Winner Takes All: Reviewing Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert

Hi everyone! I hope you are all still doing well. My TBR list has not gotten any shorter and I don’t intend to stop reading any time soon. I’m still having a tough time finding certain books on my never-ending list of books I eventually want to read. I don’t know about the rest of you but I have a list in my Notes app that’s just books I want to get around to reading. Alright, enough rambling from me. You saw the author and knew it was going to be spicy, so let’s get spicy with the third installment in Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series. (This book is for mature audiences who are 18 or older. If you are not 18 or older, feel free to check out any other number of reviews I have on my blog).

The ultra – modern city of Olympus is as cutthroat as ever and change is in the air. The title of Ares is up for grabs and a competition will be held to decide who is worthy to take up this crucial position. Having come up from nothing, Achilles Kallis is determined to claw his way into the inner circle of the Thirteen. With his brilliant partner, Patroclus Fotos at his side, Achilles feels certain that he will become Ares. Everything is thrown into chaos when Helen Kasios, the most beautiful woman in Olympus, decides to enter the competition. Sick and tired of being treated as an object, Helen is also fiercely determined to prove everyone wrong. As the competition heats up, Achilles and Patroclus decide to form an alliance with Helen. The three soon finds themselves in a complicated position as emotions run high and danger lurks around every corner.

What sets this novel apart from the other books in Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series is that the stakes are high all the way through. While the other two were more about the relationships, this one focuses a bit more on the circumstances surrounding the relationship at the heart of this book. I had never read a “throuple” romance so I was a little nervous going into this but there was plenty of balance to be found between Achilles, Patroclus, and Helen. It was certainly spicy in all of the best ways and that is really what you read these books for. I will say that this one is the least accurate to the mythology it is based on, so if you want accuracy then I would recommend the other two books. I personally enjoyed the many action scenes in the book and the way that they alluded to The Illiad. I’m still enjoying this series and would recommend this one if you are still looking for an extra steamy novel with plenty of high stakes.

Large. Angry. Terrifying: Reviewing The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

Hi everyone! As always, I am wishing everyone the best. You know, when I write these blogs I really hope that at least some of you read these books too. I like sharing things that bring me happiness in hopes that someone else will find happiness in the same things. With the world being what it is, we could all use a little escapism here and there. Enough with my mildly sappy rambling. Let’s talk about The Kaiju Preservation Society.

Jamie Gray is just trying to make ends meet when he gets laid off from his job because of the COVID – 19 pandemic. While working for a food delivery service, he runs into an acquaintance who offers him a mysterious job at an equally mysterious “large animal preserve.” Jamie takes him up on the offer and soon discovers that his job is not even on this Earth or with ordinary animals. Instead, Jamie finds himself face-to-face with impossibly large and deadly creatures. Though, they are not as deadly as they seem as they need help to survive. Jamie and a few newcomers must protect these creatures when deadly forces threaten the safety of both kaiju-kind and mankind alike.

This isn’t my first time reviewing a John Scalzi novel and this won’t be my last as I had a blast with The Kaiju Preservation Society. Jamie as the narrator is sharp and witty. The other characters only add to a great deal of fun and intrigue in this novel. The world-building is also fascinating and thoroughly explained in such a short novel (258 pages). It definitely gave me similar vibes to The Martian, if that is the kind of sci-fi you enjoy. Scalzi delivers fun and fast-paced adventure full of monsters and science in a novel that any fan of Godzilla will truly enjoy.

Fighting, Fury, and Madness: Reviewing Baptism of Fire (Book 3 of The Witcher Series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hello everyone! I’m back way sooner than I thought with another book review. I tend to read up to four books at the same time and just kind of rotate through them. Not to brag or anything, but I have a bit of free time on my hands. Being that I am in a “winter break” of sorts, I’m hoping to put out at least one or two more reviews before the end of January. With any luck, I’ll find out if I have been accepted into a PhD program or not. Enough of my rambling, let’s talk about The Witcher.

