In the end, all I can say is: I’m yours: Reviewing The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno – Garcia

Hi everyone and Happy Valentine’s Day! Regardless if you have a significant other, I hope you feel loved today and every day. By coincidence, I am coming to you with a romance novel review. This is the fourth book I have reviewed by Silvia Moreno – Garcia, so feel free to check my previous reviews of her books. Needless to say, I am a fan now. She does have a book coming out this year and two others that I have not gotten around to reading, so I will definitely get to those at some point. Let’s get in the mood for love and talk about The Beautiful Ones.

Antonina “Nina” Beaulieu is nervous and excited to join her cousin and his wife for the Grand Season. She is anxious to join the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most respected socialites. Nina, though, has telekinetic abilities that she struggles to control which could ruin her chances of finding a suitor. While at a party, she meets Hector Auvray, a man with similar talents who agrees to teach her to hone her abilities. Unbeknownst to Nina, Hector is trying to get closer to Valerie, the wife of Nina’s cousin whom he has never gotten over. As he teaches Nina and grows closer to her, Hector begins to realize he has feelings for Nina. When secrets begin to come to light, Hector and Nina find their budding romance in danger of being torn apart.

This was a perfectly suitable historical romance, in my opinion. It has all the hallmarks of the genre like grand balls, stolen kisses, family drama, and duels. The fantasy element is pretty weak, which is what I was looking forward to the most. I wish we got to see a little more world-building with that. but it is just kind of a minor plot device. Silvia Moreno – Garcia is still a strong writer and kept me interested throughout the whole book. It was fairly predictable, but I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. It was a good old-fashioned period piece romance that is reminiscent of books like the Bridgerton series. Though books like that aren’t necessarily to my taste, I get the appeal. With all of that being said, I’m still going to give the “go-ahead” to all of you romantics out there looking for a well-crafted love story.

The songs will change, but the music is never truly gone: Reviewing Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Hi everybody! We have gone from a cold January to a rainy February. I’m still dealing with the general nonsense that life tends to throw at you when you need it least. That is why I turn to books. I have some longer novels I’m working through and I will eventually start The Priory of the Orange Tree, which is especially long. Normally, I avoid extra-long books, but I do like a challenge here and there. Now, let’s talk about Light from Uncommon Stars, which has been on my radar for the longest time.

Content Warning: Discussions and Depictions of Racism, Discussions and Depictions of Transphobia and Homophobia, Depictions of Non-Consensual Sex, Abuse, Loss and Grief, Harsh and Offensive Language, Some Graphic Depictions of Death

Shizuka Satomi, aka the Queen of Hell, made a deal with a demon. To escape damnation and play the violin again, she would train and sacrifice seven students. She is currently looking for the seventh. That is when she crosses paths with Katrina Nguyen. Katrina is a young transgender woman who is running away from home. When Shizuka hears her play for the first time, she realizes that she has found her seventh student. Shizuka also happens to cross paths with Lan Tran, a mother, refugee, and captain of a starship disguised as a donut shop. Shizuka tells herself that she doesn’t have time for love or relationships but she finds herself drawn to Lan. As Shizuka forms a bond with a Katrina and develops a relationship with Lan, she starts to think that maybe she can finally break her curse.

This novel was so beautifully complex and carefully written. All of the metaphors and realism are finely balanced through Ryka Aoki’s deft hand. The various characters are intertwined, yet their stories are unique to them. I loved the honest representation that Aoki presents. While there are certainly heavy topics presented, Aoki gives a sense of hope to the characters and readers alike. All aspects of gender, race and class were taken into careful consideration throughout this book, and are honest with the struggles that people from demographics go through. This really was a captivating read that is a beautiful blend of science fiction, fantasy, and romance. Light from Uncommon Stars is sure to engage you and touch your heart.

Silence becomes a woman…: Reviewing The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Hi everyone! I hope everything is going well for you all. I have no vague life updates to give you, but I am doing my best to exercise the power of manifestation. I am also coming to you again with another retelling of The Iliad. By the way, if you haven’t actually read The Iliad or The Odyssey yet, then you absolutely should. The epic poem format can be intimidating, but I promise it is easy to read and understand. It can just be long-winded at times. I might make a list of classics that I highly recommend anyone read if you want to delve into the classics. In the meanwhile, let’s talk about The Silence of the Girls.

