My Top 5 Vampire Novel Picks

I’m going to be so very totally honest here.

I don’t read a lot of Vampire books. I mean I’ve read more than 5, but, but less than like 15.

So, this was an interesting one to do, but I felt I ought to in light of Ghondatha, and just how much I enjoyed it!

5. Millenium Snow, Vol. 1


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GoodReads Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Chiyuki Matsuoka was born with heart problems, and her doctors say she won’t live to see the next snow. Toya is an 18-year-old vampire who hates blood and refuses to make the traditional partnership with a human, whose life-giving blood would keep them both alive for a thousand years.

Chiyuki makes the most of the time she has left, even though things aren’t that exciting–until she comes across a reluctant vampire late one chilly night. Can Chiyuki teach Touya to feel a passion for life, even as her own is ending?”

So, there are originally 2 volumes but they were incomplete and I’ve only found out today that she finished the other 2 volumes, so guess what got added to my reading list lol. Anyway, I love shojo manga and I think this one was just super cute. As I only read the first volume, that’s all that goes on my list! Again, I just thought this one was cute and sweet so, here we go, it made my list.

4. Interview with the Vampire


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GoodReads Blurb: This is the story of Louis, as told in his own words, of his journey through mortal and immortal life. Louis recounts how he became a vampire at the hands of the radiant and sinister Lestat and how he became indoctrinated, unwillingly, into the vampire way of life. His story ebbs and flows through the streets of New Orleans, defining crucial moments such as his discovery of the exquisite lost young child Claudia, wanting not to hurt but to comfort her with the last breaths of humanity he has inside. Yet, he makes Claudia a vampire, trapping her womanly passion, will, and intelligence inside the body of a small child. Louis and Claudia form a seemingly unbreakable alliance and even “settle down” for a while in the opulent French Quarter. Louis remembers Claudia’s struggle to understand herself and the hatred they both have for Lestat that sends them halfway across the world to seek others of their kind. Louis and Claudia are desperate to find somewhere they belong, to find others who understand, and someone who knows what and why they are.

Louis and Claudia travel Europe, eventually coming to Paris and the ragingly successful Theatre des Vampires–a theatre of vampires pretending to be mortals pretending to be vampires. Here they meet the magnetic and ethereal Armand, who brings them into a whole society of vampires. But Louis and Claudia find that finding others like themselves provides no easy answers and in fact presents dangers they scarcely imagined.

Originally begun as a short story, the book took off as Anne wrote it, spinning the tragic and triumphant life experiences of a soul. As well as the struggles of its characters, Interview captures the political and social changes of two continents. The novel also introduces Lestat, Anne’s most enduring character, a heady mixture of attraction and revulsion. The book, full of lush description, centers on the themes of immortality, change, loss, sexuality, and power.
[source: annerice.com]

I had to add this one to the list! Now there are definitely better-written novels out there but nothing beat the enjoyment I got out of reading this. I eventually hope to read the others in the series but I can’t say Vampire novels are my favorite so I don’t really rush them, I know I’ll get there in the end! [I’m also a sucker for this movie, and you know what, unashamedly I liked Queen of the Damned, so, you know, pfffft I’m allowed to have my questionable movie picks!]

3. Ghondatha


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GoodReads Blurb: 

The power to love.

The power to heed your own voice.

The power to hope in a world of blood and shadow.

Yesterday morning, most of Saphrona Melioska’s family was executed. Today, at dawn, she and her brother’s widow would have followed them to the block. But something changed.

Saphrona doesn’t know who paid for their sentence to be commuted, but by that act of kindness, she and her hearth sister are exiled to the remote island of Ghondatha, where Saphrona’s only relatives live.

She has nothing to take with her but the legacy of ten generations of master sculptors, a family name beloved in the world of Art, and her own credo: there is goodness and beauty in everything.

Upon their arrival at Ghondatha, however, Saphrona and Leigh find that even ageless Ghondatha is not what it once was. The island has a new liege-lord, a nobleman from the lavish Amkadan Empire, with deep pockets and extravagant ideas about progress.

All Lord Gideon Bloodstone requires is that the villagers obey three laws: no one may leave the island; all who are invited to his nightly masquerades must attend; and those who are not invited must mind the curfew and stay home.

Who is this man who has stolen the last familiar piece of life Saphrona has left in the world?

