Can’t Wait Wednesday: A Duel With the Vampire Lord by Elise Kova

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings to share upcoming book releases that we’re excited about! This meme is based on Waiting on Wednesday, which was created and hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I’ve been soooo excited for the cover reveal for A Duel With The Vampire Lord! This is the third book in the Married to Magic series, which are all loosely tied together in the same world but can be read as standalones. The vampires have been briefly mentioned in the first two books, but they remained shrouded in mystery until now! I love the resurgence of vampires in fantasy – it’s taking me back to my teen years when Twilight was *the* series to read, but the new vampire books are much improved. This will be released August 18, 2022 – just under two months to go!

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton – Review

Published: June 15, 2021

Publisher: Berkley Books

Series: Dangerous Damsels #1

Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Pages: 324 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

Synopsis:
A prim and proper lady thief must save her aunt from a crazed pirate and his dangerously charming henchman in this fantastical historical romance.

Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She’s also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it’s a pleasant existence. Until the men show up.

Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he’s under direct orders to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.

When Morvath imperils the Wisteria Society, Cecilia is forced to team up with her handsome would-be assassin to save the women who raised her–hopefully proving, once and for all, that she’s as much of a scoundrel as the rest of them.


I’ve had my eye on this book since it was originally released last year. Promising a fun romantic story full of lady thieves, pirates, and assassination attempts all whilst cavorting about the skies in flying houses, The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels sounded like a proper good time. And it was fun! Just perhaps not as fun as I had hope.

Cecilia Bassingwaite is a lady thief, hoping to be recognized by the rest of her society as a full-fledged member but alas, her parentage stands in the way. You see, her father is a dastardly, gothic pirate in a massive flying castle and he’s infamous. He killed Cecilia’s mother and quite frankly, the society fears that Cecilia may have inherited his dastardly traits. He’s quite determined to have his wayward daughter back home and sends kidnapper and sometimes assassin Ned Lightbourne after her. The two meet and after trading violence and witty quips, it’s clear they are attracted to one another. So we spend the next several hundred pages waiting on them to finally admit it and run away together.

I think this was just a little too over-the-top ridiculous for my tastes, though I do love humor and a good romance plot. I found myself wishing the pace would move along more quickly because it seemed to stall out at times. Too much dithering! Not enough stabbing and kissing! I also felt like it just tried too hard to be quirky and fun. I feel horrendously judgmental and negative saying all this because I did have fun with it but I think it would have worked better for me in print format versus audio because I can zoom right through a book like this in print. The audio format just made it drag out a little too much! Overall, it was fun and quirky, but perhaps it wasn’t the correct book for me at the time.

Currently Reading: 6/27/22

Upgrade by Blake Crouch
I’m always down for a new thriller from Blake Crouch. They’re always strange and a little disturbing, however rather than time travel we have a human with a hacked genome this time around. 

Second Hand Curses by Drew Hayes
I’ve really been plodding so slowly through audiobooks lately, but I’m expecting to finish this one quite early in the week. It’s entertaining, but I think I would have preferred this in print because it’s such a short little book. 

 

Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse – Review

Published: April 19, 2022

Publisher: Saga Press

Series: Between Earth and Sky #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 388 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Synopsis:
There are no tides more treacherous than those of the heart.
—Teek saying

The great city of Tova is shattered. The sun is held within the smothering grip of the Crow God’s eclipse, but a comet that marks the death of a ruler and heralds the rise of a new order is imminent.

The Meridian: a land where magic has been codified and the worship of gods suppressed. How do you live when legends come to life, and the faith you had is rewarded?

As sea captain Xiala is swept up in the chaos and currents of change, she finds an unexpected ally in the former Priest of Knives. For the Clan Matriarchs of Tova, tense alliances form as far-flung enemies gather and the war in the heavens is reflected upon the earth.

And for Serapio and Naranpa, both now living avatars, the struggle for free will and personhood in the face of destiny rages. How will Serapio stay human when he is steeped in prophecy and surrounded by those who desire only his power? Is there a future for Naranpa in a transformed Tova without her total destruction?


When I read Black Sun last year, I was thoroughly swept off my feet. It was one of the most fascinating, unputdownable books I had read that year and obviously I was dying to get my hands on the sequel. And lo’ it arrived and the audio narration in Black Sun was so good I picked up that format once again!

