Review: Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

Series: Kingdom of Souls #2
Goodreads: Reaper of Souls
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: After so many years yearning for the gift of magic, Arrah has the one thing she’s always wanted—at a terrible price. Now the last surviving witchdoctor, she’s been left to pick up the shattered pieces of a family that betrayed her, a kingdom in shambles, and long-buried secrets about who she is.

Desperate not to repeat her mother’s mistakes, Arrah must return to the tribal lands to search for help from the remnants of her parents’ people. But the Demon King’s shadow looms closer than she thinks. And as Arrah struggles to unravel her connection to him, defeating him begins to seem more and more impossible—if it’s something she can bring herself to do at all.

Review:  I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks HarperVoyager.

So, when I got an email from HarperVoyager offering me an eARC of Reaper of Souls I swiftly broke my Netgalley ban so I could read it. I managed to win a physical ARC of Kingdom of Souls back in 2019 (you can read my review here), and it was a series that I definitely wanted to continue reading.

Reaper of Souls picks up pretty much where Kingdom of Souls left off, so just in case you hadn’t realised there’ll be spoilers for the first book ahead! Arrah is dealing with the fall-out after her families betrayal and attempt to free the Demon King, and with her role as the last remaining witchdoctor. In this book we also get a few other perspectives in the form of her love interest Rudjek and the Orisha Dimma’s memories, their perspectives are a great and necessary addition as Arrah and Rudjek split from each other and go on their own journeys.

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January Wrap Up ’21

Well this first month of the new year has been a wild mess to say the least. It’s taken me nearly the full month to really feel human again after my brush with COVID, and I’ve been struggling a lot with brain fog ever since. I did manage to read some wonderful books this month though, and got a rather good start on my Goodreads challenge for this year. There should be some rave reviews coming your way this month because everything I’ve picked up has been top notch, but that does mean the end of “Nia reads what she wants” January and the start of “Improve your Netgalley rating” February.

January has been a rather bookish month on the blog with no publishing posts in site! This blog has always been a book blog first so it’s been nice to take a break from writing about my career, and instead review some lovely books and talk about what I’m excited to read this year.

2020 Wrap Up | Best of 2020 | Review: Piranesi
2021 Most Anticipated | Review: These Violent Delights

Currently Reading

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Bimonthly Book Haul

I actually really enjoyed pulling together this post for June, and so, I figured I would do it again by combining July and August! Some of these you may have already seen (because I’ve already reviewed them), but I thought it would be fun to give you a sneak preview at some of my reading plans.

Bought

So after my thorough enjoyment of Boy Parts I desperately wanted to bring more literary fiction into my to be read, so I decided Breasts and Eggs would be next. I’m hoping to have the review for that & Midnight Sun up in the next few weeks!

ARC’s

I got approved for some really exciting books over the past few weeks, most of them I’ll be reading closer to their pub dates but holy moly am I excited. I may have already read Addie LaRue, but the review won’t come out until September, and if you had any doubts about pre-ordering you shouldn’t, the book is incredible.

Well that’s all for now folks! Take care of yourselves out there ❤

Review: The Story of Silence by Alex Myers

Goodreads: The Story of Silence
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Book Depository
Synopsis: There was once, long ago, a foolish king who decreed that women should not, and would not, inherit. Thus when a girl-child was born to Lord Cador – Merlin-enchanted fighter of dragons and Earl of Cornwall – he secreted her away: to be raised a boy so that the family land and honour would remain intact.

That child’s name was Silence.

Silence must find their own place in a medieval world that is determined to place the many restrictions of gender and class upon them. With dreams of knighthood and a lonely heart to answer, Silence sets out to define themselves.

Soon their silence will be ended.

What follows is a tale of knights and dragons, of bards, legends and dashing strangers with hidden secrets.

Review: I received a digital copy in exchange for an honest review, Thanks Harper Voyager!

I’m a sucker for a good Arthurian legend, especially the courtly romances that appeared in the 12th and 13th centuries! The Story of Silence is based around one of those romances, Le Roman de Silence if you want to get specific; but admittedly this was not one I had read before or one I included in my dissertation so I was excited to pick up this modern retelling.

This book is so so easy to read, and wholly enjoyable. It’s so lyrical and smooth that I would love to hear it as an audiobook, and the writing style feels like a bardic tale rather than a modern novel. I also thoroughly enjoyed the pacing, its admittedly rather slow and not a lot happens, but it was paced so well that this didn’t bother me too much.

