Friday, September 20, 2019

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

Title: The Rook
Author: Daniel O'Malley
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy
Series: The Checquy Files #1

Hardcover, 496 pages

Publication: January 11, 2012 by Ace

Source: Personal Library.


"The body you are wearing used to be mine." So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own.

In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.

The Rook has been on my TBR pile since 2012! The shame. I found out STARZ network was developing a series adaptation of the novel, which was released late last month. The trailer looked promising and rekindled my interest in starting the novel. The Rook takes place in modern-day London and follows a Rook agent named Myfanwy Thomas…except Myfanwy doesn’t know who she really is. When the book opens, readers finds Myfanwy sprawled out on the concreate covered in blood with the rain pouring down on her and dead bodies riddled around her. Turns out Myfanwy is part of the last paranormal agency in London, an agency sworn to protect citizens against things that go bump in the night. I love books that are centered around secret organization!

While trying to figure out who she is and who she needs to become, Myfanwy is caught between ghost-alien cases, political board meetings, Shady German shape-shifters and hitmen at every corner. She’s trying to fake her way through every obstacle while concealing the fact that she has amnesia and has zero recollection of her past life. The Rook cover looks quite official and the tone of the beginning of book was grim with a no-nonsense vibe to it. Which was why Myfanwy's light-hearted humorous attitude and approach to everything was a welcome surprised. It was the perfect balance to all the unlucky, disgusting and downright horrible things she had to endure. I really like Myfanwy, her comical nature made her oblivious sometimes but other than that she’s quite brilliant, like a modern-day supernatural Nancy Drew.
I enjoyed The Rook much more than I thought I would and am looking forward to seeing more of the chequy.
Has anyone checked out Starz’s The Rook? If so, please do let me know what you think! I’m interested in seeing Gestalt!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

Title: Blood Song
Author: Anthony Ryan
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Raven's Shadow # 1

Publication: January 2, 2012 by Ace

Source: Borrowed from the library.

Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order—a caste devoted to battle. Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate and dangerous life of a warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the Unified Realm—and Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright knows no bounds. Even his cherished memories of his mother are soon challenged by what he learns within the Order. But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the Realm but the world.

The Raven’s Shadow series has many high praises and is known as one of the best fantasy series around. So, of course I wanted to know what the fuss was all about. I listened to the audiobook of Blood Song and it took me a couple of runs before I got into the story. The novel follows the journey of Vaelin Al Sorna, who was abandoned to The Sixth Order (monastery-like) at a young age to adulthood, where he began to acquire a notorious reputation throughout the entire realm as a skilled warrior.

The narrator of Vaelin Al Sorna did a wonderful job in bringing the character to life. I thought his voice was very pleasant and it suited the setting. A good portion of the novel took place in The Sixth Order, where Sorna and the other young men were trained and tested to become warriors of the realm. This by far was the most interesting part of the novel, seeing what the young men went through and how their relationship formed over the duration of their stay within the order. Then halfway through the novel, Sorna and a few of his brother departed the order, Sorna became the King’s hand…and that’s where things got messy, confusing, and slightly boring.

The story in my opinion morphed into another story that left me uninterested and withdrawn. Even as I write this review, I cannot recall much of what happened after Sorna left the order. I remember he was trying to find out who’s was trying to kill him and him trying to save Sister Clara (was that her name?). That’s pretty much it.

Blood Song was a hit and miss for me. I enjoyed the first portion of the novel, but the second half, not so much. The world building and characters could have been better developed in my opinion because as the story progressed, I felt as if the author spent more time on creating plot twists than anything else. I thought the writing was well-done, and everything flowed nicely but sadly everything else fell short in comparison. With that said, while I enjoyed some of it, I won’t be continuing with the series.

Monday, September 02, 2019

The Passengers by John Marrs

Title: The Passengers
Author: John Marrs
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 352 pages
Publication: August 27, 2019 by Berkley

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Just as self-driving cars become the trusted, safer norm, eight people find themselves in this terrifying situation, including a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man.

