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 Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black

The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3)The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is done.

In this, the final installment of The Folk of the Air trilogy, we find Jude back in the mortal world, trying to recover from the events of The Wicked King.

Her heart is hurt, but as our girl Jude is apt to do, she is still focused on getting back what she has lost.

Unexpectedly, her annoying sister, Taryn arrives, pleading for Jude’s help. She has done something terrible and sees Jude as her only path to salvation.

How convenient for her.

This help comes in the form of Jude sneaking back into the Faerie Court under the guise of being Taryn. What could possibly go wrong?

Once there, Jude finds Elfhame on the brink of war with the political class and society in general running amok.

Can Jude save her sister and her power before everything is ruined?

I’m sad, man. Yes, everything was wrapped up, but this felt so quick. I needed more time with my babies!

Why you play me like this, Holly Black?

I’ll be honest, I feel like I didn’t retain much of this story. Completely not the book’s fault, I was just so anxious to know how it was going to turn out, I flew through it.

I definitely plan to reread this entire series at some point, to really soak it in. With this being said, I do wish this had been a little longer.

I came away feeling a lot of the story felt very surface level and I wish it would have gone deeper. This could be me just being hurt that it has come to an end however.

Either way, a great series overall. So glad that I read it and looking forward to reading more by Holly Black!

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Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of JanuaryThe Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

((awkward silence due to unpopular opinion))

((sound of crickets))

I’m sorry, everyone. I just did not enjoy this book. I really wanted to, I was so hyped for it, then I saw all the reviews coming in and they were fantastic! I couldn’t wait to get into it.

Then I started reading. The writing was a little quirky at first but my interest was still high. Then it just seemed to not be going anywhere. I wasn’t feel anything. I didn’t like anything about it. The writing was flowery and beautiful but I felt like the plot got lost in all of that. I dreaded picking it back up and really struggled almost the entire way through.

There was a sweet spot for me that really picked up between 50% and 80% but that’s just not enough. If you read through the reviews, I am clearly in the minority opinion. I have read the reviews. I know.

When I first finished, I contemplated giving this a 2.5-star and rounding up to 3, but then I slept on it and came to the conclusion that I would just be doing that to appease people. I genuinely did not enjoy this book.

I can understand why so many people have loved this and I am happy that they found something in here that resonated with them, that’s just not me.

I love portal fantasy; The Dark Tower or Wayward Children series are great examples but this fell so flat for me. The characters seemed one dimensional and I had zero connection to any of them. I don’t need to like characters but I do need to actually care about what happens to them.

The only character I cared about was the dog, Bad. I was so worried about that dog, and traumatized by things that happened to him, that I was never able to relax into the story. That is 100% a personal preference and it has spoiled books for me in the past — see my review for The Deep by Nick Cutter — but yeah, there’s not much here to save this story from that pitfall.

With all of this being said, I would never want a personal review from myself to keep people from picking up a book that really interests them. If you think this sounds intriguing, please pick it up and try it for yourself. There is a book for every reader and a reader for every book. Sadly, this just wasn’t my cuppa tea.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Redhook Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate the opportunity and know that many, many readers are going to absolutely adore January’s story.

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Review: Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Dark Shores (Dark Shores, #1)Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a world divided in two, East and West, where neither side knows the true existence of the other, one people, the Maarin, control the in-between.

The Maarin are a seafaring people who recover lost and stolen goods and trade along the coasts. They are the only people living who not only know the existence of both East and West, they are also the only people who know how to navigate the savage seas between the two.

Living under the mandate of, East must never meet West, all this goes astray when young Teriana, heir to the Maarin people, exposes deeply held secrets to her dear friend, a part of the Celendor Empire, Lydia.

Now higher-ups in the Celendor Empire have conquest on their mind and they will do whatever it takes to discover the route of the Dark Shores. Taking Maarin and her crew prisoner, she is now forced to show them the way or risk all of her people’s lives.

Strong armed by Marcus, Commander of the 37th, a legionnaire for the Celendor Empire, she does the only thing she can do; she shows them the way. Not all is smooth sailing on their voyage however and Teriana and Marcus end up forging an unlikely alliance in order to make it through.

I thought this was such an interesting story. You can definitely feel the ancient Roman inspiration for the Celendor Empire and I love the mystery of the Dark Shores themselves. The relationship between Teriana and Marcus is good, although a little instalovey, not too bad.

