Posted in Fun Lists

Most Disappointing Books of 2020

“I love Thursday nights.”

First line in Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

I’m still in the process of wrapping 2020 up, and we’ve made it to my post about my most disappointing books of the year. These aren’t necessarily the worst books I read in 2020, although there are a lot of those on this list, too. It’s a list of the books that, for various reasons, let me down the most. So prepare for some ranting. These books are in no particular order.


The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms #3) by Cinda Williams Chima

My rating: 1 star

After having really liked the first two books in this series, I was incredibly disappointed with the pacing of this one. Not a lot happened because we had to witness reruns of all the relationship drama (which also wasn’t going anywhere). I was also particularly put off by this because there was some girl-on-girl hate for absolutely no reason at all. I have a full review here where I also talk spoilers.

Master of Sorrows (The Silent Gods #1) by Justin Travis Call

My rating: 2 stars

I don’t think I’ve ever come across such a dry writing style, and I can only assume it was the author’s intention to put readers to sleep. I was begging for time jumps by the halfway point because so far I had been subjected to a description of the MC’s everyday life in excruciating detail. We hadn’t even made it through a full day yet. It was disappointing because the world and its mythology showed great potential. We just never reached a point where any of it mattered.

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

My rating: 2 stars

This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year because of its very cool focus on my all-time favorite trope: the chosen one. Even better, it was about the aftermath of being a chosen one. At least that was its marketing, but the book itself turned in a completely different direction very quickly and left most of the ‘chosen ones’ as glorified extras without any kind of story arc.

Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

My rating: 2.5 stars

Infinity Son was mainly disappointing because I couldn’t recognize Silvera in it. It was written very simplistically with characters that seemed more like caricatures, making it hard to really care about them. So even though this was Silvera’s first attempt at writing fantasy, it’s disappointing that the character work is the part that’s lacking because that shouldn’t be all that different from what he usually writes.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

My rating: 2 stars

A very hyped book I picked up even though sci-fi thrillers are outside of my comfort zone. I haven’t read a lot of thrillers but I have yet to find one with good writing, and Dark Matter didn’t have that either. The characters were almost comically flat, so I wasn’t going to care about them, and the main plotline was too predictable to keep my interest.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune

My rating: 3 stars

I’m sorry, okay! I know this is everyone’s favorite book of the year, and because of that, it’s probably my most disappointing one. But it’s my own fault. Had I known this book was Middle Grade, I wouldn’t have come near it. I am bored to death with these kinds of heartwarming stories with no real conflict. I need my characters to suffer before I love them, so this book was a total miss for me.

The Faithless Hawk (The Merciful Crow #2) by Margaret Owen

My rating: 2 stars

This one was a disappointing conclusion to a duology where I really loved the first one. The plot went from action-packed to meandering because the author failed to utilize the amazing and detailed world she had created. It was also disappointing to see several side-characters take a step backwards and get reduced to simple plot devices.

The Dragon Reborn (The Wheel of Time #3) by Robert Jordan

My rating: 2 stars

This was the book that properly killed my enthusiasm for Wheel of Time because it made me realize how many ‘filler books’ there must be in this 14 books long series. There was zero point to this book. It didn’t need to exist. And it means I’ll probably never finish the series.

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

My rating: 3 stars

I had put this book on a list of 5 star predictions because I really love the story of Peter Pan. However, this taught me not to expect too much of classics. I just don’t love them. I often like the sentiment but not the execution which was also the case with Peter Pan.

Firestarter (Timekeeper #3) by Tara Sim

My rating: 4 stars

I know I shouldn’t be disappointed with a 4-star book, but when I gave to first two books in the series glowing 5 star reviews, it’s hard not feel a little let down by this final installment. There were some plot-related things I was especially disappointed with as they were quite cliché-ish and predictable. And you just really want the final book to be the best one!

That was 10 books I wasn’t all that excited about in 2020. I did read some amazing books in 2020, but it also wasn’t that hard to find books for this list. And I didn’t even include my two DNF’s. But I did feel that I learned a lot about my own reading taste by reading these books that didn’t quite work for me. I also hope it made a fun post to read, so it’s not all bad. What was your most disappointing read of the year?

Posted in Fun Lists

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2020

“Night fell as death rode into the Great Library of Summershall.”

