Driftwood by Marie Brennan – Review

Cover- Driftwood

Published: August 14, 2020

Publisher: Tachyon Publications

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 240 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Who is Last?

Fame is rare in Driftwood- it’s hard to get famous if you don’t stick around long enough for people to know you. But many know the guide, Last, a one-blooded survivor who has seen his world end many lifetimes ago. For Driftwood is a strange place of slow apocalypses, where continents eventually crumble into mere neighborhoods, pulled inexorably towards the center in the Crush. Cultures clash, countries fall, and everything eventually disintegrates.

Within the Shreds, a rumor goes around that Last has died. Drifters come together to commemorate him. But who really was Last?

About Driftwood
Driftwood is the invention of bestselling author Marie Brennan. Mirroring the world that many people are currently living in, the Driftwood stories chronicle the struggles of survivors and outcasts to keep their worlds alive until everything changes, diminishes, and is destroyed. Driftwood is the first full-length novel in this world.


Marie Brennan’s work always deals with such fascinating concepts and Driftwood may be the most fascinating of all. The synopsis was all it took for me to rustle up a copy of the book and check it out for myself. I mean, who could possibly resist a book where fragments of countless ended worlds appear in what is called Driftwood, where they are inexorably drawn towards the Crush and they will be no more. 

Yes, the world building here is absolutely tantalizing and offers the opportunity for endless small and possibly even a few full length tales about the different world fragments, but the story is really about one called Last. He is the last of his race and his world was drawn into the Crush long ago. No one knows how old he is or what his world was called, though he sometimes helps those who seek him out for advice or assistance. Now he is thought to have died or at the very least, disappeared.

The story is a series of smaller tales, brought together by Last’s disappearance and the gathering of those who mourn (or seek) him. They tell tales of how he tried to save their world fragments, or assisted kingdoms or seekers of lost things. The tales were rich little nuggets of world building, but ultimately failed to satisfy me. I admit, I often have this issue with novellas or shorter length novels like this one so please take my assessment lightly. If you often enjoy shorter reads, you’ll probably think this is fantastic, as most others do.

The synopsis implies that there will be other tales set in this world, and I would very much like to give them a try. I think the concept is brilliant, and as I said before it’s ripe for more short stories or other forms of expansion.

Stacking the Shelves: 4/11/20

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:

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Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler
I was DELIGHTED when this arrived on my doorstep! Orbit knows my mind and I get some very exciting ARCs from time to time. It’s got revenge and magic and siblings trying to reunite!

The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey
This is an exciting start to a new post-apocalyptic series by M.R. Carey. A review of this will be posted soon, so keep an eye out!

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
I got a partial eARC of this from Tor right after featuring it as a Waiting on Wednesday book! I’m excited to get a little taste of this before its September release. Also, first contact with aliens is always exciting and I just love the cover.

Driftwood by Marie Brennan
“A strange place of slow apocalypses”. I was sold after reading the synopsis and it’s surprisingly short, so it will be a pleasant diversion! Thanks to Tachyon Publications for the eARC.

The Vanished Queen by Lisbeth Campbell
Another lovely cover, this time with two people taking on a despotic king who probably killed the queen. Thanks to Saga Press for the eARC.

The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson
A science experiment gone wrong infects a community with an uncontrollable urge to do violence. This certainly sounds like an edge-of-your-seat thriller! Thanks to Saga Press for the eARC!

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty
OH MY GOSH!!! The end of the trilogy is nigh! I’ve really been loving this series (obviously) am a little enthusiastic about finishing this up and seeing what happens. Many thanks to HarperVoyager for the eARC.

My Purchases:

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I haven’t been purchasing many physical books and have mostly just been getting them in OwlCrate boxes. The Kingdom of Back is from my March OwlCrate and is quite a lovely edition. I did end up purchasing Thunderhead and The Toll by Neal Stephenson after being TOTALLY blow away by Scythe. However…. Thunderhead did not arrive, though my tracking said it was delivered. Guess a phone call to customer service is in order.

