Five Mini Reviews, Part II

How is it already mid-February (and time for another five mini reviews)? This round of reviews includes two books I really loved, and a few I wished I enjoyed more than I actually did.

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
One of those books that has some objective flaws, but that I had too much fun reading to care. I enjoyed the sci-fi and mystery elements, but the highlight for more was definitely the slow-burn romance between Kiem and Jainen; miscommunication as a trope is very risky, but here it was the good kind of painful as both characters worked through the various personal traumas they carried into their arranged marriage. Maxwell uses various romance tropes to great effect to showcase the characters’ shifting dynamic over time. 4.5/5

Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Despite being more renowned for his long fiction, Tchaikovsky is responsible for two of my favourite novellas in the past twelve months, this one being the second. It’s a pretty simple concept – sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic – but I loved how Tchaikovsky played with the language barrier between Lynesse and Nyr, and the idea that we all interpret meaning in different ways. It’s also – surprisingly – the best book I’ve read about clinical depression that I can remember, as Nyr struggles to keep his brain chemicals in check with the help of medical aids, while doing his anthropological duties and trying not to suffer under the weight of being the last of his kind on this particular planet. It does suffer for balance, due to Lyn’s POV being essentially standard epic fantasy fare and therefore far less engaging than Nyr’s, but it’s still an excellent read. 4/5

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
Valente is an an author I’ve been meaning to read for a long time, and I definitely admire her chops – there is a lot of wit in this story about Eurovision in space. Too much, in fact; it takes a long time to establish who the main character even is, and it’s quite clear that they’re of secondary interest compared to various tangents that poke at some pretty uncomfortable truths about 21st century British society, but also seem designed to show off exactly how smart the author is. Also, there was way less singing than I would have expected from a (literal) space opera. 2.5/5

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
Martha Wells is an author I admire greatly and this book came highly recommended, but sadly it wasn’t for me. There’s some really excellent world-building: it feels expansive, and it’s full of non-human shifters that genuinely feel alien in perspective. But I never connected with any of the characters and didn’t find the plot particularly compelling either. 3/5

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
I finally came back to this series almost two years after I read (and enjoyed) the first book. It still has all the things I enjoyed about book #1 – the fast-paced plot, the seamless blend of Arabic and Roman influences, the well-executed plot twists – and I found myself easily re-immersed in the world. That said, I found the villains rather cartoonish; there’s a lot of deaths in this book that feel like the mass murder equivalent of the evil dude kicking the dog. 4/5

Review: The Liar’s Knot by M.A. Carrick

In Nadezra, peace is as tenuous as a single thread. The ruthless House Indestor has been destroyed, but darkness still weaves through the city’s filthy back alleys and jewel-bright gardens, seen by those who know where to look.

Derossi Vargo has always known. He has sacrificed more than anyone imagines to carve himself a position of power among the nobility, hiding a will of steel behind a velvet smile. He’ll be damned if he lets anyone threaten what he’s built.

Grey Serrado knows all too well. Bent under the yoke of too many burdens, he fights to protect the city’s most vulnerable. Sooner or later, that fight will demand more than he can give.

And Ren, daughter of no clan, knows best of all. Caught in a knot of lies, torn between her heritage and her aristocratic masquerade, she relies on her gift for reading pattern to survive. And it shows her the web of corruption that traps her city.

But all three have yet to discover just how far that web stretches. And in the end, it will take more than knives to cut themselves free…

Publication details: 9 December 2021, by Orbit. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Rating: 4.5/5

Review

The Mask of Mirrors was one of my favourite books of 2021 and I was thrilled to get an ARC of book #2 not long after I read it (even if I then delayed said review, since I was decidedly not in an epic fantasy mood for a few weeks).

Luckily, I loved The Liar’s Knot as much as The Mask of Mirrors, though it’s a very different book in some ways. Secondary world urban fantasy is something that I wish we saw more of, and this series does it wonderfully. Like the first book, the setting is a real highlight. There are clear Venetian inspirations, but none of it feels paint by the numbers, particularly given the various high fantasy concepts woven throughout, which we learn a lot more about in this book. Nadezra also feels like a lived-in place, as we get lots of little details about both the city and its various inhabitants that help build the big picture.

A side note, but I really like the way that ethnic tensions are seeded throughout the book. This series is not a full-blown war story between rival factions, but you can feel things bubbling along under the surface (with the occasional fiery outbreak), in a way that feels much deeper and more complex to unpick than just ‘culture A hates culture B for reasons’. It’s clear the authors have spent a lot of time thinking through their world-building in all its sociopolitical detail.

