Recommended: yes! For those who like the supernatural-hunter kind of manga, for very clearly defined character personalities, for some intriguing lore and monsters, and of course for anyone who’s seen the Rooster Teeth production it’s based on
Summary: In the world of Remnant, monsters known as Grimm wreak havoc. They’re kept in check by Huntsmen and Huntresses, highly skilled warriors experienced in monster extermination who utilize their special abilities on the field of battle. Ruby is a ferociously talented young girl who comes to Beacon Academy to hone her skills and serve as a Huntress herself. Alongside her sister Yang Xiao Long, rival Weiss Schnee and newfound friend Blake Belladonna, Ruby leads Team RWBY, the coolest new group at Beacon! Ruby takes her first step on the road to becoming a Huntress by enrolling at Beacon Academy, eager to take on the battery of tests, challenges and difficulties that follow. Ruby knows her talents will take her to her goal, but is she ready to clash with Weiss Schnee, haughty scion of the Schnee Dust Company?
In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I use Fridays to look forward to upcoming releases that I’m excited about! Today’s is one that I actually grumbled about to myself a lot before deciding to give Girl, Serpent, Thornby Melissa Bashardoust a chance. Expected Release: July 7, 2020
Why wait on this one?
Honestly, I was against this book for a while because there has been so much hype about it — which I hate! I stubbornly didn’t even check out the blurb. I just maintained my saltiness about the title and the cover, neither of which I liked as they felt unorginal. But… then I read the blurb. And I’ll be damned if it didn’t end up sounding pretty good.
The element that intrigued me the most was the tease that this might be more of a villain sort of character storyline! I absolutely love antiheroes and villain stories. If this does indeed tilt into darkness, I will be positively gleeful! So I’m willing to give it a chance when I read a description like “she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon.”
I’m also curious about the fact that this seems to me like a twist on the sleeping beauty story with the poison spindle — except the princess is the poison. I have no idea if this is accurate or not, but with magic curses where everyone you touch dies, and demons being the only ones have answers…. I’m certainly willing to give it a shot.
Summary: There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.
As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.
Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas came out five years ago. I’ve only just read it. Why is that surprising? Well, I absolutely loved the whole Throne of Glass series, and trusted Maas as a fantastic fantasy writer for my tastes. In particular, I liked her for her envisioning of fae and other magical creatures.
And yet… when this book was published I just had this niggling feeling that it wouldn’t quite work for me. Around this time, I had also had this exchange with a friend:
Mackenzie: How did you like Snow Like Ashes? Did you finish it? Me: It was okay. It was really unique though, the world was divided into regions that each had only one season, all the time! I’ve never read a story like that. Mackenzie: *snorts* *pulls out her current book and opens to this map on the front page*
In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I’m using Fast Forward Fridays to look ahead to a release I’m excited about! Today’s is Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena, and I am so excited. Expected release: June 23, 2020
Why wait on this one?
After reading A Girl Like That I fell in love with Bhathena’s writing, and I’m anticipating seeing how she writes a fantasy since I’ve read her contemporary previously.
I have a tendency to love all medieval-based things, from RPGs to movies and certainly including books. I also love places that are not the one I live in. So to give me “a world inspired by medieval India” is nothing short of a delight! There will be so much to learn, even in simple things like food (with understanding that it won’t be quite 100% accurate given the type of story!).
MAGIC, Y’ALL. How many times can I shout this out? I love books with magic. ^.^ This has all the best elements: magic, mystery, vengeance, rebels… that list promises me a good time.
Recently I’ve realized just how many books I read with strong badass women in it. And, hey, I’m just going to add this one to the list! I am totally ready for the Sisters of the Golden Lotus to teach me about warrior magic.
Summary: Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.
Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl–Gul–in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance–and discovers a magic he never expected to find.
Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.
Recommended: yes! For magic! always for magic! And for characters who all have their complexities examined and everything is in shades of gray. For a story that matches the absolutely brilliant cover and title.
