BOOK REVIEW: KINGS RISING BY CS PACAT

  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 368 pages
  • WHAT SERIES? The Captive Prince series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Captive Prince
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • DATE PUBLISHED:   February 2nd 2016 
  • PUBLISHER: Berkley 
    CONTENT WARNINGS: Sexual content, slavery, violence, pedophilia, incest, child death

  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Still got absolutely zero similar recommendations.

SYNOPSIS

Damianos of Akielos has returned.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor’s forces are massing. In the north, the Regent’s armies are mobilising for war. Damen’s only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen’s identity – can it stand against the Regent’s final, deadly play for the throne?

I think this series might be one of my new favorites. Hands down. The writing is absolutely phenomenal. The characters feel like real people — with wants, pasts, and dreams all of their own. I wasn’t sure what this series was going to be when I started it, but holy crap, guys. What a story.

CS Pacat does a phenomenal job weaving the storylines of our two leads, Damen and Laurent, into something absolutely breath-taking. Kings Rising is the end of a three book story, and it wraps everything up in a tidy little bow. You feel complete at the end, without feeling like the story got cheap, either. Everything makes sense. Everything ends well-rounded, and lovely.

The reveal at the end is just…UGH. It’s so good.

Laurent is a treasure of a character. You think you know who he is, but oh, you do not. (Though I am sad to say what was alluded in the previous book does turn out to be true. Poor Laurent.) He thinks about twenty-million steps ahead of everyone else, and it is a delight to watch him out think everyone else. Damen continued to be the best boy — doing what he thought he needed to to protect his people. Watching them realize they need one another was like candy. Watching them realize they loved each other was even better.

The two of them together are completely unstoppable. Please, if you’ve ever thought about reading this series, just do it. You won’t regret it.

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BOOK REVIEW: PRINCE’S GAMBIT BY CS PACAT

  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 332 pages
  • WHAT SERIES? The Captive Prince series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Captive Prince
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • DATE PUBLISHED:  February 4th 2013
  • PUBLISHER: Berkley 
    CONTENT WARNINGS: Sexual content, slavery, rape, pedophilia, suicide

  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Still no recommendations, sorry friends.

SYNOPSIS

With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master, Prince Laurent, must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow…

However much I enjoyed Captive Prince, my enjoyment increased seemingly tenfold when it comes to Prince’s Gambit. There is so much more to love in this book — including the fact that the amount of sexual violence included is pretty much nil. (There definite mentions of it in the past, but I don’t think there was anything blatantly on “screen” as it were.) The plot moves forward a lot in this book, which I really liked. But my absolute favorite part of Prince’s Gambit, is the fact that we see Laurent become less of a figurehead or blatant trope in this book.

Laurent becomes an actual person, someone who you (gasp) actually kind of admire. He is a fascinating character that I really hope we continue to learn more about in the next book. Some of the things alluded to in his past are horrifying, and I really hope aren’t actually true. (I have a horrible feeling they are, though.) Laurent is someone who’s brain is always working, and watching his plans unfold was just so thrilling and entertaining.

Damen is still and continues to be a good person, looking out for everyone and trying his best to do what he can to help. His conscience gets the better of him in one part in this book. (Why didn’t you just go!!! Like, obviously I know why, but omg.) When it comes to Damen and Laurent, the TENSION between them was tangible, I swear. There is one semi-explicit sex scene, and it was glorious.

I have a feeling these books might be new favorites by the time I am done with the series. The writing is gorgeous — though a bit on the “fancier” side. (I have had to look up meanings of words more than once. Thank goodness for the dictionary on the Kindle!) The plot is fantastic, the world is unique, but familiar enough that it rings echoes of Rome and Greece, and the characters are just so well done.

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BOOK REVIEW: CAPTIVE PRINCE BY CS PACAT

  • STAR RATING:  4.5 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 240 pages
  • WHAT SERIES? The Captive Prince series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Captive Prince
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3
  • DATE PUBLISHED:  May 22nd 2012
  • PUBLISHER: Berkley 
    CONTENT WARNINGS: Slavery, Rape, Sexual assault, Pedophilia

  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: I’ve got nothing for recommendations similar to this one, sorry!!