But while the world-building remains top-notch, it’s clear the characters have moved on from The Mask of Mirrors. By the end of book #1, Ren had tied herself up in all kinds of knots as she tried to maintain three seperate secret identities, and there was a sense of frantic energy as you knew it had to unravel… but when? The fun, and the tension, came from watching each of our characters trying to hide all of their various secrets, and digging themselves a new hole with every one they climbed out of. To their credit, the authors don’t try to keep this masquerade up past the point that it’s no longer believable – instead, the focus shifts to what it means for characters to trust each other and find common ground in pursuit of their various goals. The result is a much more intimate – but equally tense – sequel, as we see what choices our characters make armed with new information about each other.

I am very curious to see whether our characters’ tentative new bonds can weather the storm that’s inevitably coming in book #3. After all, all our characters – not just Ren – still have plenty of secrets to be revealed.

Top Ten Tuesday: Character Names in the Title

This year, I’ll be participating in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by thatartsyreadergirl.

I thought this was going to be difficult to come up with ten choices, but it turns out I’ve actually read a lot of books with names in the title… and have a lot more on my TBR.

  1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
    I limited myself to one per author, and it was a hard choice between The Song of Achilles and Circe, but Achilles made me cry, which meant it perversely won out.
  2. Sabriel by Garth Nix
    A classic that I came to as an adult, and I didn’t love it any less for that. Though I do wish I’d had Sabriel as an example of fantasy featuring strong women when I was younger. I’m not sure how I missed this series.
  3. Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
    This middle grade novel packs a punch, and has a lot to say to both kids and adults alike. A great example of diversity in fiction for younger readers.
  4. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
    Again, it was a tough choice between this and Piranesi, but I have to admire Clarke for putting out a book so dense and ambitious for her debut. It’s not for everyone, but this book really rewards close reading and is one of my favourites.
  5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
    From chonky adult fantasy to chonky YA, the Lunar Chronicles series is one of my favourites. I love the way that Meyer keeps elements of each fairytale but also makes them completely her own.
  6. Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
    This book has a bit of a cult following over at r/fantasy and I can see why. It’s wildly imaginative, and the prose is excellent. I really need to get around to reading the sequels.
  7. The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova 
    I included this one in last week’s Top Ten Tuesday, but I’m adding it again because I enjoyed it so much.
  8. Lore by Alexandra Bracken
    It doesn’t matter how many times I recommend this book, I still find the cover very unsettling. But the book itself is a fun blend of urban fantasy and Greek myths, and very easy to get hooked by.
  9. Fable by Adrienne Young
    I love seafaring/pirate stuff so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I enjoyed this, but I didn’t expect it to be one of my favourite YA books in recent years. The atmosphere is incredible.
  10. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
    The Raven Cycle was one of my favourite series last year, and I was just blown away by both the depth of character relationships and the prose, as well as the way it turns a lot of the typical YA tropes on their head. (This is actually my least favourite of the quartet, but it was the only one with a character name in the title).

Five Mini Reviews, Part I

This year’s resolution (of a completely informal sort) was to talk more about the books I read that aren’t ARCs, for my own record-keeping as much as anything else. (Ever tried to articulate why you loved a book you read years ago only to find you never wrote the reasons down?). Hence, mini reviews for each five (SFF) books I read…

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal.
Lady Astronaut is one of my favourite series, so now I’m committed to making my way through Kowal’s backlist. World War I is an underused setting for fantasy novels, so I decided to start here. I really liked that Kowal isn’t afraid to play with genre conventions (there is a twist early in the story that completely changed where I thought things were headed) and, of course, her work always shines brightest when it’s tackling historical sexism and racism in various institutional settings. There’s also a plausible explanation for ‘spirit mediums exist but history is completely the same’, which I appreciated. That said, I would have liked more character development for Ginger beyond ‘plucky red-headed American’, including a greater sense of who she was outside the war, which would have raised this book from good to great for me. 3.5/5

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall
I actually started this book in 2021 and never got around to finishing it before the holiday season, but picked it back up in 2022. At the beginning, I thought this would be a 5-star read; Hall’s Sherlock Holmes retelling is exuberant, witty, and frankly a little bonkers; it’s fascinating to read about all the various worlds Wyndham and Haas visit, even if I’m not sure I’d want to travel to some of them myself. There’s also some excellent queer representation (I particularly appreciated that Haas never once deduces that Wyndham is trans, and that it’s both an important part of his personal history and completely irrelevant to the plot). Unfortunately, after a while The Affair of the Mysterious Letter becomes trapped in its own central conceit. John Wyndham is telling a serialised stories of their adventures years after the fact, and his constant narrative asides and attempts to make certain events more ‘palatable’ for readers forestall the plot, keep many of the main characters (including Shaharazad Haas) at a distance from the audience, and made this book feel like an endless drag by the end. 3/5

Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip
McKillip is one of those names who always gets bandied about by seasoned fantasy readers, and I’m very glad I finally had an excuse to pick up one of her books. Od Magic is not a particularly plot driven book; there are a number of characters, and their stories converge around a magic school established by a mysterious old women who hasn’t been sighted in years. It’s about reconciling tradition and progress, and finding the wonder in magic all over again. Of course, you can’t read McKillip without commenting on the prose, which was excellent; wonderfully self-assured, and perfectly running the gauntlet between poetic and overbearing. I might have liked a few less POVs in order to flesh out those I loved most a little more (particularly Yar, the jaded teacher trapped between job security and pushing magical boundaries), but otherwise this was a very comforting – and delightful – read. 4/5

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
Another book I’d been meaning to read for a while and finally picked up thanks to r/fantasy book club. This is an interesting story about a realm of forest dwellers whose community is dependent on a strange bargain between the spirits who inhabit the world and the humans with an affinity for spirit magic. It’s a hard book to categorise because in some respects it’s the ultimate tropey YA novel; the outcome of Daleina’s journey is predictable from the first page. But in other respects it subverts or dispenses with the standard tropes entirely; Daleina never gains any special magic powers beyond her team-oriented nature and willingness to work hard, and the romance and complicated mentor-mentee relationship are almost afterthoughts, just another part of her life. The adult POVs are a little less interesting (Ven seriously needed to get over himself), but I largely enjoyed this book and will pick up the sequels. 4/5

Seven Summer Nights by Harper Fox
This is a gay historical romance with some very mild magical realism elements, but it’s also an early contender for my list of best books of the year. This is a deeply character-driven novel, as Rufus (a disgraced, shell-shocked archaeologist), and Archie (the local vicar, who houses a cast of eclectic misfits) work through their trauma and come to find delight in a local archaeological mystery, and each other. Both characters leap off the page, as does much of the supporting cast, and the historical setting plays a huge role in their experiences and their world-views. It does get quite dark at points as a result, as this is a book that definitely doesn’t use the historical setting as window-dressing but actively tackles period-relevant homophobia, as well as the aftermath of World War II. However, it’s ultimately comforting and heartwarming, as Fox continues to spotlight how much these characters love each other and makes that the driving force of the novel. 5/5

Review: A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross

Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.

As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

Publication details: 3 February 2022, by Harper Voyager. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Rating: 3/5

Review

A River Enchanted had some elements I really liked, and some that didn’t work for me at all, leaving me distinctly whelmed.

Firstly, I’m not sure the comp titles are the right ones, personally. This book lacks the romantic passion of a Sarah J. Maas book (and I say that as someone who aggressively DNF’d her books), and it’s much more whimsical and soft than either Uprooted or the The Witch’s Heart. I’d suggest it’s much closer to something like an adult version of the Folk of the Air series by Holly Black, though that’s not a perfect comparison either.

On the positive side, the setting is excellent, and Ross writes really nicely. Her prose is relatively straightforward but there’s a really strong sense of place, inspired by Scotland, with plenty of quaint cottages and a wild, rugged coastline. I also really liked the spirit-based magic system and the way that enchanted songs, clothing and weapons were incorporated into the storyline; magic, in Cadence, has a very clear price that must be weighed up. Some of the most compelling scenes involve Jack making choices about using his bardic talents to control the spirits, even as it begins to physically weaken him.

Additionally, the mystery of the missing children is well done. Some elements are rather predictable, but Ross slowly unravels the true extent of Jack and Adaira’s (the laird’s daughter) complicated family histories throughout the novel, and there is one twist I didn’t see coming that changes the whole dynamic in terms of the characters’ relationships. I’m on the fence about whether I’ll read the sequel, but the ending of this book does set up some rather interesting possibilities for what choices Jack and Adaira might make next in light of their newfound knowledge.