Someone who will change forever how she defines that which is good and beautiful.

Content Transparency Statement

1. This is hate-free fiction.

2. The Garden of Night Series contains:

(a) PG-13 rated sensuality

(b) R-rated violence

(c) Vampire characters. Some of them fall in love with humans. There will be talk of blood and biting one another.

I’d like to go on and on and on about this one, because if you’ve read my review you know I was so pleased with this read. I love it because it’s vampires with two different camps/mindsets. The Ferals and The Followers, and I love how unique Ayres has made her story, so, this was probably my best vampire read in a looooong time. If you haven’t read my review, click here.

2. The Den of Shadows Quartet


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GoodReads Blurb (From first book only): By day, Risika sleeps in shaded room in Concord, Massachusetts. By night, she hunts the streets of New York City. She is used to being alone.

But someone is following Risika. He has left her a black rose, the same sort of rose that sealed her fate three hundred years ago. Three hundred years ago Risika had a family- a brother and a father who loved her. Three hundred years ago she was human.
Now she is a vampire, a powerful one. But her past has come back to torment her.

I only took the GR Blurb from the first one because the Quartet blurb was like one sentence lol. Okay, so, I need peeps to hear me out on this one. This was the first vampire book I ever read and I don’t think I’ll ever cease to be impressed by it because when Atwater-Rhodes wrote this book she was… drumroll, please!

Thirteen.

That’s right, you read that right, 13. So when I read it when I was about 11/12, I was floored. Reading it now would I write it 5 cups? I’m not sure. But I probably would because I’ll never get over the fact of her age. Also for sentimental reasons I am really very fond of Atwater-Rhodes in general, what I didn’t know however is the Den of Shadows books are now beyond a quartet, looks like I’ll be adding more books to my reading list.

1. Dracula

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GoodReads Blurb: When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries in his client’s castle. Soon afterwards, disturbing incidents unfold in England: a ship runs aground on the shores of Whitby, its crew vanished; beautiful Lucy Westenra slowly succumbs to a mysterious, wasting illness, her blood drained away; and the lunatic Renfield raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘master’. In the ensuing battle of wills between the sinister Count and a determined group of adversaries – led by the intrepid vampire hunter Abraham van Helsing – Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing into questions of identity, sanity and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.

Uhhhhhh how could I not??

Like

How could I not? It still has to be number one on my list it’s the real MVP of Vampire novels, even if you don’t like it, I still like to think without it, we wouldn’t have some really kick-ass vampire books/movies/tv shows that we have today. [And we wouldn’t have Van Helsing, which, uh, I love Van Helsing] It’s not a read for everyone and if you’re like ‘nah, it’s totally boring’ that’s okay, you chuck it to the side. I will probably always have a soft spot for it though and can’t wait to give it a reread when October rolls around because that’s the sort of person I am lol.

So that’s my top 5 list, but, I’d love to hear what your fave Vampire picks are, and any recs you may have! Cause who doesn’t need to add a few more books to their TBR?!

[Sidenote: I have indeed read The Twilight series but I think aside from Den of Shadows it’s the only Vampire series I’ve read.]

[Salty] Mini Review Day

So tomorrow I’ll break it up a bit, do a meme, or a tag, and give you all some relief from reviews. I actually was hesitant on doing this today, but, I actually feel these reviews just need to get out because these last three reads have just made me salty and annoyed. And I finished another last night, so here we go, 3 books, one post!

First up

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A Fast Paced Espionage Thriller for Alan Furst Fans Sent In Post-Cold War Poland.

It is 1992 in Warsaw, Poland, and the communist era has just ended. A series of grisly murders suddenly becomes an international case when it’s feared that the victims may have been couriers smuggling nuclear material out of the defunct Soviet Union. The FBI sends an agent to help with the investigation. When he learns that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb has disappeared, the race is on to find him—and the bomb—before it ends up in the wrong hands.

Smith’s depiction of post-cold war Poland is gloomily atmospheric and murky in a world where nothing is quite as it seems. Suspenseful, thrilling, and smart, The Fourth Courier brings together a straight white FBI agent and gay black CIA officer as they team up to uncover a gruesome plot involving murder, radioactive contraband, narcissistic government leaders, and unconscionable greed.

