Traitor to the Throne – Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands was a perky pony, galloping through the deserts, laughing; Traitor to the Throne is a river, a wide river slowly gathering earth from its shores, transporting boats with people, cattle and merchant goods to the final port. The book is so well-paced, maybe slow for some tastes, especially at the beginning, but it all taking me along in the current of the great river that cannot be stopped.

Traitor to the Throne brings along world building: a world that feels so real (it has always bothered me how much of a caricature the world of a very very very popular series is), myth and legend are seamlessly blended into the main story, faraway countries not only appear on the map, but gain goals and motivations of their own. I want more of this world. A trilogy set in Gamanix, please?! Sam’s adventures, please? More Xicha, if possible?

I’ve never much liked in fantasy books the oh-so-necessary, but oh-so-boring parts of training the hero. Hamilton solves this in a way that doesn’t stop either character building or the plot from moving on, by letting Amani to learn on the go, from the best of the best, by observing others actions, rather than words. She gets development, and training, but not in an obvious training-arc. I appreciate this so much!

New characters are introduced, some old ones return. The introduction to the Sultan bringing along the question of the moral ambiguity of a rebellion, which is rarely explored in our era of hundreds of rebellion stories. No doubts left, of course, by the end. But the Sultan is such a compelling character, am really glad Hamilton gave so much insight into him.

I ugly cried. I ugly cried at the end chapters, once and then once more, but here’s a gem of a character in the middle of the book, for whom I ugly-cried as well.

I hope in the next book Jin, will get more character development. I liked him a lot in book 1, but he seems sort of a douche by end of Traitor to the Throne, and his role as the love interest is not enough at this point. I hope another character, a purple haired someone, will get more spot-light and action and character development. I hope a certain beauty will be with us through till the end. I hope.. my I’ve got so many hopes and fears for book three!

I enjoyed the book immensely, even as it made me go back and reread Rebel of the Sands, while I was some hundred pages into Traitor to the Throne. Hamilton proved herself to be a very solid writer, one I’ll look forward to read more from.

Review originally published on Goodreads. Possibly I could do better, but these are the incoherent and raw thoughts I had, after I finished the book, tossed around all night, my mind restless.

Indie 52: Liberty Box by C.A. Cray

I was excited to read this book as the premise seemed interesting and look at the gorgeous cover, unfortunately I DNF at 36%.

Where do I start?

Liberty Box starts with a Trump-like megalomaniac business-man taking over the United States (the book published in 2015) and turning it into North Korea.

Which is not a bad idea, but it feels severely underdeveloped. To be honest; I don’t know if this book had an editor look it over, but if it had, then the editor has done great disservice to the author, by not pointing out the naive and unbelievable logic of the world, by not urging the author to develop the world and the characters further, to research more.

So, let me assume for a moment the role of an beta-reader/wannabe-editor, and point out a few things.

  • The prologue. Lose it. It details the background story of how the Trump-lookalike got to power, but for this book it would work much better if it would be shrouded in mystery and snippets of information would be given sparsely in the course of the main character Kate finding out this backstory. Readers love mystery, we want to have a puzzle, to keep us guessing. If you give out the solution to the puzzle on page one, then what are we supposed to look forward to?

  • The prologue. Replace it with one of Kate’s fuzzy memories, no explanation, nothing, just a powerful strange vision, that she herself doesn’t understand.

  • Will. Lose him. Sorry, but where does he work exactly, that he is able to casually hack the government servers of North Korea Republic of America? Give this hacking thing to Kate, but on a very very amateur level, make this her mistake, that brings the government running after her, while she still doesn’t know enough to realize the dangers of her activity.

  • Kate’s backstory. No, don’t give it all in chapter one. Just like the prologue, keep the reader guessing, what more is there.

