Blog Housekeeping · Giveaway

One Year of Blogging + Giveaway! *CLOSED*


I am delighted to be celebrating my one-year blogiversary! A year ago, I started blogging on a whim. Nearly 125 posts later, this little blog has grown so much!

Thank you for reading, commenting, and engaging! I appreciate each and every person who has spent time in this little corner of the internet with me.

But, what’s an anniversary without a GIVEAWAY!?!

To celebrate, I’m giving away copies of some of my favorite books!

There will be five winners, randomly drawn on July 25.

  • Winner 1 will receive a paperback copy of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.
  • Winner 2 will receive a hardback copy of Last First Snow by Max Gladstone.
  • Winner 3 will receive an ARC of Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse.
  • Winner 4 will receive a kindle version of In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan.
  • Winner 5 will recieve a kindle version of Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee.

How to Enter

  1. Follow this blog
  2. Comment below with which prize you’re most interested in winning (no guarantees though!) (be sure to include the email with which you follow this blog in the email field so I can verify and contact you if you win!)

Bonus Entries

  1. One bonus entry for sharing this post publicly on Facebook.
  2. One bonus entry for retweeting this post on Twitter.

To claim your bonus entries, come back to this post to comment that you have done so, and what your usernames are for doing so. Those comments will not be published.


To win, you MUST follow this blog. Open to residents of the US and Canada. European/Australian residents may enter if they indicate they are willing to pay for shipping.

Winners have 48 hours to respond to my email.


The Ruin of Angels – Max Gladstone

4.5 Stars

Welcome to this sixth, and final, part of #TheCraftBuddies buddy read of Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence! For this read, I am teaming up once again with Marzie’s Reads and guest commenter, and friend of the blog, Jenni.

The Ruin of Angels is book six in The Craft Sequence if you read the books in publication order, and the sixth book chronologically. We’re reading the books in publication order for this discussion.


Cover from Goodreads


Before we jump into the review and discussion, here’s the publisher’s synopsis:

The God Wars destroyed the city of Alikand. Now, a century and a half and a great many construction contracts later, Agdel Lex rises in its place. Dead deities litter the surrounding desert, streets shift when people aren’t looking, a squidlike tower dominates the skyline, and the foreign Iskari Rectification Authority keeps strict order in this once-independent city―while treasure seekers, criminals, combat librarians, nightmare artists, angels, demons, dispossessed knights, grad students, and other fools gather in its ever-changing alleys, hungry for the next big score.

Priestess/investment banker Kai Pohala (last seen in Full Fathom Five) hits town to corner Agdel Lex’s burgeoning nightmare startup scene, and to visit her estranged sister Ley. But Kai finds Ley desperate at the center of a shadowy, and rapidly unravelling, business deal. When Ley ends up on the run, wanted for a crime she most definitely committed, Kai races to track her sister down before the Authority finds her first. But Ley has her own plans, involving her ex-girlfriend, a daring heist into the god-haunted desert, and, perhaps, freedom for an occupied city. Because Alikand might not be completely dead―and some people want to finish the job.

Before my reread of the series, I’d claimed that The Ruin of Angels was my favorite of the series, but Four Roads Cross has claimed that title, now that I’ve reread the whole series, putting The Ruin of Angels in second place.

The Ruin of Angels is a very different book from the first five Craft books. Max Gladstone has described it as the first of the second phase of the series, which hopefully means more books to come, though none have been announced.

It’s a very personal book, and ultimately a book about the nature of cities, which can feel like two separate things, until we circle back to the idea that a city is different to different people. A city can mean and be different things to different communities, and there is no one face a city wears. There is no one vision of a city, and to impose a singular vision of a city on all of its citizens is to deny those residents citizenship.

It’s also a fast-paced, nail-biting heist. The ultimate prize is knowledge, libraries and freedom, stolen right out from under the reality of one city, and one authority’s noses. The heist element is fun and frustrating at turns.

It’s also a story about relationships and how those who love us the most can also hurt us the deepest and that good intentions don’t always matter when the result is pain.

