Tales of Aerothos: Knights of the Wolf

What an interesting read.

I mean interesting in a good way (you know how sometimes you use that word when you’re trying to be polite and don’t know how else to do it? Yeah, that’s not how I’m using it here, I just wasn’t sure how to start the blog post and that’s the best I could come up with. It’s almost the weekend, I apologize).

I really enjoyed this book–Tales of Aerothos: Knights of the Wolf by Robert Nugent. For me, Knights of the Wolf was a blend of both enjoyment and promise: I enjoyed what I read, but I’m also excited to continue seeing Nugent and his work grow as he does as an author, considering this is his debut.

My favorite aspect of the novel was how realistic it felt and the way it was told, through a combination of diary entries, snapshots of every day life and the grueling struggles of war. At first, when Dmitry and his Hrukso companions would fight a battle and then return home, I was bit like, “Wait a second, you’re in a middle of a war! You don’t have time to just go home and dilly-daddle about!” Yet as I kept reading, I realized that some wars aren’t fought from beginning to end all in one go, especially when you bring in political complications and hazardous weather/changing of the seasons, like Nugent did. The further I read, the better the book became and I came to appreciate the blend of normality and war that Nugent did. It reminds me, as an afterthought, writing this review, to the same balance Jeff Salyards does with his Bloodsounder’s Arc.

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I did find myself wanting a little bit more from the book, though. Occasionally there were large jumps in time where I wished we could have stayed in-scene and been with Dmitry and his compatriots to see what they were up to, instead of catching up through his journal entries. Or I wanted the pace to slow just a tad so we could get a bit more description and scene setting. Or a few times when I though the dialogue could be stronger. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing by any means. The fact that I was wanting more of the story reflects its current strength, already investing me with its characters and the world–and the world itself is very well fleshed out and obviously has a lot of history behind it. It was easy to believe the world we were reading was real, because of that deep history we felt–and because of the very well-detailed description of armor and of war.

My favorite aspect, though?

The ending.

I won’t lie, in the last fight, I was able to call a thing or two. But without spoiling anything, once you reach after that point, you expect a certain ending, if you follow me without following me completely, as to not spoil a book you should go try out for yourself. Instead, the harshness of the Hruskaya’s lives continued and when I read that last line before the epilogue, my immediate reaction was, “Oh, shit.”

It definitely made me eager for a sequel. Oh, most definitely. I’m not sure if there is meant to be one or not, but if there is, I’ll be reading it.

Overall, Knights of the Wolf was a joy to read, even if I had a couple of things I wouldn’t mind being heightened along the way. I really loved how the plot, while focused on the war, also did a good job balancing out and showing the lives that the warriors were fighting to protect. I got a hearty taste of Aerothos that left me curious and wanting for more and, as a reader, I think that’s a pretty good place to be.

Read on!

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Red Seas Under Red Skies

GENTLE READER: DO NOT CONTINUE READING UNLESS YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE MAJOR SPOILERS, TOLD THROUGH EXCESSIVE CURSING AND EMOTIONAL VOMITING IN THE FORM OF A BLOG POST BOOK REVIEW. 

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. 

Holy fucking shit.

Just…

Just…

Why?

I’m sorry for the spoiler-filled review, but no one else I personally know has read this book and ranting to people who don’t understand and haven’t gone through this emotional ripping-out-my-heart-and-forcing-me-to-watch-it-bleed that is the ending of Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch makes it difficult to talk about, so I’m forced to vent here to at least process these emotions and I can’t do that without expressing the obvious.

You killed her.

Yes, Mr. Lynch, I have to address you directly here, though I know the chances of you actually reading this review are about the same as Jean and Locke ripping off both Stragos and Requin successfully, yet I just feel like this has sort of become personal, almost, so I must address you?* Because you killed her.

Ezri Delmastro.

I mean, of course I knew this was coming, but I dared to hope, you know? As the first flirtations between Jean and Ezri were introduced, I was already cheering for them. After that back-and-forth banter of them arguing fighting tactics and the quoting of different poets, I knew. When the romance finally blossomed, I was all abroad. I was completely and totally invested. I dared to hope. I dared to trust that, as the schemes became more complicated, as the betrayals began to rain in, as the plot continued to thicken and thicken and thicken, I dared to believe that there was an ending where both Jean and Ezri made it out alive.

And you ripped that hope away through fire.

