Black Sun (Between the Earth and Sky, #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Resistance Reborn comes the first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.

A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun


In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.

My Review
5 out of 5 stars

This fantasy novel is incredibly different from any others that I have read previously. It is inspired by the Pre-Columbian Americas and the mythology and magic in this book are much different than traditional high fantasy in the market today. The history to the narrative is that there used to be four clans who each honored a separate god, which were the Carrion Crow, the Water Strider, the Golden Eagle, and the Winged Serpent. However, many moons ago, the clans were united by the Priesthood. The Priesthood overtime has evolved into something very disconnected from the people they serve.

It has three main characters:

  • Xiala, a Teek and Ship Captain who can sing songs to calm ocean waters
  • Serapio, a mysterious, blind young man who has devoted his life to the Crow God
  • Naranpa, a sun priest who questions the Priesthood’s methods

Xiala and Serapio are on a ship traveling to Tova to celebrate the winter solstice, which is the city Naranpa resides and she herself is preparing for the celebration. The winter solstice is occurring during a solar eclipse this year .

Each of the characters are well developed. They each have their own agendas and motives, so it is hard to tell if they are all good guys. The book is told with some chapters occurring years in the past so you learn the background of the characters and see who they are and how they came to be, which then will switch to the present time, with a countdown to the day of the solstice. You know things are going to go down on the solstice, and it builds excellent anticipation up to the day.

I recommend to basically all lovers of high fantasy, but especially to any readers who wish to read a high fantasy of a different flavor.

See this review on Goodreads. There is also a spoiler tag in the Goodreads review with a summary of this book in case you would like a refresher before the 2nd book comes out. 🙂

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1) by Cassandra Clare

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

Chain of Gold, a Shadowhunters novel, is the first novel in a brand-new trilogy where evil hides in plain sight and love cuts deeper than any blade. .

Cordelia Carstairs is a Shadowhunter, a warrior trained since childhood to battle demons. When her father is accused of a terrible crime, she and her brother travel to London in hopes of preventing the family’s ruin. Cordelia’s mother wants to marry her off, but Cordelia is determined to be a hero rather than a bride. Soon Cordelia encounters childhood friends James and Lucie Herondale and is drawn into their world of glittering ballrooms, secret assignations, and supernatural salons, where vampires and warlocks mingle with mermaids and magicians. All the while, she must hide her secret love for James, who is sworn to marry someone else.

But Cordelia’s new life is blown apart when a shocking series of demon attacks devastate London. These monsters are nothing like those Shadowhunters have fought before—these demons walk in daylight, strike down the unwary with incurable poison, and seem impossible to kill. London is immediately quarantined. Trapped in the city, Cordelia and her friends discover that their own connection to a dark legacy has gifted them with incredible powers—and forced a brutal choice that will reveal the true cruel price of being a hero.

My Review
4 out of 5 stars

After the ending of the Dark Artifices trilogy, I thought that I may have finally outgrown Mrs. Clare. I was not a huge fan of how that particular series ended, and the sequel to the Dark Artifices does not sound promising to me given the implications. This book is not the sequel to the Dark Artifices, though; this is the sequel series to the Infernal Devices trilogy. It just so happens that she is writing this one first. The Infernal Devices trilogy is still my favorite of all the Shadowhunter Chronicles, so in the end I just had to give this one a try. It follows the children of the main characters in the previous trilogy. They, of course, are all aged to the sweet spot of YA literature to 16-17. In Edwardian times, this includes the age of when you start looking for spouses. Oh the drama.

It starts off incredibly promising, as the second chapter involves a ballroom scene. Your girl here is very much a sucker for ballroom scenes, and boy, did it get me invested with the main romantic ship, James Herondale and Cordelia Carstairs. But the book moves on to include a lot more of its plot– that demons are randomly spawning in the daytime to attack, kill, and also infect Shadowhunters with some sort of disease. It’s up to the London Institute Shadowhunter to stop this. (How many of these books have I read over the years and I somehow never noticed that demons only spawn at night? Boy, I am dumb.) It then also introduces some drama to my main ship, as James Herondale has a huge childhood crush on another Shadowhunter. You sort of know how this works out, as there is a family tree of the Shadowhunter families (though maybe it is not as all accurate as it should be?!?), so the drama just seems unnecessary(!?!). I lose a good portion of my interest due to the demon plot; I think after reading so many of these books set in this world, I am over most of the demons. I am certainly over this teenage drama. But somehow, someway, by the second part of the book, Mrs. Clare has got me back invested in truly caring about the outcome of James and Cordelia’s relationship. I get attached to the main characters and I just want them to be happy! It is honestly so frustrating at this point of how much of a sucker I am for these books. I want to be done with them, but I just can’t! I sincerely hope that the actual plot of this series holds out over the course of the trilogy. I am going to be so disappointed if it ends in a similar disappointing fashion as the Dark Artifices, which also had a very promising start that suckered me into the characters. Ah well, here is to another 3 books of being Shadowhunter trash.

I also would like to give a shoutout to Matthew Fairchild, who may be my favorite character of them all. We just don’t know quite everything about him yet, but he has great potential. Anna Lightwood is also a bohemian bomb. I only was confused over the other Lightwoods, Christopher and Thomas, as I simply could not keep them straight. There were also a few smaller characters like Charles where I could not remember which family he was a part of, and whether that was important or not. Mrs. Clare is able to throw so many characters in because she has developed so much Shadowhunter history over the years. If you jump right into this without having read ANY of the others, I think you’ll have a hard time keeping track of who is who and why it matters. If you want to become Shadowhunter trash like I am, then you’ll have to start with the Mortal Instruments (City of Bones is book one). It’s definitely a lot, I know. You could kind of get away with just reading the Infernal Devices trilogy, but I do not recommend this route. It’s amazing how this series still has a growing fanbase despite the first series not aging well (and thus being dull to read), and the time commitment to reading all the books out to get to the new releases. Are there any new fans out there who can tell me how they got into this delightful mess?

See this review on Goodreads.

These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1) by Chloe Gong

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule. 

My Review
3 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the book. The two rival gangs set in 1920s Shanghai was just so well presented. I think the best part of the setting is that the author really does make an effort to set it in Shanghai. With a 1920s gangsta vibe, it is so easy to picture it in New York City or Chicago (I say this as an American), but Shanghai has so much more going for it. It makes the setting even more interesting and unique from other 1920s YA fiction. There is a lot of commentary on colonization and foreigners living in the city. It spreads over to how our heroine, Juliette, feels as a Chinese person living in Shanghai, but also ends up feeling like a foreigner. This is due to her being sent away to America for four years to complete an education, and pressures she faces to dress and act like an American. It is a constant struggle for her, and I couldn’t help but emphasize. There are also several languages that are spoken throughout the novel, and it gives you a good idea how how diverse of a place Shanghai really is at the time.

I also really loved the main character, Juliette. As I said, she faces a lot of pressure regarding her identity and who she really is. She must also prove her worthiness to be the heir to the Scarlett Gang. She is very smart and cunning while also being feminine. She will fight for her friends and family, but she is also willing to work with the enemy to get what is needed done. Roma, on the other hand, I had a harder time connecting to. Juliette was just so well done that Roma seemed to be there to serve as the Romeo. This is a series, so there is a good chance he’ll be able to stand out more in the sequel. Some other gang members perspectives are also included here, but as with Roma, I did not find myself as invested in them.

As for the overall plot, this is where my rating truly does get lowered. I wasn’t a huge fan of it– there is some disease going about the city causing people to go insane and rip out their own throats. It is very gory and strange– beware if you are sensitive to graphic content. It’s then kind of a tracking-down plot to find a cure, save those infected, and stop the spread. Some subplots are introduced, but don’t lead anywhere in this installment. I hoped for something a little more unique or attention-grabbing, but unfortunately this wasn’t it.

