Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Prison Healer, 4/13/21

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 Prison Healer by Lynette Noni.
Expected Release: April 13, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • A woman taking on some kind of to-the-death competition is pretty much the easiest way to get me to read a book. Add in the facts that they’re elemental based trials, there’s a prison involved, PLUS some kind of foreign-royal-rebellion-rescue mystery involved? Well, there’s pretty much no way I’m not reading this.
  • This sounds like it’s going to have strong Throne of Glass vibes, and that series was a game changer for me. I think this book has the potential to be really unoriginal and disappointing, BUT I also think that if it’s done well, it will be really really good. I hold out hope for the latter. ^.^
  • Creative challenges are fun to read about. I can’t wait to see what madness she has to face for a fire trial, or how her healing skills will inevitably come in handy somehow. There’s also just so much mystery packed into the blurb that I ALREADY am dying to know: who is this queen? Who is KIVA, really??

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Cost of Knowing, 4/6/21

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 Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris!
Expected Release: April 6, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Alex is able to see the future of anything he touches, just a glimpse at a time. They seem to be always depressing or the worst moment of it’s future — like he and his girlfriend breaking up. Or… like his brother dying. Soon. So if this isn’t clear, the plot is what’s heavily drawing me in here. I want to know why he has this ability
  • While there’s obviously some magic going on in this story, it also sounds like it will blend with reality to make it feel natural. There’s some hints that Alex has anxiety and probably some other mental health struggles, because frankly in his situation, who wouldn’t?
  • And of course this story will be painful, in large part because as always, it is too real that just being black in America is half a death sentence already. I’m not 100% sure what the predicted cause of his brother’s death will be, but if I can read into the police-light-red-and-blues of the cover, maybe I have a decent guess.
  • And also of course it’s by Brittney Morris and I super loved Slay. She’s close to an auto-read author for me now.

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Alex Rufus is trying his best. He tries to be the best employee he can be at the local ice cream shop; the best boyfriend he can be to his amazing girlfriend, Talia; the best protector he can be over his little brother, Isaiah. But as much as Alex tries, he often comes up short.

It’s hard to for him to be present when every time he touches an object or person, Alex sees into its future. When he touches a scoop, he has a vision of him using it to scoop ice cream. When he touches his car, he sees it years from now, totaled and underwater. When he touches Talia, he sees them at the precipice of breaking up, and that terrifies him. Alex feels these visions are a curse, distracting him, making him anxious and unable to live an ordinary life.

And when Alex touches a photo that gives him a vision of his brother’s imminent death, everything changes.

With Alex now in a race against time, death, and circumstances, he and Isaiah must grapple with their past, their future, and what it means to be a young Black man in America in the present.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
Verdict: eh… underwhelming

Recommended: not really

If you read the blurb and are REALLY into it, give it a go. If you’re interested but not ravenous, probably don’t bother. Stay away if you want the dark moments to make you shiver, and stay away if you want characters who feel like people. Give it a shot if what you want is to learn about the world they live in.

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

Thoughts

Ehh. I mean, it wasn’t bad. But it just never really sucked me in. I read the story with a bit of detachment the whole way. The ending picked it up a bit, but I probably won’t continue the series. Honestly it doesn’t feel like I need to. The end had a few interesting revelations, but ultimately it didn’t finish on a concrete “WHAT NOW” kind of moment. It didn’t keep me hooked and desperate for the next one.

Continue reading “Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Mirror Season, 3/16/21

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 Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore.
Expected Release: March 16, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • The point that men can be sexually assaulted as well as women is not often touched upon in stories. True, it’s likely far FAR less common, but I appreciate the duality of the story here as I think that the combined perspectives can make the overall horror clearer and hit harder.
  • Part of the premise reminds me in a way of the mood in Mooncakes and while I wasn’t a huge fan of that story, I do think it can work well here. I expect that magical realism to fit seamlessly into the all-too-real elements of the story as a way to soften the blow and allow for personal discovery.
  • Man, this is going to be a tough read in a lot of ways. And yet, it seems like it has these touches of light in there as glimmers of hope for the main characters as well as the reader going along with them. I think that if this is done well, it will be really successful.

Summary

Graciela Cristales’ whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.

