Fantasy · YA

Across The Green Grass Fields – Seanan McGuire

5 Stars

I love this series so, so, so much. Across the Green Grass Fields is the sixth installment in Seanan McGuire’s Alex, Hugo, Nebula and Locus award winning Wayward Children series of novellas. In this story, we meet a brand new character and explore her origin story.

The image of a green meadow with a tree rising into a blue sky with the title "Across the green grass fields" across it in white text
Cover from Goodreads

“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”

Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.

When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines―a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…

Do you remember growing up and being absolutely obsessed with a topic? Cars, cats, dinosaurs, trains or horses? Do you remember when suddenly the things you loved became the things that made people “weird” and friend groups began to change? I certainly do, and I think a lot of other readers will as well. Across the Green Grass Fields is as much about Regan’s adventures in the Hooflands as it is about her childhood here in our world and the painful experiences of growing up in a world that demands conformity, when all the rules are ever changing and constructed by others. It’s about friendship and the value in finding friends who value you for you – and being unafraid to be yourself.

Regan is also intersex – and might be the first time I’ve ever encountered an explicitly intersex character on page. For that alone, this story is new and unique, but Across the Green Grass Fields isn’t “an intersex story” as much as any of the previous books in the Wayward series haven’t been “the fat girl story” or “the asexual story”. They’re stories featuring characters that just are, and are allowed to be, in all the glorious diversity we’ve been starved of for so long. I am not an intersex person, and cannot comment on how “accurate” the portayal is, though I have heard from several intersex folks on Twitter that they see themselves in this book. I also know the kind of care Seanan gives to her writing and development of characters, so I am excited to see how the book goes over more widely.

In Come Tumbling Down, the previous Wayward Children book, I noted that Seanan seemed to struggle with pacing and that I felt that the end just popped up and was somewhat anticlimactic and sudden. When I was 75% of the way through Across the Green Grass Fields and Regan hadn’t really begun her quest yet, I was concerned that I’d feel the same way about pacing. I am pleased to report that my fears did not come true. The ending is quick, but makes sense for the story and doesn’t feel abrupt or anticlimactic at all. It might be one of my favorite endings so far (though In An Absent Dream still reigns supreme).

Across the Green Grass Fields is the most standalone of all the Wayward Children stories – at the moment. Regan has not appeared in any of the previous novellas, and I will be very curious to see how her story intersects with the rest of them in the next book, which should take place at the school.

Across the Green Grass Fields releases on January 12, 2021. Be Sure to pick up your copy from a local bookstore near you, or online through Bookshop.org.

Advertisement
Fantasy · Science Fiction

Hench – Natalie Zina Walschots

You know a book is good when you put it down after finishing a four-hour marathon read from beginning to end and simply go, “Wow.” That’s how I feel about Hench, the new novel from Natalie Zina Walschots.

Image from Goodreads

Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy? As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called “hero” leaves her badly injured.  And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one.

So, of course, then she gets laid off.

With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks.

Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponize it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing.  And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.

It’s not too long before she’s employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.

I have always loved stories about imperfect people, especially in a superhero context. Stories that explore the grey areas of personality and the fact that very rarely is someone all good or all bad. Very rarely does a villain not have some kind of backstory that explains why they’ve made the choices they have. Hench is just one such exploration, and Walschots does it masterfully. I hate to compare Hench to other things, but if I had to go with modern literary sales pitches, I’d say it is Megamind meets The Boys.

Atmospherically, the book is kind of dark, without straying into grimdark. It’s not a warm-fuzzies kind of story. But to balance the darkness, Walschots weaves in wry humor and thoughtfulness that is so kind it’s almost painful, knowing that that kind of kindness might just be the most fantastical element of the whole story.

The characters all feel like real people, the kind of people who end up in places they maybe didn’t expect, but one way or another here they are because bills have got to be paid. Anna is very relatable, and I can really sympathize with parts of her story.

But what I really loved, was that it’s practically competence porn. Shows like The West Wing are enjoyable to me because I love witnessing excellent people do excellent things. There’s nothing more satisfying than a job well done. And Anna is very competent. It’s a dream watching Anna accomplish many things, and do it all beautifully well. That’s not to say she’s perfect, mistakes aren’t made and everything goes without a hitch – what a boring book that would be. But Anna is good at what she does.

Hench is such a good read. I laughed and cringed and couldn’t put the book down as I raced the clock to the end. And even once I was done, my mind just kept chewing on this scene or that. It’s so good.