Where this book really fell down for me, however, is the key relationships and the pacing. Somehow, A River Enchanted managed to be both too short and too long. The first chapter tells us that Jack has a complicated relationship with the island of Cadence and with his mother, having been away at university on the mainland for ten years until he is summoned back. Within a chapter or two more, he’s already reconciled his feelings about all of these issues… and we still have 400 pages to go. Similarly, this book has been pitched as an ‘enemies to lovers romance’, but… it’s not that. Based on how their relationship is laid out in the book, Jack and Adaira used to lightly tease each other as kids before being separated for ten years; any bickering now they have reunited could be described as friendly banter at best, which very quickly gives way to romance.

There is another romance between the older adults, Sidra (the local healer) and Torin (the chief warrior of the East), but it’s all very one-note. Sidra is the dutiful mother and healer, and Torin is a stock-standard emotionally stunted hero, and while they make efforts to overcome these tropes during the book, it wasn’t very compelling to me. The most interesting element that has the potential to change their relationship (a particular secret Sidra is hiding) isn’t even brought into play in the first half of this duology.

All of this combined means we spend most of the book rehashing the same few scenes over and over, and drawing out other elements of the story unnecessarily. A River Enchanted is a story that ultimately could have been told in about 300-350 pages without losing a thing. It is Ross’ adult debut after several YA novels, so I’m hoping she felt the need to overcompensate a little on length and will find a more natural balance in later works.

There’s plenty to like here, and those who like vibes over plot may well find some of the book’s weaknesses to be strengths instead. Unfortunately this one just didn’t quite live up to my hopes.

Top Ten Tuesday: New Authors I Discovered in 2021

This year, I’ll be participating in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by thatartsyreadergirl.

As it says on the tin, this week’s theme is new to me authors discovered in 2021. I read a lot of great new authors last year, but here are some of my faves.

  1. Tasha Suri – Empire of Sand
    I finally got around to this book that had been on my TBR forever, and I loved it; Suri writes fantasy romance so well.
  2. Octavia Butler – Kindred
    Yes, I’m very late to the party on Butler, and I can’t believe I didn’t get around to reading her work sooner. Kindred was very raw, and very prescient years later.
  3. Zoraida Córdova – The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina
    One of those YA authors I’d just never gotten around to, but I took a chance on her adult debut and loved it. The prose in this book was incredible.
  4. Lucy Holland – Sistersong
    Holland has written a previous YA series under a different name – that I didn’t even know about or recognise when I picked up Sistersong. I loved it though; the prose is excellent and I’m always here for queer retellings.
  5. Carol Berg – Flesh and Spirit
    Berg is one of those authors I’ve been hearing about for years, and now I get why.
  6. Karen Lord – Redemption in Indigo
    I picked this book up on a whim for r/fantasy bingo and didn’t expect to love it so much. It’s like a warm hug, and I’m curious about the vibe of her other books.
  7. Jordanna Max Brodsky – The Wolf in the Whale
    I’d never really heard of Brodsky before I picked up this book, and I loved it. Her other books look very different, but I’ll definitely have to check out more of her work.
  8. Mike Brooks – The Black Coast
    Another author I’d never heard of before their most recent book. Funnily, I’m not that interested in the premise of any of his other works, but I’ve been loving this series and will check out whatever he writes next.
  9. A.G. Slatter – All the Murmuring Bones
    I’ve read some of Slatter’s short fiction before, but never her full length work – and now I am very keen to read what else she has written.
  10. Freya Marske – A Marvellous Light
    I hesitated about putting a very recent debut on this list, but it really was one of my favourites of the year, and it didn’t even feel like a debut. I can’t wait to see what Marske does next.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2021 Releases I Didn’t Get To

This year, I’ll be participating in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by thatartsyreadergirl.

This week’s theme is 2021 releases you didn’t get to. There are a lot; one of the perils of loving books is simply coming to terms with the fact that you will never get to read all the good books out there. But here are ten I am pretty determined to read.

