Majestic Monday #15

Oh my gosh. It’s been waaayy too long since I’ve done this post. Not to mention how MIA I ended up being last week, to boot. Ah well, it’s in the past now.

For anyone unfamiliar, Majestic Mondays are when I highlight an awesome looking book cover and talk about what I like about it.

This week, in honor of a spinoff and sequel releasing next week, I’m gonna gush about one of my favorite books. Again. That’s right – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

SERIES: Shades of Magic (Book #1)

LENGTH: 400 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Fiction


RELEASE DATE: 24 February 2015


A Darker Shade of Magic, from #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antari–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.Kell was raised in Arnes–Red London–and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive. 

Cover Rating: ❤️🩶🤍🖤❤️ • 5 colorful hearts

The Fragile Threads of Power is releasing next week, and the new covers for the first trilogy have already come out, so I thought it was past time to gush about the original ones. Especially since I much prefer them to the new ones, even if they now match the one for the new book.

This cover (and the covers for the rest of the Shades of Magic trilogy) incorporate the “colors” of the four Londons featured in the series. It’s also a unique art style, and it conveys the main mechanic of the novel.

I love the way the colors are used here – to Kell’s red coat, to differentiate the two Londons Kell is traveling between, and even in the letters of the title. I even like the way that the negative space looks, despite the emptiness. It makes the universe of A Darker Shade of Magic feel very vast.

Do you like the cover art of the Shades of Magic trilogy? What are your favorite book covers?

As always, thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “Godkiller”

Good morning/afternoon/any other time of day everyone! It’s been a… month, I think, since the last time I did a Can’t-Wait Wednesday? Yeah. And there’s a couple of books releasing in the coming weeks, so I thought it was time to do it again.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings (and was previously hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine where it was known as Waiting on Wednesday) to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. They’re usually books that have not yet been released.

This week’s book is:

Godkiller by Hannah Kaner!

I’ve had my eye on this one for a couple of months, ever since I saw the cover like in… April? May? Yeah. It’s so good. And the premise sounds fantastic. How could I not be interested in it?

Godkiller by Hannah Kaner

Godkiller by Hannah Kaner

SERIES: Godkiller (Book #1)

LENGTH: 300 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Fiction

PUBLISHER: HarperVoyager

RELEASE DATE: 12 September 2023


Gods are forbidden in the kingdom of Middren. Formed by human desires and fed by their worship, there are countless gods in the world—but after a great war, the new king outlawed them and now pays “godkillers” to destroy any who try to rise from the shadows. 

As a child, Kissen saw her family murdered by a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing them and enjoys it. But all this changes when Kissen is tasked with helping a young noble girl with a god problem. The child’s soul is bonded to a tiny god of white lies, and Kissen can’t kill it without ending the girl’s life too. 

Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, the unlikely group must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favor. Pursued by assassins and demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning. Something is rotting at the heart of their world, and they are the only ones who can stop it. 

Are you looking forward to Godkiller? What books are you excited for coming out in the near future?

As always, thank you all so much for reading, and I really hope that you have a awesome day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“Masters of Death” by Olivie Blake | Book Review

Even after centuries of practice, it never grew less unsettling when it happened this way – sloppily. Gorily. Murder had never been his favorite method of disposal.

Masters of Death by Olivie Blake

Masters of Death by Olivie Blake

My Review

This is the story mortals tell about a man who was the godson of Death, who they say eventually learned my secrets and came to control me, and who still walks the earth today, eternally youthful, as he keeps Death close at his side, a golden lasso tied around my neck with which to prevent me, cunningly and valiantly, from taking ownership of his soul.

Before I get into the review proper, I can explain! My previously unexplained absence, that is. I just… needed a little break. A vacation, as it were. (Especially cuz I hadn’t really had one in the almost-year that I’ve been blogging.) But I’m back now, and with another book review at that!

Masters of Death was something that I was pretty excited for – it was even on my list of anticipated books coming out during the third part of 2023. So yeah, I was pretty excited for it.

But it kind of fell flat for me. Just a bit. I know the reason – it was a couple of different things, actually. As much as I enjoyed many things about this book, there were almost as many things that I didn’t much care for.

The Characters

I really, really liked a lot of the characters. Fox D’Mora was a fun protagonist to follow, and his relationship with his adoptive father made him easy to root for. I liked his dialogue with the other characters, and how, throughout the novel, the mask that he displays to the world is slowly pulled off.

