VD The Book Yogi

lover of artistic language and the language of art

November Wrap Up

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.

Synopsis:

"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!

Synopsis:

"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. 

Synopsis:

"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

Synopsis:

"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."


December TBR*

*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.

Synopsis:

"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!

Synopsis:

"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!

Synopsis:

"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! 

Synopsis:

"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!

Tuesday Tops | New Releases

How is it the end of September already? This month had some great releases, there are so many new books added to my TBR I'm a little dizzy :D. Check out what's new this week!
If you're not familiar, Top Releases is a list of the books publishing each week that caught my eye. Likely all books will be in the fantasy genre, and expect a healthy mix of YA and Adult. I'm sure I'll include a rogue contemporary or romance in here and there, especially if there's a lot of interest-worthy buzz. I don't promise to read all the books on the list, but I'll pick my "most anticipated" release each week and make sure to link my review if I was lucky enough to score an ARC from the publisher beforehand. Happy reading!


An Enchantment of Ravens | Margaret Rogerson

Published: September 26, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance

Synopsis:

"Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There's only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel."

Invictus | Ryan Graudin

Published: September 26, 2017
Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Synopsis:

"Time flies when you're plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past. 

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far's very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems."

The Fire Queen | Emily R. King

Published: September 26, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

"Isobel is a pro

An Enchantment of Ravens | Margaret Rogerson

Published: September 26, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance

Synopsis:

"In the second book in The Hundredth Queen Series, Emily R. King once again follows a young warrior queen’s rise to meet her destiny in a richly imagined world of sorcery and forbidden powers.

Though the tyrant rajah she was forced to marry is dead, Kalinda’s troubles are far from over. A warlord has invaded the imperial city, and now she’s in exile. But she isn’t alone. Kalinda has the allegiance of Captain Deven Naik, her guard and beloved, imprisoned for treason and stripped of command. With the empire at war, their best hope is to find Prince Ashwin, the rajah’s son, who has promised Deven’s freedom on one condition: that Kalinda will fight and defeat three formidable opponents.

But as Kalinda’s tournament strengths are once again challenged, so too is her relationship with Deven. While Deven fears her powers, Ashwin reveres them—as well as the courageous woman who wields them. Kalinda comes to regard Ashwin as the only man who can repair a warring world and finds herself torn between her allegiance to Deven and a newly found respect for the young prince.

With both the responsibility to protect her people and the fate of those she loves weighing heavily upon her, Kalinda is forced again to compete. She must test the limits of her fire powers and her hard-won wisdom. But will that be enough to unite the empire without sacrificing all she holds dear?"

The Language of Thorns | Leigh Bardugo

Published: September 26, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy Short Stories

Synopsis:

"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."

There's Someone Inside Your House | Stephanie Perkins

Published: September 26, 2017
Genre: YA Contemporary Horror

Synopsis:

"Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.


An Enchantment of Ravens sounds nice, but I've heard a lot of comparisons to ACOTAR and I don't think I'm ready for a story quite so close to that one yet. The Fire Queen is the second book in a series I'd like to pick up - I haven't heard it's phenomenal, but I enjoy Arabian tales and sorcery so it's on my list. As it sounds pretty similar to another trilogy I currently have to finish, the Dark Caravan Cycle, I have to wait until I finish the last book there before starting.
Which of these new releases will you be adding to your TBR? See you in October!

New Releases

Hello booklings! It's time for the new releases of the week that caught my eye - September keeps delivering!
If you're not familiar, Top Releases is a list of the books publishing each week that caught my eye. Likely all books will be in the fantasy genre, and expect a healthy mix of YA and Adult. I'm sure I'll include a rogue contemporary or romance in here and there, especially if there's a lot of interest-worthy buzz. I don't promise to read all the books on the list, but I'll pick my "most anticipated" release each week and make sure to link my review if I was lucky enough to score an ARC from the publisher beforehand. Happy reading!


A Poison Dark and Drowning | Jessica Cluess

Published: September 19, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

"The magicians want her to lead. The sorcerers want her to lie. The demons want her blood. Henrietta wants to save the one she loves. But will his dark magic be her undoing?

Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the bloodthirsty Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.

Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own.

So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth."

Hunting Prince Dracula | Kerri Maniscalco

Published: September 19, 2017
Genre: YA Historical Mystery

Synopsis:

"Bone white. Blood red. Along this path, you’ll soon be dead.

Following the horrifying revelation of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth flees her home in Victorian London to enroll as the only female student in Europe’s most prestigious forensics school. But it’s impossible to find peace in the dark, unsettling Romanian castle that houses the school—and was also once home to the depraved Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Prince Dracula.

When a series of troubling deaths brings whispers of Vlad’s bloodthirsty return from the grave, Audrey Rose and her sharp-witted companion, Thomas Cresswell, must unravel the cryptic clues that will lead them to the shadowlike killer—living or dead."

Jane, Unlimited | Kristin Cashore

Published: September 19, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

"Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price."

One Dark Throne | Kendare Blake

Published: September 19, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

"The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other."

Successor's Promise | Trudi Canavan

Published: September 19, 2017
Genre: Adult Fantasy

Synopsis:

"International No.1 bestselling author Trudi Canavan returns with the final novel in the Millennium's Rule series - her most powerful and thrilling adventure yet.

Five years have passed since the Rebels confronted the Raen. Five years, in which the boy Rielle rescued, Qall, has grown up among the Travellers, with no memory of the life that was stolen from him. 
Five years of chaos, barely contained by Baluka and the Restorers. Worlds are at war, some overrun by deadly machines, some drained of magic by power-hungry sorcerers.
As Qall comes of age, and Rielle and Tyen's hard-won peace is threatened, their loyalties are tested - and Qall's very existence is at stake.
Because Dahli is still determined to restore Valhan to power, and he will stop at nothing to succeed."


Which of these anticipated sequels will make it onto your TBR this week?