First Lines Friday-January 28, 2022

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author, or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Well hello, beautiful people! And how are you doing this fine Friday? I know for some of you it’s the weekend. Congratulations! You made it through the week! Double congrats if you made it through without killing your seven evil bosses! Points for you if you can name that movie.

Today is First Lines Friday. It’s always fun for me to look over the unread books on my TBR and pick one for this. It makes me want to read the book. Kind of the point I guess.

The Lines

Some people are born under a lucky star, while others have their misfortune telegraphed by the position of the planets. Casiopea Tun, named after a constellation, was born under the most rotten star imaginable in the firmament. She was eighteen, penniless, and had grown up in Uukumil, a drab town where mule-drawn railcars stopped twice a week and the sun scorched out dreams.

Intrigued?

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. 

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

This is one of three books I own by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. The synopses of her books are all very appealing to me. Have I read any of them yet? Nope, but I need to before I buy more of her books!

Do you have an author you own multiple books of that you haven’t read yet? Please tell me I’m not alone.

A Letter to Three Witches: A Mini Book Review

A big thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for my copy of A Letter to Three Witches. As always I will provide an honest review.

Nearly a century ago, Gwen Engel’s great-great-grandfather cast a spell with catastrophic side-effects. As a result, the Grand Council of Witches forbade his descendants from practicing witchcraft. The Council even planted anonymous snitches called Watchers in the community to report any errant spellcasting…
 
Yet magic may still be alive and not so well in Zenobia. Gwen and her cousins, Trudy and Milo, receive a letter from Gwen’s adopted sister, Tannith, informing them that she’s bewitched one of their partners and will run away with her at the end of the week. While Gwen frets about whether to trust her scientist boyfriend, currently out of town on a beetle-studying trip, she’s worried that local grad student Jeremy is secretly a Watcher doing his own research.
 
Cousin Trudy is so stressed that she accidentally enchants her cupcakes, creating havoc among her bakery customers—and in her marriage. Perhaps it’s time the family took back control and figured out how to harness their powers. How else can Gwen decide whether her growing feelings for Jeremy are real—or the result of too many of Trudy’s cupcakes?

Hello beautiful people! How are you all doing this fine day? I had a great day yesterday. I went out into the world, for the first time since I was ill, and went to lunch with a friend. To no one’s surprise, we also went book shopping. I managed to only buy three books.

Speaking of books. What to say about this one?

The characters didn’t sit well with me. Especially our main character, Gwen. I just found her tiresome, not a trait you want in your main protagonist. The character interactions were fine, but everyone’s immediate distrust in their partners says a lot about them, and I didn’t enjoy that part.

I was initially intrigued by the synopsis, but when it came time to read about the actual letter, I was a little disappointed. I expected them to have a little more oomph to them, but it felt like the author couldn’t quite find our antagonist’s voice.

I didn’t make it far enough into the book to really speak about the world-building or the pacing, so I won’t.

At the end of the day, I DNF’d it about 25% of the way through the book. 1 star.

WWW Wednesday: January 26, 2022

It’s WWW Wednesday! It’s the day when we answer the three W’s: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next? It’s hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words but was previously hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm.

Hello beautiful people! And how are we doing today? Myself, I’m doing okay. I’m working on ending my reading slump by reading some fun and interesting books.

What are you currently reading?

Fan Fiction by Brent Spiner

This book is proving to be full of references to the noir films of old. I’m having a good time reading it thus far, which is good because I had high expectations for this one.

What did you recently finish reading?

Servant Mage by Kate Elliott

I recently reviewed this book. Like Monday recently. Truth be told I wasn’t a big fan. I didn’t DNF it, but it was a close one. You can read more about my thoughts and feelings here.

A Master OF Djinn by P. Djeli Clark

This one just came through on my library app, so I guess I am reading it next! I had other bookish plans, but life doesn’t always work out the way you expect it to. I have high hopes for this one too, as it has garnered all the praise from all the people! Well, not all the people.

What are you currently reading? This inquiring mind wants to know!

