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

Blood and Roots and Magic: Reviewing The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova

Hello everyone! Wow, I am on a roll with these books. It’s nice not being so mentally exhausted all the freaking time. I am not perfect, though, and like to re-watch my favorite shows far too often. That doesn’t stop me from powering through my TBR pile. Without further ado, let’s talk about The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina.

The Montoya family is used to magic and not knowing where it comes from. It provided them a good life but also created rifts. When their mysterious matriarch, Orquidea, tells them to come to collect their inheritance, they find her being transformed into a tree. She leaves them with mysterious gifts with no further explanation. Seven years after Orquidea’s transformation, cousins Marimar, Rey, and Rhiannon, find themselves in danger as a mysterious figure is seemingly hunting them down for their gifts. Determined to learn the truth, they decide to travel to Ecuador to find what their grandmother left behind and it will change their lives forever.

I went into this book blind and enjoyed what I found inside. Zoraida Cordova crafts a fast-paced, magical, and touching story of a family being reunited after a tragedy. I thought the magic was portrayed beautifully and the mystery of the plot kept me intrigued. I wouldn’t exactly call this book a mystery novel, but it definitely has that exciting quality, while not losing its heart to thrills. It is a relatively short novel, but it is certainly impactful. If you are looking for magical realism or a story about family bonds, then I would go ahead and read this one because it has everything and then some.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, yours to mine and mine to yours: Reviewing The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Hi everyone! I hope you are all still doing well, or hopefully, doing better than you once were, if that is the case. I’ve been a little stressed lately, but it’s a healthy kind of stress; the kind that makes you want to be better. Life is just like that sometimes. There’s nothing a good book (or a good show) can’t help. Let’s get a little magical and talk about The Once and Future Witches.

It’s 1893 and witches are nothing more than a folk tale. Magic doesn’t exist and women are left to fend for themselves. There is a suffragist movement in New Salem. This is the movement that reunites the estranged Eastwood sisters after their father’s mysterious death. Beatrice Belladonna, Agnes Amaranth, and James Juniper decide to put aside their differences and start a revolution of their own: a witches’ movement. The sisters quickly come face to face with deadly and mysterious forces that try to tear them apart. Their bond, though, must withstand these challenges in order to heal their family bonds and secure a safe future for all witches from the past, present, and future.

Alix E. Harrow crafts a wonderfully spun tale of witches that is as empowering and entertaining. She cleverly spins common rhymes and fairy tales to create a powerful and clever narrative where magic is found where you least expect it. The Eastwood sisters are vibrant and complex as they struggle to heal from past tragedies. I would argue that this book is actually quite relatable to anyone who has ever felt powerless at one point in their lives. If you are looking for an enchanting and rebellious, look no further then The Once and Future Witches.

One Flesh, One End: Reviewing Gideon the Ninth (Book One in the Locked Tomb Trilogy) by Tamsyn Muir

Hello everyone! I hope you are doing well under the worst heat arguably ever. I’ve had some positive life changes in the last week, so I’m in a good mood right now. Though we are still little ways out from spooky season, that won’t stop me from delving into the creepy and macabre. Without further pretense, let’s get into Gideon the Ninth, the first novel in the Locked Tomb trilogy.

Gideon Nav grew up in the Ninth House, a place known for its dreary atmosphere, ossifying nobility, and strict religious conduct. Her only dream is to be free and enlist as a soldier. Her plans for her escape are thwarted by her childhood nemesis and the Reverend Daughter of the Ninth house, Harrowhark Nonagesimus. Harrow is called upon by the Emperor to join the necromancers of the other eight houses to be tested in deadly trials. The remaining heir will become a Lyctor, the immortal right hand to the Emperor. Harrow offers Gideon an ultimatum: serve as her cavalier and she will be free from her servitude. With Harrow’s advanced magic and Gideon’s sword, the two find themselves facing a challenge far greater than imagined and death isn’t even the worst outcome if they fail.

Content warning: body horror, gore, violence, language

With that warning out the way, I may have found my new favorite sci-fi horror novel. Granted, it isn’t necessarily scary, but Gideon the Ninth was certainly a thrilling read. Gideon herself was a great protagonist and I loved her playful banter and sarcasm. The novel itself was a rather cinematic one with an interesting magic system, fleshed-out characters, and big action set pieces. It is also a fairly classic whodunnit mystery at the heart of the novel. I do enjoy those types of mysteries so I might be a little biased. I am going to go ahead and give Gideon the Ninth my personal seal of approval and encourage you to try this one if you want a book that’s equally creepy and fantastical.

Don’t You Wish You Were Here?: Reviewing The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Hi everyone! As always, I hope you are all doing well. I’ve been enjoying the highs and lows of the summer season. I meant to do a birthday post but got a little caught up. Now, I know I tend to read a lot of dark books and I will continue to read even more of those. That doesn’t mean I’m completely opposed to a happy ending here and there. This is another recommendation via “BookTok,” if I’m being completely transparent. With that being said, let’s talk about The House in the Cerulean Sea.

Linus Baker is a plain, practical man who is a caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY). Outside of that, his life is quiet and a bit boring. That all changes when he is approached by Extremely Upper Management, who give him an important task: he must travel to a distant orphanage and observe a potentially dangerous child. Linus arrives on the island to find a mysterious group of children and their equally mysterious caretaker, Arthur Parnassus. The longer he stays on the island, the more Linus uncovers about what hides there and soon he must make the most important choice of his life.

This was a nice, fluffy read with plenty of delightful characters and fun, magical elements. I enjoyed the immersive environment that this novel presents. Klune pays great attention to detail with the overall atmosphere of the books. Something about Klune’s writing was vaguely nostalgic to me. The novel’s tone is rather reminiscent of books I read as a kid with an ever so slightly more mature message. I am, admittedly, a sucker for the “found family” trope and enjoyed the way that it was portrayed in this novel. If you are looking for a romantic bit of escapism, I would say give this novel a read if you are so inclined.

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.

Where Love can Outdo Nature: Reviewing Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Hi everyone! There is nothing quite as satisfying as finally getting around to reading that one book that’s been on your TBR list for the longest time. It’s even more satisfying when you really enjoy said book. It was just the book I needed at this time with everything being considered. I don’t write this blog to be political, but it is unavoidable. So, with that vague statement, let’s talk about Her Body and Other Parties.

Carmen Maria Machado’s collection of eight short stories combines horror, a twisted sense of humor, dark fantasy, and psychological analyses to highlight the harsh reality faced by women.

I am going to give a disclaimer at the top of this review that these stories do discuss mature topics about trauma, abuse, and sexuality. Approach with some caution if you are not ready to read about such topics.

With that all being said, I was certainly impacted by these stories. I love the use of defamiliarization that Machado so cleverly uses to highlight the reality that women have to deal with. Machado does let the reader’s imagination run, while still having a clear message throughout. I personally always look forward to that one short story that is going to haunt me and Machado delivered eight of them. Two stories particularly stood out to me were “Inventory” and “Especially Heinous: 272 Views of Law and Order: SVU.” I do highly recommend this collection if you are looking for a book about feminism and queerness told in such a unique and dark voice.

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.