Posted in Books

Book Review: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

Goldsboro Sci-Fi Fantasy Fellowship September Book

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

Series: The Drowning Empire #1

Rating: ★★★★☆


The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

My favorite part of this book was the intricate world building and magic system that seems so unique compared to the typical fantasy system. The world of the drowning empire is made up of floating islands that migrate on a fourteen year pattern. Magic is only known by the emperor, who takes bone shards from his subjects heads and carves runes on them to animate the sewn together bodies he creates.

Lin, the emperor’s daughter, has been trying to earn back his confidence since her memories were taken after a fever. Jovis is a smuggler who has been searching for his missing wife (and ends up finding a kitten/otter creature named Mephi during his mis-adventures). Ranami, Phalue, and Sand also have small parts throughout the book that are better left uncovered by the reader.

Most of the book is focused on setting up the world and the multiple moving parts that finally start coming together in the last 100 pages. The beginning of the book is mainly dedicated to setting up this complex world and system. This unfortunately made it a bit of a slog for me, but the latter part of the book saved it in my eyes. I also struggled throughout with the multiple points of view, especially Lin’s because I didn’t really care for her until the end. Phalue and Ranami are important for setting up some of the final scene drama, but I was wondering why they were included for the majority of the book as I thought their parts were kind of boring. I love Jovis and Mephi’s parts, and would read any subsequent books just for them and their adventures.

There is the potential for some romance being set up in future books, especially with some of the revelations present at the end, but budding feelings is not a main focus. The main “romantic” parts are between Phalue and Ranami who are having struggles in their ongoing relationship. Their conflicts are mainly political and seemed to be espoused upon because of the political statement the author wanted to make.

There are a lot of mysteries that I want solved – what is happening with all of the Alanga artifacts? What is Sand and her fellows going to do? I’m honestly more excited to explore those mysteries than I was/am about this book. But the set up for these was enough to raise my star rating.

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Book Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.5

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Months after the explosive events in A Court of Wings and Ruin, Feyre, Rhys, and their companions 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.

Ultimately a fluffy holiday fanfiction-like piece. It did provide some slight refreshers on what happened in A Court of Wings and Ruin (which I needed before diving into A Court of Silver Flames), along with the tiny hints at how Nesta and Cassian feel towards each other after the war. As I’m writing this review after finishing the latter book, I can also say there is some issues brought up that are central to some sub-plots in A Court of Silver Flames.

Nothing else to really write home about, a good nearly-mindless read for Maas fans. The sex was the most exciting part about it, but there is something a little creepy about picturing a possible future child when being involved with your partner.

Posted in Book tags, Books

Trope-ical Readathon TBR!

During the month of March, I will be participating in the Trope-ical Readathon! This is my first time participating in this one. I normally try and avoid “team” based readathons (or any other challenges to be honest) because I feel guilty if I’m not able to contribute as much as I’d like to. I’ve been on a pretty good reading streak lately though, and am hoping to continue it through this challenge!

This TBR is admittedly subject to change at any time – I am very much a mood reader and also do not expect myself to get through all of the prompts…MAYBE half of them if I stretch myself. I like to read some beefy books, so I’m excited each page read also counts for points! I’ve included a few novellas on my TBR to try and balance things out.

My team for this readathon is Sci-Fi/Fantasy which is the genre I read most. The team book is also one I own that has been on my TBR for a while: Rosewater by Tade Thompson. For the other team challenges, I’ll be trying to read:

  1. Read a book with the “secret world” trope: The Awakening by Nora Roberts
  2. Read a book with the “first contact” trope: The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

General Prompts:

  1. Absent/Dead parents trope: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  2. War Setting Trope: Lovely War by Julie Berry
  3. Small Town Trope (one word title): Shielded by KayLynn Flanders
  4. Coming-of-Age Trope: Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith
  5. Dystopia Trope: The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
  6. Blast from the Past Trope: The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K. S. Villoso
  7. Mixed Media Trope (audiobook): The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  8. Artificial Intelligence Trope: All Systems Red by Martha Wells
  9. Boarding School Trope: A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
  10. Enemies to Lovers/Enemies to Friends Trope: Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie
  11. Multiple POVs Trope: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
  12. The New Kid in Town Trope (genre don’t normally read): The Light Ages by Seb Falk
  13. Retelling Trope: Thorn by Intisar Khanani
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Book Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Audio Narrator: Dan Stevens

Rating: ★★★☆☆


Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a isolated mansion on Soldier Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…

Which among them is the killer and will any of them survive?

Finally got around to reading (or rather listening to) this classic. This narrator was so good with such distinctive voices for each of the characters that the ending was a bit spoiled because it was clear what characters were voicing some of the inner dialogue parts.

None of the characters in this book were good people, and even though it is pretty explicitly stated in the poem which way the different characters are going to die, there was something utterly satisfying in hearing how their ends eventually played out.

Mystery/thriller books aren’t my normal cup of tea, but I did enjoy this book, especially because for once it was the guilty people being ruthlessly murdered rather than innocents. This, along with watching Lucifer has made me finally want to dive into the In Death series again after a bit of a break.

