ARC Review: Black Sun

Title: Black Sun
Author: Rebecca Roanhorse
Genre: Fantasy
Version: ebook – ARC
Page Count: 454
Publisher: Saga Press
Add To-Read on: GoodReadsStoryGraph
Notable Notables: POC, LGBTQ+, and blind characters
Recommended Readers: Anyone wanting a fresh, non-European take on epic fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★

Thank you to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

Yes! This is it! This book is… wow!

Maybe my 2020 reading life has experienced a drought of easy, five-star reads. Maybe everything about this year has been utter shit and brimming with disappointment. So when I picked up Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, I was begging, Please be good. You sound so interesting and your cover is gorgeous and if another of my most anticipated reads disappoints me, I will cry.

Well, Black Sun wasn’t just good; it was wonderful. It wasn’t just interesting. It was page-turning and original. I’ve already ran out and bought a copy for myself because I fell for it so hard.

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Book Review: The Silvered Serpents

Title: The Silvered Serpents
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Version: ebook – ARC
Page Count: 416
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Add To-Read on: GoodReadsStoryGraph
Notable Notables: POC, LGBTQ+, and autistic characters
Recommended Readers: Lovers of character-driven, fantasy adventures set in the real world (19th century)
Rating: ★★★★★

Thank you to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

What a dramatic and tragic return! Roshani Chokshi has taken everything that made The Gilded Wolves fun and intriguing and added so much more for The Silvered Serpents. It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s an easy 4.25 stars from me because I felt swept away from the first page. Everything here is richer. The world, the magic system, the stakes, the consequences, the characters, oh my, the characters.

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Book Review: The Unspoken Name

Title: The Unspoken Name
Author: A. K. Larkwood
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Version: Hardcover
Page Count: 464
Publisher: Tor Books
Add To-Read on: GoodReadsStoryGraph
Notable Notables: LGBTQA+ characters, loose orc and elf descriptions not of Tolkien making
Recommended Readers: Fans of messy, badly-behaving characters and a sprinkling of sci-fi to go with your fantasy
Rating: ★★★☆☆

My Review

I was so excited to read The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood. I coveted it every time I traveled to the bookstore or saw it online until I wore myself down with my longing to buy it. It sounded like everything I had been craving and not finding in my reads lately. A priestess—who happens to be an orc—turning from sacrificing her life to her god and following a morally-questionable, duplicitous wizard instead? A wizard who also happens to be a hot elf exiled from his seat of power, and now has a weapon, an assassin, at his disposal? And the priestess’ god might one day call its debt due? You couldn’t have sold this to me any harder.

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Blog Tour | ARC Review: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Title: Where Dreams Descend
Author: Janella Angeles
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ebook – ARC
Page Count: 464
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Add To-Read on: GoodReadsStoryGraph
Notable Notables: Diverse cast of characters, vivid descriptions, dark romance
Recommended Readers: Magician enthusiasts and anyone else who’s tired of all the bland, boring romances being put out there
Rating: ★★★★☆

Thank you to NetGalley for providing this ARC and to Wednesday Books for asking me to participate in the Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

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ARC Review: Seven Endless Forests

seven endless forestsTitle: Seven Endless Forests
Author:
April Genevieve Tucholke
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ebook – ARC
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Dark and magical setting, influenced by Arthurian legends
Recommended Readers: Anyone who wants to read a quick DnD campaign
Rating: ★★★★☆

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

It’s been 84 years since my last review and post—not really, but kinda—so I’m happy to emerge for the positive experience I had with Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke. I am sorry I didn’t get this posted before the book officially released, but to be honest, the coronavirus and the general state of my country left me without much drive or desire to read much of anything. Fortunately, I caught a second wind from somewhere, and a big contribution was how quickly Seven Endless Forests was to read.

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ARC Review: Ruthless Gods

ruthless gods
Title:
Ruthless Gods
Author:
 Emily A. Duncan
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ebook – ARC
Page Count: 432
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Dark, gothic atmosphere with no punches pulled; villain romance; diverse LGBTQA+ cast
Recommended Readers: Fans of the first book and cosmic horror enthusiasts
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

EDIT: I have changed my review from a four-star rating to a two-star rating on 4/11/21 to reflect my lingering feelings of dissatisfaction with this book and how unenthused this trilogy’s conclusion has left me.

I absolutely fell in love with Wicked Saints, the first book in the Something Dark and Holy trilogy by Emily A. Duncan. It connected with me on a level that I can’t fully explain; all I know is, it was one of those rare books where I read the ARC and went out to buy the published version that very same day.

Needless to say, I have been eagerly awaiting the sequel, Ruthless Gods, and was overjoyed to receive an ARC for it. I’m a bit disappointed to say that it didn’t resonate with me as strongly as its predecessor did. Its strong points came through splendidly, but its low points were detracting and, in some cases, downright annoying.

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ARC Review: A Murderous Relation

a murderous relationTitle: A Murderous Relation
Author:
Deanna Raybourn
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 320
Publisher: Berkley
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Victorian England setting, sex-positive protagonist
Recommended Readers: Anyone who wants to start reading mystery
Rating: ★★★★★

Thank you, Net Galley and the publisher, for offering this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Once again, Deanna Raybourn returns with a Veronica Speedwell mystery that is unabashedly fun and a sheer delight to read. I flew through A Murderous Relation with a speed I regret, because I think this might be the last book? I heard a rumor that more mysteries might be in store for Veronica, but until that Goodreads page updates, I will consider this series has ended on a satisfyingly high note.

This time, Veronica and Stoker are drawn into an investigation involving her half-brother, Prince Albert Victor. He’s given a diamond to Madame Aurore, the female owner of the most exclusive club in London known for its anonymity and offerings of sexual freedom. The diamond must be reclaimed before it can be traced back to the prince and erupt scandal within the monarchy and across the country. The timing couldn’t be worse, for London is also gripped in terror over the gruesome attacks of Jack the Ripper, and Lady Wellington, a friend of Veronica and a protector of the crown, suspects that the prince might be responsible. As Veronica and Stoker investigate the brothel, secrets surrounding the royal family and Veronica’s place in it begin to present themselves—along with another dead body.

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ARC Review: Ashlords by Scott Reintgen

ashlords

Title: Ashlords
Author:
Scott Reintgen
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 368
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Interesting POV choices, commentary on class divisions, phoenix horses
Recommended Readers: This one’s for all the horse girls and competitive sports enthusiasts out there! (Is revolution a competitive sport?)
Rating: ★★★★☆

Thank you, Net Galley and the publisher, for offering this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Well, Scott Reintgen has actually done it. He’s gotten me to read a horse-racing book, the nerve of him. I couldn’t resist, though. I was blown away by his Nyxia triad over the years, falling in love with the way he tells stories and the ideas he generates throughout. I’ll pretty much read anything he does at this point.

But, c’mon, do I look like a horse girl to you? Never mind that when I was little I watched Black Beauty until the tape broke and my mom wept in sweet relief. Never mind that I lined up my little plastic horses along the length of the kitchen because they were in a parade, and the other animals weren’t invited. Never mind that I’ve seen Hidalgo, Seabiscuit, and War Horse in theaters. But I definitely wasn’t and am not a horse girl. Turn horses into phoenix horses, though, and I am a complete sucker apparently.

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ARC Review: The Guinevere Deception

the guinevere deceptionTitle: The Guinevere Deception
Author:
Kiersten White
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: LGBTQA+ characters
Recommended Readers: Yo, anyone want a feminist reimagining of Arthurian legends?
Rating: ★★★★☆

Thank you, Net Galley and the publisher, for offering this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Kiersten White’s latest trilogy is a feminist study into the character Guinevere, a figure in Arthurian legends who is often regulated to the sidelines as a prize, an adulterer, a villain, and an opportunistic traitor—but never the architect of her own story. With The Guinevere Deception, Guinevere has found her voice at last, but in true White fashion, her story is full of interesting twists and unexpected choices.

For instance, when we meet Guinevere, she is journeying from a convent to Camelot in order to wed her future husband, King Arthur—and she isn’t truly Guinevere. The real Guinevere died tragically, and unbeknownst to everyone, a changeling raised by Merlin has taken her place. Casting all knowledge of her past aside, including her true name, “Guinevere” intends to be a source of magical protection for Arthur against his enemies, even though Camelot has exiled all magic and ousted Merlin. But exiling magic doesn’t stop the forests and lakes from wanting to reclaim the land, and the ideal of Camelot has as many enemies in man and beast as Arthur does. Perhaps the greatest threat might be Guinevere herself.

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ARC Review: Fireborne

fireborneTitle: Fireborne
Author:
 Rosaria Munda
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 448
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Dragons! …Kinda
Recommended Readers: Fans of slowburn romances, fantasy politics, and complex interpersonal relationships
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thank you, Net Galley and the publisher, for offering this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rosaria Munda’s Fireborne is probably one of the hardest books I’ve ever had to review. I’m actually troubled about how to go about it because my feelings for it are so complicated. The book has qualities that make it absolutely soar while others leave me behind on the ground, bereft and wondering what I missed.

Inspired by Plato’s Republic, Virgil’s The Aeneid, the French Revolution, and the Blitz, Fireborne is an ambitious novel, tackling bloody revolutions and their aftermath, dangerous politics, social inequality, and the complex relationships between people. Oh, and there’s dragons, but strangely, they’re not the highlight.

We follow orphans Annie and Lee, who are now rival dragonriders competing for the honor to become Firstrider. Born a serf, Annie can now do the impossible by being a dragonrider, something the old regime never would have permitted. However, the person she most has to convince of her worth isn’t government officials, former patrician kids, or her instructor; it’s herself. Lee, meanwhile, is an aristocrat by birth, but he’s managed to keep his identity hidden, his natural confidence and air of power allowing him to rise through the ranks of the very regime that slaughtered his Dragonlord family. No one is prepared when survivors of Dragonlord families, including Lee’s, resurface with dragons of their own, declaring war to reclaim their lost country. Both Lee and Annie have to decide what and who they are loyal to, even as their relationship grows ever-more complicated.

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