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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones {4 Stars}

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones {4 Stars}

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (Wintersong #1)
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on Feb. 7th, 2017
Genres: Fairytale Retelling, Romance
Page Length: 436 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Nevernight by Jay Kristoff ARC {4 Stars}

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff introduces readers to a sweeping new fantasy world filled with dark deeds and darker shadows, where three suns make true night a rarity and people have built a city in the bones of a dead god. If you like your fantasy equal parts dark and steamy, this isn’t one to miss!

Note: I received an advanced copy of Nevernight from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

This book has adult content.
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff ARC {4 Stars}

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (The Nevernight Chronicle #1)
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on Aug. 9th, 2016
Genres: Adult, Dark Fantasy
Page Length: 448 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

4 Stars

Strengths:
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The Big Sheep by Robert Kroese {Just Hatched}

Just Hatched Book Feature

Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.

The Big Sheep by Robert Kroese shows its entertaining strengths right from the first chapter. If a Sherlock Holmes-esque investigatory duo set in a sci-fi future intrigues you, definitely grab a copy!

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Big Sheep from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Big Sheep by Robert Kroese {Just Hatched}

The Big Sheep by Robert Kroese
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on June 28th, 2016
Genres: Adult, Sci-fi
Page Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Los Angeles of 2039 is a baffling and bifurcated place. After the Collapse of 2028, a vast section of LA, the Disincorporated Zone, was disowned by the civil authorities, and became essentially a third world country within the borders of the city. Navigating the boundaries between DZ and LA proper is a tricky task, and there's no one better suited than eccentric private investigator Erasmus Keane. When a valuable genetically altered sheep mysteriously goes missing from Esper Corporation's labs, Keane is the one they call.

But while the erratic Keane and his more grounded partner, Blake Fowler, are on the trail of the lost sheep, they land an even bigger case. Beautiful television star Priya Mistry suspects that someone is trying to kill her - and she wants Keane to find out who. When Priya vanishes and then reappears with no memory of having hired them, Keane and Fowler realize something very strange is going on. As they unravel the threads of the mystery, it soon becomes clear that the two cases are connected - and both point to a sinister conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the city. Saving Priya and the sheep will take all of Keane's wits and Fowler's skills, but in the end, they may discover that some secrets are better left hidden.

4 Stars

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4.5 Stars: Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff ARC

Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff is the second book in the Lotus War trilogy (I assume it’s a trilogy >.>). These books take genre-bending to the extreme with a mix of steampunk, japanese futuristic culture, mythical beasts, and environmental apocalyptic events. I have to admit that I was not as thrilled with Stormdancer (Lotus War #1) as many of you, but I am so converted with Kinslayer! If you were like me and didn’t quite get what all the fuss was about, you should definitely check out this second book, which is more action-packed, more character-packed, and so many feels!

Note: I received an ARC of Kinslayer from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

4.5 Stars: Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff ARC

Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff (The Lotus War #2)
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on Sept. 17th, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk
Page Length: 432 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

A SHATTERED EMPIRE
The mad Shōgun Yoritomo has been assassinated by the Stormdancer Yukiko, and the threat of civil war looms over the Shima Imperium. The Lotus Guild conspires to renew the nation’s broken dynasty and crush the growing rebellion simultaneously – by endorsing a new Shōgun who desires nothing more than to see Yukiko dead.

A DARK LEGACY
Yukiko and the mighty thunder tiger Buruu have been cast in the role of heroes by the Kagé rebellion. But Yukiko herself is blinded by rage over her father’s death, and her ability to hear the thoughts of beasts is swelling beyond her power to control. Along with Buruu, Yukiko’s anchor is Kin, the rebel Guildsman who helped her escape from Yoritomo’s clutches. But Kin has his own secrets, and is haunted by visions of a future he’d rather die than see realized.

A GATHERING STORM
Kagé assassins lurk within the Shōgun’s palace, plotting to end the new dynasty before it begins. A waif from Kigen’s gutters begins a friendship that could undo the entire empire. A new enemy gathers its strength, readying to push the fracturing Shima imperium into a war it cannot hope to survive. And across raging oceans, amongst islands of black glass, Yukiko and Buruu will face foes no katana or talon can defeat.

The ghosts of a blood-stained past.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:

  • Kinslayer’s writing is delicious. I like it much more than Stormdancer’s ;-). I found myself drawn in by the poetic descriptions, clutching the cover during the action, and sniffling at the adorable animal voices >.>. I am convinced that Mr. Kristoff must have actually got inside a dog’s head based on how well he captured the thoughts of a certain canine companion who I adore and want to see again (hint hint!).
  • I know that there were some complaints about the use of japanese-styled language in Stormdancer and am happy to report that some of the specifics have been fixed in Kinslayer. I also have very much enjoyed exploring farther parts of the world beyond the wasteland of the chi fields.
  • There are a lot of characters and a lot of POV in Kinslayer and it works wonderfully. We get about four distinct storylines that all carefully wind together for the epic conclusion; this is how fantasy storytelling should be!
  • Omg the feels. There were a lot of all varieties D:
  • I looooove grey characters and the multiple POV helps develop those in between characters so much. I loved the internal conflict that I’m sure many rebels really do feel when deciding how much sacrifice is too much. Also omg I must know what happens in the next book!