From cameras hidden in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. But the public will show their true colors when they are asked, "Which of these people should we save?...And who should we kill first?"
I hope I’m not being too presumptuous by saying that driver-less vehicles are the future. We already see some aspect of it in the Google and Tesla cars. In Marrs’s latest thriller, The Passengers, Marrs paints a world where the emergence of autonomous vehicles are mandatory and the new norm. Say goodbye to human-error accident, traffic, and fuel consumption to name a few. Manufacturers and The Government assured the citizens that the driver-less cars are extremely safe and un-hackable. All good, right? Nope. The opening chapters shows eight hijacked autonomous vehicles with everything televised and broadcast all around the world. Giving the everyday citizens the right to be judge, jury and executioner on which passengers lives or dies.

The Passengers is my first Marrs novel and I must say, I am beyond impressed. While the concept and highly plausible potential of hacking technology isn’t quite new, Marrs took the idea and created an incredible and engaging plot that had me at the edge of my seat the entire time. I absolutely loved the writing and formatting of the book. Marrs timed and executed the chapters and passengers’ revelations perfectly. Marrs ended each chapter with just the right amount of information and detail to entice the reader guaranteeing that they’d continue along with the story. I know I was. I kept telling myself ‘just one more chapter…’. Readers were treated to various point-of-views, alternating chapters between the passengers and jury member, Libby. I’m usually not a big fan of multiple POVs but in this case, it worked well. I felt like I was getting to know each and every character intimately, their feelings and emotion so palpable they lept off the pages. Definitely a character driven novel, we delved deep into human behaviors.

On top of the driver-less vehicles, social media played a significant role in the story. In this day and age, the majority of the world is on some sort of social media platform or another. There isn’t a second that goes by when someone isnt’ sharing or exposing some part of theirs or others’ lives. Everyone has an opinion for everything, even if it’s unsolicited. What’s crazy and scary about Marr’s novel is that it’s all so freaking plausible. Most technology is indeed hackable but combine that with social media…and it’s an entirely different beast. In The passengers, strangers world-wide chimed on the fate of the passengers, making judgments, and deciding who lived or died based on basic thread thin facts. Sounds familiar right? Marrs did an excellent job at capturing that real world reality. 

All in all, I really enjoyed The Passengers. It is without a doubt a masterly well-written thriller. I call it now, The Passengers is going to get an adaptation some time in the near future! I highly recommend The Passengers, it was unputdownable! I can’t believe I haven’t read anything else by Marrs but I plan to remedy that soon.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

[Spotlight] The Passengers by John Marrs

Technology has been advancing at the speed of light, so the concept of autonomous vehicles is something we're already familiar with (hello, Google cars). Marrs's newest release, The Passengers which hits shelves today takes thats concept to another level with the autonomous vehicles becoming  mandatory countrywide. What would you do if your driver-less vehicles was hijacked with you in it? Or what would you do if you were forced to make a decision whether someone lived or died? 

To learn more about The Passengers and the author, check out the synopsis and bio below!

Stay tuned, for my review this week. The stakes are high and the revelations shocking. Definitely a book you don't want to miss!

Publication August 27, 2019 by Berkley
You're riding in your self-driving car when suddenly the doors lock, the route changes and you have lost all control. Then, a mysterious voice tells you, "You are going to die."

Just as self-driving cars become the trusted, safer norm, eight people find themselves in this terrifying situation, including a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man.

From cameras hidden in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. But the public will show their true colors when they are asked, "Which of these people should we save?...And who should we kill first?"


via author's website
John Marrs is the author of The One, The Good Samaritan, When You Disappeared, Her Last Move and Welcome to Wherever You Are.

A former freelance journalist based in London, England, he spent twenty-five years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines until becoming a full-time author in 2018.

