Hi everyone! I hope you are holding up as the world behaves in strange ways. If there was ever a time when things were predictable and calm, I miss that time. Anyways, I am coming to you with my first long read of this year as this book comes in at about 650 and some pages. I am also genuinely surprised I haven’t seen more buzz surrounding this book either. Hopefully, this will jumpstart a conversation since I really want someone else to experience this. With that being said, let’s talk about Ordinary Monsters.
Content Warning: Graphic Depictions of Violence, Extreme Bodily Harm, Depictions of Child Abuse, Supernatural Horror, Harsh Language, Violent Death Scenes
In Victorian-era London, a mysterious figure made of smoke is targeting children with strange abilities. Sixteen-year-old Charlie Ovid from Mississippi can heal from any injury inflicted on him. A gruff female detective, Alice Quicke, rescues him from an angry mob and brings him to England. While there, they find an orphaned boy named Marlowe who possesses abilities that no one has ever seen before. After being chased by the evil being made of dust, the boys come to Cairndale in Scotland, which was built for children with talents like theirs. They meet a Japanese girl named Komako who can control dust, a teen girl calling herself Ribs who can turn invisible, and a young Polish boy named Oskar who can create monsters out of flesh. Charlie, Marlowe, and the others soon learn that Cairndale is sitting over a portal between the living and the dead that is on the brink of collapse. The children must learn the limits of their powers to prevent the dead from invading the world of the living and fight the monster hunting them down.
This novel was truly a cinematic and atmospheric experience with plenty of action, magic, and intrigue throughout. I normally hesitate to read longer novels because I have run into ones that tend to have a lot of filler. J.M. Miro, however, packed. this book is to the brim with an intricate plot and plenty of interesting characters. The novel covers quite a bit of distance in time and space so Miro gives all the characters plenty of time to develop, which I greatly appreciated. I personally love dark fantasy novels and Ordinary Monsters certainly gets very dark and rather disturbing at times. Don’t let this put you off, though, as it is hard to pull away from this novel. This is certainly an intimidating book but it is so worth the read. Ordinary Monsters deserves more attention and I would highly recommend you delve into this dark fantasy.
Hello everyone! I hope everything is going well for you all. It is hard to not get disheartened by circumstances beyond one’s control. As I like to tell people: accept what you can’t change and change what you can’t accept. (I didn’t come up with that, but I do stick by it). Anyways, I am coming at with yet another book set in the Star Wars universe. If you are not interested, I completely understand. I just find myself having fun with these particular books. I was not always into Star Wars and wasn’t even terribly interested until relatively recently. Once you get into the world of it all, it is easy to see what makes it so fun. While the previous novels I have read have focused on the Light Side and Jedis, this is the first one I have read that deals with the Empire and Dark Side. Without much further ado, let’s talk about Thrawn.
During his exile to a remote planet. Thrawn is able to capture the attention of the Imperial forces stationed there through an impressive display of his ingenious tactical abilities. This captures the attention of Emperor Palpatine, who grants Thrawn a place in the Imperial military. Thrawn, though, is a non-human and must gain the necessary victories to cement his position. With the help of his most trusted aide Eli Vanto, Thrawn quickly rises through the ranks of the Empire through his various victories. He still, however, lacks political knowledge and forms a tentative alliance with Arihnda Pryce. Thrawn’s high ranking status is at risk when an insurgent group with a powerful leader threaten’s the Empire’s power. Thrawn must stop this rebellion or risk all of his carefully curated plans for his future ascendancy being destroyed.
Before I begin my review, here is a little bit of Star Wars insight for you. The character of Thrawn has been featured in the animated series “Star Wars: Rebels” and is set to make a live action debut sometime in the future. If the name sounds familiar, it is because I did read Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy, where Thrawn is the main antagonist. Feel free to read those reviews if you are interested. Now, as for my review: this was certainly unique amongst the other pieces of Star Wars media of consumed. While we (obviously) aren’t supposed to root for the Empire/Dark Side, Timothy Zahn presents one of the most intriguing figures in the Empire. I almost hate to admit this but I found myself genuinely wanting Thrawn and his crew to succeed and almost completely forgot he is one of the “bad guys.” Zahn does a great job creating a believability within the fantastical world of Star Wars. This is also a well – paced read with plenty of high stakes. It still had everything I look for in a good Star Wars story; it just so happen to take place on the Dark Side. So if you are interested in exploring a completely different side of the Star Wars universe, this is definitely the book you should check out.
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.
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.
Hello everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your holidays and are still enjoying your time off. I guess I have one more book review before the end of the year. I was really not expecting to finish this one but I had pretty good momentum. I do plan on posting my annual favorites list before the end of this week, though. For this upcoming year, my goal is to re-read more of my past favorites books so I might not be posting that frequently as I would like a more manageable TBR pile. Now, let’s talk about Sue Lynn Tan’s debut novel, Daughter of the Moon Goddess.
