Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan – Review

Published: January 11, 2022

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Series: The Celestial Kingdom Duology #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 512 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0 

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

Synopsis:
A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.


While I may have picked this up purely for shallow reasons (just look at that cover!), I stayed for the amazing story told within. Daughter of the Moon Goddess is the perfect blend of action, romance, and gloriously magical mythology, plus you’ve got a totally awesome strong female lead! Kudos to Sue Lynn Tan for such a beautifully executed debut novel!

Daughter of the Moon Goddess is a re-telling of the story of Chang’e, the Moon Goddess. The story seems to follow the basic myth where ten suns are scorching the Earth until the archer Houyi shoots nine of them from the sky. In the original tale, he’s rewarded with an immortality elixir, but Chang’e takes the elixir instead to prevent it’s theft and she becomes the Moon Goddess. In this tale, Chang’e takes the elixir because she fears she and her unborn child will die while she’s in labour and is banished to the moon by the Celestial Emperor. Unknown to the the other immortals, Chang’e has a daughter named Xingyin who she has been raising in her palace on the moon. When the Celestial Empress shows up unannounced she becomes suspicious and Xingyin flees the moon, only to wind up in the Celestial court where she then becomes companion to the Prince. She spends many years training and learning with her unlikely friend all the while keeping her heritage secret, but also yearning to earn the Emperor’s favor so that she might free her mother. 

The story takes place over a surprisingly long amount of time, though much of it is fast-forwarded through since it’s repetitive training and learning. It does spend a good deal of time establishing Xingyin and Prince Liwei’s friendship and then their blossoming romantic interest in one another, which of course is promptly nipped when Liwei is engaged to a Princess of the Phoenix kingdom. Xingyin determines to make her own path from here by joining the military alongside the famed Captain Wenzhi as a special archer attache. She makes quite a name for herself slaying monsters and helping to keep the peace in other kingdoms and she eventually begins to fall for Wenzhi, though she still cannot forget her feelings for Liwei. It’s actually a rather well done love triangle despite the fact I usually find them nothing but frustrating! There are some nice twists along this hero’s journey and I enjoyed the pacing. I find that the years passing, coupled with the setting, and writing style made for an overall ethereal feel and then WHAM that last quarter of the book was action packed and bittersweet!

I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I loved this as much as I hoped I would, plus with such a beautiful cover I think I’ll pick up a hardcover to add to my bookshelves! Anymore, I only do this with my favorite books because quite frankly, I’m running out of space and have to keep donating books I didn’t love as much as others. Daughter of the Moon Goddess is a book that will easily appeal to both adult and young adult fantasy readers and would be a great bridge for those who are wanting to delve more into adult fantasy titles. This is perfect for fans of mythology or fairytale retellings, those who want to delve into more Chinese inspired fantasy, or even just someone looking for a strong female lead with a great character arc!

Firesky by Mark de Jager – Review

Published: December 7, 2021

Publisher: Solaris

Series: The Chronicles of Stratus #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 536 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:
Relentless. Unstoppable. Dragon.

Desire burns in Stratus’ soul, powerful like an inferno. With his memory returning, he finally knows who—and what—he is. His is a dragon, brought low by the hand of a dark magician known as the Worm King, separated from his true love, tortured for centuries and now trapped inside the body of a human.

But with the memories of his old life comes a return of his true magic, and with it, his true form is slowly returning.

And Stratus wants revenge. Bloody and relentless, he slaughters his way through hordes of the undead to reach his archenemy, fighting not only for his own justice but for the whole of humanity… 


Everyone needs more books about dragons in their life. Firesky manages to be even more interesting than your usual dragon book by featuring a dragon who is trapped in a man’s body. He transformed himself to escape a terrible captivity where he was brutalized by magical and physical means at the hands of a wizard who calls himself the Worm Lord. Sounds pretty cool, right?