SYNOPSIS

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

Captive Prince is definitely not a book for everyone. It deals with being forced into slavery, into a (what I imagine is a Roman-inspired) culture where slaves are predominantly sex slaves. It’s not a light-hearted book. There is rape. There is torture. I just want everyone to know all of that right off the bat. Despite that, I really liked this book. Does that sound odd? I’m sure it does. It all makes sense in the story, and doesn’t feel particularly overdone in the setting.

Damen was the crown prince of Akielos, but once his brother kills their father, and seizes the thrown, well. Things don’t go so well for him. He’s given away to their country’s biggest rival, Vere, and eventually given to the prince, Laurent.

They do not get along.

Ever.

Wheeeeew. Watching them butt heads was very entertaining. I kept reading, waiting for the next horrific thing to happen to Damen due to Laurent. Damen was quite obviously my favorite. He is — as far as we know at this point in the story — a decent person who only wants to help the other people from Akielos that were sent as slaves along with him. Laurent is a cold-hearted snake most of the book. I can’t wait to find out how he shifts as the story goes on.

I do wish there had been slightly more world-building in the book, but it is on the shorter side. I was much more interested in the characters, anyway. Here’s hoping there’s more in the next books? Which I will 100% be reading ASAP. I already have them checked out from the library.

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BOOK REVIEW: CURSE OF THE WOLF KING BY TESSONJA ODETTE

the book cover for House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J Maas
  • STAR RATING:  3 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 356 pages
  • WHAT SERIES? Entangled with the Fae Series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Curse of the Wolf King
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 4
  • DATE PUBLISHED:  April 7th 2021
  • PUBLISHER: Crystal Moon Press
    CONTENT WARNINGS: Sexism, sexual content, bullying, panic attacks, kidnapping

  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

SYNOPSIS

A beastly fae king with a deadly curse.
A devious bargain to break it…

All Gemma Bellefleur wants is to leave her past behind and forget the day scandal broke her heart. But when she’s captured by a trickster fae king who threatens to hold her for ransom, she’ll find herself at the top of the gossip column yet again.

Unless…

Plagued by a curse that will soon claim his life, the human-hating King Elliot will do anything to save himself. And if Gemma can use that to her advantage, she might be able to bargain her way to freedom. All she has to do is help him break his curse.

There’s just one hitch—to do so, they’ll have to trick someone into falling in love with the beastly, brooding Elliot.

With a devious alliance made, their scheme begins, bringing Gemma and Elliot into very close quarters. Soon, an unexpected desire stirs where once there was only hate. But Gemma must fight it. For when the curse is broken, Elliot will return to his true form—a wolf—and be lost to her for good.

Can Gemma sacrifice her budding feelings to save the king’s life? Or will love force her to give up something even greater…her heart?

The other night, I picked up, started, and DNFed three whole books. Nothing was satisfying the urge I couldn’t quite defined. I knew I wanted a fantasy romance, but nothing was really hitting the spot after the last book I read. I picked up Curse of the Wolf King after initially starting the second book in the series — Heart of the Raven Prince. I hate starting things in the middle, so I went back and started the first book.

Curse of the Wolf King is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, with fae. Sound familiar? Probably, because that’s exactly what A Court of Thorns and Roses is, too. I love a good fae book, but this one was just okay. The writing was tolerable, the plot middling, and the characters…frequently infuriating.

Gemma is our main character — the Belle of the book, so to speak — and she is not very nice. She spends most of the novel desperately wishing to not be around people because they might judge her for her past “scandal”. Except no one in town knows about the scandal, because it happened far away. So she’s prejudging these people before they can judge her. Gemma is “special’ because she reads books instead of hoping for a husband.

Elliot is our Beast, and he is…well he’s a piece of work at first. He’s the unseelie king of the Winter Court. Once he gets he warms up to Gemma, he’s a bit of a cinnamon roll, but a first he’s infuriating and stubborn. No different than the original Beast, of course. The whole gist of the book is that they (Gemma and Elliot) must break the curse on him before all the petals fall from the roses in his garden. The curse being, of course, that a human must be willing to sacrifice their greatest treasure. Otherwise, the curse will kill Elliot (and the people living on his estate.) So Gemma comes up with a kind of stupid plan to manipulate her most hated townsperson into falling in love with Elliot and breaking his curse.

You can see where this goes wrong.

