Waiting on Wednesday: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

“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 t!!o host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- Sorcery of Thorns

Sorcery of Thorns is another stand alone fantasy novel from Margaret Rogerson, author of An Enchantment of Ravens. I rather enjoyed that book (sucker for faerie stories) and couldn’t resist the appeal of her upcoming release. The cover for this is gorgeous and the synopsis is equally appealing. I mean, I can never resist book featuring libraries + magic + forbidden knowledge and this seems to have all of those things! This is scheduled for release in June 2019.

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Cold Iron by Miles Cameron – Review

Cover- Cold Iron

Published: October 23, 2018

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: Masters & Mages

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 640 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Aranthur is a student. He showed a little magical talent, is studying at the local academy, and is nothing particularly special. Others are smarter. Others are more talented. Others are quicker to pick up techniques. But none of them are with him when he breaks his journey home for the holidays in an inn. None of them step in to help when a young woman is thrown off a passing stage coach into the deep snow at the side of the road. And none of them are drawn into a fight to protect her.
One of the others might have realised she was manipulating him all along . . .
A powerful story about beginnings, coming of age, and the way choosing to take one step towards violence can lead to a slippery and dangerous slope, this is an accomplished fantasy series driven by strong characters and fast-paced action.


Somehow this book escaped by attention until a mere 1 or 2 months before its release date! How in the world could I have almost missed the release of a Miles Cameron book!? I grabbed a copy and devoured this while I was on vacation last month. I spent literal hours at a time reading this and only paused to track down food. At this point, it’s my favorite book by Miles Cameron.

Aranthur, our main character and magic student, is headed home for the holidays when he decides to stop at a particular inn. Being in that particular place at the right time sets off a chain of events and decisions that make him a major player in current events. This take on the hero trope is so much less hokey than him being “the chosen one” and I loved it. There’s no prophecy, just this kid with an interest in magic and swordplay who makes a decision to help a woman in the snow. Had he made a different choice, his life would have gone in an entirely different direction.

Aranthur was a likable character, who at times was reasonably idiotic. He doesn’t know how to handle women well and makes some rather silly choices. He gets in fights. He gets in the middle of a house feud. He ends up amongst the inner circles of the court and attracting the notice of the emperor. Aranthur is a nobody who quickly becomes a somebody, someone with influence, knowledge, and a burgeoning power. It was glorious to behold! The other characters are equally interesting and mysterious. The whole story just had a certain appeal to it. Such intrigue!

Cold Iron was a stellar book that was both a coming of age tale and a denial of “the chosen one” trope that so commonly crops up in fantasy. The world building was awesome and it seemed to be set in the same world as Miles Cameron’s Red Knight series but I could be wrong. There were similar place names and the magic seemed to work similarly, but technologically it was much more advanced, so perhaps hundreds of years later? Anyway, I highly recommend this book because it was an all-around win for me. I have no complaints, other than that I have to wait for the sequel!

Currently Reading: 11/12/18

Cover- White Stag

White Stag by Kara Barbieri

I’m a little surprised at how much I’m enjoying this book from the start! It didn’t begin at all how I expected it to and I hope it doesn’t disappoint. I’m still a sucker for the faerie/goblin books!

 

 

Cover- The Consuming Fire

The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi

Scalzi books have yet to disappoint me and so far this is no different. I’m about 30-40% through and I think it’s great, particularly all the dramatic shouting and posturing.

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco – Review

cover-escaping-from-houdini

Published: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #3

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Page: 436 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.75/5.0

Synopsis:

In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. . 

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?


I was simultaneously skeptical about the quality of this book and intrigued by the plot, so I decided to pick it up. I was actually not disappointed with Escaping from Houdini and had a great time reading it. I know that doesn’t sound like a particularly glowing review, but I had a multitude of issues with the preceding book, Hunting Prince Dracula. This was a great improvement over that and I’ll certainly continue on with the next book in the series because of that improvement.

The biggest improvement was with the characters. In the last book Audrey Rose and Thomas had SO MUCH STUPID DRAMA going on that I wanted to poke their eyes out. Audrey Rose was still traumatized by her brother’s death and his secret identity and she was basically losing her mind in the mountains of Romania. She’s a little more even-keeled this time around and she and Thomas have lessened the amount of idiotic drama between them. That’s not to say it’s stopped entirely, because trust me, it hasn’t. Audrey Rose spends most of the book keeping what she thinks is the direst of secrets from him, but if she’s really as clever as we’re told she is, she would have found a way to convey it to him. I do hope that YA books will one day show the cleverness or toughness of the characters without having to shout it at the reader every six pages.