Fair warning, our discussion beyond this point is *FULL* of spoilers.

Continue reading “The Ruin of Angels – Max Gladstone”


Four Roads Cross – Max Gladstone

5 Stars

Welcome to part five of #TheCraftBuddies buddy read of Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence! For this read, I am teaming up once again with Marzie’s Reads and guest commenter, and friend of the blog, Jenni.

Four Roads Cross is book five in The Craft Sequence if you read the books in publication order, and the fourth book chronologically. We’re reading the books in publication order for this discussion.


four roads cross
Cover from Goodreads


Before we jump into the review and discussion, here’s the publisher’s synopsis:

The great city of Alt Coulumb is in crisis. The moon goddess Seril, long thought dead, is back—and the people of Alt Coulumb aren’t happy. Protests rock the city, and Kos Everburning’s creditors attempt a hostile takeover of the fire god’s church. Tara Abernathy, the god’s in-house Craftswoman, must defend the church against the world’s fiercest necromantic firm—and against her old classmate, a rising star in the Craftwork world.

As if that weren’t enough, Cat and Raz, supporting characters from Three Parts Dead, are back too, fighting monster pirates; skeleton kings drink frozen cocktails, defying several principles of anatomy; jails, hospitals, and temples are broken into and out of; choirs of flame sing over Alt Coulumb; demons pose significant problems; a farmers’ market proves more important to world affairs than seems likely; doctors of theology strike back; Monk-Technician Abelard performs several miracles; The Rats! play Walsh’s Place; and dragons give almost-helpful counsel.

Four Roads Cross is the final book in what I think of as Act I of The Craft Sequence. It wraps up many of the overarching storylines that the other four books have brought up and is the most complex narratively of the first five books in the series. There’s a lot going on in this one. There’s a lot of Craftwork, questioning and committing of faith, and many relationships in flux. It’s a busy book, but that business makes Four Roads Cross one of the easiest of the series to read. At this point in the series, readers are familiar enough with the world that Gladstone doesn’t have to slow down to explain how things work the way he does in books earlier in the series.

Four Roads Cross is probably my second favorite book in the series, sliding in right after Ruin of Angels/ Come back next month for my review and our discussion of that one!

Head over to Marzie’s Reads for part one of our discussion and a giveaway of a kindle version of Four Roads Cross. Then be sure to come back and read part two below! Join us next month for our reviews and discussion of the sixth book in The Craft Sequence, Ruin of Angels!

Fair warning, our discussion beyond this point is *FULL* of spoilers.

Continue reading “Four Roads Cross – Max Gladstone”


Last First Snow – Max Gladstone

5 Stars

Welcome to part four of #TheCraftBuddies buddy read of Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence! For this read, I am teaming up once again with Marzie’s Reads and guest commenter, and friend of the blog, Jenni.

Last First Snow is book four in The Craft Sequence if you read the books in publication order, and the first book chronologically. We’re reading the books in publication order for this discussion.


Cover from Goodreads


Before we jump into the review and discussion, here’s the publisher’s synopsis:

Forty years after the God Wars, Dresediel Lex bears the scars of liberation—especially in the Skittersill, a poor district still bound by the fallen gods’ decaying edicts. As long as the gods’ wards last, they strangle development; when they fail, demons will be loosed upon the city. The King in Red hires Elayne Kevarian of the Craft firm Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao to fix the wards, but the Skittersill’s people have their own ideas. A protest rises against Elayne’s work, led by Temoc, a warrior-priest turned community organizer who wants to build a peaceful future for his city, his wife, and his young son.

As Elayne drags Temoc and the King in Red to the bargaining table, old wounds reopen, old gods stir in their graves, civil blood breaks to new mutiny, and profiteers circle in the desert sky. Elayne and Temoc must fight conspiracy, dark magic, and their own demons to save the peace—or failing that, to save as many people as they can.

Last First Snow

Fair warning, our discussion beyond this point is *FULL* of spoilers.