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Book Review: A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

Series: Hades & Persephone #1

Rating: ★★★☆☆


Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.

Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.

After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.

As a preface to this review, A Touch of Darkness suffers from the self-published curse of having poor editing. There were multiple points in this book where the sentence doesn’t make sense, or a word is (I’m assuming) accidentally misplaced with a similarly spelled one. While I try my best to not take these mistakes to heart, as I’ve grown older I’ve also grown less tolerant of these annoyances because a small part of my work is making sure scientific documents don’t have these errors. The story was enough that I wanted to keep reading, but I do feel that some of these pulled me out of the story and affected my reading experience.

The modern take on the Hades and Persephone myth was interesting. It reminds me of what I’ve heard of the Lore Olympus webcomic series (though I haven’t read it myself), and I enjoyed this premise enough I may go check that out in the near future. In this iteration of the story, some myths are ancient history, and some seem to be happening real-time in the modern world, with names such as Adonis being thrown around.

A lot of the conflict in this novel has to do with Persephone internalizing her own misgivings and feelings, which is a trope that I’m not particularly fond of. She still has a lot of growing to do to become a powerful goddess, and seems uninterested in how Hades is attempting to help her do it (although he is not very communicative in his own right).

The ending was a bit abrupt – the main conflicts are resolved but there are still enough questions about what will happen to the couple that I’m interested in reading the following book. I have a feeling Persephone is going to make some stupid decisions based on her actions in this book, but I’ll try and reserve judgement until I’ve actually cracked the next one open.

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Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Series: Graceling #1

Rating: ★★★★★


Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. 

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po. 

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone. 

Graceling was one of my favorite books as a child, so when I saw that a new book was coming out in the series, I wanted to revisit the earlier ones because it’s been SO long since I reread them. Luckily, my love of this story did not diminish with age or time!

These books have stuck in my mind as the first ones I read where the woman adamantly does NOT want to have children or be married, not because she doesn’t love someone, but because she does not want the responsibility/to be tied down. As a young girl, this was kind of revelatory to me because even in children’s books, a lot of fantasy have women focusing on romance.

It also showed me that a man teasing/putting someone down doesn’t always mean that they are good at flirting or that you have to return those advances. Again, in my younger years (and I feel like in a lot of enemies-to-lovers now) a lot of books featured rude heroes that the heroine eventually fell in love with. Katsa doesn’t have any time for that tomfoolery, and in fact is mildly insulted by a “suitor” who constantly mocks her skills. Po was a wonderful hero in letting Katsa do what she loved, and loving her because of it.

I’m not sure I would love the writing style as much if I was just reading it for the first time, but as a trip down memory lane this book hit me in ALL the feels.

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Book Review: The Ravens by Danielle Paige and Kass Morgan

The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige

Series: The Ravens #1

Rating: ★★★☆☆


Kappa Rho Nu isn’t your average sorority. Their parties are notorious. Their fundraisers are known for being Westerly College’s most elaborate affairs. But beneath the veil of Greek life and prestige, the sisters of Kappu Rho Nu share a secret: they’re a coven of witches. For Vivi Deveraux, being one of Kappa Rho Nu’s Ravens means getting a chance to redefine herself. For Scarlett Winters, a bonafide Raven and daughter of a legacy Raven, pledge this year means living up to her mother’s impossible expectations of becoming Kappa Rho Nu’s next president. Scarlett knows she’d be the perfect candidate — that is, if she didn’t have one human-sized skeleton in her closet…. When Vivi and Scarlett are paired as big and little for initiation, they find themselves sinking into the sinister world of blood oaths and betrayals.

This book was the Illumicrate pick for December. It came with gorgeous pink sprayed edges that I absolutely adore! I finally picked this book up for the “Read a book you’re unsure about” prompt of 2021 Medieval-a-thon Tailor challenges. I ended this book still not entirely sure how I felt about it. On the one hand, reading about a mystical sorority sounds awesome, but I feel like I am one of the few that has not really hopped onto the modern-witch craze. There seem to be tons of books published recently featuring witches, and I just have no real desire to read most of them.

The magic system was interesting, with the sisters’ powers based off of Tarot cards and their various suits. All of the magic felt very reminiscent of witchy TV shows, with circle hand-holding and repetitive chants. I can very much see this book being adapted on either Freeform or The CW (which may have been Morgan’s aim, considering she already has had a popular adaptation with The 100).

There are a few mysteries that are involved in the central plot of this book. The first one – the source of Scarlett’s guilt – is revealed pretty early on and was kind of anti-climactic for me. The larger mystery (which I won’t explain because it’s not mentioned in the synopsis) is pretty easy to solve in my opinion, and I was decently confident of the answer throughout.

There was nothing really surprising about this book to me. It was an okay Young Adult mystery story featuring some contemporary drama (that admittedly would totally happen in a sorority based on my experience) as well as some mystical mysteries. I’m a little upset about how inconclusive Scarlett’s romance turned out, but I suppose the authors were hoping to hook readers into picking up the sequel. I don’t believe I will because I don’t feel any pressing need to revisit these characters, and will be treating this one as a standalone. As much as I didn’t love this book, there wasn’t really anything that was bad about it either.