Guess what this isn’t? A fast-paced espionage.  I mean there was a small hint of espionage that was overshadowed by the weirdly explicit sexual tones of this novel. I mean…really the whole book hinges on sex. Not espionage, not the cool ‘is there a bomb, who is gonna get it, whodunit’ stuff just ‘who dun who’ kind of stuff.

Here’s most of my GoodReads Review before I grumble more:

I did not care for Jay (the protagonist not the author lol) at all. All the characters were shallow which can happen in a plot-driven novel but the problem was that this was NOT a plot-driven novel as much as I thought it would be. There were also so many explicit scenes which just seemed like not useful to the book. It just felt so weird…

There is some LGBTQIA representation but not exactly in the best of lights. You have a suppressed soldier who feels guilty about his desire for men, a CIA man who uses his own sexuality on the job because he says ‘being gay is a tool’ and the women are just pure stereotypes.

I’m not saying there wasn’t anything enjoyable about the book, because it was to a degree, I just would hope for more. Such a neat idea, just not executed to my tastes I would have liked to see more about the actual plot.

[What I really mean is, I’m super disappointed because I had really high hopes for this and it’s just more misogynistic stuff and no espionage. I will have that put on my plaque when I die because damn it, I’m getting a plaque; ‘The Fourth Courier had no espionage.’]

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Onto the next bit of disappointment!!

[Actually, this next one was not as disappointing as the other two.]


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Ever since she was a little girl, growing up in the village of Abercolme on the wild coast of Scotland, Faye Morgan’s life has been steeped in the old ways – witchcraft, herbal lore and a blood connection to the dangerous and unpredictable world of Faerie.

But magic is both a gift and a burden, and Faye has more than paid the price of living between two worlds. Neither accepted by the villagers, nor welcome in the Faerie Kingdom of Murias after rebuffing the fickle and attractive Faerie warrior king, Finn Beatha, Faye runs from Abercolme, hoping to leave that life behind.

However, even in the twisted, cobbled streets of London, Faye finds her blood bond with Faerie won’t be broken. A Faerie War of the Elements is brewing and, though she doesn’t yet know it, Faye is fated to play a terrible part. If she is to survive, she must learn to embrace her own dark power and face Finn Beatha once more… but in doing so Faye will discover secrets in her own past that never should have been disturbed.

2.5/5, but rounded up to 3.

I received a free eARC via netgalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book is NOT YA. And that’s okay, but, it is certainly mislabeled when it is clearly an Adult Supernatural/fantasy romance novel. It is heavy on the love scenes, but, I don’t mind that, it was just not what I was expecting. Another thing to note, this is actually the second book in the series which I didn’t realize when I read the synopsis on NetGalley -and to be fair I don’t think it states that but if just looking it up on GoodReads will reveal it as second in a series-.

The book was entertaining and enjoyable, it was something that I also wished I had read the first book because I think that would have made things clearer but that was my own fault. The problems I have with the book have to do more with pacing, and wanting more depth out of Faye. I thought there was enough going between faeries and the real world to keep me interested and Faye’s friends are just fantastic. I also had a huge issue with was the fact that though Faye and Annie grew up in the same town, somehow Faye has no Scots to her speech while Annie has it in trifold.

I enjoyed the use of modern-day witchcraft and the shout out to Wiccans, that was nice, and I think that McKerrow did a great job capturing the darkness of the faerie court.

I hated Rav, I don’t know if I would have had more sympathy for him if I had read the first book but the things that Faye does for him just make me want to shake her. I think this will be judged harshly under the fact that it’s not YA and it will throw many off to see the amount of sex scenes. But I also felt like in the end I still wanted to like Finn, maybe because I felt he had excuses for his behaviour being a being that wasn’t human and wasn’t tied down to human morals. Either way, it was an enjoyable read once I reconciled what it was in comparison as to how it was labelled, and the 2.5 would have been a full 3 if there hadn’t been so much ridiculousness with Rav and Finn, and with the awkward pacing.

