Welcome to the September 2021 reading wrapup.
I went on holiday in September, so I have quite a few book reviews for you.
As always, you can either scroll down to read all of the reviews, or go below the image and click the link of the book/genre that sounds most interesting to you.
You’ll then jump straight to the review of that book.
Book reviews September 2021
The Ascension (Storm's Rising #2) by Jason & Rose Bishop
Genre: Adult Dark Adventure Fantasy
Read the review of the first book here.
I’ve been given a free copy of The Ascension in exchange for an honest book review. You can check out the authors’ website here.
The story continues as the party needs to rescue a companion off Snake Island to reunite the Five and continue on their quest in getting back the last amulet and stop the worshippers of Urgithka the Hollow, who want to bring her into the real world. But the Five aren’t the only ones who are called–another five called the Hand of Urgithka are tasked to stop them, following the prophecies of old. And meanwhile, the evil King Drakken is preparing for his ascension, which will allow him immortality.
The Ascension had a good pace and was very easy to read. There are several storylines going on, but they’re all related to each other. I didn’t feel it broke the pace, rather it added to the suspense—knowing that the “bad guys” are getting closer to accomplishing their goal, and wondering if the Five will be able to stop them.
We meet Hans for the first time. He’s a dwarf, and one of the Five—the one they need to save from Snake Island. He was a lovely addition to the cast of characters. He’s strong, kind, and optimistic. Hans also introduced us to a power gifted directly through the gods: he’s a clerk, able to heal wounds, as a gift from the god Skeld.
But one of the characters who has become a favorite of mine is Hawk, the dark mage of the Five. In this book, we learn a bit more about him. However, while it’s clear he’s powerful, we don’t yet know exactly how his magic or his curse works.
So there’s still some mystery left.
I like the dynamic between Lendil & Phoenix, which is still in a “will-they-won’t-they” stage.
Although I don’t always like Lendil that much as a character (he’s always quite quick to judge & jumping to conclusions); he still has some growing up to do.
The worldbuilding in the book is still great. I especially liked the new additions of monsters the Five encounters on their voyage on sea. The writers have truly created some unique creatures.
The magic system also keeps expanding, with different powers granted by different gods or goddesses, curses, or magic that can be taught and learned—as Hawk is now trying to teach Antonio.
To conclude my book review of The Ascension: if you love a dark epic quest fantasy with elements similar to Shannara and the Belgariad (just a tad darker) that’s an easy read and has some great worldbuilding, then the Storm’s rising series might just be the one for you.
The Tome of Wyrms (Storm's Rising #3) by Jason & Rose Bishop
Genre: Adult Dark Adventure Fantasy
As before, I’ve been given a free copy of The Tome of Wyrms by the authors in exchange for an honest book review. You can find their website here.
Well, I’m going to do my best to write a synopsis that doesn’t give spoilers for book #2, so bear with me.
The ascension is completed, but perhaps not everything went according to plan. Urgithka the Hollow is still bent on tearing the group of amulet bearers apart from within, using the Hand of Urgithka to enact her will. And the chosen ones seem to fall neatly into that plan. Lendil is greeted by a ghost from his past and is torn between embracing his calling as one of the Five or pursuing the life he’d always wanted. His relationship with Hawk is strained, as he still doesn’t fully trust the dark mage and the secrets he keeps. On his part, Hawk struggles with his curse and the thing he might need to do to prevent him from actually dying. Dia and her sister Mea are reunited but feel more apart than ever, especially when Mia is tempted to abandon her sister to rule Eventhialla. Meanwhile, an old foe of great power is seeking vengeance, and Hans is his mark. All the while, the Five need to find the ancient writing known as the Tome of the Wyrms, which contains the answers they seek for their quest.
I feel the books keep getting better each time (or perhaps I’m just more and more drawn into the world and story).
The Tome of Wyrms is also easy to read and the story is compelling. As always, I enjoyed the banter. You can always count on Derek to lighten the mood.
The ending also had a nice and unexpected twist, and I can’t wait to see what the authors are going to go from there.
While I enjoyed Lendil and Phoenix’s relationship in the first and second book, I’m actually feeling less drawn to it now. It feels like it’s gone a bit stagnant: they’re still in the same place as they were previously.
That said, I still love the other characters. Dia has especially grown a lot since we first met her in book one, and the contrast between her and her sister couldn’t have been greater.
We now learn everything (as far as I know) about how Hawk’s curse works, and it’s quite dark. It’s understandable why he tries to keep it a secret the best he can, and it’s also clear why it torments him so.
The authors added a new storyline, featuring a new character, which added to the richness of the world. It all ties together with the past, which I think the authors have done really well.
One thing that did confuse me a tad was that the Inquisitor is not mentioned as much anymore. He’s there, but he was much more present in book one, while not so much anymore in books two and three. I wonder why that is, or if perhaps he just doesn’t play as large a part as I thought.
I would have liked to see more of Cyrradon in this book—see some of the other lands, for instance. But, based on how it ended, I do feel we might get this in the next book.
Though I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see.
I did really love the Wyrms, and I thought it was an original take on dragons.
As I said in my book review of The Ascension: if you like adventure, quests, creepy monsters, good fights, and a great cast of characters, go and read the Storm’s Rising series.
Crossbones by Kimberly Vale
Genre: NA Adventure Fantasy, Pirates
Publisher: Wattpad books
I received a free eARC of Crossbones from Netgalley & Wattpad books in exchange for an honest book review.
You can find out more information about the author here.
How cool is it that you start out writing a book on Wattpad, and then it becomes a published book?
When a pirate king dies, the Blood Bell tolls, marking the start of the Trials: a competition for the Bone Crown, the coveted island thrown. Csilla Abado yearns to prove her strength to the seasoned pirates and to her elder sister. She’s willing to risk everything to become the first pirate queen.
