The Guilded Wolves

by Roshani Chokshi

What a fun little gem of a book! Having just read Six of Crows for the first time only a week ago, I found the resemblance startling – but in form only. The story is rich and fast-paced, with all the magic Chokshi brings to her books. It was exciting to see her take the magic of her usually Indian inspired novels and bring them to Paris, nothing lost in the transition. Her rich worldbuilding and colorful detail made this book a joy to read.

Summary

Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

Musings

Chokshi has created an alternate Paris where magic is commonplace and the Order of Babel retains control. Babel pieces hidden from the world allow forgers to create beautiful and dangerous items, which give this alternate world technology similar to ours. It is here, in the lavish hands of the order, that our story takes place.

The crew of this Oceans-Eleven-Meets-Indiana-Jones-with-Magic book is diverse and easy to relate to:

Séverin, the heir to the third house of the French Order of Babel, stripped of his title due to nefarious reasons and politics. He owns a hotel, L’eden, and secretly runs heists to steal the most remarkable forged objects the world has ever seen, along with his team.
Laila from India, with an ability to read people’s history while holding an object of their possession, with an amazing talent for baking and one of the best dancers Paris has ever seen. (Can she be my best friend, please?)
Enrique, the Spanish/Filipino historian with a great sense of sarcasm and who occasionally remembers how to act human.
Zofia the mathematician/engineer of Polish Jewish descent, kicked out of university for her dangerous magical affinity, who only seems to tolerate people and would much rather ber tinkering.
Tristan, the recluse botanist, and who is a very recluse sort of person, with his gigantic pet spider he seems to love more than anyone else.
And unoficially, Hypnos, heir to another French House, a French aristocrat of mixed race, which doesn’t sit well with his peers, making him defy expectation at every turn.

Together, they need to solve the clues to basically save France, using their own set of skills. It involves cunning, deceit, and a fair bit of math, along with amazing forged gadgets a bit à la James Bond with a scoop of magic. You get to know each of the characters just enough to relate to them, though I wish I had more time to know them more. If I had one disappointment to say of the book, it would be that it was too fast: in some places, it got confusing because the action piled up and the points of view were all over the place, and it could have been paced down to show us more about the characters and their past.

All and all, I’m getting the hardcover. This book is sure to be a hit and I can’t wait for the sequel!

Expected publication: January 15th 2019 by Wednesday Books

But I still have no idea why the book was called The Gilded Wolves 😛

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Isolation Junction

by Jennifer Gilmour

I knew going into this book that the topic was going to be a difficult one, and I was prepared. Emotional abuse is no joke, affecting thousands of people each day, and I have been lucky enough to have never had to go through the painful life Rose struggles through from page one.

Summary

100 reasons to leave, 1,000 reasons to stay

When Rose married the love of her life she was expecting the perfect family life she’d always dreamed of, but before her first child was born her husband, Darren, changed.

Almost overnight Rose’s life is turned upside down and the life she’d envisioned seemed like an impossible dream.

As Darren’s abuse deepens, Rose has 100 reasons to leave but 1,000s why she can’t. Will she ever escape the hellish life she and her children are trapped in?

Can Rose stop her life spiralling further out of control?
Can she find the life she desperately wants for her children?
Stuck at Isolation Junction, which way will Rose turn?

Musings

When Rose first meets Darren, he’s the perfect gentleman. Handsome and caring, he makes her feel like a princess. Her parents warn her about the age gap, but she doesn’t care: she’s in love with the perfect man and… he won’t let her go.

Very quickly, their relationship dissolves into one abuse. Darren is manipulative and scary, quickly isolating Rose from her family and friends. If she ever notices, he quickly turns the situation around until she’s the bad guy, or claims nothing happened at all – gaslighting her. Every staple of a toxic relationship can be found, and while it’s painfully evident to us readers, Rose falls deeper and deeper into this trap until she feels there’s no escape.

How does one escape when they haven’t spoken to their family and years? When the man who they married is holding their children basically as hostages? When you’re constantly looking over your shoulder for fear of him finding something new to punish you for?

