Posted in Reviews

Review: Dragon’s Mage by Ava Richardson

Dragon’s Mage by Ava Richardson

Recommended: yes!
For a dragon story! For a story with the “realizing you were wrong about everything you thought you knew” storyline, for respectful characters that I was constantly pleasantly surprised by, for only the occasional stupid teenager decision

Summary

The book cover for Dragon's Mage by Ava Richardson.

A witch hunter is thrust into a magical, dragon-filled world…

At sixteen, Yanna Gray is part of her family’s Virginia based witch hunting enterprise, helping rid Earth of anything—and anyone—magic. But her militant life goes south when an enchanted amulet goes missing. Before Yanna can reclaim the artifact, the thief opens an interdimensional portal flinging Yanna into a frightening magical world.

Ragond is straight out of the forbidden fairy tales Yanna once read. Mythical creatures, witches, and mages live in harmony with humans. Here, all she’s grown up believing is turned on its head—especially when she discovers her own magical abilities.

Without access to a portal to Earth, Yanna is invited to shelter at Stonehaven—the training ground for witches, mages, and dragon riders—where she discovers true friendship, camaraderie, and a surprising bond with an ancient dragon. But all too quickly, Yanna’s magic-hunting past catches up to her.

Now, to save her friends and the dragon who partnered with her, Yanna must decide what she believes and who to trust.

Or her past might become Ragond’s downfall.

Thoughts

The simplest way I can review this book is to say that I will be continuing the series, for sure. Thankfully, they’re coming out one a month for the next few months!

This was a decent introduction to the world, and I can’t wait to meet more of the characters in it. There are a lot of books already set in this world, but I’m new to it and can’t wait not to be. Hooray that there are so many other books to read from here! 😀

I love books where the main character’s understanding of the world is challenged, and that is exactly what Yanna is going through. She’s a witch hunter, a killer of those who channel evil magic. But now that she’s in a world OF magic, and actually, she herself is now one of those evil magic users… maybe it’s worth a second thought. No surprise that there’s a lot of angst around this for Yanna as she wrestles with making her own decisions or adhering to what she has always been taught and trained.

Continue reading “Review: Dragon’s Mage by Ava Richardson”
Posted in Reviews

Review: So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens

So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens
Verdict: 🐲🏰🤴🧙‍♂️🥰

Recommended: yup
for a lot of tongue-in-cheek play on fantasy tropes, for a lot of amusing romcom antics, for a little bit of tongue-in-mouth goodness, for a simple story well done

Summary

Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.

As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.

With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong…until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.

Thoughts

The plot of this story is pretty straightforward. Early on, there’s a clear path of what events are going to happen once the plan is in place. There wasn’t much surprise to it, but that really didn’t bother me. I just reveled in knowing what good was yet to come, and then enjoying the heck out of it at every scene. ^.^

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Posted in Reviews

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas (ACOTAR #2)

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)
Verdict: Meh. Better than the first but I still won’t be continuing

Recommended: if you’re on the fence about continuing the series, this book will probably decide it for you.

Summary

Feyre has undergone more trials than one human woman can carry in her heart. Though she’s now been granted the powers and lifespan of the High Fae, she is haunted by her time Under the Mountain and the terrible deeds she performed to save the lives of Tamlin and his people.

As her marriage to Tamlin approaches, Feyre’s hollowness and nightmares consume her. She finds herself split into two different people: one who upholds her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court, and one who lives out her life in the Spring Court with Tamlin. While Feyre navigates a dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms. She might just be the key to stopping it, but only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future-and the future of a world in turmoil.

Thoughts

I was absolutely done with this series after how freakin’ boring the first book was. Quite disappointingly so. Tamlin was 100% unlikable for me, nothing really seemed to HAPPEN for about 75% of the book, and the ending “mystery” was so annoyingly obvious that imagining the character struggling with it made them unlikably stupid. (Maybe unlikably isn’t a word but I’m using it anyway.) So I was not going to read this book until a friend who loved the series said that book two goes in a different direction entirely and might make me like it more.

