Wyrd and Wonder: Let’s talk about series (+ favourite completed series)

As a fantasy and romance reader, my reading is often series heavy – and when I enjoy a series this is one of my favourite parts of reading. I love the depth possible when many books are set in the same world, I love how invested I can become in characters when I have multiple books to spend time with them, and I also like being able to be reasonably sure I will love a book.

I have said in the past that I am not good at reading series – this is not actually quite true I have realized over the last few years (and about 20 books in the Psy-Changeling series later). I am admittedly not that great at finishing trilogies but longer series I enjoy I often inhale – especially if they are romance heavy or adjacent.

I have not been able to post as many non-review posts as I would like this last year- and I have especially not been able to shout my love from the rooftops as much (it feels like I read more disappointing books lately than earlier in my blogging journey, although this does not seem to actually have been the case). I am currently writing this series of posts on series (still to come are “Series I Love and Want to Keep Reading”, “Series I Read the First Book of and want to continue on with”, and “Series on my TBR”) in the hopes of bringing more positivity to my blog again. These posts are partly inspired by Caitlin’s brilliant The Great Series Read Project which you should check out if you haven’t done so.

To start that positivity with a bang, here are some of my favourite completed series.

Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews (review and review)
This comes as no news to anybody as this series re-invigorated my love for Urban Fantasy a couple of years ago. I binge-read the first four books in a breathless (and sleepless) rush over the span of less than a week. It took me a bit longer to read the next five and then I still had to wait a few weeks for the publication of the last book. Ilona Andrews takes what is a fairly typical UF premise: loner, detective-type person solves crimes involving magic and/ or creatures, while falling in love with one of the suspects, and makes it incredibly readable. The world-building is inpeccable, Kate Daniels is a perfect main character, the voice is wonderful, and I ship the main couple a little bit too much. I am currently making my way through all the novellas set in this world and then maybe I will re-read the series. It is just that good. (I still do not love the covers.)

Psy-Changeling by Nalini Singh
The first arc of this still ongoing series finished with book 15 (plus novellas) – and what a satisfying first arc this was! You get the feeling that Singh knows exactly where she wants her story to go and the little hints she plants early on for later books is just brilliant. This paranormal romance series is set in the future and features both Psy and shapeshifters. Each book focusses on another couple but the overall story is what keeps me hooked even if I do not love each individual couple. Incredibly, the series does not show any signs of becoming weaker and I do not foresee myself ever disliking any book Singh writes.

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin is my favourite author and this is her masterpiece. She won three consecutive Hugo Awards for these books – and rightfully so. The trilogy is near perfect, the first book especially was something close to otherworldly for me (review here). I do not know if there is another book that is this perfectly suited to my reading tastes. If you have not gotten around to this series, I really cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

While not as perfect as the Broken Earth trilogy, this is also an incredible series. It does something I particularly love in fantasy: feature gods. I don’t think Jemisin quite stuck the landing with this one but the first two books were so great. I especially love how distinctly not-human the gods are and I love how the later books recontextualize what happened before. (review for the first book here)

The Divine Cities Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett

Another series featuring Gods (I love it so!), this is set in a world where after a huge war, some gods are missing and/or dead and everything they have built is still there but malfunctioning without the entities that cancelled out certain natural laws powering them. The first book is a murder mystery kind of character heavy secondary world urban fantasy and absolutely brilliant (review here) – but the two other books in the series are also pretty damn amazing. The books feature some of my favourite characters and some of the imagery will stay with me forever, I am certain.

The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

In what should be obvious by now, this is also a series featuring gods. Set in the North of Russia with its seemingly neverending winter, drawing both on fairy tales and real life history, I adored this. I inhaled the first book (review here) and have been a fan of Katherine Arden’s writing ever since. I didn’t quite love the second book but thought the third book really stuck the landing (review here).

What are some of your favourite series? I am particularly always looking for good urban fantasy, preferably written by women and I also am never unhappy to see a heavy romance focus.

May 2021 TBR: It’s Wyrd and Wonder!

