Synopsis:Abandoned by a single mother she never knew, 16-year-old Raya—obsessed with ancient myths—lives with her grandmother in a small conservative Texas town. For years Raya has been forced to hide her feelings for her best friend and true love, Sarah. When the two are outed, they are sent to Friendly Saviors: a re-education camp meant to “fix” them and make them heterosexual. Upon arrival, Raya vows to assume the mythic role of Orpheus to escape Friendly Saviors, and to return to the world of the living with her love—only becoming more determined after she, Sarah, and Friendly Saviors’ other teen residents are subjected to abusive “treatments” by the staff.
In a haunting voice reminiscent of Sylvia Plath, with the contemporary lyricism of David Levithan, Brynne Rebele-Henry weaves a powerful inversion of the Orpheus myth informed by the real-world truths of conversion therapy. Orpheus Girl is a mythic story of dysfunctional families, trauma, first love, heartbreak, and ultimately, the fierce adolescent resilience that has the power to triumph over darkness and ignorance.
CW: There are scenes in this book that depict self-harm, homophobia, transphobia, and violence against LGBTQ characters.
Review:It is officially Reading Rush time, which means I typically am reading books that I never would have picked up 100% on my own. I knew that my first task for the week should be tackling the “read a book from a genre that you don’t usually read” prompt. I do not read a ton outside of fantasy, with the occasional romance book. I took to my Libby app to see what was available. I won’t lie, this cover was absolutely the reason that I picked up this YA contemporary. I did not even realize how short it was when I hit “borrow”.
With this book being so short, there is not much that I can say about it. This is a YA contemporary story about the struggles of growing up in a conservative town and religion, while also being queer. This was a very difficult and dark story, but I think it is an important one. I do not want to get into the plot because I think with short books it is easy to give it all away.
My biggest “complaint” is that it WAS so short. The author did a great job of developing these characters and their relationships with each other, but I wanted more. I think that this is a purely personal preference, and I think I am learning that short fiction just isn’t for me.
Overall I think this is a story that everyone should read, not just those on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, but everyone. It was very eye-opening about the harsh reality that a lot of queer kids face growing up. This was HARD to read at times, but I know that this is something that needs to be talked about more.
Ashes of the Sun
Synopsis:Long ago, a magical war destroyed an empire, and a new one was built in its ashes. But still the old grudges simmer, and two siblings will fight on opposite sides to save their world, in the start of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy trilogy
Gyre hasn’t seen his beloved sister since their parents sold her to the mysterious Twilight Order. Now, twelve years after her disappearance, Gyre’s sole focus is revenge, and he’s willing to risk anything and anyone to claim enough power to destroy the Order.
Chasing rumors of a fabled city protecting a powerful artifact, Gyre comes face-to-face with his lost sister. But she isn’t who she once was. Trained to be a warrior, Maya wields magic for the Twilight Order’s cause. Standing on opposite sides of a looming civil war, the two siblings will learn that not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two.
Review:When Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler showed up on my doorstep I was SO EXCITED. A huge shoutout to Orbit for sending a beautiful finished copy my way!
This book really hooked me from the very beginning. We are thrown into a unique almost sci-fi/apocalyptic fantasy world. This book felt like a very new and fresh entry into the fantasy genre the whole way through. One thing that Wexler did so well, in my opinion, was making you feel that you knew what was going to happen next and then completely surprise you.
I really loved every single one of the characters crafted within this story. I felt like I really understood all of their motivations and why they were acting the way that they were. By the end, it was very apparent how emotionally invested in the characters that I had become.
This world that Django created was SO FUN. It was a great backdrop to this story and was developed very well. The lore is rich and there is so much that can be expanded upon in the sequels.
The LGBTQ+ representation in this book was a welcome surprise. Within this world, we see many people with different sexualities just living their lives. It is just people living their lives and being attracted to whoever they are attracted to and I think that we need more of that within all types of stories. I love seeing queer characters just living their lives and loving who they love.
Overall I really enjoyed this read and I would recommend it to anyone who reads Adult SFF. I also believe that this would be a great book for those that read a lot of Young Adult Fantasy and would like to get more into the adult genre. It is very approachable!
Thank you to the author and publisher for providing a copy for review!
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Synopsis:Milla Vane returns to a world of kings, magic, and passion in her exhilarating A Gathering of Dragons series, as a great alliance forms to stand against an evil warlord intent on their destruction.
Danger lurks in the western realms. The Destroyer’s imminent return has sent the realms into turmoil as desperate citizens seek refuge—but there’s no safety to be found when demons and wraiths crawl out from the shadows. Even Koth, a northern island kingdom left untouched by the Destroyer a generation past, is besieged by terrors spawned from corrupt magics.
When Lizzan leads the Kothan army against these terrors, only to see her soldiers massacred and to emerge as the only survivor, she is called a coward and a deserter. Shunned from her home, Lizzan now wanders in solitude as a mercenary for hire, until she encounters a group of warriors seeking new alliances with the northern kingdoms—a group that includes Aerax, the bastard prince of Koth, and the man who sent her into exile.
Though they were childhood friends, Aerax cannot allow himself to be close to the only woman who might thwart his treacherous plan to save their island realm. But when a goddess’s demand binds them together, Lizzan and Aerax must find a way to overcome their painful pasts. Or there will be no future for the western realms…
Review: was so excited when Berkley sent me an eARC of this book on Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. I loved the first installment of this series and could hardly contain my excitement for the second. I was very worried going into this because I loved the first book and set of characters so much, and I knew going into this one it followed a whole new cast of characters. Almost immediately I realized that I was worried for no real reason. I loved this one as much, if not more than the first. There is something about this series that is just everything I want. The world is vast and intriguing. The romance is some of the best I have seen. The writing is simple enough to be digestible, but full of beautiful quotes and moments.
Aerax is a FANTASTIC love interest. He may be one of the more sweet and gentle men I have come across in the fantasy romance genre and I found myself just wanting more and more of him. Lizzan is our strong female soldier who has had such a rough past, but is so relatable. I found her to be the best mixture of tender and caring mixed with badass and strong. The two together have this INCREDIBLE chemistry and creates one of the best romances I have ever read.
I loved our cast of side characters as well. I am a sucker for a band of people going on a mission and this is exactly what this group was. They all had their own opinions and feelings about each other and the situation they were in, however they stayed strong together and had each others back no matter their history.
Overall this was an easy 5 star rating for me and this is creeping up on my list of all time favorite series. If you are a sucker for a truly epic adult fantasy romance series, this is it. I have yet to read anything that comes close to this within the genre.
The House in the Cerulean Sea
Synopsis:A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.
Review:Oh boy, here we go. I am ready to fumble my way through this review, trying to find the words to describe my feeling for this book. This book moved into my list of all time favorites.
From the jump the tone of The House in the Cerulean Sea wrapped me in a hug. It was full of childish wonder and whimsy and created a story that I was completely immersed and enamored with.
When you meet our main character Linus he is a middle aged lonely man who is filled with self-esteem problems. He works all day and goes home to his cat to listen to records. I loved Linus as a character. His character growth is one of my favorites that I have ever read. He has a rough exterior, but is truly the most precious cinnamon roll.
THE CHILDREN. We follow 6 magical “outcast” children. They were all developed incredibly. They each had their own voice and personalities and I fell completely in love with every single one of them.
The ROMANCE! I did not go into this book with high expectations for a romance, but this certainly delivered. It was a heartfelt slow burn that made my heart absolutely explode.
Overall this novel is PERFECT. There is not a single thing that I would change about it. It came to me at a really tough spot and it felt like the hug I needed. It is taking all of my self control to not go back and reread it already.
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Synopsis:The Lady of the Lake is the true hero in this cinematic twist on the tale of King Arthur created by Thomas Wheeler and legendary artist, producer, and director Frank Miller (300, Batman: The Dark Night Returns, Sin City). Featuring 8 full color and 30 black-and-white pieces of original artwork by Frank Miller.
Whosoever wields the Sword of Power shall be the one true King.
But what if the Sword has chosen a Queen?
Nimue grew up an outcast. Her connection to dark magic made her something to be feared in her Druid village, and that made her desperate to leave…
That is, until her entire village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, and Nimue’s fate is forever altered. Charged by her dying mother to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer, Nimue is now her people’s only hope. Her mission leaves little room for revenge, but the growing power within her can think of little else.
Nimue teams up with a charming mercenary named Arthur and refugee Fey Folk from across England. She wields a sword meant for the one true king, battling paladins and the armies of a corrupt king. She struggles to unite her people, avenge her family, and discover the truth about her destiny.
But perhaps the one thing that can change Destiny itself is found at the edge of a blade.
Review:I picked up a copy of Cursed when I saw the trailer for the new Netflix adaptation. The trailer looked like something I would be REALLY interested in, so I knew that I had to give the book a shot.
