MandaBerry's Books

One person's thoughts on a whole lot of books

Tag Archives: fantasy

God of Clocks by Alan Campbell (Deepgate Codex #3)


In the cataclysm of the battle of the gods, a portal to Hell has been opened, releasing legions of unnatural creatures that have pushed humanity to the edge of extinction. While warring deities clash with fallen angels, the only hope for mankind’s survival lies with the most unlikely heroes: Former assassin Rachel Hael has rejoined blood-magician Mina Greene and her little dog, Basilis, on one last desperate mission to save the world from the ravages of Hell. As Rachel travels to the final confrontation she has both sought and feared, she begins to realize that time itself is unraveling. And so she must prepare herself for a sacrifice that may claim her heart, her life, her soul—and even then it may not be enough.

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Bookshelf: No

How I got it: Bought

This one left me a bit disappointed. I’m not completely sure if it’s the story itself or the fact that there  was such a huge gap for me between reading Iron Angel and this one. It all just left me a little disappointed. I think only vaguely remembering what had happened in the previous book was quite a disadvantage because there were times while reading where I had no idea what was going on. Parallel universes and time travel didn’t exactly help with my confusion. I really enjoyed the first book, Scar Night, and I thought the second was a pretty nice follow up, if a little bit slower. This one, though, was my least favorite of the bunch. I didn’t get the feeling of satisfaction that I kind of expected to get with this being the final book of a series. Everyone doesn’t have to live happily ever after, but having spent time immersed in that world, and involved with the characters, I want to feel like everything’s wrapped up, or if not wrapped up explained enough to encourage speculation. I just felt lost. I have to take some of the blame for that, since as I said I may have waited too long between books to fully appreciate this last one, but I don’t think it’s totally on my head either.


Elfland by Freda Warrington (Aetherial Tales Book 1)

from the back of the book

Star-crossed lovers, caught between worlds…

The Aetherials live among us, indistinguishable from humans. Every seven years, on the Night of the Summer Stars, Lawrence Wilder, the Gatekeeper, throws open the Gates to the Other World. But this time, he has sealed the Gates, warning of a great danger lurking in the realm beyond. The Aetherials are outraged. What will become of them, deprived of the home realm from which their essential life force flows?

Rosie Fox and Sam Wilder are drawn to the lands beyond the Gates, even as their families feud over Lawrence’s refusal to open the Gates. Struggling with their own too-human urges, they are drawn together in a forbidden alliance. Only by breaching the dreaded Gates and daring the danger beyond can they confront that which they fear most – their otherness – and claim their birthright.

My Rating: 3 out of 5

Bookshelf: No

How I got it: Bought

I read this as part of Jawas Read, Too’s Women of Fantasy book club for the month of March. I’m not sure what I was expecting, which is a good thing, because I’m not set up for disappointment right away. I didn’t have anything against the book, or the story, but it just didn’t work for me. The story definitely moved much slower than what I’m used to reading. I like to think of this as a soap opera with Fey. There’s lots of family drama and romantic intrigue, but there’s also plenty of Atherial-related dilemmas. It’s not a bad combination, but the pace of the book was just way too slow for me. I can normally finish a book within a few days, but this bad boy took me over two weeks to finish. While this may not be an issue for some people, it is for me. The story itself was good, and I was quite interested in what happened to the characters. I enjoyed the world building of the Aetherial Realm, and the interweaving between that and the ‘real’ world (Earth). Rosie turned out to be my favorite character, even though I found her a little annoying at first. So, all in all, I don’t regret that I read it, just that it took so long.

I wish I had something to compare this to, but I haven’t read anything quite like this before. If you’re a fan of drama, intrigue, and Otherworldly elements, you may want to check this out.

