I am blood. I am death. I am vengeance: Reviewing The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne (Book 1 of The Bloodsworn Trilogy)

Hi everyone! I am back and have not forgotten the blog, I promise. I have just been getting through some longer books. I do pride myself on being a fast reader, but I also read four to five books at any time. There are some novellas sitting in my TBR if that is more your speed, though. I did notice I got quite a few new followers recently so, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for reading my reviews. I do this for fun in my spare time because I am a bookworm and I love to share my thoughts with others. Now, let’s get into what you all came here for. Here are my thoughts on The Shadow of the Gods.

Content Warning: Violence and Gore, Graphic Bodily Injuries and Death, Harsh Language, Discussions and Depictions of Slavery, Harm Towards Children, Animal Death, Battle Scenes

The gods fought and killed each other. What remained was their bones and their descendants. War looms over the land of Vigrid and the gods might not be as dead as everyone thought. Three warriors, all with different paths, find themselves entangled by fate. Elvar, a young warrior, is determined to earn her battle-fame as she seeks out the land of the gods. Orka, a noblewoman, is on a quest for revenge after her husband is killed and her son is taken. Varg, an escaped thrall, joins the elite Bloodsworn warriors in hopes of finding out who killed his sister. They soon find themselves facing a threat that could tear apart their land and must fight to survive, no matter the cost.

This was an incredible fantasy adventure and I loved every page of this book. Heavily inspired by Norse mythology, The Shadow of the Gods is a truly epic tale that unputdownable. I do have some experience with Norse sagas and this novel jogged my memory, taking me back to all of those tales I read in the past. John Gwynne introduces elaborate world building, along with a narrative that comes together in a satisfying way. The fight scenes were also so well written (albeit very gruesome). Every character was well fleshed out with great development along the way. This first book really set the tone for this trilogy and I will absolutely be getting the next book soon. Any fan of fantasy adventure novels must go pick this up immediately.

Those born of darkness will carry it in their nature: Reviewing The Foxglove King (Book 1 of The Nightshade Crown series) by Hannah Whitten

Hey everyone! I’m still around and still reading diligently. Adjusting to a new sleep schedule is never easy at first. I’m also back with a fantasy novel for the first time in (what feels like) forever. Feel free to read my review of Hannah Whitten’s The Wilderwood Duology if you are so inclined. I don’t want to ramble on too much more so let’s talk about The Foxglove King.

Content Warning: Graphic Depictions of Death, Some Harsh Language, Some Sexual Content, Discussions and Depictions of Substance Abuse

From a young age, Lore has honed her wit and cunning to survive on her own. She was able to survive by running poison for a local cartel that gave her a second chance. Lore has also had to hide her ability to channel Mortem, a substance used in death magic. When a job goes terribly wrong, Lore finds herself in front of the Sainted King himself. Instead of sentencing her to death, King August offers her something else. Whole villages are being wiped out by some kind of death magic. The king suspects that his only son is somehow behind this. Lore must use her magic to find out what is happening or be sent to the pyre. Thrown into the world of court intrigue, Lore must carefully navigate the suspicious nobles. What she finds, though, could mean the beginning of the end.

I might have said this before but I think what I enjoy the most about Hannah Whitten’s books is that they remind me of the young adult fantasy series I used to enjoy, like The Mortal Instruments or The Vampire Diaries. This book, however, is elevated to a more “adult” level with fun yet complicated characters and circumstances. I like the way that this book incorporates bits and pieces of tropes (like a love triangle) but avoids making them cliche. I personally really liked how dark magic was at the center of this novel and how it wasn’t villainized in any obvious way. This was a fun, dark escapist fantasy and I will definitely keep an eye out for this rest of this series.

May warrior’s fortune be ever in your favor: Reviewing Star Wars: Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn

Hi everyone! I’m back! I recently started a new job and am now settled into a new schedule. My TBR pile has grown exponentially because I have no self-control when it comes to buying books. Also, I am still very much fixated on Star Wars at this moment. This will be the last Star Wars related book I read for a bit but I do want to read more in the future. I am just looking for more suggestions at this moment. I won’t go on too much longer because it’s time to talk about Thrawn: Treason. (I did finally finish watching Star Wars: Rebels so this was good timing).

During his time serving the Empire, Thrawn has proven himself to be an invaluable asset, cunning tactician, and fierce warrior. His next goal is to secure the funding for his TIE Defender program but his plans are halted by Direct Krennic’s top secret Death Star program. Knowing that his reputation and rank is at risk, Thrawn must further prove his loyalty to the Empire. Meanwhile, Eli Vanto is working closely with the Chiss Ascendancy as a familiar enemy threatens their home world. With Thrawn’s loyalty in question, he is forced to decide between the future of his people and his duty to the Empire. Either choice means treason and Thrawn must choose which path is worth his life.

