The Empire’s Ghost by Isabelle Steiger – Review

Cover- The Empire's Ghost

Published: May 16, 2017

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Untitled #1

Pages: 432 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

An epic fantasy debut, The Empire’s Ghost weaves together the lives of the haves and the have-nots both desperately fighting to reassemble the remains of a fallen empire.

The empire of Elesthene once spanned a continent, but its rise heralded the death of magic. It tore itself apart from within, leaving behind a patchwork of kingdoms struggling to rebuild. But when a new dictator, the ambitious and enigmatic Imperator Elgar, seizes power in the old capital and seeks to recreate the lost empire anew, the other kingdoms have little hope of stopping him. Prince Kelken of Reglay finds himself at odds with his father at his country’s darkest hour; the marquise of Esthrades is unmatched in politics and strategy, but she sits at a staggering military disadvantage. And Issamira, the most powerful of the free countries, has shut itself off from the conflict, thrown into confusion by the disappearance of its crown prince and the ensuing struggle for succession.

Everything seems aligned in Elgar’s favor, but when he presses a band of insignificant but skilled alley-dwellers into his service for a mission of the greatest secrecy, they find an unexpected opportunity to alter the balance of power in the war. Through their actions and those of the remaining royals, they may uncover not just a way to defeat Elgar, but also a deeper truth about their world’s lost history.

Isabelle Steiger has crafted a powerful and masterful debut with The Empire’s Ghost, the first book in a haunting new epic fantasy series


It’s been a few weeks since I finished The Empire’s Ghost and I’ve been SO bad at doing timely reviews in the last month or so. I blame the beautiful weather – I just don’t want to stay inside! Anyway, now that I’m actually sitting down to work on this I realize that I have to give some thought to what I liked and what I didn’t.

The Empire’s Ghost is a book that never achieved evoking a particularly strong feeling in me. Yes, it was a great story and yes, there were some great characters but I didn’t want to go start my own revolution or anything when it was over. Some books leave you feeling like you’re on top of the world or they evoke a passion for a certain subject matter, but the Empire’s Ghost was solid and reliable instead. The plot was interesting and most of the POVs were as well. Lady Margraine in particular was a favorite of mine and I also like the level-headedness of Morgan Imrick. There was a good mix of characters here – they had unique personalities and they didn’t feel like the same cookie with different sprinkles.

This book did suffer somewhat at the beginning and it took some time for me to figure out who was who and what was actually going on. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would like this book at all at first, but in the name of persistence and lack of other audio material I forged ahead. I’m glad I did because this ended up being much better than expected. Others who’ve reviewed this have mentioned that some characters felt like footnotes and lacked development – I agree with them, but I hope that in any future books characters like Marceline will have more page time and play a more significant role.

The Empire’s Ghost was a good debut and I would definitely check out any sequels, though I haven’t heard any news regarding them. The political machinations in this book were actually interesting and the POVs were a nice mix of nobility and commoner. Just thought I should throw that in (and was a bit too lazy to try and make it fit nice and neat in another paragraph).

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

Cover- A Court of Frost and Starlight

Published: May 1, 2018

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1

Pages: 272 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 2.5/5.0

Synopsis:

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends 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.


I wouldn’t consider this series to be one known for its depth, so my expectations for the novella weren’t all that high. This was purely a “junkfood” read and it was satisfying when viewed through that lens. A Court of Frost and Starlight deals with the aftermath of the first three books and is intended to be a bridge story to prepare for a new set of books set in this world. I’ll be honest, I’m pretty excited for some more full length books featuring these characters especially given the snippet of the next book that was included.

I feel like this goes without saying, but this will probably contain spoilers for the first three books and I wouldn’t recommend reading this without reading those first.

Feyre is growing accustomed to being High Lady following the events of ACOWAR and she and her circle are all dealing with events differently. Nesta and Elaine are newly made fey and Nesta is still being such a monster about everything. I seriously wish someone would just punch her lights out, but apparently she’s just too scary. She treats everyone so poorly and Elaine can’t seem to get over her old life either, despite the fact that there’s nothing left for her there. Feyre accepted becoming one of the fey with so much more grace. Also, I have to admit I just don’t care for the Illyrians as a whole (Cas and Azriel are great).

Overall, this was a super quick yet entertaining read. It wasn’t a masterpiece and it was certainly nothing to rave over, but I’d say it’s an essential read if you’re a fan of the series. It deals with the PTSD effects that come from being in crisis situations and seeing lots of people getting chopped to bits. Just remember, you’ll enjoy this book more if you have no/low expectations.

