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.
Review: Thank you to Netgalley for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. The Bone Orchard follows Charm, who is the mistress of Orchard House. We follow as politics are revealed and we get to know the characters. I am sorry to say that I don’t think I enjoyed this book very much. I was confused pretty much the whole time. I could follow along with some of the plotlines and whatnot. But by the time I finished the book, I still had questions that hadn’t been answered. I do think that this was a me thing and not the fault of the book. I think maybe I’m just not smart enough for this book or maybe I just didn’t read it with enough focus but I feel like I completely missed something. Overall, I probably wouldn’t recommend this one, but I’d like to see what others thought of this one.
Summary: Set in a gorgeous world of bone and shadow magic, of vengeful gods and defiant chosen ones, The City of Dusk is the first in a dark epic fantasy trilogy that follows the four heirs of four noble houses—each gifted with a divine power—as they form a tenuous alliance to keep their kingdom from descending into a realm-shattering war. The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir. But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying. Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city. But their defiance will cost them dearly.
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. The City of Dusk follows five main characters, each is the heir to a noble family. Each heir has their own issues with being the heir and the goals of their parents. But things are unraveling and the four heirs may need to take things into their own hands. They may need to work together despite some of them not liking one another. But the more they learn about what they might need to do, the more muddled things seem. I really enjoyed this book. The fantasy world is interesting and well explained so I felt like I could easily understand how things were set up, geographically and politically. The politics were the main part of the plot of this book. I thought the backstory about the four families and the gods/their belief system was engaging and kept me interested. But most of all, I was compelled by the characters. I’m not going to go in-depth on each one because I think what I have to say could be giving some stuff away, but only if I specify which characters. This book really surprised me with how dark things turned. As these four heirs (and a mysterious fifth character that I really loved) work together to try and save their world, they explore their abilities, their relationships, and the things they’ll do to reach their goals. Some of these characters turned pretty dark as they found the depths of their powers and I actually really loved that. I think one of the four main characters may end up turning into a villain in the future and I’m honestly so here for that. Overall, this was an engaging first installment of a fantasy trilogy. There was some good world-building, characters that I really got to know and care about, interesting magic, and an ending that left me excited for the next book.
Summary: Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds. The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent. In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode―and the people who will do anything to save it.
Review: I’m genuinely not sure how I’m supposed to talk about my feelings regarding House of Sky and Breath outside of “holy fucking shit.” Normally, I would have powered through an exciting new release like this, pushing aside all other responsibilities. But I just had a baby, so my newborn obviously was my priority. Let me tell you, it’s not easy reading an 800-page book while feeding a baby. House of Sky and Breath follows the same characters we came to know and love from the first book, plus a few more that play a bigger role in this sequel. I really liked the way that it was written. It’s written in the third person, so we follow along with a few different characters getting to see a wider view than just the main character’s perspective. I think it really allowed the world to be opened up more. I really loved learning more about the world. I thought that the bits of history about Midgard that we learned were absolutely fascinating and definitely made certain mysterious plot lines more engaging. Also, I’m absolutely dying to know more about the gates and how they work after that big reveal at the end. The characters were absolutely what made this story for me. While I was engaged by the plot of the book and the adventures these characters went on, I was mostly here for the character development and the relationships. I would die for Bryce and Hunt. This book was pretty steamy when it came to the sex scenes. I actually really liked that Maas included more than just “traditional” sex. There were a lot of emotional challenges for both Bryce and Hunt in this book that I thought was really interesting. But most of all, I was excited to see more about Bryce’s other relationships. Her slowly healing relationship with her brother, Ruhn, especially. I loved seeing them train together and come to rely on one another. I also really liked that Ruhn got his own plot points for the book. I enjoyed his involvement in furthering the plot just as much as what Bryce and Hunt were doing. Overall, I loved this book. That’s it really. And it’s no big surprise that I loved it.
Summary: The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine. Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.