Timothy Zahn continues to capture the high stakes action and political espionage of the Empire in a way that is unputdownable. I have to say it is kind of fun reading about all of the Empire higher ups backstab and ultimately destroy each other in the process. Even though most of the additional characters are insufferable, they are insufferable in an entertaining way. I think what I like the most about Zahn is how he captures the tense space battles that are so key to any Star Wars project. This trilogy, overall, has been a satisfying delve into the Dark Side. Also, this is fully cannon to Star Wars which is makes it all the more interesting. Anyways, I am going to give this trilogy my stamp of approval and call it a must – read for any Star Wars fan who wants to spend a little time with the Dark Side.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find: Reviewing The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Hey everyone! I’m back sooner than I thought I would be with another review. I also realized that I read a lot of books that deal with pretty dark subject matter. If you mind that at all, I completely understand. I don’t always intentionally seek out dark books, but I do have an inherently morbid sense of curiosity. This is also another book I saw circulating on people’s must reads for horror/suspense novels. If that is what you are looking for, stick around and listen to my review for The Last House of Needless Street.

Content Warning: Death of Children, Graphic Bodily Injury, Discussions and Depictions of Mental Illness, Alcohol Abuse, Death of Animals, Self-Harm

Ted Bannerman has done his best to live a quiet life. He keeps his daughter, Lauren, safe despite how much she fights him. His cat Olivia lives her own life, napping and reading the Bible when no one is around. A terrible secret is what keeps them together. Their secret is at risk when a neighbor moves in across the street and seems to know that Ted is hiding something. The thing is he is trying so desperately to hide, however, no longer wishes to be buried.

I am just going to come right out and say that I felt that this book was also a bit of a swing and a miss for me, as far as being a compelling horror or thriller. That is not to be too negative, either. I really did enjoy the different character voices that Catriona Ward utilizes and the ways that those voices begin to blend together was one of the best parts of the novel. It is also an atmospheric read with plenty of visceral and unique details that make the writing all the more interesting. I am, however, unsure how obvious the “twist” of the novel was supposed to be. I’m honestly feeling a little conflicted overall on this book. Spoiler Warning: The main “twist” comes from one of the character’s mental health conditions. I always get wary whenever something along those lines is being used as shock factor, in any capacity. I understand that the author was coming from a place of sympathy, based on the afterword. I tend to stay away from any sort of horror media that utilizes metal health or mental illness as something “shocking” or “scary.” I am not going to say to not read this book since, overall, it wasn’t a bad book by any means. I am saying, though, that sometimes we need to step back and think about what we find “shocking” or “scary.”

This is the way the world ends. For the last time: Reviewing The Fifth Season (Book 1 of The Broken Earth Trilogy) by N.K. Jemisin

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing great. Everything is doing alright in my little corner of the world. I’m about to be pretty busy soon, but I do have some shorter books I can read so there isn’t as much of a lull between reviews. I try to vary the lengths of the books I read since some people have more specific preferences about that. To be completely honest, though, I go into a majority of the books I read with little to no details about the contents. Sometimes, I don’t even know the plot outside of a single line or it’s a genre I like. I prefer to remain as unbiased as possible. I will stop rambling now and get into The Fifth Season.

Content Warning: Death of Children, Harm Towards Children, Graphic Violence, Sexual Content, Some Harsh Language, Apocalyptic Imagery

This isn’t the first time that the world ended for Essun. It will be the last, though. One seemingly ordinary day, she comes home to find her youngest son dead and her daughter missing along with her husband. The Earth begins to fall apart soon after. With nothing to lose, Essun goes on a journey to find her daughter and must face the past as old wounds are reopened.

I normally try not to be hyperbolic but this was truly an incredible book. N.K. Jemisin does an amazing job creating a narrative that twists and flows in a way that is unpredictable, yet satisfying in the end. The world building is so intricate and it honestly threw me off for a bit. I loved, however, being thrown into such an intense scenario. I also loved Jemisin’s use of second person perspective (“you” pronouns) and the way all of the different stories flow together seamlessly in the end. If I really had to compare to something, it gave me similar vibes to The Locked Tomb series. I am honestly regretting not buying the trilogy as I so want to know where this story is going. Go put this book straight to the top of your TBR. Believe the hype surrounding The Fifth Season.