Isolation Junction packs a powerful punch. As I mentioned above, it ticks off every sign of a toxic/abusive relationship. In one emotional moment in the novel, Rose goes through the list of what makes a relationship abusive. The list says “If you have answered YES to any one of these questions, then it is abusive” – and she realizes she has said yes to every one of them. We feel for Rose, we want her to escape, for her children to be safe. We want her to break free.

It was harder to get involved with the character since the book is written in an odd style, partially between fiction and what feels like an autobiography. Emotions are stright on the page and a little jumbled. We feel on the outside looking in, like there’s a window between us and Rose. Because of this, some emotional or painful moments don’t land as hard as they should. When Rose tries to reclaim her children, now that is a moment where I felt involved; when Darren’s family backs him up, now there, I felt involved. But for the rest of the novel, I was an outsider.

Another thing that was a little odd was how some moments were repeated by the author but told differently. For example, her home business is introduced twice, and now I’m not quite sure what she does. Or when she describes what finally broke the relationship between her and Darren, but we read that scene and it wasn’t exactly that? Some details I don’t mention here because they could be Darren’s gaslighting contorting Rose’s memories, but these re-descriptions pulled me further out of the story.

Even so, this book does an amazing job of raising awareness. For many people who don’t see the red flags at first, this book could open their eyes. For friends, this is a good way to spot the warning signs of a loved one being in an abusive relationship. It’s also a reminder of how difficult it still is for people to escape these relationships (if Tim wasn’t there, I don’t know how Rose would have done it, no matter how strong she is) and that we need to be there for our friends in their times of need.

Isolation Junction is an honest and raw look at the torment of domestic abuse, and a reminder for everyone that their voice matters.

Sawkill Girls

by Claire Legrand

I picked up this book after seeing it all over bookstagram, not knowing exactly what to expect. The blurb made me think that it would be a story of cookie-cutter girls and ancient magic, but then I got sucked into the book and realized all my assumptions were dead wrong. 

Summary

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Musings

Each of the girls is incredibly complex: Marion, morning the loss of her father, trying to be a rock for her sister and mother; Zoey, investigating the disappearance of her best friend and dealing with a shaky relationship with her romantic ex but still best friend; and Val, the ever beautiful, popular girl, who we see immediately as being way more than what Zoey thinks of her. 

I was a little let down when the author almost instantly revealed what was taking the girls on Sawkill rock, and thought “wow, there goes that mystery,” but I quickly realized that wasn’t the point of the story. No, figuring out what has been taking the girls isn’t the core of the book: it’s how the Sawkill Girls fight back. And that’s where the true strength of this novel comes from, the women. How Marion, Zoey, and Val, bring friendship, sisterhood, womanhood to the fight. 

I loved how every time I expected the book to go one way, it instead turned the narrative on its head. This book made me angry, in the best way possible. I made me grit my teeth and shout out in anger. When they introduced the ‘secret society’ I thought the author was stepping into trope territory, but no, she was calling them out. Every trope is brought to the light and beaten repeatedly until it promises never to show its ugly head again. Finishing this book – because I had to read it in one go, it was impossible to put down – I felt the same way as I did stepping out of Wonder Woman. I need more books like these, books that make me feel angry, bolstered and empowered. 

The gentler side of the book was also worthy of applause. An unexpected romantic relationship between two of the girls was perfect, hitting every note of what a YA needs. It was sweet, romantic, even sexy, and entirely woven into the plot of the story (so many books just tack f/f relationships on for the extra diversity sticker, without any actual care. This book doesn’t do that.) On top of that, this has to be the BEST representation of Asexuality I have ever read, anywhere. So perfect. 

While I went into this book with mild expectations, it has quickly become one of my favorite reads this year. Bold, unputdownable, and making me crave a re-read right away. Now let’s tear down the monsters of this world. 

November, in Comics

I haven’t done a monthly wrap up for a while. It’s been a hectic few months, what with the masters ramping up and the stress level through the roof. But this past month I’ve turned to one of my favorite novel forms for entertainment: graphic novels, and comics. 

It’s been so absolutely fantastic to read these beauties. Every one of them brought a smile to my face, and I thought, hey – why not tell people about them? Change things up a little bit from my usual type of post?

Without further ado, I give you five great graphic novels/comics that will warm you up as we go into December.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vol. 1: The Crucible

On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, the young sorceress Sabrina Spellman finds herself at a crossroads, having to choose between an unearthly destiny and her mortal boyfriend, Harvey. But a foe from her family’s past has arrived in Greendale, Madame Satan, and she has her own deadly agenda. 

I honestly can’t say if I like the book or the show better!

While I don’t feel like we really get into Sabrina’s head in the comics, I loved the dark world the book portrays. Showing us something terrible and hinting at something much worse. It’s a great gritty horror comic which has me dying for more.

I wasn’t quite sure how much I liked the art style. At times, it felt rushed, a little hard to determine. The limited palette was an interesting touch, though, and makes this book really stand out. 

On A Sunbeam

Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together. As Mia, the newest member, gets to know her team, the story flashes back to her pivotal year in boarding school, where she fell in love with a mysterious new student. When Mia grows close to her new friends, she reveals her true purpose for joining their ship—to track down her long-lost love.

This was an adorable graphic where all the characters are queer girls/women + one nonbinary person. A far flung future world full of girls, there were no male characters. I ended up impulse buying it because of the stunning cover, and the artwork inside is magical. 

It’s an amazing story about love and growth, exploring the universe in a quiet, beautiful way. Dream-like. I don’t have the words to describe how I feel after this book. It took me on an adventure, a journey, and I found pieces of myself along the way. It was quiet and beautiful and managed to coax some tears from me, too. Stunning!

Plume: The Omnibus

For Vesper Grey, there is the Before and the After. The Before is devastatingly boring; teacups and girdles, and an overbearing Aunt who makes life hell. The After is Corrick and the uncovered truth about a magical necklace. It is the Wild West, and it is an adventure that could very well change everything.

I bought the omnibus on the recommendation of a good friend, not knowing what to expect except his promise I was going to love it. He didn’t let me down: this comic is fun, thrilling, and impossible to put down. I loved every second of it. 

First of all, I have to say I love the artwork. The color palette is beautiful and the gold of Corrick’s eyes really sparkles on the page. It’s such a nice change from these rusty, cowboy comics. 

The story is just superb. Think Indiana Jones meets the Wild West. With MAGIC! I love Vesper’s character, she’s immediately relatable, spunky, and fun. The need for revenge flows through her and drives so many characters in this book, a theme that is explored from every which way. While I would love to see a live action movie, I think the comic is so spot on it can’t get any better than this. 

I don’t even know how to properly review it. I just want to shove it at people and say ‘READ’. Which I guess is how I got here in the first place!

Cthulhu is Hard to Spell: A Lovecraft Anthology

A comic anthology with 35 awesome stories about Lovecraftian gods and monsters, from fans to fans.

If you love Lovecraft, this is our love letter to Lovecraft fans of all kinds, from those that obsess about Cthulhu, to the ones that never want to leave Arkham, to the ones that keep a copy of the Necronomicon under their pillow, and everyone in between. Whether you are a casual fan or a rabid one, we’ve got you covered.

I absolutely love this anthology, chuck full of amazing stories spanning the whole range of genres and emotions! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and all just for the small price of pledging your life to the Dark Lord. Is he not merciful? 

Having written one of these stories, it’s difficult to remain unbiased. I know how much love and work went into each and every story, discovered incredible creators through this collaboration, even made friends. This anthology is a labor of love from everyone involved, and I can feel it in every story I read, which is why I love each and every one.

Shades of Magic #2: The Steel Prince

The Prince of Red London reaches the Blood Coast – and meets its infamous Pirate Queen.

A short review for a short comic, since this story is ongoing and not yet put into volumes. If you’re not following the Shades of Magic comic, hurry up and do, because it’s amazing. It’s got everything we love about V.E. Shwab’s bestselling series, and more, since the artwork is beautiful. In this issue, the story intensified as Maxim learns about the pirate queen and her dangerous bone magic. Cannot wait for the next installment!

Destroyed Blog Tour – Exclusive Excerpt

As you may have seen in my review a few days ago, I’m so insanely thrilled for the release of Madeline Dyer’s last book in the Untamed series, Destroyed! It’s a fantastic ending to this amazing series and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you. And being a part of the blog tour is just the cherry on top!

So without further ado, I give you – an exclusive excerpt from Destroyed! Read on through for your chance to enter a giveaway as well!

Destroyed

I jolt awake, heart pounding. Blood thumps in my ears. Soft blankets, over me, tucked under me. The light is bright, and it takes my eyes a moment to adjust.

I am in a hut. Raleigh’s not here. No net.

Just soft blankets. All around me. And—and my clothes, they’re different. I can feel them. I untangle my arms from the blankets. Long sleeves, red, not ripped.

“It’s okay,” a voice says. “You’re safe.”

I turn and stare at the woman in the hut’s entrance: heart-shaped face, pale, with large eyes. Untamed. Blue eyes, like Jana’s. Her hair is a golden sun around her face, with just the smallest hint of red tones.

“You must be hungry,” she says. Behind her, the light is bright, but I see a blue sky.

She steps closer and places a bowl of meat stew in my hands. I find myself salivating at the aromas—don’t know how I didn’t notice before, because the smells are everywhere and they are wonderful. The woman hands me a spoon, and I dig in.

“Where am I? Where are the others?” I ask around a mouthful.

“You are at the hunting residence of the Stone Seers,” the woman says. “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Zara.” She holds out her hand, and I shake it. “Jana is assisting with the life your other female companion is bringing forth.”

The Stone Seers? But this isn’t a cave—this is a hut. I can see the wooden structure, how hides have been sewn together to make the walls.

Then I realize what she said. “Esther’s giving birth?”

Zara smiles. “Untamed births are always a gift, even more so when they’re blessed.”

I set the bowl and spoon aside. “I need to go to her.”

“No.” The woman pushes gently at my shoulder. “My dear, you were injured and your Seer powers were threatening the stability of your mind when you arrived here. You still need to rest. Your fever may have broken, but you’ve been unconscious for nearly two days.”

A fever? Two days?

I stare at her and blink several times. I feel fine, just tired.

“Our healers have been overseeing you. Do not worry, my dear, you are safe now. We are together. But you must rest. We know how important you are. Jana has told us everything, and you’re with us now. It will be okay. We have a large group of Untamed. There is no need to worry.”

She sounds oddly like my mother, and I feel safe.

“Where’s Corin?” I look around, but it’s just me and her in here. “And Taras? Elf? Are they with Esther?”

“No, my dear. They are visiting the Great Stone River at the moment. The waterfalls are really magnificent at this time of year, and this is one of the last opportunities to see them before the ice comes. They will be back soon though. Corin has been sitting with you a lot. We did not think you would wake so soon for the fever has only just broken.”

He’s been sitting with me? Of course he has. I blink, and I see him in my mind’s eye, and then he’s gone, and all I’m looking at are the walls of the hut: some sort of coarse-looking fabric stretched over a wooden frame.

The hut is big, very big. Bigger than any we had at Nbutai. So big I don’t even know that hut is the right word. What looks like a wooden kayak sits by the opposite wall, and I stare at it.

“Do not use your Seer powers yet,” Zara says. “You must rest, Seventh One, just rest.”

I take another mouthful of food, feel the way its warmth seeps into me, makes my arms and legs feel heavier. Resting does sound like a good idea. I can’t argue with that. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to rest and be safe, with others around—a whole group who can keep watch.

It’s only after Zara’s gone, and I’m not sure how much time has passed, that I realize I forgot to ask about the attack, whether the Enhanced injured any of us.

Whether we lost any people.

Whether any of us were ‘saved’.

Giveaway!

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Don’t forget to check out the other blogs on this tour for more fun goodies!

Reaper of Earth

The Artifact Reaper Saga #1
by Jen L. Grey

It’s been a while since I read Paranormal YA, so I was very excited when the author Jen L. Grey send me a copy of her new release, Reaper of Earth. The book was fast paced and fun, perfect for lovers of Urban Fantasy and Young Adult fiction.

Summary41591694

Hidden abilities, haunting memories, and one confused girl.

I’m a reaper. Death should come naturally to me, but it doesn’t. And the abilities I am able to conjure are forbidden by my kind. My parents try to hide my abilities, but when the elders assign my first target, they order my parents to stay back.

Now I’m on my own, with no one to protect me, no idea what I’m doing, and no control over the powers I’m supposed to keep hidden.

I should have known this would blow up in my face.

Now my family name is ruined, and I have to fix what I’ve ripped. I’m not sure I have what it takes. Now the fate of my entire kind is on my shoulders, and I’m the only one who can make things right. But if I mess up again, it won’t just be my family that I break–our entire world will be ruined.

Musings

Reaper of Earth is fast-paced and highly entertaining. It has everything you need in a paranormal novel: a relatable protagonist, the fight between good and evil – and those caught in between – and a quest worth fighting for. If you need a quick read as exciting as any TV show, then this is the book for you.

I really liked Christina, aka Chris, the 19 years old Reaper-in-training. On her 20th birthday, she’ll be expected to become a full-fledged Reaper and be able to take on her tasks of reaping souls without the help of her parents. The only problem is, she seems to have an affinity for doing just the opposite: bringing people back to life. Which is not what any proper Reaper should be doing, especially not if she wants her parents to have any chance to ever be Elders. As a character, she’s very relatable, and her struggles are ones we’re keen on following.

The plot was really fun and interesting, though short! I felt like it cut off right when things were really going to get started. I’m looking forward to reading what happens next!

 

Wayward Stars

Starswept #2
By Mary Fan

Every once and a while you get a book so perfect, it hits every high note. Literally. When I read Starswept last year, I was blown away: the story was compelling, the plot was unpredictable, and there were such amazing twists that I was continuously caught by surprise. So when the author said there were ARCs available, I pounced; and let me tell you, it’s going to be so hard to wait until February for when I finally talk freely about it!

Spoilers for Starswept from here on out. Treat yourself to a copy then come back here!

Summary

Sing your truth. Defend your dream. Defy your stars.

A month has passed since Iris joined an underground rebel group to save Dámiul from the brutal prison he was sent to for fighting back against his world’s oppressive system. Here, conformity and compliance are enforced through telepathy, and Earthling performers are brainwashed into absolute obedience.

Word of a merciless crackdown on those who sympathize with their cause leaves both Iris and Dámiul yearning for action. Determined to liberate her kind, Iris volunteers to return to her former patrons and covertly recruit supporters.

A raid on their hideout catapults her plan into action sooner than expected and forces her to leave Dámiul behind. After persuading the authorities that she’d been telepathically manipulated into helping him, Iris assumes the role of a dutiful musician while secretly spreading whispers of a possible uprising among her fellow performers. But the authorities always seem to be one step ahead, and anyone who defies them is swiftly mind-wiped.

Soon, Iris is forced to confront a horrifying fact: there’s a traitor among them. Desperately clinging to her cover, she races to find out who before her true loyalties are discovered—and the search leads her to an unthinkable answer.

Musings

Wayward Stars picks up a month after Iris went into hiding with the rebels, a wise move from the author as she puts us right back into the action. From the very first chapter, the book catches you off guard, setting up to be one kind of story and instead spiraling into another. The author has such a skillful way of building you up to an event you might think is predictable, then swerving away at the last minute, just like in the first book (you know the twist, I mean!).

Unlike the first book, focusing on Iris’s discovery of the Karys’il manipulation, Wayward Stars focuses on the fight against it. The rise of the abolition movement is something we all want, but it comes at a steep price, not to mention is incredibly dangerous. Iris and her growing team of artists and Adryil must live in the shadows, facing the dangers of leading a revolution. 

Both Iris and Dámiul go through extreme growth in this book. While I want them to be happy and cute and to get to go on normal dates, we know that’s not the focus of this story. They’re put through so much, and they change as a result, leading to exceptional growth. I can’t wait to see how they’ll be at the end of this. 

As for the rest, I don’t want to give it away. Suffice to say the author brings the same magic back to the page as she did in the first book. The love of music and the fight for freedom coming together in beautiful ways.

I highly recommend this series for anyone who has a passion for the arts and a head in the stars. It’s beautiful, poignant, and one heck of a thrill ride. 