I preordered my copy months ago, on a tweet-thread recommendation from Seanan McGuire and I absolutely don’t regret it. You won’t either. Hench hit shelves just this last Tuesday, September 22. It’s available wherever books are sold. Do yourself a favor and pick a copy up today.

Fantasy · Horror · Uncategorized

Harrow The Ninth – Tamsyn Muir

4 Stars

The sequel to one of my favorite books of 2019, Gideon the Ninth, is Harrow The Ninth and it is weird. I had a really hard time rating this one, and it will be hard to discuss without spoilers, but here goes.

The cover of Harrow the Ninth featuring a an image of a woman with a skull's face painted on, skeleton armor and skeletons behind her.
Cover from Tor.com

She answered the Emperor’s call.

She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.

In victory, her world has turned to ash.

After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her.

Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?

Harrow the Ninth has all of the mystery and intrigue and spooky skeletons and macabre imagery as Gideon the Ninth, but lacks the same heart and humor. This is somewhat to be expected, because the narrator is of course, the extremely serious Harrowhark, rather than the done-with-this-shit, wisecracking Gideon. Harrow is an unreliable narrator to an extreme degree. She admits on the page that she is mad, and has actively made herself unreliable.That change in tone and loss of humor was something I viscerally felt, and couldn’t help feel, the way one tongues at the gap in their smile when a tooth goes missing. You can’t help but poke and prod and compare to what was there before. It’s a loss that is painful and curious all at the same time.

That weirdness and loss aside, Harrow is a book to read slowly, savoring each page. There is a lot going on, and it is going to be a confusing ride. I spent probably the first 50% of the book very confused and somewhat lost. Something was wrong and I just couldn’t figure out why. But as confused as I was, Harrow is a book full of answers. (And a whole lot more questions of course.) Harrow answers so many of the questions raised in Gideon. The story is told in alternating sections of past and present. We learn why and how Harrow came to be (literally). We find out why she and Gideon hated each other and so much more. It is so satisfying to find answers to many of the burning questions I had after reading Gideon.

Of course in answering so many questions, Harrow raises many, many more and ends on such a bombastic note that I am immediately clamoring for the third and final book in the trilogy, Alecto the Ninth.

Harrow the Ninth hits shelves August 4, 2020 and it’d be a mistake to pass it by.

I was provided an eARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Fantasy · Horror · Science Fiction

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire Buddy Read Part 2

Middlegame is the latest release by Seanan McGuire and is absolutely amazing. You need to read it. That is all. That is my whole review. READ IT.

Cover from Goodreads

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Below, is part two of my buddy read and discussion with Marzie’s Reads, and friend of the blog Janelle. ****THERE ARE SO MANY SPOILERS. If you have not read Middlegame, stop, go read it, and then come back. THERE ARE ALL OF THE SPOILERS BELOW.****** You can read Part One here.

Alex: Jumping back into the story, I really liked the cat that wouldn’t die, Old Bill. He was a great little flavor. And I really liked how we saw Roger and Dodger at different points in their lives.

Janelle: Yes! The cat!

Marzie: That was awesome with the cat, yes. It’s interesting about Roger and Dodger. You know our two oldest kids are twins. They’ve had periods of time where they’ve barely spoken for a year or more (because of fights) and then they just mysteriously reconnect. That reconnection she wrote between them, again and again, felt so real to me based on what I see with our kids.

Alex:I think people will like hearing that – I saw some questions on GR about the twin representation, and whether or not it was going to be any good.  Speaking of which, did anyone notice the lack of representation in this book? Seanan is so good about that usually, that it kind of bothered me that the only rep I saw was Smita, who took their blood. Everyone else was kind of white, straight, and cis.

Janelle: I did notice that, actually.

Marzie: I thought it was a little weird, really, for her. Yes and Smita, the only POC, got Erin-ed. Yikes.

Alex: The absence was jarring, since Seanan is usually so good at making that seamless and feel like we’re in a real place with real people.

Marzie: It has to be very deliberate. But it did feel odd. Seanan never does anything by chance with her craft, so she must have had reasons for writing it without a lot of diversity.

Alex: I can’t imagine what reason she’d have for writing such a homogenous book as this. Other than she expected a lot of people would die, and didn’t want to be accused of killing all the rep off?

Marzie: And as it is, she did kill Smita.