Anyway, the first half of the book is much better than the second half. The author writes yearning much better than they write actually being in a relationship. Overall, this was just okay — here’s hoping my next read is much better.

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ARC REVIEW: NOTORIOUS SORCERER BY DAVINIA EVANS

the book cover for Notorious Sorcerer by Davinia Evans
  • STAR RATING:  3.5 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 400 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: September 13, 2022.
  • PUBLISHER: Orbit Books
    CONTENT WARNINGS: Violence, suicidal thoughts
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

Since the city of Bezim was shaken half into the sea by a magical earthquake, the Inquisitors have policed alchemy with brutal efficiency. Nothing too powerful, too complicated, too much like real magic is allowed–and the careful science that’s left is kept too expensive for any but the rich and indolent to tinker with. Siyon Velo, a glorified errand boy scraping together lesson money from a little inter-planar fetch and carry, doesn’t qualify.

But when Siyon accidentally commits a public act of impossible magic, he’s catapulted into the limelight. Except the limelight is a bad place to be when the planes themselves start lurching out of alignment, threatening to send the rest of the city into the sea.

Now Siyon, a dockside brat who clawed his way up and proved himself on rooftops with saber in hand, might be Bezim’s only hope. Because if they don’t fix the cascading failures of magic in their plane, the Powers and their armies in the other three will do it for them.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this book. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to understand what was going on in Notorious Sorcerer. I’m talking at least 30% of the way into the book. I was totally and completely lost all because there was little to no explanation of the world the story is set in. Right away, the author throws around terms like we’re supposed to know what they mean — I Googled and could find no real-world equivalent for a good many of them. Notorious Sorcerer desperately needs a glossary or index of character names and terms right at the beginning of the book. There’s no shame in one of these — I love learning tidbits of the world before diving in. If there had been some explanation for frequently used terms, I think I would have enjoyed this book a hell of a lot more.

The world Davinia Evans sets up in Notorious Sorcerer is fascinating and deeply rich. However, I couldn’t place what culture she was basing things off of. And I know, not every fantasy book is based off of something in real life. It’s entirely possible this was just all in her head. But regardless, the city of Bezim reminded me a lot of Istanbul and Venice all mashed together. Evans name-drops certain alcoholic drinks that exist in real life, and mentions specific instruments and clothing styles just muddied the waters further for me. There is also the question of the law — alchemy is strictly illegal, but almost everyone gets away with it? Until things go south and then the inquisitors arrive to arrest people. Another confusing piece of the confusing puzzle.

It took much longer than it should have for me to get my legs steady in the world set up in this book. Once I did understand what was going on, I loved the story. The ending climax is fantastically well done. I really did love the characters as well — they all had very clear motivations, leaving few of them particularly flat or unexplored.

Siyon Velo is our main character. He is a supplier of alchemical ingredients. He is not an alchemist, but oh how he wishes he was. Siyon is poor, has no family, and does what he has to, to get by. He’s also extremely sassy. A brat, if you will. He reminded me of Locke Lamora in all good ways. But by the end of the novel, we’re really only given snippets of his past, leaving me (at least) wanting to know more about him. Zagiri and her sister, Anahid were extremely fun to read. They are complete opposites of one another, yet still care deeply for one another. Anahid, in particular, was my favorite. A high society woman finally figuring out she can get away with more than she thought. Izmirlian Hisarani, Siyon’s love interest, is left a little vague, but it mostly works. (I have some questions about what his arc is saying, honestly.) The various alchemists that dapple the pages are all equally entertaining and ridiculous.

Overall, my enjoyment of the book would have been vastly improved had I known what was going on sooner. If you’re willing to be lost for almost a quarter of the book, then you’re in for a wild ride.

PS: It bothers me that his coat is PUPRLE in the book, and very clearly bright red on the cover. 🤦🏻‍♀️

NOTORIOUS SORCERER comes out SEPTEMBER 13, 2022.

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BOOK REVIEW: NETTLE & BONE BY T. KINGFISHER

the book cover for Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 245 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: April 26th 2022 
  • PUBLISHER: Tor Books
    CONTENT WARNINGS: Domestic abuse, pregnancy, miscarriage, child death,

  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Swordheart by T. Kingfisher, Juniper & Thorn by Ava Reid (but this one is much darker)

SYNOPSIS

After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra—the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter—has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself.

Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince—if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.

