Book Review: The Banished Craft by E.D.E. Bell

The book that….had great ideas but didn’t deliver on them.

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Synopsis: The Banished Craft is a genre-bending fantasy saga that follows the adventures of Cor, a woman caught in a dying world that does not accept her, and Atesh, a dragon scientist who’s been asked to violate his own ethics or put the lives of his family at risk. Follow their trials as they deal with a shattered world, mired in political upheaval, while they try to rediscover a lost magic. The Banished Craft begins the Shkode trilogy: a quirky and modern take on dragons and wizards, exploring themes of identity, prejudice, violence, compassion, and the ways we are all connected.

This book had a slow start as it had a lot to set up, however, as slow as it was, after I finished the first chapter, I was eager to find out what was going on. However, a viewpoint switch took me to a completely new world that held no excitement for me. And then we went back to the other world but with a new character focus that I didn’t care about either.

As I said before, this book had two different settings. One with humans, and another with dragons. Think Brian Jacques’ Redwall series but with Dragons. Cor is a human woman who completely enchanted me from the very beginning. She is about 30 and unmarried with no children. I loved reading her perspective because of that. She was a woman sneaking into this amazing library and trying to borrow a book that will tell her about her past. So good. The dragon viewpoint had a much more political and military focus that just paled into comparison with the coziness of Cor’s perspective.

The worldbuilding in this book was almost there because the prologue set up the premise of these two split worlds well and then we jump into those worlds. However, once we were in each world, there was no worldbuilding for pages and pages and then there would be a dump of information. I ended up having a vague and unsatisfactory understanding of what these two worlds were like and how they functioned.

Overall this book was a bit all over the place. 1/3 of the way through I found myself floundering in half-explained worlds and deep backstories of characters I didn’t particularly care about. Had this book focused its lens more on Cor and her story and one portion of the dragon world, I would have loved it. Unfortunately, it did not hold my interest and I had to dnf it.

I still think if it sounds interesting to you, you may want to give it a try. You never know if it might resonate with you more than it did with me.

I got this as a ebook from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages and It’s All a Game 2 Mini Book Reviews

The book that….is full of girl power.

This short story collection was one I had been looking forward to and I was so pleased when I got a free copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

These are all small glimpses into the lives of girls with a sprinkling of sci-fi or fantasy tossed into them. I loved how atmospheric they were and how they weren’t meant to tell a full life’s story. Instead, we get dropped into their lives and just as quickly get tossed back out and get to imagine how the story ends. Honestly, I really could’t find fault with this collection. Ellen Klages writes stories that I find myself wishing I had come up with. She has a wild imagination and was able to pull me along with her.

Overall, I loved the way that they would draw me in and at the end leave me thinking about them long after I had moved on to another book. My favorite story was Singing on a Star. I loved the Alice in Wonderland feel of it and the creepy vibe that left me with goosebumps at the end.

It’s All a Game by Tristan Donovan

The book that…taught me all about my favorite games.

This book was a very enjoyable non-fiction read for me. I love reading about nerdy things and board games is something that I have been getting more and more into this year. The writing was a bit dry at times and sometime filled with fact after fact but I did enjoy reading about some of my favorite games. I particularly loved the section on chess and how it was adopted across cultures and changed to what we know now.

This book is probably not one you would sit down and read all at once. It was one that I loved dipping in and out of throughout the month and it could be read just skipping around to chapters you were most interested in. The one downfall that I saw was that the chapters were long. I think that having shorter chapters and really cutting the stories down a bit would have helped with the paving of the novel. Unless I was a big fan of the game, I didn’t care as much for the depth of detail the author went into.

I think that this is a great book to give a game lover in your life or someone who just loves learning about little glimpses of history in fun and palatable chapters.

Both of these books were given to me through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski Review

Six stories Review

The book that….lured me into its trap.

Synopsis:
The novel is constructed as a series of podcasts, in which an investigative journalist describes the circumstances around the death of a teenaged boy in an outward-bound centre, interviewing witnesses, suspects and people close to the incident. Their six accounts form the six stories of the title, creating a “chilling and compelling, page-turning thriller that also delves deep into notions of truth, perception and loyalty”.

