Barb's reading list 2023
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1. The Reckoning – Book 3 of The Hundred by Vanessa Nelson. Another good book by this author. These books will definitely go in my re-read pile. In this book Yvonne, Guise, Sephenamin and Grayling and their men journey on a hunt for the missing girls that takes them to the Forbidden Lands and the Lost City which is where the first Hunar is buried. Lots happens – as always – in this book.
2. The Rending – Book 4 of The Hundred by Vanessa Nelson. Things were looking up for Yvonne and the crew until the Sisters in the Stone Walls were attacked. Now they are on a mission to find out who was responsible and bring justice to Adira and her sisters. Their journey takes them all the way to the Royal City. Another great book - the tension is rising again...
3. The Searching – Book 5 of The Hundred by Vanessa Nelson. The King is dead and Yvonne is framed for his murder and has to escape the Royal City to give herself a chance to find the real killer – who is likely to be the former court mage – Hiram – who they killed – but who used blood magic to come back to life. Unbeknownst to Yvonne, Guise was captured and tortured – his blood used to fuel the sorcerer. Yvonne uses her tracking magic to lead her motley crew on a rescue mission, then they need to reclaim the Royal City for the Valland Heir (Will). Yvonne also invites Ewan, a young court mage, to be her apprentice.
4. The Rising – Book 6 of The Hundred by Vanessa Nelson. Hiram is dead and Yvonne and Guise head home to Fir Tree Crossing. But all is not well in the world – there is still the darkness – the rending – that Yvonne can feel and it's causing a lot of unnatural creatures to appear. They discover it's focused on Fir Tree Crossing – and gather everyone together to fight and defeat it. They have the Rangers, the wulfkin, the Hundred and the spirits – the Firebird (Jerresesh), the Great Bear, the archer (Endell), the warrior (Nassash), and the great striped beast. Yvonne now has everyone she cares near her. It's a great ending to the series.
5. Deadly Night – Book 1 of Ageless Mysteries by Vanessa Nelson. The first book in a new series and I'm loving it. I really like Thea - she's honest, and caring, and also hiding her true nature. We find out more about her as the book goes on - like her father - Reardon, an ageless who her mother had loved and he left her without a word for his career never knowing she was pregnant with twins. And now he's in the Citadel. There's a terrible story in her past - her brother's death and her rescue from a similar fate - cast from the top of the citadel where they lived. Thea was also thrown off after brother so she is understandably afraid of heights. She's assigned to investigate the death of a woman in her district, and then finds there are more bodies. She is assigned a mage from the Citadel - Niath - to work with. They work well together but I didn't really get a sense of Niath yet. In the end he helps her fight of the night kind responsible for the killings - an escalus - something even the Ageless are wary of. Great introduction to a new series by this author.
6. False Dawn – Book 2 of Ageless Mysteries by Vanessa Nelson. Someone is forging the Archon's currency and Niath asks Thea for her help questioning the Ageless-born conscripts. Thea knows they wouldn't have done it and that won't stop them being punished for someone else's crimes. Thea and Niath discover the forger in the city, and in the course of their investigation also discover a new gang in the marketplace calling themselves the Hand – the Hand of the Goddess. They are brazen, and not afraid of the Ageless, but Thea knows the Ageless will crush the population to stop any dissent - and many innocent people will die. But the Ageless only care that the forger has been stopped - Thea and Niath know it's not over yet.
7. Morning Trap – Book 3 of Ageless Mysteries by Vanessa Nelson. Someone wants Thea dead! While investigating a missing person's case that will show her Sergeant and most of the watchmen at her station as being corrupt, Thea is lured into a trap by one of her colleagues and she and Niath are drugged and carted out of town to a Mage's trap (a morning trap) only to be thrown to their deaths. Only the appearance of Thea's wings saves them – not that she wants anything to do with them. She has been raised to fear the Ageless and does not want to be one of them. Once they make their way back to town they have to work with the Captain and his team in secret to out the corrupt watchmen and the Master Merchant who has been kidnapped non-humans and using them as slave labour. But sadly the other watchmen no longer trust Thea – even if they don't agree with what her sergeant did – they don't trust her for turning him in. So the Captain makes her an Investigator and bases her at his station.
8. Assassin's Noon – Book 4 of Ageless Mysteries by Vanessa Nelson. Thea is asked by Reardon to investigate a suspicious death. A Master Merchant is murdered in his magically warded house. And his death is the first of three, While investigating they are attacked by the Warriors of Alayla – fanatics and good warriors. Reardon is impressed with Thea's fighting skills and confronts her mother. Thea finds herself wanting to get to know Reardon – and he seems to want to get to know her more. At least his opinion of her has been raised! Lots happens in here – it turns out the killer was a hired assassin. But they never really explain how the assassin got into a warded house. Never mind - another great story with the plot thickening around the Hand. Thea has discovered they plan to challenge the Ageless.
9. Flightless Afternoon – Book 5 of Ageless Mysteries by Vanessa Nelson. What a book! I loved it! Thea is in the market when a dead Ageless is left there. The Archon killed a couple of people before Thea stepped in and promised to find the killer. Then another Ageless is killed - Lucan and Reghed disappeared at the same time - and it becomes clear the killer is Ageless. Thea has two days to discover the identity or she will be killed and the city burned down. As it becomes clear who it is - Thea is sure she will not survive the revelation. But her father - Reardon and Niath are with her when she tells the Archon that the killer is her son. Thea wanted to kill him - it would be justice for Theo and the dead Ageless - but the Archon asks her not to. He is barely punished - his wings are clipped - but between Reardon and Thea and the Accanter Watch - the Ageless know to be more aware - and wary of Aldric. I particularly liked the scene where they are at the ceremony for Lucan and Reghed and Thea feels acceptance for the first time. Though I'd like Reardon to deal - permanently - to the Ageless-born Archon's soldiers who threw Thea off the balcony at the Citdadel so she was injured facing the Archon. Great book.
