Let me start off by saying I don’t usually like reading about mermaids, it comes off as cheesy to me. However, Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse did not feel like that to me at all. I absolutely loved this book and pretty much everything about it including her mermaid mythology. It has everything I love: badass women, badass mythology, and badass villains.
Summary of Black Sun
In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice a time of celebration and renewal. However, this year it coincides with a rare solar eclipse, a celestial event proclaimed by the Sun Priest to be an unbalancing of the world.
Meanwhile, a ship sets sail from a distant city on the way to Tova and on course to arrive on the day of the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is an outcasted Teek, who’s song can calm the waters as easily as she can bend a man’s will. Her ship carries only one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger Serapio is a young and blind man, scarred and cloaked in destiny. But Xiala knows that any man described as harmless is usually the villain, right?
World-Building in Black Sun
I absolutely love the world Rebecca Roanhorse built in Black Sun. It’s inspiration comes from the Pre-Colombian Americas and it is full of magic, lore, politics, and celestial prophecies. Everything in this world connects to the bigger picture and even the smallest details make sense within the world. The magic system was a bit confusing at first, but as you continue more is explained and it becomes an intricate web with different communities having their own forms of magic. I also loved how everything goes back to the stars and celestial alignments and that was the key bit in the magic system.
At the beginning of each chapter there was a little snippet that gave you insight into the history of the world and the story as well. They are consistently from the writings of two specific people within the story which I really liked and they always corresponded to the character perspective that chapter was written in. They added depth to the characters and the story overall in a very magical way and I frankly loved it.
Diversity and Romance in Black Sun
I absolutely loved the spitfire bisexual Teek captain, Xiala as one of the main characters, she was smart and funny and sexy and her romantic connection to Serapio was heartwarming and sweet. The gothic, troubled man with an untold destiny, falling for a feisty sea captain was the adorable romance I needed in my life.
Black Sun is actually one of the first books that I’ve seen xe/xir pronouns used in and I loved how smoothly the author transitioned between pronouns. It was a very queernorm world and that was shown through the language Rebecca Roanhorse used. The world was based on pre-colonization societies in South America and it was really nice seeing POC representation within the fantasy genre.
Spirituality in Black Sun
There are a couple of different types of magic throughout this world. One of the more prominent ones is the Sun Priest and her celestial tower. There is a high counsel of four Watchers; ta dissa keeper of the records, seegi head of the healers, tsiyo the head of the assassins, and hawaa head of the oracle society. The hawaa uses the stars and astrology to divine the future and the answers it holds. It is a very intricate celestial magic system that was beautifully written.
There was also the blood magic used by the Carrion Crow cultists, which was primal and self-sacrificing, and very powerful, it was amazing to read. You didn’t get to see too much of the Teek magic that Xiala used, but I’m sure we’ll get to see more as the Trilogy continues so I’m excited to explore more of the Teek magical system.
Overall Opinion of Black Sun
Black Sun the first book in the Between Earth and Sky Trilogy by Rebecca Roanhorse and it was absolutely stunning and I can see why it was a best seller. Fevered Star the second book in the trilogy is being released this year in April and I will absolutely reading the next installment of this series. I highly recommend Black Sun and encourage you to read it and support this author.
For the past couple months, I have been coming across so much content mainly about The Booktok Sapphic Trifecta which is comprised of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, The Unbroken by CL Clark, and The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri. So I started this book with some pretty high expectations. It took me about two weeks to read, as it is rather dense and close to 600 pages, but I finally finished it and I ended up having very strong feelings about it both good and bad.
All About The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
Title: The Jasmine Throne Author: Tasha Suri Series: Burning Kingdoms, #1 Page Count: 576 General Tropes: Enemies to lovers, colonialism, F/F romance Spice: This book is low on my spicy meter to be honest. Trigger Warnings: explicit violence, gender-based violence (no sexual assault), homophobia and internalized homophobia, suicidal ideation, self-harm, abusive family dynamics, murder of children, forced drug use and depictions of withdrawal, body horror (plant/nature based) Summary: Princess Malini is exiled and imprisoned by her cruel brother, the Emperor, for refusing to burn on a pyre to be purified. She is completely isolated in an ancient magical temple with her chaperone who forcibly drugs her, except for her maidservant, Priya. Priya has some secrets of her own, she is a temple child, born and raised in the very temple Malini is now imprisoned in. When Malini witnesses Priya’s magic it changes everything and they must work together to change the fate of the entire empire.
World Building in The Jasmine Throne
Now, I will say, getting started with this book was very slow going, a lot of background information and world building that won’t make sense until later. However, once I got through it and the pieces started connecting, I fell in love with the world Tasha Suri has created. She has created a Desi inspired world, with a diverse range of characters and rich with magic. The magic system in general was honestly what I loved the most. The beautiful connection to the elements of water and earth especially was so interesting and intricate. I also loved the religious/spiritual aspects, with the nameless princes, the temple elders, as well the mothers of Malini’s religion. They all intertwined quite nicely and it was interesting to see how each spiritual influence impacted the main characters and the story.
The world itself is huge, with multiple countries and landscapes Tasha Suri did a great job introducing and creating a beautifully visual picture of this world. Overall, I loved the world building in this book, chock full of lore and mystery and magic.