Review: The Rage of Dragons is an adult fantasy with a vast world, but for the most part, we follow Tau as he finds himself on a journey for vengeance. He’s lost everyone he loves and this sets him on a completely different path than what he’d wanted for his life. He throws away all of his plans and completely dedicates himself to taking the lives of those that caused the death of his loved ones. The world and magic was the highlight of this book for me. It’s such a detailed world full of politics that we’re absolutely horrible. There is so much that’s obviously wrong with how some people are treated. It was made obvious because we follow Tau who is a “lesser.” He’s not one of the lowest people in this society, but he’s certainly not treated very well. I loved the mythology of how the magic of this world was created. I think there’s definitely going to be some really compelling stuff related to the plot in the next book that has to do with the magic and I’m incredibly excited to see how it all plays out. Tau was a tough main character to follow. He’s so full of anger and hatred. We get to see his mostly easy life. And then we get to see it fall completely apart. So, it was easy to see why he chose the path that he did. And it wasn’t hard to root for him as he walked his path of vengeance. I’m very eager to see where things will go in the next book with how this one ended. Overall, I liked this book. It was a lot slower than I was anticipating, there was a lot of training and build-up before the plot and politics really took off. But there was a lot of focus on the characters and their developments and relationships. It was engaging and compelling to get to know the characters and follow their training. I’m very excited to start the next book. I ended up listening to the audio for this one and I think the narrator did an excellent job telling the story. I will be continuing the series via audiobook. I will definitely be recommending this one in the future.
Summary: War is only the beginning… From the desperation of golden crowns…Casteel Da’Neer knows all too well that very few are as cunning or vicious as the Blood Queen, but no one, not even him, could’ve prepared for the staggering revelations. The magnitude of what the Blood Queen has done is almost unthinkable. And born of mortal flesh…Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for. With the strength of the Primal of Life’s guards behind her, and the support of the wolven, Poppy must convince the Atlantian generals to make war her way—because there can be no retreat this time. Not if she has any hope of building a future where both kingdoms can reside in peace. A great primal power rises…Together, Poppy and Casteel must embrace traditions old and new to safeguard those they hold dear—to protect those who cannot defend themselves. But war is only the beginning. Ancient primal powers have already stirred, revealing the horror of what began eons ago. To end what the Blood Queen has begun, Poppy might have to become what she has been prophesied to be—what she fears the most. As the Harbinger of Death and Destruction.
Review: The War of Two Queens has created some controversy in the book community. I certainly have some thoughts, but I think the best way for me to write this review is going to be to do my what I liked/what I didn’t like kind of review. I think that I am going to talk spoilers for this review because there are some things that really impacted my thoughts of this book that I can’t talk about without spoilers. So, if you don’t want to read spoilers about this book, stop reading here.
What I Liked:
I liked Poppy. Poppy is powerful as hell and only continues to gain power as she completes the Culling. I absolutely loved seeing Poppy lose control and lose her shit on those that test her. But I also really liked seeing her able to pull back and control her abilities when she needed to. Poppy is a Queen in this book and since she and Casteel are separated, Poppy must stand as a queen on her own, and damn did she succeed. I also really loved seeing Poppy hold her own when she came up against Isbeth.
I really liked seeing the ties between the Blood and Ash series and the Flesh and Fire series. I liked that we got hints of what is to come for the next book in the Flesh and Fire series. I think seeing how deep the deception and misinformation about the Gods and the history of their world was fascinating. It’s kind of unbelievable that none of these people know the actual history of their own world.
Millicent. I honestly love her so much. I liked her in the last book, but I loved learning her secrets. I am incredibly eager to see what will happen next in regards to Millicent. I loved her connections to Poppy and I even liked the connections with Malik. There were so many things that Millie was a part of that were left open-ended for future books. I am very excited to see what she does next.
I loved the ending. Isbeth absolutely got what she deserved and I was screaming when she met her end. I was definitely surprised by a few things that happened at the end of the book, but I predicted early on that Kolis was the True King that Isbeth was talking about. But the way that Isbeth went about waking him really surprised me. Guessing the secret about Kolis didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the story because I didn’t know all of the details of what needed to happen for him to return. This also is where a lot of the tie-ins come into play from A Shadow in the Ember and I really loved seeing things revealed about the Consort.
The joining. Okay, so, I liked that the joining happened, but I didn’t like the joining itself. I’ll explain that in the next section. I was always pro-joining, and I definitely think that there was foreshadowing leading up to the joining actually happening. I am happy that Kieran and Casteel are connected through Poppy so we will need to worry less about them dying since Poppy is practically impossible to kill.
What I Didn’t Like:
I’ll just dive right in and explain what I didn’t like about the joining. It was messy as hell. For someone that seems to write some really great sex scenes, this threesome was not good. Poppy basically has no idea what’s going on at all. She’s literally talking about how she doesn’t know whose penis is inside her and who is touching her where, like Poppy, open your eyes and look? The whole scene was just messy and I think it could have been much better.
