Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Spice Road by Maya Ibrahim!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim published today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Summary

In the hidden desert city of Qalia, there is secret spice magic that awakens the affinities of those who drink the misra tea. Sixteen-year-old Imani has the affinity for iron and is able to wield a dagger like no other warrior. She has garnered the reputation as being the next great Shield for battling djinn, ghouls, and other monsters spreading across the sands.

Her reputation has been overshadowed, however, by her brother, who tarnished the family name after it was revealed that he was stealing his nation’s coveted spice–a telltale sign of magical obsession. Soon after that, he disappeared, believed to have died beyond the Forbidden Wastes. Despite her brother’s betrayal, there isn’t a day that goes by when Imani doesn’t grieve him.

But when Imani discovers signs that her brother may be alive and spreading the nation’s magic to outsiders, she makes a deal with the Council that she will find him and bring him back to Qalia, where he will face punishment. Accompanied by other Shields, including Taha, a powerful beastseer who can control the minds of falcons, she sets out on her mission.

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim (1/24/23)

Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim
Expected Publication: January 24, 2023

Recommended: eh
for an incredible setting, for a story rife with possibilities and big moments, but also there are characters I hate so much I really wanted to DNF this one

Summary

In the hidden desert city of Qalia, there is secret spice magic that awakens the affinities of those who drink the misra tea. Sixteen-year-old Imani has the affinity for iron and is able to wield a dagger like no other warrior. She has garnered the reputation as being the next great Shield for battling djinn, ghouls, and other monsters spreading across the sands.

Her reputation has been overshadowed, however, by her brother, who tarnished the family name after it was revealed that he was stealing his nation’s coveted spice–a telltale sign of magical obsession. Soon after that, he disappeared, believed to have died beyond the Forbidden Wastes. Despite her brother’s betrayal, there isn’t a day that goes by when Imani doesn’t grieve him.

But when Imani discovers signs that her brother may be alive and spreading the nation’s magic to outsiders, she makes a deal with the Council that she will find him and bring him back to Qalia, where he will face punishment. Accompanied by other Shields, including Taha, a powerful beastseer who can control the minds of falcons, she sets out on her mission.

Imani will soon find that many secrets lie beyond the Forbidden Wastes–and in her own heart–but will she find her brother?

Thoughts

My biggest issue with this book was Amira. I freaking hate Amira. From basically page two she’s being a massive immature pain in the ass while also being super preachy about it. She’s one of those people who condemns someone else for doing the exact thing they themself are doing, and she doesn’t even realize it. It’s awful and I couldn’t stand her. The only way I was able to finish this book was by skipping anything she said and any reference to her name for the last 50% of the book. There was nothing redeeming about her for me.

► View spoilers about how my hopes were dashed
    And when she was like “I promise I won’t come.” I knew it was going to be a lie because that’s just how annoying younger siblings work in an adventure story, but god did I cling to that hope that she would in fact stay home. And of course she emerges by way of waking a legendary immortal giant full of rage. I hate her so much.


I persevered mainly because this was an ARC and I wanted to get more than twenty (incredibly annoying) pages in before quitting, and also because I had so much hope for seeing more of the world and the lore of it. I did indeed get more lore, and I was able to slowly fall in love with that aspect of the story. There’s so much history built into it, both in the small daily lives and the world-shaping historical beings and events that exist. Learning about each kept me entranced (until shattered by an annoying scream — if you read my spoiler or the book it’ll make sense).

Continue reading “ARC Review: Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim (1/24/23)”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Summertide (Wonder Tales #4) by Charlotte E. English

Summertide by Charlotte E. English

Recommended: YES!
For a world of magic and wonder, for a story that warms your heart, for an intriguing and exciting plot rife with mystery, for extraordinarily unique and lovable characters

Summary

On the edge of the town of Kottow stands the tallest (and oddest) Tree in the land. It’s a staid and solid arbour — until the Tree picks up its mighty old roots and wanders off, taking its resident band of misfits away with it. Whither goes the Tree? Not even the wizard can say.

‘There is something mighty fey about all this, or my name ain’t Diggory Stokey.’

Far away from Kottow, a forest lies lost in the mists of a dream. There’s much to mend in this hoary old wood, for the Summer’s been swept from the glittering skies, and no one’s keeping an eye on the Winter…

‘Enchanted forests,’ Mudleaf spat. ‘Bah. Like it’s been raining magic this long age through.’

The good folk of Kottow aren’t used to so wayward a magic — not even Maut Fey, the one with the sunlight behind her eyes. But magic will have its way with them, whether they will or no.

