The Dark Side of Fantasy

IMAGE CREDITS: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com. The gorgeous tree wolf is not royalty-free, but is licensed for use to promote Wyrd and Wonder online. You are welcome to use the banner on your Wyrd and Wonder posts, but please make no changes (except to resize if needed) and always credit the artist!

Wyrd and Wonder is a celebration of all things fantasy. The format of figurative consumption doesn’t matter. You can read, watch, game, puzzle, etc. anything fantasy! To learn more visit my introduction post, which includes links to the hosts and more information about this month-long appreciation of the fantasy genre.

Today’s Wyrd and Wonder prompt is “dark:”

Time to celebrate a subgenre – choose your path wisely, whether you love grimdark, dark fantasy, or horror.

When I stop to think about the type of fantasy I read, it comes down to either fantasy with romance or dark fantasy. Usually there’s some of both subgenres in a fantasy book that I pick up.

What is dark fantasy? Fantasy Book Fanatic describes this subgenre as “typified by a deliberately ominous tone, reinforcing what is commonly perceived as a “gloomy” atmosphere. Standard features of fantasy are deliberately intertwined with a sense of terror and dread to create this sinister subcategory of fantasy.” FBF lists characteristics often found in dark fantasy books, which can include a deliberately ominous tone; the possibility that evil can win; themes of good vs. evil; a lack of heroes; elements of horror; and a gloomy atmosphere.

Continue reading “The Dark Side of Fantasy”

Top 5 Fantasies Since Last Wyrd and Wonder

IMAGE CREDITS: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com. The gorgeous tree wolf is not royalty-free, but is licensed for use to promote Wyrd and Wonder online. You are welcome to use the banner on your Wyrd and Wonder posts, but please make no changes (except to resize if needed) and always credit the artist!

Wyrd and Wonder is a celebration of all things fantasy. The format of figurative consumption doesn’t matter. You can read, watch, game, puzzle, etc. anything fantasy! To learn more visit my introduction post, which includes links to the hosts and more information about this month-long appreciation of the fantasy genre.

Part of this celebration includes posting Top 5 lists according to various prompts, if you so choose. Those prompts are available on Imyril’s blog There’s Always Room For One More. This week’s prompt is a Top 5 list of fantasies since the last Wyrd and Wonder.

A year is a long time in reading – what amazing fantasy titles have you enjoyed since last May? If you’ve been on a fantasy-light reading diet recently, how about five books you read during previous Wyrd and Wonders; or five fantasies that have been released since last May that you really want to read?

I’m a bit late with this post as I think the goal of these is to post them each weekend. But I opted to post my mood reading list over the weekend instead. Either way, here are my top 5 fantasy books I’ve read since last May.

Continue reading “Top 5 Fantasies Since Last Wyrd and Wonder”

Top 6 Reads of 2021

I wish I had the time to read oodles and oodles of books, but alas, I do not. Between my reality of a full-time job; a house hunt, move, unpack; the usual daily activities, like cooking and cleaning; and making time to stay physically healthy, some days it’s tough to find time to read. And I’m not even counting the time it takes to write reviews and format them for blogging.

That said, I’m proud that I managed to read 48 books in 2021. I set my goal to be greater than that of 2020 and I succeeded. I’ll give myself a nice pat on the back for that achievement. And so, in no particular order, here are my top six reads of 2021. If you’ve read and enjoyed any of these, let me know! Otherwise, I hope this inspires someone to pick up a “new to you” book to read in 2022.

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian
Read my book review here.

Official synopsis:
The Lady of Shalott reclaims her story in this bold feminist reimagining of the Arthurian myth from the New York Times bestselling author of Ash Princess.

Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come–for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future.

On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends–countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.

When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.

As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change destiny–and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Read my book review here.

Official synopsis:
The seductive and stunning #1 New York Times bestselling sequel to Sarah J. Maas’s spellbinding A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Feyre has undergone more trials than one human woman can carry in her heart. Though she’s now been granted the powers and lifespan of the High Fae, she is haunted by her time Under the Mountain and the terrible deeds she performed to save the lives of Tamlin and his people.

As her marriage to Tamlin approaches, Feyre’s hollowness and nightmares consume her. She finds herself split into two different people: one who upholds her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court, and one who lives out her life in the Spring Court with Tamlin. While Feyre navigates a dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms. She might just be the key to stopping it, but only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future-and the future of a world in turmoil.

Bestselling author Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her dazzling, sexy, action-packed series to new heights.

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
Read my book review here.

Official synopsis:
For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark, sweeping debut fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose—to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood—and her world—whole.

Crisis in the Red Zone by Richard Preston
Read my book review here.

Official synopsis:
This time, Ebola started with a two-year-old child who likely had contact with a wild creature and whose entire family quickly fell ill and died. The ensuing global drama activated health professionals in North America, Europe, and Africa in a desperate race against time to contain the viral wildfire. By the end—as the virus mutated into its deadliest form, and spread farther and faster than ever before—30,000 people would be infected, and the dead would be spread across eight countries on three continents.

In this taut and suspenseful medical drama, Richard Preston deeply chronicles the pandemic, in which we saw for the first time the specter of Ebola jumping continents, crossing the Atlantic, and infecting people in America. Rich in characters and conflict—physical, emotional, and ethical—Crisis in the Red Zone is an immersion in one of the great public health calamities of our time.

Preston writes of doctors and nurses in the field putting their own lives on the line, of government bureaucrats and NGO administrators moving, often fitfully, to try to contain the outbreak, and of pharmaceutical companies racing to develop drugs to combat the virus. He also explores the charged ethical dilemma over who should and did receive the rare doses of an experimental treatment when they became available at the peak of the disaster.