I still recommend this if it sounds interesting to you and don’t mind a tracking mystery plot. Again, the setting really shines here, and it does have a strong heroine to take you along the way.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a free eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

See this review on Goodreads.

Iron Heart (Crier’s War #2) by Nina Varela

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

An unstoppable love between two girls—one human, one Made—both set on destroying the Iron Heart.

For too long the cruel, beautiful Automae have lorded over the kingdom of Rabu, oppressing the humans who live there. But the human revolution is on the rise, and at its heart is Ayla. Once handmaiden, now fugitive, Ayla escaped the palace of Lady Crier, the girl Ayla had planned to kill . . . but instead fell in love with. Now Ayla has pledged her allegiance to Queen Junn, whom she believes can accomplish the ultimate goal of the human rebellion: destroy the Iron Heart. Without it, the Automae will be weakened to the point of extinction.

But playing at Ayla’s memory are the powerful feelings she developed for Crier. And unbeknownst to her, Crier has also fled the palace, taking up among travelling rebels, determined to find and protect Ayla.

As their paths collide, neither are prepared for the dark secret underlying the Iron Heart.

In this stunning sequel to acclaimed author Nina Varela’s Crier’s War, the love that launched a revolution must now pave the way for a whole new era . . . and the ultimate change of heart.

My Review
4 out of 5 stars

In this sequel to Crier’s War, we continue the journey of Ayla and Crier. Ayla has fled the palace after her attempt to take Crier’s life, and runs to Queen Junn in order to share what she knows of Kinok’s plan of the Iron Heart and the Anti Reliance Movement. Crier is still in Rabu’s palace awaiting her marriage to Kinok, but she is also aware of his plans and wishes to stop them as well. If you don’t remember all the details after the first book, the sequel does a wonderful job at summarizing it enough to jog your memory.

The heart of the story is Ayla and Crier working to stop Kinok and fix the political issues between humans and Automae. I was reading this on the US’s 2020 election night, and it had some eerie similarities with current US politics. You’ll really see the issues that the characters are trying to address and hope that they are able to succeed. Behind the external conflicts that are facing our main characters is the internal conflict of the romance between them. While Ayla and Crier may have initially been enemies, they have gotten to know each other personally in the first book. Here, they must work to admit their feelings and overcome the hurdle of a relationship between an Automae and a Human. Again, nothing is rushed here nor does it feel too slow. It ends up feeling like a very natural and organic relationship. It’s a nice cherry on top for a queer relationship in a world where gender doesn’t matter at all in relationships.

If I have any complaints, it is that some of the new characters introduced in this sequel feel a little rushed and underdeveloped. I wasn’t really able to tell them all apart by the end of the novel, but there were not many of them. The novel still does a great job at painting Alya’s and Crier’s stories, and many returning characters from the first book are also well incorporated here. I think this is a great duology overall, and a prime example of why some YA trilogies should maybe just be duologies to avoid that “second book syndrome”.

See this review on Goodreads.

Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

In this young adult contemporary romance, a girl is suddenly gifted with the ability to cast instant karma on those around her—both good and bad.

Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate.

My Review
4 out of 5 stars

I may not be very big into YA contemporary these days, but I’ve read every book by Mrs. Meyer thus far and I just had to give her first contemporary a try. I came in with a weird mix of expectations since I enjoy the author but not so much the genre. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. And I don’t think it is simply because this contemporary has a slight paranormal twist where the main character, Prudence, is able to cast instant karma on those who deserve it. While the karma aspect of the plot is important, it really isn’t the main part of the plot, and if it was revised in a handful of ways, it could have been taken out. Sometimes you even wonder if the ability to cast instant karma is purely in Prudence’s head. But I think it ends up being too much of a coincidence if it wasn’t an ability she had. It’s not like karma truly is instant in real life, even though sometimes it does happen.