Summertide’s waiting. Can the folk of the Tree bring it back, or will the wild magic wash them away?

Thoughts

Are you feeling a bit burnt out? Does it feel like there’s endless stress and pain in the world and you just want somewhere to take a break? Are you hoping to find a world of sunshine and compassion that is still exciting and compelling?

Y’all, this book is exactly what I needed and exactly what you might need too. Apparently the author also thought that, because in the notes at the end they mentioned writing it during COVID lockdowns and how they really need something happy and lovely to carry them through. The result is this wonderful gift for us all.

Continue reading “Review: Summertide (Wonder Tales #4) by Charlotte E. English”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The XY by Virginia Bergin

The XY by Virginia Bergin

Recommended: eh
for an okay story with WAY too much FONT STYLING!!!, for some nice lines about philosophical things, for some entry level critical gender conversations

Summary

Sixty years ago, a virus wiped out almost all men on Earth. Now women run the world, and men are kept in repopulation facilities, safe from the deadly virus. At least, that’s what everyone has been led to believe…until River discovers a young man on a country road—injured but alive. Mason has been outside for five days since escaping from his facility, and no one can understand how he has survived. Hiding the boy violates the rules of their world, but as the women of the town band together to try to save him, River begins to suspect that the truth behind Mason’s existence is darker than she could have imagined.

Thoughts

Alright look. The story is meh at best and weakly done. BUT: the title begins with an X, and is not erotica. If that’s not why you’re looking at this book then good for you! You’re probably an eager minority. If you ARE looking at this book for the purposes of an x-title-related reading challenge, then yeah it’ll do.

This book wasn’t terrible, but it did feel like something an advanced student would write (and in fact truly does remind me of one student’s entry for NaNoWriMo in 2016). There is soooooo much text styling on the page and it feels aggressive and tiring and over the top. There are bolded words, italicized words, lots of all-caps text, and multiple question marks and exclamation points — often a mix of several of these things are combined. And yo, reading this in a physical copy was exhausting to look at the page with all of that. I actually switched to a digital library copy because I just couldn’t handle it. So this was an unusual case where the actual format and look of the words on the page almost had me wanting to DNF it.

Continue reading “Review: The XY by Virginia Bergin”
Posted in Reviews

Review: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

Recommended: yes
for a winner of a short story, for masterful story-within-a-story framing, for a story told around a campfire that makes you feel like you’re there every step

Summary

The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.

Nghi Vo returns to the empire of Ahn and The Singing Hills Cycle in this mesmerizing, lush standalone follow-up to The Empress of Salt and Fortune.

Thoughts

It’s been a little while since I read Vo’s first Singing Hills book, The Empress of Salt and Fortune, and while I enjoyed that one, I think this one was my favorite of the two. This story within a story is so well done that it never feels tedious or tangled, and even though ultimately you are actually reading three stories — Chih at the campfire, Chih’s version of Dieu’s travels, and the tigers’ version of Ho Thi Thao’s marriage.

Continue reading “Review: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo”
Posted in Quotes

Bro, I think I would know

Before I could muster the courage to ask again, he pulled a bundle of cloth from his bag and held it out for me. “You must be hungry.”

I debated pointing out that I’d eaten soup for lunch at the same table he had, and if he couldn’t remember that I’d helped myself to seconds and thirds, he certainly didn’t have a right to act like an observant, considerate Mage now. But my hands took the bundle from his, and my heavy legs decided on their own accord that it was time to sit.

The Quarter Mage by Angelina J Steffort
Continue reading “Bro, I think I would know”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The Quarter Mage by Angelina J Steffort

The Quarter Mage by Angelina J. Steffort


Recommended: Yes!
For a magical adventure, for a familiar story structure, for some interesting magical creations and rules, for VENGEANCE, and for family

Summary

Perfect for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

WHEN DESTINY FAILS YOU, WHO WILL YOU BECOME?

A forgotten princess. A cruel realm. A Mage who might be her salvation.

Sanja is a princess on the run. And when she flees her father’s court to escape an arranged marriage to a tyrant, the one thing she doesn’t expect, is to be killed for her throne.

But magic that shouldn’t exist in her kingdom saves her, and Sanja is thrust into the daunting fairylands where, as a human, she’s prey…

Fighting to survive, Sanja signs herself into the service of the most powerful Mages in the fairylands, determined to master the magic to save her kingdom—and finds herself stuck with a brooding Mage with a knack for keeping secrets.