Death was probably my favorite character, however. Even though he didn’t get as much pagetime as I thought he should, whenever he was in a scene, he absolutely stole the show. His relationship and dialogue with Fox was extremely endearing (and entertaining), and I wish that there was more of it.

“Let me guess. This is her husband?”

“Fiancé,” Fox corrected in a blandly guiltless tone. “He passed just before they could be wed.”

“How fucking convenient,” Death remarked with a sensation he often experienced but had not felt prior to Fox’s guardianship. It was a mix of things. Not anger, exactly. More like disappointment.

“Papa,” Fox warned, arching a brow in expectation. “What did we say about the cursing?”

Death lifted a hand, dutifully snapping the rubber band he wore on his wrist for the reward (if such a thing could be said) of Fox’s indulgent smirk. “I still don’t see why this is necessary,”

Our leading lady was Viola Marek. I actually rather enjoyed her character, even though she was technically not like other vampires. Her arc was one I found incredibly relatable to follow, despite the fact that she was an ordinary woman with extraordinary circumstances. Or perhaps that was the reason.

I also really, really, really liked almost all of the other characters. There are too many to discuss here, though, so I’ll just talk about the two that will pertain to my review later on. I really enjoyed Tom, and his and Viola’s begrudging friendship with each other was fun. Brandt kind of sucked as a character, though. I didn’t really like him that much.

The Plot

There is a game that the immortals play.

It is played around tables that open at dusk, and close at dawn.

The stakes are impossibly high, and yet laughably low.

There is only one secret: The more you have to lose, the harder it is to win.

There is only one rule: Don’t lose.

The plot was pretty interesting, but it was also one of the slowest that I’ve ever read. The summary is also written a certain way that implies the story to be a little different than it actually is. I get that they were trying to attract readers without giving too much of the plot away, but I feel slightly lied too.

I enjoyed the plot that we did get to see, to a degree. The buildup during the first half was great, and really pumped me up for the second part of the book. Only, the second half of the book fell somewhat flat. I didn’t find the immortals’ game to be all that interesting, until the very, very end of the novel, and it took up so much pagetime.

The Romance

For me, the romance in Masters of Death was its weakest aspect. I just wasn’t really interested in any of the couples. Not to mention that there was at least one romantic relationship too many.

Scratch one thing, actually. There was one couple that I was pretty invested in – Viola and Tom. They were just super cute together, and they had the most natural romantic chemistry out of everyone. But I didn’t like any of the other couples.

I found Brandt, Fox’s love interest, to be annoying as a character, so I found them hard to root for as a couple. (I hated Brandt, actually.) And as for Cal and Mayra – they were just one couple too many, at that point. Yeah, they were really sweet together, but this book just wasn’t long enough to develop all of these relationships to the way they should’ve been.

The Writing

I found Blake to have a rather dry wit (that I enjoyed), and her prose was very strong. She tells a story very well. And the humor is on point (did I mention that?).

A few parts of the book were too much for me. I thought the book was overly written at certain times, which is something that I never appreciate. It forced the story to move a bit slowly for my liking, which is one of the biggest reasons for my rating.

Final Thoughts

“Everything’s a game if you play it right,” the second figure said.

“But strictly speaking, this is no longer a game,” said the first figure. “Now it’s a war.”

And then everything went dark.

Masters of Death is a rather intricately woven urban fantasy by Olivie Blake. I personally found it to be a kind of mid, slow moving book, but it’s something that I think a lot of other people would like.

As always, thank you to everyone for reading. I hope that you all have a fabulous day/night!

See ya ~Mar

My Links:

Weekly Wrap-Up: 7/17 – 7/23

Yay! Last week was better for me! I got in four posts (aside from the weekly wrap-up of course). It was a huge improvement after the week preceding it.

I honestly don’t have much of an intro this time. ☹️ So without further ado, let’s jump right into the wrap-up.

Monday 7/17: Majestic Monday

Last Monday, I did the first Majestic Monday that I’ve done in a long time. It felt great, and I’m excited to post more of these in the future. For those who don’t know, Majestic Mondays are when I gush over covers that I like.

Majestic Monday #14

Wednesday 7/19: Shelf Control

On Wednesday, I finally posted another Shelf Control. Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books languishing on our bookshelves created and hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control #14

Friday 7/21: First Line Friday

Last Friday, I once again participated in First Line Fridays. First Line Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers (formerly) hosted by Wandering Words.

First Line Friday 7/21

Sunday 7/23: Deltora Quest Review

Yesterday, I finally posted my review for the entire first series of Emily Rodda’s Deltora Quest. It’s a series of fantasy books geared towards children/middle grade. I rated the entire series as a whole ★★★★☆, but I also rated each of the eight books individually.

Deltora Quest Series Review

Books That I Read Last Week

The City of Rats by Emily Rodda
The Shifting Sands by Emily Rodda
Dread Mountain by Emily Rodda
The Maze of the Beast by Emily Rodda
The Valley of the Lost by Emily Rodda
Return to Del by Emily Rodda

Goals for 7/24 – 7/30

I want to do at least four or five blog posts, aside from this weekly wrap-up. I’ll be doing my usual weekly feature participating, of course, but I also definitely want to do one and hopefully two book reviews. I’m also considering doing a new post this week.

So yeah, I just want to keep on keeping on, basically. Wish me luck! 🤞

As always, thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a fantastic day/night!

See ya ~Mar

First Line Friday #20

I’m early! For me at least. Ahhh, I’ve been so crazy busy this past week, so my posting schedule has been even weirder than usual.

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers (formerly) hosted by Wandering Words, but I saw it over at One Book More.

What if instead of judging a book by the cover, author or most everything else, we judged it by its content? Its first lines?

If you want to join in, all you gotta do is:

📚 Take a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open it 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!

Here are the first lines:

“Give me your hat.”

They are not the sort of words that you expect to start a legend, but they were the first words he ever heard her say.

She said them to him, of course.

Do you know what book it is? Here’s some lovely images of books to admire while you think about it…

Annnd the book is 🥁🥁… The Bone Ships by R.J. Barker!!

(Did you guess it??)

The Bone Ships by R.J. Barker

The Bone Ships by R.J. Barker

SERIES: The Tide Child (Book #1)

LENGTH: 496 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Fiction


RELEASE DATE: 24 September 2019


A brilliantly imagined saga of honor, glory, and warfare, The Bone Ships is the epic launch of a new fantasy from David Gemmell Award-nominated RJ Barker. Two nations at war. A prize beyond compare.

For generations, the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war. The dragons disappeared, but the battles for supremacy persisted.

Now the first dragon in centuries has been spotted in far-off waters, and both sides see a chance to shift the balance of power in their favour. Because whoever catches it will win not only glory, but the war.

Thank you so much for reading, and have an awesome day/night!

See ya ~Mar

Monthly Wrap-Up: June Reading 2023

June 2023 Reading

Hey, look! I’m super early with my reading wrap this month! June 2023 Reading statistics incoming!

Anyway, before I get into it: June… I’m not at all  happy with how much I read last month. My statistics were pretty bad on The StoryGraph. It was the least amount of reading that I’ve done yet this year. I don’t even have the excuse that stuff went down, like in May. I just had the worst reading slump ever.

Anyway, I’ve talked enough. On with the stats!

June 2023 Reading Stats

I read 2 books and 885 pages

😐 MOODS: Adventurous was the biggest slice of pie once again. There aren’t a lot of Moods on this graph though. The only others are Mysterious and Emotional, which are equal.

👢 PACE: Unlike last month every single book I read was medium-paced. I think this is the first month where medium-paced was the entire graph, though.

🔢 PAGE NUMBER: I read a lot of shorter books in June, similar to what I read in April and May. 300 to 499 was the only kind of pie here.

📖 FICTION/NONFICTION: All fiction once again this month.

🎭 GENRES: Fantasy was the biggest part of the graph this time, as per usual. The only other genre on the bar graph, though, is YA. So it’s much less colorful than usual.

📄 FORMAT: This little StoryGraph pie chart is actually correct for once! All the (two) books I read were physical print copies.

⭐ RATING: My median star rating for the month of June was 3.5. I rated one book 3 stars and one book 4 stars.

📉 PAGES READ DAILY: I read some during the first week, but dipped down a ton in the middle, particularly in the last third of the month. During the last couple of days of June though, I read a lot.

The Books I Read in June

Witch King by Martha Wells


Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amélie Wen Zhao


Wrapping Up the Wrap-Up

So June was not what I had hoped it would bet be. I hate reading blocks. Ugh! But, I’m very hopeful that July will be better. I seem to be out of the slump, so I’m hoping for good things.