The side characters that we’ve come to know and love felt like they were barely in this book. We’ve been missing Tawny for several books and once again, she was barely in this book. The same goes for Vonetta and Delano and so many others that I’ve really enjoyed seeing. I wish they’d played more of a role that we got to see in this book.
The dual points of view were not my favorite thing. We got back and forth between Poppy and Casteel and I just didn’t care for some reason. Every time we were in a Casteel chapter, I just wanted to see what Poppy was doing. I don’t know why that is, but I didn’t care for the alternating perspectives.
So, this issue is one that I didn’t actually notice until I read some of the reviews after I finished the book. But this might be why I didn’t really care about Casteel’s chapters. Casteel is such a flat character whose only personality trait is loving Poppy. He feels like he’s only in the story to be Poppy’s hype man and that’s such a difference from the first book. He just slowly lost any sort of purpose outside of loving Poppy.
I didn’t really like the repetition either. The countless jokes about Poppy asking questions, Poppy being stabby, and a few other things are jokes that are just getting a little old at this point. They feel a bit overdone.
I’m still total trash for this series and I will be continuing on. I’m still very interested to see how things are going to play out. But I will probably be lowering my expectations for future books. I’m sure there are other things that I could talk about, but these are the highlights of my thoughts. I had a great time while I was reading, but it’s definitely not passing The Dark Elements as my favorite series by Armentrout.
Summary: To save the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, former librarian Claire and her allies may have to destroy it first. Claire, the rakish Hero, the angel Rami, and the muse turned librarian Brevity have accomplished the impossible by discovering the true nature of unwritten books. But now that the secret is out, Hell will be coming for every wing of the library in its quest for power. To protect the Unwritten Wing and stave off the insidious reach of Malphas, one of Hell’s most bloodthirsty generals, Claire and her friends will have to decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice to keep their vulnerable corner of the afterlife. Succeeding would mean rewriting the nature of the library, but losing would mean obliteration. Their only chance at survival lies in outwitting Hell and writing a new chapter for the Library. Luckily, Claire and her friends know how the right story, told well, can become a revolution.
Review: I’m going to keep this review short because I waited entirely too long after finishing this book to write this review. The God of Lost Words follows the same cast of characters that we’ve come to know and love from the first two books in the series. In this finale, they’re thrust into another life or death mission to give all of the libraries their independence, or else Hell might actually win in their attempt to claim the Library of the Unwritten. I still love all of these characters. Claire was put in an interesting position in this story for her character. She’s always been the leader before, but she wasn’t the librarian anymore and it was interesting to see her do her best to let Brevity take charge of the library aspect of the story. But we still get to see Claire scheme and take charge of other aspects of the plot. Brevity really shows how she is absolutely a good fit to be Claire’s successor as Librarian of the Unwritten. I genuinely enjoyed seeing her flourish in the role, despite the library being in complete chaos for most of the story. Hero and Ramiel were both compelling perspectives as well. Hero was figuring out who he was without his book in the last book and I think we really got to see the results of that in this book. Ramiel was, as usual, the fierce defender. Overall, I was happy with how this series was concluded. I think there was enough action and adventure with high stakes to keep me engaged in the story. The characters were really what kept me invested. I absolutely loved getting to see all the other wings of the library. There was a lot more traveling in this book and I really liked that. The only thing I wasn’t sold on was the romance. I liked it in the previous books, but it felt like it wasn’t enough in this one. There was hints of romance, but not enough for me to truly care about them together.
Summary: The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation. Enter the latest round of six: Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona, unwilling halves of an unfathomable whole, who exert uncanny control over every element of physicality. Reina Mori, a naturalist, who can intuit the language of life itself. Parisa Kamali, a telepath who can traverse the depths of the subconscious, navigating worlds inside the human mind. Callum Nova, an empath easily mistaken for a manipulative illusionist, who can influence the intimate workings of a person’s inner self. Finally, there is Tristan Caine, who can see through illusions to a new structure of reality—an ability so rare that neither he nor his peers can fully grasp its implications. When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation, during which time they will be permitted preliminary access to the Society’s archives and judged based on their contributions to various subjects of impossibility: time and space, luck and thought, life and death. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will. Most of them.
