I've been on a bit of a hiatus lately, what with the realization life as I know it will be changed for good in April! I was surprised to find that morning sickness not only made me want to sleep through every day for months (avoid the nausea), but also that focusing any bit of attention too directly (on tv, the computer, writing, reading...) made the whole room spin for ages. Yes, even reading. The horror! So my TBR grew, and the long forced break also had the unintended side effect of a huge reading slump when I tried to pick up the next on my list.
Thankfully, the sickness has passed, and I am hoping the reading slump is on its way out as well. I only got three books in last month, one of which was my first audiobook and another a HIGHLY anticipated debut that did not disappoint.
What I Read
A slow month, but luckily two of the three were fantastic reads!
The City Of Brass | S.A. Chakraborty
Published: November 14, 2017
Genre: Adult Fantasy
My Rating: 5 Stars
The City of Brass was the Fall's most anticipated read for me, and I am beyond thrilled that it did not disappoint. I loved everything about it, from the Egyptian setting to the Arabian folklore to the all Muslim inspired cast of characters. Djinn and elemental magic, old family wars and politics, mysterious questions with even more mysterious answers (those questions that received answers, anyway)...plus main characters who have conviction, who are hard and flawed with demons in their pasts that they only half regret...all ingredients for a great read. Add in talented writing and concise storytelling, and I am one happy reader.
"Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.
After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . ."
The Language of Thorns | Leigh Bardugo
Published: September 26, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy Short Stories
My Rating: 5 Stars
Damn, I just love Leigh Bardugo’s style. While each of these tales has a familiar echo, she has crafted them perfectly in her own way, in a world I love returning to. The Soldier Prince is easily my favorite, but not so easily chosen is my second favorite from the others.
I already know I will love returning to these tales on winter nights, and I promise you, Leigh; I will stir the pot.
This was a bonus special edition book in one of my Fairyloot boxes!
"Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.
Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.
Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.
Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.
This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves."
Long May She Reign | Rhiannon Thomas
Published: February 21, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 1 Star
I can't actually decide if I disliked this book on its own, or if I disliked listening to it. I spend a lot of time commuting in traffic and figured it was time to give an audiobook a try since it's a good 2 hours each day (more, if NY traffic is especially horrendous). I think I am leaning more towards I just disliked this story, although the narrator's odd pacing did not do it any favors. The main character was annoying to say the least, another typical "I was an outsider and am now thrust into a position I never asked for and must make people like me." The majority of the book focused on solving a mass murder, but the mystery was by no means an on-the-edge-of-my-seat nail biter. I barely cared for any of the characters or plot, and was thrilled to hear the last of the narrator's voice.
"The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.
Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.
Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.
Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.
As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown."
November New Releases
Moving on to the books that released in November that intrigued me enough to make it to the daunting TBR longlist! I am trying to be more selective in what books I add to the list, simply because there are just too many. I'd rather try and find the few quality than consume the most quantity.
The only book released last month that was devoured instantly was the aforementioned The City of Brass. I will also include The Last Namsara as it was the November Fairyloot book, although technically that released in October and it will be a reluctant read at best. But I own it now, so onto the eventual list it goes!
The Last Namsara | Kristen Ciccarelli
Published: October 3, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
"In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her."
*As usual, subject to change on a daily basis. I seem to take issue with being told what to read, including by myself. But I can at least start with the ones whose reading is currently in progress.
The Court of Broken Knives | Anna Smith Spark
Published: August 15, 2017 (print edition)
Genre: Adult Dark Fantasy
I have the print edition, but it was turning into one of those books on my nightstand that I was continually not picking up. Not because it had a bad start, and I love dark fantasy and want to get into the story, but just because it's one of those books with a different writing style and one of the POVs is somewhat boring. All things I can get past, if I just make the time to get through the beginning and get into the tale. Luckily, since I have a few free audiobooks included with my new trial, I decided I'd go ahead and get this one on audio to listen to as well as read when I'm not in the car. Going well so far! The narration is SO. MUCH. BETTER. than my first attempt at listening to a book.
"In this dark and gripping debut fantasy that Miles Cameron called "gritty and glorious!" the exiled son of the king must fight to reclaim his throne no matter the cost.
It is the richest empire the world has ever known, and it is also doomed. Governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The Yellow Empire is on the verge of invasion--and only one man can see it.
Haunted by prophetic dreams, Orhan has hired a company of soldiers to cross the desert to reach the capital city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from the ashes can a new empire be built.
The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Young, ambitious, and impossibly charming, something dark hides in Marith's past--and in his blood
Dark and brilliant, dive into this new fantasy series for readers looking for epic battle scenes, gritty heroes, and blood-soaked revenge."
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns | Julie C. Dao
Published: October 10, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
I received this in one of my FairyLoot boxes. Another one I started last month and have only made it through a few chapters. Nothing bad to say so far, just put it down and haven't had the urge to pick it back up. As it's started, however, it WILL be one that gets finished this month. I need to meet my reading challenge goal, after all!
"An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl's quest to become Empress--and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.
Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?
Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute."
Furyborn | Claire Legrand
Published: May 22, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
Received this ARC as a bonus in my November Fairyloot box! The synopsis sounds great, I LOVE tales that play with time. Here's hoping it does not let me down!
"The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world...or doom it.
When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first.
A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable--until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.
As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world--and of each other."
The Girl in the Tower | Katherine Arden
Published: December 5, 2017
Genre: Adult Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Saving the best for last! This one is the last of my most anticipated releases for this year, and I CANNOT WAIT to read it. The Bear and the Nightingale is one of my favorite reads this year, and I was psyched to learn that the publication of this sequel was going to be a month earlier (I am pretty sure it was originally slated for January 2018). I'm going to make myself finish at least the two I'm currently reading before devouring this sequel, however, to make sure I'm not in too much of a book hangover afterward to read anything else. The early reviews from critics I trust and usually agree with are great, so I have high hopes!
"The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.
Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop."
And that's a wrap for November!