Review: The Heroes (First Law #5) by Joe Abercrombie

The HeroesThe Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Heroes is the fifth-book in Joe Abercrombie’s First Law World. This is an Epic Grimdark series that sucked me in from the very first book and hasn’t let go.

Best Served Cold, the fourth-book in the series, is one of my favorite books of all time and while I was excited to move forward in this world, I was also a little nervous. How could anything live up to that?

The truth is, this didn’t surpass Best Served Cold as far as my enjoyment went, but it was still a bloody brilliant story more than worthy of a 5-star rating.

At its heart, this is a story of war. The players, the action, the strategy, the outcome and the aftermath. We examine portions of each. I loved that it felt like a giant game of chess; moving players around the board, shuffling up alliances and allegiances.

The war is between the Union and the Northmen, lasting for three brutal days, that feel like many more to all involved.

There were a few shocking things that happened toward the end of this that I absolutely was not expecting. Abercromie definitely succeeded in giving me more than one solid jaw drop moment.

I’m really looking forward to continuing on in this world.

Abercrombie’s world-building is a masterclass on how to draw the Reader in. The cast of morally-grey characters is fantastic. It’s like a Grimdark Soap Opera. They’re bringing the drama, each and every installment.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Epic Fantasy, particularly Grimdark fans. There’s so much delicious content here to sink your teeth into. A must read series!

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Review: Best Served Cold (First Law #4) by Joe Abercrombie

Best Served ColdBest Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


As many of us know, revenge is a dish best served cold and that’s exactly what we’re served in this stunning Grimdark Fantasy by beloved author, Joe Abercrombie.

I loved the initial trilogy in the First Law world, composed of The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings. I gave them all 5-stars and grew to love that set of characters with my whole heart.

In fact, I loved them so much, I was a little sad when I first learned that this book, Best Served Cold takes place many years after the end of Last Argument of Kings.

19-years have passed and this is a dangerous world, it would have to be following all new characters, right? I was going to miss my tried and trues.

Would I even enjoy it half as much?

I should have trusted Abercrombie. Of course this was going to be amazing. I feel sheepish looking back. How dareth I have questioned his prowess with a pen!!

In this story we follow Monza Murcatto, known as the Snake of Talins, she is the most feared mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ. Stories of her victories are told around every table, she’s hugely popular. A real woman of the people.

She’s a little too popular by Orso’s estimation. He can’t have it. It’s a threat to his rule. This thinking leads to a swift and bloody betrayal.

Monza’s beloved brother is slayed and she is attacked, beaten, thrown out a window to roll down the rocky cliff below and left for dead. Miraculously, she survives and through her dirty, painful recovery she has one thing on her mind. Vengeance.

Gobba, Mauthis, Prince Ario, General Granmark, Faithful Carpi, Prince Foscar and Grand Duke Orso of Talins.

Seven men were in the room when she was betrayed. They’ll all pay. The countdown begins.

Monza assembles a team and off they go. This was incredibly easy to read. At just over 600-pages, you may think you’ll get bogged down in it, but every moment was fascinating. My attention didn’t wane at all.

I loved this cast of characters so much. I was extremely nervous that Abercrombie was going to shatter me in the end, but you know, it’s hard not to walk away from such an incredible story a happy girl. Regardless of the outcome.

I’m now more in love with this world than ever and cannot wait to continue on.

If you’ve been curious about this series, love Grimdark Fantasy, or books with fascinating characters and top-tier world development in genreal, you absolutely have to give this series a go!!

I highly doubt you’ll regret it.

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Review: The Arm of the Sphinx (The Books of Babel #2) by Josiah Bancroft

Arm of the Sphinx (The Books of Babel, #2)Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Recently, I picked up Senlin Ascends as the 17th-selection for my TBR-Haul Project. I finished it towards the end of May and immediately began this second book.

Arm of the Sphinx is therefore officially the 18th-selection for my TBR-Haul Project, as I hauled this book the same month, February 2019, as Senlin Ascends.

