Sunday, February 28, 2021

Novella Review: Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard

Fireheart Tiger
Aliette de Bodard
Release: February 9. 2021
Goodreads Amazon
Award-winning author Aliette de Bodard returns with a powerful romantic fantasy that reads like The Goblin Emperor meets Howl’s Moving Castle in a pre-colonial Vietnamese-esque world.

Fire burns bright and has a long memory….

Quiet, thoughtful princess Thanh was sent away as a hostage to the powerful faraway country of Ephteria as a child. Now she’s returned to her mother’s imperial court, haunted not only by memories of her first romance, but by worrying magical echoes of a fire that devastated Ephteria’s royal palace.

Thanh’s new role as a diplomat places her once again in the path of her first love, the powerful and magnetic Eldris of Ephteria, who knows exactly what she wants: romance from Thanh and much more from Thanh’s home. Eldris won’t take no for an answer, on either front. But the fire that burned down one palace is tempting Thanh with the possibility of making her own dangerous decisions.

Can Thanh find the freedom to shape her country’s fate—and her own?

Fireheart Tiger was one of those novellas that I picked up completely based on the cover (Isn't it absolutely gorgeous!?!) and the fact that it was compared to Howl's Moving Castle. I've slowly making my way through Aliette de Bodard's backlist so I was intrigued by this new story of a princess given to a foreign kingdom as a hostage who has returned home.

This story is unlike anything I've ever read outside of de Bodard's stories. It's a sapphic romance that explores self-worth, colonialism, abusive relationships, and finding your place in the world. The main character Thanh is trying to figure out how she fits into her old home after traumatic experience and a stint as political hostage of nearby kingdom.

She is enlisted by her mother, the empress, as a diplomat to help with political negotiations with the kingdom to whom she was given when she sees a familiar and once (still?) dear face. This whole novella is Thanh's journey to accepting that she is someone of worth and figuring out where she belongs in a landscape of fraught international politics. Thanh's story was both heartbreaking at points and heartwarming in others and all was wrapped in this rich and kind of whimsical world.

There's a sapphic love triangle in this story and it was fantastically well done! I'm not one that usually enjoys a love triangle but I did here. I won't lie that one of the love interests kind of creeped me out from the start and I'm relieved about how the romance played out for Thanh. I also love the pieces of Vietnamese mythology in de Bodard's stories! It's a mythology I'm not as familiar with but what I want to learn more based on what I see in this author's stories.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I do wish it had been a bit longer to flesh a few things out more because I wasn't completely sold on the conflict and the "villain" felt a bit out of place for me and I spent  a good part of the novella trying it figure out motivations. I see why it has been compared to Howl's and I was completely entranced by that portion of the story. I hope the author will write more in this world. I feel like the story was left pretty open-ended because there's definitely more to tell in the story. And I totally want to see how Thanh learns to navigate her new place in the world and how her romance plays out in its entirety.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  3.5 / 5 Stars

My reviews of other books by this author:

Monday, February 22, 2021

2021 Reading Challenges v2.0: #21Booksin2021 Reading Challenge

In the absence of Romanceopoly this year, I've been trying to find another reading challenge or two to participate in. Back about mid-January, one of my friend's on instagram posted a TBR stack for the #21Booksin2021 challenge hosted by @beckys_book_reviews. The challenge is simple. You choose 21 books that were published before 2021 to read this year. I loved the idea so I'm going to participate. I'm a bit late in joining but better late than never, right?

It took me a few weeks (okay! it was a month!) to narrow down my TBR to just twenty-one books out of the 100+ I own physically and my 100s of ebooks. But I finally came up with my list for this challenge and the books range in genre from space opera to gothic fantasy to historical romance. My reading is going to be all over the place which is actually a pretty normal thing for me. Here's the twenty-one books I want to read in 2021:

1. A House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
2. Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie
3. Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
4. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
5. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
6. The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

7. Unmasked by the Marquess by Cat Sebastian
8. A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy by Alex White
9. Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
10. Reticence by Gail Carriger
11. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
12. One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
13. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
14. Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones
15. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
16. After the Crown by K.B. Wagers
17. Scourged by Kevin Hearne
18. Daring and the Duke by Sarah MacLean
19. The Miracles of the Namiya General Store by Keigo Higashino
20. The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk
21. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

What books are you thinking about prioritizing this year?

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Review: Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Winter's Orbit
Everina Maxwell
Release: February 2, 2021
Goodreads Amazon
Ancillary Justice meets Red, White & Royal Blue in Everina Maxwell's exciting debut.

While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat's rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam's cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.

But when it comes to light that Prince Taam's death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war... all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.

Have you ever started a book and knew immediately that it was going to quickly become an all-time favorite? Y'all. Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell was one of those books for me. This book pulled me in and didn't let me go. Everything about this story spoke to my soul and it brought me so much joy. To steal the words of one of students, this book was a book of my heart.

It checked so many boxes for me and contained so many of my favorite tropes! Some of these are:

-Arranged marriage/marriage of convenience. Check! 

-Epic space setting. Check!

-Political intrigue. Check! 

-Space princes. Check!

-Surprise feelings and mutual pining. Check!

-Oh no! There's only one bed! Check!

-Slow burn romance. Check!

Y'all! I can't give a book any higher praise than to tell you that I wanted to immediately start rereading it right after I finished it. And I have let myself reread this one twice and it is one I know I will pick up again and again.

