Once & Future: ARC Review

This ARC was provided to me by the publisher at my request. The following review reflects my unbiased opinion of the story and is no way influenced. Thank you to the publisher, Little Brown/JIMMY PATTERSON Books.

Once & Future
Author: Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy
Publisher: Little Brown/JIMMY PATTERSON Books
Release Date: March 26, 2019
Synopsis: I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur. Now I’m done hiding. My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.


Rating: Built on solid bones, filled with inclusivity, but suffers from poor marketing of the humorous nature of the story.
Stars: 2.5

I have to start by saying that this book is directly responsible for my decision to completely revamp my review style (a process I’ll be rolling out once I work out the specifics). Never have I been more conflicted over a book. Because I desperately wanted to love Once & Future, but I was so turned off by the never ending attempts at humor. Not to say that I didn’t find some of the bits funny, but in what I thought would be a mostly dramatic book, the constant lighthearted silliness grated on my nerves.

Let’s start with the good: diversity and inclusivity. This book has it in spades. There is representation of pansexuality, bisexuality, disabilities, gender fluidity, asexuality, characters of African descent, homosexuality, and characters of Arab descent. The sexuality of each character isn’t always explicitly stated and if I over or under represented something from the book I apologize. This is the kind of representation that books need. And O&F doesn’t shy away from calling out the sexism and homophobia in our current time.

Once & Future tackles a lot of serious issues: capitalism, genocide, classism, immigration, oppression, and more. The problem is the execution. The book is riddled with fluffy romance and glib humor that kept me from ever getting emotionally involved in anything that was happening. When something serious happened, there was always someone there with a ridiculous remark or a couple making out in the background. Or both. And that didn’t sit well with me because I wasn’t expecting a romcom story. Yes, from the synopsis I thought there’d be funny moments interspersed in a mostly dramatic story. It was the exact opposite and that really effected my reading.

The other issue is one that is hard to address: plotting/execution of the story as a whole. When I was halfway through the book and I started reading some reviews to see if other people were having similar issues as I was getting through the story. I noticed a few people stating that they had seen the authors mention that A LOT of changes were happening before the final book was released. I’m hoping the changes addressed the flow of the book, because that was another big issue for me. The pace was either break neck action or dragging me down with boredom. I could never find a good rhythm in the story and this also kept me from forming any kind of emotions for the story. I just hate to judge this book by something that was most likely fixed in the final version.

But here’s the deal, I’ll read the next book in a heartbeat. The story is set up to go to a whole different level, and since I’ll KNOW that there is going to be a lot of humor, I’ll be able to read it when I’m in the mood for that style. I won’t say where the next book is going, but I am definitely intrigued.

At the end of the day, Once & Future has some solid bones that I think were mostly likely better used in the final version of this book. If you are looking for an inclusive, humorous space adventure, Once & Future is for you.

Oh, and Morgana deserved better.

Want Now Wednesday: The Never Tilting World

This week’s choice isn’t simply a want. IT IS A NEED.


The Never Tilting World
Author:
Rin Chupeco
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Synopsis: Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal. 

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.


I stumbled across this book late last year and thought it sounded pretty darn intriguing. Then, I saw the following phrase on the author’s twitter: “grumpy trigger-happy Hufflepuff boy”. At this point, I was just looking for where I sign my soul over to this book.

Then, I saw the cover. Like, y’all…look. at. that. cover. Hot damn.

THEN, I saw this from the author on Goodreads:
“+ Haidee, goddess-mechanic with free-spirited Moana vibes
+ Odessa, bookish chaotic lesbian goddess energy
+ Arjun, sarcastic fire-wielding amputee and secret cinnaman
+ Lan, healer/ranger and fierce bodyguard in love with her charge”
Also, she mentions sand dolphins and this is something I didn’t know I needed, but now I don’t know how I will live without.

Basically, I’m deceased until I get this book in my eager little hands. I’ve pre-ordered the heck out of this one, but HOW am I supposed to live without this book until OCTOBER? I just don’t know.

Pre-order links can be found at the publisher’s website. I can be found kneeling at my book alter, making sacrifices to the book gods in hopes they will transport me directly to October 15, 2019.

Want Now Wednesday: Kingdom of Souls

Have you ever seen a cover reveal and it literally makes you gasp? Yeah, that’s what happened to me when the cover was recently revealed for this week’s Want Now Wednesday feature.


Kingdom of Souls
Author:
Rena Barron
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Synopsis: Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

The lush world building of Children of Blood and Bone meets the sweeping scale of Strange the Dreamer in this captivating epic YA fantasy debut.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.


Yes, hi, I’ll take five copies. Basically any fantasy book that involves uncovering something worse is catnip to me. Throw in a Demon King and I am sold. The cover and synopsis have already started building a world in my head and I can’t wait for the whole thing.