They were correct that I like it more, but I still don’t care enough to finish the series. The overall story and character style is just not working for me this time. The all-powerful chosen one theme is boring the heck out of me in this story and taking away some of my investment. If they’re so all powerful and can wipe out the world with a thought, how are they struggling with so many things? Anyway.

Continue reading “Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas (ACOTAR #2)”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

Recommended: sure
For a very strange atmosphere, for people okay with embracing a bit of confusion, for people okay with doing a little bit of work to figure out what’s going on, for people who adore a fascinating and gothic world. FYI that there’s not a lot of focus on the bone orchard itself, weirdly. More the results of it, the symbol of it.

Summary

Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow. Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain. Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real.

Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself. Now—Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.

If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil—her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart. Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge.

Thoughts

Well, it was weird and absolutely not what I expected. Not bad, but definitely strange. I felt like an outsider the whole time. Sometimes I missed the subtleties of exchanges that were carefully worded between characters to carry secrets. I only understood when someone laid it out plainly later on, or when an action happened that I was confused by and thought about until I connected it to their previous plotting that I had missed. That feeling lasted, and while it should have been more alienating, it was intriguing in a way as well.

I rather liked that this book was not straightforward to me. I rather liked that I felt a bit offkilter, because it put me on more even footing with Charm and the boneghosts. The scheming and intrigue was at times a secret even from me: that’s how clever our characters are.

Continue reading “Review: The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: An Arrow to the Moon, 4/12/22

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is An Arrow to the Moon by Emily XR Pan!
Expected Release: April 12, 2022

Why wait on this one?

Cover: 10/10
  • This sounds like a mix of a story of regular life with magical tones. There are normal things like dealing with parental expectations, graduation, and family. But then there are things like a giant frickin crack through the town. I desperately want to know more!
  • Oooooh secrets collide when the two destined for each other finally find each other. 😍 I don’t actually know if that’s the storyline, but that’s the vibe I get. Any boy am I up for a dose of destiny and fated lovers.
  • I think the writing of this story will be absolutely gorgeous. Ethereal, vivid, with a sort of moonlit-mist quality that takes me into a dream state. If the blurb is anything to go by with it’s word choices of “bewitching,” “unearthly,” and “ominous,” then I’ll be happy for sure.

Summary

Hunter Yee has perfect aim with a bow and arrow, but all else in his life veers wrong. He’s sick of being haunted by his family’s past mistakes. The only things keeping him from running away are his little brother, a supernatural wind, and the bewitching girl at his new high school.

Luna Chang dreads the future. Graduation looms ahead, and her parents’ expectations are stifling. When she begins to break the rules, she finds her life upended by the strange new boy in her class, the arrival of unearthly fireflies, and an ominous crack spreading across the town of Fairbridge.

As Hunter and Luna navigate their families’ enmity and secrets, everything around them begins to fall apart. All they can depend on is their love…but time is running out, and fate will have its way.

Posted in Chatty

In Progress with THE BONE ORCHARD

Progress: page 175/420 (42%)

Started off a little hard to get into because it was so different from my expectation that it was a bit jarring and I had to readjust, but now I’m interested!

Why did I start reading it?

This was a recent Fast Forward Friday pick, and it released just a week or two ago. It promised necromancy, witches, and royalty. It technically delivered all of those things, but in NO WAY like I expected. That’s not bad, it has just not been what I thought it would be!

In a word: weird

This on the surface sounds like a story that has been done many times. I feel like it is not a story I have ever read before. It has some of the same elements, but arranged in a Frankenstein’s-monster kind of way that set me off-kilter, and still sometimes catches me off-guard. It’s a bit hard to explain, but the vibe of it is just different.

Lines that linger

The hurting reminds me to hate him every moment, instead of only when I think of him.

p127

Most animals want to live. They struggle toward life regardless of their surroundings. … Human beings are more difficult. At some point of trauma, most people just give up and die.

p153
Posted in Chatty

Do… do I now dislike Sarah J Maas??

Hey y’all! I’m about 84% of the way through A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas (note that I actually got the title wrong there and had to correct it — which will make sense at the end of this…). It’s the second book in a series that I started a long time ago and was incredibly underwhelmed by and figured I wouldn’t bother continuing it. I adore Maas’ Throne of Glass series, but this one was an absolute flop for me.

Obviously I ended up giving this second book a go, at the encouragement of a friend who had loved this series and said the second one got some new characters who I would probably like a lot more. I encouraged her to read Throne of Glass since she hadn’t, and we essentially traded Maas series’. Ahh, reading buddies. ^.^

Unfortunately… I’m nearly done with the second book and I still don’t care for it. But worse is the other revelations that have come with my disinterest in this book:

  1. I think if I re-read the Throne of Glass series, I wouldn’t like it very much
  2. I think… I might just not like Maas’ usual form of story anymore
  3. I think I might be worn out on the supremely-powerful-character line

Let’s investigate.

Would I now dislike the Throne of Glass series?

This all kind of conglomerated in my head when I read a discussion recently where people listed some of the “strong female characters” in books that they actually really disliked (I couldn’t find where I read that though, apologies). One that came up was Caelena from ToG. I was surprised to see that, but their description of her as a character and the story itself overall was a new perspective to me since I devoured that whole series.

Continue reading “Do… do I now dislike Sarah J Maas??”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: So This is Ever After, 3/29/22

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is So This is Ever After by F.T. Lukens!
Expected Release: March 29, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • I love that this focuses on the part of the story we don’t usually get to see. The focus is typically on the battle to overthrow, and ends once the rightful person is on the throne. The rebuilding after is skipped, but I think it poses it’s own struggles that are a different kind of story, but still one I want to read.
  • And oh, of course, the love story within it is one I am smiling about already. I mean, look at the cover. It’s very clear what the end of the story is going to be, but I am thrilled for the whole journey of getting there. 😍
  • Part of that journey is going to be a series of what I imagine to essentially be awkward bad dates. Since Arek has to find his spouse in short order, I”m picturing it a bit like Princess Diaries 2 where she’s going through the photos of princes trying to decide who might work. I’m so in for some laughs! ^.^

Summary

Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.

As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.

With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong…until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.

Posted in Reviews

Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Recommended:
For a quick and easy start to a series, for a fairly familiar read that keeps you engaged enough

Summary

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Thoughts

This was good enough that I read it without issue and will probably continue the series, but it wasn’t good enough to make me need to continue the series immediately.

I think the cover is pretty generic looking, and something about it just feels lackluster to me. Maybe the white background? Maybe the unnatural smoothness of the faces? Maybe the simple coloring? I don’t know why — but that was also the vibe I got with the story. As I was going through, the characters and plot all felt like things I’d read before. That’s not necessarily bad, since a good story told well is one I’ll read over and over again. And like I said, I read this book consistently, and it never felt like it dragged, and I enjoyed it.

But I wasn’t blown away.

Continue reading “Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Bone Orchard, 3/22/22

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is The Bone Orchard by Sara A Mueller!
Expected Release: March 22, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • Witches. And what witch doesn’t want revenge for something? I feel like it just comes with the territory. Maybe it’s the fact that where there are witches, there are usually witch-hunters and witch-haters. Although I guess it’s more like “witch” since Charm (WHAT A NAME FOR A WITCH) is the last witch. Quite a burden to carry, eh?
  • Magic. And not just any magic, but necromancy. Ooooooh boy am I fan of that dark magic that can lead to moral grays and broken people. I have no idea what a bone orchard is — maybe it will take necromancy to an unexpected life theme instead of it’s usualy heavy focus on death. But wowwww am I excited to find out. 😁
  • Court. I’m a sucker for royalty-themed stories. I guess it’s like the grown-up version of when kids really love princess stories and such. The fancy gowns, the politeness rules, the lavish events… it’s a really lush world to imagine and there’s so much to work with when royal court life is part of the story. Plus, magic + court stories are pretty dang common, but magic + court + WITCHES is not a combo I can think of another title for!

Summary

Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow.

Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain.

Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real.

Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself. Now—Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder. If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil—her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart. Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge.