Jeopardy was a huge part of my childhood. It seemed like every time I visited my grandparents, which was everyday, Jeopardy was on. It’s how I learned to embrace my huge thirst for and retention of useless trivia. Because it’s not totally useless if it could potentially help you win on Jeopardy one day, right? It’s why the only team I joined in school was Quiz Bowl, and why Quiz Bowl captain was one of my favorite things to list on college applications. It’s part of the bond I share with the aforementioned grandparents, who are two of my favorite people on the planet. And Alex Trebek has been the face of it all for my entire life. News of his passing hit my family hard, as he felt more like a friend than a celebrity. He is mourned and will be deeply missed by legions, myself and those I love most among them. …
I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Dictionary of Lost Words is a beautiful book. But I was not prepared for the levels of heartbreak that were going to be present. I kept having to put the book down to try to find my way back into a more positive headspace. Had I read the book in any other stage in my life, I think I would have been able to divorce myself more easily from it and enjoy it more. However, everyone knows this year has been horrendous, and for some reason I was just unable to cope with the relentless hard knocks suffered by the poor protagonist. There was something about the bright tone of the book that made those blows even more terrible, and that’s what kept the novel from being a five star read for me. It was emotionally draining.
“Words define us, they explain us, and, on occasion, they serve to control or isolate us. But what happens when words that are spoken are not recorded? What effect does that have on the speaker of those words?”
I received an ARC of The Bone Shard Daughter (Orbit) in exchange for an honest review.
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: The Drowning Empire (Book #1 of 3)
Published: 10th September 2020 by Orbit (UK) & 8th September 2020 by Orbit (US)
I will make no bones about it: This brilliant fantasy debut has announced Andrea Stewart as quite possibly the best newcomer of the year.
Bone. Shard. Magic. How intriguing does that sound?!?! I’m a sucker for a cool magic system and the sound of that sold me instantly. Having finished this book speedily, I can honestly say you would be wrong if you thought that was the final mark under this book’s coolness column. We’re talking migrating islands, lost ancient civilizations, wet and dry seasons that last for years if not decades, mythical creatures, people mysteriously disappearing, and other inexplicable magic. I fully understand if you stop reading this review about now to go and place that pre-order. Excellent choice in supporting this author if I may so.
“The construct looked nothing so much as a giant spider, dark brown and glistening, as tall as my chest when it stood to attention. Human hands were attached to the end of each of its spindly legs, and an old woman’s adorned the abdomen.”
Night Shift Dragons by Rachel Aaron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: DFZ (Book 3 of 3)
Genre: Urban fantasy
Published: 5th May 2020 (Aaron/Bach, self-published)
Night Shift Dragons delivered a spectacular and hugely emotionally satisfying conclusion to Rachel Aaron’s follow-up urban fantasy series set in the insanely cool, quirky and vibrant free city of the DFZ.
The Holdout by Graham Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published: 20th February 2020 (Orion)
Being a juror on a high profile murder case has got to be a thrill ride and a half: looking at the bloody evidence and weighing witness statements, the savage craziness of the media interest, then finally getting to decide the fate of a man charged with murder. It’s got to be just like tv, right? Exciting. Maybe even a shot at your own fame… 15 minutes or otherwise.
But what Maya Seale got wasn’t quite fame, it was INFAMY. Not convinced of Bobby Nock’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt, she campaigned for a Not Guilty verdict and eventually persuaded, or wore down, all the other jurors. The result was spectacularly unpopular, provoking uproar in both the courtroom and the real world, and changing the jurors’ lives forever.
Now it’s 10 years later and they’re back together again. Apparently there’s new evidence to consider and more questions to be asked. Everyone wants to know if they got it wrong. But when one juror ends up dead, it looks like someone’s willing to kill to keep their secrets buried for good.
I’m honestly pretty blown away, and I can’t believe I waiting this long to read His Dark Materials. It was wonderful, balancing thought-provoking philosophy with nearly breakneck-speed action in this final installment. Pullman crafted a world, or should I say worlds, that I found captivating, and characters whom I grew to care about deeply. Many of these characters, especially Lyra and Will, have taken a little piece of my heart, and I believe they’ll reside there from now on. What a marvelous adventure.
“I have stolen ideas from every book I have ever read.”
Rise Against by Hailey Edwards
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Published: 22nd August 2019 (Piatkus)
Luce: ‘Didn’t your mother teach you to wait until you’re invited in to enter a room?’
Santiago: ‘No. My mother ate one of my siblings because she wasn’t a fan of uneven numbers.’
After what felt like a slight wobble in Death Knell, this is a blinding return to form. Fourth and penultimate book in the Foundling Series, this instalment gives us a Luce who seems ready to be herself, finally reconciled with who she is as both human and charun. The theme of self understanding and self acceptance has been important throughout the series, but it’s especially relevant as things begin to escalate out of control. Luce has found her own way to deal with each aspect of her character, including the treacherous remnant of Conquest, always eager to resume control. Now that the dangerous, more powerful part of herself is needed for the fight, she must let it out more often. It’s a slippery slope that might well lead to oblivion. But while Luce has been knocked down hard by all the revelations, betrayals, and losses, this book is about her finding a sense of peace with it all. Or at least an accommodation. And there’s a reason for that beyond the simple passing of time. There are no more closed eyes, there’s no more holding back. It feels like the calm before the storm. Like the end is coming…
Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars.
Series: The Witcher (Book 2 of 7)
Genre: Fantasy, high fantasy
First English translation published: May 2015 (Gollancz), Dec 2015 (Orbit)
The compelling characterisation of Geralt and imaginative world of Slavic lore and fairy-tale retellings continue in Sword of Destiny, the second collection of prequel short stories in The Witcher series.
Sword of Destiny was published after the first three full-length novels of The Witcher series. As a new reader to the series, however, I was able to read the books in chronological order which is quite essential as this instalment served as the bridge between The Last Wish and Blood of Elves.