Posted in Book Talk

In progress with THE UNSPOKEN NAME

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

Progress: page 313/464 (67%)

Why did I start reading it?

I saw this at some point, I think maybe just when browsing through library books available soon, and the cover stopped me in my tracks. The name took it from there. And the blurb sealed the deal. I’m super into the magic-and-necromancy stories, and if this was any time around October then make it doubly so. It’s been on my radar for a while now and I finally grabbed a copy for this month. This book is so much. By 30% of the way through, I felt like I had read as much story as would be in some other entire books, and I was only a third of the way through! I didn’t fully expect an epic, but that’s what it is, and I’m not mad.

Words I’ve Learned

Lines that linger

He must have swabbed up old age, like a sponge, by touching too many old books.

Women of a certain age loved Sethennai, even when they were giant snakes or evil rocks.

The secret of greatness is to know when you should risk the wrath of god.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Jade Bones, 2/16

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 Jade Bones by Lani Forbes. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of the first copy, which means I’ve been waiting extra long for this book. Also, Y’ALL! I posted a Fast Forward Friday actually on Friday!!! This might be the first time all year. 🎉
Expected Release: February 16, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Well, like I said: I’ve been waiting on this sequel for what feels like a super long time now! So I’m excited to just continue the story! I’m not 100% sure if this is the final book or not, but I sort of hope it is so I can enjoy the conclusion. ☺
  • Most of the first book was decent, but didn’t blow me away with originality. And then we got to the last few chapters. And man, where that book ended was where I wanted to be. I am SO excited to explore this new portion of the world and story!!!
  • I love Mayan / central American fantasy. I feel like there’s so little of it, which is bizarre considering how rich the history is and the lush beautiful environments they can be set in. Everyone else is a fool, and Lani Forbes knows how to get things done.

Summary (note: THIS IS A SEQUEL!)

Cast into the underworld after an act of shattering betrayal, Mayana and Ahkin must overcome unimaginable odds if they are to return home and reclaim the throne of the Chicome. A river of blood and demons disguised as children are only two of the challenges standing in their way. Fortunately, they are not unequipped. Mayana’s royal blood controls the power of water, and Prince Ahkin wields the power of the sun itself. Ometeotl, the Mother goddess, provides them with other gifts—and an ominous warning that one of them may not survive. But can the goddess be trusted?

Back in the lands above, Mayana’s best friend, Yemania, has survived the empress selection ritual—but her next challenge may be more than she can bear. The new empress of the Chicome Empire demands she become High Healer. Yemania has no interest in serving in the palace; she wants to use her healing ability to help the common people. More than that, her heart is no longer her own. She has met an enchanting stranger—Ochix, one of the feared Miquitz people who are ancient enemies of the Chicome.

As Mayana and Ahkin move ever closer to confronting the lords of the dead, Yemania and Ochix must hide their forbidden romance or face the wrath of both their empires. Meanwhile, the new empress has made a dangerous alliance that might destroy everything they hold dear.

I admit, I was surprised by House of Earth and Blood

Aight y’all. I know I can be… harsh to books that are really popular and hyped. Even if it seems like something I might usually enjoy, if I see it everywhere, I’m kind of going to hate it. I’m definitely going to avoid it. Such was the case with House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas. Even though I adore her, I just was not into how much I was hearing about this apparently amazing book. So I stayed away.

And then I got it for Christmas. 😂 So I mean, yeah of course I was going to read it if I already had a copy! And, well, damn, it was really good. I laughed, I cried, I was genuinely surprised and had those moments like “OH DAAAAAAMN!” I’m really happy to say, okay, I was wrong on this one. ^.^

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: A Vow So Bold and Deadly, 1/12/21

Hey y’all! It’s the first Friday of the year, and the first day of the year! Whoo, I guess! But hey, I’m not breaking tradition just because of a page flip on a calendar: today’s Friday, and I’m looking forward to a book coming out (blessedly) soon. Saying I’m looking forward to A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer almost feels like cheating since it’s such a hugely popular release. BUT: I also never thought I would actually be interested in it! So here’s what changed my mind…

Why wait on this one?