This book has a very interesting format which really made it a compelling read. It is written as a podcast interview series with 6 people about the mysterious death of a boy. I absolutely love this format the format. It made it feel like the story was being told me like in an audio book.

The writing was a bit awkward at times, especially in the very beginning. It could be very wordy in a way that made it hard to get into the story and made it drag a bit. However, once I got into it, I couldn’t get out. I was reading this during a very busy week of work but somehow I found ways to sneak in a few pages here and there. The format of it being written in 6 different short sections made it fly by.

The setting and the characters were so good and so realistic, it felt like this could have happened in real life. The author perfectly captured how friends groups during adolescence can form and the wondeful things and heartbreaking moments that go along with being young and trying to find your place in the world.

I hadn’t read a thriller in a while and I think that this was an amazing one to get me back into the genre. I will definitely be looking out for more books by this author in the future.

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Sealskin by Su Bristow Review

The book that…used a frustrating plot device.

Synopsis:
Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous, and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives—not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies—seals who can transform into people—evokes the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set.

I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads.

This book reads very quickly and I found myself flying through it to see what was going to happen next. Su’s writing did nothing to slow down the story but neither was it the greatest writing. I think it did the job of telling the story well and keeping me moving through the story.

As far as the characters go. I wish that we could have heard from Mhairi in the story. I think the story felt a bit lacking at times with her being such an important character but us not being able to hear from her ever. Donald, our main character, was a okay main character but a tad boring. He could have been fleshed out more in my opinion since the story focused so much on him and not on other more interesting characters. His character development was fairly jumpy with him making too much change all at once instead of letting us see him change gradually.

I thought that the rape scene at the beginning would have been an okay beginning to the story if it had been addressed more. As it is in the book right now, it felt like it could have been completely cut out. I have a big problem when authors use rape as a plot device and never address the issues of rape culture and the actual consequences of rape. It seems as if Donald’s actions at the beginning are thought of as okay because she is a mythical creature and not fully human. And even later in the book it hints that because Donald was nice to Mairhi later on, that makes up for raping her which is simply not true and a dangerous sentiment to say. This only perpetuates the idea and mindset that men can take what they want, when they want from women and everything will turn out fine anyway. As a woman, this made the entire book frustrating and concerning to read. I may have been able to give in a higher rating if that had not been in the book.

As long as Su stays away from this in her next novel, I am excited to see what will come next from her.

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The book that… I have been anticipating for a long time.

This book was mostly a cover buy because it is such a gorgeous book. I had never heard of this book but it sounded interesting so I picked it up. However, it has sat on my shelf for over 4 years. I have thought about picking it up so many times but just never did. My sister decided that I needed to read it already so she put in on the list of 12 books that I am reading this year. I decided to pick it for my June read which I actually read in July because I was extremely busy in June and didn’t get to it.

I ended up giving this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

Synopsis: Tom Cole, the grandson of a legendary local hero, has inherited an uncanny knack for reading the Niagara River’s whims and performing daring feats of rescue at the mighty falls. And like the tumultuous meeting of the cataract’s waters with the rocks below, a chance encounter between Tom and 17-year-old Bess Heath has an explosive effect. When they first meet on a trolley platform, Bess immediately recognizes the chemistry between them, and the feeling is mutual.

But the hopes of young love are constrained by the 1915 conventions of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Tom’s working-class pedigree doesn’t suit Bess’s family, despite their recent fall from grace. Sacked from his position at a hydroelectric power company, Bess’s father has taken to drink, forcing her mother to take in sewing for the society women who were once her peers. Bess pitches in as she pines for Tom, but at her young age, she’s unable to fully realize how drastically her world is about to change.

I loved the setting of this book! I had never before read a book set near Niagara Falls and after reading this book, I want to go and visit. The setting was so vivid, it was almost a character on its own and was the perfect backdrop for this story. There was also a hint of magic realism in the writing and the setting which I adored!

The characters in this book, especially the main character were well-developed and I found myself attached to Bess and her story. There was a lot of family drama in this book which made me a little hesitant as sometimes that can come across a bit ridiculous and often turns me off to a book. However, the drama in this book was executed very well and never went to far, but felt realistic and made me want to find out what was going to happen next.

