Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling Series

Today I’m going to be reviewing not one, but three books! I had initially read the entire series as they were released, but for the life of me I couldn’t recall what happened in the books, or how the series had ended. This really bothered me, so I decided to sit down and reread all three books to refresh my memory.

**This review may contain minor spoilers**

Titles: The Queen of the Tearling, The Invasion of the Tearling, and The Fate of the Tearling

Author: Erika Johansen

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Date of Publication: 2014-2016

Publisher: Harper

Page Count: 448, 515 and 496

Overall Rating (For the Whole Trilogy: 3/5

Content Warnings: Child Abuse/harm, Self-Harm, Pedophilia, Violence, Sexual Assault

This is a very interesting series, I will give it that. The blend of science fiction with fantasy, and the concepts of inter-dimensional (maybe? It’s not time travel…) do make it stand out. I did like the overarching storyline, and I thought the flashbacks and the viewpoints of the different characters were balanced well enough so nothing overshadowed anything else. Elements of the present story rely on events that happened in the past, and it was fun to see the mystery unfolding through the flashbacks we’re given. The themes of the trilogy really gravitated towards the darker side of things. It really paints society as a whole with a bit of a negative paint brush, highlighting how people’s greed and personal wants outshine the betterment of the people as a group.

There are some pretty heavy topics in the books that I feel push this series more into adult rather than young adult fiction. At certain points, especially in the second and third books, there are some pretty graphic scenes that aren’t necessarily gratuitous, but are definitely jarring. I wouldn’t say there are any scenes that are used purely for shock value, but it definitely makes for an intense reading experience. This series is not in any way “light reading”.

One personal pet peeve I had with the main character, who otherwise shows decent growth over the course of the three books, is the fixation on beauty. Right from the start Kelsea is described as ‘plain’, which apparently in this land means you might as well walk around with a bag over your head. Her weight comes up a lot in the same vein, she’s not model thin so clearly no men in her life will find her attractive. These facts are reiterated over and over, to the point of annoyance. In the second book an entire subplot revolves around her sudden change in appearance. Somehow this is just as bad as being ‘plain’ because now people are concerned she is becoming vain and stupid. So beauty is good but not for a leader, just for being attractive in the eyes of men. Yeesh, okay rant over.

I would say the series has merit as an interesting blend of sci-fi and fantasy, and if you’re looking for a heavier read with some overt moral and societal themes, you should give this series a chance. I didn’t mind giving the series a reread, but I likely won’t be picking it up again for a while.

First Lines Friday- 19 February 2021

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? If you want to make your own post, feel free to use or edit the banner above, and follow the rules below:

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

First Lines

Every morning when I wake up to the cries of the baby next door, I turn you on. In the dark of a room that smells of the dog that lived here before, you tell the story of Asha Degree. Nine years old and she walked out of her home with a book bag, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a rainstorm. They forget but you remember. You are the hero of the heroless stories. You will save people; will they save you?

And the book is…….

If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier!

Goodreads Synopsis: When her favorite true crime podcast host goes missing, an adrift young woman plunges headfirst into the wild backcountry of Northern California and her own dangerous obsession. Sera loves true crime podcasts. They make her feel empowered in a world where women just like her disappear daily. She’s sure they are preparing her for something. So when Rachel, her favorite podcast host, goes missing, Sera knows it’s time to act. Rachel has always taught her to trust her instincts. Sera follows the clues hidden in the episodes to an isolated ranch outside Rachel’s small hometown to begin her search. She’s convinced her investigation will make Rachel so proud. But the more Sera digs into this unfamiliar world, the more off things start to feel. Because Rachel is not the first woman to vanish from the ranch, and she won’t be the last…Rachel did try to warn her.