Pros:
-Great Friends
-Lovely way of modern-day witchcraft incorporation into the story
-Creepy dark faerie realms
-Set in rural Scotland and London so that was a nice difference in settings
-You could relate to her friends and even Faye herself at times though more with the friends
-Morgana is in it, so I’m already like: yes.
-Impossibly brutal faerie deals

Cons:
– You want to punch Rav in the face, and you want to punch Finn in the face
– Faye seems to have no Scottish accent but her friend does and they’re from the same place and grew up in the same place.
– The book itself is in the wrong genre and age range (NA/A Romance, not YA)
– Mallory. Ugh.
– The pacing will go fast and slow which is understandable with the actual timeline when you’re switching realms but not when you’re reading and it feels like someone’s messing with the gas pedal while driving.
-Rav really is a butthead. Finn is a butthead. Lyr is a butthead
-Why is Gabriel the only decent male?

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Love, Witchcraft, Sorcery, Madness. 

A fortune told …
When Sarah Stone foresees Will Shakespeare’s latest play has opened doors to evil, she begs the playwright to abandon it. But Will refuses, aware the play is one of his best. And so rehearsals for Macbeth begin. 

Forbidden desires …
After her vision, Sarah fears for her life – she has never known the shewstone to lie, and she turns to her brother Tom for comfort. A strange darkness seems to haunt the playhouse, and when Tom sets out to seduce John Upton, the boy actor who plays Lady Macbeth, the boy sees the hand of witchcraft in his own forbidden desires for men. Then Sarah weaves a spell to win the love of the new lead actor, and John, terrified for the safety of his soul, begins to make his accusations. 

The Spirits have spoken …
As rehearsals continue, Sarah and Tom must struggle to convince John he is mistaken and that his sins are his own – their lives and the fortune of the play are at stake. But the Spirits have spoken – will the fate that Sarah foresaw come to pass or is their destiny their own to decide? Set against the first production of Macbeth in 1606, Shakespeare’s Witch is a seductive tale of the origins of the curse of the Scottish Play.

I thought this would be a little sexy when I saw the seductive bit.

That was a vast understatement on my part. This is a romance erotica novel. And I thought it was just Historical fiction as the blurb I had been given was not the Good Reads one and I felt cheated by that other blurb, so really I may have the rating at 3 * until after a month and lower it back down. Sarah was boring, Tom was definitely the more interesting of the siblings and I found Nick to be boring too. John was actually quite scary in the way he let his own desires make him ready to condemn others to death just to assuage his own guilt and save his own soul.

But you want to know what really bothered me?

SHAKESPEARE WAS LIKE NOT REALLY IN IT EXCEPT FOR A VERY SMALL HANDFUL OF SCENES I THOUGHT THIS WAS ABOUT SHAKESPEARE’S WITCH. IT WAS THE WHOLE REASON I WANTED TO READ IT, AND I GOT BUPKIS!

BUPKIS I TELL YOU!

Spoiler below: Highlight to see.

The erotica part didn’t bother me once I got used to it. I just really felt uncomfortable with the incest and the child that resulted from it. It made me uncomfortable but if you see my GoodReads, I did at least state that the book is great for those that love this sort of book, I could understand the forbidden desire part, but it was a little too much for me. I wish it had come with some content warning, GoT is enough incest for me lol.

So, a bit of a slump for me this week. Please don’t let my reviews think I’m judging you all for reading these books or books like them. They’re just not for me and if they make you happy, I’m happy for you. I just need to read the Goodreads blurbs before requesting things from now on.

I’ve now immersed myself on twitter, so I’m off to go pretend to be productive some more.

Have you read books where you were really thrown by the content? What did you do? Did you finish or DNF?

Stardust Review

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This was my first Neil Gaiman novel! I know, insane that I haven’t read any of his works yet! I have Good Omens and American Gods on my list to read eventually but for now, I will have to suffice with just one novel. And let me tell you, I’m so happy I picked this one! I really enjoyed Gaiman’s style of writing and I was totally enamoured with the way he described the faerie world and I loved every single creature in it.

I do have a dirty secret to admit.

I saw the movie first, I didn’t know it was a book or who Neil Gaiman was at the time, I had been reading mostly The Mortal Instrument series, the Twilight series [where I threw the final book against the wall, but that’s a story for another time] and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and of course, graduating H.S. and starting Uni, so, I was a bit busy to notice the fact that Stardust was a novel when I first saw the film in 2007 [I told you all I was old].

Guess what?

love both the book and the movie. I thought the movie was a nice adaptation of it, and quite frankly I usually enjoy the movie versions of things…I can honestly say there’s only a handful of movie adaptations where I’m like ready to fight them on it.

