Review: Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn

Flowers for the SeaFlowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

For me, this reading experience was very similar to my time spent with The Deep by Rivers Solomon.

My first reaction upon completion with both novellas was, what in the heck did I just read?

Followed shortly thereafter by thoughts such as, that was gorgeous writing, this is beautiful and important, and finally, I wish I had a better understanding of it.

Flowers for the Sea is Dark Fantasy novella centering around Iraxi, a headstrong, powerful woman trapped on a claustrophobic-feeling ark sailing the high seas.

For a good portion of the story she is struggling through the last moments of, what seems to be, an unwanted pregnancy.

Iraxi’s emotions take center stage as she works through anger, pain, revenge and motherhood. It’s a lot.

A story set at sea, with a sea creature aspect, this is an intriguing premise and the writing shows so much promise. I would love to read more from Zin E. Rocklyn; hopefully at some point in a longer format, so I can really settle into their style and ideas.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dreamscape Media, for providing me with an Audio-ARC to listen to and review. I am really happy I had the opportunity to check this one out. It was memorable!

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Review: Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2) by Joe Abercrombie

Before They Are Hanged (The First Law, #2)Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so hooked on this series. The characters, the intrigue, the brutality, the world-building; it’s all exemplary.

Off the charts. Sensational!

Before They Are Hanged is the second book in Joe Abercrombie’s series, The First Law. If you are unaware, the first three books in the series are a connected trilogy, while books four, five and six, are all standalone novels that take place in the same world.

I have been intimidated for years by this series; by Abercrombie actually. Even though I had heard nothing but great things about his writing.

I’m not quite sure what all that was about, but now that I have completed the first three books, I would count this as one of my favorite series ever. Yeah, it’s that good.

In this second book, I was super pumped about the fact that we were going on a quest. Bayez, the First of the Magi, gathers a group of traveling companions and they head out across the world in search of a mysterious ancient object.

Quests are one of my favorite tropes. I love to go along for the danger and adventure of the road. This group, oh my goodness, they were ill-suited to one another at first, but as with many traveling groups before them, they eventually began to grow on one another.

The quest is just one of the many storylines going on in this installment, however, so there is plenty here for everyone. Even if you are a monster and a quest isn’t your most favorite thing.

Throughout I was continually impressed with the world creation. I was learning so much regarding the structure and functioning of this world, all while maintaining my high level of interest. It was in no way info-dumpy, or dull.

The characters, as well, particularly our mains, are totally fleshed out. I have never loved such a brutal group of utter bastards more. I am seriously so attached to them; it’s a wee bit concerning actually.

The stakes were raised so high over the course of this narrative. I knew by the time I turned the final page, I needed to get my hands on the third book as quickly as possible.

10 out of 10, recommend to all Epic Fantasy fans, Grimdark Fantasy fans and Heroic Fantasy fans. In short, Fantasy fans unite!!

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Review: The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The First Law series has been on my radar for a long time. It’s one of those Fantasy series that seems to stand out as a favorite amongst Readers.

After completing this, I can absolutely see why.

With a lush, Grimdark Fantasy setting, extremely well-constructed characters, magic and a ton of intrigue, I was fully immersed within this story when I was reading it.

Even when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. I had no clue where the story was going, but was perfectly content to sit back and let Abercrombie’s genius wash over me.

In this first book, the main cast of characters is introduced and we watch as the spheres of their worlds begin to merge.

Logen, Bayaz, Glokta and Jezal were all incredibly compelling. Each one of their stories was one that I wanted to know more about. Often, I feel like character work can be uneven; like there are characters you are more drawn to than others. In this case, I loved each and every one of them!

There is a lot of ground work being laid in this novel, but in spite of that, it never felt like a slog. It always felt exciting and important.

I really enjoyed the level of magic that Abercrombie included. It wasn’t overdone, or relied upon too heavily as a plot device, but I feel like we are just scratching the surface of the powers available in this world.

