My favorite genre is fantasy, and I mean all fantasy. Old school fantasy, YA fantasy, modern fantasy, the whole thing.
Why? Fantasy is my favorite because it allows me to escape into different worlds and it makes magic real. Existence can be really dull or quite frankly disappointing sometimes, but being able to tuck in to a good fantasy novel distracts the brain from boring every day life. I’m able to be a wizard, a hobbit, or a knight. I can take part in something I would never be able to experience in reality.
I’ve been in love with fantasy since I can remember. My dad would read The Hobbit to me every Christmas season. My grandmother was obsessed with fairies and dragons, she had the funky old hippy statues that they’d sell in tourist shops that depict fantasy characters. Growing up I had a wild imagination and I loved pretending like I was magical, I can remember playing outside and just letting my imagination go.
As I got older I started to really appreciate the genre and branch out. I truly believe Tolkien was what made me decide to pursue English and writing in college. The way he wrote and the depth that he created was something I wanted, and still want. I want to be able to create the world that I made up as a child on paper. That’s the best part of fantasy, dreams can be brought to life.
Do you like Fantasy? What’s your favorite genre? Let me know in the comments.
Have you ever heard of a book becoming a video game, and then, a Netflix series? I hadn’t until I watched The Witcher.
Geralt, The White Wolf and The Butcher of Blaviken is a brooding monster hunter imbued with magical powers. This series is like if Game of Thrones had a ton more monsters.
The Last Wish is technically an anthology of stories about Geralt before the happenings in the Blood of Elves. I had bought The Last Wish thinking that it was the first book, needless to say I was confused but I figured it out. In this book we follow Geralt and learn why he is called The Butcher of Blaviken. We also get to learn why him and the sorceress Yennefer are bound by fate. But the single most important detail that we discover in this book is how Geralt gains Ciri as his child surprise. Ciri is a character that will become much more important in later novels.
“Evil is Evil. Lesser, greater, middling… Makes no difference. The degree is arbitary. The definition’s blurred. If I’m to choose between one evil and another… I’d rather not choose at all.”
The quote above is something that follows Geralt his entire life. In the Netflix series it haunts him and helps him decide what his next move and, this idea of evil is evil, is solidified in his actions. He makes a wrong move and is forced to decide and it ends badly for him. I enjoy this quote because it makes Geralt more human. He is one of the least human, beings, in this book. All of his humanity is stripped from him and he’s given powers that no human should have. Yet, Geralt is not shy about showing that he cares and deep down he is a human at heart.
This book does a good job of weaving fairy tales from our world into Geralt’s world. There are clear references to Beauty and the Beast and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. In fact, my favorite of the stories in this book is the Beauty and the Beast story. Sapkowski takes these fairy tales and turns them dark. There is always a twist. To me, it meant that life isn’t supposed to be a fairy tale, with every beautiful thing there is an ugly underside. It really fascinated me. There is even the quote,
“There’s a grain of truth in every fairytale…”
Sapkowski does a good job of making fairy tales feel real within the constraints of his fantasy story.
I was a little lost here and there because it’s not a linear story line. These are just tales to enhance your reading of the main series. I was learning about events and people that I still am yet to be introduced to even though I’m about 100 pages into the first book. But this book is what the Netflix series is mostly composed of. So if you are interested in The Witcher because of Netflix this is a really good place to start.
All in all, I’m not knocked off my feet but I can tell that this series is going to be outstanding. Geralt is such a promising anti-hero and the adventure is there. I know this series is already well loved but I think with the implementation of a Netflix series this will be able to stand to series’ like Game of Thrones.
My family and I have decided to self-quarantine for the sake of the elderly and compromised people around us. So to make the situation seem a little brighter I’m going to list some of my quarantine reads.
The Fiery Crown by Jeffe Kennedy
“A desperate alliance. A struggle for survival. And a marriage of convenience with an epic twist of fate come together in Jeffe Kennedy’s The Fiery Crown.