Content Warning: Discussions and Depictions of Graphic Violence, Discussions and Depictions of Sexual Assault, Offensive Language

Briseis was once a queen in her own right. Though her life was far from perfect, she was duty-bound to protect her people from the Greek armies. Her kingdom is invaded by Agamemnon’s forces, led by the famous Achilles. She is taken by Achilles as a war prize and forced to serve him. In the Greek camps, she does her best to forge bonds with the other captive women who are just trying to survive. As the Trojan war drags on, Briseis makes it her mission to save as many women and the memories of those who were claimed by a war fought over a woman.

I’m going to be honest right away: I was kind of disappointed by this book. The first part of the book is indeed about Briseis and the other women caught in the Trojan War. The second part is when it kind of falls apart as it randomly switches between Briseis’ story and Achilles’ story. It then eventually just becomes about Achilles for far too long. It kind of defeated the purpose of the entire book, in my opinion. I also can’t tell you exactly why but the book felt just weirdly misogynistic at times. Not in the sense that it was pointing out misogyny, but even in Briseis’ story the book was just kind of mean when discussing the other female characters and wasn’t sympathetic at times. I also just didn’t like the way the book ended at all. This is the first book in the series but I won’t be continuing it. Here is what I’m going to suggest instead: if you want a book about the women of The Iliad, read A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes. If you want a book about Achilles and/or his relationship with Patroclus, then read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

If there’s a way into hell, someone will always find it: Reviewing The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

Hi everyone! I hope everything is going well for all of you. I’m still trudging along with books and music to keep me entertained in the meantime. In case you haven’t noticed, this is now the third book I am reviewing by T. Kingfisher so it is safe to say I’m a fan now. Feel free to check out my two previous reviews, both of which are novellas, if you are so interested. Now, let’s talk about The Hollow Places.

Kara has hit a low point. After a messy divorce, she is dreading having to move back in with her overbearing mother. She is released when her Uncle Earl calls and offers her a place to stay. Uncle Earl is a lovable eccentric who operates the Glory to God Museum of Natural Wonders, Curiosities, and Taxidermy in a quaint little town. Having spent many summers working there in her childhood, Kara decides to help her aging uncle. One night while she is closing, Kara finds a strange and impossible hole in the wall that leads to an entirely different world. She and her friend Simon decide to venture there and discover a horror with an insatiable appetite for the living.

Compared to the last horror novel I read (American Psycho), this one was genuinely fun and not too upsettingly creepy. T. Kingfisher does an excellent job creating atmospheric horror by utilizing natural settings, like a forest, to make a wonderfully creepy experience. I enjoyed Kara as she was a relatable narrator with a sense of self-awareness that made the reading experience all the more enjoyable. I would also argue that this novel had a sense of magical realism to it that added to the mystery at the heart of the plot. Overall, this was yet another great novel by T. Kingfisher. If you want a horror novel that is a little more PG-13 or is just looking for a good place to start in the genre, go ahead and start here then go read What Moves the Dead, a horror novella by T. Kingfisher.

No one is safe, nothing is redeemed: Reviewing American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis

Hello everyone! I hope you are all taking care of yourselves. This review is going to be…a lot, needless to say. I have not seen the movie adaptation (which I’m sure many of you are familiar with) of the same name, so I won’t be referring to it or making any comparisons to the movie. However, I plan on watching it sometime in the near future just for the heck of it. Now, let’s (finally) talk about American Psycho.

MAJOR CONTENT WARNING: Graphic depictions of violence and torture, Misogyny and Misogynistic Violence, Racism and Racially Motivated Violence, Homophobia, Animal Death, Offensive Language, Graphic Sexual Content, Discussions of Self-Harm (Seriously, just be warned if you want to read this book)

To his friends, girlfriends, and co-workers, Patrick Bateman has it all. He’s handsome, charming, smart, and rich. At only twenty-six years old, Patrick Bateman is on top of the world. Unbeknownst to everyone around him, he is hiding a horrific secret and spends his nights acting upon his violent urges. Soon enough, Bateman thinks he is losing control of himself and finds himself face-to-face with the consequences of his actions.

Wow, I am genuinely shocked that I read this book all the way through. Despite this book only being 400 pages and most of the chapters being relatively short, it felt just so long. Now, I fully understand that American Psycho is meant to be satirical, and, while I did see elements of that, it was still so graphic and gratuitous in every sense of the word. This book made my stomach turn and, while I know my limits when it comes to horror, this was the book that hit my limit. It is just wild and incredibly jarring as it goes from Patrick monologuing about his favorite musicians to descriptions of some of the most horrendous acts of violence that anyone can fathom. I do, however, wish I could have a group discussion of some kind about this book as there is so much commentary to unpack. Am I going to tell you to avoid this book? No. I am going to say that if you do decide to read American Psycho, please take caution. I am sure that I am missing some content warnings. I am sure that if you are an avid horror reader then this one will certainly be on your TBR.