The novel is more focused on the developing romance between Prudence and Quint. It’s hate-to-love, as Prudence was originally forced to endure Quint as a lab partner where she found him to be somewhat useless in working on projects. This leads to them not doing well on the final project, so she must work with Quint to improve her grade. Quint isn’t interested as he is okay with the final grade, so Prudence decides there still must be a way around that. Prudence is a character who enjoys doing all the work herself; she is a perfectionist and a planner. This may lead you to not liking her very much, but I honestly can be the same way, and I certainly was that way while I was in high school. And when hate to love happens in a romance novel, it is well done when it is about a character accepting their flaws and becoming better at addressing them.

The developing romance between the characters is really well paced as it focuses a lot on the task that Prudence has set out to do. Her failed lab project with Quint was about boosting ecotourism to save the animals in their coastal town. Prudence learns that Quint has ties to a local sea animal shelter and rehabilitation center, so Prudence decides to volunteer her time there. She learns a lot more about the animals she would be saving with her ecotourism plan, and learns much more about Quint in the process. I learned a bit about sea animals myself, and I think this aspect of the novel was really well researched. You’ll find yourself caring whether or not the animals are able to recover.

If there is any faults, it may be that the final mystery to the novel was a little predictable. It was not hard to piece together. I don’t think many people are picking this one up for that, however. It’s again more for the contemporary romance, and maybe the instant karma aspect also speaks to you.

While this is a standalone, I think there is potential for Mrs. Meyer to write contemporary romances about some of Prudence’s and Quint’s friends that make many appearances in the novel. I would not be surprised if an announcement was made about companion sequels if this book sells well.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a free eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

See this review on Goodreads.

Clear Your Sh*t Readathon TBR

This readathon is intended to help those clear their sh*t, meaning to read as many books that you already own as you possibly can before the end of the year. It starts November 1 and runs through December 27th, so almost a whole 2 months! It is hosted by Mouse @Mousereads and Art @Inkandplasma. Check out the readathon Twitter for more information. There is also a website and an announcement video.

I will be participating in this readathon as I really like the goal of clearing out your backlog of owned books before the end of the year. It helps that it is a 2-month readathon so you can really dig into your TBR. I personally have 85 owned, unread books, plus many netgalley ARCs of both past and upcoming releases. I really want to tackle them down. However, I am a terrible mood reader. This readathon helps in that there are several free spaces for you to throw in whatever you want whenever you want, but I am going to leave even a couple more prompts open to allow for even more mood reading. Plus, many of the books I initially selected books are part of a series, so I may wish to continue on with more books in that series after reading the previous installment.

Here is my character card:

Below is my TBR card with titles filled in, but I also listed the prompts and books with their authors after the image for more information.

  1. Read your shortest book.
    Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
  2. Read the book that’s been on your shelf the longest.
    A Gathering of Gargoyles by Meredith Ann Pierce
  3. Read a book about a group of people, heist, found family, or otherwise
    These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (I think this works here?)
  4. Read a book with an animal in it
    The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: A Love Story With Wings by Mark Bittner
  5. Read a book that’s been intimidating you 
    Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff
  6. Read a scary book
    To be determined (TBD)
  7. MINI BOSS SUPRISE BATTLE
    TBD by readathon hosts
  8. Free book space
    TBD
  9. Read a fantasy book
    TBD
  10. Your most expensive book on your TBR
    Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
  11. Prettiest book cover
    Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar
  12. Read a Magical Book
    Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim
  13. SIDEQUEST: Read the Scapegracers
  14. Read a book that has the color blue or has water themes
    TBD
  15. Read a book with a character you think you’ll want to fight
    TBD
  16. Read a book someone recommended for you or bought you
    Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
  17. Read a book you don’t remember the prompt for
    Soulswift by Megan Bannen
  18. SECOND MINI BOSS SURPRISE BATTLE
    TBD by readathon hosts
  19. Free book or a break
    TBD
  20. Read a book with a map in it
    Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
  21. Read your oldest book by publication date
    Technically Count of Monte Christo, but I know that’s not happening. I am instead reading The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which is my oldest by edition date published.
  22. Read a pre-order, or, read a book that has a sequel coming out, or, read a library reservation.
    Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
  23. Read a book with a shiny cover or a magical object in it 
    Iron Heart By Nina Varela
  24. Free book choice.
    TBD
  25. FINAL BOSS BATTLE: STILL A SURPRISE.
    TBD by readathon hosts