Neil Gaiman does a great job with faerie tales from what I hear and this proved it to be true thus far at least in this novel for me. I cheered Tristan on as much as I did in the movie and I think I did like the book’s final scene between the Witch Queen and the Star better than the movie if I were going to nitpick anything.

I don’t want to give too much away and I really think the book speaks for itself, Tristan Thorn goes off to find a star as the woman he loves asks of him, and along the way he explores the faerie world and learns to become part of something that’s more than the town of Wall.

The book was also very quotable, though I think this was my favorite quote as someone who is constantly filled with wanderlust:

Have been unavoidably detained by the world. Expect us when you see us.”

I also read a version which gave a cute tiny short story about a girl and Wall and I hope someday Neil Gaiman decides to give us more from Wall and Tristan Thorn, I know he had plans too but, I think we all know this is one BUSY man!

Truth be told I also would have no complaints if he ever decided to write a book solely about the Witch’s servant [not giving anything away for those who haven’t read it, so sorry for using such vague terms for both those who haven’t read it and those who have].

If you’re looking for a book where you can just get lost in a faerie tale and it’s not filled with modern complexities but still has a modern feel, I would really recommend this. [I love modern retellings but sometimes it’s nice to have something more along the vein of the old faerie tales but, hey, I love everything usually lol]

Yet another five cups of coffee from me, and I can’t wait to read my next Neil Gaiman novel…but…*Stares at her NetGalley list* Well, it could be a while!

Tomorrow, expect mini-reviews for The Fourth Courier and Queen of Sea and Stars both who I have major bones to pick with lol.

My Top 5 Mystery Picks

Another Monday! There will be a day of Mini Reviews this week, I finished a couple and didn’t feel like only having review posts so I’m shoving some eARCs together while Stardust will get its own review post. But for now….

TIME TO GET OUR MYSTERY ON

These are in no particular order, I love them all, I’m a mystery lover.

5. Loves Music, Loves to Dance


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This was the first ‘proper’ mystery [and kind of a thriller] that I read, stepping away from the loving childhood mysteries like Hank the Cowdog the crime sleuthing ranch dog. Anyway, this isn’t a literary masterpiece but it was absolutely entertaining and terrifying to read for me. I remember reading this and having to keep the light on afterwards, jumping at the sounds in the night [let me also let you all know that I’m a huge scaredy cat, I was convinced I was going to get brutally murdered because I watched too much Law and Order SVU too much in my teens so don’t use me as a gage on how scary something is]. There’s a serial killer targeting women through the personals in the newspapers, and his signature is always the same, but will our detective be able to solve the crime, or will she be another victim?

4. The Comforters


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So! This was a new author for me! I just read her first novel The Comforters, as all Scottish libraries have received new centenarian editions of her novels like the one pictured. I really want to read more of her, this one was so quirky and I loved it, it was a more modern sounding Agatha Christie though they were really almost contemporaries as their timelines did cross. She also doesn’t seem to make religious jibes which was pretty brave for a female author at the time, so, I ended up having quite a lot of respect for her. If you’re an Agatha Christie fan, you may like her, but they’re definitely two different authors!

3. The Hounds of Baskervilles


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I had to add some Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the mix. I loved reading this book in English class in HS, and I’ve seen like ever variation of Sherlock Holmes that exists except for like 2, and that’s not for lack of trying! I really do believe that there is something great about Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, a man who isn’t weighed down by the certain aspects of humanity that usually make for a great protagonist, and instead of making the book ‘worse’ it’s one of the reasons most people love it. I also can’t help but love Dr. Watson, I would say this is also a good first Sherlock Holmes book for those looking to get into it, and I do know that some people can find it a bit wordy. Not difficult, just tedious perhaps.

2. Dead Man’s Blues


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I have recently gushed over this one and if you’re interested in it, I went ahead and linked my review to it. This had it all for me, jazz, Louis Armstrong, murder, historical fiction with a lot of good research about the Mafia in Chicago at the time (as well as just being ON point with the music history as well). The structure of the book even tries to replicate a jazz song. [For those curious, my grad work was all about jazz music in WWI and WWII in the U.K. and Paris, so, super fan girl] This was better than its predecessor The Axeman’s Jazz though I did really enjoy that too, and you don’t need to read it if you want to read this one, the characters are the same but any mention of the first book is explained so you’re not left scratching your head. Not to mention it doesn’t hurt that Ray Celestin is friendly and so helpful with answering questions!

