Currently Reading: 8/30/21

The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie
OH WOW. I picked this up over the weekend, read about 20 pages before bed and then decided it was a task better left for the next day. This book is going to be dark and I can’t wait!

I’m also finishing up Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne this week.

Song of the Forever Rains by E.J. Mellow

Published: July 1, 2021

Publisher: Montlake

Series: Mousai #1

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 424 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Synopsis:
From the award-winning author of the Dreamland series comes a new dark romantic fantasy about a young woman finding hope in her powers of destruction.


The Thief Kingdom is a place hidden within the world of Aadlior. Many whisper of its existence, but few have found this place, where magic and pleasure abound. There, the mysterious Thief King reigns supreme with the help of the Mousai, a trio of revered and feared sorceresses.

Larkyra Bassette may be the youngest of the Mousai, but when she sings her voice has the power to slay monsters. When it’s discovered the Duke of Lachlan is siphoning a poisonous drug from the Thief Kingdom and using it to abuse his tenants, Larkyra is offered her first solo mission to stop the duke. Eager to prove herself, Larkyra accepts by posing as the duke’s potential bride. But her plans grow complicated when she finds herself drawn to Lord Darius Mekenna, Lachlan’s rightful heir. Soon she suspects Darius has his own motivations for ridding Lachlan of the corrupt duke. Larkyra and Darius must learn to trust each other if there is to be any hope of saving the people of Lachlan—and themselves.

Welcome to the world of Aadilor, where lords and ladies can be murderers and thieves, and the most alluring notes are often the deadliest. Dare to listen?


I have been on a serious binge of books bought purely for their lovely covers and fantasy-romance aspects and this is the book that began it all. Song of the Forever Rains is the first in what I expect will be a trilogy, since this book and it’s sequel each have a different sister as the main character. This is Larkyra, the youngest sister’s story and what fun it was!

Larkyra Bassette is the youngest daughter of the Thief King, the mysterious man who runs the magical criminal underworld in Aadilor. She and her two sisters also make up the powerful magical trio known as the Mousai – they are renowned for their talents of singing, dancing, instrument playing, and destroying the minds of men. They lead an interesting double life, since the family is also quite well respected and powerful outside of their underworld since their dual lives are kept secret. 

Larkyra, having just come of age is to be sent on her first solo mission as one of the Mousai and, not so coincidentally, has just been engaged to a Duke. The same Duke that is stealing a poisonous magical drug from the Thief Kingdom. On this mission in a far country she also gets to spend a fair amount of time with the handsome Lord Darius MeKenna (the Duke’s stepson). 

The worldbuilding is quite interesting here – I love the different magics, I love the idea of this magical underworld, and the locales are fairly well described. There’s even sort of an access point to the realm of the dead and the keepers Achak, siblings who share a body, were brilliantly done. Tons of cool stuff going on here and it seems that the world will be fleshed out even further in the sequel.

I even quite liked the characters! Larkyra is clever and lovely, but clearly still young despite having grown up amidst such depravity and she makes some silly decisions. Her sisters seem interesting as side characters and Achak was really quite fascinating. Duke Lachlan, Larkyra’s betrothed, is an absolute monster of a man – a serial abuser who’s drug problem has only enhanced an already awful trait. And Darius Mekenna is of course handsome, though somewhat remote since he’s been brutally beaten by his stepfather for years. He’s clearly a good guy and is trying to save his kingdom and the people therein in any way he can. 

Overall it was a good story with good characters, but dang, the dialogue was SO awkward sometimes! The phrasing was so stiff and strange sometimes and I really think that listening to the audiobook exacerbated what I may have glossed over in the print edition. Despite being touted as a fantasy romance, it’s not all that romance heavy. Yes, there are a couple steamy scenes toward the end, but it’s mostly tension between the characters and them beginning to trust one another in a weird situation. There were occasions when I really wanted to get one with something more interesting, so I think the pacing could use a bit of work – perhaps it will improve in the next book. I’m definitely going to pick up the sequel, because hey, I just can’t resist a pretty cover and the promise of more powerful gals finding their soulmates sounds fun!

