Currently Reading: 5/17/21

Sirgrus Blackmane Demihuman Gumshoe and the Dark-Elf by William Schlichter

A Dwarven detective sets out to investigate the murder of his agency partner and gets involved in some Shady Stuff. This is a relatively short yet intriguing book that I can’t wait to start this week. I’m all about those fantasy mystery hybrids!

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman – Review

Published: September 22, 2020

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Series: Thursday Murder Club #1

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 377 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Synopsis:

Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves
A female cop with her first big case
A brutal murder
Welcome to…
The Thursday Murder Club

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?


I’ve gotten super behind on my non-ARC book reviews, so it’s been at least a month since I actually finished The Thursday Murder Club. Despite that, I still think about the delightful (mostly) elderly cast of characters and their desire for adventure and meaning in their later years. Fortunately for me, there is a second book coming out in September 2021 so I can pick up with the club’s adventure a mere week after their last one ended. 

The story starts off by introducing us to The Thursday Murder Club – a group of four folks from all different backgrounds living in a quiet retirement community. You would think a retirement community would be a quiet place, but in this case you would be wrong. You see, the developer intends to expand the community and get rid of his business partner so he can make maximum profits but not everyone is happy about this. When the business partner is murdered in his own home with a picture next to him all fingers immediately point towards the lead developer (who’s name I’ve forgotten) and the people in the picture found next to him. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron promptly get involved (mostly because they saw the developers having an argument before the one guy was killed).

This murder mystery has a surprising number of twists and turns and certainly didn’t resolve the way I expected it to. Props to the author for keeping me guessing, giving some excellent false leads, and ultimately resolving it in a way that was surprising but not completely out of left field! I hate the ones where some unknown character that was featured in one scene was the murderer all along and there’s no way anyone could have guessed. That’s absolutely no fun! Mystery aside, the real gems here are the characters. The delightful elderly cast come from a broad range of backgrounds, they’ve all suffered losses, and they are determined to live life to the fullest. They are inspirational and that Elizabeth.. Well she’s a mystery to be sure! 

The Thursday Murder Club brightened up some rather dull, rainy spring days and made a couple long travel days into something to look forward to, since that’s when I get most of my audiobook time in! I’ve recommended this to a few of my real life friends and family and definitely recommend it to all you lovely folks reading my blog. It was fun and had an overall wholesome atmosphere to it, despite some of the darker content. It’s also a bit deeper than what it seems at first, with some great character analysis/inner thought stuff going on.

Waiting on Wednesday: Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross

“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!

The search for a new Waiting on Wednesday feature is always a fun task and leads me to discover books like Dreams Lie Beneath. In a world where nightmares come to life during each new moon, Clementine Madigan is all that stands between the people of her village and monstrous dreams. The synopsis says this is perfect for fans of The Hazel Wood and The Night Circus, so I’m expecting sort of a dark fairytale with lovely prose. We shall see if I’m right about that! This will be released November 2, 2021.

A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark – Review

Published: May 11, 2021

Publisher: Tordotcom

Series: Dead Djinn Universe #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 400 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns to his popular alternate Cairo universe for his fantasy novel debut, A Master of Djinn

Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer.

So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world 50 years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage.

Alongside her Ministry colleagues and her clever girlfriend Siti, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city – or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems…


I see a book with Egypt +  Agents + Supernatural Entities + Secret Brotherhoods, I simply cannot resist such allure. My heart, filled with yearning for such a book! And here it is! A Master of Djinn is my first P. Djèlí Clark book and as I understand it, this is his first full length fantasy novel after writing a number of well acclaimed short stories and novellas.

Agent Fatma el-Sha’arawi is one of the few female agents in the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities and though fairly young, she is well known for having stopped a rogue angel who tried to puncture reality with a magical clock. When a wealthy and influential English lord is murdered along with over 20 other people at a meeting of their secret brotherhood, Fatma is called in to act as the Ministry liaison. At nearly the same time, Fatma is also saddled with a partner she doesn’t particularly want though fortunately she does come around. Hadia proves herself to be quite useful and the few women in the Ministry must stick together after all. Oh, and Fatma’s sort of girlfriend also turns up and gets involved because two worshippers of the ancient gods were killed at the massacre as well.

This sounds like one heck of a story already, right? You would be correct, but WAIT THERE’S MORE! The masked fellow that murdered everyone with fire that only burned their flesh is proclaiming himself to be al-Jahiz returned! So, in addition to Fatma’s struggle to solve a case during a time of political tension, the citizenry is now unstable thanks to the so-called al-Jahiz riling them. It’s one thing after another and it’s pretty much non-stop the entire duration of the book. I was exhausted on Fatma and Hadia’s behalf. 