TTT: New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Hello beautiful people! How are we doing this fine Tuesday? Me, I’m fine. I seem to finally be over being sick, which is wonderful. The way things were going I thought I would be sick forever. Seriously. I’m still having some lingering COVID fog, but it is nowhere near as bad as it was when I was sick. Thank goodness. I can read again!

Speaking of reading, this weeks Top Ten Tuesday is all about authors you discovered in 2021. I read quite a few books by new to me authors, so I figured I could give this a shot!

Brendan P Bellacourt

This isn’t the author’s debut novel, as it’s a nom de plume and he normally writes under the name Bradley Beaulieu. I absolutely loved this book. And the more I think about it, the more I think this is one of my favorite books of last year. I loved the writing and the way he left me guessing all the way until the very end.

Hannah Whitten

This is a debut novel for this author, so I discovered her along with everyone else. She wrote a rich and wonderful world that was full of compelling characters. Yes, I have preordered the second book.

Gail Carriger

This new to me author was such a fun read. I enjoyed watching this world unfold. I haven’t finished the series yet, I got distracted by other books, it happens with me. But I have purchased this full series.

TJ Klune

I read two TJ Klune books this year and fell in love with his writing style. It made me curious to see if his other books are just as well done. I’m hoping to read more by him in the future.

Matt Haig

This book was a great read for me. The concept and the writing style felt really fresh. I really loved the character growth. It just spoke to me. Another book that makes me want to read more by the author.

Erin Sterling

This is author Rachel Hawkins’s pen name. I’ve never read anything else by her, but some of her books do sound interesting. Not sure if I will pick them up, but I did really enjoy the writing and the story of The Ex Hex.

Garth Nix

This colorful romp around London was exactly the book I needed at the time. It entranced me with its world-building and colorful characters.

Jenny Colgan

The Christmas Bookshop was a surprise hit for me last year. I had never heard of this author before, and I now hope to read more by her. Her characters were unexpectedly nuanced and complex. I loved the setting. And apparently, I’m a sucker for a Christmas book.

Lana Harper

Another pen name, this time for YA author Lana Popovic. I really enjoy the world and characters the author created. The plot was also pretty fantastic too. I might have pre-ordered the sequel already. Maybe.

Maggie Knox

Maggie Knox is the name of the writing duo Karma Brown and Marissa Stapley. This also happens to be their debut novel, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. It was a perfect holiday read and I can’t wait to see what they do next!

Turns out I read a lot of books by authors I already knew in 2021. I’m going to make an effort to read more new to me authors in 2022. I have quite a few of them that I want to pick up!

Did you pick up any of these authors for the first time this year?

Servant Mage-A Book Review

Thank you to NetGalley and Tordotcom for this copy of the Servant Mage by Kate Elliott. As always, I will provide you with an honest review.

They choose their laws to secure their power.

Fellian is a Lamplighter, able to provide illumination through magic. A group of rebel Monarchists free her from indentured servitude and take her on a journey to rescue trapped compatriots from an underground complex of mines.

Along the way they get caught up in a conspiracy to kill the latest royal child and wipe out the Monarchist movement for good.

But Fellian has more than just her Lamplighting skills up her sleeve…

I’m going to start this review off by saying that I have a soft spot for Kate Elliot. The Crown of Stars Series is some great reading if I do say so myself. That being said this book was not my favorite.

Fellian is a servant mage. A sort of indentured servant who is taken from her family and only taught the most basic of magic skills so as to be of use to the person who purchases her for work. When we first meet Fellian, she is engaged in an illegal activity, teaching someone how to read. When she is approached by those who appear to be soldiers, she knows her life will never be the same.

Fellian is swept away on an adventure knowing nothing about what’s happening, as a result, you as a reader know nothing about what’s going on as well. We learn as Fellian learns. And I found myself as frustrated as Fellian was by the little bits and pieces that she was being fed.

The other characters weren’t particularly compelling. This could be partly because of how Fellian sees them, but I feel they might have been more interesting if I felt any of the urgency towards saving them that she did.

I did find the magic system fascinating. It is elemental based, but not the same way we have seen in the past. For example, Fellian is a fire mage, she can create Lamps of light to guide the way, and Water mages can change their appearance. I enjoyed that each mage had a part to play, but I wish the gifts they possessed had been explored a little more.