Characters of The Jasmine Throne
My main pet peeve is the way the POVs were switched up every chapter and it reminds me of Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto. I wasn’t fond of it in that book and I really wasn’t fond of it in The Jasmine Throne either. I really wanted to like the different perspectives, but the author threw in random character POVs with characters that hadn’t been introduced before. There were two chapters like this but they were short, so I didn’t mind it all too much since they gave a different view of specific events. However, overall I still didn’t like how often the POV changed as my personal preference.
Honestly, there were so many characters to keep up with in The Jasmine Throne but for once I didn’t necessarily hate that. Even if the characters were minor and written out relatively quickly, they always served a purpose to the storyline. I really appreciated that there weren’t throwaway characters that served as a buffer to the story. I also loved that the majority of main characters were women, and badass women at that. My favorite character would have to be Bhumika, the fact that she was strong and confident in her abilities as a leader and fighting battles while at least nine months pregnant is total badassery.
Sapphic Romance Within the World
I’m going to be honest, I really did not like the way the two main characters Malini and Priya were written. I wanted to like them and I realize that the romance was supposed to be a slow-burn from enemies to lovers, but I just couldn’t feel connected to their romance. It almost felt juvenile to me, but I think that was mainly the writing style. There were some really sweet and intimate moments, but I didn’t really like the dialogue between them in general. I wanted to love the soft-hearted butch loving an independent femme dynamic because my own relationship dynamic is similar but for me it fell short.
Overall Take on The Jasmine Throne
This book definitely was a love and hate kinda read. I loved so many things but disliked so many other things. Overall I think Tasha Suri did an absolutely amazing job with world-building and incorporating Indian culture into fantasy, which in my experience is rare within the fantasy genre. Even more rare with the main characters being lesbians. I’m glad I read The Jasmine Throne and even if I had my qualms with it, I definitely recommend it as a good read!
I’ve got to say that I had mixed feelings on Nicole Fiorina’s Hollow Heathens. I’m not really sure if it’s because of the book itself, or if I was in and out of a reading slump while reading it, though. It took me a little shy of a week to read it, and that is pretty abnormal for me. I typically will finish books within a day or two, with 3 days being a slow read. There are things I really liked about the book, and a few things that rubbed me the wrong way. Let’s get into it!
All About Nicole Fiorina’s Hollow Heathens
Title: Hollow Heathens: Book of Blackwell (Tales of Weeping Hollow) Author: Nicole Fiorina Series:Hollow Heathens is the first in an interconnected standalone series. Vibes: Dark, Witchy, Mysterious Tropes: Star Crossed Lovers, Forbidden Love, New Girl in Town Spice: Moderate, there is also a YA version of the book available. Triggers: Alludes to rape, torture, death of a loved one Page Count: 464 Kindle Unlimited: No
Summary: Fallon moves to Weeping Hollow, a town hidden by magic that can only be accessed by those who it needs, to take care of her ailing grandfather. The daughter of two members of the town’s opposing covens, she is both at home and out of place in the mysterious town.
She meets and falls in love with Julian, one of the five Hollow Heathens of the Norse Woods Coven. Julian and the other Heathens are the town monsters, cursed to wear a mask or else anyone who looks on him will die of fright. The curse, Fallon and Julian’s forbidden love, and a mysterious string of fright-related deaths are all a piece of the puzzle the two must solve in order to be together.
World Building in Hollow Heathens
I’m a sucker for some world building, and I honestly loved what Nicole Fiorina did in Hollow Heathens. The hidden magical town aspect is *chef’s kiss* and Fiorina creates an eery, dark atmosphere at practically every turn. The story takes place in many different locations within the town, two of which being the woods and an actual funeral home. Fallon being a mortician is a great touch that I really enjoyed.
I really wish we would have seen more of the two covens, though. The rift between the two is clear and who is in which coven is obvious, but I think seeing more of each community as a whole would have been great.
Nicole Fiorina’s Writing Style
I have mixed feelings about the format of Hollow Heathens. The book is dual perspective, which I already don’t love all the time. Nicole Fiorina also switches between two time lines, which does end up being a welcomed addition at the end of the book, but one that it kind of annoying while reading. Honestly, I think that instead of having the flashbacks, we could have heard the story from another character – probably the town psychics – and it would have been better received and would have connected us more with those minor characters.
That being said, I absolutely loved the addition of the morning radio host excerpt that accompanied the chapters as Fallon was just waking up. It gave a very Welcome to Night Vale vibe to the book, and really made the world glow. I just wish that there was a better tie in with the many morning radio scenes. As “Remember, no one is safe after 3 a.m.” is the final line of them all, I was really looking forward to that ringing true in a strong way during the book, and it just didn’t deliver. I appreciated the addition nonetheless, though.
The Characters of Hollow Heathens
Okay, unpopular opinion time: I didn’t love many of the characters in Hollow Heathens. In fact, I outright disliked almost all of them. I’ve read some reviews of Hollow Heathens myself, and people seem to overall be loving the book and its characters. As far as Julian and Fallon go, their relationship starts off a little too toxic for me. They are both insecure and look to each other for validation, and I do not love that dynamic.
Speaking of Fallon, she’s far too forgiving and it didn’t really make sense, in my opinion. The girl is literally forced to face her biggest fear against her will in a horrific way and she doesn’t react in a way that I feel is natural. Also, nothing really comes out of the scene. I kept expecting more to happen with that story line, and it literally never did. In fact, the characters involved got very little to none time after that. This is probably my biggest issue with Hollow Heathens, I feel as though some characters were not developed enough or they were written in ways that don’t make much sense.
Would I Recommend Hollow Heathens?
