Waiting on Wednesday: Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

“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- Deal with the Devil

O. MY. GOODNESS. A post apocalyptic book where data and knowledge is ultra valuable and it just sounds so awesome! Deal with the Devil is the first book in the Mercenary Librarians series and I’ve got my fingers cross that this will be a hit since the early reviews are fairly glowing. It just sound SO DARN COOL. Sign me up!

The Monstrous Citadel by Mirah Bolender – Review

Cover- The Monstrous Citadel

Published: November 5, 2019

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Chronicles of Amicae #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 416 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

The Monstrous Citadel is the sequel to Mirah Bolender’s City of Broken Magic–a fast-paced, adventure fantasy where a bomb squad defuses the magic weapons of a long forgotten war.

Amicae, City of Sweepers, survived the Falling Infestation which nearly destroyed it thanks to the efforts of Laura and Okane. While the ancient monsters have been beaten back for the moment, new and more monstrous dangers face them in the form of belligerent bureaucracy, dangerous gangs, grasping Sweepers bent on personal glory . . .

And Rex, the City of Kings, who breed their own kind of monstrosity.

Laura and Okane must go to Rex to reclaim the secret weaponry that keeps Amicae safe and come face to face with a horrifying truth about the Rex and their designs on all of Orien’s cities.


City of Broken Magic was one of my favorite books from 2018 and I was desperate for the sequel as soon as I turned the last page. Well, the sequel is now here and The Monstrous Citadel suffered a wee bit from the sophomore slump. 

This was an enjoyable book, but there were drastic changes in the cast thanks to the events in book one and I just didn’t like them. The major new characters introduced were Sweepers from another city brought over to help out Amicae. At risk of spoilers I won’t go into more detail here, but the new folks were simply untrustworthy from the start and it wasn’t subtle. It was a strong right hook of “something’s not right with these people” but it wasn’t revealed until a bit later what exactly was sketchy. 

Fortunately, Laura and Okane were still pretty awesome. Laura is a take-charge kind of girl and Okane is more comfortable with his new place in society. He’s still quite shy and I remain glad that the author didn’t throw these two into a relationship. I’m breathing a sigh of relief – they can just be friends and co-workers! PLATONIC! 

Most of the plot is heavily centered on dealing with the new Sweepers, but the more interesting bits are scattered about. The Amicae gangs are leaning on the Sinclair Sweepers and the rogue sweepers from the city of Rex are still a threat and these two things really help keep the story lively. I’ve also really enjoyed getting to see some new scenery this time around and I think the world building is really cool. The history of the cities and infestations is sprinkled throughout the story and honestly, I’d love to have some more of that!

Like I said previously, this book has the sophomore slump and while enjoyable, I didn’t like it nearly as much as the first book. I’ll definitely read future installments and I hope the pace picks back up. I’m confident it will, as things were starting to get wild in the latter portion – running through the wild lands, panicked escapes, and the bloody crazy Rexians.

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey – Review

Cover- Magic for Liars

Published: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy, Mystery

Pages: 336 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.

But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.


Magic for Liars is a murder mystery set in a private high school for magical students, though it reads a little more noir detective story than Harry Potter-esque fantasy. Ivy Gamble is a PI with a drinking problem and a troubled relationship with her family. She also has no magical ability to speak of – seems her sister Tabitha got all the magic. When a faculty member is found bisected in the library, Ivy is called in by the headmistress who suspects it was more than a theoretical magic spell gone awry…

I’ve seen few reviews of this book and sadly none of them have been particularly glowing. I, on the other hand, really enjoyed this book and found it to be rather touching. Ivy and Tabitha haven’t gotten along for most of their lives – Tabitha manifested magical ability and she was sent away to a prestigious private high school for mages where she absolutely blossomed. Ivy finished out her years at her regular ol’ high school and dealt first hand with stressful family issues that Tabitha dealt with only distantly. Ivy is obviously very resentful of her sister and acutely feels the disparity in their lives from looks to careers. As Ivy investigated the murder of the faculty member (a close friend of Tabitha’s) the sisters make an awkward effort to get to know one another again. Those particular scenes felt so genuine and I wanted so badly for them to get along. 

The actual investigation portion almost was second fiddle to what was going on in Ivy’s headspace. She interviews students and faculty alike and she finds some clues, though since magic is involved (something Ivy is unfamiliar with since Tabitha was so distant from her) she has either has to get assistance or puzzle it out on her own. I thought the book ended well and the resolution was pretty satisfying, though I can’t say I was surprised when the picture finally came together. In a way, I’m glad I could actually guess whodunnit and the author didn’t have to suddenly reveal all this information that the reader wasn’t privy to.