IMAGE CREDITS: images by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com

May is Wyrd and Wonder month – and I have at least tried to participate for the last three years and I am very excited to be part of it again. Wyrd and Wonder is a month long fantasy readathon hosted by Lisa of Dear Geek Place, imyril of There’s Always Room for One More, and Jorie of Jorie Loves a Story. I particularly like the sense of community this event gives me and that I find new people to follow every year.

I am famously not great at following TBRs and my mood reading often leads me down different paths than I anticipated but I am very excited about fantasy at the moment and hope this’ll keep for this month at least. I have some super exciting books I could potentially read and I genuinely hope to be more active this year. My daughter will maybe start day care soon (depending on how the covid cases in my hometown develop), so I might be able to sit down and blog at least a few times this month. I might also be able to read an actual physical book with pages and everything.

I am currently in the middle of three fantasy books which I am going to prioritize. I am enjoying all three of them but especially For The Wolf which is just as good as the blurb made it sound and at the moment on track to be a five star read for me. Dead Witch Walking is fun and the first in a long series – and I would love to get stuck in a longer series again, filling the Kate Daniels and Psy-Changeling shaped holes in my heart. Big Bad Wolf is a lot darker than I anticipated but I am loving the world building if sadly not the romance.

Below is an additional list of books I am excited about that I could potentially read this month. Looking at these books makes me wonder why I ever read anything else but fantasy. I will probably prioritize The Bone Shard Daughther by Andrea Stewart as it is the group read and Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse – have no excuse to not have already read that and I am certain I will adore it.

May 2020 TBR: It’s Wyrd And Wonder

ww2020-schedule-header-e1582553375586Every May I try to participate in Wyrd and Wonder, a month long readathon hosted by Lisa of Dear Geek Place, imyril of There’s Always Room for One More, and Jorie of Jorie Loves a Story. And every May I am only partly successful. I am kind of assuming this year will be no different (given that I will be giving birth at some point in May) but I still couldn’t not participate because I like the sense of community so much.

I am not even going to try to give myself a structured TBR but rather wanted to show you (and myself if I am being honest) some of the options I have. I will surely concentrate more on the romance side of fantasy because this is what I gravitate towards when my life is stressful.

I want to start reading Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series again; I still prefer her Psy-Changeling Series, but her writing and her character work are just always so very impeccable. I also weirdly have two books in the middle of the Psy-Changeling series unread and I am hoping to finally finish those before the next book in the series comes out later this year.

I will also catch up on the Hidden Legacy series in preparation for the upcoming release. I just adore Ilona Andrews’ writing, it is fast-paced and impeccably structured, often funny but always exciting, with interesting familial relationships – and I adore how they weave their romances into plots I would like even without it.

Except for those three series, here are a few more fantasy novels that are languishing unread on my shelves, in no particular order:

I will pick up whatever I feel like and hopefully that will translate into reading a few books that have been on my shelves for way too long. I am also currently reading N. K. Jemisin’s incredible The City We Became – which I am adoring as was to be expected.

 

IMAGE CREDITS: Flaming phoenix by Sujono SujonoDecorative phoenix by Tanantachai Sirival – both from 123RF.com

Review: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

29774026Verdict: Everything I wanted it to be.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Published by Bloomsbury, 2019

Find it on Goodreads.

A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

This book hit me right in my sweet spot when it comes to fantasy. I usually don’t enjoy these super long fantasy tomes but this one really worked for me. This book casually grounds itself in female characters and queer relationships in a way that worked exceedingly well for me. Shannon wrote a book nearly custom-made for me (there is nearly no miscommunication! People actually talk to each other honestly! There is no sexualized violence! The good guys are allowed to be good and are allowed to grow! There are many many wonderful women! Some carry swords, some ride dragons, and some are better suited to diplomacy! And it is ok that they are different! They are not compared to each other!). I adored every second of this 26-hour long audiobook and I am so glad I decided to read it.

