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King of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #3)

King of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #3)

King of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom #3)King of Assassins by R.J. Barker
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I honestly can’t believe I almost didn’t pick up this trilogy; King of Assassins was a superb finishing touch to The Wounded Kingdom.

Bloody, poignant, intense, heartwarming, tragic, and dark; I finished this entire trilogy within six days, I just didn’t expect it to be this damn good and engaging. The Wounded Kingdom trilogy practically stole my life for an entire week, and the only antidote to my addiction was to finish reading the entirety of the series.

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Blood of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #2)

Blood of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #2)

Blood of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #2)Blood of Assassins by R.J. Barker
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Blood of Assassins magnificently transitioned The Wounded Kingdom into a much darker series in an awesome way.

Girton and his master have been living as a mercenary for five years since the end of the event in Age of Assassins. The past five years experience has changed or repressed Girton’s personality to something worse. This sequel was a much darker book than its predecessor; at times I feel like it totally belongs in the grimdark genre due to how grey the moral code of Girton was. Barker strengthened his storytelling skill in this installment by making sure the story was unpredictable, full of intense twists and turns, and the entirety of the book to focus heavily on the theme of redemption and prejudices against sorcerer/magic. Plus, the murder mystery aspect in the book also was much more engaging to follow than before.

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Age of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #1)

Age of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #1)

Age of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom, #1)Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A highly enjoyable debut; I finished Age of Assassins in less than 24 hours.

I think people need to set their expectations right when they’re going to read this book. If you expect this to be an Assassin’s Creed type of story where the assassin goes on full throttle killing mode or be involved in a battle against another assassin for the majority of the book, you’re most likely going to be disappointed. I came into this expecting it to be something along the line of Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice and with that mindset, I had a fantastic time with this addictive debut.

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Celeste’s Top 10 Books of the Year So Far (January 1st, 2018 – July 31st, 2018)

Celeste’s Top 10 Books of the Year So Far (January 1st, 2018 – July 31st, 2018)

So far, 2018 has been a wonderful reading year for me. I’ve found new favorite authors, and had the opportunity to read new work from authors I’ve loved for years. Of the 93 books I’ve read and reviewed this year, I gave 76 of those at least a 4 star rating on Goodreads. The books I’ve chosen have been overwhelmingly successful for me. When Petrik mentioned each doing a Top 10 from the books we’ve read so far this year, I jumped at the suggestion. But now, looking at the books I have to choose from, I’m regretting my decision. How on earth am I going to choose just ten out of the dozens of fantastic books I’ve read so far this year?! All I can do is my best, right?

To help narrow things down, I’m going to follow the same rules Petrik used for his list:

  • Rereads don’t count.
  • One book per author.
  • Not every book was published this year.
  • Other than the top spot, these are in the order I read them instead of any ranking.

Every book below is one I rated 5 complete stars. Links to my full Goodreads reviews will be provided within each mini-review. Without further ado, here are my favorite books of the year to date!

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City of Blades (The Divines Cities, #2)

City of Blades (The Divines Cities, #2)

City of Blades (The Divine Cities, #2)City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Dying nobly is preferable to living savagely.”

I’m completely blown away by Bennett’s world building. City of Blades thrilled me and surprised me and cut me to the quick with its rich character development and lore. I cared so much about the characters, and felt every emotion they felt as I read. Bennett’s world is unlike any I’ve ever come across; he absolutely excels at creating both empathetic characters and compelling mythology and history to add a depth and uniqueness to his writing that I believe to be rare.

“O, the things we kill for our dreams, forgetting all the while we shall wake up to find them naught but dust and ash!
What fools we are to pretend that when we walk to war we do not bring our loved ones with us.”

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City of Stairs (Divine Cities #1)

City of Stairs (Divine Cities #1)

City of Stairs (The Divine Cities, #1)City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Time renders all people and all things silent. And gods, it seems, are no exception.”

I have a confession to make. I purchased this trilogy in February of 2017, even preordered the final installment though I hadn’t read the first two. I just knew that it was a trilogy that I would love based off of the synopsis. There is nothing in the realm of fiction that I love more than unique religions and overt philosophizing. While setting and characterization and plot and prose are what make a book function, the books that make me happiest are those in which religion and philosophy play a vital part. However, even though I was almost positive that I would love Bennett’s trilogy, I kept putting it off for some reason. Petrik finally convinced me to give in and read it, and I’m so thankful that he did. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

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The Muse

The Muse

The MuseThe Muse by Jessie Burton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Is there anything that holds as much sway over humankind as art?

Whether it takes the form of music or a painting or a sculpture or the written word, nothing speaks to our souls like art. This gives artists a power over their fellow men and women. But no one doubts art so much as its creator, and so an artist’s audience holds within themselves the approval and praise that said artist craves, and thus artists rely on their audiences for the affirmation and reassurance needed to create their next work of art. However, if an artist isn’t careful they begin producing cheap imitations of the art that first garnered them attention, and so artists must be careful regarding how heavily they rely upon and value the opinions of others. They need something else to feed that need and fuel their creativity.

They need a muse.

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City of Lies (Poison Wars, #1)

City of Lies (Poison Wars, #1)

City of Lies (Poison Wars #1)City of Lies by Sam Hawke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ARC provided by the publisher—Tor—in exchange for an honest review.

An alluring debut imbued with a perpetual threat of lies and treachery.

City of Lies is Sam Hawke’s debut novel and the first book in the Poison Wars series. For the same reason as one of my most anticipated debuts of the year—The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang—I was intrigued by this one because of the amazing cover. Yes, I’m a sucker for a book with great cover art and I’m not ashamed of it. The main difference though is that I’ve waited for this one for so much longer than The Poppy War; since last September to be exact, when the cover was first revealed. Other than that, I seriously knew nothing about the book except the fact that two of my favorite authors of all time—John Gwynne & Robin Hobb—have already praised this debut. Now that I’ve read it, I have to agree with them that this is a great debut, but at the same time, it’s certainly different from my usual fantasy read.

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The Good Girl

The Good Girl

The Good GirlThe Good Girl by Mary Kubica
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Wow. I definitely didn’t see that ending coming.

Have you ever read a book where the last chapter completely changes the entire book for you, and how you view all of the events that preceded it? That’s what happened to me with this book. Before that final chapter, I found the book compelling, but honestly kind of predictable. This is the story of a kidnapping, told from the perspectives of three people: the mother of the kidnapped girl, the detective on the case, and the kidnapper. Each chapter is from one of these perspectives, from either before or after an unspecified event.

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