Review: Huge thanks to my friend Avhlee (find her blog here.) for gifting me this book for my birthday. We follow a cast of six characters. These six are collected by Atlas, the caretaker of the library of Alexandria. The story takes place in a world where magic exists. But it seems that there are levels of magic. There are ordinary people. Then there are magicians. And then there are those that are a part of the secret societies, one of which being the Alexandrians. We learn a little bit about the lives of magicians from what we see of the six before they’re recruited to the library of Alexandria. I think the general world of magicians was incredibly interesting. The way that magicians move in a world that is familiar to our own was interesting. But then, the six are taken into the library for a year of study. All six are powerful and unique in their abilities. I think the magic was my favorite part of the story. I loved learning the limits of what the character could do with their abilities. I loved following them as they test and stretch those abilities to see if they can achieve more than what’s thought to be possible. They learn so much about themselves and their powers. It was fascinating. But the overall plot of the story was what really made this book shine. There were twists and turns. The secrets that slowly came out and the drama that unfolded from these secrets. I absolutely didn’t see so many things coming. I loved being surprised as the truths were revealed. I cannot wait to see what’s going to happen next in this series. Once all the pieces started falling together, I couldn’t put the book down. I devoured the story, needing to know what happened next. Overall, I loved this book. It was filled with characters that were flawed and yet still so easy to become invested in. The world and plot were engaging and set a really good pace for the story. I can see why this book has taken the book community by storm. I cannot wait to continue the series.
Summary: Jade, the mysterious and magical substance once exclusive to the Green Bone warriors of Kekon, is now known and coveted throughout the world. Everyone wants access to the supernatural abilities it provides, from traditional forces such as governments, mercenaries, and criminal kingpins, to modern players, including doctors, athletes, and movie studios. As the struggle over the control of jade grows ever larger and more deadly, the Kaul family, and the ancient ways of the Kekonese Green Bones, will never be the same. The Kauls have been battered by war and tragedy. They are plagued by resentments and old wounds as their adversaries are on the ascent and their country is riven by dangerous factions and foreign interference that could destroy the Green Bone way of life altogether. As a new generation arises, the clan’s growing empire is in danger of coming apart. The clan must discern allies from enemies, set aside bloody rivalries, and make terrible sacrifices… but even the unbreakable bonds of blood and loyalty may not be enough to ensure the survival of the Green Bone clans and the nation they are sworn to protect.
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Jade Legacy is the third and final book in the Green Bone Saga. I’m sad to say that I liked this series less and less with each installment. This final book spans a period of twenty years and that was just too much for me. I think if it had been done differently, I could have enjoyed it more, but there was no rhyme or reason to the jumps forward in time, so it completely took me out of the story every time it happened and I had to figure out how much time had passed since the previous chapter. I think a part of the reason I disliked these time jumps was that they led to a lot of telling instead of showing. There were so many instances where suddenly we’re reading about things happening a year or more later and the past year is being summarized before starting to share what’s going on in that moment. I felt like it could have been done differently with one big jump forward in time and maybe some flashbacks to share relevant things about the past rather than skipping forward five years every so often. This was something I didn’t like in Jade War as well and it bothered me even more in Jade Legacy. Now that I’ve ranted a little bit about that, I do was to say that I did still enjoy this book. I’m invested in the characters and their stories (though mostly just the Kaul family because there were so many new characters in this book that they were hard to keep straight in my head). I did really enjoy getting see Hilo and Wen’s children as adults, though I think they should just get their own series so we can actually get to know them. I think because there were so many new characters in this book, some of the characters (like Shea) suffered in the area of growth and development. It almost felt like each character got their own little bit of trauma and then growth before moving on to someone else. We just didn’t get to see the characters grow like we did in Jade City and I was a bit disappointed by that because I’ve grown to love them so much. The world and the politics and the scheming of the clans were fascinating. I loved seeing how things played out for the clans and I was pretty happy with the conclusion, even though I was absolutely heartbroken. I think it was really interesting to see the results of everything that Shea and Hilo had been working towards. I also loved being able to see Wen take more of a role in the clan because she’s just as clever and scheming as the rest of them. Overall, I did enjoy this book. The pacing really bothered me and I wish it had been done differently, but that isn’t really a surprise since it bothered me in the previous book too. I loved the characters. I loved the world and the magic of the Jade. I especially loved the politics between the clans, the plotting, and the outcome of said plotting. I think if you didn’t mind the pacing and the weird time jumps in Jade War then you will love this book.
