Currently Reading: 11/23/20

Goblin King by Kara Barbieri
If I manage to finish up Rhythm of War this week I think I’ll need something a little lighter and maybe less angsty than Kaladin Stormblessed. Bring on the YA! I have no idea if I’ll be able to get back into this story since it’s been so long ago that I read the first book, but I’ll certainly give it a shot!

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton – Review

Published: October 6, 2020

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Series: Standalone

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 463 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent.

But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered.

And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel.

Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

The breathtaking new novel from Stuart Turton, author of the The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, winner of the Costa Best First Novel Award.


After Stuart Turton’s impressive writing debut in 2019, I was quite excited to check out The Devil and the Dark Water. I honestly knew very little about the plot, aside from that it was set on a ship and there may or may not be a demon aboard killing people. I was delighted to find that this was an almost Sherlockian mystery, though with the “Watson” character forced to take up the lead on the case. 

Set in 1643, The Devil and the Dark Water follows Samuel Pipps and Arent Hayes as they cross the oceans from Batavia back to Amsterdam. Sammy, the brilliant crime solver, has been imprisoned aboard the ship for unspecified crimes and Arent is left mostly on his own when a dead man rises and strange symbols of the demon known as Old Tom begin appearing on the ship. There are a number of interesting circumstances and small mysteries that slowly unravel over the course of the tale. How is a dead man still alive and tormenting passengers? What is the mysterious red light that appears over the ocean? Did Sammy Pipps really commit the crime he was accused of? There are so many small mysteries that you can’t help but to turn page after page waiting for the answers.

The main character, Sammy and Arent are likable and extremely easy to stay interested in. The secondary characters are equally fascinating and memorable. The Governor General Jan Haan isn’t exactly likable, as he’s the one who imprisoned Sammy and he’s abusive to his wife Sara, but he’s central to the plot and Arent’s adoptive uncle. Sara Wessel is an intelligent woman with some training in the medical field and she’s a supportive mother to her brilliant young daughter Lia. Lia is a precocious child, who’s unparalleled genius must be kept secret from others lest they think she’s a witch or some nonsense. She wants to be free of her overbearing, abusive father so she can pursue her inventions. Creesjie Jens is Jan Haan’s mistress and surprisingly, is a dear friend of his wife Sara. Wouldn’t expect that, now would you? This book is full of surprises and because it’s a mystery, I won’t be spoiling them here.

This was another brilliant standalone from Stuart Turton. I’ll be honest, I didn’t care for the way it ended but I also didn’t hate it. It just seemed a little strange, like there were so many plot threads that needed to be wrapped up that the ending felt a little unbelievable. That being said, it was an impressive book with so many unexpected twists and turns. If audiobooks are your thing, I would recommend that format for The Devil and the Dark Water!

Waiting on Wednesday: Blade of Secrets by Tricia Levenseller

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


 

I haven’t featured many YA books lately, but this one really caught my eye. Blade of Secrets is about a teenage blacksmith who forges a powerful sword that can steal the secrets from those it slays. She makes it for a warlord who wants to take over the world and she ends up fleeing with her sister and let’s be honest, will probably go back to overthrow him. I think this could be really awesome! Blade of Secrets will be out in May 2021.

People of the City by Marshall Ryan Maresca – Review

Published: October 27, 2020

Publisher: DAW Books

Series: Maradaine Elite #3

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 404 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

The third and final novel in the Maradaine Elite series blends fast-paced high fantasy and political intrigue, bringing together the threads of the interconnected Maradaine novels.

Corruption and conspiracy have infected the city of Maradaine, from the top levels of power to the very depths beneath the city. Dayne Heldrin and Jerinne Fendall, elite warriors of the Tarian Order, have no idea how close they truly are to the center of the city’s dark secrets. But when they learn that children are going missing, they know they must investigate further–no matter the cost.

They are soon joined by others, each with their own reasons for seeking the children. Veranix Calbert, the vigilante known as the Thorn, thinks his enemies are responsible for the missing children. Inspectors Minox Welling and Satrine Rainey fear the disappearing children are tied to corruption in the city Constabulary. Asti and Verci Rynax hope to protect the kids from their streets, one of whom barely escaped the kidnappers. And a mysterious young cloistress seeks to lead each of them deeper down into the depths of enigmas beneath the city, to the dark, unholy cult known as the Brotherhood, and the horrors that are growing within it.

The only hope Maradaine might have against the impending darkness is if these champions can work together to protect all the people of the city….


Welp, this is the moment all Maradaine fans have been waiting for. Finally, all of the characters from each series converge into one series of unfortunate events and they basically form the Maradaine Avengers. It was quite the large cast and quite a production – so much magic and mayhem!

