Currently Reading: 8/3/20

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Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio
YAY! I finally finished up Howling Dark and actually had to wait a few days before this became available on Audible. I’ve been loving the narration and decided to continue on with this format.

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Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer
I COULDN’T RESIST!!! I actually pre-ordered this and it’s going to be such a throwback to high school. I remember finding the leaked version online all those years ago and I devoured all 60 pages or whatever it was. You better believe as soon as it arrives Tuesday I’ll be digging in!

Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler – Review

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Published: July 21, 2020

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: Burningblade & Silvereye #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 592 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Long ago, a magical war destroyed an empire, and a new one was built in its ashes. But still the old grudges simmer, and two siblings will fight on opposite sides to save their world, in the start of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy trilogy

Gyre hasn’t seen his beloved sister since their parents sold her to the mysterious Twilight Order. Now, twelve years after her disappearance, Gyre’s sole focus is revenge, and he’s willing to risk anything and anyone to claim enough power to destroy the Order.

Chasing rumors of a fabled city protecting a powerful artifact, Gyre comes face-to-face with his lost sister. But she isn’t who she once was. Trained to be a warrior, Maya wields magic for the Twilight Order’s cause. Standing on opposite sides of a looming civil war, the two siblings will learn that not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two.


Ashes of the Sun is the start to a new series I’ve been very, very excited about. I’ve enjoyed Django Wexler’s YA series and what I’ve read of his completed adult fantasy series and this was so different! From the cover you would assume a certain degree of hacking through jungles and traipsing through the bones of lost cities… but that isn’t quite what it’s about. 

Maya and Gyre were separated at a young age when the Twilight Order swept Maya off to become one of their own and scarred Gyre for life. Gyre has been determined ever since to bring down the Order that broke his family and took his eye and this has led him to join a band of rebels and take the moniker Halfmask. Maya on the other hand has been travelling with her mentor Jaedia around the Dawn Republic settling disputes and rooting out dhakim and plaguespawn. A disturbing discovery sent Maya, Jaedia, and Jaedia’s other trainee Marn quickly back to the Order headquarters to share their findings. Maya soon goes out on her first mission along with a group of younger Order trainees  and the fun really begins.

Gyre and Maya have taken very different paths in life, however each is equally fascinating. It’s not often that I find books with multiple POVs where I like both (or all) equally. They both have good love interests, tons of action, and I love when the two FINALLY meet up again – you can’t help but to assume it will happen based on the trajectory of events. I love convergences of characters! 

The settings (when described in detail) are great! There are in fact derelict cities, but it seems that much of them are underground because they were inhabited by ghouls. Being sensitive to light, ghouls tunneled or hollowed out mountains like dwarves. The Dawn Republic cities were pretty awesome as well – one that was well described had something like an airship wreckage half-buried in the sand and was a hotspot for relic hunters. The cover teases these amazing locales, but honestly I could have used some more flowery descriptions to really bring things to life. The magic/technology is also pretty darn cool. The Order use more of an elemental magic and each person’s manifests a bit differently. Maya’s manifests as fire and her hakim (energy sword) has a burning blade (hence the moniker). Gyre and his band of rebels use tech or alchemicals since they don’t have access to magic and scour the tunnels hoping for ghoul relics from the past wars.

Overall, I found this to be an excellent start to a rich and promising new series from Django Wexler. I’m eager to see news of the sequel – fingers crossed for a 2021 release!! I loved the characters, the magic, the concepts, and the sense of weighty history that the whole story has woven throughout. This could be a new favorite!

The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson – Review

Cover- The Loop

Published: September 29, 2020

Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press

Series: Standalone

Genre: Horror

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Stranger Things meets World War Z in this heart-racing conspiracy thriller as a lonely young woman teams up with a group of fellow outcasts to survive the night in a town overcome by a science experiment gone wrong.

Turner Falls is a small tourist town nestled in the hills of western Oregon, the kind of town you escape to for a vacation. When an inexplicable outbreak rapidly develops, this idyllic town becomes the epicenter of an epidemic of violence as the teenaged children of several executives from the local biotech firm become ill and aggressively murderous. Suddenly the town is on edge, and Lucy and her friends must do everything it takes just to fight through the night.