*GASP* I prepared to post this and realized I barely talked about how great the characters were! Fatma and Hadia were obviously these wonderfully badass ladies, but Siti! She is this glorious cat-like, stealthy woman who could steal a thousand hearts! Hadia seems kind and a little more on the traditional side, but it doesn’t stop her from basically being a ninja with handheld weaponry. Fatma has an incredible sense of style – I love all the descriptions of her posh suits and velvet hats! The djinn were fascinating, the minor characters were interesting and even though some only appeared in a few scenes I was left wanting to know even more about them!

Here we have an incredible story that I didn’t want to put down which is awesome, but the setting was truly glorious. This whole world, with its magical Cairo and hosts of djinn and mechanical angels (and even distant faeries and goblins!) was so utterly compelling that I’m now very certain that I need more books from this world! The possibilities are numerous and I’m definitely planning to pick up the two novellas (A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015) in the near future. This wondrous Egyptian setting combined with all the other little details in the synopsis totally sold me on picking this up in the first place and I encourage you to do the same! Also, just look at that cover!

Currently Reading: 5/10/21

The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan
Yay! The finished copy is finally in my hands! I’ve been getting a little sick of reading everything on my phone (even if it is convenient) and it’s great to have a few hardcopies of books to pick up. This is one of my most anticipated sequels of 2021 (feel like I’ve been saying that a lot lately) and I can’t wait to see where this weird and magical story takes us next. 

The Last Watch by J.S. Dewes
I didn’t pick up an eARC of this because I have a tremendous number of books to review already and I’m trying to show some self control. So here I am with the audiobook now that it’s officially been released into the world. Can’t wait to see where this crew of rag-tag unwanted soldiers takes us.

Stacking the Shelves: 5/8/21

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 Books very kindly sent me finished copies of The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne and The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan. You can check out my review of The Shadow of the Gods HERE.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
This is a teensy little novella that I mostly picked up because of that gorgeous cover and my confidence that Alix Harrow tells a good story. Oh yeah, Sleeping Beauty was always one of my favorite Disney movies, so I’m curious to see what I think of a retelling (though Maleficent turning into a glorious dragon was truly my favorite part). Thanks to Tordotcom for the eARC.

The Seventh Queen by Greta Kelly
Hands down one of my most anticipated sequels of the year after I was left in awe of the cliffhanger ending in The Frozen Crown. Totally blew me away! Many thanks to HarperVoyager for the eARC.

The Coward by Stephen Aryan
I couldn’t possibly resist a book where the lauded hero wasn’t really all that heroic, so I’m dying to see what sort of antics occur when the MC tries to get out of saving the world again. Plus, something about that cover makes me want to put it on my shelf – I hope the gold parts are all gorgeous and shiny because I might buy the paperback! Thanks to Angry Robot for the eARC.

A Desert Torn Asunder by Bradley P. Beaulieu
Well, my self control got the best of me because I wasn’t going to pick this up until I finally read the previous book in the series. But here we are. Thanks to DAW for the eARC and making succumb to temptation!

My Purchases:

I’ve had a month full of good audiobooks! I picked up Swordheart by T. Kingfisher after reading the Bibliosanctum review, which was a great choice since I loved it and am now officially a T. Kingfisher fan. I also picked up Six Wakes and The Hunting Party which are two vastly different murder mysteries. And lastly one of my most anticipated YA releases of the year, Blade of Secrets

I finally received my stunning Subterranean Press edition of Dark Age by Pierce Brown. It has several awesome interior illustrations and is such a quality (and hefty) book! The wait for book to finally arrive is usually a long one, but it was longer than usual (thanks COVID) so it’s been just over a year wait to finally receive it. 

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – Review

Published: May 4, 2021

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 496 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission–and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.

Part scientific mystery, part dazzling interstellar journey, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian–while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.


Aw man, what an emotional, amazing book this was! I am somewhat embarrassed to admit this is my first Andy Weir book, though I loved the movie adaptation of The Martian and bought the book so many years ago with plans to read it. This was a phenomenal introduction to his work – lots of sciency goodness, tons of heart, and humor. The whole saving Earth thing was also kind of a big deal too, but it’s really about the journey, ya know?

Now about that journey… It all starts when an astronomer notices a line of infrared light in space and also the sun appears to be dimming. Forgive me if I get any of the little details wrong – it was a lot to take in! A dimming sun spells cataclysm for humanity, resulting in mass starvation, an ice age, and other equally dreadful potential futures. Thus begins the work of finding out what’s causing this catastrophe and stopping it. Enter Ryland Grace, teacher extraordinaire. Grace was a brilliant scientist until he got sick of the petty shit that goes on in academia and he peaced out with a final, flaming paper roasting his peers. He is recruited by the task force working on the problem and gets deeply involved in solving this problem.

With all that being said, you might wonder how he ultimately ended up on a spaceship with two dead astronauts in the compartment with him and no memory of who he is. Because that is exactly how this book begins. The timeline goes back and forth between the present on this strange ship and the past, where Ryland begins to gather his memories back and realizes that he’s humanity’s last hope. Now it gets really fun! 