Overall, I thought this was a great, somewhat emotionally touching read, the latter of  which kind of surprised me. I can see why some people may have found this boring. Like I said, the mystery part is almost secondary to what’s going on with Ivy and her sister and even the budding relationship between Ivy and one of the handsome teachers. Despite this (or perhaps because of this) I loved it.

City of Lies by Sam Hawke – Review

Cover- City of Lies

Published: July 3, 2018

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Poison Wars #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 560 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me… 

Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he’s a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.

But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising…and angry.


City of Lies wasn’t a book I had heard too much about, a few positive reviews here and there, nothing more. Based off one of those reviews and the rather intriguing synopsis it seemed like something I was perfectly in the mood for at the time. Also, that opening line really sealed the deal…

The main character, Jovan, has been trained since the tender age of seven to become the next proofer (basically a food taster) for the Chancellor to protect him from assassination attempts. We’re introduced to Jovan and his best friend and heir to the Chancellor’s seat, Tain, as they are travelling back to Silasta. They arrive unexpectedly early from their travels and are present at a dinner where the Chancellor (Tain’s uncle) and Jovan’s uncle (Council member and food tester) are poisoned. They cannot be saved, as it is something no one has ever seen before and no known antidote seems to work. This of course unstabilizes the city, as does the army of vengeful country folk that arrives on the doorstep of Silasta shortly after. Much of the book is spent with the city under siege, which honestly can get somewhat tedious at times. Fortunately, there’s plenty of other action and subterfuge to keep the reader occupied.

I found the book to be genuinely enjoyable and would highly recommend the audio format, as the narrators’ performances were excellent. The characters were likable from the outset of the book, which sadly isn’t always the case and can be a significant factor in how much I like a book. If it takes me 300 pages to even remotely care for the characters, the rating will suffer in my opinion. Jovan and his sister Kalina are both have different weaknesses and sometimes surprising strengths. Tain made for a diverting side character and I was surprised to find he was wise for his young age, though still a touch brash at times. The plotting, the murder, the battles…. There was much going on in the book and there was never a dull moment, though it wasn’t overly contrived either. Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.

Overall I was really pleased with the book and I already have my eye on the sequel, Hollow Empire, when it comes out later this year. Like I mentioned, the audio format was pretty awesome and I liked that there was both a male and female narrator to differentiate between the Jovan and Kalina chapters. I’d like to continue the series in the audio format if possible because I liked it that much!

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.

Waiting on Wednesday: Kellanved’s Reach by Ian C. Esslemont

“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- Kellanved's Reach

HOW COOL IS THIS COVER!? I’m assuming this is the First Throne and Kellanved’s Reach refers to his reach for ascendance which is just so exciting! Also, from the synopsis I imagine we’ll see how Dancer and Kellanved manage to recruit the undead armies of the T’lan Imass… oh, and there’s war on Quon Tali. This book is going to be a storm of awesomeness and I’m really excited for February 2019!!! I would also like to point out that Kellanved is a loon and Dancer is long-suffering in his patience.

By Fire Above by Robyn Bennis – Review

Cover- By Fire Above

Published: May 15, 2018

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Signal Airship #2

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

“All’s fair in love and war,” according to airship captain Josette Dupre, until her hometown becomes occupied by the enemy and her mother a prisoner of war. Then it becomes, “Nothing’s fair except bombing those Vins to high hell.”

Before she can rescue her town, however, Josette must maneuver her way through the nest of overstuffed vipers that make up the nation’s military and royal leaders in order to drum up support. The foppish and mostly tolerated crew member Lord Bernat steps in to advise her, along with his very attractive older brother.

Between noble scheming, under-trained recruits, and supply shortages, Josette and the crew of the Mistral figure out a way to return to Durum―only to discover that when the homefront turns into the frontlines, things are more dangerous than they seem.


By Fire Above is one of those books that comes in as a strong sequel to a series that seems fairly underappreciated. The whole premise of the first female airship captain outsmarting the enemy and leading heroic maneuvers is quite fascinating. Though it’s been a year since I read the first book it didn’t take me long to recall the details thanks to promptings in the beginning of this installment. I do wish books had a quick recap though… it would make life so much easier.

