ARC Mini Review – The Beholden

Today I have another mini review, and unfortunately, it is a pretty negative one. I had planned to do a longer review of this book, but almost everything I have to say is negative, and I don’t want to spend that much time in a negative head space. I’ve already spent enough time trudging through this book as it is. Needless to say, I’m disappointed that my first full read of the year was a dud, but oh well. Here’s to hoping the next one is better.

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TBR: January 2022

Hello, everyone! It is the start of another month, which means it is time again to plan out what I want to read. I’m not participating in any readathons this month. So, I’m mostly picking these books based on what ARCs need to be reviewed and what books I’m in the mood to read.

In total, I want to read at least 10 books in January 2022 to start the year off strong. I have several ARCs to get through this month, and there are a couple new/recent releases I really want to get to, as well. I’m also going to be reading The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin along with other members of The Oasis Discord channel. I’ve already finished one book this month, Of Darkness and Light by Ryan Cahill, that I started prior to the end of last year. Since I’m already done with it, I’m not including it in my goal of 10 books.

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Top 5 Tuesday – Top 5 Bookish Resolutions for 2022

Hello everyone! Today’s post is the first Top 5 Tuesday of 2022! The prompt for today is the top 5 bookish resolutions for 2022. I’ve thought quite a bit about these over the last few weeks, and I think I’ve come up with five things I can actually accomplish this year. So, here they are! Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm, and is now being hosted at Meeghan Reads!

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ARC Review – Of Darkness and Light

Hello, everyone! I am excited to bring you my review of Of Darkness and Light by Ryan Cahill. I was one of the lucky few who received a physical ARC of this book, which was super beautiful, and I have been eagerly awaiting my return to the world of Epheria ever since I finished book one back in mid-December. Now the only problem is I have to wait so long for book three!

Heroes will rise. Nations will fall.

Behind the towering walls of Belduar, Calen Bryer and his companions stand in defense of the city and its new king. In over a thousand years, Belduar has never fallen. It has stood as a bastion of hope. But the Lorian empire are at its walls once more, and the Dragonguard are coming.

In the North, with Faenir by her side, Calen’s sister Ella arrives at the port of Antiquar. She holds no fear of the unknown. She will see this through, no matter what – or who – gets in her way.

Meanwhile, at the embassy of the Circle of Magii in Al’Nasla, Rist Havel hones his newfound powers in preparation for the trials. Unbeknownst to Rist, he is being watched, measured, and judged. He was not taken into the Circle by chance. There is greatness in him. But great men can do terrible things.

As Lorian forces land on southern shores and Aeson Virandr’s letters of rebellion find their way to the right hands, only the Knights of Achyron see the true danger. The danger that stirs in the darkness. The coming shadow will not stop. It will consume all in its path. It wants for nothing but blood and fire.

***Thank you to the author for providing a copy of the book! My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

This book was fantastic! I enjoyed the first book of this series. So, I expected to like this one too, but this one took things to an entirely different level of awesome. The writing, pacing, world-building, and characterization were all superb! I loved the way Cahill brought the battle scenes to life with vivid, gritty imagery that made me feel like I was in the middle of the action. I was a little worried at first about the chonky length of this book since I tend to lose focus with longer books pretty easily, but the worry was for nothing. The pacing of this book was intense and kept me absorbed by this story. I felt on edge from beginning to end, always wanting to know what would happen next.

The world-building in this book added so much awesome stuff to the pre-existing knowledge of Epheria and its history. The world of the dwarves was explored in greater detail and included some mysterious political intrigue to keep things engaging. The Knights of Achyron were utilized in a big way here, and I loved learning about them and getting a lot more Soul blade action than in the first book. Many of the characters traveled a lot during this book, which meant many new, interesting locales were explored, expanding the world considerably. I also really enjoyed getting to learn more about the Circle of Magii through the eyes of Rist. There was just so much new information included in this book it is impossible to do it justice in a review. Most importantly, all of it was introduced organically through the eyes of the characters, which kept things feeling exciting rather than seeming like a history/civics lesson.

My favorite thing about this book was the characters and the relationships forged in this story. There were so many characters and different POVs I honestly lost count of them all. This can often be confusing, but Cahill managed to pull it off spectacularly, and his masterful use of each of the POVs was a huge part of why the pacing of this book worked so well. My favorite characters from the first book, Calen and Rist, were still some of my favorites here, as well. Calen’s journey was a very difficult one, and he very quickly had to become a leader without knowing exactly how to do so. He struggled with it throughout the book, especially the guilt related to all the people who died in his name (and there was A LOT of death in this book…so, don’t get too attached to characters). He changed quite a bit from the dark things he experienced, but through it all he endured. His bond with Valerys grew substantially, and I really loved seeing the two of them grow together in navigating the difficult emotions they faced in response to everything that happened. Rist’s story was interesting despite being a smaller part of the book, and I’m now worried that he might end up on the wrong side of this war, which breaks my heart to think about. Although, he did fold the pages of his books instead of using bookmarks, which means he’s a monster in hiding anyway…right? Just kidding…though, not really.