This House is Haunted by John Boyne

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

Written in Dickensian prose, This House Is Haunted is a striking homage to the classic nineteenth-century ghost story. Set in Norfolk in 1867, Eliza Caine responds to an ad for a governess position at Gaudlin Hall. When she arrives at the hall, shaken by an unsettling disturbance that occurred during her travels, she is greeted by the two children now in her care, Isabella and Eustace. There is no adult present to represent her mysterious employer, and the children offer no explanation. Later that night in her room, another terrifying experience further reinforces the sense that something is very wrong.
 
From the moment Eliza rises the following morning, her every step seems dogged by a malign presence that lives within Gaudlin’s walls. Eliza realizes that if she and the children are to survive its violent attentions, she must first uncover the hall’s long-buried secrets and confront the demons of its past. Clever, captivating, and witty, This House Is Haunted is pure entertainment with a catch.

My Review
3 out of 5 stars

This book felt like it checked all the boxes of a haunted house story. The author, though this is the first that I’ve read by him, likely was given the go to write a haunted house book because he wanted to, and he was successful enough with his past books that he was able to. Good for him, I’m not faulting him for that at all. He was able to write a gothic novel quite well, and I definitely don’t have a problem with the writing. It matches the time period perfectly. But the actual plot and gradual reveal of the haunted house was not at all very original. Again, it just checks all the boxes.

-woman thrust into a situation where she needs to go to house

-townspeople won’t talk about the house or the people who live there

-main character can’t get any answers, and when she does, has to do with traumatic past of house-related people

-list of female victims that have died due to house

-somewhat creepy children are living in the house

Though I’ve been on a haunted house book kick, I typically don’t read many so there could be more troupes I am missing. But those are from the top of my head from my knowledge of what goes into haunted house books and movies.

Additionally, this book slightly suffers from a men writing women situation. It’s not the worst I’ve encountered. But it’s a case where the 21 year old female character hasn’t married yet; she thinks she is unattractive and has no luck with men. She claims she would be okay without a man. However, she fantasizes about many of the men that she meets, and also the men that she meet appear to be checking her out. She is hurt if any character questions why she isn’t married yet. And if there is another beautiful female character in the book, of course our unattractive main character has to compare herself to her. It’s not ALL over the book, but I think something along these lines happens once for almost every male character met in the book, except maybe the creepy gardener/grounds guy, which might be another haunted house troupe I forgot to include in my checklist, now that I think about it.

If you read tons and tons of haunted house books and enjoy and love most of them, I think you will enjoy this one. Or if you are new and looking for a good place to start, this book will also work for you. But if you’re looking for something different in the genre, I don’t think this book is for you.

See this review on Goodreads.

Blog Tour: A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe

Synopsis

Set in eighteenth century England, Samantha Cohoe’s debut novel, A GOLDEN FURY (Wednesday Books; October 13, 2020), follows a young alchemist as she tries to save the people she loves from the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone. The streets of London and Oxford come to life as this historical fantasy unravels. Weaving together an alluring story of magic and danger, Samantha’s debut has her heroine making messy decisions as she toes the line between good and evil while it becomes blurred.

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists

.But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

A GOLDEN FURY and the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone will haunt you long after the final page.

My Review
4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and providing a free eARC via Netgalley.