I have sensed a disturbance in the Force:Reviewing Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn

Hi everyone! I hope everything is looking up for you all. The weather is finally nice and I finally have some good life updates. I also am kind of hyper-fixated on all things related to Star Wars. I am reading some other books but wanted to finish this one since the first trailer for Ahsoka where Thrawn will be making his live-action debut. I hope you all like my Star Wars-related reviews. There are quite a few more I want to read in the future and I promise that not all of them will have to do with Thrawn. But, for now, we will talk about the sequel in Timothy Zahn’s series.

Emperor Palpatine has sensed that a new threat against the Empire lurks in the Unknown Regions. In order to stamp out this opposition, he orders his ruthless right hand Darth Vader, and brilliant tactician Grand Admiral Thrawn to work together. The two are hesitant to work together as both vie for the Emperor’s favor. This isn’t the first time that the two have encountered each other. Years ago, General Anakin Skywalker went on a mission to find Padme Amidala after she disappeared while visiting a friend. During this mission, he met Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo and together they uncovered a deadly conspiracy together against the Republic. Now, the two find themselves working together once again. Darth Vader must face his past and Thrawn must face his future.

Timothy Zahn has done it again with a compelling and action-packed entry in this particular series. I loved the drama and tension between Vader and Thrawn. I also greatly appreciated the inclusion of Padme in the flashback portions of this novel. While I am normally not a diehard fan of flashbacks, Zahn does an excellent job building on the lore of Star Wars and further fleshes out the characters. I’ve always enjoyed a complicated protagonist and, while you don’t want the Empire to win, you still find yourself fascinated by the inner-workings of one of the most famous villainous forces in pop culture. Overall, this was a successful sequel in this trilogy and I look forward to reading more from Zahn.

A Ghost Ship, A Salvage Crew, Unspeakable Horrors: Reviewing Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

Hey everyone! I hope all is going well for you. Things are starting to look up in my little world so I’ve been in a better mood as of late. I am starting some longer fantasy series and have finally started Priory of the Orange Tree, but don’t expect that review any time soon as I still have a ways to go on that book. Dead Silence, however, has been on my TBR for a hot minute now. I’ve been really getting into horror and I definitely plan on reading some intense novels in the future. If that is not your type of thing, I totally understand. I do have other non-horror novels I intend to read soon. In the meantime, let’s talk about Dead Silence.

Content Warning: Graphic Depictions of Death and Bodily Injury, Violence and Gore, Self-Harm, Depictions of Mental Illness Involving Hallucinations, Harsh Language, Drug Use

Claire Kovalik is the captain of the LINA, a small salvage ship that is meant to go back to Earth soon. Doing that means that Claire will no longer have a job and no longer have a purpose. That is what ultimately drives her to investigate a strange distress signal. The stress signal is coming from the Aurora, the first luxury space cruiser that disappeared over twenty years ago with no explanation. This discovery would give Claire and her team instant fortune and fame. When the crew goes onboard the Aurora, they find that all of the crew and passengers had met with a horrific and mysterious fate. In order to find out what happened onboard the luxury cruise liner, Claire must hold onto her sanity during her investigation, or else face the same gruesome fate.

I am still on the hunt for a mind-blowing, spooky sci-fi horror novel. I had really high hopes for Dead Silence as I kept seeing it popping up on almost everyone’s recommendations for horror novels. I will say that I thought the writing was good and that the first 80% of this novel was really suspenseful and seemed to be heading for a good plot twist. While, yes, there is a plot twist, I found it kind of underwhelming. There is a rather abrupt shift in the novel and, while I get why it happened, I just felt that it took away some of the “investigation” portion of the story. When it comes to a novel that involves some sort of haunted location, I always look forward to the investigation part and seeing that mystery unravel. This novel just didn’t deliver as much as it could have, in my opinion. I’m definitely not going to call this novel “bad” at all, but I will call it “mid,” as the kids say nowadays.

The future could not be taught by the past: Reviewing Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

Hi everyone! I hope you are doing well. I am finally bringing you a book that is based on a mythology that is not Greek. Excitingly enough, this is my first foray into Indian mythology. I am only somewhat familiar with some of the gods and goddesses associated with India so I was incredibly interested in learning more. I also just really, really, really wanted to talk about this book in general. Now, let’s finally talk about Kaikeyi

Content Warning: Some Battle Scenes, Some Descriptions of Injuries, Discussions and Depictions of Misogyny

As the only daughter among seven sons, Kaikeyi was raised on the grand stories of the amazing feats of the gods and goddesses. It is her only escape from the reality faces as the raja’s daughter. As she grows older, she witnesses her father banish her mother for seemingly no reason. Soon after, he arranges a marriage for her as the third wife of a powerful raja. As much as Kaikeyi prays, the gods never seem to answer. She decides, then, to take matters into her own hands. She discovers how to use magic to strengthen her influence, which allows her to become a respected radnyi as she paves the way for women’s independence. When evils that only existed in childhood tales become very real threats, Kaikeyi must fight to save everything she loves. She soon, however, must make a choice: to save the family she so dearly loves or prevent a war between her homeland and the land she made her home.

