The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden – Review

Cover- The Winter of the Witch

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Series: The Winternight Trilogy #3

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

Reviewers called Katherine Arden’s novels The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower “lyrical,” “emotionally stirring,” and “utterly bewitching.” The Winternight Trilogy introduced an unforgettable heroine, Vasilisa Petrovna, a girl determined to forge her own path in a world that would rather lock her away. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.


I tend to find that series finales disappoint me to some degree – I mean, I hype these books up in my head and spend time thinking up possible endings. The Winter of the Witch was actually a VERY satisfying conclusion to Vasilisa Petrovna’s story and had a nice balance between melancholy and triumph.

At the end of The Girl in the Tower Moscow was set ablaze and it was partially Vasya’s doing. The events catch up with her and results in that possessed priest at the head of a mob hungry for blood and vengeance. Have I ever mentioned how much I can’t stand that character? He’s just awful! Vasya escapes into the land of Midnight and she slowly morphs INTO HER FINAL FORM. Nah, not quite that dramatic, but she eventually becomes who she’s always meant to be – a bridge between human and chyerti. I loved Vasya and her fierce bravery and the powerful beings like Morozko, Medved, and Polunochnitsa that swirl through her life. There’s an interesting give and take relationship between them that makes things feel balanced rather than the power being skewed to one side or the other.

This installment had some serious moments of sadness that were written so well – absolute jabs to heart. The setting was, as always, magical and memorable. I particularly like when Vasya travelled through Midnight – the idea that this realm was each and every midnight that every existed or would exist was like, the pinnacle of fairytale coolness. Oh, and if you fell asleep in a midnight that wasn’t yours, you wouldn’t be able to return home again. Plus there were mushroom-men, river spirits, and even the undead upyry (Russian vampires).

I loved The Winter of the Witch, though honestly I’m not sure which of the three books ended up being my favorite. I would say this one, but I think that’s just because it’s the one I read last. All three books in the trilogy were so well written and feel like the perfect books to be read aloud on a cold, firelight filled winter night. Katherine Arden has really written something special that could be our next modern classic.

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Soulbinder by Sebastien de Castell – Review

cover- soulbinder

Published: December 4, 2018

Publisher: Orbit

Series: Spellslinger #4

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 432 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

A failed mage learns that just because he’s not the chosen one it doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero in the fourth book of an exciting adventure fantasy series from Sebastien de Castell.

 
For an outlaw spellslinger, the only way to survive is to hide.
Kellen’s curse is growing stronger, promising a future of madness and murder. And now that the bounty hunter sworn to kill ever last shadow black have caught his trail, he knows his days are numbered
Desperate, Kellen braves a barren desert to find a mysterious order of monks rumored to posses a cure. But there are secrets darker and more dangerous than Kellen expected, and the price of his salvation may be more than he’s willing to pay.

Yet another installment in the Spellslinger series has proved to be a major success! Somehow, despite reading these books so closely together I haven’t gotten tired of them yet, so that’s definitely a win. They have provided a welcome break between denser or darker books, though with this installment the light mood has mostly fled. Soulbinder was actually pretty dark and I’m not just saying that because, you know, the shadowblack.

Kellen and Reichis have set off on their own and once again we begin the novel with them in mortal peril, but this time they have no companions to save their skin. Kellen is rescued by strange mages and whisked off to the Ebony Abbey where those afflicted by the shadowblack take refuge and hone their skills in safety. Reichis however… well, the little eye-muncher isn’t so lucky. Kellen is now truly alone and it’s difficult to tell if his compatriots in suffering are friend or foe.

I definitely like how these stories are progressing and each book has played out in a fairly unexpected manner. Now that I’ve reach book four, some things are becoming less surprising. For instance, it seems of little surprise that the book starts off with Kellen and Reichis in peril and as it progresses it was unsurprising that Kellen miraculously gets out of so many scrapes alive. What did surprise me were the who’s, how’s, and why’s. I guess it really is the journey rather than the destination in this case and I’m definitely still just as excited about reading Queenslayer as I was about reading Soulbinder. Kellen has had an interesting journey that must be played out until the very end.

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Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri – Review

Cover- Empire of Sand

Published: November 13, 2018

Publisher: Orbit

Series: The Books of Ambha #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 496 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.

Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…


I was expecting to enjoy this book, but not quite as much as I did! Inspired by Mughal-ruled India (16th –mid 19th century), Empire of Sand is the story of Mehr, illegitimate daughter of one of the provincial governors. Mehr’s Amrithi heritage makes her disliked by those of more noble blood and she makes no efforts to hide her practice of Amrithi traditions within the household. Her Amrithi heritage also means Mehr is descended from the powerful daiva who once ruled the deserts and she has magic in her blood.