10. Ascension Day – Book 6 of Ageless Mysteries by Vanessa Nelson. Great ending to this series. The race is on to find the missing Master Merchants - Kendrick and Gadsden. They know they are somehow using Ageless magic - which they use to create a magic trap that seriously injured Sutter, knocked out Thea and allowed the Captain to be kidnapped. So much happens in this book - ultimately it turns out all the trouble they've been dealing with, was because Edris (the Archon) helped Kendrick to mount an attack on the Citadel and the Ageless because she was bored! Aldric kills Edris and Thea kills Aldric after he attacked her. Everyone now knows she's Ageless but the Captain says she can continue in the job she loves. MY only complaint - and it's a tiny one - is that the mystery around why Thea's mother's messages never reached Reardon - nor his reach her. I felt like there should have been a story there - but I guess the relationship with Ware changed that. I really liked Reardon at the end and it was good to know that Thea trusted him and was looking forward to getting to know him and building a relationship with him. Fantastic series.
11. Skyward – Book 1 of the Skyward series by Brandon Sanderson. Fantastic book! I read this years ago when it was first out and I remembered I'd loved it but not the details of the story. I enjoyed it just as much this time and I purposely left reading it again until the series was finished so I could plough through them all at once. I'm not quite sure how you'd classify this book - space opera? Definitely YA - but I find I quite enjoy YA books. They tend to be a bit more innocent and direct. Spensa is an odd girl but I find her inner monologues entertaining. It's great to watch her progression from brash, over-confident youth, to someone who questions herself and finds for herself that she's no coward - the stigma she's been living under most of her life. ♥
12. Starsight – Book 2 of the Skyward series by Brandon Sanderson. Another fantastic book! Spensa – callsign Spin – takes over a mission
for an alien cytonic who has crash-landed on Detritus. Spin and M-bot disguise themselves and head to Starsight with the intention of stealing the Superiority's hyperdrive technology. What follows is a journey of discovery for Spensa to see the enemy as individuals – not just the 'Krell' – just people trying to live their best lives. She makes friends among them – but not with Brade – Winzki's pet human. There she also learns to fight delvers – and when Winzik (the Krell trying to take over the Superiority in a military coup – turns a delver of Detritus, Spensa convinces it instead to turn on Starsight. When Winzik turns his forces on her she escapes into the Nowhere where she hopes to find the key to beating the delvers.
13. Cytonic – Book 3 of the Skyward series by Brandon Sanderson. Spensa and what's left of M-bot are in the Nowhere. If people stay too long in the Nowhere they start to lose their memories and forget who they were. For most people there is no way out but Spensa doesn't let that slow her down – she'll learn what she needs to then go home to Jorgen, Gran gran and her friends. She discovers the truth about the delvers and then escapes back home with Lord Hesho – a kitsen she flew with at Starsight. Imagine my surprise when I got to the end of this book only to realise the story was in no way over and that there is a fourth book! Thankfully it's due out next month so I don;t have too long to wait.
14. Skyward Flight – A collection of novellas in the Skyward world by Brandon Sanderson. This book is made up of Sunreach – FM and Rig's story; ReDawn – Alanik's story; and Evershore – Jorgen's story. These all take place while Spensa is either at Startsight or in the Nowhere. It's great because at the end of Cytonic Spensa arrives back at Platform Prime to find Jorgen in an Admiral's uniform and we have no idea how that came about. It was so good to have these side stories to fill in the blanks. A great book.
15. Outcast – Book 1 of The Grey Gates by Vanessa Nelson. This is the first book in a new series and I loved it as much as I've loved her other books. Max is a former apprentice guardian – told she was no longer welcome when she returned injured from the underworld – despite having saved the world. When she realised they meant for her to die there – the betrayal was huge. Instead she joined the Marshals, the ones responsible for keeping the population safe from supernatural beings. Max likes to work alone because she doesn't want to be responsible for anyone else's death. So she tends to just work with her shadow hounds Cas and Pol. But a warrior from the Guardians recognises her – though it seems he's questioning the official line that she ran away and abandoned the warriors. Good – she's clearly a good person who has been picked on and bullied. She's already made allies with the most powerful vampire in the city – I can't wait to see her circle of trusted allies and friends grow. Really looking forward to the next one.
16. Defender of Walls – Book 1 of the Kingdom of Walls series by Tanya Bird. I loved this series the first time I read it – especially Harlan and Blake's story. I loved it this time too. I remembered there were sad bits but I think I'd forgotten quite how harrowing it was. I think I might have to skip the rest of the series in this re-read – I can't do another tear-jerker right now I think.
17. Mortal Blade – Book 1 of the Magelands Eternal Siege series by Christopher Mitchell. This sounded like it would be good - A city ruled by Gods, a mortal champion, a misfit girl and a disobedient dragon… but it was sadly disappointing. I couldn't get behind any of the characters - they all seemed a bit superficial to me. The writing was okay except for that - which is critical really for me. If I don't get invested in the MC – of which there were too many in this book – I'm never going to be able to carry on. I'm quite proud of the fact that I persevered to actually finish it. I won't be reading any more. The Champion came across as good-natured but dim-witted. The love interest between him and a demi-god was like, they met, they kissed once and they were in love. It was ridiculous. Clearly written by a man who has zero understanding of how to build a romantic relationship. Ugh!
18. Dead to me – Book 1 of the Grave Talker series by Annie Anderson. I needed something not too heavy after the last book. I actually really enjoyed this book. Darby was funny - snarky and trying not to let anyone know she can talk to ghosts. She's called in to investigate the murder of her High School nemesis. Her Dad is lovely and protective of her but he's seeing the Medical Examiner her Darby doesn't trust - with reason as it turns out. She's been trying to raise the Angel of Death - who, it turns out, is Darby's real father and why she has an affinity with death magic. Darby has helped a lot of the supernatural communities and so she's owed favours by them all. At the end of this book she is captured by the ABI - the Arcane Bureau of Investigation - headed by her mother who she thought had died when she was a teenager.
19. Dead and gone – Book 2 of the Grave Talker series by Annie Anderson. Another quite good book. Darby and her friends are fighting against the mysterious X - one of Darby's siblings by the Angel of Death.
