Blood of Assassins by R.J. Barker – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: Blood of Assassins
Author: 
R.J. Barker
Series Name: The Wounded Kingdom
Genre: 
Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: Feb 15th, 2018
Pages: 434 (Paperback)
Publishers: Hachette Australia/Orbit
Rating:
4 and a half star

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The king is dead, long live the king…

The assassin Girton Club-foot and his master have returned to Maniyadoc in hope of finding sanctuary, but death, as always, dogs Girton’s heels.

The place he knew no longer exists. War rages across Maniyadoc, with three kings claiming the same crown – and one of them is Girton’s old friend Rufra. Girton finds himself hurrying to uncover a plot to murder Rufra on what should be the day of the king’s greatest victory. But while Girton deals with threats inside and outside Rufra’s war encampment, he can’t help wondering if his greatest enemy hides beneath his own skin.

Blood of Assassins is the epic sequel to RJ Barker’s debut Age of Assassins, set in a world ravaged by magic, featuring a cast of assassins, knights, ambitious noblemen, and fools.

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You can find my review of Book 1 in this series, Age of Assassins HERE.

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I feel the same about this cover as I did with the first. It appears simple from a distance. Just a red cover with a slash and a person standing in it. But then you look closer and there is heaps more detailed than you realised.

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So, my main complaint from book 1 was that the world building was lacking and that still stands in this book. There are words that are used with no explanation (Hedging, Thankful, Yellowers, Blessed, Nonmen and a few more I can’t think of). I understand that they are different types/classes of people but I don’t get how they are determined, what they mean or what the difference is.

Book 1 had chapters that were just Girton’s dreams and they were really well done. Most of the dreams were things that happened in his past and it was an awesome way to get some background on both him and Merela. The same thing was used a couple times in this book, but they were horrible. I couldn’t understand what was going on in these dreams at all. Everything was disjointed, repetitive and utterly confusing. They also didn’t seem to have a point. In the first book, it was history, so it was giving us background but these didn’t seem to try and show the reader anything in particular.

Besides the lack of world building and those weird dream chapters, I did enjoy the book. It flowed well and was extremely engaging. I had trouble putting it down, especially in the last two days when I was near the end of the story.

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Again this book is kind of a mystery, but this one has a bit more action and other events mixed in compared to book 1. I enjoyed the action and as I said this book was gripping and hard to put down. This one also has a lot more twists and turns than book 1 and I was not expecting most of them (except that plot twist with Aydor at the end, I totally guessed that!).

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Girton, is a little annoying honestly. He is stubborn but not necessarily in a good way. He also jumps to conclusions really quickly and doesn’t always think about his actions before he does something. I also don’t feel like he has grown up, even though this book is set 5 years after the first.
I honestly don’t even see him as an assassin. Assassins need to be quick, calculating and cunning. Girton isn’t really any of these things. As I said he jumps into things without thinking all the time, which I feel like is the opposite of what he should be doing. Mesela is a good portrayal of what I feel like an assassin should be. She is cunning, intelligent, patient and waits for the right moment and never goes into something without having a reason. Girton is the opposite basically. So if you are looking for a book with an awesome assassin that does assassin like things, this is not the one for you. This is a book about war, not assassins.

The other characters in this book have changed a fair bit. Rufra, Aydor & Thomas all make appearances in this book. Thoms was my least favourite character, not because he is meant to be a kind of villain character but because he was kinda pathetic. He never even spoke for himself. He just sat there while Neander told others what he would be doing. It was really strange considering how dominant he acted in book 1. Rufra was a little more real. He was struggling with being a friend, being a king and the loss that he suffered between Age of Assassins & Blood of Assassins. You saw the struggle with basically every encounter he had with Girton.

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Overall I really enjoyed this book. There were a couple things that could use some improvement, like the world building and some of the characters. But I still had heaps of fun reading this book and it was extremely gripping! I really hope some things are explained a bit more in book 3, but by this point, it’s probably not likely. Either way, I can’t wait for book 3, King of Assassins and luckischeduledchedualed to release in August according to Goodreads, so I don’t have long to wait!

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I was provided with an eGalley of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much to Hachette Australia/Orbit NetGalley for this opportunity.

You can purchase this book at any of the below links!

Hachette Australia
Paperback  /  eBook

Book Depository
Paperback

QBD
Paperback

Booktopia
Paperback

Dymocks
Paperback

Amazon (Aus)
Kindle  /  Paperback  /  Audible

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The Girl From Munich by Tania Blanchard – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: The Girl From Munich
Author: 
Tania Blanchard
Genre: 
Adult Historical Fiction
Publication Date: Sept 1st, 2017
Pages: 421 (Paperback)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating:
4 and a half stars

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Germany, 1943. The choices she makes will change her life forever.

Growing up in Hitler’s Germany, Charlotte von Klein has big dreams for the future. Her mind is full of plans for a sumptuous wedding to her childhood sweetheart Heinrich while working for the Luftwaffe, proudly giving her all for the Fatherland.

But in 1943, the tide of the war is turning against Germany, and Lotte’s life of privilege and comfort begins to collapsing around her. As Hitler’s Reich abandons Germany and the country falls to the Allied forces, Lotte is forced to flee from the unfolding chaos to the country with the darkly attractive Erich Drescher, her Luftwaffe superior.

Amid the danger, pain and heartbreak of a country turning on itself, Lotte must forge a new life for herself. But as the country struggles to find its future, shadows of the past come rushing back and Lotte finds herself questioning everything she has fought for – love, duty and freedom.

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This book review will not follow my usual format.

This book was not what I expected at all. Most of the Historical Fiction books I have read are really heavy on the heartbreaking events that people had to endure during WWII. While this book definitely does hit that through the start of the book, the second half is very centred around a certain romance and the events that happened to that couple in the years after the war. Around the middle of the book, I wasn’t loving it to be honest as I just found it a bit dull as there wasn’t anything too devastating that our actual main character went through. However, I kept going and even though I am not generally a romance reader and generally just don’t give a damn about romances, this one I did enjoy. I also got connected to the characters and multiple times I was tearing up because of events that happened, both sad and happy.

Yes, this review is going to be spoiler free, however, there is a certain event that I think you need to know about before reading this book as it could be a massive trigger to someone that has suffered or been close to someone who has gone through this in their life.
I recommend caution when reading this book to people that might be triggered by losing a child in childbirth. I was hit hard by it and I have never been through that but as my grandmother lost twins this way and I have heard my Mum talk about it often, it did hit me harder than I expected. I’m even tearing up writing this. So, yes, even though that is spoilery, I think it is something people need to know.

Even though this review isn’t following my usual format, I still wanted to talk about the writing and the characters. So, I’ll add that here just without the headings.

The writing was really enjoyable. I really like it when books use a combination of mostly English but then some German. I have gotten used to some of the common German words that are used in most Historical Fictions and there was only 1 word that I had to look up and that was ‘prinzregentenstrasse’ which is simply a street name, but when you see a word that long in a book, it can be a little scary haha! Even though I enjoyed the writing, for the most part, but it was a little confusing at times purely for when they were jumping ahead days or months. There was no indicator that it was about to jump ahead a month or two and some of the time it wasn’t actually said at the start of that new paragraph, it was a page or so later in the middle of a paragraph and I was just thinking ‘wait! did that just jump ahead or has it been like that this whole chapter?!’. It was a little confusing and I wish there were time markers, there is in the epilogue, but not in the rest of the book.

As for the characters, Lotte I enjoyed, but did annoy me sometimes just because of how naive she was at some points even when the facts were sitting there in front of her.
Heinrich irritated me from the start of the book. He always seemed like he was a bit up himself and only cared about what he wanted and his views. He was also possessive and fairly forceful to which I absolutely hate. I know there are people in the real world 10x worse than him in those ways, but I am someone that doesn’t take crap from no one and if he had done that to me, he would have had a fist to the nose & a knee to the privates, quicker than he can say ‘Germany’.
Next, I want to talk about Lotte’s Mother & Step-Father but I don’t remember their names as it was only said once or twice and the rest of the time they were just called Mutti & Vati, so I’ll just use that too.
Mutti was not an enjoyable character. She was controlling at times and stubborn. She wouldn’t accept that her Daughter could have different wishes for herself and her life and when Lotte showed that Mutti just stopped talking to her. I can understand why she acted the way she did for some of it, but some of this was not necessary and all she was doing was pushing Lotte away, not protecting her.
Vati, on the other hand, was lovely. He was always the middle between Lotte & her mother and also tried to find a solution that would hopefully satisfy both sides, even if they weren’t fully happy with it. He was loving, caring and would do whatever he could for his only daughter.
Erich I also really enjoyed. He was loving, kind and patient. He would do whatever he could for the ones he cares about.
There is one last person I want to talk about and that it Tante Susie, which is Aunty Susie. So, for the most part, she was enjoyable except for at the end. It was never explained as to why she suddenly stopped being the loving Aunty but I have a guess. This next part in bold will be extremely spoilery, so only read it if you have read the book.
So, my guess is that when Tante Susie was away in one of the camps she met Inga and found out who she was. Inga mentioned that someone told her that her husband was in that town and had remarried and had children.  I am guessing that the reason Tante Susie started acting extremely cold was that she thought that Lotte deliberately had married a man that she knew was married. However, of course, Lotte & Erich both thought Inga and the children dead. But that would explain why she kicked Lotte & Erich out of the house. 

