A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross – Review

Published: February 15, 2022

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Series: Elements of Cadence #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 480 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

House of Earth and Blood
 meets The Witch’s Heart in Rebecca Ross’s brilliant first adult fantasy, set on the magical isle of Cadence where two childhood enemies must team up to discover why girls are going missing from their clan.

Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.

As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

With unforgettable characters, a fast-paced plot, and compelling world building, A River Enchanted is a stirring story of duty, love, and the power of true partnership, and marks Rebecca Ross’s brilliant entry on the adult fantasy stage.

This was my first foray into Rebecca Ross’s work and what a wonderful starting point! I didn’t have time to squeeze in an ARC of this before its February release so I picked up the audiobook once it was available. I’m trying to balance things and pick up more audiobooks of new releases so I don’t overwhelm myself with print titles… So far, it’s been an excellent life choice! The narration was excellent and really helped bring this tale of music, warring clans, and slow burn romance together beautifully.

Jack Tamerlaine was sent away to the mainland to attend university at a young age and hasn’t stepped foot on his home island of Cadence in a decade. Until he receives a letter from his laird summoning him home to help track down girls who’ve gone missing. BUT! The letter is not from the laird, but rather his daughter Adaira who was Jack’s loathsome childhood rival. The two begin to work together to track down the missing girls – it’s either the spirits or the people from the western side of the isle – and slowly they begin to realize they might not hate each other so much after all. 

This is an excellent story with a multi-layered plot and a rather nuanced cast of characters. Jack and Adaira might be the main focus in the synopsis, but there are several other POV characters that add so much to the story! Sidra and Torin provide an excellent and somewhat more mature foil to Jack and Adaira. Torin is the captain of the guard so it’s his duty to find the girls who’ve been taken and he feels it’s his failing that resulted in them being taken at all. Sidra is Torin’s wife and a healer as well. Watching the two work through grief, love, and the numerous other emotions in their relationship was moving!  I love the magical elements that broadly range from spirits of water, earth, fire, and air, to bottomless lakes and tragic myths.

If you’re looking for a lovely blend of Irish and Scottish vibes and a dash of slow burn romance in your fantasy then this might be a book for you! I really ended up enjoying this though it was a slow and steady read and not one I felt tempted to rush through in a few evenings. That being said, I felt that I was able to truly savor it because it was engaging enough that I wanted to come back to it each time but I wasn’t tempted to binge it (and therefore miss details!). 

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan – Review

Published: January 11, 2022

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Series: The Celestial Kingdom Duology #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 512 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Seventh Queen by Greta Kelly – Review

Published: November 2, 2021

Publisher: HarperVoyager

Series: Warrior Witch #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 352 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

After the gasp-inducing cliffhanger ending of The Frozen Crown, the exciting conclusion to the epic story of Askia—a warrior, witch, and queen-to-be—as she confronts the monster that stole her throne…and is holding her prisoner to steal her magic.

The Empire of Vishir has lost its ruler, and the fight to save Seravesh from the Roven Empire is looking bleak. Moreover, Askia has been captured by power-hungry Emperor Radovan, who plans on making her his wife simply so he can take her magic as his own, killing her in the process. Aware of his ex-wives’ fates, Askia must find a means of avoiding this doom, not only for the sake of Seravesh, but now for Vishir as well. She must put both nations first and remember Ozura’s advice: you must play the game in order to survive. Askia was born a soldier, but now it’s time to become a spy.

But it’s hard to play a game where the only person who knows the rules wants to kill her.

And time is a factor. The jewel Radovan has put around her neck will pull her power from her in thirty days. Worse, Vishir might not even have that long, as the two heirs to the throne are on the verge of civil war. Without any hope for help from the south, without any access to her magic, alone in a hostile land, Askia is no closer to freeing her people than she was when she fled to Vishir. In the clutches of a madman, the only thing she’s close to is death.

Yet she’d trade her life for a chance to save Seravesh. The problem: she may not have that choice.

Guys, after the biggest cliffhanger ending in the previous book I was basically counting down the days until I could get a copy of The Seventh Queen. And now here we are! I completely binged this and while I missed all the set up we had in the previous book, I was excited to see some new characters and a new setting. I really ended up missing the desert setting and many of the characters we left behind though…

The Seventh Queen begins where we left off – with Askia in the clutches of Radovan. Askia has a mere 30 days to find a way out of Radovan’s grasp before he kills her to claim his magic because if that happens, Seravesh will be lost. Vishir is also in turmoil since the assassination of both Ozura and Armaan has left the Empire with two possible heirs. I expected there to be much more focus on Vishir since we spent the entire first book building up the politics and characters, BUT I was wrong. It very much takes a back seat since Askia is now in Roven and clearly the story is only following her. We instead focus on what is happening within the castle Askia is trapped within and the immediate problem of Radovan. 

