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TBR Spotlight: A Desolation Called Peace

This week the random number generator gave me #252, A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine!

An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options.

In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity.

Whether they succeed or fail could change the fate of Teixcalaan forever.

I found A Memory Called Empire utterly fascinating – it’s a dense slowburn of a book, but one with such clever worldbuilding and gorgeously woven culture. It’s sci fi that feels like a lush historical drama. The only reason I haven’t yet picked up its sequel, A Desolation Called Peace, is because I wanted to go back first and reread A Memory Called Empire to make sure I remembered everything I needed to before diving in, as I didn’t want to be confused. I think this is going to be great, though. A lot of people whose opinions I trust have said it’s as good as, if not better than the first book, so I’m very much looking forward to the day I do get to pick this up.

Is this on your list, or have you read it already? I’d love to know your thoughts!

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Announcing #Hallowreadathon 2021

I can’t believe this is my third year helping Imogen to host the Hallowreadathon! This casual weekend readathon is a fun way to get some Halloween reading done – it’s my favourite time of year and I love having a way to celebrate the season with some great books. Whether you’re after cosy witchy vibes like me or prefer to get into the scary side of Halloween, we’ve put together some optional prompts to get you started!

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TBR Spotlight: Slippery Creatures by KJ Charles

This week the random number generator picked #217, Slippery Creatures by KJ Charles!

Will Darling came back from the Great War with a few scars, a lot of medals, and no idea what to do next. Inheriting his uncle’s chaotic second-hand bookshop is a blessing…until strange visitors start making threats. First a criminal gang, then the War Office, both telling Will to give them the information they want, or else.

Will has no idea what that information is, and nobody to turn to, until Kim Secretan—charming, cultured, oddly attractive—steps in to offer help. As Kim and Will try to find answers and outrun trouble, mutual desire grows along with the danger.

And then Will discovers the truth about Kim. His identity, his past, his real intentions. Enraged and betrayed, Will never wants to see him again.

But Will possesses knowledge that could cost thousands of lives. Enemies are closing in on him from all sides—and Kim is the only man who can help.

I love KJ Charles’s writing, but for some reason I just missed getting started with her latest trilogy, the Will Darling Adventures. I’ve never read a book of hers I haven’t liked, so I’m sure Slippery Creatures won’t be the exception – it’s bound to be a great emotional romance full of darkness and danger and beautifully sketched characters, plus all the promo material makes it sound like the wit and banter is going to be better than ever. I have the whole series waiting on my Kindle, I just need to find the time to read them!

Have you read this series, or anything else by KJ Charles? I’d love to get to know more of her fans!

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TBR Spotlight: By Sea and Sky by Antoine Bandele

Monday again, so it’s time for another peek into the depths of the TBR… And this week, we have another Kindle book, By Sea and Sky by Antoine Bandele.

The sickness was severe…

…and there was one known potion that could save him.

Was piracy the only chance they had?

Zala wasn’t skilled with a sword. She wasn’t blessed with magic. But she knew the Sapphire Seas well. Plundering and raiding was an art of its own, and she got by on her wits.

Yet she was running out of time. She needed the big score to save her husband.

What was her next move?

Before she even knew it…

…the game changed.

High above them, off the coast of the Ibabi Isles, a strange airship was headed their way. Zala had never seen anything like it. The battle was imminent.

And she was going to need more than her bag of tricks.

You’ll love this adventure inspired by the West Indies, The Swahili Coast, and Arabia, because Zala will encounter ruthless raiders, arrogant aristocrats, and imperial secrets. It will keep you turning the pages.

The cover of this one is so tempting – it instantly speaks of swashbuckling, interesting worldbuilding, and a kickass heroine. The writing in the blurb isn’t quite my cup of tea, but the premise is so good I picked it up anyway! I always love a good fantasy pirate, and I’m really intrigued by the idea of a slightly older heroine in an estabished relationship leading an adventure – I’m hopeful that this will be a fast-paced, fun read.

Have you read this one, or is it on your TBR? I’d love to know your thoughts on it if so!