I don’t like to be hyperbolic in my reviews but I truly mean it when I say that this novel was incredible. Vaishnavi Patel does an incredible job balancing fantastical story elements, compelling drama, and heart-wrenching tragedy. Kaikeyi is such a fascinating narrator who is so wonderfully complex in her own unique way. I love the way all of the characters are so complex in a way only families can be. No one is really the villain while no one is really the hero in this particular retelling. The writing itself is equal parts beautiful and serviceable to the overall plot. I really cannot stress just how fantastic every last element of this novel was. I was truly entranced by every element of this novel as it was unpredictable in the best way. Put this book at the very top of your priority list. Kaikeyi is a one – of – a – kind experience that everyone should give a chance to.

She is a thing on fire: Reviewing Bunny by Mona Awad

Hi everyone! I hope everything is going well and you are enjoying life as it is, even though you sometimes wish it were something different. I’m not going to lie to you all: this was yet another “Book Tok” read. I can be rather easily influenced at times. I do get tired of the “you liked it because it was popular” discourse at times. Most things that get popular do so for a reason, you know? Also, I am really getting into the “unhinged woman” genre. You really can’t go wrong with female rage. Now, if you are so inclined, let’s discuss Bunny.

Content Warning: Violence and Gore, Disturbing Imagery, Harsh Language, Mentions of Sexual Assault, Drug Use, Animal Death

Samantha Heather Mackey is a scholarship student who has created her own dark little corner for herself in her cohort. Her writing is often criticized for being too off-putting or dark by her fellow students at the elite Warren University. In particular, Samantha is tired of dealing with a group of rich, cutesy girls who call themselves and each other Bunny. They are so similar and so different, seemingly existing as one entity. One day, out of nowhere, one of the Bunnies invites her to their “Smut Salon.” Samantha finds herself strangely compelled to join them, despite the warnings of her friend Ava. The Bunnies lead Samantha into a strange world where they partake in strange rituals to create their dream man. Samantha finds herself in over her head as reality begins to shift and she must find a way to escape the Bunnies’ sinister world of blood and glitter.

The best way I can describe this book is as a combination of Mean Girls and The Secret History. Mona Awad certainly doesn’t hold back on the disturbing aspects of this novel and, honestly, I thought it was going to get more disturbing than it ended up being. With dark academia becoming a little oversaturated, it was nice to see a shakeup in the genre. It also definitely gave me similar vibes to My Year of Rest and Relaxation with the narration. Samantha as the narrator is still sarcastic and blunt while also being a sympathetic character. I liked the overall complexity that Mona Award imbues in her novel. I am going to go ahead and give this my stamp of approval but I would especially recommend this one for a group read or book club as there is plenty to discuss within Bunny.

There is always a price to pay for underestimating a woman: Reviewing The House with the Golden Door (Book 2 of the Wolf Den trilogy) by Elodie Harper

Hello everyone! I hope you are making significant progress in whatever endeavors you are currently working on. Before I begin, I do recommend that you check out my review of the first book in the series. This is also another good read for women’s history month if that is your goal. If you are interested, then let’s talk about The House with the Golden Door.

Content Warning: Discussions and Depictions of Slavery, Some Violence, Some Sexual Content, Scenes of Childbirth

After everything she has been through, Amara has finally freed herself from her life in the Wolf’s Den. She should be content with her new life but she is aware that her patron is not the man she thought he was. Amara’s past begins to catch up to her when her former master continues to pursue her. With this dangerous and cruel man threatening to destroy her life, Amara must become just as calculated and shrewd in order to maintain her freedom. Amara must learn to let go of the past, even if it hurts if she wants to secure her future as a freedwoman.

While this was a bit slower-paced than the previous novel, Elodie Harper still does an excellent job creating intrigue and worthwhile drama that will keep you hanging on. I do genuinely appreciate how complex and imperfect and sympathetic Amara and all of the other characters are portrayed. I also appreciate how the book doesn’t try to keep you hooked on sex and violence, but still uses those plot points to create a strong plot. I do have some knowledge of Ancient Rome so I greatly appreciated the accuracy that Harper imbues in her writing, particularly when it comes to the treatment of women in Rome. Overall, I thought this was a strong sequel in the well-crafted trilogy and I look forward to the third book (which is coming out later this year, I believe).