I’m not personally a follower of true crime podcasts (Yes, I’m a big chicken), but I know a lot of people who are. I definitely see the appeal, so a book about a true crime fan launching her own investigation has me intrigued! Also, I really love the cover of this book, it’s wonderfully off-putting. One day when I’m feeling like a good mystery/thriller I will definitely be grabbing If I Disappear off my TBR pile!

What are you reading this weekend? Let me know in the comments!

Cant-Wait Wednesday: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s Can’t-Wait Wednesday book is Ariadne by Jennifer Saint!

Goodreads Synopsis: A mesmerizing retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS. As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year. When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything. In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition? Ariadne gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel. 

About the author: Due to a lifelong fascination with Ancient Greek mythology, Jennifer Saint read Classical Studies at King’s College, London. She spent the next thirteen years as an English teacher, sharing a love of literature and creative writing with her students. Ariadne is her first novel, and she is working on another retelling of an ancient myth for her second, revolving around Clytemnestra and her daughter Electra.

Give me a good mythology retelling any day! This is one of my favourite sub-genres, and I am super excited to read Jennifer Saint’s upcoming debut novel about Ariadne, who usually ends up a secondary character in the grand tale of Theseus. I’m excited to read about her story instead, and that of her sister Phaedra. This book will be released on May 4th, 2021!

You can preorder Ariadne here!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. 

This week’s topic is:

Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

This topic is a tricky one for me. Typically I do not read intentionally humorous books. It’s nothing against them personally, it’s just that usually the books I’m drawn to are SFF novels, which can be funny, but don’t usually induce full blown laughter. So this week I’m going to write about five books that made me laugh out loud, and five on my TBR list that are supposed to be laugh out loud funny.

Five Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman: This is a two-for-one recommendation for laughter. Not only did this book make me laugh out loud with it’s seriously silly concepts and wonderful characters, but the tv-adaptation was also amazingly well done, featuring a cast who fit the roles perfectly! Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman know how to write a great story, and the humour is balanced out really well so it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the plot.

The Sh!t No One Tells You About Pregnancy by Dawn Dais: Pregnancy is scary enough without all of the books telling you what you can’t do and how you will inevitably screw up your offspring in some irreversible way. I appreciate that Dawn Dais puts a humorous and profane spin on things. Will you still learn things? Yes! The book was decently informative, with a fun spin that takes the edge off the scary parts of pregnancy. It was a refreshing change of pace from the other pregnancy books I read.

The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball: I’m not sure if this book was meant to be funny, but I found that it still made me laugh. Kristin Kimball goes from being a writer living in the city to living on a farm and feeding a community, and she doesn’t sugarcoat it one bit! Just picturing some of the things she had to go through in the first couple of years had me cracking up. It’s a great nonfiction read, especially if you have an interest in the farm-to-table lifestyle and sustainable living.

Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach: This is one of those kids books that’s more geared for adults, and I recommend it as a gift for any new parents. It is honest, profane, and hilarious, and if you can listen to the version read by Samuel L. Jackson I guarantee you will be laughing out loud!

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen: Jon Klassen’s kids books are a must have for any parent. I bought my daughter the book set for Christmas, and I can’t help but laugh every time I read it. Innocent at first glance, Jon Klassen injects his books with a dark humour that keeps parents entertained even through multiple rereads.

Five Laugh-out-Loud Funny Books on my TBR List

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson: I love reading about other people’s adventures, and bonus points if they are funny rather than heroic tales of survival. The Appalachian Trail is something I have on my bucket list (I’m realistic enough not to attempt Everest), so a funny book about the area and the trail itself sounds like a fun place to start while I save up to go down there myself!

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson: I greatly admire people who can make light of serious things in their lives. Mental illness is no joke, and I’m impressed that Jenny Lawson is able to find humour and joy in her battle with depression.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling: I’m normally a bit hesitant when it comes to books by big name celebrities, but Mindy Kaling makes the cut for me. She is a comedy writer, and was part of the team for the US version of the Office, which I found really entertaining. This is enough to get me to give her book a shot!