I haven’t had the time to really read yet, but I’ve already got a book cued up – one that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time. So yeah, the June 2023 Reading Wrap-Up comes to a close.

Thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“Song of Silver Flame Like Night” by Amélie Wen Zhao | Book Review

It is the duty of those with power to protect those without.

Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amélie Wen Zhao

Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amélie Wen Zhao

SERIES: Song of the Last Kingdom (Book #1)

LENGTH: 459 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, YA, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Delacorte

RELEASE DATE: 3 January 2023


“Perfect for fans of The Untamed. I loved it!” —Shelley Parker-Chan, #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of She Who Became the Sun.

In a fallen kingdom, one girl carries the key to discovering the secrets of her nation’s past—and unleashing the demons that sleep at its heart. An epic fantasy series inspired by the mythology and folklore of ancient China.

Once, Lan had a different name. Now she goes by the one the Elantian colonizers gave her when they invaded her kingdom, killed her mother, and outlawed her people’s magic. She spends her nights as a songgirl in Haak’gong, a city transformed by the conquerors, and her days scavenging for what she can find of the past. Anything to understand the strange mark burned into her arm by her mother in her last act before she died.

The mark is mysterious—an untranslatable Hin character—and no one but Lan can see it. Until the night a boy appears at her teahouse and saves her life.

Zen is a practitioner—one of the fabled magicians of the Last Kingdom. Their magic was rumored to have been drawn from the demons they communed with. Magic believed to be long lost. Now it must be hidden from the Elantians at all costs.

When Zen comes across Lan, he recognizes what she is: a practitioner with a powerful ability hidden in the mark on her arm. He’s never seen anything like it—but he knows that if there are answers, they lie deep in the pine forests and misty mountains of the Last Kingdom, with an order of practitioning masters planning to overthrow the Elantian regime.

Both Lan and Zen have secrets buried deep within—secrets they must hide from others, and secrets that they themselves have yet to discover. Fate has connected them, but their destiny remains unwritten. Both hold the power to liberate their land. And both hold the power to destroy the world. 

Now the battle for the Last Kingdom begins.

My Review

The map lies within.

When the time is right,

This ocarina will sing for the Ruin of Gods.

So… it’s been awhile since my last book review. Whoops, sorry. I just had the absolute worst reading block this past month. But now it’s gone, and I’m more than ready to do another one. (And to read more books!)

I pretty much went into this book nearly blind, which is something that doesn’t normally happen. But I saw the cover, skimmed the summary (quickly enough where when I got around to reading the novel, I retained nothing), and then read Song of Silver, Flame Like Night.

And I really enjoyed it. I had a few annoyances with it, sure, but I ultimately really liked it.

Stuff I Liked

The practitioner spoke after a little while. “I seem to have forsaken my manners when we first met.” His eyes were still fogged with exhaustion, but his voice was pleasant again, imperial and commanding, as when they had first met back at the Teahouse. “My name is Zen.”

Zen. It was a monosyllabic moniker as ordained by the new Elantian laws but it was something. A half-name, a half- truth… yet it would do for now.

Lan pulled her lips into the ghost of a smile. “I’m Lan.”

Lan was a decently likable protagonist. I didn’t find her as annoying as most of the sassy, badass lead female characters that I’ve read, which is a good thing. She made a really big, really stupid decision about midway through the book though, and that’s something I’m having some trouble wrapping my head around. Like, it really, really bothered me. A lot.

Zen, our deuteragonist, was also a great character to follow. He was very much a foil to Lan. In several different ways, I actually found him to be the more interesting protagonist out of the two.

I also really liked the supporting cast. De’zi was a kind and humorous mentor (and father to Zen) figure, and I really liked him, even if I did figure out all of the twists and secrets involved with him way early on. Dilaya was someone I was kind of annoyed by throughout most of the book, but I knew she’d be getting some character development later on (a lot of which is probably gonna be in book two), so I started to like her near the end. Tai and Shán’jūn were also a highlight. Their relationship was cute though underdeveloped.

The setting and Chinese folklore influences were probably my favorite things about the novel. Zhao paints a beautiful and brutal fantasy world in her writing, and it comes together in a wonderful story.

The plot itself is also really good. I always like storylines that feature a quest, and this has a very interesting and compelling one. I also like the use of the invasive colonists, known as the Elantians, and how their magic and technology differ from our protagonists’ Hin culture. It really highlighted the stark differences between the two.