Fevered Star picks up almost immediately after the events of Black Sun, so of course the characters are dealing with the fallout of the slaughter at Sun Rock. Serapio was wounded and flew away with Okoa on one of the giant crows and now must meet the members of Carrion Crow. He was expecting to die at Sun Rock and now he has to play political games. Naranpa was supposed to be dead twice over – first when she was almost assassinated by members of her own faith and second when Sun Rock occurred. Now she and Serapio are both avatars of their gods walking among men and chaos is sure to follow such things. Xiala is literally just trying not to get killed and also deal with her own grief and guilt because she unintentionally caused death with her Teek song. There are numerous other side characters, each with their own motivations that really help bring the story to life and give additional perspective into the events.

I enjoyed the additional focus on Naranpa this time around, as she was probably the least fleshed out/engaging character the first time around. She just seemed so young and naive, but now she’s hardened to the realities of the world and has endured numerous trials. Serapio went from being this confident, goal oriented figure to a very uncertain man in a pit of vipers. Sure, they’re supposed to be his tribe, but he truly doesn’t know them because he was raised in a distant, secluded home. And Xiala… I loved her in the first book! She was damaged, but still a badass! This time around she lacked the agency and direction she previously had – her strings were cut and she’s just sort of going with the flow. I want a proper reunion between Xiala and Serapio!

I enjoyed Fevered Star, but not with the same fervor that I did Black Sun. This is clearly setting up the likely epic plot of the third and final book in the series and I can totally forgive that. It was still very good and the political machinations were engaging and there were some tasty morsels of action thrown in just often enough. Totally ready to see how this trilogy ends – I’m sure it will result in an epic clash of gods and magic.

Stacking the Shelves: 6/25/22

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Reading Reality and it’s all about sharing the books you’ve added to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course audiobooks and ebooks!


Received for Review: 

Not much physical bookmail from the publishers lately, but I did get a finished copy of The Martyr by Anthony Ryan. It was an epic book and you can check out my review HERE.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
I couldn’t resist reading this any longer and it was SO. CUTE. I can’t wait to share my review! Thanks to Berkley for the eARC.

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen
I am really digging the number of fantasy-romance books that Orbit has been publishing lately! This has a bit of enemies-to-lovers and even a pen pal thing going on. It sounds like such fun!

Uncanny Times by Laura Anne Gilman
This was a recent Can’t Wait Wednesday feature and shortly after that I was fortunate enough to get approved for an eARC by Gallery/Saga Press. Set during the Revolutionary War, a young witch must avoid the attention of Redcoats and the locals.

Dirty Lying Faeries by Sabrina Blackburry
I devoured this book. It’s such a fun, nostalgic read and it’s actually pretty good and seems to be a standalone (maybe?) in a larger universe. Thanks to Wattpad Books for the eARC.

The Luminaries by Susan Dennard
I love that so many upcoming releases have haunted, creepy forests. Also, am sucker for pretty cover. Thanks to Tor Teen for the eARC.

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett
My first 2023 eARC! I looooove the synopsis for this and am hoping for strong academic rivals to lovers vibes. Thanks to Del Rey for the eARC!

Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty
I really enjoyed Six Wakes by this author and I’m excited to read about more space murder and a detective on a sentient space station. Thanks to Ace for the eARC.

My Purchases:

At this point in time, I’m only purchasing hard copies of books I loved because my shelf space is running low. This month I added a finished copy of In the Shadow of Lightning, the independently published version of Legends & Lattes, and All of Us Villains. I have a couple more books I’ve pre-ordered or that haven’t arrived yet, but I’ll just show those off next month!

The May 2022 book from The Broken Binding subscription arrived and now my First Law Trilogy is complete! Look how cool the sprayed edges are when put together!

The June 2022 Broken Binding subscription book has also arrived and WOW! The foiling on the hardcover is incredible, even if my picture is a little awkward! They always package everything beautifully and now each book will also come with a themed bookmark. I can’t wait to read this one, as I’ve heard so many good things about the series.

The latest audiobook haul includes Of Blood and Fire and Of Darkness and Light by Ryan Cahill, Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross, and Second Hand Curses by Drew Hayes. I also picked up a couple ebooks that were being promoted by their authors – Cold From the North by D.W. Ross and The Broken Heart of Arelium by Alex Robins.

Locklands by Robert Jackson Bennett – Review

Published: June 28, 2022

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Series: The Founders Trilogy #3

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 560 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 2.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:
Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.

This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.

To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.

Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.

And as if that weren’t enough, their adversary might just have a spy in their ranks—and a last trick up its sleeve.


June was *the* month for anticipated fantasy sequels and rounding out my reading selection was Locklands, the finale of the Founders Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett. I fell in love with Foundryside and the unique magical coding that was used to power all sorts of things from the mundane to the exquisite. Shorefall was an upping of the stakes and I rated it at 4.5 stars thanks to the amazing characters and worldbuilding. Unfortunately, as you can see by my rating of Locklands, I found the grand finale to be somewhat of a disappointment and here’s why.