Part of my issue with this book is because it is a novella. I found the plot to be interesting, but it could have benefited from some more fleshed-out world-building. What we do see of the world is intriguing, but not enough to hold my attention (full disclosure, I had COVID and COVID fog is real, but that wasn’t the full issue) for very long.

The ending was interesting. It was predictable, but not, all at the same time. You knew what was going to happen, but the reasons why were left a mystery until the very end.

After all was said and done, I had to give this book two stars.

Weekly Round-Up: Week of January 22, 2022

Hello beautiful people! It’s the end of another week! I’ve actually started to feel like myself again, which is great. I’m not 100% yet, and that’s okay. I just have to remember not to push myself so hard. I’m bad at that.

What I Read This Week

Yeah, being sick and not being able to read is the worst. The cloud is clearing though, so hopefully I’ll be back to normal shortly.

Instagram Posts

I post what I read, and since I didn’t read anything, I didn’t post anything. I’ll get back to it, I promise!

Blog Posts

I managed to get four blog posts up this week. I should be back to my usual five next week.

Tuesday is one of my favorite blogging days. I really enjoy the challenge that Top Ten Tuesday brings. This week was 2021 new releases I was excited to read but didn’t.

Wednesday was the traditional WWW Wednesday post, and given how I haven’t finished a book this week, it’s not very exciting.

Thursday was a super long post of all the new releases this month. I’m sure there are more that I didn’t list, but I listed 22 of them so…

Friday was, naturally, First Lines Friday. It’s a book that has been on my TBR for a while.

In Other News

I’m trying to decide the best way to buy this book. I want it, and I want to support the author, but not if HE gets a cut of the profits. If you know, you know.

I’m also actively trying to find a therapist. This was hard pre-COVID times. It’s harder now, as a lot of doctors simply aren’t taking on new patients due to the recent increase in need. Mental health is important, and my current need is not pressing. It’s just that I told myself I would take better care of my mental health this year. Alas, no joy.

And that’s my weekly round-up for this week! How did your week go?

First Lines Friday-January 21, 2022

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author, or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Hello beautiful peoples! Yesterday was an exciting day in my house! We got a new TV! This is only because the old one died. It made a popping sound, then the screen went dark, then nothing. The remote wouldn’t even turn it off. Alas poor TV, we knew ye well. The new one is now safely mounted on the wall and has a very nice picture. The Hubs spent quite a lot of time setting it up. My TV is smarter than I am.

Speaking of things that are smarter than me, I picked a book for First Lines Friday that has been on my TBR for a while. I bought it in an indie bookshop years ago and just never picked it up. A friend of mine told me it a was great read, so I’m hoping to get to it soon.

The Lines

Much later, Nora would learn magic for dissolving glue or killing vermin swiftly and painlessly or barring mice from the house altogether, but that morning-the last normal morning, she later thought of it-as she padded into the kitchen in search of coffee, she was horribly at a loss when she saw the small brown mouse wriggling on the glue trap in front of the sink.

Intrigued?

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her “real life” against the dangerous power of love and magic.

Of course, if you know anything about me, you know I picked this book up because it was blurbed by Deborah Harkness. When I saw that on the cover, I grabbed it. Does this mean it was a total cover buy for me, or a blurb buy? Is there such thing as a blurb buy? Why am I asking such deep questions on a Friday y’all?

Well, I’m off to have a cup of tea and watch something fun on that new TV. I still have to finish setting some of it up!

New Releases-January 2022

Well hello, beautiful peoples! I hope you are doing well today. I’m still ill, but I’m not letting that stop me from bringing you the newest releases for the month of January, of which there are many. Seriously, there are 22. There were very few new releases for December, and this month we have 22 dropping? Wowzers.

Part of the reason the list is so long is that I have decided to include some sequels in my new release posting. I mean, why not post all the bookish goodness?

As always these are projected release dates and are subject to change.

January 4th

The Starless Crown by James Rollins

A gifted student foretells an apocalypse. Her reward is a sentence of death.