I came to love so many other characters in this book too. I won’t be able to talk about all of them in this review, but I want to highlight a couple of the other storylines I really enjoyed. First, I absolutely adored Vaeril. I would die for that elf. Seriously. The growth of his friendship with Calen was absolute perfection to read. Second, the relationship between Farda and Ella surprised me because it added a level of depth to both characters that was somewhat lacking from the first book. It was an excellent example of the strength of the characterization in this novel and the skill of Cahill at writing the subtle dynamics of relationships.

Overall, this was a fantastic sequel. If you like epic fantasy, this is a series that is not to be missed. I’m excited to see where the series goes next, especially after all the cliffhangers this book ended on. The ending gave me chills (even if it was a bit predictable), and I can’t wait to see the ramifications of it. Therefore, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and would rate it even higher if I could.

Meet the Blogger Book Tag

Happy New Year, everyone! I was recently tagged by Tabitha over at Behind the Pages to complete this tag. I decided today was the perfect day. It’s a new year, and this tag gives everybody the opportunity to learn new things about me as a reader and blogger.

Rules

  • Nominated bloggers can nominate ten other bloggers.
  • Use the same questions from the tag.
  • Tag the original creator (Bibliomavens) and the blogger who tagged you

Questions

1. Who is your all-time favorite book character?

The answer to this question changes pretty often for me depending on what I’m reading at the moment. I don’t really have an immutable all time favorite character that stands out above all the rest (yet – maybe I just haven’t met them yet?). Right now, though, I’d have to say one of my favorite characters is Anden from the Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee. He shows an immense amount of growth throughout the series. He makes some extremely tough choices and becomes the exact opposite of what is expected of him, which took me by surprise and made for great reading.

2. If you were stranded on a desert island, which book would you take with you? (Survival books do not count)

I’m going to have to cheat a bit on this one… I would take my copy of The Lord of the Rings, which has all three books bound in one edition. That way I get three books instead of one, and I’ll have an excellent story to read (and re-read) anytime I want.

3. What’s your most unpopular book opinion?

I don’t DNF books. I see people posting all the time about how everyone should do it, but I just can’t. I am a completionist with major anxiety issues. So, leaving a book unfinished will bug me FOREVER even if I hate the book.

4. What’s your weirdest bookish habit?

I tend to read books sequentially rather than starting several at a time. It just really annoys me to have several stories going at once because once I start them I typically want to know how it is all going to turn out rather quickly. Reading more than one book at a time heightens those feelings of anxiety about how it will all turn out because then I have to worry about the characters from several stories. So, I typically just stick to reading one at a time to get the resolutions as quickly as possible. The only time I read more than one story at a time is if one of them is in audiobook format, and the only reason is because I can read that format while doing other things.

5. What character would you bring to a family event as your fake partner?

I’d have to pick Magnus Bane from the Shadowhunters books. He’s tons of fun at a party and would make for interesting small talk given everything he has lived through. He could also use magic on any of my family that pisses me off. lol. So, I think he’d be an excellent choice.

6. What made you decide to start a book blog?

I wish I had a fancy answer to this, but I don’t really. It was mostly because I was bored. I had just dropped out of graduate school and stopped working full time. I started reading a lot more to fill the time and thought it would be fun to document that reading in a way that let me connect with others doing the same.

7. What about reading and books do you love the most?

The thing I love most is getting to see the world through the eyes of others. Every single story has elements that teach me something about how others view life, the world, themselves, and other people. I find it completely fascinating to get that chance to enter into someone else’s mind and see the world through their point of view. It truly is a spectacular thing.

8. What is your field of study/desired profession/current profession?

My current profession is househusband. lol. I’m honestly not quite sure what I want to do when I decide to go back to work. I have a B.S. in biology with a minor in chemistry and a B.A. in psychology with a minor in technical writing. I also have master’s degrees in molecular and cellular physiology and counseling psychology and half a doctorate in psychology. I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor, but I’m not sure I want to go back to doing therapy, at least not full time. It is an exhausting job that has consumed my life in the past, and I’m not really sure I want to go back to that. Any ideas of fun book-related jobs? Leave them in the comments because I could use all the help I can get. 🙂

9. What are some book recommendations that became your favorites/obsessions?

Most of the books that I read and loved last year came from recommendations on other book blogs or book Twitter. The ones at the top of that list have to be the Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee, The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, The Bound and the Broken Saga by Ryan Cahill, and The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart.

