FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the next several Fridays, I will be featuring titles I’ve added to my TBR cart. I’ve seen several 2020 reading challenges that involve reading backlist titles in addition to new ones, and I think I’m going to make that one of my personal challenges this year too. I have so many books released in the last several years that I’ve been meaning to read, and Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning is one of them. It’s also gotten a bump because I’m really enjoying Star Wars: Resistance Reborn as well. I started reading Trail of Lightning about a year or so ago, but I remember I was reading about eight different books at the time because I was in a weird reading place, but I’m definitely making it a priority in the next few months.

The monster has been here. I can smell him.

His stench is part of the acrid sweat of exertion, part the meaty ripeness of a carnivore’s unwashed flesh, and part something else I can’t quite name. It fouls the evening air, stretching beyond smell to something deeper, more base. It unsettles me, sets my own instincts howling in warning. Cold sweat breaks out across my forehead. I wipe it away with the back of my hand.

I can also smell the child he’s stolen. Her scent is lighter, cleaner. Innocent. She smells alive to me, or at least she was alive when she left here. By now she could smell quite different.

Have you read Trail of Lightning? What did you think of it? Is it on your list?

BOOK REVIEW: The Guinevere Deception, by Kiersten White

BOOK REVIEW: The Guinevere Deception, by Kiersten WhiteTitle: The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
Series: Camelot Rising #1
Published by Delacorte Press
Published: November 5th 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley

There is nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom's borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution -- send in Guinevere to be Arthur's wife... and his protector from those who want to see the young king's idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere's real name -- and her true identity -- is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old -- including Arthur's own family -- demand things continue as they have been, and the new -- those drawn by the dream of Camelot -- fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur's knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes a new fantasy series reimagining the Arthurian legend, set in the magical world of Camelot.

I’ve always loved King Arthur, it’s mythologies, and all of the various takes on the lore, but Kiersten White’s The Guinevere Deception blew me away. It had been so long since I’ve read anything King Arthur, and I was really excited when I got approved for this ARC from Netgalley.

The story opens with Guinevere arriving to Camelot before her marriage, unsure of herself and her future position in King Arthur’s court, and it’s soon revealed that Guinevere is not who she seems, not even to herself. She has been sent to protect King Arthur rather than merely be a bride sent from a royal family. Throughout the course of the story, Guinevere balances learning about her past and her realities while also getting to know the court in which she lives and the people with whom she is surrounded.

I absolutely love the duality of Guinevere’s character and thought that the struggles she faced while in the midst of all sorts of discovery were true to herself. The supporting case of characters were well-developed, had incredible range and depth, and delighted and surprised me at every turn. The first part of the book did feel a little slow, but since this is the set-up to what I hope is at least a trilogy, I did find it necessary. There’s a lot of ground to cover when reinventing a familiar story, and by the last half of the book, I was completely hooked and didn’t want this to end. I don’t want to spoil anything, but of all the supporting characters, I think Lancelot is my favorite and I’m so excited to see what White does with this character in the context of the familiar stories.

This is one of my favorite reads of the year, and not just YA reads, just because it was so much fun and so inventive on so many levels. I’ve never read White before, but I’ve had the physical ARC for her Frankenstein retelling and the first of another series on my kindle for a while, so I’m definitely bumping those up on my TBR because I enjoyed this so much.

Read this if you enjoy fantasy and/or King Arthur revisits, because this checked off so many boxes for me and I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it since I read it.

Thank you to Netgalley and Delacorte for the review copy! All opinions are my own.

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the next several Fridays, I will be featuring titles I’ve added to my TBR cart! This week’s feature is Amal El-Mohtar’s and Max Gladstone’s This Is How You Lose the Time War published by Saga Press in 2019.

When Red wins, she stands alone.

Blood slicks her hair. She breathes out steam in the last night of this dying world.

That was fun, she thinks, but the thought sours in the framing. It was clean, at least. Climb up time’s threads into the past and make sure no one survives this battle to muddle the futures her Agency’s arranged — the futures in which her Agency rules, in which Red herself is possible. She’s come to knot this strand of history and sear it until it melts.

She holds a corpse that was once a man, her hands gloved in its guts, her fingers clutching its alloy spine. She lets go, and the exoskeleton clatters against rock. Crude technology. Ancient. Bronze to depleted uranium. He never had a chance. That is the point of Red.

I love time travel and I always have, and I’m really excited to see how this novella unfolds. I’ve heard such great things about it!