On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra’s family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last. 

If you’ve been following me for a little while, then you’ll know just how much I absolutely adore T. Kingfisher’s fantasy works. There is something about her work that just makes me incredibly happy. (Not to mention she is a delight on Twitter.) Kingfisher’s work frequently features older heroines, sarcasm & humor, and honestly, some rather dark themes. All of these ring true in Nettle & Bone. Marra, is thirty years old, trying to save her sister from her wife-beating husband of a King. On her journey, Marra does two impossible things, and makes friends with a sarcastic, powerful dustwife, an evil (but not really) godmother, and an honorable, former knight. They work together to kill the king.

I loved this. I tend to love retellings of classic fairy tales, and while this isn’t really a retelling that I can see, it fits right in with the OG fairy tales. The story itself feels classic, while the writing is certainly modern. (You’ll see what I mean if you read it.) I adored how unsure Marra was the entire story, but despite that, she was determined to do whatever she could to save her sister. Her sister who Marra was sure didn’t like her. I loved all the characters in this — the dustwife, who never gets a name, but has such a hugely impressive personality, Agnes the evil-but-not-really godmother who had a huge heart, Fenris the knight, who was so sure he was going to die, but helped anyway. And Bonedog, the cutest dead sidekick I’ve ever heard of.

My favorite part of Nettle & Bone was the dust palace — when they travel into the old catacombs/tombs under the palace to find the first king. I loved the haunting sense of urgency, the horrible sense that they were taking way too long to do what they needed to do. Kingfisher has such a way with creepiness, too. The thief wheel. Ugh. [Shudders] She is a horror author as well, and that frequently comes out in her fantasy works. Not to mention, the last scene with the old godmother…what delightful awfulness.

I will continue to read just about anything that T. Kingfisher puts out, because I have yet to be even remotely disappointed in her work.

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ARC REVIEW: THE UNDERTAKING OF HART AND MERCY BY MEGAN BANNEN

the book cover for The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen
  • STAR RATING:  5 enormously huge stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 336 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: August 23, 2022.
  • PUBLISHER: Orbit Books
    CONTENT WARNINGS: Death, sexual content, grief, cursing, violence, body horror
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones for the quirkiness

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the strange and magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.

Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest.

After yet another exasperating run-in with Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.

If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most – Mercy. As the dangers from Tanria grow closer, so do the unlikely correspondents. But can their blossoming romance survive the fated discovery that their pen pals are their worst nightmares – each other?

How do I sum up what has to be one of the most unique books I’ve read in a long, long time? I have no idea. I know that The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is one part romance novel, one part zombie novel, one part mystery novel, and one part western novel. You mix all that up and you end up with an extremely quirky, loveable trip that’s about processing grief, and letting yourself live.

Hart Ralston is one of our main characters — he’s self-described as prickly, and when you first meet him, that is definitely the case. But as the novel wears on, it’s increasingly clear that Hart is not prickly at all. He is ooey-gooey marshmallow on the inside, and it’s adorable to see him realize it.

Mercy Birdsall is stubborn, proud, and unafraid to work hard. I loved Mercy, so, so much. She stands up for what she wants — to run the Undertaking business — and she holds her family together like glue. I wanted to shake her family for most of the book. Not one of them seemed to care what she wanted, despite saying that they knew what was best for her. Spoiler alert — they did not. But don’t read this thinking they’re an awful bunch. Quite the contrary. They are an adorable family who really do want the best for Mercy. They just don’t know what the best thing for her is. I loved the scenes with Mercy’s sister.

Put Hart and Mercy together and it was like watching an inferno. It takes a little bit for them to get together, but once they do they are…well. Really hot Together. I loved reading about how much they cared for one another, to put it mildly. There are at least two semi-explicit sex scenes, which fit rather perfectly within the novel.

The main plot of the book is that there are suddenly way more drudges (zombies) than there used to be, and they are venturing into populated areas and hurting people. The question is — where are they coming from, and why now? Megan Bannen does a fantastic job of weaving in the plot with the romance, and I didn’t see the answer to those questions until it was literally right in front of my face. I loved it. I loved this world. I loved the characters, and the relationships between them. I would read about eighty more novels set in this world.