Summary: The world of magick and the world of man have long been estranged from one another. But some can walk between the two–including Breen Siobhan Kelly. She has just returned to Talamh, with her friend, Marco, who’s dazzled and disoriented by this realm–a place filled with dragons and faeries and mermaids (but no WiFi, to his chagrin). In Talamh, Breen is not the ordinary young schoolteacher he knew her as. Here she is learning to embrace the powers of her true identity. Marco is welcomed kindly by her people–and by Keegan, leader of the Fey. Keegan has trained Breen as a warrior, and his yearning for her has grown along with his admiration of her strength and skills. But one member of Breen’s bloodline is not there to embrace her. Her grandfather, the outcast god Odran, plots to destroy Talamh–and now all must unite to defeat his dark forces. There will be losses and sorrows, betrayal and bloodshed. But through it, Breen Siobhan Kelly will take the next step on the journey to becoming all that she was born to be.
Review: Roberts will always be one of my favorite authors. I think her books are amazing and The Becoming is no different. This is the second book in the series, so I’ll keep my summary a bit vague. In this sequel, we follow the same character, but there are some new players. The story played out in much the same way that the first book did. Breen is still training with Keegan every day to work on fighting. She’s also still training with her Nan to work on her magical abilities. That’s honestly what most of this book was about. It’s a really character-focused story but the world is interesting and the characters are so easy to love. I think if you’re going into this story expecting something brand new and totally different from Roberts, you’ll be disappointed. This book has the same feel as her previous romance trilogies. But this is mostly set in a fantastical world. That’s the biggest difference. But it still has the same feel as her older series. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that, at all. I really enjoyed that even though it was a story I was reading for the first time, it still felt familiar. I think the world-building is well done. The world is detailed and complex, but not ever confusing or unclear. I like that there’s a huge variety of different magical species and the small bits we learn about the other worlds are incredibly interesting. We get a bigger view into the politics of this world for this book. The biggest draw for me was the characters. Marco, Breen’s childhood best friend, played a much bigger role in this story and I’m incredibly happy about that. Marco is black and gay. I was really worried he was going to be used as a “token diverse character” but I absolutely don’t think that was the case. Marco was way more of an active member of this story and I loved it. He gets his own romance and he just brings so much joy to the story. I also really loved seeing his friendship with Breen. The love they have for one another is so clear and they’re some of my favorite friends. Breen is really growing into herself in this book. She’s shed her past of being out down and made out as less than and is doing everything in her power to train and learn. But she also still makes time for writing and family. I loved the balance of “I need to save the world” with her other passions. Overall, I can’t wait for the conclusion to this series. I love these characters and I love the world they’re fighting to protect. I absolutely have some theories about things that will happen in the future, but I guess we’ll find out later this year when the third book is published.
Summary: The Unwilling is the story of Judah, a foundling born with a special gift and raised inside Highfall castle along with Gavin, the son and heir to Lord Elban’s vast empire. Judah and Gavin share an unnatural bond that is both the key to her survival… and possibly her undoing. As Gavin is groomed for his future role, Judah comes to realize that she has no real position within the kingdom, in fact, no hope at all of ever traveling beyond its castle walls. Elban – a lord as mighty as he is cruel – has his own plans for her, for all of them. She is a mere pawn to him, and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. But outside the walls, in the starving, desperate city, a magus, a healer with his own secret power unlike anything Highfall has seen in years, is newly arrived from the provinces. He, too, has plans for the empire, and at the heart of those plans lies Judah… The girl who started life with no name and no history will soon uncover more to her story than she ever imagined. An epic tale of greed and ambition, cruelty and love, this deeply immersive novel is about bowing to traditions and burning them down.
Review: I picked up The Unwilling because I requested the second book in NetGalley, not knowing that it was a sequel. So, I had to read this first book once I was approved for its sequel. I listened to the audiobook and I think the narrator did an excellent job telling the story. The story follows Judah, Gavin, Elly, and Theron. Judah is an orphan that has a magical connection to Gavin, the heir of Highfall castle. Whatever happens to Gavin also happens to Judah and the same is reversed. This is basically what Judah’s life is all about. Her life is determined by Gavin. The two are friends, but they’re often used against one another. While I liked these four friends, I felt like little to nothing actually happened in the story. We learn so much about the world, the daily lives of these four, and all that’s wrong within and outside of Highfall castle. Things pick up a bit toward the end of the story, but we’re left wanting much more. I’m excited to read the second book to see if it had this same issue or if this book was just mostly build up and set up for the second book. Overall, I think this book was interesting. But it was very character-focused with minimal plot. There wasn’t much that actually happened until the final third of the book. We spend so much time getting to know the characters and the world that the story felt incredibly slow. I don’t know that I would have gotten through it had I not been listening to the audiobook. I’m glad that I read it so that I can read the NetGalley arc of the sequel.