In addition to a bit of romance, there is quite a bit of political intrigue in here which I am always down for. There’s nothing better than good ole-fashioned blackmail for political gain to keep a plot progressing!

I had a lot of fun reading this and definitely plan to pick up the next book. This one left off in a great spot with a horrible villain still on the loose. I’m not sure how long this series will end up being but I am seriously hoping for at least three.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Teen, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I had so much fun reading this and really would like to hear more people chatting it up. If you like ocean-related content, Roman-inspired worlds, unlikely alliances, political backstabbing and meddling gods, pick this one up!!!

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Medieval-A-Thon Wrap-Up & August Reading Plans

Hi, book friends! I would like to officially announce that I slayed the Medieval-A-Thon and am now officially a Queen.

Medieval-A-Thon was a super fun, month-long Fantasy readathon hosted by Holly over at Holly Hearts Books on BookTube. She did a phenomenal job creating this readathon and consistently following up with us all on Twitter. I really had a great time participating and completed six Fantasy books over the course of the month to meet certain challenges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above are the visuals created by Holly to help you keep track of the challenges and what you were earning by meeting them. Seriously, how creative is this? I am obsessed. Anyway, without further ado, here are the six books that I completed and what they earned me in weapons and my armour set:

  • To earn my fighting daggers, I needed to complete a book with assassins in it. For this I read Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa. I had an ARC of this book and loved it so much. I was disappointed at all and gave this Japanese-Inspired YA Fantasy 5-full stars!
  • To earn my bow and arrow, I needed to complete a book with elves in it. For this prompt, I chose The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black. Again, I absolutely loved this YA Fantasy, 5-full stars!
  • For my crown, I needed to complete a book where a character fights for the throne. For this I read, Roar by Cora Carmack. This YA Fantasy that had a very unique magic system based on people who could control the weather really surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. The long awaited sequel to this 2017-release is actually coming out this month and I have already preordered a copy and plan to pick it up right away. I gave this 4.5-stars.
  • For my helmet, I needed to complete a book with a dragon on the cover. For this, I selected Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This beautifully written Adult Fantasy is a retelling of a Mayan legend modernized and set in the Jazz era. As I have found before with Moreno-Garcia’s writing, it was lyrical and truly beautiful to read. Her writing is simple but in a gorgeous way. I had an ARC copy of this and ended up giving it 4-stars.
  • For my breastplate, I needed to read a shiny book. For this I chose The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell. I listened to the audiobook for this and followed along in my hard copy and will admit, I was lost through at least the first half of the book. There were so many perspectives to follow, and time jumps, and I seriously had no clue what was happening. Overall, I did find the characters were interesting and it did have an interesting premise. I gave this one 3-stars and am not sure if I will continue on with this series. I own the second one so may or I may just unhaul them both.
  • Finally, for my cape, I needed to read something with red on the cover. On the very last day of the month I completed Lost Boy by Christina Henry. This book. Oh my goodness did I love this one. This is an origin story for Captain Hook, one of the most underrated villains of all time. This was so unique, bold, graphic and bloody brilliant. Best origin story I have ever read. EVER. No surprise, I gave this a full 5-stars! Loved it.

That wraps up my Medieval-A-Thon. So glad that I had the chance to participate. I love a month long readathon and this one provided me with a great opportunity to get some things off my TBR, as well as complete some ARCs that I really needed to get to.

On to August. What are my reading plans for August? I am actually not participating in any readathons but am participating in The Page Turners Book Club again, hosted by Chelsea Palmer from the BookTube channel of the same name. She hosts this Book Club on Facebook and it is a fairly interactive group. We are reading Nevernight by Jay Kristoff the third week of the month. I have heard great things about this book and as it is dark and bloody, I anticipate really enjoying it. Plus, the synopsis for the main character gives me heavy Arya Stark vibes, which I’m down for.

Mainly in the month of August I will be participating in ARC August. This is sort of a movement going through the book community right now. Although not an official readathon or challenge it is something a lot of people are talking about an focusing on. Basically, it is just an entire month dedicated to reading all our ARCs. If you do not know what an ARC is, it is an Advanced Reader Copy provided to a reader by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Basically it is a way that publishing companies create buzz for and promote books before their release.

I personally have a ton of ARCs I need to get to. Some have already released so I will be playing catch up. Others come out this month and then a lot come out this Fall so I am trying to get a bit ahead.