Waiting on Wednesday: Priest of Bones by Peter McLean

“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!


Cover- Priest of Bones

Well, I’m intrigued. Priest of Bones seems like a promising start to a gritty new fantasy series that could possibly be the Godfather of fantasy books. We’ve got gangs, vengeance, and POLITICAL INTRIGUE!!! Really though, I think this will be a fantastic book and can’t wait for it’s release on October 4, 2018!

Vacation Reading Recommendations

It’s that time of the year again my dear readers – VACATION TIME. People are heading towards the beach with books in hand and buddy, that sand is going to get everywhere.

sand meme

In anticipation of this mass migration towards bodies of water, I’d like to share some of my favorite vacation reading material. I typically go for something light and humorous with a slightly absurd plot because nothing says relaxing vacation like the books below.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

This book is loads of fun – if you mix amnesia, dry Brit humor, and a super secret group of paranormal government agents you get The Rook.

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

This was one of my favorite releases in 2017 and it had me in stitches I was laughing so hard. This is perfect, entertaining reading material that would keep me basking on the beach much longer than normal.

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

This is another mix of dry humor and the supernatural. I ended up giving this one 5 stars on Goodreads because I just loved the characters.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

The antics of Alexia Tarabotti and her obvious infatuation with Lord Maccon make this a perfect vacation read. Similar to the book above (there’s a theme here) it’s humorous, action packed, with just a smidge of romance that makes it irresistible. I would binge read this series – no shame.

The next few books here are ones that I suspect will be prime vacation reading material AND they’ll have the benefit of being new releases! Each of the books below will be coming out this summer

Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw

This is the sequel to the aforementioned Strange Practice and promises encounters with uncivilized vampire covens. This will be released July 31, 2018.

A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal

This is the first book I’ve mentioned that doesn’t sound as if it will be intentionally funny, but it sounds bizarrely cool nonetheless. An epidemic sweeps the world, turning people to vampires and they eventually become the new celebrities. This will be released June 5, 2018.

Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames

If you’ve read Kings of the Wyld, you’ll remember the references to the horrific fates of the bards that accompanied the bands of mercenaries…. well, Bloody Rose is about a bard that jumps on board with the biggest mercenary company of all. I can’t wait for July 10, 2018 to get here.

 

Waiting on Wednesday: Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko

“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!


Cover- Vita Nostra

This book captured my attention at the first glance – the cover is just… eye catching. I was browsing Edelweiss because I’ve neglected to do so for several months and this upcoming release from Harper Voyager just immediately grabbed me. I checked out the synopsis and was SOLD. Vita Nostra is a bestselling Russian fantasy first published in 2007 annnnd for the first time it’s being translated into English for release in November 2018!

Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan – Review

Cover- Wrath of Empire

Published: May 15, 2018

Publisher: Orbit Books

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Gods of Blood and Powder #2

Pages: 656 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

The country is in turmoil. With the capital city occupied, half a million refugees are on the march, looking for safety on the frontier, accompanied by Lady Flint’s soldiers. But escaping war is never easy, and soon the battle may find them, whether they are prepared or not.

Back in the capital, Michel Bravis smuggles even more refugees out of the city. But internal forces are working against him. With enemies on all sides, Michael may be forced to find help with the very occupiers he’s trying to undermine.

Meanwhile, Ben Styke is building his own army. He and his mad lancers are gathering every able body they can find and searching for an ancient artifact that may have the power to turn the tides of war in their favor. But what they find may not be what they’re looking for.


Without a doubt, Wrath of Empire was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. I absolutely loved the return to the Powder Mage world in Sins of Empire and knew this would be a stellar follow up. Hands down, this book was at least equivalent to Sins of Empire and as soon as I finished reading I started checking on the status of the third book. 10/10 would read again. And again, but definitely in audio because Christian Rodska has a gloriously perfect voice for these characters.

