Prep School for Serial Killers by Tara Platt

In a war-ravaged future, a boarding school cloisters and trains sociopathic children.

When top student, sixteen-year-old Anathema Blight, finds a graduate’s hidden journal, she wonders if they’re simply students, or pawns in a much more dangerous game…and the final exam will be MURDER

***

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

Review:

I’m a sucker for morally gray murder-y characters so the title alone had me intrigued. We follow Anathema Blight, current student at a boarding school that, as the title suggests, trains its students for murder. In the backdrop, multiple Great Wars have ravaged the earth and in attempts to heal their people the government has put various chemicals in the water, which has the unfortunate side effect of turning the children into psychopaths. As expected, I really enjoyed the school aspects. It was fun to see Anathema attend various classes and be taught the different arts of killing. Platt got quite creative with this aspect and it was very fun to read. What lost me, however, was the larger plotline with the headmaster Hunting and government secrets. I felt like the epiphanies Anathema experienced throughout the stories and the choices she eventually made felt undeserved, that there wasn’t enough depth to her character and decision to really sell me on the character. Overall, I rate this book a 3/5. The murder-y bits were fun and interesting but the overarching plot felt rushed and underdeveloped.

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Star Eater by Kerstin Hall

All martyrdoms are difficult.

Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her. Though she’s able to stomach her gruesome day-to-day duties, the reality of preserving the Sisterhood of Aytrium’s magical bloodline horrifies her. She wants out, whatever the cost.

So when a shadowy cabal approaches Elfreda with an offer of escape, she leaps at the opportunity. As their spy, she gains access to the highest reaches of the Sisterhood, and enters a glittering world of opulent parties, subtle deceptions, and unexpected bloodshed.

A phantasmagorical indictment of hereditary power, Star Eater takes readers deep into a perilous and uncanny world where even the most powerful women are forced to choose what sacrifices they will make, so that they might have any choice at all.

*****

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

Review:

A book about cannibal priestesses and body horror? Say no more. From the marketing, this book should have been a perfect match for me. Unfortunately, I came out more than let down.

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The Councillor by EJ Beaton

When the death of Iron Queen Sarelin Brey fractures the realm of Elira, Lysande Prior, the palace scholar and the queen’s closest friend, is appointed Councillor. Publically, Lysande must choose the next monarch from amongst the city-rulers vying for the throne. Privately, she seeks to discover which ruler murdered the queen, suspecting the use of magic.

Resourceful, analytical, and quiet, Lysande appears to embody the motto she was raised with: everything in its place. Yet while she hides her drug addiction from her new associates, she cannot hide her growing interest in power. She becomes locked in a game of strategy with the city-rulers – especially the erudite prince Luca Fontaine, who seems to shift between ally and rival.

Further from home, an old enemy is stirring: the magic-wielding White Queen is on the move again, and her alliance with a traitor among the royal milieu poses a danger not just to the peace of the realm, but to the survival of everything that Lysande cares about.

In a world where the low-born keep their heads down, Lysande must learn to fight an enemy who wears many guises… even as she wages her own battle between ambition and restraint.

***

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

Review:

I stumbled upon this one while browsing NetGalley selections. I love a good cunning protagonist, political scheming, and the bonus tag of Machiavellian-inspired meant I was basically bound to love this book. Unfortunately, I found myself struggling as I read and it’s honestly hard to fully describe why.

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Magic Bites by Illona Andrews

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for magic…

One moment magic dominates, and cars stall and guns fail. The next, technology takes over and the defensive spells no longer protect your house from monsters. Here skyscrapers topple under onslaught of magic; werebears and werehyenas prowl through the ruined streets; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood-crazed vampires with their minds.

In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, she must choose to do nothing and remain safe or to pursue his preternatural killer. Hiding is easy, but the right choice is rarely easy… 

*****

Review:

I’m not generally a big Urban Fantasy person, but at the insistence of what felt like half a discord channel, I picked up Magic Bites, the first book in the on-going Kate Daniels series. I’ve certainly heard of this series in passing before and I’ve definitely seen this author’s name in bookstores, but I admit I’ve never looked into the series. Having read it, I really can’t say I’m blown away.