I love how this ended up, with the intrigue higher than ever and it appears we are heading out on a quest. One of my favorite tropes in Fantasy.

I cannot wait to get to the next book!!!

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Review: For the Wolf (Wilderwood #1) by Hannah F. Whitten

For the Wolf (Wilderwood, #1)For the Wolf by Hannah F. Whitten
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

As the second daughter to the Queen, Red’s fate is set. While her sister will inherit the throne, Red will be sacrificed to the Wilderwood and the monsterous Wolf that resides there.

In her kingdom it is believed that the Wolf of the Wood has the ability to release the world’s captured Gods, and that with Red’s sacrifice, he just may choose to do that. Thus, Red could essentially be the savior of the world.

It’s never worked before, but now could be the time.

Red doesn’t know about all that, but she is hiding a mysterious gift that she learned once, the hard way, is dangerous. Because of this, she is ready and willing to go, if only to protect her friends and family from herself and the magic that lies within her.

Upon entering the Wilderwood, Red quickly discovers it isn’t at all what she expected. Sure, it’s dangerous, but she was planning on instant death. Not so much.

Also, the Wolf, he’s not a beast, he’s a man who lives in a castle, has an incredible library, two humorous roommates, a magical mirror and he needs some help.

Is this starting to sound like anyone you know?

For some reason going into this, I expected a Little Red Riding Hood retelling, but it’s straight-up, Beauty and the Beast. My favorite fairy tale of all time. I smiled every time I discovered another connection.

This is wildly creative. I loved the entire atmosphere of the Wilderwood and the Wolf’s castle. It’s dark, dank, murky and dangerous. The root magic, or earth magic, that Red and the Wolf had is quite captivating. I really enjoyed that aspect.

Red and the Wolf’s slow burn romance was also enjoyable, although when I say slow, I mean SLOW.

For me, it dragged on too long. I almost feel like this could have been broken into two books. While I liked all of the content, it failed to keep me entirely engaged. I was constantly checking to see how many pages I had left.

However, it’s good. It is a well thought out story with some great world creation, so please do not let my one small grievance affect whether or not you pick this book up.

In fact, please pick this book up. I want to hear your thoughts! If you enjoy Fantasy with interesting magic systems, you could end up loving this. Particularly if you are a fan of slow-burn romance.

I am absolutely planning to continue on with this story. There’s some complicated political maneuverings occuring, as well as intense family drama, so I can’t wait to see how that plays out.

Looking forward to it!

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Review: The Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst

The Bone MakerThe Bone Maker by Sarah Beth Durst
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Twenty-five years ago, the five heroes of Vos, waged an epic battle against the evil magician, Eklor. Although they were victorious, only four survived.

This fight, now the stuff of legends, was memorialized in songs and stories, but the ones who fought it went their separate ways when it was over.

Kreya, the group’s leader, lost her husband, Jennt, tragically in the battle. Saving his body, she has moved the two of them into a tower in the mountains, far from other people.

Kreya is a bone worker and continuously resurrects Jennt for short periods of time. She is busy formulating a spell she believes will bring him back for good, but it requires copious amounts of human bones to work. A resource she doesn’t currently have.

She knows where to find all she will need, however; the old battlefield. It’s illegal though and will be dangerous as heck. She’s going to need help.

Thus, she goes to her old friend and fellow fighter, Zera. Even though Kreya ghosted her for 25-years, Zera is a good sport and agrees to go on the mission.

Reunited, the two women, embark on a cross-country quest to steal some bones; all for a good cause.

Once on the battlefield, however, they discover their battle may not actually be over.

Kreya and Zera stumble upon evidence that indicates Eklor’s reign of terror may be resurrecting itself.

Eklor had created an inhuman army from animal bones. It was believed all had been destroyed, but they find a few of his horrifying constructs still functioning and still murderous. They rush back to the city, assemble the old crew, and prepare for round two!

The Bone Maker is a story of second chances. It is creative, pulse-pounding, nail-biting, full of danger and twists and turns. I had a lot of fun with this story.