As much as I adored this book, I've been having a hard time getting my thoughts on it in order. This story is a sprawling space opera that is gloriously character driven. It reminded me more of a fanfic in that way and how it focused on the relationship. I loved it so much! It is all about the characters overcoming their pasts and finding happiness. It was also a queernorm story where the characters being queer wasn't used as a plot device. This is a recent trend that I want to see more of in my fiction. It brings my little queer heart joy.

I fell in love with Prince Kiem and Count Jainan as soon as they appeared on the page and I haven't been able to get them out of my head. Prince Kiem is literal sunshine and my heart hurt for Jainan as we learned more and more about his past marriage. The book hangover for this book was real. There have been few books in the last few years that have garnered the same amount of obsession this one has. 

The arranged marriage trope is one of my favorite tropes but only if it's done right. And oh boy! Was it done right in this book! I was rooting for them to come together and fall in love. I loved watching them dance around each other and as they slowly became friends and started to fall for each other. I also loved the community they start to pull around them. I need a book about Bel in my hands stat!

I'm a sucker for an SFF book with lots of political intrigue and Winter's Orbit had it in spades with Jainan being a diplomat and Kiem being a prince. I'm also a sucker for good space opera with lots of worldbuilding and I need more books set in this world! I was intrigued with politics of the Iskatian empire and I want more! I will admit that it took me a bit to kind of understand where Kiem and Jainan stood in the empire and I'm not sure I completely understand. But it didn't take away from the story at all.

This book is definitely going to be one of my favorites of the year. I'm going to call it and place it in my top five. So far it's my favorite book of the year and it's going to be a serious contender to keep that spot over the next ten months. The more I think about it the more I love it. The author said she's writing another book set in this world and I need it! I hope one day she writes more about Kiem and Jainan but I will take anything she'll give me in this universe.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley

  5 / 5 Stars!

Monday, February 8, 2021

What the Weres Read: January 2021

Hello! We Weres are going to switch things up a bit this year. Instead of doing monthly reading challenge wrap-ups, we're going to do monthly reading wrap-ups with a quarterly wrap-ups for our reading challenges. Today's our first installment of our new monthly reading wrap-up and TBR post where we list what we read in the last month and talk about the books on our February TBRs. 
Here is what the Weres read this month:


January Reading Wrap Up



Big Bad Wolf by Suleika Snyder

The Warrior King by Abigail Owen


Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews

Hell Squad #1-3 and 17-20 by Anna Hackett🐝

Cold Justice #1-3 by Toni Anderson 🐝

My Dad’s Best Friend by Katee Robert


Hell Squad #4 -16 by Anna Hackett🐝

Cold Justice #4-7 by Toni Anderson🐝

Driven by Rebecca Zanetti

Kindle Unlimited:

Soul of the Mage by DD Chance

Monster Hunter Academy #1-2 by DD Chance

The Sweetest Fix by Tessa Bailey

When She’s Bold by Ruby Dixon

The Office Party by Whitney G🐝


Rose Red


Free Novellas from the Winter Wonderland Giveaway:

The Christmas Spirit (Kings of the Mountain #1.5) by Morgan Brice

Hell Freezes Over (Hellhound Champions #3.5) by Macy Blake

Playground Games (Close Proximity #2.5) by Lily Morton

Arthur (Warlocks of Amherst #2.5) by Taylor Rylund

First Blood (Mismatched Mates #2.6) by Eliot Grayson

Ice Drag Queen Wedding (Queenships #1.5) by Tami Velour

Trapped With a Vampire by M.M. Wilde
Misdeeds (Vigilance #3.5) by Silvia Violet

Red's Wolf by Beth Laycock

It Happened on Hanukkah by Skylar M. Cates

Falling for His Bodyguard by April Wilson

Accidentally Summoned by Colette Davidson

Demon All the Way by Maz Maddox

Wish (Scales 'N' Spells #2.5) by AJ Sherwood and Jocelynn Drake 

A Night to Forget by Toshi Drake

First Bite by Lynn Van Dorn

Oblivion (Wolves of Royal Paynes #4.5) by Kiki Burrelli



Leo (Vigilance #3) by Silvia Violet

Kensho (Claimings #4.5) by Lyn Gala


Kindle Unlimited:

A Very Armitage Christmas (Mismatched Mates #2.5) by Eliot Grayson

Origin (Scales 'N' Spells #1) by AJ Sherwood and Jocelynn Drake 

Breath (Scales 'N' Spells #2) by AJ Sherwood and Jocelynn Drake

Outlaw (Wolves of Royal Paynes #4) by Kiki Burrelli




A Ferry of Bone and Gold (Soulbound #1) by Hailey Turner

All Souls Near and Nigh (Soulbound #2) by Hailey Turner

A Crown of Iron and Silver (Soulbound #3) by Hailey Turner

A Vigil in the Mourning (Soulbound #4) by Hailey Turner 

On the Wings of War (Soulbound #5) by Hailey Turner 

Claimings, Tails, and Other Artifacts (Claimings #1) by Lyn Gala

Assimilation, Love, and Other Human Oddities (Claimings #2) by Lyn Gala

Affiliations, Aliens, and Other Profitable Pursuits (Claimings #3) by Lyn Gala

Expeditions, Estimation, and Other Dangerous Pastimes (Claimings #4) by Lyn Gala 

February TBR

Master of Storms by Bec McMaster
Faithless in Death by JD Robb
Cold Justice #8-10 by Toni Anderson
Rose Red
Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell
Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard
Soulstar (The Kingston Cycle #3) by C.L. Polk
Blood Heir (Kate Daniels World #1) by Ilona Andrews
Bonds of Brass (Bonds of Brass #1) by Emily Skrutskie

What are you planning to read in February? 


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