Mehr’s magic is brought to the attention of the Emperor’s mystics, who quickly swoop down upon her home and basically force her into a marriage. This is unheard of, as the biggest freedom women of the Ambhan Empire have is to choose their husband. In order to keep her family safe she agrees and is married to one of the mystics who turns out to not be entirely bad. Mehr is taken to the desert fortress and enters the service of the Maha, foremost among the Empire’s mystics. Here she’s forced to partake in a ritual only she and her new husband can perform and its result is good for the people of the empire, but not so good for the sleeping gods.

I thought the premise of the story was interesting and I like Mehr and many of the other characters. The Maha was made to be disturbingly cruel and quite the cult leader. It’s good to have a villain you and properly hate – I don’t always want their perspective because sometimes I just don’t want to sympathize with them. Overall, this was an excellent story and there will be a sequel, though it seems like it will focus on Mehr’s younger sister many years later.

Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts – Review

Cover- Of Blood and Bone

Published: December 4, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Series: Chronicles of the One #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 453 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

 

Synopsis:

They look like an everyday family living an ordinary life. But beyond the edges of this peaceful farm, unimaginable forces of light and dark have been unleashed.

Fallon Swift, approaching her thirteenth birthday, barely knows the world that existed before—the city where her parents lived, now in ruins and reclaimed by nature since the Doom sickened and killed billions. Traveling anywhere is a danger, as vicious gangs of Raiders and fanatics called Purity Warriors search for their next victim. Those like Fallon, in possession of gifts, are hunted—and the time is coming when her true nature, her identity as The One, can no longer be hidden.

In a mysterious shelter in the forest, her training is about to begin under the guidance of Mallick, whose skills have been honed over centuries. She will learn the old ways of healing; study and spar; encounter faeries and elves and shifters; and find powers within herself she never imagined. And when the time is right, she will take up the sword, and fight. For until she grows into the woman she was born to be, the world outside will never be whole again.


It’s been thirteen years since the events of Year One and now Fallon Swift is about to begin her training so she may take up arms against the Dark. Of Blood and Bone is like the classic coming of age, young hero trains with a wise old man tale and I LOVED IT. It’s like epic fantasy set in a modern post-apocalyptic society and the adults remember days with smartphones and Netflix but the kids growing up are learning how to wield a sword. It’s so legit. I can’t believe how much this book blew me away. Sure, it had some moments where I thought it was a bit corny but they were mostly forgettable.

So of course the story begins at the Swift family farm with Lana, Simon, Fallon, and her three brothers. She struggles with the fact that in a few short weeks she’ll be leaving her family for a two years and I think the time spent here really helps the reader to get to know Fallon. It introduces both her and the world thirteen years post apocalypse. Fallon goes off with Mallick to train and most of the book is spent with Fallon training with magic, weapons, and other skills like tactics, healing, and even farming. I surprisingly never got bored with this because there was always kind of a new quest for Fallon to complete. This portion also introduced some new characters like Fallon’s elf friend.

In parallel to Fallon’s chapters, there are chapters from the POV of those from New Hope, the town that Lana fled from so many years prior after Max was murdered in an attack. You may recall Katie’s twins from the first book… well, Duncan and Tonia are a feisty pair of teenagers who wield weapons and magic with equal talent. New Hope thrives and it was so lovely to see children grown up and see how the characters from Year One had changed.

Of Blood and Bone was excellent and though it lacked the sense of urgent horror that the first book had, the new vibe was exactly right. This was the start of new chapter and as such, the story had much the same feel as if it were the first book in a series. Somewhat introductory if you will, and I’ve often said that first books are my favorite. If you enjoyed the first book I don’t know how you could resist picking this up! I would definitely recommend the audiobook version as well because I think the narration adds so much more emotion and life to the story.

Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey – Review

Woman wearing a red hoodie by a river

Published: November 6, 2018

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: Stand alone

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Pages: 512 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

SHE LOOKS LIKE ME. SHE SOUNDS LIKE ME. NOW SHE’S TRYING TO TAKE MY PLACE.

Liz Kendall wouldn’t hurt a fly. She’s a gentle woman devoted to bringing up her kids in the right way, no matter how hard times get.

But there’s another side to Liz—one which is dark and malicious. A version of her who will do anything to get her way, no matter how extreme or violent.

And when this other side of her takes control, the consequences are devastating.

