Review: Sacrosanct & Other Stories

Authors: C. L. Werner, Josh Reynolds, Nick Horth, David Annandale, Guy Haley, David Guymer, Gav Thorpe
Series: Warhammer Age of Sigmar
Publisher: Black Library
Released: October 27th, 2020
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

I received a copy of Sacrosanct & Other Stories in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Sacrosanct & Other Stories is one of the latest Warhammer short story anthology to come out of Black Library. This time the focus is on Age of Sigmar, and the tales are just as dark and mysterious as one might imagine.

This collection is absolutely perfect for anybody new (or curious) about Age of Sigmar, and really is designed to help readers get a feel for the world and general plots. So it makes for an ideal introduction, in my book.

Included in this collection: Sacrosanct by C. L. Werner (the namesake of the anthology, and thus the longest story included), A Dirge of Dust and Steel by Josh Reynolds, Callis & Toll: The Old Ways by Nick Horth, The Dance of the Skulls by David Annandale, Auction of Blood by Josh Reynolds, The Sands of Grief by Guy Haley, The Witch Takes by C.L. Werner, The Prisoner of the Black Sun by Josh Reynolds, Great Red by David Guymer, Wrathspring by Gav Thorpe, and The Volturung Road by Guy Haley. Each story will be reviewed in further detail down below.

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Review: White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison

Author: Kim Harrison
Series: The Hollows #7
Publisher: Eos
Released: February 24th, 2009
Received: Own

4 1/2 kitties

White Witch, Black Curse, is the seventh novel in The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. It’s one of my favorite series ever, and I can’t recommend it enough. Especially now that it’s actively updating again!

The times have been tough for Rachel Morgan. It feels like the last few years have made a point of sending her as many hits as possible, leaving her bruised and broken. Not to mention, just a little bit scarred.

Yet her story is far from over, and that means there will be more pain in her future. Pain, yet love and joy as well. As everything Rachel does is driven by her love and devotion towards the others in her life.

Even if that means stepping in front of the new predator that has entered the scene. A creature that will almost certainly hurt those she cares about, if Rachel doesn’t find a way to stop them. And fast.

I should probably mention that I’ve already read The Hollows series (Several times), but I recently noticed that I never actually reviewed them. So in preparation for the next Hollows book (so excited!), I’m going to do a reread and review run. So far I’m thrilled with my decision, because I had forgotten how enthralling this series can be!

“The same people I’d actually once worked for were covering it up, and that pissed me off.”

Man, every time I read through this series, I’m reminded of how much I love it. White Witch, Black Curse is yet another amazing read. One that I would (and will) happily dive back into another dozen times.

I think one of the many things that I love about it is how Rachel is still hurting. It’s been two books, and she’s still not over the pain of the loss from it all. To be frank, I’m not either. So it’s refreshing to see her character still working on coping with it as well. It makes her feel more human, and her series more realistic.

It should probably go without saying that this is anything but a light read. Rachel’s pain is real. It hits home, and it hits hard. It’s all further proof that Kim Harrison is a brilliant writer, one who can wring out so much emotion from her readers.

The last novel (The Outlaw Demon Wails) felt like a turning point to me. If that is the case, then this is the novel where Rachel – and the series – truly embrace that change. She’s beginning to respect her limitations more, while giving in to the emotional demands made by her own inner psyche, as well as those of her friends.

All of this makes for one powerful read, especially that ending. I won’t go into details, for obvious reasons. But it is an ending that I can still vividly picture, even without the help of a recent read through.

Really, it’s no wonder that I love this series so much. I fully intend to continue my read through (and review run) in the new year. Until then!

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Review: Weathering With You Vol. 1

Author: Makoto Shinkai
Artist: Wataru Kubota
Publisher: Vertical Comics
Released: September 1st, 2020
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

I received a copy of Weathering With You Vol. 1 in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Weathering With You Vol. 1 is the start to a whole new adventure, set in Tokyo. This is a world where storms are more common than not, and Sunshine Girls are one of the few rays of sunshine in a given day (literally).

