20 May 2022

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: ALL THE SEAS OF THE WORLD by Guy Gavriel Kay

20 May 0 Comments

      

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!

ALL THE SEAS OF THE WORLD

Author: Guy Gavriel Kay
Series: N/A
Source: eARC via Publisher
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 17, 2022
Summary:

Returning triumphantly to the brilliantly evoked near-Renaissance world of A Brightness Long Ago and Children of Earth and Sky, international bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay deploys his signature ‘quarter turn to the fantastic’ to tell a story of vengeance, power, and love.

On a dark night along a lonely stretch of coast a small ship sends two people ashore. Their purpose is assassination. They have been hired by two of the most dangerous men alive to alter the balance of power in the world. If they succeed, the consequences will affect the destinies of empires, and lives both great and small.

One of those arriving at that beach is a woman abducted by corsairs as a child and sold into years of servitude. Having escaped, she is trying to chart her own course — and is bent upon revenge. Another is a seafaring merchant who still remembers being exiled as a child with his family from their home, for their faith, a moment that never leaves him. In what follows, through a story both intimate and epic, unforgettable characters are immersed in the fierce and deadly struggles that define their time.

All the Seas of the World is a page-turning drama that also offers moving reflections on memory, fate, and the random events that can shape our lives — in the past, and today.
Purchase:
READ.

Have you read this book? What was your favourite part?

13 May 2022

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: FROM BAD TO CURSED by Lana Harper

13 May 0 Comments

     

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!

FROM BAD TO CURSED

Author: Lana Harper
Series: The Witches of Thistle Grove #2
Source: eARC via Publisher
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 17, 2022
Summary:

Wild child Isidora Avramov is a thrill chaser, adept demon summoner, and—despite the whole sexy-evil-sorceress vibe—also a cuddly animal lover. When she’s not designing costumes and new storylines for the Arcane Emporium’s haunted house, Issa's nursing a secret, conflicted dream of ditching her family’s witchy business to become an indie fashion designer in her own right. 
 
But when someone starts sabotaging the celebrations leading up to this year’s Beltane festival with dark, dangerous magic, a member of the rival Thorn family gets badly hurt—throwing immediate suspicion on the Avramovs. To clear the Avramov name and step up for her family when they need her the most, Issa agrees to serve as a co-investigator, helping none other than Rowan Thorn get to the bottom of things.
 
Rowan is the very definition of lawful good, so tragically noble and by-the-book he makes Issa’s teeth hurt. In accordance with their families’ complicated history, he and Issa have been archenemies for years and have grown to heartily loathe each other. But as the unlikely duo follow a perplexing trail of clues to a stunning conclusion, Issa and Rowan discover how little they really know each other… and stumble upon a maddening attraction that becomes harder to ignore by the day.
Purchase:
The thing no one tells you about summoning demons is, sometimes you have to think outside the box.
 
I should know; I've been calling them up into my circles since I was a kid. My mother even encouraged it, as a slightly safer alternative to a way riskier burgeoning fascination with elder gods. (PSA, if you don't want your daughter developing an interest in the gnarlier chthonic entities before she can even ride a bike, maybe don't read her Lovecraft at bedtime. Seems obvious enough, right?)
 
The books go on about how summonings are supposed to be these disciplined, rule-bound affairs-and most of the time, they are, if you know what's good for you. The truth is, if you take sensible precautions, it's not nearly as dangerous as people think. And such a rush, too; the daemonfolk are interesting as the hells, pun intended. Sometimes they're inclined to share juicy secrets or ancient spells, the kind you won't find in even the oldest, dustiest grimoires. Other times they're so gorgeous it breaks your heart, or so horrifying that even a quick glimpse caught before you banish them is enough to leave you panting, heart battering against your ribs, blood boiling through your veins while your whole skin rolls with chills.
 
Shit, even when you play it safe, there's nothing quite like a demon summoning to make you feel alive.
 
Of course, there's always the odd time that even a pro like me fucks it up just a wee bit.
 
As usual, I'd cast my summoning circle in the warrens of the basement beneath The Bitters, in a chilly, cavernous room that had started out as Elena's third wine cellar-because who gets by with just one these days; certainly not my mother-and now doubled as my demonic lair. No windows, musty air that smelled like centuries-old stone and aged bordeaux, witchlight sconces flinging trembling shadows on the walls; the perfect ambiance for such a conjuring. The summoning spell was already whipping through me like a tempest, my protective amulets glowing hot against my chest. Everything felt like it should, all systems go.
 
But as soon as Malachus began to coalesce, I felt a twinge of wrongness in my gut, an unsettling, instinctive awareness that something was off.
 