Stacking the Shelves: 8/28/21

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:

The Orbit Goods

I’ve had a fantastic physical book haul from Orbit in the last month (Orbit folks are amazing)! You can check out reviews for The Pariah by Anthony Ryan and Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece and I’ll soon be reviewing Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky and The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie.

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson
I will happily read anything Margaret Rogerson writes, but a story full of revenants and death magic sounds soooo spooky and awesome! Many thanks to Margaret K. McElderry Books for the eARC!

The Beholden by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Total cover request, but hey, can you even blame me? It’s about two sisters who bargain with a river goddess and eventually have to pay up and go on a quest. Thanks to Erewhon Books for the eARC!

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
This sounded like a fun tropical mystery that might turn deadly. I need more mystery/thrillers in my reading diet! Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the eARC!

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan
YAY! I just featured this and then got approved on NetGalley a couple days later! This was another cover request, but it also has a fantastic synopsis so it’s basically a win-win. Thanks to HarperVoyager for the eARC (a finished copy would be most welcome too!!).

Among Thieves by M.J. Kuhn
I swear, it’s been ages since I requested this and I got a surprise approval shortly before the September 7 release date. I’m all about thieving main characters with secret backgrounds, so this should be pretty fantastic. Thanks to Saga Press for the eARC!

My Purchases:

I picked up a WHOLE series (minus the newest release) because The Written, Pale Kings, and Dead Stars Part 1 and Part 2 were free and are also a prequel to The Forever King which begins a new story arc. I started off by picking up the audiobook of The Forever King, which is amazing and I’ll be reviewing it very soon! I intend to read the first four books as time allows over the next few months (hopefully).

I have been on a JUNK FOOD BOOK BINGE! It’s been so much fun! I picked up A Touch of Darkness and A Touch of Ruin by Scarlett St. Clair, which are the first two books in a Hades and Persephone romance retelling. I can’t wait to review these – it’s going to be crazy fun to write up! I also had to pick up A Dance with the Fae Prince by Elise Kova which was actually pretty darn good. The Atlas Six is my latest “Amazon/Instagram made me buy it” book pick and it’s not bad either and is totally in line with the dark academia trend. 

Last but not least, the rest of my audiobook haul! I picked up an audio copy of Shards of the Earth, which is ultimately how I ended up enjoying the book. I also picked up Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman to see what all the (now old news) hype was about. Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne rounds out the list and is a pretty exciting thriller thus far!

Clockwork Boys + The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher – Series Review

Series: Clocktaur War

Genre: Fantasy

Series Rating: 4.0/5.0

Clockwork Boys Synopsis:

A paladin, an assassin, a forger, and a scholar ride out of town. It’s not the start of a joke, but rather an espionage mission with deadly serious stakes. T. Kingfisher’s new novel begins the tale of a murderous band of criminals (and a scholar), thrown together in an attempt to unravel the secret of the Clockwork Boys, mechanical soldiers from a neighboring kingdom that promise ruin to the Dowager’s city.

If they succeed, rewards and pardons await, but that requires a long journey through enemy territory, directly into the capital. It also requires them to refrain from killing each other along the way! At turns darkly comic and touching, Clockwork Boys puts together a broken group of people trying to make the most of the rest of their lives as they drive forward on their suicide mission.

The Wonder Engine Synopsis:

Pull three people out of prison–a disgraced paladin, a convicted forger, and a heartless assassin. Give them weapons, carnivorous tattoos, and each other. Point them at the enemy.

What could possibly go wrong?

In the sequel to CLOCKWORK BOYS, Slate, Brenner, Caliban and Learned Edmund have arrived in Anuket City, the source of the mysterious Clockwork Boys. But the secrets they’re keeping could well destroy them, before the city even gets the chance…


Geez guys, I am embarrassingly behind on non review copy reviews! I literally read these 2 months ago so I’m doing a combined review of the duology.

