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.

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.

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.

Who decides what is a monster?: Reviewing Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes

Hello everyone! I hope everything is going well for you. I promise that this is my last Greek mythology-related book for at least a bit. I don’t want you all to think I only review one type of book anymore. I just have a soft spot for Greek mythology and I felt this book was perfect for Women’s History Month. If you want to you can check out my review of Natalie Haynes’ other book A Thousand Ships. This is her latest novel and it came out not too long ago. I can’t contain my excitement anymore so let’s finally talk about Stone Blind.

Content Warning: Discussions and Depictions of Sexual Assault

Medusa was once a young girl trying to find her place in the world. She lived a quiet life with her fellow Gorgons, Euryale and Sthenno. She also had wings and enjoyed the sea, her sister’s flock, and the birds who flew with her. One day, she decides to visit the temple of Athena. It is there she is assaulted by Poseidon, god of the sea. Unable to punish her uncle, Athena punishes Medusa by giving her snakes for hair and a gaze that can turn any living being to stone. Medusa decides to confine herself to her cave but is unaware that a young man named Perseus is on a quest to retrieve the head of a Gorgon.

Natalie Haynes delivers once again with a feminist retelling of one of the most classic Greek myths. This book follows a similar format to A Thousand Ships where it follows multiple characters who are all connected to the central myth. This was a quick read, but no less impactful, tragic, and thought-provoking. Haynes also incorporates many witticisms that make the characters more relatable or human, if you will. There is no denying that female rage and sadness are what lies at the heart of this story, though. Medusa really is a tragic figure and the other female characters, whether they are gods or mortals, are not exempt from crushing patriarchal standards. I don’t mean to go full English major here but this is a perfect book to dissect and examine. Before I go on a tangent, I am going to say go read Stone Blind as soon as you can and let your feminine rage consume you. We don’t just support women’s rights, we also support their wrongs.

What governs a life, if not chance?: Reviewing Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro

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.

Kiss me. Touch me. Ruin me: Reviewing A Game of Retribution (Book 2 of the Hades Saga) by Scarlett St. Clair

Hello everyone! Let me begin with a minor pet peeve I have regarding books. If a book is a part of a series, there should be some indication on the book as to its place in the series. I don’t understand why publishers don’t put the number on the spine or have “Book (insert number here) of this Series.” Ugh, it just bothers me to no end. End of rant. Anyways, I have more mythology – related book ready to go that are not just Greek mythology. As much as I love Greek mythology, I want to read about mythologies around the world. I developed this obsession as a kid and never quite grew out of it. This is also not the last spicy book I am bringing to you either. So, if you are not 18 or over, keep scrolling. Now, let’s get into A Game of Retribution.

Content Warning: Explicit Sexual Content, Violence and Gore, Discussions and Depictions of Assault, Discussions of Human Trafficking, Grief and Loss, Discussions of Domestic Violence

Hades, the God of the Dead, has always run his kingdom with a strict set of rules to ensure fairness in death. His views begin to shift after Persephone, the Goddess of Spring, enters his life and he learns about a new side of himself. In order to protect his relationship with Persephone, Hades must bargain with Hera, the Goddess of Marriage. At first, Hera asks for Hades help in overthrowing Zeus, her husband and the King of the Gods. When he refuses, Hera gives him labors he must complete or she will curse he future marriage to Persephone. As Hades battles deadly foes and hunts down stolen artifacts, he realize that there is going to be a war on Olympus. Meanwhile, he must help Persephone as she is faced with her own traumas that he may not be able to help her through. Hades must find balance or lose everything he has fought the Fates and Olympians for.

Right away, I am going to say that this one was not as spicy as the first book and a little more plot centric, but I think it worked in this instance. I enjoyed the amount of character development that Scarlett St. Clair does for Hades, who is often not the one who changes in these re-tellings. I like seeing divine characters forced to confront their own personal flaws and failings. I also appreciated the way Hades and Persephone’s relationship develops as there is conflict that resolves in rather realistic ways. This book also had more fighting and action, which I am a sucker for. The mystery element also plays in nicely to the overall plot. I am glad that I gave Scarlett St. Clair another chance and I am excited for the third book in the series, which is coming out in fall of this year.

We do not bend. We do not break. We do not bow. We do not yield: Reviewing The Blood Trials (Book 1 of The Blood Gift Duology) by N. E. Davenport

Hey everyone! I hope everything is looking up for you and that life is going your way. I don’t have too much to say before this review. I am, however, very excited to share this book. For those of you not in the loop, Harpers Collins (who published this book) was at odds with their union. Thankfully, they were able to re-negotiate and now I can talk about this book. Buckle up and let’s talk about The Blood Trials.

Content Warning: Graphic Violence and Gore, Discussions and Depictions of Racism, Discussions and Depictions of Misogyny, Sexual Content, Harsh Language

Ikenna Amari is spiraling after the death of her beloved Grandfather, Verne Amari. He was a legend within the Republic of Mareen for preventing war against the Blood Emperor. He trained Ikenna and taught her how to use her blood gift, which she has to keep secret. Everything is turned on its head when she finds out that her grandfather was assassinated. She suspects that it could only have been carried out by one of his fellow Tribunals and the Praetorian Guard. To find out who did this, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials – a series of grueling, brutal challenges that many aspirants don’t survive. Undergoing these trials also means having to endure the racism towards her half – Khanian heritage and sexism perpetuated within this society. Along with all of this, she must keep her power a secret or else be executed or a fate worse than that. As Ikenna unravels a larger conspiracy, she realizes that the only way she can achieve justice is through blood.

This was just about everything I wanted in a good book. It has action, intrigue, nuance, and plenty of twists. N.E. Davenport does an incredible job creating an intricate yet unpredictable plot. The world building has some clear influences while also standing as its own creation. Ikenna as the first-person narrator helps to strengthen the narrative through a strong voice. She is a powerful female lead who really drives the story forward. While this book isn’t necessarily dystopian, it still gave me similar vibes to the dystopian books I enjoyed as a teen like The Hunger Games or Divergent. This, however, is much more adult and sophisticated. All the while, it is still a thrilling read. Needless to say, I am going to definitely recommend you put this on your TBR ASAP and I will be reading the sequel in the near future.