Janelle: I’d really like to mention that the way they chose to terrify Roger into not contacting Dodger felt real enough to be heartbreaking. I felt like it happens to so many children. Not on such a high level, but I think most of us reading this have had moments of being gaslit by adults. It felt very abusive. It was one of the more real, horrific moments in the story for me.

Alex: Oh god, yes. I felt for him so deeply then. It was one of the times I cried while reading. I was crushed when Dodger didn’t seem to understand his reasons. That feeling of unfairness that you made a decision with good reasons, good intentions, but you still hurt people and your intentions don’t get you a pass was just seeping off the page.

Marzie: I had to take a break there the first time I read it. It felt like a perfect example of manipulating a child to me, after all my years doing child welfare stuff. So awful and so very real. The way adults can manipulate children with fear of losing their family is searing.

Janelle: Exactly. “If you tell what I do to you, your whole family will be taken away from you.”

Marzie: It was pretty much that, yes, and again made me think of organized religions that have abuse problems with children. That kind of power is frightening and so easily can become abusive. But as much as I cried for Roger, I felt much worse for Dodger who had no idea of what happened. Roger had his family but Dodger lost her line to the world in a way.

Janelle: I felt for both of them. It was crushing.

Marzie: So I’m really curious to see if this book has changed Seanan as a writer. Like, can she write just Seanan or just Mira in the same way now?

Janelle: I guess we’ll find out with The Unkindest Tide.

Alex: Or maybe sooner, with the Shadow of Spindrift House.

Marzie: Yes, and I was so struck by the Spindrift chapter title in Middlegame. It’s not a common word and even if there was no connection, it has me thinking that this book has percolated through both her author personas.

Alex: I totally missed that! On another note, if you could have the powers of Language or the powers of Math, which would you choose?

Janelle: God. Tough question. I’ve always felt a kinship with language, but feel so stupid about math. Part of me wants to choose math so I could see it. Intellectually, I understand how beautiful a proof can be, but I don’t get it.

Marzie: I’d choose math because it IS as language to me. It’s a universal language like music.

Alex: I am all about the language. The right language can solve so many problems. I would like to just be able to tell the universe how to be.

Marzie: But the right language is math! Trust me. Aliens speak math.

Alex: But math describes how the universe IS. I want to tell it what it SHOULD be instead. And Roger is a polyglot by the end, speaking all the languages he wants. Why should alien languages be any different?

Marzie: But human languages describe what is and what can be just as math does. And Dodger creates things with math that Roger cannot. Like more time. Math allowed her to manipulate reality in a way Roger cannot.

Alex: I am not arguing that math isn’t a language. If we follow that logic, then language powers include math powers and then you get cake and eating it too and that is beyond the point of this very silly question. 😛

Marzie: It’s not a silly question! It was certainly important to separate the two to James Reed, for instance, so….

Alex: It is because I asked it in a silly spirit 😉

Janelle: I choose math. I made my choice. When do I get to become Dodger? Isn’t that what you were offering?

Marzie: Sigh. Now Alex will just have to tell us how to remake the world and time.

Alex: *cackles* there is that. What is a gun without a trigger but a state of frustration?

Marzie: Seriously there were times reading this when I realized that I have felt like a cuckoo at times. Within my family, I mean. Maybe we are all Cuckoos.

Alex: Seanan has a serious Cuckoo theme going on right now. In the X-Men, in Middlegame, in InCryptid. She does tend to interrogate the same subjects over and over and over for a while.

Marzie: It’s a rich trope to mine!

Janelle: Now I’m picturing Seanan shining a light in some poor trope’s eyes, demanding it tell her EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW. “I know you’ve still got more for me. I can do this all night.”

Alex: I mean she kinda did that in Indexing. A few times.

Marzie: Janelle that cracks me up! But yes, Alex, it’s like this is a culmination of a lot of things she’s explored in other books or comics.

Alex: It’s part of what makes Middlegame feel so familiar, and yet be still groundbreaking. If you had handed me this book blind and without context or cover and didn’t tell me who wrote it I still would have been able to tell you it was Seanan. I might have guessed Mira first, but I’d have known it was her. It’s *SO* her.

Janelle: I feel like I would’ve known her as well. The voice is more sophisticated, but it’s still her.

Marzie: Well, I’d have known from that Vixy quote, but yes, it’s unmistakably hers. So any other thoughts than, “please ma’am, some more?”

