Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The Phoenix King by Aparna Verma

Hi, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Compulsive Readers tour for Aparna Verma's The Phoenix King. The first installment in the Ravence trilogy.

A king unwilling to give up his throne. A would-be queen certain she'll never be accepted. And an assassin who yearns for freedom. 

These three and their stories intertwine to make up Verma's debut, The Phoenix King

When we meet Yassen Knight, he's on his last assignment. The last one before he's out of the business. Unfortunately things go very wrong and Yassen ends up on the run. Which is how he ends up in service to the Ravences. 

For Elena, the throne is her birthright. And yet, it seems everything, including her own father, is working against her claiming her place as leader. 

To that end, Leo is not at all ready to give up his seat or his power. 

But war threatens their kingdom, and an ancient prophecy could upend all of their plans. 

The Phoenix King has an interesting history, all things considered. Verma self published the title as The Boy With Fire, gaining popularity and fanbase enough to catch the attention of trad publishers (a perfect storm, in other words). 

And rightfully so! Verma weaves political intrigue, romance, and Hindu mythology into a book and a world that are quite unlike anything else I've read of late!

The Phoenix King is a perfect example of the power of new voices in fiction! Voices that tell stories we haven't heard over and over again. I'd be lying if I said this wasn't one of my most anticipated fantasy debuts of the year—and the book delivers on every possible front!

This is the first in a trilogy and so far I've not seen a date for the release of book 2, but it's already on my mental must have list!  

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Whalefall by Daniel Kraus

Seventeen-year-old Jay Gardiner had what you would absolutely call a troubled relationship with his father. But Mitt Gardiner was such a local legend that no one, even his own family, quite understands. Especially in the wake of his father's illness and suicide.

In a last ditch effort to gain back some respect, Jay has decided to find his dad's body. But what should be a typical dive for someone as trained as Jay becomes a harrowing survival tale when he's swallowed by a sperm whale. And it's up to Jay to remember all the things Mitt taught him if he's going to survive.

As someone who knowingly suffers from thalassophobia, I knew this was going to be a tense one, but I think this is the most anxiety-inducing thing I have ever read! Which might make you wonder why I even subjected myself to it. You should know that as a habit I do read and watch just about everything focused on deep sea horror, exploration, and killer creatures. I'm terrified of it but equally fascinated by it!

And oddly enough, both of my parents were divers. 

Lest you think this is just a creature feature, it is not. In fact, the bulk of the story is actually the relationship between Jay and Mitt. And being trapped forces Jay to reckon with something he's been trying to escape for a long time: facing down his issues with his father. 

So yeah, it's a story about being swallowed by a giant whale. But it's also family relationships, trauma, and one determined teen!

This is 100% binge read material and perfect for fans of Peter Benchley, Nick Cutter, and pretty much anything in between!

Order a copy from Bookshop.org!

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Zero Days by Ruth Ware

Happy Wednesday! Today I'm excited to be a stop on the Random Things blog tour for Ruth Ware's latest, Zero Days

Jack and Gabe are known for being experts in testing security systems. But a regular job turns out to be anything but when Jack finds Gabe murdered in their home. 

The night starts like any other. They are testing security systems at Arden Alliance. Jack on site and Gabe at home manning the computers. But Jack makes a mistake that leads to her getting caught, which means having to convince security and the police that she is not in fact a criminal but was hired to break in. And it seems Gabe has fallen asleep because he isn't answering calls to back her up. 

After finally being released, Jack returns to the job site to pick up her car. Then, tired from the long night, takes a few wrong turns. Looking forward to calling it a night, she finally arrives home to find Gabe has been brutally murdered. And the scene suggests a professional hit.

Except Gabe doesn't have any enemies Jack can think of. And he hasn't been involved in anything that would attract the attention of professional killers. Unfortunately for Jack, the police decide her timeline of the night in question doesn't quite add up. And with no one else to seriously consider as a suspect, the detectives turn their eyes to her. 

As the primary, and easy, suspect, Jack knows the police are focused on pinning the crime on her. Which means the real killer will get away. And that's something Jack won't stand for. 

Ruth Ware has done it again! And by it, I mean bringing readers another impossible to put down thriller that will keep them guessing through to the end!

Jack is quite a fun leading character. She's trained in evading security. Which means she has (excuse the use of the cheesy phrase) a certain set of skills that are pretty perfect for avoiding police capture while also digging into a completely unfathomable crime. 

But she's not alone. She has the support of her sister's family as well as Gabe's best friend Cole. Even still, staying off the grid pushes her to her limits. 

And not only does she have to figure out who murdered Gabe, but also why

Zero Days proves once again that Ruth Ware is truly one of the best in the thriller business!