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Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko JeanEmpress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 6th November 2018
Publisher: Gollancz
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren't hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

Oh, this was a juicy fantasy book! I went into this expecting it to focus on the action during the competition where the future empress has to beat four challenging rooms, but it was so much more than that. The world building in Empress of All Seasons was excellent and was truly the most gripping part of the book. I loved it.

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The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

The Alloy of Law by Brandon SandersonThe Alloy of Law Series: Mistborn #4
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: November 10, 2011
Publisher: Gollancz
Source: Bought
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Centuries after the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is on the verge of modernity - railroads, electric street lights, and skyscrapers. Waxillium Ladrian can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After 20 years in the dusty Roughs, in the city of Elendel, the new head of a noble house may need to keep his guns.

Since The Alloy of Law is sigificantly smaller that Sanderson’s other books, it’s understandable that it feltlacking in some places. There wasn’t as much going on, which meant there wasn’t enough build up or development for me, which meant I didn’t spend enough time with the characters to really fall in love with them. That said, I still really enjoyed the book, and I’m so happy that Sanderson is continuing to write in the Mistborn world. Continue reading

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott LynchRed Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
Series: Gentleman Bastard #2
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: March 12, 2009
Publisher: Gollancz
Source: Bought
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Thief and con-man extraordinaire, Locke Lamora, and the ever lethal Jean Tannen have fled their home city and the wreckage of their lives. But they can't run forever and when they stop they decide to head for the richest, and most difficult, target on the horizon. The city state of Tal Verarr. And the Sinspire.

The Sinspire is the ultimate gambling house. No-one has stolen so much as a single coin from it and lived. It's the sort of challenge Locke simply can't resist...

...but Locke's perfect crime is going to have to wait.

Someone else in Tal Verarr wants the Gentleman Bastards' expertise and is quite prepared to kill them to get it. Before long, Locke and Jean find themselves engaged in piracy. Fine work for thieves who don't know one end of a galley from another.

After the masterpiece that was The Lies of Locke Lamora, I wasn’t expecting this sequel to top it. Sequels rarely do, especially when the first book is just so flawless that nothing can improve it. And that’s probably the best way to go into Red Seas Under Red Skies. I loved it. I wasn’t underwhelmed. I didn’t expect too much. It’s simply a fantastic fantasy book about people who are essentially ex-crime lords and, oh, some women who could technically be referred to as PIRATES. Continue reading

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott LynchThe Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Series: Gentleman Bastard #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: February 1, 2007
Publisher: Gollancz
Source: Bought
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

An orphan's life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.

A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected "family" of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld's most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi's most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr's underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying...

The Lies of Locke Lamora is amazing. Freakin’ brilliant. I think it deserves 100x more attention than it is getting right now. With an easy but engaging writing style, lovable characters, and fantastic world-building, you can’t really go wrong. Continue reading

Mini Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Mini Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: June 12, 2008
Publisher: Gollancz
Source: Gift
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: one-star

Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet's hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

I really didn’t like this book. The first fifty or so pages were enjoyable and I was intrigued by the “mystery”of the creatures and the red-headed guy, but then the book switched to flashbacks/having the characters tell a story. The main character, Kvothe (I think), was insufferable. He was amazing at everything he did, was practically worshipped by other characters, and he was oh-so-unique with his quirkiness and his red hair. He did NOT deserve a ~600 page novel about him. In fact, he barely deserves this 90-word review.