Overall, yes I would recommend Hollow Heathens to someone who likes books with a dark and witchy vibe. It was a fun read for the most part, although there was a a slump in the book between the 70% and 90% reading point that I just wasn’t enthralled with. The ending gets interesting again, and has a fair amount of payoff.
For the world building alone, I would give this book a read. It wasn’t the best fantasy book I’ve read by far, but it was a fun one with a lot of appealing, moving parts. I will probably pick up the next book in the series when it drops, but only because I want to see more of Weeping Hollow. Who knows, maybe some of the concerns I have will be rectified once more of the town is explored, as Nicole Fiorina is hoping for 5 stand alone books for the world. The second book in the series is in the works, you can check out our list of 2022 new release Fantasy Romance books for some other upcoming recommendations.
***This article contains spoilers for both the first season of A Discover of Witches and the first book in the All Souls Trilogy, also titled A Discover of Witches. Read at your own risk!***
I picked up the first book in the All Souls trilogy in anticipation of watching Discovery of Witches on AMC+, and I honestly loved it. Once I finished the novel, I dove into the series and I was immediately hit with a lot of differences in the two. Like the book, it took a minute adjust to the series. I’ve got to say that I absolutely loved Teresa Palmer as Diana Bishop, and I think the rest of the cast was decent as well. As for the series itself, though, I’ve got some qualms.
First, though, I’ll take a second to give the series some credit. It took me quite a bit to get into the book, as it’s heavy on the history and science, which is not usually my forte. I honestly loved that the author Deborah Harkness incorporated so much real in her fantasy world. I love how the series visually represented the book. Like I said, the Diana was cast perfectly. The scenery was also pretty perfect as well, although I am mostly attributing that to the fact that Harkness wrote about real places and was familiar with the scenery she was describing.
Despite being visually satisfying, I found the way they wrote some characters lacking, and even counter productive. The series focused on certain things way more than I deemed entertaining. In fact, I was so disappointed with the A Discovery of Witches series that I wanted to compile this list of the biggest aspects the series let me down on:
The first huge thing that Discovery of Witches missed on was that fact that Marcus was not the one who tried to sire a vampire that resulted in a death of a human. Yes, there were human deaths that happened because newer vampires were not able to sire, and that became a pretty big factor in the overall plot. However, the deaths themselves were just mentioned in passing in the book, and Marcus was not the cause.
The series made a huge part of Marcus’ character the fact that he couldn’t sire another vampire and his friend died. Marcus even having a close human friend was a weird move in itself for the series to take, as creatures try not to drawl the attention of humans. Also, Marcus’ back story is that as a brand new vampire he sired a large number of vampires while living it up in New Orleans, and Matthew had to get him out of trouble because of it. I feel like this difference was a serious downgrade for the character, and I wish they would have portrayed him more closely to the book.
Okay so Miriam is a complete badass – she does not give a fuck. Matthew is a feared vampire by pretty much all of the creature communities, and Miriam has no problem questioning him and shooting attitude. The series completely failed her. In the book, we see Miriam a ton in the beginning when Matthew is courting (okay, he was pretty much stalking) Diana. In fact, Miriam is probably watching over Diana more than Matthew is in the first half of the book. We don’t see this at all in the series. There’s like one scene where Miriam scolds Matthew, and we don’t get any sense of her relationship with the vampire. I dunno. I was not feeling her character in the series, and I should have been.
Where I didn’t see enough of Miriam in the TV adaptation of A Discovery of Witches, I saw way too much of the damn Congregation. I get it, they are important. But honestly not enough to see all their conversations, some of which I feel were completely unnecessary to the plot and just took screen time away from characters who are heavily present in the book.
Also, in the book we are kept in the dark just as much as Diana is, really, and I feel like the series gave us every single bit of information that the book revealed over a very long period of time. The TV series is scene change after scene change, with a lot of scenes going to members of the Congregation. The first half the novel focused on Diana and Matthew, as Diana navigated the new found attention she had garnered from the creature communities. We completely missed out of this in the series, and got the boring Congregation instead.
Diana and Matthew’s First Kiss
This scene was CRINGE! Diana and Matthew’s first kiss was so unsexy it hurt. Diana leans in for a loving, passionate kiss and is met with a statue of Matthew. It was so bad, that most fandom sites I’m seeing just ignored that it even happened and have their second kiss listed instead, which is probably a smart move because it was way more pleasant to behold.
In the book Diana does go in for a sweet kiss while Matthew is more reluctant. I get that. However, I’m pretty sure that Matthew responds a bit. He is a participant, even though he is working through some serious feelings. The series literally has Matthew not even moving an inch, with pretty much no reaction. It feels weird, intrusive, and honestly kind of embarrassing. I need to wipe it from my memory forever.
The Depiction of Minor Characters
MY BIGGEST problem I have with the series is that it gives way too much attention to things that I do not care about, and that were very small parts of the book itself. The series gives Juliette a ton of screen time, most of which is so incredibly unnecessary. She has one small mention in the book, and one small scene (in which she literally dies in). Satu also has waaaay more screen time in the TV adaptation than in the book. This one I can kind of understand, because I’m sure she comes back in later books. However, she too only has one small (granted, important) scene in the book.
Characters like Sean, who is so minuscule you probably don’t even know who I’m talking about, gets multiple scenes when pretty much only his name is mentioned in the books and is a very passive character. He’s the librarian that Diana speaks to a few times in the book. We see her getting drinks with him in the TV series and he is in a few other scenes. WHY?!
Gillian’s representation in the TV adaptation drives me literally insane. She’s depicted as a close friend to Diana and someone who feels a lot of guilt for betraying her, even doing it on accident at first. That is not how it goes down in the books, at all. She is honestly a pretty hateful character in the books, and plays an active role in threatening Diana. She’s not a friend, she’s a menace.
Can you tell I didn’t like the TV series yet? I was planning to read a book, watch a season, repeat until I was finished with the series. However, I’m totally not doing that. The show let me down, and I found myself sitting in my own anger fumes throughout the watch, and I refuse to do that to myself again. I’m really disappointed too, because I was so excited about the series and it’s what originally got me start reading the Alls Souls Trilogy in the first place.
I’m not saying the series is bad, though. I’m just saying I have a biased opinion on what it should be. I kind of wish I had watched the series before I read the book, which sounds so unnatural, but I feel like it may have been a better experience. I can’t unread or unwatch it, though, so it is what is it.
Even though I won’t be watching any more of the series, I am going forward with reading it. I’ve just started the second book in the All Souls Trilogy (there are 4 books, not sure why they call it a trilogy), and I’m hoping it will end with me loving it as much as the first.
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Lesbian. Necromancers. In. Space. This combination of words to describe Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir has become my new favorite phrase. I will try my best to describe how happy this book made me as I sat on the edge of my seat for days detangling plot twists and grieving alongside the characters. This is a story of badass necromancers and women who will do anything to succeed, including dying.
Gideon Nav is sick and tired of her home on the Ninth Planet, where everyone is 85+ and the only other person her age is her personal enemy. She longs to escape and become a Cohort, a soldier on the front with the Emperor’s troops, and she has the sword skills to do it.
Reverend Daughter Harrowhark Nonagesimus has been summoned by the Emperor to compete in deadly trials for the legacy and power of the title of Lyctor. To become the immortal and all-powerful necromancer of the Resurrection, Harrowhark needs her cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, she will not ascend to Lyctor and the Ninth House will die.
Gideon Nav is a foul-mouthed charismatic narrator who tells this story in the best of ways. She is a woman of my own heart and you felt like her friend as you reach the end. She speaks casually and truthfully and when she chooses to speak (because with her it is always a choice) it is always hard-hitting and funny. However, Harrowhark’s development arc was hands down my favorite because from the very beginning you almost write her off as a notoriously bitchy and villainous character. She does things her own way, she is secretive and distrustful of everyone including her own cavalier, and almost dies because of it. Throughout the story you get to see her character open up and grow the most with Gideon’s (sometimes) helpful niggling.
I did feel as though there were a lot of characters to keep up within the Nine Houses, especially as they were all introduced at the same time. But as the story continues it becomes easier to keep track of everyone and what their places are within the story.
Top notch world building is one of the main aspects I look for in a book, especially when I’m reading a fantasy novel and Gideon the Ninth was chock-full of world-building. Tamsyn Muir definitely made efforts to show you the world she has pictured in her own mind. However, there are so many details it feels almost like fluff. There are lots of descriptions of broken down walls, what characters are wearing, and a lot of focus on eye color and after awhile I found myself skipping over these details. Part One of the book was honestly hard for me to get through because of all the world-building fluff and it took until at least Part Three for me to understand the real direction of the storyline.
However, the author included some information that I always love seeing, a glossary! It defines a lot of the words used in Gideon the Ninth and their respective meanings within the world. She also includes a historical document with information about the Nine Houses as well as full profiles of the necromancers and their cavaliers. There is also a full breakdown of necromancer and cavalier titles within the ranks of their Houses. I love this background information and it makes it so much easier to nerd out over the deeper details within the world.
A Queernorm World
The past couple of books that I’ve read off my TBR have been with specifically lesbian main characters and queer normative worlds. Gideon the Ninth was no different. With Gideon as the narrator, you have a glimpse into her world that’s filled with the horny comics she draws and her inner thoughts about women. This is a queer normative world full of queer characters and blatant flirting. Despite all the themes of death and destruction and sadness it’s comforting to see queer women living and flirting with ease.
I highly recommend reading Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir if you love lesbians, necromancers and space all combined into one. It’s an intricate story full of unpredictable twists and turns that caught me off guard. It’s hilarious, witty and sad and tackles themes like death and cancer artfully. I will definitely be reading the other two books in The Locked Tomb Series that makes up Tamsyn Muir’s debut.
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Fairytale retellings aren’t usually my jam, however, Malice by Heather Walter is a lesbian tale with an evil protagonist and it’s been sitting on my TBR for awhile, so when I found it again I decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did because this was a fucking phenomenal book full of lies, betrayal, and yet a gentle romance.
Alyce is a Dark Grace, feared and despised by everyone around her for the mysterious dark magic that runs through her veins. That doesn’t stop the high-ranking nobles from buying her hexes and curses though, only to humiliate and torment her for the very gift they rely on.
Princess Aurora is the last heir to the Briar Throne. A curse on her family’s line is counting down the days to her twenty first birthday, when if she fails to find true love’s kiss, she will die. She is desperately searching for a way to break the curse and when she enlists Alyce’s help, an unlikely friendship is born.
Aurora is the princess. Alyce is the villain of everyone’s story. Together they could forge a new world. But we all know how this story ends don’t we?