According to my research, Malachus was supposed to manifest as a brawny reptilian dude, macho and mindless to the max. The type of mostly harmless demon whose bark was way worse than his bite. I hadn't summoned in a while, so tonight was meant to be just a practice flex, easing myself back into the swing of things after a little break.
 
But the silhouette gathering in my circle was unmistakably femme-presenting, on her knees and with her back to me, with the kind of ridiculous waist-to-hip ratio that would've put Cardi B to shame. A swoop of hair, black and glossy as moonlit water, curled around an even darker set of wings folded neatly against her back. I could see the wings' outline fill with a faint scrawl like one of my own sketches, a vague suggestion of feathers, before they sprang into a three-dimensional profusion of lush black down. And the scent that engulfed the cellar wasn't just the usual rank whiff of sulfur and brimstone, but something sweeter, more elegant and piercing. Jasmine, maybe, with a subtle patchouli twist. The kind of compelling perfume that made you want to follow someone around, drooling until they told you what they wore.
 
When she turned to look over her shoulder at me, with massive eyes the color of molten gold, my mouth went dry as dust. I couldn't be positive, having never seen one before-they weren't exactly a dime a dozen-but for my money, this sure looked like one of the former seraphim.
 
A fucking fallen angel, landed in my basement.
 
"Oh, Hecate's chilly tits," I whispered to myself, my heart plummeting even as a rising thrill swelled inside my stomach. "This is so very deeply fucked."
 
From what I'd read, the fallen were temperamental, ultra-wily, and very powerful-exactly the kind of unpredictable daemonfolk I do not fuck with as a general rule. But here she was anyway, which meant shit was about to get extremely outside the box.
 
She whipped around to face me in a single blurring motion, still on her knees, dainty little hands folded primly on her lap. Her fingers were tipped with vicious black talons, knuckles dusted with iridescent scales. She cocked her head, examining me with a sly intensity, the tip of a pink forked tongue peeking between her full lips. Then she smiled at me, wide and feral, a flash of onyx teeth capped with fanged canines and incisors.
 
Let me tell you, there's something viscerally unnerving about black teeth, especially ones as sharp as hers. I had a mounting suspicion that, unlike the real Malachus-wherever in the hells he was-this chick's demonic bite might be a lot worse than her bark.
 
A bloom of pure dread unfurled inside my chest, shooting down into my fingertips and toes like a falling star. Alas, the thrill-chasing part of my brain that often took the wheel at times like this downright relished it. So this wasn't going to be a lesson-learned type of moment, then, I noted to myself. No big surprise there; I'd never been much good at those.

Have you preordered this book?

6 May 2022

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: FEVERED STAR by Rebecca Roanhorse (Between Earth and Sky #2)

06 May 1 Comments

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!

FEVERED STAR

Author: Rebecca Roanhorse
Series: Between Earth and Sky #2
Source: Audiobook from Audible
Publisher: Saga Press
Publication Date: April 19, 2022

Summary:

Return to The Meridian with New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Roanhorse’s sequel to the most critically hailed epic fantasy of 2020 Black Sun—finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Lambda, and Locus awards.

There are no tides more treacherous than those of the heart. —Teek saying

The great city of Tova is shattered. The sun is held within the smothering grip of the Crow God’s eclipse, but a comet that marks the death of a ruler and heralds the rise of a new order is imminent.

The Meridian: a land where magic has been codified and the worship of gods suppressed. How do you live when legends come to life, and the faith you had is rewarded?

As sea captain Xiala is swept up in the chaos and currents of change, she finds an unexpected ally in the former Priest of Knives. For the Clan Matriarchs of Tova, tense alliances form as far-flung enemies gather and the war in the heavens is reflected upon the earth.

And for Serapio and Naranpa, both now living avatars, the struggle for free will and personhood in the face of destiny rages. How will Serapio stay human when he is steeped in prophecy and surrounded by those who desire only his power? Is there a future for Naranpa in a transformed Tova without her total destruction?

Welcome back to the fantasy series of the decade in Fevered Star—book two of Between Earth and Sky.
Purchase:

I thought this one could have started out with more action - since we ended on such a cliffhanger and high note in the last book, I just wanted more from page one! But it was a little bit of a drag to get started, recentre on the main characters, and get everyone back to where they were after the events of BLACK SUN.


Have you read this one? What was your favourite part?

29 Apr 2022

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: KAIKEYI by Vaishnavi Patel

29 April 0 Comments

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!

KAIKEYI

Author: Vaishnavi Patel
Series: N/A
Source: Audiobook from Libro.fm
Publisher: Redhook
Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Summary:
“I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me.”