  • New Estonia. As a citizen of khm.. current Estonia, I first laughed at this and thought it cool that the author knows my country. My laughs were silenced soon enough though. When spies from New Estonia got mentioned for example, pointing toward the tiny northern European country as an enemy. Really? I know many Estonian’s would proudly tell: we invented Skype! But there’s still only a million of us… We would not be of any threat to a country of the size of America. How did that happen, have the million of us taken over all of Europe and Asia? Make me believe! Do you mean Russia, perhaps? The arch-enemy of the states from the Cold War era? Here’s a thought, at the time of Cold War, it was Russia that was communist with a lovely twist, and America was the free world leader. Yep, go ahead, reverse the roles, just leave out small countries nobody has heard of before.

  • Republic of America. Only it sounds like a much smaller area has been North-Korea’nised, maybe one of the smaller states. I don’t know. The writing and the worlds logic is very naive, centers around the characters and the rest is empty or at best shrouded by the “fog of war”.

  • Iceland and Jackson. Jackson is half-american, comes to visit and is clueless about everything happening in the Republic of America or even how it’s happened, even if it did happen during his life time. Which I don’t believe, this would hint that there is no internet, that the world at large has some issues, when nobody notices that America has suddenly gone off the tracks. We notice. We know North Korea exists, even if we don’t know everything that is going on there. We might not know about some little country and it’s politics in the Bahamas, but trust me, America is very hard not to notice. How thick has the Iron Curtain be, for the rest of the world stay clueless in the 21st century? Or sometime in the future? Do tell me what’s wrong with the rest of the world? Do not insult the intelligence of the reader. An example from another indie author, that does have future USA as an dystopian setting and gets it right is The Raven Song, by I.A.Ashcroft. Highly recommend. Actually I expected a book like The Raven Song from Liberty Box.

  • Jackson and his visit. Agree that in Soviet Union kept tabs on visitors, so does North Korea, the latter tries to show everything is alright, the former thinking everyone is spy, more or less – a rude generalization on my side, but lets go with this for now. But trying to brainwash the visitor the moment he steps off the boat? No. They would be observing him, maybe try to brainwash him a lot later, when he actually has information, maybe try to keep him from leaving, make an accident happen to him.

  • Jackson, meets some dude off the boat, tells them the story of his life; Jackson meets some dude in the forest, while on the run, and babbles out all of his secrets. No! What’s wrong with him? Why does he talk so much? Again, stop giving out so much information on page one.

Was there something good?

I think yes, I liked Kate, she seemed charming and her part of the story was somewhat more believable (still underdeveloped), and could make a great dystopian action-adventure.

I’m sad, because maybe the author has developed her writing skills further in books two and three of the series, but I won’t be reading them without finishing the first one, and the first one is at this point not really readable. The book seems to have been written by a twelve year old, in the sense, that it’s written by someone who has not only written very little, but also read very little, has very little experience with words and structuring a story. I’m not a native English speaker, and if I can call out an American on the quality of the writing, then something is very wrong.

Review: Madeline Miller – The Song of Achilles

Good day,

long time no see. I’ve read books, I’ve typed mini-reviews into my Instagram captions, or in some cases have been shaken by a book so thoroughly that it left my brain unable to express, what it is that I found in the book.

I’m feeling conflicted about The Song of Achilles. I loved the writing style, I was not put off by the relatively relaxed pace, there are gems of scenes. So what is wrong?

Well, Patroclus is.

Patroclus in Homer’s Iliad is Achilles’ best friend and Miller has chosen him to be the 1st person narrator of the story. Great idea, why not?!

Except, she didn’t chose to develop him, give him character and reason. For the first half of the book I felt as if I was reading about Bella Swan (of Twilight fame), who has been whisked off to Ancient Greek and is wearing a mask of a gay male. Patroclus didn’t have anything else in his life other than his desire for Achilles, all his motivations are due to the passion, no hobbies, no interests, nothing, a big round zero.

Miller for some reason has opted out on the friendship part of Achilles and Patroclus’ relationship, or at least she doesn’t bother to show it. This was my first disappointment. It does come down to my belief of friendship being the foundation of a well working romantic relationship, and my general grievance is that far too many relationships in popular literature bank on the sexual passion (disguised as ‘true love’), denying characters mutual trust and respect, and strong friendships.