The story picks up directly after the events of Infernal, meaning Stratus is still a wanted man and his friend Tatiana has now disappeared on a mission of her own. Stratus makes a promise to the court mage to help him bring down the Worm Lord basically so he can get out of the city to find Tatiana by using their magical bond.  Thus begins the harrowing journey to find and kill the Worm Lord. It reminded me of a series of dungeons (probably because there were literal dungeons) that must be completed to get to the final boss and it was pretty interesting. 

The plot is fairly straightforward – Stratus needs to rescue Tatiana, kill the Worm Lord, and find his lady love since he’s beginning to suspect she never died all those centuries ago. It’s an adventure story but definitely on the darker side of things. Lots of necromancy, mind controlling brain worms (*barf*), and bloody vengeance. The plot actually carried on much further than I initially thought it would, what with the bad guy not being the ultimate bad guy and all that. 

I enjoyed it and thought it was a solid, satisfying conclusion to the duology. I’m also a big fan of the narrator – Obioma Ugoala did a fantastic job bringing Stratus’s draconic voice to life! While I’m a little sad to be leaving this world behind, I’m equally looking forward to what Mark de Jager writes next!

Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson – Review

Published: November 23, 2021

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Series: Skyward #3

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Pages: 432 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Synopsis:
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Reckoners series, the Mistborn trilogy, and the Stormlight Archive comes the third book in an epic series about a girl who will travel beyond the stars to save the world she loves from destruction.

Spensa’s life as a Defiant Defense Force pilot has been far from ordinary. She proved herself one of the best starfighters in the human enclave of Detritus and she saved her people from extermination at the hands of the Krell—the enigmatic alien species that has been holding them captive for decades. What’s more, she traveled light-years from home as an undercover spy to infiltrate the Superiority, where she learned of the galaxy beyond her small, desolate planet home.

Now, the Superiority—the governing galactic alliance bent on dominating all human life—has started a galaxy-wide war. And Spensa’s seen the weapons they plan to use to end it: the Delvers. Ancient, mysterious alien forces that can wipe out entire planetary systems in an instant. Spensa knows that no matter how many pilots the DDF has, there is no defeating this predator.

Except that Spensa is Cytonic. She faced down a Delver and saw something eerily familiar about it. And maybe, if she’s able to figure out what she is, she could be more than just another pilot in this unfolding war. She could save the galaxy.

The only way she can discover what she really is, though, is to leave behind all she knows and enter the Nowhere. A place from which few ever return.

To have courage means facing fear. And this mission is terrifying.


As with Starsight, Cytonic takes us to a whole new location with almost a whole new cast of characters. I really enjoyed that aspect in Starsight because it gave us a glimpse into life in the Superiority and made the terms friend and enemy much more nuanced. With Cytonic, Spensa is once again delving (haha) into new territory though this time the vibes are more jungle explorer and less espionage. 

Spensa has entered the Nowhere after saving Detritus from a delver attack and she promptly gets captured by pirates. Spensa (and M-Bot) are then summarily saved by an adventurer who calls himself Chet Starfinder who also happens to be cytonic. Despite her suspicions, Spensa agrees to let Chet help her and M-Bot on their quest to get back home by following what Chet calls the Path of Elders. It’s a series of locations throughout the Nowhere containing stones that give cytonics visions from previous cytonics who entered the Nowhere. The hope is that they can gain the knowledge they need to both defeat the delvers and return to Detritus before they lose themselves to the Nowhere’s memory altering effects.

I love the concept of the book – I mean, pirates, exploration of a strange new world, dogfights with said pirates – how could you not enjoy that!? It was quite fun but I think certain sections were a little slow. I found myself getting bored when Spensa was with the pirates and even during the final sequence when she was trying to escape the Nowhere. There was a certain degree of monotony until the big emotional and/or action packed scenes showed up. Those are Brandon Sanderson’s forte – the big epic endings especially (I saw someone refer to this as the Sanderlanche on reddit and found it to be an apt term). The characters, old and new alike, were great but MAN, I really miss the whole Skyward flight comradery 😦 I know this is the second book in a row where I’ve said this but it’s true. The novellas are a nice way to fit those characters into the story without bloating one of the main installments. Overall, I did enjoy this but still not as much as the first two installments.

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins – Review

Published: January 4, 2022

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Series: Standalone

Genre: Thriller

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set on an isolated Pacific island with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.

When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.


It’s always fun to change things up a little and check out a thriller, particularly if it’s set in a lovely locale. Reckless Girls starts off in Hawaii where Lux is living with her boyfriend Nico until they save enough money to repair Nico’s boat and go sailing off into the sunset. When two travelling college girls approach Nico about chartering his boat to an uninhabited island called Meroe, he jumps at the opportunity. Lux isn’t quite as keen at first, being somewhat mistrustful by nature, but she too sees the opportunity this provides – these girls are paying for their boat to be repaired and then they can begin their travels.

I initially put this book down at about the 15% mark because I this was going to turn into a weird sex-fueled murder party in paradise. I wasn’t exactly wrong about that, but when I picked this back up I was in a better frame of mind to read a  potentially weird thriller story where strangers hang out on an uninhabited island. Yes, there were several points when I rolled my eyes but the mix of flashback scenes for the different characters and the little tidbits of info kept me intrigued. I ended up finishing this book super quickly once I picked it back up and I’m of the opinion that it would make a perfect beach read if you want to wait for summer, but it did provide a nice break from the dreary greyness of winter. 

I feel like this isn’t anything revolutionary in terms of thrillers, though I haven’t read a ton of them. I also ended up not being overly surprised by the ending because I had started to become suspicious of certain characters part way through the book and once a particular character appeared in a flashback scene I had pretty much figured out what was going on. Not surprising, but it was rather thrilling to see how things ultimately played out! A little bit of murder in paradise keeps things exciting!

Overall, a fun read with a lovely setting despite the dark themes. I liked the story even though I did have to return to it when I was more in the mood for this type of book. Oddly enough, it had an empowering amount of women supporting one another… until they didn’t. Also, kudos to the cover designer because that’s what made me click on this book in the first place! It’s so bright and fun that you can’t help but to notice it and it fits the tropical theme.

The Bargainer Series by Laura Thalassa – Review

Overall Series Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopses:

Rhapsodic by Laura Thalassa

A Strange Hymn by Laura Thalassa

Dark Harmony by Laura Thalassa


I don’t often review whole series in one fell swoop, but I binge read this and honestly I’m not sure I could tell you exactly what happened in each book! I’ve been craving pure, fun escapism fantasy lately and that seems to mostly be taking the form of fantasy romances. Some have been really awful, some have been just plain absurd (couldn’t even bring myself to review one series!), and some like this one have actually been pretty good.

This is the story of Callypso Lillis (what a name) and a dark Fae king called the Bargainer. He deals in favors and for each favor you ask he gives you a tattoo (or in Callie’s case, a bead on a bracelet). As with all bargains, he can collect on the debt at any time, for any reason, and basically ask anything which is quite a daunting piece of knowledge. Callie first called The Bargainer in to dispose of her father’s body and clean up the crime scene because she murdered the bastard after years of sexual abuse. Eventually the Bargainer, aka Desmond Flynn, calls in his owed favors and asks Callie to help him solve a series of disappearances in the Fae realm. Over the course of the investigation they fall madly in love with one another, but all cannot remain sunshine and roses because a big baddie called the Thief of Souls is still kidnapping Fae and returning the women impregnated and in a coma. The plot over the course of the three books focuses on tracking down the Thief of Souls, keeping Callie out of his clutches because he desperately wants her, and lots of spicy scenes with Callie and Des. And some backstory from the time Callie and Des first met to how they were initially separated.

The whole story was  such fun that I binge read all three books in about a week. And it only took that long because I was trying to shuffle in a review book in between all that. Is it going to win any literary prizes? Nah, probably not but I was surprised to find that the characterization and the plot were a lot more solid than I expected. These characters have history, motivations aside from animal lust, and even some solid friendships for good measure. My biggest problem with this book is that Callie and Des began seeing each other when she was only 15, BUT it did remain platonic on Des’s part. NONETHELESS, the author really could have set this up with Callie being a college student with almost no change to the plot whatsoever and it would have been infinitely less perturbing. Like, WHY must authors do stuff like this? The book is most definitely not young adult and is not specifically geared toward teens, so the age change would have made sense in that respect as well.