First of all, while I don’t mind a time skip when more of the same ol’ thing is going on, I DO mind one when it leaves me feeling like I’ve started a whole new series. Locklands has an eight year time skip and dumps you right in the action, surrounded by new characters, loads of new technology, and one hell of crisis. It was jarring and it got info-dumpy when it came to so many of the new terms, technology, characters, and even the new “country” Gizeh. So, right from the start I was put off, but the war against Tevanne (Gregor/Valeria combo) was interesting and it was easy to chug along despite my annoyance. 

I found I didn’t connect with the new characters well – Delia was given the bare bones of a backstory and Greeter and Design, the hivemind characters, were fascinating in concept but I never acquired that emotional connection. It’s hard not to love Sancia, Berenice, and Clef though so that certainly redeemed things. Clef in particular was given his chance to shine in this installment and we get a great deal of his ancient past, long before he became the key. Long before there were hierophants, there were Namers who saw the sigils that make up the world and the dwelt in an ancient city. Clef, or Claviedes as he was known then, was one such Namer though the tale that led him to his current state is one of tragic proportions. I did get a little teary eyed during the latter portion of the book thanks to some rather touching/heartbreaking moments. 

I ended up being satisfied with the conclusion of the trilogy, but found myself disappointed overall by Locklands. It was a jarring change of pace and I’m of the opinion a short novella (Founders Trilogy 2.5, if you will) would have been the perfect transitional piece to ease readers into the harsh new world in Locklands. For those interested in picking this up, please don’t let me scare you away from the series or this book in particular – I seem to be in the minority, as many other reviews are quite positive and it’s sitting at 4.12 stars on Goodreads!

Currently Reading: 6/20/22

Flames of Mira by Clay Harmon
I’ve had this on my TBR for awhile now and since the release date is approaching and I was in the mood for an epic fantasy chonk I decided it was finally time! I love the contrasting elements – underground volcanoes covered in fields of ice and the pseudo-alchemical creation of the elementals. The early reviews are so good – I hope I feel the same about it!

I did take a little break from posting last week since I had several things planned (Father’s Day, a birthday, cookouts, etc.), but I’m back at it again! Time to catch up on reviews for non-ARC books in the coming weeks. I’ve genuinely had a fabulous time with so many new releases this Summer – it’s been a great year for reading!

The Martyr by Anthony Ryan – Review

Published: June 28, 2022

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: Covenant of Steel #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 576 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:
The Martyr
is the second novel in The Covenant of Steel, a new epic fantasy series of action, intrigue and magic from Anthony Ryan, a master storyteller who has taken the fantasy world by storm.

Times have changed for Alwyn Scribe. Once an outlaw, he’s now a spymaster and sworn protector of Lady Evadine Courlain, whose visions of a demonic apocalypse have earned her the fanatical devotion of the faithful.

Yet Evadine’s growing fame has put her at odds with both Crown and Covenant. As trouble brews in the kingdom, both seek to exploit her position for their own ends.

Sent to the Duchy of Alundia to put down a rebellion, Alwyn must rely on old instincts to fight for his new cause. Deadly feuds and ancient secrets are laid bare as war erupts, a war that will decide the fate of the Kingdom of Albermaine and, perhaps, prevent the coming of the prophesied Second Scourge.


The story begins with Evadine Courlain’s claim that she is a Risen Martyr challenged by both king and church. Through some careful maneuvering, she is ultimately recognized as such but then she and the Covenant Company are sent southward to the duchy of Alundia to put down a rebellious duke and the unorthodox belief that has taken root. 

Here we get a fantastic siege set up and some truly excellent battle scenes. Think of men climbing siege ladders only to be furiously hacked down by the soldiers above, deadly arrows in the night picking guards off the battlements, and the tension within as the siege continues. At times I can find extended battle scenes somewhat tedious, but I never find that to be the case with Anthony Ryan’s writing. I’m always compelled to keep turning pages with nary a sign of boredom and perhaps that’s helped by the narration of Alwyn Scribe. I enjoy his narrative voice immensely and the fact that he tells this story in his old age, where he’s reflecting back on his younger days really fascinates me. It leaves me wondering what steps he might have taken to end up such an influential person in history, as the little snippets before each new section imply.

One of my favorite parts of the book was, unsurprisingly Alwyn’s sojourn with the Caerith people. You may recall that the Sack Witch in the first book was one of the Caerith. Ever since she was introduced I was super curious to learn more about her and her people, plus you know, cool magic. I loved this part – it was a nice refreshing break from the continuous battles and it sort of opened the door to the larger scope of things. This story goes beyond kingdoms and duchies, for the Second Scourge is coming.