Hello, lovelies! I’m here today to share with you a wonderful and fun reading challenge that my friend Ari over at Bookish Valhalla is hosting (her announcement post is linked for anyone that wants to read it). For the last few months, I’ve really been trying to focus on moving away from YA fantasy and science fiction and exploring more adult SFF stories. I just haven’t been connecting with YA stories as much and I’ve really loved the adult SFF that I have read recently.
So! To say that I was excited when Ari shared this reading challenge is an understatement. This challenge focuses on reading backlist adult books that are fantasy and science fiction. Each month has a loose theme, so I’ve picked some books that I think will work for each month. I’m going to share all the options that I have on my TBR for each of these because I’m not sure which book I’ll end up reading for the months that have more than one option to choose from. Also, this TBR will only be the books that I own, I may end up reading books I don’t own for this challenge but as of now my goal is to focus on the adult SFF series that I already own.
January // Winter
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
February // Time
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
March // Oaths
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
April // Hidden Places
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark
May // Starlight
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
June // To Sea
July // To Sky
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
August // Sacrifice
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
September // Fire
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
October // Ritual
The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons
November // Forest
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
December // Omens
I have some ideas about recommendations for this reading challenge, too. So, you can expect to see a post about that eventually. Share some recommendations for the themes that I didn’t list anything for please! What adult science fiction and fantasy books are you hoping to read in 2022?
Summary: Two years ago, Csorwe and Shuthmili defied the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and stole his gauntlets. The gauntlets have made Shuthmili extraordinarily powerful, but they’re beginning to take a sinister toll on her. She and Csorwe travel to a distant world to discover how to use the gauntlets safely, but when an old enemy arrives on the scene, Shuthmili finds herself torn between clinging to her humanity and embracing eldritch power. Meanwhile, Tal Charossa returns to Tlaanthothe to find that Sethennai has gone missing. As well as being a wizard of unimaginable power, Sethennai is Tal’s old boss and former lover, and Tal wants nothing to do with him. When a magical catastrophe befalls the city, Tal tries to run rather than face his past, but soon learns that something even worse may lurk in the future. Throughout the worlds of the Echo Maze, fragments of an undead goddess begin to awaken, and not all confrontations can be put off forever…
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. The Thousand Eyes starts off pretty soon after The Unspoken Name, meaning that everything seems like it’s all okay for once, but everything is actually about to go to shit. And that is indeed what happens. Csorwe, Shuthmili, and Tal are living and working together. I absolutely love these three and I would do anything for them. But things quickly take a turn when the three are on a job and they wake someone that they shouldn’t have. I don’t want to go into too much detail with the summary because quite a lot happens. The plot of the story wasn’t as slow-moving as it was in the first book. I still haven’t decided if I like that or not because I loved the slower pace of the first installment. This one had so much more action and higher stakes. But it definitely made me read the story with more urgency because I needed to know what was going to happen. I’ve had an issue recently with other stories that do weird time jumps, but The Thousand Eyes made a fifteen-year time jump feel like it was a natural progression of the story. I liked how it was handled and I felt like it made total sense for the story. Now, the characters. I grew quickly attached to them in the first book. I was very upset when the happily ever after that Tal, Csorwe, and Shuthmili got was completely upended. Larkwood absolutely created chaos for these characters in the most painful ways possible. All three of them are tested in different ways. I really loved them. My only complaint about the characters would be that I wanted smaller-scale interaction. I grew to love them in the first book, but in this one, it felt like they spend little to no time together so we didn’t really get to see them interacting with each other, mostly with other new characters. We mostly see Tal and Csorwe as the ‘frenemies’ that we’ve known from the first book. I wanted more of their banter but I also wanted them to reconcile and actually be friends. I think this was probably because they all ended up on different paths and there were new characters that were with the three main casts and where we’re getting to know them. But my favorite parts were still with Tal, Csorwe, and Shuthmili. Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I devoured it as quickly as I could, falling asleep holding my kindle most nights until I finished it. I hope that we get to see more in this series but the conclusion was pretty well wrapped up and I would say I’m really satisfied with the way the story ended both plot-wise and for the characters. But I absolutely wouldn’t be mad about a companion with some of the immortal characters. I will be recommending this series often in the future.