1. Murder on the Orient Express


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Hahaha did you all think I wasn’t going to add her, or did you think it was going to be 5 Agatha Christie books? Oh, there’ll be a top 5 Agatha Christie books but not this post, and I actually wanted to put two but felt it was unfair as the other books on this list are great too. So, I’ve chosen Murder on the Orient Express for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s one of her most iconic books and I do absolutely love it. Secondly, this book is not at all like her others as far as the ending goes and so for those two reasons it beat out Death on the Nile for my pick for this list. She’s our Queen of Mystery and this was part of her Golden Age. I love Hercule Poirot the most out of her different series. Ms. Marple is definitely a badass but, I always enjoy the Poirot novels more. Christie also does some awesome short stories and standalone novels as well and you never have to read the other Poirots to pick up any of them which is great.

So there you all have, my top 5 mystery pics!! As you’re reading this, I’m probably at Captain Marvel, so…

Toodles!

Charity Shop Finds!

It’s time for another Charity Shop Fiiiiiinds!

I know it probably seems like these are weekly, the truth of the matter is that it probably is a regular occurrence for us, but, when you have a family of three and are trying to save but still want to be able to go out and not spend a fortune, this is what ends up happening.

On the plus side, I’ve made it my goal to tackle my donate TBR after pushing through my eARCs which, I’m doing okay with my pace, so, I’m hoping this summer will be the tackling of my physical TBR! [*laughs at self, knowing I’ll keep requesting on NetGalley*]

Hubs had a day off this week and we went out to buy me a jacket, but popped into a couple of charity shops to kill time, we ended up with these finds:

  • James Stewart Biography (3.25) [He is my favorite actor. Ever.]
  • Ben-Hur .50P
  • The Lady Midnight .50P [This has some faded sprayed edges but in otherwise good condition, but I’m too lazy to put photos of these as they’ve already been put away]

Then this weekend we got:

  • The Alienist [I had borrowed it from the library when I read it, but it was part of a sale, 3 for 1.50]
  • Sparkling Cyanide 3 for 1.50
  • And Then There Were None 3 for 1.50
  • Artemis Fowl 3 for 1.50
  • Kidnapped 3 for 1.50
  • Little Women 3 for 1.50 [This one completed my daughter’s set of classics!]
  • The Bear and the Nightingale 1.00
  • Gulliver’s Travels 2.00 [We liked this copy better and will donate our other copy next weekend!]
  • Ever After High 2.00 [Daughter fled with that one so no pic of it lol]
  • The Good Women of China 1.00
  • A History of Scotland 1.00
  • Frankenstein .50P
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea .50P
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes .50P
  • The Secret Garden .50P

So, we spent about 12.00!

It’s going to be a long March Haul post when I get to it…

Descendant of the Crane eARC Review

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GoodReads:

Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.

Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?”

It’s rare that I find myself so completely infatuated with a book. I gush about a few, sure, but I mean this one was the sort that from the first chapter you knew you were reading something quite amazing.

Not only does it engage you in the first chapter but there was not one character that I wasn’t completely interested in, there were no slumps or any boring filling, it was pure gold from start to finish. Usually, I do a pros and cons list when I write a review on my blog and this time the cons will be superfluous ones. I’m sure there are faults but anything that might have stood out to me didn’t due to beautiful prose and quite talented world-building skills. But more than anything, Joan He had a way of making you feel for her characters in a way that I really hadn’t in probably over a decade of reading.

This isn’t a ‘Chinese-inspired Game of Thrones.’ This is an amazing work of fiction all on its own, He’s story is her own with no shadows of GoT and she can clearly stand on her own two feet without such a comparison needed. I would dare say her story even had more heart than GoT and I’m a big fan of those books, but really, Descendant of the Crane is this incredible fantasy book that contains the sort of world that we don’t have enough of in books.

Hesina was relatable the whole way through, even if you didn’t agree with her decisions, you could completely understand why she made her choices. The love between her and her father also made me super emotional at times to the point where I was like ‘who is this person reading this’ I can connect with books and I’ll feel things lol I’m soulless [inserted another ginger joke, go me], not emotionless, but, it was just the exact sort of feelings I could connect with.