In this final installment, the various groups of characters are all investigating reports of missing children (and other nefarious deeds) around the city. Inadvertently, this brings them all together in an epic and somewhat ridiculous final showdown with a magical cult. While they’re focused on this obvious bad guy, the Council of Ten(?) is plotting far more thoroughly and subtly. This may literally be the worst summary of a book I could have put together, but unfortunately it’s been a couple weeks since I actually read this and it’s fairly complicated.

This remains a fun, action packed series and you can’t help but to love most of the characters. Even the stodgy Tarians have begun to grow on me, though they’re vastly improved by having slightly more roguish characters about. The story was really something – a grand finale to be sure, but I did think the actual finale was a bit ridiculous with the mad mix of magic and science. It gave me a most amusing mental image, but it was offset by the peril so many characters faced.

Overall, the final installment of the story arc brought all the characters together in a well-executed and cohesive manner. The story was engaging and the ending certainly left things open for a second story arc. So many things were left incomplete and unanswered! There are a few characters – namely Satrine Rainey and Asti Rynax – who really, really need their own prequel books because my, what interesting pasts they had! This collection of stories is quite a commitment, but well worth the time invested. If you find you enjoy one of the books, you’ll most likely enjoy all of them.

Currently Reading: 11/16/20

The Poison Prince by S.C. Emmett
I ADORE THIS BOOK! So far it’s living up to my highest expectations and I’m ~50% through. So much political drama and courtly intrigue and it’s executed so well!

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
IT IS TIME!!!! This is THE most anticipated release of the year for me and I plan on enjoying all 1000+ pages/56 hours of it. I plan on switching between the audio and print versions for maximum read time.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab – Review

Published: October 6, 2020

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 489 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.


The hype was actually justified here. V.E. Schwab’s writing has been a little hit and miss in terms of enjoyment for me – a couple books were fine, one was awesome, and this one is pretty awesome as well! I totally loved the idea of this woman who made a terrible bargain with the devil, where she lives forever but is always forgotten by those around her as soon as she’s out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind I guess. It’s sort of a love story, but it’s more of a tragedy with so many ups and downs.

Adeline LaRue is from a small village in France, living in the early 1700s. She wants nothing more than freedom to live her life as she wishes, but her parents force her to marry because she can’t just be a single lady in the 1700s. Rather than succumb to the prison of running a household and bearing children, she runs away from the ceremony and desperately calls out to any god that will listen. Unfortunately, the sun has just passed under the horizon when she makes this deal and only devils make deals in the darkness. He grants her wish of freedom, giving her infinite years but the caveat (unknown to her at the time) is that no one remembers her. Her parents fear the strange woman that walks into their home, her childhood friends don’t know her, and there is no longer a place for her at home. She can’t even say her own name. She sets off, living one day at a time, picking up lovers for a night, stealing food to live, for centuries. Until present day (or close enough to), where she’s living in New York City, crashing in people’s apartments when they’re not home. Then she meets a guy running a bookshop, and he remembers her. And thus begins the love story.

Honestly, this was a beautiful book that tugged the heartstrings for so many reasons. The thought of being unattached, may sound nice until you really are unattached. Addie LaRue doesn’t have a support group, no friends, can’t hold a job, can’t even find a place to call home. She has literally nothing except the clothes on her back and the wooden ring she can’t seem to get rid of. It gave me such a sense of sadness and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. I couldn’t help but await the next horrible thing to happen, but then there were these moments of fantastic happiness once she met Henry. Addie had such fortitude, such determination to make the most of this life she begged for and I just loved it! Then add in this love/hate thing she has going on with the devil, who she calls Luc (Luke?) and it becomes another level of richly amazing.

This was truly a standout book of the year and much deserving of the hype. As always, I was skeptical of all the positive buzz prior to it’s release but I loved it just as much as everyone else it seems. This isn’t about a girl that falls in love with the devil, it’s about a girl who is determined, brave, and interesting beyond measure. There’s even more magic to the story than what I outlined here, and I really blathered on FOREVER it feels like!

Waiting on Wednesday: A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


 

First of all, I could NOT resist clicking on this when I saw the cover. It’s breathtakingly lovely – definitely the kind of fantasy architecture I can appreciate. A Master of Djinn promises to be an epic mystery in a magical version of Cairo, with secret brotherhoods, agents, and probably some awesome female characters! This will be released in May 2021.

Currently Reading: 11/9/20

Call of the Bone Ships by R.J. Barker
Thought I might have some trouble getting back into this world since it’s been a year ago that I read the first book. No worries – I was sucked right back into this fascinating world of sea dragons and naval battles. I’m about 90 pages in and LOVING IT.

The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang
This is interesting… it won the SPFBO in 2019, but dang it’s WEIRD at first! I thought it was like, the equivalent of samurai era Japan but they have holo-phones! I like it, but it definitely has some flaws and things that mess with your immersion a bit.