Theosebeia “Thea” Hope has an alchemist, Marguerite Hope, for a mother and serves as her assistant. Marguerite is close to creating the legendary philosopher’s stone– a legend that all alchemists long to be able to create as it turns any metal into gold, cures all illnesses, and wards off old age. Despite Thea’s young age, she is quite knowledgeable on alchemy, and her mother would not have been able to get this close to creating the stone without her help. Marguerite does not quite see it this way, and it is likely that when the stone is finished, she will claim all the credit for herself. Moments away from finishing the philsopher’s stone fabrication, Marguerite destroys the stone in a fit of madness and remains mad afterwards. The Comte that served as patron for Marguerite and Thea’s alchemical pursuits decides to send Thea off to England, where Thea’s father lives, as the threat of the French revolution is looming. England will be much safer for Thea. Her father, however, does not even know she exists. She is not too thrilled about the idea but has no other choice. She does have an old friend, Will, who now lives in London, so maybe she will be able to catch up with him. Thea’s father, Vellacott, is an Oxford fellow who also studies alchemy and is working on establishing a department of alchemy in Oxford. Alchemy is seen as an occult science to most other scholars, so he is working on a discovery that would bring alchemy some acclaim. Could it also be the philosopher’s stone? The stone is the only way to cure Thea’s mother from her madness.

This book was just very easy for me to get into. It is written in first person from Thea’s point-of-view, and I really enjoyed being inside Thea’s head. She is an incredibly intelligent girl who can think for herself. Thea uses her analytical mind to think through situations carefully, and she is not afraid to speak her mind, even as a young lady in the early 1790s. As such, she does not always get along with everyone, especially her mother and also runs into trouble with her father, but she stands up for what she believes in. Thea is not just a typical strong female character; she is as well crafted as anything Thea herself would create with alchemy.

I also really felt immersed in the historical setting. Sometimes YA books take place in a YA setting, but you do not always feel it or quite realize it. That definitely is not the case here. The setting is very well researched and incorporated into the story. Historical fantasies are one of my favorite genres, so it was a joy to read one that actually felt historical. It is a slightly lighter fantasy as the only fantastical element is the alchemy itself (maybe this makes it more of a historical sci-fi?), so even if you prefer strictly historical novels, you likely will enjoy this one.

The plot and the pacing of the novel kept things moving along. There were not any parts that felt slow or rushed. The book is primarily about the study of alchemy, and Thea doing what she can to save those she loves from illness. She has to overcome obstacles, both physical and mental, to get there. Overall, I am really glad that I picked this up, and I am thoroughly impressed that this is a debut book. I will definitely put any other books by Mrs. Cohoe on my radar.

See this review on Goodreads.

Blog Tour Links

Samantha’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/smcohoe

Samantha’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/samanthacohoe/

Wednesday Books Twitter: https://twitter.com/wednesdaybooks

Wednesday Books Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wednesdaybooks/

Buy link for A GOLDEN FURY: https://read.macmillan.com/lp/a-golden-fury/

About the Author

Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips,omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs.A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

Advance praise for A Golden Fury

*A Nerd Daily YA Debut to Watch Out for in 2020*

“Sharply written with a crackling, compassionately determined heroine,A Golden Fury is a vivid ride through eighteenth century Europe with darkness and dread creeping at its corners. Utterly enchanting.” -Emily A. Duncan,New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints

“An engaging concoction of fantasy, romance, and historical fiction.” -Booklist

“Cohoe situates the supernatural among the historical, referencing the French Revolution and the Enlightenment while…keeping a sense of urgency as Thea struggles with the magical, demonic pull of the Stone.” -Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books”

“The attention to detail in the story is excellent. …Thea herself is a confident lead with a strong voice. A solid fantasy to flesh out the world of alchemy that most readers know only from ‘Harry Potter.'”-School Library Journal

“Cohoe transmutes the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone into a dark, intoxicating tale of ambition, obsession, and sacrifice. Prepare for a magic that will consume you.”-Rosamund Hodge, New York Times bestselling author of Cruel Beauty and Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

“Steeped in mystery and magic, Samantha Cohoe’s A Golden Fury immerses readers in beautifully rendered world where magic and science mix, and where the intoxication of power can be deadly. Whip-smart Thea is a heroine readers will root for.” -Lisa Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Magician

A Golden Fury: A Novel By Samantha Cohoe Published by Wednesday Books
On Sale October, 2020 Hardcover| $18.99 ISBN:9781250220400| Ebook ISBN:97812502204

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

My Review
4 out of 5 stars

In an act of desperation, Addie LaRue makes a deal with a devil to live forever but in exchange no one will ever remember her. She then learns the loneliness that is a life where everyone forgets you. It’s not until 300 years later that she does meet someone who actually remembers her, a 28 year old man named Henry.