I went into this with little to no knowledge of the original story of King Arthur, so that already put me at a disadvantage. However after reading other reviews of this story it wouldn’t have changed much if I did.
UNDERWHELMING. That is the only word that I can think of to describe this novel. I know that it was written to be adapted and you can definitely tell.
The world building was VERY surface level and left me BEYOND frustrated and wanting more. The characters also fell very one-dimensional and I had trouble really caring about any of them. The pacing was all over the place. It DRAGGED for most of the book, but the ending happened WAY too quickly. The romance was very insta-love and I didn’t really understand why were supposed to be together.
Overall this book was NOT a hit for me. It may honestly be one of my biggest disappointments of the year. I do think that this will make a really great tv series if executed well. I just wanted so much more from this.
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Synopsis:Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.
Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?
After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).
Review:The Extraordinaries kicks off with a chapter from our main character Nick’s fan fiction that he writes about his favorite superhero Shadow Star. Right from the beginning I absolutely fell in love with Nick as a character. He is the perfect quirky and lovable character. Klune successfully created a main character that was quirky, relatable, and sometimes completely clueless without it coming across as cringey.
At the surface this book is a fun fast-paced LGBTQ+ superhero story about a teenage boy who just wants to be something bigger and better than he is, and that was something I think my teenage self could really relate to. When you look past the sheer entertainment factor of this story you will find it digs much deeper. What really stands out to me with this story was the relationships. I found myself SO invested in these characters and their relationships with each other. A book hasn’t made me truly weep in a long time, and this one got me.
The stand out for me was the relationship between Nick and his father. We see them go through unimaginable heartache, as well as normal teenage-parent arguments. They have a loving and playful relationship that hit me hard. We have a relationship between Nick and Owen that was such a relatable high school “lust” relationship. You have an incredibly strong “best friends since childhood” relationship in Nick and Seth that gave me goosebumps at times. Their love for each other was so raw and real and left me wanting more. We also have Gibby and Jazz. I am a sucker for a good lesbian couple involving the rich cheerleading captain.
The only hold back for me on giving this book 5 stars is that the pacing felt slightly off. It wasn’t SUPER off putting, but looking back I felt like not much happened in the first 50% and then the last half everything happened almost too quickly. I also found a lot of the story predictable. By the halfway point I had a pretty good idea of what was going on and I would say that I was about 75% correct.
Overall it was a great story and I cannot wait for more of you to get your hands on it and hear your thoughts! Let me know your feelings on superhero stories. I always thought I wasn’t a fan, however I enjoyed this story as well as Renegades by Marissa Meyer. Maybe it is a genre I need to look into more.
I received a review copy of The Extraordinaries from Netgalley and Tor Teen in exchange for an honest review.
The Kingdom of Copper
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Synopsis:Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.
Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her familyand one misstep will doom her tribe.
Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid, the unpredictable water spirits, have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.
And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.
Review:I went into The Kingdom of Copper with relatively low expectations. Although I DID enjoy the first book The City of Brass, it took me awhile to get into and I have any blown away. I was pleasantly surprised with this second installment.
The world within these books is VERY big and complex. My main issue with book one was just that I didn’t feel connected or invested in these characters. From the start of book two, that was changed. The world building and build up that we got in book one paid off tremendously in book 2. I felt like I was in it with these characters, and maneuvering these crazy politics with them. We learn a lot about the characters motives and why they are the way they are today, and I really appreciated that.
My only complaint with this novel is that it felt a bit unnecessarily long. There was 150-200 pages that really seemed to drag and pulled me out of the story a bit.
Overall I think if you were the LEAST bit interested in The City of Brass, give The Kingdom of Copper a go! Do not go in expecting as much romance as we were given in book one, but if political intrigue and awesome magic systems are your thing, this book will DEFINITELY deliver!
Song of Blood and Stone
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Synopsis: The kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar have been separated for centuries by the Mantle, a magical veil that has enforced a tremulous peace between the two lands. But now, the Mantle is cracking and the True Father, ruler of Lagrimar and the most powerful Earthsinger in the world, finally sees a way into Elsira to seize power.
All Jasminda ever wanted was to live quietly on her farm, away from the prying eyes of those in the nearby town. Branded an outcast by the color of her skin and her gift of Earthsong, she’s been shunned all her life and has learned to steer clear from the townsfolk…until a group of Lagrimari soldiers wander into her valley with an Elsiran spy, believing they are still in Lagrimar.