WILL THEIR LOVE STAND THE TEST OF TIME
Queen Euthalia has reigned over her island kingdom of Calanthe with determination, grace, and her magical, undying orchid ring. After she defied an empire to wed Conrí, the former Crown Prince of Oriel―a man of disgraced origins with vengeance in his heart―Lia expected the wizard’s prophecy to come true: Claim the hand that wears the ring and the empire falls. But Lia’s dangerous bid to save her realm doesn’t lead to immediate victory. Instead, destiny hurls her and Conrí towards a future neither could predict…
OR TEAR THEIR WHOLE WORLD APART?
Con has never healed after the death of his family and destruction of his kingdom―he’s been carefully plotting his revenge against his greatest enemy, Emperor Anure, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. When Lia’s spies gather intelligence suggesting that Anure is planning an attack against Calanthe, Con faces an agonizing choice: Can he sacrifice Lia and all she holds dear to destroy the empire? Or does his true loyalty exist in the arms of his beguiling, passionate wife―’til death do they part?”
(Description from Amazon)
I am currently reading this and I am enjoying it so far. I recently reviewedTheOrchid Throne, the first book in the Forgotten Empires series. Jeffe Kennedy is a wonderful author that cares about their fans. So I will absolutely be promoting this series.
Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
“The Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, becomes the guardian of Ciri, surviving heiress of a bloody revolution and prophesied savior of the world, in the first novel of the New York Times bestselling series that inspired the Netflix series and the blockbuster video games.For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over, and now the races are fighting once again. The only good elf, it seems, is a dead elf. Geralt of Rivia, the cunning assassin known as the Witcher, has been waiting for the birth of a prophesied child. This child has the power to change the world — for good, or for evil. As the threat of war hangs over the land and the child is hunted for her extraordinary powers, it will become Geralt’s responsibility to protect them all. And the Witcher never accepts defeat.”
(Description from Amazon)
I finished The Last Wish a little while ago, which is an anthological style prequel novel about a few of Geralt’s adventures. I haven’t written my review yet but I’ll link it here when I do. The Blood of Elves is technically book 1, so I read it out of order. I think, the order is confusing. Anyway I started Blood of Elves and it starts off a bit slow but I am starting to get to the exciting bits.
The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey
“In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well. Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, who believes in fairytales that her world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside. But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained. Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight. One way or another, the walls of the Blue are going to come down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do.”
(Description from Amazon)
Josie Jaffrey is offering this book for free currently, and is sharing it with those who may be in quarantine over Twitter. She seemed really sincere and the book sounds interesting so I think I will give it a try.
Havenfall by Sara Holland
“A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it–at any cost. New York Times bestselling author Sara Holland crafts a breathtaking new contemporary fantasy perfect for fans of Melissa Albert and Holly Black.
Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds–each with their own magic–together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.
For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.
But this summer, the impossible happens–a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie–no one can be trusted, and no one is safe . . .”
(Description from Amazon)
I stumbled upon this one and it sounds really fascinating. Hoping to get my hands on this one very soon!
The Orchid Throne is part fantasy, part drama, part romance, and these three components are brought together in a way that even a romance hater such as myself enjoyed. This one is not for the faint of heart, and is sure to have something in store for everyone.
We find ourselves dropped into a story of war. Conri is the former prince of a kingdom destroyed by Anure, His Emperial Majesty. Conri seeks vengeance and the desire to bring down Anure himself, a seemingly impossible task. Coincidentally, a prophesy foretells that Anure can be brought down by the abiding ring which is now worn by Queen Euthalia who is betrothed to Anure. Conri finds himself struggling to find his way to get his hands on the abiding ring. Will he take it by force? Or through a game of hearts?
What I love about this story most of all is the clashing and coming together of characters. Each character has their strengths and each character has weaknesses, everyone who is important is well rounded and thought out. I have noticed that oftentimes romance novels lack well rounded character, but not the case for this one. My favorite character is Sondra, second in command to Conri. She has a fire in her that can’t be tamed and I love it. She is brutally honest and not one to trifle with. Here is a quote about her that I love,
“Then she lifted that burning, raging gaze to mine again. “But not for despair. The bloodline of Oriel lives in you. Long live the king,””
While Sondra is sure of herself, Conri is not. I enjoy that parallel. He is kind of a bungling idiot who just happens to be an expert at combat. Conri feels very unique to me and his rapport with Queen Euthalia is magnificent, both hilarious and steamy. It was unexpected.