There’s quite a few new characters to introduce in this book, most of which are ghosts. You’ll recall that Askia is a death witch and seeing ghosts is an inherent part of her magic. Even though her magic is suppressed by the Radovan’s gem around her neck, she can see the ghosts of those bound to her and to the aforementioned gem. And thus most of our characters in this book are dead queens, which was quite cool actually! This helped flesh out Radovan more, since each queen was able to offer her own perspective on him along with their history.

I do think this book rushed through the plot (toward the end especially) and I was sad to see Vishir’s intense political drama was all but forgotten aside from a few passing mentions. It was an intensely fascinating story that really sucked you in and Askia was a heroine who was easy to sympathize with. Though Askia is more of a blunt force warrior, she made the transition to spymaster more effortlessly than I expected. I do love some good blackmail and intrigue in my books! Overall, I did really enjoy this and can’t wait to see what other books Greta Kelly will release in the future.

Activation Degradation by Marina Lostetter – Review

Published: September 28, 2021

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Series: Standalone

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 480 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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


The Murderbot Diaries makes first contact in this new, futuristic, standalone novel exploring sentience and artificial intelligence through the lenses of conflicted robot hero Unit Four, from Marina Lostetter, critically acclaimed author of Noumenon, Noumenon Infinity, and Noumenon Ultra.

When Unit Four—a biological soft robot built and stored high above the Jovian atmosphere—is activated for the first time, it’s in crisis mode. Aliens are attacking the Helium-3 mine it was created to oversee, and now its sole purpose is to defend Earth’s largest energy resource from the invaders in ship-to-ship combat.

But something’s wrong. Unit Four doesn’t feel quite right.

There are files in its databanks it can’t account for, unusual chemical combinations roaring through its pipes, and the primers it possesses on the aliens are suspiciously sparse. The robot is under orders to seek and destroy. That’s all it knows.

According to its handler, that’s all it needs to know.

Determined to fulfill its directives, Unit Four launches its ship and goes on the attack, but it has no idea it’s about to get caught in a downward spiral of misinformation, reprograming, and interstellar conflict.

Most robots are simple tools. Unit Four is well on its way to becoming something more..

I can certainly see why this would be compared to Murderbot in so many blurbs! It’s an excellent becoming human type story, but it’s unique and in no way derivative of the Murderbot  series that has taken readers by storm. There are a few little twists and turns that totally blew me away!

The story starts off in possibly the most stressful situation possible. Unit Four, our protagonist, has just been yanked from a solution vat and is being rushed about to help save a mining station that has come under attack. Four’s handler insists that the attackers are extremely dangerous and so in a last ditch effort Four takes out a ship to fend off the invaders. It (as Four wants to be referred to as) is captured by humanoid creatures, and though it manages to injure a few, ends up strapped to a chair.  Turns out the humanoids are humans (a shock!) which also begs the question of who/what is Four’s handler if Earth isn’t inhabited by humans any longer. There a several of these topsy-turvy moments that really make one question what’s happening! Keeps you on your toes for sure!

The humans don’t trust Unit Four (who has been given the name Aimsley) but they do need it’s help. Their ship was damaged in the short battle that commenced at the beginning of the story and they now must work with Aimsley to repair their ship. 

This is ultimately a story of self-discovery and though it doesn’t give you the warm fuzzy that Becky Chambers stories have, it does have a similar feeling. It’s a crew up against stacked odds, they’re a weird and wonderful found family and now Aimsley might just get to be a part of that. Life can be longer than 90 days of eating recycled protein and getting blasted by radiation. Should a sequel be in the works, I would most definitely check it out!

Stacking the Shelves: 5/8/21

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews 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 ebooks!

Received for Review:

Orbit Books very kindly sent me finished copies of The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne and The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan. You can check out my review of The Shadow of the Gods HERE.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
This is a teensy little novella that I mostly picked up because of that gorgeous cover and my confidence that Alix Harrow tells a good story. Oh yeah, Sleeping Beauty was always one of my favorite Disney movies, so I’m curious to see what I think of a retelling (though Maleficent turning into a glorious dragon was truly my favorite part). Thanks to Tordotcom for the eARC.

The Seventh Queen by Greta Kelly
Hands down one of my most anticipated sequels of the year after I was left in awe of the cliffhanger ending in The Frozen Crown. Totally blew me away! Many thanks to HarperVoyager for the eARC.

