Defending the Galaxy – Maria V Snyder

Junior Officer Ara Lawrence here, reporting for duty. Again. It’s situation critical for the security team and everyone in the base – including my parents – with a new attack from the looters imminent, a possible galaxy-wide crime conspiracy and an unstoppable alien threat. But this all pales in the face of my mind-blowing discovery about the Q-net. Of course, no one believes me. I’m not sure I believe me. It could just be a stress-induced delusion. That’s what my parents seem to believe…

Their concern for me is hampering my ability to do my job. I know they love me, but with the Q-net in my corner, I’m the only one who can help the security team beat the shadowy aliens from the pits we discovered. We’re holding them at bay, for now, but the entire Milky Way Galaxy is in danger of being overrun.

With battles on too many fronts, it’s looking dire. But one thing I’ve learned is when people I love are in jeopardy, I’ll never give up trying to save them. Not until my dying breath. Which could very well be today…

TW: Medical procedures, bodily harm, death

“I’m an intangible worm!”

Defending the Galaxy is the finish to a series that all authors should aspire to. It’s complete, tidy and leaves just enough of a future to leave you reaching out for more whilst being held by a sturdy ledge.

Maria V Snyder is an auto-buy author for me and she again proves why with the final instalment to the Sentinels of the Galaxy series. Please follow these links to check out my reviews of the first two books, Navigating the Stars and Chasing the Shadows.

It’s always hard to write reviews for the last book in the series because so much of the content and the pull of the plot comes from the development from the previous books. I always try to write spoiler-free reviews, or as spoiler-free as I can, so I’m not going to delve into the plot of Defending the Galaxy, instead I’m just going to gush about how fulfilling reading this was.

img description: Pingu screaming up into the sky surrounded by numerous love hearts

2020 has been a really difficult year for me and my love for reading. It almost disappeared entirely and I struggled with not only finishing a book but even starting a book. I absolutely smashed through Defending the Galaxy on 3 train trips to and from work which is quite a feat for a 506 page book, considering I have only read 60 books this year (when I usually am up to at least double that by now).

The recap provided by Ara at the beginning of the book allowed you to just settle comfortably into her character with no effort whilst also reminding you just what happened previously, without it feeling forced. I appreciated how much you are able to suspend belief and imagine yourself alongside Ara as she is going through all of the events and lose yourself in this world.

Everything that I had wanted to get resolved, got resolved. I have absolutely zero complaints, which is a happy surprise and I fully recommend this book, this series and this author.

*I was provided an eARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review, I was also lucky enough to receive a free published copy of the book from Harlequin Australia – thank you so much!

What book series provided you with a sense of completion?

My Life in Books Tag

Thank you to Becca @ Toastie Books for tagging me in this fun tag! Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Find a book for each letter of your name

S: (The) Storyteller

A: An Anonymous Girl

M: Mexican Gothic

A: Alone With The Devil

N: Navigating the Stars

T: Thief of Cahraman

H: (The) Hating Game

A: A Golden Fury

Pick a book set in your city/country

Meet Me at the Intersection is an anthology of short fiction, memoir and poetry by authors who are First Nations, People of Colour, LGBTIQA+ or living with disability. The focus of the anthology is on Australian life as seen through each author’s unique, and seldom heard, perspective.

With works by Ellen van Neerven, Graham Akhurst, Kyle Lynch, Ezekiel Kwaymullina, Olivia Muscat, Mimi Lee, Jessica Walton, Kelly Gardiner, Rafeif Ismail, Yvette Walker, Amra Pajalic, Melanie Rodriga, Omar Sakr, Wendy Chen, Jordi Kerr, Rebecca Lim, Michelle Aung Thin and Alice Pung, this anthology is designed to challenge the dominant, homogenous story of privilege and power that rarely admits ‘outsider’ voices.

Pick a book that represents a destination that you would love to travel to:

I would love to go back to Yorkshire to see my family and live in a rural Yorkshire town. I’d love to switch up my current corporate living life like Leena did in The Switch, learn to live in a community, become friends with a local teacher, build up flirtatious banter between the two of us, find myself and find my future.

Pick a book with your favourite colour on the cover

I love yellow so I’m going to choose a nice little selection of my favourite books which have the colour yellow on the cover!

