Prince of the Sorrows by Kellen Graves

Without an academic endorsement to make him valuable to the high fey, Saffron will be sent back through the veil to the human world. The place he was born, but not where he grew up. A place he is terrified of. And while getting an endorsement shouldn’t be impossible, it’s hindered by the fact he’s edging on literate, having spent his life teaching himself to read using books stolen off of Morrígan Academy’s campus of high fey students.

When mistaken identity leads to Saffron learning the true name of brooding, self-centered, high fey Prince Cylvan, what begins as a risk of losing his life (or his tongue) becomes an opportunity to earn the life Saffron wants. In exchange for an endorsement, he and Cylvan form a geis where Saffron agrees to find a spell to strip power from Cylvan’s true name. While Prince Cylvan doesn’t know Saffron’s literacy is self-taught, and his knowledge of magic is nonexistent, Saffron is determined to meet his end of the agreement in order to remain in Alfidel– or, maybe, to remain by Cylvan’s side, as affections grow stronger every night they spend alone in the library together.

But when other human servants on campus are suddenly and inexplicably killed by an animal, Saffron realizes he may have inadvertently embroiled himself in the middle of a manipulative reach for power like he never anticipated. Not only is his future endorsement at risk, but also Cylvan’s livelihood and ability to think for himself– and Saffron will have to choose which is more important to him.

***

I received a copy of this book from the author. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

With the rise of YA and NA fae romances in the last (check’s year) decade of publishing, I’ve been waiting for a gay fae romance to finally hit my radar. While Prince of the Sorrows isn’t perfect, it definitely scratched that itch, with that damn cliffhanger leaving me wanting more.

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The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Liu

New York Times bestseller and Hugo, British Fantasy, Romantic Times, and Eisner award-winning author of the graphic novel, Monstress, Marjorie Liu leads you deep into the heart of the tangled woods. In her long-awaited debut story collection, dark, lush, and spellbinding short fiction you will find unexpected detours, dangerous magic, and even more dangerous women.

Briar, bodyguard for a body-stealing sorceress, discovers her love for Rose, whose true soul emerges only once a week. An apprentice witch seeks her freedom through betrayal, the bones of the innocent, and a meticulously-plotted spell. In a world powered by crystal skulls, a warrior returns to save China from invasion by her jealous ex. A princess runs away from an arranged marriage, finding family in a strange troupe of traveling actors at the border of the kingdom’s deep, dark woods.

Concluding with a gorgeous full-length novella, Marjorie Liu’s first short fiction collection is an unflinching sojourn into her thorny tales of love, revenge, and new beginnings

***

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

This is my first foray into Liu’s work (Saga sits, frowningly, on my shelf unread) and while I can’t say I liked all the stories in this collection, the ideas presented and the worlds created were so incredibly unique and bizzare that I’m now very interested in her other works. I usually review anthologies as a whole because individually reviewing 10+ stories, some merely a couple pages, is difficult. The Tangleroot Palace only has seven stories, all of which nicely fleshed out and ‘full’, so I’ll review these independently.

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The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

52378874. sx318 sy475 A fantasy novel of alternate 1880s London, where killers stalk the night and the ultimate power is naming.

This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.

In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings under a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.

Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.

***

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

It’s probably first important to point out: The Angel of the Crows first started as a Sherlock wingfic. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, wingfic is a fairly common sub-genre in the fanfiction community for stories where the characters are given wings. How/why they have wings is unspecified. They can be angels/devils/some other supernatural creature, humanity as a whole has evolutionarily evolved to have wings, they were the result of human experimentation, etc. In this world, there exists a society of angels, and our Sherlock character is one of them.

I point this out for two reasons. Firstly, because this only gets mentioned in the Author Notes after finishing the book, it helped me reframe and clarify some of the perceptions I already had. And secondly, because it amplified the disappointments I already had with the book.Read More »

Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang

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Publication Date: 2 October 2018
Publisher: Tor Books
Format: eBook
Pages: 305
ISBN: 1250180252

Summary: Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price.

As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower…until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.

Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she’s involved. There’s only one problem…
She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.

****
Review:
I’ll be frank, I don’t usually like urban fantasy and as such, I could tell this book wasn’t really for me. I thought the initial premise was good: super-powered mercenaries fighting a secret organization. However, as I read, there were just too many other factors that distracted from the otherwise interesting story.

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Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer

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Publication Date: 10 July 2018
Publisher: Quirk Books
Format: Paperback
Pages: 400
ISBN: 1781086079

Summary: This mystery thriller reunites Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama for a political mashup full of suspense, intrigue, and laugh out loud bromance.

Vice President Joe Biden is fresh out of the Obama White House and feeling adrift when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident, leaving behind an ailing wife and a trail of clues. To unravel the mystery, “Amtrak Joe” re-teams with the only man he’s ever fully trusted—the 44th president of the United States. Together they’ll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America’s opioid epidemic.

Part noir thriller and part bromance novel, Hope Never Dies is essentially the first published work of Obama/Biden fanfiction—and a cathartic read for anyone distressed by the current state of affairs.

****

Review:

I can’t believe I’ve read this book, let alone reviewing it. Yes this is published presidential fanfic. Yes I bought it because of the cover. Unfortunately, I don’t think the story itself lives up the hype.

Hope Never Dies advertises itself as a bromance between Joe Biden and Barack Obama post-2016 where they solve murder mysteries together. Really, it read more like Biden and Obama were exes who’d parted on not the best terms and were forced back together because Biden became a conspiracy theorist who was actually right. That’s not to say the book was amusing, but the portrayal of the two characters (?) was very different than expected.

I found the plot itself to be relatively mediocre. I don’t read a lot of murder mystery so I suppose I’m not the best judge, but the plot didn’t engage me all that much. President and VP aside, the story felt like a pretty cookie-cutter mystery plot. There is one pretty memorable scene where Obama and Biden are playing Good Cop Bad Cop while interrogating a gang member and Obama threatens him with Guantanamo Bay.

Overall, I rate this book a 3.5/5. While the Obama/Biden pairing was amusing to read from, I found the plot itself not terribly engaging.

 

The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French

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Publication Date: 21 June 2018
Publisher:
 Orbit
Format: Paperback, ARC
Pages: 421
ISBN: 0356511642

Summary:  Such is the creed of the half-orcs dwelling in the Lot Lands. Sworn to hardened brotherhoods known as hoofs, these former slaves patrol their unforgiving country astride massive swine bred for war. They are all that stand between the decadent heart of noble Hispartha and marauding bands of full-blood orcs.

Jackal rides with the Grey Bastards, one of eight hoofs that have survived the harsh embrace of the Lots. Young, cunning and ambitious, he schemes to unseat the increasingly tyrannical founder of the Bastards, a plague-ridden warlord called the Claymaster. Supporting Jackal’s dangerous bid for leadership are Oats, a hulking mongrel with more orc than human blood, and Fetching, the only female rider in all the hoofs.

When the troubling appearance of a foreign sorcerer comes upon the heels of a faceless betrayal, Jackal’s plans are thrown into turmoil. He finds himself saddled with a captive elf girl whose very presence begins to unravel his alliances. With the anarchic blood rite of the Betrayer Moon close at hand, Jackal must decide where his loyalties truly lie, and carve out his place in a world that rewards only the vicious.

****

Review:

This is another book that simply did not live up to the hype for me. The worldbuilding was fantastic and the plot was interesting, but the gratuitous sexism and character interaction simply did not work for me.
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