This is a fairly traditional high fantasy book focussing of two very different parts of this fictional world: one where dragons are worshipped and one where dragons are reviled. We follow four different characters: Tané who is training to become a dragon rider, Niclays who is an alchemist living in exile, Loth who has been thrust into a dangerous diplomatic mission, and Ead, a handmaiden to the Priory of the Orange Tree, send to protect the Queen of Inys who would have her executed if her real faith was revealed. As a background to this, draconic creatures are stirring again, indicating that the Nameless One who nearly destroyed human society one thousand years ago might be returning. As is hardly ever the case, I enjoyed every single perspective – especially Niclays really grew on me in the course of the book. He is a deeply unhappy, spiteful man filled with regret and hatred – but he is humanized by his deep love for a man he lost many years ago. He is selfish and cruel but also so very lost that I could not help but root for him in the end. Tané is very much a hero with a proper hero’s journey, but I loved her earnest wish to do what is right. Loth worked best for me when put into situations with his sister or his queen – both of whom he loves dearly and honestly. My favourite perspective however was Ead: I do love kickass women who do what is right, no matter how difficult.

My favourite part of this book were the great variety of relationships Shannon depicts: there are romantic relationships and platonic ones, childhood friends and unlikely friends, sibling love and the love between children and their parental figures (biological and otherwise), friendships between humans and fantastical beasts, grudging respect and long-lived hate – I adored this. All to often the main focus of books is romantic love – and to have this facette of human behaviour be only one part of a great kaleidoscope of relationships really worked for me. I also really loved the main romantic relationship at its core: these two women were just wonderful together (skirting spoiler territory here).

I read this book as part of Wyrd & Wonder – a month-long celebration of the fantastic hosted by imyril @ There’s Always Room for One More, Lisa @ Dear Geek Place and Jorie @ Jorie Loves a Story. You can sign up here!

Content warning: Miscarriage, infertility, death.

 

 

Recommendations: fantasy books featuring gods

ww-2019-dragon-banner-all-capsI love books that ruminate on humanity by way of talking about gods. Love, love, love it. So I figured, I should write about my favourite books that deal with this. I am writing this post as part of Wyrd & Wonder – a month-long celebration of the fantastic hosted by imyril @ There’s Always Room for One More, Lisa @ Dear Geek Place and Jorie @ Jorie Loves a Story. You can sign up here!

The Inheritance trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

It is no secret that I adore N. K. Jemisin’s writing – and her lesser known trilogy is no exception to this. Set in a world where after a war between the gods some of those gods are enslaved by humans and one is revered, her world building is as impeccable as ever and her characters are brilliant. Some of the main characters gods, some aren’t, all are compelling. She does not shy away from how otherworldly and often awful beings with near endless power could be and the books are better for it.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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This is my favourite of Neil Gaiman’s books (although the Sandman graphic novels are a close second); I love everything about its sprawling plot and its integration of countless belief-systems. Shadow Moon is a brilliant main character to anchor the story and his acceptance of the strangeness around him worked exceedingly well for me.

 

The Divine Cities trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett

This series is set in a world formerly ruled by Divinities and their whims – where even the laws of nature have been bent. Bulikov is far from its former glory as the centre of the world and the seat of the Gods – most of it was destroyed together with its Gods. It is now ruled by the very people it used to enslave.

I adored the mythology Bennet sets up here: what happens to all the things created by gods if they die? Especially when they ignored all natural laws to create those things? I find his world very well thought out and mesmerizing in its implications. Just thinking about these books make me giddy. I didn’t quite love the first book in his current trilogy but the ending made me VERY excited to see where the story goes next.

The Library of Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

26892110This stand-alone is a lot darker than most books I usually read, but with impeccable world-building and enough of a sense of the bizarre to be just my type of book. I adored how cleverly Hawkins sets up his readers and at least for me caught me totally unawares by the ending. I didn’t whole-heartedly love it – but I will still read anything he published next, if he ever does so, that is.

 

The Sixth World by Rebecca Roanhorse

I think I have been sufficently gushing about this series as of late – but I cannot help it, it is just perfect for the type of reader I am. I am very excited to see where it goes next and I love the glimpses of what I am assuming will be major themes going forward: the idea of agency in a world ruled by the whims of gods. That is just catnip for me.