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June Book Haul: aka Help This Got Out of Control

I never do book hauls, mostly because I buy a select few books a year and I rarely request arcs from publishers. This month is different, an accident happened.

The story begins with me requesting a few popular Netgalley arcs of books I was excited for but didn’t expect to actually be granted access to. Then, by some miracle, I was granted access and now I have three books coming out in the same month to read, and I’m officially a fool. The other two, fortunately, aren’t released for a little while yet so that’s something at least. I’m a NetGalley Nincompoop.
Before I was given ebooks of all the wonderful arcs listed below, I was also sucked into Waterstones’ double points game; now I’m the owner of four more beautiful books that I don’t have room for…and the foolishness continues.

Anyway here’s a list of what I picked up in June:

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Review: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Goodreads: Descendant of the Crane
Publisher: Titan Books
Book Depository
Synopsis: Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review!

Hello I have just now discovered that this is a stand-alone title, and I’m opening this review with a uh what the heck!! That ending, no sequel, what the heck am I going to do?? This blog is mostly spoiler free so no details, but ho boy am I disappointed there won’t be another book coming my way!

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Review: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and featuring art by Wendy Xu

Pub Date: October 15th
Goodreads: Mooncakes
Publisher: Lion Forge
Book Depository
Synopsis:

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

Review:
I received this book from Netgalley and Lion Forge in exchanged for an honest review!

Ah just thinking about this graphic novel makes me feel happy. Mooncakes is so wholesome and filled to the brim with love, it was just what I needed after reading so many books that are part of long trilogies. It was nice to read something so easy and enjoyable, and I’ve definitely read more since picking it up. It’ just so wonderful to read something that includes so many diverse characters, and gives them the happy ending that after reading you’ll inevitably want for them.

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Review: Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

Series: Kingdom of Souls #1
Goodreads: Kingdom of Souls
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Book Depository
Synopsis:

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.

Review: I managed to win this book in a twitter competition that HarperVoyager were running and I was pretty darn excited about it! Then a few days later my request for a Netgalley arc was approved, so I guess I was doubly lucky with this one, but these things do mean that this is a review of an advanced reader copy that I received from HarperVoyager and Netgalley.

So first of all there are some trigger warnings that come with this book including violence, blood magic, abuse, ritual based self-injury, and the death of a child.
Then something I think you’ll find overwhelmingly useful, the online world guide, there’s a plethora of characters and places to track so this thing is invaluable. Now then on to my review!

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If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch

cover
Goodreads: If I Die Before I Wake
Publisher: Vintage
Amazon: UK|US
Synopsis: Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger.

As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.


Review: I received this book as an Netgally ARC for review from Vintage, and I was pretty darn excited to get stuck into such a unique concept.

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The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

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Goodreads: The Roanoke Girls.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Amazon: UK|US
Synopsis: Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

Review: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, and I was really happy that I’d managed to snag it. I want to preface this review with a few trigger warnings for the book, it contains suicide, sexual abuse, child abuse, and toxic relationships. This book is dark, twisted and angry, so it won’t be for everyone but I did end up enjoying it.

For me this book was slow to get going, all of the characters were unlikable and I couldn’t seem to get invested. I hated Allegra much like most of the characters in the book, and so I didn’t really care whether they found her or not; she was mean and vindictive, and Lane had become the same over the past eleven years, if it wasn’t for the mystery of Roanoke then I think this book would have ended up as a DNF for me.

The book definitely grew on me though as it pieced together Lane’s experiences at Roanoke, and how they had shaped her into the women she is in the present. It’s heartbreaking watching the book flit from the past to the present, as you finally realise why the Roanoke Girls never last long. It’s an unforgiving story and as I read I grew more sympathetic towards Lane’s character, and even towards Allegra who I’d hated for the first five chapters.

I especially loved the changing timelines and perspectives! The novel gave us a glimpse into the lives of every Roanoke girl that had come before Lane, and it kept me reading I wanted too know how this had gone on so long; how had no one realised and protected these girls, it was amazing how well Amy Engel kept me engaged despite it being easy to figure out the big secret early on.

I loved  the second half of this book, once I was into this thriller I just couldn’t put it down. It’s dark, creepy, and thoroughly enjoyable, if you can make it past the first few chapters it’s a fantastic read.

Recommend:  If you love dark and twisted thrillers then this is definitely a damn good one!

Stars  ★★★★