Summary: What if you knew how and when you will die? Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice. But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power. But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.
Review: Shout out to whoever recommended that I buy this over on Twitter. I picked up The Unspoken Name for the Clear Your Shit Readathon because I bought this book sometime last year only knowing that it was a queer, adult fantasy. I’m so glad I finally picked it up because I think it’s going to be making my 2021 favorites list. The story is a winding path down which we follow our main character, Csorwe (pronounced like doorway but with a ks sound like in the word books). Csorwe is meant to be the next bride for the Unspoken God. But what if she wasn’t? She runs away from the path her life has been on with Sethennai, a wizard that visits where she lives. We see them go from place to place and work toward completing Sethennai’s goals. But we don’t really get to know Csorwe until she realizes that she hasn’t been living for herself. I loved all of the characters. The three most important are Csorwe, who really grows and develops. She realizes that she’s just replaced the Unspoken God with Sethennai and what he wants. She’s made his goals her whole life. So, getting to see her fall into that trap and then get herself out of it was really a ride. Then there’s Tal. Csorwe and Tal are the frenemies that I didn’t know I needed in my life. I laughed out loud so many times at the way they talk to and behave toward each other. I’m very interested to see how or if we will get more of them in the second book. Even though I understood why Csorwe hated Tal, I really liked him. He and Csorwe had more in common than they would ever admit. I liked seeing how differently he handled come out of making his whole life about Sethennai. Finally, there’s Shuthmili (our love interest). Like Csorwe, Shuthmili has a path planned for her because of her culture and her connection with a god. But she doesn’t have to choose that path and with Csorwe’s influence, she runs. I mostly loved Shuthmili because of how absolutely brainless Csorwe gets around her. Their interactions gave me so much joy. It took me a lot longer to actually care about Shuthmili because she was a little boring having accepted and seemed excited about the path that had been planned for her. But she definitely grew on me. The world building was absolutely fascinating. We get to see Csorwe travel through these gates that take her all over for her travels, but I’m still not really sure if they’re going to other planets, or what the specifics are with that. But the places that we do see are wonderfully described from the settings to the culture. Each new place has a unique and interesting way of living (usually based on what god their people serve). I can’t wait to learn more about the gods outside of the three that this book sort of focused on. Overall, I cannot say enough good things about this book. The world was compelling and kept my interest. I never really felt confused or overwhelmed with information. The characters were likable. The romance was swoon worthy. The yearning was absolutely top tier. The plot sort of meandered about, but I found that I didn’t really mind that. I am incredibly excited to read the second book (which I have an eARC of, so I’m going to go do that now!)
Summary: The Emperor is Dead. Long live the Emperor. Lin Sukai finally sits on the throne she won at so much cost, but her struggles are only just beginning. Her people don’t trust her. Her political alliances are weak. And in the north-east of the Empire, a rebel army of constructs is gathering, its leader determined to take the throne by force. Yet an even greater threat is on the horizon, for the Alanga – the powerful magicians of legend – have returned to the Empire. They claim they come in peace, and Lin will need their help in order to defeat the rebels and restore peace. But can she trust them?