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson: I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t realize I had the same author on this list twice until I was typing out the post. Apparently Jenny Lawson writes a lot of funny non-fiction! This one is her earlier book, focusing on her past and growing up. Embarrassing childhood anecdotes are always good for a laugh!

Bossypants by Tina Fey: I’ve read excerpts from Bossypants before, and any interviews I’ve seen with Tina Fey have always cracked me up. Her stories are very entertaining, and I especially love when she describes her rambunctious daughter.

This is my list of five certified funny (by me) books, and five books that I have heard can make you laugh out loud! Have you read any of these books? What books have made you laugh out loud? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Ruinsong by Julia Ember

Goodreads Synopsis: Her voice was her prison…Now it’s her weapon. In a world where magic is sung, a powerful mage named Cadence has been forced to torture her country’s disgraced nobility at her ruthless queen’s bidding. But when she is reunited with her childhood friend, a noblewoman with ties to the underground rebellion, she must finally make a choice: Take a stand to free their country from oppression, or follow in the queen’s footsteps and become a monster herself.

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, LGBT, Romance

Date of Publication: November 24th, 2020

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Length: 368 pages

My rating: 4/5

Would you do the right thing, even if you knew it would cost you dearly? 

Ruinsong is a wonderfully original story that explores the concepts of complicity and redemption, all while set in a fascinating magical world. Cadence is gifted with corporeal magic, which comes in the form of song. She’s so talented she is scooped up by the new Queen, a harsh dictator who hates the nobles she now governs. Cadence is used from a young age to torture anyone who gets in the Queen’s way, and any defiance is met with swift and horrible punishment. This life is all Cadence knows, until she runs into Remi, her childhood friend and a noble in the Queen’s crosshairs. Cadence has to decide what she fears more, the Queen’s wrath or losing her only friend. 

I love a good fantasy novel, especially one with an interesting magical basis. Song magic is a fun concept that Julia Ember explores well. The world of Ruinsong is well built, and I appreciate that the background was explained in simple detail, with the history sprinkled throughout the story rather than all laid out at once. The plot is well paced, and the characters are nuanced and have a good development throughout the story. Julia Ember emphasizes the flaws in the characters, and how rather than simply good or evil, there are shades of grey in between. I also appreciated the romance that develops in the story, and how it plays into the character dynamics without overshadowing other aspects of the plot. The whole story was well balanced, the themes of abuse, dictatorship, complicity, and redemption were well played out, and the story never felt heavy-handed or preachy, but stayed entertaining throughout. 

I really enjoyed Ruinsong, and I would’ve been happy if it was the first book of a duology or trilogy. Currently it’s a standalone novel, but maybe someday Julia Ember will revisit this world with a different set of characters, or a continuation of Remi and Cadence. I definitely recommend this book for any lover of young adult fantasy who doesn’t have time to invest in a multi-book read. Ruinsong would make a great weekend book, not too heavy but entertaining enough to keep you busy!

Have you read Ruinsong? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

First Lines Friday- 19 February 2021

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? If you want to make your own post, feel free to use or edit the banner above, and follow the rules below:

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

First Lines

“I think it is possible that I am dying. For quite some time now, in any case, it has felt like I have been watching as my life scrolls past in front of my eyes.”

And the book is…….

People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd!

Goodreads Synopsis: To her adoring fans, Emmy Jackson, aka @the_mamabare, is the honest “Instamum” who always tells it like it is. To her skeptical husband, a washed-up novelist who knows just how creative Emmy can be with the truth, she is a breadwinning powerhouse chillingly brilliant at monetizing the intimate details of their family life. To one of Emmy’s dangerously obsessive followers, she’s the woman that has everything—but deserves none of it. As Emmy’s marriage begins to crack under the strain of her growing success and her moral compass veers wildly off course, the more vulnerable she becomes to a very real danger circling ever closer to her family. In this deeply addictive tale of psychological suspense, Ellery Lloyd raises important questions about technology, social media celebrity, and the way we live today. Probing the dark side of influencer culture and the perils of parenting online, People Like Her explores our desperate need to be seen and the lengths we’ll go to be liked by strangers. It asks what—and who—we sacrifice when make our private lives public, and ultimately lose control of who we let in. . . .

