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”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
Verdict: Absolutely fantastic in its dark and complex world

Thank you to Elise for sending me a recommendation and a copy, as only the best friends would 🥰

Recommended: yes!
For a darkly atmospheric world, for the loveliest gray shaded characters, for an MC that is so purely good and selfless and my god is that just what I needed to read especially in the midst of 2020 elections…

Summary:
In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement. But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood. Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

Thoughts:
October was my month of reading spooky witchy books, and this one was SO much better than I expected! I went in somewhat blind to it thanks to a recommendation from my friend, so maybe it’s more accurate to say I didn’t really have expectations. Regardless, the atmosphere and world of this book was incredible. The sinister yet compelling darkwoods came to life despite their immersion in death. The brutality of the world was cruel to face, but didn’t allow you to look away as brides are cut to bleed and hot pokers brand justice from loved ones.

Continue reading “Review: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Shadows Rising by Madeleine Roux

Shadows Rising by Madeleine Roux

Verdict: What a disappointment. It was exhausting. It took a long time to actually get going, and then concluded in a sort of underwhelming hurry.

Recommended: Not really
Not recommended because the story was hard to keep track of, too many character changes (and this from a girl who handled all of George RR Martin with no problem), a slow story, and not much that really adds to the lore

Summary:
Struggling to shoulder the crushing weight of leadership, King Anduin entrusts the void elf and High Exarch Turalyon to uncover Sylvanas’s whereabouts. The various factions of the Horde form a council, leaving the mantle of warchief to rest. But the threats are numerous, and the distrust runs too deep. When the council is derailed by a failed assassination attempt on Talanji—the Zandalari queen and a key ally—Thrall and the rest of the Horde leaders are forced into action. They empower the young troll shaman Zekhan with a critical mission to aid Talanji and help uncover the rising threat against her. Meanwhile, Nathanos Blightcaller and Sira Moonwarden have been tasked by the Dark Lady with a terrifying gambit: to kill the troll loa of death himself, Bwonsamdi. As Zekhan and Talanji work to save Bwonsamdi, their journey will be a key turning point in bolstering the Horde against the coming darkness and finding themselves along the way. Failure to save their allies and the trickster god will surely doom them—but through success, they may rediscover what makes the Horde strong.

Thoughts:
What do I love about this book? The Horde perspectives. I am roped into playing primarily Alliance because my S.O. and the guild tend to lean that way, but my heart is with the Horde. So getting to read about Zekhan made me melt because he’s so cute and sweet!

But, then, the problems start. Because I only get maybe fifteen total pages from his perspective? And the rest are a neck-breaking whiplash of variety. There were WAY too many character perspectives in here!!!! Look, I can handle a nonlinear story, I can handle a lot of character changes, but it just did not work in this book.

Continue reading “Review: Shadows Rising by Madeleine Roux”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Orestin’s Own by L. Alyssa Austin

Orestin’s Own by L. Alyssa Austin – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Verdict: Absolutely compelling every step of the way

Recommended: YUP
For a fantastic world in both senses of the word, for an epic adventure kind of story, for creatures that will certainly haunt you in sleep

Summary:
The veil is thinning. Every day more undead creatures slip into Everra. Soon their most terrifying kin, spawn of the dark goddess Orestin, will emerge to devour all life. Master Historian Mycellane enlists an aging Knight and an inexperienced priestess to join him on a journey to obtain an ancient artifact-one that can bring an end to the incursion. But their salvation lies on the other side of the veil, in the Dead Waste of Myrcantos, and only one person can bring them through: a Myrcantan necromancer who remains loyal to the enemy. The path before them leads through a barren, unforgiving land. Ravenous abominations lurk in the shadows. But the greatest danger to their mission is the hatred and distrust they feel for one another…

Thoughts:
Orestin’s Own deftly avoided the trap of falling into expected cliches and “twists” that are actually pretty much the norm by this point. The twists here? Are entirely unique. A book I can’t predict 100% is a rare treat for me, and this was one of them. Reading this felt so lyrical, and so emotive. The feeling of cold seeping into the characters bones as they traverse the frozen wasteland of the dead… the paranoia they grapple with, both towards each other and their more pressing threats… the jarring descriptions of all manner of shambling corpses and afterworldly horrors…. I felt it.

