REVIEW: The Last Wish

I’m sure everyone has heard of The Witcher series from the Netflix adaptation that came out recently, or else you know it from the video games. While more and more people tell me they love the books, I fell into the category of knowing it from the video games and being only vaguely aware of the books.

Given the Netflix series, the first book was on sale a while back so I figured, what the hell. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

The Last Wish is a collection of short stories and a novella, originally publishing in Poland as all separate stories, before being collected and spliced together to form this book. I really appreciated this set up as the stories were stand-alone while also flowing nicely into one another. Given that so many fantasy novels are 400 – 800+ page epics, I really liked how not-intimidating this book was. There was no major commitment to remembering everyone or trying to learn maps, and the stories were all at a length where things kept moving. A handful of them are vague fairytale retellings, and the Beauty and the Beast short was by far my favourite, taking things in a direction that was so new for a retelling of this kind and then breaking my heart.

For those who want a little more context about The Witcher, the series follows Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher, as he travels across the world fighting monsters and helping people who have the coin. However, he isn’t a cold-blooded person and will do what is right if he feels it is truly the right thing to do. Geralt isn’t always a welcome sight, though, as a Witcher is someone who has undergone rigorous training, poisoning, and mutation to become more than human. Many see him as a ruthless demon and others lock themselves away in fear, thinking their children will be taken to go through what Geralt has been through.

I’m sure there will be more information regarding that in the other books (my knowledge of it comes from playing Witcher 3 on Switch and they don’t go into much depth about the transformation process) and I look forward to reading more in the second collection of short stories.


The reading order was screwed up in translation so for those who are interested in reading the books, here is a guide:

  1. The Last Wish
  2. Sword of Destiny
  3. Season of Storms
  4. Blood of the Elves
  5. Time of Contempt
  6. Baptism of Fire
  7. The Tower of the Swallow
  8. The Lady of the Lake

REVIEW: The Starless Sea

The only book I really managed to read cover to cover within the month of February was Erin Morgenstern’s novel, The Starless Sea. Having gone to see her book tour event in Toronto a few months back, I found it was the time to get to this at long last.

This book is so hard to sum up my feelings for. I’ve tried again and again to write this review but the words I need just won’t come to me. I saw myself so much in Zachary and in Dorian and in so many others. The way the story unravels slowly and twists back on itself time and time again, it’s like trying to explain the plot of Inception in a language you don’t even understand. It’s not nearly as complicated when you read it for yourself but to explain it… Yeah, I don’t think I can do that.

The Starless Sea is a love letter, a light in the dark, a saving grace, to anyone who loves to get lost in something away from themselves. It’s a reminder that it’s okay and you’re not alone as well as a reminder of the good things in the world around us, the untold stories that pass us by every single day. This book punches you in the stomach to remind you of reality before patting you on the head and reminding you how wonderful you are.

“Important things hurt sometimes,” is a quote in the book that hit me so hard I was reeling from it and it’s only one of the many, many lines in the book that brought me to tears. And I wouldn’t exactly say that this is a sad book.

The magic of reading radiates from every page of The Starless Sea and I’ve been struggling to find a new book to read ever since I finished it.

I don’t think this review makes any sense whatsoever, but it has been a long time since I book has taken my breath away the way that this one did. I’m not one of those people who ever thinks, “I wish I could go back and read this for the first time” but this book has changed that. I wish I could experience this book for the first time every time I pick it up, because I know I will be picking this up again and trying everything I can to make it come to life around me the way it did when I was reading it this first time.

 

DNF Review: Infinity Son

So my first fresh read of 2020 (meaning I didn’t start it in 2019) was meant to be Infinity Son by Adam Silvera. I’m a big fan of Adam’s contemporary work, so when he said he was releasing a fantasy novel I was so excited! However, I’m sad to say that this was not what I was hoping for at all and it’s also become my first DNF of the year.

Over the last several months I kept seeing tweets referring to it as an “epic fantasy novel” which I took to mean high fantasy (think Lord of the Rings) when it turns out the use of the word “epic” was meant to be used as a word for “cool” and in reference to the book rather than the genre. Part of this is my own fault for not looking more closely at the back of the ARC, but I’ve got to say I was disappointed at the “urban” level of the genre.

On a good day, I’m not a fan of urban fantasy. It takes a lot for me to be interested in a fantasy novel that is set in the real world, so that was already a mark against this novel. Strike two was that not only was it urban fantasy, it was a superhero story; yet another subgenre element that I’m not interested in. Had I known that’s what this book was going to be I wouldn’t have requested the ARC in the first place.

