Currently Reading: 5/18/20

Cover- The Angel of the Crows

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison
Wow, surprise – it’s a Sherlock Homes retelling!!! I was quite excited and have been really enjoying this book.

Cover- We Ride the Storm

We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson
I’ll be starting this after finishing up the Angel of the Crows and it sounds pretty awesome! Assassins! A princess prisoner in her own castle! WOOO!

The Last Emperox by John Scalzi – Review

Cover- The Last Emperox

Published: April 14, 2020

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: The Interdependency #3

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Synopsis:

The collapse of The Flow, the interstellar pathway between the planets of the Interdependency, has accelerated. Entire star systems—and billions of people—are becoming cut off from the rest of human civilization. This collapse was foretold through scientific prediction… and yet, even as the evidence is obvious and insurmountable, many still try to rationalize, delay and profit from, these final days of one of the greatest empires humanity has ever known.

Emperox Grayland II has finally wrested control of her empire from those who oppose her and who deny the reality of this collapse. But “control” is a slippery thing, and even as Grayland strives to save as many of her people from impoverished isolation, the forces opposing her rule will make a final, desperate push to topple her from her throne and power, by any means necessary. Grayland and her thinning list of allies must use every tool at their disposal to save themselves, and all of humanity. And yet it may not be enough.

Will Grayland become the savior of her civilization… or the last emperox to wear the crown?


This is a trilogy that I’ve absolutely loved. The characters are hilariously irreverent and John Scalzi has written these books so that they’re both humorous and serious at the same time. So serious. Because the world as we know it is collapsing one Flow stream at a time. Humanity is about to be cut off from one another and the time is growing shorter by the day. 

Anyway, I digress. The Last Emperox is the final installment in this trilogy and it certainly wraps things up in an interesting way. It was mostly satisfying but I almost wanted more? Like, I’m not quite sure how to put it. It wrapped things up and gave me a sense of closure but it was also rather open ended. That’s so contradictory! I give up!

I have loved the characters from the very first book and continued to love them here. Scalzi just likes to give em a figurative kick in the spleen periodically to keep readers on their toes. What will he do to your favorite character next? Maybe nothing? 

Honestly, I’m just blathering at this point.

The book was really entertaining and was a pretty good conclusion. To some degree I felt it rushed, but I also expect things like that from John Scalzi because it DOES keep you on your toes and everyone is fair game. he definitely takes moments that could be huge and emotional and pares them down to a brief paragraph. I can see myself re-reading this series when the going gets slow and I need something blatantly irreverent to get me through the week!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- The Bone Shard Daughter

First of all, the magic system in this world sounds SO COOL! The Bone Shard Daughter is a debut fantasy novel that I discovered on Drew’s latest latest book haul post and it just sounded awesome! A rejected heir must master the forbidden magic to prove herself and decide what she’ll do when revolution reaches her doorstep. This will be released September 2020!

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix – Review

Cover- The Southern Book Club

Published: April 7, 2020

Publisher: Quirk Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Horror

Pages: 404 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.


I spent a couple months eagerly awaiting the release date of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. It had such an exciting premise and I couldn’t wait to see a group of southern housewives go full on Buffy and slay a vampire menacing their neighborhood. That’s… sort of what I got. It certainly didn’t play out how I had expected, which isn’t entirely a bad thing. I like when books can surprise me and occasionally turn my expectations upside down in a good way. 

As you might have inferred from the synopsis (go you, you can hypothesize!) the main character of this book is Patricia Campbell and her group of southern housewife friends in the Mount Pleasant area of South Carolina. They have a monthly book club where they read true crime and talk about murder because let’s face it, sometimes you need to talk to someone your own age about something a little more engaging than what the kids are doing. Then the mysterious James Harris moves in down the street from Patricia and at first he seems charming, if a little strange. Then things start happening and his unusual characteristics make Patricia suspicious that, at the very least, he’s not who he says he is. Turns out he’s a blood sucking predator and Patricia seems to be the only one who can see that he’s a threat. Everyone else is convinced he’s a charming fellow and he’s invested so much into their businesses and personal lives that surely he can’t be a murderer.

This was a wild story – it went from mundane to horrific and back again that sometimes I nearly got whiplash. There were some horrific moments, which I wasn’t surprised by as this is listed as a horror story, but WOW they triggered some primal revulsion in me. I mean, RATS. EUUGHHH. This is more of a psychological horror than a slasher type book and honestly, the worst offenders were the husbands!! The real horror is how Patricia’s husband basically gaslit her and she just kind of figured that maybe she was crazy! They were all pretty awful and brushed of the concerns of their wives because they were a bunch of silly housewives, notwithstanding the fact that they were all intelligent women. James Harris was certainly a monster, but if they had banded together from the beginning and hadn’t cowed before their idiot husbands this would have been a much shorter book.

Overall, this was a good read if one that was somewhat infuriating. The psychological abuse Patricia received from her own family was so much worse to read about than the vampire terrorizing vulnerable children. It took me awhile to get through the audiobook, just because I kept getting mad and had to put it down for a little while. The narration was done very well and each character has a very unique (and southern) voice. Despite my frustrations with some of the characters, this was an engaging book that kept me guessing the entire time. I was never quite sure how things would turn out and things would de-escalate for just long enough to lull you… and then WHAM, MORE HORROR!

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman – Review

Cover- Thunderhead

Published: January 9, 2018

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Series: Arc of a Scythe #2

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian

Pages: 504 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?


Thunderhead was quite the thrilling sequel to Scythe and it was certainly an entertaining read. I didn’t think it had quite the same impact on me that Scythe had, but it was memorable nonetheless and THAT CLIFFHANGER! I would have hated to have to wait a year to find out what happened!

