"A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking" review

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking is a delightful young-adult fantasy novel taking on serious, modern themes through the earnest eyes of fourteen-year-old Mona, a baker’s apprentice. She’s lived a somewhat sheltered but not pain-free life until now: her parents died several years ago, and she now lives above the glassblower’s shop, six doors down from her Aunt Tabitha’s bakery, where she spends all of her time, baking and doing magic to bread.

"A Spindle Splintered" review

I dare you to read A Spindle Splintered with a dry eye for a single page (you won’t, it’s impossible). Zinnia Gray is a dying girl who’s spent her life obsessed with Sleeping Beauty because being a cursed girl seems better than being a dying girl. Alix Harrow uses a poetic, musical first-person present voice that leaves the reader heartbroken for both the protagonist and also every other character at every moment of this 128-page-long novella.

"The Crypt Lord's Call" review

The Crypt Lord’s Call was my introduction to the LitRPG genre, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Theo (also known as: Teddy, Not Teddy, Theodore, Crypt Lord) wakes up after seeing some mysterious letters in the sky and finds himself in the Afterlife, forced to participate in an RPG-like System. Step 1: Get some food and clothing. Step 2: Join a guild’s welcoming party. Step 3: Be invited to the guild. Step 4: Reject the guild’s invitation, instead allying himself with local mobs because the System seems damn unfair. Wait, that doesn’t sound right, does it? And things only get crazier from there.

"The Licanius Trilogy" review

Let me preface this review by saying that overall I did enjoy this trilogy. I found the plot to be engaging (especially in the second book), and the political tensions along with several of the antagonists (Gassandrid in particular) were very well-crafted. However, for each of its broad strengths, The Licanius Trilogy had a number of specific weaknesses, so the majority of my review is going to be critical.

"The Paladin Caper" review

The first half of The Paladin Caper combines the best parts of The Palace Job - the humor and character interactions - with the best parts of The Prophecy Con - the true high fantasy plot - as the ancients are beginning to return to the world. It introduces the perfect villain for the setting, incompetent yes-man Handel Westteich. And it even finds a way to make Kail’s “your mother” jokes funny. After completion of the first arc, the novel flounders for a bit, but the payout of the climax is excellent and well worth the wait.

"Jade Legacy" review & reactions

You know that video with the couple on a picnic blanket that zooms out until you’re looking at the entire galaxy? In Jade City we were on the picnic blanket. In Jade War we zoomed out and saw three entire years of life. Now with Jade Legacy, Fonda Lee spans decades to conclude the saga of an entire generation of Kauls, ushering in the next. It’s a work of art. It’s everything you could ever ask for. It will leave you emotionally bare at every twist and turn as No Peak and the Mountain continue to fight each other at home and abroad, and new enemies await both clans at every moment of their journeys.

"Jade War" review

Jade War continues where Jade City left off, with No Peak struggling to keep up with their rival Mountain clan in Janloon on the island nation of Kekon, and the while focus remains on this struggle, the struggle itself adapts to a more international scale as a proxy war breaks out and clans pick sides. Even more so than in Jade City, there’s no single focus to the plot; instead, we follow the lives of the major characters across the globe and over a time frame of several years, watching them adapt to new circumstances and new challenges. And like Jade City, it’s utterly captivating.

"The Prophecy Con" review

Where The Palace Job was incapable of taking itself seriously for more than a couple paragraphs at a time, The Prophecy Con returns with a high-stakes storyline from the start with the fates of nations - and perhaps the world - relying on the back of this volume’s heist. Or, more accurately, heists. Remember “The Love Song Eillenfiniel” that we just spent an entire book stealing and then gave to the elves? Yep, it’s time to steal it all over again. Why? Er…the crew isn’t quite sure, and they need to figure it out quickly.

"Rhythm of War" review & reactions

I knew going into this to expect slow, but after I’d heard the same about Words of Radience yet preferred it to Way of Kings, I wasn’t sure if I actually believed it. Unfortunately, this was…slow. The first bit was great, and the last bit was just as incredible as the endings to the first three novels (I cried at least twice), but good god Venli is the most tedious character ever and maybe one of the flashback chapters total had anything remotely interesting in it.

"Dawnshard" review

Unlike Edgedancer, I don’t think Dawnshard can be read on its own; it’s too tightly embedded into the overall story arc of the Stormlight Archive. But I wanted to write a review of it anyway, because it deals with physical disability so incredibly well, something pretty rare in fantasy. Major spoilers for all Stormlight content up to and through Oathbringer (but not Dawnshard itself) follow.