The Coward by Stephen Aryan
I couldn’t possibly resist a book where the lauded hero wasn’t really all that heroic, so I’m dying to see what sort of antics occur when the MC tries to get out of saving the world again. Plus, something about that cover makes me want to put it on my shelf – I hope the gold parts are all gorgeous and shiny because I might buy the paperback! Thanks to Angry Robot for the eARC.

A Desert Torn Asunder by Bradley P. Beaulieu
Well, my self control got the best of me because I wasn’t going to pick this up until I finally read the previous book in the series. But here we are. Thanks to DAW for the eARC and making succumb to temptation!

My Purchases:

I’ve had a month full of good audiobooks! I picked up Swordheart by T. Kingfisher after reading the Bibliosanctum review, which was a great choice since I loved it and am now officially a T. Kingfisher fan. I also picked up Six Wakes and The Hunting Party which are two vastly different murder mysteries. And lastly one of my most anticipated YA releases of the year, Blade of Secrets

I finally received my stunning Subterranean Press edition of Dark Age by Pierce Brown. It has several awesome interior illustrations and is such a quality (and hefty) book! The wait for book to finally arrive is usually a long one, but it was longer than usual (thanks COVID) so it’s been just over a year wait to finally receive it. 

The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst – Review

Published: March 9, 2021

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Series: Standalone

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.


From award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst, a standalone epic fantasy set in a brand-new world of towering mountains and sparkling cities, in which a band of aging warriors have a second chance to defeat dark magic and avenge a haunting loss.

Twenty-five years ago, five heroes risked their lives to defeat the bone maker Eklor—a corrupt magician who created an inhuman army using animal bones. But victory came at a tragic price. Only four of the heroes survived. 

Since then, Kreya, the group’s leader, has exiled herself to a remote tower and devoted herself to one purpose: resurrecting her dead husband. But such a task requires both a cache of human bones and a sacrifice—for each day he lives, she will live one less.

She’d rather live one year with her husband than a hundred without him, but using human bones for magic is illegal in Vos. The dead are burned—as are any bone workers who violate the law. Yet Kreya knows where she can find the bones she needs: the battlefield where her husband and countless others lost their lives.

But defying the laws of the land exposes a terrible possibility. Maybe the dead don’t rest in peace after all.  

Five warriors—one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should be dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.”

Five heroes went to kill the corrupt bone maker Eklor, and when he was defeated only four returned. Jentt, the quick and nimble thief, died to save another. His wife Kreya, the leader of their heroic party, has hidden herself away in a remote tower for decades following his death where she has been learning how to resurrect him. The only hitch in her plan is finding the human bones required to bring Jentt back to life and to do that she must cross the wall, to the field of the last battle. Of course, all of this is illegal and if Kreya were caught she would be summarily burned, just as the dead traditionally are treated… good thing she’s resourceful and has old friends that can be called upon! 

Fair warning, the paragraph above is only the smallest fraction of The Bone Maker’s plot which I thought was pretty damn delightful. This book absolutely did not go in the direction I expected it to which kept me turning pages late into the night. How could I put it down when the evil guy might not actually be dead!? And then, the characters were absolutely fascinating. The whole gang reunited once again, proving how massively surviving such a harrowing ordeal can screw up a person’s psyche. I got unexpected Kings of the Wyld vibes from this book but with less humor. The whole “reuniting the gang of retired heroes to fight the big evil” schtick is absolutely one of my favorite things in fantasy.

Let’s talk a bit about the characters now. Kreya, of course, has been an unkempt hermit for at least a decade and she has her husband’s corpse in a spare bedroom at the start of the book. She’s also got creepy constructs doing tasks about her dilapidated wizard tower. Very mad scientist/magician vibe. Jentt has been a corpse on and off for a while now, but once he’s revived he’s definitely the more stable of the two. Zera, Kreya’s best friend, has become an obscenely wealthy bone maker, creating talismans that grant abilities like speed, flight, stealth and so forth. She’s excellent, and doesn’t hold back on how she feels about Kreya abandoning her after the battle ended. Marso was the bone reader of the group and he’s practically raving mad when they find him naked in a fountain. He was seeing things he thought for sure couldn’t be true. Stran, the muscle of the group, has turned into a doting father and loving husband who assists his terrifying competent wife Amurra in running their farm. I love the variety we get with the characters and their chemistry when they reunite is amazing. 