BIG SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

This isn’t just about saving the world – it’s also a first contact with aliens book!! Ryland arrives at Tau, the star where the astrophages (star eaters) that are dimming the sun originated. And lo, THERE IS ANOTHER SPACESHIP!!! I literally squealed with excitement! And the being aboard – a crablike fellow Ryland dubs Rocky – is friendly and he’s also trying to save his star Eridani, from the astrophage too. They team up and the book becomes equal parts learning about one another and finding a solution to the astrophage problem. It’s a delight to read about the developing friendship and inevitable foibles along the way. This book was somehow wholesome even though failure could mean the extinction of billions. And the ending. O man, that ending was so bittersweet. I just loved it! 

Project Hail Mary will be hands down one of my top 10 books this year. I think this one will leave a lasting impact and could very easily be translated to the big screen and become an amazing movie. It would probably make me cry in the theater (oh how long since I’ve been in a movie theater). The last book I read with such a well blended technical and emotional aspect was Seveneves, and we’re just going to ignore that last part of the book that either should not have existed or should have been a separate book. I just can’t say enough wonderful things about Project Hail Mary – go read it for yourself!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston

“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 am UNBELIEVABLY excited for The Maleficent Seven. I saw it awhile back on someone’s upcoming releases list and just loved the title and loved the synopsis even more. How can one say no to the seven baddest of the bad who come together once again to save the world?? I am loving the villainous books that are being released this year and would love to see this theme continue for a while. The Maleficent Seven will be out August 10, 2021.

The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne – Review

Published: May 4, 2021

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Bloodsworn Saga #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 528 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

From acclaimed fantasy author John Gwynne comes the first in the Bloodsworn trilogy, an epic of wild lands and wilder magic, where not all monsters fight with tooth and claw…and the treasures of the gods come at a price.This is the age of storm and murder.

After the old gods warred and drove themselves to extinction, the cataclysm of their fall shattered the land of Vigrio.

Now, power-hungry jarls carve out petty kingdoms, and monsters stalk the shadow-haunted woods and mountains. A world where the bones of the dead gods still hold great power, promising fame and fortune for those brave – or desperate – enough to seek them out.

As whispers of war echo over the plains and across the fjords, fate follows the footsteps of three people: a huntress searching for her missing son, a jarl’s daughter who has rejected privilege in pursuit of battle fame, and a thrall who has cast off his chains and now fights alongside the famed mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.

All three will shape the fate of the world, as it once more teeters on the edge of chaos.


You guys! The hype for this book is completely 110% justified! I cannot believe how much I loved this, even after seeing all the super early reviews waxing poetic about the glory of John Gwynne’s latest fantasy book. I will warn you though… there aren’t actually any dragons until very late in the book despite the ominous beast on the front cover. That might genuinely be my only disappointment in the entire book. I also got slightly confused at one point because every main character was on separate boats at the same time.

The Shadow of the Gods has three point of view characters. The first is Orka, a retired warrior who is trying to live a quiet life in the country with her husband and son. Children begin to go missing in the area and one day she returns from a short outing to find her home burned and her son gone. Thus begins Orca’s journey to find Drekr, the leader of the child nappers. Then there is Varg, an escaped thrall who wants to find his sister’s killer and therefore must find a seiðr-witch to perform a reading. This leads him to join the Bloodborne – a company of mercenaries who become his new brothers and sisters. Lastly there is Elvar, a woman escaping her past and family, who has joined the Battle-Grim to forge her own path and make a name for herself. While the characters are all similar in their toughness and bad-assery, they are distinctly different people with their own journeys and motives. I genuinely enjoyed each POV and I devoured every word of their chapters.

The story is phenomenal – emotive and deep in lore – and oh how I want the sequel in my hands! John Gwynne could not have ended this book on a more incredible, jaw-dropping note (or that’s how I felt anyway). The character reveal, if you can truly call it that, blew my mind. I think I might have actually yelled out loud I was so shocked and ecstatic. There is going to be bloodshed and vengeance to come, folks! Leading up to this banger of an ending is a series of incredible journeys. Elvar and crew are stomping their way across little known lands to find the tree where the gods fell, with enemies at their backs. Orka is both running from enemies and towards others, with a pair of semi-competent local guys that just want vengeance for their murdered father. Varg’s story is surprisingly one of the happier ones in my opinion, as he goes from slavery to being a new, yet liked recruit of a respected mercenary company. The book strikes a fine balance of dark moments with lighter or at least hopeful ones and it grabs the attention.

This is hands down probably one of the best books I’ll read all year. I can say with certainty this is my favorite of John Gwynne’s books thus far – I fell in love with it almost immediately, while I found his other series to just be good (controversial, I know). I love the setting, the characters, the story thus far and can’t wait to see what traumatic adventures he takes readers on next! Fortunately for us, he’s recently announced that he’s finished writing  the second book in the series! No release date yet, but I’m sure it will soon be on the radar.