Review: ECHO NORTH by Joanna Ruth Meyer (2019)

Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Young Adult fantasy
Year Release: 2019
Source: Library physical copy

Starting with the wolf attack that left her scarred from age seven, Echo Alkaev’s life has the makings of a fairy tale: magic, strange curses, a selfish stepmother. When she meets the same wolf almost ten years later while searching for her missing father, Echo must house sit for a year with the wolf or else her father dies. But there is far more to this promise.

This story is steeped in folklore and fairy tale. From the Wolf Queen to the boy trapped in stories to the settings, it all seems so familiar. Atmosphere and magic sustain every page. I find it interesting how there was a micro-trend of library magic, but in this story, books are mirrors and you can inhabit as if they were movies in VR. These had been created by one of the characters, but that’s spoiler territory and it’s an unnecessary detail for most of the narrative. Because the world-building was otherwise so light, it was easy to follow along with internal character struggles of Echo and especially Echo’s perspective of Hal.

If you’re looking for something Beauty and the Beast (1999), this book captures the same magic, right down to a wonderful library and enchanted ball.

 

Review: THE AGE OF ICE by J.M. Sidorova (2013)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult fantasy
Year Release: 2013
Source: Library physical copy

Alexander Velitzyn was born in a palace constructed from ice alongside his twin brother Andrei. He suffers from some kind of affliction that makes his skin literally cold as ice. The rest of the book is his life, in addition to finding literally answer to why he had been cursed.

The voice here is so Eastern European: deeply sarcastic, sort of self-pitying if it all weren’t true. Because of the cold disposition his turn as Old Man Frost granted him, his personal relationships suffer, until he learns that they can actually thrive besides the frost of his skin. The side characters had been fairly well-developed. I found myself thinking about them during long intervals during their absence. The consistent introspection gave weight to the personal touchstones in his life, which is hard to convey in a narrative that spans so many years.

In addition the relationships, I greatly admired how Sidorova omitted greater events of historical history. In fact, Alexander runs away from Russia in the 1800s to go to Persia. He even spends a good decade in the Arctic, trying to discover ice’s secrets and the relationships there are simply fascinating.

Icy in its sarcasm and coverage of smaller political stories mostly set in the 1700s, The Age of Ice perfectly covers the exhaustion that comes with long, unnatural life.

 

Review: CONSPIRACY OF RAVENS by Lila Bowen (2016)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult speculative fiction/fantasy western
Year Release: 2016
Source: Library physical copy

The Wild West reimagined with more monsters and queer folk definitely is having a bit of a moment. Wake of Vultures, the first installment of The Shadow quartet, introduced us to Nettie Lonesome. In this sequel, Nettie fully becomes Rhett Walker, a truth which helps him get better at shifting. This book also introduces other shifters and new characters.

Much like the first installment, this book is so much fun. The monsters are terrifying, the villains are dastardly, and everyone has survival on the mind so no one can really be trusted. Rhett undergoes so many excellent sequences of self-discovery throughout. They range from him spending quality time with his gender identity and having a variety of romps with several characters.

The antagonist of this novel is also so good. A true robber baron stealing blood from magical creatures (seriously, there’s a unicorn). Bowen does a great job outlining the rules of magic, so the twist is both shocking but makes the reader feel smart for figuring it out.

A rootin’, tootin’, shapeshiftin’ time in the weird west with some decent trans rep.

 

Reading Recap: December 2019

Dec2019RR.pngIn December, I made it a small goal to get my Currently Reading List down to zero. While I failed at that, I got most of the way there, even reading two additional books. I start 2020 with a four-book-long backlog, which honestly, it pretty good. Anyway, here is the last recap of the year.
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Reading Recap: November 2019

Nov2019RR.pngInstead of doing NaNoWriMo this year, I decided to plot out a book instead. It didn’t mean I didn’t have time for some excellent reads. This month featured such an assortment of genres and formats, I feel like my understanding of craft expanded in ways I didn’t expect.
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Reading Recap: October 2019

Oct2019RRUnfortunately, I am nursing a wicked headache so there will be only one long reading recap. October featured some travel, excellent reads, and more lessons to be learned by reading. Continue reading

Reading Recap: September 2019 (Audiobooks)

SeptemberAudiobooks2019RRSince I had taken several walks during break times of my September hell writing time, I wound up listening to quite a few audiobooks. Here are the highlights. Continue reading

Reading Recap: September 2019 (Hardcopies and Kindle)

SeptemberHCK2019RR.pngSeptember was such a wild time. Between finishing an entire novel, a fraught day of business travel, and celebrating my seventh anniversary with the boyfriend, it was a busy time! Anyway, here are some books that weren’t read to me by some talented voice actors. Continue reading

Reading Recap: August 2019 (Audiobooks)

AugustAudio2019RR.pngA pinched nerve for two weeks took me out of commission, but having my boyfriend in town was massively helpful. It also gave me a chance to read some excellent audiobooks, which I will share with you below. Continue reading