Which book do you have the fondest memory of?

I have fond memories of going to the local markets with my mum every weekend to get me a new Archie comic for the week. This started from about age 4 onwards and was a big part of how I was taught reading.

I shudder to think at the amount of comics that I have in my collection in my spare room. These comics are a source of comfort and take me back to an earlier age. It’s also something nice that I can share with my mum.

Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

I read Marabou Stork Nightmares for a book bingo prompt with The Book Coven and it is hands down one of the most horrific books I have ever read in my entire life.

I was genuinely disturbed by some of the stuff written in this book, even having to take a breather, with some stuff that I just had to skip because I couldn’t handle it (namely: Winston Two).

Which book on your TBR will give you the biggest sense of accomplishment when you finish it?

Reading all of my physical books will give me the biggest sense of accomplishment, I would also love to say all of the Middle Earth books by Tolkien, but to bring it back down to a more achievable target that I can hopefully accomplish by the end of the year(?), I am going to go with finishing off Mariana Zapata’s catalog, seeing as I’ve read 7 of her books this year. You can catch my recap of them all here.

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts on them?

I tag anyone that wants to take part!

Until next time,

Kingdom of Sea and Stone – Mara Rutherford

Ever since Nor was forced to go to a nearby kingdom in her sister’s place, she’s wanted nothing more than to return to the place and people she loves. But when her wish comes true, she soon finds herself cast out from both worlds, with a war on the horizon.

As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor’s twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed—and they’ll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them…

“Maybe contentment wasn’t what I was searching for after all”

I’m always quite happy when a series is a duology, I find that they typically get wrapped up a lot neater and the stakes seem a bit higher because you know everything needs to be resolved in two books. It’s like the commitment of a trilogy but with the countdown of a standalone – a perfect match. Kingdom of Sea and Stone picks up where Crown of Coral and Pearl left us and I can safely say that it was like getting back in the saddle without too much effort to remember what happened in book 1.

Nor, and what she wants from her life, is expanded on beautifully in this novel and we get to see and understand her inner conflicts – trying to be true to herself, knowing herself, caring for her loved ones and trying to save the kingdom from tyrants. I really enjoyed where we went with Nor, there are a few pathways that could have been taken throughout the story and I’m not sure if any of those would have had the satisfaction of the one we did take. Of course there will always be more that could be expanded on, however I feel content at where we ended up.

We are introduced to the Galethian’s in Kingdom of Sea and Stone, and I’m so glad we spent as much time with them as we did. The characters we met from Galeth (Roan and Adriel) are integral to Nor discovering who she is and who she wants to be – I would absolutely love a spin-off novel of Adriel. I was concerned that we would end up getting a love triangle (which is one of my most disliked tropes), however I’m pleased to say that it didn’t end up this way.

A thoroughly enjoyable sequel and Rutherford has proven herself as an author who can develop and wrap up a lush fantasy series, with political intrigue and compassion being the focal point.

*I was provided an eARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review, however I ended up purchasing the published copy on release date and read purely from that one.

If you’ve read this book, how did you feel about the ending? Did you feel like there was a satisfactory resolution?

If you haven’t read it yet but do end up picking up this series, I’d love to know what you think of it!

BLOG TOUR: A Golden Fury – Samantha Cohoe

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

Review

“His shame is no use to me if it doesn’t change his actions”

A Golden Fury was an enthralling debut by Samantha Cohoe. The writing flowed so smoothly and the world was packaged so neatly that I was absolutely shocked when I reminded myself that this was a debut novel.

TW: Madness, Death, Self-Harm (briefly occurs during madness), Torture (mentioned, not witnessed), Mention of Suicide Attempt

Thea’s story was one of a young woman trying to find her place in this world with her talents and knowledge being her own, not being manipulated or used for others benefits. She starts off being encouraged to be scholarly and pushed to her potential, as long as the potential doesn’t outshine that of her mothers. This seems to be a common theme throughout the book, she can be good – but ultimately someone else wants to reap the rewards of her efforts.

It is evident that the author has done a lot of research into the philosophers stone and alchemy as a whole, due to the amount of knowledge imparted by Thea throughout the novel which is seen as an “obviously, why would you not know this”.

