Thriller Thursday Audio: Heartbreak Bay by Rachel Caine

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Heartbreak Bay by Rachel Caine

Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Series: Book 5 of Stillhouse Lake

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (March 9, 2021)

Length: 11 hrs and 29 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Narrator: Emily Sutton-Smith, Dan John Miller, Tovah Ott

Heartbreak Bay is the fifth and final Stillhouse Lake novel and also the last book written by Rachel Caine before she sadly passed away from cancer last year. It’s an apt title in many respects, given some of the hardships and sorrows experienced by our characters in the story, but also because of the bittersweetness I felt as one of my favorite mystery thriller series had to conclude this way. My heart certainly felt broken by the time I got the last page, but it was the Author’s Note at the end that really opened up the emotional floodgates and got the waterworks going.

As the story begins, we return to the small town in Tennessee in which our protagonist Gwen Proctor and her children Lanni and Connor have found refuge after discovering that her husband was a notorious serial killer. But while he may be dead and gone, the shadow of his brutal crimes still haunts her and the kids wherever they go, mostly in the form of a harassment campaign fueled by an online forum made up of internet sleuths and grieving victims’ family members who have never accepted the court’s ruling on Gwen’s innocence.

Now, following a brief reprieve, it appears the threats have started up again as Gwen, Lanni and Connor become the targets of an anonymous and sadistic individual who sees himself as an avenging angel-style vigilante. This time, things seem more dangerous and personal as even Sam, Gwen’s current partner, is pulled into their disturbed attacker’s twisted web.

Meanwhile, Gwen’s good friend and detective colleague Kezia Claremont also finds herself working a very difficult crime scene involving a car submerged in a pond, the bodies of two baby girls still strapped inside and no driver to be found. Newly pregnant, Kez is hit especially hard by the circumstances surrounding the case, and vows to bring whoever is responsible to justice.

There was so much going on here, enough mystery to fill multiple books, yet the ride was so smooth you don’t even realize it when all the threads start coming together. Told through several POVs, including Gwen and Kezia’s, these two incredible women and the amazing strength of their resolve are truly what made this novel special. One is fighting tooth and nail to protect her loved ones from an unknown assailant bent on ruining all their lives, while the other is investigating a heinous crime which will lead her down some dark, dangerous paths. What happens when their two cases collide, and they discover they may be on the hunt for the same silent enemy? Why, a non-stop, adrenaline-pumping, pulse-pounding, nail-biting race to the shocking finale, of course!

What a delight it was too, to see Gwen Proctor come so far since the days she was still Gina Royal. The clueless and quiet meek mouse is gone, replaced by a fierce and self-sufficient lioness who has come to realize she can depend on no one else but herself. Of course, this meant a lonely existence for our protagonist, especially in the earlier books. Gradually though, with each volume she has come to let others into her trusted circle. First, it was with Sam, which resulted in a couple of great adventures where he and Gwen teamed up. Now, it is Kez’s turn, and their dynamic was both inspiring and thoroughly gratifying to witness.

I also feel very thankful to the author, who has gifted me with hours of escape and fantasy through her wonderful books. The Stillhouse Lake series has especially captured my attention since the very beginning, the dark and thrilling plotlines getting under my skin, the flawed by hopeful characters endearing themselves to my heart. With Heartbreak Bay, Rachel Caine truly outdid herself. The mystery was fantastic, punctuated with touching moments of family tenderness and companionship. Like I said before, the action and suspense elements were seriously well done, and while it may veer off into over-the-top territory at times, it does also encourage you to look at certain aspects of the internet and social media in a whole new light.

So, if you have not had the pleasure yet, I urge you to check out the Stillhouse Lake series. The books can be read and to a certain extent were probably written as standalones, but the experience would be so much richer if you started from the beginning and got to know the characters along the way. The story gets better and better with each volume, and with Heartbreak Bay, the saga has truly culminated in a finale to remember.

Audiobook Comments: Absolutely stellar voice acting by narrators Emily Sutton-Smith, Dan John Miller and Tovah Ott who gave voices to Gwen, Sam, and Kezia, respectively. Having multiple readers definitely made the audiobook experience feel more immersive, and the narrators’ individual performances were not only amazing, but they also complemented each other very well.

