Entertaining, and full of snark, Shadow of a Dead God perfectly combines fantasy and mystery to create a book that’s nearly impossible to put down. It has all the ingredients for a great fantasy: a self-deprecating main character, a well-developed magic system, and a “small” job that rapidly gets out of control.
The book follows Nik, a less-than-brilliant mage who gets roped into helping his only friend, Benny.It’s always best not to owe anyone anything: Benny takes major advantage of an “I owe you” and drags Nik into a tangled mess. What starts as a theft goes badly wrong, of course, and things snowball from there, turning into a murder-mystery and becoming far less straightforward than I expected things to be.
The world was fully realized. The dreaded info dump was missing, with things being explained organically as the story continues. The magic system was pretty stinking amazing. I can’t…
Confession: I didn’t love the Grisha trilogy, written prior to Six of Crows. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t connect with me. So, I picked up Six of Crows in spite of, not because of, the original series.
I am so glad that I did! While Six of Crows does take place in the same world as the Grisha series, it’s also separate, and has a completely different feel. It’s dark and gritty, which I love.
Think Oceans 11 gone fantasy, and you’ve got the jumping off point for this book. Kaz “Dirtyhands” Brekker (one of the most interesting fantasy characters I’ve read in a long time) is a thief looking to get together a crew in order to pull off a heist that will net him a huge sum. He’s supposed to break into the Ice Court in order to recover a scientist who has managed to create…
Thank you to Orbit books and Netgalley for providing me with The Unbroken in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available for purchase now.
This is going to be a tough one for me to talk about. While I really appreciated certain aspects of The Unbroken, I ultimately didn’t love it as much as I was hoping. The hype for this book was high, which probably unfairly raised my expectations.
Touraine is a soldier in the army of Balladaire (The “Sands” army). She didn’t sign up for the job; rather, she was forced in as a child. These child armies are raised with the teachings that their fight is a noble one and all violence will ultimately be justified. It’s really hard to think about because there are really situations of this happening in the real world. This added an extra weight to the situation that both intrigued and saddened me.
Luca is a princess of Balladaire. She ends up going to try to stop a rebellion and prove to her uncle, the regent, that she is worthy of ruling Balladaire. Like many power grubbers, her uncle is reluctant to relinquish any control. Touraine and Luca become intertwined when an assassination attempt on Luca’s life is stopped by Touraine, leaving Luca in her debt, so to speak. There’s more to the “how it got there”, but Touraine ends up being Luca’s spy/representative.
The Unbroken is a political fantasy, a slower-burn that shows the ramifications of decisions on every side. This sort of book requires commitment from the reader, simply because there is so much to pay attention to. The setup was a fascinating one, exploring themes of colonialism and how it affects everyone involved. It is not the sort of story I’ve really ever seen in fantasy before.
I struggled to pay attention during the first bit of The Unbroken, to be honest. I disliked both the main characters, which made it tough. I mean, I really disliked them. I think that was intended by the author. If so, consider the mission accomplished. I don’t mind disliking characters at all. I don’t need to “connect” to a character to enjoy reading them. My problem was that the characters often made decisions that seemed very much the opposite of what they would do based on what the author has told the reader about them. It made it very difficult to understand who these characters are on a fundamental level.
The pacing seemed a little off from time to time. However, while I had a hard time becoming invested at the beginning of the book, the second part picked up and became much more interesting. The Unbroken made me think. It kept me guessing. It showed me the ugliness that often shows up if a person so much as scrapes the surface of a situation. This wasn’t what I would call a “comfortable” book, but I definitely think it is absorbing.
I’ve been seeing requests for book recommendations with a Harry Potter-ish feel to them lately. I’ve been thinking about it and have a few suggestions. Let me know if you’ve read them, if they look interesting, or which books I may have missed!
Older Elementary/Middle-grade books:
The Magisterium Chronicles by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.
Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.
All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.
So he tries his best to do his worst — and fails at failing.
Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his…
Thank you to the Write Reads for allowing me to take part in the book tour for Kate in Waiting. This book is available now.
What the book is about:
From bestselling YA rom-com queen Becky Albertalli (author of Love, Simon) comes a new novel about daring to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight in love, life and theatre. [PRINCIPAL CAST LIST] Kate Garfield Anderson Walker
Best friends, and contrary to popular belief, not co-dependent. Examples:
Carpooling to and from theatre rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.
But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script.
Enter Stage Left: Matt Olsson
He is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.
Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship…
About the author:
Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at www.beckyalbertalli.com.
Thank you to Orbit for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. The Jasmine Throne will be available for purchase on June eighth.
Savagely beautiful, The Jasmine Throne kept me riveted from the first page all the way through until the last heart-stopping moment. Fierce characters, bold storylines, and incredible prose all combined into a book unlike anything I’ve read.
From the violent and misguided fanaticism of Chandra to the quiet desperation of Rukh, each character showed a different side to the multi-faceted gem of this world. And what world building! Ahiranya was complex and beautiful-but also broken, with other cultures and peoples crushed and forgotten. The complicated political factions between those with differing views of what Ahiranya should be was engrossing, to say the least. This struggle of will became a powder keg waiting to explode, the question being who will be left standing when the dust settles.
While the world was amazing, the characters were even more so. Chandra, Emperor of Parijatdvipa, has widened the divide between the peoples of Ahiranya. He is the match that starts the blaze. His cruelty leads him to punish his sister Malini by imprisoning her in the Hirana, a holy temple where children with unexplained powers were once burned alive.
Malini is cunning and manipulative. Her form of rebellion is the sort that draws people to a cause and convinces them to take the final step from thought to deed. She can form armies, stage coups, and maybe even kill emperors- if she can escape the Hirana. What I loved most about Malini was her ability to use people and feel zero guilt over it. At times, it was difficult to tell if she was a hero, or simply a different sort of villain.
Priya was my favorite. All sharp edges, she was once a child of the Hirana. She escaped the fire that killed her brothers and sisters, but not unchanged. Her early experiences molded her into someone tough yet vulnerable. She carries a strength and fierceness in her that will carry her through rebellions and give her the strength to blaze her own way. She is also a rebel, in her own way, although her end goal is far different. I expected her to be cold or unfeeling simply because of her past, but she showed a strong sense of loyalty and compassion. It came out particularly well when she interacted with Rukh, a boy that she rescues.
Bhumika is a rebel of a different sort. She uses her status as wife of the regent of Ahiranya to fight in secret. She hides in plain view, subtly doing what she can to protect those in need of it. She is a bit of a contradiction, and I loved seeing more of her personality come out during the course of the book. She is not someone I would want to mess with, I’ll say that.
Other players dance in and out of the narrative, showing up at pivotal moments that set the story moving in directions I would never have expected. No character is superfluous; instead, each adds to the book in important ways.
I have to touch on the mythology and religions in The Jasmine Throne. I won’t explain it because there is no way I could do it justice, but wow. This was a book that was impossible to put down, even though I dreaded reaching the end. I am desperate to read book two of The Burning Kingdoms.
Read The Jasmine Throne. I guarantee you’ll love it.
Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. The Dark Lord Clementine is available for purchase now.
A sweet story balanced out by a good-natured touch of the macabre, The Dark Lord Clementine is delightful! It has a wonderful tongue-in-cheek humor, and is peopled with characters both memorable and likable.
Clementine notices one day that her father, The Dark Lord Elithor, is missing his nose. In fact, it seems like bits of him are just chipping away. As he tries to find a way to reverse this little difficulty, Clementine finds herself taking on more and more. She isn’t so good at being bad, she’s worried about her father, and she’s lonely (although she might not admit that last bit). She’s also quite possibly the only one who can keep her father from whittling away to nothing. That’s a lot to put on any twelve year old’s shoulders, even those of a Dark Lord in training.