Continue reading “Review: Orestin’s Own by L. Alyssa Austin”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Instant Karma, 11/3

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 Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer, which should probably be a surprise to zero people who are familiar with my reading habits and this book.
Expected release: November 3, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • A judgy girl has to challenge her own prejudices. Plus, come on, who doesn’t sometimes just want life to be more fair? Good deeds rewarded? Or at least, bad deeds aren’t punished?
  • Enemies to lovers? Yes please! Sometimes I end up choking on it when the people are both actually terrible people. But I always go in hoping that I’ll enjoy it.
  • It’s Marissa Meyer. It’s really hard for me to resist Marissa Meyer. Plus I think it will be interesting to read her first go at a contemporary book, albeit with still a bit of magic involved.

Summary:
Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday, on Sunday! Phoenix Extravagant, 10/20

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! However… today is Sunday. Because this week got a little bit hectic. 😂 On the bright side, now there’s even fewer days to wait until this week’s feature, Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee, comes out!
Expected Release: October 20, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • A dramatic story of the art of war. But… literally. Gyen is just a painter, until they’re conscripted to use their artistic skills to paint the war sigils needed for the army. The reluctant savior who uncovers deeply covered secrets.
  • Oh, and did I mention that the soldiers are automatons, and the sigils animate them? It’s a robot army! Sort of! But magic regardless of what category you want to throw it into, so you know I’m all about it. Always with the magic, please. 😍
  • A renegade in pursuit of justice at all costs — and particularly when in defiance of their own government or ruling system — will probably forever appeal to me. Although lately it’s a little but uncomfortable and depressing because of how real it feels. Like, we could probably do with a dragon-stealing magic-wielding avenger right about now in the US. Or probably like four years ago.
  • I’m also trying to get better at using they as a singular pronoun and while I’m just about to the point where I don’t think twice about it, reading a book with a nonbinary character probably can’t hurt. 😄

Summary:

Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. They just want to paint.

One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.

But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the awful source of the magical pigments they use—they find they can no longer stay out of politics.

What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight…

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Hush, 10/6!

In contrast to Throwback Thursdays, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release I’m excited about! Today’s is one I stumbled upon quite randomly and feels very mysterious to me: Hush by Dylan Farrow.

Why wait on this one?

  • Honestly, reading the blurb for this book doesn’t give me much substance of what to expect from it plot-wise. The one thing that’s very clear to me, though, is that there will be magic. When benign words suddenly get a capital letter, you know they carry some weight. So personally I’m excited to know why Bards and Telling get that honor.
  • The blurb also hints at the MC, Shae, having some newly discovered powers of her own. I have no idea what that might look like, but I am rarely disappointed by someone becoming a badass and learning what they’re capable of!
  • And with great power comes great responsibility, right? So secrets and conspiracies are just part of the package. I”m really hoping that this blurb is so vague because there’s SO MUCH packed into the story that they really don’t want to give anything away. And oh, I can’t wait to find out what it is.

Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Shae has led a seemingly quiet life, joking with her best friend Fiona, and chatting with Mads, the neighborhood boy who always knows how to make her smile. All while secretly keeping her fears at bay… Of the disease that took her brother’s life. Of how her dreams seem to bleed into reality around her. Of a group of justice seekers called the Bards who claim to use the magic of Telling to keep her community safe.

When her mother is murdered, she can no longer pretend.

Not knowing who to trust, Shae journeys to unlock the truth, instead finding a new enemy keen to destroy her, a brooding boy with dark secrets, and an untold power she never thought possible.