10. What is the book you shove down everyone’s throat?

Most recently, it has been Of Darkness and Light by Ryan Cahill, but I’ve also been adamant about everyone reading Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee and If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich.

My Tags

I think I’m going to cheat here too and just tag anyone that wants to participate. The rules say I can tag 10 others, not that I have to. 🙂 So, if you think this tag looks like fun, give it a go. Be sure to link back to this post, though, because I want to read your answers! Happy New Year!

2021 – Year In Review

Reading Review

This has been such a huge year for me when it comes to reading. My reading habits have changed drastically from previous years, and I read 43,584 pages from 139 books, which is far more than ever before. My average length was 313 pages and my average rating this year was 4.0. I’m lucky to have not read many books I didn’t like this year. I love looking at numbers and data…so, here’s a ton of other stuff I learned from my Goodreads and Storygraph stats pages.

This year I read many books that were adventurous, dark, and emotional. I’m sure I probably craved adventure due to being stuck in the house most of the time. I tended to read books of medium or fast pace more than slow-paced books. A majority of the books I read fell between 300 and 499 pages in length, which I can definitely say is my preference. If a book is too long, I tend to lose focus before the end and find myself just wanting them to be over. Most of the books I read this year were fantasy, YA, LGBT+, science fiction, or some combination of those four genres. I wasn’t surprised to see that because they are my favorites. This year has been especially exciting because of all the LGBT+ books/characters I’ve been able to read since I didn’t really read this genre much before this year. I’m incredibly happy to have found such great stories and representation. I’m curious to see what the next year will bring and discover if my preferences change at all as the new year progresses.

Blogging Review

When I started blogging, I didn’t really have any goals in mind because I had no idea what I was doing. I was mostly writing reviews for myself to help keep track of my thoughts about what I was reading. I still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing (LOL), but there are a few accomplishments I’m proud of this year. First and foremost, I reviewed 26 books on NetGalley and earned the 25 reviews badge. I set that goal pretty late in the year, and I’m happy to have achieved it. I’ve also had more views, likes, and comments than I ever anticipated when I started out. My total views for the year are approaching 7,000, which I still can’t really believe. So, thank you to everyone who has stopped by the blog and interacted in any way. I really appreciate it.

Wrap-Up posts are typically the most viewed posts that I write, but I’m not going to include them in this list because that is all it would include if I did. Here are my top 5 posts of the year (not including monthly wrap-ups):

  1. Book Review – The Darkness Outside Us
  2. Book Review – Any Way the Wind Blows
  3. ARC Audiobook Review – Not My Ruckus
  4. Stacking the Shelves (16) – July 31, 2021
  5. ARC Review – Shards of Earth

Not all of my posts were super popular this year, especially toward the beginning of my blog. I think many of them had so few views because I didn’t have a lot of followers then. Check them out and see if they truly deserve the honor of least popular post. Here are my 5 least viewed posts of the year:

  1. Book Review – Doctor Who The Official Annual 2021
  2. Book Review – Star Wars: The High Republic: Into the Dark
  3. Book Review – Solaris Seethes
  4. Comic Book Review – Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious: Monstrous Beauty
  5. Book Review – Star Wars: Shadow Fall

Final Thoughts

I hope you all have a great holiday, and I wish everyone the best for the new year. I’m excited about what is to come in the new year, and I’m looking forward to continuing to share my thoughts about great books with you all in the year to come!

First Lines Fridays (35) – December 31, 2021

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!
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My Favorite 2021 Reads

Hello, everyone! Today’s post highlights some of my favorite reads of 2021. It was so hard to pick my favorites because I’ve read so many great books this year. I decided to do something a bit different to highlight a wider range of books that I enjoyed. So, I’ve split my top 10 in two with half including books published in 2021 and half with books published prior to this year. I’ve also listed my top four 4-star and top three 3-star reads to highlight some of my favorite reads that didn’t quite reach 5-star status.

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My Ranking of the 2021 Star Wars Books

Hello, everyone! As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now if you’ve been following my blog, I love Star Wars. I consume almost every type of Star Wars media that exists: movies, TV shows, cartoons, books, and comics. This makes today an exciting day due to the premiere of The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+, and I decided it would be the perfect day to reflect on all the Star Wars books from 2021 as the year draws to a close. So, here it is, my ranking of the Star Wars novels released this year.

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