Roots of Corruption Review

Roots of Corruption by Laura Laakso

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

I am a big fan of The Wilde Investigations series. You can find my review for Fallible Justice here and for the second book, Echo Murder, here. The general thing I like is how big the magical world is and how it mingles with the non magical world in the books. Another great thing si the amount of representation here of so many things (class divide, EDS, chronic illness, familiar pressures, duties, LGBTQ+, etc.) There’s a lot to explore and a lot to learn in each of the books.

Now specifically for Roots of Corruption, it is focused on Lady Bergamot (who despite the fact that it centers around her, is actually off page for a big part of the book) and it is a window into a little bit more about who she is, and the mystery of her garden.

When Lady Bergamot is attacked in her own garden, Wishearth reaches out to Yannia for help. What they find is not exactly what they expected, and Yannia starts having to do some quick decisions and trusting Wishearth a LOT. (And breaking some rules).

What seemed likean attack to Lady Bergamot becomes a race to try to find a serial killer with a purpose. Each kill brings the killer closer to something and they all seem to point at Lady Bergamot, but is she innocent or playing Yannia for a fiddle?

Karrion, Wishhearth and even Dearon make an appearance in the book, and we get to learn a little more about the politics of Old London, a little about the Fae Court, Selkies and Lady Bergamot. But Yannia is also trying to find who to trust and how far she does. It is hard to investigate objectively when it is a friend that has been ttacked and who may be the one behidn the crimes!

Of course, I had theories and theories about who it was and what was going on, and I still didn’t figure it out completely, but I enjoyed the whole story and it went by too fast. Partly because the way Laura writes is so immersive that you are instantly there in Yannia’s world and that’s it, you go along as part of the team, as if you were just strolling with them and riding in the car, beign a part of it. It isn’t just happening to them, you’re in it too.

Higly recommend this botanically focused book with murder, mystery and a heckload of magic!

The Guinevere Deception Review

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

This book was one that came in Tales of Trickery Owlcrate, and a few of us decided to buddy read it. Now, from previous reading of the author’s books, I was a bit unsure if I’d like it as I haven’t really clicked much with her books. But this is a book about Guinevere, and Arthurian legend which automatically makes me want to give it a chance (which I did).

Guinevere is one of those “naive, don’t know much about the world and the reader discovers through my eyes”. This kinda works but at the same time it doesn’t. Maybe because I’ve read other books about King Arthur and watched Merlin and all that, that the whole “oh, discover the world” wasn’t as intriguing and got old relatively fast. But it did help see the interpretation of the Arthurian world int he book, and how magic is banned and there’s some magic supporters but it is a tough decision for Arthur and he’s sticking by it.

Now, we know little of Guinevere except that she isn’t actually her and has another name she has to forget (mild spoiler alert: we never really find out her name, she conveniently forgets it, somehow, which really put me off because it is solely for the purpose fo making you read the next book). And she knows magic and is being married of to Arthur so she can protect him and make sure everything is fine. I found the concept of the whole she isn’t who she is, and the “is magic good or should it be banned, but there’s bad magic?” intriguing.

However, this quickly became a guide to “knot magic” without actually even telling you how to do the know magic. What do I mean by this? Her magic is knots, and she makes them for everything. So every few pages, she decides she needs magic to protect Arthur or set a warning or some odd thing and goes on about needing knots and how the knot makes magic but it isn’t like Merlin’s magic. And it gets old fast as there is nothing new there except what we already know from fae lore and from Arthurian legend.

In general, the book feels like it dragged to try to make a full book just to sell more books into the story. Some fo the twists on characters were refreshing and made me like the book, but it just felt like it dragged and some of the twists felt like they went against everything and were plot characters rather than actual fleshed out characters and solely relied on you being familiar with Arthurian legend (or maybe not so you don’t care) to fill in the gaps.

All in all, I just really wish this had been a duology or a better fleshed book. There’s not enoguh of the magic explained, and just barely anything explained to move the plot forward much except sending Arthur on adventures to keep him busy so Guinevere can do more knots (I ended up rolling my eyes at this all after a while), and getting cryptic chapters to fill int he gaps with more useful information (that only really gets useful closer to the middle-end).