The only way Liz can save herself and her family is if she can find out where this new alter-ego has come from, and how she can stop it.


If you’re looking for a psychological thriller with a twisty bit of speculative fiction thrown in, you might just want to pick up Someone Like Me. M.R. Carey’s latest novel is on a different plane of existence from The Girl With All the Gifts, but it is no less thrilling and at times terrifying. This guy knows how to hit those obscure points of terror that absolutely freak me out – from the parasitic fungi zombie apocalypse to the evil spirit twin possession going on here.

CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS

Someone Like Me follows two main perspectives – that of Liz Kendall, a mother of two who has divorced from her abusive husband and Fran Watts, a teenage girl with psychological trauma from a kidnapping that occurred a decade or more prior. Both characters are extremely likable and I quickly began to sympathize with them. Liz is attacked by her ex-husband Mark and during the altercation it feels as if her body was being controlled by someone else – someone one much angrier and vengeful than she could ever be. About the same time, Fran has some disturbing issues of her own and they end up at the same doctor’s office to see the same psychologist. Thus we have the first moment Fran and Zach (Liz’s son) are actually aware of one another. The two become friends and their friendship ends up being rather important to the plot and thank goodness it remains mostly platonic! No sense in throwing in a pointless love story when it would be a distraction from all the other madness.

Fran’s portion of the story is primarily her dealing with the demons of her past. She was kidnapped as a young girl by a man who thought she was evil because she had something wrong with her shadow. Fran has coped with this for years and her imaginary friend, Lady Jinx (a cartoon fox knight) has helped and provided her solace. Liz’s part is a bit more dramatic, as she struggles with a few more dissociative episodes and finally realizes the situation is a bit more complicated than that. She’s essentially struggling with her evil twin Beth. Beth was killed by Mark in her world and somehow moved on and invaded Liz’s mind when Mark tried to choke her out and kill her. I hated Beth. SO MUCH. She was absolutely horrid and so selfish and as I read more and more I just kept thinking of all the mess she would leave behind for Liz to clean up (because I just knew Liz had to win in the end).

Someone Like Me was a great story that would make an excellent mini-series (HEY NETFLIX!) and makes for an equally entertaining audiobook. The added emotion of the narrator really takes this to the next level and prevents me from peeking ahead. I did find myself wishing the story would get on with it already from time to time, and I’ll be honest I’m not sure that it was really a pacing issue so much as it was an I’m impatient issue. I would totally recommend this and can’t wait to see what M.R. Carey has in store for readers next.

Port of Shadows by Glen Cook – Review

Cover- Port of Shadows

Published: September 11, 2018

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: The Chronicles of the Black Company #1.5

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 400 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 2.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

The father of Grimdark returns…

The soldiers of the Black Company don’t ask questions, they get paid. But being “The Lady’s favored” is attracting the wrong kind of attention and has put a target on their backs, and the Company’s historian, Croaker, has the biggest target of all.

The one person who was taken into The Lady’s Tower and returned unchanged has earned the special interest of the court of sorcerers known as The Ten Who Were Taken. Now, he and the company are being asked to seek the aid of their newest member, Mischievous Rain, to break a rebel army. However, Croaker doesn’t trust any ofthe Taken, especially not ones that look so much like The Lady and her sister…


It’s been a number of years since I first delved into the glory of Glen Cook’s Black Company series and the news of another story set in this world was rather awesome. Port of Shadows is considered to be book #1.5, so once again readers would get to read about all their beloved characters in the early days. Due to an overabundance of books, I didn’t get to read this until early December despite its September release.

When I first began the book I almost immediately settled back into the world (reading a few reviews of the first book also helped). The further along I got the more I began to feel that this just wasn’t the same Black Company I remembered reading about. First of all, there were new characters introduced, the most pronounced being a new Taken (Mischievous Rain and her children. What the heck, right? Well to make matters weirder, she moves in the company’s base, shacks up with Croaker and oh, by the way, the kids are Croakers!!! Like, he apparently spent a lot more time in the Tower than he thought and did some things he couldn’t remember. It just seemed kind of ridiculous and made me wonder who the kids actually belong to. Is the result of a Lady+Croaker or a Maleficent Rainstorm+Croaker pairing? My suspicions abound. On a side note, I actually liked the kids.

There’s a fair bit of shady magical portal stuff going on and a fear that Dominator will be reincarnated through the Port of Shadows, which is a person and not a place by the way. I totally thought this would be set in a janky seaport full of dank magic and dirty pirates. It was not. Oh, and there are flashback portions where the reader is taken back to the reign of the Dominator and follows the story of two Senjak daughters and a necromancer that may have a personality disorder. It’s honestly all pretty bizarre and I expect fantasy to have moments that are completely wack from time to time.