Summary: Zahru has long dreamed of leaving the kingdom of Orkena and having the kinds of adventures she’s only ever heard about in stories. But as a lowly Whisperer, her power to commune with animals means that her place is serving in the royal stables until the day her magic runs dry. All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes the Crossing: a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish—and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey’s end—will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities. With all of the kingdom abuzz, Zahru leaps at the chance to change her fate if just for a night by sneaking into the palace for a taste of the revelry. But the minor indiscretion turns into a deadly mistake when she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is forced to become the Crossing’s human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most dangerous people in the world.
Thoughts: What’s most impressive is how much story was told in this one book, and how quickly I read it. Yes, I’ve been looking forward to this book for monthsat this point, but it read so easily and I just couldn’t stop! In the rare moments where I did have to put it down, I found myself thinking about it and wondering what would happen next. Absolutely loved that!
“Daydreaming is all fun and games until you’re chosen as a human sacrifice, and having to sneak through a dilapidated town with a deserting prince and the risk of a treason charge.”
In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I’m using Fast Forward Fridays to look ahead to a release I’m excited about! Today’s is The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae, and oh boyyyy I cannot wait! You might remember I had posted about this when I won it from Bookishfirst, but unfortunately Penguin Teen titles have been stopped for delivery since COVID19. 😦 And so I find myself eagerly awaiting the release date when I can finally read more of this amazing story! Expected Release: June 16, 2020
Why wait on this one?
One thing that will always get my attention is an interesting world of magic! In this one Zahru is a Whisperer who can talk to animals — which as cool as it is to me, is seen as a pretty useless power in a world where others can summon fire or grow plants.
A competition that is divisive even among it’s own citizens — which kind of reminds me of the hunger games, but like if it were the first hunger games in 500 years and everyone was like “I know this is an old tradition but isn’t this also kind of insane to do??” A fight to the death for the next position on the throne that culminates in a human sacrifice, while accompanied by an elite magical team? That sounds right up my alley!
The inevitable mix up… where Zahru kind of accidentally-on-purpose sneaks into the challenges posing as an impressive mage and gets selected to participate. Which could, and seems likely it will, lead to truly horrible consequences. But also I’m really rooting for her to totally swing things on their head!
The name intrigues me so much, as well as the cover. And by the way, isn’t that cover gorgeous?? I haven’t seen many covers with such a bold and striking amount of purple! So vibrant! Combined with the golden scorpion, I’m extremely curious about the meaning of the title. Cannot wait!!!
Summary: Zahru has long dreamed of leaving the kingdom of Orkena and having the kinds of adventures she’s only ever heard about in stories. But as a lowly Whisperer, her power to commune with animals means that her place is serving in the royal stables until the day her magic runs dry.
All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes the Crossing: a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish—and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey’s end—will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities.
With all of the kingdom abuzz, Zahru leaps at the chance to change her fate if just for a night by sneaking into the palace for a taste of the revelry. But the minor indiscretion turns into a deadly mistake when she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is forced to become the Crossing’s human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most dangerous people in the world.
In contrast to throwback Thursday, I’m using Fridays to look ahead to books I’m excited for. Today’s book, The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso, is one I stumbled upon organically, and while I skipped it the first time I saw it, I came back later to check it out. AND I AM GLAD I DID. Expected Release: June 2, 2020
Why wait on this one?
It has magic, but dark magic, magic gone wrong. Instead of a life of prestige that Ryx should have had, her magic twists into a life-stealing shadow of what it should be. Death to everything she touches is enough of a character problem for her to deal with, but I’m sure things will only get worse for her from there. And I cannot wait.
The common plot of a kingdom in takeover, Ryx sounds like she’ll become the unlikely hero who can save her family and the kingdom entirely. This promises fights, and secrets uncovered, and probably plenty of schemes. I adore schemes.
Overall, the tone of this sounds darkly woven with intrigue and creative imagining of magic. I am really into the dark worlds of magic right now (always, really) and this sounds like it can perfectly satisfy a craving I didn’t even realize I had. 😍
Summary: The mage-marked granddaughter of a ruler of Vaskandar, Ryx was destined for power and prestige at the top of Vaskandran society. But her magic is broken; all she can do is uncontrollably drain the life from everything she touches, and Vaskandar has no place for a mage with unusable powers.
