VD The Book Yogi

lover of artistic language and the language of art

June & July Wrap Up

I've been powering through my TBR pile this summer, and thankfully there are some major wins for me! Baby boy doesn't allow me to get as much done as I had hoped, but reading and working on some editing is accomplishable! Plus, I have my positive thoughts in hyperdrive right now in making some exciting changes for our future - your reality is what you make it, so make what you want to happen, happen!


What I Read

The Shadow Queen | CJ Redwine

Published: February 16, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 3 Stars

The Shadow Queen had a good premise, and a neat magic system, but there was just too much stuffed into not enough pages. There were magic wielders, dragon shapeshifters, earth magic, spells, ogres and distant wars, kingdoms at risk, great transformations, important deaths...and none of it hit as hard as I think it could have had the plot been more fleshed out. The dragon shapeshifters were my favorite aspect; they were a people I would love to read more about.

Synopsis:

"Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose."

 

The Smoke Thieves | Sally Green

Published: May 1, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 2 Stars

Admittedly, the fault is mine, but this story was completely different from what I thought it would be. Barely about demons and their smoke/essence, this was a story somewhat about the people who trade in the illegal sale of demon smoke (only one POV centered on the demon catchers). Told from multiple points of view, the only perspective I really enjoyed was, surprisingly, Catherine's. She is a typical princess doing the bidding of her father and brother, but I actually believed her character. So many times there are princesses who are brought up submissive and yet the second we turn page two they are rebelling -- while that's a fun story, it is much more believable that a princess raised in fear is actually fearful. That she is actually submissive...she may dream of being different, but to dream of change and to make it happen are two different things. Not until she is removed from her oppressors does she start to embrace that she can have power, that she can make a difference. I liked her, and the "language" she and all noble ladies learn to communicate with one another silently. The rest of the story and characters fell a bit flat for me, though again, it could be on me that I expected a tale about demons.

Synopsis:

"A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict. 

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?"

 

The Golem And The Jinni | Helene Wecker

Published: April 23, 2013
Genre: Historical Fantasy
My Rating: 5 Stars

The Golem And The Jinni is a brilliantly told and well-written story steeped in Yiddish and Middle Eastern folklore. Set in the historical setting of 1800's New York, the magic woven into this story is beautiful. I was captivated from start to finish, and I loved each and every character's complexity. I cared about them all, and appreciated the thorough attention given to every detail, no matter how small. The development is amazing, from a thousand year old Jinni who is missing his memory to the days old Golem who is one-of-a-kind both in her nature and construction. I do not know much Yiddish literature, and felt a refreshing interest while reading.

Synopsis:

"In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York. 

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899. 

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free. 

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker's debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale."

 

Pretty Deadly Vol. 1 | Kelly Sue DeConnick

Published: May 13, 2014
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
My Rating: 2 Stars

Artwork was beautiful but it was all over the place. I was confused most of the time and felt there was no depth at all to any of the story or characters. Plus the first page has a rabbit having his head shot off (the dead skeleton rabbit then narrates the story) and I'm really not sure what the hell the point of that is at all. I've tried a couple graphic novels over the past year and don't think they are my cup of tea.

Synopsis:

"KELLY SUE DeCONNICK (Avengers Assemble, Captain Marvel) and EMMA RÍOS (Dr. Strange, Osborn) present the collected opening arc of their surprise-hit series that marries the magical realism of Sandman with the western brutality of Preacher. Death's daughter rides the wind on a horse made of smoke and her face bears the skull marks of her father. Her origin story is a tale of retribution as beautifully lush as it is unflinchingly savage."

 

Seraphina | Rachel Hartman

Published: July 10, 2012
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 4 Stars

These were some of my favorite dragons I've ever read. Interesting and complex, I loved that the dragons were decidedly not human. "Obviously," you think, because they are dragons after all, but a lot of the time we have dragons who act and think like a human, thus giving us more a human character who can shapeshift into an animal. These characters are dragons; they talk, think, and analyze like dragons, and human emotions and motives are foreign notions to them. Well-paced and well-written, this is a solid story with emotion and a healthy balance of romance and plot. I appreciated the dash of humor mixed in the narrative, as well as the social and political issues explored when two races are coexisting under a peace with which not all of each side agree.