I got to say, this project has been a raging success for me. Apparently, there were a ton of 5-star books lurking on my shelves. We love to see it!

I won’t say much about the plot of this, as I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, but I will just briefly ((yeah, right)) comment on my general thoughts and feelings.

Firstly, even though this took me a month to read, I just want to be clear, it’s not because it is a difficult read. It’s absolutely not. Bancroft’s writing is so fluid and accessible. I was just distracted with newer releases, etc., so didn’t devote as much time to it as I should have.

As second books go, Arm of the Sphinx is about as good as it gets. We learned so much in this book about the history and functioning of the Tower, as well as more intimate details on each of our main characters. I am now more attached to them, and this world, than ever.

Seriously, I’m obsessed. At this point, Thomas Senlin and his crew of the Storm Cloud are looking at me like…

This series is quite unique. At least in comparison to the Epic Fantasy I generally read. There are some light steampunk elements that are so interesting.

I also feel like it is completely unpredictable. I have no idea what’s coming next, ever! I’m continually left gagging over various reveals and plot developments.

Equally as astounding is the imagery Bancroft is able to conjure with his words. For example, Senlin descending into a web of yarn suspended in the sky off the side of the Tower to talk to a mystery, wise old woman.

I could picture exactly what that looked like. It’s so vivid.

I did find the pace of this one a lot quicker than the first book. The first book, as we began to learn about the Tower, it could be a little slow at times. This one was much more action-packed.

The overall story is getting, even though I didn’t think it was possible, more complex and twisted. I’m so worried about this group of characters that I have come to love.

The Tower is such a devious place, I’m just constantly hoping they all make it out alive. I need to know. It’s keeping me up at night. Luckily, I’m planning to continue with the third book in July. I’m so excited!

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Review: Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel #1) by Josiah Bancroft

Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel, #1)Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Years ago, after watching a few of my favorite BookTubers rave about The Books of Babel, I scurried out and bought the first three books in the series.

I did this, of course, without even reading this first book. Why did I buy all three of them without knowing if I would even like it, you may wonder?

At that time, there were only three published so far, but you better believe your sweet rump that I then bought the fourth book upon its release, again without starting the series.

Last year I began a TBR-Haul Project, where I go back through my Reading Journals, and select one or two books that I hauled for each month and read them.

Senlin Ascends is the 17th-selection for that project. I hauled this book, and the next two, in February of 2019. I’d say it’s about time I got around to them.

I’m happy to report, this was absolutely amazing. I was blown away by how creative the world is, not to mention the overall story and characters.

I immediately picked up the second book, The Arm of the Sphinx, upon completion of this one and am now fully immersed in this series, fangirling all the way.

If you aren’t aware, this is an Epic Fantasy series, with some light steampunk elements. The world-building is very unique. I would classify it as a slow burn story, but it’s so rich and detailed that it makes sense that way.

We follow Thomas Senlin, a recently married headmaster, who takes his new bride on a honeymoon to the Tower a Babel. They’ve barely exited the train when Thomas and Marya, his wife, are separated in a busy marketplace.

No matter what tactic he takes, Senlin is unsuccessful in finding her in the market, but he can’t give up. He doesn’t care how long it takes, he is determined to find her. There’s no other choice. He will not leave the Tower without her.

And thus it begins…

Y’all, this made me anxious from the start. About 40-pages in and it was already making me sweat. The Skirts, which is what the outside level where the market is located is called, was giving me sort of Goblin Market vibes.

It was all very sinister, without knowing why I was feeling that way. There was just this feeling of dread and wickedness exuding out of it. Senlin had zero people he could trust to help him in his search. No where to turn. It was a very desperate feeling.

As he entered the Tower and began to progress through the ringdoms, circumstances do not get any easier. In fact, they get progressively more dangerous.