20. A Court this cruel and lovely – Book 1 of the Kingdom of Lies series by Staci Stark. Oh my God! This book was amazing! So many plot twists and turns! It had me so tense - I wanted to read but I didn't because I was so worried about what was going to happen. Prisca is a great Female Main Character - she grows from scared, village girl to truly a survivor! She's spent her life buying her power for fear of being discovered by the King's Assessors and taken to the castle to burn on God's Day. Over the course of the book she learns to wield her power with the help of Lorian - a mercenary. So much happens in this book I can't possibly list it all - but it was such a good book! I can't wait for the second one!
21. Shadow's Messenger – Aileen Travers Book 1 by T.A. White. I've read this series a couple of times before - I think the reason I only re-read in preparation for a new book in the series is because none of the main characters really draw me in like her other world's do. Even though I know that I come to love these characters - it's weird. But anyway, Book 6 is due out soon so I'm re-reading the series to remember where the story is at. Aileen is a messenger for the shadow world – a vampire turned against her will (which is apparently unheard of these days) – this first book is about her being discovered by the vampires and constantly running away from them. She also meets the wolves – Brax is their alpha – as well as entrapping herself with a vindictive, soulless sorcerer. We meet her former friend, Caroline and her family. An okay start to the series - thankfully it gets better.
22. Midnight's Emissary – Aileen Travers Book 2 by T.A. White. The selection of the master of the midwest is happening and Aileen is recruited to trace Thomas's descendants. Caroline gets involved helping Aileen's research and is captured by a demon-tainted vampire and turned into a werewolf. While searching for her the sorcerer makes Aileen pluck her own eye out! Liam saves her and heals her and when it grows back she can see magic. A rare and coveted ability which she keeps quiet for now. In the end Aileen has to reveal that Thomas is her sire to prevent a monster taking over the region.
23. Moonlight's Ambassador – Aileen Travers Book 3 by T.A. White. Caroline leaves the farm where the new wolves are kept until they can control their wolves - and asks Aileen to help her. But she slips away while Aileen is asleep when the wolves come to claim her. Aileen is taken by Liam to stay at the Gargoyle – their base in Columbus. She's introduced to the human companions and when a couple of them are killed by a werewolf they all blame Caroline - except Aileen. Even Brax admits the bite is too small for Caroline's wolf. Still Aileen is worried for her friend and agrees to help bring her in. In the process she nearly dies – badly bitten by Caroline – the demon taint in her bite means they have difficulty healing her. Aileen probably had more to do with it than anything. In the end, it turned out that Thomas's descendants were in Columbus – one living in his house as a companion and one as one of Brax's new wolves – the same one who drove Caroline off the farm. Their intent is to start a war between the vampires and the wolves but Aileen survives the hunt they set up and all is revealed. They had been raised by Steven – the monster who Thomas defeated to take over the territory and were completely turned against Thomas. Sometimes you just gotta feel a little bit sorry for Thomas. Caroline is cleared and Liam now knows Aileen can see magic (from when she was delirious after the attack). I love that Aileen is letting Liam get closer – he clearly has feelings for her.
24. Dawn's Envoy – Aileen Travers Book 4 by T.A. White. This is a goodie. Aileen had been drawing closer to Liam until he disappeared for 3 months – by then she was back to shutting him out and keeping her distance. She takes a job with Liam – she needs the money because she was fired from her messenger job. Just as well too because all those connected to Jerry were enslaved by the Fae Queen Niamh when she and her husband – with their court – arrive in town to set up a barrow. She's evil and it turns out she used to have her hooks in Liam and he ran as the Lord of the Wild Hunt. The Hunt has been called and Aileen marked as its prey. Connor guides her during the hunt to evade the hunters – led by Liam. She was able to control him because she enslaved Nathan and Nathan fought Liam which made him vulnerable to Niamh. Inara tells Aileen she is a magic breaker and she uses her strength to free Connor from Niamh's spell. Arlan knows what she is – this could turn interesting...
25. Twilight's Herald – Aileen Travers Book 5 by T.A. White. This is the best so far in this series. Aileen has accepted being a vampire and Connor has decided he's her brother. Someone is trying to kidnap Aileen and draw her into a shadow realm - so they visit Arlan's burrow to see if they can find out. Turns out, Aileen is part Fae. Her father was the ruler of a shadow realm but he threw away the crown and some of The Scattered want her to retrieve it since she's a magic breaker. Instead of accepting the crown or giving it to Liam, she chooses Niall as the next King. It's good to see Aileen and Liam accepting their relationship - though she's chosen to live in her own place - with Connor - so Thomas names them their own House. Looking forward to the next book in this series.
26. The Terrans – Book 1 of The First Salik War by Jean Johnson. This could have been a really good book if it weren't for the long-winded explanations that added nothing to the story. I liked it enough to read the next one - but I'm sure I'll never read it again. The premise was good - a future Earth where there is a single government - and some people have psychic abilities. They can explore their own star system but visions from Pre-cognitives suggest they are going to discover new aliens than just The Greys they know about. A small crew is sent off in a explorer craft and discover aliens like themselves, except with stripes or spots or markings on their skin. That race - the V'Dan - also have prophesies about them. It's far from smooth sailing - but this book is about their time on Earth. The plan is to find the V'Dan's system and take them home, and help them win their war against the Salik.
27. V'Dan – Book 2 of The First Salik War by Jean Johnson. Another good book with the potential to be great with a good edit. Just too much extraneous blurb that adds nothing to the story - and quite possibly detracts from it. The author goes into great detail about the Haka the Terrans perform for the V'Dan - but it was all bullshit! I wouldn't have minded if she didn't actually say it was Maori! The words were close, but not Maori, and the supposed 'translation' of the haka was just bullshit! I also was put off by an analogy she used referring to a game of cricket between the Aussies and the Brits - that was also bullshit. I think the author needs to stick to Sci-Fi and not try to incorporate Earth cultures because she got it so wrong. One can only hope she got all the shit about the Hawaiian culture correct because she went on and on about that. Again - I was interested enough to buy the next book - but I'll never read it again.