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can read my review for the first book here. With the first book, it took me a little while to get into the story because there were a few different points of view that were all in different locations. So, we were learning characters and the world very quickly. I think that was definitely not an issue for this second book. I felt like I was immediately invested in the story since I was familiar with the world and its characters. The first book left all of the characters in pretty tumultuous places, most of them just having come into positions of power and now we’re getting to see what they’re doing with this power. Like the first book, we follow Lin, Jovis, Phalue, and sometimes Ranami. What I thought was really interesting was that Lin and Jovis’ parts of the story almost mirrored Phalue and Ranami’s parts of the story. Both Phalue and Lin have come into positions of power and seeing how they both deal with that was a really compelling part of the story. Lin faces so many challenges and obstacles. I really liked how Stewart didn’t shy away from showing us how Lin was upset and frustrated that things weren’t going her way. She has the best intentions, but the people of the Empire are resistant to accepting her and working with her. The development of all the characters was well done in my opinion. Their motivations were clear and understandable. I felt like it was easy for me to get invested in them. With the first book, I felt the world building was a little lacking because we only saw a small picture of a larger Empire. But in this one, we get to see more of the island between Lin’s travels and Nisong’s conquests. There were still some things that were left unanswered (hello! The islands are sinking!) but there were so many things going on that the top priority issue kept changing which I feel helped the story feel like it was more fast-paced than it actually was. I was happy to get to see more of the Empire. We also learned way more about the history of the world and of Lin’s father’s backstory. I really liked learning the history and the backstory because it definitely put some pieces together. Overall, I really liked this book. I liked it more than the first book, I think. Some of my questions from the first book were answered (we learn so much about the Algana which I totally loved and can’t wait to learn even more about) and new questions were raised. I cared about the characters and think their development was reasonable. I loved Phalue and Ranami’s romance. I liked Lin and Jovis’ but it didn’t blow me away. Jovis was honestly my biggest complaint with this book. He was so wishy-washy with whether or not he was going to spy on Lin and then he just kept making poor choices. It was incredibly frustrating. But I adored Memphi and Thrana. Their backstory is something I’m still very curious about and can’t wait to learn more about. This was a pretty good sequel and I can’t wait for book three.
Summary: A queen now in exile as a traitor, Lara has watched Ithicana be conquered by her own father, helpless to do anything to stop the destruction. But when she learns her husband, Aren, has been captured in battle, Lara knows there is only one reason her father is keeping him alive: as bait for his traitorous daughter. And it is bait she fully intends to take. Risking her life to the Tempest Seas, Lara returns to Ithicana with a plan not only to free its king, but for liberating the Bridge Kingdom from her father’s clutches using his own weapons: the sisters whose lives she spared. But not only is the palace inescapable, there are more players in the game than Lara ever realized, enemies and allies switching sides in the fight for crowns, kingdoms, and bridges. But her greatest adversary of all might be the very man she’s trying to free – the husband she betrayed. With everything she loves in jeopardy, Lara must decide who – and what – she is fighting for: her kingdom, her husband, or herself.
Review: I really enjoyed The Bridge Kingdom, but holy shit I absolutely loved The Traitor Queen. This book starts off right where The Bridge Kingdom ended, which I was happy about. I don’t love when books skip a bunch of time and start six months after the end of the first book. We’re immediately thrown back into the world, and this is a world at war. Lara’s father had invaded and taken over the Bridge. He’s holding Aren captive and even though Aren has sworn to kill Lara if he ever sees her again, she’s determined to find a way to rescue him. From there, the story unfolds and chaos ensues. Lara is still pretty similar to the cunning and ruthless main character that I loved from the first book. But with the growth that she had from learning of her father’s lies and deception, she’s feeling guilt and a need for penance. I thought this was really interesting for her character because it wasn’t how we knew her to act in the first book. Also, we really get to see her fight and use the skills that she’d been trained in for most of her life and I absolutely loved seeing that. Aren is dealing with an internal struggle that’s ironically similar to Lara’s from the first book. He loves Lara, but she’s now known as the Traitor Queen, so they cannot be together. Despite knowing all this, he can’t stop loving her and he can’t seem to let her go. I still liked Aren in this book. He was a bit colder, but understandably so since he’d been betrayed after opening the secrets of his kingdom to his wife. I really enjoyed his personal struggle of not being able to let Lara go, even though his people would likely never accept her. I didn’t have the same issue of predictability with The Traitor Queen that I did for the first book. As I predicted, there were lots of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. The storyline wasn’t nearly as easy to guess and while there were a few things that I saw coming, there were way more that I didn’t. We also got to see more of the world, which was something I was hoping for. We see Lara’s country while they’re trying to rescue Aren and then afterward, they travel to another kingdom to seek an alliance before returning to Aden’s kingdom (I’m not naming any of these places only because I couldn’t spell them to save my life and I’m typing this review on my phone while the story is still fresh in my mind.) Overall, I absolutely loved and devoured this story. There were some scenes of a romantic nature that had me absolutely screaming. I also enjoyed the way the story wrapped up. It seemed as if this was a nice ending for Aren and Lara. And even though things were rather smoothly wrapped up, Jensen made the characters work for that satisfying ending. I’m wondering if the future books in the series are going to be following other characters because this felt like a conclusion to Aren and Lara’s story. But I could be wrong about that. Either way, I will be anxiously awaiting the next installment of the series.