Continue reading “Last First Snow – Max Gladstone”


Full Fathom Five – Max Gladstone

5 Stars

Welcome to part three of #TheCraftBuddies buddy read of Max Gladstone’s Full Fathom Five! For this read, I am teaming up once again with Marzie’s Reads and guest commenter, and friend of the blog, Jenni.

Full Fathom Five is book three in The Craft Sequence if you read the books in publication order, and the fifth book chronologically. We’re reading the books in publication order and you can check out our discussion of Two Serpents Rise here for part one.

Cover from Goodreads

Before we jump into the review and discussion, here’s the publisher’s synopsis:

On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World. When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can’t stop it first.

Full Fathom Five is the first book with significant overlap in the narrative with previous books in The Craft Sequence. Elayne Kevarian plays a small role, but the events in Full Fathom Five hinge completely on the events in Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise. Not only do we see Elayne again, but Cat and Teo help drive the story forward. While those three characters are present, they are not the main characters in Full Fathom Five. The main characters are once again, new for this book. Kai and Izza live on Kavekana, an island that strongly reminds me of Hawaii. They are the core of Full Fathom Five and find themselves often at odds and sometimes allies.

Full Fathom Five is my favorite of the series so far. I loved seeing the stories from the first two books finally intertwine. Each culture Gladstone builds for his stories is unique and rich. The characters all have rich backstories and through his writing, he sheds light on just how interconnected everything is. Reading this series has given me a glimpse into Globalization and how it can be both a wonderful and terrible thing.

Head over to Marzie’s Reads for part one of our discussion and a giveaway of the whole series. Be sure to join us next month for our reviews and discussions of the fourth book in The Craft Sequence, Last First Snow!

Fair warning, our discussion beyond this point is *FULL* of spoilers.

Continue reading “Full Fathom Five – Max Gladstone”


Two Serpents Rise – Max Gladstone

5 Stars

Welcome to part one of #TheCraftBuddies buddy read of Max Gladstone’s Two Serpents Rise! For this read, I am teaming up once again with Marzie’s Reads and guest commenter, and friend of the blog, Jenni.

Two Serpents Rise is book two in The Craft Sequence, whether you read the books in chronological order or publication order. We’re reading the books in publication order and you can check out our discussion of Three Parts Dead here for part one and here for part two.

Cover from Goodreads

Before we jump into the review and discussion, here’s the publisher’s synopsis:

Shadow demons plague the city reservoir, and Red King Consolidated has sent in Caleb Altemoc — casual gambler and professional risk manager — to cleanse the water for the sixteen million people of Dresediel Lex. At the scene of the crime, Caleb finds an alluring and clever cliff runner, crazy Mal, who easily outpaces him.

But Caleb has more than the demon infestation, Mal, or job security to worry about when he discovers that his father — the last priest of the old gods and leader of the True Quechal terrorists — has broken into his home and is wanted in connection to the attacks on the water supply.

From the beginning, Caleb and Mal are bound by lust, Craft, and chance, as both play a dangerous game where gods and people are pawns. They sleep on water, they dance in fire… and all the while the Twin Serpents slumbering beneath the earth are stirring, and they are hungry.

New readers to the series might be surprised to find that Two Serpents Rise is largely disconnected from the first book in the series, Three Parts Dead. It’s an entirely new city, new cast of characters and completely new issues. Two Serpents Rise is packed full of people of color and features two queer relationships.

I found that I liked Two Serpents Rise better than I liked Three Parts Dead because the core issue of the book was more relatable to me – keeping the water supply safe and sustainable. It’s something anyone can understand. We depend on clean water for our lives and livelihoods. Book one was more abstract and harder for me to connect to, though I feel like it gave us a better understanding of how the world works. I’m not sure I would have fully understood some of the ramifications in Two Serpents Rise without the context and worldbuilding from Three Parts Dead.

Fair warning, our discussion beyond this point is *FULL* of spoilers.