  1. Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune
    The House in the Cerulean Sea was maybe my favourite book of 2020, but unfortunately Klune’s new book was a victim of 2021’s supply chain delays. Thankfully it’s made it here now, so hopefully I should get to it early in 2022.
  2. The Unbroken by C.L. Clark
    This was a victim of the fact that there’s so many books, so little time… but I’ve heard so much about Touraine’s arms that I almost feel like I’ve read it, already.
  3. The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid
    The premise of this book is right up my alley, and Ava Reid seems like a genuinely lovely author, so I’m very excited to get to it.
  4. Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky
    This one dropped at the end of the year, but I’ve heard nothing but good things from everyone who’s read it so far.
  5. A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
    I love Harrow’s prose so I know I’ll love this one; unfortunately, the wait list at my library is ginormous and novella prices are insane. Hopefully 2022 comes through for me.
  6. The Hand of the Sun King by J.T. Greathouse
    This wasn’t originally on my radar so I didn’t prioritise it; but everything I’ve heard since then makes me think I really should.
  7. The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
    I really don’t have any excuses to get to this one – but I’m determined to get it before the sequel. Everything about it sounds right up my alley.
  8. This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
    I don’t read as much YA now, but this sounds incredible. And how gorgeous is that cover?
  9. Malice by Heather Walter
    This one is a deliberate inclusion – someone told me it ends on a cliffhanger, so I’m going to binge the entire duology at once. Also, yes, there are two queer Sleeping Beauty retellings I missed out on in 2021.
  10. The Velocity of Revolution by Ryan Marshall Maresca
    This is another one where I ran into access issues – seriously, how hard is to buy a reasonably priced paperback – but I will continue to cross my fingers for 2022. I love steampunk, I love (fictional) revolutions.

Let’s see how many of these I get to this time around. And as a result, how many of my 2022 most anticipated end up in a similar post in January 2023…

Review: The Magic Between by Stephanie Hoyt

In a world where everyone has magic coursing through them, legend says magic itself craves a mate. Legend says those with opposite magics have the greatest chance of forming the unbreakable Bond it desires.

A.B. Cerise is an obsessive compulsive pop star with the ability to turn invisible. He’s an out bisexual with absolutely no belief in Bonds. He has a love-bruised heart, thinks dating in the spotlight is a hassle at best and a nightmare at worst, and has no intention of going through it all over again.

Matthew Hellman-Levoie is the NHL’s number one goalie prospect, the youngest in a hockey dynasty, and one of the rare few who can see the unseeable. He’s a straight man who wears his heart on his sleeve, has grown up searching for a Bond, and dreams of finding the love of his life.

Legend never said anything about what to do when sparks fly between two people opposite in more ways than just magic.

Publication details: 14 February 2022, by Ninestar Press. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Rating: 3.5/5

Review

This is a tough book to review, because I had a few major issues with it… but I also had a lot of fun. I definitely debated for quite some time about rounding up vs. down on Goodreads (and ultimately went up).

This book reminds me a lot of fanfic, in many ways; in that it’s very focused on the internal lives of our two main characters – A.B. and Matthew – and developing a sense of camraderie, sexual tension and eventually love between them. There’s a lot of fun inside jokes, callbacks to previous chapters, and a lot of tension. This is definitely one of those books where frankly, you’re just waiting for that moment where the characters finally get their shit together. All of which made The Magic Between very bingeable; it’s much longer than a typical fantasy romance at 428 pages, but it read very quickly.

It’s also unapologetically queer. In addition to A.B. and Matthew, most of the supporting cast is queer (it sort of feels like going around and collecting a big bisexual found family). The book is very clear that there is more than one way to be bisexual, and tackles bi-erasure as well as the challenges of coming out as bi (including when famous). That’s probably the strongest element of this book – and it’s worth recommending for that alone. There’s some good mental health rep as well; both characters are aware of their challenges and are working on them.

While I enjoyed the romance, I am primarily a fantasy blogger, and yet – the magic system in this book was actually too much. The book started with an extended info-dump about the various types of magic in the world (which I note is now being revised before publication) that was incredibly overwhelming and almost turned me off the book before I began. It’s also a bit unnecessary; this book could have trimmed the enormous magic system down to two or three key types of magic, and it wouldn’t have changed a thing about the plot, and would have saved the need for readers to keep remembering a bunch of terms and getting distracted by more info-dumps. I did also find some of the bonded soulmates stuff a little too cheesy. I love cheese, but it was hard to take a book seriously when the main characters started glowing every time they made out.

My other complaint is that the character’s professions are a big selling point of this story – and the driver of the conflict – but don’t actually seem to matter much to either of them. We’re constantly told that coming out could jeopardise Matthew’s hockey career but we’re never told why he even likes hockey or wants to pursue it beyond being the son of a famous hockey player, and there is very little about how hockey is a part of his life: when does he go to practice? how does it impact his health and fitness regime outside of training? We just don’t know. Similarly, A.B. is a pop-star who struggles with anxiety and (quite literally) being seen, so why choose a career that makes you famous? How did he get into music in the first place? Again, we just don’t know. That probably doesn’t matter to some people, but as someone who loves stories about famous people whose lives are just unfathomable to those of us less famous, it bothered me a lot.

