Favorite Fantasy Books: The First Half Of 2019

Hey guys, I meant to post this yesterday. I like alliteration.

Unfortunately, I also like doing absolutely nothing.

Guess which one won out, hahaha….yea I was lazy.

Okay so I decided this was only going to be about books released this year that I’ve read thus far as it’s just over the halfway point so what better time?

Alright, let’s get these down, in no particular order.

 

6. The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston

 


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GoodReads:

Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe’s world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers a book charting this immense no-man’s land, without time or place, its thirteen doors each leading to a different realm. Hunted by sinister foes, the boy is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What will he find at the labyrinth’s centre, and can it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs? 

Crossing through diverse landscapes from Victorian Britain to fifties New Orleans, The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston is inspired by the internationally famous house and gardens dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’ by the Sunday Times. 

It is a classic YA tale of adventure that introduces readers to an otherworld hiding in plain sight, cloaked in magic and steeped in imagined history. Yet beyond its fearsome huntsmen and battling magicians dwells the secret that lies within all of us – the power to live extraordinary lives.

 

 

5. The Ice House

 


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GoodReads:

WAR DOESN’T END. IT SLEEPS.

Delphine Venner is old, but she remembers everything.

She remembers what it is to be a child of war, she remembers fighting for her life and what the terrifying creatures from another world took from her all those years ago. She remembers the gateway, and those she lost.

And in that other world, beast-filled and brutal, someone waits for her. Hagar, a centuries-old assassin, daily paying a terrible price for her unending youth, is planning one final death: that of her master, the Grand-Duc. A death that will cost her everything. A death that requires Delphine.

Voyaging into this violence and chaos, Delphine must remember who she really is and be ready to fight, before war reawakens. But in the battle to destroy an ageless evil, will both worlds be saved – or will every mortal creature lose everything?

 

 

4. Dark Shores

 

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GoodReads:

High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, the first novel in a new YA fantasy series.

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A PIRATE WITH A WILL OF IRON

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences. 

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world. 

A DANGEROUS QUEST

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.

 

 

3. Soul of the Sword

 

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GoodReads:

One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.

 

 

2. Descendant of the Crane

 

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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, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

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

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.

 

 

1. Crown of Feathers

 

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GoodReads:

I had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

 

All of these books have enraptured me and while delighting me they’ve also possibly broken my heart. *Glares at Joan He and Nicki Pau Preto in particular*

Two of these are the second books in series, the rest are either first or standalone and anyone of these I would highly recommend to a fantasy lover ❤

My gushing fan-girl squeal filled posts can be found by clicking on the links on the titles of the books.

I’ll have some new Charity Finds for you all tomorrow, and closing in on my second Comparing Notes soon-ish, it’ll be over Stalking Jack the Ripper.

In the meantime….what are some of your fantasy faves of 2019 so far? Anything you recommend?

 

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**

 

Descendant of the Crane Preorder

[Images belongs to Joan He, it comes directly from the link to her preorder campaign.]


Do you see this beautiful cover?? DO YOU?? Great, because, if you’re on the market for an April book, please, choose this one. Why? Well, I mean first off it’s a Princess who is so determined to find the truth that she’ll do dangerous things to unearth it, but secondly, isn’t it about time we just took some more focus onto Asian fantasies and Asian/Asian American/Asian British/You get the point, writers?

[And others outside our normal westernized fantasy novels, to be frank, but hey I’m trying to get this post finished at some point today]

But, I’m not great at summarizing so here you go,

GoodReads Blurb:

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?

If you need more incentives, there’s also preorder swag. The bookmark in the featured image is one, along with 4 out of 5 character cards which can also be seen a bit in the featured image. I’m so excited to receive mine if I’m going, to be honest.

*** UPDATE: The bookmark is sold out, I know, oh noooo, but those cards are still gorgeous! ***

No money? No problem

Joan He has been awesome enough to make the incentives available to those who put in library requests as well. Not to mention this way if you don’t have money for the book you still get to read it when your library gets it and you still get the cool incentives.

I’m doing this of my own volition don’t worry, no one ever pays me for jack, but that’s not an issue, I really just want to promote amazing books that I think deserve to be read. I’m currently buddy reading this and you can expect a review for it in the next week or so. All I can tell you for right now is….

It’s already amazing.

So, if you’re interested, go do the thing!

Toodles!