Last but not least, I have a couple audiobook purchases. I picked up Dragonslayer by Duncan M. Hamilton and The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix.

Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan – Review

Cover- Turning Darkness to Light

Published: August 20, 2019

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 416 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

As the renowned granddaughter of Isabella Camherst (Lady Trent, of the riveting and daring Draconic adventure memoirs) Audrey Camherst has always known she, too, would want to make her scholarly mark upon a chosen field of study.

When Lord Gleinheigh recruits Audrey to decipher a series of ancient tablets holding the secrets of the ancient Draconean civilization, she has no idea that her research will plunge her into an intricate conspiracy, one meant to incite rebellion and invoke war. Alongside dearest childhood friend and fellow archeologist Kudshayn, must find proof of the conspiracy before it’s too late.

TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT is a delightful fantasy of manners, the heir to the award-winning Natural History of Dragons series, a perfect stepping stone into an alternate Victorian-esque fantasy landscape.


As someone who rather enjoyed The Memoirs of Lady Trent series (what I’ve read anyway) I was quite excited to see that wouldn’t be the last of the books set in this lovely world of dragons. The main character of this series is Lady Trent’s granddaughter, Audrey Camherst who is a brilliant young lady who’s already made an impact on the scholarly world. She is offered the chance to translate a set of tablets supposedly discovered in the Akhian desert and it’s quite possible this will be the opportunity of her life. Things are somewhat more complicated than that (obviously, otherwise it’d be a dull story) and Audrey proves to be just as brash as her grandmother at times.

Much of the plot is centered around Audrey and her Draconian friend Kudshayn’s translation of the tablets, which appear to be an as of yet unheard creation story. The political climate is hot – there is a debate over the sovereignty of the Draconians, plus a good deal of racism towards what some perceive as a race that deals in human sacrifice. The tablets could easily provide leverage for either side of the debate depending on what they say. It’s really quite interesting in theory, though the intense parts of the book are scattered about and there aren’t many.

While the subject matter was interesting and not quite as adventurous as that of the Lady Trent series, I did like the characters quite a bit. Audrey is an intelligent, independent young lady who’s decided to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps and make her own path. As I mentioned, she’s already quite the scholar at her young age and has already encountered some bad eggs in the scholarly world that continue to haunt her. Audrey is honestly at her best when she’s doing something a bit mad, like confronting angry mobs and running into burning buildings. Kudshayn is a more steady presence and is primarily a talking point in society because he’s a Draconean. He has wings for goodness sake! He’s sort of a representative of the Sanctuary of Wings and takes his job quite seriously. We get to see his doubts and struggles as he writes missives home much as we get to see Audrey’s inner thoughts in her diary excerpts.

Turning Darkness Into Light was a good book, however it didn’t have the same adventurous charm as The Memoirs of Lady Trent. This is far more scholarly in nature, with a good portion of the book being the translations of the tablets and there were so many little footnotes! They were at times helpful, though I began to ignore them because they were more distracting. I’ll more than likely read any other forthcoming books, though at this point it appears to be a standalone at this time.

Stacking the Shelves: 9/14/19

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:

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Orbit books really came through for me all at once and most of these books (unless otherwise specified) are courtesy of their awesome publicity team! Thank so much!

Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw

This has been one of my absolute favorite paranormal fantasy series and the grand finale has arrived! I’ve already read it, loved it, and now just have to review it!

Prudence by Gail Carriger

I really enjoy Gail Carriger’s books to put some lightness back into my reading list and this was no different. This is the first book in the Custard Protocol series following the daughter of Alexia Maccon and you can check out my review HERE.

Dark Forge by Miles Cameron

This is just a haul of epic, much awaited sequels! Dark Forge is the second book in the Masters and Mages trilogy and you just can’t go wrong with Miles Cameron.

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso

This was a surprise arrival earlier this week. I’ve actually had my eye on this book since it’s already out in ebook format but decided to wait since my TBR is already huge. I guess it was just meant to be.

Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan

This is actually my current read and if you liked Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent series, you should check this out too! Many thanks to Tor for the finished copy!

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A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie

ABERCROMBIEEEEEE! I’ve already read this beauty and can’t wait to share a review soon! I love that this is a hardcover and it will look so epic on my shelves.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

I’ve seen stellar reviews for this book and can’t wait to check out some awesome portal fantasy! Also, that cover is just SO lovely, how could anyone resist?

The True Bastards by Jonathan French

I’m pretty stoked to have gotten an eARC of this one. I’m pretty excited to see how Fetching stacks up as both the new leader of the Bastards and the main character. Thanks to Crown for the eARC!

Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie

I almost keeled over when I actually got approved for an eARC of this! I almost NEVER get the YA books that I’m INCREDIBLY EXCITED about. I absolutely love the cover art for this and can’t wait to dig in after I get through the huge stack of September releases I’m drowning in! Thanks to Katherine Tegen books for the eARC!

My Purchases:

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A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause

I admit, I love a book with a touch of fashionable flair as part of the plot, but I’m honestly not sure this will be a winner. I received this in my August Bookish Box subscription and it’s not something I would have picked up on my own, though I may be surprised and really enjoy it!

I also picked up these really lovely little Wordsworth Edition classics. I got The Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island, Black Beauty, and A Christmas Carol.

And lastly, my audiobook purchases over the last month. I picked up Murder Theory, which is the third book in The Naturalist series, Quill by A.C. Cobble which is a mystery type book that very much reminds me of the show Carnival Row (at first), and The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang, which is my current read.

Currently Reading: 9/9/19

Cover- Quill

Quill by A.C. Cobble

This is both a book and author I’ve never heard of (and it’s independently published). It’s been too long since I’ve really went in totally blind based entirely off the synopsis and I’m not regretting it in the least. This is a hugely entertaining book thus far and the audio narration by Simon Vance make it that much better!

 

 

Cover- Turning Darkness to Light

Turning Darkness into Light by Marie Brennan

I’m definitely into the adventurer type books at the moment and can’t wait to see if this series is as good as those featuring Lady Trent. With the promise of conspiracies and archaeological discoveries I just couldn’t resist!

Waiting on Wednesday: Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan

“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- Turning Darkness to Light

OH MY GOODNESS. I had no idea whatsoever that there was another series set in the Lady Trent world coming out! The main character in this series is Lady Isabella’s granddaughter Audrey Camherst. Sharing her grandmother’s love for scholarly pursuit, she is researching evidence of a Draconean civilization and it drags her into a dangerous conspiracy. I’m expecting just as much delight and adventure from this series as I did from the previous! The release date for Turning Darkness into Light is listed as August 20, 2019 – a short six months away.

Upcoming Releases: April 2016

Cover- In the Labyrinth of Drakes

In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan

Published: April 5, 2016

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads: Here

 

 

Cover- The Glittering Court

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Published: April 5, 2016

Publisher: Razorbill

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Goodreads: Here

 

 

Cover- Fall of Light

Fall of Light by Steven Erikson

Published: April 19, 2016

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads: Here

 

 

Cover- Nettle King

Nettle King by Katherine Harbour

Published: April 19, 2016

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads: Here

 

Cover- The Raven King

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Published: April 26, 2016

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Goodreads: Here

 

 

Cover- Water's Wrath

Water’s Wrath by Elise Kova

Published: April 26, 2016

Publisher: Silver Wing Press

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Goodreads: Here

 

 

Cover- Sharp Ends

Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie

Published: April 26, 2016

Publisher: Orbit

Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads: Here

 

The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan – Review

Cover- The Voyage of the Basilisk

Published: March 31, 2015

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 352 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

Synopsis:

Devoted readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoirs, A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, may believe themselves already acquainted with the particulars of her historic voyage aboard the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, but the true story of that illuminating, harrowing, and scandalous journey has never been revealed—until now. Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Isabella embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world to study all manner of dragons in every place they might be found. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is not only her young son, Jake, but a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella’s in ways both professional and personal.

