Mercurial Review

Mercurial Review

By Naomi Hughes

Publisher: Independent 

Print Length: 412 pages

Release Year: 2021

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.02

Available on Amazon and B&N

Everyone in the Alloyed Empire fears the Destroyer. The metal in her blood gives her incendiary powers, and the coldness in her heart makes her the empress’s perfect weapon…until a rebel attack leaves her with no magic and no memories.

Her bodyguard, Tal, has long since regretted his idealistic hope of saving the Destroyer. Now that she’s powerless he can finally end her reign of terror—if he can stop himself from falling for the wicked, funny, utterly unfamiliar girl she’s become.

Nyx was furious when her brother, Tal, abandoned her to protect a tyrant. Now, she hones herself as a rebel assassin until she can kill the Destroyer and rescue Tal. But the closer she gets, the more she realizes the entire empire hinges on the decisions the three of them will make… (Goodreads)

I absolutely adored this book! I enjoyed the characters and the overall grey morality behind their motivations. They were realistically conflicted with hard decisions and none of them was really good. It was interesting to have multiple points of views that drastically affect how the character feels and approached the conflict. 

This story is definitely character-driven complemented by a uniquely fascinating magic system. Hughes does also set up the world quite well but doesn’t venture far from what is necessary. This book manages to include a relatively complex magic system for a YA book but manages to define its parameters without falling into the pit of info-dump despair. 

This book is one that deserves much more attention than it’ll probably get. It truly delivers when it promises a story for fans of the Grishaverse, and sets the foundations for a series with the potential to be as successful.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Aether Ones Review (#BlogTour)

Aether Ones Review (#BlogTour)

By Wendi Coffman-Porter

Publisher: Brown Books Publishing Group

Print Length: 349 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: Science-Fiction, Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.31

Available on Amazon

Special thanks to Brown Book Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book and TheWriteReads for allowing me to participate in this tour.

Leilani Falconi is a top agent for the Imperial Investigative Service, tasked with policing the veil between two realities. Long ago, the Great Sundering tore the universe into two mirrored halves; aether space, which progressed using magical energy or eldrich, and kuldain, which advanced via electromagnetic technology.

But now a series of suspicious deaths stretching back more than a decade has the agent trapped directly between secretive bureaucracies and their peoples. If she can’t solve the mysterious crimes in time, existence as she knows it could erupt into chaos. (Goodreads)

Every so often I come across a book that I struggle to get through. A big part of that was my own fault as I struggled to focus on what was going on. I’m glad I pushed through though because I ended up really enjoying this read. This book sort of felt like returning home after a long time away. Science fiction holds a special place in my heart but for whatever reason, I haven’t found myself reading much of it as of late. Aether Ones was the perfect return to the genre, as it blends fantasy and science fiction seamlessly. 

At first glance, the protagonist, Leilani Falconi, comes off as a little too powerful and a little too perfect. This doesn’t last long though, as she quickly proves that while she is a formidable opponent she is far from perfect and can find herself in some pretty sticky situations. She manages to both come off like the badass woman many of us wish we could be while also be real and flawed; not always making the best decisions. She’s a protagonist we can expect a lot from in the future with the knowledge that she has the power to follow through.

Aether Ones is fast-paced and well-handled mixed of incredibly researched sci-fi and the perfect touch of fantastical elements. At times it can be a little hard to follow but still manages to be entertaining none the less. This is one of those books you just buckle up for and enjoy the ride. Hell, take the ride more than once!

Subjective Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Search for Starlight Review

A Search for Starlight Review

By James Maxwell

Publisher: 47North

Print Length: 332 pages

Release Year: 2021

Genre: Science-Fiction, Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.34

Available on Amazon and B&N

Special thanks to 47North for providing me with an ARC.

Beyond the firewall lies a greater threat than Taimin and Selena could have foreseen.

Taimin and Selena have destroyed the firewall that once trapped them in their dangerous wasteland. But with their hard-fought freedom now comes a greater threat.