The characters were fantastic. I loved the five heroes. Their relationship dynamic was heart-warming. They supported one another and played off of one another’s strengths and weaknesses beautifully.

Even though they had moved on, and some would consider them past their prime, they were still willing to put it all on the line for one another and to fight for what was right.

Eklor was a marvelously constructed villain. His motivations, powers, abilities to deceive; it was all so well done. I also enjoyed how Durst framed Kreya’s relationship with Eklor. They were similar in a lot of ways. It sort of reminded me a bit of the dynamic between Harry and Voldemort.

Additionally, I was impressed by the magic system. The bone magic was fascinating. The different types of bone workers and what powers they could wield.

Certain aspects had a sort of steampunk feel that I rather enjoyed. So, yeah, overall, really good standalone Adult Fantasy. I would absolutely recommend it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Harper Voyager, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I really appreciate it and will definitely be picking up more from Sarah Beth Durst!

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Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRueThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

With the tagline: A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget. I should have known this was going to happen.

The infamous book hangover.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is an experience. I don’t feel like I have ever been this beaten up by a book.

It was literally like Schwab was taking an ice pick to my heart and slowly chipping pieces away the entire way through.

There were times I had to set it down and step away.

I couldn’t be held accountable for my actions in those moments. It’s all a blur.

Addie LaRue is a character who has an extraordinary story to tell, yet no way to tell it.

In 1714, she entered into a Faustian bargain granting her eternal life. The downfall, she will be forgotten by every person she ever meets, unable to do even the simplest of things, like telling someone her name.

She flounders for years, trying to determine how best to live.

It is a struggle. Her only connection, the dark being who granted her wish, Luc.

These scenes of Addie grappling with how to survive, were hard to read. In fact, they were some of the most melancholy scenes I have ever read.

It was gripping and beautiful and painful, all at the same time. The writing was able to elicit such empathy for her position. I found it to be extremely powerful.

Addie eventually develops a semi-comfortable pattern for living, until one day, in 2014 New York City, a boy in a bookstore changes everything.

He remembers.

Intricately weaving together both past and present timelines, Schwab sweeps you away in a love story centuries in the making.

There’s love, sacrifice and tasty bites of food for thought the entire way through.

I loved the exploration of the power of the arts to transcend space and time. There’s an underlining theme of art, in many different forms, creating a sort of timeless influence.

It felt like a love story to artistic expression and I was so into that whole vibe.

Overall, I think this is a very special story. One that will have a great and lasting impact on a lot of people.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I will never forget Addie, or her story.

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Review: The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates #1) by A.K. Larkwood

The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates, #1)The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It.
Is.
Done.

Phew. I feel so accomplished having completed this.

Csorwe is a teenage girl who has been raised to be the sacrificial wife of the Unspoken One, an ancient god living within the earth.

Locked into a tomb on what is to be the day of her death, a mage appears and offers to rescue her and provide her with a new life.

She decides to accept his offer and flees with him. Over time she lives with him and trains to be his assassin.

She feels she owes him everything. She owes him her life and thus, is extremely loyal to him and his goals.

The mage, Belthandros Sethennai, is a very powerful man who is also on a mission. His aim is to regain control of the lands from which he was exiled.

In order to do so, he wants Csorwe, along with another young person in his employ, Tal, to seek and return to him the Reliquary of Pentravasse.

This Reliquary is said to hold immeasurable knowledge and the one able to capture that will increase their power to new heights.

…or something like that…

Okay, so, I will admit this was a little hard for me to grasp. I never felt like I truly understood the world. For example, Csorwe, is an Orc, which I never really knew until I read someone else’s blurb about the book.

I knew there was something going on with her, as she is described as having tusks, but I thought maybe she was some sort of elephant human hybrid or something.

But even knowing she was an Orc, didn’t really piece the rest of it together for me. Were they all orcs? Were there humans? Were there all sorts of magical beings living together in harmony like in Middle Earth?