Since the Dynize invasion of Fatrasta the focus has narrowed to fighting the Dynize and finding the godstones, meaning the vendettas and strife from the first book have subsided somewhat (though I doubt they’ve entirely disappeared in some cases). Vlora and Ben Styke have coordinated their efforts and are searching after the godstones while Michel Bravis has remained in occupied Landfall and is searching for an informant called Mara. This is as bare bones as I can make the plot – Brian McClellan has woven and intricate, adrenaline roiling story and I won’t do it any justice by trying to explain it here. Rest assured, it was fantastic and I simultaneously wanted to get to the end as quickly as possible and wanted it to never end. I feel like that’s one of the best compliments I can give to a book because it indicates that the story is 100% gripping from beginning to end AND that something about it, whether it’s the characters or the plot or something else entirely, make the reader not want to let go. I most definitely considered going back and re-reading Sins of Empire as soon as I finished this one, but I really need to keep to a schedule.

Wrath of Empire provides the reader with a broader view of Fatrasta than was provided in Sins of Empire, and this is largely due to the fact that our characters are now on the move. Vlora and the Riflejacks are headed north, towards a mountainous region wiith a thriving gold mining community – can you say wild west vibes? Styke and his Mad Lancers are headed towards the coast with Ka-poel in search of the other stone and stopping along the way to settle old scores. Did I mention that I love little Celine? She helps to humanize Styke by being the daughter he never had, making for some really touching moments between the two. Michel has the privilege of remaining in Landfall and fulfilling his role as a supporter of the Red Hand, aka Taniel, which leads him into something of a pickle. He’s a terribly interesting character, though I couldn’t begin to pick a favorite here as each of the POV characters is phenomenally written and not at all dull.

This book had me so full of emotion by the end – particularly during the final chapters of Vlora’s POV. The adrenaline was flowing and I thought my head might pop off – dude, she is so awesome. Those that think the fantasy genre lacks strong women have clearly never read Brian McClellan’s books. These ladies crush it. Also, I had an AWWW YISSSS moment when a few familiar faces from the Powder Mage trilogy show up. All this being said, I highly recommend this book, this series, this author. If you liked the Powder Mage trilogy, check out Sins of Empire because it’s a spot on winner, and it may still be on sale in eBook format! If you like a bit of military with your fantasy, unique forms of magic, and/or ton of action you might just like this. I’ll be (im)patiently waiting for the release of the third book, which I hope will be released around this time next year.

Stacking the Shelves: 5/12/18

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


Received for Review: 

20180503_193728

Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan

This is definitely one of my most anticipated sequels of the year and I’m absolutely DEVOURING this book. It’s so good and I’m super grateful that the folks at Orbit sent this over!

A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal

I don’t know too much about this book beyond the synopsis, but it sounds pretty wild. I think it will be a fun read and a nice break from heavy, serious fantasy. Thanks to Mulholland Books for sending a finished copy.

By Fire Above by Robyn Bennis

I enjoyed the first book in this series and am looking forward to checking out the sequel soon. Airships and battles oh my! Thanks to Tor Books for sending a finished copy.

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn by Tyler Whitesides

This book gives me Locke Lamora vibes and if it’s half as good as that, it will be a good book indeed. Thanks to Orbit for the ARC.

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

RBJ has a new fantasy series coming out in late summer and I was fortunate to snag an eGalley of it! Foundryside promises to be an exciting new adventure and I expect it will be as unique as the Divine Cities trilogy.

Eden Conquered by Joelle Charbonneau

I TOTALLY missed that this was even coming out next month! I really liked the first book, Dividing Eden, and hope the quality remains. Thanks to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for the eGalley.

My Purchases:

The Empire’s Ghost by Isabelle Steiger

I really wanted to read this book when it released last year, but didn’t have the opportunity – that’s what Audible credits are for! This was a pretty good book and I’ll be posting a review in the near future.

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

Another audiobook purchase – decided to check it out before watching the tv series. It honestly was pretty boring, but I’ll check out the tv show anyway. Review forthcoming.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

I decided to snag the audiobook after seeing so many glowing reviews for this book. I’ve already started listening and I’m hooked already!!!

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

I almost forgot I bought this!!! It arrived and I read it in a single sitting. It’s under 300 pages and is supposed to be a bridge between the first three books and the next arc of the series. Review forthcoming.

Waiting on Wednesday: Dark Age by Pierce Brown

“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!


Cover- Dark Age

OH MAN. How cool is this!? Dark Age doesn’t appear to have a synopsis on Goodreads yet, but now that it has a cover, I can do this post! I’m tremendously excited for this book and once you’re a fan, do you really even need a synopsis? Pierce Brown is bound to deliver more pulse-pounding action and a hefty dose of heartbreak in this newest installment of the Red Rising saga. What more could a girl ask for?