Stuff I Didn’t Like

“I wish for you to not go anywhere without me. In this world and the next. I wish for you to choose me.”

So, I really hated the romance between Lan and Zen. I knew that it was coming (the writing wasn’t exactly subtle about it), and hoped that it would be executed well. It wasn’t. (SPOILER) There is literally a freaking proposal three quarters of the way in between Zen and Lan, and they’ve only known one another about three weeks at this point. Three. Weeks. It’s completely ridiculous. I hate insta-love. Except when insta-love is written well. (This, was not done well.)

There was also a lot of fridging going on at the beginning of Song of Silver, Flame Like Night. A gross amount. Not only does one individual die, but multiple. Death flags are everywhere, so it’s not unexpected. Just disappointing. (I don’t really like fridging, by the way.)

The last thing that really irritated me, was that the climax was kind of obnoxious. The main characters were all flipflopping between emotions too often and extremely out of character (to me), and everything is moving almost ridiculously fast. There’s also no sense of distance, and it was hard to tell how much time was passing. It was really annoying to read.

Closing Thoughts

Yin and yang, good and evil, great and terrible, kings and tyrants and heroes and villains. The tropes in the classics of old are but a matter of perspective. Really, they are two sides of the same coin. He who lives to tell the tale decides which side to pick.

So yeah, I really liked this book. Do I recommend it? Oh, heck yeah! Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amélie Wen Zhao is a fantastic new fantasy novel. Fans of fantasy with romance (YA in particular) will most likely enjoy this book, as well as fans of xianxia and danmei.

Anyway, thank you so much for reading, and have a fantastic day/night!

See ya ~Mar


First Line Friday #19

I’m really early today! Yay! Somehow, I’d been a bit burnt out with this post, so I skipped last week. But I’m back and ready to participate in another First Line Friday!

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers (formerly) hosted by Wandering Words, but I saw it over at One Book More.

What if instead of judging a book by the cover, author or most everything else, we judged it by its content? Its first lines?

If you want to join in, all you gotta do is:

📚 Take a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open it 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!

Here are the first lines:

The first thing you learned on the job as a Hol- lower was to never trust your eyes.

Nash, of course, had a different way of saying it: All sorcery is half illusion. The other half, un-fortunately, was blood-soaked terror.

Any ideas? Here’s some lovely book pictures to admire while you think…

Annnd the book is 🥁🥁… Silver in the Bone by Alexandra Bracken!!

(Did you guess it right?)

Silver in the Bone by Alexandra Bracken

Silver in the Bone by Alexandra Bracken

SERIES: Silver in the Bone (Book #1)

LENGTH: 474 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, YA, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Knopf Books for Young Readers

RELEASE DATE: 4 April 2023


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Lore comes a stunning new Arthurian fantasy—the tale of a teenage girl who seeks her destiny in the cursed ruins of Avalon, driven by love, revenge, and pure adrenaline!

Born without a trace of magic, Tamsin Lark is no match for the sorceresses and Hollowers who populate the magical underground of Boston. But when the only parent she’s ever known disappears without so much as a goodbye, she has no choice but to join in their cutthroat pursuit of enchanted relics to keep herself—and her brother, Cabell—alive.

Ten years later, rumors are swirling that her guardian found a powerful ring from Arthurian legend just before he vanished. A run-in with her rival Emrys ignites Tamsin’s hope that the ring could free Cabell from a curse that threatens both of them. But they aren’t the only ones who covet the ring.

As word spreads, greedy Hollowers start circling, and many would kill to have it for themselves. While Emrys is the last person Tamsin would choose to partner with, she needs all the help she can get to edge out her competitors in the race for the ring. Together, they dive headfirst into a vipers’ nest of dark magic, exposing a deadly secret with the power to awaken ghosts of the past and shatter her last hope of saving her brother….

Thank you so much for reading, and have an awesome day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“Witch King” by Martha Wells | Book Review

“A demon is not afraid of a beast, no matter how big. What are you afraid of, Kai?”

Witch King by Martha Wells

Witch King by Martha Wells

LENGTH: 426 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Tordotcom

RELEASE DATE: 30 May 2023


From the breakout SFF superstar author of Murderbot comes a remarkable story of power and friendship, of trust and betrayal, and of the families we choose.

“I didn’t know you were a… demon.”
“You idiot. I’m the demon.”
Kai’s having a long day in Martha Wells’ WITCH KING….

