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TOP TEN DISAPPOINTING READS OF 2022

Despite the title, this isn’t a post where we plan to poo-poo on authors who have disappointed us. It’s more to be reflective of the books we were initially anticipating or desperate for.. and how they fared in execution vs expectation. Also please know that if any of these books, or authors, are your favourites, that’s great! Every reading experience is different.

Worth noting is some of these books might have been three stars. But if we expected it to be a five, it’s kind of disappointing to only like, not love, it. Please bear that in mind. Disappointment doesn’t mean hate; but there might be some on those in this list, too.

For clarity, these are books we read in 2022, not necessary books published in 2022, and presented in no particular order.

And so with those disclaimers out of the way..

Hollis’ Top Ten Disappointing Reads :

Katzenjammer by Francesca Zappia
When Gracie Met the Grump by Mariana Zapata
A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone
A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland
Real Easy by Marie Rutkoski
I’m The Girl by Courtney Summers
Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan
Dating Dr. Dill by Nisha Sharma
Raven Unveiled by Grace Draven
Two Wrongs Make a Right by Chloe Liese
In a New York Minute by Kate Spencer
Fresh by Margot Wood

Micky’s Top Ten Disappointing Reads :

It Must Be Love by Caroline Khoury
The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah
The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox
The Handover by David M Barrett
Real Easy by Marie Rutkoski
Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore
Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Partners In Crime by Alisha Rai


Do you have a list of any disappointments? Let us know in the comments!

TOP TEN READS OF 2022

It is with much angst and wringing of hands that we present our Top Ten Reads of 2022.

For clarity, these are books we read in 2022, not necessary books published in 2022, and presented in no particular order.


Micky’s Top Ten of 2022

Spells For Forgetting by Adrienne Young
Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan
Green Creek Series by TJ Klune
The Undertaking Of Hart & Mercy by Megan Bannen
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Love On The Brain by Ali Hazelwood
The Blood Traitor by Lynette Noni
When Our Worlds Collided by Danielle Jawando
This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi


Hollis’ Top Ten of 2022

Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle
Georgie, All Long by Kate Clayborn
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
Six Times We Almost Kissed (And One Time We Did) by Tess Sharpe
Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail by Ashley Herring Blake
Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots
Bad Judgment by Sidney Bell (reread)
The Big Bad Wolf series by Charlie Adhara (reread)
The Locked Tomb series (Gideon the Ninth & Harrow the Ninth)
by Tamsyn Muir (reread)


Have you made a top ten, top three or top fifty? Let us know some of your favourties.

FORESTFALL by Lyndall Clipstone

The stunning sequel to Lyndall Clipstone’s Lakesedge, for fans of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely

At the lake’s edge, I made my promise. In the forest, I will fall.

The curse that haunted Lakesedge Estate has been broken, but at great cost. Violeta Graceling has sacrificed herself to end the Corruption.

To escape death, Leta makes a desperate bargain with the Lord Under, one that sees her living at his side in the land of the dead. And though he claims to have given her all he promised, Leta knows this world of souls and mists hides many secrets.

When she discovers she is still bound to Rowan, Leta goes to drastic lengths to reforge their connection. But her search for answers, and a path back home, will see her drawn into even more dangerous bargains, and struggling to resist the allure of a new, dark, power.


Title : Forestfall
Author : Lyndall Clipstone
Series : Lakesedge #2
Format : Physical
Page Count : 416
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Titan Books
Release Date : October 11, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Life under
Unwelcome family
Triangles

This rather dark fantasy du0logy continued with Forestfall and after book one which I enjoyed, I was pretty invested in this story. I don’t know why in retrospect but I really didn’t expect the love triangle we got, partly because I thought I knew where the female MC’s allegiances were; I was wrong.

This story continued in the land of the Lord Under and I did like reading about life there, where Violetta found herself and the family of the Lord Under. I didn’t like the separation between her and Rowan but we were set up for that previously.

Violetta’s conflicted feelings, her actions and the fast-paced journey to resolution didn’t hit the high I felt with book one but I was glad to see this duology to it’s end. I found it less dark than book one, probably because the corruption lost it’s fear in me as a reader.

Overall, this wasn’t as strong as book one for me, but I am glad I followed it to its conclusion.

Thank you to Titan Books for the review copy.

CURSED by Marissa Meyer

It isn’t true, she wanted to whisper. To lean forward and nuzzle her cheek against his temple. To press him against the wall and mold her body to his. I am not his. I will never be his.