Review: Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat

Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat

From the inside flap of the book

New Venice – the “pearl of the Arctic” – is a place of ice palaces and pneumatic tubes, of beautifully ornate sled-gondolas and elegant Victorian garb, of long nights and short days and endless vistas of crystalline ice.  But as the city prepares for spring, it feels more like qarrtsiluni – “the time when something is about to explode in the dark.”  Local “poletics” are wracked by tensions between the city’s security forces – the Subtle Army – and the Eskimos who were there first; by suffragette riots led by an underground music star; and by drug round-ups led by the ruthless secret police, the Gentlemen of the Night.  Meanwhile a mysterious black airship hovers over the city like a supernatural threat – is new Venice about to come under assault, or is it another government ploy? At the root of it all is an anonymous pamphlet calling for revolt, which the Gentlemen suspect was written by one of the city’s most prominent figures, Brentford Orsini.  But as they tighten the net around him, Orsini receives a message from a lont lost love that compels him to radical action.  What transpires is a literary adventure unlike anything you’ve read before.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (Extra star for the incredible book design)

Bookshelf: No

How I Got It: Borrowed

Book design by Kelly Blair.

This wasn’t one of my favorites.  I just couldn’t get into it.  The setting was fantastic. I mean, the Arctic, really? Wonderful.  It was exciting to keep guessing whether or not a revolution would occur. The book design is absolutely beautiful.  The cover is awesome and the drawings inside the book add a very nice touch.  But that was about it.  I couldn’t help feeling like I was missing something.  The characters in the book talk about events that happened prior to the beginning of the story, and what happened is never really explained.  It wouldn’t be a big deal, but this event keeps getting brought up.  I would have like to have known what happened.  I didn’t really care for any of the characters – good or bad.  Don’t get me wrong, some of the characters did interesting things, but I just wasn’t that interested after a certain point.  I think it may have to do with the writing style.  I’m not saying that the writing style is bad, it’s just a certain type that I’m personally not that fond of. This reminded me of two other authors – China Mieville and Tim Powers.  I haven’t actually finished a Mieville book, but what I have read was similar to this.  This definitely reminded me of the two Tim Powers books I’ve read.  If you’re a fan of either Mieville or Powers, I think you definitely might want to take a look at this.

Review: Iron Angel by Alan Campbell (Deepgate Codex #2)

Iron Angel by Alan Campbell   (Deepgate Codex #2)

From the back of the book

After a destructive battle, the ancient city of Deepgate has been overtaken.  Most of the chains that suspend it have given way, and the temple now dangles upside down above the once-uncharted abyss.  The victorious Spine have initiated martial law and are ruthlessly tempering all survivors.  But amid the turmoil, two captives are returned: the young angel Dill, now toughened by war, and traitor assassin Rachel Hael.  Incarcerated in the crumbling temple, the prisoners await their fate – while ghosts rise through the abyss from the open gates of Hell.  But as the city teeters on the brink, plans for vengeance are set in motion.  And in the coming battle between gods, it is the world of men that is at stake.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I Got It: Bought

Don’t Click Here If You Haven’t Read Scar Night!!!

Review: Scar Night by Alan Campbell (Deepgate Codex #1)

Scar Night by Alan  Campbell   (Deepgate Codex #1)

From the back of the book

In the city of Deepgate, suspended by chains over a seemingly bottomless abyss, there are two angels: one, an untested boy, the last of his line; the other, a psychotic murderer mad for revenge – or redemption.  When one of the city’s own turns against its people, bringing enemies to its doorstep, both seek a powerful magic at the bottom of the chasm – and learn that what lies below is far more sinister than they’ve been taught to expect…

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I Got It: Bought

I’ll admit I was really confused at first.  The opening scene takes place years before the rest of the story, and I always find that confusing, especially since I’m not yet familiar with that world.  I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did.  I enjoyed the action, and suspense.  One of the characters is pegged as “a psychotic murderer” and rest assured some grisly scenes are included.  I liked most of the characters, but Dill is my favorite.  There were some interesting characteristics of the angels that were new (at least to me), and they added a lot to the story.  I’m not quite familiar with the mythology of angels, so I fear that some of the bigger story or references may have gone over my head.  That being said, I still went out and bought the next book as soon as I was finished with this one.  This could be considered Steampunk, but only just barely.  There’s the whole “city on chains” setting, and there are a few interesting machines, but not enough to be definitively classified as Steampunk.

