ARC, Reviews

My New Love and Hope – A Sword in the Stars Book Review

Overall enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building:3/5

Diversity: 5/5

Goodreads Summary:

In this epic sequel to Once & Future, to save the future, Ari and her Rainbow knights pull off a heist…thousands of years in the past.
Ari Helix may have won her battle against the tyrannical Mercer corporation, but the larger war has just begun. Ari and her cursed wizard Merlin must travel back in time to the unenlightened Middle Ages and steal the King Arthur’s Grail—the very definition of impossible.
It’s imperative that the time travelers not skew the timeline and alter the course of history. Coming face-to-face with the original Arthurian legend could produce a ripple effect that changes everything. Somehow Merlin forgot that the past can be even more dangerous than the future… “

I’m so in love with book. I loved the first book so much that I was kinda scared to fully read this one, but I am so full of love and hope. If you enjoyed the first book I’m sure you will love this one just as much. This book puts us back in the time of Medieval Europe which you would think would be a horrible time for our characters, but the authors are well aware of that and give us hope and very blunt conversations at times about gender and sexuality. This book is not subtle in its support of the lgbtq+ community and its disapproval of mass consumerism though that isn’t as much a focus of this book as it was in the last.

We have are beautiful characters back! Ari is still our headstrong hero, Gwen is still our beautiful strong queen, Merlin is still a bit of a mess and Lam and Val are still smart and as sexy as ever. In this different period we experience new yet similar problems with these characters as they grow. I just love them. I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a ton of growth or change for Ari in this book, but we get a lot more of Merlin and where he comes from. We finally unravel the mystery of where exactly he came from. I must say that until they hinted at it I didn’t expect it at all. O.o

Not a ton of time is spent on flushing out the whole of medieval Europe, but there is still the new creation of Camelot and enough difference that I still got syfy feelings rather than historical drama feelings.

I would say this is a character driven story. Yes, there is a big corporation that must be stopped, but as with the first book we are really focused on the characters, their feelings, their pasts, and how that is all coming together to create this great story.

There is so much! We got our intersectionality! Ari is a gay woman of color, Lam is a nonbinary character of color. We have LGBT+ characters everywhere with some discussions of gender throughout. It’s good stuff. This story definitely focuses on the LGBTQ+ aspects rather than than the racial aspects, but we got hints. I love this book so much and while I should have read it earlier I think I needed it more now than I did before. If you want to read a queer Arthurian retelling full of characters of color and LGBTQ+ than I think you will fall in love with these characters as much as I did!

Reviews

An Interesting Historical Fantasy- Spellbound by Allie Therin

Overall Enjoyment: 3.5/5

Characterization: 3/5

World building: 3/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

To save Manhattan, they’ll have to save each other first…

1925

New York

Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.

Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no.

Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break—even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him.”

I loved the idea of this novel. The 1920s is such an interesting time in history and then Rory’s power is so interesting! I was sold on the idea. It was okay. I really enjoyed the plot and I enjoyed the characters, but the relationships needed more in my opinion.

The characters. Rory was enjoyable to read. He had a very distinct voice that really came together the more we learned about his history and his background. I really enjoyed the work that was put into getting to know this character. Arthur was interesting, but also a little lackluster to me. I liked the idea of him, but he was just a bit two dimensional. He’s a good guy that has a thing for Rory and…that’s it. We also have Jade, who also has powers and runs a speakeasy. She and Rory click pretty well together.

World building. There wasn’t a ton in this book. We do get some idea of what life might have been like in the 1920s, but its fairly limited. What I most like is the information on the relics and the brief explanations of how different characters’ powers work.

I would say this is more of a plot driven story. We do get some time with the characters, but the relationships just kinda happened without a lot of build up in my opinion and if you have read any of my other reviews you know that that’s one of my largest pet peeves in a novel. So, if you want an interesting gay romance set in the 1920s with some magic thrown in there I think you’ll enjoy this story. If you want a deep historical romance that takes its time then you might be a bit disappointed.

Diversity. There is limited diversity in this book. Arthur is gay and I believe Rory is more bisexual. There is also Jade who is a black woman and there is a Chinese American character as well, but he’s in briefly enough that I can’t quite remember his name. It’s better than some books, but worse than others I’ve read. I’d have loved some more intersectionality.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. The characters were interesting even if I did want more and I liked the plot. This book is part of a series so there may be more character building in the works!

Uncategorized

A book of choice: A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson

Overall Enjoyment: 3/5

World building: 4/5

Characterization: 4/5

Diversity: 5/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods.

Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. In defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.”