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TBR Spotlight: The Trouble With Kings by Sherwood Smith

Back to the regularly scheduled TBR Spotlight this week, and I’ve rolled book #49, The Trouble With Kings by Sherwood Smith.

Princess Flian finds herself the unwilling object of desire of three royals. Is the one she wants a villain–or a hero?

Waking up in a strange place, Flian Elandersi at first doesn’t know who she is. One wicked prince tells her she is secretly engaged to an even more wicked king who wants to marry her right away. But before that happens, yet another wicked prince crashes through a window on horseback to sweep her off her feet.

Memory returns, and Flian realizes that all any of them seem to want is her considerable wealth, not her pleasant-but-ordinary self. She longs to escape the barracks-like, military atmosphere and return to civilization and her musical studies.

Flian endures another abduction, this time in the middle of a poetry reading. Who is the villain? Prince Garian Herlester–languid, elegant, sarcastic? Prince Jaim–he of the dashing horsemanship? Or King Jason Szinzar, whose ambiguous warning might be a threat?

Flian decides it’s time to throw off civilization and take action. The problem with action is that duels of wit turn into duels of steel–and love can’t be grabbed and galloped away.

Sherwood Smith is one of my favourite fantasy authors, but I think she’s very underrated as I rarely see anyone else talking about her. She writes exactly the kind of romantic, adventurous, slightly humorous court fantasy I adore, full of practical princesses, dashing-but-bookish heroes, and a smidgen of magic to liven it all up. They’re just the perfect antidote to the grimdark kick the fantasy genre’s been on recently, and though they aren’t necessarily low stakes or fluffy, they’re always kind of comforting to me. I think they hit the Tamora Pierce button in my brain very nicely. This particular book, The Trouble with Kings, has been sitting on my Kindle for absolutely ages – in fact, it’s the oldest Kindle book on my TBR. Flian sounds like a really enjoyable heroine and I love the sound of the plot. I think I’m going to make the effort to get to this very soon as it’s just what I’m in the mood for.

Have you read this one, or any other Sherwood Smith? I’d love to find some more fans!

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TBR Spotlight: A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T Kingfisher

This week the random number generator has reminded me of a book I really need to get around to: #266, A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking.

Fourteen-year-old Mona isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can’t control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt’s bakery making gingerbread men dance.

But Mona’s life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona’s city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of Mona’s worries…

I’m a huge fan of T Kingfisher’s fairy tale and fantasy work. The way she plays with the well-worn tropes, mixes humour and darkness, and creates genre-savvy, practical characters, just really appeals to me. I preordered the ebook of this, but I’m now at the point where “saving for a rainy day” has pretty much turned into “don’t know when I’m going to get to”, so I need to move this up the TBR stat. I know it’s going to be great.

Is this on your TBR, or have you read it? I’d love to know what you thought!

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TBR Spotlight: Swashbuckling Cats, edited by Rhonda Parrish

The random number generator today picked a book I think is going to be a lot of fun: #260, Swashbuckling Cats, an anthology edited by Rhonda Parrish!

If you think cats and water don’t mix, think again.

Plunge into worlds of piratical cats: on ships, in space, and beyond the veil.

Fourteen “tails” of adventure-loving cats, puns, and fun, featuring: Beth Cato; Krista D. Ball; Rebecca Brae; Grace Bridges; Lizz Donnelly; Megan Fennell; Chadwick Ginther; Joseph Halden; Blake Liddell; Frances Pauli; JB Riley; Rose Strickman; Leslie Van Zwol; and SG Wong.

Doesn’t this just sound brilliant? I think you know from the title itself if this collection of piratical cat stories is going to be your cup of tea or not, and I can say that it definitely seems like it’s mine! This was a birthday gift this year from the fabulous Moon and I’m saving it for a day when I need something silly, fun, and cheering. Pirate cats – what could be better!

Is this on your TBR, or have you read it? I’d love to know what you think!

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TBR Spotlight: The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan

Quite a recent pick from the random number generator today: #317, The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan!

Enter a city of dragons and darkness.