Science is, of course, the primary objective of the voyage, but Isabella’s life is rarely so simple. She must cope with storms, shipwrecks, intrigue, and warfare, even as she makes a discovery that offers a revolutionary new insight into the ancient history of dragons


Thus far I’ve enjoyed this entire series by Marie Brennan, with each novel exploring a different chapter of Isabella Trent’s life. This particular novel is a brief overview of her trip around the world. When I say brief, I really mean that it was a shallow pool compared to the much more in depth previous novels. There’s so much travelling that we only get a few pages at most of the locations and the new characters aren’t particularly well developed. It could have been a much longer book and I would have enjoyed it a bit more (I think).

The part that was most detailed was when Isabella, family, and crew were stranded on an island while there ship was being repaired. There were some interesting dragon-related discoveries and the islanders had a unique culture, but it was lacking something the previous books had. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly it was but it definitely had to do with the pacing and the lack of depth. I couldn’t bring myself to care too terribly much about what was going on. I’m hoping that the next book, which releases in April, will be much more like the first two novels.

Overall, if you’ve committed to the series, keep on trucking! Despite my grumpy sounding reviews, it wasn’t bad at all. We got to experience all sorts of new dragons and cultures, but I realllllly wish that we could have spent more time in each locale.

January 2016 Wrap Up

I had an incredibly productive month of reading, thanks to some longer weekends (thanks to snow and being a bit under the weather). This was a great way to start off 2016 and I’m hoping I can keep up with all the exciting new releases, plus all the other books I have on my TBR! I’m working on reviews for most of these, so keep an eye out in the coming weeks. You can find all of these on Goodreads if you’re interested!

The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan – Review

Cover- The Tropic of Serpents

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

The thrilling adventure of Lady Trent continues in Marie Brennan’s The Tropic of Serpents . . .

Attentive readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoir, A Natural History of Dragons, are already familiar with how a bookish and determined young woman named Isabella first set out on the historic course that would one day lead her to becoming the world’s premier dragon naturalist. Now, in this remarkably candid second volume, Lady Trent looks back at the next stage of her illustrious (and occasionally scandalous) career.

Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics.

The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell . . . where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before.


The Tropic of Serpents is the second novel in which Lady Trent recounts her numerous adventures she has whilst studying dragons. This time around she’s travelling to a jungle in the middle of a politically unstable area to study the Moulish Swamp Wyrm. Jungles seem like terrible places to visit after one learns of the multitude of disgusting parasites that can be acquired there. The jungle herein is no different and malaria and yellow-fever afflict the party of natural historians. I honestly have no idea where I was actually going with that, but it does happen.

I adore these books! They are set in a world that’s somewhat Victorian and Isabella Camherst (Lady Trent) is a woman fighting for her place in the scientific community. She is determined to do such profound work that the typically male societies must let her join them, but that isn’t really the focus of the books. The books focus on her passion for dragons of all sorts and the adventures and mishaps that come about as a result of her determined nature. She also discusses the criticism she receives from her family, other women, and men of the society in which she lives. Isabella is incredibly passionate about her studies and I can totally relate to this as a former biology student, though she faces opposition in droves, and I was encouraged.

The Tropic of Serpents (as well as the first book) is a convincingly written memoir. If the world were a bigger place than it is now, I would be quite convinced that studying dragons was a legitimate scholarly pursuit. Enough well-thought out “science” was put into the book, along with the more exciting bits of Isabella’s life in the field and exotic lands that it makes for a very compelling story. As the narrator, Isabella Camherst leaves out parts that she deems tedious or irrelevant and even cites some of her “publications”.

Now, though I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, it left no breathtaking impact on me. I wasn’t left awake at night pondering the possibility of hidden meaning in a sentence or anything like that. This was like a literary vacation, or something to cleanse your palate. It was fun, refreshing, and definitely well-written prose. I won’t be quoting it anytime soon, but I think the whole series would be a great addition to any fantasy lover’s collection.