Heather Walter spent a lot of time developing the magic system, which I really appreciated as the storyline revolved around magic heavily. You see the main characters using their powers and the explanations of the way it works isn’t forced or too drawn out. There are also have a few different races that are introduced into the story, mainly in Part One of Malice, which is where the majority of the world-building is introduced. The main groups are the Fae race of Etherians, the mortal humans, the Vila, as well as demons, imps, goblins, and Shifters. So it’s a wide variety of creatures within this book. However, the author did a wonderful job integrating all of them and explaining their places within world, it doesn’t feel overcrowded with information about them. I also liked the way there were snippets of letters from previous Briar queens to add historical context which I always love.
Diversity and Romance
First of all, I loved the romance aspect in Malice, with Princess Aurora and Alyce . The author clearly made efforts to create a diverse and inclusive world and I really enjoyed them. The perspective of the book is first person, through Alyce’s viewpoint, so you get to see how she gradually falls in love with Aurora. The entire book you see her struggling with herself, her heritage, and shitty people but you also see her falling in love in the sweetest way possible. You see her defending Aurora tooth and nail with unwavering loyalty even with life goes to shit. It is heart-warming and spicy and really feel-good to read despite everything else happening in Alyce’s life.
Minor Issues I Had
To be honest, not much jumped out at me that I specifically didn’t like in Malice so my only mention would be the ending. A lot happens in the last five chapters and the several different branches the author had started in Alyce’s life all came to an abrupt head. The main parts of the book had focused on background and world-building and then you have a sudden resolution to all of the different storylines with little warning. It pretty much came out of nowhere. However, the very last lines of the book were very dramatic, which I can relate to, so I was fine with that!
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this fun sapphic Sleeping Beauty retelling, with all it’s twists and turns that sometimes surprised me. Malice is an easy read, well worth it plus the second book in the Malice Duology, Misrule is going to be released soon this year! I’m definitely going to be reading Misrule as I need to know what evil mischief Alyce gets into next!
There are some serious new book releases coming out in 2022. This list has titles from some pretty big authors, like Sarah J. Maas and Jennifer L. Armentrout, sure, but there are also some pretty low key authors and titles my list of fantasy romances that I’m most looking forward to this year.
So, I read a lot of books in the second half of 2021. Most of these books were not completed series, which is weird for me because I’m the type to binge it and forget it. I guess I was feeling confident that I could fall in love with new books and actually follow along, which I guess I’m doing with this blog post? Yeah? New year new me, let’s do this! Here’s 10 fantasy romance new releases that are on my TBR and are coming out this year that I’ve got my eye on, will definitely buy, and will for sure read within the year – I promise.
Mother of Death and Dawn by Carissa Broadbent (February 10th)
Mother of Death and Dawn is a very last minute addition to this list, because I’m actually currently reading the first in the series, Daughter of No Worlds. It’s actually pretty perfect, because I won’t have a very long book hangover from this series as all, as the upcoming addition will release not long after I finish the first and second in the series.
The War of Lost Hearts series centers on a world of magic, and a “Fragmented” girl who has the absence of pigment in some parts of her skin, much like that of someone with Vitiligo. Her splotches of pale skin come from the presence of magic, and those who are full-blooded magic people have pale skin, silver hair, and white irises.
I like the visuals we get for the different cultures of people in this series, but what I really love about this series is how smooth the back and forth is between characters. Carissa Broadbent writes like a man who was made by a woman, and the “courting period” between the main love interests is full of swoon-worthy dialogue. She keeps words simple, yet full to the brim with meaning. From what I’ve read so far (a little over half of the first book), The War of Lost Hearts series is Grade A, and I can’t wait for more.
House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas (February 15th)
I’m going to be completely honest and say that I have not read the first in this series, House of Earth and Blood. This is the only book on the list that has earned a spot without me already being committed to the world, but I have read plenty by Sarah J. Maas. I’m a fan of ACOTAR and Throne of Glass, so I am pretty sure I will be down with her newest fantasy world as well. As soon as I’m finished reading the The War of Lost Hearts series, Crescent City is up. I plan to be finished with House of Earth and Blood by the time House of Sky and Breath rolls out, don’t you worry.
Yeah, I’m a little late to the party, but I won’t be alone in reading the first before the newest addition to the series comes out. I’m sure all the Sarah J. Maas fans are already in the process of rereading to prepare for House of Sky and Breath to drop.
The War of Two Queens by Jennifer L. Armentrout (March 15th)
I love the From Blood and Ash series with a passion. The first two books were *chef’s kiss* and The War of Two Queens was my most anticipated book for 2022 until December rolled around and I started reading some amazing fantasy series.
This series is like if A Handmaid’s Tale and True Blood made a really cool baby with a love for mythology. It’s an enemy to lovers romance with a ton of popular tropes. If you’re into the genre, it’s pretty much a must read.
I’m going to definitely have to reread the series before I attempt this new one, because I’ve read through a ton of worlds since I left Poppy. Be sure to be on the look out for some content when I reread, because I’ll definitely be taking notes and posting!
It’s safe to say that The Rogue Crown is my #1 pick for new releases in 2022. I read the first two books in The Five Crowns of Okrith series in December and it quickly became my favorite fantasy series of 2021. AK Mulford is a new author with this series being her debut, and she has skyrocketed to my favorite fantasy author. Her books have everything I look for in a book: diversity, the enemy to lovers trope, and a well rounded plot.