Synopsis:

"In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, "Some of the most interesting dragons I've read in fantasy."

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life."

 

A Reaper At The Gates | Sabaa Tahir

Published: June 12, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 5 Stars

This third installment was slow to pick up, but definitely gained a momentum I haven't felt since reading An Ember In The Ashes. Tahir writes oppression very well; you can feel Laia's sorrow for her people as she both wants to help them and is forced to choose a different goal. The characters have grown so much since the first book; you would think you were reading from completely different perspectives. Each have lost more than they can imagine and are terrified of losing more, driving their actions to unforeseeable ends. We finally get some answers, not all of which are pleasant, and we must consider just as our characters must what is the greatest good, and who the actual enemies are. Emotional, satisfying, and full of twists I didn't see coming - it will be a long wait for the next book.

Synopsis:

"Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister's life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she'd have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias's devotion–even at the cost of his humanity."

 

Godsgrave | Jay Kristoff

Published: September 7, 2017
Genre: Adult Fantasy
My Rating: 5 Stars

Holy hell, this book was brutal. Mia is unapologetically dark, and I love it. I remember being a bit annoyed at the narrator's footnotes in Nevernight, so either they grew on me after appreciating the story then or they are slightly less in Godsgrave, but I didn't mind them now. The anecdotes are amusing as ever; between them and the daemon's sarcastic bickering I was chuckling on near every page. 

I still have SO. MANY. QUESTIONS! About the darkin, the daemon's, the Red Church, who are our real allies and real enemies? And the twists...the TWISTS! I definitely did not see them all coming.

These books speak to my rocker soul; Mia is the ultimate badass.

Synopsis:

"A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.

Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

Set in the world of Nevernight, which Publishers Weekly called “absorbing in its complexity and bold in its bloodiness,” Godsgrave will continue to thrill and satisfy fantasy fans everywhere."

 

August New Releases

City of Ghosts | Victoria Schwab

Published: August 28, 2018
Genre: YA Paranormal 

I shouldn't hope or expect it to be the same, but this one gives me Anna Dressed in Blood vibes. Not that I want it to be the same, but I hope to like and be creeped out by this one as much as I was by Anna.

Synopsis:

"Cassidy Blake's parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn't sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn't belong in her world. Cassidy's powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself."

 

August TBR*

*As usual, subject to change on a daily basis. I seem to take issue with being told what to read, including by myself.

Starless | Jacqueline Carey

Published: June 12, 2018
Genre: Adult High Fantasy

Synopsis:

"Jacqueline Carey is back with an amazing adventure not seen since her New York Times bestselling Kushiel’s Legacy series. Lush and sensual, Starless introduces us to an epic world where exiled gods live among us, and a hero whose journey will resonate long after the last page is turned.

Let your mind be like the eye of the hawk…Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine."

 

Spinning Silver | Naomi Novik

Published: July 10, 2018
Genre: Adult Fantasy

This is The Name of The Book book of the month, so I'll be reading along and hopefully be able to join in the discussion end of August!

Synopsis:

"Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders... but her father isn't a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife's dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers' pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed--and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it's worth--especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand."

 

Everless | Sara Holland

Published: January 2, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy

This one came out earlier this year, and I've had it on my TBR since. As an opportunity I am head over heels for just presented itself, and this just happens to be a product of said opportunity, I'll be reading this month!

Synopsis:

"In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself."

 

April & May Wrap Up

Drumroll please...I had a baby! He arrived right on time on April 17th, and threw a bit of a kink in my schedule, to say the least. :) I have been able to complete a lot on my reading list (7, to be exact!), so check out what I read in April and May below!


What I Read

A Wrinkle In Time | Madeleine L'Engle

Published: January 1, 1962
Genre: YA Fantasy Classic
My Rating: 2 Stars

I first read this when I was very young, so when I remembered little except the fact I didn't really enjoy it, I thought it safe to assume my experience this time around would be better, that perhaps I was too young to really appreciate the breadth of the fantasy.