First line in Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Hey, it’s the last Tuesday in 2020! Who would have thought we’d get here? Today you get the post I love making every year: all of the best books I read in 2020. It was actually quite difficult to narrow it down to 10 books, and there are technically also more than 10 books on this list. If I’ve read multiple books in a series, they only take up one spot unless I had widely differing opinions on them. To torture myself even further, I’ve also decided to put them in order. Last year I remember being completely sure what my number one was, but this year, 1 and 2 are practically interchangeable. 10 to 3 are pretty set though.

Top Ten Tuesday is as usual hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Enjoy!


10 – Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

YA Fantasy

Sorcery of Thorns doesn’t only take the number 10 spot, it is also my most surprising read of the year as I originally hadn’t intended to read it. But oh am I glad I did! I’m not sure how I would have gotten through 2020 without being able to reminisce about the funny banter and the generally beautiful relationship between the two main characters. And it’s a book about books! (You’re going to see a trend on this list).

9 – Burn by Patrick Ness

YA Fantasy

This is the book that finally made me understand why so many fantasy readers go crazy over dragons. Combine that with Patrick Ness’ unparalleled way of writing YA, and I think I have a new favorite book by this author.

8 – The Bone Ships by R. J. Barker

Fantasy

The Bone Ships introduces the reader to a highly intriguing and brutal fantasy world with a culture that often circumvents expectations. I was so excited to learn more that I was able to ignore that I don’t normally like seafaring stories. I’m also pleased to announce that The Bone Ships is the winner of my own unofficial contest called “Best First Line of 2020” with its very simple opening: “Give me your hat.” Other than it made me laugh, the author also quickly proved how this is the only line that can start this story, and I think it’s bloody brilliant.

7 – Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Fantasy

Even though Words of Radiance didn’t manage to beat The Way of Kings as my favorite Stormlight Archive book, it was very close. It has two of the most epic scenes I’ve ever read, so it was very easy for me to forgive the small parts of this book that I didn’t love. Some of my favorite Kaladin-scenes are also in this book.

6 – The Last Sun and The Hanged Man (Tarot Sequence #1 and #2) by K. D. Edwards

Fantasy

A diverse urban fantasy series that is very adult in some areas, but still has a lot of lighthearted and funny moments. It has some of the most hilarious banter between some of the characters, and the friendships in here are so precious. Even though they claim to want to kill each other a lot. Don’t worry, they only mean it, like, half of the time.

5 – The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith

Fantasy

Hey, it’s another book about books! And it explores the very cool concept of characters from unwritten books coming to life to search for their authors. This book is an example of a unique idea that is just executed so brilliantly, but the book still manages to be more than its concept. You also get a character-driven story with a bunch of wholesome characters that each have their own struggles. It takes place in Hell after all.

4 – The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction

The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a very simple story about the life of an Irish man called Cyril. It’s a story that doesn’t have any kind of plot, but that didn’t bother me in the slightest. It tore at my heartstrings anyway and even produced a few tears. The writing is exceptional. Boyne had a certain way of relaying information that I’ve never seen before, and I loved every sentence.

3 – Silver in the Wood and Drowned Country (The Greenhollow Duology #1 and #2) by Emily Tesh

Fantasy novellas

I don’t read novellas, but apparently, I should make exceptions for dark fairytale-like stories with an intense focus on nature elements and lovable characters. I admire how Tesh manages to tell this story in so few pages and still create depth in every character. When all you need is a few sentences to make readers understand and love a character, there’s really no need to write a 500-page book.

2 – The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #1 and #2) by Natasha Pulley

Historical Fiction/Magical Realism

You know when you love a book so much because of how it makes you feel, so you can’t explain why you love it other than going 😍😍😍🥰🥰❤️❤️❤️😍😍? These books are like that for me. That I don’t usually enjoy magical realism, but you still find these books at the top of my list of favorites, should also tell you all you need to know. The characters won me over with their depth, and the writing made me love it with its cleverness.

1 – The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Fantasy

The Starless Sea is one of those “either you love or you hate it”-kind of books. For me, it is one of the most perfect books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. I’m in awe of Morgenstern’s imagination portrayed through all the minor stories sprinkled throughout the book. Every single one of them felt unique while still reminding you of an old fairy tale. And of course, a book about books needs to be my number one in 2020.

I had such a great time looking back on these amazing books to remember why I loved them so much. Proof that 2020 wasn’t all bad. Please let me know what your favorite book of 2020 was! Do we have any books in common? Happy reading in 2021!

Posted in Fun Lists

Reading 5-Star Reviews of Books I Hated

“The town was in flames.”

First line in Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

I’m looking at reviews again! Last week I found some 1-star reviews of books I really loved, and so in this post, I’m doing the opposite. I’ve found some interesting, maybe funny, reviews for books I gave 1 or 2 stars to, and now I’m going to try and see if I can understand what people like about these books I wanted to hurl across the room. One in particular is going to be a challenge. This is also a way of spotlighting a few books that I normally don’t mention on my blog because you might like them even if I don’t. Take a look.


Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Okay, this is difficult.
I’m choosing to latch onto the fact that the reviewer is an inexperienced fantasy reader, and that must be why our opinions differ so drastically on this book. I agree that the setting is accessible to non-fantasy readers, but mainly because it’s too simple. I don’t think many experienced fantasy readers will find anything unique about it. And the layered and compelling characters? Sure. I didn’t see them, but sure. Lastly, I agree with the statement that this book is feminist. I just didn’t like that it was so much in-your-face feminist. It was like the author had to make absolutely sure you knew about the feminist themes and therefore kept explaining them instead of letting the reader think for themselves.

The Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

This review really sums up what went wrong for me with this series. Blood of Elves is the third book, and I liked the first one alright, but then it went downhill from there. And you see, the first book was really just retellings of old fairy tales, and I love that! The more the books deviated from that, the more I disliked them. On top of that, there wasn’t any Geralt in this (if I remember correctly), and since he was the only character I was just slightly interested in, this story didn’t swallow me.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

“The books may be slow in some parts”. Excuse me, but that’s the understatement of the century.
Here’s where I could pretend to agree with some of the praise from the review, but I wouldn’t want to lie to you. These are the worst books I’ve ever read, and no, I’m not sorry.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Yes, the last line is why I picked this review.
I’ll admit that I went out of my comfort zone with this book, and maybe that was a mistake. It didn’t manage to rock my world as it did for this reviewer. I didn’t find it particularly well written as the characters were incredibly flat and uninteresting, and the plot was very predictable. However, I do agree that the science-parts were easy enough to follow, and that is often my big struggle with sci-fi.

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

I’m a bit confused as to why the reviewer said that characters were believable as if there was more than one character in this book. They say so themselves that Mox wasn’t clear and that Matt faded away. Sloane is the only character in this book, but she is believable, I’ll give them that.
I’m also not sure I would call it a great standalone as I did feel like the book only started at the very end, clearly setting up a sequel. But if you really like Sloane and relate to her, I can see how you don’t need much else from the book, whether it be plot or other characters.

This was way more difficult than the opposite version from last week, which really has sent my mind spinning. Why is it more difficult for me to accept that people don’t hate the same books as me than it is to accept that people hate a book I love? (Hope that sentence made sense). I’d love to know if you’ve experienced feeling similarly or if it’s just me. Of course, also let me know what you thought of my responses to these reviews and if you agree.

Posted in Fun Lists

Reading 1-Star Reviews of My Favorite Books

“There was a boy in her room.”

First line in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I’m a firm believer in the statement that art is subjective, and that includes books. We all know this, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to smile and nod whenever someone trashes your favorite book. However, I felt inspired to give it try and looked up some 1-star reviews on Goodreads for some of my favorite books to see what people aren’t loving about these obviously amazing books. I needed to share my agony with all of you guys and also my attempt at accepting other people’s opinions. But, guys, I found some crazy ones so check it out.


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This review starts out alright. The Hunger Games is quite brutal, and not everyone is going to be into that. It starts getting a little weird when the reviewer claims they don’t like present tense. I rarely notice the tense myself, but sure, let’s say that’s a valid complaint. Then we get the plot twist, which is that the reviewer didn’t even manage to read the first chapter… I’m sorry, what? So basically, this person decided to rate a book 1 star on Goodreads purely based on what they had heard the book was about. I cannot stress how wrong that is, but sadly it was something I saw a lot of while looking for reviews for this post. “It was such a bad book! Couldn’t even get through the title. 1 star.” Please, stop.

I’m also personally a bit affronted over the eye roll for the amount of romance when The Hunger Games is one of the YA books with the least amount of romance I’ve ever read. It’s very clear the person never read it.

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Ah, the ever-prevalent assumption that if a book is written by a woman it must be YA. The Winternight Trilogy is adult!
That they thought the book was boring, that’s fair. I know I love a lot of boring books, although I would categorize the first book in the series, The Bear and the Nightingale, as more boring than The Girl in the Tower. The plot really picks up in the second one, so I wonder why the reviewer even decided to continue on with the series. They must have hated the first one even more.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

HOW DO YOU NOT CARE ABOUT KATSU???

I’m sorry for that outburst, but I just can’t relate. That mechanic octopus is possibly one of my favorite animal companions.

But that the story is boring? Yes. Not a lot happens, as it focuses on the characters a great deal.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

I had to include this so that you can all get the mental image of Sanderson and Rothfuss tipping their fedoras at a screen.

Now, I’m also quite baffled over how someone deems Sanderson and Rothfuss “straight up bad writers”. Yes, Sanderson’s character-work is lacking, but not to an extent that makes it unreadable. There are so many other aspects he does incredibly well, so ‘bad writer’ seems a bit unfair. I’m actually curious to know who the reviewer considers a great writer 🤔

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

I can respect continuing with a book simply to witness the deaths of hated characters. And that they call upon Melisandre is an… innovative way of bringing it about. I can’t really fault them for anything here. It is the crossover between A Song of Ice and Fire and The Iliad we didn’t know we needed 😂

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

I’m sorry, but We Are the Ants is sci-fi. It might have a contemporary feel, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are aliens in this book. I generally think this reviewer just went into this book with wrong expectations and rated it low for not being what they wanted. Because, you know, if you don’t like books with “super whiny and emo”-characters, maybe don’t pick up a book with a severely depressed main character. Just a thought.

That was actually quite fun. I learned that I love a lot of boring books, apparently, because that was the main complaint in most of the reviews I found. I can accept that as many of the books I love are character-driven stories with zero plot. However, I also ran into many of those weird Goodreads reviews where you wonder why everyone is allowed to review books, even when they haven’t read the book. We know the average ratings mean a lot, so it’s just very frustrating to see.
But anyway, I hope you enjoyed this. I plan on doing the opposite of this so 5-star reviews of books I hated, which could possibly be even more challenging for me.

Posted in Fun Lists

Books I Would Like Better as Movies/Shows

The great horn sounded.

First line in The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett

I know a lot of readers deem it to be sacrilege to say that any movie was better than the book. I’m not one of those readers. You see, if I don’t like the book, there’s quite a big opportunity for the movie to be better. The most popular example is The Lord of the Rings.

A movie or a show has the opportunity to fix some of the issues I have with the book, especially in terms of writing style and sexism in books published (what feels like) 5000 years ago. So that’s what I’m talking about today. I’m going to be talking about books I gave 3 stars or less, that I think I would enjoy more if they hit the big screen. This was inspired by a recent Top Ten Tuesday post where I talked about all the books I love I would like to see adapted.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

My rating: 2 stars

I know I’m not the only one who found this book very confusing, but I would still be very intrigued to see it turned into a Netflix series. It has enough interesting characters and a world writers can play around with. Especially the many inventions introduced in the book could be portrayed better in a TV series. In the book, I missed some background information about these things and why they existed, besides the fact that the characters needed them.

Master of Sorrows by Justin Travis Call

My rating: 2 stars

This book was too slow. And it was slow in the wrong way. For example, it spent a lot of time setting the scene every time we changed location. Those 2-3 pages-long descriptions of a room every so often would just be a single shot in a movie, meaning there could be room for so much more story.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

My rating: 3 stars

It’s not that I disliked this book. It just wasn’t anything special. I think that I personally prefer these cutesy romance stories in movie format. You know, with music in the background and generally beautiful cinematography to really make me feel all the feels.

Vicious by V. E. Schwab

My rating: 3 stars

This would need a major makeover as a movie to be something I liked, but it can be done. Fewer flashbacks and more present-time interactions between Victor and Eli would make it much more entertaining for me. A little more action, too, please. They have superpowers!

Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

My rating (book 1-3): 2-4 stars

I know we’re already getting an adaption of this, so this is me saying I have high hopes for it! I’m positive the show will do something about the awful gender stereotyping and generally give the characters a little more depth. The show format will also mean that I don’t have to trudge through long-winded descriptions of inns that look exactly the same.

The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett

My rating: 3 stars

This book has so many cool concepts that were sadly overshadowed by the worst case of “men writing women” I’ve ever seen. Watching a movie version would mean less eye-rolling for me and quite possibly make me much more interested in this world where demons rule the night.

That was this week’s fun little post. Let me know what you think of book-to-movie adaptions. Am I completely wrong in saying that the movie is sometimes better? Is there a movie you like better than the book or maybe predict you would if it existed? I would love to discuss it in the comments!

Posted in Fun Lists

Female Authors On My TBR #WomenInSFF

“Thick evening fog clung to the forlorn banks of Ward’s Island, turning it into a ghost of itself.”

First line in Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

Hi, guys and welcome to part 2 of my contribution to the #WomenInSFF highlighting that’s going on over at The Fantasy Hive. Last week I talked about some of the underrated female authors I love and so today we’re taking a closer look on those female authors still waiting patiently on my TBR. There were quite a few, but I have managed to pick 10 to share with you.


Mary E. Pearson

Works to read:
The Remnant Chronicles
Dance of Thieves

Robin Hobb

Works to read:
Realm of the Elderlings

Laura Lam

Works to read:
Micah Grey

Jen Williams

Works to read:
The Winnowing Flame Trilogy

Alix E. Harrow

Works to read:
The Ten Thousand Doors of January
The Once and Future Witches

Helene Wecker

Works to read:
The Golem and the Jinni

Katherine Addison

Works to read:
The Goblin Emperor
The Angel of the Crows

K. Ancrum

Works to read:
The Weight of the Stars
The Wicker King

Thilde Kold Holdt

Works to read:
Northern Wrath

Aliette de Bodard

Works to read:
Dominion of the Fallen

10 authors I have heard nothing but amazing things about so really wish I could start all of their books right now. Sadly I can’t. Do you have some female authors you’re dying to read?

Posted in Fun Lists

Underrated Female Authors in SFF I Love #WomenInSFF

“We should agree on some passwords.”

First line in Half Lost by Sally Green

Hi, guys. Over at The Fantasy Hive they’re spotlighting female authors writing SFF through the hastag #WomenInSFF. That made me feel inspired to make my own contribution in the form of 2 posts: one about female authors I’ve already read and one about the ones I have yet to experience. Just so we’re all on the same page – this is the one featuring the amazing authors I’ve already come to love.

So many of my favorite SFF books have been written by women so it was really hard for me to narrow this list down. I’ve chosen to highlight some of the lesser known female authors because they are still amazing writers.


  • Megan Whalen Turner

Turner is mainly known for her The Queen’s Thief series which is set to publish its final book in October. It is a YA fantasy series that brings back memories of other classic stories within the genre. My favorite things about the series has been its portrayal of friendships and its ‘out-of-nowhere’-plot twists.

  • Jennifer A. Nielsen

Nielsen is a writer of Middle Grade and Young Adult with her most notable work being The Ascendance Series. I don’t typically enjoy Middle Grade, but The Ascendance Series is the only exception. It’s incredibly gripping story about a boy competing with three others to get to impersonate the kingdom’s lost prince.

  • A. J. Hackwith

The big question: will I ever write a blog post without mentioning A. J. Hackwith? (hint: probably not). The only book I’ve read by her, The Library of the Unwritten, is a story about an amazing group of people on a quest to protect all the unwritten books in Hell’s library. It’s diverse. It’s emotional. It’s something you need to read.

  • Lene Kaaberbål

Mind you if I use this oppourtunity to squeeze in a Danish author. She has mainly written fantasy books for children but also has a mystery/thriller series for adults. She wrote my second favorite series as a child which is The Shamer Chronicles. It follows Dina who is able to make people feel horribly ashamed of previous misdeeds just by looking them in the eyes. All of these books have been translated into English.

  • Tara Sim

Tara Sim is the author of two YA fantasy series, Timekeeper and Scavenge the Stars. The former is centered around clocks and time magic in an alternate Victorian London. It’s very diverse and has a great focus on anxiety. Scavenge the Stars is a gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, but I have yet to read that one.

  • Margaret Rogerson

Even though Rogerson has only had two books published so far, she has already established herself as someone who writes beautiful and engaging stories. Her two books have both been standalone fantasy books, which already sets her apart from so many other authors in the genre. My personal favorite of her books is Sorcery of Thorns which follows Elisabeth who grew up in a library and has conversations with books.

Those were just some of the amazing women who have shaped my reading life. Who are some of your favorite female authors? Do we have anyone in common? Stay tuned for when I share all the female authors on my TBR, which will be coming next week. Happy reading!

Posted in Fun Lists

Books I Recently Added to My TBR: Wyrd and Wonder Edition (Part 1)

“The market coiled like a colored snake through the streets of Dale, patterned with the brown of the stalls, and the yellows and greens and reds of the things they sold.”

First line in The Ash-born Boy by Victoria Schwab

Hi, guys. I don’t know about you, but Wyrd and Wonder has officially made my TBR into a murder weapon. I can’t imagine it won’t be the death of me. I’ve added so many books to it this past month that I had to make this into a 2-part thing so not to overwhelm you.

Just quickly want to mention that not every book on this list has been found in actual Wyrd and Wonder posts. It’s really a list of all the fantasy books I added to my TBR during May. Let’s get started!

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic, created to be the wife of a man who dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free.

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

Why it sounds awesome:

  • Historical fantasy set in New York but with Middle Eastern vibes
  • From reviews I can gather that it has sort of a whimsical writing style with a focus on characters
  • It has been nominated for several awards including a Nebula.

The Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

Why it sounds awesome:

  • A historical fantasy set in Mexico is not something I’ve ever read before
  • Any time the fantasy element is based on floklore, I’m in.
  • The three words in the synopsis: “strangely alluring god”. Need I say more?

A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden

To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind–the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.

Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that’s changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir’s vengeance cannot be denied.

Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.

But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning–the Old Ways versus the New–and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?

Why it sounds awesome:

  • It’s partly set in my own country (Denmark)!! I guess mostly people from other small countries will understand my excitement lol. I just need to read it!
  • It’s too reminiscent of the tv show Vikings to pass out on.

I quickly want to shout out and thank Alex from Space and Spellships for bringing this book to my attention. It was featured in the Europe-part of his SFF World Tour, which I highly recommend you check out, especially if you’re on the lookout for books set outside your typical European setting.


Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan

England flourishes under the hand of its Virgin Queen: Elizabeth, Gloriana, last and most powerful of the Tudor monarchs.

But a great light casts a great shadow.

In hidden catacombs beneath London, a second Queen holds court: Invidiana, ruler of faerie England, and a dark mirror to the glory above. In the thirty years since Elizabeth ascended her throne, fae and mortal politics have become inextricably entwined, in secret alliances and ruthless betrayals whose existence is suspected only by a few.

Two courtiers, both struggling for royal favor, are about to uncover the secrets that lie behind these two thrones. When the faerie lady Lune is sent to monitor and manipulate Elizabeth’s spymaster, Walsingham, her path crosses that of Michael Deven, a mortal gentleman and agent of Walsingham’s. His discovery of the “hidden player” in English politics will test Lune’s loyalty and Deven’s courage alike. Will she betray her Queen for the sake of a world that is not hers? And can he survive in the alien and Machiavellian world of the fae? For only together will they be able to find the source of Invidiana’s power—find it, and break it…

Why it sounds awesome:

  • The Tudor period (no, you don’t need further explanantion)
  • The fact that I had to Google the name “Walsingham” to see whether it was a real name/person (it was)
  • Behind-the-scenes-politics and mixing it with fae

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

A masterful epic of magic, politics, war, and the power of love and hate—from the renowned author of The Fionavar Tapestry and Children of Earth and Sky.

Tigana is the magical story of a beleaguered land struggling to be free. It is the tale of a people so cursed by the black sorcery of a cruel despotic king that even the name of their once-beautiful homeland cannot be spoken or remembered…

But years after the devastation, a handful of courageous men and women embark upon a dangerous crusade to overthrow their conquerors and bring back to the dark world the brilliance of a long-lost name…Tigana.