Along the way, Senlin does discover tiny clues as to where the missing Marya may be, but how to get there? Perhaps, if the once innocent headmaster transforms himself into a criminal mastermind, he’ll be able to reach her.

I love how Bancroft began to reveal the truth of the Tower itself. It’s certainly not at all the gleaming, idealized vacation spot that Senlin expected after reading his Everyman’s Guide to the Tower.

I also really enjoyed all the characters we meet along the way, the ones Senlin aligns himself with and the ones that are against him. Everyone is out for their own interests. It’s a dangerous place.

A bit Alice in Wonderland mixed with Hotel California, ‘you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.’

I’m super stoked to be continuing on with this series. We learn a lot about the Tower and how it functions in this one, but there are still SO MANY mysteries.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how this progresses and ultimately wraps up!

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Rereading A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Game of Thrones is the first book in George R.R. Martin’s Epic Fantasy saga, A Song of Ice and Fire.

Although it was originally published in 1996, this fantastically-imagined grimdark story has been hugely popular over the past decade, or more, since HBO’s release of the television adaptation, originally aired in April of 2011.

When I first read this book, in the Fall of 2015, I had already watched 5 Seasons of the show. I basically just picked it up to have extra content while I waited for Season 6 to release.

I know what some of you are thinking. You watched the series before you read the book? Believe it or not, that’s actually my preference. I was particularly glad I did it that way in this case, as it truly helped with pronunciation and picturing such a vast world in my head.

Unfortunately, I stopped reading after the third book. Not for any reason really. They’re just a commitment and we all know, I’m not crazy about commitments.

Either way, recently I have been missing this series. I never watched the final Season and most likely never will. In spite of this, I feel like it was time for me to revisit the world and continue on with the books.

I’m obviously hoping Mr. Martin graces us with the Winds of Winter at some point in the next couple of years. If he does, I’ll be ready…

This time through, I did listen to the audiobook for the first time, while following along in my paperback copy. It was such an enjoyable experience. The narration by Roy Dotrice is so great. He has a true storytelling voice.

I plan to continue my reread in this format. It’s so impressive to me how distinctive he can make such a vast cast of characters. I always knew what perspective he was reading from. There was never any confusion.

Speaking of the vast cast, I love this as a first installment to a series. What a way to kick it off. The world-building is so well done. A true master class.

The alternating perspectives really showcase the size and scope of the overall series. This early on, you can already tell how complex this is going to get, yet it never seems info-dumpy or boring. How does Martin work this magic?

It hits you a certain way reading this knowing the outcome for some of these characters. I feel like it made me more emotional because of that. For example, watching how close Catelyn and Robb are. Their relationship, what a good mother she is to him. Sure, she’s a total twat to Jon, but clearly she thinks she has her reasons.

I had forgotten how young a lot of these characters were at the start of this, particularly Dany, Sansa, Robb and Jon. It’s crazy the things they were going through already at such a young age. You gotta grow up quickly in Westeros.

Also, while I clearly remember that George likes to rip your still beating heart out of your chest, throw it to the floor and stomp on it, I forgot how soul-crushing the last, approximately, 150-pages of this book actually is.

East section at the conclusion of this is like being punched in the gut, over and over again. Stark family shattered. Dany shattered. Megs_bookrack shattered. There’s a theme here.

With this being said, I’m super stoked to continue on with this series. I remember the books getting better and better, so I’m excited to experience that again and to move further along than I did before.


I only have 1,228-books currently on my TBR. I’ll just reread this one real quick…

Listening to the audiobook this time around, but going to be following along in my old, well-loved paperback edition!

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Review: Fevered Star (Between Earth & Sky #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky, #2)Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Fevered Star is the second book in Rebecca Roanhorse’s epic Adult Fantasy series, Between Earth and Sky. I believe this is slated to be a trilogy, but holy smokes, would I take more.

As this is the second book of the series, I really don’t want to delve into the finer points of the plot in too much detail.