MONTHLY REWIND: October & November 2019

Even though it’s not quite the end of November yet, I’m doing a wrap-up/check-in post because I feel like I’ve failed at everything in November due to some sort of good life things. I’ve also realized that I am not good at monthly challenges while on a ridiculous work schedule, so my fifth attempt at Nanowrimo will probably be my last. Until I get into better habits, I can’t sustain magically and seemingly overnight writing outputs of 1,700 words a day. I did finally get a job, and I’m back working at a bookstore, which is good for me because I feel useful but also a little bad because I have no control sometimes when it comes to buying new books. I also have access to physical arcs again, and I grabbed a few off the shelf that I’m excited to read! I also got some kind of illness last weekend that threw off all of my plans to read a lot and start updating my instagram more, but it’s life and sometimes I need to focus my energy elsewhere. I also purchased Pokemon Sword and Shield, and I’m excited to play through them both!

Here’s what I’m currently reading as of this posting:

  • The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon
  • The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings, by Edgar Allan Poe
  • Waiting for Tom Hanks, by Kerry Winfrey
  • This is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (I have a First Lines Friday post for this book this week!)

In October, I read ten books, but so far in November, I’ve only finished three.

October’s reads:

  • The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, by D.G. Compton
  • Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir
  • The Ascent to Godhood, by JY Yang
  • The New Voices of Science Fiction, edited by Hannu Rajaniemi
  • Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts, by Christopher de Hamel
  • The Duchess Deal, by Tessa Dare
  • The English Wife, by Lauren Willig
  • Something Strange and Deadly, by Susan Dennard
  • Recursion, by Blake Crouch
  • A Darkness Strange and Lovely, by Susan Dennard

November’s reads:

  • Strange and Ever After, by Susan Dennard
  • The Guinevere Deception, by Kiersten White
  • The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman

Now, onto books received, grabbed, and purchased! All arcs are courtesy of the publishers, including the ones sent to my store, and I’ve received no compensation for reading them or for their future reviews/features. I’ve been visiting Goodwill lately when I drop off things to donate, and I picked up some books there as revisits and research for pacing for writing geared for younger readers.

ARCS (release date)

  • Vagabonds, by Hao Jingfang (April 14, 2020)
  • Fate of the Fallen, by Kel Kade (November 2019)
  • The Secrets We Kept, by Lara Prescott (September 2019)
  • A Queen in Hiding, by Sarah Kozloff (January 2020)
  • The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, by Ken Liu (February 25, 2020)
  • Things in Jars, by Jess Kidd (February 2, 2020)

Purchases, new

  • Do You Dream of Terra-Two?, by Temi Oh
  • Velocity Weapon, by Megan E. O’Keefe
  • Star Wars: Resistance Reborn, by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • The Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells
  • The Merciful Crow, by Margaret Owen
  • Fortuna, by Kristyn Merbeth
  • The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Ninth House, by Leigh Bardugo

Purchases, used

  • The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo
  • Redwall, by Brian Jacques
  • The Babysitter’s Club #1: Kristy’s Great Idea, by Ann M. Martin
  • The Babysitter’s Club #2: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, by Ann M. Martin

It’s a LOT. I also accidentally forgot to update my address on my Bardugo preorder so it’s at my old place and I just need to contact my former roommates and see if they can mail out anything else that’s been sent to the house, because I think some other books have been sent there even though I’ve updated my address everywhere I can think of!

What are you reading currently? Have you started planning out 2020’s reading goals? I’m working on figuring out new images for the blog for the new year/decade, and hopefully getting back on track with my reading and online life.

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Call Upon the Water, by Stella Tillyard

Yay, it’s Friday! First Lines Friday is a new feature on my blog that features the first few lines of any book that interests me, new or old! This week I’m featuring Stella Tillyard’s Call Upon the Water. I received this complimentary review copy from Atria (thank you!) and a good historical fiction novel is right up my alley at the moment. Sometimes I want to get lost in the past and see the world through someone else’s lenses, especially ones about the “New World” and the struggles people faced when leaving their home countries and going elsewhere. Without any further adieu, here are the first lines from the book!

Nieuw Amsterdam, Manatus Elyandt.

The 1st day of April, 1664.

I am afloat in the Oost Rivier, rocking on the waves, when I hear a song. Silence covers the city and wraps me in darkness. In front of me it is still night, but behind me, to the east, all the day stands ready to arrive. In a moment the sun will burst above the horizon on Lange Eylandt and the city of Nieuw Amsterdam will wake and stir. By noon we will feel the thin warmth of April; half winter, and half the promise of spring. I am happy to be alive on the water and to smell the salt.

On the sandy shore I find the dry carcass of a horseshoe crab, hollowed out and turned to the sky. A thousand lives will follow this death. In a month the horseshoe crabs will come back. The water will be black with them. Each year they surf the waves, washing back and forth until they can scramble up the beach with their blue-and-orange claws. They do not pause after this struggle, but climb to safety, lay their eggs, in the sand and crawl back to the water. Clouds of seabirds wait for this moment, migrants from the south. They clatter down and gorge themselves on the eggs, fattening for their journey. All nature is on the move, restless and lively.

This is formatted like a journal, and the first few pages remind me of the Dear America/Royal Diaries series that gave you a glimpse into someone’s life in such a personal way. I can’t wait to read the rest of this!