A mystery thriller about an instamum is a very intriguing notion! This book reminded me of A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell, which I enjoyed, so it’s now sitting patiently in my TBR pile hoping to be picked up soon. I’m excited to see how this book explores the dark side of influencer culture, and online parenting!

What are you reading this weekend? Let me know in the comments!

Cant-Wait Wednesday: Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s Can’t-Wait Wednesday book is Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart!

Goodreads Synopsis: Divided by their order. United by their vengeance. Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom – and vengeance. Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power. Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But power is intoxicating, revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain – except the lengths they will go to win this game. This Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy has the twisted cat-and-mouse of Killing Eve with the richly imagined fantasy world of Furyborn and Ember in the Ashes.

About the author: Of Jamaican heritage, Ciannon Smart grew up in a small town in the south-east of England. As the only daughter in a house full of boisterous sons, she developed a voracious appetite for reading from an early age, preferring anarchy in stories rather than real life. In YA she loves her heroines exactly as she loves her villains: wilful, wily, and unpredictable. When not writing, Ciannon can be found reading, painting, or taking the long way home to listen to a good song more than once.

Witches Steeped in Gold is the first book in a duology by debut author Ciannon Smart, and I could not be more excited to read it! A young adult fantasy about witches is right up my alley, and the synopsis alone has me hooked. Witches Steeped in Gold will be released on April 20th, 2021!

You can also preorder here for the US, or here for the UK!

Top Ten Tuesday: Purple, Yellow, and/or Green Book Covers

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. 

This week’s topic is:

Purple, Yellow, and/or Green Book Covers (in honour of Mardis Gras, which is today!)

I perused my TBR List and managed to find 10 books coming out in 2021 (or recently released!) that have a mostly purple, yellow, or green book cover. Yes, a couple of them might be a bit of a stretch but I can’t help it if books are only being released with gorgeous multicoloured book covers this year!

All The Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace (All the Stars and Teeth #2): Through blood and sacrifice, Amora Montara has conquered a rebellion and taken her rightful place as queen of Visidia. Now, with the islands in turmoil and the people questioning her authority, Amora cannot allow anyone to see her weaknesses. No one can know about the curse in her bloodline. No one can know that she’s lost her magic. No one can know the truth about the boy who holds the missing half of her soul. To save herself and Visidia, Amora embarks on a desperate quest for a mythical artifact that could fix everything―but it comes at a terrible cost. As she tries to balance her loyalty to her people, her crew, and the desires of her heart, Amora will soon discover that the power to rule might destroy her.

This is the sequel to All the Stars and Teeth, which came out early last year. This Young Adult fantasy features pirates and mermaids and plenty of adventure! I’m looking forward to reading them both!

Into the Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth Meyer: The forest is a dangerous place, where siren song lures men and women to their deaths. For centuries, a witch has harvested souls to feed the heartless tree, using its power to grow her domain. When Owen Merrick is lured into the witch’s wood, one of her tree-siren daughters, Seren, saves his life instead of ending it. Every night, he climbs over the garden wall to see her, and every night her longing to become human deepens. But a shift in the stars foretells a dangerous curse, and Seren’s quest to become human will lead them into an ancient war raging between the witch and the king who is trying to stop her. Epic, heartbreaking, and darkly atmospheric, Into the Heartless Wood is the story of impossible love between a monstrous tree siren and a boy who lives at the edge of her wood.

Witches, curses, forbidden love, and tree sirens? Sign me up! The premise of Into the Heartless Wood had me hooked from the first sentence.

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri: Author of Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne, beginning a new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess’s traitor brother. Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin. Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides. But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.

