ARC Review: Blessed Monsters

Title: Blessed Monsters
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ebook – ARC
Page Count: 528
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Dark, gothic atmosphere with eldritch horror descriptions; villain romance; diverse LGBTQA+ cast
Recommended Readers: No one; I fear we’ve jumped the shark
CAWPILE Rating: 3.57
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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

My Review

For the record, I’m not going to be reviewing the author and her behavior here but the book. If you’re curious about the former, plenty of folks on Goodreads have already done so for me. I have, frankly, read much better from much worse people.

So what’s the deal with Blessed Monsters by Emily A. Duncan? Well, it turns out it’s better than Ruthless Gods, but it’s still not good. Descriptions of cosmic horrors and eldritch monsters were emphasized vastly over setting, so I never got a clear sense of where we were in Kalyazin. Characters would be at a nondescript palace, manor, safe house, graveyard, capital city, etc., and then they would be at the next nondescript place. So my brain did what it does: imagined whatever it wanted with nothing to ground its imaginings. Neither author nor editor has gotten a handle on the comma splices, either, so they were beyond annoying, along with the “noun and noun and noun and noun” description style. Whatever weight those had before gets beaten to death in this book. Whatever enthusiasm I had left for this trilogy was slowly chipped away as I read, to the point where even if other books were planned to be set in this world, I wouldn’t reach for them.

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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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Five-Star Predictions: April 2020 Books

I’m not gonna lie, folks. I’m feeling supremely unmotivated during this period of quarantining and sheltering-in-place, at least when it comes to reading. I’ve been filling my time with a lot of video games, like Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and the almost-here Final Fantasy VII Remake. Still, I want to aim to get a few posts out this month to talk books with you because staying connected with others is even more important than usual now.

Today, I want to cover the books coming out this April that I believe in my heart will earn a five-star rating from me, and I’d like to remind any readers to support ordering online or doing curbside pickup with your local bookstores should any of these catch your eye!

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reading challenge

Reading Challenge Update – April 2019

Hey, I’m back with a new reading challenge update! April was a slower month for me, mostly because I hit a book slump toward the beginning of the month because something I was reading just wasn’t doing it for me.

I wonder if you can guess which one it was. 😉

The Five-Star Favs

wicked saints
Finished: 4/3/19 | Rating: ★★★★★

Challenges met:

Wicked Saints has solidified itself as a modern gothic fiction novel—it has that romantic horror vibe to me—and I’d love to see certain scenes on the big screen, namely That One with Serefin. [Review]

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April 2019 Book Releases

It’s the start of April, which means it’s time to talk about the book releases I’m most excited for this month! I swear, each month is getting faster, and I don’t like that, even if it is bringing me closer to some awesome books.

In fact, there’s so many books I’m looking forward to this month that it was beyond difficult to choose a most anticipated, but reading a certain ARC clenched it for me:

wicked saints
Release Date: April 2 | Goodreads

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

Why I Want to Read This: I love darker works of fiction; this is just a consistent thing about me. It’s thrilling at the same time it’s cathartic. I also love morally gray characters and seeing multiple sides of a situation. I love books with monsters and powerful gods that try to manipulate and play with humanity’s fate. I love when characters have their world views challenged while still trying to hold on to their morality. After being fortunate enough to read an ARC of Wicked Saints, I can say that Emily A. Duncan delivered on every account. I love this book, I already own a copy, and I’m excited for others to experience it, even if it’s not their brand. [Review]

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Book Review: Wicked Saints

wicked saints
Title:
 Wicked Saints
Author:
 Emily A. Duncan
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: Hardcover
Page Count: 385
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Dark, gothic atmosphere with no punches pulled, villain romance, diverse cast
Recommended Readers: No moral purists allowed
Rating: ★★★★★

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

Before we get started, note that Duncan used 99% real Eastern European names within her novel, and that is absolutely awesome that she didn’t dilute these names and the culture just because the names are “hard to pronounce.” More like, a lot of us aren’t used to them because of how often Western societies have forced people with these names to change them, so I’m very happy to see them here. For those curious, Duncan uploaded a handy pronunciation guide on her Twitter that I absolutely referenced while reading.

The countries Kalyazin and Tranavia have been locked in a holy war for centuries. On one side are clerics who derive their magic from praying to their patron deity; on the other side are blood mages who have rejected the gods. As the war shifts in Tranavia’s favor, Nadezhda “Nadya” Lapteva finds she’s the last cleric left in Kalyazin, but instead of only hearing the voice of her patron goddess, she hears all of them, an unheard of feat. When her monastery is attacked by the High Prince of Tranavia, she is forced to flee, becoming entangled in a plot with two foreign Akolans and a rogue Tranavian that could turn the tide of the war.

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