I got this book when I was look through goodreads. The summary really intrigued me. The cover was beautiful and so I decided to give it a shot. Overall, I enjoyed this book. Most of the book was at a 4 rating for me, but the end just kinda cheapened everything for me. I love the thought of what the author was trying to do and I think he was very successful at accomplishing it, but in actuality I didn’t like it. If this vague comment bothers you I have explained at the end of this post after a spoiler warning. I know lots of readers hate spoilers so trying to be mindful!

Characters. Aqib is the character that we follow along for the whole of the story. It actually spans most of his life…sorta. He’s not perfect and is weak in some ways, but he’s aware of it and doesn’t seem to cover it up. We don’t know a ton about Lucrio, Aqib’s lover, but we are shown their love for each other. This book is short so the relationship moves fast, but for the length of the book I wasn’t surprised by that.

World building. I’m always surprised how some shorter books can include so much world building. There’s a definite religion to the country and we’re exposed to quite a bit of it from a distance. There is so larger mathematical magic talk that I’m not sure was necessary, but interesting and made an interesting plot point as well.

I would 100% this book is character driven. I wouldn’t really even say there’s a plot outside of exploring Aqib’s character and his life. It’s all about how the choices we make can have large affects on the outcome of our lives. As I said, an interesting premise even though it didn’t leave me completely satisfied.

Diversity. There’s some intersectionality in this book that made me happy. Aqib is a black, bisexual man and Lucrio is gay. We also have strong black women woven into this book that I really enjoyed.

Spoiler warning!!!!

So, what the author was trying to do. This book has multiple time jumps and time frames throughout the book. These are clearly marked and I found it easy to follow. One part of this story is focused on Abiq and Lucrio while another part of the story is focused on Abiq and if he is forced to marry a woman. All of Lucrio’s story seems to be set in the past while the marriage to the woman and the rest of his life takes up much of the book. It was sad, but I know that sometimes things like that happen.But, at the very end we learn that his whole marriage and life were just a possibility and that he never really got married at all, but actually chose to be with Lucrio. Now, I love the idea of writing about how the choices we make can vastly impact our lives and if this book had made it clear upfront that that’s what was being explored then I think at the end i wouldn’t have felt so frustrated. This book spent a lot of time on Aqib’s life being married and then to be told it didn’t happen was frustrating to me. I wish if the goal was to truly explore two life options that we got a bit more detail of Lucrio and Aqib’s life together than just the first meeting but I guess that would have given it away or maybe made reading the story more confusing. That is my take. I would still recommend reading this story. I think it’s very interesting and well written, but hopefully this helps you avoid some ending frustration.

Reviews

Caffeine Book Tour: Unravel the Dusk Tour

Hello lovely readers and welcome to my stop in the Caffeine Book Tour. I am so excited to share with you my thoughts on Unravel the Dusk. I am so in love with this book! Below is not only my review, but also more information about other tour stops AND a possibility to win a copy of Unravel the Dusk!

Ratings:

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 3/5

Diversity: 3/5

Summary:

The thrilling sequel to SPIN THE DAWN, a magical series steeped in Chinese culture.

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

YA fantasy readers will love the sizzling forbidden romance, mystery, and intrigue of UNRAVEL THE DUSK.

I’ve recently been really disappointed in a lot of the sequels of the books I’ve been reading so I was honestly a little hesitant about reading this book. BUT, ff you’re like me let me reassure you! I loved this book!!!! I feel like it has a very similar tone to it as the first book and this book was so lyrical at some points I just fell in love. Definitely recommend.

The characters. We focus as before mostly on Maia. Maia who is now facing the consequences of her actions in the first book. This book spends a lot of time focusing on Maia’s thoughts and feelings about what’s going on around her. I felt like the characterization was excellent. We do see Edan again which I was a bit worried about. We get a bit more of his background in this book, but we mainly learn about him through Maia. Let me tell you readers, the relationship between these two makes me heart melt and soar at the same time.

World building. Most of the world building happened in the first book so there wasn’t a ton of new information added, but I kept the rating high because I think the writing stayed true to the world that had been built for us previously. There’s also some plot at the end that really pulls everything together for me in regards to the mythology of this book.

This is a book I have a hard time deciding if it was character or plot driven. I would say that it is more character driven simply because we’re so focused on Maia and her journey, but I do think that Lim does such an excellent job weaving her story that there’s no lows in action for me. Everything felt intentional. I could gush about this book for a long time, but then I’d give spoilers away and those are the worst!