Expected publication: February 2019 by Snowy Wings Publishing

Destroyed

The Untamed Series #4
By Madeline Dyer

If you haven’t read the Untamed series yet, you’re really missing out. This dystopian set in Africa pitting sci-fi against spirits is one of my all-time favorite series and one which I recommend left and right. So when I got the opportunity to Beta read for the author, I was more than thrilled. Dyer’s epic conclusion to the Untamed series will leave the reader trembling and shaking. What an adrenaline rush, what a roller coaster of a book!

(Spoilers for the first books from here on out)

32828471Summary

LOVE. DEATH. SACRIFICE.
THE LAST NIGHT HAS BEGUN.

Seven Sarr, the most powerful human in the world, is alive—and she’s on the run from her enemy. With the Dream Land gone, the Gods and Goddesses dead, and the Untamed’s number of Seers at a record low, Seven knows her people must attempt to work with the Lost Souls—including the most volatile and dangerous spirits—if they’re to have a chance of beating the Enhanced Ones once and for all.

But when the Enhanced impose a new threat and Corin’s life is at stake, Seven must make her hardest choice: save the man she loves and let her people perish, or allow Corin’s death so the Untamed can survive.

Locked into a tight countdown to her own demise and solitary entrapment within a torturous realm, Seven must make her decision quickly. Her Seer powers are the strongest, and her death will end the War of Humanity once and for all. When the new morning dawns, the world as she knew it will be gone. What—and who—will be left behind is up to Seven.

Will her love shape the future of the world?

Musings

After the jaw-dropping ending to Divided, a lot of questions lingered about the new shape of the world. And it looks grim: the gods are all dead, the dreamland, destroyed, and the survivors of the massive seer battle are few and far between. Seven must lead them all to safety, knowing that the end is near, for better or for worse.

It’s impossible to put down this book. So much happens, and so quickly: Seven must try to rally the remaining Untamed while learning to balance her new incredible power, but it seems to hopeless. You can feel the oppressiveness of a dying world, and the feeling that the end times are really here. Time itself seems to be unraveling. We meet new characters, pockets of Untamed surviving the only way they know how. Seven is faced with tough decision after tough decision, trying to lead her people through the worst possible times.

Seven has grown so much since we first met her, all those books ago, learning her mother had just died at the hands of the Enhanced. She’s stronger now, and incredibly powerful, but at the same time, she’s just as scared and uncertain as any teenager. She struggles with the weight placed upon her but does what she must, showing true bravery – while not always being the wisest. Her relationship with Corin has also grown, though it’s tough to maintain an air of romance when the world is ending.

There are some truly mind-blowing moments. Certain characters reveal secrets I never saw coming, and per usual Rayleigh is up to his mind tricks, but more intense than ever. We never know who to believe –  if even Seven’s own mind can be trusted. An incredible price must be paid to save the Untamed, if only she’s willing to pay it.

And the ending… that ending… I had to read it over three times to be sure I saw what I saw really did just happen. I need more people to read it so I can freak out with them about it!

Destroyed is the epic conclusion to one of the most exceptional dystopian series of the decade. Brilliantly plotted and complex, it is a powerful finale that will break many a reader’s heart.

All I can say is: bring tissues. You’ll need them.  But not for what you think!

Expected publication: November 20th 2018 by Ineja Press

 

The Mortal Word

The Invisible Library #5
By Genevieve Cogman

Readers of this blog will know how obsessed I am with the Invisible Library series, from the very first book! I have loved following the adventures of Irene and Kai as they work as spies for the greatest library in the universe, which works to control the balance of the multiverse by stealing important books from parallel worlds. Every book just gets better and better, and book five is no exception, topping the series as their best adventure yet!

39169409Summary

In the latest novel in Genevieve Cogman’s historical fantasy series, the fate of worlds lies in the balance. When a dragon is murdered at a peace conference, time-traveling Librarian spy Irene must solve the case to keep the balance between order, chaos . . . and the Library.