Citra, now known as Scythe Anastasia, is doing her duty as an ordained scythe all the while trying to change Scythedom for the better from the inside. Rowan Damisch, who has been on the lam since the end of the previous book has taken matters of justice and change into his own hands. He’s dressed himself in black scythe robes (the forbidden color) and taken up the mantle of Scythe Lucifer and has been killing those who glean cruelly or inappropriately. He’s feared by the Scythe community and they seek him out to pay for his crimes. The Scythedom is corrupt and someone has to fix it before it crumbles on it’s own rotten foundations.

Scythe Anastasia plays a tremendous role in this book, while Rowan steps back somewhat as far as page time goes. Another POV by the name of Grayson Tolliver is introduced as well, who acts on behalf of the Thunderhead to investigate and interfere in the Scythedom. He was fairly likable, but I didn’t connect with him as much as the rest of the characters. There’s so much action, character development, and incredible plot twists/arcs! It was another book that was so hard to put down!

While I didn’t love this as completely as the first book, it was still a well-written story that deserves the praise. I can’t wait to start the third and final book to see how the series concludes!

Waiting on Wednesday: A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover - A Golden Fury

A Golden Fury sounds like a super cool historical fantasy where alchemists are after the philosopher’s stone… but it makes you lose your sanity. This is set during the French Revolution and the main character is sent to Oxford for safety – I mean, that’s automatically atmospheric! I love the premise and I can’t wait to read this in October 2020!

Subscription Box Review: OwlCrate – April 2020

Basic Box Info

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

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

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


April 2020 Unboxing: Full Moon Magic

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This month’s box was really awesome! The featured book was Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie and it has a special edition cover – it’s more blue than the original and the characters are larger. It also has gold sprayed edges! Also included were a handy dandy notebook that I’ve already dedicated as my “work from home notebook” and a moon phase garland.

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One of the “big” items this month was this cool little tote bag. It would be a great beach bag or even a farmer’s market bag!

I really love this month’s pin design as well – owls, moths, trees… OwlCrate just keeps featuring awesome pins! The rose gold moon bangle is actually really amazing. I’ve been wearing it around and it’s surprisingly comfortable (and adjustable)!

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The last item might be my very favorite of all! This is a 300-piece puzzle with a cool, whimsical design. It was fun and kept me busy for several hours, as the bottom half is basically all the same color! OwlCrate just keeps knocking it out of the park with their boxes each month!

Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst – Review

Cover- Race the Sands

Published: April 21, 2020

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 544 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

In this standalone fantasy, a pair of strong and determined women risk their lives battling injustice, corruption, and deadly enemies in their quest to become monster racing champions.

Life, death, and rebirth—in Becar, everyone knows that who you are in this life will determine what you are in your next life. The augurs can read your fate in your aura: hawk, heron, tortoise, jackal, human. Armed with that knowledge, you can change your destiny with the choices you make, both in this life and your next. But for the darkest individuals, there is no redemption: you come back as a kehok, a monster, and you will always be a kehok for the rest of time.

Unless you can win the Races.

As a professional trainer, Tamra was an elite kehok rider. Then a tragic accident on the track shattered her confidence, damaged her career, and left her nearly broke. Now Tamra needs the prize money to prevent the local temple from taking her daughter away from her, and that means she must once again find a winning kehok . . . and a rider willing to trust her.

Raia is desperate to get away from her domineering family and cruel fiancé. As a kehok rider, she could earn enough to buy her freedom. But she can’t become good enough to compete without a first-rate trainer.

Impressed by the inexperienced young woman’s determination, Tamra hires Raia and pairs her with a strange new kehok with the potential to win—if he can be tamed.

But in this sport, if you forget you’re riding on the back of a monster, you die. Tamra and Raia will work harder than they ever thought possible to win the deadly Becaran Races—and in the process, discover what makes this particular kehok so special.


I unexpectedly LOVED this book! I picked it up one Sunday morning just to pass the time and ended up finishing it that afternoon. I basically didn’t move for six hours because I desperately needed to know how it would end. 

Race the Sands is one of the rare standalone fantasy books in a sea of series. Sometimes it’s wonderful to know you’re about to read an entire story contained in a single book and you won’t have to wait for a sequel or end with a nasty cliff hanger. It’s set in the desert empire of Becar, where you’re reincarnated when you die and how you live your life determines your next form. The worst of the worst come back as kehoks, which are brute monsters, often chimera-like in nature. Some of them are captured and trained as mounts for the famed and deadly Becaran Races. The rider of the kehok will win fame and fortune and the winning kehok will win an amulet that will make them human in their next life. 

Tamra was a former champion kehok rider, but after an injury she can no longer ride and must instead train those who wish to ride. Or rather, she coddles the children of wealthy families so that they might gain some status. They’re certainly not cut out to ride the kehoks because they don’t have the will or mental fortitude. Tamra is given one last chance by her employer and she purchases a kehok whose form is that of a black scaled lion. Raia sees Tamra in the market and begs to be taken on as a trainee, so that she may ride and win her way free of her manipulative parents. So begins a desperate journey to train Raia and the kehok so that they might win the Becaran Races. There’s more to all of these characters than first meets the eye.

This was an absolutely wild ride, no pun intended and I loved every single page of it! I love when a story takes you by surprise and sweeps you off your feet – it’s not a feeling I have often, where I hate to put down a book for even a minute. The main characters were all fascinating, but the side characters were just as engaging. Tamara’s daughter was a delight, the augurs varied from honorable to awful, and the prince was a rather diverting POV as well. I really can’t think of a bad thing to say about this book, even after some time has passed and my enthusiasm has returned to a reasonable level. In short, you should definitely check this out!