Reviews

A book for the times- A House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 3/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

“A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours. “

I started reading this mainly because it was written by T.J. Klune. I’ve really fallen in love with his Green Creek series and so I wanted to see what this newest book would hold. I must admit, I didn’t like this book at the beginning. It’s written in a bit of a different style than what I was use to from Klune, but I held on and by the end I was in love. Klune just has this way of writing relationships at just the right pace for me that brings me ultimate satisfaction and melts my heart. That being said, while there’s a romantic element it is small and not the major point of the story.

Characters. What a cast of characters! They’re weird, but quirky and they grow on you so quickly. You have Linus, who is truly the star of our story. He’s middle aged and while well-intentioned person is just kinda stuck in the rut of life. There’s lots of growth in this guy that just makes my heart happy. Then we have Arthur. The story doesn’t spend a super amount of time on him specifically, but what we do get is enough to really understand why he does what he does and what his motivations are. Then, the children. I don’t want to give anything away about them, but they really bring the energy to this story.

World building. This novel is set in what just seems like an alternate earth. There’s the magical creatures of course and a few new governmental agencies that are mentioned, but its a pretty basic earth.

I would definitely say this is a character driven story. There is a plot, but it doesn’t even exist without our characters. The main point of this story is the growth of the characters and the family they become. This book does put into perspective some of the prejudices that we unknowingly can have and how once we realize them that we can do better. I particularly enjoyed this quote.

Diversity. Our main characters are both gay and we do have some lesbians that are mentioned at the end. One of the children is a child of color as well. Compared to some books I’m use to it’s fairly minor, but still nice.

If you love found family stories then this book is definitely for you! If you love slower romances this is also for you! If, like me, you enjoy lots of character driven moments and growth then I think you will also enjoy this story. The style in the beginning isn’t my favorite, but if you can push through it to get to the part with the island then I think you too will fall in love with this story. ❤

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.

Reviews

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor Review

Overall Enjoyment: 3/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.”

This is a novella that I picked up at the library. It’s a multiple award-winning book and I was excited to give it a read. This book is part one of a three book series. I’m not a huge fan generally of novellas or sci-fi, but I enjoyed this book.

The novella is focused on a character called Binti. She is a member of the Himba people and is SUPER smart. The characterization done in this novel was my favorite part of this novella. We learn so much about Binti through her thoughts and interactions. I love the culture and history that is added to her. She’s truly what I would consider a rounded character.

I also enjoyed the world building. Most of the really interesting bits are at the beginning, but there are different species of beings in space, there is a living spaceship, and there’s a really interesting concept of math being the language of magic. I’d love to learn more about it in the next books.

I’ve started talking about plot versus character driven stories. I would say this is more character driven simply because we just experience so much of who Binti is, but the plot is also moved along at a steady pace. I feel like this novella is fairly balanced between the two. I do feel like there are some pretty powerful themes in this book about belonging and staying the same versus growing into someone new. I feel like to truly appreciate this novella you’d want to read it more than once and give it some thought.

Diversity. This book’s diversity is mainly based in Binti being a woman of color. There are different groupings of people and beings, but there’s not much description of them and because they’re mostly fictional beings I wouldn’t say the differences in this book represent more diversity outside of Binti herself. She’s a compassionate and smart woman and I’m excited to read more of her it in the future.

Overall, I would say this is an enjoyable novella. The introduction of the Meduse seemed a little contrived to me but given the short length and focus on Binti I can easily overlook it and enjoy the book fully. If you enjoy Sci-fi and want to read a quick, but well written novella I think you’d really enjoy this story.

Reviews

Kingdom of Souls Review

Overall Enjoyment: 3.5/5

Characterization: 3/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.”

Kingdom of Souls was a rollercoaster for me. I fell in love with the beginning of this book. The world building was great with wonderful descriptions that really painted a picture for me. The whole being upset because all her family had magic and a lot of it made sense. However, about halfway through the book just stalls.  The descriptions get boring and it just get so drawn out and most of what was compelling about the story disappears. I almost gave up on it, but I pushed through and the last 40-50 pages made it worth reading til the end. I’m even curious about the second book.