Despite all that I did, like I said, have a lot of fun – and with everything else going on right now, that’s probably what matters most.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection

This year, I’ll be participating in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by thatartsyreadergirl.

This week’s theme is (some of) the most recent additions to my book collection. Thankfully, I made it to my city’s major secondhand book charity sale just before Christmas, so there is no shortage of books for me to share for this post. That’s in addition to my regular Amazon-one-click and ARC collecting habits, of course…

  1. The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston
    This was randomly cheap in the Kindle story, and it looks like a great choice for when I’m in the mood for something just plain fun.
  2. The Ex-Hex by Erin Sterling
    Another sale that looks perfect for when I just want some fun, lighthearted romance.
  3. The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin
    This one has had some rave reviews from friends, so I couldn’t resist – I’m very excited to see what all the hype is about.
  4. Embassytown by China Melville
    The first of my book fair hauls (I won’t get to all of them in this post). I’ve been curious about this book for a while, so I had to pick it up.
  5. The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold
    Paladin of Souls was one of my favourites of 2021, and now I have no excuse not to prioritise the next in the series… and then move on to the Penric novels my friends keep encouraging me to read.
  6. Vigil by Angela Slatter
    I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read from Slatter, and I used to live in Brisbane – where this book is set – so I’m excited to see what she does with the setting.
  7. Sing the Four Quarters by Tanya Huff
    Huff is one of those authors I’ve wanted to pick up forever, so I couldn’t resist getting this cheap at the book fair. Though I’m not sold on the very 90s cover…
  8. Gilded by Marissa Meyer
    I loved The Lunar Chronicles series, so I am very excited to see what Meyer does with Rumplestiltskin.
  9. Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw
    A cheap bookstore pick up. I’ve been curious about this one for a long time – and I love the macabre cover.
  10. Flint and Mirror by John Crowley
    I nabbed this one as an ARC recently. I love historical fantasy and this seems like a great opportunity to branch out… even if it is only from the UK to Ireland.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books in January – June 2022

This year, I’ll be participating in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by thatartsyreadergirl.

This week’s theme is most anticipated releases for the first half of 2022. A tough choice – there are so many amazing sounding books coming out this year! I’ve gone for a mix of sequels, authors I’ve loved and can’t wait to read again, and authors that are new to me.

  1. The Thousand Eyes by A.K. Larkwood – 15 February
    Larkwood’s debut, The Unspoken Name, showed a lot of promise and I’m excited to see what she does next, as well as spend more time with the snarky Csorwe and Tal.
  2. Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham – 15 February
    I’ve been hearing good things about Abraham’s epic fantasy series for years, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to jump in. I also love stories set in a single city/location.
  3. The Cartographers by Peng Shephard – 15 March
    Another one that sounds right up my alley based on the key words, since I’m a sucker for anything involving libraries or maps.
  4. Comeuppance Served Cold by Marion Dodds – 22 March
    Magical heist in 1920s Seattle? Say no more.
  5. Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May – 29 March
    Two 1920s-themed books in a row says a lot about me. Post WWI is a very underused setting in fantasy and I’m very excited to see what May does with the era. Plus, it’s sapphic.
  6. Spear by Nicola Griffith – 19 April
    Griffith is another author I have been meaning to read forever, and I love Arthurian myths, so there are no more excuses.
  7. Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse – 19 April
    After the end of Black Sun, I’ve been hotly anticipating seeing what will happen next in this series – I’m curious about where Roanhorse will take us next.
  8. The Spear Cuts Through Water – Simon Jiminez – 3 May
    Another author whose debut, The Vanished Birds, showed a lot of promise and potential to grow, so I am very interested to see what he does here.
  9. Wrath Goddess Sing by Maya Deane – 7 June
    A trans retelling of The Iliad? Yes please.
  10. A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland – 21 June
    I really enjoyed Rowland’s A Choir of Lies and have been waiting for news of their next book for a while. It also sounds like we might be getting a fantasy of manners vibe in a setting that isn’t regency England esque, which I have been wanting for a long time.

Fingers crossed I can get to all of these books in 2022!