War has swept across the Continent and every kingdom is out for blood. Recovering from an injury, Geralt must rely on an odd group of travelers to help him find Ciri, who is being hunted by the villainous Emhyr. Meanwhile, Yennefer is caught in a tangled political web with her fellow mages as they try to protect the future of magic. Everything is at stake as the world descends into chaos and fire.

This book is probably my favorite so far in The Witcher series. It had a lot of traveling that was rather reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings and battle scenes akin to Game of thrones, all the while maintaining its own unique world building. I felt that the story was evenly distributed among the main characters with each having their own high stakes. Even the more expository parts were interesting as it was Sapkowski really investing the readers into the magic system and fictional history he has so carefully crafted. I personally really enjoyed this entry in The Witcher series and will continue to highly recommend this series (and the Netflix show). Maybe I’ll even give the video game a shot one day.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this…: Reviewing Dark Force Rising (Book Two of the Thrawn Trilogy) by Timothy Zahn

Hi everyone! I hope you all are coping well with the stress of the holidays. Ugh. It’s a lot. I’m trying to get through my TBR list before Christmas because I basically only asked for books. I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted, really. Besides that, I wanted to continue this particular trilogy so let’s talk about Dark Force Rising.

Grand Admiral Thrawn’s campaign against the New Republic continues after acquiring what remains of the Imperial Fleet. Meanwhile, Han Solo and Land Calrissian try to uncover treason within the Republic Council and find themselves caught in a much larger conspiracy. Leia Organa Solo finds herself alone as she must gather more allies for the New Republic’s cause. Luke Skywalker, on the other hand, must contend with a Dark Jedi who wants to bring him to the dark side. It is a race against time before Thrawn launches his most powerful attack.

Upon delving into the world of Star Wars, I have discovered people either love the space politics and detail backstories or they just want lightsaber fights. This book contains mostly the former. Personally, I found the book to be very slow at points with the endless negotiating scenes and the political espionage. I am sure a bigger Star Wars fan might appreciate it a bit more than I. I still enjoyed the book, though. There were a lot of emotional stakes that made the world all the more interesting. I am still going to recommend this series to any Star War fan but, be warned, it is a bit long winded.

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away…: Reviewing Heir to the Empire (Book 1 of the Thrawn Trilogy) by Timothy Zahn

Hello everybody! I hope everyone is enjoying the nice fall weather and getting just as excited for spooky season as me. I have a few horror novels that I am saving for October. Before I get into this review, I need to backtrack just a bit. About midway through lockdown, I decided that I was going to revisit the Star Wars franchise, but not the main movies. I initially began with The Mandalorian then fell deeper down the rabbit hole with Star Wars: The Clone Wars, then I began to read various Star Wars comics. I decided to take the plunge into Star Wars literature as I had heard good things about many of the novels associated with the movies since I need to read every book under the sun. Now, join me as we journey into the famous Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn.

It’s been five years since the Empire fell. Since then, Princess Leia and Han Solo have gotten married and are expecting twins. Luke Skywalker has become a fully fledged Jedi knight. Together, the three have been working to build the New Republic and bring peace to the galaxy. However, a new threat is on the horizon. Grand Admiral Thrawn, a brilliant and ruthless warlord, has taken control of the remnants of the Empire and plans to wipe out the burgeoning New Republic and, with a newly discovered power, he will stop at nothing to bring back the Empire.

I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with this first novel in the trilogy. Zahn’s novel feels as cinematic and action – packed as any of the movies in the Original trilogy. I am not sure how cannon these books are but I certainly liked how such classic characters like Luke, Han, and Leia were further developed. Thrawn is a great character on his own and he especially made me want to keep reading this book. You don’t need to know a ton about Star Wars lore going into this novel as Zahn creates a whole new journey to follow. I would definitely recommend this to the casual and die hard Star Wars fan alike as it is an immersive and exciting book that I wanted to finish so I could read the next one immediately.