Fleeing into the unknown she is drawn into a team of outcasts:

A broken soldier, who once again takes up the weapons he’s forbidden to wield and carves a trail back home.

A drunken prince, who steps out from his beloved brother’s shadow and claims a purpose of his own.

An imprisoned thief, who escapes the crushing dark and discovers a gleaming artifact – one that will ignite a power struggle across the globe.

On the run, hunted by enemies old and new, they must learn to trust each other in order to survive in a world evolved in strange, beautiful, and deadly ways, and uncover ancient secrets that hold the key to their salvation.

But with each passing moment, doom draws closer.

WHO WILL CLAIM THE STARLESS CROWN?

Where the Drowned Girls Go (Wayward Children Book 7) by Seanan McGuire

“Welcome to the Whitethorn Institute. The first step is always admitting you need help, and you’ve already taken that step by requesting a transfer into our company.”

There is another school for children who fall through doors and fall back out again.
It isn’t as friendly as Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.
And it isn’t as safe.

When Eleanor West decided to open her school, her sanctuary, her “Home for Wayward Children,” she knew from the beginning that there would be children she couldn’t save; when Cora decides she needs a different direction, a different fate, a different prophecy, Miss West reluctantly agrees to transfer her to the other school, where things are run very differently by Whitethorn, the Headmaster.

She will soon discover that not all doors are welcoming…

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.

Until Frida has a very bad day.

The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.

Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.

Bad Gods by Gaie Siebold

You can find anything in Scalentine, the city of portals, but you won’t find a better brothel than the Red Lantern. And its proprietor, Babylon Steel (ex-mercenary, ex-priestess, ex… lots of things), means to keep it that way.

But a prurient cult are protesting in the streets, sex workers are disappearing, and Babylon has bills to pay. When the powerful Diplomatic Section hires her – off the books – to find a missing heiress, she has to take the job.

And then her past starts to catch up with her…

The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Vira, Ronak, Kaleb, and Riya may be siblings, but they’ve never been close or even liked each other that much. Torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken, only one thing can bring them back together: the search for the Ivory Key, a thing of legend that will lead the way to a new source of magic. Magic is Ashoka’s biggest export and the only thing standing between them and war with the neighboring kingdoms—as long as their enemies don’t find out that the magic mines are nearly depleted.

The siblings all have something to gain from finding the Ivory Key, and even more to lose if they don’t. For Vira, the Ivory Key is the only way to live up to the legacy of her mother, the beloved former maharani. Ronak plans to get out of his impending political marriage by selling the Ivory Key to the highest bidder. Kaleb has been falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani, and this is the only way to clear his name. And Riya needs to prove her loyalty to the Ravens, the group of rebels that wants to take control away from the maharani and give it to the people. With each sibling harboring secrets and conflicting agendas, figuring out a way to work together may be the most difficult task of all. And in a quest this dangerous, working together is the only way to survive.

January 11th

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the powerful Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, untrained, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the Crown Prince, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the emperor’s son.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. When treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, however, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

The Practical Guide to Conquering the World (The Seige Book 3) by K.J. Parker

This is the true story of Aemilius Felix Boioannes the younger, the intended and unintended consequences of his life, the bad stuff he did on purpose, and the good stuff that happened in spite of him.

It is, in other words, the tale of a war to end all wars, and the man responsible.

The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley: An Elemental Masters Novel by Mercedes Lackey

Annie Oakley has always suspected there is something “uncanny” about herself, but has never been able to put a name to it. But when Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show goes on tour through Germany, Bill temporarily hires a new sharpshooter to be part of his “World Wide Congress of Rough Riders”: a woman named Giselle, who also happens to be an Elemental Master of Air. Alongside this new performer, Annie discovers that she and her husband, Frank, are not simply master marksman, but also magicians of rare ability.

As they travel and perform, Annie must use her newfound knowledge and rare skill to combat creatures of the night scattered across the countryside, who threaten both the performers and the locals. Annie’s got her gun, and it’s filled with silver bullets.