He has written for publications including the Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online, Total Film, Huffington Post, Empire, Q, GT, the Independent, S Magazine and Company.

His books have been translated into twenty different languages and The One is soon to be a major new Netflix series.*
*Via Author's Goodreads
Connect with John|Website|Twitter|Goodreads|Facebook|

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Review: The Gossamer Mage by Julie E. Czerneda

Title: The Gossamer Mage
Author: Julie E. Czerneda
Genre: Fantasy
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 400 pages
Publication: August 6, 2019 by Daw

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

Only in Tananen do people worship a single deity: the Deathless Goddess. Only in this small, forbidden realm are there those haunted by words of no language known to woman or man. The words are Her Gift, and they summon magic.

Mage scribes learn to write Her words as intentions: spells to make beasts or plants, designed to any purpose. If an intention is flawed, what the mage creates is a gossamer: a magical creature as wild and free as it is costly for the mage.

For Her Gift comes at a steep price. Each successful intention ages a mage until they dare no more. But her magic demands to be used; the Deathless Goddess will take her fee, and mages will die.

To end this terrible toll, the greatest mage in Tananen vows to find and destroy Her. He has yet to learn She is all that protects Tananen from what waits outside. And all that keeps magic alive.

For decades we’ve seen many mages in literature; from the boy who lived Harry Potter, fan favorite mage-detective Harry Dresden, to the all powerful Gandulf. In The Gossamer Mage, Czerneda introduces reader to a new kind of mage, one whom is wholly atypical, Maleonarial, an all-powerful mage that has brought countless gossamers to life in the name of the Deathless Goddess.

In the world of Tananen, those chosen by the Deathless Goddess are able to wield unimaginable magic. Mages have the ability to bring forth magic though the mechanism of pen and paper while  Hold Daughter have the ability to hear the goddess voice and discern magic by auditory means. In The Gossamer Mage, readers follow Maleonarial and Hold Daughter, Kait as they try to defeat an evil that is plaguing their land.

I thought the world building was very different and fascinating. Tananen is ruled by the Deathless Goddess and while many believe that serving her is an honor and blessing, those who are actually chosen know the insidious truth. There’s a reason why she’s called the Deathless Goddess. Like most things in life, there’s a price to pay when you’re given a gift. In the case of mages, they age prematurely depending on the amount of magic they use. Hold Daughters are chosen randomly as the goddess’ designate for mission, forfeiting their life when called upon.

There were many characters and many narratives going on simultaneously in The Gossamer Mage. The main two is that of Maleonarial and Kait, whom I enjoyed reading from. I loved the dual point-of-view and seeing how each differed in serving the Deathless Goddess. The other supporting characters were also well-developed and wrapped up the ensemble nicely giving an extra depth to the world. I do want to add one small caution for future readers, as with most fantasy, the characters have somewhat hard to pronounce names. Since we are dealing with mages and daughters…everyone’s name ended in either -onarial (mage) or -ealyon (hold daughter) which as you can see, be quite confusing.

The writing itself was different and from other reviews, they’ve noticed as well.Census says you’ll either like it or hate it. I’ll be honest it was difficult in the beginning. At a glance, one would think that there was no structure. There were no chapters and it had odd breaks between paragraphs changing from one point-of-view to another without a clear transition. I initially thought it was choppy and clunky but as I went further into the book, I found myself assimilating to Czerneda’s writing style. Once that happened I found myself truly enjoying the plot more and really immerse into the world. With that said, it’d be best to check out a snippet or sample before purchasing and reading.

All in all, I gotta say I enjoyed this book more than I anticipated. It started off slow and confusing to the point that I almost DNF-ed it but I’m so glad I didn’t. The book is worth pushing through the uncertain beginning for a truly magical world and satisfying ending. If you’re looking for a unique and fresh take on mages and out-of-box fantasy, I highly recommend checking out The Gossamer Mage.