Once they hit the shores of Troy Patroclus is given a tiny bit of other activities, a life separate from Achilles’ bed. This only serves to show that in truth, Patroclus is a modern boy, a 21st century boy, his fears and concerns and values are that of a boy, who could be sitting in trenches today or maybe at most in WWI. One might argue that we don’t know how a boy might have been thinking during the siege of Troy, but neither does the modern way Patroclus thinks believable for events some 3000 years ago in a very different world.

When in the first half of the book Patroclus reminds me Twilight-Bella, then in the second half he produces the image of another female character that I don’t like (I’ve fumed about Vhalla in some previous posts). Suddenly Patroclus is holier than thou, the good, the kind, the just, juxtaposed against the increasing foolish pride of Achilles, the latter the downfall of them both.

At the end of the day, I’m confused why this book was written. What should I be taking away from this? I see that I’m supposed to feel something, but it falls flat.

The book is quite popular and is generally loved (even got an award), so maybe it’s overshadowed by my recent read Days without End by Sebastian Barry and the Oscar-winning film Moonlight, both of which touched me very deeply. I mention these two because they both share the LGBT theme with The Song of Achilles. I’ve also recently read The Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb, which has one of my favourite friendships (FitzChivalry and the Fool). The Song of Achilles pales in comparison and for me feels as if a fan-fiction’ish version of Patroclus has been inserted into every key event known of Achilles’ myth.

As it stands, I wanted to love this book, but it’s clouded by everything that is wrong with Patroclus. I’ve been a fan of Greek myth and legends since early teens, and I honestly don’t see reason for this re-telling and the only thing that saves the book is the writing and the last few chapters.

My rating for The Song of Achilles is 6 points out of 10.

**

You can meet me over on Instagram @bookandmoon

Or stalk my reading habits on Goodreads.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

I started Nevernight by Jay Kristoff with low expectations, thinking it would be a very different book, than it really is. Don’t we all just love pleasant surprises. I do. Especially in the fantasy-genre.

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The first evening I read Nevernight, I kind of didn’t like it, but I think that might have be due to my own tiredness and the first chapter being intentionally confusing, with Mia’s memories and Mia’s present interwined and both sporting a slightly distant and a style rich in metaphors. Both Mia’s memories and present also banking on shock-value, either to draw in some readers or to repel others.

As of chapter two however all clicked into place for me and I went on to enjoy Nevernight till the end.

Nevernight treats one with a well thought out world that mixes a setting reminiscent of lovely Venice and a political and lingual system like ancient Rome. The world and it’s history oft presented in humorous fourth-wall breaking footnotes (which I hear some readers found to be a chore, but were amusing for me).

Jay Kristoff plays delightfully with words and there was only one metaphor that got repeated (that I noticed) twice or trice. One about Mia’s temper. Luckily no more and the beautiful writing stays fresh throughout.

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When I think back on Nevernight, then one word to describe the book is: elegant. I had the UK-edition, which is one of the most beautifully crafted and designed book I have, and the amazing dust-jacket is only the tip of the iceberg of the design. But that is not all, Kristoff is elegant in his descriptions as well. In fact, my favourite chapter is one with Mia’s worst memories (nothing as cheesy as the ones Snape had), which utilises spaced text for great impact and it works simply so well.

Nevernight is amazingly well paced. I’ve seen mentions of it being slow for the first fifty pages, slow over all, only picking up at the last hundred pages. But when you think about it, this is how most books are these days, slowly adding to the excitement to get abruptly cut off with a cliffhanger so that you need to go and buy the next book. I felt Nevernight was paced just right, it never drove me into a frenzy, making me swallow the book whole just to find out what happens. Instead I enjoyed every minute reading every single word and passage, not skipping any detail due to rushing. And that I appreciate.

Nevernight could work well as a stand-alone, and is confident enough that it does not need to trick me into getting the next book with a cliffhanger in the end. Very solid. And again much appreciated.