28. The Blockade – Book 3 of The First Salik War by Jean Johnson. I mainly read this because of the way the last book ended with Li'eth's sister having him stunned and shipped off world! The distance between them, and his terror at being in the vicinity of another Salik attack, triggered Jackie to teleport to Li'eth and from there they visit all the worlds the Terran soldiers are being shipped to. Again they get caught in an attack by the Salik. This book was probably better than the first two in that it's nit quite as long-winded, though there were more than two spots where I had to skim to keep my interest going. It's a shame really, this series has the potential to be really good. It just needs a bloody good edit to trim out all the extraneous shit that adds nothing to the story.
29. Called – Book 2 of The Grey Gates by Vanessa Nelson. Another great book by this author - now one of my firm favourites. We first met Max and Bryce (not much of Bryce at that point) in Outcast. This story happens directly after that book. People are missing and Max doesn't want to get involved until the daughter and granddaughter of the couple who saved her when she was thrown out of the Order go missing. She ends up working with Bryce and some of his warriors who were at the docks investigating dark magic when Max goes there to find Nati and Ynes. This is a great adventure that sends them out into the Wild - Max still recovering from her injuries in Outcast. I can't wait to see when she inevitably saves the world when the Order either can't or won't. There's definitely something dodgy about the Order. I love that Max - who always thought she was alone - now has a solid circle of friends including Audhilde - an ancient vampire. Great series - waiting with baited breath for the next book in this series.
30. Concealed – Book 1 of The Taellaneth by Vanessa Nelson. While I'm on a Vanessa Nelson bent – I wanted to go back to the first books of hers I discovered – The Taellaneth. Arrow remains one of my favourite characters. I loved it just as much on a second reading – maybe even more because the world wasn't so new to me. I still hate the Taellan – except for Kester of course. Even though even he is a little obtuse at this point. How does he not see that the way they treat Arrow – calling her 'it' and telling her she's not a person! – is remotely right?! Anyway – I love the 'kin and I love that Zachary has extended his protection to Arrow, though that may not have been enough to save her if they hadn't banished her from the Taellaneth. I also loved that Kallish has appointed herself and her hand-picked third as Arrow's protectors.
31. Nightfall's Prophet – Aileen Travers Book 6 by T.A. White. What a ride! Another great book by T.A. White. This is my least favourite of her series – or at least it was. The last three books in this series have been really, really good. I love how all the characters are developing – how I'm starting to like characters I didn't particularly like earlier in the series now that I'm getting to know them better. Connor is funny, and Aileen and Liam are so good together. I like that Aileen doesn't go off half-cocked anymore accepts that it's good to have someone watching your back and working as a team. There are new players on the filed now – Liam and Thomas' sire is back, and it turns out Aileen's dad (the one who raised her) is a Hunter – Hunter-born no less – and he knew what she was. Her mother and sister now know she's a vampire and accept her – it's awesome! Great book! As an aside – I was given this book as an ARC to read and the admin asked for us to let her know all the typos and errors we picked up – which we did. I looked at the published book and not one of them has been fixed! I'm not sure what to do – there were some glaring errors in this one. All I can think is that her 'proofreader' is not really a proofreader – or the sequencing is wrong maybe? I'd like to see all those errors fixed.
32. Revealed – Book 2 of The Taellaneth by Vanessa Nelson. I love this series! This book starts straight after the last one – at the underground cellar where they discovered the Descendants who were delving into forbidden magic and surjusi taint. It starts with Arrow being summoned back to the Taellaneth to 'take care of a minor administrative matter' that turns out to be renewing her oath vows! How dare they treat her life as some administrative function! Poor Arrow. She refuses the binding – even being told she's not a person so can't refuse! The Taellan (with the exception of Kester) disgust me! Then she's abducted by humans while trying to get into the site again – luckily Kallish nuin Falsen had spotted her and was trying to get to her just as the humans got her and was kidnapped too so was able to help Arrow get away. Lots of adventure in this book culminating in the rogue magician being identified as the Preceptor's brother, and attacking the Academy. Arrow is the only one who can save the Erith, and yet as soon as he is destroyed, she is sent away! Luckily the Shifkin appreciate her and have provided her with a house and workspace for her own use. Arrow now has a chance to explore what it's like to live without the bindings of the Erith – something no other mage has ever had to live with. She's so much stronger than they are! I love her – and pretty much dislike most of the Erith – especially because we meet Orlis in this book – and he is also of mixed heritage and yet not only welcome in the Heartland, but at the Palace – he's not considered an abomination. So sad.
33. Betrayed – Book 3 of The Taellaneth by Vanessa Nelson. This is another great book – the series could easily have ended with this book (not that I'm sorry it didn't) but enough storylines were wrapped up that it could have. Arrow is sent ot the Erith heartland – a place she has been banned from – and asked to search for Gilean Vo Presien (war mage and Orlis' companion) who is missing, but also to investigate the death of one of the Queen's favourites in the Palace. Arrow is shocked to learn that contrary to what she has always been told by Seggerat (her maternal grandfather) she is not unNamed – in fact the Queen gives her a copy of her Naming scroll. It makes the way she has been treated even more cruel. Miach – the Queen's guard – learns to respect Arrow, as do many others in the Heartland, and she solves the mystery of the Queen's death (she dies part way through the book). I think Kester finally sees some of what keeps Arrow so formal – she has been treated like a slave – not a person – her whole life. A wonderful book.
34. Tainted – Book 4 of The Taellaneth by Vanessa Nelson. A good angle to continue this story – the bad guys are humans trying to make a deal with a demon to get rid of the Erith. Arrow is working with the Shifkin and so attends the tripartite gathering of Humans, 'kin and Erith to renegotiate the treaty as humans seem to think the original one was an agreement with Freyella (The Erith Queen) rather than with the Erith as a race. Arrow discovers a portal opened to the demon realm and while trying ot close it is pushed through (Kester following her through). While there, they find the six – five warriors and war mage that stopped the last major surjusi incursion. They have been trapped in this realm since then - over 100 years in Earth time. Together, they make it to Saul's fortress (Saul is the Lord of the Demon realm) and find Serran prisoner there. He is not nice to Arrow despite being her long-lost grandfather. Eventually they make it out – using spells the humans who opened the portal took with them. But Saul manages to get partway through – Arrow has to sacrifice herself to stop him - but the Heartland saves her. It turns out the Magister of the Collegia – the human magic assembly – has been dealing in dark magic. The Erith and the Shifkin work with Dorian - who is the new head of the Collegia to set things right, and Arrow goes back to planning her trip, exploring the human world.