The Clocktaur War books were just darn interesting! The main trio of characters are a forger (Slate), an assassin (Brenner), and a paladin (Caliban) who was possessed by a demon and murdered a bunch of nuns. Unforgettable! And surprisingly, they were quite a lovable trio even if the sexual tension was at times unbearable. There’s also a scholar named Learned Edmund who was raised with a horridly misogynistic view of women, but steadily learns he was incorrect. 

Our lovely quarter of quirky characters are basically pegged for a suicide mission to Anuket City to try and stop this horrible army of clockwork creatures making war on the lands. They must find out who is creating them (or how) and stop them at any cost. The reward is a full pardon for their crimes and the insurance is an unpleasant tattoo that will start eating the host if they endanger the mission.

During the course of the two books they fight off a possessed deer-humanoid, survive the terror of Caliban’s guttural demon-speak whilst sleeping, survive imprisonment by old enemies, and pretend to be corpses. It was spectacularly adventuresome, had a number of really hilarious moments, a few moving ones, and even a bit of a tearjerker. Ultimately, the duology was pretty solid but won’t be on my “Best Of” list for the year. However, it’s ensured that I’ll be picking up even more T. Kingfisher books in the future because I love her creativity and characters!

Waiting on Wednesday: Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

“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 releases you’re excited about!

Honestly, I love this cover so much that I would probably buy this book even if I hated the synopsis. Fortunately, the synopsis is amazing and I’m so here for any potential romance that might happen! Daughter of the Moon Goddess  sounds like a beautiful, touching debut fantasy novel. I’ll definitely be picking this up when it’s released January 11, 2022!

Currently Reading: 8/23/21

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
Amazon keeps sticking this in my recommendations and I have to admit… that cover is really appealing. It’s cool, minimalist occult symbols and dark color scheme are fabulous. It’s also about a society of magical scholars who hold the keys to vast knowledge. What’s not to like??

Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne
Now that I’ve finished Mastermind, I decided it was the perfect time to go back and read the Jessica Blackwood series! 

Mastermind by Andrew Mayne – Review

Published: September 7, 2021

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Series: Theo Cray and Jessica Blackwood #1

Genre: Thriller

Pages: 332 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Dr. Theo Cray and FBI agent Jessica Blackwood confront a cataclysmic conspiracy in a pulse-quickening thriller by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Naturalist.

A mysterious electrical storm plunges Manhattan into darkness. As a strange, smothering fog rolls in, all communication crashes. In the blink of an eye, the island seems to vanish into a void.

FBI special agent Jessica Blackwood and brilliant scientist Dr. Theo Cray know this isn’t a freak accident. It’s a sinister sleight of hand. Their greatest adversary, a serial killer and cultist known as the Warlock, has escaped during a prison transfer in New York. A depraved master of manipulation, he promised the end of days. He’s making good on it.

One by one, cities across the globe are erupting in chaos as they disappear into the same black holes. Even for two ingenious trackers like Jessica and Theo, there’s still so much to learn about the pattern to the Warlock’s madness. The voids are just a warm-up for something bigger. To discover it—to stop it—Jessica and Theo must descend into the darkest of shadows—and minds.


Oh boy, was I ever excited to see a new series co-starring Theo Cray! After the ending of the Naturalist series, I suspected there were great and exciting things in store for Cray, but one never really knows. This new series also stars Jessica Blackwood, a character from another of Andrew Mayne’s thrilling books series that I haven’t yet picked up. That will be changing soon because she was an awesome counterpart to Theo Cray!

Mastermind begins with a bang – what appears to have been a terrorist attack has isolated a section of New York City – and then segues into a quick intro to Jessica Blackwood, agent extraordinaire. As I mentioned, I haven’t read the Jessica Blackwood trilogy yet, but that didn’t stop me from diving headlong into this story. The quick intro we get, plus the fairly seamless summary of what she’s been involved with helped me get up to speed. The short of it is as follows: an unknown terrorist organization used some sort of organic EMP to knock out a large section of NYC’s power and communications and the resulting black smoke thoroughly obfuscated the city and anyone inside the area that might have been involved in the attack. The joint government agencies slapped together a list of possible culprits, and none other than one Theo Cray was on it.