This is a very slow-paced novel. Ms. Schwab takes her time to fully introduce Addie so you can understand her character– why Addie makes a deal in the first place. She then takes her time to allow you to feel what Addie feels– the unrelenting loneliness and what it means to live for 300 years. I found myself overtime emphasizing Addie’s burden, and was happy when she finally meets Henry. I couldn’t help but ship them together in hopes of a sweet romance with a happy ending. Then there is the mystery of why Henry can remember her– why does a man 300 years from Addie’s original life have this ability? Is it fate that they met? The technique that Ms. Schwab uses to slowly reveal all the mysteries is by alternating chapters between the past to present, which in this case is the year 2014. I’ve always wanted a good story involving both past and present point-of-views to show how a past from long ago affects the present, and the order of everything told here helped me understand Addie’s motivations, feelings, and responses. I really appreciated the execution.

I believe I heard this novel pitched as a hate to love romance between a human and a devil. I would like to clarify that it is much more complex than that. The devil character himself is never necessarily referred to as such, and he is a very dark character that you’ll meet through Addie’s past. He is dangerous and not to be taken lightly.

I’m very happy that I read this book. I’ve read a few of Ms. Schwab’s other novels and while the pitch behind them have been amazing, the execution has been a little flat for me personally. Ms. Schwab has really grown as a writer with this one however, and I will definitely continue to pick up her books.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

See this review on Goodreads.

A Deadly Education (Scholomance #1) by Naomi Novik

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

Lesson One of the Scholomance

Learning has never been this deadly

A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets. There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students. 

My Review
1 out of 5 stars

DNF @54%

At this point, I’m not sure if Ms. Novik is for me. She writes ideas that sounds totally up my alley, from her fairy tale retellings with dark, magical woods to this magic school that is out to kill its students. The strange thing, though, is that I didn’t like either of the two books for completely different reasons. But I’m not going to go into detail and compare both books here– I’m just going to focus on A Deadly Education and why I just couldn’t get through it.

My biggest issue with this book is the sheer amount of exposition. I think this is more exposition than any plot or characterization happening. The Scholomance is a very deadly school and Ms. Novik wants you to know it. Every little bit of action or conversation we get is bogged down with pages upon pages of info dumps. I honestly don’t know how this got through the editorial process. And for a book that really touts it’s deadly school atmosphere, I found myself not being able to become immersed within it due to the info dumps. It was just a very boring place to read about– I want to see the deadliness, not be told about it.

As for the characters, the story is told through El’s point of view, so she is largely the character you’ll get to know. She has a lot more characterization to her than the characters in Uprooted, so Ms. Novik improved upon that as I can’t call El bland at all. However, El is just very rude and mean. I understand that not all fantasy novel leads are supposed to be likable, and it’s good to have exposure to all sorts of characters. But most unlikeable characters have some sort of redeeming or entertaining quality. Maybe they are snarky but it’s funny to read about. Maybe they are mean because of poor parenting and have to come into their own. There hasn’t been any redeeming features of El thus far and I can’t read a book with a character I just don’t like. I will acknowledge it’s not completely fair for me to judge El as I didn’t get all the way through the book, but I can’t waste any more time on her. I’d rather read a book about a a character I enjoy.

The other major character is El’s love interest, good-hero type Orion Blake. Orion is all right, but thus far he has absolutely zero chemistry with El. It’s not a couple I want to ship and continue reading about how they fall for each other.

I know many people are out there looking for a Harry Potter substitute, either to fill the void or to replace it because J.K. Rowling is a horrible person. But I don’t think this is it.

See this review on Goodreads.