To me, the biggest problems were in the first two chapters. And by problems, I mean the entire plot of the book is so easily guessable. In this world, it seems that people have until their 18th birthdays to discover if they have superpowers or not. It is also mentioned that there are “villain” characters who do something with phoenix blood to force superpowers on themselves. Now, this is a decent enough concept (with more PG-rated Vicious vibes) but quickly becomes boring when you consider that the main characters are twin boys, one of which just wants to be a normal boy and the other who wants to be a hero. I didn’t even make it past 13 or so pages but I can basically guess that Normal Boy Twin gets powers on their birthday while Other Twin goes after phoenix blood to become a hero.

I’m so sad that this book is miles away from what I was hoping for, but as a result, I will be hosting a giveaway on my Instagram for this ARC. I’d really love if it went to a good home with a reader who would actually enjoy a book like this.


Giveaway post
(Giveaway open to North American residents only, see post for details)

#countdowntodarkdawn: Godsgrave

Throughout August, I did my best to keep up with the #countdowntodarkdawn event hosted Instagram’s @sammaybereading, @grumplstiltskin, and @amandasnoseinabook. After the weight of the density of Nevernight, I felt a little intimidated by Godsgrave but after a month and a half I finally got through it (with a little help from the audiobook).

Godsgrave picks up a few months after the ending of Nevernight, but does get into it rather quickly. After learning what she’s really up to, Mia teams up with the traitor, Ashlinn, and the two formulate a plan to help further Mia’s want for revenge against Duomo and Scaeva. The plan? To sell herself into slavery in order to fight in a gladiator-style death match known as the Venatus Magni and kill the pair when they declare her the winner.

If y’all thought the first book was not meant to be in the YA section, then this one definitely should never be considered YA. In the most delicious way possible, this book was violent, graphic, and smutty. I loved the way all of it tied together in the most devastating and gruesome ways, showing sex as another kind of chess game in this world of master players. Topping it all off with some of the most wild reveals I’ve ever read, this book had me cheering one moment, and cussing it out the next. Especially towards the end.

Again, this was a rather dense read, so listening to the audiobook in small doses was a big help in getting through it but that doesn’t make me enjoy it any less. I loved the tidbits of more information we get about the darkin even if it’s the most vague nonsense you’ve ever been given. Eclipse and Mr. Kindly were scene stealers amidst the chaos of Mia’s slave life and their little interlude brings up so many questions! I’m like Oliver Twist standing before Jay Kristoff begging for more and knowing full well he’s not going it give more over (and I’m not even mad about it).

I didn’t throw this book across the room once I finished it but that had more to do with not wanting to chuck my phone across the room. While I do need a break before reading Darkdawn, I’m itching to get my FaeCrate hangover kit for it so I can see if I get any of the answers I’m looking for thanks to Godsgrave.

Damn you, Mr. Kristoff.

We love you so much.

#countdowntodarkdawn: Nevernight

So as many of you have noticed, I didn’t do any posts for my Throne of Glass read-a-long this month, but that was because I was balls-deep into the #countdowntodarkdawn read-a-long hosted by Instagram’s @sammaybereading, @grumplstiltskin, and @amandasnoseinabook. I have never read a Jay Kristoff work before now and wow am I feeling a lot of emotions here.

Nevernight is the first book in the series, following the rise of Mia Corvere as she stabs her way into a religious institution set on training the most masterful of assassins. Mia’s is a story of violence and vengeance. Having lost her family to the opposing religious community that rules her home and yet also possessing a mysterious ability of the very dark itself, Mia hopes to avenge her fallen loved ones by burying those who took them from her.

It is hard to give a synopsis without spoilers as, like I said, this book is full of emotional turmoil. While I enjoyed the story from cover to cover, it took me a solid month to get through it and I really only finished on time thanks to the audiobook. Kristoff does not hold back when it comes to stomping on your heart with the sole of his boots until there’s nothing more than a bloody smear on the ground, and his unique style of writing is hypnotic. With winding, flowery prose as the regular narrative and then footnotes ripe with history, backstory, and enough sass to rival the author himself. But this also made the book far denser than I was expecting.

I knew going into it that this was not a YA novel, but considering the audience as well as the 16-year-old protagonist, I was expecting something…different. It is not a complaint, but the writing style is wordy as all hell and the footnotes range from single sentence one-liners to several paragraphs of lore that – at times – made reading slow. Given my headspace lately the weight of this book made me not want to pick it up at times, so perhaps that’s a warner that this is the farthest thing from light reading.

