Book Review: Bloody Rose

Bloody Rose
By Nicholas Eames

My Edition:
Paperback, 512 pages
2018, Orbit
ISBN: 9780316362535

Tam works at a local pub, but dreams of living a life of adventure like the mercenaries she serves. Even her uncle is part of a band. But her father, an ex-merc, refuses to let Tam go – he’s already lost her mother and strict as he seems, he won’t lose his daughter too. That all changes when Bloody Rose, infamous daughter of Golden Gabe, and her crew come to Tam’s pub looking for a bard. Tam gets her wish for adventure, but realizes it may come at the cost of her life.

It took me forever to get started on this review because I’ve been in a bit of a funk and once again Eames has wowed me and I want to do this book some justice, instead of my typical scream-in-your-face-that-you-should-read-this-book-immediately thing.

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Book Review: Trail of Lightning

Originally posted on Geek Girl Authority

Trail of Lightning
By Rebecca Roanhorse

My Edition:
Hardcover, 287 pages
2018, Saga Press
ISBN: 9781534413498

Thank you to Saga and Wunderkind for providing me with a free copy in exchange for my honest review.

Mix a watery apocalypse with monsters and supernaturally gifted humans and add a dash of Native American folklore and a smattering of gods returned to Earth and you’ve got Trail of Lightning.

This book has everything you want from a post-apocalyptic novel: a climate crisis that wiped out most of the world’s population, a mish-mash of leftover tech and survivalist tactics, hideous monsters ravaging the remaining humans, humans developing superpowers to battle those monsters and bastard gods who have returned to Earth to mess with the survivors all blended together by an own-voices author.

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Book Review: Kings of the Wyld

Kings of the Wyld
By Nicholas Eames

My Edition:
Paperback, 494 pages
2016, Orbit
ISBN: 9780356509020

Clay Cooper is a retired mercenary who’d like to spend the rest of his days running a cozy little inn with his wife and daughter. When “Golden” Gabe, frontrunner of Clay’s old band, shows up on his doorstep, bedraggled and pleading for help, Clay is torn. Gabe wants to rescue his daughter who is trapped in a castle under siege by a hoard of thousands of monsters. To do so, he needs to reunite the band and cross the The Heartwyld – a massive forest full of creatures of unimaginable horror. It’s a suicidal mission, but if there’s any band to tackle it, it’s the Kings of the Wyld.

This book had me chuckling by page two. Literally. After that, I pretty much never stopped.

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Book Review: Prince of Thorns

Prince of Thorns
By Mark Lawrence

My Edition:
Paperback, 319 pages
2012, Ace
ISBN: 9781937007683

After watching his mother and brother murdered, young Jorg leaves his father’s castle and finds himself among a band of bloodthirsty bandits. By age thirteen he’s their leader and hell-bent on seeking revenge and claiming his role as heir to the throne of Ancrath. But to do that, he must once again face his father and survive the trickery of the court mage.

Yo, this book was really good. Real talk, I bought it last July and left it on my shelves to collect dust (“Like you do to all of us!” my books moan at me) until Mark Lawrence commented on the IG picture I posted when I hauled it. I immediately felt guilty and added it to my April TBR and I’m so glad I did.

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Book Review: The Tangled Lands

The Tangled Lands
By Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell

My Edition:
Hardcover, 295 pages
2018, Saga Press
ISBN: 9781481497299

Thank you to Geek Girl Authority and the publisher for sending me this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

The use of magic is forbidden to the residents of Khaim, except for the Magister, because magic causes the growth of the deadly vines that threaten to swallow the city and all its inhabitants. A touch from the hungry vines, referred to as the bramble, will sink anyone into a deep sleep and eventually death, the toxins persevering their bodies until mother nature’s creatures come for them.

I won’t say any more about the plot than that – but I will say that this book is comprised of four sections, each following a different character and their families, as they struggle to survive in the city of Khaim.

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Book Review: The Bone Witch

pic from NetGalley

The Bone Witch
By Rin Chupeco

My Edition:
ARC ebook, 432 pages
2017, Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN: 9781492635826 (hardcover)

Tea discovers she has the power to raise the dead when her older brother crawls out of his grave during his funeral. While many people of her land have magic, including some of her sisters, few have Tea’s abilities as a bone witch (or dark asha) and the people of her town are both awed and scornful. Tea leaves home with her reanimated brother in tow to join an academy for asha and starts on the rough road to mastering her powers.