One thing that confuses me is the MC’s name. In the Synopsis, both from Goodreads & on my Proof copy, they call her Charlotte von Klein but in the book, she is called Charlotte von Betz. So I don’t know if that is some German term that I don’t know about or whether it’s an error, but it really confused me when I started reading the book.

So, overall I enjoyed the book. It was not what I was expecting and had a few elements that I generally don’t enjoy in books buts I still liked it. As all historical fictions do, this one brought out the emotions and you can’t help but be hurt by what these characters went through.



So, originally this was a book that I requested on NetGalley. However, when I got the email that said I was approved, I went on straight away to download it and it had already been archived. So I couldn’t download it. I sent feedback through explaining that it had been archived before I even received the confirmation email and Kirsty from Simon & Schuster emailed me and asked if I would like a physical ARC of the book! So, of course, I said yes!

So thank you to Kirsty from Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

This book is already up for sale and you can find it at:

Simon & Schuster Australia

QBD

Book Depository

Amazon Australia (eBook)

Booktopia (Currently 20% OFF!!)

Dymocks

Boomerang Books (Currently 16% OFF)



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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author: 
Neil Gaiman
Genre: Adult Fantasy Horror
Publication Date: June 18th, 2013
Pages: 235 (paperback)
Publishers: Headline Publishing Group
Rating:
3 and a half star

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Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark

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This is actually my first dip into the world of Horror and I honestly had no idea what to expect from this book. And I still kind of don’t know what I feel about the genre as I didn’t find anything in this book scary, it was just a fantasy story to me.
That is probably just me though, even as a kid I never got scared from scary movies or anything like that and I don’t have any crazy fears so it might be just me that doesn’t find this book scary.

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The only issue I had with the writing was the swapping back and forward from past and present in the start of the book. It only happened once or twice and then just stayed in the past till the epilogue. But when it was swapping back and forward I got a little confused as there was no indication that it was happening, so for a could paragraphs I was a little confused until I realised that we were back in the present.

Besides that I enjoyed the writing, it dragged you in and also flowed pretty well for most of the book.

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Honestly, the plot is just kind of mysterious. I can’t think of a better word for it. Nothing in this book was rounded off, which is something that usually drives me insane, but in this book, it worked without annoying me somehow.

I wouldn’t exactly say that the book was action packed as it never really had that fast paced feel of an action packed scene like normal. However, a lot did go on. There was a fair bit of knowledge dumping throughout, but that was expected, being a fantasy standalone that is just over 200 pages.

There was also one particular thing that happened right at the end that I just thought was a bit rushed and shoved in and didn’t really make sense and as I said, nothing is summed up in this book, so it was just kind of left there and I’m still confused.

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I liked Old Mrs. Hempstock the most, she was mysterious but also loving and caring. Ginnie was a bit of a confusing character, she felt a tad bland at times and then at the end it annoyed me that she shows no emotion really to what happened. Lettie was also mysterious, okay they kind of all are mysterious.

And as I’m writing this I am only now realising that the protagonist was never named in this book! I just checked on goodreads too and in the ‘Characters’ it says ‘The Nameless Boy’.  That’s really interesting and I have never read a book before that we didn’t learn the name of.
Anyway, I feel like this book is about a child realising that there are bad things in the world, or something similar to that and that is exactly what happened to The Nameless Boy. He discovered things and grew.

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Overall I enjoyed this book, I had a couple small issues and am still a little confused, but overall it was a pretty good book. Defiently mysterious and a little magical and I just wish that things were explained more, I think I just need more of this book.



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Also, don’t forget my giveaway is still going on! Just click the pic or HERE to get to the giveaway post to find out how to win a paperback of one of the pictured books!