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 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 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.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Verdict: 🔥🚒🧯
I’ve never read a +500 page book so quickly. This book made me less frustrated to wake up before 3am, because I knew I could read it in peace for a while.

Recommended: absolutely!!!
for lovers of magical fantasy, for a lively world of mystical creatures, for court intrigue and royal politicking, for allies and enemies and a lot of places in between

Summary

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…

Thoughts

First of all, WOW. I’m a fool for not reading this sooner, especially when I had a copy on my shelf for a while thinking I would enjoy it but just not getting around to it. Big thanks to the stranger on The Storygraph who invited me to a buddy read to get me into it, finally!! This book blew my socks off, and since it’s currently winter, that’s saying a lot, because I’m ALWAYS wearing socks in winter.

The world in this is of course the biggest strength. There’s the right balance between the little details that flesh it out, and not sinking so deeply into the details that I’m bored and lost in pages and pages of miscellaneous descriptions. The conjurations in the bazaars of Daveabad, for example, were enough to make the city and world feel magical and entrancing, but not so deep that I got sick of it (if ever I could…).

Continue reading “Review: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi, 2/1/22

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 This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi! Now, admittedly, this release isn’t one I have to look forward to for much longer because it’s actually out today!!! 🥰 Here’s why I’ve been counting down the days.
Expected Release: February 1, 2022 (er…today!!!)

Why wait on this one?

  • This one might sound odd, but: the blurb is so short. That always feels like a bit of a risk to me, but at the same time, when a blurb about a book is short, it often means that there is just SO MUCH TO DISCOVER by reading it that there isn’t much to say without taking away some of that fun!
  • 2And what we do get from the blurb is my catnip: prophecy; fate; royalty; kingdoms; hierarchy; secrets; and JINN?! FRICKIN GENIES AND MAGIC?? ABSOLUTELY YES I WILL READ THIS!!
  • “Inspired by Persian mythology.” A thing I know little about and desperately want to know more about. Sounds like a perfect fit!!!

Summary

To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.

Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic, romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Castles in their Bones, 2/01/21

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 Castles in Their Bones by Laura Sebastian!
Expected Release: February 1, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • I’m hella into this because I got halfway through the second paragraph of the blurb, thought “Oh, hell yeah!” and stopped reading because I already knew I’d like it. Underestimated women, court intrigue, roses who have thorns, triplets… I am ALL ABOUT THIS.
  • There’s also an interesting line towards the end of the blurb about each girl having one wish pulled from the stars. I have no idea if that’s literal or metaphorical, but either way it sounds a bit magical and I’m curious how that will work it’s way in here.
  • Ahhh, secrets and intrigue and plotting. I feel myself sliding into a strange duo of desires right now: informative nonfiction and epic dark fantasy. I’m not super sure if this will be “epic” or “dark” but it still sounds really really good!

Summary

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.

Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.

The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.

Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other?

Posted in Reviews

Review: Spark (Fire Within #4) by Ella M. Lee

Spark by Ella M. Lee
Here’s book 1, book 2, and book 3!

Recommended: yo, if you’ve come this far into the series you’re OBVIOUSLY not stopping here. YES READ IT!!!!

Summary

It’s been nearly a year since the extraordinary but devastating creation of Lightning Clan, and Fiona Ember is still reeling from starting over yet again—without her closest friend. Although the clan has painstakingly continued their work of taming the persnickety magic, Fiona is having a hard time embracing her new power and letting the past go.

But when a message arrives from Sky Clan inviting Fiona, Nicolas, and Ryan to a conclave of the pinnacle members from all nine clans, she can no longer ignore her newfound place in the magical world. The other clans will be looking for answers about the new magic, and not all the questions will be easy.

To make things more difficult, anomalies have appeared in Lightning’s sanctum that could change everything magicians have ever known to be true about magic—if only Lightning could puzzle out their exact nature.

Thoughts

After the ending of the third book, I think there’s no surprise that there’s a lot going on at the start of this one, and primarily sad things. Chaotic things. Grief features heavily, so brace yourself because it’s really really tough at times how raw it was. I cried a lot at the end of the last book, and this one was no different. Ella M Lee has a string attached directly to my tear ducts.

My suspicions about what this book would entail were 50% correct. I predicted one of the main plot points, but that was about it. The details of how things occurred, the resolutions of several other large problems, and the very last pages were all fitting with the characters and the decisions they would make. After binge reading 4 books in this fabulous series, I feel really attached with the characters and their lives. It was really hard at times when characters made decisions that were SO in tune with who they are, but absolutely broke my heart for them to make.

While I’m a softie and I cried a lot as always, this was still full of hope and drama and excitement. The bulk of the book takes place during a clan event, so there was a lot to learn about some of the other clans we haven’t seen as much of yet. The politicking was also on full display, along with some intriguing new rules of the magic world. The world-building and lore and rules of magic are a core draw for me for any fantasy novel, and Lee delivered in this installment. The knowledge building aligned us with Fiona as she learned through it all as well.

And of course, we FINALLY get to learn about Lightning magic!! Yo, it’s cool as shit. Promise: it does not disappoint.

This book is best defined by the word bittersweet. While I could have immediately dove into book 5, and absolutely wanted to, I paused here to just let it sit for a little while. This whole arc was extremely intense and I wanted to soak in all the questions, because I can never experience these for the first time again (barring some horrible amnesiac event which I hope does not occur). And I can say that after a few weeks of finishing this book (in two days…), I’m still thinking about it and marveling at how very extremely good it is.

I’m ready for book five.

Break my heart again, Lee.

Thank you to Booksirens and Ella M Lee for a free digital copy. This is my honest review!

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Daughter of the Moon Goddess, 1/11/22

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 Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan!
Expected Release: January 11, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • This story is folklore inspired! I’ve found a soft spot for retellings in the past year, which is a preference I never knew I had. I love seeing the ways in which people reimagine stories and tell their own version, breathing life into them all over again by filling in the details we may never truly know. I’ll have to read the legend of Chang’e, the moon goddess, before I read this book! Or maybe after? Hmm…
  • If folklore isn’t good enough, this one is also based on Chinese folklore. I tend to really love the style of those with their elegant yet fierce characters and (often literally) radiant settings. I think the art of the book cover really captures the aesthetic I’m trying to explain here.
  • And there’s magic! Godly magic is especially exciting because it’s so unfathomable, and unlimited, and can really be anything. What limits are there on magic, and especially magic of goddesses?

Summary

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.