Review: Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2) by Joe Abercrombie

Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so hooked on this series. The characters, the intrigue, the brutality, the world-building; it’s all exemplary.

Off the charts. Sensational!

Before They Are Hanged is the second book in Joe Abercrombie’s series, The First Law. If you are unaware, the first three books in the series are a connected trilogy, while books four, five and six, are all standalone novels that take place in the same world.

I have been intimidated for years by this series; by Abercrombie actually. Even though I had heard nothing but great things about his writing.

I’m not quite sure what all that was about, but now that I have completed the first three books, I would count this as one of my favorite series ever. Yeah, it’s that good.

In this second book, I was super pumped about the fact that we were going on a quest. Bayez, the First of the Magi, gathers a group of traveling companions and they head out across the world in search of a mysterious ancient object.

Quests are one of my favorite tropes. I love to go along for the danger and adventure of the road. This group, oh my goodness, they were ill-suited to one another at first, but as with many traveling groups before them, they eventually began to grow on one another.

The quest is just one of the many storylines going on in this installment, however, so there is plenty here for everyone. Even if you are a monster and a quest isn’t your most favorite thing.

Throughout I was continually impressed with the world creation. I was learning so much regarding the structure and functioning of this world, all while maintaining my high level of interest. It was in no way info-dumpy, or dull.

The characters, as well, particularly our mains, are totally fleshed out. I have never loved such a brutal group of utter bastards more. I am seriously so attached to them; it’s a wee bit concerning actually.

The stakes were raised so high over the course of this narrative. I knew by the time I turned the final page, I needed to get my hands on the third book as quickly as possible.

10 out of 10, recommend to all Epic Fantasy fans, Grimdark Fantasy fans and Heroic Fantasy fans. In short, Fantasy fans unite!!

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Review: The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The First Law series has been on my radar for a long time. It’s one of those Fantasy series that seems to stand out as a favorite amongst Readers.

After completing this, I can absolutely see why.

With a lush, Grimdark Fantasy setting, extremely well-constructed characters, magic and a ton of intrigue, I was fully immersed within this story when I was reading it.

Even when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. I had no clue where the story was going, but was perfectly content to sit back and let Abercrombie’s genius wash over me.

In this first book, the main cast of characters is introduced and we watch as the spheres of their worlds begin to merge.

Logen, Bayaz, Glokta and Jezal were all incredibly compelling. Each one of their stories was one that I wanted to know more about. Often, I feel like character work can be uneven; like there are characters you are more drawn to than others. In this case, I loved each and every one of them!

There is a lot of ground work being laid in this novel, but in spite of that, it never felt like a slog. It always felt exciting and important.

I really enjoyed the level of magic that Abercrombie included. It wasn’t overdone, or relied upon too heavily as a plot device, but I feel like we are just scratching the surface of the powers available in this world.

I love how this ended up, with the intrigue higher than ever and it appears we are heading out on a quest. One of my favorite tropes in Fantasy.

I cannot wait to get to the next book!!!

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Review: She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emporer #1) by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor, #1)She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Initially, I was going to think on this for a bit before writing my review, but I am just going to do it. Bite the bullet, say what I have to say and no doubt, tick a couple of people off along the way.

She Who Became the Sun was one of my most anticipated releases of the Summer. I fully expected to give this one 5-stars. Unfortunately, that’s not the experience I had with it.

The first 25%, I was hooked. We meet a young girl, a peasant of the Central Plains of China, who adopts her brother’s identity after he tragically dies in order to enter a monastery as a young male novice.

More importantly, Zhu Chongba, her brother was fated for greatness and she plans to take that greatness for herself. She will make her fate a choice, instead of a chance.

The last 25%, I was so engaged. There’s a lot of action, brutal deceptions and pivotal moments that tied me right back into the story.

The central portion, however, was a mixed bag for me. I couldn’t focus, my eyes kept glazing over; to be honest, I was bored.

