ARC Review: No Gods, No Monsters // Captivating, diverse, and bewildering

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Title: No Gods, No Monsters
Author: Cadwell Turnbull
Series: Convergence Saga #1
Genre/s and tags: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, POC, LGBTQ+
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publication date: September 7, 2021
Content warnings: Police brutality, Gun violence, Violence, Gore, Blood, Drug abuse, Domestic abuse, Death, Murder, Suicide, Suicide attempt
Goodreads synopsis: 

No Gods, No Monsters book cover

One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother was shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real. And they want everyone to know it.

As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Members of a local werewolf pack are threatened into silence. A professor follows a missing friend’s trail of bread crumbs to a mysterious secret society. And a young boy with unique abilities seeks refuge in a pro-monster organization with secrets of its own. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters.

At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark?

The world will soon find out.

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I got an e-ARC from NetGalley!
(This, of course, did not affect my overall opinion of the book.)

Hello book nerds! I hope you’re doing good! September has been hectic for me, filled with stress and anxiety (definitely not the most fun), so that means I’ve been reading less. However, I think I found my favorite read of September, and it’s No Gods, No Monsters! I was able to get approved of an e-ARC from NetGalley a week before this book released and I was so excited to dive into it!

No Gods, No Monsters truly surprised me. Blending urban fantasy, science fiction, and horror, this book is a roller coaster ride highlighting humanity, the world, and the reality we know.

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ARC Review: A Neon Darkness // A slow and gripping dark origin story

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Title: A Neon Darkness
Author: Lauren Shippen
Genre/s and tags: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Contemporary, Urban fantasy, LGBTQ+ fiction, POC cast, villain origin story
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication date: September 29, 2020
Content warnings: Manipulation, mild/mentions of dubious consent, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, descriptions of torture (electrocution), murder
Goodreads synopsis: 

The second Bright Sessions novel from creator Lauren Shippen that asks: “What if the X-Men, instead of becoming superheroes, decided to spend some time in therapy?”

Los Angeles, 2006. Eighteen-year-old Robert Gorham arrives in L.A. amid the desert heat and the soft buzz of neon. He came alone with one goal: he wants to see the ocean. And Robert always gets what he wants.

At a very young age, Robert discovered he had the unusual ability to make those close to him want whatever he wants. He wanted dessert instead of dinner? His mother served it. He wanted his Frisbee back? His father walked off the roof to bring it to him faster. He wanted to be alone? They both disappeared. Forever.

But things will be different in L.A. He meets a group of strange friends who could help him. Friends who can do things like produce flames without flint, conduct electricity with their hands, and see visions of the past. They call themselves Unusuals and finally, finally, Robert belongs.

When a tall figure, immune to their powers, discovers them, the first family that Robert has ever wanted is at risk of being destroyed. The only way to keep them all together is to get his powers under control.

But control is a sacrifice he might not be willing to make.

A Neon Darkness is the origin story of Damien and the second stand-alone story in the Bright Sessions Novels.

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I received an e-arc from TorTeen via NetGalley in exchange for honest review. Thank you Tor Teen!

The second book in The Bright Sessions is here! Now this may be a second novel in the series, but it can stand alone on its own. Now, I’ve had the pleasure of reading the first book in the series last year and I loved it. So when I saw the cover and the synopsis of A Neon Darkness, I couldn’t keep my excitement! Fortunately, I was approved of the e-arc!

A Neon Darkness is a slow and gripping origin story that will have you immersed in your thoughts and emotions.

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ARC Review: Harrow the Ninth // An electrifying sequel you do not want to miss

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Title: Harrow the Ninth
Author: Tamsyn Muir
Series: The Locked Tomb #2
Genre/s and tags: Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Space Opera, Horror, LGBTQ+, Sapphic
Publisher: Tor.com Publishing
Publication date: August 4, 2020
Content warnings: Graphic violence, mentions of murder/death
Goodreads synopsis: 

Harrow the Ninth, the sequel to the sensational, USA today best-selling novel Gideon the Ninth, turns a galaxy inside out as one necromancer struggles to survive the wreckage of herself aboard the Emperor’s haunted space station.

She answered the Emperor’s call.
She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.
In victory, her world has turned to ash.

After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her.

Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?

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First of all, happy release day to this brilliant book! A few months ago, I was given the chance to read and review Harrow the Ninth for The Nerd Daily! I was ecstatic of course! Gideon the Ninth was one of the best books I’ve read last year, and for that, its sequel was one of my most anticipated this 2020!