Gods and Dragons (Wake the Dragon Book 3) by Kevin J. Anderson

Two continents at war: the Three Kingdoms and Ishara have been in conflict for a thousand years. But when an outside threat arises—the reawakening of a powerful ancient race that wants to remake the world—the two warring nations must somehow set aside generations of hatred to form an alliance against a far more deadly enemy.

Battle of the Linguist Mages by Scotto Moore

Isobel is the Queen of the medieval rave-themed VR game Sparkle Dungeon. Her prowess in the game makes her an ideal candidate to learn the secrets of “power morphemes”—unnaturally dense units of meaning that warp perception when skilfully pronounced.

But Isobel’s reputation makes her the target of a strange resistance movement led by spellcasting anarchists, who may be the only thing stopping the cabal from toppling California over the edge of a terrible transformation, with forty million lives at stake.

Time is short for Isobel to level up and choose a side—because the cabal has attracted much bigger and weirder enemies than the anarchist resistance, emerging from dark and vicious dimensions of reality and heading straight for planet Earth!

Deep Dive by Ron Walters

Still reeling from the failure of his last project, videogame developer Peter Banuk is working hard to ensure his next game doesn’t meet the same fate. He desperately needs a win, not only to save his struggling company, but to justify the time he’s spent away from his wife and daughters.

So when Peter’s tech-genius partner offers him the chance to beta-test a new state-of-the-art virtual reality headset, he jumps at it. But something goes wrong during the trial, and Peter wakes to find himself trapped in an eerily familiar world where his children no longer exist.

As the lines between the real and virtual worlds begin to blur, Peter is forced to reckon with what truly matters to him. But can he escape his virtual prison before he loses his family forever?

The Amber Crown by Jacey Bedford

The king is dead, his queen is missing. On the amber coast, the usurper king is driving Zavonia to the brink of war. A dangerous magical power is rising up in Biela Miasto, and the only people who can set things right are a failed bodyguard, a Landstrider witch, and the assassin who set off the whole sorry chain of events.

Valdas, Captain of the High Guard, has not only failed in his duty to protect the king, but he’s been accused of the murder, and he’s on the run. He’s sworn to seek justice, but his king sets him another task from beyond the grave. Valdas doesn’t believe in magic, which is unfortunate as it turns out.

Mirza is the healer-witch of a Landstrider band, valued and feared in equal measure for her witchmark, her scolding tongue, and her ability to walk the spirit world. When she’s given a task by Valdas’ dead king, she believes that the journey she must take is one she can never return from.

Lind is the clever assassin. Yes, someone paid him to kill the king, but who is to blame, the weapon or the power behind it? Lind must face his traumatic past if he’s to have a future.

Can these three discover the real villain, find the queen, and set the rightful king on the throne before the country is overcome?

The Bone Spindle by Leslie Vedder

Fi is a bookish treasure hunter with a knack for ruins and riddles, who definitely doesn’t believe in true love.

Shane is a tough-as-dirt girl warrior from the north who likes cracking skulls, pretty girls, and doing things her own way.

Briar Rose is a prince under a sleeping curse, who’s been waiting a hundred years for the kiss that will wake him.

Cursed princes are nothing but ancient history to Fi—until she pricks her finger on a bone spindle while exploring a long-lost ruin. Now she’s stuck with the spirit of Briar Rose until she and Shane can break the century-old curse on his kingdom.

Dark magic, Witch Hunters, and bad exes all stand in her way—not to mention a mysterious witch who might wind up stealing Shane’s heart, along with whatever else she’s after. But nothing scares Fi more than the possibility of falling in love with Briar Rose.

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara

In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him—and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances.
 
These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can’t exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.

January 13th

The North Wind by Alexandria Warwick

Long before civilization, there were the gods. And before the gods, there was the earth, the celestial bodies, and air given flesh. They are the Anemoi—the Four Winds—and they have been banished to the four corners of the world.

Wren of Edgewood is no stranger to suffering. Her parents are gone. Survival is all she knows. For three hundred years, the land known as the Gray has been encased in ice, surrounded by a great barrier called the Shade, which protects the townsfolk from the Deadlands beyond.