“Gods damn you, Jean Tannen. You make this…you make it so hard.” 

How freakin’ could you.

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Of course, I wanted Locke and Jean to pull off their scheme. I wanted them to take down Stragos and completely blow Requin’s mind. Especially after Locke and his crew blew my mind in The Lies of Locke Lamora–and my heart was completely stilled at the deaths of Calo, Galdo and Bug. But then the stakes here, in Tal Verrar, made their schemes in Camorr seem like child’s play. I wanted them to succeed and I was shaking my head in complete awe at how they managed it.

Yet I would have traded all that success for Ezri’s life back.

I’m not sure what it was about her relationship with Jean that invested me to the point where I definitely almost started crying at her death and then I was covered in chills when Jean made his death-offering. I can’t explain why their relationship was so important to me, but it was. And damn if I’m not pissed that it’s over, that she was taken away from him and because of what? Fucking Utgar? Utgar?

As a reader, I am completely and utterly heartbroken right now.**

But as a writer?

All I can do is applaud.

In my review of The Lies of Locke Lamora, I made it pretty clear that that novel is one of my favorite books of all time. Might be the favorite book, after Tolkien. (I’ll also have you note that, in that review, I was also begging the, “How could you,” question at Lynch, so there seems to be a trend starting…) So my expectations were the highest for the sequel. And every single one of them was matched, if not exceeded.

Red Seas Under Red Skies was an excellent sequel.

I will forever adore the way Lynch writes, his interweaving of history and backstory and worldbuilding and plot, twisting through time and events to deliver each piece of information and each bit of action so expertly, to pack the highest punch (I mean, look at how the book started? My heart dropped before I was even five pages in). I love Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen. The humor was amazing and the banter was fantastic and their friendship is incredible. I laughed aloud prolly an equal amount to the number of times I almost threw the book across the room in complete and utter frustration at either what was happening, what was about to happen, or, in a very weird and backwards sense, in a sign of utmost respect and awe at what just happened. The time the pair spent aboard the Poison Orchid was my favorite bit of the entire book. I was so entranced by Drakasha and her crew that, if Jean and Locke became permanent members of their crew and the rest of the books followed their adventures as pirates, I would be completely and utterly content.

You know, after a certain character’s death was erased and she was back aboard as first mate, her entire body whole and intact and most certainly not burnt to a crisp to the point of unrecognition.

Ahem.

Needless to say, I’ll be in a bit of a book hangover for a while. I already own the third book–and after reading that synopsis, I have a feeling my third review of Lynch’s work is going to follow very closely in the vein of the first two–but I think I need to read some other books that (hopefully) won’t cause me to be so…wrecked, afterwards.

Because fucking hell.

Read on!

* Hey, I know it happened, but the chances of their scheme actually working was really slim, you gotta admit that.

** Some of you may be thinking, This is a bit dramatic of a response, Nicole, don’t you think? If you do, then you obviously haven’t read a book before. And you definitely haven’t reach Scott Lynch.

Waiting on Wednesday: Heart on Fire

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine where we readers salivate over the books we wish were on our bookshelves yesterday.

This week’s victim: Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Publication Date: January 2018 Piatkus

Who is Catalia Fisa?

With the help of pivotal figures from her past, Cat begins to understand the root of her exceptional magic, her fated union with Griffin Sinta, and Griffin’s role in shaping her destiny.

Only Cat holds the key to unlocking her own power, and that means finally accepting herself, her past, and her future in order to protect her loved ones, confront her murderous mother, and taking a final, terrifying step–reuniting all three realms and taking her place as the Queen of Thalyria.

What doesn’t kill her will only make her stronger…we hope.

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So, I just finished the second book in this trilogy last week and let me tell you, I’m ready to read the third one, especially after looking at that blurb above. It hints at all of the questions I’m ready to have answered. I’m also excited to see Cat finally accept not only her destiny, but the truth of her character. It’s been a long journey for her and she deserves that kind of peace and understanding about herself.

I’m also totally jazzed to watch an Andromeda-Catalia battle.

Also, the covers on all of the books are absolutely stunning, but I love the color scheme that goes with Heart on Fire. It’s gorgeous.

Read on!

Breath of Fire

Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet was a whirlwind and in the best way.