But enough of this chitchat, here’s my review of Harrow! (Don’t worry, it’s spoiler-free!) Make sure to also check out my interview with author Tamsyn Muir!

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Most Anticipated 2020 Releases: Part 2

Hello book nerds! It’s July and that means I’m back for another round of my most anticipated releases! I published the Part 1 back in January, listing down the books I’m excited for which will be released from January to June. Now I’ll be focusing on the books that will be released in the second half of 2020!

Some of my most anticipated releases from the first half of 2020 got pushed back though. Some of them are The Friend Scheme, Cemetery Boys, and Harrow the Ninth. Still, I’m so excited for them (and I’ve actually had the opportunity to read the advanced copy for some of them!) But anyway, that’s enough chit chat!

Here are my most anticipated 2020 releases from July to December 2020!

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Book Review: Prosper’s Demon

Title: Prosper’s Demon
Author: K.J. Parker
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
Genre/s and tags: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Gothic, Supernatural
Content warnings: Torture via demonic possession, murder, death
Goodreads synopsis: 

In the pitch dark, witty fantasy novella Prosper’s Demon, K. J. Parker deftly creates a world with vivid, unbending rules, seething with demons, broken faith, and worse men.

In a botched demonic extraction, they say the demon feels it ten times worse than the man. But they don’t die, and we do. Equilibrium.

The unnamed and morally questionable narrator is an exorcist with great follow-through and few doubts. His methods aren’t delicate but they’re undeniably effective: he’ll get the demon out—he just doesn’t particularly care what happens to the person.

Prosper of Schanz is a man of science, determined to raise the world’s first philosopher-king, reared according to the purest principles. Too bad he’s demonically possessed.

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Prosper’s Demon was both a fantastic and surprising read! When I first heard of this book (an exorcist who doesn’t care about the host just as long as he gets the demon out), I was immediately intrigued. A morally grey character in a Gothic/supernatural setting? I had to know more! And after finishing this novella, man, I can say I am really glad I picked up this book.

My thoughts on Prosper’s Demon

ProspersDemon-fullThe novella follows a young, unnamed narrator who happens to be an exorcist. He’s out for revenge after waking up and realizing he’s been possessed by a demon (a demon who he happened to know ever since he was a child) to kill an innocent. Since our main character has already spent a lot of time extracting this particular demon out of numerous bodies, he knows him already. So he follows the sign and it leads him to the Prosper of Schanz, a genius philosopher, scientist, artist, and more. Though he thinks he has it all figured out, he discovers something else, a plan grander that he would have thought. But the main character doesn’t exactly have a perfect moral compass, and he is good at getting the job done.

“…in a botched extraction, whatever the host feels, the demon feels it ten times as much. Based on my experience, I’d say that’s roughly accurate. But they don’t die, and we do. As I said: equilibrium.”

The writing style of the author is great and though the story was short, it was definitely an enjoyable read. I loved the dark and vivid storytelling. There are several scenes and passages that left a chilling memory in me, and the use of metaphors just strengthened the enigmatic imagery.

The tone of the narration is sharp and witty, but it’s also remorseless yet not unkind or wholly evil and that really translates to the personality of the main character. He is a man who has done morally questionable methods in the past (and still is), but he’s not evil at all. In fact, this particular topic is one of the main themes of the book. The good versus evil debate, moral versus immoral actions, the whole debacle. The main character thinks about this frequently, especially if he’s recounting his past deeds and encounters with demons, and he also talks to the Master Prosper about this. Thing is, the world isn’t just black and white, not just good and evil, and he points it out various times in the story.

“It’s a bizarre but widespread myth that only heroes have good qualities, and the only qualities heroes have are good; villains are, by definition, all bad. Bullshit.”

I didn’t expect this book to be stimulating, but somehow,it is and it’s quite excellent. It’s stimulating not only because of the good versus evil debate, but there are quite a few more thought-provoking topics in the book. There are conversations about philosophy, art, science, and politics—as one would expect when the main character finds himself in the company of someone like Master Prosper. This story makes you think and it makes you wonder, and I love it.

The pacing of the story can be a little dragging. As I read the first few parts, I started to think, “Okay, this is all riveting, but where is this going?” It turns out, the author has a couple of surprises for the readers in terms of the plot. Everything from start to finish leads on to something quite big and significant in the end. And to be honest, it blew my mind that the author was able to catch me off guard like that, and that the main character was able to leave me in awe.

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Anyone who loves stories with paranormal/Gothic, this is a perfect read for you!

How about the others, have you read this book? Tell me in the comments!

(This review was first published on The Nerd Daily.)