the object before it can be used, a mission which takes him deeper into the Misery than ever before.

Blackwing was an excellent, absorbing fantasy debut, and Ravencry is somehow even better. The story continues with one or two new characters as well as the wonderful ones we’ve already met.I loved following Galharrow again, he really is a brilliant main character and – after the loss of Ezabeth – he’s even more damaged and tormented than before. Luckily, this does absolutely nothing to make him weak or whiny. If anything, it makes him even more heroic.

The scene-setting and story-telling is exceptionally good. There is no extensive or excessive description of landscapes and events, and yet everything is super easy to picture. Another strong aspect is that there is no definitive ‘good’ vs ‘bad’. Apart from Galharrow who is the obvious hero, both sides of the fight seem to be relatively bad. Instead of working for anyone in particular (he’s under Crowfoot’s control, but is reluctant about it), Galharrow fights for the survival of his city and not a righteous ‘good’ side.

The story is emotional, funny, action-packed and addictive. It is a fantasy-adventure through and through, with some very dark, gritty elements. I am beyond excited for Crowfall.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Blackwing – Ed McDonald

36402955.jpgThe republic faces total annihilation at the hands of the Deep Kings. With Nall’s Engine failing, the only thing standing between the people of the Range and certain death is an unpredictable no-man’s land called the Misery. Tasked with the protection of a powerful spinner named Ezabeth Tanza, Captain Ryhalt Galharrow finds himself wrapped up in a world of conspiracy, secrets and treason.

Blackwing is a piece of truly excellent fantasy fiction. It has everything you could possibly want (magic, adventure, epic battles), without any of the usual tropes or clichés. The plot is multi-layered, with the surface story of Galharrow and Ezabeth and the overarching fight between the Deep Kings and the Nameless. This two-tiered style of story-telling was excellently pulled off, without one overshadowing the other.

Galharrow is a brilliant lead character. He’s grumpy, gritty and determined; battle-hardened and flawed, in no way irritating or infuriating. I also really liked his mismatched team of soldiers, especially Nenn.

I liked the fast-paced and gritty nature of Blackwing. There is a romantic element in the book which, in my opinion, didn’t add much to the story but didn’t take anything away either. It is, frankly, shockingly good for a debut novel and an absolute must-read for fans of fantasy and adventure.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Moira Ashe: Enemy Within – Brendon Bertram

39738891Werewolves have been sighted in Abalon. With a full moon approaching, the king is worried, and sends Lincoln Clarke to find help. In the corner of a dark tavern, he finds Moira Ashe, an experienced werewolf-hunter. Reluctantly, she agrees to let him join her on a hunt to learn how to deal with these beasts. But Moira has her own secrets to protect, and letting Lincoln tag along might not be the best of ideas.

This is a very short book and therefore very quick to read. The story gets straight to the point and is action-packed. It is unusually short for a fantasy adventure story. Although in many ways this was a nice change, there were some points where the story felt too vague and underdeveloped. It could certainly have benefited from more character development.

Despite this, the scene and the story were set up very well and, as the first part of a series, it didn’t matter that the full adventure was not covered in this one book. I was certainly left wanting more.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Between the Blade and the Heart – Amanda Hocking

35425584.jpgMalin is a Valkyrie and, as such, it is her responsibility to slay immortals when their time is up. But when she discovers that her own mother failed in this responsibility, Malin and her friends undertake the task of restoring balance to the world.

The synopsis of this book made it sound like a Norse fantasy. Instead, it’s more of a YA fantasy with some Norse influences. This was okay, because I do enjoy YA fantasy fiction, but it was a little disappointing that it wasn’t what I expected.

To be perfectly honest, I found the majority of this book rather boring. It wasn’t until very near the end that the story picked up and I started to get into it. I did enjoy the humour in this book, and the unusual love triangle.

It’s a good read, but it took a little too long to get going.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Esper Files 3: The Chimera Formula – Egan Brass

36329466.jpgThe steampunk adventure continues! Following the dramatic events of book #2, a crew of evil mutants are wreaking all kinds of havoc across London, even infiltrating the Institute itself. It’s up to the Espers to find out who is behind the creation of these awful creatures, and put a stop to them.

