The Quanderhorn Xperimentations – Rob Grant & Andrew Marshall

39801235The Quanderhorn Xperimentations is completely bonkers and difficult to describe without sounding crazy, so I think the best course of action is to take the synopsis from Goodreads:

England, 1952.
Churchill is Prime Minister for the last time. Rationing is still in force. All music sounds like the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. People like living in 1952: it’s familiar and reassuring, and Britain knows its place in the world.
Few have noticed it’s been 1952 for the past 65 years.
Meet Professor Quanderhorn; a brilliant, maverick scientific genius who has absolutely no moral compass. With his Dangerous Giant Space Laser, High Rise Farm, Invisible Robot and Fleet of Monkey-driven Lorries, he’s not afraid to push the boundaries of science to their very limit.
Even when it’s clearly insane to keep pushing.
Despite the fact he’s saved the world from several Martian invasions, the attacks of the Mole People, the Troglodyte Shape-shifters and the Beatniks from Under the Sea, plus countless other sinister phenomena which threatened to rend the very fabric of reality, the Government would like to close him down. Why? Because they’re terrified of him. Of his reality-warping experiments, of the mysterious button on his desk which he’s constantly threatening to press. Of the unearthly secret locked in his cellar. And yet they’re even more terrified it might stop being 1952 and they’ll be out of power.

My favourite thing about this book is how completely bizarre and totally fantastic it is. Within the first few pages, Professor Quanderhorn’s team are attempting to stop a giant broccoli creature from destroying Big Ben, and it only gets madder from there. It is creative, unique science-fiction at it’s very best.

The plot is a little confusing and messy – the team jump from mission to mission without any kind of break in between, but it’s never boring or predictable. However, what really makes this book excellent are the characters: Brian Nylon, an unlikely hero with severe memory loss; the logical, semi-clockwork Dr Gemma Janussen; insect-brained Troy; and the Martian, Guuuurk. They’re the most incompetent, hilarious and lovable characters you’ve ever met.

I would recommend this book 100% to fans of Red Dwarf and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… and anyone who loves a Martian death ray.

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

Goodreads | Amazon

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Moira Ashe: Kindred Spirits – Brendon Bertram

40898924.jpgHaving been exposed as a werewolf and forced to abandon her life in Quinn, Moira Ashe flees to Trident Bay in the hope of finding transport across the sea. Denied by every ship in the port, she turns to Caspian, the chieftain of Trident Bay, who enlists her help in defeating the legendary Terror of Trident Bay. Caught up in an uprising and a surprising romance, Moira’s plans to escape go awry and the risk of her identity being discovered increases.

I enjoyed this book immensely, as I did the first. It is short and sweet with an action-packed and fast story. As this is the second book in the Moira Ashe series, I would say it is important to read the first book: Enemy Within. They flow directly into each other and a lot of the plot and character development would be missed if you dove straight into book #2.

Surprisingly, in this one, there was somehow time for there to be a couple of dull parts. In such a short book, I didn’t know this was possible, but the parts where Moira was learning how to fight with an axe and, frankly, the romantic and sexual aspects were pretty boring.

Although I didn’t love the romantic angle of the story, I very much enjoyed the political plotline, with the peasant uprising and the secret committee meetings. They added an extra layer to the story on top of Moira’s general escape plan and fight against the Terror.

This is a great series, very fast-paced and quick to get through.

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

Goodreads | Amazon

The Odyssey – Homer, translated by Emily Wilson

34068470.jpgThe Odyssey is one of the oldest known adventure stories in existence. It follows the epic adventures of Odysseus as he attempts to get home to Ithica after the Trojan war. Emily Wilson’s translation is the first English translation ever written by a woman, and it is truly fresh and modern.

How do you review a book like The Odyssey? The fact that it has been so popular for so long and has become one of the main go-to books for Greek mythology says everything you need to know about the story, so I won’t try to review that. Instead, I will focus on Emily Wilson’s translation.