Overall, despite some apparent flaws this was a good, wickedly fun series with plenty of spicy moments. If you don’t like fantasy romance this will clearly not work for you, so stay far away. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re craving another book that will fill the Feyre + Rhysand shaped hole in your soul, you should most definitely check this out. I loved it and might even read it again at some point. It’s also on Kindle Unlimited, so you can check it out for free if you subscribe to that service.

The Starless Crown by James Rollins – Review

Published: January 4, 2022

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Moon Fall #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 560 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:
An alliance embarks on a dangerous journey to uncover the secrets of the distant past and save their world in this captivating, deeply visionary adventure from #1 New York Times bestselling thriller-master James Rollins.

A gifted student foretells an apocalypse. Her reward is a sentence of death.

Fleeing into the unknown she is drawn into a team of outcasts:

A broken soldier, who once again takes up the weapons he’s forbidden to wield and carves a trail back home.

A drunken prince, who steps out from his beloved brother’s shadow and claims a purpose of his own.

An imprisoned thief, who escapes the crushing dark and discovers a gleaming artifact – one that will ignite a power struggle across the globe.

On the run, hunted by enemies old and new, they must learn to trust each other in order to survive in a world evolved in strange, beautiful, and deadly ways, and uncover ancient secrets that hold the key to their salvation.

But with each passing moment, doom draws closer.

WHO WILL CLAIM THE STARLESS CROWN?


If you’re looking for a cool new epic fantasy series to check out then might I recommend The Starless Crown? I expected this to be pretty awesome going in based on my experience with James Rollins’ other books (despite the very different genre) and was not disappointed. This was action-packed, had several of my favorite tropes, and the moon is also going to destroy the world in 3-5 years. More on that in a moment.

The story starts off with a woman fleeing for her life through dangerous swamps, stopping to birth her child, which is then swept away by a mysterious creature. Cut to the current day, where a mostly blind girl named Nyx is being chased by a group of extremely salty students who she inadvertently embarrassed in class. She is fleeing upwards, to the top level of the Cloistery she attends when a giant Myr bat swoops down, killing one of the boys chasing her and biting her in the process. Myr bats are described as these giant, unholy terrors of the swamp with deadly venom in their bites. Nyx however doesn’t die from the venom exposure, but is instead granted sight (and terrifying fever visions) and finds that perhaps she is connected to the bats somehow. Oh, and also she is certain that the moon is going to fall from the sky and destroy them all.

Then we find Rhaif, a thief who was sentenced to work in the mines, taking advantage of a disruption to escape his prison. Until he stumbles across a cavern where he finds a strange bronze statue of a woman. He could swear that the statue blinked at him… and though he is focused on escape, he detours to help the woman who appeared to be a statue escape the clutches of those who would use her as a weapon.

And lastly there is Kanthe, secondborn prince of Toranth. The black sheep of the family, the Prince in the Cupboard, the spare. His father sends him off to the swamps with a team of soldiers to clear out the Myr bats, which have become too much of a threat since they attacked that boy at the Cloistery. He feels unwanted by his family, but perhaps this trip to the swamps will help him prove his usefulness and his ability to face danger.

The three characters have their own supporting casts and let me just say, it was quite a delight to watch them slowly converge and join together as the book moved along. Their individual plot lines are each quite fascinating and when they do meet up things really pick up the pace! Nyx’s chapters were probably my favorite since she has an animal companion and a mysterious past but Rhaif and Kanthe were excellent as well. Between the two of them, they supply enough rogue-ishness for the whole book. 

