The Blog

Writer Reading Report: A Deadly Education

A Deadly Education released on 29 September, 2020, and I could not be more excited to tell the world about it. (I received an ARC through NetGalley so I’ve been sitting on this for a bit.)

Below the description you’ll find a gushing review, but the TL;DR is this: this is GOBSMACKINGLY good and I hope it wins awards and becomes a huge epic series because it is made of familiar ideas twisted on their ears and so thumped hard they became AN ASTONISHING NEW THING.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

(from the NetGalley description.)

I decided that Orion Lake needed to die after the second time he saved my life.

Everyone loves Orion Lake. Everyone else, that is. Far as I’m concerned, he can keep his flashy combat magic to himself. I’m not joining his pack of adoring fans.

I don’t need help surviving the Scholomance, even if they do. Forget the hordes of monsters and cursed artifacts, I’m probably the most dangerous thing in the place. Just give me a chance and I’ll level mountains and kill untold millions, make myself the dark queen of the world.

At least, that’s what the world expects me to do. Most of the other students in here would be delighted if Orion killed me like one more evil thing that’s crawled out of the drains. Sometimes I think they want me to turn into the evil witch they assume I am. The school itself certainly does.

But the Scholomance isn’t getting what it wants from me. And neither is Orion Lake. I may not be anyone’s idea of the shining hero, but I’m going to make it out of this place alive, and I’m not going to slaughter thousands to do it, either.

Although I’m giving serious consideration to just one.

I don’t think I have ever related to a protagonist so hard. Galadriel Higgins and her struggles to be herself and be a real human being kept me up past my bedtime and got me out of bed early two days running.

  1. This is a wizard school without teachers. It’s a death trap. Graduation is escape. (That isn’t a spoiler. It’s the PREMISE.)
  2. These are kids wrestling with big issues and growing up without the slightest bit of direct adult guidance, and the way they fumble through their relationships is raw and awkward
  3. The magic system is brilliantly self-contained and internally consistent and yet the way magic is woven into the story keeps it mysterious and uncontrollable and also a limited resource and a hazard–it’s EVERYTHING. I love the way its use and abuse and availability never stand in for any other kind of worldly power. Magic is just another whole axis of power & privilege added to the complexity of being human.

This had BETTER be the first of a series. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but dangggggg, I want so much more of this world & these characters.

AAGGGHHHH I DON’T WANT TO WAIT ANOTHER YEAR OR MORE. But I will. I will do what I must. I will be patient. And I’ll re-read this a time or few before then. Just to visit these characters.

That’s it for this time. Until later, happy reading!

Writer Reading Report: Grave War

I received an ARC of Grave War through NetGalley. It releases on 24 November, 2020, and today’s post contains my no-spoiler review. below the book synopsis.

GraveWar by Kalayna Price

(from the NetGalley description)

Grave witch Alex Craft is getting pulled back into deadly fae politics in the thrilling new novel in the USA Today bestselling series.

Grave witch Alex Craft has forged an uneasy truce with the world of Faerie, but she’s still been trying to maintain at least some semblance of a normal life in the human world. So it’s safe to say that stepping up as the lead investigator for the Fae Investigation Bureau was not a career path she ever anticipated taking.

When an explosion at the Eternal Bloom threatens to upend the fae who make their home in our world, Alex finds herself in charge of the most far-reaching investigation she’s ever tackled. And it’s only her first week on the job. With the threats mounting and cut off from half her allies, Alex can’t wait on the sidelines and hope the fae’s conflicts stay contained within their borders.

I was excited to see this book pop up in my NetGalley because I love the way the author skews every trope just enough to make me smile. I didn’t realize it would be more than another juicy, wonderful chapter in Alex Craft’s complicated magical life. It’s a juicy complicated SERIES CONCLUSION.

Yes that’s right. Are you seeking a great urban fantasy series you know you’ll get to see through to the end? Here it is! The various plot lines could have used a wee bit more resolution than one book can possibly provide, but I like a little left to the imagination, and I was well pleased with how things turned out–pleased enough that I would pick up a follow-up series in a heartbeat.

The loveliest thing about this book is how effortless it was to read–there was the perfect amount recap that I didn’t feel lost (even though it’s been long time since I read the previous book) yet none of that information felt forced or slowed down the story. Plus in the end, everything comes together in a beautifully satisfying wrap-up that does NOT erases all possibility of future, new stories. It hit the perfect balance–for me. YMMV.

This is a no-spoiler review, so I am not going to hit plot specifics.

That’s it for this one. Until next time!

Random Thought Update 22.9.2020

It’s the equinox

Autumn is official here in the northern hemisphere, & I could not be happier. Crisp nights have already arrived, plant lights come out of storage (the better to ward off winter blahs later) potted herbs have retreated indoors to keep my office fragrant & humid, and new spooky decorations are on order.

Dream caught

A descriptive phrase has popped into my head independently several times now, always around the time of day it describes. I like it, but I don’t know where it came from, and it feels too specific to be a thing I thought up myself.

“the heavy stillness of a clear summer sunset”

Do you know the type of sunset I’m thinking about? It’s a late-season phenomenon, this brief, hushed pause between day and night, when the hot afternoon breezes disappear into shadow, the noisy, hustling cicadas go silent, and the black leaves on the trees hang motionless against the crystal sky, waiting for the earnest, randy crickets to begin their nightly serenade.

The twilight of a stormy evening is something else again, and in the early weeks of the season, darkness drops hard, windy and cold more often than not. It’s only in the heated tween-times cusp between summer and fall that I notice this particular kind of dusk.

Anyway. That was a thing going on in my head lately.

BRAIN WHY EVEN ARE YOU?

This is the way my brain works:

I’m sitting on the couch watching TV. Thought: ow, my back is achy. Must’ve pulled a muscle or something at work. I stop tuning out physical signals (the default setting is “ignore body”) and realize Trouble Hip is acting up. That creates pain issues from neck to feet. Whee, what fun.


I shift position to ease the strain on that joint. (carefully, right wrist is squishy lately, and it isn’t taped for support today) Result: hip pain is worse, not better. I definitely pulled or strained a thing. How? WHO KNOWS? Life. It’s a contact sport, and sometimes I get tackled on the blindside.


Shift again. (Careful of left elbow, the tendon is nearing overuse limits) Slight improvement in the hip/spine, but feet start to ache and Trouble Shoulder objects.


Two more position changes put me on the floor. Everything below the “safe to ignore” threshold, even Cranky Wrist. It’s a temporary solution, something’s sure to fall asleep from the hard-surface pressure, but I get to enjoy the rest of the show. (Fortitude. I’m 4 eps in, and I’m pretty sure it’s horror masquerading as murder mystery. I definitely want most of the morally bankrupt characters to die horribly.)

ANYway. Credits roll, and I turn off the TV.

Aaaaaand I finally recall the existence of painkillers. Were you wondering why I didn’t take some up at the start? Yeah. It’s a mystery to me, too. The pills work like fucking magic once I remember to take them, but the idea of taking ibuprofen or naproxen never pops into mind right off the line. Every single time, I’ll muddle along for hours just…ignoring…as hard as I can before “hey, take a pill!” occurs to me.

I learned a thing or three!

I’ma fan of words that carry sound, feel, and meaning in pleasant, useful & satisfying ways. Here are some new-to-me ones I ran across this week with links to definitions:

  1. tikkun olam
  2. omakase
  3. maft
  4. octothorpe
  5. manicule

Imma leave any further research to you, dear readers. I don’t want you to miss out on the joy of discovery I got to enjoy.

That’s all until later!