The woods were full of madmen: Reviewing Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher

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)

Monsters were never beyond her: Reviewing Harrow the Ninth (Book Two of the Locked Tomb series) by Tamsyn Muir

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

To Be the Beginning and the End: Reviewing The Lady of the Lake (Book 5 of The Witcher series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

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

Heroes and Villains and the Spaces Between: Reviewing For the Throne (Book 2 of the Wilderwood Series) by Hannah Whitten

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

Do You Ever Feel Haunted?: Reviewing Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

Hi everyone! I hope you are all still doing as well as the last time you found one of my blogs. I am still impatiently waiting the arrival of autumn because I am sick and tired of being hot all the time. I’m over it. I need hoodie/sweater season to begin already. September is still young and there is still plenty of opportunity left in the year. Let’s discuss Borne by Jeff Vandermeer.

The world is in ruins ever since the Company created a massive, monstrous ursine creature called Mord. Among those ruins lives Rachel, a young scavenger just trying to survive, and her lover, Wick, who remains a mystery to her. One day, while scavenging in Mord’s wake, she stumbles across a strange creature she decides to take home. The creature, who she names Borne, begins to grow and evolve at a rapid pace. With no discernible shape or origin, Borne relies on Rachel to guide him and Rachel finds herself growing protective over this odd being. As Borne grows, though, Rachel fears he might be a danger to himself and the world around him. As a new force threatens to invade Rachel and Wick’s safe haven, she must make critical choices and the consequences will change her reality.

This is not my first time reading a Jeff Vandermeer novel. (Feel free to read my review of Annihilation if you wish). I find the way he portrays the power of nature to be fascinating and Borne was an interesting portrayal of an “eco-apocalypse.” Rachel served as an insightful narrator who helped to further enhance the strangeness and horror of the aftermath of man trying to mess with the balance of nature. Her relationship with Borne is as sweet as it is complicated. I liked how Vandermeer didn’t try to “uncomplicated” issues of people trying to control nature. His narrative is certainly thought provoking and it kept me interested through the whole novel. Though I am not usually a fan of apocalypse stories, I think Vandermeer breathes a breath of fresh air into the genre. If you want some eco-centric sci-fi, then you should definitely check out Borne.

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.

In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck: Reviewing Star Wars: Brotherhood by Mike Chen

Hi everyone!! It is a great time to be a nerd. All of the major franchises are coming out with new projects, movie theaters are back in the swing of things, and streaming services are finally coming out with good stuff. I always look forward to late spring/summer because that is when all of the best movies and tv shows premier. At the tail end of the Kenobi series, I decided to read this particular book just to make myself way sadder. (The show was great, btw, and you can argue with a wall if you think otherwise.) Let’s go back to a galaxy far, far away and talk about Brotherhood.

The Clone Wars have begun and tensions are on the rise throughout the galaxy. The Jedi Order is trying desperately to stop the Separatists from growing stronger. Chaos breaks out when Cato Neimoidia, a key player in the Trade Federation, is attacked and the Republic is blamed. Obi-Wan Kenobi volunteers to visit the planet to find out who is really behind the attacks. Despite Obi-Wan’s insistence, newly knighted Anakin Skywalker joins the investigation into who bombed Cato Neimoidia. The two must reevaluate their relationship now that they are equals and work together to uncover the conspiracy against the Republic.

This was a fun read, albeit a little sad knowing what ultimately happens. I enjoyed the way Chen built off of prequel movies and somewhat “enhanced” previous events. The book also builds off the previous Star Wars novel I read, Master and Apprentice, which I really appreciated. I like that these books are becoming their own little universe. Chen also keeps consistent characterizations, while also having fun with the characters. If you are a fan of the Prequel Trilogy and/or the Clone Wars series, then I would definitely recommend this novel for you.

There is no chaos – only harmony: Reviewing Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray

Hi everyone! I hope you are all enjoying this lovely summer weather. I may be in the middle of some life changes but have had just enough time to catch up on my TBR list. You’re all going to be seeing more Star Wars novel reviews from me in the future because I officially have a new obsession. Whether you’re on the light side or the dark, I hope you appreciate my review of Master and Apprentice.

It is the duty of the Jedi to train their Padawans to be fierce and just warriors. Qui – Gon Jinn, however, finds himself at odds with his pragmatic Padawan, Obi – Wan Kenobi. Their relationship is only strained further when Qui – Gon is offered a place of the Jedi Council. Before a decision can be made, the Master and Padawan are summoned to the planet of Pijal by a renegade Jedi, Rael Aveross. Jinn and Kenobi find themselves in the middle of political turmoil. When danger lurks around every corner, Jinn and Kenobi’s bond is put to the ultimate test.

This book was equal parts epic adventure and thoughtful character study, which is what I want in a Star Wars novel. Claudia Gray does and excellent job maintaining and expanding upon the characters of Obi – Wan Kenobi and Qui – Gon Jinn. Even the original characters in the novel are interesting in their own right. This imaginative addition to the Star Wars canon is definitely worth the read for both casual and long term fans alike.

This Ends in Roots and Bones: Reviewing For the Wolf (Book 1 of the Wilderwood series) by Hannah Whitten

Hi everyone! So, I’m a bit of a fast reader. When I get invested in a book, I have a hard time setting it aside. I get to a point in the book when I think to myself, “Whatever, I can finish it today.” Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I haven’t decided. I have, however, decided I needed to share this one with you all. Let’s talk about For the Wolf.

From the moment she was born, Red had a destiny to fulfill. As the Second Daughter, she was to be sacrificed to the Wolf who lives in the dangerous Wilderwood in the hopes that he will release the Five Kings. She is almost thankful to go in order to avoid hurting anyone with a magic that she doesn’t understand. She quickly learns that the Wolf is not a wolf, but a man trying to keep a dangerous power at bay. Red must learn to use her powers to defeat the dark magic that lies in the Wilderwood before it reaches and destroys her world and everything she loves.

Hannah Whitten cleverly combines elements of classic fairy tales in her own elaborate world to create this unputdownable fantasy. I saw slivers of tales like Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White all sprinkled throughout this story, but with a rather adult spin on them. The character shine on their own, though, with each defying their roles in epic ways. This novel is also a little sexy in the best ways. I don’t want to go on for too long because I don’t want to give away too much. If you are looking for a captivating fantasy novel, then I would highly suggest picking up For the Wolf as you will be transported into a magical but dark world that you won’t want to leave from.

One Match can Light up an Empire: Reviewing Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Hello everyone! Yet again, I find myself finishing a book at an ungodly hour and feeling the need to blog about it immediately after when I should just go to bed. This one, for me, couldn’t wait. I wanted to kick off Pride Month with an LGBTQ+ book review for all of you. I am in the process of moving right now (among other life events) so I don’t know how much time I’ll have to read this month. But nothing will ever truly get between me and my need to read every book I get my hands on. So, let’s discuss Winter’s Orbit.

Prince Kiem has built a reputation for himself as the “playboy prince of Iskat,” which puts him in the bad graces of the Emperor, his grandmother. His carefree life is turned upside down when the Emperor calls on him to enter a political marriage with the recently widowed Count Jainan. Neither wants to be married, but it is the only way to settle the disharmony rising up between their home planets. The couple soon find themselves wrapped up in a conspiracy that spreads across the galaxy and must work together to prevent a possible war.

Everina Maxwell does an excellent job balancing a compelling plot and slow burn romance in this exciting sci-fi novel. The pacing was steady and allows for the reader to fully absorb the vast galaxy that Maxwell carefully crafts. The romance between Kiem and Jainan is sweet, awkward, and passionate in all of the best ways. It is definitely more of a character driven novel overall, which I appreciate in this instance. With sci-fi novels, it sometimes feels as though I either get to know the setting or the characters well but rarely both. In this instance, I felt as though both were equally fleshed out through the writing. I am absolutely going to recommend this novel if you are looking for a sci-fi adventure with romance to read this summer.