I’m a sucker for a good trilogy! And this first book promises fantasy, evil brothers, and LGBT romance, all the makings of a good book in my opinion!

If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur: Told in prose, poetry, and illustration, this heartrending story weaves Kiran’s and Sahaara’s timelines together, showing a teenage Kiran and, later, her high school–aged daughter, Sahaara. Kiran is a young Punjabi Sikh woman who becomes pregnant after being sexually assaulted by her fiancé’s brother. When her fiancé and family don’t believe her, she flees her home in India to Canada, where she plans to raise the child as a single mother. For Kiran, living undocumented means constant anxiety over finances, work, safety, and whether she’ll be deported back to the dangers that await her in Punjab. Eighteen years later, Kiran’s daughter, Sahaara, is desperate to help her mother, who has been arrested and is facing deportation. In the aftermath, Kiran reveals the truth about Sahaara’s conception. Horrified, Sahaara encourages Kiran to speak out against the man who raped her—who’s now a popular political figure in Punjab. Sahaara must find the best way to support her mother while also dealing with the revelation about her parents.

A guaranteed tear-jerker, I’m excited to read this novel that’s part-poetry, part-prose.

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown: For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom. But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition. When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

I’ve already mentioned this book in one of my First Lines Friday posts back in January, but it just fit so well with this prompt I couldn’t resist!

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig: Ellerie Downing lives in the quiet town of Amity Falls in the Blackspire Mountain range–five narrow peaks stretching into the sky like a grasping hand, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. To this day, visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that the monsters that once stalked the region have returned. As fall turns to winter, more strange activities plague the town. They point to a tribe of devilish and mystical creatures who promise to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand and impossible, for just a small favor. But their true intentions are much more sinister, and Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames.

This is somehow the second book with a sinister forest in this list, which is kind of funny. I’m currently reading Erin A. Craig’s other book House of Salt and Sorrows, and if Small Favors is anything like House of Salt and Sorrows this is going to be a great read!

Don’t Breathe a Word by Jordyn Taylor: Present Day: Eva has never felt like she belonged . . . not in her own family or with her friends in New York City, and certainly not at a fancy boarding school like Hardwick Preparatory Academy. So when she is invited to join the Fives, an elite secret society, she jumps at the opportunity to finally be a part of something. But what if the Fives are about more than just having the best parties and receiving special privileges from the school? What if they are also responsible for keeping some of Hardwick’s biggest secrets buried? 1962: There is only one reason why Connie would volunteer to be one of the six students to participate in testing Hardwick’s nuclear fallout shelter: Craig Allenby. While the thought of nuclear war sends her into a panic, she can’t pass up the opportunity to spend four days locked in with the school’s golden boy. However, Connie and the other students quickly discover that there is more to this “test” than they previously thought. As they are forced to follow an escalating series of commands, Connie realizes that one wrong move could have dangerous consequences. Separated by sixty years , Eva’s and Connie’s stories become inextricably intertwined as Eva unravels the mystery of how six students went into the fallout shelter all those years ago . . . but only five came out.

Part mystery thriller, part historical fiction, this book has the potential to be a very captivating read!

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor: The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa­­–a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past. Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks–alone, except for her fox companion–searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers. But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?

Remote Control is a sci-fi novella that was released last month, and if it is anything like the synopsis then it’s going to pack a punch! I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir: Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission–and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance. Part scientific mystery, part dazzling interstellar journey, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian–while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.

Andy Weir won me over with the Martian, so I’m willing to give Project Hail Mary a chance, even though it falls a little out of my usual reading scope.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna: Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death. Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat. Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

Another repeat book from a previous post, the Gilded Ones is still on the top of my TBR pile. Released last week, I’ve already been seeing a ton of great reviews on this book!