UMMM. This was absolutely WILD. I expected something out of the ordinary and on the periphery of my preferred genres but this was a punch to the senses! 

It begins with Lucy and her pal Bucket, who have banded together as sort of outcast minorities in their dinky Oregon town. Life in a small town sucks, yada-yada, and then one of their classmates gets his eye gouged out by another kid in the middle of class and their teacher ends up in a rather bad way when he tries to intervene. Is it bad meth or something else? 

Spoiler: it’s definitely something else. There’s a new company in town called IMTECH and they’ve done something to a bunch of  kids that makes them turn into murderous hive-mind monsters. It was pretty awesome and then it just kept getting weirder and I got less invested. It got to the point where I found it to be absurd and just kept reading because it made me laugh in a disturbed sort of way.

The characters were actually pretty great. Lucy and Bucket were wonderful and there was another semi-main character called Brewer who was actually pretty great and played a bit of a love interest role. The dialogue between them was great and there were surprisingly heartfelt moments amidst the horror.

Overall, this was an interesting read that certainly grabbed me and didn’t let go. I read it in just a couple sittings because I just had to know what happened next! Like I said, it was almost an absurdist horror that gave me so many WTF this is stupid/laughable moments but I still just kept reading!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Frozen Crown by Greta Kelly

“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- The Frozen Crown

I initially skimmed past this when I was browsing Goodreads, but I keep seeing the lovely cover and I keep clicking on it!! It’s kind of growing on me and the synopsis sounds like something I’d really enjoy – courtly intrigue, secret magical abilities, and I’m hoping for some romantic TENSION. Did I mention the lovely cover? The city reminds me of depictions of Darujhistan from the Malazan books and well, I’m a big nerd for those. This will be released January 2021!

Currently Reading: 7/27/20

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The Shadows by Alex North
I’ve been awaiting the opportunity to get my hands on this and lo, it was one of the offers on NetGalley’s new audiobook feature! I haven’t had time to listen to more than a couple chapters, but I’m already intrigued and enjoying the narration. Looking forward to Alex North’s latest tale of horror/mystery.

I’ll also be finishing up Chaos Vector by Megan E. O’Keefe this week!

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Review

Cover- Obsidio

Published: March 13, 2018

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Series: The Illuminae Files #3

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Pages: 615 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

From bestselling author duo Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff comes the exciting finale in the trilogy that broke the mold and has been called “stylistically mesmerizing” and “out-of-this-world-awesome.”

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza–but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys–an old flame from Asha’s past–reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.


I may keep this review a little shorter since I’ve already covered so much of what I love about this series and it all carries over into this book as well. Fantastic characters, amazing audio performance, and glorious action sequences. 

This final installment brings Kady, Ezra, Hanna, Nik, and Ella (along with all the other minor characters) into the same place while back on Kerenza, Asha Grant is trying to survive the BeiTech occupation. The BeiTech force is using the remaining miners to gather resources to repair the Magellan jump platform so they can return home. Of course, once this is done they plan on killing all the remaining civilians on Kerenza in order to keep their secrets. Dead men tell no tales and all that. Asha’s life is stressful enough, but it’s made more complicated by the sudden presence of her ex-boyfriend. Who happens to be part of the occupation force. He’s the perfect inside man for the Kerenza resistance.

Asha’s drama is fascinating and horrifying all at once and to be honest, the events aboard the Mao are equally thus. Internal strife and overcrowding make the Mao a dangerous and stressful place to be. Oxygen and food are running short and the deadline to get back to Kerenza is nigh impossible under such duress. Decisions are made and people die. I was in awe at how dark this was at times. 

This whole series was the perfect high stakes sci-fi thriller with Obsidio being a stellar and heart pounding conclusion. I couldn’t get enough (obviously) and listened to audiobooks one after another because I just HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. It was unputdownable! Obsidio was an amazing read and the darkness in this installment was practically all human to human violence. No zombie-like monsters, no psychotropic aliens, just straight up human monstrosity. This is a series that will appeal to fans of YA and adult SFF alike. 