**Slight spoilers abound after this line**

I really enjoyed the first book of the trilogy, A Promise of Fire (you can read my review here), which I embarrassedly started reading without realizing it was a romance, which did make for a really fun surprise. This time around, I was ready to witness the romance between the couple I’d come to adore so much.

And then I read the first chapter.

I’m one of those readers of romance who absolutely hates it when the main couple has any sort of conflict whatsoever. Especially considering, for so long, I read romance novels to fill a void in my own, non-existent love life (I know, sad, but true), when the couple fought or reach that “threatening-conflict” stage, I always hated that part; because dammit, if my love life was going to suck, at least let me pretend to be in love with X dashing character without having that love threatened! So, naturally, when I started reading Breath of Fire, my stomach immediately twisted in knots and I was completely unprepared to go deal with that kind of conflict in the first chapter.

Just as I was equally unprepared to deal with what happened in chapters two and three.

Let’s just say that reading those (and other sections) while sitting at work was probably not the best move.

Flushed face. Accelerated breath. Chills everywhere. Amongst other things.

I’m sure you’re catching my drift, here. This is a romance, after all.

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Needless to say, I still continued to read it while at work, being turned on by Griffon be damned. I had a book to devour. Which I pretty much did, reading in 100+ page chunks. My favorite aspect of this series is that the balance between romance plot and fantasy plot is done well. I’m just as interested in the romance between Cat and Griffon (which evolves in this book in some fantastic ways, particularly when you look at that last chapter) as I am in figuring out Cat’s destiny and the power bid going on between Sinta and Fisa.

Though that balance and blend between both plots is probably my favorite aspect of the book, there are so many other aspects I adore, as well. Griffon. The incorporation of mythology. Griffon. The banter between everyone in Alpha Sinta. Griffon. The growing familiarity we get of Griffon’s family and Cat’s association (and role) with them. Griffon. The little bits of humor slipped in, especially in terms of word play or the style that the book was written. Griffon. The way that Cat overthinks like I do, making her so relatable.

Have I mentioned I also have a major crush on Griffon?

I will say that although I enjoyed this book thoroughly, I did find some moments a bit cheesy and sometimes, I thought the dialogue between Cat and Griffon to be a bit…much (then again, I’ve never had a man love me that much, so maybe I’m just inexperienced). But other than that, I really had no complaints and thought this was a strong follow up to an already really strong debut. I’m jazzed for the final book, Heart of Fire, to come out in January (which is, by the way, not soon enough, especially after that teaser provided in the back of the book) and I’m pretty sure I’ll be looking up Bouchet’s next series after this one. You should check these out. I bet you’ll enjoy them.

Read on!

Waiting on Wednesday: Strife’s Bane

waitingonwednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine where we readers salivate over the books we wish were on our bookshelves yesterday.

This week’s victim: Strife’s Bane by Evie Manieri
Publication Date: November 28th, 2017

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Normally, I would provide the blurb that clues in the details of the book’s plot and talk about all the amazing aspects that are clued in from said blurb. But, time for a confession: I have actually only read the first book in The Shattered Kingdoms series, Blood’s Price. I haven’t actually read Fortune’s Blight yet. I even own it, ironically enough. So I’m avoiding providing a blurb here, let alone reading it, for Strife’s Bane, third book in the series, because, you know, spoilers.

I will say this: I absolutely loved the first book. It’s stuck with me since I read it, which feels like ages ago (which, in reality, it was). Manieri quickly climbed as one of my favorite authors of all time, even after only reading one book. Hell, I loved it so much that when Fortune’s Blight came out, I splurged and immediately bought it. Of course, life got in the way and I haven’t read it yet, but every time I see it on my bookshelf, I’m always wondering why I haven’t continued a series that captivated me so utterly and left my speechless after finishing book one.

So it may be weird for me, this week, to choose a book to be stoked about when I haven’t even finished the other books ahead of it. But now that I’ve realized this book comes out this year, I have a little extra incentive to not only read Fortune’s Blight, but reread Blood’s Price, as well.

Because who doesn’t want to reread an awesome story every once in a while?

Read on!

Dark Immolation

This book.

This freakin‘ book.

If you read my review of Duskfall, you’d know I was a pretty big fan of that debut and its author, Christopher Husberg. I don’t just call any book the best new book I read in 2016, yet Duskfall was, hands down, certainly that.