Outside the wasteland, under the same two scorching suns, live the bonded. This powerful ancient enemy will unleash a destructive war on the wasteland’s inhabitants, and Taimin knows it’s a fight they cannot win.

When Zorn comes under attack, Selena uses all her power as a mystic to protect the white city. Meanwhile Taimin’s path takes him to Agravida, the capital of the advanced bonded civilization—where he must work fast to find a weakness in a seemingly unbeatable enemy.

To save everyone in the wasteland from certain death, Taimin and Selena seek to contact their ancestors in the stars. But will they reach them in time, and will their help be enough to turn the tide? The existence of the world is in their hands…  (Goodreads)

A Search for Starlight is one of those books that I just could not wait to get my hands on. I found the first two books in this series to be incredibly enjoyable, but I could not imagine how the series would come to an end. Maxwell does not disappoint, providing us with a satisfying ending to an overall fantastic series. 

This book, like a number of books I’ve read recently, manages to do a lot in a relatively short amount of pages. Maxwell managers to do everything we readers expected as well as everything we didn’t. As a reader, this book was often unputdownable because with every section came new concerns and potential solutions. The book is undeniably realistic in its ongoing insistence to make the characters fail. Maxwell manages to bring forth an SFF entry almost entirely devoid of dues ex machina. Which is a true testament of storytelling prowess. 

Overall well-paced this book manages to seamlessly alternate between info-heavy scenes, action, and downtime; giving the reader plenty of time to process what is going on and understand the various complexities of the story. Loose ends are tied neatly and the book does a good job communicating its sub-plots in relation to the over-arching one. This led to this being a very satisfying ending to a great series. 

I recommend this book to all SFF fans, but primarily those newer to the genre. While it has a lot of the same elements as other SFF series, The Firewall Trilogy is much easier to follow, making this a great entry-level series for both young adults and adults alike. I fully intend on exploring more of Maxwell’s works as well as anything he may release in the future.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

All the Tides of Fate Review

All the Tides of Fate Review

By Adalyn Grace

Publisher: Imprint

Print Length: 368 pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Release Date: February 2, 2021

Available for pre-order on Amazon and B&N

Special thanks to Imprint for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Through blood and sacrifice, Amora Montara has conquered a rebellion and taken her rightful place as queen of Visidia. Now, with the islands in turmoil and the people questioning her authority, Amora cannot allow anyone to see her weaknesses.

No one can know about the curse in her bloodline. No one can know that she’s lost her magic. No one can know the truth about the boy who holds the missing half of her soul.
To save herself and Visidia, Amora embarks on a desperate quest for a mythical artifact that could fix everything―but it comes at a terrible cost. As she tries to balance her loyalty to her people, her crew, and the desires of her heart, Amora will soon discover that the power to rule might destroy her. (Goodreads)

After being pleasantly surprised by All the Stars and Teeth, I went into All the Tides of Fate thoroughly excited to see how the duology would come to a close. While I’ll admit my exact expectations weren’t met I was not let down. All the Tides of Fate is an enjoyable read especially for readers who tend to get a little too emotionally invested in the lives of the characters more so than the actual plot. 

The story of All the Tides of Fate does not differ too much from its predecessor in that they both involve a seafaring island-hopping adventure with high stakes. What sets this book apart from the one before is its deeper focus on the characters. All the Stars and Teeth focused more on developing this unique world and its circumstances. All the Tides of Fate uses those well-developed foundations as an opportunity to focus on the characters. While there is an external plot, the focus deeply revolves around the characters’ thoughts, actions, and reactions to the events that transpire. By the end of the first book, I was invested so invested in the characters that it didn’t take me long to want to delve deeper into their growing selves and relationships.

Ultimately this duology doesn’t end in your typical Young Adult fashion. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say: idealistic ending who?