But day by day, the Shade weakens.

Only one thing can stop the Shade’s fall: a mortal woman taken captive across the barrier, bound in wedlock to the dark god who reigns over the Deadlands. He is the North Wind, the Frost King, an immortal whose heart is said to be as frigid as the land he rules.

And the time has come for the Frost King to choose his bride.

January 18th

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

In 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika Crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus.

Once unleashed, the Arctic plague will reshape life on Earth for generations to come, quickly traversing the globe, forcing humanity to devise a myriad of moving and inventive ways to embrace possibility in the face of tragedy. In a theme park designed for terminally ill children, a cynical employee falls in love with a mother desperate to hold on to her infected son. A heartbroken scientist searching for a cure finds a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects—a pig—develops the capacity for human speech. A widowed painter and her teenaged granddaughter embark on a cosmic quest to locate a new home planet. 

From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead to interstellar starships, Sequoia Nagamatsu takes readers on a wildly original and compassionate journey, spanning continents, centuries, and even celestial bodies to tell a story about the resilience of the human spirit, our infinite capacity to dream, and the connective threads that tie us all together in the universe.

Servant Mage by Kate Elliot

Fellian is a Lamplighter, able to provide illumination through magic. A group of rebel Monarchists free her from indentured servitude and take her on a journey to rescue trapped compatriots from an underground complex of mines.

Along the way they get caught up in a conspiracy to kill the latest royal child and wipe out the Monarchist movement for good.

But Fellian has more than just her Lamplighting skills up her sleeve…

Engines of Empire by R.S. Ford

The nation of Torwyn is run on the power of industry, and industry is run by the Guilds. Chief among them are the Hawkspurs, whose responsibility it is to keep the gears of the empire turning. That’s exactly why matriarch Rosomon Hawkspur sends each of her heirs to the far reaches of the nation. 

Conall, the eldest son, is sent to the distant frontier to earn his stripes in the military. It is here that he faces a threat he could have never seen coming: the first rumblings of revolution.

Tyreta is a sorceress with the ability to channel the power of pyrestone, the magical resource that fuels the empire’s machines. She is sent to the mines to learn more about how pyrsetone is harvested – but instead, she finds the dark horrors of industry that the empire would prefer to keep hidden.

The youngest, Fulren, is a talented artificer and finds himself acting as a guide to a mysterious foreign emissary. Soon after, he is framed for a crime he never committed. A crime that could start a war. 

As the Hawkspurs grapple with the many threats that face the nation within and without, they must finally prove themselves worthy–or their empire will fall apart. 

The Chosen Twelve by James Breakwell

The last interstellar colony ship is down to its final batch of humans after the robots in charge unhelpfully deleted the rest. But rebooting a species and training them for the arduous task of colonization isn’t easy – especially when the planet below is filled with monsters, the humans are more interested in asking questions than learning, and the robots are all programmed to kill each other.

But the fate of humanity rests on creating a new civilization on the planet below, and there are twelve seats on the lander. Will manipulation or loyalty save the day?

January 25th

Light Years From Home by Mike Chen

Every family has issues. Most can’t blame them on extraterrestrials.

Evie Shao and her sister, Kass, aren’t on speaking terms. Fifteen years ago on a family camping trip, their father and brother vanished. Their dad turned up days later, dehydrated and confused—and convinced he’d been abducted by aliens. Their brother, Jakob, remained missing. The women dealt with it very differently. Kass, suspecting her college-dropout twin simply ran off, became the rock of the family. Evie traded academics to pursue alien conspiracy theories, always looking for Jakob.

When Evie’s UFO network uncovers a new event, she goes to investigate. And discovers Jakob is back. He’s different—older, stranger, and talking of an intergalactic war—but the tensions between the siblings haven’t changed at all. If the family is going to come together to help Jakob, then Kass and Evie are going to have to fix their issues, and fast. Because the FBI is after Jakob, and if their brother is telling the truth, possibly an entire space armada, too.

Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi

In the 2050s, Earth has begun to empty. Those with the means and the privilege have departed the great cities of the United States for the more comfortable confines of space colonies. Those left behind salvage what they can from the collapsing infrastructure. As they eke out an existence, their neighborhoods are being cannibalized. Brick by brick, their houses are sent to the colonies, what was once a home now a quaint reminder for the colonists of the world that they wrecked.

A primal biblical epic flung into the future, Goliath weaves together disparate narratives—a space-dweller looking at New Haven, Connecticut as a chance to reconnect with his spiraling lover; a group of laborers attempting to renew the promises of Earth’s crumbling cities; a journalist attempting to capture the violence of the streets; a marshal trying to solve a kidnapping—into a richly urgent mosaic about race, class, gentrification, and who is allowed to be the hero of any history.

Obsidian by Sarah J. Daley

Shade Nox is the only witch in a land of wizards – a fiend, a rogue, a wanted criminal.

Defying those who think her an abomination, Shade wears her tattoos openly and carries obsidian blades at her hips. For years, she has protected the outcast clans who wander the blighted Wastes, but the land is growing more unstable and her blades are no longer enough.

To save her people, Shade vows to raise a Veil of protection – a feat not accomplished in over a hundred years. But the magical Veils are said to belong to the Brotherhood church; if she succeeds in raising one, it will expose their lies. They swear to see her obliterated first.

Treading a dangerous path where allies can be as deceitful as enemies, and where demons lurk in the shadows, Shade chases a vision which could lead to her people’s salvation… or her own destruction.

Yup, 22 books. I know, most of these will already be out by the time you see this, but that’s okay. You may find some hidden gems that you hadn’t considered before!

What sticks out to you? I know I’m interested in Battle of the Linguist Mages and also The Starless Crown.

WWW Wednesday- January 19, 2022

Hello beautiful people! It’s WWW Wednesday! The day when we answer the three W’s: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next? It’s hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words but was previously hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm.

What are you currently reading?

The Servant Mage by Kate Elliot

I started this novella the other day and it’s taken me a while to read through it. That’s no fault of the book. That’s all on me. Cause COVID fog. I’m hoping to have this finished in time to have a review up for it next week.

What did you recently finish reading?

But for real, the COVID fog got the best of me here recently. Plus I had a book return to the library before I actually finished it. So there is no finished book for the last week. These things happen. We embrace them and move forward and hope the COVID fog goes about its business and leaves me alone!

A Letter to Three Witches by Elizabeth Bass

I got this one through NetGalley for review, so I do need to read that. It also helps that it sounds so cute! And apparently, I’m a sucker for those genre romances that sound cute. This is a new development in my life, and I have to say, I’m not mad about it.

I’ll try not to complain about COVID fog too much. It’s the most annoying of all my symptoms as it prohibits my ability to read all the things! I’m hoping to have at least one book read by the end of the week. Wish me luck!

TTT-2021 New Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and originally created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Well hello, beautiful peoples! I’m back from my quarantine! I have not fully recovered from my bout of illness, but we followed all of the doctor’s instructions and the Hubs never got sick! Huzzah!

Alas, I did have the COVID fog, so I wasn’t able to do much reading like I had hoped. That’s life, I guess.

But that does lead me to today’s Top Ten Tuesday! This is not only a list of books from last year, it’s also a list of books I’m hoping to get to this year.

The Mask Of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick- January 19, 2021

FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD. MAGIC FAVORS THE LIARS.

Ren is a liar and a thief, a pattern-reader and a daughter of no clan. Raised in the slums of Nadežra, she fled that world to save her sister. Now, she has returned with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house, securing her fortune and her sister’s future.

But in the city of dreams, her masquerade is just one of many. Enigmatic crime lord Derossi Vargo, stony captain of the guard Grey Serrado, dashing heir Leato Traementis, and the legendary vigilante known as the Rook all have secrets that could unravel her own.

And as corrupt nightmare magic begins to weave its way through the city of dreams, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled—with Ren at their heart.

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell- February 2, 2021

Prince Kiem, a famously disappointing minor royal and the Emperor’s least favorite grandchild, has been called upon to be useful for once. He’s commanded to fulfill an obligation of marriage to the representative of the Empire’s newest and most rebellious vassal planet. His future husband, Count Jainan, is a widower and murder suspect.