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Something that I’ve noticed that often comes up in reviews is that: oh, this didn’t surprise me. Or I could see this or the other plot-point coming a long way. And then we deduce points from our enjoyment, because we think us cleverer than the author. I’m sure I’m not exactly guilt-free in this practice. So in Nevernight, there were things that I knew in advance, there were things that were hinted at with well-placed Chekhov’s Gun’s, which at times I only recognised after the gun had been shot, but the more I appreciated the deception. So no, I’m not cleverer than Jay Kristoff, and you know, I don’t even mind.

A few weeks ago I wrote how a romance-infested fantasy series made me doubt all I have ever loved about the genre. Well, Nevernight has restored my faith in fantasy genre. Jay Kristoff is one I’ll be looking out for more and he is now securely shining among my other favourite authors like Scott Lynch, Ursula K. Le Guin etc.

So. What else can I say? Maybe.. if you like the Gentelman Bastards series by Scott Lynch; or liked the amusing world building foot-notes in the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud; or have a thing for Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, then give Nevernight a go! Might be it’s just the book for you as well as it was for me.

My rating for Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is 9-10 points out of 10. Yes.

**

You can meet me over on Instagram @bookandmoon

Or stalk my reading habits on Goodreads.

Indie 52: Earth’s End, Water’s Wrath and Crystal Crowned by Elise Kova

I never published the very angry review I wrote about the third book in the series, Earth’s End. Possibly cause I calmed down a bit, when I started reading the fourth book and I kind of liked that one… in the beginning… until they meet again…

My biggest issue with the series is that, here we have Elise Kova creating a whole world, a very interesting one, creating many lovable side-characters, and then just wasting it all on romance, a love story of a life-time, with rest of the plot serving only towards the sugar coated ending. The focus on the romance is as bad as it was in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. And that is not even the only parallel with the space-fable.

At some point I realised that whatever is happening on screen, it doesn’t really matter. Nothing had any impact. At all. Beginning of book three Vhalla is racing to save her beloved, and enemies are trying to stop her, and of course she reaches her destination. No problem, wiping off specks of dust from her shoulder. And this is so with every other point of the plot, questions are raised for drama. Not very exciting to read about a fight or a rebellion if I ahead that it will not actually change anything.

Then there’s Vhalla, she is constantly described as brilliant by her admirers. I never like when writers do that, intelligence is one of the most trickiest things to fake. Even Hermione’s brilliance was set to shine against the backdrop of two teenage oafs. But it’s entirely a different thing to out-smart your peers in a school setting, compared to Vhalla besting seasoned warriors and war-leaders in tactics and strategy. Vhalla is not brilliantly intelligent.. everyone else is made stupid. How did the world turn at all, before she came along?

Vhalla also isn’t a very nice person. She’s also constantly snapping at her friends, screaming like a madwoman at everything that doesn’t suit her needs, obsessing over Aldrik, but the next moment playing the holy saint to bring together families and lovers and teach life to the younglings. She also expects a ton of respect, because she is the future empress. Half of book five stresses that so much I wanted to vomit. At some point there’s talk, how Vhalla is so wonderful, because she only always cared about Aldrik and not his throne. Why, girl, but you do act, like you care a lot about the throne and the title.

I think the book that I wanted, was Aldrik dying, Vhalla fighting the enemies of the empire, and finally ascending the throne of her own. Sure, books like these have been done before (Twelve Kingdoms is a good example), but it would have been far more satisfying than the happy ending that Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala never got, but never was out of reach for Aldrik and Vhalla. In coming episodes VI, V and VI.

This whole series made me sad and mad. The first book was nice and showed a lot of promise, but after that… I only liked the first half of book four, cause there was some world development and Vhalla and Aldrik were separated.

Usually a good fantasy read makes me excited for more fantasy, more so, makes me excited to pick up developing my own little world and characters. This series worked the opposite effect, making me doubt all that I know, all good that I have experienced in other fantasy books.

My ratings for the series last three books:

Earth’s End 5 out 10.

Water’s Wrath 6 out of 10

Crystal Crowned n/a as I mostly just skipped the book.