Let it be known that despite the fact that young adult books disappoint me more often than they impress me, I continue to give them a chance (and will continue to do so, because I’m a sucker for punishment). Unfortunately, this book fell into the former category and I stopped reading at about 75%. I wanted to post my thoughts on why I stopped reading because I did actually request the book.

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Book Review: The Unicorn Series

The Unicorn Series
By Tanith Lee

My Editions:
Black Unicorn – 192 pages, 1993, Tor Books
Gold Unicorn – 244 pages, 1996, Tor Books
Red Unicorn – 192 pages, 1998, Tor Books

Tanaquil has grown up in her mother’s desert fortress, where, due to her mother’s powerful magic, household items are always disappearing or changing, and Tanaquil has grown restless and feels ignored. But when a peeve, who has picked up some language thanks to stray magic, brings Tanaquil a strange, shimmering bone, Tanaquil’s life is turned upside down. Thanks to her incredible mending skills and the hoard of bones the peeve finds, Tanaquil builds a unicorn that her mother’s magic brings to life. Through the unicorn, Tanaquil finally finds the willpower to leave her mother’s fortress and explore the world, the peeve at her side. Throughout her travels, she encounters several mystical unicorns and grows into her own skin as she experiences and affects the world around her.

It can be hard to review a series without spoiling plot details, but I’ll do my best. As you may know, I started this re-read of the series with Jacob because he’d never read Tanith before. I was happy to revisit a series that I know I love and it turns out there were many little details in this books which I’d forgotten.

Black Unicorn is our introduction to Tanaquil, the peeve and the world they live in. Tanaquil feels neglected by her mother, who is a powerful sorceress and disappointed that her daughter doesn’t share her knack for magic. Tanaquil does have the ability to mend things and when she uses her skill to create a unicorn, she is able to escape the isolation and loneliness of her mother’s fortress. The unicorn that she, the peeve and her mother’s magic created shows up periodically to both help and hinder Tanaquil as she makes her way to a city by the sea.

The peeve is utterly adorable and annoying in all the right ways. If you don’t want to own a peeve after reading this series, I’m not sure you’re human. Tanaquil is refreshingly bold, outspoken, but also unsure of herself and it was great to watch her come into herself throughout not only this book, but the series.

As always, Tanith paints a wonderfully detailed world with seemingly broad strokes. I would classify this series on the border of middle-grade and YA, and the books are very short, but Tanith accomplishes a lot of depth.

While we don’t see a whole lot of the unicorn in this book, we do get a glimpse of the world it comes from. Tanaquil’s mother has spoken of other worlds, both perfect and terrible, that those with magic hope to be able to explore. Tanaquil gets a glimpse of the perfect world the black unicorn lives in and understands that humans have no place in it. Yet rather than become depressed when she returns to her own world, Tanaquil learns to appreciate the beauty around her and that speaks volumes about her character.

In Gold Unicorn, we get more information about the unicorn and I think it strengthens the story. This is actually my favorite book in the series (though the other two are close behind) because we get more depth from the characters and the world-building. In Black Unicorn, the unicorn is a catalyst for Tanaquil’s adventures, but in Gold Unicorn, we have a beast that is affected by the humans who created it. In turn, the unicorn leads them to a dark world that reflects the purpose for which the humans intended their creation and opens all their eyes.

I don’t want to talk too much about the plot (the back of the book gives enough away and I wouldn’t recommend reading it – just dive right in!) but Tanaquil’s adventures strengthen her as a character and as usual, I enjoy her dry sense of humor. We also get a better look at Tanaquil’s mending abilities and how she uses them and allows them to be used by others. The dark world that the crew enters because of the unicorn is a change-up that also adds depths to the characters because of how they react in the new environment.

In Red Unicorn, Tanaquil makes her way back home to her mother after a couple years away. She is more self-assured, yet is unsure how to approach her mother, especially now that her mother has found love. It seems to Tanaquil that everyone she knows has paired off now, even the peeve, and she feels more alone than before she left home.