Alex: I want to shove this book into people’s hands. It’s not like Wayward where I feel that it should be required reading for every human, but it’s very good and I think people will really enjoy it once they pick it up. It’s definitely in my top 5 Seanan/Mira books.

Marzie: It’s very thought-provoking stuff to me. I really hope it’s widely read, too. I honestly think it’s one of the best things she’s written and I hold the Newsflesh books and the Wayward books in pretty darn high regard.

Janelle: There’s just so much in it. From child abuse, to sibling relationships, to love of language and math… there is a lot to process in it, and it’s told so engagingly that I think it really ought to find a wide audience.

Marzie: I have to mention that I have such love for the way she wrote Dodger and her mathematical abilities. That passage where she solves the Monroe problem and then turns around and is later suicidal because she can’t solve herself, her situation, her role. Just wow. We’re seeing so many great stories about women in science and math right now, and Dodger, even though she’s an alchemical construct, is one of these.

Alex: So are we all talked out for right now?

Marzie: Yes, because I’m busy downloading the audiobook. I wasn’t kidding when I said I wanted to listen to it. But Janelle, thanks so much for discussing the book with us!

Janelle: Thank you, Marzie! Any idea if you two want to do another buddy read with me again?

Marzie: I’d love to, Janelle.Alex: I am open to another buddy read, too, depending on what we choose.

Fantasy · Graphic Novel

Blog Tour: The Dysasters by P.C. Cast & Kristen Cast

Dysasters Graphic 2

THE DYSASTERS

By P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Published by Wednesday Books

On Sale: February 26, 2019

Available in Hardcover, eBook, and Audio

Casts_The Dysasters.jpgP.C. and Kristin Cast, the #1 New York Times bestselling authors of the House of Night phenomenon, return to the scene with The Dysasters—the first action-packed novel in a new paranormal fantasy series.

Adoptive daughter of a gifted scientist, Foster Stewart doesn’t live a “normal” life, (not that she’d want to). But controlling cloud formations and seeing airwaves aren’t things most eighteen year olds can do.

Small town star quarterback and quintessential dreamy boy next door, Tate “Nighthawk” Taylor has never thought much about his extra abilities. Sure, his night vision comes in handy during games, but who wouldn’t want that extra edge?

From the moment Foster and Tate collide, their worlds spiral and a deadly tornado forces them to work together, fully awakening their not-so-natural ability – the power to control air.

As they each deal with the tragic loss of loved ones, they’re caught by another devastating blow – they are the first in a group of teens genetically manipulated before birth to bond with the elements, and worse… they’re being hunted.

Now, Foster and Tate must fight to control their abilities as they learn of their past, how they came to be, who’s following them, and what tomorrow will bring… more DYSASTERS?

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

#1 New York Times & #1 USA Today bestselling author P.C. Cast was born in the Midwest, and, after her tour in the USAF, she taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time. PC is a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. Her novels have been awarded the prestigious: Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Booksellers’ Best, and many, many more. Ms. Cast is an experienced teacher and talented speaker who lives in Oregon near her fabulous daughter, her adorable pack of dogs, her crazy Maine Coon, and a bunch of horses.

Kristin Cast is a #1 New York Times and #1 USA Today bestselling author who teams with her mother to write the wildly successful House of Night series. She has editorial credits, a thriving t-shirt line, and a passion for all things paranormal. When away from her writing desk, Kristin loves going on adventures with her friends, family, and significant other, playing with her dogs (Grace Kelly and Hobbs the Tiny Dragon), and is currently obsessed with her baby.

BUY LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dysasters-P-C-Cast/dp/1250141044

Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Dysasters-Audiobook/B076XQ72M5

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dysasters-p-c-cast/1127202690?#/

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Dysasters/P-C-Cast/9781250141040

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/P_C_Cast_The_Dysasters?id=dfQ4DwAAQBAJ

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/cy/book/the-dysasters/id1300201444

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250141040

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-dysasters

SWEEPSTAKES

Enter for a chance to win 1 of 20 hardcover copies!  Winners will be selected at random.

https://read.macmillan.com/promo/thedysastersblogtoursweepstakes

Abbreviated Rules: No purchase necessary. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia or Canada (excluding Quebec) who are age 13 years of age or older. Entry period begins at 12:00 a.m. (ET) on Sunday, February 24, 2019 and ends at 11:59 PM ET on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Void where prohibited. For full Official Rules, visit https://read.macmillan.com/promo/thedysastersblogtoursweepstakes. Sponsored by St. Martin’s Press, 175 5th Ave 10010.

