Book Tour: The Ikessar Falcon by KS Villoso | Review + Art

The spiral to madness begins with a single push.

Abandoned by her people, Queen Talyien’s quest takes a turn for the worst as she stumbles upon a plot deeper and more sinister than she could have ever imagined, one that will displace her king and see her son dead. The road home beckons, strewn with a tangled web of deceit and impossible horrors that unearth the nation’s true troubles – creatures from the dark, mad dragons, and men with hearts hungry for power.

To save her land, Talyien must confront the myth others have built around her: Warlord Yeshin’s daughter, symbol of peace, warrior and queen, and everything she could never be.

The price of failure is steep. Her friends are few. And a nation carved by a murderer can only be destined for war.

Welcome to my stop on the Ikessar Falcon Book Tour, hosted by Caffeine Book Tours. I’ve been a huge fan of the Chronicles of a Bitch Queen series ever since I’d gotten my hands on The Wolf of Oren-Yaro back in 2018 (review here). It’s a huge honor to get the chance to participate in this book tour and promote this fantastic sequel!


I received a ARC of this book from the publisher Orbit Books as part of the Ikessar Falcon book tour by Caffeine Book Tours. All thoughts are my own

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Review:

Having read The Wolf of Oren-Yaro during it’s tradpub release in 2018, I was more than excited for it’s sequel. We finally get Rayyel!!!! We get more politics, and more scheming, and more delicious delicious food description that make you super hungry as you read and leave you wishing you were a better cook. While Ikessar Falcon is a chonk at 220k words, I was absolutely not left disappointed.

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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 Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

52379336The hunt is over. After fifteen years of lies and sacrifice, Baru Cormorant has the power to destroy the Imperial Republic of Falcrest that she pretends to serve. The secret society called the Cancrioth is real, and Baru is among them.

But the Cancrioth’s weapon cannot distinguish the guilty from the innocent. If it escapes quarantine, the ancient hemorrhagic plague called the Kettling will kill hundreds of millions…not just in Falcrest, but all across the world. History will end in a black bloodstain.

Is that justice? Is this really what Tain Hu hoped for when she sacrificed herself?

Baru’s enemies close in from all sides. Baru’s own mind teeters on the edge of madness or shattering revelation. Now she must choose between genocidal revenge and a far more difficult path—a conspiracy of judges, kings, spies and immortals, puppeteering the world’s riches and two great wars in a gambit for the ultimate prize.

If Baru had absolute power over the Imperial Republic, she could force Falcrest to abandon its colonies and make right its crimes.

Warning: 

While this review will not contain spoilers for Tyrant, this review is written with the assumption the reader has read Traitor and Monster, and as such, will contain spoilers for the previous books.

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I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher. A huge thank you to Tor Books for providing an ARC. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

The Masquerade series holds a place on my shelves as one of my all-time favorite fantasy series. As such, The Tyrant Baru Cormorant was my most anticipated book of 2020. While the book goes a different direction than I expected and I’m not fully satisfied with the ending, I still very much enjoyed it and believe fans of the series will too.

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Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

42815556Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

**

Review:

Up this week on Bad YA Books that Baited Me with Beautiful Covers, we’ve got Spin the Dawn. Advertised as an Asian-inspired cross between Project Runway and Mulan, I was left wanting on all three aspects.Read More »

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by HG Parry

51862863. sx318 sy475 A sweeping tale of revolution and wonder in a world not quite like our own, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is a genre-defying story of magic, war, and the struggle for freedom in the early modern world.

It is the Age of Enlightenment — of new and magical political movements, from the necromancer Robespierre calling for revolution in France to the weather mage Toussaint L’Ouverture leading the slaves of Haiti in their fight for freedom, to the bold new Prime Minister William Pitt weighing the legalization of magic amongst commoners in Britain and abolition throughout its colonies overseas.