As Sanja’s feelings for Tristan turn from dread to attraction, she learns that she isn’t the only thing the fairies are after. And Sanja must risk her life and her heart, or she will lose both him and her kingdom forever.


Dive into Angelina J. Steffort’s latest heart-wrenching upper YA fantasy romance and find out what makes the world of The Quarter Mage so special.

Thoughts

Y’all, we’ve been sleeping on this book. Let me start this review by saying I’m already anticipating the second book which is out early 2023 (but not early enough for me with the ending of this!). It was a good find from BookBub and I’m so pleased with it!


Okay, praise sung, now to acknowledge that as much as I enjoyed this book, it really didn’t blow me away or anything with it’s originality or style. There are a lot of scenes and plot structure points that felt very reminiscent of other books (especially Sarah J Maas’ titles). Part of that is because it’s fairly common fae-and-magic plot lines in general for the genre, and part of it did feel a little more directly inspired by specific books. The thing is, I didn’t really care. Even though I wasn’t stunned at the direction of the plot, I was fully hooked in for the ride and cheering the characters on.

Continue reading “Review: The Quarter Mage by Angelina J Steffort”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Dune, The Graphic Novel Book 1 by Brian Herbert

Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 1 by Brian Herbert

Recommended: yes!
for a lot of help understanding the story through visuals, for condensing some of the weird longwinded parts in the prose novel, for a simple color palette that conveys so much of the world and characters

Summary

Dune, Frank Herbert’s epic science-fiction masterpiece set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar society, tells the story of Paul Atreides as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis. A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism, and politics, Dune is a powerful, fanstastical tale that takes an unprecedented look into our universe, and is transformed by the graphic novel format. Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s adaptation retains the integrity of the original novel, and Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín’s magnificent illustrations, along with cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz, bring the book to life for a new generation of readers.

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for….

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

Thoughts

Boy am I impressed with this one! I have a weird relationship with Dune at this point, because I started reading the novel, stalled on it about halfway through before finally allowing myself to give up and admit it wasn’t for me, then I saw the movie, and now I’ve read the graphic novel. So through it all I’ve had a lot of confusion, understanding, disappointment, appreciation, intrigue, and more. I’ve loved it and hated it at various points.

This graphic novel has me firmly on the “loving it” side! Yay!!

Continue reading “Review: Dune, The Graphic Novel Book 1 by Brian Herbert”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Sign Here by Claudia Lux

Sign Here by Claudia Lux

Recommended: Sure
for a quirky take on hell, for dual timelines that interact/ affect each other, for some small mysteries

Summary

Peyote Trip has a pretty good gig in the deals department on the fifth floor of Hell. Sure, none of the pens work, the coffee machine has been out of order for a century, and the only drink on offer is Jägermeister, but Pey has a plan—and all he needs is one last member of the Harrison family to sell their soul.

When the Harrisons retreat to the family lake house for the summer, with their daughter Mickey’s precocious new friend, Ruth, in tow, the opportunity Pey has waited a millennium for might finally be in his grasp. And with the help of his charismatic coworker Calamity, he sets a plan in motion.

But things aren’t always as they seem, on Earth or in Hell. And as old secrets and new dangers scrape away at the Harrisons’ shiny surface, revealing the darkness beneath, everyone must face the consequences of their choices.

Thoughts

Not gonna lie, this one kind of slowed down for me about 60% of the way through with the narration from the Hell side. I don’t know if it’s because the characters were a bit hard to like (being torturing Hell demons and all) or if I got tired of the constant oddities of Hell being described, but the main Hell character’s journey ended up being not that motivating to me. Wow, that was a long sentence. I started to be more interested in the characters up topside in New Hampshire, which is kind of odd because objectively that’s probably a bit more of the normal, boring story.

Continue reading “Review: Sign Here by Claudia Lux”
Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: If You Could See The Sun by Ann Liang!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that If You Could See The Sun by Ann Liang just published today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: yeppp
for a medium-dark story that feels like a dark-reality fairy tale, for academic rivals / unlikely team tropes, for a look at morality and poverty and how those two can conflict

Summary

Alice Sun has always felt invisible at her elite Beijing international boarding school, where she’s the only scholarship student among China’s most rich and influential teens. But then she starts uncontrollably turning invisible—actually invisible.
 
When her parents drop the news that they can no longer afford her tuition, even with the scholarship, Alice hatches a plan to monetize her strange new power—she’ll discover the scandalous secrets her classmates want to know, for a price.
 
But as the tasks escalate from petty scandals to actual crimes, Alice must decide if it’s worth losing her conscience—or even her life.