How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge by K. Eason – Review

Published: October 27, 2020

Publisher: DAW Books

Series: The Thorn Chronicles #2

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 416 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Rory Thorne must use the fairy blessings gifted to her to change the multiverse in the second book in this space opera duology.

After avoiding an arranged marriage, thwarting a coup, and inadvertently kick-starting a revolution, Rory Thorne is no longer a princess, but a space pirate.

Her new life is interrupted when Rory and her crew–former royal bodyguards, Thorsdottir and Zhang, and co-conspirator Jaed–encounter an abandoned ship registered under a false name, seemingly fallen victim to attack. As they investigate, they find evidence of vicious technology and arithmancy, alien and far beyond known capabilities.

The only answer to all the destruction is the mysterious, and unexpected, cargo: a rose plant. One that reveals themself to be sentient–and designed as a massive biological weapon. Rose seeks to escape their intended fate, and Rory and her friends must act fast when the attackers return with their superior weaponry.

As the situation gains the attention of an increasing number of alien races, Rory finds herself acting as negotiator and diplomat, in order to save Rose and her friends–and avert an unprecedented war.


TL,DR: Not as good as the first one, but not bad.

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse certainly set up readers for another book with the ending, however this wasn’t exactly the sequel I expected. Not that I had a clear expectation… just, this wasn’t quite it. Rory, Thorsdottir, Zhang, and Jaed decided to skip out of town and become scrappers. Not fighting scrappers, but the junk hauling/wreck recovery kind. Gryt and Rupert were farming sheep up until a green fairy showed up with some rather important information. It seems that the universe is about to be in chaos once again and Rory is at the epicenter (unintentionally).

Rory et. al stumble across a bio weapon on a dead ship in the middle of nowhere and then encounter hostiles from an empire that has its sights set on expansion. Rory ends up taking up the mantle of princess/diplomat once again in order to find if not peace, then at least an understanding, with highly skilled arithmancers. On the other end of things, Gryt and Rupert (and some new allies) are trying to get to Rory to hopefully save her and her friends.

The story was fraught with danger and tension, so I can’t say it didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat. It was certainly an adventure, though it was somewhat lackluster in comparison with the first book. The first book was charming and exciting, with the tease of potential romance and this installment didn’t quite have the charm or the humor. It was, however a pretty satisfying conclusion to the duology and gave a nice summary of where everyone (mostly Rory) ended up later in life. Overall, this was a fun duology and I would definitely recommend it to someone looking for a weird mish-mash of science fiction and fantasy elements with awesome female characters.

Stacking the Shelves: 11/7/20

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you’ve added to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!


Received for Review: 

ORBIT GOODIES!!!!

The Poison Prince by S.C. Emmett
OOoo OOo OO!! I loved the first book in this series and can’t wait to read this sequel! There is so much good political drama, potential/budding romance, and it was just so surprisingly awesome. 

Call of the Bone Ships by R.J. Barker
Another amazing looking sequel from Orbit. I’ve been LOVING the pirate/high seas adventure fantasies that have been released lately. Can’t wait to dive in and ‘sea’ if this one lives up to the previous book. 

The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick
And here’s a lovely physical ARC of one of my most anticipated new series for 2021! I’ve already featured this a couple times on my blog, so just check out the synopsis.

Wine Dark Deep by R. Peter Keith
This was a cool looking scifi book that unfortunately didn’t work so well for me. You can check out my review HERE.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken
I’m going to jump on the Greek gods train and have fun with this one! The cover is awesome and the synopsis is promising, plus Alex Bracken has written some good stuff! Thanks to Disney-Hyperion for the eARC!

The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst
This was a recent Waiting on Wednesday feature it OMG IT SOUNDS SOOOO GOOD!!!! The early reviews are great and I might read this ASAP! Thanks to HarperVoyager for the eARC.

My Purchases:

I have acquired quite a few versions of the Red Rising series over the years and here’s another one. It’s because I’m WEAK! These are a way cool special edition set from FairyLoot that finally arrived after some shipping confusion. They are LOVELY.

Ahhh yes, birthday gifts to myself! I love buying cookbooks. Bravetart is an awesome dessert  cookbook and Orange Blossom & Honey offers an interesting look into Moroccan cuisine and has great pictures to boot!

I snagged Devolution and accompanying card game from a Del Rey giveaway many months ago. It got delayed forever due to COVID, but here it is! I read it like, the day after I got it so a review will be up soon!

I’ve been charging through audiobooks lately and have listened to some particularly good ones! I’m currently listening to The Sword of Kaigen and will be posting reviews of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and The Devil and the Dark Water soon! You can check out my review for A Deadly Education HERE.