Since reading it, I’ve have been eager to see what would happen next. Eager to get my hands on the sequel, to see if Husberg would continue the trend of writing characters that pull my emotions in a thousand different directions at once; creating situations and twists that boggle my mind and leave me whispering profanities at an alarming rate as I struggle to turn the pages fast enough; weave a world so intricate and beautiful and terrifying that I’m just stunned with awe and wonder; and leave me with an ending that makes me so desperate for more, I’d actually consider striking a deal with Azael just to get a glimpse of what happens next in Blood Requiem. 

Friends.

I was so not disappointed.

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I’m not even sure where to begin. I guess, I could start, with the beginning: the way the book started was…brilliant. It was intriguing, it was different and I suddenly found myself feeling two very conflicting emotions at once: curiosity at the new developments we’re immediately thrown into and yet a feeling of…home. A feeling I’ve missed since I last journeyed with these characters. Yet the more pages I read, the more at home I felt.

You know, if that home was on fire and you were just sitting in the middle of it, thinking it can’t get worse because you’ve already lost the kitchen, the basement and the dining room, but then you turn around and suddenly the entire second floor has collapsed as well, yet you don’t move because you still believe the flames will cease and things can’t get worse. Cue repeating until your entire home is nothing but ash.

Because shit goes down in this book.

Amazing shit. Crazy shit. Baffling shit. Jaw-dropping shit. Just a ton of epic and awesome shit.

And I have a distinct feeling that Husberg is just getting started.

I read this book in 100-page chunks because anything less than that would just not be enough. Even now, after reading all 500+ pages, I’m left feeling unsatisfied. That feeling, however, is not to say that this book wasn’t amazing and I didn’t completely enjoy what happened within it–because that’s totally the case. Dark Immolation is a fantastic sequel that not only delivers on all the epicness we came to expect from Husberg after reading Duskfall, but it continued to elevate and evolve those expectations. As the series continues, I have no doubt in my mind that Husberg will continue to deliver. No, I’m unsatisfied because I’m selfish and impatient and I just want to know the result of SPOILER SPOILER and figure out what happens to SPOILER SPOILER now, instead of waiting until June 2018.

You know. A year from now.

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Regardless of those selfish desires, I loved Dark Immolation. I loved falling right back into the world that captivated me so utterly last year. I loved how the story was constantly complicated by new conflicts and characters that heightened the narrative and forced me to keep reading well past the time I allotted for myself to do so. The plot thickens and continues to mold into something truly fantastic and I am so glad I stumbled upon this series and this author. Apologies, friends, if I continue to nag you about reading it like I have since reading Duskfall. 

But just trust me: in a series filled with political upheavals, religious revivals, charismatic and complicated characters, a healthy mix of humor with an enjoyable amount of darkness and enough twists and turns that you’re gonna wish you had a road-map and taken notes along the way…can you seriously tell me you want to purposefully choose to miss out on this adventure?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Read on!

PS: Also, after reading this book, I am suddenly very intrigued that both Duskfall and Dark Immolation are part of a quintet titled The Chaos Queen. *instantly vanishes to muse over potential meanings*

Waiting on Wednesday: The Iron Hound

waitingonwednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine where we readers salivate over the books we wish were on our bookshelves yesterday.

This week’s victim: Tim Akers’ The Iron Hound.
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2017 by Titan

MAD GODS WALK THE LAND

Tensions flare between north and south, and hatreds erupt into war. Yet the conflicts of men are quickly overshadowed by a far greater threat. Creatures long kept confined rise from below, spreading destruction on an unimaginable scale.
The flames of war are fanned by the Celestial Church, whose inquisitors and holy knights seek to destroy the pagans wherever they are found. A secret cabal creates unexpected allies, and pursues its own dark agenda…

While Malcolm Blakley seeks to end the war before all of Tenumbra is consumed, his son Ian searches for the huntress Gwendolyn Adair, and finds himself shadowed by the totem of his family, the Iron Hound. Gwen herself becomes allied with the pagans, and wrestles with the effect of having been bound to a god.

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I’m really excited to read this book. If you read my review of the first in the series, The Pagan Night, you’d know I have some opinions regarding not only the characters, but the situations they find themselves in. It was such a compelling read. And the way that book ended, I’ve been pretty anxious to find out what happens next and to see if my allegiances that I swore to at the end still hold true. Based off the teasing description above, I know readers will be in for a fantastic adventure and I, personally, am ready to start it.

Read on!