I recommend this book, the whole series really, to any who just need to escape reality and go on an adventure and maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn something about yourself or the world around you along the way.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

White Trash Warlock Review (#BlogTour)

White Trash Warlock Review (#BlogTour)

By David R. Slayton

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Print Length: 320 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: LGBT Urban-Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.12

Available on Amazon and B&N

Guthrie was a good place to be from, but it wasn’t a great place to live, not when you were like Adam, in all the ways Adam was like Adam.

Adam Binder hasn’t spoken to his brother in years, not since Bobby had him committed to a psych ward for hearing voices. When a murderous spirit possesses Bobby’s wife and disrupts the perfect life he’s built away from Oklahoma, he’s forced to ask for his little brother’s help. Adam is happy to escape the trailer park and get the chance to say I told you so, but he arrives in Denver to find the local magicians dead.

It isn’t long before Adam is the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, he’ll have to risk bargaining with powers he’d rather avoid, including his first love, the elf who broke his heart.

The Binder brothers don’t realize that they’re unwitting pawns in a game played by immortals. Death herself wants the spirit’s head, and she’s willing to destroy their family to reap it. (Goodreads)

Special thanks to theWriteReads for giving me the opportunity to participate in this tour and to the author for providing me with a copy of the book!

White Trash Warlock is an exceptional small book that packs a major punch. While it may not look as large and intimidating as many of its SFF cousins, it’s stuffed with enough charm and character to rival even the thickest of tomes. 

Boasting an alarmingly vast world with a complete magic system and the sociopolitical dynamic between the witches and the unseen world. White Trash Warlock manages to cram so many ideas together in a coherent fashion. The writing is easy to follow and simplistic in its approach to illustrating the story. The author does take some creative liberties, utilizing descriptions unique to himself. The reading experience of this book is exciting, well-paced and fresh, making it one of those hard-to-put-down volumes. 

The story explores a wealth of themes ranging from otherness to loss. With well fleshed out characters, the themes are thoroughly examined from multiple angles as well as through the characters realistic thoughts, actions and reactions. For me, as a witchy homosexual with questionable family relations, I was pleasantly surprised with how deeply I related to the protagonist Adam. All the characters are quite exceptional though, even outside their role in the story. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and fully intend on continuing with the series. For fans of SFF who want a lighter read that still packs a punch, this book is for you.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Steelheart Review

Steelheart Review

By Brandon Sanderson

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Print Length: 386 pages

Release Year: 2003

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.13

Available on Amazon and B&N

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge. (Goodreads)

It only took one book for Brandon Sanderson to make it on my favourite authors list. Now, it is my goal to read every book he’s ever written. While I’m very excited to start reading the Mistborn series, I decided to start with The Reckoner’s trilogy, due to my being able to require the first book, Steelheart, for only a dollar. I had high expectations going into this book, and gods bless Brandon Sanderson for delivering! 

Steelheart presents an interesting view of the superhero genre playing on the idea that “absolute power absolutely corrupts.” Sanderson takes this idea and just goes for it full force, introducing us to a unique world where those with powers are exclusively villainous. For modern-day readers, this series is a lot The Boys in its depiction of a corrupt superpowered society and the anti-hero vigilantes that seek to change it. This unexpected take, along with the plethora of twist woven throughout, makes this one of the best YA superpower stories I’ve ever read. 

I’ve grown to expect Sanderson to do the unexpected and this book didn’t fail me. Sanderson is great at making everything go wrong for our characters, forcing them to rely on their own abilities to get them out of certain situations. This often leads to near-death experiences because no person is capable of succeeding at everything. These catastrophic character failures are what made me fall in love with Sanderson’s writing. He does the unexpected, and he always manages to catch me off guard. You won’t find much– if any– dues ex machina here.
This being only the second book I’ve read by Sanderson, I don’t really have the best frame of reference to compare it to. The other book I read, Skyward, is his most recent foray into the Young Adult category. Skyward is absolutely exceptional, one of the best YA science-fiction books I’ve ever read. Steelheart, having been written almost 20 years ago is only proof to me that Sanderson is one of the best writers of our time. I have a feeling this wasn’t his best work, and if I’m right I don’t know how I’m going to handle the greatness that I’ve yet to discover.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Court of Frost and Starlight Review

A Court of Frost and Starlight Review

By Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Print Length: 272 pages

Release Year: 2018

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.88

Available on Amazon and B&N

Hope warms the coldest night.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.

Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court. (Goodreads)

As you already know from my reviews on the previous instalments of this series, I am a big fan of A Court of Thorns and Roses. It goes without saying how happy I was to finally get a chance to pick up this book… too bad it did not live up to its predecessors. 

A Court of Frost and Starlight is effectively an ACOTAR Christmas special that just so happens to also happens to give us a glimpse of the war’s aftermath. Now, I have to give Maas, some credit for some of the themes she included regarding that subplot, but not much more. While she included very real aspects of post-war life, the way they were handled was… not that realistic. Yes, this is a fantasy series, but that doesn’t necessarily excuse the sort of detached feeling I got from this book. Of course, I am taking into consideration the disassociation that often follows those who have fought in a war, but this just wasn’t it. 

The only aspect of this book that truly shines is the deeper look into the found-family relationship between the inner circle. If you take out the post-war aspect of this story, its a mostly heart-warming tale of a family during holidays. The sections that focused solely on this is what made the book bearable for me, as it managed to cheer me up during our not-so-typical holiday season. And while the character has always been just as important as the plot in these stories, this one, in particular, took a lot of time to look at each character individually and give us insight on who they are and how they think without the shroud of intense hardship. We get a glimpse into seemingly everyday life, which in these times we sort of need. 
I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped to, but it did manage to make my holiday season a little better. And I might as well admit it is what I needed to hold me over until the much-awaited release of A Court of Silver Flames. This is not a necessary read, and I won’t judge anyone who decides to skip it. But, in saying that, it’s not worthless either.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Forest of Souls Review

Forest of Souls Review

By Lori M. Lee

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Print Length: 400 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.69

Available on Amazon and B&N

Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.

And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.

Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for. (Goodreads)

Forest of Souls was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020. I was so excited when I finally got my hands on it that I had to force myself to slow down a bit. I’m trying to spend a longer time in books like this because I want to really take my time to contemplate and savour the story. While the story was fast-paced, throwing you into the action immediately, I managed to slow my reading pace comfortably. Lee does an amazing job of showing rather than telling, so whenever I set the book down I had plenty to think about. Regardless of the fact that I came to the same conclusions as our protagonist as quickly as she did, it allowed me to explore aspects of the story that the author set aside. This only adds to my excitement for the upcoming sequel Spider’s Web, because I want to see how these concepts are brought into fruition. 

The magic system definitely gave me similar vibes to Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, and the aesthetic of this world definitely felt influenced series like The Untamed. The lore of this world felt well-developed and even though we only view the world through a single character’s eyes, I definitely felt like we were provided with more than sufficient world-building. 

My favourite part of this book was the characters. Forest of Souls includes a beautiful sisterly-friendship between the protagonist Sirscha and her familiar Saengo. Lee does an amazing job portraying the platonic love between the two girls, and how their situation affects them not only as individuals but as partners. The lack of romance in this book is refreshing, but not entirely not existent, as there is definitely foundation laid down for it. Whatever the author ultimately decides, I can only imagine it being executed well, as her ability to set up characters and their relationships are definitely above average.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Amari and the Night Brothers Review (Blog Tour)

Amari and the Night Brothers Review (Blog Tour)

By B.B. Alston

Print Length: 416 pages

Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy

Release Date January 19, 2021

Available for pre-order on Amazon and B&N

Special thanks to theWriteReads and Egmont Publishing for providing me with an ARC.

Amari Peters knows three things.

Her big brother Quinton has gone missing.

No one will talk about it.

His mysterious job holds the secret . . .

So when Amari gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get her head around the new world of the Bureau, where mermaids, aliens and magicians are real, and her roommate is a weredragon.

Amari must compete against kids who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives, and when each trainee is awarded a special supernatural talent, Amari is given an illegal talent – one that the Bureau views as dangerous.

With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is the enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton . . . (Goodreads)

Amari and the Night Brothers is a charming fantastical middle-grade book that promises to open a new world for its readers. It delivers and then some! Managing to introduce us to a world that is, in some vague ways, reminiscent of the wizarding world, but far larger and dare I say better. For being such a vast world it is well realized, as well as the characters in the story. The relationships between the characters definitely had Percy Jackson-vibes, a fleshed-out realism that makes them all the more relatable and loveable. 

For me, this book was often reminiscent of the Men in Black franchise but on a much larger and more magical scale. This is the sort of book I would have been obsessed with when I was in the intended age category, and still intend to follow as an adult. This book manages to pack a large story into a small package and knowing there is more to come and so much more of this world to explore in what makes this book memorable. This is the sort of book you read as a kid and obsess over, convinced that if your nomination was detected that you’d follow in our titular heroine Amari’s path.

This book, most importantly, manages to pack in some heavy themes. Tackling issues children today, and children of yesterday, have dealt with. It’s a type of story we need more of. 

Amari and the Night Brothers is a fun book for everyone, regardless of age. There are lessons to be learned, fun to be had, and so many interesting characters to meet along the way. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to read this book and look forward to future instalments.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Ruinsong Review

Ruinsong Review

By Julia Ember

Publisher: Darrar, Straus, and Giroux

Print Length: 368 pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Release Date November 24th 2020

Available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Special thanks to Macmillan for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Her voice was her prison…

Now it’s her weapon.

In a world where magic is sung, a powerful mage named Cadence has been forced to torture her country’s disgraced nobility at her ruthless queen’s bidding.

But when she is reunited with her childhood friend, a noblewoman with ties to the underground rebellion, she must finally make a choice: Take a stand to free their country from oppression, or follow in the queen’s footsteps and become a monster herself. (Goodreads)

Ruinsong is a delightfully dark and sapphic fantasy retelling of Phantom of the Opera that boast exceptional writing and a unique take on magic. This book is refreshingly queer and uses every page to its advantage. I devoured this book, and foresee myself wanting to do so again. 

I picked up this book because of its gorgeous cover and promise of a sapphic relationship. The latter is delivered and then some, as the author throughs in world-building details that illustrate a world more accepting (in some, but not all) of queerness. As a queer individual, I was b=both charmed and delighted at even the smallest of details representing under-represented communities. The sapphic nature of the book was particularly refreshing, do to the tendency of gay male relationships being seemingly favoured in publishing. The relationship is a slow-burn enemies-to-lover sort of romance, which, on its own, is swoon-worthy. Throw in two girls, both powerful in their own right, rebelling against the injustice of the crown… Well, you get a damn good book.

This book is a relatively short read, but for what it lacks in page count, it makes up with it’ well-crafted world. Not a single detail of this book is unnecessary, as every page is used wisely. We get a glimpse into a world that is so well developed it may as well be real. While reading this book, you are transported into this world, being slowly destroyed by a tortuous dictator, and you see the contrast of the palace and city. 

The only criticism I can offer is in regards to the villain of the book. While she is captivating, her motivations and methods of evil aren’t particularly unique. Regardless, she still manages to be terrifying, holding her power with elegance. Even when she cracks, she does so with a rare sort of grace. 

The magic system in this book is one of its strongest aspects. There are defined limits and defining aspects of power. The decision to make the magic music-based is truly genius, and its application is so well done. 

I fully intend on acquiring a physical copy of this book, because I thoroughly enjoyed it and see myself wanting to reread it. I recommend this book to anyone who loves dark fantasy and overthrowing tyrannical matriarchies.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.