Shadow Frost by Coco Ma
When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields — though has yet to fully understand — Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed.
To kill it.
But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her companions begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.
That is, of course… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.
I wanted SO BADLY to get into this one! I got to meet Coco at Book Expo 2019, and then again at YALLfest the same year and she is the most incredible person! (She also told a story about eating your vegetables in one of the panels I attended and it was H I L A R I O U S) I was super psyched to read this book. However, I tried twice – once physically reading and then again on audio – and for the life of me I just could not get into it. Which is a serious bummer because the magic system was really cool!
The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala
Esha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.
Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has been growing only more volatile.
Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices.
Drawing inspiration from ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology, the first book in Swati Teerdhala’s debut fantasy trilogy captivates with electric romance, stunning action, and the fierce bonds that hold people together—and drive them apart.
I actually tried this one twice as well. The first time I tried reading as an ARC (which is now stuck on my Edelweiss review list forever *sighs*) and didn’t make it very far. I thought it was just because I wasn’t in the mood. I tried again on audio and made it farther but I was bored out of my mind so I gave up. This book is just not for me.
A Demon in Silver by Richard S. Ford
A new stunning epic fantasy for readers of Brandon Sanderson, Michael J. Sullivan and Brian Staveley.
In a world where magic has disappeared, rival nations vie for power in a continent devastated by war.
When a young farm girl, Livia, demonstrates magical powers for the first time in a century there are many across the land that will kill to obtain her power. The Duke of Gothelm’s tallymen, the blood-soaked Qeltine Brotherhood, and cynical mercenary Josten Cade: all are searching for Livia and the power she wields.
But Livia finds that guardians can come from the most unlikely places… and that the old gods are returning to a world they abandoned.
I’m going to be honest, I barely even remember picking this one up. I didn’t make it very far. I tried on audio and I don’t remember if it was the narrator, the writing, or the pacing…maybe a bit of all three.
Edit by Rick Chesler
An accomplished geneticist, known for trailblazing work with a gene editing technology known as CRISPR, is found dead at his desk in his South Florida home by apparent suicide. His jugular vein punctured with a foot-long T-rex claw. However, the claw is not a fossilized one. A simple note signed by the scientist reads, “I’m sorry.”
A team of researchers and park rangers is hastily and quietly assembled to find out what it is he’s apologized for, suspecting he has unleashed a genetically altered animal atrocity into the wild. Unsure of exactly what to look for, the expedition sets out into the Everglades in a desperate search of what they fear might be a living predator not seen on Earth for millions of years.
What they find is even worse—The entire Everglades has been transformed into an illicit breeding ground for the living, breathing results of unauthorized genetic tampering with extinct predators.
Will the harried band of park rangers and scientists be able to contain the most outlandish bio-threat the world has ever seen? Or will the terrifying genetic EDITs made by the rogue scientist prove too ferocious to contain?
This one sounded pretty cool, until I tried to read it. The writing was a train wreck and so was the pacing. I think I made it like 25% before I gave up.
Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa
From one of the most exciting new storytellers in epic fantasy, Son of the Storm is a sweeping tale of violent conquest and forgotten magic set in a world inspired by the pre-colonial empires of West Africa.
“Everything I love in a fantasy novel. Damn good stuff!” —Jenn Lyons, author of The Ruin of Kings
In the ancient city of Bassa, Danso is a clever scholar on the cusp of achieving greatness—only he doesn’t want it. Instead, he prefers to chase forbidden stories about what lies outside the city walls. The Bassai elite claim there is nothing of interest. The city’s immigrants are sworn to secrecy.
But when Danso stumbles across a warrior wielding magic that shouldn’t exist, he’s put on a collision course with Bassa’s darkest secrets. Drawn into the city’s hidden history, he sets out on a journey beyond its borders. And the chaos left in the wake of his discovery threatens to destroy the empire.
I was just bored with this one. The narrator’s accent was fantastic and I could have listened to it all day, but the story was SO dull. The prose was really sophomoric, too. I barely made it through the first couple of chapters of “He went here. He did this. He looked over there. He said something. He x, y, z.” I almost rage quit in the beginning because of that. It did get a little better, but the story didn’t. Such a bummer, because that cover is stunning.
We Are the Fire by Sam Taylor
In the cold, treacherous land of Vesimaa, children are stolen from their families by a cruel emperor, forced to undergo a horrific transformative procedure, and serve in the army as magical fire-wielding soldiers. Pran and Oksana―both taken from their homeland at a young age―only have each other to hold onto in this heartless place.
Pran dreams of one day rebelling against their oppressors and destroying the empire; Oksana only dreams of returning home and creating a peaceful life for them both.
When they discover the emperor has a new, more terrible mission than ever for their kind, Pran and Oksana vow to escape his tyranny once and for all. But their methods and ideals differ drastically, driving a wedge between them. Worse still, they both soon find that the only way to defeat the monsters that subjugated them may be to become monsters themselves.
DNF @ 23%
There wasn’t really anything inherently wrong with this. I just couldn’t get into it at ALL. I was bored and I didn’t care about the characters or the story. It also felt generic AF. I’m not forcing myself through it.
Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth
The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.
A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.
The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.
For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.
Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?
Wish them luck. They’re going to need it.
I honestly don’t even remember much about this one, just that I was bored AF and it wasn’t holding my attention. I was listening to this one, can’t remember how far I got either.
This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi
Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic, romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology.
To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.
The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.
Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi, and Sabaa Tahir, this is the explosive first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-nominated author Tahereh Mafi.
DNF @ 34%
I loved the second and third book of Shatter Me, but haaated the fourth book. I think I’ve just outgrown Mafi’s work. I can’t pinpoint exactly what didn’t work for me in this one – just that it wasn’t grabbing me. It felt pretty generic and I didn’t care about any of the characters. The main character was kind of annoying, and I hated the interactions between her and the guy (can’t remember his name) who is obviously the love interest. They seemed…forced and cheesy to me. Like I said, maybe I’ve outgrown Mafi. *sighs*