The Silvered Serpents

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi is the second book in The Gilded Wolves series. 

Severin and his fellows are back after their disastrous first run in with the Fallen House but things are definitely not the same. Severin is distant and cold and his desperation to make amends by harnessing the power of the Gods has become all consuming. 

Severin and his crew follow the clues from Paris to Russia in the hopes of finding the Fallen House’s treasure before the Winter Conclave. But things aren’t as they seem and soon everything will change. 

Overall, I enjoyed this second book in the trilogy but I will admit, I was much more invested in the first book. 

Second book syndrome at its best. The first, introduces the characters and plot, the second builds more on the plot/world building and the third is the action and wrap up. And often, I find the second book lacking the draw of the first and third. 

One thing I did like about this one is the development of the relationships in this book. We see a different side of each of the characters and it is darker and less hopeful than the first book. 

We still get that steampunk, magic, Victorian mix that I liked in the first book and it looks like we are going to get a chase to the finish in the final. This one gets 3.5 stars from me. 

That’s all for now!

-M-

The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is a feel good fantasy for a wide range of readers.

Linus Baker works hard and follows the rules. He is forty, lives alone with his cat and is comfortable in his routine. As a Case Worker for The Department of Magical Youth, Linus is often sent out to various orphanages to assess and judge the well-being of the children. When “extremely upper management” send him on a “classified level 4” assignment, Linus isn’t sure they picked the right man for the job.

Marsyas Island Orphanage, is home to six dangerous children: “a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist.” Never one for bravery, Linus must put aside his fear and judge for himself if the children and the orphanage they call home is safe.

But there is more to the island than these children, a charming and enigmatic caregiver/teacher and a surprising caretaker may just baffle Linus more than the children. Can Linus stay objection? Should he?

I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful story about magical orphans and an unsuspecting savior. But now that I am reviewing this book, I honestly do not know who is the intended audience. It was an electronic book, so I didn’t really look at what “shelf” I got it off of; I just assumed by the color and description it was juvenile or tween. When I was listening to it, I was like “wow a juvenile book narrated by an adult, that’s unique.” Although, is it a juvenile fiction book? Now I am not really sure. I do, however, think it would be a wonderful audio book for a car ride or as a read aloud for younger readers and, content-wise, appropriate for a wide range of readers.

I love Linus’ relationship with each of the children and caregivers. It is really neat to see how he grows throughout the book; he becomes more colorful–gray and dull in the beginning but brighter and more openminded by the end.

There’s also a political commentary going on in this book about “second class citizenship” and equal rights, as well as the state of government run facilities. Whether intended or not, it would make for an interesting discussion.

Overall, I was enchanted by this book and immediately thought of it for a friend of mine who likes to read aloud to her two boys. This one gets 5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Pull of the Stars

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue is an adult fiction novel.

It is 1918 in Dublin and Ireland is struggling to survive the end of the war and a devastating flu pandemic. Within this turmoil is Julia, a nurse and primary provider for her brother who hasn’t spoken since returning from the front.

Julia works in the small fever maternity ward, where expecting mothers with the flu are quarantined and cared for. The hospital is understaffed and under supplied. Being all but alone to care for these women, Julia must rely on suspected Irish rebel, Dr. Kathleen Lynn, and an uninformed young volunteer, Bridie Sweeney, to make it through.

Written over the course of three days, Julia’s life will change forever by the end.

I started this one right before I went on maternity leave because my library hold came in and this was probably not the best book for a pregnant/new mom to read, which is probably why it took me so long to get through it.

Overall, this was an interesting read about a time in Ireland I wasn’t overly informed about. At first, I wasn’t sure how an entire book was going to revolve around a three bed fever maternity ward, but Donoghue succeeds in spinning a tale I wasn’t expecting with actual twists that I didn’t see coming. So sometimes it pays off to pick up a book you never even read the blurb for.

This one gets 4 stars from me. Probably higher if I had read it at literally any other time.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Forest of Souls

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee is the first book in a new fantasy series, swirling with shamans, mystery and battle.

Sirscha Ashwyn, orphan born, came from nothing but is determined to make something of herself in the Queen’s army–in fact, her most precious goal is to become the Queen’s next Shadow, the royal spy. But things don’t go according to plan and Sirscha’s best friend, Saengo, gets killed… that is, until Sirscha brings her back to life.

Now Sirscha and Saengo are bonded together in a way neither of them understand and both are being hunted and summoned by authority figures neither ever expected to meet.

As war looms, Sirscha must use all of her training to uncover the truth about her countries history and in doing so, must decide what path to forge forward.

There was a lot to like about Forest of Souls. The world building was great. I am really drawn to this idea of shamans and familiars and basically the controversy of their place in society. But I did have a bit of a problem with the plot.

I felt like we were given pieces of a story that didn’t really come together until the very, very end of the novel. I guess when I read a first book in a series, I am looking to be introduced to the characters to build investment in their plights and then get an idea of the main “problem” that they will be facing. I didn’t entirely feel like we got that here. There was a lot of build up to who Sirscha is but not so much about the conflict happening around her. Again, until the very end. So we see where things are going but I just needed a little more.

If you are listening to the audio book for this one, be warned the narrator is very soft spoken. I don’t know if it was meant to be this way, but you’ve been warned.

Overall, I want to see where this book is heading but I am not yet invested in it as a series. Which is why, I am giving it 3 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Empire of Gold

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty is the final book in the Daevabad Trilogy.

The Ghaziri’s have lost their hold on Daevabad and Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her Afsheem Dara taken over, but the battle is far from won. The city is in turmoil, thousands are dead and the quarters are rebelling and afraid of what this new leadership will mean. What is worse, magic is gone.

On the other side of the world Nahri and Ali have escaped the slaughter with the help of magic neither of them comprehend and now they must decide what their next move is. Should they abandon Daevabad and find a life elsewhere or will they fight for a home that never treated either of them very well.

As the city continues to crumble into mayhem, truths will be revealed that been buried for decades if not centuries. Will Daevabad ever recover and will the Jin ever get magic back?

(FYI – I totally butchered all the spelling)

This is a series that I listened to the audio book and phew, were these long audio books. The trilogy takes place over the course of several years and take place in this involved, creative fantasy world full of magical world building and twisty politics. It’s no wonder the books are each 600-800 pages, you need that space to fit everything in.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised that ending didn’t feel rushed. I often find that trilogies start off slow, do a ton of world building in book two and then wrap up really quickly in book three. But this series had a nice pace.

As much as I liked the series and this final book, there was something missing for me that I can’t quite put my finger on. I enjoyed the story but this last one needed something and I’m not sure what. Which is why I am going to give it 3.5 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-