I went into this book anticipating a challenge. In fact, it was a very engaging and surprisingly easy read. It is long (so, so long) and repetitive so it still took a long time to get through, but thanks to the modern language and style of translation, it was incredibly readable. I’ve never read another version, so I cannot compare this one against another, but having read this one, I honestly can’t see why anyone would choose to read any other version.

The book starts with an introduction from Emily which was, frankly, fascinating. It is, essentially, an essay on The Odyssey, outlining the reasons behind her translation choices and highlighting interesting points about the characters and the original author.

This book will definitely be in my top books of 2018, and I have no doubt it will become the modern must-read for Greek mythology.

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

Goodreads | Amazon

The Narrows – Travis M. Riddle

42348486Oliver, Sophie and Davontae have returned to their home town of Shumard, Texas for the funeral of their friend, Noah. Each are dealing with the shock and loss in their own way, but things take an unexpected turn when Oliver gets a glimpse of a world parallel to their own. Visited by a dark being known as the Knave, Oliver soon finds himself dragged into a chilling adventure and questioning what really happened to Noah.

First things first, I have to say I adore the cover of this book. It’s a beautiful piece of artwork and it represents the story very well. I also adore Travis’ writing, and this one certainly did not disappoint. The Narrows bears some close similarities to Stranger Things with it’s dark, mysterious ‘other’ world (and I have to admit, I was a little bit sceptical about this shared theme when I started reading) but it’s such a different story and actually very original.

Although it is, essentially, a horror story, this book also contains a lovely story of friendship, with fantastic and realistic relationships between the group. It also deals – very sensitively, I thought – with the aftermath of suicide and the way people process the loss of a friend to suicide. The Narrows is a book filled with heart, alongside the creepiness and gore.

Oliver was a great character. He, of course, does the typical lead-character thing of heading off into the danger alone, which is usually something that really frustrates me, but his reasons for not including his friends are properly explained and completely understandable. Plus, he does go to them for help eventually. My personal favourite character, however, was the Knave. He’s super creepy and evil, and just generally fabulous.

One of the characters, Sophie, is transgender and this element was pulled of incredibly well. It was great to see the representation, and it wasn’t forced at all (as these things can often be). The fact that Sophie used to be a boy is mentioned only for context and fitted in perfectly without becoming a focal point for the story.

I actually can’t think of a single thing I didn’t like about this book. Read it.

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

Goodreads | Amazon

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.

Goodreads | Amazon

Blog Tour: The Caged Queen – Kristen Ciccarelli

Welcome to my stop on a tour that I have been very excited about: The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli. I hope you enjoy my review, and do remember to check out the other stops on the tour (which you can find details of at the bottom of this post).


40873495.jpgIn the second instalment of the Iskari series, Roa and Dax are the new queen and king of Firgaard. Far from home and married to a weak king who doesn’t keep his promises and was responsible for the death of Essie, her beloved sister, Roa feels alone and frustrated. Trapped in bird-form for years, Essie’s time is finally running out and Roa will do anything she can to bring her back; even kill the king.

I love this series. The world and the characters are fantastic, and I enjoyed reading from a new perspective. However, I did find Roa quite annoying with how indecisive she was and I didn’t enjoy reading about her as much as I did with Aasha in The Last Namsara. Dax, on the other hand, was a fantastic character. He was much deeper and more layered than romantic side-characters usually are, which really added something to the story.

The plot contained multiple love triangles which usually wind me up, but the story and the writing were good enough that I was able to get past these easily. The romance between Roa and Dax was very organic and lovely to read.

As in the first book, there are short chapters inserted throughout the story describing a mixture of past events and folklore which were probably my favourite parts of this book. It’s such an effective way to include background information without interrupting the narrative.

Final comment: There weren’t enough dragons.

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

Goodreads | Amazon


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Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

29748925Lazlo Strange, junior librarian, has always dreamed of seeing the lost city of Weep. For years he’s been obsessed with the Unseen City, so he can’t believe it when a hero known as the Godslayer arrives and offers him the opportunity, not only to see Weep, but to save it.

The dream chooses the dreamer. Not the other way around.

Strange the Dreamer is magical and magnificent. It delivers everything a reader could possibly want from a fantasy story. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was so emotional about a book. Laini Taylor broke my heart with the ending.

This book is filled to the brim with wonderful characters (especially Lazlo, Sarai and Sparrow) who were really well developed and endearing. Even the ones we don’t actually get to know that well (like Eril-Fane and Azareen) and aren’t supposed to like (like Thyon Nero) are interesting and obviously complex.

During the first half of the book, I was completely entranced by Lazlo’s side of the story. However, Sarai’s parts were a little bit uneventful and the language was too flowery. Although description and scene-setting is important, I do like stories to get to the point a little quicker than they do in this book. But once things finally got going, wow, it was worth the wait. Immersive, romantic and completely irresistible.

It’s long, but I never lost interest and Laini’s writing is truly mesmerising. Book #2, The Muse of Nightmares, has already been pre-ordered.

Goodreads | Amazon

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.

Goodreads | Amazon

Blog Tour: Star-Touched Stories – Roshani Chokshi

36396341.jpgStar-Touched Stories is three magical stories set in the world of The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes. You don’t need to have read either book to enjoy this one, but it would help in order to understand some of the characters. Roshani Chokshi’s writing is pure magic. I don’t think I’ve ever read any books quite as magical as hers (and I read a lot of fantasy).

All three stories are special in their own way, but my favourite was the first one: Death and Night. The Lord of Death and the Goddess of Night meet by chance and, contrary to their natures, fall in love. As their romance blossoms, both begin to question if they could be made for more than they’ve believed. Death and Night are both completely brilliant characters, and the setting of this story is just the best (especially the Night Bazaar). I loved the romance between these two, and all of the supporting characters were great as well.

Poison and Gold was my least favourite of the three (although, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it). In this one, Aasha is sent to train to become the kingdom’s new Spy Mistress. However, she has lost control over her power to kill and can’t understand why. That particular aspect of the story really got on my nerves, because it was SO OBVIOUS why she’d lost her control. She’s not a stupid character, so why dumb her down so much in this story? I also didn’t really like the romance between Aasha and the Spy Mistress (whose name I can’t even remember). It just came across as too forced and unnecessary.

Rose and Sword was a nice addition to the book. Vikram falls ill and is on the brink of death, so Guari travels to the land of the dead to retrieve his last breath and save his life. I was so happy to read more about Guari and Vikram (mainly Guari) that almost anything could have happened in this story and I would have enjoyed it. Just to make things even better, Kamala – the lovable demon horse – is back and as brilliant as ever. It was a lovely ending to Guari and Vikram’s story.

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

Goodreads | Amazon

Balam, Spring – Travis M. Riddle

38322372.jpgIn the quiet town of Balam, people are dying. Following the loss of the town’s resident white mage, Aava – fresh from the mage academy – is sent to find the cause of the unknown illness and create a cure before the rest of the town becomes infected. When strange insectoid creatures start invading the town, seemingly attracted by the bodies of the illness’ victims, Aava seeks help from ex-mercenary Ryckert to get to the bottom of the mystery, before there is nobody left alive in Balam.

The story is a little bit slow. It’s a kind of cross between a cosy mystery story and a fantasy adventure. Overall, not that much actually happens, but it’s a good read nonetheless. The characters are likeable, and we get to know them quite well. There are a couple of lesbian/gay/bisexual characters, and these relationships are treated very casually and as not at all unusual in this world, which was nice to see.

My very favourite thing about Travis’ writing is that he invents his own new fantasy worlds and creatures. Balam, Spring is fully immersive and filled with fantasy beings, but not ‘common’ things like elves, dragons, and the other usual creatures. Instead, we meet Rocyans and Jeornish, and other original critters. Because of the immersive nature of the writing, the characters and settings are easy to picture, without ever being over-described or explained in excessive detail.

It’s a good, solid, fantasy/mystery about a small town filled with well-developed and lovable characters.

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

Goodreads | Amazon