Apparently there’s also a film adaptation, but I haven’t seen it yet. As such, I can’t really make any comparisons, but I’d love to hear them! If it’s anything like the manga, it’ll be cute and worth the watch.

Weathering With You Vol. 1 was not anything like I expected it to be – but I think that’s a good thing. It ended up being better, all while being charming and oddly sweet at times. Though I’m struggling a bit to find the right words for how it felt.

The characters are the big selling point for this manga. Hodaka and Hina are about as different as two people can get, and yet there is something so compelling about their interactions. Not to mention their individual journeys.

There is something so positive and heartfelt about this series, it’s certain to bring a smile to the faces of any reader. Something I feel like we could all use right now, so the timing really did work out there!

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Review: Unchosen by Katharyn Blair

Author: Katharyn Blair
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Released: January 26th, 2021
Received: Review Request
Warnings: Drowning, death, control, slavery

I received a copy of Unchosen in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Katharyn Blair’s latest novel, Unchosen, is one for all of those out there that grew up knowing they weren’t the chosen ones.

Charlotte Holloway is almost getting used to the world ending. Both figuratively, and literally, as the case may be. In short order she had her heartbroken, and then she watched the world burn. A curse known as the Crimson rose up, tearing away her parents and nearly killing her and her sisters.

That is the day when the world really did end. For most, at least. Now she is one of the few survivors out there, and she’s fighting to protect the Chosen One. Perhaps it’s that desire to protect that causes her to take such risks. Or perhaps it’s her desire to stand out and be loved.

“I wonder if it will hurt, and I wonder if wondering that, in the scheme of things, makes me a coward.”

I’m sitting here honestly surprised that more people aren’t talking about Unchosen. It is such an intense and amazing read, and absolutely one of my favorites in recent times. It’s one of those books that devours yours while you’re reading, sucking you into the story.

Needless to say, I read Unchosen in one sitting. I’d say I don’t regret that, but part of me does kind of wish that I had cherished it just a little bit more. I know rereading is always an option, but it’s never quite the same as that magical first read-through.

I loved reading about Charlotte’s struggles, and watching her grow exponentially over the course of this single novel. It actually makes me wish that this was the first in a series, as I really do feel like Katharyn Blair could push the plot and characters even further, should she so desire.

One of the best parts about Unchosen is how it all comes down to choice. Not destiny. It’s about right and wrong, and has a very strong feminist core. That alone added so much weight to what could have otherwise been a solid, but shallow, read. It blew me away, and kept me wishing for me.

The romantic subplot didn’t hurt things either, especially as it spurred Charlotte’s character onward, forcing her to learn about what was worth fighting for, and how to respect herself first. It was beautiful, and an important message we all need to learn at some point in our lives.

If the goal for Unchosen was to write a thrilling novel for all of the people out there who aren’t the ‘Chosen Ones’, then it succeeded. It absolutely succeeded in that goal, and I wish more novels were like this.

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Review: The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold

Author: David Arnold
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Released: February 9th, 2021
Received: BookishFirst
Warning: Gore, disease, isolation, death, kidnapping, assault

4 kitties

I received a copy of The Electric Kingdom in exchange for a fair and honest review.

David Arnold is back with another mind bend of a read in The Electric Kingdom. It’s a novel that merges speculative fiction with dystopian writing, and will leave you thinking for days to come.

The world as we know it has ended. The Fly Flu made sure of that. It leaves no species untouched as it tears across the earth, leaving the world in a true dystopian state. Yet there are survivors. There are always survivors.

Nico and her beloved dog are two such survivors. She’s off in search of something that very well may not exist. Meanwhile, young artist Kit was content with the life he had, until everything changed. Again.

They are but two players in a complex tale, one that truly will throw the reader through countless loops, creating plenty of food for thought.