Indie 52: Fire Falling by Elise Kova

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It’s like Akatsuki no Yona (anime, I’ve not read the manga), except it isn’t.

It’s like Juuni Kokuki (both anime & light novels, English title: Twelve Kingdoms), except it isn’t.

I find sometimes I get vibes of other books or in this case a visual medium, but as long as those connections are on the positive side, it’s all good. I guess it comes down to, oh, if you liked this one, then maybe you’d enjoy that one.

I actually felt that the parallel between anime (by extension manga and light-novels) and Elise Kova’s writing style applied in more than one case, both in the lighthearted comic relief scenes, the romance and even action. In fact this is a phenomena I’m really fascinated about, I make a sport out of observing how other story-telling mediums: film, comic-books, anime and video-games, influence the fantasy genre today.

Funny story, I happened to browse Elise Kova’s homepage before I even started her series, and she mentions somewhere, that the inspiration for the dark prince, Aldrik, and the golden prince, Baldair, came from the image of Marvel universe Loki and Thor. So for one and a half book I couldn’t see Aldrik any different than Loki in the film and was puzzled why Vhalla considers him handsome.

But then our brave characters of the Air Awakens world reached the town of Crossroads, which being part of the Western dominance of the empire seemed to be heavily inspired by Japan despite it’s location in the middle of the desert, and then it clicked into place and I thought to myself: oh, so he looks like a handsome Japanese with his black eyes and pasty pale skin? Okay, now that makes sense.

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While Air Awakens, the first book in the five book series, was introductory, Fire Falling works through a fair distance of the world, but mostly focuses on character development via training (that any rags to chosen one main character needs, however little I like this aspect) and.. romance.

Insta-love that is dominant in YA is not very popular, at least not among myself and my bookish friends, “burn-in-hell” points added if there’s a love-triangle. I haven’t read many of currently popular fantasy YA that include romance (Maas, Bardugo etc), so I don’t know how they handle the topic of love. I have however watched a fair amount of anime, both fantasy, pure romance, fantasy including romance and Elise Kova’s approach resembles very much the style of anime. She started with it already in Air Awakens and hones her skills further in Fire Falling.

She gives us little snippets of cute moments, but then blocking the lovers by their own decisions, sleep, other characters; spicing up drama with confusion and misunderstandings, personal space invasions, more misunderstandings, bad communication skills etc. While it was not really a love triangle, but at some point I wished Vhalla would just get on and sleep with a friendly man who clearly cared for her and admired her, because it felt they were not really getting anywhere with the prince and it was tiring.

“I thought everything was obvious to you,” he said softly, astounded at her confusion. “Not just about Elecia, but-” Aldrik ran a hand across his hair, noticing the mess she’d made in the back earlier with a small smile, “- with everything. I was certain that, with how I acted toward only you, you knew.”

He says that!

I wanted to smack the dark prince in the head and ask how was she supposed to know, when you were acting full-on tsundere all the time?! Maybe books and anime handle romance in this way, to annoy the hell out of the audience and make them see that communication is the key to any relationship?

Oh, well, it was all very cute and fluffy, a few lighthearted moments, before we get a glimpse of the plot close to the end of the book, which by the way ends with a major dark and grimy cliffhanger that places a dilemma before me.

I had planned to take a little break and read some other author (preferably literary fiction), before I ‘d continue with this series, however I am curious, which direction the cliffhanger leads us, at the same time dreading it taking the route of more drama (of the Harry-in-OotP calibre), before there’s a thin slice of plot again at the end of the book three.

In conclusion I feel Fire Falling is well written, the world is interesting and the characters continue to grow on me, but I kind of wish it had felt a little more like a fantasy novel and a little less like a romance novel.

I would rate Fire Falling by Elise Kova with 7 out of 10 points.

**

You can meet me over on Instagram @bookandmoon

Or stalk my reading habits on Goodreads.

Indie 52: Air Awakens by Elise Kova

This review is brought to you by @bookandmoon and is likely not spoiler free. You have been warned.