This was my list of purple, yellow, and green book covers from my TBR List. Are any of these books on yours? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Book Tour: The Abyss Within

Do you dare confront The Abyss Within? Featuring 13 chilling tales of survival and madness, this anthology is bound to keep you up at night! Featuring works from: Frederick Pangbourne, Jim Tritten, Jerod S. Smelker, J. T. Lozano, Rebecca Rowland, Tabitha Potts, Jacek Wilkos, Chris Tattersall, Lisa Shea, Kerri Spellar, Jeni Lawes, Cassandra Jones. This is a charity anthology in support of Women’s Aid, all profits will be donated to Women’s Aid.

Genre: Horror, Short Story, Anthology

Date of Publication: October 31st, 2020

Publisher: SmashBear Publishing

My rating: 4/5

I received a copy of The Abyss Within in exchange for being part of the Book Tour. A big thanks to Jennifer Slater, SmashBear Publishing and the authors featured in the Abyss Within for letting me participate! All the proceeds from this anthology will be donated to Women’s Aid, a very worthy cause!

The Abyss Within is a collection of short stories, each with their own scary theme. I enjoy horror in the form of short stories because it allows little bursts of thrill without getting too overwhelming. It’s also great for reading in bits and pieces, so I never have to leave a story during a critical moment. This particular anthology has something for everyone, with themes varying from the undead, to cults, to good old fashioned revenge. Of course, with varying authors and styles, you may not enjoy every story equally, but I feel like all 13 tales in this anthology held their own in terms of quality and scare-factor. 

I found each of the short stories to be entertaining in their own individual way. The tone of each story varied, some were first person and some were third person narratives, and even the structure of the stories differed, so it never gets stale. Of course, I did have favourites, and I think The Munchies was the one that had me the most creeped out. Tea for Two was also quite interesting story-wise, and a close second for my personal preference. Voodoo Doll was also unique in that I really hated the main character, but in a good way. It’s not often that the narrator is such a despicable person, it was refreshing! I don’t want to reveal anything more than that, I feel like even the title is giving too much away! When I read the anthology I went in completely blind, and not knowing what to expect made it all the more scary. This anthology felt like the ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ books, but geared towards adults. And it was a lot of fun to experience stories from a bunch of different authors, because it gave each story a distinct voice.

The Abyss Within is a great read for horror fans looking for a sample platter of scary stories, all with wildly different plots. And as an added bonus, the anthology includes a handy ‘Content Warning’ reference guide for each story at the back, which is helpful to peruse if you have any concerns. Overall I thought The Abyss Within was fun, freaky, and all the proceeds go to charity so what could be better?

Here is the link to the SmashBear Publishing website so you order your copy today! And be sure to check out the other blogs taking part in the book tour!

First Lines Friday- 12 February 2021

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? If you want to make your own post, feel free to use or edit the banner above, and follow the rules below:

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

First Lines

“It is often said that the first sound we hear in the womb is our mother’s heartbeat. Actually, the first sound to vibrate our newly developed hearing apparatus is the pulse of our mother’s blood through her veins and arteries. We vibrate to that primordial rhythm even before we have ears to hear.

And the book is…….

The Push by Ashley Audrain!

Goodreads Synopsis: A tense, page-turning psychological drama about the making and breaking of a family–and a woman whose experience of motherhood is nothing at all what she hoped for–and everything she feared. Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had. But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter–she doesn’t behave like most children do. Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well. Then their son Sam is born–and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth. The Push is a tour de force you will read in a sitting, an utterly immersive novel that will challenge everything you think you know about motherhood, about what we owe our children, and what it feels like when women are not believed.

Thrillers always intrigue me, and this one in particular had my attention from the first lines of the synopsis. I do have to be in a particular mood to read a thriller novel, I don’t like my current read to be stress-inducing if I’m currently stressed by other life events. The Push is on my TBR list, and it’ll be the first book I grab once life calms down a little bit. I can’t wait!

What are you reading this weekend? Let me know in the comments!