Continue reading “Two Serpents Rise – Max Gladstone”


Three Parts Dead – Max Gladstone

5 Stars

Three Parts Dead

Every time I read one of Max’s Craft Sequence books, I am in awe of the scale of things. He works with things as complex and nebulous as faith and economies but then turns around and hides Gods in the details. And on both scales he has so much going on around the everyday(ish) lives of the main characters. The Craft Sequence is a fascinating examination of power, morality, justice and so many other part of our lives wrapped up into a gripping murder mystery complete with epic romance and subterfuge. Oh, and did I mention the main character is a black woman and most of the main cast is fantastically written women?

three parts dead

Cover from Goodreads

In order to motivate myself and justify a reread of The Craft Sequence, I am teaming up with Marzie’s Reads and guest commenter, and friend of the blog, Jenni for a buddy read! We started with Three Parts Dead, the first of the series to be published, but the third book chronologically within the series.

For the first part of our discussion, check out the post on Marzie’s Reads at Fair warning, our discussion is *FULL* of spoilers.

Here’s part two, picking up right where we left off!

Alex: I want to talk about Elayne a bit more. Throughout the book, it becomes clearer and clearer that Denovo is the worst kind of abuser, one that is enabled and even encouraged to continue and refine his abuses. Both Tara and Elayne are victims of his abuse, and Elayne was his first victim. I really loved the twist at the end, when she got her revenge. But how did you feel about how that was handled.

Marzie: The ending, where Denovo gets his just desserts, is wonderful. And so perfect for this moment, where #metoo is everywhere. This is so much the way things go when abuses are reported, and especially when abuse is reported by women against men. Maybe we’re on the cusp of change, but when Three Parts Dead released, women were still in the thick of things with respect to this type of behavior- men abusing women in the work or academic setting. All that said, the handling of Tara’s accusations against Denovo at the Hidden Schools is pretty galling.

Alex: I loved the ending so much. I was furious at the school too.

Jenni: The ending was extremely satisfying. And I found the school’s complicity infuriating – although to me, what really struck me was how they allowed their ends to justify Denovo’s means. His abuse resulted in a phenomenally powerful source of Craft, and that was more important to the School than the way in which he was generating it. They cared more for destroying the Gods than they cared about the well-being of their students.

Marzie: Does Alexander Denovo in the end seem less human and humane than Kos, who wants his Seril back? I’m still seared by the image of Denovo cutting out Seril’s eyes. So awful.

Alex: I agree with you there, I think there’s a massive failure on Denovo’s part to have any humanity. Kos is certainly more compassionate and motivated by emotion rather than the acquisition of power. Kos and Seril were lovers, they had been separated by man, by Craftsmen. The Gods are much like the gods of different pantheons we’re already familiar with – the Greek Gods loved and hated and warred. The Craftsmen were so obsessed with destroying the gods that they didn’t care that they were destroying the WORLD, so what chance did Tara or Elayne have in convincing The Hidden Schools that Denovo’s craft was doing harm, and it was harm enough for them to care about stopping.

Jenni: I agree that the primary issue was Denovo’s utter lack of humanity. It stood in such stark contrast to Kos. Not that Kos wasn’t godly, but that his emotions made him seem more humane than Denovo, an actual human. He was a much more fundamentally decent being than Denovo, and seemed warmer than the Craftspeople; emotions do not automatically equal human.

Alex: I think it was deliberate, pitting a loving Kos against the unloving Denovo. I think the idea is that despite being a god, Kos was more human-seeming than Denovo who WANTED to be a god.

Marzie: If we are talking about Denovo’s lack of humanity, can we discuss what is up is with the Hidden Schools allowing him to teach and devastate their student population? How is that sustainable? To me, Denovo is shackling potential competition. He’s stripping the world of any potential competitors for his God-dom.

Alex: I think you’re absolutely correct that the school was allowing Denovo to shackle and hamstring his competition in pretty much every sense of the word. It’s Horrifying.

Marzie: My big question is why?