She spends the majority of this book in yet another world, one that appears to be a sort of twisted version of her own world, where there are copies of people she knows, but with opposite personalities. There’s even a copy of herself, who constantly breaks things, and another peeve (called a veepe) as well. Here, Tanaquil discovers more of her own magic and learns a lot about herself and those she knows thanks to their doubles. Her time in this world finally makes her realize she feels lonely because she let the man she loves leave her life, so she decides she must go after him.

There’s another unicorn (red, obviously), but it’s back to being a background character, leaving the focus on Tanaquil and her actions and personal discoveries.

It was a wonderful ending to the series and contains my favorite lines:

“Say yes properly, or I’ll push you into the fire.”
“Yes properly.”

If you enjoy YA/middle-grade fantasy with smart and smarmy female charactersand a focus on self-discovery, I highly recommend you give this series a shot!

Book Review: Cold-Forged Flame

Cold-Forged Flame
By Marie Brennan

My Edition:
(Signed!) Paperback, 100 pages
2016, Tor
ISBN: 9780765391391

“The sound of the horn pierces the apeiron, shattering the stillness of that realm. It is a summons, a command. There is will. There is need. And so, in reply, there is a woman.”

I’m sticking with part of the blurb on the back of this book because anything I try to summarize either won’t do the story justice or will give too much away.

I was lucky enough to win a signed copy from Marie Brennan’s blog giveaway and I was thrilled. I love her Lady Trent series but have yet to branch into any of her other work. While the Trent memoirs are fantasy, I feel they’re more of the historical fiction genre (even if Brennan is making up her own history), whereas Cold-Forged Flame gave me a taste of Brennan’s true fantasy writing.

Cheesy as it is, I’m so hungry for more! Seriously, this little book fuckin’ rocks. We’re introduced to a character who is mysterious, deadly and badass, with a razor-sharp tongue and just enough heart to make her feel real. She doesn’t know her own origins, only that she’s bound to a task set to her by those who summoned her. Throughout the novella, readers learn little tidbits about her and the world she inhabits at the same moment she learns them. I really don’t want to say more because the fun is in not knowing what’s going to happen next and the less you know going in, the more impactful the big reveal at the end will be. :]

Brennan wrote an article for Tor regarding this character and how she is based on a character that Brennan used to roleplay as and how she adapted those elements for her novella.

I was only about thirty pages in when I turned to my husband and told him that I already felt the book was too short and that I knew I was going to be desperate for more when it ended. That’s my only complaint – it’s too short. I know it’s a novella, but it flew by and I need to know more about this character and her world right now!  The next book, Lightning in the Blood is coming out next April, but that’s not soon enough for me. I’m sad I have to wait, but (clearly) very excited for more.

You can visit Marie’s website, Swan Tower, and connect with her on Twitter. You can also read an interview about CFF that she did on My Life My Books My Escape.

And of course, a few extra pictures. The book is even more special now that it’s signed:

Then…when I was bored…I decided to mess around with a couple Snapchat filters:

Book Review: Pennyroyal Academy

Pennyroyal Academy
By M.A. Larson

My Edition:
Paperback, 314 pages
2014, Scholastic
ISBN: 9780545888486

Young ladies and gentlemen all across the land are enlisting in Pennyroyal Academy to help fight the witches that are taking over the land and for the first time ever, those of non-royal blood are allowed to join the ranks of hopefuls waiting to become Knights and Princesses. They must all train under the strict regimen of the academy if they wish to graduate to the next class and help fight. A mysterious girl with no name enrolls and as she learns what it means to become a true Princess, she discovers more about herself and her past.

While I enjoyed the premise of this book and many of the ideas Larson had throughout, overall I have a lot of issues. I realize this is middle grade and as such, plots or themes tend to be more simplified – however, I also read a lot of middle-grade fiction and rather than simplified, this book feels underdeveloped.

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Book Review: The Oversight (and The Paradox…sort of)

The Oversight
By Charlie Fletcher

Not My Edition:
Paperback, 434 pages
2014, Orbit Books
ISBN: 9780316279512

The border between the natural and supranatural is thin and growing thinner. The Oversight must keep the peace between the magical and non-magical beings of this world, but with their membership dwindling and the forces of darkness growing bolder, they’re finding it harder than ever to do their jobs. Will a mysterious girl dropped at their doorstep be their savior or their undoing?

This book is a wonderful mix of Victorian and paranormal fantasy. I was lured in by the premise (okay, and the cover too!) and hooked by the characters and setting.

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