Through Jack, the spy, Jasminda learns that the Mantle is weakening, allowing people to slip through without notice. And even more troubling: Lagrimar is mobilizing, and if no one finds a way to restore the Mantle, it might be too late for Elsira. Their only hope lies in uncovering the secrets of the Queen Who Sleeps and Jasminda’s Earthsong is the key to unravel them.
Thrust into a hostile society and a world she doesn’t know, Jasminda and Jack race to unveil an ancient mystery that might offer salvation.
Review:Song of Blood and Stone is a book that has been on my shelf for AGES. I picked it up on a whim from Book Outlet years ago. It has travelled with me through 2 apartments and one house, moved to 3 different cities with me, yet I never picked it up. In that time I had unhauled almost every book, besides my favorites. So the fact that this books survived this long on my shelves unread is a mystery even to me.
I had NO IDEA going into this book that it was a romance-centered fantasy story. Romance and Fantasy are my two main genres, so when they collide I’m always pleasantly surprised.
The romance in this book was really really great. I really loved our two main characters. They were incredibly well fleshed out and their relationship and love was beautiful and believable. A lot of this book was a bit predictable and I felt like the foreshadowing was SO obvious that everything was laid out for you before it happened, but I didn’t mind it. It was a fun journey with two great characters and an interesting magic system.
My biggest issue with this book lies in the world-building. The world didn’t feel completely fleshed out and left me wanting more. The book also never really clarifies a time period that all of this is happening, but we see them using radios, trucks, telephones, etc when needed to be more convenient. It was very jarring and took me out of the story.
Overall this is a great read for someone who loves fantasy romance. I have ordered the second book and hope to continue to it to the series soon. I hope to see the world get fleshed out a bit more in the next installment.
The Warrior Heir
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Synopsis:An epic battle between good and evil…
Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great – until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts
Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: he is Weirlind, part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At their helm sits the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game – a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.
As if his bizarre heritage isn’t enough, Jack finds out that he’s not just another member of Weirlind – he’s one of the last of the warriors – at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.
Review:I picked up The Warrior Heir on a complete whim this past weekend. My mom had bought a giant haul of fantasy book for me, and a lot of Chima’s books were included. I did not go into this book with super high expectation, because I rarely enjoy older YA fantasy titles.
This book is full of the typical fantasy tropes. A young boy who doesn’t know he has powers has to learn his powers to save the world.
That being said, I did it enjoy this book. I read it in a little over 24 hours and it was an entertaining read that was perfect to curl up with on a Sunday afternoon. It took me back to being a teenager and staying up under the covers to read a good fantasy story.
This book was nothing AMAZING or earth shattering. It was just a fun YA fantasy that was easy to get lost in. I am excited to continue with Chima’s books and explore this world and dive deeper into this magic system.
Overall I would suggest this book to younger readers, or readers that are newer to the fantasy genre. I think readers that have a lot of epic fantasy under their belt may find this read a bit predictable and surface level, but it is fun nonetheless. This was a perfect “palette cleanser” for me between some complex epic fantasy reads.
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Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Synopsis: High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, a thrilling first novel in a fast-paced new YA fantasy series by USA Today bestselling author Danielle L. Jensen.
In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.
A SAILOR WITH A WILL OF IRON
Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.
A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET
Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.
A DANGEROUS QUEST
When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.
Review:Dark Shores was an experience for sure. This one had been on my radar for a while, and when Tor Teen asked if I wanted to review the second book, Dark Skies, I went ahead and picked up this one. I actually buddy read this book with 3 of my besties over on Instagram and it was my first official buddy read! It was a lot of fun. If you have been following me for a while then you know that I have a rough relationship with Danielle L. Jensen. She previously wrote The Bridge Kingdom, which most of my book besties absolutely ADORED and I was not a huge fan of it, so you could say that I went into Dark Shores a little skeptical.
I am not going to lie, for the first 30% of the book I was ready to DNF the book. I was not connecting with the writing at all, I did not care about the plot, and the main female character was driving me insane. However, I was powering through because I did not want to DNF a book that I was buddy reading.
Around the 40%-50% mark, I realized that I was really starting to love the male POV, Marcus. I’ll be honest, Marcus’s back is probably VERY sore from carrying me through the last half of this book. Throughout the second half, I felt like the main female, Teriana, got tolerable. I just could not be bothered to care about her at all. In the end, I did get swept up in the overall plot and ended up enjoying the ending, it just a bit of a painful journey to get there. I think I will give the second book a shot. Ultimately a 3.5 star feels right for this read. There were 2-star aspects for me, and 5-star aspects. I will continue on with book two because I am curious where this plot is going to go.