The first two books follow different protagonists in the same world and conflict, which I usually am not totally in love with, but AK Mulford did a great job in getting me attached to all of the characters enough that this totally works for me. The Rogue Crown is no different, and we will dive into the perspective of one of the characters we have become familiar with in the first two books.
From what I can tell, The Rogue Crown will not be an enemy to lovers fantasy. However, it will be center around a queer romance that comes with its own complications. The protagonists may not be enemies with the love interest, but it’s clear that they have a complicated history with one another.
This is one of the few books I will be buying and reading the same day it is released, and I honestly can’t wait. If you are a fan of the fantasy genre and are not a bigot, read this series. I can not recommend it, or pretty much anything by AK Mulford, enough.
I had some series mixed feelings when I started this series near the beginning of my reading journey last year. The series starts out super problematic, and I almost put it down multiple times. The main character is in a very toxic environment, and the series continues to have tough content. If you have triggers, I would think carefully about starting this series.
With that being said, once the protagonist was away from the environment she’s in when we are introduced to her, the series takes off in such an amazing way. I fell in love with it. The characters have some major growth, the love interest is top notch, and the protagonist honestly grew on me so much.
The Plated Prisoner series is a retelling of the Midas myth, and I think Raven Kennedy does an amazing job at twisting it creatively. I loved it so much that I bought a special edition set right after reading the first three books. Glow is the last book in the series, so it will be a complete series once it releases this year. If you don’t think the many triggers will bother you too much, definitely give this series a chance.
The second book in the Wilderwood series, For The Throne comes after For The Wolf and should answer a lot of the questions we were left with at the end of book 1. Hannah Whitten’s world she has created in this series is really quite cool, especially for a new author, and one of the best Red Riding Hood retellings I’ve ever read.
The story takes place in a world were the crown of the kingdom falls to the daughters, with the first daughter being “for the throne” and the second daughter being “for the wolf”, sent as a sacrifice for the continued success of the kingdom. Not many second daughters are born in the kingdom for this very reason, but Neve and Red are twins. Neve, the eldest of the two, was raised to take over the throne after their mother and Red was raised to step into the Wilderwood as sacrifice.
For The Throne takes place after Red was sent into the Wilderwood and Never takes over a queen. I assume we can expect more of Neve’s story in the second book, although from what I understand, Red is still very prevalent.
I can’t wait to read this one, as For The Wolf was super impressive, especially as it was small, refreshing step out of what I had been reading around that time. I’m expecting For The Throne to be similar in that way once it comes out this year.
To Snap A Silver Stem by Sarah A. Parker (July 9th)
Probably the strangest pick on this list, To Snap A Silver Stem comes after To Bleed A Crystal Bloom and is a dark Rapunzel retelling. I’m typically not a huge fan of fairytale retellings, but there are plenty on this list and the ones that are do so in a way that makes it feel completely different than the original story. This series is no different.
However, this series is different in the way that I didn’t know what the hell was going on in the first book pretty much the entire time. While that sounds like it would be annoying, it really wasn’t. I was intrigued. I did, however, feel like I was missing something the entire time I was reading, so much so that I had to consult google to check if I was the only one reacting to the book in this way.
To add even more to the mystery that is this series, the author seems to be very off the radar, with To Bleed A Crystal Bloom as her debut and without even an author’s website. I’m very interested to see where this story goes. If you are looking for something completely different than the fantasy you are probably reading right now, check this series out. It has a lot going for it, and has way more going on than just a Rapunzel story.
These Twisted Bonds is the sequel to These Hollow Vows, a fantasy heist romance that was one of my top reads of 2021. Without giving anything away, I’m very excited to see where the romantic interest angle of the book goes in the sequel and see how it plays out. I’m also interested in learning more about the characters we were introduced to in the first book, because I feel like they are going to be a lot of fun and the sequel will feature some pretty great banter.
Lexi Ryan describes These Hollow Vows as a mix of Cruel Prince and A Court of Thorns and Roses, and I’d have to say I completely agree with that. I really did not care for Cruel Prince, but Ryan tells a story that I much prefer with the same elements.
This is another book I’ll probably try to nab as soon as it releases, because just seeing the cover makes me think back to how much I wanted to read the second as soon as I finished the first, just to find out it wouldn’t be released for a year. I’m really hoping the wait was worth it.
Kingdom of the Feared by Kerri Maniscalco (September 27th)
The Kingdom of the Wicked series is probably the witchiest on this list, and it’s definitely a great one for fans of fantasy that deals with witches and the many mythologies of Hell. Kingdom of the Feared is heavily anticipated in the fantasy romance genre this ear, as the series has been picked up by a number of special edition publishers. It feels like I see the series everywhere, and for good reason: it”s a quick and fantastic read.
This is one series I may have to give a reread before the new additin to the trilogy comes out, because it’ll be around a year in between the release and when I read the first two. While I don’t reread the majority of books I fly through, Kingdom of the Wicked and Kingdom of the Cursed won’t be a hassle to dive back into at all.
A Tempest of Tea is the only book on this list that is the first in a series, a duology actually. Hafsah Faizal describes the books as Peaky Blinders meets King Arthur if you add in vampires.
While pretty different than the other fantasy picks on this list, A Tempest of Tea gets a spot due to Hafsah Faizal being pretty awesome. Her debut series was a favorite of mine, We Hunt the Flame being a breathe of fresh air to read. I can’t wait to see what other world she has come up with, and Faizal is currently an author that I’ll open any book she puts out.