The world building is also really quite something. The world is called Urth, and at some point in its history it stopped rotating on its axis and there’s a thin comfortably habitable area with scorching desert and frigid wastes on either side. The story strongly hints that long ago there was more advanced technology and I speculate that perhaps this is a post-apocalyptic version of our own Earth. I love that sort of thing and love getting those little hints at a fascinating history or seeing how history is distorted as the centuries pass. Strong Mark Lawrence vibes in that respect. The advancement of technology is pretty cool as well, with some of the greater advances coming from a dark religious order that is honestly pretty terrifying. 

Overall, I was super impressed with the quality and depth of the story. Though there are several younger protagonists, this is most definitely an adult fantasy, what with some of the darker content and all. There are some seriously dark and brutal moments, many of which focus on human experimentation by the creepy-ass monks. There are some areas where I felt like the pace slowed a little (not always a bad thing) and I wanted to rush on to the next exciting sequence or the next POV. I can also confidently recommend both the print and audio versions since I checked out both formats (about 50/50). Great start to what I hope will be an incredible new fantasy series!

The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie – Review

Published: September 14, 2021

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: The Age of Madness #3

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 528 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:
Chaos. Fury. Destruction.

The Great Change is upon us . . .

Some say that to change the world you must first burn it down. Now that belief will be tested in the crucible of revolution: the Breakers and Burners have seized the levers of power, the smoke of riots has replaced the smog of industry, and all must submit to the wisdom of crowds.

With nothing left to lose, Citizen Brock is determined to become a new hero for the new age, while Citizeness Savine must turn her talents from profit to survival before she can claw her way to redemption. Orso will find that when the world is turned upside down, no one is lower than a monarch. And in the bloody North, Rikke and her fragile Protectorate are running out of allies . . . while Black Calder gathers his forces and plots his vengeance.

The banks have fallen, the sun of the Union has been torn down, and in the darkness behind the scenes, the threads of the Weaver’s ruthless plan are slowly being drawn together . . .


I have been looking forward to the finale of the Age of Madness trilogy, so when it came out I was expecting to pick it up and get sucked into the tale right away. WRONG. I was apparently in the wrong mood for dark books at that time and ended up putting it down for a bit in favor of something else. Fast forward two months – I decided to pick up the audiobook version (I love Steven Pacey’s narration) and got hooked! Sometimes, for me anyway, it really is the combination of the right book in the right format at the right time.

This picks up with Orso’s victory march back into Adua with Savine and Leo dan Brock in prison carts. Leo is terribly wounded, Savine is extremely pregnant, and the crowds aren’t quite as happy to see their victorious king as Orso might have hoped. The revolution has made it to Adua and the utter chaos of the Great Change is not far behind. 

This book is an interesting study in character development. Savine in particular has changed much since the first book and the birth of her children leads to a dramatic shift, though she still has that pragmatic coldness that has served her well for so long. With Leo it’s quite a different sort of change and one that makes you understand how Sand dan Glokta went from the nation’s golden boy to the twisted head of the Inquisition. Extreme loss and trauma changes everyone in different ways. Orso actually changes for the better, but it’s perhaps too little too late with the Burner’s arriving in the city. And how could I almost forget Rikke? She has made herself a leader, but she’s also betrayed those she called friend and seems to be making mistakes at every turn. This book is so, so dark but it’s utterly transfixing – an illustration of how horrific humans can truly be to one another and the lengths they will go to in order to survive. Such chaos, such madness.

Overall, this was a really solid finale to the series but it wasn’t my favorite of the trilogy. The plot majorly stagnated for a bit and people were just getting hanged left and right and everyone was scared. Perhaps this was intentional to instill the horror of the situation upon the reader, but damn, I wanted it to get on with the story already! That being said, it was good though I hesitate to say it was an enjoyable read given how dark things were. Excellent plotting and intrigue though and I was kept on the proverbial edge of my seat the whole time!

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier – Review

Published: November 9, 2021

Publisher: Clarion Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 336 (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 past never forgets…

Before an ambush by enemy soldiers, Lord Cassia was an engineer’s apprentice on a mission entrusted by the king. But when plague sweeps over the land, leaving countless dead and devastating the kingdom, even Cas’ title cannot save him from a rotting prison cell and a merciless sickness.

