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cpark2005's books

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Tasha Suri: The Jasmine Throne (Paperback, 2021, Orbit) 4 stars

Review of 'The Jasmine Throne' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

So, let’s talk about Tasha Suri’s truly excellent, The Jasmine Throne. I had put a hold in for this book at my local library. It then ended up coming in at the same time as another hold, so I had a dilemma—which book to read first? I turned to my Twitter comrades to make the choice, and they overwhelmingly pointed me toward The Jasmine Throne. I picked it up, and was not disappointed.

Suri is telling an engrossing story of loyalty and love, loss and persistence, biological family and found family, and perhaps most importantly of all, the nature of monstrous identity. To say all this might make it seem like this novel is of a more literary nature, but that’s not the case. Genre fiction can tell these sorts of stories, and Suri shows just how well the fantasy genre can do so. The two main characters, …

Stephanie Burgis: Scales and Sensibility (2022, Bryant Street Publishing) 4 stars

Review of 'Scales and Sensibility' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I was first introduced to Stephanie Burgis’ writing with her Harwood Spellbook series. That series, set in an alternative reality of England, had plenty of heartwarming romance and magical whimsy. I thoroughly enjoyed every novel and novella in that series. So, when Burgis offered me an advance copy of Scales and Sensibility I jumped at the chance. This one is more historical fantasy than alternate history fantasy, but Burgis continues to offer plenty of romance and whimsy—with more than a few nods to Austen. After all, you know what you’re getting when a novel starts with, “it was a truth universally acknowledged that any young lady without a dragon was doomed to social failure.”

What really drew me into this novel was the well-drawn main character. Elinor is someone who is very easy to cheer for. I cared about her and her plight from basically the first page. This was …

Will Wight: Bloodline (Paperback, 2021, Hidden Gnome Publishing) 4 stars

Review of 'Bloodline' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

It’s not easy to write a long series. It’s even more difficult to write a long series that stays fresh over the course of nine novels. In Bloodline, Will Wight reveals his skill in crafting action packed stories with plenty of emphasis on his characters, all while ensuring the story, characters, and world remain fresh. When you finish reading this one, the only question in your mind will be how soon you can get the next entry in the series.

By the time a series grows to nine books, there are often books in the series that feel like they drag. That isn’t the case with the Cradle series. Each entry is as action packed as the last. I’ve also found, particularly since Underlord, that Will has focused more and more on the characters. We’ve seen seeds that were planted in the early novels pay off in big …

reviewed Wintersteel by Will Wight (Cradle, #8)

Will Wight: Wintersteel (Paperback, 2020, Hidden Gnome Publishing) 5 stars

As the Uncrowned King tournament reaches its final rounds, tensions between the competing factions are …

Review of 'Wintersteel' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

At some point I'll write a full review on this. For now, I can only say that this was an amazing read. Previously, Underlord had been my favorite of the Cradle series, mostly because of the wonderful character development in that novel. But Wintersteel now competes for that position. I'd say the character development in Underlord is still the best in the series, but Wintersteel edges it out for the top slot because not only does it have really great character development, but we have incredible action sequences, we learn more about the world and the sacred arts, and the end of the book is filled with "Wow!" or "Oh yeah!" moments. It's fantastic. If you haven't read it yet, you need to. If you haven't started the Cradle series at all yet...what are you waiting for?!

Jack London: The sea-wolf (2015, Thorpe) 4 stars

After embarking on a pleasure cruise, bookish young Humphrey van Weyden finds himself shipwrecked amidst …

Review of 'The sea-wolf' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I first heard about Antoine Bandele when his book, The Kishi, started getting some positive reviews among bloggers I follow. I’m always looking for unique and especially non-western settings (either creative secondary worlds or worlds inspired by non-western real world places and peoples), and it seemed like Bandele was an author working to provide those sorts of worlds. I haven’t managed to read The Kishi yet, but I knew I wanted to make sure Bandele was on my reading list for Self-Published Fantasy Month.

When I picked up By Sea & Sky I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I knew it was going to feature pirates. That was about it. But as the story progressed I was introduced to a wonderful, quirky cast of characters. The world itself was also interesting and engaging. But I also ended up finding interesting characters where I least expected them.

I love strong …

Ian Gregoire: The Exercise Of Vital Powers (Paperback, 2018, Lucid Dream) 3 stars

Review of 'The Exercise Of Vital Powers' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I came across Ian Gregoire’s The Exercise of Vital Powers when it was an entry in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off. It took me entirely too long to actually read it. There’s no particular reason for this, outside of a towering TBR that I haven’t been able to tame for years. This book has interesting magic, an unlikeable—but very well-crafted—protagonist, and engaging emotional beats. I love stories where magic plays a big role, and that’s absolutely the case here.

I should also note that after receiving feedback through SPFBO, Gregoire revised the work, had it edited, and acquired new cover art. This review is based on this second edition of the novel. One of the things I think is wonderful about self-published novels is that authors can improve them in this way. So, without further ado, my review.

The first thing that jumped out to me about the novel was …

Olivia Atwater: Half a Soul (2022, Orbit) 5 stars

Review of 'Half a Soul' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater is a delightful fantasy of manners. After a chance meeting with a faerie leaves her with only half a soul, Dora Ettings must learn to cope in a life devoid of strong, sharp, immediate emotions. Any hope of living a normal life seems dim indeed, until her cousin Vanessa contrives to introduce Dora to society in London. Filled with many tropes that will be familiar to fans of regency romance, Half a Soul transports readers to a magic-filled world with just the right blend of familiarity and mystery.

For me, what makes a romance story work best is when the characters are authentic and relatable. I need the story’s paramours to feel real as individuals, and for their relationship to feel believable. I want to feel for them and connect with the emotion they’re feeling, both in terms of growing attraction for one another …