35. Cloaked – Book 5 of The Taellaneth by Vanessa Nelson. The last book in the series and a great ending. The Heartland is under attack and Arrow is once again called upon to help. On the day Arrow and Kester are to leave on their long-planned holiday Zachary asks for Arrow's help to investigate something. It turns out to be more evidence of blood magic and also evidence of Erith involvement. Then she is summoned to the Temple to help choose a new monarch for the Erith – along with a suspect group of people – as Arrow works out – all those capable of stopping a surjusi attack. They already knew the temple was tainted because Undurat's brother, Duraner, who was a Gardender, had travelled to the Taellaneth to deliver Arrow's cloak - made for her years before but never given to her. And he was tainted. They have a battle to end all battles at the end – to save the Heartland. Iserat was holding some of her essence to protect it and he becomes the new Erith king – chosen by the Heartland. Arrow is also marked as a Champion of the Heartland – and Iserat grants all her requests – to be made head of House Liathius and extend her lands to the Human borderlands. Kester is accepted into her House, and Kallish and her Cadre go with her, as do Ferdith and what's left of his Cadre. A lovely ending.
36. Fourth Wing – by Rebecca Yarros. I think this might be the find of the year! I loved it! Such a good book - great characters, world-building and story progression. Violet Sorrengail is the youngest daughter of General Sorrengail - the commanding Officer of Basgiath - the college that trains new riders (who bond with dragons), healers and scribes (there must be one other as they are quadrants). Violet has trained her whole life to enter the Scribe Quadrant - but six months before she's due to enter, her mother tells her she is to enter the Riders Quadrant. There are only two way to leave there - graduate or die. And Violet is not physically strong - she has weak joints and bones - it's almost surely a death sentence for her. Her childhood best friend is a second year - Dain Aetos - and he seems to be all golden sunlight blah blah blah. But from the start I don't like the way he's always undermining her, pointing out her faults, and trying to get her out of there - instead of helping her succeed. Xaden Riorson is the son of the Great Betrayer - and he is a third year. Gorgeous, deadly, and out to get her. I love the way we get to really know the characters, rather than just see what you expect to see by reputation. I really loved it - and that ending! Luckily book two will be out later this year so I'll get to read it again before that comes out. Absolutely fantastic!
37. Shield of Winter – A Psy Changeling novel by Nalini Singh. I was in a bit of a reading slump after reading Fourth Wing (it was too good - so hard to follow). I tried a book called Daughter of the Drowned Empire which I had to give up on and then decided the only way to get past it was to read a book I know I love – but in a different genre. So I returned to Vasic and Ivy's story. I absolutely love this book. I remember thinking when it first came out, it wasn't the book I was expecting, but I loved both Vasic and Ivy, and Jayar and Abbot. There is so much hope and possibility of redemption in this book. I love that Ivy has Rabbit, and how Rabbit attaches himself to Vasic and then the Arrows. I truly loved it. It worked to break me out of my reading funk.
38. The Elf Tangent – by Lindsay Buroker. I decided to try something a little different rather than dive deeper into the Psy Changeling world at this point as there's another new book due out in a couple of months and I'll dive back in at some point and read a few in a row. Anyway, this book was quite good - quite fun, but the ending was quite tame, not quite what I was expecting for a stand-alone book. Having said that, I did enjoy it.
39. The Serpent and the Wings of Night – Nightborn Duet – book one by Carissa Broadbent. This one comes highly recommended on FB – and I have to say it lived up to the hype. Though towards the end I was a bit conflicted because I really like Raihn, and I understand why Oraya feels betrayed, but I wanted more of a happy ending. I also noticed, in a note at the end of the book, the author noted there are five! more books to come in this world – so I think I'll wait till more come out before I dive back into this world. I did love the trials – and I was beginning to see Vincent as a monster – I just want Oraya to remember that side of him and not hurt Raihn to avenge him.
40. Hunted – by Vanessa Nelson – Book 3 in the Grey Gates series. Another great book from Vanessa Nelson. This book carries on the story from the last book. Max is waiting to hear from Bryce who cancelled their date, and meanwhile a new threat has arisen and the city's police officers are being targeted and beaten by mysterious armed men in black. Audhilde mentions to Max that her Vault had been tampered with, so when Max feels someone tampering with hers she reacts to keep it shut, and is then pulled through a portal into her own vault. She find herself in the Vault – the facility that houses all magicians vaults. They've been breeched by what she finds out is the Syndicate – once Bryce comes through the portal. A great fight through the Vault, with the Armourer – a Warden at the Vault – and Max and Bryce against dozens of Syndicate fighters, a strong magician and a demon (Queran), and Evan Yarwood who admits he's a descendent of Arkus himself. I suspect Max is a direct descendent of the Lady of light herself – with the ease with which she can wield light now. The High Priestess insists she belongs with the Order, but Max refuses. They treated her like shit, Kitris called her a liar about closing the Grey Gates – and then dismissed her. I agree she shouldn't go back. And Kitris is acting strangely – I'm beginning to think he is working FOR dark magic instead of against it. I like that Bryce seems to break protocol to stay near Max – and that he is always protecting her. I'm looking forward to the next book in this series.
41. A Court of Thorns and Roses – by Sarah J. Maas – Book 1 of A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I expected this to be better given the fandom around it, but I found it hard to like either of the main characters. I liked Lucian and Rhysand – those two seem much deeper than Tamlin or anyone else. I started liking Feyre a little bit more towards the end of the book – but not completely. She seems blind to how good Rhysand really is. I'm glad Amarantha was killed – I can't say I respected Tamlin for the way he behaved under the mountain. I'll give the next one a try – see if it gets better. I'd probably only give this book 3 1/2 stars because I will never re-read it!