“The earth is 4.54 billion years old,” said Kit. “Humans have been around for 200,000 years. The planet could blink and miss us. Our extinction would be a return to the status quo.”

The Electric Kingdom is one of those novels that will leave you sitting long after you’ve completed the book. It’ll stick in your brain, and leave you thinking for hours, if not days. It’s that much of a mind-bender, and I mean that in the best ways possible.

The novel includes a rich cast of characters, all of whom work together, intentionally or not, to tell this complex story. It’s one of hope and survival, but it’s also more than that. So much more than that.

For much of this novel, it reads like a standard dystopian novel, with a few alarming twists, of course. There are notable surprises however. One perspective really works to bring in the speculative fiction element, which gets even stronger towards the end. While I knew that this wasn’t going to be a typical read, I still wasn’t prepared for the shift that occurred. It caught me off-guard, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

To say that The Electric Kingdom is a heavy read would be an understatement. Though I might not have been inclined to bring that up if we were at any other point in time. The truth is, disease and isolation wear heavy on our hearts right now, and David Arnold hit the nail on the head with his writing.

The Electric Kingdom was the first novel I’ve read by David Arnold, but if all of his books make you think this much, you better believe I’ll be reading everything else that he comes out with!

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Review: Blog Tour & Review: This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria

Stay tuned below for a review & excerpt of This Golden Flame!

Author: Emily Victoria
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Released: February 2nd, 2021
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Imprisonment, control

4 kitties

I received a copy of This Golden Flame in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Emily Victoria’s debut novel, This Golden Flame, is making waves and touching hearts. It’s one of those books that immediately caught my attention thanks to the description and promises, but then went above and beyond in impressing me.

Karis was orphaned at a young age, and soon after taken in by the Scriptorium. To be clear, they didn’t do this out of the kindness of their hearts. They bound her and bade her to work for them, alongside all of the other orphan children they’ve collected.

While some may find it possible to be content with this life, that is not an option for Karis. It never would have been an option, even if she hadn’t been separated from her brother in the process. That is why she’s been seeking every avenue for freedom.

“Besides, some risks you have to take.”

This Golden Flame is going on my list of books that you absolutely have to read in 2021. It’s every bit as brilliant as the title and cover suggest, with lots of pleasant surprises woven in throughout. The end result is a memorable experience.

One that has a lot of representation along the way. It isn’t every day you get to pick up a book with an ace main character, especially not in the world of fantasy. Yet that is exactly what happened here, and it is a delight.

Karis’ character is bold and tough, but she also knows what she wants. And more importantly, what she doesn’t want. Her honesty is refreshing, and it adds so much to the way she navigates this world and all of its problems. At least, it did for me.

“Even after all these years I’m still not used to it. To the quiet.”

This is a fun read, one that has a distinctly steampunk feel to it, as well as several other surprises up its sleeve. It made it an absolute delight to read, and I for one would give anything to see this as part of a series. Though that’s just my greedy little heart talking, I know.

If you’re looking for a clever fantasy novel with an ace lead, then please take some time to read This Golden Flame, as it is that and so, so much more.

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Review: Queen’s Peril by E.K. Johnston

Series: Star Wars Disney Canon Novel
Author: E.K. Johnston
Released: June 2nd, 2020
Received: Own

4 kitties

Padme Naberrie’s adventure continues in Queen’s Peril, written by E.K. Johnston. This has been one of my favorite Star Wars novel series to date, and with good reason.

Queen’s Shadow introduced fans to a completely different side of Padme, of everything she and her handmaidens had gone through, and were still willing to go through. Now, in Queen’s Peril, we’re given yet another opportunity to see a different side of her.

This is Padme, the young woman, who at fourteen years old ran for the title of Queen of Naboo – and won. What follows are adventures from her earlier years, when her handmaidens worked hard to create a new method of protecting their queen, and themselves.