All I know right now is September 10th can’t get here fast enough. Pre-order links can be found at the publisher’s website.

Want Now Wednesday: Ninth House

Happy Wednesday my wonderful bookish peoples! I could have sworn I had a Want Now Wednesday pre-written and scheduled for today, but alas, I was wrong. But it works out well because a cover reveal dropped today for a book I most certainly WANT NOW!


Ninth House
Author:
Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Synopsis: Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.


THIS IS NOT A DRILL PEOPLE! Queen Bardugo is dropping a dark academia adult novel and I AM HERE FOR IT! I worship at the alter of Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom, so I am beyond stoked about this first foray into the adult realm from Bardugo. I don’t think I’ve read any “dark academia” books, but the concept makes my brain feel some sort of good.

Unsolved murders, mysterious benefactors, secret societies, and sinister occult activities? SIGN ME THE F*CK UP! AND it’s a series! So, we get more than one book of dark adulty goodness from Queen Bardugo. I can’t wait to read this while drinking bitter black coffee, flicking my imaginary clove cigarette (cause I don’t smoke anymore, but damned if I don’t still hold imaginary smokes sometimes), and tugging at the neck of my fashionably over sized chunky knit sweater.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo comes out on October 1, 2019. Pre-order links can be found at the publisher’s website.

Want Now Wednesday: Soul of the Sword

Happy Wednesday my dear bookish people! This week for Want Now Wednesday I’m screaming about a HIGHLY ANTICIPATED sequel for me! Since it is a sequel, I wanted to put up a spoiler warning for those who haven’t read Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa yet (and if you haven’t, you really should! It’s an awesome book!). So consider yourself thusly warned.


Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Release Date: June 18th, 2019
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Synopsis: One thousand years ago, a wish was made to the Harbinger of Change and a sword of rage and lightning was forged. Kamigoroshi. The Godslayer. It had one task: to seal away the powerful demon Hakaimono.

Now he has broken free.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has one task: to take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple in order to prevent the summoning of the Harbinger of Change, the great Kami Dragon who will grant one wish to whomever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, who for centuries was trapped in a cursed sword, has escaped and possessed the boy she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with the Master of Demons in order to break the curse of the sword and set himself free. To overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness, they need one thing: the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross once again, the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.


I need this book, like, yesterday! Shadow of the Fox was one of my favorite reads of 2019 (check out my review here) and it ended on one heck of a cliffhanger! I am dying to continue the journeys of Yumeko and Tatsumi! I wanted to try and say what I’m hoping for from the book, but this story is so unique that I can’t predict what this new book will bring. I also very much miss Okame and need that ronin back in my reading life!

June 18th cannot come soon enough! Pre-order links can be found at the publisher’s website.

Want Now Wednesday: Magic for Liars

Magic for Liars
Author: Sarah Gailey
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Publisher: Tor
Synopsis: Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It’s a great life and she doesn’t wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha.
But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach.


So, to be honest, this is really a “Waiting on my own damn self to read this book Wednesday”, but that doesn’t work very well for a succinct blog post title. I was lucky enough to win an ARC of this book from Goodreads (I’m still happy dancing over it!). I am desperately hoping to get a chance to read this one either March or April. But enough about me, let’s talk about this phenomenal sounding book.

Private investigator with a slight drinking problem and an aversion to magic? Hello, is it me you’re looking for? Private magical academy with a murder problem? You’re all I’ve ever wanted. The stalwart detective losing herself in the case and the life she could have had? My arms are open wide. MYSTERY THAT SEEMS JUST OUT OF REACH? I want to tell you so much, I love you. (And now I’m going to have Hello by Lionel Richie stuck in my head all day…)

This book sounds so right up my alley I don’t even know what to do. What I do know though, is that you should probably get this book pre-ordered like I have. Pre-order links are here at the publisher’s website.

Side note: huge, massive, unending thanks to the publisher and Goodreads for hosting the giveaway in which I won this ARC.

Want Now Wednesday: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Author:
Alix E. Harrow
Publisher: Redhook (Hachette Book Group)
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Synopsis: In the early 1900s, a young woman searches for her place in the world and the mystery behind a magical door in this captivating debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.


Um, hi, I need this book. NOW.

I stumbled upon this one while browsing Goodreads giveaways and I full stopped and just started at this cover with that intriguing title. Then I read the synopsis and I was done. Dead. Deceased.

Peculiar treasures? The wealthy (and hopefully grumpy) Mr. Locke? Strange books? LOVE, ADVENTURE, DANGER? Sign me up, post haste.

Pre-order links can be found at the publisher’s website.