I need to read more books like these; do you have any recommendations for me?

 

A to Z Book Tag – Fantasy Edition

ww-2019-dragon-banner-all-capsI was tagged for this ages ago and cannot even remember by whom (I am SO sorry!), but figured this would be a good way to talk more about fantasy given that I am trying to participate in Wyrd and Wonder, a month long fantasy readalong, this year. You can find the sign-up post with all the necessary information here.

Author you’ve read the most books from

Terry Pratchett for sure. I have read 23 or so books in the DiscWorld  series and plan on reading all of them in my lifetime. I am taking my time because the thought of not having any left to read is making me too sad – I love these books and everything they do.

Best sequel ever

23909755While it might not be THE best sequel ever, I thought the second book in Robert Jackson Bennett’s The Divine Cities trilogy, City of Blades was awesome – and I didn’t even mind (and actually actively enjoyed) the change in main characters, something that hardly ever works for me.

 

 

Currently reading

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I am currently reading Samantha Shannon’s feminist dragon high fantasy novel The Priory of the Orange Tree. I am enjoying it immensely but I also think that maybe it is indeed a bit too long. I am a bit more than one third into the book and it feels surprisingly low stakes for a book featuring the possibility of a world-ending war. But, the worldbuilding is exquisite and the focus on female voices is obviously something I adore. Continue reading “A to Z Book Tag – Fantasy Edition”

Review: Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse

37920490Verdict: Damn.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/ Fantasy.

Published by Saga Press, April 2019

Find it on Goodreads.

It’s been four weeks since the bloody showdown at Black Mesa, and Maggie Hoskie, Diné monster hunter, is trying to make the best of things. Only her latest bounty hunt has gone sideways, she’s lost her only friend, Kai Arviso, and she’s somehow found herself responsible for a girl with a strange clan power.

Then the Goodacre twins show up at Maggie’s door with the news that Kai and the youngest Goodacre, Caleb, have fallen in with a mysterious cult, led by a figure out of Navajo legend called the White Locust. The Goodacres are convinced that Kai’s a true believer, but Maggie suspects there’s more to Kai’s new faith than meets the eye. She vows to track down the White Locust, then rescue Kai and make things right between them.

Her search leads her beyond the Walls of Dinétah and straight into the horrors of the Big Water world outside. With the aid of a motley collection of allies, Maggie must battle body harvesters, newborn casino gods and, ultimately, the White Locust himself. But the cult leader is nothing like she suspected, and Kai might not need rescuing after all. When the full scope of the White Locust’s plans are revealed, Maggie’s burgeoning trust in her friends, and herself, will be pushed to the breaking point, and not everyone will survive.

Rebecca Roanhorse does not pull any punches. From the very first page I was hooked again and her story keeps its relentless pace until the very end while still spending enough time with the characters for them to develop and for the scenes to hit the emotional notes they are supposed to hit. This was, quite simply, incredible. Now, I know I am far from an impartial judge, given that the first book in the series reignited my love for Urban Fantasy, but believe me when I tell you, that this second book was even better than the first and seriously impressive.

Picking back up a few weeks after the events of the first book, this book delivers on all the promise Roanhorse’s world showed. I adore the matter-of-factness of a world not based on the usual fantasy fair but thoroughly different. Roanhorse trusts her (non-Native) readers to figure out stuff on their own in a way that I found refreshing – and I am sure for Native readers this book delivers on a whole different level. The worldbuilding is as intricate and immersive as before and this time around I thought the characters were equally interesting. I loved the addition of Ben who brings out a side of Maggie we hadn’t seen before in a way that made her more well-rounded while not changing anything about what we knew of her (something that I find particularly intriguing in books). I loved the way in which Rissa and Maggie dealt with their complicated relationship and I loved the themes of found family (obviously). Kai is not my favourite but even he got some really brilliant scenes.

I thought that Roanhorse impressively plays with themes of agency and destiny in a way that makes me very excited to see where this story goes next. I am a big fan of stories that ruminate on the role of human action in worlds dominated by gods – and Roanhorse gives the reader just enough of a glimpse of what is yet to come that I am beyond thrilled by the direction she chose to take her story.

