Posts

Showing posts from 2020

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Image
Gripping, engaging, suspenseful and frustrating....only in that I need the rest of this series in my hand. Right now. I want it all. Roanhorse does not disappoint; from her creative - yet respectful - use of pre-Columbian native peoples, to the world building (a magical pet! And it is GIANT!) and the political scheming of her characters at every level. Throwing the reader right into the plot, Roanhorse manages the truly impressive in launching in medias res across four seemingly disparate plot lines. Though they are quickly intertwined - whether through geography or over-arching schema - each voice stands on its own: a sea captain left to dry out in prison, a priest pulled onto a riverbank, a young boy on the verge of becoming something more, and a military man whose peaceful days are interrupted by tragedy. Each faced with impossible challenges and decisions that must be made in order to ensure the world as they know it or wish it to be does not fail. Black Sun 's pacing is whipl

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

Image
  T. Kingfisher continues to delight with a horror entry that kept me from reading into the wee hours of the night... mainly because I was afraid a portal to a creepy, nightmare dimension would open up in my bedroom and let the roots in. I first came across T. Kingfisher's books following a twitter suggestion from author Angela Boord (whose knockout novel Fortune's Fool is well  worth your time) and proceeded to tear through Swordheart  and Paladin's Grace  at an embarrassingly swift pace. Both are lovely studies in romantic fantasy and laugh-out-loud funny, so I was not sure what to expect from a horror novel by the same author. To be honest, I am a little mad at myself for doubting Kingfisher at all. The Hollow Places  is a grab you by the collar rollercoaster of a read. Engaging, terrifying, and just as laugh-out-loud funny as her romance entries have proven to be. Moments of suspense are  balanced with a necessary levity and humor that readers of Kingfisher have come

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by H. G. Parry

Image
A  sweeping, tour de force retelling of the Jacobins, the Reign of Terror, slave rebellion, the burgeoning rights of man, and did I mention the magicians? It is always fun to imagine what the world would be like if keystone events played out while navigating the addition of magic. In A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians , H. G. Parry does admirable work in re-imagining post-colonial war Britain against the rising tide of revolution across the channel. Enlisting notable figures from history, she imbues some with power while others remain plainly mortal (and oft time those pose the greatest threat). With prose that reminds me of my days spent reading Motions to Compel and drafting legal correspondence, A Declaration treats the reader to the same florid storytelling they enjoyed in The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep , all-the-while casting an animated humanity on figures whose roles in history have been cast in ink across the pages of middle school history books world over. It is no e

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

Image
Ever read a book that leaves you at an absolute loss in your current scope of knowledge, hungering for more but unsure of where to even begin sating that clawing need? I need more of Rabbit, Chih and Almost Brilliant. I need In-Yo’s quiet smiles and I need to understand the spreading depths of the tradition and lore from which The Empress of Salt and Fortune unfolds, but most of all I need to discuss the rebellions and relationships Vo weaves together in a gorgeous text which manages to be concise yet sweeping at the same time. A catalogue, a history, a tactical guide and spiders web; Vo’s debut novella grasps you by the lapels and rips you from the modern world, all the while wrapping you in an eiderdown comforter and kissing you goodnight. It is a fairy tale and a lullaby, a portrait of resilience and an ode to the quiet strengths of women who bide their time and reap vast reward. Simply. Beautiful. For fans of: Circe , The Priory of the Orange Tree , The Life of an Amorou

The Glamourist by Luanne G. Smith

Image
Having torn through The Vine Witch over the course of a rainy Saturday and been left with the itch for a bottle of nice red and a fat coil knit hygge blanket, I jumped at the chance to read Luanne G. Smith’s second foray into her world of witches. And what a delightful read it was! To be blunt, The Glamourist  is a sequel just as cozy and endearing as it's sister novel and succeeds  on two fronts: Firstly, The Glamourist hits all the same, satisfying notes as its predecessor; the women are strong, bold and interesting. The world is creatively re-tuned into an alternate turn-of-the-century France successfully navigating the space between the familiar (Montmartre! L’Opera Garnier! The Latin Quarter!) while pulling the curtain further back in the reveal that this is not our own Paris. The men support our leads with an endearing sense of bafflement at the magic they do not understand and for once we have a potential mother-in-law with whom I, for one, would love to share a bottl