I have a review post going up tomorrow morning for one of these ARCs, The Escape Room by Megan Goldin. I am part of the Blog Tour for the release of this book and am so excited to be taking part as, spoiler alert, I freaking loved this book!!! So stay tuned for that. Be sure to check back tomorrow if you want to see my spoiler free thoughts.

How was your July? Did you participate in any readathons? Are you taking part in ARC August? What are you reading plans for the month? I want to know. Leave a comment here or contact me through any of my social media links! I love to hear from you all.

Cheers & Happy Reading!

 

Review: Lost Boy by Christina Henry

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain HookLost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who is the most intriguing character in Peter Pan?

If you answered anyone other than Captain Hook, you are wrong.

Captain Hook is by far the most compelling character and this is the Captain as you have never seen him before!

This is the origin story of one of the world’s most underrated villains, straight from the mind of Christina Henry.

Y’all, Ms. Henry has a dark and wildly creative imagination and we stan that!

This story follows our infamous Captain before he is known as such. This tells of his earlier life, known as Jamie and chosen by Peter Pan to be his first and best boy.

As many of you are already aware, Peter is a spoiled, petulant little prig who also happens to function with the most murderous of intentions.

I have always considered Peter Pan to be a jerk and this certainly did not dispel that notion. Jamie tries his best to keep Peter on the straight and narrow and to protect the boys that he collects.

Overtime, he begins to see Peter for what he truly is. He also comes to identify this life he has been living on the island to be not at all what he was sold.

Coming in at under 300-pages, this is a quick read but in my opinion, you have everything you need to make this a moving and impactful tale. The final pages of this blew my mind. I was speechless upon finishing.

I have so much love for this story and truly believe this to be one of the best retellings I have ever read and certainly the best origin story that I have ever read.

This is dark with a constant feeling of menace that I cannot recommend highly enough to horror fans or just fans of darker works of fiction in general; not necessarily horror.

My dream would be for Christina Henry, in about 8-years, to come out with a sequel to this that completely flips the power balance between Peter and Captain Hook on its head! For those of us that would love to see the downfall of one, Peter Pan, this would be the most delightful tale to ever be penned, I am sure.

So, Christina, have your people call my people.
Kidding!!! I don’t have people.
DM me if you want to brainstorm and let’s make this happen!

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Mid-Month Medieval-A-Thon Status Update

Hi book friends! Just like that mid-month is upon us. What better time to update you all on how I am doing with the Medieval-A-Thon? If you don’t know, Medieval-A-Thon is a month-long readathon hosted by Holly over at Holly Hearts Books on YouTube. I will link her announcement video below, click it for all the details, challenges, etc:

Medieval-A-Thon Announcement

Holly reads a ton of Fantasy and is a great channel to go to for recommendations and other news within that genre. She is my go-to when I am looking for new Adult Fantasy recommendations and just when I want a good laugh because she is so freaking funny. I love her videos. Be sure to check out her channel!

Of the 10 specific challenges listed for the readathon, I have thus far completed two:

  1. Read a shiny book to earn the breastplate of your suite of armor: For this I completed, The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell. I haven’t done a review or decided on a star rating for this book yet. It was a lot. There were a lot of character perspectives to follow and time jumps and things got hecka confusing there for a while. I did enjoy it. I thought the characters were great but I am just a bit at a loss as too how much I enjoyed it. Does this ever happen to anyone else? Regardless, the ouroboros-type graphic on this is super shiny in the light of the hardcover version that I read.
  2. Read a book with assassins in it to earn your fighting daggers: I am not 100% sure this is what this weapon is called but it is what it looks like to me from Holly’s graphic. For this I completed Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa, which is the second book in the Shadow of the Fox trilogy. I loved this book, gave it five stars and am on pins-and-needles in anticipation waiting for the final installment. When does book 3 release? 2020!!!!!! No idea how I will wait that long. I did receive an ARC of Soul of the Sword so hoping that I can pull that off for Night of the Dragon. Anyway, back to what we are actually suppose to be talking about, this book has assassins after Yumeko and friends as they try to make their way to the Silent Winds Temple.

