2018 Year in Review + 2019 Goals

2018 IN REVIEW

Wow, 2018 has been such a spectacular year in so many ways! My blog has continued to grow which has been so wonderful. I would have never guessed that my blog would be getting 10,000 views a year – that’s 10,000 time I’ve been able to share my love for books with people around the world!

Total Books Read: 92 – I started out with a goal of 80 a totally surpassed that!

Total Pages Read: 40,578 (Goodreads)

Average Length: 441 pages

I read almost exclusively fantasy this year with a mere smattering of sci-fi and mystery/thrillers thrown in and a single non-fiction book (that I counted).


2019 GOALS

My goals are honestly pretty basic, but that also means they should be easy to achieve.

Read 80 Books – I’m keeping this the same as 2018 since it wasn’t a stressful goal to meet.

Read a wider variety of genres – Like I said, I read almost exclusively fantasy, but there are SO MANY other great books that I’m missing out on! I plan on reading more sci-fi, mysteries/thrillers, and even non-fiction. I’ve even enjoyed crime fiction in the past, so anything is possible!

Keep Up With Reviews! – I’ve been behind on reviews for MONTHS. I tend to read faster than I write reviews simply because I typically enjoy reading more than writing. Sometimes I have writers block and feel like I’m just repeating myself endlessly and other times I have bursts of writerly inspiration and crank out several reviews in a row.

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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.

Waiting on Wednesday: Inspection by Josh Malerman

“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- Inspection

Two schools for geniuses – one for boys and the other for girls- and neither knows the other exists. Inspection has such a fascinating concept and I SOOOO want to get my hands on this just to see if its good! It’s categorized as a psychological thriller, so I’m expecting like, stressful intensity when I do read this. This will be released April 23, 2019 and now I have to decide if I want print or audio, because I bet audio would be extra suspenseful!

Currently Reading: 12/24/18

Cover- The Kingdom of Copper

The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

I couldn’t resist this gem of a book any longer, plus it’ll be a thrilling read before I get into a book that I think will be of a slower pace. This will be released January 22 in the US and I’m trying to get ahead of my early 2019 books!

 

 

 

Cover- Before They Are Hanged

Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

I’m really glad I decided to play catch-up on this series because I’m loving it. ALL THE POVS are great and there’s a great deal of action. The audiobook narration is also on point – Go Steven Pacey!

Stacking the Shelves: 12/22/2018

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


Books for Review:

2112-2018-06554131227704826999952

Soulbinder by Sebastien de Castell

Installment #4 already!? This series has absolutely been zooming by! Many thanks to Orbit for the finished copy.

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

One of my (and many others’) most anticipated releases of 2019 showed up rather unexpectedly. I can’t complain – many thanks to Ace for the ARC!

The Unbound Empire by Melissa Caruso

Guys, not only am I ultra excited to read this but MY REVIEW OF DEFIANT HEIR WAS ALSO QUOTED INSIDE!!! I have peaked as a blogger. Thanks to Orbit for the surprise ARC!

A Parliament of Bodies by Marshall Ryan Maresca

I’m so looking forward to another Maradaine Constabulary story and I see it features Dayne Heldrin from the recently released The Way of the Shield. Can’t wait to dig into this before its March release. Many thanks to DAW for the ARC.

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

HarperVoyager sent the loveliest surprise package containing this and an ARC of the next book in the series.

The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

I LOVED the first book in this series which I read several months ago and failed to review (woops). I imagine the sequel will be equally engaging/emotionally traumatizing. Thanks to Harper Voyager for the ARC.

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

This is series finale #3 in my latest haul and another that I’m incredibly excited to read. Vasya’s story has been such an interesting journey. Thanks to Del Rey and Netgalley for an eARC.

Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke

I watched this movie sooo long ago and don’t remember much about it but I was rather intrigued when I came across this book. A creepy fairytale that comes along with illustrations was a definite yes. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the  eARC.

My Purchases:

New Moon by Ian McDonald

This was the Tor.com ebook of the month and it’s been touted as Game of Thrones meets sci-fi, so I was sold. Can’t wait to check it out when my review list gets low!

Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts

I grabbed an audio copy of this on release day since I COULD NOT WAIT!!! I loved the first book and was so excited to start on this one. This is shaping up to be a fantastic series.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

I decided to do a read through of this series before A Little Hatred is released in Fall 2019. I read this 6 or 7 years ago and remember almost nothing about it, though my opinion is much higher than it was the first time around!

Waiting on Wednesday: Soulkeeper by David Dalglish

“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- Soulkeeper

Soulkeeper was initially a book with a cool cover by an author that I wasn’t incredibly familiar with. I’d only read one previous book of his and liked it okay, but I have to say, the synopsis for Soulkeeper was just awesome! Magic and it’s associated beings have awakened once again and the main character must take up his role as a slayer of monsters. It will be out March 19, 2019 from Orbit!

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!