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To Sleep in a Sea of Stars (Partial ARC) by Christopher Paolini

48829708It was supposed to be a routine research mission on an uncolonized planet. But when xenobiologist Kira Navárez finds an alien relic beneath the surface of the world, the outcome transforms her forever and will alter the course of human history.

Her journey to discover the truth about the alien civilization will thrust her into the wonders and nightmares of first contact, epic space battles for the fate of humankind, and the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

***

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

Disclaimer: The ARC received is a partial ARC and not the full book, a little under 45K words. The full book is listed at ~800 pages, so I estimate this to be about 1/4 of the book.

Review:

Eragon is quite a beloved childhood series for me, and so to hear that Christopher Paolini is returning with a brand new book, and sci-fi nonetheless, I was extremely excited! While I’ve heard the criticism for Eragon, I read those books so long ago that I have no real recollection of the actual story. As such, I would like to say I went in neutrally optimistic. Unfortunately, even with that mindset, I was disappointed.

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The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes

42201962Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.

***

Review:

The Deep tells a harrowing tale of a society of mermaids, the Wajinru, and centers around their Historian, Yetu. Because of the trauma of their origin, the Wajinru are forgetful creatures, unaware of their past and history. One member of their society is designated to keep the memories of their people, retell those memories when the mermaids start feeling existential.

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Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

37569318Publication Date: 6 November 2018
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 384
Word Count: ~91,000
ISBN: 0544530942

Summary: Each generation, a competition is held to find the next Empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become Empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

***

Review: 

Empress of All Seasons attempts to weave together a daunting number of plot threads. There’s Mari, an Animal Wife yōkai attempting to prove to both her and her village that she’s worthy of being an Animal Wife by stealing the ultimate fortune: the Emperor’s son. There’s Taro, the prince who doesn’t want to inherit the throne and dreams of a world where he can be left alone to engineer mechanical animals. And there’s Akira, half-human, half-yōkai who finds himself enveloped in a yōkai Rebellion to overthrow the Emperor and (justifiably) take back their rights. Unfortunately, I just didn’t think these three storylines properly meshed into one book.

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The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin

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Publication Date: 1969
Publisher: Ace Books

Format: Paperback
Pages: 300
ISBN: 0441007317
Summary: A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can choose -and change – their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters.

Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.

***

Review:

I read The Left Hand of Darkness as a buddy read with my friend Richard from RichardReads. This was a book that’s been on both of our TBRs for a fairly long time now, but personally, I don’t think it lived up to my expectations.

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Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

39088520Publication Date: 13 November 2018
Publisher: Orbit
Format: eBook, ARC
Pages: 480
ISBN: 0316449717

Summary: 

A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.

Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…

***

Review: 

Empire of Sand was one of the books that popped up on my radar during BookCon, but I was, unfortunately, unable to snag a copy. #OwnVoices fantasy set in India, based on the Mughal Empire? Sign me up! Luckily, I won an ebook copy from Goodreads instead.
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Song by Jesse Teller | TBRindr

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Publication Date: 5 October 2017
Publisher:
 Self-published
Format: eBook
Pages: N/A
ASIN: B074GP13JC

Summary: Some of the darkest minds in Perilisc attacked Mending Keep, releasing all its prisoners. Despite his strained relationship with the crown, Rayph Ivoryfist calls old friends to his aid in a subversive attempt to protect King Nardoc and thwart terrorist plots to ruin the Festival of Blossoms. But someone else is targeting Rayph, and even his fellow Manhunters might not be enough to save him.

***

I received this book from the author through Esmerelda Weatherwax’s TBRindr in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

Going into Song, the several reviews I’d read promised a pulpy, grimdark novel that somehow also managed to be campy. Unfortunately, while I could see where the author was trying to go, that combination simply did not mesh for me.
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