Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, K J Parker


I fix broken people with things, with stuff; with tricks, lies, devices. I’m resourceful and ingenious. I don’t confront, I avoid; and one of the things I do my best to avoid is justice, and another one is death.

This is the story of Orhan, son of Siyyah Doctus Felix Praeclarissimus, and his history of the Great Siege, written down so that the deeds and sufferings of great men may never be forgotten.

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4 / 5

I’ve had my eye on Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City for a little while now, and I finally took the plunge and bought it during an ill-advised shopping spree at Waterstones. Seriously. I’d just been paid and I went and picked up seven books, including two hardbacks. I’ve never done that. Anyhow, this book was great.

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Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee


Calendrical rot had set in again.

Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris’s career isn’t the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

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4 / 5

This book was bizarre. Odd and beautiful and deliciously confusing. I devoured this book on my train commute over the course of the week, nose stuck into its pages as I drifted between platforms. There was something about the story, the characters, the language that struck right at me. For example, a letter is signed off with “yours in calendrical heresy”. I’m still not quite sure what it means, but it is a phrase that has stuck in my head.

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Revenger, Alastair Reynolds



“We all have it in us to be something other than what we are, I thought, but we don’t often get a glimpse of what we could have been”

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4 / 5

Alastair Reynolds is a pretty big name in sci-fi, but I’ve never actually read anything by him before. Well, that all changed with Revenger. Though, as I understand it, classically an Adult Sci-Fi writer, Reynolds mixed it up a bit with a YA novel. Revenger perfectly slots into that 16+ YA gap, for those younger readers that want to read something a bit more complex and sophisticated, and those adult readers (like me) who want something a bit less technical and easy to read.

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Tangle’s Game, Stewart Hotston


We are your slaves, and we do not wish to be

Yesterday, Amanda Back’s life was flawless: the perfect social credit score, the perfect job, the perfect home. Today, Amanda is a target, an enemy of the system holding information dangerous enough to disrupt the world’s all-consuming tech—a fugitive on the run. But in a world where an un-hackable blockchain links everyone and everything, there is nowhere to run.

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2 / 5

I was expecting something akin to Suicide Club when I picked up Tangle’s Game, a book about a woman with a life that seems perfect right up until it isn’t. Instead I got something a bit confused, a bit slow and dragging, with a main character who didn’t interest me much.

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The Grace Year, Kim Liggett


“Kneeling in the dirt, barefoot, eyes to God, bathed in golden light, they look like something not of this earth.”

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden. In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

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4 / 5

A classic tale of womanhood, first love, fighting oppression, and becoming your basest self. The Grace Year hung in my thoughts for days after reading it, clouding my mind with the violence and savagery of it, the subtle horror and the sheer weirdness of the tale of it weaves.

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The Rage of Dragons, Evan Winter


He would fight until he won or he died. There would be, he swore, no days without difficulty

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. The lucky ones are born gifted. Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, and when those closest to him are brutally murdered, his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

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3 / 5

The Rage of Dragons has been getting a good rep in book reviewing circles for its epicness, African-inspired setting, and readability. I’m here to offer a slightly controversial opinion: this book was okay.

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Girls of Storm and Shadow (Girls of Paper & Fire #2), Natasha Ngan


Wren and I might not be Paper Girls anymore, but we are still capable of creating fire. And now we have a whole world to set ablaze

Slaying the cruel Demon King wasn’t the end of the plan—it’s just the beginning. Now Lei and her warrior love Wren must travel the kingdom to gain support from the far-flung rebel clans. The journey is made even more treacherous thanks to a heavy bounty on Lei’s head, as well as insidious doubts that threaten to tear Lei and Wren apart from within.

Read my review of the first book in the series here.

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3 / 5

I adored Girls of Paper and Fire and I was delighted to receive a copy of Girls of Storm and Shadow. However, whilst the first book was a mesmerising five stars, this sequel is lacklustre in comparison. Ngan’s prose remains delightful and I still adore Lei and Wren’s difficult and morally grey relationship, but the plot was distinctly uninspired.

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The Sin Soldiers, Tracy Auerbach


This was where all the magic happened; where ordinary people were transformed into slaves and monsters

Red compound makes them angry. Yellow exhausts them. Blue drives them into a state of ravenous addiction. The thief Kai knows about the chemically controlled soldiers of the Eastern forces and their savage, deadly nature. When a robbery attempt at Club Seven goes wrong, Kai is captured by a handler and his bestial soldier-boy. She wakes up inside the military base with no idea what happened to her twin brother, Dex.

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2 / 5

The Sin Soldiers has a cool concept and it hooked me at the start, but unlikeable characters and a confusing setting left me unsatisfied.

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Jinxed, Amy McCulloch


Sometimes you have to change your dreams, Lacey. No matter how hard you work, sometimes things won’t go your way

When Lacey finds out she hasn’t been accepted into Profectus – the elite academy for cutting edge tech – it seems her dreams are over. Then, one night, Lacey comes across the remains of an advanced baku. Days of work later and the baku opens its eyes. Lacey calls him Jinx – and Jinx opens up a world for her that she never even knew existed, including entry to the hallowed halls of Profecus.

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4 / 5

So I’m probably a bit (read: a lot) too old to be the target audience for a book like Jinxed, but dang it was a fun book to read whilst I was on the train for three hours. Because that’s how long it took me to start and finish Jinxed. A girl with big dreams, electronic companion pets, a school with a twist; Jinxed is a coming of age book with all the classic themes and some different ideas.

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The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2), R. F. Kuang


Your bond will shatter. You will destroy one another. One will die, one will rule, and one will sleep for eternity

Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.

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3 / 5

I listened to The Poppy War last year and it was fantastic. The narration was superb, the storyline was gripping, the characters complex and divisive. I loved Rin and I hated her. I wanted to keep her safe and I wanted to chuck her off a cliff. I recommended The Poppy War left right and centre. As a sequel, The Dragon Republic was disappointing.

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