Book Review: An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors (The Risen Kingdoms, #1)

Hardcover, 416 pages
Published August 29th 2017 by Tor Books
One of the cleverest books I have ever read!  I’m really sad that I waited so long to read this one.  It had all the feels and the cleverness rating was through the roof.  There were some areas that felt a bit confusing, so I’m not sure if that was on my end of not catching the clues.  Or if that was the writing style.  Either way, it wasn’t enough to ruin any part of the book.
If you’re looking for a fun steampunk read, this book is for you.
If you’re looking for a main character with a physical impairment, this book is for you.
If you love reading about musketeers, here you go.
If you aren’t looking for a grand romance, check this one out.
If you want a clever female mc, whose male companion complements her mental acuity and independence, and a deranged immortal antagonist, why haven’t you read this book yet?
There is a touch of body horror in this one, but the language uses Victorian style entendre and contains no graphic sex.  Older teens would probably love this adult fantasy.
Needless to say, I am greatly anticipating more in this series.  I want to know more about the pantheon of gods.  And to see where the court intrigue takes the story.  And maybe to check on the romance that was introduced.  I wouldn’t mind seeing if that goes somewhere or not 🙂

Summary:

In a world of soaring continents and bottomless skies, where a burgeoning new science lifts skyships into the cloud-strewn heights and ancient blood-borne sorceries cling to a fading glory, Princess Isabelle des Zephyrs is about to be married to a man she has barely heard of, the second son of a dying king in an empire collapsing into civil war.

Born without the sorcery that is her birthright but with a perspicacious intellect, Isabelle believes her marriage will stave off disastrous conflict and bring her opportunity and influence. But the last two women betrothed to this prince were murdered, and a sorcerer-assassin is bent on making Isabelle the third. Aided and defended by her loyal musketeer, Jean-Claude, Isabelle plunges into a great maze of prophecy, intrigue, and betrayal, where everyone wears masks of glamour and lies. Step by dangerous step, she unravels the lies of her enemies and discovers a truth more perilous than any deception.

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Recent #booksfortrade Book Haul

It’s been a bit busy for me, and I haven’t made the time to blog about any of my recent book hauls, which is a shame as I have received some truly amazing books!  So, I decided to break them into a couple of posts to keep size down.  Here’s section one with all the books I’ve received through trade!

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Throwback Thursday: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy, #1)

Hardcover, 449 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Balzer + Bray
Even though this book has been on my physical shelf since its release (as well as books 2 and 3), I just now read it for the first time.  And I actually listened to the audiobook to start with, but couldn’t wait for time to continue listening.  So I finished it with the physical book!  I liked this one a lot.  I’m a bit angry at myself for waiting so long to read it.  But I am hoping to fit the other two in before the end of the year now.
This was a fun take on the gender swap to avoid detection trope, and it led to some very amusing circumstances.  There was plenty of action and suspense.  As well as an abundance of secrets and mysteries.  Hopefully, those will be uncovered more as the series continues.  I would highly recommend this to any fantasy reader.

Summary:

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother’s visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.

Waiting on Wednesday: Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns #3)

Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: September 4th 2018 by HarperTeen
I just finished One Dark Throne not too long ago and am pumped for book 3’s release!!  This series hits a lot of notes for me and the characterization is spectacular.  I’m hoping we get some more world lore in books 3 and 4 to flesh out why some of these things are happening.  But I’m very glad the author has more to share.

Summary:

Katharine sits on the throne, Mirabella and Arsinoe are in hiding, and an unexpected renegade is about to wage a war of her own. The crown has been won, but these queens are far from done.

Book Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

An Enchantment of Ravens

Hardcover, 300 pages
Published September 26th 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

I was so ready to love this book.  The cover is gorgeous, the reviews were fantastic, and I love so many other fairy-based stories.  Unfortunately, this was just felt meh.  I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t feel compelled either.  Honestly, I couldn’t stop comparing it to some of my absolute favorite fae books and authors (i.e. Holly Black, Sarah Maas, and others).

 

I finished it and liked it.  The character connection just wasn’t there for me, and that’s usually what grabs me in a story.  I think this was a debut novel, maybe.  So I’m hoping to read more of her books in the future.

Summary:

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

Book Review: Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett

Onyx and Ivory

Hardcover, 512 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Balzer + Bray

This book made the last few workdays fly on by. I’ve enjoyed participating in the street team and am so glad that I picked up the audiobook as it is read by one of my favorite narrator, Kristine Hvam, who also did the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Things I enjoyed most: character depth, elemental magic, horses!, friendship, slow-burn romance, and pacing. Things I didn’t like: give me a minute… um… yeah can’t really think of anything right now, so there you go.

Definitely check this one out! I felt like the author did a really good job wrapping up a lot of threads while leaving plotlines open for the sequel. And I can’t wait to read it 🙂

Summary:

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting ride for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when dark falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.

The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who will assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of the remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime.

Birthday Haul! 2018

Last week was my birthday, and I just want to share the lovely presents I received from friends and family 🙂

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I totally picked out everything in the above photo, but my lovely husband purchased it all for me as I couldn’t decide on what I wanted.  Both of these manga are amazing, and I can’t wait to start trying out some watercolor techniques.  Plus 3 new copic colors for those projects!

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My first ever OTSP Secret Sister sent me this lovely Tamora Pierce themed birthday package!  Lady Knight is full of her personal annotations, and I can’t wait to read what she thinks 🙂

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This is obviously not a book, but I was delighted when I found this pre-made ice cream cake with icing dragon at my local Dairy Queen when I went to pick one up for my birthday 🙂

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This is also not a book but a present to myself 🙂  This is a fun little dragon-fly with sunset moth patterning.  Jessica Douglas (one of my favorite artists) was asking for suggestions for warm up paintings in a live stream and since I was the first person to jump on, I was able to make this suggestion and watch her make it!!  I then purchased it because it is beautiful.  Thanks so much!

 

May 2018 New Releases

May is so full of wonderful book releases that I’m sure to have missed a couple!  But here’s all the ones on my list!  Let me know your favorites down below.  (PS this is my birthday month, so it feels like these are all presents just for me!)

 

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1)Evangeline of the BayouThe Poppy WarThe Rose LegacyAcross the Dark Water (Riders of the Realm #1)The Queen UnderneathSpindrift and the OrchidThe Ghost, The OwlThe Queen of Sorrow (The Queens of Renthia #3)War Storm (Red Queen, #4)A Dark Descent (Ages of Oz)Onyx and IvoryWitchsign (Ashen Torment, #1)Furyborn (Empirium, #1)All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s StepmotherSpectacle Vol. 1The Ancient Magus' Bride Official Guide Book MerkmalLIFEL1K3 (Lifelike, #1)