The Godswar has come to Guerdon, dividing the city between three occupying powers. While the fragile Armistice holds back the gods, other forces seek to extend their influence. The criminal dragons of the Ghierdana ally with the surviving thieves – including Spar Idgeson, once heir to the Brotherhood of Thieves, now transformed into the living stone of the New City.

Meanwhile, far across the sea, Spar’s friend Carillon Thay travels towards the legendary land of Khebesh, but she, too, becomes enmeshed in the schemes of the Ghierdana – and in her own past. Can she find what she wants when even the gods seek vengeance against her?

If this book is anything like its predecessors, it’s going to be amazing – and one I will really need to pay attention to. On the plus side, the author has a recap of the first two books on his website, so I won’t need to reread, but even so, there’s just so much going on in this world that I really want to read this when I can give it my whole brain. Books one and two were epic, weird, and enthralling (read my review of The Gutter Prayer here) and I’m excited to return to Guerdon and have my mind messed with again.

Have you read this series? I’d love to know what you thought!

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TBR Spotlight: Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

This week the random number generator gave me a relatively new book in my collection, #309, Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells!

A determined young woman sets out to rescue her kidnapped girlfriend by stealing a dragon from the corrupt emperor in this stunning fantasy debut that’s perfect for fans of Margaret Rogerson, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.

If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…

With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

Look, I’m a woman of simple tastes – I see a bi heroine in a book about dragons, and I’m sold. I bought this for myself back in March as I saw the price had dipped, but I haven’t managed to make time for it yet. It seems like it’s going to be a proper adventure story, and I really like two of the three authors used as comps, so I think this should be a fun read. It’s also pretty short – short enough to fit in a #SweepUpYourSmols challenge – so hopefully I can fit this one in before the end of the year.

Have you read Shatter the Sky, or is it on your TBR?

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Twitter Friends Pick My August TBR!

Sometimes I feel like my TBR’s gotten too large and I can’t see the books for the list, so it’s always nice to get a fresh pair of eyes – or ten – on it! I asked my Twitter friends to pick out a book each for me to read this month, so here’s what they picked!

Simon picked out The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard, but since that’s book two of a trilogy and I’ve yet to read the first book, I subbed in The House of Shattered Wings. I’ve been meaning to read this series for so long, but I think it’s going to require quite a lot of focus as I’ve heard it’s quite dense.

Me As I Should Be Books chose This Savage Song by VE Schwab, which I’d honestly forgotten was on the TBR, so that’s a good nudge to get on with it! I collected a lot of Schwab’s books a few years ago but haven’t actually got around to reading most of them.

Amy from Golden Books Girl and Lily Fae both picked The Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty, whose contemporary YA I used to love as a teen. Amy says: “this is one of my favourite books of last year, possibly even ever. It’s such a well plotted, fun and original fantasy, and it starts off such a phenomenal series.” I’m definitely intrigued!

Kshoni chose Jade City by Fonda Lee for me so I can catch up before book three of the trilogy comes out later this year, which is definitely a good idea. I have so many Orbit trilogies to catch up on!

I fully expected author David Dalglish to pick one of his own books, as I have three different series starters by him awaiting me, but he plumped for The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri – which is also in my 20 Books of Summer TBR, so I think this will be a priority for me! The only reason I haven’t read it yet is that I’m waiting to have the perfect mood to do it justice, but I think I just need to crack on.

Kav has chosen the path of violence and wants me to read Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor, which I know is totally going to break me. I might need to reread Strange the Dreamer before I get to this, but I just don’t know if I’m ready to handle the emotions…

An extremely optimistic pick from Ellen with The Priory of the Orange Tree – I don’t know if I’m going to have time to squeeze this huge chonk in amongst everything else, but I might as well make a start or I’m just going to keep putting it off!

Also, it’s not pictured as I only have an e-ARC, but Judith from Dead Good Book Reviews chose Little Thieves by Margaret Own for me and says it was a fun, fast read for her, which sounds good to me!

This is a pretty intense set of books, so I plan to break it all up with some of my other review copies and a good dollop of historical romance, but I’ll just decide on those as I go along so I don’t feel too hemmed in. Wish me luck – and let me know if you’ve read any of these!