So begins Kaikeyi’s story. The only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, she is raised on tales about the might and benevolence of the gods: how they churned the vast ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, how they vanquish evil and ensure the land of Bharat prospers, and how they offer powerful boons to the devout and the wise. Yet she watches as her father unceremoniously banishes her mother, listens as her own worth is reduced to how great a marriage alliance she can secure. And when she calls upon the gods for help, they never seem to hear.

Desperate for some measure of independence, she turns to the texts she once read with her mother and discovers a magic that is hers alone. With this power, Kaikeyi transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most favored queen, determined to carve a better world for herself and the women around her.

But as the evil from her childhood stories threatens the cosmic order, the path she has forged clashes with the destiny the gods have chosen for her family. And Kaikeyi must decide if resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak—and what legacy she intends to leave behind.

A stunning debut from a powerful new voice, Kaikeyi is a tale of fate, family, courage, and heartbreak—of an extraordinary woman determined to leave her mark in a world where gods and men dictate the shape of things to come.
Purchase:
or potentially an excerpt
Oh my gosh, this was fantastic!

Are you going to pick this one up?

27 Apr 2022

Archive Review: EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR by E.K. Johnston

27 April 0 Comments

Archive Reviews is a new series here on Books and Ladders where I post reviews that I have posted on other blogs, websites, or platforms, but never on here!

Revisit some of my past opinions, learn about new books to you, and see what I was reading in the past!

EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR

Author: E.K. Johnston
Series: N/A
Source: Purchased from Indigo
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:

Summary:
“I love you,” Polly says suddenly when I’m almost to the door.
“I know.” I say.

Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.

But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels m ones she never imagined:

Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.

Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Oliver’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.

Heartbreaking and empowering, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the story of transcendent friendship in the face of trauma.

“I love you,” I say, because I really, really do.
“I know,” says Polly.
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
"Today, everything is ours if we want it."
"Yes," I tell her. "It is."
Warning: This book deals with rape. In a VERY EXCELLENT WAY, but it is still there. So please be careful if you are triggered by this before reading this book and my review.

Man, this was a tough read. It was a one chapter at a time one because I had to emotionally prepare myself for what could potentially come next. Because even though this was handled so so so perfectly, it was still so so so hard to read about. I loved how sensitive to the topic this was but also how honest it was as well.

I loved that instead of spiraling out of control, Hermione took control of her life in a different way. I enjoyed seeing how she coped with the aftermath because everyone is different but that doesn't mean anyone's reactions are less valid than any other. And I think that even though she put on a brave face, she was still able to acknowledge that she was different -- and not by her choice. She was so strong and fierce, especially when given tough choices and having to make very adult decisions at 17. She never let this get in her way though, and instead of being victim or taking the labels that people gave her, Hermione made one of her own for herself.

I also really liked the positive portrayal of therapy in this one. I liked that Hermione acknowledges that she trusts her therapist wholeheartedly. Because she takes his advice, knows she can contact him when she's having problems, and still wants to reach out to him. I liked that instead of the typical portrayals of therapy, we got one that is what really, truly happens. I think that Hermione's character and her ability to open up was part of the reason that it worked so well, but it was nice to see a character who was so adamant about having a therapist that would work for their problems in a YA novel. It was also so great to see real panic attacks, PTSD, and dissociation shown in this novel as well. Not everyone experiences these things in the same way, but having Hermione explain her feelings and her thoughts made it so easy to relate to her -- even if you haven't been in the same situation.

I loved Hermione's relationship with everyone around her, especially Polly. I loved their friendship and how they were both willing to go the extra mile for one another. I liked that this event was looked at through the lens of how it affected everyone in Hermione's life, but that she made a point of saying that she shouldn't have to hide her feelings just to make someone else feel better. And I loved that she didn't want to be the reason for someone to have some "character growth" to become a better person: she wanted people to treat her the same as everyone else.

Mostly what EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR gives you is another Hermione that all young girls can relate to: smart, tough, and having to make hard decisions but doing them anyway and being the better person for it.

Have you read this one? What was your favourite part?

22 Apr 2022

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: Queer 2022 Releases I'm Excited For!

22 April 0 Comments

  

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!
Today's post is all about upcoming queer adult sff releases that I'm really excited for! Shoutout to Crini for always compiling great lists with specifics and you can check out their post here.

The books I feature below have a main character who is somewhere along the 2SLGBTIAQ+ spectrum. The story isn't necessarily about being queer but has a character who lives their life as a queer person.


Let me know what books you're excited for below!