Well, it took me months to force my way through. There is just something about the writing, the tone...I can't stand it. The story itself is so imaginative, no wonder it is a classic. I can appreciate that, which is why it got an extra star. But my ten year old self was right about this one the first time: this series is not for me.

 

Freedom's Slave | Heather Demetrios

Published: February 28, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 5 Stars

This is series was a total surprise. I finally got around to finishing this third and final installment, and I'm so glad I gave the first book a shot a few years ago, despite thinking the cover looked like it'd be a cheesy YA romance. That first cover does this trilogy a disservice, although from a marketing perspective I see why the publisher decided to put a pretty genie on the front. In a saturated YA market, pretty covers sell. 

But The Dark Caravan Cycle has so much more to offer than the "master falls for genie" trope. There's romance, yes, but not in the way you'd expect. There are elements of Stockholm Syndrome, a political history it takes the three books to fully understand, familial and societal struggles that test the limits of characters' beliefs, an elemental magic system that has rules and follows them, folklore, a brutal slave trade and black market, other worlds...the first book, Exquisite Captive, barely scratches the surface of what this entire tale contains.

As a conclusion, Freedom's Slave tied up all loose ends. Action, answers, happy ships sailing; it had everything I wanted for Raif and Nalia and all their companions. My one complaint would be the switch of pacing about three quarters in. Up until then the world building and story telling was strong, steady. Then suddenly it was as if the author was told to wrap it all up in 100 pages or less (which, for how much rising action we had, is not enough for an adequate climax and resolution). But overall I enjoyed this story and the trilogy immensely, and definitely recommend.

 

The Bone Witch | Rin Chupeco

Published: March 7, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis:

"In the captivating start to a new, darkly lyrical fantasy series for readers of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir, Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price...

Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there's anything I've learned from him in the years since, it's that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she's a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles...and make a powerful choice."

 

The Heart Forger | Rin Chupeco

Published: March 20, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

I had to rush out and purchase this sequel the instant I finished The Bone Witch - Amazon Prime 2 day shipping was even too long to wait.

Synopsis:

"In The Bone Witch, Tea mastered resurrection―now she's after revenge...

No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life...and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her―and took the life of her one true love.

But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea's dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can't kill someone who can never die...

War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe."

 

A Court Of Frost And Starlight | Sarah J. Maas

Published: May 1, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

This is just a bridge novella to give readers a glimpse into the characters' lives after the war. Nothing of significance happens, and I would have been okay waiting for the next full novel to get the small pieces of set up for future books, but I didn't mind reading. I do feel I am over Feyre and Rhys...they've had their story and I want to hear about others now. I do hope the sex scenes between other characters are less...outrageous... They seem to be getting more and more ridiculous and cringeworthy, maybe in the author's attempt to "one-up" herself each time? The last chapter gives us a look at what the next full book will be about, and I'm looking forward to that setting and those POVs.

Synopsis:

"Hope warms the coldest night.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. 

Yet even the festive atmosphere can't keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated--scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court."

 

Flamecaster | Cinda Williams Chima

Published: April 5, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis:

"A burning vengeance.

Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. The son of the queen of the Fells, Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

A blood-based curse.

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Destiny’s fiery hand.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.

Set in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.

 

Dividing Eden | Joelle Charbonneau

Published: June 6, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 2 Stars

Synopsis:

"From the author of the New York Times bestselling The Testing trilogy comes a sweeping new fantasy series, perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sarah J. Maas.

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

 

The Queen Of Blood | Sarah Beth Durst

Published: September 20, 2016
Genre: Adult High Fantasy
My Rating: 5 Stars

This book was so cool. First word that came to mind when I finished, so I'm sticking with it. A civilization built entirely in the trees of a great forest, this story was incredibly unique, with unexpected twists and turns the whole way through. I loved the characters, the magic system, the spirits and their nature. I can't wait to get my hands on the next books (thankfully I procrastinated so long with this the next books have already come out so I can binge read!)