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Stillhouse Lake (Book 1)
Review of Killman Creek (Book 2)
Review of Wolfhunter River (Book 3)
Review of Bitter Falls (Book 4)

Waiting on Wednesday 03/31/21

Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that first originated at Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. Either way, this fun feature is a chance to showcase the upcoming releases that we can’t wait to get our hands on!

Mogsy’s Pick

Swashbucklers by Dan Hanks (November 9, 2021 by Angry Robot)

Might it have been the cover that attracted my attention with this one? Why, yes. Lately it has been love-it-or-hate-it when it comes to me and Angry Robot books, but I’ll take a look at almost anything with a video game angle, no matter how trivial, and this sounds really wild and promising.

“When Cisco Collins returns to his home town thirty years after saving it from being swallowed by a hell mouth opened by an ancient pirate ghost, he realises that being a childhood hero isn’t like it was in the movies.

Especially when nobody remembers the heroic bits – even the friends who once fought alongside him.

Struggling with single parenting and treated as bit of a joke, Cisco isn’t really in the Christmas spirit like everyone else. A fact that’s made worse by the tendrils of the pirate’s powers creeping back into our world and people beginning to die in bizarre ways.

With the help of a talking fox, an enchanted forest, a long-lost friend haunting his dreams, and some 80s video game consoles turned into weapons, Cisco must now convince his friends to once again help him save the day. Yet they quickly discover that being a ghostbusting hero is so much easier when you don’t have schools runs, parent evenings, and nativity plays to attend. And even in the middle of a supernatural battle, you always need to bring snacks and wipes…”

Audiobook Challenge 2021: 1st Quarter Update

April is almost upon us, and that means it’s time for the first quarter update on what I’ve been listening to for the last three months and how I’m currently doing on the Audiobook Challenge. Here’s a quick refresher on the challenge details this year:

Challenge Details

  • Runs January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021. You can join at any time.
  • The goal is to find a new love for audios or to outdo yourself by listening to more audios in 2021 than you did in 2020.
  • Books must be in audio format (CD, MP3, etc.)
  • ANY genres count.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads, Facebook, LibraryThing, etc.
  • If you’re a blogger grab the button and do a quick post about the challenge to help spread the word. If you’re not a blogger you can help by posting on Facebook or Tweet about the challenge.
  • Updates plus a giveaway will be posted twice during the year. The first update will be July 2, 2021, and the last update will take place on December 30, 2021.

Levels

  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multitasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30+
  • Marathoner (Look Ma No Hands) 50+
  • Over-Achiever (Power Listener) 75+
  • The 100 Club (Audiobook Addict) 100+

I’m off to a good start in 2021, having wrapped up this quarter with 18 audiobooks under my belt. That’s one more than I had this time last year, which is good progress, but I’d actually been hoping for more! Either way, at this rate it’s looking good for me to hit the Over-Achiever (Power Listener) level which was added this year as a middle ground between 50 and 100 audiobooks. I just need to up my game a little more.

Are you doing the 2021 Audiobook Challenge? If so, how are you doing?

Book Review: The Two-Faced Queen by Nick Martell

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

The Two-Faced Queen by Nick Martell

Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 2 of The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings

Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press (March 23, 2021)

Length: 592 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Wow, so that all just happened! Last year, Nick Martell’s The Kingdom of Liars surprised me, and now its follow-up The Two-Faced Queen has done it again, in the best way possible. Few things please me more as a reader than to have a sequel not only live up to its predecessor but also surpass it, and this is what we have here.

The story picks up soon after the events of The Kingdom of Liars, and be advised this review may discuss plot details from the previous book if you haven’t read it yet. Our protagonist Michael Kingman, accused of killing the king, had thought he would be facing execution but instead finds himself apprenticed to Dark, an assassin of the Orbis Corporation. But while this may have earned him a momentary reprieve, Michael isn’t out of the woods yet. A whole slew of people in the kingdom still wants him dead, and some of them sit in pretty high places, including Serena, known as the Two-Faced Queen. She and Michael used to be childhood friends, but all that ended after he was implicated in the death of her father. Now she only has room in her heart for revenge and will hear none of Michael’s claims of innocence.