True gods have no beginning. True gods have no end: Reviewing Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long

Hi everyone! I hope you are all cozy and warm while the snow piles upon us. I know it has been a while since I posted last. I’ve been dealing with some things and my health has been a little wonky. It’s nothing that can’t be dealt with, but it’s just inconvenient. I want to feel good so I can continue reading, you know? Anyways, there’s nothing like a good book to make you feel better. Let’s talk about Hall of Smoke.

Content Warning: Graphic Depictions of Violence, Blood and Gore, Graphic Descriptions of Bodily Injury

Hessa prides herself on being an Eangi, a priestess of the Goddess of War. She is sent into exile by her goddess after refusing to kill a stranger. Upon returning to her village, Hessa discovers that raiders have destroyed her entire world and everyone she loved. She takes it upon herself to hunt down the stranger she failed to kill in the hope that her goddess might forgive her. On her journey, Hessa finds herself in the middle of a war between clans and gods. As everything Hessa once believed begins to fall apart around her, she must face a fate worse than death and battle against an ancient power coming to destroy everything.

Heavily inspired by Norse mythology and sagas, Hall of Smoke is an epic tale of revenge and war. I enjoyed the intricate mythology that H.M. Long creates and utilizes to drive the story. I don’t want to call Hessa a “strong female lead” because I know people tend to roll their eyes at that description but I do genuinely mean that she is a strong female lead as a compliment. I also appreciate when fantasy novels like this are still somewhat realistic when it comes to characters being tired while journeying or getting injured and having to recover. The pacing is steady and the plot has a great buildup. This is a perfect adventure fantasy for winter, so I would recommend Hall of Smoke.

We never stop. We never sleep. And now we’re in your home: Reviewing Horrorstør by Grady Hendrix

Hi everyone! I hope everything is going well. I’ve decided to unwind by reading horror novels and I really don’t know what that says about me (lol). As you all know at this point, I love books with weird concepts and plots. This one has been on my radar for some time now and I actually received it for Christmas. Now, let’s delve into the rather unique world of Horrorstør.

Trigger Warning: Violence, Gore, Torture, Claustrophobia, Body Horror, Graphic Descriptions of Bodily Injury

Amy Porter is just trying to get through another day working at Orsk, a well known Ikea knockoff. She’s been struggling for a while now and is trying to get transferred to somewhere other than Cleveland. One day, her uptight manager Basil approaches her with an offer: she and another employee join him to watch the store overnight. He suspects that someone is breaking into the store at night as weird messes are being found everywhere. For double overtime pay, Amy agrees, thinking it will be no big deal. As the night goes on, though, it becomes evident that something darker is happening in Orsk and Amy finds herself facing horrors that defy all imagination.

As someone who worked at a popular retail store for a few years, I knew I had to give this novel a read. I love horror that takes place in unsuspecting settings, like the one Hendrix creates for this novel. This fast paced, unique horror novel is certainly a standout. Hendrix creates a deeply unsettling atmosphere with details that will make you squirm. It actually got pretty intense towards the end of the novel. While survival horror isn’t necessarily my favorite subgenre, it worked really well in this instance. Horrorstør is a wild and chilling novel that will make sure you never look at a furniture store the same way again. If you do decide to read this novel, I highly recommend buying the physical copy as it is meant to look like an Ikea catalogue and it helps add to the experience.

And he paused, in the space between inhalation and exhalation, and invited the magic in: Reviewing A Marvelous Light (Book One in The Last Binding Trilogy) by Freya Marske

Hi there everyone! January is still drab and dull as anything, but I am managing. I don’t think anyone really enjoys January anyways. I did just get my copy of Hellbent so that review will be coming in the near future. Other than that, I don’t have much else to say. Let’s talk about A Marvelous Light.

18+ Readers Only! Adult content! Separate content warning for violence and strong language

Sir Robin Blyth is doing his best to manage his parents’ estate, support his sister, and be a good businessman. A clerical error, however, put him in the position of liaison to a secret magical society. With this new world comes new dangers. Robin becomes a target for dangerous people and receives a curse for his trouble. The only person who can help him is Edwin Courcey, Robin’s reluctant counterpart. The two men delve into mystery that throws into question everything they know. As Edwin and Robin find themselves caught up in a deadly plot, more secrets are unearthed that people died to keep.