But amidst all of the upheaval of the early modern world, there is an unknown force inciting all of human civilization into violent conflict. And it will require the combined efforts of revolutionaries, magicians, and abolitionists to unmask this hidden enemy before the whole world falls to darkness and chaos.

*****

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review:

From the first one, I was absolutely enthralled with this book. Historical Fantasy’s not my usual genre, but this one gripped me in a way few books do. Between the complexity and nuances of all the lead characters and the way the author was able to so seamlessly integrate magic into our own world, and account for how society reacts to magic, I absolutely fell in love.Read More »

Of Dragons, Feasts, and Murders by Aliette de Bodard

53349060. sy475 Lunar New Year should be a time for familial reunions, ancestor worship, and consumption of an unhealthy amount of candied fruit.

But when dragon prince Thuan brings home his brooding and ruthless husband Asmodeus for the New Year, they find not interminable family gatherings, but a corpse outside their quarters. Asmodeus is thrilled by the murder investigation; Thuan, who gets dragged into the political plotting he’d sworn off when he left, is less enthusiastic.

It’ll take all of Asmodeus’s skill with knives, and all of Thuan’s diplomacy, to navigate this one—as well as the troubled waters of their own relationship….

*****

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review

Review:

I have a new favorite power couple?? Seriously, this novella is a delight to read. Vietnamese-inspired worldbuilding and delicious court intrigue, all driven by a slightly dysfunctional, mostly wholesome power couple. Asmodeus and Thuan have a delightful chemistry together, and while it’s clear that the two could benefit from several rounds of couples counseling, it’s easy to see their devotion and loyalty to each other underneath their bickering. I loved the contrast between Asmodeus’ blunt ‘I’ll murder anyone who gets in my way’ attitude and Thuan’s softer, diplomatic approach, with a side of “Oh no, what did he do this time”. Muder/Diplomacy is just such a good pairing trope.Read More »

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 »

Heaven Official’s Blessing (天官赐福) by 墨香铜臭

Tian Guan Ci Fu (Literature) - TV Tropes

为你,所向披靡!

C天R地小妖精攻×仙风道骨收破烂受

啊那个收破烂的天界公务员,跟鬼界第一大佬有一腿!

“Heaven Official’s Blessing”

Eight hundred years ago, Xie Lian was the Crown Prince of the Xian Le kingdom; one who was beloved by his citizens and the darling of the world. Unsurprisingly, he ascended to the Heavens at a very young age. Now, eight hundred years later, Xie Lian ascends to the Heavens for the third time as the laughing stock of all three realms. On his first task as a god, he meets a mysterious demon who rules the ghosts and terrifies the Heavens……yet unbeknownst to Xie Lian, this demon king has been paying attention to him for a very, very long time.

*****

Review:

Love exists and its name is HuaLian.

No really though. I picked this one up because a) I enjoyed the author’s other work Mo Dao Zu Shi and b) because I’d heard the main couple was super cute. I was not expecting to be hit by the world’s most perfect power couple of all times. Every interaction the two had left me screaming into my phone because they’re so adorable? And patient with each other? And communicate when they have conflicts? And they’ve seen each other at their absolute worsts? And actually behave like the 800-year-old immortal beings they are? True perfection.

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Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

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Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

**

Review:

I have, once a, been bamboozled by what I’d hoped was a fun YA novel. I had such high hopes for Wicked Fox: gumiho/nine-tailed fox female protagonist, modern urban-Korean setting, super pretty cover. Unfortunately, I’ve instead been given an edgy edgy female protagonist with the personality of a rock, a male love interest who gets verbally abused by said MC and thinks to himself, man I bet she’s super nice, and a supporting cast of shitty people doing shitty things.

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Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

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With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period drama The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a tightly and lushly written narrative about empire, storytelling, and the anger of women.

A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.

*****

Review:

Beyond the breathtaking cover, I went into this novella with zero expectations. I came out with a captivatingly intimate tale that still managed to encompass a broader scope. Between a combination of Vo’s delicate prose and quiet character interactions, I was absolutely spellbound as I read.Read More »