The next biggest improvement? Why the plot, of course. This time we have murders aboard a luxury ship crossing the Atlantic. It’s like the Titanic, but without the tragedy of the iceberg and all the allure of gruesome murders and a travelling troupe of performers. The murders were rather ghastly and full of dramatic flair, which points to one of the performers as the most likely culprit. But which one? The masked Mephistopheles, who at every turn tries to steal away Audrey Rose’s affection? Or could it be Houdini, who happens to be a master escape artist? Or one of the other dozen or so talented performers who can breathe fire, throw swords with deadly accuracy, or read the future? OR IS IT SOMEONE ELSE ENTIRELY? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out!

I was genuinely shocked at how much of an improvement this was over the previous book. Yeah, there was some petty relationship drama that would have been cleared up with some honest discussion, but overall it was a good read. I liked the circus atmosphere and the cultivated terror aboard the ship – nothings scarier than someone murdering guests on board a ship in the middle of the ocean. No escape, no known identity or motive, just the fear. If you didn’t care for Hunting Prince Dracula for some of the same reasons I didn’t, I would suggest maybe you give this book a try!

Stacking the Shelves: 11/10/18

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:

1011-2018-0941193682533790995904

I’ve received so much awesome book mail from Orbit since my last Stacking the Shelves post, so I figured it was time to share!

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

I featured this when I received an eARC, but since I got a finished copy you can look at it again. This is an Indian-inspired fantasy that will be out in just a matter of days now!!

The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft

I really need to catch up on The Books of Babel series so I can read this one! This is arguably one of the most unique fantasy series to come about in the last few years.

Splintered Suns by Michael Cobley

I don’t pick up too many sci-fi books but this one really caught my eye. I mean, it’s basically a treasure hunt to find the key to a lost civilization BUT IN SPACE.

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodksy

I enjoyed JMB’s exploration of the Greek gods, so I’m doubly excited that this is about an Inuit shaman that meets up with a Viking. In 1000 A.D. I dearly hope it’s as good as the early reviews show!

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

I haven’t read this author’s other books, but the synopsis said Paris in the late 1800’s and imagined that would be pretty fantastic. Then I read the synopsis and found that there would be treasure hunts… YESSSS. Thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for the eARC!

White Stag by Kara Barbieri

This has the whole Goblin King thing going on, which I typically enjoy so I snatched this one when it came up on NetGalley awhile back. Again, thanks to Wednesday Books for the eARC.

The Ingenious by Darius Hinks

A city set adrift in time and space, turned into a prison for those trapped within. That plus the gorgeous cover are all I really needed to request this book. Thanks to Angry Robot for the eARC!

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

I featured this in a Waiting on Wednesday post several weeks ago and am just as excited about it now as I was then! Murder, political upheaval, and alien cultures make this sound like a promising read – thanks to Tor for the eARC!

Romanov by Nadine Brandes

A re-imagining of the story of Anastatsia Romanov with a dash of magic and romance thrown in. Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the eARC.

The Shadowglass by Rin Chupeco

This has been a decent series and I’m looking forward to seeing how it wraps up with this installment. Many thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Edelweiss for the eARC!

My Purchases:

I’ll be honest, the most exciting thing here is the glorious Subterranean Press edition of Golden Son by Pierce Brown that arrived earlier this week!! I’m quite excited for the pre-order and cover reveal for their edition of Morningstar, which should be coming along soon. I also picked up a copy of Kingdom of Ash to round out my hardcover collection. Last but not least, I picked up The Consuming Fire from Audible once my new credits arrived.

Priest of Bones by Peter McLean – Review

Cover- Priest of Bones

Published: October 2, 2018

Publisher: Ace Books

Series: War for the Rose Throne #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 352 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

It’s a dangerous thing, to choose the lesser of two evils.

The war is over, and army priest Tomas Piety finally heads home with Lieutenant Bloody Anne at his side. When he arrives in the Stink, Tomas finds that his empire of crime has been stolen from him while at war. With his gang of Pious Men, Tomas will do whatever it takes to reclaim his businesses. But when he finds himself dragged into a web of political intrigue once again, and is forced to work in secret for the sinister Queen’s Men, everything gets more complicated.

When loyalties stretch to the breaking point and violence only leads to violence, when people have run out of food, and hope, and places to hide, do not be surprised if they have also run out of mercy. As the Pious Men fight shadowy foreign infiltrators in the backstreet taverns and gambling dens of Tomas’s old life it becomes clear; the war is not over.

It is only just beginning.


Priest of Bones is a combination of two of my favorite fantasy elements – military and heists/gangs. Thomas Piety came home from war and found that his chunk of the city no longer belongs to him. Someone else was collecting his protection money, running his businesses, and roughing up his people. That won’t stand and Thomas Piety and his comrades in arms set about taking it back and reestablishing the dominance of the Pious Men.

I found the more central characters in this story to have excellent backstory, depth, and readability. They were never for a moment dull and came off as being legitimately tough as nails, rather than as swaggering tin men. Each of the Pious Men is battling demons from their pasts, whether that’s as recent as the war they returned from or as far back as their childhood. I was impressed that for the most part, the minor characters were given enough characterization to make you care about them or be unsettled by them. With a cast as large as this, minor characters are sometimes just a name to be conveniently killed off.

The plot is definitely grimdark fantasy, but the overall tone isn’t one of utter hopelessness, which let’s be honest, is kind of a drag. The consequences of failure would spell war and destruction for an already weak country, but at least that’s not as melodramatically dark as the world ending. This starts out small scale – Piety is trying to regain control of his portion of the criminal underworld and live comfortably – but as the plot thickens it becomes clear that it isn’t going to stay small scale. Spies get involved, and soon Thomas Piety is looking to expand his horizons, though not entirely by his choice alone. The whole thing was extremely fascinating and I didn’t want to put it down.

Priest of Bones was quite the page turner and remained quick of pace throughout, which suited the shorter page count. This isn’t going to be drawn out and wordy like an epic fantasy tends to be, but rather quick and dirty similar to something like Ed McDonald’s Raven’s Mark Trilogy. This is a violent book and while there’s some magic present, it’s primarily a hands on violence. I’m glad to see that it’s sequel, Priest of Lies, has both a cover and release date (July 2019) so it’s less than a year wait!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

“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 t!!o host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- The Dragon Republic

Um, wow. Both the title and cover for this book are SO awesome and I can’t believe that this will be out in May 2019!! I absolutely loved the first book and I expect The Dragon Republic will carry on the tidal wave of plot and emotion that I experienced with The Poppy War. The synopsis for this leads me to believe that I will be thoroughly traumatized and in a series book hangover after I read this. I can’t wait!

Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson – Review

Cover- Legion

Published: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Legion #1-3

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 352 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

Synopsis:

Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad.

A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems… for a price.

Stephen’s brain is getting a little crowded and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property—a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past—Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions—and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects.

This fall, Tor Books will publish Brandon Sanderson’s Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds. The collection will include the science fiction novellas Legion and Legion: Skin Deep, published together for the first time, as well as a brand new Stephen Leeds novella, Lies of the Beholder. This never-been-published novella will complete the series.


Let me preface this by saying I’ve read almost every Brandon Sanderson book on the market at the moment aside from The Rithmatist and his Alcatraz series. Legion is currently ranking as my least favorite of his books, which means that I only kind of liked it.  It just didn’t grab me the way his other books did.

I waited to check out the Legion novellas until the entire collection was released as a single book and ultimately decided to pick up the Audible version for time reasons. The narration was done well, especially considering the huge cast of male and female characters of all ages and nationalities.

Stephen Leeds isn’t crazy, but his hallucinations are. For each new subject he learns, he acquires a new “aspect”, which is essentially a hallucinatory person who dispenses the knowledge back to him whenever he needs it. This is quite the boon in his investigation/consultations and has made him a wealthy man. It is, however, taxing and takes a mental toll on Stephen that we get to explore throughout the novella collection.

The collection is three novellas, each of which is their own individual “case” though the last is more like Stephen resolving his personal issues, both past and present. The first two are much more case-like and as such I preferred those. I never particularly cared for any the characters and found most of them to be varying degrees of irritating.

Overall, I’d say that for Sanderson fans this will be an essential read, though it strikes me as being quite different from his other books. I wouldn’t recommend this be where you start your Sanderson journey, but that’s mostly because I didn’t care for it all that much. It’s not a bad book, just not what I expected from him in terms of engagement/impact.

Waiting on Wednesday: Priest of Lies 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 Lies

OH YEAHHH!!!! I’m surprised to see a cover and release date for this book already and maybe I’m a little early to feature it, but I just couldn’t wait! Priest of Bones was phenomenal (review to come) and I’m really looking forward to checking out Priest of Lies when it’s released in July 2019.