Cut to Theo, up to his eyeballs in shit, in the custody of some folks he’s been routinely killing off like a vigilante Rambo. Jessica Blackwood shows up in the nick of time to smuggle him out of the country (and out of the custody of a suspicious new US government agency). They bounce through multiple countries, creepy secret labs, and even more exciting places before the story concludes.

I’ve got to say, this might be the most exciting story I’ve read from Andre Mayne yet. I totally loved the dynamic between Cray and Blackwood and this story picked up right from the get go and the action was intense! While this does seem to heavily relate to the Jessica Blackwood series plot, I didn’t feel like I had missed too much by having not read it yet. It’s a really fun mash up of secret agent meets mad scientist and there is definitely some suspension of disbelief required, but it’s SO AWESOME.  

I can’t wait for the next book in the series, but in the meantime, I have plenty of Mayne’s other books to check out.

Waiting on Wednesday: Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

“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 releases you’re excited about!

I don’t often feature horror books, but Dead Silence looks super interesting and I think it will lean enough toward creepy sci-fi that I should be fine. Or I’ll have nightmares – no big deal. This is about a repair crew that stumbles across a luxury space liner that has been missing for 20 years. Of course, everyone on board is dead (I hope) but something horrible clearly happened. This will be out January 25, 2022!

The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston – Review

Published: August 10, 2021

Publisher: Angry Robot Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 400 (Paperback)

My Rating: DNF @ 63%

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

Synopsis:

When you are all out of heroes, all that’s left are the villains.

Black Herran was a dread demonologist, and the most ruthless general in all Essoran. She assembled the six most fearsome warriors to captain her armies: a necromancer, a vampire lord, a demigod, an orcish warleader, a pirate queen, and a twisted alchemist. Together they brought the whole continent to its knees… Until the day she abandoned her army, on the eve of total victory.

40 years later, she must bring her former captains back together for one final stand, in the small town of Tarnbrooke – the last bastion against a fanatical new enemy tearing through the land, intent on finishing the job Black Herran started years before.

Seven bloodthirsty monsters. One town. Their last hope.


So, when I came across The Maleficent Seven I was filled with absolute certainty that it would be amazing. For sure it’s gonna be one of my favorite books of the year. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be the right book for me for one big reason.

First off, this story starts off with Black Herran at the height of her power. She’s literally hours away from utter victory, but she suddenly decides that everything is meaningless and slips off into the night to make a new life for herself and her unborn child. She spends four decades hiding out in a dinky little town, raising her family, being a respected member of the community, and even watching her grandchildren grow. Things would have carried on much the same, but the Lucent empire is on the doorstep of the dinky town of Tarnbrooke so she reaches out to her old acquaintances. She gathers her six captains – a necromancer, a vampire, a war demigod, an orcish warrior, a pirate queen, and an alchemist – to help defend her town.

Everything about this story indicated that I would love it – villains turning hero, redemption arcs, epic battles, etc. I just didn’t like the characters! I wanted to so badly, but there was nary an emotional connection in sight. Ultimately, I didn’t care what happened to any of them and none of the apparently sad/triumphant/tense moments gave me one iota of feels. I couldn’t get to the “suspension of belief” point and too many things just didn’t add up or make sense. Why should any of these people join together? They all hate each other, they’re villains, and there no profit! I was turning pages by rote and after forcing myself to pick it back up a few times I decided it was time to call it quits. I’ve sat on this for nearly a month now, so my feelings have cooled and I’m struggling to remember more specific details of what I disliked because I’ve read about 10 other books since then.

Perhaps it was simply a case of the wrong book at the wrong time because I’m in the minority when it comes to not liking The Maleficent Seven. I see tons of 4 and 5 star reviews, so if this sounds like something you’d like then please do check it out!

Currently Reading: 8/16/21

The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey by Shawn Speakman
This is a really cool story about a girl who finds a mech in the desert, wakes it up, and causes planetary turmoil. This was purely a cover request but it’s actually a really cool YA story.

A Dance with the Fae Prince by Elise Kova
I have been loving the cheesy fantasy romances lately and have really been looking forward to this one! Plus, that cover is absolutely gorgeous!