I genuinely don’t know. If you know, comment down below.

I am also of the opinion that this was entirely too long. There were two distinct portions of the book, or quests if you will.

There is a quest for an object. Once that point is resolved, you think, it could be over. This is it.

But no, it is not. Characters are separated, there’s still a baddie out and about, it would have been a great place to leave off prior to a second book.

Then there is a completely new quest to find a particular person.

Again, I feel like that could have made a great second book. If it had been broken up that way, I think the world could have been built out more and perhaps the author would have more time to really focus on that instead of trying to cram it all into one.

Overall, this was a mixed bag for me. I felt the pacing was off.

There were moments when I was really into it and then a few pages later, I would be bored, and back and forth it went until the end.

It did have moments of greatness and I don’t want anyone to think my minor critiques make this a bad book. It’s a good book, I just feel the story could have been better served if formatted differently.

It also isn’t an easy read. I did end up mentally exhausted after reading it for a half hour or so. I could have made it through more quickly if it didn’t take me 8.5-minutes to pronounce each name.

My favorite part of this was the relationship between Csorwe, and a religious adept, Shuthmili. Their friendship-to-more was beautiful. I waited a long time to get to it, but it was worth it.

In short, although this wasn’t perfect for me, it did have some strengths. If you can make it through the weaknesses, it is a pleasant, though entirely too long, read.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

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Review: The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Huston and Jonathan Snipes

The DeepThe Deep by Rivers Solomon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

What the heck did I just read?
This novella is so unique. The feeling.
Gah! I can’t even describe it.

When I first finished this book, I was blown away but also didn’t really understand what I had read. Overtime, the initial feeling of overwhelming joy has petered out.

In fact, I remember very little about this. Considering the fact that I completed it just 4-days ago, seems a bit of an issue to me.

While I respect the beautiful nature of this story, the question remains, what was this? Whilst reading, I was overwhelmed with feelings that I was being told some wise and ancient lore, unfortunately I think the true meaning of it sailed well over my head.

I do appreciate the creation of this story and I would even read it again someday, it’s just a hard one to grasp. Absolutely moving though, even if you don’t fully understand why it is slowly ripping your heart out of your chest.

In short, I would need to read this again before I can provide more thoughts. Something I would most definitely be willing to do. Thank you so much to the publisher, Saga Press, for sending me a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate the opportunity!

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Review: Priest of Lies (War for the Rose Throne #2) by Peter McLean

Priest of Lies (War for the Rose Throne, #2)Priest of Lies by Peter McLean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

This second installment to the War for the Rose Throne series picks up just months after the events of the first book, Priest of Bones.

We have our main man, Tomas Piety, leader of the Pious men, back in The Stink ruling the streets with an iron fist and some harsh justice.

I was so excited to get to this book, one of my most anticipated sequels of 2019, and it DID NOT DISAPPOINT! This grimdark adult fantasy series is so gritty and dirty, you can smell it, you can feel it. It’s immersive.

Less barroom brawls and more political strategy, I love the direction this series is heading in. As Tomas gains more power than ever before, he sees his position in society change to one he could have never imagined.

Once a champion of the people, does that stand true any more?

Traveling to Dannsburg, Tomas quickly discovers that while the nobility may battle with different weapons, it is no less dangerous. As with the first novel, this is action-packed from start to finish with a smooth writing style that is highly addictive.

One of my favorite aspects of this one was how our knowledge of the magic system is continuing to grow. The reader is getting more insight into the cunning as more characters with the gift are introduced. We also get to go inside the House of Magicians which was terrifying in the best possible way.

Additionally, the world building is continuing to grow and it is bloody fantastic!

I have no idea how long this series is projected to be but it left off in a great spot! I cannot wait to get my hands on Book 3. I will keep reading these as long as Mclean keeps writing them, I can tell you that right now!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. Love this series, love this author. Yes, please. Keep them coming!!!

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