I always find reviews of five-star books difficult without falling back onto superlatives, but I really loved this in a way I haven’t loved very many books this year. If you like fantasy at all, I urge you to check out this series.

I read this as part of Wyrd and Wonder, a month long fantasy readalong I am trying to participate in. You can find the sign-up post here where you can find all necessary information.

 

May 2019 TBR: It’s Wyrd and Wonder!

ww-2019-dragon-banner-all-capsI am so excited!

Last year I tried to participate in Wyrd and Wonder but got sidetracked, something that is likely to happen again but I still want to try. I have been reading a lot of fantasy and related genres these last months and I am always up for more. You can find the sign-up post here in case you also want to participate in this fantasy goodness.

I am trying to keep my TBR to a manageable size because I still have plenty of Women’s Prize books left to read before the winner is announced (I am determined to make it through the longlist until then!) but I also always get super excited when thinking about books I could potentially read. I had decided to go with one book per medium – and then my copy of Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse arrived and I couldn’t not include this.

Hard Copy: A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

32200595I am determined to finally finish this series – while I did not love the second book, I do love Schwab herself. She has such a lovely online presence! I also really enjoy her imagination, even if her characters don’t always work for me. Even though this is super long, her writing is readable enough that I should be able to breeze through it, once I get properly started.

Hard Copy: Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

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I read the first book in this series the moment it came out last year and have been excited for the sequel ever since. It reignited my love for Urban Fantasy which has been dominating my reading this last year. I just adore what Roanhorse is doing with the tropes of the genre and the basis in Native American mythology is breathtakingly done.

 

Audio Book: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

29774026Speaking of long books, the audio book for this is 26 hours long (which always feels like I am really getting something for my money!). I recently moved and now walking to work takes me half an hour, so I get a reasonable amount of reading done this way. Shannon’s feminist dragon fantasy is awesome so far, but also a bit confusing with its big cast of characters – apparently I did not pay proper attention in the beginning because I only remember one of the main characters, so I will have to restart the audiobook.

Kindle Book: The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang

41118857I was lucky to snag my first ever Edelweiss Arc for this one and I cannot even tell you how excited I am to get to it. I really enjoyed the first book in the series and I cannot wait to see where Kuang takes her story next. It will be absolutely brutal, I am sure, but also amazing and I personally am here for it.

 

Graphic Novel: Monstress Vol. 3: Haven by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

41952016I have not been reading graphic novels much lately but I do love the medium. And I particularly love what Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda are doing here. The art is stunning and the world-building intricate and everything about this just works for me. (I have heard people find it very hard to stomach in its graphic depiction of violence so this might not be a series for everybody though)

But who am I kidding; I will probably just keep reading Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling books until I reach the end of the series as published so far.

*Image Credit:  Dragon – by  kasana86.

TBR: May 2018 #WyrdandWonder

I am just getting back into my reading groove (April was rough), so I figured I should again try and set myself a TBR for the month. I am currently not doing well with general fiction and craving more genre fiction – and have just now decided to participate a bit in #Wyrd and Wonder (which sounds just wonderful). For me this means I will try and read more fantasy than I have recently done and maybe talk more about this genre that used to define my reading taste much more than it does right now. (We will have to wait and see how that actually works out for me)

I have also recently purchased a whole bunch of non-fiction titles that I am very excited to get to.

I am also slowly making my way through my pile of arcs (you can find an incomplete list of my arcs here and here).

TBR ARCs:

 

Florida by Lauren Groff (Publication Date June 5th)

The Changeling by Victor LaValle (Publication Date July 5th)

Suicide Club by Rachel Heng (Publication Date July 10th)

TBR Books for Wyrd and Wonder:

 

 

The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

Monstress Vol. 2: The Blood by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda

Jade City by Fonda Lee

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

Strange The Dreamer by Lainie Taylor

TBR non-fiction books

 

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

The White Book by Han Kang

Not That Bad ed. by Roxane Gay

Which books are you planning on reading this month? Is there one book in particular on my TBR that I should prioritize?