I felt like a ton was happening, while simulataneously nothing was happening. Trust, I understand this makes zero sense, but it’s how I felt.

With my slight disappointment out of the way, I will say that Parker-Chan’s writing deserves all of the stars.

Their ability to create a beautiful sense of place, evoke strong emotions with their characters and seamlessly incorporate multiple perspectives into one linear narrative, is top notch. I did feel like I was in 14th-Century China.

Additionally, I enjoyed the exploration of gender identity and gender fluidity. With both Zhu and Ouyang, a eunuch general in the Mongol army, their gender identity was a large part of the development of their characters over the course of the story.

Obviously, I am giving this book 4-stars. I clearly enjoyed it. Even though I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I expected, it’s still a really good start to a series.

Although I am not sure how many books The Radient Emperor series is slated to be. I will definitely be continuing on.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and am confident a ton of Readers will love this one!

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Thoughts on The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

3/20/21: 5-stars yet again!!! Who is surprised?

Now the question is, do I continue to read the entire series and actually read the final book this time? If ka says it is so, it will be done.

3/15/21: It’s been almost a year. I guess I should pick up The Gunslinger again. Why not!?

I only have 1,100 other books I want to read.

Picking up for the 4th time! 🖤

6/3/2020: ALL HAIL THE KING!!!

Five mind-blowing stars, again.

In contrast to the rest of the books in this series, The Gunslinger, is like the black and white portion of The Wizard of Oz.

By the time you enter The Drawing of Three, you’re in Technicolor, baby!!

Earlier

Reread number three.

Also, buddy reading with my dear friend, Shannon. It’s her first trip to the Tower and I am so excited to join her at the start of her adventure!

Original Review:

Every once in a while, a reread will come along that completely changes your outlook and opinion on a story.

This was absolutely the case for me and my reread of The Gunslinger.

Originally, I read it in my early 20’s, just out of undergraduate school and to be honest:

I didn’t get it.
I didn’t like it.

I didn’t like the atmosphere.
I didn’t like the strange dialogue.
I didn’t like the ending for one of my favorite characters.

I had read a lot of King books and this was so different for me. Rereading it now, on the cusp of 40:

I loved it.
I love the atmosphere.
I love Roland.

I understand where this is going.

The palaver between Roland and Walter at the end left me in absolute chills. Where once I gave this 3-stars, I now give it a very solid 5.

I put it down and immediately went to my bookshelf and grabbed The Drawing of Three: The Dark Tower II and started reading it, staying up way past my bedtime in order to do so.

Now this thought consumes me:

I need to get to this damn tower!

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Rave Review: Song of Susannah (Dark Tower #6) by Stephen King

Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6)Song of Susannah by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OH MY WORD!!
CHILLED TO THE BONE!!!

The last few sentences of the CODA! Stop!!!
I cannot believe I am using this many exclamation points but seriously, have you read this?

I am so in love with this series.
I just want to stare at it all day and consider its meaning.
Its true too the guts meaning.
It’s bloody EPIC.

As a continuation of the overall series, this was pure perfection. You know the end draws nigh. The pace of the story is like a quickening heartbeat racing towards the ultimate conclusion.

I am so happy that I picked this up and continued on my journey to the Tower.
The connections in this one…

Sai King truly is a master of our world or any other for that matter. I doff my cap. Exceptionally intricate, compelling and extraordinarily told. Nothing short of genius.

A must read for any Constant Reader.
You know who you are…
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Review: Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

MiddlegameMiddlegame by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mind Melt Alert!!

What is Middlegame?
Admittedly, I stared at the wall for a good 20-minutes once I had finished.

I don’t even think I can begin to attempt a synopsis.
Can I just say, what an achievement for Seanan McGuire?!

A tour de force of science fiction. Expertly crafted from start to finish in order to make you feel like the secrets of the universe are being exposed to you.

There are so many intriguing concepts in here and the narrative is so vast, following our two main characters, Roger and Dodger, from the time they are children up through adulthood.