Ah, yea, sorry about the pic, I read Air Awakens on kindle and my kindle is old-generation and doesn't have colorful cover-pages like my phone does. Also, isn't the cactus just adorable?
Ah, yea, sorry about the pic, I read Air Awakens on kindle and my kindle is old-generation and doesn’t have colorful cover-pages like my phone does. Also, isn’t the cactus just adorable?

My initial thoughts were that Air Awakens resembles the The Magician’s Guild (The Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canvan), except it really doesn’t. Yes the sorcerer-folk in Air Awakens wear black, as do the magicians in The Magician’s Guild. And yes, Vhalla’s teacher/heartthrob is older than she is, like Akkarin is senior to Sonea.

But that’s pretty much were the similarities end. The magic systems are totally different, Air Awakens series has one based on the elements for example, the magicians of Canavan are the ruling class of their world, while the sorcerers in the Solaris empire are feared and hated, but still used for the needs of the empire.

Air Awakens is plot-wise more introductory, the world and the people inhabiting it are expanded upon gradually, same with magic that Vhalla discovers in herself and other people. Elise Kova gives us time to get to know both main-characters with all their flaws. She’s very slowly bringing closer Vhalla and Aldrik, although they never really get together as things happen and insecurities and fears flare up the night-sky, and there is a kiss in the book, but it’s not the one I wanted.

One thing that I really liked how Elise Kova pays attention to physical detail. Remember how in the Potter-series it’s told how sometimes kids would be thrown out of the window on a higher floor, to make their magic manifest. It’s always glossed over in the ugly-american-funniest-homevideos way, in a cartoon’ish way that implies that pain is not felt.

Yeah, sure, Harry gets a fair beating in every book and so do his friends, but it’s all censored. Now, Vhalla has the luck of falling from a high place, and that has consequences, yes, she’s fixed as soon as possible, but her bones are broken, she’s covered in an intricate pattern of blue, purple, yellow and green as her bruises heal for weeks to come.

The same detail applies elsewhere and what I really appreciate is that Elise Kova decided to talk about post-traumatic syndrome, about the uglyness of war and killing, and how one cannot be the same after.

Also, the Tower takes care of its own. That was so awesome! And the side-characters Daniel and Craig made me laugh, while times were hard upon poor Vhalla. Aldrik, the dark prince, and Baldair, the golden prince, were a wonderful pair of siblings  – I want a brother like Baldair!

I found Air Awakens to be an enjoyable read and Elise Kova an able fantasy writer, with excellent character and world-building skills.

I would rate Air Awakens by Elise Kova with 8 out of 10 points.

**

You can meet me over on Instagram @bookandmoon

Or stalk my reading habits on Goodreads.

Indie 52: Stormshadow by Stephanie A. Cain

Stormshadow is a fantasy novel, published by indie author Stephanie A.Cain in 2014. Available on Amazon as eBook and paperback.

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I enjoyed this book so much, that once I was done reading it on the kindle, I went on Amazon, and ordered a physical copy. Totally worth it to have these characters and this world closer to me and to support the author.

I found the world interesting, nothing over the top or too grimy, with a well thought out and logical history. My favourite small detail was the description of playing cards and the beginning of the game. I kind of always really like it, when authors bother to add this kind of detail, to add color to their worlds.

The plot perhaps does have a few hiccups or maybe I just missed it, when a particular oft-mentioned thing happened. I’m also not entirely sure about the side-love-story of the privateer and her suitor. In some ways it seems like it’s added because these two characters are close to the authors heart (maybe there are other stories I don’t know about?), on the other hand they do give depth to the main characters.

The story is told from princess Azmei’s and a silk-trader’s Orya’s point of view. And Azmei is wonderful, I cannot else but love her. She fences, she reads books, she’s loyal, she observes people, realizes when she’s made a mistake. Nothing about spoiled brat here, honest. Her interactions with Orya and her plump prince Vistaren are delightful to read.

Now, if you’ve read the prequel-novella Stormsinger before reading Stormshadow, there will be something the reader will know about Vistaren, that Azmei does not know. And knowing this secret, makes observing the two so much more interesting!