Three years later, Cas wants only to return to his home in the mountains and forget past horrors. But home is not what he remembers. His castle has become a refuge for the royal court. And they have brought their enemies with them.

When an assassin targets those closest to the queen, Cas is drawn into a search for a killer… one that leads him to form an unexpected bond with a brilliant young historian named Lena. Cas and Lena soon realize that who is behind the attacks is far less important than why. They must look to the past, following the trail of a terrible secret—one that could threaten the kingdom’s newfound peace and plunge it back into war.


Are you ever just totally blindsided by a 5 star book out of nowhere? I had heard virtually no press about Year of the Reaper, so imagine my delight when it turns out to be one of the best YA fantasy books I’ve ever read. AND it has the benefit of being a standalone, so you don’t have to worry about waiting on future installments that may or may not get worse as the series goes along.

The story starts off with a young prince returning home after having escaped an enemy prison camp. Plague has ravaged the lands, and countless homes are abandoned or filled with only corpses and even the animals have become more dangerous. He arrives home only to find that he’s just in time to witness the blessing of the King and Queen’s new baby and to save the very same child from assassination. His dramatic entrance proves to be a fine return home, though the assassin remains at large and the mystery only deepens as he begins to investigate with Lena, the King’s half sister and historian. 

The mystery aspect of this story is fantastic and took me somewhat by surprise, as I didn’t know what to expect from the story. The characters are excellent and well fleshed out given that this is a standalone and easy to root for.  Also, can we just talk about the plot twists??? OMG, I was STUNNED and at that moment I knew this was going to be one of my best books of 2021. And the it totally stuck the landing too!! I am shook. 

Hands down, this is one of my favorite books of the year and one of the best Young Adult fantasies I’ve ever read. It could have easily been marketed as an adult fantasy and have found equivalent success among that audience as well. I’m a little surprised I haven’t seen much hype about this, but it deserves to be shouted about from the rooftops. Guess I’ll just have to step up and do it myself! 10/10, this is worth checking out especially if you love some mystery in with your fantasy books. This is kind of a low fantasy, with minimal fantastical elements but it didn’t lack because of that. It was actually a lovely change of pace for me.

Sunreach by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson – Review

Published: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Series: Skyward #2.1

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Pages: 208 (Kindle Edition)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Synopsis:
From #1 bestselling author Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson comes the first of three Skyward series novellas, each told from the perspective of a different member of the team back on Detritus. Read FM’s story between Starsight and Cytonic.

When a planet-destroying Delver suddenly appears in the sky of Detritus and vanishes just as suddenly, FM knows that the last free human society got lucky. Her Skyward Flight companion, Spensa, figured out how to draw this Delver away, but it won’t be so easy next time.

The forces of the Galactic Superiority will be back—and if the Defiant Defense Force can’t figure out a way to escape the planet, humanity’s destruction is only a matter of time. Spensa’s mission to infiltrate the Superiority unveiled the secret to their hyperdrives—a cytonic slug species called the Taynix. Now FM’s flightleader, Jorgen, has found a large group of Taynix hiding in the caverns far below Detritus’s surface.

FM and Jorgen must work together with the engineer Rig to awaken the mysterious alien Alanik and unlock the powers of the Taynix, or humanity will be trapped. With Spensa’s friend Minister Cuna of the Superiority stranded at the outpost of Sunreach, they need to figure out how to rescue her—or the Superiority government will be in the sole clutches of those who want to wipe out Detritus once and for all.


Sunreach was a short, fun return to Skyward flight and all the characters I’ve missed. I’ll keep this review short since this was quite a short little book. 

This whole book is basically about FM, Jorgen, and Rig trying to figure out how the Taynix slugs work as hyperdrives. It turns out there are a few different color morphs and not all of them do the same thing… as Jorgen learns the hard way. In between the amusing slug shenanigans, there’s also the very real threat of the Superiority forces attacking Detritus, and without Spensa another Delver attack would be the end of the planet. That rather sobering possibility, plus the possibility of reaching out to a sympathetic member of the Superiority makes the trio’s work even more crucial.