Diversity. The main character is Maia who is an Asian woman (Chinese-inspired I think). All the characters are people of color. There’s even a vague mention of a man with a male lover, but its said it passing. Overall, I loved this book. I loved the plot, I loved the characters, and I loved the writing. This is a series I will continue to enjoy. I couldn’t recommend it enough!

You can purchase this book on July 7th. Just days away! You can purchase here or at most other major bookstores.

Author Info

Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, “Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that’s kinda cool!” But after one of her teachers told her she had “too much voice” in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.

Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel — for kicks, at first, then things became serious — and she hasn’t looked back since.

Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She lives in New York City with her husband.

You can check out her website here or check out her facebook, twitter, or instagram.

Caffeine Book Tour Schedule

If you’d like to check out other great stops on this book tour please check the schedule below!

Win A Hardcover book of Unravel the Dusk!

You can enter the raffle here. The raffle ends on July 7th. It is open worldwide.

ARC

A Comic to Keep Your Eye On – You Brought Me the Ocean Review

Overall Enjoyment: 3/5

Characterization: 3/5

World building: 2/5

Diversity: 5/5

DC Summary:

“Jake Hyde doesn’t swim — not since his father drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which is in the middle of the desert. Yet, he yearns for the ocean and is determined to leave his hometown for a college on the coast. But his best friend, Maria, wants nothing more than to make a home in the desert, and Jake’s mother encourages him to always play it safe. Yet there’s nothing “safe” about Jake’s future — not when he’s attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. Jake’s life begins to outpace his small town’s namesake, which doesn’t make it any easier to come out to his mom, or Maria, or the world. Jake truly is a fish out of water.

While caught in a flash flood, Jake learns that his strange, glowing blue skin markings are tied to an ability to manipulate water. But his life is overflowing with secrets, and he hides his new superpower and his budding romance with Kenny from his family and friends. As Jake starts down a path of self-discovery, what powers will he find in the search for his identity? Will he turn his back to the current or dive headfirst into the waves?”

I received this advanced comic from DC through Netgalley free of charge for an honest review. This is a DC comic with the focus on Jake, and his coming of age story. This is the first book in the series. I requested this book, because the concept was interesting and this story has a host of diverse characters. Since its a comic rather than a novel like I’m use to it’s a little bit harder for me to give what I feel like is my best review, but I’ll do my best.

Characterization. I gave it a three because we get a lot of Jake’s back story which is pretty great, but I feel like we didn’t delve much into his character and who he is. I think that is mainly because this is the first in the series and as we will learn more about him as the series continues, but I still hoped for a little bit more. I’m a little irritated with Maria, Jake’s best friend. I don’t like how she’s so focused on her feelings, but I think that’s supposed to be the self-centered adolescent thing. Still not a fan of those scenes in many coming out stories.

World building. It’s set in the DC universe which is very similar to our current world. There wasn’t much difference at all, but I suppose that’s the point so in this case the lack of world building isn’t too big of a deal.

Diversity. It’s a fully diverse cast and we have intersectionality!!!! Kevin is a Chinese american gay man. Jake’s a black gay man and Maia is Hispanic. Kevin’s dad is in a wheelchair. It was great.

Overall, I’m struggling with how short this first comic was. It’s always been my problem with comics because I always want more. This comic does have amazing potential though to be full of love and amazing. I will definitely be keeping my eye on it and if you are a comic fan I recommend give it a look! It is available for purchase today!

One Page Preview

Below is a single page preview for your enjoyment in case (like me) you wonder more about the drawing style.

lists

My Top Diverse Fantasy Reads of 2019 That You Should Definitely Read

Hello lovely readers! 2019 is over and we’re well into 2020 on hopefully a positive note. Below is a list of my favorite books that I have read this year. Each book has a Goodreads link with it. If you’re interested in learning more about the book. Enjoy!

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

This book has the first lesbian couple that I felt like actually understood and could feel the same about. The written descriptions aren’t crude, but you still definitely feel the attraction. Not to mention you have strong women of color keeping secrets and smashing the patriarchy. What’s not to love?

Representation: Lesbians, Asian characters, Asian women as main characters, own voices

Find it here

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This book wrecked me. The characters are so good, but you’re going to go on a hard and painful ride with these characters. This is not a happy book, but it’s a very real book. The world building is good too.

Representation: African characters, African girl as main character, own voices

Find it here

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This book is the first book that really brought to life some Aztec gods for me. I’m always a bit hesitant to read when people give voice to gods because sometimes it can come off really cheesy, but this was very well done and beautifully written.

Representation: Latinx characters, Latinx woman as main character, own voices

Find it here


Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

This book is a sequel and possibly even better than the first book. I love the character development in this story, the moral grayness that characters deal with. Navajo mythology put in a post apocalyptic world done VERY well.

