*Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an ARC for review!*
Wandering cleric Chih of the Singing Hills travels to the riverlands to record tales of the notorious near-immortal martial artists who haunt the region. On the road to Betony Docks, they fall in with a pair of young women far from home, and an older couple who are more than they seem. As Chih runs headlong into an ancient feud, they find themselves far more entangled in the history of the riverlands than they ever expected to be.
I liked the fact this this book is a little bit of a departure from the other two novellas. Chih is travelling with other people on the road through the riverlands and learning along the way as opposed to meeting someone and stopping to acquire their story. This is such a engaging and entertaining way to learn about the other characters and still get to hear the different tales.
All of the characters we meet were interesting and distinct. Lao Bingyi was one of my favourite characters in this series that we’ve met so far! She was just so sure of herself and took charge in all the different situations the group came upon. I liked the fact that she kept her own story to herself yet had so many opinions about all the other stories, almost as if she was there for them and not knowing for sure who she is adds that layer of mystery and intrigue. I think Khahn was a great contrasting character to her and his stoicism and quiet strength was nicely balanced with his desire to share stories as well.
Wei Jintai and Sang were another pair I found to be very likeable. Their relationship is so strong yet playful and both understand the roles that they have grown into. I would of loved to learn more about their upbringing and the journey they had undertaken to get as far into the riverlands as they have but alas this is the nature of these novellas.
I loved hearing about lore and tales woven throughout the book as this group undertakes this journey and I enjoyed the fact that there was also some action along the way that reinforces that Chih and Almost Brilliant aren’t always immune from harm.
⭐️4/5 stars This was just such an enjoyable and memorable read!
April Coutts-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford. Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.
I enjoyed Hannah as our main perspective. I found her to be pretty relatable in both the before and after settings and I liked the fact that her love for her friend but also her compassion for John Neville is what drives her to find out the truth. Had I have been in her situation I think I would of reacted exactly the same.
I also really enjoyed the rest of the friend group as well. At the start it was a little difficult to differentiate between them but as the story progressed I thought they were all easily distinguishable. April obviously isn’t a very likeable person but I can see how her lifestyle and energy would overwhelm Hannah and skew her perception of who April is. She is always making excuses for her and explaining away her pranks and is devastated that April’s personality has faded away from the notoriety.
I just thought Will’s reaction to everything was really weird and not explained enough for me. He kept trying to get Hannah to drop everything and even though his requests were reasonable he would just act strangely. When Hannah finally comes straight out and asks I don’t understand why he acted the way he did. He had to have known that she would come to that conclusion eventually so why would he just laugh?
The dual timelines definitely kept me engaged throughout the course of the book and the overarching mystery surrounding who did it had me turning the pages and eager to see what actually happened to April that night!
⭐️3/5 stars wasn’t anything spectacular but it was entertaining!
Eighteen-year-old Ziva may have defeated a deadly warlord, but the price was almost too much. Ziva is forced into a breakneck race to a nearby city with the handsome mercenary, Kellyn, and the young scholar, Petrik, to find a powerful magical healer who can save her sister’s life. When the events that follow lead to Ziva and Kellyn’s capture by an ambitious prince, Ziva is forced into the very situation she’s been dreading: magicking dangerous weapons meant for world domination.
Ziva’s perspective in this book was just so exhausting to read from. I understand how debilitating her social anxiety is but the way she just continuously hyper focuses and second guesses every decision she and everyone around her makes gets repetitive and boring. There was a little bit of growth in the fact that she came to eventually stop putting herself down and minimising all her achievements and actually feel proud of herself which was nice.
When it came to her relationship with Kellyn is was frankly just frustrating to read. Again, I can understand she has this disorder but he tells and shows her multiple times that he wants her and she is his forever but still she doesn’t believe him and pushes him away. The fact that she was just going to give up on him after the war ends and just walk away without even talking to him first and being surprised he was willing to compromise got on my nerves.
Other than that I was pretty invested in the storyline. It was still a bit repetitive with all of the travelling that we get but there was always a new setting that we got to explore in this world. I liked the fact that we get to learn more about the other magic users and Ziva got more of an understanding about her abilities through them. The fighting scenes were very entertaining and the couple of twists were quite surprising.
⭐️2/5 stars Just a bit disappointed
*Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an ARC for review!*
What does it mean to “be-in-kind” with a nonhuman animal? Or in Dr. Sean Kell-Luddon’s case, to be in-kind with one of the last remaining wild wolves? Using a neurological interface to translate her animal subject’s perception through her own mind, Sean intends to chase both her scientific curiosity and her secret, lifelong desire to experience the intimacy and freedom of wolfishness. To see the world through animal eyes; smell the forest, thick with olfactory messages; even taste the blood and viscera of a fresh kill. And, above all, to feel the belonging of the pack.
I found Sean’s character to be a little insufferable. She’s definitely selfish and doesn’t take into account any one else’s thoughts and feelings before she acts. Which is shown countless times throughout the book but I think this was definitely intentional. The way she pushes away everyone who loves and cares about her to feed into this one-sided relationship with a wolf and her pack was bizarre.
Seeing the subtle shifts in her mannerisms and her attachment to her wolf was interesting to read about for sure and her evolution throughout the course of the plot after being sure that there was this connection to being rejected from the pack was quite entertaining.
The only thing that kept me from enjoying this book a lot more was all of the academic talk and language that was used. I kept getting pulled out of the story multiple times to try and decipher what was being said and the implications behind it. Maybe this book was just too smart for me but I had to slow my reading pace down drastically to even interpret the prose.
⭐️3/5 stars A very thought provoking, well rounded story!
A spirited young Englishwoman, Abitha, arrives at a Puritan colony betrothed to a stranger – only to become quickly widowed when her husband dies under mysterious circumstances. All alone in this pious and patriarchal society, Abitha fights for what little freedom she can grasp onto, while trying to stay true to herself and her past.
I just absolutely loved Abitha’s character. She’s really had to already overcome so much in her life living with an abusive father after her mother died and then being sold and shipped off to a new country to marry a man she’s never met and still trying to make the best of her situation. I liked Edward as well, he really did take Abitha’s word into consideration despite growing up in this kind of society. I felt like he was more progressive thinking and would of came around had he not died. Abitha was just trying to be independent and free of all of these rules that are placed upon her by the church and all these men.
Samson’s storyline was a tad confusing to be honest. I wasn’t as interested in finding out who he really was, it was kind of obvious he was some kind of god of the wilderness so it wasn’t a huge surprise when he did get his memories back. It was a little chaotic and hard to envision exactly what was happening around him and what was real and what wasn’t. I thought his friendship with Abitha was quite pure and almost innocent in a way. All he wanted was to help her and in turn try and find out who he was.
Puritanical society is so frustrating to read from. Having all these men in charge spouting rubbish and creating their own rules and saying it’s God’s will just makes me angry. I would never of been able to survive in this kind of world and I can fully relate to Abitha and her quest for freedom from this oppressive way of life. I think that version of society is the real horror in this book and everything that Abitha done for revenge was justified. They treated her and Sarah horrifically and when she became the witch they wanted her to be it was satisfying to see her give those men their dues.
⭐️4/5 stars horrifying, gory and such great read!