I greatly enjoyed Josette’s exploits in this book, including but not limited to her conquering of Lord Bernat’s brother. I’m still not sure if she did it entirely to spite Bernie or if she actually had feelings for the fellow. The better late than never disposal of a disagreeable crewmember was also one of my favorite parts because idiots like that really do end up in charge of things and they should be swiftly discharged… though perhaps not in that manner.

This book was a good mix of action (lots in the latter portion) and pomp, circumstance, and bureaucracy nearer the beginning which was nice because it gave the reader a chance to see the characters when they weren’t in panic mode. I think this book was a great pick for Tor’s Fearless Women campaign because Josette is nothing if not fearless. I mean, she boldly asked the king if her hometown could be retaken from the Vin, she personally skulked around and did reconnaissance, and led some wild charges against enemy forces. She’s really something, and her crew is staffed with severally equally competent and crazed ladies.

By Fire Above left me with a good impression and though I’m not wildly enthusiastic about the series, I think it’s good quality and plan to read it until the end. Unless it drags on and on and the quality deteriorates, but I suspect this won’t be one of those travesties. If you’re looking for a more unique military fantasy that gets out of the trenches and into the sky, you might want to check out this series. It’s a refreshing break from the abundance of military fantasy that focuses on the ground troops.

Stacking the Shelves: 12/30/17

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!


Received for Review:3012-2017-090779877396158472

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

This was a surprise arrival yesterday from MacMillan Audio. I got a colorable promo poster, a cool gold sharpie, and an audiobook download of one of my most anticipated YA releases of Winter 2018! This will be immediately devoured.

Pok Pok: The Drinking Food of Thailand by Andy Ricker

In addition to SFF, I also love getting my hands on some great food books. This really piqued my interest when I saw it available on Blogging for Books and thus I requested a copy. It’s interesting, but I find that there are only a few recipes that I would probably even attempt!

Nemo Rising by C. Courtney Joyner

This book has an interesting synopsis, an excellent cover, but pretty mixed reviews. I’m not sure I’ll be able to fit this into my schedule any time soon. Nonetheless, many thanks to Tor for another bookmail surprise.

Torn by Rowenna Miller

I love surprise ARCs from Orbit! This sounds like a grand new fantasy series, featuring a seamstress who can sew magic into clothing and uprising against the monarchy.

Purchased/Gifted Books:

3012-2017-091180061611163194

I was weak this month. I’ve purchased very few physical books this year, but Amazon had really excellent prices on YA books so…. I picked up Strange the DreamerScythe, and Wintersong all for around $18.00! Shortly after, I came across a signed, limited edition of The Song Rising at my local Books-A-Million. Was pretty stoked because I thought I missed out on those earlier this year!

I received The Name of the Wind 10th anniversary edition for Christmas from my favorite (only) brother. I spent quite some time flipping through it and checking out all the illustrations and extra bits that have been added. Truly a lovely book and one that has made a huge impact on me as a reader – I’ve read it at least 7 times since it was recommended to me in college.

In addition to all the physical books, I got my usual audiobooks as well! I picked up The Tethered Mage so I could finally have time to read it – very glad I did that! I also picked up A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro and The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken during Audible’s 2-for-1 sale.

Cover- Red Rising Sub Press

AND THE GRAND FINALE/ HONORABLE MENTION – My husband pre-ordered the Subterranean Press edition of Red Rising as a Christmas gift. It won’t be here until March but it deserves it’s early moment of glory!

Steal the Stars by Nat Cassidy and Mac Rogers – Review

Cover- Steal the Stars

Published: November 7, 2017

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Standalone

Pages: 416 (Paperback)

My Rating: DNF

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

Synopsis:

Steal the Stars, a debut novel by Nat Cassidy, is based on the debut science fiction podcast from Tor Labs.

Dakota “Dak” Prentiss guards the biggest secret in the world.

They call it “Moss.” It’s your standard grey alien from innumerable abduction stories. It still sits at the controls of the spaceship it crash-landed eleven years ago. A secret military base was built around the crash site to study both Moss and the dangerous technology it brought to Earth.

The day Matt Salem joins her security team, Dak’s whole world changes.

It’s love at first sight—which is a problem, since they both signed ironclad contracts vowing not to fraternize with other military personnel. If they run, they’ll be hunted for what they know. Dak and Matt have only way to be together: do the impossible. Steal Moss and sell the secret of its existence.

And they can’t afford a single mistake.