Mentioning Sondra and Conri, I feel I must mention Queen Euthalia. She emits such power and grace, in a way she reminds me Daenerys from Game of Thrones, she is a force to be reckoned with. I severely underestimate her in the beginning. She seems like a scared girl but after reading this quote I realize I am mistaken,
“With one last survey of the assembly, letting the moment stretch out, a small public flexing of my power—never let them forget they sit and stand with your permission—I finally lifted a hand, granting them the opportunity to rest themselves.”
She exudes power and knows how to flex it. Euthalia keeps a tight court and I find her character very admirable. Characters like hers are very important in novels. She is not evil but she knows when to crack the whip.
Kennedy nails the imagery in this novel. queen Euthalia has visions throughtout the novel and they are haunting and beautiful. The first one that caught my eye is this,
The wolf fought its chains, howling in hoarse rage, shedding fire and ash. The sea churned, bloodred and crimson dark, bones tossed in the waves, white as foam.
I can see what Euthalia sees in her visions and I can feel her fear. Not to mention that this is a beautiful foreshadowing of events to come. I also enjoy that it paints the slave king a certain way and then you are forced to see him in a different light later in the novel.
Something interesting and possibly unrelated but Queen Euthalia’s land is named Calanthe. I am currently reading The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski and a Queen in his novel is named Calanthe. I’m curious to know whether or not Kennedy drew inspiration from Sapkowski or if it’s a simple coincidence.
Another fun tidbit is the weapon in The Orchid Throne called a bagiroca. The whole time I was reading about the bagiroca, I was like what the hell is that? Well, I looked it up and it led me to an article by Jeffe Kennedy titled Where is a Weapons Dictionary when You Need One?. In short, the bagiroca is made up by Kennedy. Bag-i-roca, bag of rocks, that’s what I got from it. The article is funny and relatable so that’s why I linked it.
My only gripe is that The Orchid Throne is still a bit predictable. This makes me very sad because it is an unfortunate trope that romance novels tend to lean towards the predictable side. But, I do not want this to deter you because what it lacks in surprise it makes up for in hilarity and fun. Not all books have to twist and turn at every corner. This one is good entertainment.
I give The Orchid Throne 4/5 stars. While, it is not flawless it is a fun read and I have already recommended it to one of my friends. Romance lovers and haters alike can find something to enjoy in this novel, trust me. The Orchid Throne is out now and I’m currently reading the sequel The Fiery Crown set to release the 26th of May 2020. Check out The Orchid Throne and keep and eye out for my soon-to-be published review of The Fiery Crown. Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Jeffe Kennedy for allowing me the opportunity to read this novel.
My all-time favorite author is J.R.R. Tolkien. I consider him the grandfather of the fantasy genre and his fantasy writing is something that can’t be copied.
Tolkien is a master at world building. Middle Earth has an extensive history including multiple ages, several languages, and various races of beings. Tolkien is able to juggle the world of Middle-Earth in a way that I haven’t seen done before or since. Tolkien was a linguist and knew at least 16 languages, and created about 15. He takes these languages and imbues the races of Middle Earth with them. He created the beautiful rolling Elvish language and the harsh and terrifying Black Speech. Tolkien’s ability to dedicate himself to one world and add the depth that he did is something to be admired.
Tolkien also creates characters you want to root for. My favorite of his characters being Samwise Gamgee, the stubborn and loving sidekick to Frodo Baggins. There is something fascinating to me about an author who can create characters as terrifying as the Uruk-hai and then some as lovable as the Hobbits. He also manages to touch the depths of evil without making his story gory or explicit.
Tolkien’s writing style is wholesome but not silly. When you enter Middle-Earth you aren’t entering a world of sex and murder like a lot of fantasy novels. You are entering a world held together by friendship and the struggle between good and evil. I enjoy this because it allows Tolkien to focus entirely on the adventure and the bonds a fellowship creates, without worrying about how the violence or sex scenes will sound to the reader.
Tolkien also does a great job of expressing love between his characters. We have the love between the fellowship in The Lord of The Rings, which prompts a massive search and rescue mission for Merry and Pippin, we also have the love between Aragorn and Arwen which has spanned such a long time. Setting The Lord of The Rings aside we can also see Tolkien’s great care for love in The Hobbit between Bilbo and his new Dwarf friends, or in the tale of Beren and Lúthien. In fact, Tolkien compared his wife to Lúthien and on their gravestones they are respectively named Beren and Lúthien.
I hold Tolkien’s writing dear to my heart. He is my inspiration to read and write. Thanks to his books I chose to pursue English/Writing in college.
Who is your favorite author? Do you also like Tolkien? Let me know in the comments!
Have you ever read a book where you just could not decide if it was for you or not? Then it won you over right there at the very end? That’s how it was reading The Blacksmith Queen.
This book is about a woman named Keeley who is prophecized to become the new queen after the Old King’s death. To make it brief the Old King has died and his bloodthirsty sons are killing each other off to claim the throne. Keeley and her sister are both prophecized as the potential queens. In a wild twist of event Keeley’s sister turns against her and Keeley is faced with battling not only the King’s sons but her bloodthirsty kin.
I have got to say that this book is a little cheesy and I had a hard time getting through it. The main character, Keeley, her last name is Smythe, can you guess what she does for a living? Yes, she’s a blacksmith, hence The Blacksmith Queen. If that doesn’t make you cringe just a little her father’s last name is Farmerson, and yes, he is a farmer. The names in this book were not everything that made it cheesy, there is campy humor spread throughout the books and sometimes the dialogue is a bit off-putting. Here is an example between Keeley and a centaur named Quinn about a horse who’s offspring was killed in a previous battle.
Quinn studied the gray mare and the saddle on her back. “If she’s not your horse, then what is she?”
“A mother looking for justice.”
I just thought this was a little over the top and reminded me of a really bad action movie. I pictured Tom Cruise holding patting the horse while dramatically proclaiming the horse’s desire for revenge.
There’s also an awkward sex scene that I found off-putting. I honestly really don’t want to go into it, here is a weird quote from a romantic gesture between the two. Sorry, it might be a small spoiler so if you’re interested in the “mysterious” love arc to skip this quote and the following paragraph.
A hand pressed against his hindquarter and he recognized Keeley’s touch.
Yes… the romance is between Keeley and a centaur. It’s a little strange but also pretty cute. I am not going to hate on the love story, it felt a little awkward to me but maybe that’s just the way I interpreted it.
Okay now that I have gotten that off of my chest let’s move on to what endeared me to this story. The characters are badass. Keeley is awesome, her sister Gemma is stone cold, and their cousin Keran is a drunken disaster that I enjoyed every second of. This book is extremely explicit when it comes to the battle sequences, punches are not held and there will likely be scenes that turn your stomach a little.
Keeley is such an interesting character. She loves her family above all and is capable of making friends with the strangest of beings and animals. This includes demon wolves, a vengeful mare, and grumpy centaurs. Her ability to be likable while also being stubborn and flawed made her feel very well rounded and interesting. She is the kind of character you want to win because she doesn’t want the power she just wants to help those she cares about.
I struggled to read this book in the beginning and I don’t want that to deter anyone because it gets better. The cheesiness and oftentimes awkward dialogue are worth it because the characters are loveable and the plot is quite interesting.
I was originally going to give this book 3/5 stars but after reading the ending and doing some reflection I have deemed it worthy of 4/5 stars. This book captured my attention and with the flaws taken with a grain of salt, it is quite funny and ambitious. It seems that this is the debut of a series and I look forward to the next installment.
As always thank you to NetGalley and a big thank you to and Kensington Books for giving me access to this book.
How far would you go to save your sister? Would you kill a stranger? A friend? In Tammi’s novel The Weight Of A Soul Fressa is faced with those questions when her sister mysteriously winds up dead in the forest by her village. Set in the times of vikings we are thrown into a plot that is ever more complicated due to the mysterious Norse gods that Fressa meets along her journey.
Fressa is given the near impossible task to find a soul that weighs the same as her sister’s so that Hela can retrieve her from Valhalla. Time is running out as Fressa’s parents, the aloof chief and chieftess of the village pressure Fressa to marry her sister;s betrothed. Fressa struggles with the loss of her sister and the fear of betraying her love,
I struggled deciding how I was going to rate this novel. I will be honest the pacing is very slow and it was not the grand adventure I expected. Almost the entirety of the novel takes place in the small village where Fressa lives. To me it was a little bit boring to stay in the same place for so long, the same setting played over and over. For a fantasy novel to really stick out the setting has to be unique in some way, I didn’t feel a particular draw to the landscape. I kept waiting for this novel to take me to places I had never seen, and the one place it does take you to is seriously lacking in the detail department. So that was a little disappointing.
Something Tammi handles really well is grief. When Fressa finds her sister dead you can feel the Earth shattering pain that Fressa feels and you can see her depression thicken around her like a cloud. This is important because it helps us to understand Fressa’s descent as a human, she becomes a cold-hearted killer. She sinks low and is constantly trying to work out who is worthy to take her sister’s place in Valhalla, strangers become enemies and friends become potential victims. Everywhere Fressa turns a deadline is looming and her desperation grows.
In my head I went back and forth about whether I thought that the Norse mythology was used effectively or not. The gods play an important role in this novel and the symbolism is outstanding, but to me the gods themselves felt a little flat. Most history/mythology buffs know who Hela, Loki, and Odin are so I can understand why Tammi may have lightened their character development, but to me they came off as uninteresting. I was very excited for the mythological angle, but it left me wanting.
As I dug through this novel I was constantly debating with myself over whether this book is a 4 star rating or not, and the ending almost convinced me. The ending really wraps the story together and gives it a warm feeling, but it was also a little bit predictable. I absolutely did not dislike this novel, in fact it was quite good, but it had some boxes that needed filling to satisfy my reading expectations and it didn’t do that.
This book is a solid 3/5 stars. If there was a continuation of some kind I would read it out of curiosity, but I won’t be adding it to the top of my TBR pile.
This book is different than what I usually review, but as a Tolkien fan I was drawn into the exploration of who Tom Bombadil truly is.
This book is a theoretical idea speculating about who Tom Bombadil is and how Sauron’s desire for the ring was like an addiction. I can tell that a lot of research went into this publication and I found it fascinating.
The first point that I found interesting was their comparison of Sauron to a Hungry Ghost in Bhuddism. He is like an emaciated creature who’s only desire is possession of the ring but his appetite can never be quenched. I found this to be a good comparison because it really delves into who Sauron is at the core. Tolkien leaves a lot to speculation and I think it is important for Tolkien enthusiasts to dig into the motivations and habits of each character. It gave me a different view of Sauron and sort of makes me pity him.
Creeping past Sauron we entered what I was truly curious about, Tom Bombadil. If you don’t know who he is it’s probably because he isn’t in the Peter Jackson movie. He is a mysterious being in the books, and no one can really define who he is. But this book speculates, and the hypothesis makes a lot of sense. The authors wrote that we can envision Tom Bombadil as the antithesis to Sauron, and I thought that was clever.
They also offer up two different definitions for who Tom Bombadil could be. They state,
“Tom has answered Frodo’s “Who are you?” question in two ways: In terms of identity, Tom’s true name is silence. Simultaneously, in relationship to Frodo – and , indeed , to all others – we shall see that he is called Eldest.”
This is a good representation of his character because it is not an easy answer, if that makes sense. Tom Bombadil is complex and one answer would never work. He is the silence you experience when you are just being, and he is the Eldest because he watched Middle Earth become what it is. He takes two forms and only one being corporeal. We can’t fathom who he is because he is unfathomable.
My issue with this particular book is that it is extremely repetitive and unnecessarily wordy. It’s already a short read but could be quite shorter. Old points are brought up again and again, then sentences are reworded three different ways. Not only was that kind of annoying but it caused me to lose interest. It took me a little over an hour to read and probably could take less if points weren’t constantly reiterated.
All in all, the speculation is great, but the execution could be better. I give The Lure of The Ring 3/5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for allowing me to access this content. An extra thank you to BooksGoSocial for giving me my first Auto Approval!