Subscription Box Review: OwlCrate – July 2020

Basic Box Info

This box only has two options – Owlcrate, which caters to fans of Young Adult books and Owlcrate Jr, which caters to Middle Grade readers.

  • Owlcrate (29.99 + Shipping)
  • Owlcrate Jr. (27.99 + Shipping)

Boxes are shipped between the 15th and 20th of each month. Shipping is available worldwide, with the exceptions of Mexico and Peru. The FAQ said that delivery was proving to be unreliable in these countries, though if a more reliable shipping service is available service may resume in the future.


July 2020: Date With Destiny

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I have actually been really excited for Goddess in the Machine to be released and decided not pre-order when I found out it would be in my OwlCrate! It’s a gorgeous edition with gold edged pages.

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May I just say that this month’s OwlCrate is ON POINT!? First of all, the newest Cara Kozik designed Harry Potter mug is lovely. I’m terrible and didn’t get very good pictures of it, but that’s why I do landscapes and not product photography. It also included the most amazingly scented tea! It smells (and tastes) like cherries.

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Literally the blurriest picture.

Next up we have the monthly pin design, which is always inspired by the featured book of the month. And, the paper-pushing adult in me LOVES the arrow shaped paper clips that were included! Now I finally have paper clips for when I work from home!

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Another shot of the lovely cover and the Star Wars book mark! One side is Kylo Ren and the other is Rey (see the first pic).

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Lastly – a new apron!!! The design was inspired by The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (one of my favorite YA series) and it’s one of those weird poly fabrics that feels like it repels water. Perfect for grilling and avoiding BBQ stains!

Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim – Review

Cover- Unravel the Dusk

Published: July 7, 2020

Publisher: Knopf

Series: The Blood of Stars #2

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

The thrilling sequel to SPIN THE DAWN, a magical series steeped in Chinese culture.

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

YA fantasy readers will love the sizzling forbidden romance, mystery, and intrigue of UNRAVEL THE DUSK.


 I’ve definitely gotten more critical of YA books over the years, but Spin the Dawn took me by surprise last year. It was enjoyable, unique yet familiar in theme, and had a good love interest that didn’t turn into a nasty love triangle. The ending left me quite excited for the release of Unravel the Dusk, where Maia Tamarin is slowly turning into a demon. 

In addition to Maia’s personal plight, her kingdom is on the brink of war with the very people they were trying to make peace with. This is certainly a much darker book than the first, though by far the most interesting part is Maia’s internal struggle with herself. Her humanity is unravelling and she’s become a danger to those who care for her. Yet somehow, she holds on to enough of herself to know she must help save her kingdom, otherwise her brother and father will suffer along with the countless others who live there. Edan is much less present in this installment than in Spin the Dawn, though he does show up. 

On to the plot!! Maia ends up taking the place of Lady Sarnai during her wedding to the Emperor after Sarnai suffers a close brush with death. This would be a tense situation to begin with, but Sarnai’s warlord father seems to be looking for any reason to declare war. Which obviously happens, so we end up with some harrowing battle sequences and Maia shows off her deadly magic. This is a battle between men, but the demons are the big players here and why Maia is so determined to hold on to her sense of self for as long as possible. She knows she’s her kingdom’s best chance at survival. Maia really gets to show off how strong and unyielding she truly is, having no male character to rush in and save her. It was really quite something and I liked that the ladies (not just Maia)  had a chance to truly shine.

Overall, I thought this was a well-wrought duology that ended at just the perfect place. The ending had me tearing up a bit, which not many books can manage… it was just quite good. This isn’t quite a five star, emotional roller coaster leaving me with ALL THE FEELS, but it was certainly moving.

Waiting on Wednesday: How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge by K. Eason

“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- How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge

YESSS!!!! The sequel I’ve been waiting for!! How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse was a surprise favorite and I loved how the ending opened up opportunity for a whole new story. Well, that story is almost here and geez, the release date is really coming up fast! I’m ready for a new adventure with alien threats, bio weapons, and sarcasm. How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge will be out October 6, 2020.