Against the magnificently rendered background of a world both sensuous and barbaric, this sweeping epic of a passionate people pursuing their dream is breathtaking in its vision, changing forever the boundaries of fantasy fiction.

Why is sounds awesome:

  • An evil king and people on a quest to save the world
  • Kay seems to be considered a must-read fantasy author

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.

As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

Why it sounds awesome:

  • Diverse world
  • A cast of several interesting characters

Making these lists always makes me wish I was able to read a 100 books at once. Why have I not mastered that skill yet?!? I can only hope that I’ll be able to read all of these books soon. Do any of these books also appear on your TBR? Or are you lucky enough to have already read them?

Posted in Fun Lists

Intelligent Characters in Fantasy Books

“The letter had said to meet in a bookstore.”

First line in The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

Hi, guys. Another post for Wyrd and Wonder and for this one I’m focusing on the characters of our beloved genre. Specifically the smart ones. It’s one of those things that’s difficult to qualify because when is someone intelligent?
As someone who’s often appointed “the clever one” in friend groups, I’ve pondered that question a lot. There are many ways to be intelligent and by that I don’t mean that people can be experts on different topics. In my opinion, it’s more about how you think, reason, problem-solve etc. than how many facts you can list even though that’s part of it too.

To emphazise, I always find that Socrates quote inspiring:

“The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.”

With that in mind, let’s look at some fantasy characters who embody what it means to be intelligent.

Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)

Let’s just get the obvious one out of the way first. I think we can all agree that Harry would have died a lot sooner without Hermione as his friend. Voldemort would have defeated them all in book 1, and that would have been the end.
The great thing about Hermione is that she’s intelligent in so many ways. She’s at the top of her class every year and knows pretty much all there is to know about magic. Several times, she also proves her skills in general problem solving and deductive reasoning. Personally, I also appreaciate the moments where she proves to be emotionally intelligent. She’s able to read other people’s emotions very well, and we often see her giving advice on that account. This is something she learns as the books goes on, and it’s such a necessary skill when you’re friends with Harry and Ron.

Kvothe (The Name of the Wind)

Even though I’ve only read the first book in this series, it’s very clear to me that Kvothe is in love with knowledge. He seems to be willing to stop at nothing to learn.
Kvothe has several skill sets (which he won’t hesitate to point out to you) that make him highly intelligent in my mind. He understands the world’s complicated magic, he’s muscial and he has impeccable survival skills. Even with limited ressources, he’s able to rise in society and get what he wants anyway.

Quentin Coldwater (The Magicians)

Where to begin with Quentin? He might not be the most obvious entry on this list because his intelligence isn’t always at the forefront in this trilogy by Lev Grossman. He has his share of problems weighing him down but once in a while, we get a glimps of his cleverness.
First of all, magic in this universe is far from easy and requires the user to be an expert on topics such as science and langauges. And Quentin is one of the better ones. Throughout the books, you often find him trying to accomplish feats that very few other magicians has even tried. So even though he does fail once in a while, he also succeeds by taking an analytical approach to the problem.

Marasi (Mistborn: Second Era)

Marasi is badass for many reasons but most importantly because she’s smart. In her world, women still have to fight for their place in society and Marasi is one of the front runners. She’s one of the very few women who went to university, and so she’s very much what you would consider book-smart. However, that is not enough for her and throughout the series we constantly find her on a quest for knowledge. Even when that might put her in danger. She loves to do her research and will approach a problem from any angle possible as a true university student.

Victor Vale and Eli Cardale (Vicious)

I’m cheating and grouping these two together (although they would probably kill me for that). The whole plot of this book evolves around the two of them taking a very scientific approach in their efforts to get… superpowers. They believe themselves able to crack the code and begin extensive research and dangerous experiments to succeed. They are highly confident in their abilities and with good reason. They are the top 2 students at their school and not to be messed with.

Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard)

It’s not the conventional type of intelligence you find in Locke Lamora but it’s what makes him the best at what he does: stealing. As a renowned con artist, Lamora is an expert when it comes to researching and planning a con. He pays attention to the smallest of details because he knows their importance. As a result of this, he’s often able to manipulate people into doing what he wants them to do, even if that is to willingly give their money to him.

Jasnah Kholin (The Stormlight Archive)

Jasnah is a scholar down to the bone. She’s the one who people around her rely on for information on pretty much anything. She’s known for being meticulous in her research of historic events and won’t accept a truth until she has definitive proof. One of her greatest strenghts is her ability to engage in discussion with people she disagrees with. She realizes the potential these discussions have of giving her a new perspective to do research from. That is a great sign of intelligence: to recognize that you don’t know everything.

Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows)

Another entry that might not seem like the most obvious choice. However, don’t kid yourself into thinking that Kaz is stupid just because he lacks any kind of formal education. He grew up on the streets of Ketterdam and had to have a steep learning curve when it came to surviving. You can easily call him streetwise but Kaz is so much more than that. He’s able to manipulate both friends and foes in his efforts to execute his detailed plans. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to read people, meaning no one is able to lie to him without getting caught.

Tyrion Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire)

Finally, we have the political mastermind. Tyrion is not without flaws and you can question several of his decisions in regard to his personal life, BUT he knows how to talk his way out of a problem. He’s good with people. He knows the importance of good connections in times of trouble and uses those to protect himself. In the few occasions he’s given responsibility, he also proves himself able to rise to the challenge through scheming and talking.

That was 10 characters I highly admire. I always appreciate it when authors create smart main characters so I needed to celecrate to ones I already love. Feel free to write your own favorite smart characters in the comments. We can’t get enough of those. Happy reading!

Posted in Fun Lists

Brilliant Debut Fantasy Books (Wyrd and Wonder)

“The circus arrives without warning.”

First line in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Hi, guys. As you may know, it’s not the easiest thing to write a book. Several authors just has to find their footing when starting out. Others write true masterpieces in their first try like it’s no big deal, and it’s those I want to highlight today.

Most of the books I’ll mention here are bestsellers but what they all have in common is that they are the first book published by their author. And they are all fantasy, of course. They are all some of my favorite books so enjoy!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Dreams and reality blend together in The Night Circus in which Morgenstern shows that there are no limitations to our imagination. Especially not to hers. Through stunning writing, she unfolds the story of a magical duel that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

A highly detailed world is the backdrop for some ingenious criminal activities that will have you rooting for the perpetrators. Not for the faint-hearted, this book gives you a dark and gritty atmosphere but will still shine some light in form of true acts of friendship.

The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith

The Library of the Unwritten provides a story with a unique concept where book characters are able to come alive, otherwise known as every reader’s dream come true. It’s an emotional story about a battle between Heaven and Hell that also gives you deep and flawed characters to love with all of your heart.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

An urban fantasy story that still gives you comprehensive world building with a creative magic system. Clare introduces the reader to the world of the Shadowhunters that has all the monsters but also the most swoon worthy romances.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind tells the first part of the character Kvothe’s life story through an immersive writing style. With the promise of an epic tale to come, Rothfuss sets several plot points in motion in this first book in a trilogy.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Step into the Trojan war through this retelling of the lives of the almighty Achilles and his friend Patroclus. Told through the eyes of Patroclus, Miller weaves a beautiful story about true love and destiny that will intrique anyone with an interest in Greek mythology.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

A high-stakes adventure inspired by ancient Rome that follows the slave, Laia, as she fights a brutal system to save her brother. Sabaa Tahir doesn’t hold back when depicting the horrors of this cruel world, and it will have the reader on the edge of their seat all the way through.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Eragon is a must-read for anyone who can’t get enough of dragons. Paolini has crafted a vast world with interesting characters (and dragons) which gives the reader a highly entertaining reading experience.

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

A highly atmospheric read that take a closer look at small town mentality when children start disappearing and the stranger in the village is the only suspect. Schwab provides at fairy tale-esque writing style when telling this gripping story about witches and magic rooted in nature.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale will transport the reader to a snow-covered forrest in Russia with its vivid depictions of nature and atmosphere. Following the girl Vasya as she grows up, Arden explores Russian folklore but gives it a fantasy twist.

These are just a few of the awesome fantasy debuts out there. I haven’t read everything so please share your favorites in the comments if you feel they’re missing from the list. Happy reading!