Tangle’s Game, Stewart Hotston

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

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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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The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #2), Seth Dickinson

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This is the story of Agonist. Baru Cormorant as a cryptarch: secret lord of the Imperial Throne.

Baru Cormormant’s world was shattered by the Empire of Masks. To exact her revenge, she has clawed her way up razor-edged rungs of betrayal, sacrifice, and compromise, becoming the very thing she seeks to destroy. Now she strides in the Masquerade’s halls of power. To save the world, she must tear it asunder…and with it, all that remains of her soul.

Read my review of the first book in this series, The Traitor Baru Cormorant.

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3 / 5

I adored The Traitor Baru Cormorant. Several months on, that book has still stuck with me and I’ve been recommending it all over the place. If someone asks me, “read anything good lately?”, they ain’t gonna get me to stop talking for the next fifteen minutes as I tell them about Baru Cormorant, light of my life. The Monster Baru Cormorant is still beautifully written, lyrical and immersive, but suffers from middle book syndrome so bad.

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The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #1), Seth Dickinson

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“You are a word, Baru Cormorant, a mark, and the mark says: you, Aurdwynn, you are ours.”

“I am Baru Cormorant,” she protested, “accountant, and I earned my place by merit. I am a mark of nothing except myself.”

The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They’ll conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She’ll swallow her hate, prove her talent, and join the Masquerade. She will learn the secrets of empire. She’ll be exactly what they need. And she’ll claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free.


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4 / 5

I ADORED The Traitor Baru Cormorant. First of all, what an absolute banger of a title. When I bought it on Amazon, it was just titled “The Traitor” which is nowhere near as good, because if you call your main character something like Baru Cormorant you should brag about that. What a name.

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The Undoing of Arlo Knott, Heather Child

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If waves of regret could have washed me so far backwards, they would have done so already 

Arlo Knott discovers he can rewind time – just by a minute or two – enough to undo any mistake, say the right thing or impress his friends with his uncanny predictions. But second chances aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. As wonderful as his new life is, a mistake in Arlo’s traumatic childhood still haunts him and the temptation to undo, undo and keep undoing is too much to resist.

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4 / 5

Enthralling and fascinating, unsettling and haunting, The Undoing of Arlo Knott is definitely an interesting read. The story of Arlo Knott bobs and weaves, ducks and dodges along the entire timeline of his life and what a life it is. There is something bleak and disturbing and warped about Arlo, and it makes for such an engaging read.

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Arm of the Sphinx (The Books of Babel #2), Josiah Bancroft

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We are, each of us, a multitude. I am not the man I was this morning, nor the man of yesterday. I am a throng of myself queued through time. We are, gentle reader, each a crowd within a crowd.

Forced into a life of piracy, Senlin and his eclectic crew are struggling to survive aboard their stolen airship as the hunt to rescue Senlin’s lost wife continues. Hopeless and desolate, they turn to a legend of the Tower, the mysterious Sphinx. But help from the Sphinx never comes cheaply, and as Senlin knows, debts aren’t always what they seem in the Tower of Babel. 

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4 / 5

Arm of the Sphinx is the sequel to Senlin Ascends, the second book in The Books of Babel series. It has a rather different vibe. Where I would described the first book by saying something like “it’s about a mild schoolteacher who goes to a tower full of wonders and cruelty and loses his wife. On his search up the tower to find her, he encounters numerous weird and wonderful people and things”, I would describe Arm of the Sphinx as “previously mild schoolteacher becomes pirate airship captain leading a crew he doesn’t particularly trust but still loves, into shenanigans whilst having some sort of pseudo-affair with his first mate“.

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Senlin Ascends (The Books of Babel #1), Josiah Bancroft

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“It is easier to accept who you’ve become than to recollect who you were.” 

Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya, in the overwhelming swarm of tourists, residents, and miscreants.

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4 / 5

I love books about towers where people enter the Tower with a quest to get to the top where there will be a wish-granting deity/treasure/whatever. Please see the LitRPG book Sufficiently Advanced Magic and the manhwa Tower of God for examples. I’m a real sucker for this trope, lord knows why, but for this reason I picked up Senlin Ascends.

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This is How You Lose the Time War, Amel El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

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Like your victory, love spreads back through time

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. And thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more.

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4 / 5

First off, I want to praise the title of this book to heaven and back. This is How You Lose the Time War. I love it. I stayed up at night thinking about how great it was (no joke). The cover is also beautiful. The book itself gave me mixed feelings.

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Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor #3), Mark Lawrence

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“Nona, my fierce little Nona, remember mercy. Mercy for others in victory. Mercy for yourself too. You deserve happiness, child. Never forget it.”

Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep. Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.

Read my reviews of Red Sister (#1) and Grey Sister (#2).

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5 / 5

Holy Sister sent shivers all the way down my spine. We have been travelling down the path towards the encounter that has threaded its way through the first two books: Lano Tacsis and his two hundred men, coming for Sister Thorn. Sister Thorn, it has been revealed, is Arabella Jotsis and Sister Cage is none other than Nona Grey. It is epic. It is heart-wrenching. It poked at my soul and wouldn’t stop.

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Lord of Secrets, Breanna Teintze

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People see the world and think it’s made of wind and rock and water, when really it’s made of spells and words

Outlaw wizard Corcoran Gray has enough problems. He’s friendless, penniless and on the run from the tyrannical Mages’ Guild – and with the search for his imprisoned grandfather looking hopeless, his situation can’t get much worse. So when a fugitive drops into his lap – literally – and gets them both arrested, it’s the last straw – until Gray realises that runaway slave Brix could be the key to his grandfather’s release.

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3 / 5

Lord of Secrets was a deceptively simple story: a young man is searching for his captured grandfather. He is told to find a man and steal a relic from a temple. To be honest, it was very refreshing to read a book that had a clear direction. I’ve read way too many books that are needlessly complicated for the sake of surprising the reader.

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