For Kane Blackwater, the Trials represent a new beginning, yet rumors of a secret heir are swirling, threatening his hopes of becoming the pirate king. It will give him the chance to get away from the dirty gold and shady trades he’s made to keep his father’s ship, the Iron Jewel, alive.
Lorelei Penny is bent on avenging her mother’s death. So she stows away on the Iron Jewel to get closer to her killer. Instead, she finds herself caught up in the deadly battle of the Trials.
All three are on a mission. However, the sea has other plans—dark tides are rising, and if they’re not careful, they’ll surely drown.
I don’t actually read a lot of pirate books.
Admittedly, I’m not sure why, as I really enjoyed reading Crossbones.
The pace was fast—potentially a little too fast. There was mainly a lot of action, going from obstacle to obstacle without much room to breathe.
The plot was also a bit predictable but still good.
The ending was nice, although not very surprising. I do feel there were a bit one too many “quotable sentences” there on love and friendship. One of two is fine but more than that and it starts to feel fake.
We follow three different characters: Kane, Lorelei, and Csilla. All three of them have different reasons as to why they’re present at the Trials. They had an interesting dynamic, and I felt the characters were developed well enough.
The only “issue” I was with them is probably Lorelei, who follows a more typical “Chosen One” archetype. She’s the only one with no past experience as a pirate, and yet she survives things that she shouldn’t be able to (I don’t think knowing how to swing a sword is something genetic).
The most interesting relationship was between Csilla and her sister. They have a real bond as sisters and love each other, but there’s also that rivalry and jealousy coming from Csilla’s sister. This created a really intriguing dynamic.
As far as the romance goes, I liked the spark between Kane and Lorelei but wasn’t much of a fan of Csilla and Flynn. I just didn’t really feel it—it felt a bit bland.
So, all in all, to conclude my book review: Crossbones is a great read if you’re looking for a fast-paced standalone pirate novel, that has lots of action and romance, and is an easy read.
Another Beast's Skin (Another Beast's Skin #1) by Jessika Grewe Glover
Genre: Adult Fantasy Romance, Fae
Pubdate: 2nd of November
Publisher: GenZ Publishing
I received an eARC of Another Beast’s Skin from Netgalley and the publisher GenZ Publishing in exchange for an honest book review.
You can read more about the author here.
After her divorce and the death of her father, Neysa decides to turn over a new leaf. And so, she moves from Los Angeles to the coast of England. She befriends a family in town and soon learns secrets she never thought possible.
Neysa finds out that her friends are emissaries from a fae realm, charged with guarding the volatile Veil between realms. And some of the four crystals that kept the Veil secure have gone missing. And so, in a race to protect the realms, Neysa must learn about this new world and unlock the abilities hidden inside of her.
I did enjoy reading Another Beast’s Skin, but the story fell a bit flat for me. It had both a slow and a fast pace: some things are glossed over, while other things that seemed less important are explained in more detail.
Especially a lot of the beginning is an info dump.
And no one likes an info dump.
The author tried to make it more interesting by using different viewpoints, but this felt off. Especially since these different viewpoints don’t return: the rest of the story is all from Neysa’s perspective.
I think it would’ve been a lot more interesting if some of this information was revealed during some training sessions or just “learning while doing.”
But what was also strange about that part, was that Neysa didn’t seem to think it strange and quite easily accepted the existence of the fae. While she does say she always had some belief in magic, and that’s why it doesn’t come as a surprise, we weren’t shown this beforehand.
If the author would’ve included a scene that showed us that Neysa beliefs in magic to some degree, this would’ve felt more plausible.
And that counts for a lot of other moments in the book as well. Some things just felt very convenient because they were mentioned either during or after the fact. There was no proper setup and payoff going on.
There’s also this big build-up to this upcoming fight and war, and then… we don’t get to read about that. Because we only follow Neysa’s POV, and she’s not part of this fight. That was quite the let-down for me, as I very much would’ve enjoyed reading that big epic battle.
And as a consequence, I also didn’t feel like there was a “big climactic moment” in the end. Rather a small moment.
I did like the characters and their relationship with one another. There was ample time spend on developing those relationships and it showed in the book. Corra, Silas, and Cade make a wonderful trio.
The only thing that bugged me about Cade and Neysa’s relationship was that they seemed to fall in repetitive patterns.
Neysa would assume one thing, get angry at Cade, even if it turned out to be the wrong assumption. Then if Cade did the same, Neysa would still get angry at him, not even realizing she just did something very similar.
It made her feel a lot younger than 35 years.
What I did love was the worldbuilding and the focus on stones in magic. I could tell it was based quite a bit on old pagan religions, and it made the magic more tangible.
To sum up this book review of Another Beast’s Skin, I’m not sure I would recommend this book.
However, reading tastes can differ, so you might actually really love this book.
If you like stories involving fae that have a YA vibe (though it’s adult), a slow-burning romance, and good friendships, then this might be the book for you.
Other Blog Posts
Book Recommendations, Reviews & Bookish stuff on other blogs
It's a Wrap!
I hope you enjoyed my book reviews or any of the other recommendations and blog-posts I linked here in my September 2021 reading wrapup.
I hope it helps you choose your next read for November.
I’m going to make a start on Master Assassin by Robert Redick.
And, in the spirit of Halloween & because it’s been a long time since I’ve read anything with witches, I’ll be reading A Discovery of Witches.
And I’m also currently reading Tender is the Flesh.
This will probably fill up my month, but I’m also hoping to finally read Cemetary Boys.
What books did you read in September? Any favorite?
And what are you going to read in October?
Let me know in the comments!