Port of Shadows was one of my biggest disappointments of the year and I’m sad to have to say that. I expected a top notch tale from one of grimdark fantasy’s biggest names and what I got was not at all up to par. I don’t think this is even a matter of expectations, but rather that this book seemed to stray so far from the quality of the original stories. I’ll put this on my bookshelf for now, but I’m going to pretend it doesn’t actually exist.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – Review

Cover- The Gilded Wolves

Published: January 15, 2019

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Series: The Gilded Wolves #1

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 464 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.


The Gilded Wolves just sounded so lovely that I couldn’t resist, plus I’ve not read Roshani Chokshi’s other books so it was all in all a perfect storm. I mean really, Paris in 1889 just sounded glamorous and with you throw in a dash of magic and thievery it gets even more exciting.

Severin Montagnet-Alarie is a dashing hotelier, artifact hunter, and disinherited son of House Vanth. He has surrounded himself with useful friends who can help him find a specific ancient artifact that could help to legitimize his standing as heir. He and his band of merry miscreants were somewhat reminiscent of Kaz and his crew from Six of Crows – Bardugo fans rejoice! I did feel that the characters in The Gilded Wolves were somewhat less criminal than those in Six of Crows, but the heist plotline definitely added to the similarities. I genuinely enjoyed each of the characters and even Hypnos head of House Nyx and his enthusiastic participation in the skullduggery grew on me with time. The cast was diverse in both origin and interests without feeling forced or haphazardly dashed together the way some self-proclaimed “diverse” SFF books do.

Now that I’ve glossed over characterization, we’re on to the plot. I fear I can’t give too much away but as I mentioned it’s a heist story that’s also a bit of a treasure hunt. Severin is trying to restore House Vanth, and two other houses currently stand proud with their magical artifacts, but there was once a fourth house. The fourth house was disbanded years and years ago, though rumors have always circulated that there were those still loyal who worked towards its restoration (or at least vengeance). The Order of Babel (the people who’re really in charge) are also kind of a big scary unknown and honestly, it’s been a few weeks since I finished the book I can’t remember what exactly they do – sort of manage the magic use? The plot is exciting, though there were periods of dilly-dallying that slowed the book down a little. I think the book would have benefited from a more solid grounding in House politics and function because I failed to care about it much at all. I think a prequel novella set around the time of the fall of House Vanth would have been awesome.

Overall, The Gilded Wolves was a dramatic book with just the right amount of Shocking Secrets revealed and at just the right times. There were emotional portions that actually evoked emotion because Roshani Chokshi wrote characters that were easy to like and engaged the reader. This book was unique enough for me to want to continue the series, though it didn’t quite sweep me off my feet. I’d definitely recommend this for fans of Six of Crows or any of those other YA books that have the “fantasy friend squad of exceptional talents” thing going on.

The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi – Review

Cover- The Consuming Fire

Published: October 16, 2018

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: The Interdependency #2

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

The Interdependency, humanity’s interstellar empire, is on the verge of collapse. The Flow, the extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible, is disappearing, leaving entire star systems stranded. When it goes, human civilization may go with it—unless desperate measures can be taken.

Emperox Grayland II, the leader of the Interdependency, is ready to take those measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But nothing is ever that easy. Arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth—or at the very least, an opportunity that can allow them to ascend to power.

While Grayland prepares for disaster, others are preparing for a civil war, a war that will take place in the halls of power, the markets of business and the altars of worship as much as it will take place between spaceships and battlefields. The Emperox and her allies are smart and resourceful, but then so are her enemies. Nothing about this power struggle will be simple or easy… and all of humanity will be caught in its widening gyre.


I started listening to this during a long car ride a few weeks ago and then had to restart it because I fell asleep. It wasn’t boring or anything, I was just exhausted and Will Wheaton’s voice carried me into sleep. Once I awoke from my dreamy slumber I began again and well, I was thoroughly engrossed in politics, scheming, and the like.

The Interdependency is on the verge of chaos as the flow streams weaken and collapse and Cardenia, aka Emperox Grayland II, is trying to keep it together. Even if that means she has to make up some BS prophecies/visions to sell the citizens. The Nohamapeton’s are still up to their scheming, though it’s been somewhat hampered by *gasp* AN AUDIT. The beaurocracy will get ya every time. Kiva Lagos, in charge of the audit, has the most “EFF YOU” attitude of any of the characters here and while kind of amusing, it seems immature for someone in her position. Marce, while remaining totally smitten with Cardenia, must go off on a dangerous secret mission through space. OoooOOOOoooo!!!