42. A Court of Mist and Fury – by Sarah J. Maas – Book 2 of A Court of Thorns and Roses series. This book was definitely better than the first book. To be honest, I still didn't really like Feyre – I still found her annoying. I get that the experience Under the Mountain broke her – and being pushed aside and never allowed to talk about it, and being coddled by Tamlin and Ianthe was the last thing she needed, not to mention insulting given she had just sacrificed everything to save their asses, but when Rhysand sent Mor to rescue her after Tamlin locked her up, she didn't act very grateful. I did however, love getting to know Mor, Amren, Cassian and Azriel (and Rhys of course). And I admired Feyre when she fought for Valaris when it was attacked by Hybern, but all the good was undone by her – to me – unreasonable response to finding out Rhys was her mate and knowing he knew but hadn't told her. I would've thought it would be obvious why he hadn't told her – she had been about to marry Tamlin! Not only that – she had told Rhys all she wanted from him was a distraction! Poor man! No wonder he didn't tell her she was his mate! Why make himself even more vulnerable?! Sometimes her reactions are so juvenile! I thought it was pretty obvious the bond between Rhys and Feyre was a mating bond. There were so many times I felt sorry for Rhys. But she redeemed herself by sacrificing herself at the Hybern King's court so Rhys, and his family, and her family, could escape – even though I did NOT like the idea of her returning to Tamlin – who had effectively take the wrong side in the war to retrieve what he deemed as his – without any regard for her feelings. Which is what drove her to leave in the first place! Duh! My other wee complaint about these books is that they're supposed to be YA – so I wasn't expecting the quite detailed love/sex scenes. I'm not a prude – and would want that level of detail in an adult fantasy book – but consider your audience! Geez! That's all I'm going to say about. I can;t see myself going through the pain of re-reading this one wither.
43. A Court of Wings and Ruin – by Sarah J. Maas – Book 3 of A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Okay, so finally a book that lives up to the hype of this series. It was a big book too. I'm glad I stuck with it to read this book. This is the culminating book – and the story could happily have ended here with no need for further books. Rhysand and Feyre are busy trying to find allies for the war against Hybern – a mission in itself. I hated Tamlin, again, in this book – even though I figured he must still love Feyre after saving her and allowing her to escape Hybern's camp when she went in to save Elain with Azriel. Lots happens, but for me one of the big things was finding out that Feyre's father had gathered an army together, along with the cursed sixth queen, and come just in time to join the final battle. I wasn't unsurprised by his death – par for the course where the King of Hybern was involved. I loved the scenes where Nesta and Cassian took on the king, and she covered his body with her own when it looked like he was poised to kill Cassian. And when they all make it home at the end of the war, I figured that was incredibly lucky. I really enjoyed this book. The scene before the final battle when Rhysand went around the room saying to each person what having them in his life has meant to him was magic. It was a beautifully written scene. I would've been happy to see the series end here and leave the rest to our imagination.
44. A Court of Frost and Starlight – by Sarah J. Maas – Book 4 of A Court of Thorns and Roses series. This is just a small book – I get the feeling this was like a Christmas story – though in this case a 'Solstice' story. For the most part I enjoyed this – where I came unstuck was Nesta. I don't understand how things went from where Cassian and Nesta were at the end of the last book – to in this book where she won't even talk to him! There is no logic to this and it really frustrated me. I'm also a little torn over Lucian. I kind of feel sorry for him that Elain is not interested in getting to know him, but I think he could be a bit more understanding of her particular set of circumstances and how they affect her actions. Personally, I would prefer a relationship between Elain and Az! I loved that Feyre and her friend Rissina developed the studio for children to come along and have lessons in art as a form of therapy to help them express the trauma they can't talk about following the war. Feyre has definitely developed into a better person – I really like her character now.
45. A Court of Silver Flames – by Sarah J. Maas – Book 5 of A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I tried really hard to like this book because I like Cassian. But dear God, SJM has a knack for writing unlikeable characters! This is effectively a redemption story for Nesta, and while eventually we get there – it took waay too long. I still hated her a quarter of the way in (and it's a big book – 750 pages). This book could have been edited down to at least half the size – there was a lot of unnecessary filler. And there was still so much left up in the air at the end. Very unsatisfying. I won't be putting myself through the torture of reading any more of her books. These books were the most 'angsty teenager' of all the YA books I have ever read. it was painful.
46. Dead to the World – by Annabel Chase – Book 1 of the Crossroads Queen series. What a breath of fresh air! An urban fantasy with a bunch of great characters – including a curmudgeonly FMC. But this speaks exactly to the point I was trying to make with SJM's novels – this character may not have been friendly per se – but she secretly has a heart of gold and while not overly friendly, is not nasty to people. I needed this book. Loved it. Nice and short and a great introduction to a new world. I do quite like Annabel Chase's books I find. Lorelei Clay can talk to ghosts – and clearly has more power that we're yet to learn about but most other supernaturals are weary of her. Which is why she moved to the small town of Fairhaven – to get away from people and live in seclusion. But when a local girl goes missing, Lorelei agrees to help look for her. Lots of fun – lots of interesting characters. Great read (to get me over SJM)
47. Dead of Night – by Annabel Chase – Book 2 of the Crossroads Queen series. Another great read. I really like Lorelei – she keeps to herself mainly because of some deep, dark secret we haven't been let in on yet – but given the name of the series she's probably some underworld queen. There was more flirting between Lorelei and Kane – the resident demon. Lorelei and her friends (namely Matilda from the Wild Hunt) had to clear out The Corporation – an evil corporation that everyone – including Kane was scared of. Plus we meet another misfit teenager that she took under her wing. For someone who claims they like to be alone, she's gathering quite a few friends around her. Very enjoyable.
48. Angel's Blood – by Nalini Singh – Book 1 of the Guild Hunter series. This is still one of my favourite series – at least the books that concentrate on Elena and Raphael. I'm not so fussed on the books about the side characters. I'm slowly starting my re-read in anticipation of a new Elena and Raphael story due out next year. I'll take my time with the re-read so I'm not all done and dusted months ahead of schedule!
49. Wild Knight – by Annabel Chase – Book 1 of the Midnight Empire: The Tower series. I felt like a dip back into this world while I figured out what I want to read. I really enjoy Annabel Chase's style of writing and I particularly like London and Callan.