  • Since this is the third (and final) book in the series, I’ve of course already read the other two (A Curse So Dark and Lonely and A Heart so Fierce and Broken). So obviously my first reason for being excited for this book is TO KNOW THE ENDING! We’ve come a long way in this story, and met a lot of different characters, and jumped ship probably a million times. So. Now what, Brigid?
  • I’m particularly intrigued in this book as a tiebreaker book between the first two. The styles changed dramatically from book one to book two, and we even changed character perspectives entirely (which was not a wildly popular choice for some people). So, I want to know who we’re going to hear from now! Will it be all four main-ish characters? Just two of them? Written in third person omniscient?! WHO KNOWS! I’m terribly curious to see how she’ll wrap this up
  • Remember how I said I never thought I’d actually be into this series? Well that’s because it was so obnoxiously overly hyped and popular for so long that I hated it just for that. I figured it would be a pretty generic girl-ends-up-in-faerie-land story, and boy was I wrong. I love the way Harper’s disability is just a part of who she is, instead of defining her entirely. I love the complex relationship dynamics between Grey and Rhen. Admittedly Lia Mara is not really that compelling for me, but she is now a pretty important player in the game so she better step it up. I love the world and characters now, so I’m seeing it through to the end.

summary

Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace.

Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.

As two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and an old enemy resurfaces who could destroy them all, in this stunning conclusion to bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look ahead to an upcoming release that I’me xcited about! Today’s (or, well, yesterday’s since I’m a day late this time) is When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo — and the author might be familiar if you follow this blog! So, why am I excited about this one?
Expected Release: December 8, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • First and foremost, Nghi Vo’s other novella in this style was fascinating and lyrical and beautiful. It told so much story in such a short amount of time. It was a fantastic representation of all that a novella can deliver. I even had that book as a Fast Forward Friday feature as well, and I was right to anticipate it.
  • Now to be honest, I’ve only just read the blurb for the first time, because when I saw Nghi Vo I knew I would be reading it. But the blurb sounds like it will be a perfect delivery of another entrancing world. Chih has to placate yet understand a ferocious band of tigers, and I think the character’s interaction with an animal as the basis for their talents will work perfectly with the mystical writing style.
  • These are delightful bite-size stories that feel like so much more. I’m working on other reading goals right now, but for any of y’all who are hoping to hit a quota before the end of the year: this is a perfect addition. 128 pages makes it short and sweet, and Nghi Vo packs it with emotion of a 600+ page tome.

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.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa De La Cruz

Hey y’all! A quick note that the formatting for this post is pretty weak because I’m posting this from my phone with limited connection. So I have to keep it simple today! I’ll update it once I’m home again. ☺️

Summary

Caledon Holt is the Kingdom of Renovia’s deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in brawn or brains, which is why he’s the Guild’s most dangerous member and the Queen’s one and only assassin. He’s also bound to the Queen by an impossible vow–to find the missing Deian Scrolls, the fount of all magical history and knowledge, stolen years ago by a nefarious sect called the Aphrasians.

Shadow has been training all her life to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunts–to become skilled enough to join the ranks of the Guild. Though magic has been forbidden since the Aphrasian uprising, Shadow has been learning to control her powers in secret, hoping that one day she’ll become an assassin as feared and revered as Caledon Holt.

When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they’re forced to team up as assassin and apprentice to hunt down a new sinister threat to Renovia. But as Cal and Shadow grow closer, they’ll uncover a shocking web of lies and secrets that may destroy everything they hold dear. With war on the horizon and true love at risk, they’ll stop at nothing to protect each other and their kingdom in this stunning first novel in the Queen’s Secret series.

_______________________

Thoughts

It was ok. There’s a chance I’d continue the series, but not in any pressing way. The writing was somewhat weak; there was lots of telling not showing, particularly in the very beginning and end. It weakened the story overall, as it felt distant from the story itself and like a blurb provided midway for an editor to have context. Not really the experience I want as a reader.

The plot is pretty generic, but there’s a reason I keep reading books with a secret royal / royal assassin / demon and magic baseline: I like them. I would say this was definitely more romance than adventure, though. A sprinkle of cave sleeping and near escapes, but overall there was minimal peril or even things going wrong.

Continue reading “Review: The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa De La Cruz”