If you like the original Hell Boy movies, I think you’d like this book. (Humor, dark themes, violence, anthropomorphized animals, and love.) The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is frequently laugh out loud, and full of scenes that will make you go “what exactly am I reading right now?” in the best way. But despite all of that, it’s rather dark, and there’s serious discussions of actual, horrible gut-wrenching grief. And the ending…oh my god the ending had me sobbing. I loved this book.

Thank you to Becky for buddy reading this with me. It was so much fun discussing the book with you as we went along!

THE UNDERTAKING OF HART AND MERCY comes out AUGUST 23, 2022.

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BOOK REVIEW: HOUSE OF SKY AND BREATH BY SARAH J. MAAS

the book cover for House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J Maas
  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 805 pages
  • WHAT SERIES? The Crescent City Series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? House of Earth and Blood
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? Currently unknown, but I’m betting 4.
  • DATE PUBLISHED: February 15th 2022
  • PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Publishing
    CONTENT WARNINGS: Sexual content, violence, death, slavery, torture, war

  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas, The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, or the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

SYNOPSIS

Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.

The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.

In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode―and the people who will do anything to save it. 

My hold at the library came in for this book on Sunday, and I couldn’t help but literally leap at the chance to read this. I had been EXTREMELY ANXIOUS picking House of Sky and Breath up, because I’d seen everyone else’s reactions to the ending of this book. I was so, so sure that something awful happened to one of the main characters, that Maas had broken her usual MO and done something horrible. While bad stuff does happen, the ending isn’t at ALL what I thought was going to happen.

Holy sh*t, guys.

That’s all I’m going to say, but if you’ve read this and are looking for someone else to scream at, PLEASE COME FIND ME ON TWITTER.

ANYWAY, I fell into House of Sky and Breath much easier than I did the first book in the series, House of Earth and Blood. I had a harder time with that one, because it wasn’t like anything by Maas I had ever read before, and the world-building was somewhat of a shock. Not so with House of Sky and Breath! It was like crawling home at night — I knew where we were, what was happening, I knew the characters, etc. I loved watching Hunt and Bryce circle each other, and I love that they finally just gave in. They are adorable (and extremely, steaming hot) together!!!

The plot itself was interesting, too. A rebel boy goes missing, and literally everyone under the sun is looking for him. I felt horrible for the kid, because no one cared about him, personally, only what he could do for the rebel cause. Bryce was the only one in the whole book who wanted him to be safe for who he was, not what he was. Sewn into that plot are more mysteries about Danika, which I’m torn on. Half of me thinks its super interesting to have books wrapped all up in a dead character, the other half of me thinks its sort of a cop out? Like because Danika is dead Maas can say all sorts of things about her, because we’ve never really seen her on page. I’ll reserve my judgement until the end of the series, I think, because it worked pretty well on page in this book.

The reveal about the Asteri was…whoo boy. Something, huh? I can’t wait to see where that plotline goes.

Overall, I’d say House of Sky and Breath is another five star read from Maas for me. I love how she weaves incredible storylines together, and I love how much romance she pours into all her books.

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ARC REVIEW: HIGH TIMES IN THE LOW PARLIAMENT BY KELLY ROBSON

STAR RATING: 3 stars
PAGE LENGTH: 160 pages
CW: Drug use, blood
IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Honestly, I am baffled to come up with anything similar to this — maybe any of T. Kingfisher’s books set in the World of the White Rat?

Thank you to Netgalley and Tordotcom for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

Kelly Robson is back with fairies, scribes, and many many kisses in High Times in the Low Parliament.

Lana Baker is Aldgate’s finest scribe, with a sharp pen and an even sharper wit. Gregarious, charming, and ever so eager to please, she agrees to deliver a message for another lovely scribe in exchange for kisses and ends up getting sent to Low Parliament by a temperamental fairy as a result.

As Lana transcribes the endless circular arguments of Parliament, the debates grow tenser and more desperate. Due to long-standing tradition, a hung vote will cause Parliament to flood and a return to endless war. Lana must rely on an unlikely pair of comrades—Bugbite, the curmudgeonly fairy, and Eloquentia, the bewitching human deputy—to save humanity (and maybe even woo one or two lucky ladies), come hell or high water. 