Quietly, Treacherously, Cruelly: Reviewing The Time of Contempt (Book Two of The Witcher series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hey everyone! How are you all doing? I really have nothing of importance to say. I just turned 25 so I have that going for me. Right now, though, I am just reading everything I can get my hands on. I have recently developed an interested with the Star Wars novelizations and got a copy of the first book in the Thrawn trilogy so expect to see that in the near future on this blog. Let’s keep going with my reviews of The Witcher series with the second installment in this saga.

It is a struggle for power as war against Nilfgaard is on the horizon. As tensions build among the monarchs, Gerald finds himself caught in the middle of a deadly coup. Meanwhile, Ciri clashes with Yennefer about her magical education. When an attack splits up the group, the three must find ways to survive in a world now ravaged by war and with many powerful enemies on every front.

I can say that, as much I am enjoying this series, I do have some mixed feelings. The exposition can be a bit much, especially since it is the second book in the series. I absolutely love when the action really gets going, though. Geralt is still very much a favorite character of mine and I love to read about him (and Yennefer). This book, however, focuses more on Ciri who I am not terribly attached to. I will say, though, if you like the “found family” trope then you will enjoy this particular installation of The Witcher series. I can still say that I am enjoying this series and plan on reading all of it as I do love high fantasy and escapism.

When we crash, we intertwine: Reviewing Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Hello everyone! It has been a hot minute since I’ve posted. I promise I won’t abandon this blog any time soon. I’ve just been all caught up with university, anxiety, social distancing, and all that other fun stuff (See? Sarcasm). I’ve still found enough time to go out a little and enjoy things. Of course, I wasn’t about to give up on Tomi Adeyemi’s series. Feel free to check out my review for the first novel, Children of Blood and Bone. Now it’s time to talk about the recently released sequel.

Zelie and Amari had finally succeeded in bringing back to Orisha, but they were not prepared for the other consequences it might bring. Now, Zelie must unite all of the maji in order to defeat Inan and put Amari on the throne. When the monarchy launches an attack on the maji, it is up to Zelie to protect her people and avoid the war or else everything she loves will be destroyed.

Even though this book took me a little while to get through, it is actually very fast paced and has tons of action. The magic system in the novel is incredibly well thought out, which helps add to the incredible world building that Adeyemi has done. When it comes to fantasy, though, a lot of authors tend to make their characters either too powerful or neglect any consequences that their characters may have to deal with. Adeyemi completely avoids that pitfall by making her characters understandably, albeit frustratingly, imperfect. I wouldn’t enjoy the book if I couldn’t sympathize with Zelie, Amari, and the rest. That is why I love this series. It harkens back to my love of shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender. Though this is a YA fantasy series, I think adult and teen readers alike can bond over this series with it’s incredible action, high stakes, and emotional beats that will keep you wanting more.

Let Your Chaos Explode: Reviewing Blood of Elves (Book 1 in The Witcher series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hi everybody! I’m back far sooner than I thought I would be as I am suddenly incredibly motivated to get through my TBR list. I’ve also just loved reading any sort of source material if I watch a show that its based on. When I was younger, my mom came up with a rule that if I wanted to see a movie that was based on a book then I had to read the book first. That was obviously no issue for me and has only made me a bigger nerd as the years have went on. The Witcher is simply my latest in the long line of fantasy novels I have devoured so let’s talk about Blood of Elves.

Geralt of Rivia is the Witcher, a famed assassin with magical abilities, who hunts down monsters. His current mission, though, is to protect Ciri, the lost princess of Cintra and the Child of Surprise. Ciri possesses a great power that can be used for good or for great evil. With a war between elves, humans, dwarves, and others on the horizon, Geralt must do everything in his power to prevent this war and save as many lives as he can – no matter what the cost.