Queens of the Wyrd by Timandra Whitecastle

Image
To begin a review of Timandra Whitecastle’s Queens of the Wyrd , one must reference the very moment in which this book blipped on their radar, immediately sending them to Amazon.com: Moms? Viking Moms? A riff on Nicholas Eames’ glorious Kings of the Wyld ? WITH LADIES? Y’all, I don’t think I have ever gotten myself to Amazon and clicked ‘purchase’ faster in my life. Now, happily resting on my laurels on the other side of this novel, I’m pleased to report that Queens of the Wyrd was well-worth the hype I had built up in my head. Whitecastle had already impressed with her Living Blade trilogy (+ novella), and so as a reader I had been eagerly awaiting more of her work. Queens of the Wyrd delivered in such a heart-rending, just as epic-but-in-no-way-similar fashion. Perhaps it is due in part to the fact I am a mother and find myself looking back on prior years and wondering, “What happened?” Perhaps it is because I’m a sucker for all things Ragnarok and the delicious habi

Shielded by KayLynn Flanders

Image
Up front, I love a good YA/Fantasy romance. Bonus points if it involves some of my all-time favorite tropes: A princess who isn’t a dainty, delicate flower, a roguish love interest, strong familial ties, mistaken identities and elaborate world building. Shielded hits each of these notes and more, playing within those tropes we’ve come to expect and flipping a few of them on their heads. Our princess is not one for balls and fancy gowns, she’d rather be in the dueling ring with the guards. Not due to the standard “not like other girls” excuse, but rather in cause of the fact that her kingdom is one filled with warriors and battle. Her people destined to defend the border of their kingdoms against a mysterious threat to the north. Our girl Jenna is a sword-wielding badass out of necessity, rather than a need to stand-out. Establishing this play on the trope early on, Flanders continues to surprise with the twists and turns of the Halendian world and surrounding kingdoms. Betr

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H. G. Parry

Image
What a great ride. From a 4:00AM phone call to a dense wall of fog, I was HOOKED by H. G. Parry's words and world.  The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is a truly unique entry into the world of Contemporary Fantasy. Set in Wellington, New Zealand, Parry views the city with an adoring gaze, filling in the gaps and alleys with her words in a manner not unlike a cornerstone presence of the novel. It is a novel for students of English Literature, by a student of English Literature without alienating lovers of any specific genre within that vast umbrella. You like Mr. Darcy? Get ready for five of them. Do the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes excite you? Or perhaps you are more of a 'plucky young heroine solving crimes' sort of reader. Well, buckle up, bucko. I hope you're not allergic to hounds, moors,  crookedy streets and/or dastardly villains.  Beyond creative use of some of literature's greatest figures, The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is, at its heart, nove

The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

Image
Do not let the blurbs for this book fool you. It will sound like a fantasy retelling of the excellent Children of Men , and it is anything but. As advertised, The First Girl Child is a fantastic read. While I have never been the biggest fan of novels that begin with children and spend the first quarter of the book ageing them up, Harmon achieves her goal in character development almost flawlessly. To the point that, looking back upon the novel, I would not have wanted her to tackle that challenge in any other way. A duology would have felt superfluous, and would have certainly detracted from the emotional hits which land all-the-better for us not having been able to spend twice the amount of pages getting to know and love Bayr, Alba, Dagmar and Ghost. The snippets of her character's lives never feel tedious, nor do you feel cheated by the various fast-forwards. Instead, her engrossing mastery of language is altogether absorbing and she spends these vignettes fleshing out a peopl

The Heron Kings by Eric Lewis

Image
Firstly, thank you to Netgalley.com and Flame Tree Press for the ARC of The Heron Kings ! And here we go with the inaugural book review on Britta Reads Things . I wanted to love  The Heron Kings , let's get that out of the way from the get go. The world Lewis has created is fascinating, from the dueling crowns at the top to the day-to-day struggles of the little guy at the bottom. It is easy to believe in Bergovny and Argovan, thanks to Lewis’ deep dive into the history of the struggle between the lands, and “boots on the ground” approach to POV characters. Characters are not the problem with  The Heron Kings , as we’re introduced to Alessia - a former novice turned physic/bandit, Ulnoth - a peasant farmer terribly wronged, Corren - our military tactician and Vinian - spy mistress, overall badass. One absolute strength of the text is the flexibility of those characters and their moral alignments. It is not as easy to place Alessia into a lawful good category, when her