I can’t lie. It’s a challenging read but so worth the effort. You shouldn’t be multi-tasking whilst reading this. It needs deserves your full attention.

This gave me Dark Tower vibes a bit, a huge positive for me, in how prodigious and all-consuming the narrative was. I absolutely adore McGuire’s writing. Each and every word seems to have been carefully selected and placed where it would be most effective.

I am really excited for more people to read this. I am so interested to see what others think. I know it will not be for everyone but I know a lot of people are going to be just as impressed as I was.

At this point, I will read anything, ANYTHING, that Seanan McGuire writes. She is a gift.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with an early copy to read and review. I certainly feel blessed to have received it. I appreciate the opportunity and know it will be a huge success!

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Series I Need To Finish

Good day bookworms! Today I wanted to write about some series that I really need to finish. Series can be a major commitment, particularly epic fantasy series, and I often struggle to get through them. I have a few that have been looming over me for a while now that I just need to finish! It is almost April, the first quarter of the year almost complete, and I have made zero progress thus far. Not good.

Without further ado, let’s get into the series I need to freaking finish already:

  1. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King – This seven book series, plus one companion novel, is a huge undertaking. Literally 1,000s of pages long it personifies what it means to be committed to a series. I have read the first five books of this series, pretty much back-to-back, and took a wee break from it at the beginning of the year, giving up on book six just 82-pages in. I need to finish this. It really is great, it’s not that I’m not enjoying it, I’m loving it. It’s just a lot. It’s very complicated, a multi-universe story that spans time and space and cultures, but seriously, two books left! I CAN DO IT!!
  2. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin – As with The Dark Tower series, this is an EPIC fantasy series that I absolutely love. The difference with this one, it’s not completed yet. Martin is still working on book 6, The Winds of Winter, which has been pushed back a few times as far as release date goes. The first five books of this series come to over 5,000-pages, so, again, it’s A LOT. Thus far I have read the first three books of this series, enjoying each one a little more than the previous, and really need to move on. I wouldn’t plan to finish this one this year but I would at least like to complete the fourth book, A Feast for Crows. With the final season of the smash-hit, HBO series beginning in April, I feel like I will be on a Game of Thrones high after that and it may be a good time to pick this one up. There is also the companion novel, Fire & Blood, which released at the end of last year, that I also own and want to read. Ultimately, I will include that as part of the series.
  3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – Again, another epic fantasy series, but this one in the YA category which makes it a little more manageable. This seven book series wrapped up last year and I wouldn’t mind finishing it this year. I am hoping to complete this series before I begin her other popular series, A Court of Thorns & Roses. I have read the first four books of this series and loved them so much. The characters, the scope of the world-building, the action, it’s all really well done. There’s angst and drama and I’m here for that. I have all of the books just sitting on my shelves, waiting to  be picked up, not sure why I am putting it off at this point. Even if I don’t complete this during this calendar year, I would like to get at least two more books in the series completed.

Those are the main three series I am into right now. I do have other trilogies, duologies, etc., that I need to complete as well but as far as longer series go, these are them. I feel like once I am able to complete these (George R.R. Martin, I’m looking at you…) it will be a giant weight off my shoulders. Problems of a bookworm, am I right?

What are some series that you need to complete? Are any of these ones looming over you as well? I want to know! Comment here or contact me through any of my social media links!

Cheers & happy reading~

My Favorite Read of January 2018

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower, #3)The Waste Lands by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reflecting back on 2018, I have decided to pick my favorite book I read per month to officially come up with my ‘best reads of the year list’. ((Inspired by an Instagram challenge – #bookstabest2018 – check it out if you are on Insta)). For January, it was an easy choice. This book blew my mind.

The incorporation of all the riddles and the story of Blaine the Mono. I mean, who comes up with this stuff?

The King, that’s who. Stephen. Freaking. King.