Clementine is fantastic. She’s spunky and has a stick-to-it-ness that I loved. Oh-she also has hair that is the equivalent of a mood ring. I loved watching her grow and discover more of who she is, as opposed as to who she (or anyone else) thinks she should be. Self-acceptance is something I enjoy in books, because being okay with who we are can take just as much bravery as finding and defeating a witch.
Of course, The Dark Lord Clementine features several other great characters, as well as some seriously awesome fantastical surprises. I personally was a huge fan of the black sheep. Every family has one, and I’m glad this book has one too.
The book was punny, fun, and heart warming. The Dark Lord Clementine is dastardly enjoyable and I highly recommend it.
About the author:
Sarah Jean Horwitz grew up next door to a cemetery and down the street from an abandoned fairy-tale theme park, which probably explains a lot. She currently lives near Boston, MA. Find her on Twitter, @sunshineJHwitz, or at sarahjeanhorwitz.com.
Gods, Dharkan and mortals fight amongst themselves in their shadow.
And Time is on no one’s side.
The gods are outmatched.
Their talents are useless against the Nephlim’s technology.
Desperate, they turn on each other. New alliances form and fall apart, for there can be no peace when survival is at stake. Psyche, thorn between a goddess’ duty and a mortal’s hate, sets off on her own to learn the truth behind her fate, unaware of the danger following her. Meanwhile Chronos’ own agenda involves a power so dangerous and unpredictable it’s been long forsaken by the both the gods and the Nephilim. Will it be worth the risk?
About the Author:
Susana Imaginário is a misfit from Portugal. She moved to England to pursue a career as an aerialist and now runs a Board Gaming retreat in Ireland with her husband and their extremely spoiled dog.
Her hobbies include reading, playing board games, hanging upside down, poking around ancient ruins, talking to trees and being tired.
Her debut novel, Wyrd Gods, combines mythological fantasy with science fiction and satire in a strange way.
I’ve never been a big fan of books that take place in or around water. Books such as TreasureIsland, or even The Voyage of the Dawn Treader have never appealed to me. It’s just not my thing. So when I read a book with a watery setting that I actually really enjoy, it sticks with me. Here are a few boatish books that I’ve really liked.
The Bone Ships by RJ Barker (The Tide Child Book One)
I think my concern with books involving ships is that they will feel small. The opposite is the case with this series. The setting allows for a greater view and understanding of author RJ Barker’s world, which is magnificently developed. Plus, the characters are awesome.
It’s been a while since I’ve read The Girl From Everywhere, but I remember being impressed by the writing. At what point do you let go of a past sorrow to embrace a present happiness? The choices that Nix has to make encompass themes of family, loss, grief, and acceptance. Oh, and the settings are both familiar and mysterious. It’s quite the balancing act between adventure and the heavier storyline, but author Heidi Heilig managed it beautifully.
The One Kingdom (The Swans’ War Book One) by Sean Russell
A decent chunk of this epic fantasy involves travel on a mysterious river (yep, it’s a river that’s mysterious. It’s a thing, I promise). The things found both in and along the river tugged on my imagination, painting a vivid picture of a unique and creative world. The mythology behind the enchanter Wyrr is flat-out amazing. TheSwans’ War is one of my favorite fantasy trilogies, despite (or maybe because of) the water-travel.
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
At this point, I’m pretty sure Stuart Turton could write a novel about cardboard boxes and I would love it. His writing is outstanding and the mystery of The Devil and the Dark Water kept me riveted from beginning to end.
The Bone Shard Daughter(The Drowning Empire Book One) by Andrea Stewart
I would have to admit that I am sort of cheating on this one, except that this is my post and my rules. So there. Jovis’ storyline, in particular, has a lot to do with ships and such whatnot and he was my favorite character, so it counts. Right? Either way, I’m looking forward to the next part in this interesting series.