Not sure if I will buy the next one or read it. Depends on if someone thinks it is great and redeems the story.

Hex Vet: The Flying Surgery Review

Hex Vet: The Flying Surgery by Sam Davies

It’s time for the monthly “Winged Creature Clinic” at Willows Whisper Veterinary Practice, where flying creatures from all over come to get treated. But when Glenn the Wildlife Warlock brings in an injured flying pig that looks like it may have been mistreated, panic strikes and a greater mystery unfolds. 

It’s up to everyone’s favorite vet witches in training, Nan and Clarion,  to keep everything under control at the chaotic clinic while Dr. Talon is away. Will Nan and Clarion save the day and keep their jobs? Or are their days at Willows Whisper numbered?

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

Another read for #Februwitchy. At first I thought this wouldn’t make it because it said it’d be delivered in March, but somehow it managed to get home before that and I got to read it for the readathon.

I think the biggest strenght of this series is the artwork, cute creatures and interesting ideas of what the creatures can do.

This time around the clinic goes to the skies for a “once a month” type of clinic that sees to the winged creatures. The main surgery head, Dr. Talon ends up being called on an issue that requires her attention and therefore leaves the two trainees and the head nurse on their own.

We get to see more of the head nurse and why he is a bit less nice to others. The way this is dealt with in the end was interesting and felt like a good way of saying “not everyone gets it right, sometimes we do things wrong, we apologise and try to do better”.

The flying pig is super cute and the whole adventure turns out to play into the dynamics of our two trainees with some funny moments and a few tense ones, plus some turning of tables and preconceptions that show that sometimes what you think is the thing isn’t and making assumptions can cause more trouble or make something that is going one way, go another, potentially worse way.

I enjoyed it, it still has some minor grammar/editing issues with the text, but toherwise, it is really cute, easy to read and I want to know more and read more.

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro Review

Ok, I give up. I’ve typed this review so many times, several different days and it just disappears. So I am going to skip the “this is the info you can find on Goodreads that tells you what the book is about” and just go straight into the review.

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

Queen Talyien (Tali) is the combination of “strong female character” with “chosen one” with “what if it all went wrong?” and this is done masterfully.

We start the story with her explaining that she’s basically ruling alone because she kinda screwed up and her husband left her (and their son) the night before they were meant to be crowned King and Queen of a country that is factioned and fractioned and is just a lot of fighting lords for land and ruling over the others.

Then she gets a letter from her husband to come and meet him at the neighbouring country where apparently he ha been having a comfortable life for hte last 5 years without bothering to make himself known to her or you know, his son (I didn’t have much respect for the husband, despite Tali trying hard to blame herself for him leaving). She is told not to go by her counsellors but decides to try to fix her marriage, for the sake of their son.

Know, one thing to know is that Tali was born to be Queen. She was educated for it, she had an arranged marriage and everything, all her life has been centered around becoming the Queen her father wants/wanted her to be. She has a purpose to fulfill and any time she has strayed from it, she pays the consequence. Her whole being is trying to meet the expectations, to hold everything together while the rest blame her or praise her or even thwart her. I identified with her so much on this. When you are defined by the expectations of others, when you have been brought up to live to those expectations, and to be them, it becomes slowly clear that you will never fulfill all of them. Because you just can’t. You can’t be what others want you to be and forgo who you are for the sake of everyone else.

So when she chooses to try to make the most of this opportunity to make everything right, and to not be the only one holding it all together because her husband is off doing whatever it is he is doing. She goes. She is doing the best she can.

Of course, this ends up with an assasination attempt (and by ends I don’t mean she dies and that’s it) and she’s left alone and in a difficult position in a foreign country, having to figure it out as she goes. This is where she fully shines and the story truly becomes the best. It is once she is out on her own, having to fend for herself and do and be just herself that she shines, that both you as a reader and Tali as her own, slowly chip away at the expectations and find the real Talyien.

The restof the cast is well fleshed and have their own unique characteristics but to explain them, would be to ruin the experience of meeitng them and then finding where they fit in the story. All I can say is that I have a soft spot for Khine.

The book is gritty and has a lot of violence in it. There is also some attempted sexual assault, a lot of gaslighting and abuse. However, this doesn’t retrack from it but rather gives it more depth. And it also has humour to contrast it, at times I was so angry and then suddenly wanting to laugh.

To me, the book was a delight to read but it was also a book that made me angry. It reminded me of how men manipulate capable women for so many reasons, and undermine them. They chip away at them and do their best to destroy them and somehow we still come out alive and victorious. So I was angry and laughing and sad and joyous and I couldn’t stop reading because I needed to know what would happen and if there was hope.

So, do I recommend this book? Yes. But this is NOT a Young Adult book, Tali is an adult, she has a child, she is a Queen, not a princess. Her problems aren’t the ones a YA heroine would encounter, and the whole book is definitely more about older characters and different stages of life.

If you liked The Poppy War, then this may be feel like a great book, as it reminded me a bit fo the feeling I had after reading Poppy War (but they are not the same, this has no Academia side and is more mature, more adult). And it has that same world building magic that Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash have.

And if you follow my reviews, it has the secret ingredient that makes me love a book… grief. (This is a lot less about death of someone and more about loss of identity, about loss in general).

Realm of Ash Review

Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri

The Ambhan Empire is crumbling. A terrible war of succession hovers on the horizon. The only hope for peace lies in the mysterious realm of ash, where mortals can find what they seek in the echoes of their ancestors’ dreams. But to walk there requires a steep price.

Arwa is determined to make the journey. Widowed by a brutal massacre, she’s pledged service to the royal family and will see that pledge through to the end. She never expected to be joined by Zahir, the disgraced, illegitimate prince who has turned to forbidden magic in a desperate bid to save those he loves.

Together, they’ll walk the bloody path of their shared past. And it will call into question everything they’ve ever believed…including whether the Empire is worth saving at all.

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

How do you write a review for a book like this? Realm of Ash is the follow up (not exactly a sequel, but it does happen after) of Empire of Sand which I loved so much that it got me to draw again and do some fan art, into which I have spent countless hours because it needs to be as good as what I felt reading the book.

In Realm we follow Arwa as she joins a house for widows who do not want or can’t be a burden to their families. She is young and has survived a massacre. But she is also smart, conflicted and full of anger.

This book starts with strong women making the most in a society that doesn’t alway realise their value. And despite them having a limited way of doing things, the resourcefulness is amazing.

However, the main thing for me was how much Arwa fights against her Amithri blood and heritage, because she has been brought up to think it is tainted and foul. And the deeper she delves into this secret heritage and uses it as she attempts to help Zahir and the “heir” side they are meant to be helping, the more she realises that it was just convenient lies to trap her, and limit her, to rob her of who she is and could be.

That was a stunning thing to read as she moves through her anger and then fear and everything that comes as they desperately want to save the Empire (and how much she is conflicted internally as she finds that what the Imperial family wants isn’t the same as what is best for the Empire).

It is also a book full of court (empire in this case) politics, the complexity of families and relationships in general, and the power of hope. It is about identity, and about loss and grief (we already established books with grief in them are kinda my thing). And it is incredibly powerful.

As such, the book is hard to review without spoilers because it is so good but also to explain it in detail would be to rob those of the discovery and delight of it. All I can do is let you know that I loved it, and I will read anything Tasha writes because I need to, she has my readership through and through.

Fate of the Fallen Review

Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade

The Shroud of Prophecy tests fate to discover what happens when the path of good and right, the triumph of light over darkness, the only path to salvation… fails.

Everyone loves Mathias. So naturally, when he discovers it’s his destiny to save the world, he dives in head first, pulling his best friend Aaslo along for the ride.

Mathias is thrilled for the adventure! There’s nothing better than a road beneath his feet and adventure in the air. Aaslo, on the other hand, has never cared for the world beyond the borders of his sleepy village and would be much happier alone and in the woods. But, someone has to keep the Chosen One’s head on his shoulders and his feet on the ground.

It turns out saving the world isn’t as easy, or exciting, as it sounds in the stories. Mathias is more than willing to place his life on the line, but Aaslo would love nothing more than to forget about all the talk of arcane bloodlines and magical fae creatures. When the going gets rough, folks start to believe their only chance for survival is to surrender to the forces of evil, which isn’t how the stories go. At all. To make matters worse Aaslo is beginning to fear that he may have lost his mind…

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

This book was provided by the publisher in the hopes of an honest review (and they know they’ll get me hooked ad I’ll buy the next books). The fact that this is gifted doesn’t really affect my opinion on the book (and I don’t read the book thinking “it is a proof/review copy, you have to love it”).

Mathias and Aaslo are good friends. Best friends. Brothers (not biological). They train together, they study together (but Mathias studies more) but they have very different expectations of life. Aaslo is pragmatic, he is a forester and he’s happy with that, he’s reayd to settle and just likes his life as is. Mathias yearns for adventure in the great wide somewhere, and he likes playing around, not planning on settling.

So when we find out that there have been many prophecies and they all boil down to Mathias being the hero and saving the world from utter ruin, well, it is perfectly fitting and Mathias is ready. But somehow, fate is having a laugh and Mathias dies a little too soon. Aaslo then realises that someone has still to try to save things and he isn’t ready to give up the “simple” life he had planned, so he takes on a bit of being the hero (a lot against his wishes, but he has a good heart).

I enjoyed the world, the quest, and the whole “what if the bext friend, the not the hero but good support, had to step up and be the hero because there is no other choice?”, Sam takes over Frodo’s quest. And I was very skeptical of how this would be accomplished without me being angry for the whole Mathias thing, but Aaslo basically won my heart on the first few pages so I was rooting for him all along.

So much for fate, by the way. Not sure if the intent of the author was to point at how the whole “chosen one” trope could be undone by something relatively simple as it does here to Mathias and what would happen when it does. It is a good question, and one Aaslo is trying to figure out. He wasn’t trained, he just was ready for a life in the forest. But he still moves forward, gains a rag tag team of quest members and sets off.

There are a few characters that amde this very interesting (but I’d rather not spoil, a certain female character was my favourite of them) and there are parts of the “Gods” discussing things and negotiating and it is interesting to have this overall view and still be unsure what the final outcome may be.

Looking forward to the next one, because I need to know what is going to happen now after that revelation of Aaslo’s ability.

Gideon the Ninth Review

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

There’s been a lot of rave for this book, but I am not sure I will fully rave about it. I enjoyed it a lot and it kept me hooked and reading it, but the way it had been pitched and talked about meant I was expecting something else.

If you’re looking for lesbian necromancer in space, you won’t really find that here. This is NOT a space opera, there’s very little “space” part in it, which was what made me unhappy the most. I was expecting some crazy space opera with necromancers and most of the space talk is them moving from their planet to another, which takes a few pages and that is it. There aren’t really any more space themed things going on beyond the fact that tehy are on a planet (I mean, in most stories you read, the characters are in a planet or something of the kind).

We get most of the story from Gideon’s point of view, so if you don’t like much her prickly/snarky want to be a hero and not super focused but rather emotional way of being, you won’t like the way this is narrated (which seems to be one of the main issues I see others found not great). I liked the snark and sarcasm and prickliness of her and her interactions and shenanigans made me like her a bit or at least be fond of her antics.

The story is mostly about them trying to solve a big puzzle in an abandoned building to become the best necromancer for the emperor. But it isn’t easy and it comes at a cost, plus being a necromancer doesn’t mean you are immune to death (one wishes, right?). I enjoyed the way necromancy is divided by houses and abilities, where each house has a focus on how they use necromancy and what they use it for. I also liked the whole mystery how are we going to solve this, do we try to work on our own or team up? thing.

There’s a lot of competition and lots of backstabbing (figurative and literal) and a lot of fighting and crazy stints and I enjoyed this a lot. One of the downsides is that there are a lot of characters and at times I couldn’t really remember which house they belong to, who they had come in with and what abilities they had. Nor could I fully remember they had or hadn’t achieved to a certain point in the story because we get a lot fo the story from Gideon’s point so we miss a lot or only what she cares about (which is fine, but can make the story confusing and I only really cared for a few characters rather than the whole set).

All in all, it was a crazy fun necromancy read. Just don’t expect the whole crazy space part because it wasn’t that.