Then, one night, two terrible accidents befall her: Ryx accidentally kills a visiting dignitary in self-defense, activating a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle.
Ryx flees, seeking a solution to her deadly magic. She falls in with a group of unlikely magical experts investigating the disturbance in Vaskandar—and Ryx realizes that her family is in danger and her domain is at stake. She and her new colleagues must return to the family stronghold to take control of the artifact that everyone wants to claim—before it destroys the world.
Recommended: yes For a fantasy that covers a lot of elements, for a story that progresses through different interesting stages and plot lines, for an MC who feels real
Summary: In an empire divided into three rings, seventeen-year-old Talise is from the dangerous and crime-laden outer ring. Her only chance for escape is to become Master Shaper—an honored position in the palace court and military. Each year, the emperor chooses one student to receive the title. After ten years of training at an elite academy, Talise clearly has a gift for manipulating the elements of water, air, earth, and fire. But Aaden, a handsome student from the privileged inner ring, is poised to steal the title away from her. When they come before the emperor, he is impressed with the great skill both Talise and Aaden possess. He presents them with a set of trials, and she knows this is the chance she needs to prove herself. As long as Aaden doesn’t ruin everything. But secrets hide in every corner of the palace, masking a conflict far more dangerous than her previous home in the outer ring. Now, she must play along with the emperor’s lies and games, or else she will lose her life to an enemy she never expected.
Thoughts: I’m really glad I got the collection of the first four novels, because if I had to stop at the end of any of the different books I would have been mad. And that is always a good sign! I was delighted to learn there’s even another after this set, which I will be picking up soon. I’m not sure if that one is the end of the series or not, and I’m also not sure if I want it to be.
This was a short read packed with so much. This is a great example of what can be done in ~100 pages. This is something you have to think about, and savor, and should not read passively.
Recommended: yes For a short read that packs a punch, for beautifully lyrical writing, for a story that emerges through clues and fog and whispers, for a surprisingly gorgeous depiction of a life through objects
Summary: With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period drama The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a tightly and lushly written narrative about empire, storytelling, and the anger of women. A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.
Thoughts: Do not make the mistake of thinking that since this is just over 100 pages that it is sparse in detail or not much happens or you would not have time to learn the characters. We get all of that and more, and in such an elegant way, that it’s stunning to think how few times you actually need to turn the page.
I recently signed up for (yet another) book community / ARC site called Bookishfirst. It’s run by NetGalley but works a little differently. On NetGalley, anyone can request books that are available, and then the publisher reviews each requestor and decides if they want to give them a digital advance copy to review. On Bookishfirst, there are only a few books available each week, but anyone can enter by reading a section of the book and leaving a short blurb about what they thought. Up to 100 people are then selected to receive a full copy of the book to review (often in print).
I recently did my first blurb review for a book called “The Kinder Posion.” A girl who can talk to animals? Swoon. And that’s just a tiny aspect of it so far in a delicious new world of magic. I absolutely loved it, to the point where I forgot I didn’t actually have the entire book to read. When I got to the last page of the selection, I frowned and kept trying to turn to the next page, thinking something was wrong with my reading app because it wouldn’t let me. …Eventually I did realize that it was just the end of the selection they gave. 😂
With a little luck of the Irish, I checked my profile this morning to see what books were coming up next week and happened to see this little unexpected gem:
UHHHH WHAT?! 😁😎😍😄
And yes, it’s that book I was so excited to read. What amazing luck! I think? I’m not actually sure what the ratios usually are for these. I have no idea how many people use the platform, or how many on average usually enter the raffle (as you can leave a blurb but choose not to enter if you didn’t like the story), or how many people usually win each raffle.
So really, I have no idea if this WAS lucky, or if this is actually pretty common. Either way I’m thrilled to get a copy of this amazing magical story come early-May.
PS – if you want to sign up for Bookishfirst as well and see if you get lucky, feel free to use my referral code to get 100 bonus points when you sign up. You use points to claim for-sure copies of books you’re interested in and skip the chances of a raffle, so the more points the better! 🙂