This book has very compelling characters and an addicting plot. I found that I was often thinking about what was going to happen next even when I was not reading it. There were parts of it that were a bit predictable but a few reveals really caught me off guard. The book was a bit slow for the first half but the last half was very compelling and I had a hard time putting it down.

I thought that some of the writing in this book seemed liked a fact dump. I could tell the author had done a lot of research in order to prepare for the book but some of the information seemed like it was in there to show how historically accurate the author was trying to be rather than actually adding to the plot. It was also a bit heavy on the descriptions at times but for some reason, it seemed to fit with the hot summer weather I was having while reading it. I think it is a good summer read as it begins in summer and summers are great for a fictional vacation to Niagara Falls.

I would highly recommend this book to people who like historical fiction and someone who enjoys very character-driven books.

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You can buy the book here and I will receive a small commission.

Series Review: The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin

The series that….had many ups and downs.

Synopsis:

Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth.

Hungry for power and knowledge, Sparrowhawk tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death’s threshold to restore the balance.

I read this trilogy a couple of months back and thought that it was worth a review. This was a series I had never heard of before but I picked up the first book at a thrift store because it seemed interesting. A year or two later and I found the third book and decided to jump in. I had a lot of thoughts about each of the books in the series but just mentioned the highlights down below.
The Wizard of Earthsea
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.
This first book was pretty slow moving for the majority of the book. However, this world building and character building really helped me get sucked into the world for the next books. The ending of this book was very fast-paced and intense and I flew through the final third of it. Even with the slow build, I ended up giving it 5 stars because the introduction to the world combined with the fantastic ending really sold me.
The Tombs of Atuan
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.
This book was by far my favorite of all three. It is the shortest in the trilogy and probably the most exciting and intriguing. I loved how it started completely away from everything we read about in the first book and I had no idea how it would connect until much later. It creates a brand new setting in an already familiar world which was awesome. From start to finish, I did not want to put this one down.
The Farthest Shore
I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads.
I liked this one but there was some thing missing in it. I found myself often confused during this book and just wasn’t that into the story. The ending was pretty good though and I did in fact have to wipe away a tear or two at the ending. While, it was definitely my least favorite book in the series, I did think it brought the trilogy to a good end so I think everyone should at least give it a try.

Overall, if you are a fan of fantasy and don’t mind some slower paced parts, I would recommend this series to you. It has everything a good fantasy series needs along with some really amazing characters. And it is considered a great and classic fantasy series. There is another book that was added to this trilogy which I may or may not pick up someday, as well.

Have any of you ever read this trilogy? Let me know what you thought of it down below. Also, let me know what some of your favorite fantasy series or books are. I am always looking for a new fantasy world to get swept up in.

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You can buy this trilogy here and I will receive a small commission.

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The book that….may have gotten me into science fiction.

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads because it was amazing!

This book was super good. I was reading it during a very busy time during school so it got sort of broken up for me. I think I would recommend that if you are going to read it, read it during a time when you can fly through it. It is a very fast-paced read and I ended up finishing the last 150 pages of it in one day when I thought I would only read about 50 pages or so. I just had to see how it ended.

I loved the main character’s snark and jokester personality. However, I felt that there were times in which I would have expected him to be freaking out a bit more. Not all of the things that happened in the book seemed completely plausible but most of the book was very believable,

When I was reading, I loved everything that was happening on Mars. However, I felt that the parts that took place on earth were much less interesting. There were times when it added to the tension so I understand why the author put them in there but I tended to want to get back to the Mars portions because they were so engrossing.

The writing in this book was not phenomenal, however, it didn’t hinder my reading of the book and this is a debut book which is understandable. I did think the author did an amazing job making the science-y parts of the books very accessible for those who don’t know a lot about the sciences being discussed.

I think this would be a great book for someone who is looking into reading sci-fi but doesn’t know where to start or is intimidated by it. I am not a sci-fi reader myself but quickly got pulled in to this book. I think it is a great place to start in that genre.

If you have read it, please let me know your thoughts down below. I would love to hear your opinion.

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