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.

Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Top 5 books with Thorn in the title (fantasy sure loves its thorns!)

This month I read Court of Bitter Thorn by Kay L Moody, and it was exactly what I expected: similar to A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Which is to say that it was good, but not terrible original. The cover looks so similar to Brigid Kemmerer’s that you’d think they were part of the same series, and 75% of the title is shared with ACOTAR.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a good book! But it’s so similar to these other wildly popular books that I had to wonder what the most popular books with the word “thorn” are. Because I had a pretty good bet as to what they would tend to be. 😂

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

No one is surprised.

Top 5 genre tags for this title:
fantasy, young adult, romance, new adult, retellings

2 Sentence Summary:
A human girl is taken to the land of fae as penance for killing a faery. Basically everything there wants to kill her, and she just wants to get away from the weird gorgeous fae lord who has taken a strange interest in her.

Have I heard of / read this before?
Oh yes. I’ve heard of this. I did also finally read it, years after its publication.

Do I like the cover?
Neutral. It’s not ugly, but it’s not breathtaking. Kind of strange for a fantasy by Sarah J Maas, really.

Will I read it?
I did! I finally gave in. All these years, I had a feeling it wouldn’t really impress me, especially with the added pressure of the hype around the book and series. Everyone loves it. So predictably, I didn’t. In short, took forever for things to happen and the romance was weak at best. One character introduce at the end might convince me to continue the series. But not in any hurry.

Continue reading “Top 5 books with Thorn in the title (fantasy sure loves its thorns!)”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Court of Bitter Thorn by Kay L Moody

Court of Bitter Thorn by Kay L Moody – ⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: sure
For a faery tale that is pretty much exactly what you would expect, for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses, for a story that’s more about the character and the plot than any romance

Summary:
Faerie wasn’t supposed to be real. Tricked by a fae prince, Elora is stuck in the Faerie realm far from her young sisters who depend on her for survival. Under the terms of her bargain, she can’t go home to the mortal world until Prince Brannick becomes the next High King. Or until he’s taken out of the running… Sabotaging Brannick’s chance at the crown will be much faster than helping him win. The fae prince may be charming, powerful, and wickedly handsome, but that won’t stop Elora from selling his secrets to the highest bidder. By day, she uses her master sword skills to train the prince, while ignoring her growing attraction to him. By night, she conspires with a rival king in a nearby court whose plans could destroy half of Faerie. If she gets caught, Brannick will kill her. But what’s life without a little bit of danger?

Thoughts:
I was delighted by how much I enjoyed Kay L Moody’s other series, The Elements of the Crown, so when I saw that she had published the first in a new series, I was ready to jump in. From the description, I expected it to be a fun read but probably not anything that would blow me away with originality, and that’s about what I got. The world of fae and strong human females who get pulled into the world is a very popular theme, so it’s hard to do anything new, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be done well — and Moody certainly did!

Continue reading “Review: Court of Bitter Thorn by Kay L Moody”
Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: RWBY The Official Manga Vol.1!

Reminder that RWBY THE OFFICIAL MANGA 1 by Bunta Kinami (⭐⭐⭐⭐) released today (well, in English at least). Check out the review here or swing to Barnes & Noble to grab a copy!

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?

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Girl, Serpent, Thorn

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, Thorn by 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.
  • PS – this book was originally titled She Was and She Was Not

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.

Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Maas Whiplash: A Surprising, Yet Not, Disappointment

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*

Continue reading “Maas Whiplash: A Surprising, Yet Not, Disappointment”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Hunted By The Sky

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?

OH LORD, THAT COVER IS GORG!
  • 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.