Zodiac Academy 8 by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valentti (December 11th)
I have a little bit of a love/hate relationship with the Zodiac Academy books, much like the characters in the book have with each other. It’s a bully romance, which I don’t typically fuck with. Honestly though Zodiac Academy has some awesome character growth and the world building is pretty great, which is something I look forward to in a fantasy book.
I’ve read the majority of the Zodiac Academy books, and will have to catch up before this one releases. I almost put the series down multiple times just because the bullying was so brutal. It’s not my favorite genre, but if it’s your thing, definitely give this series a read, because you’ll absolutely love it. The upcoming release is the last in the long series of books, so it’s pretty much the perfect time to pick up this series.
This is the first time in my life where I’ve gone into a year with so many books that I’ve got my eye on. I guess I’m now a bookish person, hanging on to release dates with a watchful eye. It looks like 2022 is going to be a year full of revisiting world I’ve already dived into, in addition to collecting new worlds. I honestly can’t wait to see how many I’m able to get through.
The Unbroken by C.L. Clark was on the top of my TBR and I feel kind of like I have all of my shit together now that I’ve made a small dent in my stack. I was excited to read this one, and Im so glad the inside matched the cover in that I absolutely fell in love with it. The book broke me in the best of ways, and I’m going to tell you exactly how.
Touraine is a soldier, stolen from her home as a child and assimilated into Balladairan society, trained to be an elite soldier. Her company, the “Sands”, are the first to fight, the first to die. When she is sent to her homeland to quell a rebellion she must make the difficult choice between the empire who raised her and the homeland she was taken from.
Luca is a princess, fighting for her throne, she arrives in Qazāl hoping to accomplish two things, end the rebellion peacefully and win her throne from her uncle. However, as things don’t go as planned, Luca struggles to maintain peace and control.
A Diversely Queernorm World
A queer-normative world in any genre of book is hard-pressed to find. It’s even harder to find books that present queer people in a good and diverse way. What I loved the most was the fact that throughout the book it was always specifically assumed that women were attracted to other women. The majority of characters were women or non-binary as well, with only a few minor characters that were men, which for me, it felt easy to step into this world because of this fact. There is representation for the disabled community as well, through the characters of Luca who’s leg was injured in an accident and she now relies on a cane to walk and Jaghotai who lost part of her arm due to an amputation. Both characters are written well, with their disabilities being a part of who they are but not the ultimate thing that defines them.
Romance in this World
The Unbroken is part of a trilogy so you get the beginnings of the relationship between Luca and Touraine and little snippets of the complicated relationship between Pruett and Touraine, but I liked how romance wasn’t necessarily prioritized over the main storyline. Aranen and Djasha were my favorite couple though, their unwavering support and love for each other was so comforting for me to read as a lesbian.
Themes Within The Unbroken
The theme here is colonialism and underneath that it speaks to white supremacy and the imperialism of the western world. I believe the author does a great job with developing Touraine’s character and her struggle as both sides are pulling at her, wanting her loyalty and her body to be used as a weapon is visceral. Luca, as I interpreted her character, is the embodiment of white women within the structures of colonialism and white supremacy. Luca’s goal is to win her throne back from her uncle, she craves that power, she craves the respect of the people. But in her mind, the only option to take back the power that was taken from her is to use the methods of the empire against them. This quote from The Unbroken speaks powerfully to colonialism and the ultimate unwillingness of Luca to stray from the structure and teachings of the empire.
I would absolutely recommendThe Unbroken, it definitely has adult themes and some content warnings that I would look at first, but overall it’s amazing. It breaks down the complexities of colonialism and brilliantly describes the deeply personal struggle of a revolution against an empire. This book was one of my top TBR picks and I finished this in three days so I’ll be eagerly waiting for the next book in the Magic of the Lost Trilogy by C.L. Clark.
I have a good many books on my TBR and needless to say, I have been neglecting my TBR recently in favor of rereading series I know I like or getting distracted by other books I’ve come across. Since the very purpose of this blog is to make me read what’s on my TBR, here are my top five picks that I want to read next.
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
For two children born in a starving village in Mongol ruled China their fates are decided, for the boy, greatness, for the girl, nothingness. After a bandit attack leaves these two siblings orphaned, the boy no matter his destined greatness, gives in to grief and despair and dies.
The girl, desperate to change her fate, takes his name and enters a monastery as a novice. When her monastery is destroyed for participating in a rebellion against the Mongols, she has her chance to claim greatness.
I want to share the content warnings for She Who Became the Sun that the author included as this is an adult book and has graphic themes. I have been caught off guard by books that didn’t have content warnings so I really appreciate the fact that Shelley Parker-Chan included them.
Pre-existing non-consensual castration
Life-altering injury (amputation)
Non-graphic depictions of death by torture
Major character death
Offscreen murder of a child
Scenes depicting extreme hunger/starvation
Graphic depiction of a person burning to death
Why I Want To Read She Who Became The Sun
Historical fantasy fiction with LGBTQ characters and themes? Absofuckinglutely yes! I’ve always been a fan of historical fiction and as a queer person I’m doubly excited to read Shelley Parker-Chan’s debut novel.
Sheetal Mistry holds a secret, the secret of why her hair shines silver and of who her mother is and where she went. Because of these secrets, she has been in hiding her whole life. The life she’s built suddenly implodes close to her seventeenth birthday, when Sheetal loses control and her starfire erupts, gravely burning her father. This injury can only be healed by the blood of a full star, so Sheetal answers the song of the stars and ascends to the sky.