This was a fantastic sequel that left me hungering for the next book. If you enjoyed the first book, I’m sure you’ll love the sequel just as much. Also, lemme just give a shout out to the cover artist for such a cool looking cover – Alwyn looks like such a badass!

In the Shadow of Lightning by Brian McClellan – Review

Published: June 21, 2022

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Glass Immortals #1

Pages: 576 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0 Stars

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

Synopsis:
From Brian McClellan, author of The Powder Mage trilogy, comes the first novel in the Glass Immortals series, In the Shadow of Lightning, an epic fantasy where magic is a finite resource—and it’s running out.

“Excellent worldbuilding and a truly epic narrative combine into Brian’s finest work to date. Heartily recommended to anyone who wants a new favorite fantasy series to read.”—Brandon Sanderson

Demir Grappo is an outcast—he fled a life of wealth and power, abandoning his responsibilities as a general, a governor, and a son. Now he will live out his days as a grifter, rootless, and alone. But when his mother is brutally murdered, Demir must return from exile to claim his seat at the head of the family and uncover the truth that got her killed: the very power that keeps civilization turning, godglass, is running out.

Now, Demir must find allies, old friends and rivals alike, confront the powerful guild-families who are only interested in making the most of the scraps left at the table and uncover the invisible hand that threatens the Empire. A war is coming, a war unlike any other. And Demir and his ragtag group of outcasts are the only thing that stands in the way of the end of life as the world knows it.


Guys! June has already brought me another book that will go on my Best Books of 2022 list!! Having seen the magic that Brian McClellan can work with the Powder Mage and Gods of Blood and Powder series, I had high expectations for In the Shadow of Lightning. And oh my, I could not have been happier unless I had the entire finished series in my hands at once. This book was incredible with an epic new magic system based on godglass, which grants the user enhanced intelligence, sight, strength, and even the ability to shoot razor sharp glass projectiles, but not without consequence.

AND THE POLITICS! I LOVE the politics between the guild families in the city of Ossa! I’m a big softie when it comes to vicious family rivalries, long held vendettas, and groups of powerful old geezers being outwitted by the upstart younger generation. It just warms my soul! 

Demir Grappo is at the forefront of that upstart younger generation when In the Shadow of Lightning begins. He’s barely past childhood and yet is leading a successful campaign against a rebelling territory until a traitorous miscommunication is sent out in his name to sack the city of Holikan. The Lightning Prince slips away into the outer territories for nine years, hiding from his mistakes and the event that broke him, only returning to Ossa when news that his mother was murdered reaches him. Demir finds himself the head of the Grappo guild family and thus responsible for their fortunes, properties, and retainers, but he also must find out who murdered his clever and compassionate mother AND take over the secret project she had begun. 

In order to complete these tasks, he gathers those he trusts most around him and here we are introduced to the other POV characters. Kizzie is a bastard daughter of the Vorcien clan and she’s currently out of favor, so when Demir offers her the opportunity to investigate Adriana Grappo’s murder rather than play beat cop she eagerly agrees. Not to mention, she, Demir, and Baby Montego have been close friends since childhood. Baby Montego is Demir’s adopted brother and world famous cudgeling champion (UFC, but fighters beat each other with cudgels). Montego is a terror to his enemies, adored by his fans, and will do anything for those he cares about. Then there’s Idrian Sepulki, a Breacher (human tank) who serves under Demir’s uncle in an engineering company of the Foreign Legion. Idrian is tough as forgeglass, and serves as the prime POV for the war between Grent and Ossa. He’s also slowly going mad as his witglass eye slowly loses its power. Lastly there’s Thessa, the only protege to a master siliceer (godglass developer) who was working with Demir’s mother to craft a phoenix channel. The phoenix channel was a theoretical design that could recharge godglass, which is quite important since the supply of material needed to craft it is running out.

There are so many layers to this story and Brian McClellan crafts and weaves these layers together in artful mastery. This book is a brilliant combination of detective work, war, and political intrigue much as with the original Powder Mage trilogy and frankly, it’s a combination I find totally addictive. It’s the ultimate combination of my favorite themes and the multiple POV characters bring everything together so seamlessly *chef’s kiss*. It was honestly tough to pick a favorite character, though Demir admittedly edges out the others just a smidge because I’m weak for overly competent, damaged characters. And boy-o, that ending was something else! The sudden appearance of eldritch horrors?? I am indescribably excited for the next book (currently my excitement level is at a frequency that could shatter glass). I’m about to go recommend this to every single person I know who actually reads books.