Review: Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd (Book One of the Twilight Reign)

The Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd (Book One of the Twilight Reign)

From the back of the book

In a land ruled by prophecy and the whims of Gods, a young man finds himself at the heart of a war he barely understands, wielding powers he may never be able to control.  Isak is a white-eye, born bigger, more charismatic, and more powerful than normal men…but with that power comes an unpredictable temper and an inner rage he cannot always hide.  Brought up as a wagon-brat, feared and despised by those around him, he dreams of a place in the army and a chance to live his own life.  But when the call comes, it isn’t to be a soldier, for the Gods have other plans for the intemperate teenager: Isak has been chosen as heir-elect to the brooding Lord Bahl, the white-eye Lord of the Farlan.  The white-eyes were created by the Gods to bring order out of chaos, for their magnetic charm and formidable strength make them natural leaders of men.  Lord Bahl is typical of the breed: he inspires and oppresses those around him in equal measure.  He can be brusque and impatient, a difficult mentor for a boy every bit as volatile as he is.

But now is the time for revenge, and for the forging of empires.  With mounting envy and malice, the men who would themselves be kings watch Isak, chosen by Gods as flawed as the humans who serve them, as he is shaped and molded to fulfill the prophecies that circle him like scavenger birds.  Divine fury and mortal strife are about to spill over and paint the world with blood.  The Stormcaller is the first book in a powerful new series that combines inspired world building, epoch-shattering battles, and high emotion to dazzling effect.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I got it: Bought

I admit that I’m behind on my fantasy reading.  I wish I could say “If you like so-and-so, then you’ll like this,” but, alas, I can’t.  I enjoyed reading about most of the characters, and the action scenes were exciting but very brief. I liked the world that the author was building, but I don’t feel I can completely see or understand it yet.  Maybe in the next book it’ll all make sense.  Quite a few characters were briefly introduced in short segments and left me wondering how they fit into the story. I’m a little miffed because this isn’t settled by the end of the book. Sorry. I’m aware this is a series, but this installment doesn’t compel me to rush out and buy the next one. I’m concerned I might just get completely lost.  I enjoyed the story, but all of the jumping around and the number of characters briefly mentioned makes me hesitant to continue reading this series.  You never know, I may just suck it up and see how it turns out.

Review: Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Shadows of the Apt #1)

Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt 1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky 
From the back of the book

The city states of the Lowlands have lived in peace for decades, bastions of civilization, prosperity and sophistication, protected by treaties, trade and a belief in the reasonable nature of their neighbors.

But meanwhile, in far-off corners, the Wasp Empire has been devouring city after city with its highly trained armies, its machines, it killing Art . . . And now its hunger for conquest and war has become insatiable.

Only the aging Stenwold Maker, spymaster, artificer and statesman, can see that the long days of peace are over. It falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of his people, before a black-and-gold tide sweeps down over the Lowlands and burns away everything in its path.

But first he must stop himself from becoming the Empire’s latest victim.

My rating:   5 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I got it: Bought

 My natural aversion to bugs kept me from picking this up for quite a while.  I finally picked the book up when I was in a “facing my fears” mode, and I’m so glad I did.  First, in order to clarify a little, the book is not about bugs. The characters in this book are defined by the Ancestors from which they “evolved”.  These races, for lack of a better term, have each developed special gifts or abilities that are characteristic of their namesakes.  The Beetle Kinden, for example, are often hard-working, full of stamina, and unfortunately end up on the broad side of physical appearances.  I loved how the author uses the characteristics of certain bugs to develop the people of this world. Loved it.

This action/adventure fantasy novel started off a little awkwardly for me personally because I didn’t know what to expect, but everything cleared up after the first 50 pages or so.  Once that confusion was cleared up I got wrapped up in the story of adventure, espionage,war, action, romance, and betrayal that I finished this rather quickly and immediately had to get the second one. I’m timing my completion of the third installment with the release of the fourth. Such torture!  I enjoyed the characters and wanted to find out what they did next. There’s a medievalesque atmosphere, but there’s also some technology thrown in, not hi-tech, but more steampunkish. Although, this really isn’t a “steampunk” novel.  I’m not sure exactly how to describe what that would make it. Who needs a label anyway, right?

And how about that cover? It’s beautiful. I tend to get hooked by the cover art, which doesn’t always work out so well. I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the covers that PYR have put out and most, if not all, have had the story to back it up.

Empire in Black in Gold is the first in the Shadows of the Apt series.  It is immediately followed by Dragonfly Falling (#2) and Shadow of the Mantis (#3), and there are more in the series after that.