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The Liar's Key (Red Queen's War, Book 2)
The Liar's Key (Red Queen's War, Book 2)
by Mark Lawrence
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 22 Jun. 2015
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Tremendous adventure, laugh-out-loud banter, captivating magic and plot, written in Mark Lawrence’s beautiful and elegant trademark prose. I would call The Liar’s Key his lightest, funniest and most entertaining book so far. Amazing.


The Salt Road
The Salt Road
by Jane Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 16 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: The Salt Road (Paperback)
I still remember that moment a few weeks back, my train approaching London King’s Cross Station, me closing the book around a hundred pages in and exiting the train carriage onto the platform. That was the moment, when out of nowhere a short dialogue from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings occurred to me, Frodo Baggins asking Sam Gamgee after his first encounter with the elves:

“’Do you like them still, now you have had a closer view?’

They seem a bit above my likes and dislikes, so to speak,’ answered Sam slowly.”"

And there and then I realised, this is exactly how I felt about The Salt Road.

Jane Johnson, as a writer, is well above my likes and dislikes. But then again, what was I expecting?
She’s been writing since childhood, is a publishing director at HarperCollins, published the works of J. R. R. Tolkien during the 1980s and 1990s and works together with authors, such as George RR Martin, Sam Bourne, Raymond E Feist, Robin Hobb, Tom Knox, Dean Koontz, Mark Lawrence, Stuart MacBride, and Joe Abercrombie. And by no accident.

I found The Salt Road not just very well written, the language skilfully bringing to life the Sahara desert and Morocco, where this historical novel is set, but also thoroughly researched, the author’s personal experiences giving the descriptions a depth that firmly transports the reader into another world. The harsh scenery she paints hooks you not just with its many perils, but it also captures the awe that make so many people fall in love with it.

It is a tale of two women, from two different worlds and times, effortlessly and masterfully woven together around a mysterious amulet. Just like all important things in life, its story starts from the heart and moves wider and wider still, introducing us to flavours of exotic cultures, the life and history of its peoples, twirling their enchanting and colourful world around us, only to eventually bring us back to where it has all started, the heart.


Lady of the Helm (The Bloodline Trilogy Book 1)
Lady of the Helm (The Bloodline Trilogy Book 1)
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good start to the trilogy, 9 Nov. 2014
The first book of the Bloodline Trilogy has a brilliantly thought-out plot and a good number of solid female characters in various roles - sad to say, somewhat of a rare treat in epic fantasy. The world-building is carefully developed and integrated into the story, as it gets introduced to us little by little through the characters' eyes and dialogues.

The fairly large cast of characters includes races that are reminiscent of Tolkien's works but we also meet various creatures from the classical Greek mythology. Both the heroes and the villains are well-layered and are crafted with believable motivations and background stories.

The story-telling itself is dynamically done, waving together the various story-lines at speed, frequently surprising the reader with unexpected twists and turns. A good start to the trilogy.


Hopeless, Maine Volume 2: Inheritance
Hopeless, Maine Volume 2: Inheritance
by Nimue Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 23 Oct. 2014
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"Once upon a time, we fought demons together.
Now we are older, wiser.
We give our demons different names.
And no names at all.

This is not a story about growing up.
It is a story about thinking you had grown up already.
And finding it wasn't that simple after all."

Hopeless, Maine, Inheritance felt a lot like a dream. It pulled me into its world greedily, keeping me under its quirky, fascinating spell until I reached the last page and beyond. The style of storytelling was most intriguing. The pictures, the amazing little details, the mood like a nameless shadow rising from the pages often overtook the role of the words where those left off, connecting the scenes and revealing more than the writing alone would have been capable of.

There is a beautiful sadness leaking from the book, resonating the loss of love, as those close to your heart one way or the other disappear from your life and the chilling ache that creeps up on you in the silence they leave behind. The story paints a reflection of our own world, a curious place crawling with mysteries, one we cannot leave but are destined to keep searching for answers, trying to make sense of the ones we're given, hoping they don't conceal meanings we feared.