Of course I loved getting more time with the ol’ gang with or without Spensa present. Sunreach was a nice way to flesh out the events of Cytonic without adding 200+ pages to the main book and gave us a nice look into the lives of Skyward flight members. I need to pick up Redawn soon and then Evershore once it’s released at the end of the month so I can be fully prepared to sit around and wait for book 4. 

Also, may I just note that I always find it funny when a synopsis for a book is longer than my review for the same book!! 

Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care & Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson – Review

Published: October 26, 2021

Publisher: World Tree Publishing

Series: A Miss Percy Guide #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 421 (Kindle Edition)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:
Miss Mildred Percy inherits a dragon.

Ah, but we’ve already got ahead of ourselves…

Miss Mildred Percy is a spinster. She does not dance, she has long stopped dreaming, and she certainly does not have adventures. That is, until her great uncle has the audacity to leave her an inheritance, one that includes a dragon’s egg.

The egg – as eggs are wont to do – decides to hatch, and Miss Mildred Percy is suddenly thrust out of the role of “spinster and general wallflower” and into the unprecedented position of “spinster and keeper of dragons.”

But England has not seen a dragon since… well, ever. And now Mildred must contend with raising a dragon (that should not exist), kindling a romance (with a humble vicar), and embarking on an adventure she never thought could be hers for the taking.


Such a delightful read! I stumbled across this author on Twitter several months ago and loved the sound of Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons. I then kept vigil, looking out for release date info… and then it was released right after my birthday!! I picked it up that day and well, I’m super behind on some of my non-ARC reviews so here we are.

Miss Mildred Percy is a spinster, residing in her younger sister’s household and generally keeping quietly to herself when not watching her nieces and nephew. She’s written off a life of grand adventure until a trunk full of bits and bobs from her great uncle arrives and it contains an egg. Of course, she doesn’t know it’s an egg at first, not until she drops it off with the nice vicar in town and it hatches on his desk! I believe with your astounding powers of deduction you might be able to guess what hatched from the egg – yes, a dragon. Thus begins Miss Percy’s adventure, proving that one doesn’t have to be young to radically change one’s life for the better and find love! Rather inspiring, actually.

Miss Percy, Mr. Wiggan the vicar, Ms. Babbinton (Mr. Wiggan’s housekeeper), and Fitz the dragon were all wonderful, lovable characters. I mean really, how could you not love a little, awkwardly angular little dragon? Mr. Wiggan is a wonderfully curious fellow and he surprisingly finds himself growing rather fond of Miss Percy. Ms. Babbinton is literally all that keeps Mr. Wiggan fed and well-kept and she makes excellent food, thus endearing her to both Miss Percy and Miss Percy’s niece and nephew. Miss Percy’s sister is quite a tyrant and I immediately felt terrible that she was stuck living with such a dreadful witch and counting herself lucky to be doing so! A book can hardly be complete without an antagonist and that comes in the form of one Reginald Hawthorne, whose father was the original owner of the egg but he lost it in a card game. Mr. Hawthorne finds himself strapped for cash and with a bit of information goes off to find where the egg ended up in hopes of being able to sell it. He’s an absolute shit, as is Miss Percy’s eldest niece who was quite taken with the handsome Mr. Hawthorne and aids his deception. 

Overall, this was a really delightful story with the most relatable characters who you couldn’t help but to love and empathize with! Miss Percy was such a kind, caring lady but I seriously wished she would find some backbone and tell her sister what’s what. Much to my delight she finally did, but darn was it hard to suffer through her poor treatment! Dragons also make almost any story better, so obviously I loved Fitz – animal companions are my weakness. I enjoyed the slower pace of the story and the relatively low stakes plot (you know, aside from someone trying to kidnap the dragon). This was a good comfort read and I’ll be keeping my eye out for future books from Quenby Olson!