When Irene returns to London after a relatively straightforward book theft in Vienna, Bradamant informs her that there is a top secret dragon-Fae peace conference in progress that the Library is mediating, but that the second-in-command dragon has been stabbed to death. Tasked with solving the case, Vale and Irene immediately go to 1890s Paris.

Once they arrive, it seems that the murder victim had uncovered evidence suggesting that he may have found proof of treachery by one or more Librarians. But to ensure the peace of the conference, some Librarians are already hostages in the dragon and Fae courts. To save the captives, including her parents, Irene must get to the bottom of this murder—but was it a dragon, Fae, or even a Librarian who committed the crime?

Musings

It’s impossible to say exactly what genre this book is. While the series is bookmarked as being historical fiction, The Mortal Word is part murder mystery, political thriller, and paranormal all at once. The balance between the Dragons (who stand for order) and the Fae (for chaos) is coming to a head, and if Irene doesn’t do something fast, the entire world is in danger.

The plot is so complex and intriguing that it never feels predictable. Irene must lead a team of people from each faction to solve the murder of a Dragon delegate, to discover who was trying to sabotage the peace treaty. Remove the word dragon, and you’d think you have a political novel on your hands. Finding the answer isn’t only difficult from the way the murderer covered their tracks, but also because the answer could make or break peace among worlds.

I loved this new installment. I loved the new depth to Irene’s relationship with Kai (total OTP) but also getting to see Vale again, and meet some important players on each side of the conflict. What I love about these books is not only how much I relate to Irene – I feel like she was written just for me – but how much the characters grow from book to book, making them all so realistic and deep.

The Mortal Word also shows how strong Cogman is as an author: a single tipping point with so many consequences it would snowball and put the universe at risk, that’s not an easy thing to write. It involves fully understanding the complexities of the factions she created, and fully drawing us into it at the same time. The way Irene not only has to solve the mystery but simultaneously worry about how every step she takes will influence the balance of power and the result of the treaty – that as masterful.

I just heard there will be possibly 8 books in the series, and I just can’t wait. I need book six right now! The author continues to grow and develop a powerful universe, and I know each book will be even better than the last.

Expected publication: November 27th 2018 by Ace

B-Side

By Jannis Jones
Based on the screenplay by Jannis Jones and Jason Rohan

Every once and a while I like to pick up a book that is outside of my usual genre. While I’m usually an SF or Fantasy fan, it’s always a treat to find a well thought out crime novel, something to get my mind racing and heart pumping. B-side was that book for me: intriguing and wildly engaging, it transported me to California and right into the lives of two fantastic women reeling through tragedy. And it was epic.

51f4ad12bk3lSummary

So many ways to spend your anniversary night. Praying your partner survives a vicious assault by an unknown attacker is not high on the list, but for LAPD detective Mara Bays, this is the reality.

Theories abound – a gay hate crime, a random assault, a revenge attack – but no leads. When her personal connection shuts her out of the investigation, Mara must rely on her colleagues to handle the case. 

Musings

This book was initially written as a screenplay, and the strengths of that medium remain: reading it was like watching a movie. Very dialogue heavy, the complexity of the characters unfolds through their conversations, their mannerisms, their little tics. Through this, you can sort of guess the ending, piece together the clues, but when the ending finally arrives it’s massively surprising.

While the author breaks the rule of showing not telling, because of the screenplay feel, it doesn’t feel obtrusive. In fact, it allows us to ‘see’ what happens all the more vividly. The author also doesn’t over describe her scenes, which allow for the mind to take over. It’s an easy book to read thanks to it following ‘movie’ rules: short, intense, with bright and memorable characters and scenes. It also allows the reader/viewer to see LA through many different perspectives, creating a full picture of the beautiful – and the bad.

But what we’re here for is the story, and while it is simple, it was still unexpected. The author manages to reel you in because you care so much for Casey and Mara from page one: you want to know why this happened, and you are as dedicated as Mara to follow through. Unlike the detective novels I have read in the past, it feels like a police procedural and more… personal. I don’t know if that’s the word for it. But it’s not cold like a mystery, and not chilling like a thriller, it’s dramatic and vibrant and human.

I highly recommend B-Side to anyone who enjoys a good whodunnit, but also to fans of contemporary fiction, as it packs an emotional punch!