The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco

The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco is the conclusion to The Never Tilting World duology. 

After a treacherous journey to the Great Abyss, twins Haidee and Odessa thought the worse was over. The world has begun to turn again and they fought the void and lived to tell the tale. But even though the world turns once again the Great Abyss will not be satisfied until a sacrifice has been made and a goddesses blood has been spilled. 

Refusing to give in to a tradition of sacrifice that has gone on for decades, Haidee and Odessa must search for answers within the Cruel Kingdom, the underworld. But gaining entrance may cost them more than they are willing to give. 

Will the twins be able to find the answers they seek before it is too late it or will terror, guilt and anger get in their way? 

I often find that duologies work better than trilogies because you don’t get the second book lull that a trilogy often has and I think this is true of The Never Tilting World duology. There was action each step of the way, all while building up to a fairly satisfying ending. 

I did listen to this one on Audible and, as happens when listening vs reading, I think there were a few instances where I was preoccupied while listening and missed a free crucial connections. There were a lot of little intricacies between the two books that all go together to “reveal” the ending. Missing these caused a little confusion here and there for me.  So I think I would recommend reading vs listening to this one. 

Otherwise, I found this world to be really unique and dynamic and the author did a great job of layering on details throughout the story. This one gets 3.5 stars from me. 

That’s all for now! 

-M-

The Searcher by Tana French

The Searcher by Tana French is an adult standalone novel about a retired cop who moves to a small town in Ireland to get away. 

Retired detective Cal Hooper moved to a remote village in Ireland in the hopes of putting aside the cop part of his brain that always has him looking for trouble. But it turns out that small town living has intricacies all its own and Cal will have to use a whole new set of instincts to get by. 

When a local kid from the “wrong” part of town starts showing up at his house, Cal must break out his detective skills one more time. What do they say about trouble? Don’t go looking for it unless you want trouble to find you. And trouble has certainly found Cal. 

I liked this quaint little mystery, even if I wasn’t overly thrilled with the ending. Cal is a very likeable guy and he fits in well with the rural, nosey citizens of the town. I liked his polite, solitary, yet analytical nature. And his relationship with Trey is handled really well, built up throughout the story. 

This story/mystery builds really slowly but I didn’t actually mind it because it goes with the vibe of the town and it’s citizens. 

Though I sort of saw the twist coming and I didn’t necessarily like the ending, I don’t really see how it could have ended any other way and that, in a sense, was satisfying. 

This one gets 3.5-4 stars from me. 

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith

The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith is the second book in the Hell’s Library series. 

As Claire and Brevity adjust to their new roles within the library a new threat from within could destroy those who depend on it. 

After being almost destroyed and losing hundreds of books to a fire, the Library of the Unwritten and its caretakers are trying to deal with the trauma and heal but tensions are high and so many stories were lost. 

In the Arcane wing, a mysterious pool of ink appears and Claire and Brevity are at odds at what to do with the dangerous substance. Will they be able to put aside their differences before it is too late?

A Library in hell, a stubborn librarian, a fallen Angel, a muse and a hero… really, how could I not like this series. This second book introduces a bigger arching plot only hinted at in the first book that feels sort of like a coming end game. 

I did have mixed feelings about having more points of view in the second installment because I felt like I missed Claire’s voice and wasn’t as invested in Brevity’s. I understand why we need it to propel the story but I just wanted more from Claire and not broken Claire, determined, stubborn Claire. 

I also missed the feel of “the chase” from the first book. There wasn’t much of that feeling of urgency here and I wanted to see Claire back on the case. 

Even so, there was still a lot to like about this one, Hero and Rami’s budding relationship to name one. Overall, I enjoyed this book and can’t wait to see where the next one goes. 

That’s ask for now! 

-M-

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalai is a juvenile fiction book, steeped in myth and folklore, probably best for 5-7th graders.

“Strong’s keep punching.” Is the family motto of the Strong family and seventh grader, Tristian Strong, feels like doing anything but punching after he losing his first boxing match, while dealing with the death of his best friend, Eddie. In the hopes of “getting his mind off of things,” Tristan is sent to live with his grandparents for the summer, working in the fields and getting away from any reminders of Eddie.

All Tristan has left of Eddie is a beaten up journal where he wrote down old stories. On his first night in Alabama, a sticky little doll sneaks into Tristan’s room and snatches to doll. When Eddie chases the creature down, he and it let loose an evil spirit and they all fall into another world–Midpass.

Burning seas, bone ships, mechanical monsters and more greet him, along with black American gods like John Henry and Brer Rabbit. In order to get home Tristan must ally with these gods and save Midpass, but what can one lost teenager do?

I enjoyed this book a lot and I think it will have a lot of appeal to fantasy fans of myth and legend. The book gives you glimpses into folklore and myth from West Africa and these samples make you want to go out and learn more about the original tales.

Although Tristan is a great character and will be relatable to many, I think the side characters really shine in this book. Gum Baby, John Henry, High John and the others were so fun to read. I loved “seeing” glimpses of them throughout the story and hope the come in to play more in the next book.

It’s hard to believe that this is a debut book for Mbalai because it has memorable characters, a storyline that pulls you in and some pretty good worldbuilding. Overall, I think this will be a great read for kids who are looking for something similar to the Riordan books but with a new feel. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown is the first book in a fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore.

Solstasia is an event that happens every fifty years. It is a both a celebration and ritual. For Malik, Solstasia is a chance to start fresh with his siblings and forge a new life for his family away from the war-torn shambles of his home. When a malevolent spirit kidnaps Malik’s baby sister, he makes a deal to kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, in exchange for her life.

But Karina isn’t so easy to kill and she has her own designs when it comes to Solstasia. Determined to resurrect her murdered mother, the Sultana of Ziran, Karina turns to dark magic, requiring the heart of a king.

Malik and Karina’s fates are tied together and as evil stirs within the city of Ziran both will find that price of their tasks, may be higher than the thought.

I don’t know if it was the audio book or what, but I had a hard time getting into this book. It wasn’t until the Solstasia contest actually starts that my attention was grabbed. And then it seemed like things moved almost too quickly to make up for the slower beginning.

Karina is an emotional character, whereas Malik lives more in his head and I found their narrative observations of one another interesting in how differently they seem themselves versus the way the see one another. And Malik’s chosen side at the end of the story is surprising and out of character with what we witness throughout the story.

I’m actually surprised to find out that this is going to be a duology instead of a series of three because it felt like Brown introduced a lot of elements at the end of the story, maybe too many to wrap up in just one book?

This one gets 3.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-