I definitely wouldn’t want to spoil anything about this wonderful story for anyone; so I will stick mainly to what you can discover via the publisher’s synopsis.

We do continue to follow our four mains from the first book, who are all scrambling to figure out the directions their lives are to take after the fall of the great city of Tova.

Serepio and Naranpa have both risen to a higher state of being, now the living embodiments of Gods at odds with one another. Even though they realize this is their fate, they both struggle to hold onto their humanity.

Xiala, my favorite character, has been swept up in the tide of change as well. True to her nature, she’s on the move, but everything in her being is still tied to the strange and enchanting boy she befriended on her last journey, Serepio. Is he lost to her forever?

You know the opening credits of Game of Thrones, where you are flying over a map of all the different areas in the world and watching cities rise, gears turning, an evolution of an empire happening before your eyes?

That’s what this book is like. The game pieces are moving and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the characters I have come to know and love.

This is such an impressive work of fiction. I love how Roanhorse has incorporated indigenous myths and Pre-Columbian culture into this story. It’s like nothing I have ever read before.

The world is beautifully displayed within these pages and continues to be built out in epic proportions. I definitely recommend the audibooks. I have listen to both and have been completely swept up in the narrative both times; absolutely transported.

I’m really looking forward to the third book in this series and may actually reread the first two just prior to its release. I love them both that much. It would be a piece of cake.

If you love Epic Fantasy stories with intricate world-building and tons of political maneuverings, I would definitely recommend picking this series up!

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Review: Seasonal Fears (Alchemical Journeys #2) by Seanan McGuire

Seasonal Fears (Alchemical Journeys, #2)Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Seasonal Fears is the long-awaited follow-up to Seanan McGuire’s tour de force of SFF, Middlegame. When I originally read Middlegame in May of 2019, I had the understanding that it was a standalone novel.

Since that time, to my complete delight, we have been blessed with two books from the companion series, The Up-and-Under, and now THIS!!!

Seanan McGuire has blessed the world with her words. Literally blessed; life-changing, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring goodness. That’s the best way to describe The Alchemical Journeys

In this second installment, we follow two new main characters: Melanie and Harry. They’re a pair, much like Roger and Dodger from the first book, although Mel and Harry are not brother and sister.

Nevertheless, Melanie and Harry are two sides of the same coin. They’re also in love; teenagers completely devoted to one another.

Melanie and Harry are in high school, living somewhat normal lives. Melanie has a chronic illness and is expected to die at any moment, but besides that, somewhat normal.

When Melanie collapses one day at Harry’s football practice and Harry, athletic as heck, suddenly collapses right along with her, they realize their connection may run deeper than they even imagined.

Insight arrives with an unexpected guide who clues the pair in on the truth behind their lives and the greater world around them.

Together the couple, along with their new friend, set out on a journey, one full of dangers and intrigue, in order to meet the destiny they didn’t even know existed for them.

Seasonal Fears is just as enjoyably mind-boggling as Middlegame. I was in no way disappointed by this. I’ll also not pretend that I followed everything going on in this book.

I recently reread Middlegame in preparation for this release and discovered even more to love on that second time through. I have no doubt this will be the same and that’s right, I am already planning to reread this at some point.

This series is the type of epic, complex SFF that you have to be cautious not to get too mired down in the details. Yes, of course it is important to pay attention, but I wouldn’t take notes or anything.

Trust McGuire will deliver you to exactly where you need to be. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Nothing more is required of you.

Just know you may feel a little out of control from time to time, like it’s losing you. Stay the course. You’ll make it, you’ll love it. McGuire doesn’t just create a world in these books, she develops a whole new cosmology. It’s stunning.

I have no idea if there will be more books in this series, I certainly hope so. I definitely need more alchemical journyes in my life. Yes, please!

Thank you to the publisher, Tor and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I absolutely loved this. All the stars!!