Crisis in the Red Zone makes clear that the outbreak of 2013–2014 is a harbinger of further, more severe outbreaks, and of emerging viruses heretofore unimagined—in any country, on any continent. In our ever more interconnected world, with roads and towns cut deep into the jungles of equatorial Africa, viruses both familiar and undiscovered are being unleashed into more densely populated areas than ever before.  

The more we discover about the virosphere, the more we realize its deadly potential. Crisis in the Red Zone is an exquisitely timely book, a stark warning of viral outbreaks to come.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Read my book review here.

Official synopsis:
A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever—and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Persist by Elizabeth Warren
Read my book review here.

Official synopsis:
The inspiring, influential senator and bestselling author mixes vivid personal stories with a passionate plea for political transformation.

Elizabeth Warren is a beacon for everyone who believes that real change can improve the lives of all Americans. Committed, fearless, and famously persistent, she brings her best game to every battle she wages.

In Persist, Warren writes about six perspectives that have influenced her life and advocacy. She’s a mother who learned from wrenching personal experience why child care is so essential. She’s a teacher who has known since grade school the value of a good and affordable education. She’s a planner who understands that every complex problem requires a comprehensive response. She’s a fighter who discovered the hard way that nobody gives up power willingly. She’s a learner who thinks, listens, and works to fight racism in America. And she’s a woman who has proven over and over that women are just as capable as men.

Candid and compelling, Persist is both a deeply personal book and a powerful call to action. Elizabeth Warren—one of our nation’s most visionary leaders—will inspire everyone to believe that if we’re willing to fight for it, profound change is well within our reach.

Monthly Book Blog Wrap-Up: November 2021

Happy December, everyone! Here’s the obligatory, “I can’t believe it’s December already!” commentary. Which is how I feel every time we get to December every year. December also marks nine months since I started this little book review space. So happy nine-month blog-iversary to me! Keep reading for a recap of my November book escapades, or if you might have missed a blog post or two.

Book Reviews
I posted three reviews in November. I decided to skip posting a review the Sunday after Thanksgiving to give myself a break. From earliest to latest, I reviewed:

Book Memes
I posted five book memes in November, in addition to my monthly wrap-up post for October.

Other Book-ish Progress
I finished reading The Girl of Dorcha Wood by Kristin Ward for a Write Reads book tour in early December. My date slot is December 10, so keep an eye out for my review!

I’m still reading Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian, which I’m really loving so far. I’m savoring it, plus I’ve been busy, which is why I haven’t finished it yet.

With respect to NetGalley reads, I finished Sugar and Snow by Irene Davis. My review will go live on December 6, so again, keep an eye out for it! I’m also 40% through The Prophecy of Love by T. Satterfield and 23% through Immortal Souls by Phoenix Vieira. Naturally, I requested more reads on NetGalley, and received approvals for some, so my review percentage is still quite low. Of my recent approvals, I’m really excited to read The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper, which I’ve been eyeing for months since it hit shelves in the UK earlier this year.

Book Review: For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

Author: Hannah Whitten
Publisher: Orbit Books
Publish Date: June 1, 2021
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback

Want to support local bookstores? Buy a copy of For the Wolf on Bookshop.org!*

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Official Synopsis
The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark, sweeping debut fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose—to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood—and her world—whole.

My Review
Let me just start off by saying this is the first book I’ve pre-ordered since my high school days when Harry Potter midnight release parties were a big deal. I’m now over 30 and if there’s one silver lining to all of these pandemic shenanigans it’s that I rediscovered my love of reading. When I saw the synopsis and marketing for For the Wolf something in me just had to have it. And voila, here we are!

The official synopsis is absolutely true to the plot, so I don’t feel the need to add anything else. It’s alluring and mystifying, just like the first few pages of the book. At first it’s a little confusing because the reader is thrust into the last few nights leading up to Red’s departure for the Wilderwood. There’s no setting of the scene or painting of a broad brush to get the reader established into the world. Normally I like a few pages of introduction, but the lack thereof serves to enhance the mysteriousness.

For the Wolf seemingly starts off as an adult retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale. There’s a female character named Red. There’s talk of a dangerous wolf in the woods. And Red has to go into the woods to save her people, which I think is analogous to “checking on grandma.”

Once Red enters the Wilderwood and finds out the Wolf is actually a man, that’s where the tale takes a different turn from our childhood bedtime story. She realizes that everything she learned about her kingdom’s last several hundred years’ worth of history isn’t quite accurate. Time has a way of skewing the truth, or how people want to remember the past.

As Red learns more about her magic from the Wolf, back in Valleyda her twin sister, Neve, works on a plan to find and bring Red back from the Wilderwood. Neve will do anything to save Red, even if it means sacrificing herself to a cause she doesn’t quite understand.

There’s strangers to lovers (is that a thing?), or at least not-quite-enemies to lovers. There’s some spice. It’s not Sarah J. Maas level of spice or graphic (if that’s not your thing), but those scenes are *chef’s kiss*.

Simply, I loved everything about this book: the writing style, the characters (even though some of them frustrated me), the creepy Wilderwood. The whole concept of the Wilderwood fascinates me and I’m still not one hundred percent sure I understand it. But you won’t get anymore details out of me–no spoilers! I can’t wait for the next book, For the Throne, which I will definitely pre-order. If you haven’t read this book yet, do yourself a favor and get on it.

Rating: 4.5/5
Content warnings: blood
Reading format: Paperback