Synopsis:

"An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure.

Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.


June New Releases

Starless | Jacqueline Carey

Published: June 12, 2018
Genre: Adult High Fantasy 

Yessssss! 

Synopsis:

"Jacqueline Carey is back with an amazing adventure not seen since her New York Times bestselling Kushiel’s Legacy series. Lush and sensual, Starless introduces us to an epic world where exiled gods live among us, and a hero whose journey will resonate long after the last page is turned.

Let your mind be like the eye of the hawk…Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine."

 

A Reaper At The Gates | Sabaa Tahir

Published: June 12, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

"Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister's life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she'd have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias's devotion–even at the cost of his humanity."


June TBR*

*As usual, subject to change on a daily basis. I seem to take issue with being told what to read, including by myself.

Our Dark Duet | Victoria Schwab

Published: June 13, 2017
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy

Another one to knock off the "currently owned TBR" pile.

Synopsis:

"THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.

KATE HARKER isn't afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she's good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

THE WAR HAS BEGUN.

THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.

Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims' inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?"

 

The Smoke Thieves | Sally Green

Published: May 1, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

"A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict. 

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?"

 

The Shadow Queen | CJ Redwine

Published: February 16, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy

Another one to knock off the "currently owned TBR" pile.

Synopsis:

"Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose."

 

March Wrap Up

Debated skipping the March wrap-up as it's abysmal, once again *shame*. But I did complete one book amidst all the craziness that was my last month at work before little guy arrives, so see below!


What I Read

Reign of the Fallen | Sarah Glenn Marsh

Published: January 23, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 2 Stars

Fine. That's the best way to describe how I feel about this book. The characters were fine, the setting was fine, the idea was fine, the plot was...almost fine.

I thought a story about necromancers would be a nice change of pace in a typical YA universe, and it was, except beyond the setting of a world where the dead can walk among the living as many times as they like, it didn't feel very different at all. We have our MC, Odessa "The Sparrow", who came from nothing and earned her place as the King's best necromancer. She and her fellow master necromancers suddenly have a problem with someone intentionally turning the Dead into Shades - monsters who feed on spirits in the Deadlands and the living and dead alike in the living realm.

Not a bad start, though from the moment the first grisly death occurs to the end where everything is solved, not much plot development happens. This book is actually not one about necromancers and the great mystery of who is turning the Dead into Shades and to what end, it is a book about depression and surviving after loss. The who-done-it mystery is halfway solved instantly, and then the plot is set aside as we go through Odessa's emotional turmoil after a traumatic loss. The fact that this is more a story about coming back to yourself after a loss is not why it fails - it fails because there is absolutely no emotional connection

I understand that within the first couple pages when we see the first shocking death, we are only just beginning and haven't had the chance to get to know our characters or develop a bond with them. But when the big, traumatic death occurs a third of the way in, it is no surprise (saw it coming a mile away) and I, at least, felt nothing about it. Just a passing, "hm, okay that one died too." So when the remainder of the book is about our MC overcoming her grief and developing an addiction to cope, the lack of emotional connection means this totally missed the mark. I wasn't connected with her, or any of the characters who perish or survive.

This is where I come to the "it was all fine" feeling. Nothing about the story jumped out as terrible - I did enjoy the LGBTQ+ representation and especially how the author didn't stop and wave a big gay flag saying "DID YOU SEE? DID YOU SEE I INCLUDED IT?" No, "love is love" is just evident in this world, and no one needed to point it out because if that's the world you're creating, none of your characters need to point it out...it just is. The magic system was also interesting - different eye color denotes a different ability. Blue eyes have the ability to raise the dead, gray eyes control the weather, green eyes are beast masters, etc. But everything interesting about this book is just surface-level interesting, because we never got any deeper.

So, yea, it was fine. Take it how you will!

This is officially my first disappointing read of the year...oh well, I had a strong start!


April New Releases

Only one coming up on my radar for April, and I'm on the fence if I'll add it to the TBR.