The twists and turns legitimately had me gasping and all of the murder came close to turning even my stomach in the best of ways. The word sensual comes to mind in more ways than one if I’m being honest.

When it comes to the characters, I loved Mia. She is a strong little bitch who refuses to be put down no matter how much anyone wants her dead. And yet, Mia makes mistakes. She makes friends. She gets betrayed. It’s nice to see a cold-hearted female character fail and yet still come out on top without it being predictable while also being able to truly care for those around her. Tric was this beautiful, young Jason Mamoa-esque beauty who I will not forgive Mr. Kristoff for. I even loved the nasty characters like Jessamine and Diamo.

But the best character of all, you ask?

Mister freaking Kindly.

I love this little shit of a not-cat and I would gladly kill in the name of Niah to have a not-cat like him pooled in my shadow. He’s the right level of comic relief mixed with wise guide and Kindly stole every scene he was a part of.

Was this book a tough one to push through? Absolutely, and I can 100% understand the reasoning behind the mixed reviews. Was this book worth every second it took to read? Absolutely.

I give Nevernight a four out of five while also being hyped as hell for Godsgrave!

The Assassin & The Empire

I don’t have a review for this one, or much of a synopsis. Although anyone who started the series prior to reading the novellas will know what happens. As I felt it would be after reading the previous novella, The Assassin and the Empire is about how Sam died and Celaena ended up in Endovier.

I had to DNF this one.

Having heard time and time again about Sam being killed in the main books, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about the details in this novella. I didn’t care that Arobynn was a dick, because we already knew that, and I didn’t care about how it broke Celaena.

Having really liked the previous novella, I was hoping for more, but I’m sad to say I was disappointed in how bored I was with this final one. Perhaps if I’d read the novellas before the actual books I would have gotten more out of it, but instead I found it repetitive.


Today’s photo prompt was ROYALTY but I forgot my crown is in storage (oops!) so here’s a beautiful dagger. Be sure to tag me on Instagram at @lucieninthestars and use the hashtag #TWOTOGCountdown so I can see all of you’re beautiful photos!

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And finally, be sure to check out the wonderful A.K. Lee over on her site! There would be no read-a-long without her support and she’s an incredible author and friend. 

The Assassin & The Underworld

In the fourth novella, The Assassin and the Underworld, we see Celaena put in a rough position as she needs to decide what she truly wants while also trying to break free of Arobynn’s hold on her. Faced with the slave trade once again, Celaena and Sam team up once more to see if they can solve her problems together.

I really enjoyed this one! We finally got to see Sam as more than just an annoying brat like Celaena which made me really like him because it made me see him as more than someone equally as annoying as Chaol. Plus the way his feelings and Celaena’s came out felt a lot more natural than the majority of the other flirtations Celaena has had.

Although thinking of Chaol, I legitimately squealed with joy when he and Dorian so obviously showed up at the party. The way Dorian and Celaena flirted was beautiful and – as much as I’ve come to love Rowan – I’m still sad that they aren’t together in the current timeline of the story.

Honestly, the only thing that made me uncomfortable in this story is how SJM conveys the consorts. The way these girls idolize having their virginity auctioned off and have no issue with old men falling over them makes my skin crawl. There’s nothing wrong with sex work, but in the YA context of the story and the way something so dangerous is held to such a high position feels wrong. But maybe that’s just me. Regardless, an aspect of this that I did like was that is accentuated how gross Arobynn is so that’s a plus because he’s gross. 

We have one more story left which I get the feeling will end up being about when Sam is killed and Celaena gets shipped off to Endovier. I hope I’m wrong because I honestly feel that that point in her life is brought up so often that to include it seems redundant. But we shall see.

In the meantime, The Assassin and the Underworld gets 5 out of 5 for me because the parts that made me uncomfortable were seriously outweighed and overshadowed by the cameo from Dorian.


Today’s photo prompt was DEATH. Be sure to tag me on Instagram at @lucieninthestars and use the hashtag #TWOTOGCountdown so I can see all of you’re beautiful photos!

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The next prompt is ROYALTY as we move into the final story, The Assassin and the Empire!


Also just want to say thank you to those who are following along for being patient with me this week! I’ve been trying really hard to stay on the schedule I made for myself but as I said on Twitter, life just gets in the way sometimes.

And finally, be sure to check out the wonderful A.K. Lee over on her site! There would be no read-a-long without her support and she’s an incredible author and friend.