The Consuming Fire was a likable book, though it didn’t seem as harrowing as the first. Sure, there were moments of danger, but I was reasonably sure everyone was going to live. There were some excellent moments reminiscent of Game of Thrones politics – Countess Nohamapeton had a very Olenna Tyrell/TELL CERSEI IT WAS ME moment and Grayland/Cardenia had a very HOW DO YOU ANSWER THESE CHARGES… LORD BAELISH moment. I greatly enjoyed both of those things and I’m looking forward to the next book.

White Stag by Kara Barbieri – Review

Cover- White Stag

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Series: Permafrost #1

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.


If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I’m a sucker for nice covers and all books featuring the fae, meaning that White Stag was a guaranteed request when I saw it. What really surprised me is how good it actually was! I mean, YA fantasy featuring some Fae noble and a human girl almost always plays out in a cookie-cutter fashion. Yes, this had several of these trademarks as well but it was well done instead of roughly put together.

Janneke was raised to hunt, fight, and know her woodcraft unlike her sisters who took on the traditional mothering roles but this is entirely to her benefit when she’s stolen away into the Permafrost, land of the Goblins. Her torturous captor Lydian eventually gifted her to his nephew Soren, who while still one of the hated Goblins, treats Janneke much more humanely. The story begins after Janneke has been in the Permafrost for nearly a century and has long been the trusted servant of Soren. The Goblin King has died and the hunt for the White Stag, which will determine the new king, has begun and Janneke and Soren must race to kill the stag before Lydian.

Janneke, as a result of living the Permafrost for so long is beginning to take on the traits of the monsters she despises and throughout the book she battles with this knowledge and the changes that come upon her. While beneficial for her survival, she loathes to lose her humanity. There is, unsurprisingly, a bit of slow burn romance between Janneke and Soren. He clearly has eyes only for her and that’s why she was for the most part treated equally despite the fact that he was technically her master. I mean, he treats all his servants well, but Janneke was clearly something special and she was his advisor on many things.

The entire hunt for the stag was extremely interesting (though I can’t stop thinking of the stag as the creepy Guardian of the Forest from Princess Mononoke). It quickly becomes clear that this race is between Soren and Lydian alone and the competition is intense. Janneke is skilled and blessedly isn’t a braggart like some YA fantasy characters tend to be. She shows instead of tells how awesome she is.

Overall, I thought White Stag was an excellent and riveting story with well executed plot elements. There was plenty of action without it being excessive and I liked the variety of folkloric beings that showed up – they provided some variety in a world full of lovely, powerful goblins. I’ll definitely be reading all further books in the Permafrost series!

Breach by W.L. Goodwater – Review

Cover- Breach

Published: November 6, 2018

Publisher: Ace Books

Series: Cold War Magic #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 368 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

AFTER THE WAR, THE WALL BROUGHT AN UNEASY PEACE.

When Soviet magicians conjured an arcane Wall to blockade occupied Berlin, the world was outraged but let it stand for the sake of peace. Now after 10 years of fighting with spies instead of spells, the CIA has discovered the unthinkable:

THE WALL IS FAILING.

While refugees and soldiers mass along the border, operatives from East and West converge on the most dangerous city in the world to stop or take advantage of the crisis.

Karen, a young magician with the American Office of Magical Research and Deployment, is sent to investigate the breach in the Wall and see if it can be reversed. Instead she will discover that the truth is elusive in this divided city, and that even magic itself has its own agenda.

BECAUSE THE REAL PURPOSE OF THE WALL IS ABOUT TO BE REVEALED.


So, picture this – the Berlin wall was made by a magical spell and that spell has a hole in it that’s only growing bigger. Also, tensions are extremely high and there are Russian and American agents (and others) involved, so it’s on the brink of being a mess of historical proportions. To solve this, they bring in an intelligent, skilled, and untried American magician named Karen.

Karen was actually a very likable character despite the associations I make about that name thanks to all the memes…

karen

She got lots of “this is a man’s job” BS from her colleagues though she was entirely capable of the task at hand. Well, as capable as anyone could be when the wall was crafted by the greatest magicians of the age in order to hide a VERY dangerous secret. The whole book has the super-secret spy vibe which I personally love, but then when people start revealing what they know of the real reason for the wall it gets extra intense! This was a super cool book and I look forward to reading any sequels that may follow.