If you’re looking for some creepy college urban fantasy with a more adult feel, I would suggest Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo instead of this one.

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TTT: Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Today’s topic is: Books I meant to read in 2020 but didn’t get to. There were a lot of new releases as well as older books that I wanted to get to last year but wasn’t able to. These are just a few that are at the top of my lists.

  1. Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger – I’ve heard great things about this middle grade/younger YA book. It’s come up on a few lists as favorite reads of the year and it has some great representation.
  2. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse – Roanhorse has been on my radar for a while, and her latest Sci Fi series starters sounds right up my alley.
  3. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier – An older book that sounds like something that I will absolutely love.
  4. The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart – A debut that was very buzzy last year. I was able to get an exclusive edition with Goldsboro Books, and am hoping to read it within the next few weeks.
  5. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko – A new YA that was all over Instagram. Sounds so interesting, and I’m into competition books
  6. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – I loved Moreno-Garcia’s book Gods of Jade and Shadow last year and am looking forward to reading some of her other works.
  7. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini – I loved Eragon as a child, but never read the last book in the series because I thought it went down in quality (story and writing-wise). This book was the authors return, and first foray into Sci-Fi and I’m really excited about it after seeing him speak about it at an online event
  8. The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin – I’m really just planning to read any Jemisin book this year, but this was her latest novel that sounds interesting.
  9. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann – I’ve hear this is a great feel good book, so I’ve been waiting to read it until I need a nice pick me up.
  10. All Systems Read by Martha Wells – Everyone sings Murderbot’s many praises so I want to see what they’re all about.

What books were you hoping to read last year but didn’t get to?

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Book Review: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Series: The Goblin Emperor #1

Published: April 1, 2014

Rating: ★★★★☆


The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend… and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.

This was an interesting one to read on audiobook. On the one hand, I’m glad I read this on audio because I may not have made it through the first half of the book if I had to read it physically. The first half is almost completely exposition and world building, with the complex naming system and SO many people introduced. The second half made it all worth it though, I couldn’t stop listening to the last 50%.

I learned that I am definitely a visual learner, because I was constantly forgetting characters and being confused by their names with titles attached. I was constantly referring to The Goblin Emperor Wiki Character page which had a decent list of the characters and their titles/role in the story (although I did spoil some plot points this way, so beware). The naming in this book was very different, which led to many of the names sounding like whatever the heck Britney Spears is saying at minute 2:42 in her iconic song Work B*tch.

Maia was such a loveable character and you couldn’t help but root for him all the way through. There are some tough decisions he has to make, but he is able to learn quickly and begin to navigate the tricky court politics. I am excited that there is a sequel to this book coming out this year because I want to learn more about what he gets up to in his revolutionary reign (even if it is going to be based on Celehar – a side character: see more at this Goodreads page). I’m hoping to at least be able to read about a royal wedding.

My favorite characters were Csevet and Cala, a servant and guard of Maia’s that were loyal to him from the beginning even when it seemed everyone else was not. Maia did not live an easy life before coming to court, and seeing him slowly blossom into someone more sure of himself was wonderful (and really the point of the entire book).

Overall, this is definitely a slow book meant more for an experience of some court intrigue without tons of action involved. I would rate the first half of this book three stars and the second half five, leading to my rating of four. Addison has definitely built an intricate and interesting world we only get to dip our toes into. This book is NOT for people who like plot driven books. It is a very slow and intricate build up that showcases character strengths and flaws when thrust into an unexpected situation.

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Book Review: The Pearl by Tiffany Reisz

The Pearl by Tiffany Reisz

Series: The Godwicks #3 (Standalone)

Published: December 1, 2020

Rating: ★★★★☆


My least favorite of the Godwick books so far. There was just something about this one that was missing some of the magic of The Red and The Rose . While this is marketed as a standalone – and it definitely could be read as one – I feel like the reader would be missing out on a lot if they didn’t at least read The Red. There is a lot of backstory involving a haunted painting that may confuse new readers. I did enjoy having Malcolm from The Red back in the story, and hope that this means that he will be getting his own book (maybe with the new side-character Zoot?) in the future.

Arthur is a character that was previously mentioned in his older sisters book, The Rose, as being a goody-two-shoes and generally prudish when it came to the lascivious sexual tastes the rest of the family shared. Regan was an interesting heroine from the beginning. A widowed woman who had been married to an abusive man many years her senior, she battles with personal demons which Arthur has to work to overcome. While I thought this book was marketed as having a Dom-Sub relationship, I didn’t feel like this materialized to the degree I was expecting. The beginning showcased this more, and I felt like the dynamic faded a bit as the relationship developed. The “big twist” of the book was one I saw coming pretty early on, knowing what I know of some interfering presences introduced in The Red.

I do enjoy a good Happily Ever After and am glad the stuck up Arthur Godwick finally embraced a little of his family legacy of depravity. All the threads were wrapped up nicely, with the potential for future books as stated previously. I will definitely be continuing on as I enjoy Reisz’s writing and the entire Godwick clan. I only hope that Lia and her beau may come back in future installments!