The Blazing Star by Imani Josey. ★★
By the end, reading The Blazing Star was painful. If I weren’t intending to review this one, there is no way I would have finished. I was seriously considering quitting when I only had twenty percent of the book left.
Portia White has always dwelt in the shadow of her genius twin sister, Alex, and a rift is starting to grow between them. Then Portia picks up an ancient Egyptian artifact and is transported back into the past, her sister and another girl unwittingly brought along with her. In ancient Egypt, Portia will find her own chance to shine, discover that magic is real, and maybe even heal the wound between her and her sister.
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey. ★★1/2
Going into Guardians of the Dead, I had only vague ideas of what it was about. I knew that it was set in New Zealand, involved Māori mythology, contained an asexual side character and appeared on many asexual representation lists. The last two are largely why I picked up the book. Plus, I was in New Zealand at the time and thought it would be cool to read a book set there.
Ellie Spencer is a seventeen year old who’s counting down the days until she can graduate from boarding school, where she really only has one friend – Kevin. Her largest concern is getting roped in to do martial arts choreography for a local student play, but strange things keep seeming to happen to her. First of all, something is up with Mark, that guy she has a crush on. And who’s the strange woman who’s practically stalking Kevin? Soon Ellie will find herself unwittingly involved in the worlds of myth and magic.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. ★★1/2
Trigger warning – rape
The Bear and the Nightingale is one of those books that everyone seems to love… except me.
Vasya’s grandmother was a wild woman with strange powers, and Vasya has inherited some of her ability. She can see and speak to the spirits of the hearth and home, even as the rest of the village begins to turn against the old ways at the urging of a new priest. But a battle is coming as an ancient force within the woods awakens… and Vasya may be all that stands between her village and destruction.
Grudgebearer by J.F. Lewis. ★★
Grudgebearer is the start to an epic fantasy trilogy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to my tastes. If I weren’t reading it for review, I wouldn’t have finished.
Grudgebearer is set in a world with a wide array of species, some of whom are immortal. Kholster is the first of the immortal Aern, a wolf-like, carnivorous warrior species with no qualms about eating other sentient beings. They were created as slaves for the Eldrennai but gained freedom six hundred years ago. Every hundred years the peace between the Eldrennai and the Aern must be reforged at the Grand Conjunction. But an Eldrennai prince has moved the armor the Aern left hostage, and if he’s going to follow his oath, Kholster must destroy them all. And if he doesn’t follow his oath, then he will no longer be an Aern.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. ★★1/2
Throne of Glass is a YA fantasy that felt like a compilation of YA tropes I’m not fond of. The heroine, Celaena Sardothien, is the best assassin in the world at the age of eighteen. She’s spent the last year in a prison camp but is offered the chance at freedom if she wins a tournament to become the king’s new personal assassin. However, for something nominally the focus of the book, the tournament doesn’t receive a lot of page time.
Throne of Glass has a slow start. It takes until halfway through the book for the main plot to finally arrive. And the tournament? It’s often skipped over in a few sentences summaries, which more than anything else tells you just how exciting this plot line is.
The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. ★★1/2
This was a let down. I was hoping I’d get something with a creepy atmosphere that would keep me turning the pages. Turns out I got a shambling mess of a book.
Years ago, Elmbridge High School burned to the ground. Three people were killed and one went missing. Told through documents compiled after the incident, The Dead House tells the story of the alleged arsonist, Kaitlyn Johnson, the twin sister of student Carly Johnson. However, Kaitlyn Johnson did not technically exist – she was a separate personality that only came out at night. During the day, Carly. During the night, Kaitlyn.
Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan. ★★1/2
Trigger warning: rape
There’s not a whole lot I like about Man Tiger. When you get right down to it, the only element I find intriguing is the structure. Maybe it’s just too literary for me?
Man Tiger starts with a revelation that shakes a small, rural Indonesian community: Margio, a local youth, has murdered his neighbor Anwar Sadat. Instead of moving forward in a linear fashion, Man Tiger instead turns back in on itself, meandering through the past to explain everything that led to the murder.