The other POV-character Orya, comes off as fatally arrogant, but at the same time caring regarding her younger brother, smart and bad-ass at the same time, a deceiver and flatterer. I’ve realized lately how much we praise books that have sudden surprises and unexpected plot turns and disregard books that are slightly predictable. With Orya, it’s clear from the beginning what or who she is, but again this time it made it much more interesting to follow her progress, to pay attention to the small details.

With Orya, comes a delightful side character Wenda, who might have been my favorite of all side-characters. That she too had a secret, was not a surprise for me, but I still liked her and was looking forward to the reveal.

If you’re looking for diversity in your fantasy, then Stormshadow has it. There’s people whose skin color is described in various tones of brown (my guess is, they bear a resemblance to the Semitic people of our world), there’s a plump prince, a gay character, characters with a physical disabilities, a character that is probably autistic. And it’s all so natural and works so well.

As way of recommendation, then if you liked world and character building in Rebel of Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, then you can give Stormshadow a go.

My rating for Stormshadow by Stephanie A. Cain is 9 out of 10.

**

You can meet me over on Instagram @bookandmoon

Or stalk my reading habits on Goodreads.

 

My 2016 in reading

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHad some spare time and did a little overview of my reading habits in 2016. I set myself the goal of reading 60 books in the beginning of the year and read 65 books, a total of 22846 pages. I did aim for that over-achiever medal, I truly did! In a way though, my number of books read would be bigger if I had counted every single volume of the 27-volume manga I read, but since manga as a pictured based book reads much faster than a traditional text-based book, I’ve opted to count the manga as two books.

I read in both my mother-tongue Estonian and English, this year about 16% more in English. This year was the first time I’ve discovered indie authors, and while their share this year was significantly smaller than that of books published by traditional means, this door is now open and my kindle holds several indie books, mostly in fantasy genre, to read this year.

genreOf genre’s I’ve read fantasy (counting here also YA fantasy, urban fantasy etc) more than other genres, although literary fiction gets it’s second spot only by 5 books less. The most obscure book was a small collection of Sami myths and legends, which I bought during my trip to Lapland in northern Finland.

While fantasy was the most read genre, it did not fare as well in my favourites, where literary fiction wins by far, especially if writing wise I consider the two dystopian books to be literary fiction and not sci-fi. I’ve listed my favourite reads in no particular order below:

The Cunning Man, by Robertson Davies. Davies is my favourite author, even if I haven’t read all of his books (I’m trying to spread out the enjoyment), so his last book from the unfinished Toronto trilogy, was for me nothing short of fantastic.

The Tobacconist, by Robert Seethaler. Original title in German is Der Trafikant, this is a short and very powerful book, that in it’s first half amused me, and in it’s second half made me cry.

Eclipse, by John Banville. Poetic writing and a slow start, but so rewarding.

Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel. A thoughtful and elegant book about the end of the world and being human, being alive.

When God was a Rabbit, by Sarah Winman. So much warmth in the life of an eccentric family in Southern England, subtly handling a few serious problems.

Memory of Water, by Emmi Itäranta. Original Finnish title: Teemasterin kirja. Second book that sort of could be labelled as dystopian, but in it’s own thoughtful way using beautiful writing tells the story of a world in which water is the most expensive resource.

The Kitchen God’s Wife, by Amy Tan. My first read from Amy Tan about the life of a Chinese woman during the tumultuous years of 20th century, made me go online and order two of her other books, which I hopefully will read this year.

Rebel of Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton. A quick-paced fantasy novel, that mixes Middle East like desert with Western-like gun-action. I went in blind and enjoyed it quite much.

Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman. I’m a fan of well-thought out world building, and Seraphina delivers. The story is more of a inner journey written in beautiful language.

The Outcast, by Sadie Jones. This book deals with some serious themes, suicide, parents death, self-harm, domestic violence, and it all could be horrible to read about. These things could be written about in a way to make the reader disgusted, but Jones’ writing is soft, full of hope.

 

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You can meet me over on Instagram @bookandmoon

Or stalk my reading habits on Goodreads.