Jenni: I think it’s because they are just potential when they’re students. They may or may not be able to significantly advance the School’s goals after having years of intensive training. If Denovo harnesses them and bleeds them dry, yes, some of them that would have become great Craftspeople will not be as useful as they could have been otherwise, but on average, it probably works out as a win for the school. They’ve got a guaranteed return on all the warm bodies, and don’t have to worry about independent thinking.

Marzie: I mean why is the school allowing it? It will destroy the school. This is my one problem with the Denovo plot. Denovo isn’t running the entire school, is he? In an amusingly modern day nightmare, he is a narcissist. But that doesn’t explain what is going on in the school and how it is permitted to continue.

Alex: Yes, there’s other faculty. But who’s to say he doesn’t have them in the same thrall he has his students in? And to be fair, lots of companies know about corruption and let it happen rather than address and fix it because in the end, the corruption is lucrative.

Jenni: Exactly, Alex.

Marzie: I guess I feel it is the sole weak spot in the plot. Denovo destroying the student body with the knowledge of the Hidden Schools and Craft firms around the world makes little sense to me, as ultimately it will finish the school, and deplete the pool of potential craftsmen and women for the workforce.

Alex I agree that it’s a weak spot. I think this might be something to ask Max about in a Q&A sometime. 😉

Jenni: But was it the entire student body? Or just select ones? And also – if Craftspeople are as long-lived as the story suggests, then they don’t need a particularly rapid replacement rate.

Marzie: I think it was the most talented students? In which case, still unchecked, the Denovo plan destroys the Hidden Schools, and ultimately depletes Craft workforce. Craft workers aren’t bulletproof… I think they can be killed. I have to say that I would LOVE to see one of the future books set in the Hidden Schools themselves, so we can get a feel for what has been going on over the past century or so.

Alex: Okay, final thoughts. The Craft Sequence is one of my favorite series, and Three Parts Dead is an incredible introduction to the world. Gladstone takes complex concepts and mashes them all together and the result is a stunning universe with interesting characters.

Marzie: I can say without hesitation that Max Gladstone’s Craft world is one of the most unique concepts I’ve encountered in fantasy. It’s brilliant, savvy, and finds ways to poke at our modern culture and values from the vantage point of a far removed fantasy world. Kudos!

Jenni: It’s been a long time since I read a book I felt had something new to add to the fantasy genre. This book certainly manages to do that, and packages its new concepts in wonderfully fluid prose and well-drawn characters, as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next one!

Join us next month for our reviews and discussions of the second book in The Craft Sequence, Two Serpents Rise!

Anthology · Fantasy · Science Fiction

Robots Vs. Fairies – Navah Wolfe & Dominik Parisien

4.5 stars

Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe edited and collected one of my favorite anthologies to date, The Starlit Wood so when I saw they were releasing another anthology together I just couldn’t wait – especially once I saw the title: Robots vs Fairies. I thought to myself, “Oh, this is gonna be goood!” and oh, was I right. Many of the stories are poignant and thoughtful. Many of them left me with things to sit and mentally chew on, as all the best do.


Cover from Goodreads


Read on for brief reviews of individual stories. Or, go pick up a copy for yourself! Robots Vs. Fairies hit shelves January 9.

“Build me a Wonderland” by Seanan McGuire

Ahhhh this was such a great story to start off this anthology with! Fairies AND robots all mashed into one fantastic read. Seanan’s writing definitely shines in Build Me A Wonderland. Tightly written, I don’t feel like I need more of the story – I got exactly the right amount. A really strong beginning to this anthology.

“Quality Time” by Ken Liu

In “Quality Time” Ken Liu takes the time to explore the pitfalls of Silicon Valley’s philosophy that technology can solve anything. How does solving one problem create other problems? Can you take a solution too far? I enjoyed Liu’s exploration of these questions and the world he built.

“Murmured Under the Moon” by Tim Pratt

I really liked the concept of this story, but had a real problem with the dialog. It came across as stilted and amateurish, which is surprising from an author as published as Pratt. I love stories of libraries, and enjoyed Pratt’s story, aside from the strange dialog.

“The Blue Fairy’s Manifesto” by Annalee Newitz

An interesting exploration of moderate vs extreme points of view on social injustice, through the lens of robotics and Pinnocchio. Thought provoking.

“Bread and Milk and Salt” by Sarah Gailey

Dark and bloody, as I understand is typical of Gailey’s writing. The ending, while disturbing was satisfying. “Be careful what you wish for” goes both ways.

“Ironheart” by Jonathan Maberry

At its heart, Ironheart is heartbreaking take on how badly we fail our veterans in the U.S. Mix in some robotic magic and you’ve got a moving story with heart. There were definitely tears in my eyes.

“Just Another Love Song” by Kat Howard

Yes, yes and yes. What a story. Play Regina Spektor’s “Love Song” on repeat while you read this one.

“Sound and Fury” Mary Robinette Kowal

A fun space adventure containing one giant robot and much eyerolling. The eyerolling was not on my part. I really enjoyed the exhausted snark of the crew.

“The Bookcase Expedition” by Jeffrey Ford

I enjoyed it, but Ford himself admits it’s not really a fairy story in his author’s note following the story. I struggled to keep my attention on this one.

“Work Shadow/Shadow Work” by Madeline Ashby

I really enjoyed this one. When robots are sufficiently advanced to be called AI, what separates them from humans – do they have souls? Does it matter?

“Second to the Left, and Straight on” by Jim C. Hines

As you might be able to tell, Hines’ story is a take on the classic Peter Pan story, but in wonderful Hines fashion he twists the familiar tale into something new. A heartwrenching, stunning story.

“The Buried Giants” by Lavie Tidhar

This one was a bit weird. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I got Truman Show vibes from parts of it.

“Three Robots Experience Objects Left Behind from the Era of Humans for the First Time” by John Scalzi

Hilarious! I literally laughed out loud at the end. That’s all I need to say.

“Ostentation of Peacocks” by Delilah S. Dawson/Lila Bowen

Somehow, I’ve never imagined a fairy western before, but after reading this, I’m surprised there aren’t more of them, but now I want more.

“All the Time We’ve Left to Spend” by Alyssa Wong

Heartbreaking and kind of disturbing in a gorgeous way. Celebrity replica robots but not one the way you expect.

“Adriftica” by Maria Dahvana Headley

A retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream mashed up with rock and roll. A really fun retelling.

“To A Cloven Pine” by Max Gladstone

A chaotic, robotic reimagination of The Tempest that is going to haunt me for days. Magical, even though Max is on Team Robot.

“A Fall Counts Anywhere” by Catherynne M. Valente

Literally Robots vs Fairies in a bloody deathmatch! The introduction to this story was too long, and capslock can be hard to read for such long chunks. Unfortunately, Valente managed to make even a deathmatch boring. A really weak ending to an otherwise fantastic anthology.

I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

That Reading Life

My Best Reads of 2017

It’s the end of 2017 and my little blog is six months old! Thanks for visiting, Reader! I appreciate your presence.

The end of the year is a nice time for a wrap-up, don’t you think? Here’s a list of the ten best things I read this year. These are in no particular order – I loved each and every one of them so much.