As Serena and her brother are locked in a power struggle for the throne, however, the Rebel Emperor has been taking advantage of this unrest to sow even more chaos around the Hollow. In his work with Dark, Michael has been tasked to investigate some of the mayhem caused by the rebellion’s siege on the city, leading them onto the trail of a brutal serial killer known as Heartbreaker because of the way he rips the hearts out of his victims’ chests.

Ah, and the plot thickens! I will confess, one surefire way to hook me into a story is to throw in a murder mystery. Generally speaking, that kind of thing usually leads to increased interest, which is exactly what happened as the more intense pacing and elevated suspense meant I was all in on this hunt for the killer. This was also an improvement over the first book which was marred in places by prolonged lulls and confused, meandering threads. On the whole, this aspect of The Two-Faced Queen seemed more focused and balanced, the story racing along at a more energetic pace, not to mention all the unexpected reveals and surprises along the way! Now, I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll just say this: Dragons!

The characterization was also much improved. Recall how in The Kingdom of Liars, my impression of Michael was that he was a frustrating and impulsive protagonist, and I hated the way he was constantly being manipulated. While some of this could have been explained by the memory-degrading effects of doing magic in this world, it was undeniable that much of his irresponsible behavior was also driven by his own stupidity. Well, you’ll be glad to hear that Michael’s personality has matured somewhat in this sequel. He still has his flaws, of course, but he has also learned to recognize his weaknesses (plus, it helped that this book provided a new perspective, putting some of Michael’s actions and motivations from the first book in a whole new light).

As well, I am practically squirming with excitement over the more developed relationships. I’m especially interested in what’s happening between Michael and Serena and the direction things are headed with them, as in many ways they remind me of Imriel and Sidonie from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel Legacy (and those who’ve read the series will probably know why my eyes are completely glued on these two!)

Then there’s the writing, and Nick Martell is doing extremely well in perfecting his craft. His prose has definitely smoothed out, and I feel there’s less of a reliance on overused tropes. However, the world-building still feels a bit sparse, and it may be just a matter of knowing how and when to flesh things out. Occasionally, I still had trouble visualizing the environment, but I was not as distracted by it this time around, since the story kept me better engaged.

Anyway, I know I’ve already covered the many areas in which this book showed improvement over its predecessor, but there is still one final, very important measure I need to discuss, and that is my outlook for the future of this series. When I finished The Kingdom of Liars, I felt encouraged and cautiously optimistic for the sequel. When I finished The Two-Face Queen, however, it was with unadulterated, full-blown excitement for what’s going to come next! A lot happened in this book—some readers might even say too much—but the fuller, more riveting storyline was honestly quite enjoyable for me, and the last half was especially packed with intrigue and potential.

Overall, it would seem that my faith in the author was not misplaced. Nick Martell is well on his way to becoming a huge talent in the world of fantasy fiction. These first two volumes of The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings series have already made quite a splash with me, and things just keep looking better and better. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book.

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of The Kingdom of Liars (Book 1)

Book Review: Minecraft: The Mountain by Max Brooks

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Minecraft: The Mountain by Max Brooks

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy, Media Tie-In

Series: Book 7 of Official Minecraft Novels

Publisher: Del Rey (March 2, 2021)

Length: 272 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Ever since the publication of The Island by Max Brooks, there have been many more Minecraft novels released in the official series of novels based on the video game, each exploring a different aspect of the world. While so far they have all been standalone stories, in The Mountain, readers can actually look forward to being reunited with the intrepid adventurer protagonist who was introduced in the very first book!

Upon learning about this, I just knew there was no way I going to want to miss this follow-up. To recap, at the end of The Island, we saw our unnamed hero sail off into the distance, leaving behind the mysterious island on which he was stranded in the hopes of finding his way home. The Mountain pretty much begins this next chapter of his journey, opening with our protagonist stumbling upon a completely new world.

Obviously, this being a book based on the world of Minecraft, our protagonist just can’t help but explore his surroundings, despite his eagerness to move on. To his shock and delight, during his sojourn, he encounters another castaway. All this time, he had thought he was all alone, but the appearance of Summer changes everything. Like him, she has been surviving off the land, using only her wits—and doing far better than he had been, apparently. Our protagonist learns a lot from Summer and lets her convince him to stay and help her finish a building project before striking off together to find answers. Still, after a while he begins to grow restless once more, wondering at the truth behind this strange blocky world, and a nagging part of him also can’t help but suspect that his new friend might not be telling him everything.