Like I said in my review for the prequel novel, this is definitely the perfect series to fill the Game of Thrones – shaped hole in your life. I thoroughly enjoyed the action in this book as well as the elaborate world building. Albeit, there were a couple scenes that involved politics which were pretty slow but, with this being the first official novel in the series, I am going to give in the benefit of the doubt since its important to establish these things. It all ties together nicely and creates a build up for the action, which is very well written. Even though the characters give off the impression that they are “perfect,” they are flawed in the best ways. Sapkowski managed to avoid the Mary Sue tropes that tend to pop up frequently in modern fantasy. It gives off a high fantasy air without any pretentious tropes. I am still thoroughly enjoying this series and have re-watched the Netflix series multiple times.

Toss a Coin to Your Witcher: Reviewing The Last Wish (An Introduction to The Witcher) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hello everybody! I am doing better and I hope you all are doing better as well. I just got done re-watching Avatar: The Last Airbender and felt a little inspired by Uncle Iroh. I made a cup of tea and hunkered down with a good book. In this case, I was inspired by my newest Netflix obsession, The Witcher. Now, I am really not much of a gamer so I can’t speak to the video game but (obviously) I am a reader who has been lacking in the fantasy series department for a while. I may have finally filled the hole in my heart left behind by Game of Thrones.

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher, a fighter who is skilled in magic and murder. Before hearing a call to destiny, Geralt must traverse across the country and battle dangerous monsters in this series of short stories.

I apologize now for the vague summary but it took me a minute to realize that this novel is not the first book in the series, but an introduction to the actual series. I found this to be the most interesting aspect of the novel and one of the most enjoyable. I like the way Sapkowski eases you as the reader into the world as, sometimes, adult fantasy can be rather jarring with its levels of violence and sex. While there is violence and sex in the novel, it didn’t feel gratuitous. It also didn’t feel like the story had to stop for violence or sex. There was still plenty of room for Geralt’s character development as well as interesting world building. I also thoroughly enjoyed the dry and understated humor that was sprinkled throughout the writing. Overall, I enjoyed this first step into The Witcher series and I absolutely bought the first novel before I even finished this one. (Also the Netflix series is fairly faithful, if you are interested.)

Power Has Its Price: Reviewing The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Hi everybody! I hope a lot of you are at least seeing some improvement in every day life. I’m from the US so I don’t have many positive things to say at this exact moment. It felt very serendipitous that the prequel to The Hunger Games be released now. I had almost forgotten it was coming out this year until I saw the display at the store where I work. Of course, I bought a copy immediately. In my opinion, The Hunger Games trilogy still holds up as I read it through adult eyes. Now, let’s relive our pre-teen/teen glory days as we talk about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

As the tenth annual Hunger Games approaches, a young Coriolanus Snow is desperate to restore his once great family name to glory. When he’s given the opportunity to be a mentor for the Hunger Games, he realizes the odds are stacked against him as he must face his better prepared classmates. His initial anger with being tasked to mentor the tribute from District 12 turns into an opportunity when he meets the enigmatic, charming, and spontaneous Lucy Gray Baird. With a new sense of hope, Coriolanus must make sure that Lucy Gray survives the dangers of the arena, while he tries to survive the dangers outside of the arena.

Like many fans of the original trilogy, I was nervous at the idea of a prequel coming out so many years later. I, however, quickly became swept up in the world of Panem once again. Coriolanus Snow is an interesting character study, given the impression we have of him from the original trilogy. The novel presents an interesting dilemma as it shows someone who is so close to the edge of compassion for the reader, but still manages to be unlikeable. He has an almost similar origin story to Katniss, but with a different approach to the systems that have been used to oppress a population. Some work against it from the outside, while others work for it from the inside. The world of Panem was still just as familiar, but Collins adds a level of uncertainty as the Hunger Games are still in its infancy in this novel. I found this to be a very compelling read with the same no-holds barred level of violence and brutal honesty from the trilogy. I would say that fans of The Hunger Games will find this an interesting addition that offers an even more complex look at the dystopia of Panem.