It’s rare that I end up DNF’ing a book, but here we have one – only the second this year. Steal the Stars actually started out pretty strongly for me, but somewhere around the middle of the book I just lost interest. I didn’t care what happened to the characters, I didn’t care if the alien was dead or alive or suspended in between like Schrodinger’s cat when the box was closed.

I was pretty into this book at the beginning and thought all the super-secret military procedure was cool, especially when the reason for the secrets was revealed. An alien! Covered in weird alien moss, housed in a sleek alien ship with an engine that could drain your life force. I even like the MC well enough from the beginning, though I didn’t care for the perspective in which the story was told – like a letter written to someone. It just didn’t work for me. Also, as soon as the Dak (the MC) decided she was madly in love with the new guy upon first site I was hesitant to continue. I did forge onward for a couple hundred pages, but then they started making horrible, illogical decisions together and then I put it down to take a break. And never picked it back up. That is all.

If you finished this book, let me know what you ended up thinking of it. Should I eventually try to read the whole thing?

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson – Audiobook Review

Cover- Oathbringer

Published: November 14, 2017

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Stormlight Archive #3

Length: 55 hr 2 min

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:

In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Timesbestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.

Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.

Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together–and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past–even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.


It’s almost hard to believe that it’s been more than 3.5 years since Words of Radiance was released, but here I am having finished up Oathbringer a couple days ago. I attribute this to the prolific nature of Brandon Sanderson’s writing – he’s always releasing a new book and it’s always a good one. I have to say, The Stormlight Archive and the Cosmere as a whole is probably the most impressive creation that I’ve come across in the fantasy world and as such the books are among my most anticipated releases. I pre-ordered the audio version of Oathbringer and then bought the hardcover too because have you seen those endpapers, the embossed cover, the jacket art, or perhaps the interior sketches? Yeah. It’s a gorgeous book and it needed to be on my shelf and even if you don’t plan on buying or reading it you should take a peek at it next time you’re in a book store.

I remember some years ago, this book was intended to focus on Szeth and, if I recall correctly, had the working title of Skybreaker. This for whatever reason didn’t work out that way and instead focuses largely on Dalinar and his past and present. As with each of the previous books there’s plenty of screen time for other favorites like Shallan and Kaladin – YAY! There are a ton of characters in these books and as the series progresses more and more are added, leading to more subplots. I really loved how this book filled in the outline we had of Dalinar – his past is brought to light one segment at a time and we really begin to see why he was/is considered such a formidable warrior and why others are baffled at his change in character. Dalinar’s story weaves seamlessly into the main story arc of Oathbringer and his personal struggles were very moving. The theme of reconciling with one’s past was heavily prevalent in this book and I think every single major character dealt with this – particularly the Radiants. This was a solid theme that was easy for readers to connect with and inspired excellent character struggle and growth.

Oathbringer is the most wonderfully complex story – so many plots and subplots!! I LOVED EVERY PAGE OF IT. The setting changed on several occasions, from Urithiru to Kholinar to previously unvisited areas of Roshar which was a refreshing change from the Shattered Plains and the war camps that featured so prominently in the previous book. The impact of the Everstorm on the people of Roshar was well explored – the devil’s in the details, you know? Some countries were devastated, while others had a chance to prepare, even if it was short notice. The subject of the sudden loss of the main labor force was also well discussed considering all the other stuff that needed to be in this book. Did I mention the shocking and potentially life changing revelations that happened in this book??? That’s not even touching on the plot twists that happened. Sanderson knows how to write an engaging cinderblock sized book, that’s for sure. If he released the entire Stormlight Archive series at once, I would buy it and gladly spend 500 hours listening to the audiobook because his stories just never get old or tiresome.

I don’t think I could have asked for anything more from this book! I am beyond thrilled at how amazing it was and that fact that I never once got bored during the entire 55+ hours of audiobook. Once again, Michael Kramer and Kate Reading had an outstanding performance with plenty of emotion and excellent differentiation between the characters. I loved how the good vs. evil theme has become even more prominent but the lines between just and unjust have blurred – who’s actions are justified? Do the Radiants have a right to do what they’re doing and do the Parshmen have a right to enslave humans in recompense for their past treatment? There are deep themes here and anyone that says fantasy is shallow or all the same has clearly never read fantasy. I have no serious issues at all with this book and would only like to say that I found Shallan somewhat irritating on occasion due to her many faces and personalities. I wholeheartedly recommend this series and am eagerly awaiting the next installment!