Original: Okay, well, I finished this over a week ago and I still don’t know how I can possibly review this adequately. What more can I say besides the fact that I freaking loved it?! As you know if you are reading this, this is the third book in King’s epic Dark Tower series. This book knocked The Drawing of Three out of the top spot for me – it was that good! Most compelling was the resurgence of my favorite character of this series and it just made me so, so happy!

There is really nothing else I can say about this that would be any more creative or insightful than what countless others have no doubt written in their reviews. For me, one thing I always think when reading a book from this series is how absolutely EPIC this story is. The detail, the atmosphere, the artfully drawn characters – it is truly astounding to me that all of this, ALL OF THIS, came out of one man’s brain!

I have already started the fourth book in the series and it is equally amazing, although the pace is a little different thus far. I look forward to seeing this series out to its conclusion.

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Review: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, okay. This. Book.

This was so good. I have been enjoying this series very much up to this point, don’t get me wrong, but in my opinion this one takes it to the stratosphere. Whole new level here. I won’t make this too long as there probably isn’t much that I can say that would be new at this point. I will just let y’all know how this one made me feel and that would be freaking psyched. I am such trash for this series now – fangirling all afternoon long after I finished this. SJM is my Queen and I will read every single word she ever writes.

Seriously though, I felt that this developed the story so incredibly well. I loved the relationship development in this one and I don’t mean that in the romantic sense. For me, it was more the friendships, the loyalties that develop as these characters are basically pitted against the most evil forces in the universe; it was just a gorgeous, gorgeous thing.

Lysandra – my new love. Her story arc is just astounding – to see her strength, which obviously has always been there, but to see it come out and her assert herself and kick some serious ass was just so great to me. I loved hearing her backstory, learning her motivations, discovering her secrets – I can’t wait to see where her story goes in the next book. And of course, Manon, my book-BFF, so fierce and such a powerful bringer of change -I just adore her and pretty much every scene where she was even remotely involved in gave me LIFE!

I am very excited to get to Empire of Storms but I am going to take a one book hiatus before I start it because I do not think I am emotionally ready to move on yet. Still so much to process. I am beyond happy that I gave in and read this series; probably one of the best book choices I have ever made. Highly, highly recommend to all the world!

Original review: Chills. That was incredible! Full review to come. . . Stay tuned!

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Review: Wizard and Glass by Stephen King

Publication Date: November 4, 1997

5 of the most magical stars in the universe!!! Wizard and Glass. Wow, what do I even say about this book? This book is immense, epic and a beautifully told story of love and loss. If you are reading this, you most likely already know that Wizard and Glass is the 4th installment in Stephen King’s epic fantasy series, The Dark Tower. I have been reading this series back-to-back since last Fall and I was most concerned about this one.  At 700 pages it is not a small feat and I had heard that it was very different from the other books in the series.  It certainly was that but in a way that enhanced the storytelling of the series. It is mind-boggling to me that this entire world is the creation of one man’s brain!

In this book we hear an incredible tale of the early life of Roland of Gilead, our main protagonist throughout this series. We learn all about his life shortly after becoming a Gunslinger around age 14 or 15 (I can’t recall exactly what age he is stated to be at this point). He has been sent from home to travel to the Barony of Mejis with two of his closest companions and fellow future Gunslingers, Alain and Cuthbert, in order to keep him safe from the sinister Marten Broadcloak. The boys settle in Hambry under the guise of being ‘counters’ for the Affiliation; there they encounter a ruthless and shady cast of characters such as the Big Coffin Hunters, Mayor Thorin and my favorite witch, Rhea of Coos.

The main storyline involves Roland meeting his true love, Susan Delgado, and their budding and blossoming relationship. The intricacy within this story, within this world, is absolutely stunning. King is the master of character development and this story is no different. While reading this book I truly felt like I could see everything playing out before me like a movie. This book is completely different than the other books in the series, yes, but what a tale. I am absolutely in love with it. Spellbinding from beginning to end, in my opinion, and I feel more attached to Roland now than ever before. Excited to move on with my journey to the Tower!  In fact, I have already begun the 5th book of the series, The Wolves of Calla.