Xingyin has lived a peaceful, idyllic life with her mother on the moon. As she grows older, Xingyin begins to question why she must live in such solitude and finds out that her mother was exiled by the Celestial Emperor, who does not know of Xingyin’s existence. When Xingyin’s magic grows too powerful, she is forced to flee the only life she has ever known. Alone, scared and desperate, she hides her identity and does her best to survive. When the opportunity to become the attendant of the emperor’s son come up, Xingyin seizes the chance. She trains alongside him, learning and growing her powers. She also finds herself falling in love with the prince. In order to free her mother, Xingyin must embark on a dangerous journey full of monsters and forbidden magic. As the threat of war looms over the Celestial Kingdom, Xingyin must complete an impossible task for the Celestial Emperor or lose everything she has fought for.
Since this is a debut novel, I am going to begin out with a few compliments. First of all, I did genuinely enjoy the writing itself. The descriptions were gorgeous and it read like a fairy tale or myth at times. Secondly, the world building was well thought out and the magic elements were really interesting. Lastly, I thought the action sequences were actually quite exciting. Now, let’s get to what I didn’t like. I did see this book pop up on a lot of people’s most disappointing books of this year and, I hate to admit it, but I understand. I normally try to not let other reviews cloud my opinion too much. In this case, it was hard to avoid. I have to begin by saying that I don’t understand why the novel was classified as “adult fiction.” This is very much a YA novel and not just because the main protagonist is a teenager. There is some violence but the novel doesn’t address any heavy or mature topics, if you will. Many people who gave this a low rating also mentioned the pacing and I would have to agree. This book is somehow too fast and too slow at the same time. You aren’t given an opportunity to sit with any of these important events or enjoy any character development. Xingyin is a perfectly fine protagonist and I certainly didn’t mind following her journey. She doesn’t get the necessary character development, in my opinion. I do have a few more opinions on this book but that would involve having to divulge the plot and I don’t want to spoil it too much. I really didn’t dislike this novel as it had a lot of potential, but it simply didn’t reach it for me. I will try to deter you from reading Daughter of the Moon Goddess as I still found enjoyment in it, but I feel as though there might be a better alternative if you want a mythology- inspired fantasy novel.
Hello everyone! I managed to squeeze in one more book before the end of the year! I also want to clear something up. I was under the impression that this book was the last in The Witcher series. I now have to rethink my review of the actual last book in the series I previously reviewed. Regardless, I am now truly and officially finished with this series. Now, for all of you fantasy fans, let’s talk about this standalone adventure in The Witcher series.
Content Warning: Violence, Gore, Offensive Language, Some Sexual Content, Torture
After an unfortunate incident, the Witcher Geralt of Rivia is left without his weapons. His swords are crucial in his hunt for monsters. To get his swords back, Geralt accepts a contract to hunt a demon in exchange for his treasured weapons. The contract soon goes very wrong and, with the help of unexpected allies, Geralt must face down a whole host of dangerous characters and deadly force that he might not be able to stop.
I truly love a good, old-fashioned fantasy adventure and Sapkowski continues to prove himself to be a great storyteller. Out of all of the books in the series, this one actually had the best pacing in my opinion. I also particularly enjoyed how much action is packed into this novel, without it being overwhelming. (It can be a little gratuitous at times, though). If you find high fantasy to be an intimidating genre, The Witcher series would be the best choice for you. It isn’t so packed with information and characters that you can’t keep up, but it still has a thoroughly crafted world with interesting characters. There is plenty of action that keeps each story at a pretty good pace. Geralt is a great protagonist, particularly if you like a reluctant hero-type character. Now that I have read the whole series, I can confidently say that I am a fan of The Witcher series. (Note: I am pretty sure if you want to read the series in the correct order then you would read this one before The Last Wish.)
Hello everyone! I was not expecting to be back this soon, but here I am with yet another review. T. Kingfisher is quickly becoming one of my new favorite authors, so I definitely plan to read more of their books in the future. In fact, I know that they are coming out with another book so that is going to be Southern Gothic. It is on my too long list of books I want to read that is constantly being updated. Feel free to check out my review of What Moves the Dead. Let’s continue on by talking about Nettle and Bone. (Minor content warning at the very bottom).
Marra is the third born daughter of the king and queen and has never been comfortable with being royalty. Her parents send her away to a convent, where she gets to be free of the duties of a princess. Her two older sisters, though, are not so fortunate. After her eldest sister dies at the hands of a prince, her other older sister is quickly married to him. Marra quickly realizes that something sinister is afoot. She decides to take matters into her own hands to save her sister and her kingdom. With the help of some unusual characters, Marra sets on an impossible journey to take down an entire kingdom.
