Book Review: The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

Goodreads: The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1)
Publisher: Tordotcom
Published: 24 March 2020
Genre: Adult SFF

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period drama The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a tightly and lushly written narrative about empire, storytelling, and the anger of women.

A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.

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Book Review: A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Goodreads: A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot #1)
Publisher: Tordotcom
Published: 13 July 2021
Genre: Adult SFF

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

Centuries before, robots of Panga gained self-awareness, laid down their tools, wandered, en masse into the wilderness, never to be seen again. They faded into myth and urban legend.

Now the life of the tea monk who tells this story is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. They will need to ask it a 
lot. Chambers’ series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter? 

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Book Review: The Deep by Rivers Solomon

Goodreads: The Deep
Publisher: Saga Press
Published: 05 November 2019
Genre: Adult SFF

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.

Inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for the This American Life episode “We Are In The Future,” The Deep is vividly original and uniquely affecting.

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#FirstLinesFriday: 04 February 2022

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“It was like dreaming,” said Yetu, throat raw. She’d been weeping for days, lost in a remembering of one of the first wajinru.
“Then wake up,” Amaba said, “and wake up now. What kind of dream makes someone lurk in shark-dense waters, leaking blood like a fool? If I had not come for you, if I had not found you in time…”

Do you recognise the book these first lines come from?

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Blog Tour Review: Creation by Bjørn Larssen

I’m back with another blog tour with The Storytellers on Tour for Creation (Why Odin Drinks #1) by Bjørn Larssen. Thanks to the SoT for organising and to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Creation (Why Odin Drinks #1)
Publisher: josephtailor
Publication Date: 18 August 2021
Genre: Humorous Fantasy, Norse Mythology Retelling
CW: Contains the word “ass-thetics”

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

In the beginning there was confusion.

Ever woken up being a God, but not knowing how to God properly? Your brothers keep creating mosquitoes and celery and other, more threatening weapons. What can your ultimate answer be – the one that will make you THE All-Father and them, at best, the All-Those-Uncles-We-All-Have-But-Don’t-Talk-About?

“FML! The answer’s why I drink!” – Odin

Perfect for fans of Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, and Mrs Brown’s Boys.

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ARC Review: Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi

Special thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Once More Upon a Time
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Published: 05 October 2021
Genre: Romance Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Once upon a dream, there was a prince named Ambrose
and a princess named Imelda who loved each other…
But alas, no more.
“What a witch takes, a witch does not give back!”
their friends and family warn.
They resign themselves to this loveless fate…
A year and a day pass.
And then their story truly begins…

Embark on a perilous journey with Imelda and Ambrose as they brave magical landscapes and enchanted creatures on their quest to reclaim their heart’s desire… But first they must remember what that is..

This was another wonderful (and super fast) buddy read with Julie @ One Book More! 😍 Chokshi is an author I’ve been meaning to check out for a while now and this small taste has convinced me I’ll enjoy her work!


TL;DR: Once More Upon a Time was a great novella that has great fairytale vibes! Despite being so short, it feels like a fully formed story with a fantastical setting, a journey full of magical creatures and adventure, and a good dose of romance. This has a sweet HEA that brings the story around full circle and I loved it! 😍

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#FirstLinesFriday: 22 October 2021

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“Once upon a time, there lived twelve reasonably attractive princesses who, when lined up together, caused such a sight that the world agreed to call them beautiful. And so they were.”

Do you recognise the book these first lines come from?

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Book Review: Sing Anyway by Anita Kelly

Goodreads: Sing Anyway (Moonlighters #1)
Publisher: Anita Kelly
Published: 01 June 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

After a lifetime of failed relationships, non-binary history professor Sam Bell is committed to a new (non)romantic strategy: Thirst Only. It’s the actual drinking where things get too complicated, where Sam inevitably gets hurt.

Sam is good at being thirsty, though, especially when it’s karaoke night at The Moonlight Café, otherwise known as Moonie’s to its largely queer regulars. Moonie’s is fun. Comfortable. Safe. Except for tonight, when one by one, all of Sam’s friends abandon them. Disappointed, they prepare to leave—until their #1 karaoke crush catches their eye…

For Lily Fischer, karaoke at Moonie’s is the only time she can step outside of her quiet shell. When there’s a mic in her hand, she’s no longer merely a receptionist harboring big dreams. At Moonie’s, Lily can pretend to be someone else: someone bold, who takes what she wants. And tonight, what Lily wants is the way Sam looks at her across the room as she sings her signature opening song, like they see her exactly as she wants to be seen. Like Moonie’s Lily is real.

As the night progresses, both Sam’s and Lily’s personal fears are tested, and the real world outside of Moonie’s looms. But maybe sometimes, the real world should be a little more like karaoke. It’s not always about knowing all the right words or having the perfect voice. Maybe all Sam and Lily need is a little courage to pick up the mic, and sing anyway.

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Cover Reveal: Fire & Ash by Heather Frost

Hello, friends! I’m so excited to be sharing the cover reveal for Fire & Ash by Heather Frost! Fire & Ash is a novella set in the world of the Royal Decoy series. While it is a prequel story, it is best enjoyed after reading Royal Spy.

I’m so excited to check this one out because it’s about Desfan, one of the newest characters we meet in book two of her series and one of my favourites! I can’t wait to learn more about his back story 😍

Check out my reviews for Royal Spy and Royal Decoy!

Goodreads: Fire & Ash (Fate of Eyrinthia 0.5)
Publication Date: 28 October 2021
Genre: Fantasy Romance (Romantasy)

First the flames . . .

When Desfan Cassian, the future ruler of Mortise, skips his fifteenth birthday celebration so he can gamble in the slums, he knows his father won’t be pleased. Then again, the serjan hasn’t been happy with him in years. And while Desfan anticipates a reprimand for his latest transgression, he doesn’t expect to be thrown out of the palace and exiled onto a patrol ship for the next year.

Then from the ashes . . .

Furious to be trapped on the same sea that stole his family four years ago, Desfan is fully prepared to hate his new life. After all, the Phoenix is run by a strict captain, and Desfan’s annoying new bodyguard, Karim, is his constant shadow. But when Desfan learns that a group of dangerous pirates may have been behind the deaths of his mother and sisters, he’s suddenly committed to hunting down the truth—no matter the risk.

He will rise.

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Book Review: Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

Goodreads: Silver in the Wood (The Greenhollow Duology #1)
Publisher: Tordotcom
Published: 18 June 2019
Genre: Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads. When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.

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