  1. City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty.
    • I am obsessed with this book! I was transported and enraptured by the characters, places and Chakraborty’s writing. A middle-eastern fantasy I couldn’t put down.
  2. Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee.
    • Lee’s space opera sucked me in and took me for a wild, wild ride. Whip-smart writing and a carefully laid plot with many twists and turns kept me flipping pages late into the night.
  3. Ruin of Angels by Max Gladstone.
    • Incredible women, incredible systems of magic, impossible problems and writing that makes me work to keep up with it, and like I’ve learned things about my own world when I’m done.
  4. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.
    • Incredible, lyrical writing that drew me in and made me fall in love with Mia. A great YA novel with a fantastic antihero.
  5. Into The Drowning Deep by Mira Grant.
    • CARNIVOROUS MERMAIDS, diversity, a creeping sense of suspense, and such a satisfying ending.
  6. The Long Way to a Strange, Angry Planet/A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers.
    • I’m cheating at my own game and including both titles in Chambers’ Wayfarers series because I read them back to back and they were both FANTASTIC. Such amazing characters, incredible worldbuilding, and gripping plots that also explore interesting ethical and moral questions.
  7. Down Among The Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire.
    • McGuire’s Wayward Children series of novellas is a shining example of how inclusivity doesn’t have to feel forced or distract or detract from a story. Jack and Jill’s story is thrilling and tender, even if you know how it “ends” from reading Every Heart A Doorway.
  8. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.
    • I feel like I’m jumping on the ACOTAR bandwagon here, but I seriously enjoyed this series. I was late to the game, but discovered the series just before the third book in the series (a kind of mid-series finale) published. I blew through them and am hooked.
  9. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab.
    • V.E. Schwab is one of my new author-obsessions. I plan to work my way through everything she’s written. A Gathering of Shadows is the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic. I usually find middle books in trilogies unsatisfying, but AGoS was absolutely the opposite. I love love loved it.
  10. Sunbolt by Intisar Khnani.
    • My only complaint about Sunbolt is that as a novella it is far too short, so you’ll want to have the novel-length sequel, Memories of Ash, on hand. Sunbolt is a wonderful fantasy with high stakes and rebellion at its core. Bonus points for a diverse cast and setting.

What are your top reads this year?

Science Fiction

Ruin of Angels – Max Gladstone

5 Stars

I received an ARC of Ruin of Angels from a fellow blogger and friend, Marzie’s Reads for my birthday earlier this month.

I can’t tell you how much I love Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence. I just can’t. The words for me to do so just don’t exist in English. The closest I can come is some incoherent screaming as I brandish the (thick) book in the direction of people’s faces as I try to convey how much I love this series. This blog post will have to do for those who can’t experience my love in person. (Or, you could go read it and see what all the flailing is about.)

The background: Ruin of Angels is the sixth book in Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence and the first that has to be read in any particular order. The first five books can either be read in publication order or chronologically – which are not the same order. The sixth book, Ruin of Angels, should be read after the first five books have been read in either order.

In this series, Gladstone builds an incredible universe with a very complex system of magic and economy. With this world building, Gladstone demonstrates an incredibly deep understanding of many complex issues and concepts and how they influence each other in our world. To name just a few: religion, micro and macro economics, art, political systems, history, legal systems – including contract law, gender politics, race relations… the list goes on and on.

But you ask, Alex, how does all of that fit into a fantasy novel setting without being incredibly boring? Magic. Gladstone must be a literal sorcerer. I personally have learned a ton about how our world works by reading the stories set in his world. From the first book, I’ve been impressed and engrossed. I BLEW through the first five books in the series, and I am planning a reread soon – this time in chronological order, rather than publication order.

One of the things that impresses me the most about his writing is that he writes women, people of color, WOMEN of color, and people with diverse gender and sexual identities well. His cast is diverse and each and every one of them is written with respect and an impressive thoughtfulness. In Ruin of Angels, Gladstone even manages to write a flashback for a trans character in a way that doesn’t misgender the character.

But what about the plot, Alex? Worldbuilding and characters aside, is the plot any good? Oh yes, reader. The plot is a fast-paced, twisty, turny heist with many moving threads and pieces. Ruin of Angels has so much going on that I advocate that you put the book down. Not for good, no, just every couple of chapters to really let yourself absorb what all just happened.

A lot happens. There is backstabbing, romance, intrigue, and conspiracy. There’s also treasure hunting, art, necromancy, and reality bending religious struggles.

I haven’t heard anything about a seventh book, but I can only hope (and beg, and beg, and beg) that will see fit to award Gladstone contracts for more books in this series.

Ruin of Angels will be released on September 5, 2017.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin