Book Description:

Steampunk meets Kaiju in this original fantasy epic for mature readers, as young Maika risks everything to control her psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, placing her in the center of a devastating war between human and otherworldly forces.

Monstress #1 is bleak, violent, and absolutely gorgeous. Sana Takeda’s artwork is a visual feast with beautiful color palettes and exquisite details, and the illustrations were my favorite part (except for the gorier ones since I am incredibly squeamish!). The story is intriguing, too, but it is difficult to assess at this point since it is an introduction that leaves a lot of unanswered questions about the world and Maika herself. I don’t read a lot of graphic novels, and when I do, it’s normally a volume containing multiple issues and even this triple issue seemed very short to me. However, it definitely piqued my interest about Maika’s past and her connection to the monster, and I do very much want to read the first volume containing issues one through six that is being released later this month.

My Rating: 8/10

Where I got my reading copy: Finished copy from a publicist.

Book Description:

The eagerly awaited new fantasy from the multiple award-winning “storytelling sorceress” – Peter S. Beagle.

Hidden away from the world by his mother, the powerful sorceress Heloise Oliver, Pierce has grown up working in her restaurant in Desolation Point. One day, Heloise tells her son the truth about his father, a knight in King Arden’s court; about an older brother he never knew existed; about his father’s destructive love for King Arden’s queen; and, Heloise’s decision to raise her younger son alone.

As Pierce journeys to Severluna, he learns that things are changing in that kingdom. Ancient magic is on the rise. The immensely powerful artifact of an ancient god has come to light, and the king is gathering his knights to quest for this profound mystery, which may restore the kingdom to legendary glory—or destroy it.

Although enjoyable, Kingfisher is my least favorite of Patricia McKillip’s books I’ve read. It’s inspired by Arthurian legends but it’s a unique story rather than being a straightforward retelling like the other books based on these tales that I’ve read. The world is a meld of the fantastic and contemporary, as it seems very much like a secondary world fantasy complete with magic and knights, but those knights ride around in limos and talk on cell phones. There’s much that I admired about Kingfisher—there is some beautiful writing, a great sense of humor runs through it even though it’s not a comedy, and it has a great ending—but I never really came to care about any of the characters and found it rather meandering since it did focus on several different peoples’ stories, some of which were more interesting than others.

I would recommend those new to Patricia McKillip’s work start elsewhere, perhaps with her excellent, fairly short book The Changeling Sea (my favorite book I’ve read so far this year).

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: Finished copy from the publisher.

Book Description:

With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation.

Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.

Since I had some reservations about Red Rising, I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed Golden Son. Like its predecessor it does require some suspension of disbelief and the writing is sometimes rather dramatically overwrought, but I didn’t find myself caring as much when reading this one since it’s an intensely exciting book—dark and suspenseful, a page-turner that kept me wanting to learn what would happen next and what various characters’ true motivations were. It’s a stellar middle book that’s far superior to the first, and I loved every twist and turn. Though it has some flaws and it’s not my favorite book I’ve read this year, it is the most thrilling book I’ve read this year as well as one of the most thoroughly engaging.

My Rating: 9/10

Where I got my reading copy: Finished copy from the publisher.