I’m in love with the world building. The author did an excellent job of describing the different tribe as well as the city life. The magic and religion are described fairly well. The author also did an excellent job of creating some morally gray characters especially surrounding the mother. It was nice for the world to show that rarely are all people all good or all bad.

Characters. I would say this is where the book struggles the most. Alyna is alright. I found her interesting at the beginning, but then kinda lose interest. She has a complex relationship with her mom, but I don’t ever feel like enough is done with it for it to feel compelling or as interesting as I was hoping for. She has a loving relationship with her dad which I enjoyed, but then that disappeared too. All the other side characters got so little attention they really felt more like plot devices than full, breathing people. I would say this is more of a plot driven story vs a character driven story.

Plot. Normally talk about plot in relation to all the other categories, but I felt like it might be needing its own section. This in my opinion is a plot driven story. There’s lots of interesting stuff happening in the beginning and end of this book that definitely made me want to keep reading. What you really need to worry about in this story is the middle. As I mentioned, it just completely stalls in my opinion. Alyna and family go to a more remote location so there’s no one else to interact with and it’s basically 100 pages of inability for anyone to do anything. It was a part of the book where there was no hope and that made me feel really uninterested in the story. It gets better though so I encourage you to push through if you enjoyed the beginning of the book.

The diversity is okay. We’re set in a fantasy Africa setting so obviously all our characters are people of color. We have a woman of color as our lead which is excellent. There’s so mentioned of lgbtq+ characters, but its so vague and fleeting that its almost not worth mentioning. We have some characters who have definitely experienced trauma and have some PTSD, but again it feels so vague I’m not sure if you’d truly count it as representation.

Overall, it was an alright book. I tend to prefer character driven stories which is really what kept me from truly enjoying this story as much as I was hoping to. However, if you prefer a novel that really focuses on the development of the plot rather than focusing on characters, I think you could really enjoy this book.

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?

Reviews

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

Overall enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 5/5

Amazon Summary:

“In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air–in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations.

Soon, Creeper, Oya, and the crew of the Midnight Robber are pulled into a perilous mission aimed to stop the Black God’s Drums from being unleashed and wiping out the entirety of New Orleans.”

This book popped up in the suggestions for another book I was looking at. The summary had me interested, but I’m not a huge fan of science fiction or novellas. However, as you can tell by ratings above this story really blew me out of the water! I tend not to like novella because I feel like a lot is left out and the story is annoyingly bare bones because its so short. The Black God’s Drum puts all those fears to rest and more

There are two main characters is this story. The first character you meet goes by Creeper. You don’t even learn her name until later in the book, but she paints us an immersive picture of what life is like for her in New Orleans. She’s a strong, street savy girl that knows the community around her. She is paired with the Orisha goddess, Oya, who has been with her since she was born. Then, you have a character that goes mainly by Captain. She’s a captain of an airship and pairs up with Creeper when they are after similar goals. Both characters get chunks of personal history throughout the book that creates well rounded, interesting characters. Very lovely characters for a novella.

The world building threw me off at first, but I acclimated to it within the first 20 pages. The world is set in what I would consider an alternate New Orleans during the civil war period with steampunk elements, mainly, air ships. The main world building that happens in this novel is setting up what would happen if civil war ended differently or at least was a tentative truce. The amount of history put in this novella without info dumping is truly skillful. There’s even some writing done about the African gods and how the drums work that I really enjoyed.

The diversity in this book was great. There were a host of diverse characters in the background, but I tend not to count them since they don’t get much attention. Creeper is a young black girl. Captain is where the real diversity is at. I’ve been disappointed by the general lack of intersectionality in most characters I’ve been reading, but Captain is a strong black, bisexual woman who also has a metal leg. Wow. I’m in love with her.

Overall, if you’re looking for a well written, but quick read with some great, intersectionality I couldn’t recommend this book to you more.

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.