After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.

But why was Kai imprisoned in the first place? What has changed in the world since his assassination? And why does the Rising World Coalition appear to be growing in influence?

Kai will need to pull his allies close and draw on all his pain magic if he is to answer even the least of these questions.

He’s not going to like the answers.

WITCH KING is Martha Wells’s first new fantasy in over a decade, drawing together her signature ability to create characters we adore and identify with, alongside breathtaking action and adventure, and the wit and charm we’ve come to expect from one of the leading writers of her generation.

My Review

When Kai returned, Sanja was explaining about Menlas and tell- ing Ziede what had happened in the tomb below. “He said he was going to enslave a great demon, make him a familiar.”

“Yes, that’s what all the idiots think,” Ziede told her.

So like, I was uber excited for this book. Like, when Witch King was announced last May, I was here for it. I absolutely couldn’t wait. I loved The Murderbot Diaries, and I really wanted to see what else Martha Wells was capable of with her writing.

And then I read The Cloud Roads. And I… didn’t like it all that much. But! I was still excited to read this book when it came out!

But I found that Witch King fell short of expectations as well. I dunno if I just don’t like the way Wells writes fantasy, or if it’s her style in third person, but I haven’t liked any of the fantasy books that I’ve read by her. Yet.

(And yes, this is why the Witch King by Martha Wells book review took so long.)

The Stuff I Liked

Ziede’s turned inward. “How did it come to this, Kai? I remember how we started. Now you’re all razor barbs and I’m an angry shrew.”

“No,” he said, stung by that description of herself. “You’re righteously furious. You’ve always had the high ground, Ziede. Don’t let them say you don’t.” She was still looking away into the dark. “You’re right about me and the razors, though.” Most of the time Kai felt like he was made of razors, bleeding from the inside.

She reached over and squeezed his hand. “I’ve always liked your razors, Kai. They’ve cut us out of a number of tangles. But it would be good if one day you could stop bleeding.”

I’ll definitely give her credit where credit is due though. Her characters are once again, fantastic. I love Kai, and I love his little team. They’ve all just got an instantly likeable dynamic, and you can just tell what kind of people everyone is in just a couple of sentences. Martha Wells writes characters extremely well. And the dialogue was once again *chef’s kiss.*

Also, I really liked the magic system in this book. Magic drawn through pain? So cool.

All the Stuff I Didn’t Like

Expositors didn’t draw power from pain in their own body, like Kai did, or by forming relationships with the spirits inherent in the different levels of the world, both living and otherwise, like Witches. Expositors drew their power from life: new life, stolen life, life on the point of death. It was why they were so dangerous, why greed was their driving force. It was why their power was so susceptible to a true demon’s ability to steal life from anything living or once living. But that was something the Saredi hadn’t realized until it was too late.

But other than that, I didn’t really care for pretty much everything else about the novel. Yes, it has a strong start; but I don’t feel that it kept up the momentum.

Part of this is because the book pretty much constantly switches back and forth between Then and Now type chapters. Yes people, this is one of those kinds of books. It’s a 2-in-1 story. And yeah, I sometimes like those, but that’s only when the past chapter ratio is very low compared to the rest of the story. I’m sure that this is a personal preference thing on my part, but I just couldn’t get past the storytelling here.

Another thing about this book was that I found it to be somehow boring. Like, stuff is constantly happening, there’s really never a dull moment. But at the same time, it’s boring?!? I don’t really know how to describe it, honestly.

I also normally would’ve DNF-ed a book like this, but since I was anticipating it for so long… I wanted to know how it ended.

Kai stepped close, circled to face his prey, and wrapped his hand around the ghoul’s throat. “Do mortals just walk into your charnel house all the time? Am I one? Am I stupid?”

The ghoul choked out. “I didn’t know you were a…”

“Say it,” Kai smiled.

“…a demon.”

“You idiot,” Kai leaned closer to whisper, “I’m the demon.”

And one last thing: I found the plot summary to be extremely misleading. And the quote from Witch King included with it is in the book a completely different way in which it’s presented there. It’s also, like, halfway through the novel, which is someplace that I didn’t expect it.

Final Thoughts

But yeah, that’s my book review for Witch King by Martha Wells. I really wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t. Heck, it only gets another half star than it otherwise would’ve gotten because Martha Wells wrote it. (Otherwise I would have rated it two and a half stars.) And yeah, I don’t really know if I can recommend it because of that.