For fans of Max Brooks, this is going to be completely different than what you’d expect from the mind that brought us World War Z.  Intended for Middle Grade to Young Adult readers, The Mountain is an adorable adventure written as if you are actually in the world of Minecraft! While previous experience with the game is unnecessary to appreciate the story, it’d help if you’ve played the game as it’ll make it that much easier to visualize the people, the creatures, and the landscapes. If you came to this from The Island, expect a similar type of survival narrative that unfolds almost like a questline, following the characters as they overcome a series of increasingly difficult obstacles like environmental challenges and hostile enemies.

But of course, this book also brings plenty of changes and development. For one, our protagonist’s identity has been further defined, and he’s even given a name—Guy (hey, I never said it was going to be original). Furthermore, we have the introduction of Summer. Finally, the long and lonely days of having only animals to talk to are over! Guy and Summer become fast friends, learning so much from each other. Keeping in mind that these novels are written for children, I think for many young readers this relationship dynamic between our characters will also serve as a jumping off point for lessons on communication, cooperation, and respect. As well, a lot of their conversations are intended to encourage exploration and consideration for others’ opinions and ideas. Speaking as a parent, I was quite honestly impressed with the sincerity and straightforwardness of these messages, not to mention the fun and fresh-faced approach in which they were delivered.

So saying, I might be an adult but I had a blast with this book. Personally, I found the story of The Mountain better and more entertaining than The Island, and no doubt the addition of Summer had a lot to do with this, introducing human interaction into our protagonist’s life and an extra layer of meaning to his experiences. As long as you don’t expect anything too deep and or narratively complex, I think most readers will find just as much joy and fun in these books even if they aren’t Minecraft experts, but ultimately the target demographic is probably going to be gamers in the ages 8-12 range; those are the kids who will be geeking out over this book and adoring it to bits.

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of The Island (Book 1)
Review of The Crash (Book 2)
Review of The Lost Journals (Book 3)

Bookshelf Roundup: 03/27/21: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads

Bookshelf Roundup is a feature I do every weekend which fills the role of several blog memes, like Stacking the Shelves where I talk about the new books I’ve added to my library or received for review, as well as It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? where I summarize what I’ve finished reading in the last week and what I’m planning to read soon. Mostly it also serves as a recap post, so sometimes I’ll throw in stuff like reading challenge progress reports, book lists, and other random bookish thoughts or announcements.

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Received for Review

My thanks to the publishers and authors for the following review copies received, and be sure to click the links to their Goodreads pages for more details and full descriptions!

With thanks to Gallery/Saga Press for this surprise ARC of Among Thieves by M.J. Kuhn. I didn’t know much about it, but after looking it up, I was really excited to find out it’s a fantasy heist novel. Say no more, I am so IN! Also thanks to Titan Books for sending me a review copy of The Swimmers by Marian Womack. In case you missed it, we featured an excerpt from the book last month, so check it out! Thank you also to Orbit Books for an ARC of The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri, the first volume of her new trilogy Burning Kingdoms. I had a great time with the author’s debut Empire of Sand, so I’m looking forward to see what she has in store for this one.

Courtesy of the kind folks at Grand Central Publishing, I also received a review copy of Win by Harlan Coben. I’ve been hearing great things about his books for a long time, but I’ve never actually read him! I think this will be a great opportunity to start with the first book of his new series starring a side character from the author’s Myron Bolitar books. My thanks also to Tor Books for this gorgeous ARC of She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, one of my most anticipated releases this summer! Earlier this month the publisher also sent along a finished copy of A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine, the sequel to A Memory Called Empire. I’m so upset that I haven’t started this series yet, but it’s definitely high on my priority list still because I’ve heard such amazing things about it.

I also want to give a huge shoutout to the awesome team at Minotaur Books for what is quite possibly the coolest book publicity swag I’ve ever received! When the big box containing this ARC of The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter, I was definitely a bit puzzled as to what could be inside, because it didn’t feel too heavy. Imagine my surprise (and nostalgic glee!) when I open it and out popped this customized Image3D RetroViewer, complete with its own reel of promotional images and pictures! My entire family had so much fun looking through them, and it sucks that I can’t get the photos to show up here, but many of the images in the viewfinder were taken from the book trailer:

In the digital pile, with thanks to DAW for sending me a NetGalley widget invite for Adrift by W. Michael Gear. I do love this sci-fi series so much, and as I said when I recently featured this book for Waiting on Wednesday, I’m so excited to sail off on Donovan’s seas for the very first time. And finally, thanks to Simon & Schuster Audio for a listening copy of Girls With Rebel Souls by Suzanne Young, the third and final volume of the Girls With Sharp Sticks trilogy. I’m looking forward to see how it all ends!

Reviews

Swordheart by T. Kingfisher (4 of 5 stars)
What Abigail Did That Summer by Ben Aaronovitch (4 of 5 stars)
The Unbroken by C.L. Clark (3 of 5 stars)

What I’ve Been Reading

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Have you heard of or read any of the books featured this week? What caught your eye? Any new discoveries? I hope you found something interesting for a future read! Let me know what you plan on checking out. Until next time, see you next Roundup!:)

Friday Face-Off: A Picture Within A Picture

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme created by Books by Proxy! Each Friday, we will pit cover against cover while also taking the opportunity to showcase gorgeous artwork and feature some of our favorite book covers. If you want to join the fun, simply choose a book each Friday that fits that week’s predetermined theme, post and compare two or more different covers available for that book, then name your favorite. A list of future weeks’ themes are available at Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme is:

~ a cover featuring A PICTURE WITHIN A PICTURE

Mogsy’s Pick:

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My goodness, this week’s topic was hard! My pick probably barely qualifies, but oh well – it was a book I enjoyed and it has some great covers, so check them out!

From left to right:
Quick Books Hardcover (2016) – Quirk Books Paperback (2017) – Russian Edition (2020)

German Edition (2019) – Portuguese Edition (2019) – Czech Edition (2018)

Winner:

Like a lot of Grady Hendrix’s stories, this novel was a bit offbeat, and I think that calls for an offbeat cover. The Quirk paperback edition mimicking a VHS sleeve for an old-school campy horror movie might be come off as kind of gimmicky, but hey you just gotta love it!

But what do you think? Which one is your favorite?

Audiobook Review: Swordheart by T. Kingfisher

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Swordheart by T. Kingfisher

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Series: The World of the White Rat

Publisher: Tantor Audio (March 23, 2021)

Length: 14 hrs and 32 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Narrator: Jesse Vilinsky

Speaking as a recently converted fan of T. Kingfisher/Ursula Vernon’s who discovered her work through The Twisted Ones and The Hollow Places, I was absolutely thrilled when I discovered that Swordheart was coming to audio. Of course, it’s a very different kind of story—not horror or paranormal, but a fantasy romance. Still, I enjoyed it very much, and it drove home the sheer talent and versatility of this author and her ability to spin an entertaining tale that is well-balanced with adventure and humor.

When we first meet our protagonist Halla, the thirty-something-year-old widowed housekeeper has just inherited the entirety of her great-uncle’s estate but is feeling quite depressed about it, to the point of contemplating her own suicide. For you see, the family of her late husband want all that money, and they’ve imprisoned Halla in her home until she agrees to marry her contemptible cousin. Childless with no one to support her, Halla knows taking her own life would be the only way to ensure that the inheritance will pass on to her nieces, and so, after spotting an ancient sword mounted on the wall of her room, she decides to take it down and use it to end it all.

But once she unsheathes the sword, something miraculous happens. An armored man appears before her, calling himself Sarkis, claiming to be the immortal spirit who has been trapped in the enchanted sword, which now rightfully belongs to her. Throughout history, Sarkis has been called upon by the sword’s previous wielders to serve and protect, and he’d be damned if he’s going to allow his latest owner to use him as an agent of her own demise. Together, Sarkis and Halla foil her husband’s despicable relatives to make their daring escape from the house. Next stop: The Temple of the White Rat where Halla can get in touch with a priest to secure her inheritance and the path to her own future.

The story of Swordheart is pretty straightforward; nothing too surprising in terms of twists and turns, yet it still contains many of the hallmarks of a Kingfisher novel, like a seriously creative inventive premise and delightfully hilarious dialogue. This makes the lowkey plot feel much fuller than it actually is.

Of course, we also have the author’s amazing characterization to thank. From her background, you can probably tell Halla isn’t like the typical heroine you’ll find in a romance. She’s sheltered but she’s curious, filled with questions about the world and constantly driving Sarkis to exasperation (which was yet another source of endless amusement for the reader). Sarkis himself is certainly intriguing as romantic interests go—can’t say I’ve read too many books where the hero is a sword, at least! He’s also battle-hardened and jaded, but still retains enough of his humanity to be sensitive towards Halla’s needs, not to mention a wicked sense of humor to go toe-to-toe with her in their witty banter wars.

Still, one thing to keep in mind is that Swordheart is a romance first, and a fantasy novel second. There’s plenty of vivid worldbuilding, but it all comes in second to the relationship development between Halla and Sarkis. Expect some of the usual fluffy tropes that go hand in hand with the genre, like unnecessary drama caused by miscommunication and angsty overreaction, etc. I probably would have been more okay with this had it not led both Sarkis and Halla to make some inexplicably stupid decisions. Thing is, I don’t mind a bit of melodrama in my romance stories, but creating conflict for the sake of conflict is another matter entirely, and I there were some eye-rollingly blatant examples of that here.

And yet for all that, I still really enjoyed Swordheart, if nothing else because of the unique premise and the super sweet, super heartwarming romance it featured between the two very unconventional leads. I thought it was especially fun to listen to the audiobook, which was charmingly read by narrator Jesse Vilinsky, and the story’s adventurous themes and easy humor made the hours fly right by. If you’re a fan of the author or fantasy romance, provided that you don’t mind some of the genre’s more frustrating tropes, I would definitely give this one a look.

Waiting on Wednesday 03/24/21

Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that first originated at Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. Either way, this fun feature is a chance to showcase the upcoming releases that we can’t wait to get our hands on!

Mogsy’s Pick

Gutter Mage by J.S. Kelley (September 21, 2021 by Gallery/Saga Press)

This one falls under epic fantasy, but it certainly looks quite a bit different. I’m intrigued by the description of magic meets mystery.

“J.S. Kelley weaves epic fantasy and hardboiled noir in this fast-paced, twisting tale of magic, mystery, and a whole lot of unruly behavior.

In a kingdom where magic fuels everything from street lamps to horseless carriages, the mage guilds of Penador wield power equal to the king himself. So when Lord Edmund’s infant son is kidnapped by the ruthless Alath Guild, he turns to the one person who’s feared by even the most magically adept: Rosalind Featherstone, a.k.a. the Gutter Mage.

But as Roz delves into the circumstances behind the child’s disappearance, she uncovers an old enemy from her traumatic past and a long-brewing plot that could lead to the death of countless innocents, as well as the complete collapse of Penadorian society itself!”

 

Most Anticipated Releases of 2021: April to June

The snow is melting, the grass is growing, and the days are finally getting warmer. It’s time to look ahead to the Science Fiction and Fantasy reads I’m most excited about in the months of April to June. Not only is it fun to organize my reading and to make lists, they also have the added benefit of focusing my attention to the highly anticipated releases that I’d like to check out. There’s already an impressive tower of books on my to-read pile, and while I’m under no illusions that I’ll be able to read them all, hopefully I can get to most of them (and also put some new books on people’s radars)!

So what are your most anticipated releases for the second quarter of 2021?

April

April 6 – Instinct by Jason Hough, Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson

April 13 – The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner, Malice by Heather Walter, The Helm of Midnight by Marina J. Lostetter, Near the Bone by Christina Henry

April 20 – The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers, Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

April 27 – Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells, Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey

May

May 4 – Immunity Index by Sue Burke, The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne, Blade of Secrets by Tricia Levenseller, Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

May 11 – We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker

May 18 – The Album of Dr. Moreau by Daryl Gregory, The Broken God by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

May 25 – Hard Reboot by Django Wexler, The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman, Honeycomb by Joanne M. Harris, The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter

June

June 1 – Adrift by W. Michael Gear, The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell, The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu 

June 8 – Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews, The Coward by Stephen Aryan, A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams, Rabbits by Terry Miles, The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid, The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri 

June 15 – For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten, Shutter by Melissa Larsen

June 22 – The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison

June 29 – The Chariot at Dusk by Swati Teerdhala