“Whatever happened next, however it was recorded and remembered, she was entirely on her own.”

Oh my gosh. How have I not reviewed Queen’s Peril by now? It’ll come as no surprise to those that know me, but I adored Queens’ Peril. Realistically, I adore anything revolving around Padme, especially if it is written by E.K. Johnston (she’s done so much for some of my favorite Star Wars characters).

The focus of this novel is the earlier years for Queen Amidala. It’s all about her and her handmaidens working together to create a complicated and flawless way of concealment and protection. It was absolutely fascinating to see what they came up with in more detail.

Honestly, every chapter seemed to reveal hidden depths to the length in which they all went through. Naturally, there was plenty of time to get to know each and every one of them, and it was so endearing. And perhaps just a little heartbreaking, since we know the fate of several of them. That can’t be helped.

That being said, while it certainly would have broken my heart further in the long run, I would have loved to see more perspective from some of those very handmaidens. In truth, I would greedily take a novel from each of them, even though I know that this will probably never happen. But hey, a girl can dream, right?

One of the many highlights from Queen’s Peril is the altered perspective to a well-known series of events: The Phantom Menace. We actually get a chance to see a bit of that story from Padme’s eyes, and oh my goodness. It added so much! More, please!

In all seriousness, I do not know if there will be more Padme novels in our future. Then again, I didn’t know that Queen’s Shadow was going to be anything more than a standalone novel. So there’s still room for surprises, I hope.

TLDR: If you love Padme and/or her handmaiden, and feel that they have always deserved more screen time, then read Queen’s Peril. You won’t regret it.

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Review: The Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow

Series: The Horus Heresy #4
Author: James Swallow
Publisher: Black Library
Released: March 27th, 2007
Received: Own

4 1/2 kitties

Flight of the Eisenstein is the fourth novel in one of the biggest events in Warhammer History; The Horus Heresy. Well, it’s the fourth novel if you’re following the recommended reading list on Goodreads. Really, I know and understand that there are a dozen different ways in which this event could be read.

The first move of the Horus Heresy involved the burning of Istvaan III – and those loyal to the Emperor, many of whom were unfortunately on the planet. However, not all of the loyalists burned. Deathguard Captain Garro survived, and he and the Eisenstein are flying with all the haste possible.

All with the goal of warning those loyal to the Emperor. Yet having evaded the tragedy of Istvaan III doesn’t make Garro and his crew free from all dangers, as they become trapped in the warp as they make their way.

“This death,” rasped the voder “this death is ours. We choose it. We deny you your victory.”

Flight of the Eisenstein is a heavy and powerful read, but it also exactly what I needed to read after the events of Galaxy in Flames (I’m still feeling broken-heated over that one, and I knew what was going to happen!).

It almost read like a palette cleanser, where everything that Garro and his men faced was solely the Chaos from the warp. As opposed to the threats brought about by those they considered to be kin. You can see why one would leave readers feeling more emotionally raw than the other.

That being said, it was still a harrowing trip, and read. It really showcased the determination he and the rest of the Eisenstein felt, and just how much they had to go through just to stand a chance of reaching their goals.

It really feels like it’s cutting to the core of a Space Marine story, when you put it in that perspective. Though maybe I’m just feeling a bit biased, as I’ve very quickly grown fond of Deathguard Captain Garro, and everything he stands for. The power of brilliant writing, ladies and gentlemen!

This is a novel that does provide many perspectives, as have the rest of the series up until this point. It’s refreshing to see a different side of events, and these perspectives really did help to create a new web for readers to follow.

The end result is at least one reader (myself, in case that wasn’t obvious) feeling anxious to dive into the next novel in the series: Fulgrim. Now that is also going to be a major change in events, and I just cannot wait.

