eARC Review: The Unbroken by C. L. Clark

The Unbroken by C. L. Clark

Genre: Fantasy

Published Date: March 23rd 2021


I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Synopsis: Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.

Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.

Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale. 

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Review: The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan

The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan

Categories: Mystery, Magical Realism

First Publication Date: March 10, 2020


I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Synopsis: University sophomore Miwako Sumida has hanged herself, leaving those closest to her reeling. In the months before her suicide, she was hiding away in a remote mountainside village, but what, or whom, was she running from?

Ryusei, a fellow student at Waseda who harbored unrequited feelings for Miwako, begs her best friend Chie to bring him to the remote village where she spent her final days. While they are away, his older sister, Fumi, who took Miwako on as an apprentice in her art studio, receives an unexpected guest at her apartment in Tokyo, distracting her from her fear that Miwako’s death may ruin what is left of her brother’s life.

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eARC Review: A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Categories: Dark Academia, Fantasy

First Publication Date: September 29th 2020


I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Synopsis: 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. 

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Review: The Burning God by R. F. Kuang

The Burning God (The Poppy War #3) by R. F. Kuang

Category: Fantasy

First Publication Date: November 17th 2020


Synopsis: After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead. 

Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much—the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges—and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation.

Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix’s intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it? 

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Mini-Reviews of Recent Reads: Silent Scream, Mostly Hero, Autumn

Silent Scream by Angela Marsons

Categories: Thriller

First Publication Date: February 20, 2015


In Silent Scream, a crime was committed ten years ago, and now the people involved in it are dying, one by one. Detective Inspector Kim Stone is assigned to the case, and as the bodies start piling up, she must find the connection between them, find out what they did and who is behind all this. At the same time, her own dark past is catching up with her, as she sees on the victim all those years ago, a mirror of who she used to be. This is a very intriguing thriller, with so many mysteries to be put together and connected somehow, and I actually really liked Kim. She’s tough and no-nonsense to the point of caricature, and I found it fun to follow her along the investigation. The mystery is very formulaic, and I’m not sure if I will remember the plot in a few months, but I will remember Silent Scream was an exciting read and had a cool twists!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Review: A Deal with the Elf King by Elise Kova

A Deal with the Elf King by Elise Kova

Categories: Romance, Fantasy

First Publication Date: 6. November 2020


Synopsis: The elves come for two things: war and wives. In both cases, they come for death.

Three-thousand years ago, humans were hunted by powerful races with wild magic until the treaty was formed. Now, for centuries, the elves have taken a young woman from Luella’s village to be their Human Queen.

To be chosen is seen as a mark of death by the townsfolk. A mark nineteen-year-old Luella is grateful to have escaped as a girl. Instead, she’s dedicated her life to studying herbology and becoming the town’s only healer.

That is, until the Elf King unexpectedly arrives… for her.

Everything Luella had thought she’d known about her life, and herself, was a lie. Taken to a land filled with wild magic, Luella is forced to be the new queen to a cold yet blisteringly handsome Elf King. Once there, she learns about a dying world that only she can save.

The magical land of Midscape pulls on one corner of her heart, her home and people tug on another… but what will truly break her is a passion she never wanted.

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Review: Lovely War by Julie Berry

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Categories: Historical Fiction, Romance, Mythology

First Publication Date: 4 February 2020


Synopsis: They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect turned soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by the goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of Love.

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Mini-Reviews of Recent Reads: Milk Fed & All the Birds on the Sky

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

First Publication Date: February 2, 2021


I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


Milk Fed is the story of a young Jewish woman who goes through an emotional detox from her mother and meets a woman at a local yoghurt place. She has internalized fatphobia and a severe eating disorder, controlling every minute or her life so as not to get fat. Serious trigger warnings here for eating disorder, self-harm, toxic family relationships and homophobia. I loved the writing in this book, Melissa Broder’s sharp, dry and sarcastic tone makes anything she writes a delight to read. However, I found this book quite uninspired at times and the ending left me thinking – that’s it? Perhaps I’m seriously burned-out from the Disaster Woman trope (as I’ve mentioned a few times), but watching things unfold made me cringe so hard. I just found myself not really wanting to pick this up very often, but at least it was a quick read, and it’s definitely a bold story.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Categories: Fantasy, Sci-Fi

First Publication Date: January 26, 2016


I had a bit of a mixed experience with All the Birds in the Sky, namely that I loved the world building, thought the whimsical touches really worked for it and the humor was on-point, I even loved some of the characters, but also found myself skimming through the book a lot and I did not care for the ending. This is an adult novel that felt very often to me like middle grade, with its on-the-nose themes, which I did not really enjoy. A lot happens in this 300-page novel, making it feel much longer and be quite an immersive read, so if the writing style works for you, I think this will be a very interesting read!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Mini-Reviews of Fall 2020 Releases: When No One is Watching, Burning Roses & Zikora

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Categories: Romantic suspense, Thriller

First Publication Date: 1st September 2020


When No One is Watching is Alyssa Cole’s first thriller, telling the story of Sydney, a young woman who grew up in Brooklyn and now watches her neighborhood change at an unsettling pace and Theo, her new neighbor who is having relationship problems. Both are keeping secrets from others, and when Sydney starts suspecting something darker is at play when her neighbors keep disappearing, she and Theo will try to uncover the truth. This is more a romantic suspense plus contemporary than a thriller in my opinion, even though the story flows quickly and the level of tension goes through the roof by the second half, it does spend a long time developing Sydney and Theo’s relationship and explaining gentrification, its history and effects on Black neighborhoods. This was a fascinating read, and it definitely delivers on the Get Out vibes. I am not a fan of romantic suspenses/thrillers, but this really worked! It goes into very dark territory (that I will not list so as not to spoil the story) but also mundane, daily horror and violence which adds an eerie quality to the story. This is an illuminating, dark and unflinching book but also hopeful and full of love. You can feel on the pages how much love was poured into this story, which is ultimately about community and taking care of each other, and also preserving history while maintaining a critical eye. I’m impressed!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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eARC Review: Daughter from the Dark by Marina Dyachenko, Sergey Dyachenko

Daughter from the Dark by Marina Dyachenko, Sergey Dyachenko, translated by Julia Meitov Hersey

Category: Fantasy, Translated Fiction

First Publication Date: 11th February 2020


I received an advance copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


Synopsis:

Late one night, fate brings together DJ Aspirin and ten-year-old Alyona. After he tries to save her from imminent danger, she ends up at his apartment. But in the morning sinister doubts set in. Who is Alyona? A young con artist? A plant for a nefarious blackmailer? Or perhaps a long-lost daughter Aspirin never knew existed? Whoever this mysterious girl is, she now refuses to leave.

A game of cat-and-mouse has begun.

Claiming that she is a musical prodigy, Alyona insists she must play a complicated violin piece to find her brother. Confused and wary, Aspirin knows one thing: he wants her out of his apartment and his life. Yet every attempt to get rid of her is thwarted by an unusual protector: her plush teddy bear that may just transform into a fearsome monster.

Alyona tells Aspirin that if he would just allow her do her work, she’ll leave him—and this world. He can then return to the shallow life he led before her. But as outside forces begin to coalesce, threatening to finally separate them, Aspirin makes a startling discovery about himself and this ethereal, eerie child.

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