Anyway, thank you so much for reading, and have an awesome day/night!

See ya ~Mar


The Murderbot Diaries Review

“The Stardust Thief” by Chelsea Abdullah | Book Review

“The stars, they burn the night

And guide the sheikh’s way…”

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

SERIES: The Sandsea Trilogy (Book #1)

LENGTH: 467 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Orbit Books

RELEASE DATE: 17 May 2022


Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One NightsThe Stardust Thief weaves the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp.

Neither here nor there, but long ago…

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

My Review

“Go to her, go to her, they say,

The star of your eye.

Go to her, go to her,

The compass of your heart.”

Haha, so it’s been a few weeks since my last book review. Whoops. Honestly though, there was a ton of stuff going on last week and the week before, and I seriously had no time to read.

But I’m finally back with another! And what an absolutely stunning book to come back with!

Though it had a bit of a slow start, I ended up absolutely loving The Stardust Thief. The story and the characters were so compelling and interesting. By the halfway point of the book, it was difficult to tear my eyes away from the pages.

Anyway, let’s get into what I liked and didn’t like as much about the novel.

Stuff I Liked

Loulie had buried many things since her mother last told her that story.

Her name. Her past. Her parents.

But the story, she had never forgotten.

The characters were definitely my absolute favorite thing about the book. Loulie al-Nazari was a very interesting and compelling protagonist. I really liked her – she wasn’t like other MC girls that I’ve followed in the best way. She’s rough and jaded, with a tragic past (like several of my least favorite MC girls), but she’s also vulnerable and can’t do everything on her own. And this was a really big part of her character arc, which is something that I really enjoyed following.

Mazen bin Malik was a great deuteragonist, a great foil to Loulie, and had a fun personality. I really liked his character, and he was the first one that I connected with, even before Loulie. His insecurities and desire to break free from his isolation was very relatable to me.

Qadir was excellent, and I loved, loved, loved his and Loulie’s relationship. It was an entirely platonic, wonderfully written found family. I loved how he acted as another foil to Loulie – but in a different way that Mazen was. He was calmer and more contemplative than Loulie was, and it really balanced out their partnership, and helped them work seamlessly as a team.

He curled her fingers around the coin. “Not alone,” he said. “Not anymore.”

Aisha bint Louas was probably my least favorite of the protagonists, but I still really enjoyed her. Most of my character moment and character development tabs went to her, and for good reason. Out of all of the characters here, I feel that she had the most growth.

The thing I liked the most after the characters was definitely the short stories inserted throughout The Stardust Thief. They were told in a very engaging way, and were also expertly woven in to embellish on the actual plot.

The plot itself was also excellent. I loved all of the nods to A Thousand and One Nights, and Abdullah’s writing style. The whole thing was a super engaging adventure story.

Stuff I Didn’t Like

“We all start as cowards. We’re all afraid, Prince. The only difference between a hero and a coward is that one forgets their fear and fights, while the other succumbs to it and flees. Your fear of death does not make you weak. Only human.”

There were only a couple of things that I didn’t care for in the novel. First off – and this is more of an issue with a choice that the publisher made – the pages with the short stories were almost too dark to read the text off of. And as someone who already has some vision issues, it was extremely annoying. If these pages had just been a little bit lighter, it would’ve been fine.

The other thing I didn’t like was how whipped Loulie was about a particular character. Like, she was constantly simping over this man, particularly when they were in the room together. It was all just so awkward and annoying to me, mostly because I don’t feel like we saw enough of them together to justify all of the simping. But yeah, that was really the only other thing that I didn’t care for.

I did find some twists a little predictable (particularly those concerning Qadir), and I figured out most of them before they happened, but I didn’t mind that. It always feels good to get to these parts and find out that I was right. Also, I loved the twist on the title. I feel like you’re led to believe that Loulie is the eponymous Stardust Thief, but it ends up being someone else.

Final Thoughts

“The sun, it warms the sand

And set the sheikh’s heart aflame.

She waits in the shade, the sun says,

The beloved of your dreams.

She waits in the shade. The shade.”

So yeah, I really enjoyed The Stardust Thief and I absolutely recommend it to any and all fantasy fans. It’s so well written, with great characters and a great story. Just read it. Please.

As always, thank you so much for reading, and have an amazing day/night!

See ya ~Mar