“He’s not a bad man, Thea … You saw him at his worst” “What better time is there to know a man than at his worst?”

I don’t want to delve too much into the other characters of this novel, as I don’t want to inadvertently spoil anything, as the character development is an important plot progression and you want the full experience of discovering things at the same time that Thea does. I will say, that I was pleasantly surprised by two characters and disappointed in two more.

If Cohoe’s debut is indicative of their future works, I will be an avid reader as I’m looking forward to seeing what other worlds I am taken to.

Thank you to NetGalley & Wednesday Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Meet the Author

Dreamer of Briarfell – Lucy Tempest

A CURSED PRINCESS. A LEGENDARY OUTLAW. A LITERAL DEADLINE.

Her soul will be lost forever, unless she wins the love of the noblest of men.

Cursed in her cradle by a vengeful fairy queen, Princess Fairuza of Arbore thought her fate was secure in the hands of her betrothed — until he chose another as his bride.

After the last attempt to find another prince to save her fails, Fairuza’s world fades to black, and she awakens in a castle, unseen and unheard by all—then a thief breaks in, and sees her.

But Robin Hood is no prince charming, and he’s leaving for Faerie, to save Maid Marian from the Wild Hunt. Seizing her last chance to find royals who can break her curse, she joins him and his Merry Men.

Once in Faerie, the Summer King puts them through deadly trials, in exchange for his hand and help. But as they struggle to survive, Fairuza begins to fade. The longer her soul remains detached from her body, the sooner their tie will be severed.

As her time runs out, she finds herself falling in love with Robin, despite knowing that this would doom her forever…

Goodreads

Star Rating: 5/5

Review

“Makes you question what was fate, and what was fairies.”

When I didn’t think I could get more impressed or in love with this series, Lucy Tempest goes and absolutely knocks it out of the park. If you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you’ll know that Fairytales of Folkshore have been a consistent 5 star series for me, and that the way that the stories are interwoven and entangled bring such joy that it’s easy to get lost in this world.

Brief spoilers for previous books can be found below

Dreamer of Briarfell, the seventh installation, did not disappoint and in fact surpassed all of my expectations. Fairuza was not introduced as a likeable character during Ada’s story. This stood to reason as they were both vying for the hand of the Prince, so rivalry is to be expected and if we’re seeing it from Ada’s side, the opponent won’t be shown in the greatest light. The further we delve into Ada’s trilogy, the more we see her as a morally grey character who, whilst her main concern is herself, proves herself to not be entirely selfish or ‘villainistic’.

“We do this together, Fairuza – or not at all!

Fairuza is our Sleeping Beauty in this retelling, and as we all know how the disney version goes, I was incredibly curious as to who our Prince Phillip would be and who Fairuza would walk with Once Upon A Dream – and let me tell you that when I found out who it was I was absolutely SHOCKED. I, if I’m being honest, wasn’t exactly sure how Lucy was going to pull this off as our ‘Prince Phillip’ had his own Maid prior to this retelling and I didn’t know how it would work. All of my concerns were for naught as it worked perfectly.

I don’t want to go into too much of what happened within the book, so as to not spoil anything, so I will just talk about what I loved about this book.

The way that Fairuza is represented and the twist on the sleep until she is awakened by True Love’s Kiss curse was beautiful. The fact that Fairuza would grow to be one of my favourite characters within this series has blown my mind and was not something I was expecting, she has such strength and courage within her that was just waiting to be brought to the surface. The way that the relationships were able to be developed, through the twist, was absolutely perfect and not something I would have thought of.

“I’ve had such a grey view of the world for so long, I kept hoping someone would come and paint over it for me. Any color would have done, really. But with your opinions, and the hope they give me, you’re painting it every bright color I’ve forgotten exists.”

One of the things that I really enjoy about these series are the allusions to future retellings and the insight into other characters lives, so you get a feeling for where the future books may be heading. There is a lot of foresight within these books and it is wonderful to see guesses come true in each new edition. The budding relationships between other characters within the stories is also lovely to see, it’s like we have several mini storylines interwoven throughout the main one, with no conclusion left untouched.

I have really enjoyed seeing Lucy grow as an author and bring her stories to life in such a humourous, heartfelt and beautiful way. I eagerly await her further works and will immediately preorder them as they become available.