Pros:
– I love every single one of those nuggets in the book
– Mei kicks so much butt
– Hesina and her Father’s love
– Hesina and her siblings
– The politics are pretty much exactly the kind of horror you’d imagine in their time or our own, it’s very believable to the readers (well, to me)
– Akira

Cons:
– Could have been more Akira
– THAT ENDING THO (It’s not a con, just an OMG)
– Why wasn’t this book longer?
– My Soul is broken
-What do you do to me, Joan He?
– This book will destroy your soul and break your heart (maybe her and Wilson talked about the ways they could break hearts while writing their novels, Idk)
– Omg my heart

^ These are notes from my journal while reading it. So, take what you will, I really couldn’t come up with cons for it.

This was my first read for YARC2019!! Yay! And man what a great first read for the challenge! Also if you’re like ‘man I need to read this book now, here’s my info about what you get if you Preorder: Descendant of the Crane Preorder [Note: Bookmarks are all gone but you receive 5 character cards instead of four as compensation for the bookmarks being gone. Also, depending on when you read this, this offer may no longer be available, but as of me writing this on March 15, the preorder was still live and the form open. This giveaway is open internationally and does include library requests!]

I felt honored in being able to read an eARC of this and I’m grateful for the chance to read such an amazing book. This was also my first buddy read and it was a lot of fun! Of course, this is all my own opinion and others will not feel the same but, I stick by what I’ve said. It’s quickly been shelved on my favorites on GR and I will be closely watching for anything else Joan He will come out with from now on.

**I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion**

 

The Bird King eARC Review

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GoodReads: 

– …Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret—he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

So you all just saw this yesterday, but, surprise! I’m waiting until Saturday to review Descendant of the Crane and I have another review already scheduled for tomorrow, so here we go, two days in a row of The Bird King.

I really couldn’t explain why I liked this book as much as I did, I mean other than because in my opinion it was a really good book but if I were to give out a list of reasons, I’m not sure what would go on those. Wilson has a flowery sort of prose that’s really lovely to read, so that’s one, but I think the main reason would be because her characters are so beautifully human (the ones that are human!).

They are beautiful, selfish, ugly, kind, pious and sinning, and they are wonderfully flawed each and every one.

Think about it, a protagonist who is selfish but yet selfless and it isn’t grating on your nerves or made to feel fake. That said, I think it’s great because Wilson has decided to give you a protagonist that you can choose to love or hate but that will still make the story powerful.

The antagonist is frightening because of just how real they are and I always find those always make the best ‘villains’ the ones that are too plausible.

Fatima’s best friend Hassan is gay, and in the 1400s, well, it was the sort of thing the Inquisition could ‘get you’ for. But more than that, as I don’t want to spoil anything I’ll not say more about Hassan, there is this great feeling of fluidity when it comes to the sexuality of the characters.  I would say Fatima herself is maybe even more pansexual than anything? [Think Jack Harkness, she likes what she likes, but this isn’t really a romance novel]

^ Speaking on that last []^ It was a freakin’ BLESSING for me to read a story that didn’t try to force a romance down my throat, I mean with Descendant of the Crane that book was amazing, start to finish, and did its romance right as well but I’ve had this slump with people trying to force romances [I’m looking at you Ready Player One] and this was great for me. You are getting to know a different sort of love. A love of a friendship that just made my heart swell.

Wilson writes a fanciful historical fiction set during the Inquisition, the Spaniards, Granada, a Jinn (or more possibly? No spoilers), monsters human and not, adventure, loss, and the price of freedom with the worth of freedom as well. Poignant and with such a feel of humanity for better or worse, this book was well worth the read.

I would say that you have to be ready for this book, to go on this journey because I think if you’re not ready for it, it might be the reason it’ll drag for you.

I know some complained about pacing but I think because I like this sort of pacing in novel it wasn’t an issue for me, I didn’t think it went slowly but you do go from a sort of ‘frantic’ part to I guess could be seen as a lull but to me it was still on the edge of my seat type of thing. The Bird King is beautifully written and it was another great read for me, so, it’s been a nice group of great books.

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

**Content Warning:** Death, violence, and the chance the book will rip your heart out and stomp on it. But you know, no biggie.