Check back next month for my review! 

 

Fantasy

Sisters of the Fire – Kim Wilkins

4 stars

Kim Wilkins’ Blood and Gold series is the sweeping epic fantasy series that I’ve been looking for. Book two, Sisters of the Fire is packed full of strong, courageous ladies taking control of their futures.

39904181Four years have passed since the five royal sisters—daughters of the king—worked together to restore their father to health and to the throne while fracturing the bonds among themselves almost irreparably. Only Bluebell remains at home, dutifully serving as heir to her father’s kingdom. Rose has been cast aside by her former husband and hides in exile with her aunt, separated forever from her beloved daughter, Rowan. Ash wanders the distant wastes with her teacher, learning magic and hunting dragons, determined that the dread fate she has foreseen for herself and her loved ones never comes to pass. Ivy rules over a prosperous seaport, married to an aged husband she hates yet finding delight in her two young sons and a handsome captain of the guard. And as for Willow, she hides the most dangerous secret of all—one that could destroy all that the sisters once sought to save.

In Sisters of the Fire we follow the daughters of the Storm King Bluebell, Willow, Ash, Rose, Ivy and his granddaughter Rowan as they lead their separate lives woven together by fate, circumstance and political plot. Much like Game of Thrones, there are sections from the point of view of each of the leading ladies, and even a few side characters – all woven together by complex political machinations. Unlike Game of Thrones, it’s not unbearably depressing. Sisters of the Fire certainly has dire situations and epic battles, but has a decidedly more hopeful tone than the bleak GoT.

Plots and conspiracies abound in Sisters of the Fire and the book is an absolute page-turner. Each of the sisters (and Rowan) is very different and have very different motivations and desires for their lives. They’re well fleshed out, and engaging characters, written to frustrate and delight. Bluebell and Ash are my favorite sisters, and it’s difficult not to adore Rowan as well.

This sweeping epic isn’t without its flaws however. With five adult women leading the show, you’d think that at least one of them might be queer, but no. Alas this book is very, very straight. I also found some of the pieces that should have been twists as somewhat predictable. Especially later in the book, it felt like Wilkins was just a little too heavy handed with her hints so by the time some of the twists came about, I had already seen them coming.

Sisters of the Fire is on shelves now.

Thank you to Del Rey for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

Fantasy · YA

The Kingdom of Copper – S. A. Chakraborty

5 Stars

One of the best things I read in 2018 was S. A. Chakraborty’s City of Brass and I’ve been dying for the sequel ever since I finished CoB. I am so delighted to report that the sequel, The Kingdom of Copper is equally amazing.

39988431.jpgNahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family and one misstep will doom her tribe.

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid the unpredictable water spirits have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

It’s hard to discuss how amazing The Kingdom of Copper is without spoiling some of the major plot points, but I’ll do my best.

Where City of Brass was about survival and discovery for Nahri as she learns to navigate the world of the Daeva and djinn, The Kingdom of Copper is heavily focused on what comes next. Nahri has carved out her place as the emir Muntadhir’s wife and the Banu Nahida. But of course, being a pawn in someone else’s game has never been Nahri’s plan. But Nahri isn’t the only one making plans. There are other forces at work in and out of Daevabad and Nahri is at the center of everything whether she likes it or not.

Ali forges a new life for himself in Am Gezira, but a quiet village life isn’t enough to save him from the machinations of Daevabad and the same forces that have swept Nahri up  sweep Ali up in their nets as well.

These political machinations are full of bombshells for both the readers and the main characters. Characters both new and old struggle to make Daevabad a better place, though it’s clear that they disagree on what “better” means. Daevabadis and djinn and shafit alike are all entrenched in centuries of clashing and getting any side to let anything go, to move on or to forgive is a monumental task.

The Kingdom of Copper is packed full of Middle Eastern lore, magic and customs and is as richly described as City of Brass was. Chakraborty has an incredible talent to paint scenes so they feel as though they’re jumping off the page. I feel as if I’m on the streets of Daevabad watching everything unfold around me.

The book ends on a massive cliffhanger. I am beside myself with impatience for the third book in the trilogy.

The Kingdom of Copper is on shelves now and is not to be missed.

Thank you to Harper Voyager for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review. 

Fantasy · historical fiction · Uncategorized · YA

The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi

4.5 stars

Are you in the mood for a lush, richly imagined, fantastical heist set in historical Paris and featuring a team of talented protagonists with secrets, agendas and well-written depths? If so, have I found the book for you. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi is an absolute delight.

39863498Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

First, can we pause to drool over this gorgeous cover? Because I haven’t stopped drooling since I first laid my eyes on it. The rich green, the lovely, lush texture. /swoon

If Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows and Robert Bennet Jackson’s Foundryside were tossed in a blender and set in 1889 Paris The Gilded Wolves is what would pour out. I can’t help but compare The Gilded Wolves to Six of Crows because The Gilded Wolves fills the hole in my heart Bardugo left when Six of Crows ended. Severin and his team are not cheap copies, but rather polished contemporaries of Bardugo’s crew. That said, The Gilded Wolves is less dark, less bleak and just as fierce.

The system of technological advancement in The Gilded Wolves is called Forging and is controlled by Houses and is absolutely magical. Chokshi’s mashed up elements I’d never have thought to combine myself. Vines that bloom cocktails and champagne chandeliers. Her imagination is delightful and I loved all the wonderful things she poured onto the page. This system also serves to enable technological advancements that would have been hundreds of years out of place, but necessary to the heist plot in a clever way.

Chokshi also weaves in themes of racism, classism and sexism in interesting ways. The diversity is deftly woven into the motivations and desires of her characters.

The Gilded Wolves is on shelves now and you’ll be missing out if you don’t add it to your TBR yesterday

Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review.  

Fantasy · Uncategorized

White Stag – Kara Barbieri

4 stars

Kara Barbieri’s debut novel White Stag is a fresh, fun take on an epic fantasy. Instead of your traditional elves, White Stag is all about goblins and her take is so interesting.

39863517.jpgAs the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

I really enjoyed White Stag. The book flowed together well, and kept me intrigued. When I wasn’t reading, it was knocking around in my head, and ultimately the end of the book surprised me. Some elements were predictable, but the final twist was a welcome surprise.

Janneke/Janneka is a fierce survivor, living through a century of horror. I admired her strength and drive and really felt her struggle. She fights for her future, for choice, for her own freedom.  Her relationship with Soren, her captor and companion for decades was interesting to watch unfold. It may not be the hot, passionate declarations that are so popular and pervasive in fantasy right now, but watching Janneke decide if Soren was truly trustworthy or not was wonderful.

The Permafrost is a wonderful and richly imagined setting. Barbieri’s system of power and magic is fresh and one I’m looking forward to exploring more of.

White Stag is on shelves now and is a debut not to miss.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review. 

Fantasy · YA

In An Absent Dream – Seanan McGuire Review and *Buddy Read Part 1*

5 stars

Welcome to part one of the fourth buddy read of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series! For this read, I am teaming up once again with Marzie’s Reads and guest commenter and friend of the blog, Janelle.

In An Absent Dream is the fourth in the Wayward Children series of novellas if you read the books in publication order, and is now the first book chronologically, as it takes place before Down Among The Sticks and Bones. We’re reading the books in publication order for this discussion.

38244358This is the story of a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

For anyone . . .

In An Absent Dream is my new favorite installment in the Wayward Children series.

I identify with Lundy more closely than I have with any other of the Wayward Children so far, and the Goblin Market sounds like a world I could find happiness in. The Goblin Market has rules, and if you follow those rules, you can be at home in the Market. But breaking those rules comes at a very steep cost.

The Goblin Market reminds me a lot of my own relationships with friends, not that we are transactional but that we trade off on doing things for each other. The core of our friendship is that we are both willing to give to the other in roughly equal measure. The internal logic of the Market appeals to my sense of fairness in interactions. Those who do not give fair value are punished.

I understand and empathize with what drives Lundy. While my upbringing was less restrictive than hers, I (an many other avid readers) identified strongly with her escapism through reading. I would have found the door as irresistible as she did.

I also loved the Archivist and Moon. These are the other two main characters in In An Absent Dream that add depth and richness to the Goblin Market and made me feel as though I had fallen through the door behind Lundy.

Once again, Seanan has written the words that speak to hidden parts of my soul.

Read on below for part one of our Buddy Read discussion!

***THERE WILL BE SPOILERS***

Continue reading “In An Absent Dream – Seanan McGuire Review and *Buddy Read Part 1*”