Filled to the brim with action and excitement, The Chimera Formula is another entertaining instalment of the Esper series. It is quite a bit more gory and violent than the previous books, and Egan Brass’ writing is much improved. There’s still too much of the phrase “the latter”, but it flows a lot more smoothly.

Sadly, I really missed my favourite character – Red Cap – but the others did a good job of filling the void. I particularly liked the subtle romantic developments, including a very sweet lesbian relationship between Freya and Reyna (hooray, diversity).

Although it is the third book in the series, this could easily be read as a standalone novel.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Last Namsara – Kristen Ciccarelli

30846371Dragons, danger, romance; The Last Namsara is everything I love about fantasy fiction.

Following a traumatic dragon attack in her childhood, Asha becomes the Iskari – the King’s fiercest dragon-slayer. Feared by everyone (except her family), it’s a lonely life that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl, and with a bleak future married to her father’s cruel, violent commandant, Asha has little to lose. Until the king offers her a way out: kill the First Dragon, and win freedom from her betrothed.

First things first, I totally loved this book. For starters, dragons. I love dragons. The dragons in this are both fierce and friendly (very How to Train Your Dragon-esk) – what more could you want? Second, Asha is a great main character. She’s strong, sassy and deeply troubled – the vital characteristics of any fantasy hero. Third, the relationship between Asha and Torwin is adorable and a delight to watch unfold.

The Last Namsara is well-written and engaging, although Ciccarelli’s style was at times a little too careful. You could tell that it’s a debut novel; I would love to see her take more risks and use a little more variety in her language.

I enjoyed this book from page 1, right up to the very end. I’m really looking forward to book #2. (Also, the cover is stunning).

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Angelica – Clabe Polk

36561321When her mob enforcer husband dies in a car accident, Angelica Vicetti has no option but to flee Las Vegas with her son to escape the clutches of the mob and it’s notorious boss, Don Antonio Scarpone. Eleven years later, Angelica has set herself up with a comfy life in the small town of Poplar Bluffs. Everything is going fine, until members of Scarpone’s organisation start turning up with one goal: to kill her.

Angelica is a fast-paced and engaging story of survival. It’s an enjoyable read with an array of different characters. The town of Poplar Bluffs is a great setting (a surprising amount of the story takes places in the local diner, Bertie’s). I enjoyed the general writing style and the plot, although it did have one too many stages for my liking.

The story was good, but somewhat undermined by how useless the mob members actually were. Half of them had never killed a person and were very weak willed on the matter, while the other half were just useless (e.g. not ever realising when they were being followed). This discredited the story and made it much less believable. However, aside from the unimpressive mob members, Angelica is a good a fun read.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Inevitable Ascension – V. K. McAllister

29563845.jpgOn receiving enough wealth to live comfortably for the rest of their lives, hunters Violina and Lux accidentally discover the means to time-travel. Thrown into an apocalyptic future with mankind on the brink of extinction, the feisty girls strive to build a new world – at any cost.

If you knew your world would soon be torched to carbon, would you fight to save it?
…Or light a match of your own?

Violina and Lux are both incredibly fun and spunky characters. The majority of the story is actually told through speech between these two, which isn’t my favourite way to read but worked quite well in this case because the girls have such fantastic voices (especially Violina). The relationship between the two heroines is brilliant. They have each other’s backs in any situation, and really care for each other. Strong female characters with a positive relationship is always good.

The plot itself is action packed and a little bit complex. There is a lot going on, with some pretty heavy sci-fi. The time travel aspects, leaping into different time-zones, was quite difficult to work out but the story is still fun and enjoyable even if you don’t fully understand the science.

Inevitable Ascension is well-written (surprisingly so, considering that it is written by a husband/wife duo, writing in secret before putting together what they’ve come up with). Despite the complicated plot and large amount of speech, the story flows well and is easy to read.

The one and only downfall is the questionable morality of the whole thing. Are the girls really doing good, if they’re committing mass-murder to save the world? Plus, Lux is described on multiple occasions as being innocent and sweet, with an incredibly sensitive conscience, but seems to be totally fine with stealing and killing. It doesn’t quite compute.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Inevitable Ascension. An exciting sci-fi adventure with positive female leads, suitable for those who might not usually think they enjoy sci-fi.

I received a copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review.

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