50. King of Ashes: Book One of The Firemane Saga by Raymond E Feist. I enjoyed this book. It's my first Raymond E Feist book for a long time. I forgot how much I like his writing. To be honest, I nearly gave up after the prologue because it was so heartrending. How could I like a character like Baron Daylon Dumarch, who betrayed a man "he loved like a brother" to effectively save his own skin? There is a legend that when the last Firemane dies, the world would feel the backlash. Daylon finds the sole surviving Firemane heir in his tent after the battle and arranges for the mysterious Kingdom of Night to be raised and returned to him on his 17th birthday. Hatushaly (Hatu) knows he different, but he is raised to be a thief and an assassin alongside the children of Coaltachin. When the masters find out how dangerous he might be, they determine to send him back to North Tembria, with Hava pretending to be his wife, and with knowing that she may be given the order to kill him at some point. Meanwhile Declan, a young Master Smith, makes his way to Daylon as his town is overrun with slavers and soldiers from the king that betrayed Hatu's family.
Declan ends up in the town of Beran's Hill, and starts courting the local innkeeper's daughter.
This book, as it is for most fantasy series, is all about world-building and introducing the main characters. There is definitely power in Hatu, but he doesn't yet know how to use it.
51. Queen of Storms: Book Two of The Firemane Saga by Raymond E Feist.
Declan marries his betrothed, Gwen, and Hatu and Hava marry on midsummer – and that same night the town is attacked by a strange army. Have races away to notify the Baron, while Declan sends Gwen and his apprentice away while he and Hatu join the fight for the town, and to give others time to get away. But Hatu is carries away (literally) in the midst of battle by the Flameguard, an ancient order who have long trained the Firemane's in their power. While Declan is one of the few to survive the slaughter of the town (including his beloved Gwen). Again with my issue of not liking Daylon – he basically sent Hatu to the town as bait for the neighbouring King, and it didn't appear to matter one bit to him that Declan was one of his illegitimate brothers.
I forget where one book ends and the next begins, but effectively this book is all about Hava chasing slavers to find Hatu thinking he'd been carried off by slavers. She becomes a great sea captain, and steals the legendary ship, Queen of Storms, off the most feared assassins in the world.
This book is a great mix of heartbreak and rolicking fun. Hava is awesome!
52. Master of Furies: Book Three of the Firemane Saga by Raymond R. Feist. Tjhis book has two main storylines – one is all about Hatu learning to use his magic and the other follows Baron Dumarch's preparations for an attack on the ones who destroyed most of North Tembria (including his family – who ironically would have been safe if he hadn't sent them 'to safety' because Marquensas was the only state to survive. Hava uses her resources to free the people taken as slaves, obviously finds Hatu, and works to find a way to get Daylon's army to the secret land where the Pride Lords reign. Sadly, I thought the end of the book was anticlimactic. These dreaded Pride Lords who had orchestrated the total destruction of North Tembria – randomly sailing off and leaving one province untouched – basically put up no fight when Daylon's army arrived and were defeated in a day. The battle scene was far less dramatic that the battle at Beran's Hill! And I was also a teensy bit disappointed to see Hatu and Hava taken to Midkemia so Hatu could learn more about his powers from Pug. I so wanted Feist to stay in a different world. Oh well. It was good - but not great, this book.
53. The Way of Kings Part One – The Stormlight Archive Book One by Brandon Sanderson. A huge book – and this is only part one of this book! It took me a wee while to get used to the new world, new systems etc, but I do love Brandon Sanderson's writing. My favourite characters from this first book are Kaladin and Dalinar. I so hope their worlds meet because I think they are two honourable characters in a world of snakes. I'm not even sure how to describe this book - other than an endless struggle. But the key thing of note is the way they use spheres infused with Stormlight. And the fact that Kaladin – unkowingly – seems to be able to draw, and use stormlight – like the Lost Radiants – once known as the Knights Radiant. Perhaps I'll give a better overview when I've finished Part Two of this book.
54. The Way of Kings Part Two – The Stormlight Archive Book One by Brandon Sanderson. Wow! Thinking about these two books as one entity – what an amazing story. I still love Kaladin and Dalinar most. Seeing Kaladin fight to protect and build up his bridgemen was just fantastic. He's a true protector. When Dalinar had been betrayed by Sadeas at The Tower and Syl said she remembered what kind of spren she was – an honour spren – it all made sense. Why she was drawn to him. His 'failing' was always that he tried to protect those who couldn't protect themselves. It was interesting that she felt the Shardblade was 'wrong' – because he had felt the same way when he defeated the Shardbearer that was attacking Amaram. It's why he didn't want the Shardplate and blade and gave it to his best fighter – only to be betrayed by Amaram who took them for himself, murdered Kaladin's men and branded Kaladin a slave. No wonder Kaladin hated lighteyes! After all the revelations, I'm now wondering if Jasnah and Shallen are a type of Knight Radiant as well? So many more secrets to uncover! A great book!
55. Forged – Book 4 of The Grey Gates by Vanessa Nelson. I needed to read something a bit quicker and easier to read than The Way of Kings and lucky for me Forged had just been released. I'm a huge fan of Vanessa Nelson's writing and this book did not disappoint – though I felt the ending was a little anti-climatic. But I love following Max and Bryce. I admit I was surprised to find out Kitris was her father and Emmeline (the High Priestess) her mother – though it was a pact with the Lady to have one of her children in the world. I had wondered all book why neither Max nor Bryce mentioned the fact that The City was part of a much larger world which they found out while in the Vault. I guess the implication was that there was no down-time between the events of that book and this one. But to find out at the end that Kitris knew – well, that adds all sorts of questions!
I love that Max is gathering a group of allies without trying and though she still worries about others being hurt while working with her, she allows that they are skilled in their own right.