I absolutely did not think I would like this book as much as I did but this was just about everything I look for in a novel. I loved Freya Marske’s writing and there were certain lines I re-read a few times because I was just so taken aback. The narration was just so lovely at times. The magic system is interesting and I wanted to know more about the lore that Marske introduced. Also, wow, this book was so spicy! I was not expecting that but I was pleasantly surprised by how well the relationship between Robin and Edwin developed over the course of the book. (Also the spicy scenes were so good!) This book also gets major bonus points from me for being historical fiction. I feel like this review isn’t super coherent but you all know what I am getting at. You should definitely check this one out if you want a unique fantasy with a great romance.

The king! In the form of man: Reviewing Birds of Paradise by Oliver K. Langmead

Hi everyone! January may be as dreary as ever, but I hope you are still doing all right. I have been on the lookout for this book for a while and finally managed to find a copy in Barnes and Noble’s. It seems like a lot of the books I want aren’t available in mainstream book stores. I have to turn to Amazon and I’d really rather not contribute to Amazon any more. I don’t about the rest of you, but I am looking into buying books from alternative places. If you have any online book retailers that deliver relatively quickly, I (and I’m sure others) would love to know. I did preorder Hellbent, the sequel to Ninth House, and will review that one in the near future. Now, let’s discuss Birds of Paradise.

Content Warning: Violence, Gore, Some depictions of racism, Some graphic descriptions of death, Loss/Grief

Adam, the first man, has been wandering the Earth for centuries up on centuries. He is tired and just biding him time with random jobs, among other distractions. He has seemingly found peace until another former resident of Eden, Rook, sends him on an investigation to find his brother, Magpie. When Adam finds Magpie, he also finds out that remnants of Eden are turning up all over the world and Magpie asks for help recreating the Garden. Thrilled at the thought of rebuilding his beloved home, Adam is thrilled at the opportunity. As he journeys across America and the British Isles, he, with the help of other animals, must work quickly to gather the last pieces of Eden before they fall into the wrong hands.

I honestly couldn’t think of what this book reminded me of until I found a blurb comparing it to American Gods, and that is when I realized why I enjoyed this book so much. Birds of Paradise has a surreal, dreamlike plot with plenty of poignant moments. Oliver K. Langmead introduces interesting philosophical quandaries throughout Adam’s journey. If you are a little concerned about whether this book is religious or not, it is not necessarily religious nor does it preach any particular message. Langmead focuses on an important, but often forgotten, figures in Biblical lore in a way that draws you and doesn’t let you go. I loved how wild this book was, while still having a well – structured narrative. This is a book made me wish I had some book club I could talk about this to. What I’m really trying to say is: absolutely give this book a read. It is unique, thoughtful, and profound in all the best ways.

Despite everything, there was hope: Reviewing Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith by Adam Christopher

Hello everyone! I know we are only a week into the new year, but I still hope that the new year is treating you well. I have definitely been in the mood for more Star Wars content lately. I will definitely do some research on which Star Wars novels I should read in the future. In the meanwhile, let’s go to a galaxy far, far away and talk about Shadow of the Sith.

It’s been twenty years since the Empire fell. Luke Skywalker is working tirelessly to build a future for the New Republic. The past, however, not far behind. Luke begins having visions of a terrifying and ancient on a lost world called Exegol. His fears are only confirmed when an old friend, Lando Calrissian, comes to him with news of a sinister plot by a new Sith Lord. Lando, having lost his daughter, believes her disappearance is tied to a plot to kidnap a young girl named Rey, led by Ochi of Bestoon, a Sith assassin. The two old friends team up on a dangerous journey across the galaxy to stop this deadly new force and save the galaxy.

Although I am not sure if this book is considered canon in the Star Wars universe, it very well should be. Adam Christopher does a great job filling in some of the blanks between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. I am not Star Wars lore expert by any means, but I certainly enjoyed the lore that he incorporates in this novel. Luke and Lando make for a great pairing who were enjoyable to follow throughout this story. Though this novel is on the longer side, it is fast paced and has plenty of action. What is Star Wars without a great fight scene? This may be my new favorite Star Wars novel, next to Brotherhood. I would definitely add this to your list of must reads if you are interested in delving into the literary side of a galaxy far, far away.