This was a brilliant book and Sarah Beth Durst is cementing her place as one of my favorite fantasy authors. She writes epic standalones that leave you completely satisfied at the end. I’m considering returning to the Queens of Renthia series to complete it, despite my lackluster feelings about the first book in that series because everything else I’ve read is SO GOOD. As I mentioned previously, I think this book would be perfect for fans of Kings of the Wyld or anyone searching for a fantasy focusing on the aftermath of victory. I can’t recommend this enough!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst

“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!

Oh my gosh!! This book has just the best synopsis EVER. Basically, five warriors defeated a corrupt magician but in the process one of them was killed. This warrior’s wife, who was also the leader of their group, has spent years trying to find a way to raise him from the dead. The catch here is that bone magic is illegal. The Bone Maker sounds like an absolute fabulous read and I can’t wait to get my hands on it in March 2021!

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty – Review

Cover- The Empire of GoldPublished: June 30, 2020

Publisher: HarperVoyager

Series: The Daevabad Trilogy #3

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 766 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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


“No series since George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire has quite captured both palace intrigue and the way that tribal infighting and war hurt the vulnerable the most.” —Paste Magazine

The final chapter in the bestselling, critically acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy, in which a con-woman and an idealistic djinn prince join forces to save a magical kingdom from a devastating civil war.

Daevabad has fallen.

After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.

But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.

Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.

As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.

At last! The conclusion! I’ve been greatly looking forward to Empire of Gold since the previous book ended on such a wild cliff hanger. I mean, really – Daevabad’s fate was looking pretty bad, Nahri and Ali had just jumped into the cursed lake, and there were a few other important characters whose fates were questionable. Finally, my fears were laid to rest (or horribly, awfully confirmed).

The longer I sit here and think about what to write about this, the less I feel like I need to go into great detail because I’ve mentioned so many of the same things I want to say about this in my reviews for the first two books. Obviously I love the characters. It’s been wonderful to follow the growth and detailing of each character. Not all the growth, or perhaps I should say change, was for the better. Dara spiraled out of control and went from a character you sort of loved to one I pitied. His is nothing but a tale of tragedy. 

One of my favorite parts about this book was that we get to see even more of the broader Daeva world. Like Ali’s banishment in the previous book, certain events take us to new lands, where we meet new characters and have the most divine scenery described. For all you folks that think pretty scenery is just alright, there’s plenty of action too! This book is all about defeating Manizheh and retaking Daevabad from her clutches and obviously that’s going to take some force. Plenty of battle scenes for all you action-hungry readers!

Overall, this was a fantastic ending to a trilogy that quickly became a favorite from the first few pages. I do think there was a lot of dithering around in this installment and the pace definitely slowed down in some parts. I found myself wishing they would just hurry up and get to Daevabad and start swinging some swords or magic or something, but I liked how things played out and realize that sometimes I’m just impatient. Slow can be good. It can mean time to digest events and well, enjoy some of the new scenery. 

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.


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!

The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty – Review

Cover- The Kingdom of Copper

Published: January 22, 2019

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Series: The Daevabad Trilogy #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 640 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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


Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad—and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of a devastating battle, Nahri must forge a new path for herself. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family—and one misstep will doom her tribe..

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid—the unpredictable water spirits—have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

So, I’m lame and never reviewed The City of Brass despite LOVING it – it was definitely a 5 star read for me. Long story short, I loved the setting, the characters, and all the interesting relationships which is why I was super excited to get a lovely box of book mail containing Kingdom of Copper!

The story picks up a few years after the events of the first book and it was interesting to see how life had changed. Nahri married Muntadhir as she had bargained and has settled into her role as Nahid. Alizayd was exiled, almost killed, and now resides with one of the desert tribes where he brings much needed water. Dara, well of course he just couldn’t stay dead could he? Nah, he’s helping train some rebels and does the bidding of someone thought many years dead. The book was so full of plotting and drama that it was impossible for a dull moment to exist.

I love the rich setting of Daevabad, the thousand subplots and hidden agendas, and I love the characters most of all. If that isn’t enough for you, there’s some exciting action-y bits scattered in as well! Every time some new morsel of information or reveal was thrown my way, the reading intensified. I actually stayed up late (like really late) reading this one and not for one second regretted the lost sleep. Now I don’t think this one was quite as captivating as The City of Brass, but I put that down to my fondness for first books and the shiny, magical newness that a new series has.

My final say on this is read it and if you haven’t gotten around to it, read the first one. I thought the first book worked particularly well in audio and had the benefit of pronouncing everyone’s names, tribes, and places correctly which was awesome. I read this in print format which was great as well, though I think it would have been even cooler in audio.