Lost Gods | Micah Yongo

Published: April 5, 2018
Genre: Adult High Fantasy 

Definitely caught my attention, but I don't feel the "I need to have it" urge yet. We'll see!

Synopsis:

"In an epic fantasy kingdom inspired by African legends, a young assassin finds himself hunted by the brothers and sisters he has trained alongside since birth.

A teenaged assassin is hunted by his own Brotherhood as he seeks to uncover a supernatural conspiracy before it’s too late

Neythan is one of five adolescents trained and raised together by a mysterious brotherhood of assassins known as the Shedaím. When Neythan is framed for the murder of his closest friend, he pursues his betrayer, and in so doing learns there’s far more to the Brotherhood, and even the world itself, than he’d ever thought possible."


April TBR*

*As usual, subject to change on a daily basis. I seem to take issue with being told what to read, including by myself.

A Wrinkle In Time | Madeleine L'Engle

Published: January 1, 1962
Genre: YA Fantasy Classic

I SERIOUSLY CANNOT SEEM TO MAKE MYSELF FINISH THIS. I'm halfway through and remembering why I never included this on my favorite reads from when I was younger - I dislike something about it immensely! *gasp* Not sure if it is the writing or story or what...but I can't wait to get it over with (and I will finish, because DAMNIT if I just make myself sit down for a half hour it will be done!)

Synopsis:

"Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg's father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government."

 

Freedom's Slave | Heather Demetrios

Published: February 28, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy

HURRAY I started this finally! I've wanted to finish this trilogy for a while - it's happening this month. It. Is. Happening. (Reminder: I did like the first two books, and I expect to like this one as well! Just my usual "can't read anything I tell myself to" problem.)

Synopsis:

"An Empress Fighting for Her Crown
After three long years in exile, Nalia is ready to return to her homeland and sit on the throne that is rightfully hers. But the gods might have other plans. Forced to endure untold horrors on the journey to Arjinna, Nalia learns that it will take more than cutting down the tyrant Calar to get her crown.

An Army Fighting to Survive
Raif’s return to Arjinna as the commander of the revolution against Calar and her army isn’t as smooth as he’d hoped. Though he has more soldiers than ever before, his love for Nalia is losing him the trust of his comrades...and the war. But little does the resistance know that insurrection is brewing among Calar’s own ranks—and from the one person she trusts the most.

A Land Worth Fighting for
Arjinna is dying—Calar’s evil experiments with dark magic and the strength of her own psychic powers threaten to destroy the land of the jinn. Is Nalia and Raif’s enduring love enough to transform and rescue their homeland? Will they be willing to save the realm, no matter the cost?"

 

The Bone Witch | Rin Chupeco

Published: March 7, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy

I made this one my purchase of April, as I saw the sequel just released and a reviewer I trust raved about it. Take two on the necromancer story line!

Synopsis:

"In the captivating start to a new, darkly lyrical fantasy series for readers of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir, Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price...

Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there's anything I've learned from him in the years since, it's that the dead hide truths as well as the living.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she's a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles...and make a powerful choice."

 

Knight's Shadow | Sebastien de Castell

Published: March 5, 2015
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy

Still have this hanging out on audiobook, so I might get to listen to it this month. I think I am putting it off as it is a series, and seeing how my reading has been going the last two months I'm hesitant to be in the middle of yet another series that I want to read but can't seem to find the time to read.

Synopsis:

"Following his beloved debut, Traitor's Blade, Sebastien de Castell returns with volume two of his fast-paced fantasy adventure series, inspired by the swashbuckling action and witty banter of The Three Musketeers. Knight's Shadow continues the series with a thrilling and dark tale of heroism and betrayal in a country crushed under the weight of its rulers' corruption.

A few days after the horrifying murder of a duke and his family, Falcio val Mond, swordsman and First Cantor of the Greatcoats, begins a deadly pursuit to capture the killer. But Falcio soon discovers his own life is in mortal danger from a poison administered as a final act of revenge by one of his deadliest enemies. As chaos and civil war begin to overtake the country, Falcio has precious little time left to stop those determined to destroy his homeland."