56. Guardian of Torment – Book Four of the Nyx Fortuna novels by Michelle Manus. In breaking the Hiding her mother put on her, Nyx has fractured her memories and as they fall into place she has periods of thinking herself as a younger version of herself and not recognising anyone but Seth. It leads to a lot of entertaining situations. Jevryn pulled her mother back to the Station to help but Nyx had 'an episode' and in reaching for Seth found herself on a secret Councillor's planet – Nethrayne – where the Kumir originated from. Turns out they were all versions of Beaureguard's wife and they were on a mission to rescue her. Jevryn rescued them when Nyx tried to open a portal home, and then killed the Councillor because she realised that Nyx was his daughter (not that she knows it at that point). Big revelations – Viktor is dead, killed by Elena's new husband, Elena has a new family including a daughter and doesn't want her husband to know she already has a daughter, obvioulsy Nyx is Jevryn's daughter – drugged by Elena to achieve that, lots of hurt feelings all around. I actually thought Nyx was a little harsh on Jevryn at the end – but that's just my soft heart. I liked Seth more in this book – I'm still confused why I want Nyx to be with Kaden more than Seth – it doesn't fit the storyline sadly, but I really did want them to work out. Anyway, a good book. When the last one comes out I plan to start again at book 1 and read the whole thing.
57. Dead Last – Crossroads Queen Book Three by Annabel Chase. I like this series. Loralei is a softy who thinks she likes solitude - but really is a sucker for anyone in need. She agrees to take part in an experiment – taking the place of her friend Gunther's sister, Dusty, who has been turned into a swan when something went wrong. It turned out the richest mob boss in town, who is also a vampire, is running a fight club (to the death) and giving contestants a god-formula that allows them to channel a god or goddesses' powers. This is when we find out what Loralei's great secret is – she's a natural born Goddess re-born. The Goddess of nightmares and the dead or ghosts or something like that. But from the minute Kane realises she's a goddess, he turns cold and basically turfs her out of his car. That's so sad, because she definitely had feelings for him. And in the process of saving Dusty she has made a new enemy in the form of Victor Manganella – mob boss/vampire. Next book should be interesting. I don't know how many books there are in the series so who knows if the story is drawing to a close?
58. The Branded book one by Jo Riccioni. I loved this! In a world where a deadly virus swept across the world a century ago, the survivors are classed as either Branded – those with marks on their skin from the virus, or Pure – those with no markings – or brand. Pure women are supposedly treasured, but they effectively breeders who are expected to breed strong, pure, children. Brands are seen as weak, and definitely second-class citizens. In the Isfalki Citadel, brands are kept separate and forced to live in slums while the Pure live in the 'safety' of the Citadel.
Nara and Osha Fornwood were born and raised as Fornwood Solitaries – meaning they didn't live in the citadel, but were raised in the Fornwood Forest by their grandmother. At age 8, their holding was attacked by men disguised as Reis mercenaries, their grandmother was killed and their hut burned down. The girls (twins) flee to the citadel and were raised there. It wasn't until they were nearly ready to graduate school that Nara was accused of being a Brand – and her head shaved to show it.
Cast out she learns more about herself and her skill from The Wrangler – a reis man – and the Blood Witch. It turns out – the skill she has at tuning into her prey's heartbeat, making it easier to make a kill, is due to magic and a skill known as 'Sway'. Osha has the Sway as well – but hers is tuned to healing.
They are kidnapped by Wasters, and transported across the desert to Orlathston. Nara is sold into Orlathson's Cooler– where she to fight for her life. She has Osha's braid-promised with her though to keep her going. When they are scheduled to fight a huge match – they see Orlathston has Osha next to him – bruised and with bite marks on her throat. It's clear she has been r#ped by him and it spurs both Nara and Haus into a frenzy. The Wrangler starts a fire in the stands that allows them all to escape, and they get to a ship and make their way to Reis. But ... Osha won't tell Haus what happened because she's pregnant and doesn't know if the baby is his or Orlathston's and she won't force him to raise a baby not his own when the Hrossi place such stock in bloodlines.
Meanwhile Nara finally gives in to her desire for Wrangler, only to find out (straight after they've slept together) that not only is he betrothed, but that his betrothed has come out to the ship with his sister to meet them and escort them home!
59. The Rising book two of The Branded Duology by Jo Riccioni. Loved it – though I admit Nara got on my nerves a little bit in this one with the way she kept pushing Wrangler away and her constant negativity. But in all, it was a great story with a great ending. I think there's a moral to these stories in that there will always be people who think they are superior to others and will do their utmost to keep them down. The only reason the Brands in Isfalk were sickly was because they were denied decent food and medicine, training and education. The Brands in Reis were as strong and smart as any Pure. It also reminds me that from time immemorial, religion has been used as a way to control people, and let the 'chosen' few maintain power by keeping others down. It's the bane of all worlds.
I would've liked to see more of a happy ending for Nixim and Nara – like a wedding perhaps?
60. Fourth Wing book one of The Empyrean by Rebecca Yarros. I'm reading this again because Iron Flame is now out and I wanted to read the two together. I loved it just as much this time as the first time – maybe even more. Such a great book – I love Violet and Xadan - and the host of side characters.
61. Iron Flame book two of The Empyrean by Rebecca Yarros. I saw some reviews where people didn't like this book – but I still loved it. Yes, there were some annoying things – like Violet harping on about complete honesty with Xadan while keeping secrets from her friends (slight hypocrisy!). But for the most part I loved this book too. I loved where Liam stayed with her during the torture session and I'm hoping her second signet will be the ability to talk to the dead – especially as that way she could recover a lot of the history that has willfully been forgotten. I did NOT like the ending! I did NOT like that Jack Barlowe was effectively resurrected. I don;t get that – but I'm guessing he didn't die under the mountain. But, I think Violet and Zadan are finally at a place with full disclosure and they can work though it together – please don;t let him push her away. That would defeat the purpose of him turning Venin in the first place. Sgaeyl's reaction broke my heart. I want Tairn, and Violet to be there for her too. The revelation about Andarna I should have seen earlier as Violet often mentioned that her scales reflected the background. But I want to know what it means for Aretia as the wards are now functioning again in Navarre and can't be replicated again. The hardest thing is going to be waiting a year for Book 3! But at least it's just a year – not like Helen Lowe's series where I think it's been something like 6 or 7 years since the last one!