Representation: indigenous people, indigenous woman as main character, own voices

Find it here

Heartsong by TJ Klune

This is the third book in a series. It’s Robbbie and Kelly’s story. If you want an interesting plot, but also some deeper character relationships that focuses on family and love there you could really enjoy this book. Not to mention, werewolves and witches!

Representation: gay and asexual characters, own voices

Find it here

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

This book has so many great elements to it. The beginning is Mulan-inspired, but then we get into a quest with beautiful mythology. I loved the writing style of the book and just couldn’t recommend it enough.

Representation: Asian characters, Asian woman as main character, own voices

Find it here


Did you read any of these books during 2019? Are any of these some of your favorite reads too? What are some of your favorite books that you read in 2019?

ARC

ARC Review- The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

Overall Enjoyment: 4/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 5/5

Diversity: 4/5

Goodreads summary:

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due. “

I requested this book because of the summary. Csorwe seemed like she’d be interesting, and I was curious at the culture that would encourage sacrifice of a person (orc). I enjoyed this book. This book felt massive to me though. There were many arcs within this book with an overarching story, but there was so much going on and it was so long that at the end I lost a bit of interest in it. This is book 1 of 3 from my understanding and I must admit I’m really not sure how this story will continue for 2 more books.

The world building was a bit confusing to me in the beginning. This is a book that explains elements only when it becomes relevant to the story and not just in the interest of world building. However, when you need answers the author is very deliberate about explaining the necessary information or leaving it for later as a twist later. There is a small element of cyberpunk with the technology of this world with flying ships which was the part that got the least attention and was the most confusing for me. The three main sentient species in this story were orcs, humans, and elves (black elves specifically). Each group is given its own religion which is what is given the most attention in this story and is really a major driving force throughout this fiction. The religions are a bit darker than I’m use to, but they were well thought out and interesting. A very interesting grouping of worlds.

For characters I felt that everyone had a pretty distinct voice with enough story to the main characters that I felt like they were very well rounded. Csorwe is a character I really enjoyed though I didn’t fully understand all the time. She’s very loyal in a way that was unquestioning and then she suddenly wasn’t. I like the character development with her though at the beginning it didn’t make much sense. Then, Tal. I didn’t like him at first, but he grew on me. I think I liked him a bit more simply because he felt more relatable to me. He’s just trying to do his best and is just getting the rough end of deal most of the time. There’s also Oranna who I guess you could say could be consider the villain, but within the world she just comes off as a very strong-willed determined lady. You also have Shuthmili and Sethannai, but while they both play very important roles within the story, I feel like they don’t get as much attention.

The diversity in the book was refreshing. The main characters are mostly people of color and there are sprinklings of queer characters throughout the book including the main characters.

Overall, even though there were points where the book was slow, I think the book was really well written. The worlds were carefully written and built, and the story line was interesting. If you’re looking for a diverse adult fantasy book, then this book is for you. The book will be published on February 11th. Keep a look out for it!

Note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

lists

Mood Reading List: Love- The Good, Bad, and the What is Even Happening?

Hello lovely readers, I toyed with the idea of doing some posts about mood reading for awhile now. I definitely go through stages throughout the year of what type of books I’m interested in reading and figured there were other readers out there who are similar. In these mood reading posts I will provide a list of books that are based on a certain theme. This posts theme is obviously love. Below, I have listed a variety of book based on the type of love you’re interested in. Each title has a Goodreads link if you want to learn more about the book.

If you want deep and beautiful love

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Representation-lgbtq+ characters w/ focus on gay relationship. biracial character

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger Representation- none really. straight, white couple, but there’s time travel

If you want love is a hellscape or at least it doesn’t solve anything

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi representation- characters of color (African)

Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan representation- women of color in lesbian relationship (Asian)

If you want super slow build

The Other series by Anne Bishop representation: not much, some light mental illness

If you want it hurts so good

The Green Creek Series by T. J Klune representation – gay men

If you want Do They Actually Like/Love Each Other?!

The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black representation – minor characters of color

The Fever King by Victoria Lee representation – biracial, jewish character, lgbtq+ men in gay relationship

If you want a more realistic romance in a fantasy setting

Olympus Bound series by Jordanna Max Brodsky representation – none, but greek gods/goddesses are cool

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy. representation – lgbtq+ characters, characters of color, nonbinary character, gay and lesbian main relationships

If you want slow and secret

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan representation – women of color in lesbian relationship (Asian)

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim representation – people of color (Asian)

If you want romantic elements, but maybe no quite a full romance

A Storm of Locust by Rebecca Roanhourse representation – people of color (Indigenous)

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia representation – people of color (Latinx)


What do you think of the list and the categories? Do you have any books you enjoy reading that have love as a large theme in the fantasy genre? I’d love to read your thoughts!