Weaknesses:

  •  Do not eat while reading Kinslayer. There are a fair number of gross scenes involving flaying flesh, losing eyeballs, and torture. You have been warned.
  • There are a couple of scenes that seem kind of random in hindsight. I’m hoping a certain visit to some monks makes more sense in the next book, since right now it seemed like a convenient way to move the plot along and that makes me sad.

Summary:

Kinslayer goes far beyond not falling to second book syndrome by improving greatly from the first book. I feel so much more connected to these characters and this world and I want them to win dammit! Kristoff does a marvelous job of bringing many characters to life, including some furry friends, and I’m quite excited to see where he brings us next!

4.5 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff

Four Stars: Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Kristoff has blasted onto the fantasy scene with Stormdancer, a steampunk, japanese fantasy. Stormdancer tells the story of young Yukiko whose life has been filled with tragedy and a deadly secret. This secret, however, is just what she needs to befriend the legendary griffin she and her father are sent to hunt down by a corrupt emperor.

I started seeing reviews for Stormdancer a while ago, and quickly found Jay Kristoff’s blog because he is just a hilarious blogger. I’ve never been caught by the steampunk bug, and so I figured this could be a good book to ease into those waters. I had some pretty high expectations for Stormdancer due to all the hype and Kristoff’s obvious awesomeness, and it didn’t quite meet those expectations. I’m really looking forward to watching how Kristoff’s grows as a writer, however.

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff Goodreads Amazon
Title:
Stormdancer
Author: Jay Kristoff
Pages: 322  (hardcover) pages
Genre-ish: Japanese Steampunk Fantasy
Rating★★★★☆ – interesting premise and characters, flat delivery
Setting: Stormdancer occurs in a steampunk/fantasy world inspired by Japan, with balloon carried skyships and mechanized armor for the rich. The land has been horribly polluted by the overfarming of the only fuel source: chi. The sky is red, the rain black, the land dying, and yet the emperor and Guild do nothing to fix it. Legendary creatures such as naga, sea serpents and griffins are in living memory, but suspected to be completely extinct due to overhunting.
Premise: When the young emperor wakes up from a “vision” of him flying on a griffin against the armies his empire is waging war against, his greed compels him to have this impossible desire. He orders Yukiko and her father to go find this legend for him to ride. They set out on the suicide mission with a number of loyal companions, but soon crash into the last wilderness in the empire. However, before crashing, they see the legend in the flesh, and Yukiko is able to communicate with it….

Strengths:

  • First and foremost, I have never heard of a setting like in Stormdancer. The fresh ideas of the book fueled a lot of my interest in it, and Kristoff definitely delivers on awesome new ideas.
  • I love tattoos, so the idea of an entire culture being symbolized by the tattoos that people adorned themselves with was pretty darn awesome.
  • Anytime a strong female overcomes tragedy and can communicate with legendary animals, there will be awesomeness. The action scenes that Kristoff is able to write when Yukiko and Buruu fight alongside each other are stunning.

Weaknesses:

  • Let’s start with the subject of some very negative Goodreads reviews. Apparently Stormdancer fails on the Japanese culture thing, though I’m not enough of an expert to really know. If you are informed about Japanese culture, apparently this book might piss you off a lot.
  • On a similar note, all of the japanese terms sprinkled in lead to a headache for people not used to them. I had a very poor visualization of the characters throughout the book because I had trouble remembering what different outfits and weapons looked like. When writing for an English speaking audience, it’s usually best to avoid needing to constantly info dump just to keep your reader knowledgable about what you’re talking about.
  • The setting was super depressing. Due to all the pollution, everyone is dying of cancer, and I mean everyone. This is fine to start with if things get less depressing, but I was just never happy when reading Stormdancer because I was being constantly reminded how much everything sucks. This is certainly useful to drive tension and plot sometimes, but there needs to be resolution as the main characters make things better. Maybe there will be in the later books, but Stormdancer was less exciting to read than I had hoped.

Summary:
While there are a number of things that make it clear that Kristoff is a new author, Stormdancer is still a very interesting book. The setting and ideas in it are captivating, and I hope that the rest of the trilogy improves on the flaws of the first book. I think people who like steampunk more than me will probably be more captivated by the various technologies, but apparently people with an interest in japanese culture cringed a lot while reading Stormdancer. Whether or not you like Stormdancer, though, I really think you should check out Kristoff’s blog because it is hilarious.

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Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings – A

 

 Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff