Series: Deathless #1
Published by Delacorte (2.9.2021)
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Format: Audiobook, 432 pages
Length: 12 hours, 46 minutes
Narrator: Shayna Small
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.
But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity--and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.
Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki--near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire's greatest threat.
Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she's ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be--not even Deka herself.
This was one of my most anticipated 2020 releases! I was really hoping for this to be a 5 star book for me. While it didn’t quite make it as high as my expectations, I enjoyed it a lot! The concept is really cool – I loved the gilded ones, alaki, and the deathshrieks. The narrator (Shayna Small) is FANTASTIC! Honestly, she brought this book to life and I know that I wouldn’t have enjoyed it half as much as if I’d outright read it. I will be seeking out other books narrated by her for sure!
The plot was quite predictable – I saw a few things coming early on – but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story. I still liked seeing how everything unfolded. View Spoiler »The main thing I saw coming was the big twist that deathshrieks are actually alaki. I forget what tipped me off, but I figured that out pretty early! « Hide Spoiler
The characters were good, not great. Deka was a decent lead, but I didn’t connect to her like I’d hoped to. I really didn’t care about the love interest (I forget his name, oops) or the romance at all. Britta was a good sidekick. The only one I really loved was Ixa, Deka’s little cat shapeshifting friend! I want Ixa!!
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5
Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar
Published by HarperTeen (8.11.2020)
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Format: Audiobook, 435 pages
Length: 13 hours, 6 minutes
Narrator: Soneela Nankani
If the night sky holds many secrets, it holds Sheetal Mistry's secret the closest. A secret that explains why her hair is the silver of starlight, or why some nights the stars call Sheetal by name.
Stars like her mother, who returned to her place in the constellation Pushya years ago. Since that day, Sheetal has been forced to hide.
But as her seventeenth birthday draws near, the pull from the sky is growing stronger. So strong that Sheetal loses control, and a flare of starfire burns her human father—an injury only a full star's blood can heal.
Sheetal has no choice but to answer the starsong and ascend to the sky. But her celestial family has summoned her for a reason: to act as their human champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of heavens.
Desperate to save her father, Sheetal agrees. But nothing could have prepared Sheetal to face the stars' dark history—or the forces that are working to shut the gate between the realms for good.
I actually picked this one up as an ARC before it came out and DNFed it. The writing style was juvenile and it felt like a cheap rip-off of Stardust. Trying again via audio only fared slightly better – the narrator was okay, not great, but it was a little easier to get through the audio. Even still, I wish I’d just let it go and moved on. The concept was really cool, which is pretty much the only reason it gets 2 stars. But sadly, I didn’t enjoy it very much. The characters were very flat, the main character was whiny, and the world building was lackluster. Such a bummer. Would I recommend this book? Probably not.
Writing style: 2/5
Overall rating: 2/5
Balanced on the Blade's Edge by Lindsay Buroker
Published by Smashwords (3.27.2014)
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook, 224 pages
Length: 8 hours
Narrator: Caitlin Davies
Source: I own it
Colonel Ridge Zirkander isn't the model of military professionalism - he has a tendency to say exactly what’s on his mind, and his record has enough demerits to wallpaper the hull of an airship - but as the best fighter pilot in the Iskandian army, he’s used to a little leniency from his superiors. Until he punches the wrong diplomat in the nose and finds himself issued new orders: take command of a remote prison mine in the inhospitable Ice Blades Mountains. Ridge has never been in charge of anything larger than a flier squadron — what’s he supposed to do with a frozen fortress full of murderers and rapists? Not to mention the strange woman who shows up right before he arrives...
Sardelle Terushan wakes from three hundred years in a mage stasis shelter, only to realize that she is the last of the Referatu, the sorcerers who once helped protect Iskandia from conquerors. Their subterranean mountain community was blown up in a treacherous sneak attack by soldiers who feared their power. Everyone Sardelle ever knew is dead, and the sentient soulblade she has been bonded to since her youth is buried in the core of the mountain. Further, what remains of her home has been infested by bloodthirsty miners commanded by the descendants of the very soldiers who destroyed her people.
Sardelle needs help to reach her soulblade — her only link to her past and her last friend in the world. Her only hope is to pretend she’s one of the prisoners while trying to gain the commander’s trust. But lying isn't her specialty, especially when the world has changed so much in the intervening centuries, and if Colonel Zirkander figures out who she truly is, he’ll be duty-bound to sentence her to the only acceptable punishment for sorcerers: death.
Honestly, everything about this book was meh. It felt like any other generic Urban Fantasy. Which was extremely disappointing after reading Buroker’s other UF, Sinister Magic, which blew me away. I think I was just expecting too much after being wowed by that one, which was the most unique UF I’ve ever read and the first time I’ve legitimately enjoyed a UF.
The main character didn’t do anything for me and neither did the love interest (I honestly don’t remember anyone’s names, it just didn’t stick with me), so the romance fell very flat for me. The only part I truly enjoyed was the sentient magical sword/soulblade, I loved it! It was snarky and hilarious, and for me, the backbone of this book.
I probably won’t bother reading the second book, despite the short length of them and having the first three books in an omnibus on audio (which thankfully I got for free).
Writing style: 3.5/5
Overall rating: 2.5/5