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Review: The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison

Author: Kim Harrison
Series: The Hollows #6
Publisher: Eos
Released: February 26th, 2008
Received: Own

4 1/2 kitties

The Outlaw Demon Wails is the sixth novel in The Hollows Series, written by Kim Harrison. It’s amazing how this series seems to keep getting stronger with every novel, leaving me eager to see what happens next.

Rachel Morgan is one talented witch. She’s also a driven and caring person, one who would do anything for her friends. That’s why she’s finding herself facing down an angry demon, as Algaliarept is hunting her (with the goal of keeping her, rather than killing her).

To make matters worse, there are family secrets that Rachel never knew about, which she’s about to learn the hard way. Combine that with the constant challenge of trying to stay alive, and it’s safe to say that Rachel’s day is booked.

I should probably mention that I’ve already read The Hollows series (Several times), but I recently noticed that I never actually reviewed them. So in preparation for the next Hollows book (so excited!), I’m going to do a reread and review run. So far I’m thrilled with my decision, because I had forgotten how enthralling this series can be!

“Rachel does not summon demons. The papers print what sells papers, that’s all.”

As with the rest of this amazing series, The Outlaw Demon Wails is one tense and thrilling ride. Rachel really does have a talent for getting herself into the most spectacular of messes, doesn’t she? Honestly, I had almost forgotten how much she has gone through over the years. Almost.

I feel like, in many ways, this is the turning point. Both for Rachel, and for the series. She lost so much in For A Few Demons More, so it’s not really surprising. She’s stepping up, accepting the consequences for her actions (mostly), and admitting where she’s weakest – and when she needs help.

Likewise, the series is throwing different dilemmas at her, all of which slowly start altering her perspective towards magic – and herself. It’s fascinating to see, especially a second or third time through the series. Now I can focus on these details, and suddenly it all seems so obvious now.

This is far from a light read, to be clear. Even after all these years, my heart aches over everything Rachel went through. Both in this novel (the process of loss and recovery), and in the previous one. I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully over it, truth be told.

The Outlaw Demon Wails could have easily been a novel that focused entirely on revenge – nobody would have blamed Rachel for that. Yet Kim Harrison managed to take all of those elements – the need for answers, the desire for revenge, the raw pain, and merge them all together. All while adding more details and complications to the mix.

It makes for a seriously intense read, one that I wouldn’t recommend skipping. Not for the world. Seriously, if you haven’t given The Hollows a try, I strongly urge that you do so as soon as possible.

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Review: Manga Classics: Frankenstein

Original Author: Mary Shelly
Adapter: M. Chandler
Artist: Linus Liu
Released: November 10th, 2020
Received: Edelweiss

4 1/2 kitties

I received a copy of Manga Classics: Frankenstein in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Yes! It’s another manga adaptation of a classic, and this time around, it’s Frankenstein! I couldn’t be happier about the news, or about the entire experience. Manga Classics: Frankenstein was created by M. Chandler and Linus Liu, not to mention the original author, Mary Shelly.

As with the rest of this collection, one of the biggest points is to make as many of the classics as possible accessible for all readers. How many times have you looked towards a classic novel, only to be intimidated by the sheer volume of it? Well, Manga Classics not only changes the format, but it typically condenses the story as well (as a requirement of the medium).

It probably goes without saying that I am a huge fan of Frankenstein, and thus I screamed just a little bit when I saw this latest adaptation. Obviously, that meant I had high expectations going into it. So, that raises the question, did it hold up?

Absolutely! M. Chandler and Linus Liu did a fantastic job of bringing Mary Shelly’s story to life on these pages. Everything from the decisions made about the adaptation, to the art style itself was really well done.

Speaking of the art, I really do feel like it was the perfect fit. The cover should give potential readers a good idea of what I’m talking about. It’s the right blend of that classic Frankenstein style, and the style inherent to manga.

In short: Manga Classics: Frankenstein was pure perfection, and I highly recommend to anyone and everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’ve read the story a hundred times, or not a single time. Either way, it is an experience worth diving into.

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