Despite the grim events there is a touch of warmness carefully hidden behind the interiors, it trickles through the spontaneous smiles and the mischievous dark humour. It unites us with the characters in the hope, that we can somehow make all that we've been given better, that happiness is not beyond reach and finding our ways through the many hardships of life isn't, after all, entirely hopeless.


Prince of Fools (Red Queen's War, Book 1)
Prince of Fools (Red Queen's War, Book 1)
by Mark Lawrence
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, as always, 5 Jun. 2014
As a fan of the Broken Empire series I started Prince of Fools with some mild apprehension. I love the way Mark Lawrence writes, but other people, who already read the book, often used the word `different' to describe it and I didn't like different. I wanted the same, whatever this particular blend was I previously liked so much.

I opened the book and got different. It was a great story, that I started to enjoy from the first moment and with a definite `Mark Lawrence-ness' quietly rumbling deep down at its core, but it left me wondering if the magic will somehow once again reach out of the pages and stun me into falling head over crazy, as before.

And soon enough the book twisted and turned, it changed, considered, conspired until it accomplished its aim and I was utterly captured, the prose overwriting my concepts on beautiful, heart stolen away giggle by giggle, line by line, opened with a secret key, cradling me until the dark caressed my daylights into nights.

At the same time Prince Jalan Kendeth, third son of the Red Queen`s third son, became just as trapped in the legendary Snorri ver Snagason`s eloquent tales, only to find them turning into cold reality around him that would melt him, freeze him, hammer him into a destiny written by a blood-soaked game played behind hidden veils, drawing their lives toward a single point and time upon which a dream may wake from blood and sacrifice.

I found this book a lot more colourful than the first three, every location of the journey painted with attentive, precise strokes of a thousand shades, characters, interactions, even movements felt more vivid, described in a way that leaks the words into pictures, fiction swallowing your reality, opening a door you willingly enter, forgetting your body far behind.

Closing it left me with one of those peculiar moods that you might experience after listening to a captivating melody or watching a sunset. Not something you want to discuss straight away, but preferring to stay quiet, smiling, enjoying and preserving the feelings it created inside.

And now, that I`m ready to speak, my only fear is that I might not find the right words to tell just how much I loved it.


Sleeping Beauty: A Broken Empire short story - a Jorg adventure that sits between King of Thorns and Emperor of Thorns, inspired by a well known fairytale. (The Broken Empire)
Sleeping Beauty: A Broken Empire short story - a Jorg adventure that sits between King of Thorns and Emperor of Thorns, inspired by a well known fairytale. (The Broken Empire)
Price: £0.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable, 18 May 2014
Dark, witty prose à la Mark Lawrence with careful hints of fairy tale elements and more of Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath. Bring it on!


Hopeless, Maine Volume 1: Personal Demons
Hopeless, Maine Volume 1: Personal Demons
by Tom Brown
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly beautiful, 18 Jan. 2014
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I can't recall ever starting to read a book with a nice cup of tea, with rose scented candles flickering on the table and soft Celtic melodies playing in the background. But there was something about this cover. A hint of magic as I touched it.

Hauntingly beautiful, a friend said once, which is all true, although you don't truly understand the meaning of these words until you let the book open you and whisper its dark, adorable little secrets inside. Don't let the enchanting drawings deceive you, there are wild powers at work here with unpredictable side-effects. Forces that blew me back in time, into being a little girl again, someone I have forgotten long ago. It was a time when the most important things of my days were to be read to by my great-grandmother, to let my fantasy open its wings and take me to lands I created and beyond.

As it happened, I grew up too fast, leaving the little girl behind on one of these mysterious, far-away lands.

And so tonight, I smiled and cried at the same time as I was taken back and found, that she was still there.


Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 3)
Emperor of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 3)
by Mark Lawrence
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.90

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful ending to my favourite book series, 6 Jan. 2014
In the end it came to one last game of life and death. Colours of sixty-four squares alternated between light and dark, but every move was painted sharper, every piece was coated brighter, than ever before.

Gentle harmonies lulled me into an uneasy dream, softening my heart with beauty and laughter, closing my eyes to the sense of dread creeping up on me. And so I became an easy prey in a trap, as the terror moved in, making me grip the book tight enough for my nails to leave a script of their own, drawing a calligraphy of pain and fear on the pages, dotting around repeated hard lessons.

Intricately woven timelines span me around toward an unpredictable future twisted by prophecies. Sentences punctuated with stunned silences and accords of a thousand vibrant colours in their wake resonated deep within my soul, stirring up dark shadows from my past, handing them blurred memories to sharpen.

In the end Emperor of Thorns took no prisoners. Jorg Ancrath lured me into dreams where angels feared to tread and I followed him lovingly through a Broken Empire and beyond.

And in the end, my broken heart seemed a small price to pay to heal a shattered world. For as it turned out, he in fact mended one for us both.


Low Town: The Straight Razor Cure: Low Town 1
Low Town: The Straight Razor Cure: Low Town 1
by Daniel Polansky
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 30 Dec. 2013
There is something equally fascinating and disturbing about watching your favourite author becoming a fan of a book series and see him talking about someone else's novel with as much, almost childish enthusiasm as you do about his. At any rate, it's not something that could be ignored for long, hence I soon found myself face-to-face with the culprit himself and it's only sufficient to say that in my eyes Daniel Polansky had a hell of an expectation to live up to.

I'd like to think that I started reading the first book of his Low Town series, The Straight Razor Cure, with a particularly critical eye, investigating not as much the possible outcomes of his noir fantasy novel, but more the goods he had on the shelf to offer, which had such an effect on some of the people I know, that they started calling him a writer's writer. And I did find out soon enough, that as a truly effective cure can only be expected, it was dark, bitter and highly addictive. With such a close inspection however I also couldn't help connecting with his first person narrated villain, the Warden, fairly early in the story and even if he was not designed to be likeable by his creator, I have to admit, I grew to care about him. He could be disputing this revelation strongly however, had he the chance, given that a good couple of times when the poor man suffered I was laughing wholeheartedly on the other side of the book, thoroughly enjoying myself. For this I blame Polansky's slick and witty prose, that got me hooked so neatly straight at the beginning that I hadn't even noticed it.

In hindsight I wonder if I could have seen the plot clearer, had I not been so utterly lost in the main character's thoughts. But I'm glad I was, because this way the ending took me by complete surprise.
I remember, one of the first sentences I said to the author upon meeting him was, how I had come to see him as his fan's fan. In a way I was clinging to that position barely by the fingertips during the better part of the story. But following the fact he played me so well and left me gaping after I closed the book, I had to give in, too.

At this point of writing I am already told that the next two volumes of the series are better still. And so here I find myself looking forward to the return of a drug dealer to see... if he can indeed take me even higher.


Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 1): 1/3
Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, Book 1): 1/3
by Mark Lawrence
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply stunning, 27 July 2013
Once upon a time there was a Prince of a Thousand Promises. He was told to be brave, he was told to be ruthless, he was told to be immoral, he was told to be the greatest. Truly he did not look like much to me the first time, so I walked past him and left him after the first chapter or so. Or at least I tried. I failed to see that I already had little, invisible hooks in me, reeling me in back on board, binding me to his story stronger than I could ever imagine.

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence is not for the faint-hearted. Its darkness wraps you in like a moonless night, its grim world chills your heart and sneaks out your darkest memories you hoped you had buried deep enough a long time ago, sets them free and makes you face them once again

But it also shows you that you may find the lightning beautiful if you dare to look in the storm and you may just hear your heart singing if you care to listen in the silent darkness. It reminds you that the strongest heroes never grow in peaceful flowerbeds of sunlit meadows, but in soils of merciless trials, constant battles and grave sufferings. As do we all. And maybe this is why we brave a grim tale and are more the grateful when we do find beauty in dire places, solutions for hopeless situations, and love in heartless characters.

But whatever this mesmerising and dangerous spell is, Mr Lawrence seems to be casting on us with disturbingly little effort, he does it mind-blowingly and with his first book series, as I see it, he has just revealed himself as the new Prince of Grimdark.


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