Although these are the only things I have completed thus far, I am currently working on five other books that will complete challenges. Quickly, they are: Roar by Cora Carmack, this is to get my crown by reading a book where a character fights for the throne; Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia for the helmet to my suit of armor for reading a book with a dragon on the cover (there is a small image of a totem dragon head on this cover); rereading The Dark Half by Stephen King for the boots of my suit of armor by reading a book that has yellowed over time (this isn’t technically ‘fantasy’ but it is supernatural horror soooooooo, I’m counting it); Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry for my cape by reading a book that has red on the dust jacket; and finally, The Wicked King by Holly Black to earn my bow & arrow by reading a book with elves in it (don’t fight me on this, this is what Holly is choosing for this very prompt, she is boss, she is Queen, it’s happening).

In addition to these, I am also hoping to get to Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson this month to get my sword by reading a book with something pointy on the cover, as well as Priest of Lies (War for the Rose Throne #2) by Peter McLean to get my battle axes by reading a book with mercenaries in it.

Yeah, so that’s it. No problem at all, right? We won’t even mention the fact that this is my busiest month of the year at work right now. No, we won’t mention that. I’m so in the weeds right now I have to send my parents emails every once in while just so they know I’m still alive. Just me?

I hope you are all having a wonderfully productive reading month. Even though I have only completed two books so far for this readathon, I actually have already completed 8 books this month and I am confident I can pull through with these titles.

Are you participating in Medieval-A-Thon? How is it going for you so far? Have you read any of the books I am reading? I want to know. Leave me a comment here or contact me through any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy Reading!

Review: Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox, #2)Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s so good.
This story is soooooooo good!

That’s a lot of ooooooo’s but seriously…

I am absolute trash for this series.
Bring on Book 3!!!

I read Shadow of the Fox at the beginning of the year and it quickly stood out as a new favorite. I was drawn into the Empire of Iwagoto and now I never want to leave!

This second book continues directly after the final events of the first book. We find Yumeko and her crew on the road to the Steel Feather temple in the hopes of protecting the last pieces of the Dragon Scroll. Y’all know a quest is one of my all-time favorite tropes.

The team of characters setting forth on this mission together makes this story for me. Their personalities play off one another so well. It seriously makes me want to be a part of the group. I don’t care how outright scary and dangerous it gets!

While I wasn’t quite as smitten with this installment as I was with the first book, it is still definitely worth all five stars in my eyes. As second books go, this one upped the stakes of the quest and left off in an exceptionally intriguing part of the story.

I’m not really quite sure how I will hold off until March 2020 for Book 3. I need more Yumeko, Okame, Tatsumi and friends NOW!

It’s almost unfair of Kagawa to do this to us. How dare you write such perfection?!

I would love to shout from the rooftops how much I love this series but that could get embarrassing. For now, I will be content with recommending the heck out of it to all my YA Fantasy-reading friends.

Also, legit anime come to life. The atmosphere and tone of this is so dynamic, it leaps off the page and into your minds-eye so clearly. It’s honestly tremendous.

I want to thank the publisher, Inkyard Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. It was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it certainly did not disappoint. If you are sleeping on this series, wake up, pick it up and join me in a fangirling!

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Let’s Talk The Gunslinger

Happy November 1st bookworms!  Since this whole blog thing is new to me, I am trying to get in the habit of writing every day.  With this being said, I think it is necessary for me to look back a bit and discuss books I have read in the past – not just my current reads.

Let’s talk The Gunslinger.  I finished reading The Gunslinger (Book 1 in Stephen King’s hugely popular The Dark Tower Series) on October 1st of this year.  This was a reread for me.  Originally when I read this story, I was in my early 20’s, just out of undergraduate school and to be honest, I just didn’t get it. I didn’t like the atmosphere, I didn’t like the strange dialogue, I didn’t like the ending for Jack – I had read a lot of King and this just was different for me.

Rereading it now, on the cusp of 40, I loved it! I love the world-building, I love Roland, I understand what happened to Jack, I understand where this is going. The palaver between Roland and Walter at the end…..chills. Where once I may have given this book 3 stars, I now give it 5 (easily). I put it down and immediately went to my bookshelf and got The Drawing of Three: The Dark Tower II and started reading it (staying up way past my bedtime in order to do so). I need to get to this tower!

I have not seen the movie that was recently released and frankly, I am a little hesitant to watch.  I have heard so many negative things about it and I don’t want it to have any effect upon my current experience with the series.

Happy to hear anyone’s input/comments on the book to movie comparison to this one and whether or not you feel the movie is worth a watch!

May your November be fruitful – may you get many pages, many chapters, many books read!

Cheers~