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Review: In a Garden Burning Gold (Argyrosi #1) by Rory Power

In a Garden Burning Gold (Argyrosi, #1)In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


In a Garden Burning Gold is Rory Power’s Adult Fantasy debut and I would argue she has brought her own unique stamp to that space. We love to see it.

There’s no denying that Power has a wickedly delightful imagination and a beautiful style of writing. Additionally, in the YA space, I’ve loved her body horror and vivid imagery.

In a Garden Burning Gold is a complex story following twins, Rhea and Lexos. The twins are gifted with special powers and use those to help their father rule their small country.

The twins have two other siblings, Chrysanthi and Nitsos. These children also have unique talents of their own, but they’re not close to as powerful as Rhea and Lexos. Therefore they are but a footnote in their father’s eye.

Rhea controls the changing of the seasons, but in order to do so she must select a consort and ultimately end their life in order to switch from one season to the next. That’s a heavy assignment, as you can imagine.

Lexos controls the stars and tides. Together, Rhea and Lexos have always been each other’s main allies, but what happens when they are no longer on the same side?

As I mentioned above, this is a complex story. The world-building takes up a lot of time and I still don’t feel like I understand everything that was involved in all of the political maneuverings.

Lexos and Rhea are in separates places throughout most of the story and they are both interacting with numerous side characters. I had a difficult time keeping any of these characters straight.

Honestly, I was barely holding it together for the first 75% of the book. Around that point there’s a shocking twist that dropped me back in and didn’t let up.

Prior to that point however, it was just okay for me. It was pretty writing, I could see that it was a good story, but I personally didn’t feel connected. The point behind it all felt very elusive to me.

Fortunately, the experience really amped up towards the end. There were some startling revelations that I would love to explore further. Therefore, I will absolutely pick up the next book when it releases.

So, even though it may seem like I was underwhelmed by this, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. I think this is a solid start to a very complicated story. Power is a gifted writer and I trust that she is going to up the stakes even further in the next book.

Overall, I would recommend this to Fantasy Readers who enjoy lush world-building, slow burn, political and familial drama based stories. I know that even though this one didn’t capture me from the very start, that there are a lot of Readers out there who will be engaged with it from the very first chapter.

Thank you to the publisher, Del Rey Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to the sequel!

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Review: Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1)Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Black Sun slapped me in the face. I was not expecting to love this as much as I did. I expected to enjoy it, sure, but this absolutely transported me to another world.

This lush, epic Fantasy is inspired by civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas. I loved the incorporation of those aspects. It was like nothing I had ever read before.

Following multiple-POVs, Roanhorse was able to seamlessly transition from one perspective to the next without disrupting the flow of the narrative. I thought all the different angles were handled so well.

There’s an ancient prophecy that you get to watch coming to fruition right before your eyes, as all the puzzle pieces move into place just in time for a rare celestial event; a solar eclipse on the day of the winter solstice.

The Sun Priest, basically the highest religious position of this ancient land, has stated that this event will bring about an imbalance in the world.

As the story begins, you are introduced to the main characters, Serapio, Xiala, Naranpa and Okoa, who will play fundamental roles in this prophecy. They’re on the move, everyone is heading towards the holy city of Tova, where a great festival for the solstice will be held.

The tension builds at a nice steady pace over the course of the story, but as you approach the end, hold onto your hats, it feels like it is all going to explode. I was shocked an awed by it all.

I loved the level of intrigue, plotting, back-stabbing and danger that Roanhorse brought to this story. It’s multifaceted and fascinating.

Even though this is a complex story, set in a fully built-out world, it never felt overwhelming or info-dumpy. That’s a hard thing to do. To create a world like this, done this well, takes real skill. I doff my cap to Roanhorse.

I’m so excited to get my hands on the next book in this series and am extremely glad it is going to be releasing soon. This first book definitely ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and I don’t want to forget a thing!

This was one of the easiest 5-star ratings I have given this year. I am so happy I finally fit this one into my schedule. A complete delight!

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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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