High Times in the Low Parliament is an incredibly quick read. It’s not even 200 pages, so you’ll plow through this one if you’re anything like me. So…did I like it? Yes, and no. It’s kind of middling, for me. High Times in the Low Parliament is not a book that takes itself seriously. The main character, Lara, peddles and does drugs for most of the story, describing the hallucinogenic effects while dealing with what’s going on plotwise. She’s also frequently flirting with whoever is nearest to her. — Lara does nothing seriously the entire book. There’s some rather funny moments, however — I caught myself laughing out loud a few times while I read.

But despite laughing, I think my struggle with this book is that I don’t really understand what the point was. It’s not really a feel-good story, it’s not a love story, it’s not a real “fantasy” — by which I mean there’s no quest, no big baddie. And no, stories don’t need a point to be worth telling, but at the end of this one I was just left a little aimless.

The world building done by Robson in High Times in the Low Parliament is fascinating. There are no men in the entire world presented in this novella. Children are conceived when a woman asks for blessing from the natal fairy. Women do literally everything else. I thought this was a unique aspect of world-building, but I’m not sure why this choice was made. Did men ever exist? I did wonder while I read, but answers are not forth coming in the text.

I think High Times in the Low Parliament was not really for me. I just didn’t get it.

HIGH TIMES IN THE LOW PARLIMANT comes out AUGUST 9, 2022.

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at at the following links:

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BOOK REVIEW: DARK NIGHT, GOLDEN DAWN BY ALLISON CARR WAECHTER

the book cover for Dark Night Golden Dawn by Allison Carr Waechter

STAR RATING:  almost 3ish stars
PAGE LENGTH: 411 pages
WHAT SERIES? The Immortal Orders
WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Dark Night, Golden Dawn
HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? Unknown
CONTENT WARNINGS: Mentions of past abuse by partner, gore,

IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

SYNOPSIS

In a city where the elite are powerful as gods, the season is about to begin. The Immortal Orders will gather, pair and create a spectacle for all of Nuva Troi to witness.

Harlow Krane is a sorcière who wants nothing more than to recover from her most recent breakup in peace. When the season begins, her Order needs her help to save their ancestral occult district from being taken over by the Illuminated, the most powerful immortals in Nuva Troi. They offer to back off—if Harlow agrees to pair with their most eligible bachelor, Finn McKay. But Harlow has been burned by Finn before.

Finn McKay is one of the Illuminated. Rich, powerful, and he isn’t afraid of anyone—except for his parents. When they push him towards Harlow Krane, he knows their purposes are sinister at best. For the past seven years, Finn has done everything in his power to stay away from Harlow and he won’t break his resolve now, even if it means defying his parents. As the season begins, it’s clear something is dangerously wrong but besides Finn, only Harlow seems to notice.

With magic behaving strangely, the balance of power between the Immortal Orders and humans grows deadlier by the day. Harlow and Finn must work together to keep ancient grudges from resurfacing and take back their lives in the process. If they can get over their past, the whole world may have a brighter future.

Dark Night, Golden Dawn should have been a five star book for me. It had so many of my absolutely favorite tropes (vampires, mating, there’s a social season like in historical romances etc.), but ultimately, it fell more than a little flat. My biggest problem with the book lies with the main character, Harlow. For most of the book, she is a limp, boring noodle. She has little personality other than wondering why anyone likes her at all. (The author writes a reason for this into the story, but it didn’t really solve the issue for me.) Despite having the world’s worst self-confidence, Harlow is good at practically everything, other than standing up for herself and doing something to make herself interesting.

Finn, Harlow’s love interest, is slightly more interesting than her. He is the typical alpha male, a perfect specimen with awesome powers. He is protective, and always willing to take a step back to make sure Harlow is comfortable with how things are going. They have a rocky past together, but Harlow gets over this surprisingly quickly.

The plot and the world built in Dark Night, Golden Dawn is vastly interesting. The author has fantastic ideas, but the actual book just does not equal up to a fantastic story. The writing itself tends to be on the more boring side — too simple and plain to really paint a picture of what’s going on. The sex scenes should have been steamy, but instead felt overly bland. We get so much of Harlow hating and doubting herself when we should have gotten more descriptions of the world, of the plot, of what was going on.

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. If I remember about Dark Night, Golden Dawn when it’s sequel comes out, I might grab it. But I have a feeling this book might fade in my memory — it just has no sticking points. Dark Night, Golden Dawn is available on Kindle Unlimited.

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