Fun Stuff

November’s Indigathon Wrap-up

So, November is over and so is Indigathon. This posting is way later than I wanted it to be and I didn’t participate much on twitter due to trying to also complete nanowrimo. I loved these books and I think I am better for having read them. Below is my board as well as the books I read to complete each one. I have checked off more boxes than the categories I have below my board. Many of these books check multiple boxes and so I have decided to be kind to myself by checking all the boxes that are elements in the stories I’ve read. I have placed a Goodreads link on the title if there was one available so that you can look into the books if they’re of interest to you.

The group read: The Break by Katherena Vermette. This was a hard book for to me read. These women have obviously been through a lot. The whole book was based around the investigation of a raped young girl, but also the stories of the women of the family. This is not what I would call a happy book, but a real book that discusses the hardships of life and how a family can help you find the strength to get through it all.

Poetry Collection: How to be an Indian in the 21st Century by Louis V. Clark 111 (Two Shoes). I truly enjoyed this poetry collection. It had a rhythm to it that I really enjoyed. I also felt it was an open and honest poetry collection about his experiences in life good and bad. It was easy to read and understand. Would highly recommend.

SF/F: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. I loved this book. I love when you take bits of beliefs and put them into a story. It was so beautifully done. I love Maggie and Kai. You should definitely read this book! There’s even a sequel already!

Other than 5 CT: The Beadworkers stories by Beth Piatote. I struggled reading this book. I enjoyed reading the different types of writing in this book. I think it’s an interesting and unique way to put a book together, but I was just kinda bored the whole time and parts of it were hard for me to fully understand.

Books that were on my TBR

I truly wanted to get to these books and I am definitely still going to read them, but I just could get to them in November.

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead. This is a story is about a two-spirited queer character who is living and struggling through life and what it all means

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith. A high school girl who is growing up and learning what it means to be true to yourself while finding love

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson. The summary kinda of gives me an indigenous percy jackson vibe only cooler. I’m excited to read it, but I couldn’t get my hands on a copy of it

Pemmican Wars (A girl called Echo #1) by Katherena Vermette and Scott B. Henderson. This is a comic book where a girl is transported into the past. I’m generally a sucker for time travel stories and the drawing looks beautiful.


I’m not sure if anyone has participated in the IndigAThon, but if so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Even if you didn’t participate did any of these books sound appealing to you?

Reviews

Everything I Hoped It’d Be- Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 5/5

Goodreads Summary:

“I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure. “

Review

First off, I’ve been waiting for this book since I first heard about it. I’m not really a SyFy fan, but this was a retelling that I just couldn’t ignore. I haven’t read a ton of King Arthur stories recently, but I remember a bit about them from when I had to read them in school. This book has so many elements that I enjoyed.

First, let talk about the characters. There’s Ari who is an action first, think later kind of girl. She’s an orphan refugee that was taken in my two women and has grown up under the radar. She’s a fighter with the quest of returning to her planet and freeing her people. She’s skeptical and brash and I really enjoyed it. Now, there can of course be no Arthur without a Merlin. I’m going to be honest and say that Merlin is probably my favorite character. He’s just as much as a main character as Ari in this story. What really drew me in was his past though and his memory and relationship with all the past Arthur-s. It hurts to read sometimes, but I think it just added such a great, new element to the typical Arthurian legend that I was completely taken with him. Honestly, I’m taken with all of the characters. They’re so diverse and each of them has at least a little bit of backstory and history all that are new, but also tied to past King Arthur stories. Loved it.

The world of this story is set far in the future and it takes an interesting look on what could happen to not only our world, but our whole universe if we let our love of capitalism go too far. Corporations especially Mercer are out of control in this novel and it shows through how the planets are designed, built, and controlled. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it dystopian, but if you’re worried about the power of consumerism it could maybe feel that way.

The diversity in this book flourishes all over its pages and it didn’t feel like fan service! These characters got enough love and attention that they all seemed well entrenched and important to the story. Most of our characters are characters of color as well as lgbtq+. We even have a character that I really enjoy that is nonbinary. I love these characters.

Overall, I loved this book. As I mentioned, I was really pulled in by the summary and I wasn’t disappointed.


Have you read this book? What did you think? Is it on your TBR?