Neither wants to be wed, but with a conspiracy unfolding around them and the fate of the empire at stake they will have to navigate the thorns and barbs of court intrigue, the machinations of war, and the long shadows of Jainan’s past, and they’ll have to do it together.

So begins a legendary love story amid the stars.

The Guilded Ones by Namia Forna-February 9, 2021

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox-February 9, 2021

Taryn Cornick believes that the past–her sister’s violent death, and her own ill-conceived revenge–is behind her, and she can get on with her life. She has written a successful book about the things that threaten libraries: insects, damp, light, fire, carelessness and uncaring . . . but not all of the attention it brings her is good.

A policeman, Jacob Berger, questions her about a cold case. Then there are questions about a fire in the library at her grandparents’ house and an ancient scroll box known as the Firestarter, as well as threatening phone calls and a mysterious illness. Finally a shadowy young man named Shift appears, forcing Taryn and Jacob toward a reckoning felt in more than one world.

Malice by Heather Walter-April 13, 2021

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss.

You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily ever after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care, either.

Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though a power like mine was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps together we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again. Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—

I am the villain.

Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa-May 11 2021

IN THIS WORLD, THERE IS NO DESTINY BUT THE ONE YOU MAKE. 

In the ancient city of Bassa, Danso is a clever scholar on the cusp of achieving greatness—except he doesn’t want it. Instead, he prefers to chase forbidden stories about what lies outside the city walls. The Bassai elite claim there is nothing of interest. The city’s immigrants are sworn to secrecy.

But when Danso stumbles across a warrior wielding magic that shouldn’t exist, he’s put on a collision course with Bassa’s darkest secrets. Drawn into the city’s hidden history, he sets out on a journey beyond its borders. And the chaos left in the wake of his discovery threatens to destroy the empire.

Beyond by Mercedes Lackey-June 15, 2021

Within the Eastern Empire, Duke Kordas Valdemar rules a tiny, bucolic Duchy that focuses mostly on horse breeding. Anticipating the day when the Empire’s exploitative and militant leaders would not be content to leave them alone, Korda’s father set out to gather magicians in the hopes of one day finding a way to escape and protect the people of the Duchy from tyranny.
 
Kordas has lived his life looking over his shoulder. The signs in the Empire are increasingly dire. Under the direction of the Emperor, mages have begun to harness the power of dark magics, including blood magic, the powers of the Abyssal Planes, and the binding and “milking” of Elemental creatures
 
But then one of the Duchy’s mages has a breakthrough. There is a way to place a Gate at a distance so far from the Empire that it is unlikely the Emperor can find or follow them as they evacuate everyone that is willing to leave.
 
But time is running out, and Kordas has been summoned to the Emperor’s Court.
 
Can his reputation as a country bumpkin and his acting skills buy him and his people the time they need to flee?  Or will the Emperor lose patience, invade to strip Valdemar of everything of worth, and send its conscripted people into the front lines of the Imperial wars?

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian-July 6, 2021

Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come–for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future.

On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends–countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.

When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.

As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change destiny–and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao- September 21, 2021

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.
 
When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​
 
To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Fanfiction by Brent Spiner-October 5, 2021

Set in 1991, just as Star Trek: The Next Generation has rocketed the cast to global fame, the young and impressionable actor Brent Spiner receives a mysterious package and a series of disturbing letters, that take him on a terrifying and bizarre journey that enlists Paramount Security, the LAPD, and even the FBI in putting a stop to the danger that has his life and career hanging in the balance.

Featuring a cast of characters from Patrick Stewart to Levar Burton to Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, to some completely imagined, this is the fictional autobiography that takes readers into the life of Brent Spiner, and tells an amazing tale about the trappings of celebrity and the fear he has carried with him his entire life.

I actually got each of these books with the full intention of reading them last year, but that didn’t happen. I’m hoping with my focus being put on my TBR backlog this year that I’ll be able to get to most, if not all of them. I do have a year, so I should be good. But I’m me, and TBR’s never go quite as planned.