Kingfisher crafts together a unique heroic journey off the bones of fairytales that are reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm. There was something so different yet so familiar as the story follows a rather traditional fairytale structure, but with a darker feminist narrative built in. Marra is a relatable protagonist who confronts her fears in a way that readers may find relatable. This is also a pretty quick read, coming in at 240 pages. If you are looking for an interesting dark fairytale, then go ahead and check out this novella by T. Kingfisher.
(Content Warning: Discussions of Abuse, Discussions of Miscarriage, Death of a Child)
Hello everyone! I stayed awake to finish this novel rather than actually relax. Who needs a healthy sleep schedule anyways? Regardless, I am excited to hop back into this series again. I actually bought the newest (and third) installment before I even finished this one. I have actually never really been a huge fan of book series but I am so glad I found this one. Now, without further ado, let’s get into Harrow the Ninth. (Content warnings will be at the very bottom of this post).
Harrowhark “Harrow” Nonagesimus, the last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been made a Lyctor and fights alongside the Emperor Undying. As the youngest of the Lyctors, Harrow must work twice as hard to perfect her skills. Her training, however, is proven to be extremely difficult as her health starts fail her, her teachers try to kill her, and her mind is seemingly know longer her own. Harrow soon finds herself facing a seemingly impossible task as the ghost of a murdered planet is chasing after her. As the universe seems to be ending, Harrow finds herself confronting some uncomfortable truths as she begins to question what her real purpose is.
Wow. At no point in this novel did I fully understand what the heck was happening. I mean that in a good way too. Muir keeps the reader thoroughly engaged in this sequel. The narrative jumps around in time at random and changes narrative styles without warning. I found myself having to re-read parts to make sure I was processing everything correctly. The world – building in this novel is intense, to say the least. Nothing lets up as Harrow plunges further and further into wild scenarios. I was truly impressed with just how this novel tangled and wove into something that made sense in the strangest way possible. I really don’t want to spoil too much. I will just say that this was definitely a very successful sequel to an incredible series.
Content Warning: Graphic Violence, Gore, Harsh Language, Some Sexual Content
Hello everybody! Still holding up, I see. Good to hear. If you are not, then I do hope everything improves for you. I hope your books offer you just a modicum of relief from whatever it is you are going through. After this review, I will be moving right along to my horror novels, which I am super excited for. I, however, am still far too invested into the Witcher series and have two novels left before I finish it, which I was honestly not expecting. If you are so inclined, let’s have a chat about the fifth novel in the series, The Lady of the Lake. (Trigger warnings are going to be at the end).
After walking into the Tower of Swallows, Ciri finds herself in a completely different world that exists among many other worlds. As a child of prophecy, she is still being targeted for her powers and must learn to survive in a world that shouldn’t exist and find her way back home. Meanwhile, Geralt is still searching for her, as well as Yennefer, and continues to race to find them before their enemies catch up to them. A war still rages on and the world as they know it will never be the same.
This was probably the most stressful entry to The Witcher series, in my opinion. Sapkowski really knows how to make you wait for the good stuff. The lore goes even deeper than I originally anticipated with this series, though. This installment was particularly head scratching, but it made me read further. The action sequences were also particularly suspenseful and pretty devastating (no spoilers here). I was honestly surprised by how emotional The Lady of the Lake was. I am going to continue to recommend The Witcher series, if you are looking for a compelling fantasy series that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Trigger Warning: Graphic Violence, Sexual Assault, Strong Language, Gore, Drug Usage
Hi everyone! I hope you are enjoying the first days of fall and getting cozy with your favorite books. I have been looking forward to this drop in temperature for way too long now. I am looking forward to my TBR list more than ever before. I have quite a few novellas, if you are interested in quick, spooky reads. Before we get to that, let’s wrap up Hannah Whitten’s Wilderwood duology. (There will be a brief trigger warning at the very bottom if you wish to read it).
After having fought against a horrible darkness, Red and her Wolf have become a part of the Wilderwood and settled into a seemingly happy life. Her sister Neve, however, is trapped in the Shadowlands with Solmir, the man who tried to destroy the Wilderwood. The two set aside their differences, though, as they must destroy the Five Kings before they destroy the world. All the while, Neve and Red are trying desperately to reunite but their reunion might bring more ruin than they can imagine.
I liked the direction that Whitten took this deep, but richly created duology. Honestly, I think this could have made a good trilogy with all of the lore that Whitten packed into these two novels. If you want a high fantasy with a good journey, then this is will probably pique your interest. Neve’s story ended up being far more compelling than I though it would be since she wasn’t overly present in the first novel. While there are two love stories at play (an enemies to lovers one, if you are so interested), it is ultimately a story about familial love, which I greatly appreciated. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will recommend checking this duology out if a dark adult fantasy (with a little bit of spice) is something you are looking for this fall season.
Trigger Warning: Gore, Violence, Some Strong Language