However, her celestial family has their own hidden reasons for summoning her to the skies. They need her to compete in a competition to decide who rules the house of heavens, and desperate to save her father Sheetal agrees.
Why I Want To Read Star Daughter
Besides the fact that the cover for Star Daughter is completely and absolutely stunning, I love the idea of stars being alive and able to walk among us. I’m so fucking excited to learn about this world and walk through the magic of the stars.
Jessamyn Toeh is closeted, broke, and moving back to Malaysia, the country she left when she was a toddler. After arriving, she begins to hear voices, then that voice claims to be her Ah Ma. Jessamyn’s Ah Ma, in life, was a spirit medium, the manifestation of the deity called the Black Water Sister. Ah Ma has decided to settle an old score with the leader of a gang who offended the Black Water Sister and is intent on Jessamyn helping her. As Jess fights for justice for Ah Ma and the Black Water Sister she is pulled into a dangerous world of family secrets, spirits, and gods.
Why I Want To Read Black Water Sister
I haven’t delved too deeply into urban fantasy, but I think it’s good for me to venture outside of the faerie porn genre and the summary is so interesting with the mix of ghosts and street gangs I won’t have trouble diving right in.
During a particularly rough period of Esso’s life, to top it all off, he has an accident which knocks him into a completely different world. A world that isn’t bound by space or time, where he can glimpse the past and the future.
Rhia’s life has always been a question. When she meets Dr. Esso, he needs her help to untangle a tragic fifteen year old mystery. By solving this mystery it will answer Rhia’s questions but most importantly it could save the future.
Two people, separated by a generation, they must fight for the future by changing the past.
Why I Want To Read The Upper World
I have been an unabashed fan of Doctor Who since I was a kid, and that started me down the rabbit hole of time travel. I love anything to do with time travel and I’m super excited to read this super time-bendy and diverse book. The Upper World is soon to be a Netflix original movie so I’ll definitely need to read this book soon!
Two women. One is a soldier. One is a princess. They are thrown together and hope to save their nation but where will ultimate loyalties lie?
Touraine was kidnapped as a child and raised to kill and die for her empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow soldiers and her empire. However, when her company is sent back to her homeland to quell a rebellion, she must decide where her loyalties ultimately lie.
Luca needs a turncoat, someone who can peacefully calm the rebellion while she focuses on her true goal, removing her undeserving uncle from his throne. Will she be able to step up and become who she is truly meant to be?
Why I Want To Read The Unbroken
First of all, I’m going to be honest, I am very gay and I love this book cover. Who doesn’t love a strong and muscled lesbian? But besides that, this is another book outside of my normal comfort zone as a military or political fantasy novel. It covers themes like colonialism, revolution and loyalty. This is the first book of the Magic of the Lost trilogy and I am very excited to dive into this sapphic love story of a soldier and a princess.
Other than Sarah J. Maas, there’s one author who haunts my Booktok feed more than any other: Colleen Hoover. Now I have nothing against the woman, and almost everyone I see talking about her loves her books and completely devours everything she writes. I, however, have somewhat of an aversion to Verity, It Ends With Us, or another book with Hoover’s name plastered on the front and I refuse to read her books.
I’m typically not one to discriminate and I’ll try pretty much anything once, or even twice (just ask the at home brands on my back and thigh), but I also value my own well being enough to know that Ms. Colleen Hoover and myself will not be a good match for each other. Here are the 3 reasons why I’m not about to fuck with Hoover and her many New York Times Best Sellers:
I Have Enough Stress in My Life
Reading is a type of escapism for the majority of readers out there, and I’m no different. When I open a book I want to explore a new world and a new feeling, not exacerbate my own.
Stress and pain and sadness can be beautiful, yes, but I want to read something I can get lost in without hating myself after.
I Want A Happy Ending
No, Colleen Hoover, I do not want you to wreck me. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a Hoover book “wrecked” some poor soul, I would have enough money to buy out all the Colleen Hoover books and insert my own happy place where the wreckage would otherwise occur. It’s already a mess in here, I don’t need a paperback sneaking in with its pretty name and attacking my will to live.
I want an ending I can feel somewhat good about – it’s like a reward. I also want an ending that is solid, and I’ve definitely heard that at least one Colleen Hoover ending leaves some questions up in the air – something about Verity and a manuscript? I don’t even want to know.
Triggers, Triggers Everywhere
If you’ve had traumatic experiences in your life, I bet there’s a Colleen Hoover book for you! It seems like every one of her books has a different trigger warning attached to it, sometimes followed by a few more.
I get it, some of us are gluttons for punishment. Me too, except with buffalo dip and an occasional bikini wax – not domestic violence and child loss.
Now, there certainly is a place for hard subject matters and things that could be found upsetting, especially by those who have experienced them. When there are triggers in every single book, though, I can’t help but get put off.
Again, I’ve got to say I have nothing personally against Colleen Hoover or anyone who finds enjoyment out of her books. There’s certainly a place for her type of novels, because everyone seems to be talking about them and loving them. I’m not saying I don’t love a good cry, because I do. Not every book has to be happy all the time or have a white picket fence ending, but I will say that I don’t want to be absolutely miserable reading a book, and I just feel that that is what would happen if I were to pick up one by Ms. Hoover.
While I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to pick up Verity or any other of Colleen Hoover’s books, stranger things than me changing my mind have happened – although, I am a stubborn one. I’m open to change, though, so feel free to change my mind!