Serilda and Gild cannot break the curses that tether their spirits to Adalheid’s haunted castle. There they remain trapped for eternity. On the night of the Endless Moon, the Erlking means to capture one of the seven gods and so be reunited with his lover, Perchta, who has been banished to the underworld.

But it soon becomes clear that the Erlking’s hunger for vengeance won’t be satisfied with a single wish, and his true intentions have the power to alter the mortal realm forever.

Serilda and Gild have no choice but to thwart his plans, all the while solving the mystery of Gild’s forgotten name, and freeing all the ghosts kept in servitude to the dark ones. As the evil forces gather, it seems only their love is strong enough to sustain them . . .


Title : Cursed
Author : Marissa Meyer
Series : Gild #2
Format : eARC
Page Count : 539
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Faber Children’s
Release Date : November 8, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

This is a conflicted opinion again from me regarding this duology and I find myself coming out in the 3’s again, which makes me sad. There’s things I love about this duology and a couple of issues that override the love which I’ve outlined below.

I liked:
The characters, from His Grim to Serilda, Gild, the children and more
The storyline was strong
I liked the darkness and gore that surfaced regularly

I struggled with:
The overly long, convolutions of what is a solid plotline in the main
Deep description
Both of these issues made it a very pacey read

The struggles are exactly what I felt with book one when I was hoping to be lifted into a more steady and straight forward pacing.

Thank you to Faber Childrens for the eARC.

TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT by Chloe Liese

Opposites become allies to fool their matchmaking friends in this swoony reimagining of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.

Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot have nothing in common except a meet-disaster and the mutual understanding that they couldn’t be more wrong for each other. But when the people closest to them play Cupid and trick them into going on a date, Jamie and Bea realize they have something else in common after all—an undeniable need for revenge.

Soon their plan is in place: Fake date obnoxiously and convince the meddlers they’re madly in love. Then, break up spectacularly and dash their hopes, putting an end to the matchmaking madness once and for all.

To convince everyone that they’ve fallen for each other, Jamie and Bea will have to nail the performance of their lives. But as their final act nears and playing lovers becomes easier than not, they begin to wonder, what if Cupid’s arrow wasn’t so off the mark? And what if two wrongs do make a right? 


Title : Two Wrongs Make a Right
Author : Chloe Liese
Series : The Wilmot Sisters (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 326
Genre : contemporary romance / retelling
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : November 22, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

I wish I could say that most of the fault with this one lies with me for literally having read a banger of a contemporary romance right before this one. But also.. this just wasn’t all that great. Now, again, that could be me as I’ve had a rocky road with Liese’s other series, lots of twos with only a few three stars as stand outs, but this one felt really rough — particularly in the case of the writing, especially in the beginning, but said roughness wasn’t limited to just the writing, nope. It also really stretched the concept of a Much Ado About Nothing retelling. I guess that’s why it’s called a reimagining?

But, as a warning, if you expect a modernization of the play? Or even something that looks like Ten Things I Hate About You? Don’t. This homage is a sprinkle instead of a full shower. And truthfully I’m not even sure why the author bothered (except to lean into a whole Shakespeare-retelling themed series, I guess) because it really just reads like a forced hate-to-fake-dating-for-reasons-which-leads-to-love between a quirky colourful female lead and the starchy stiff-upper-lipped giant of a man who is actually Perfection Personified, including his giant donkey kong dong, neither of whom had much personality outside of their tropes and some various representation (autism and anxiety, respectively) and the bit of emotional baggage from past relationships they either have to work through, confess to, or use as window dressing.

Please note I’m not downplaying the existence of the toxic and abusive relationships that are depicted. I actually thought the one playing out in the background was one of the few things that felt authentic; except I wish the villain of the piece, the supposed Claudio, was less.. one-dimensional? I feel like the author tried to be subtle in the beginning, despite Beatrice not feeling all that warm and fuzzy about him and the relationship, and then we veered right into evil villain monologuing after only one awkward slash concerning scene. Which, hey, speaking of which, I wish Jamie, aka Benedick, had actually done something with the information he had, the behaviour he had witnessed, because I kept waiting for that shoe to drop and it never did. And I’m honestly still shocked by it.

Additionally, I was pretty annoyed by Beatrice’s hypocrisy. Sure, she was right about one half of the couple being shady but judging the quickness of someone else’s relationship only to later on accept, without blinking, the bee thing (IYKYK)? After a month? How is that any better?

I realize I’m being a little harsh but honestly I’m left feeling extra (extra) annoyed by how the conflict was resolved at the end and that could be colouring some of the tone of this review. Because so much of it was just stupid and or bonkers or both. Ahem.

I will say, there was something included in the sex scenes that I don’t see enough of on page and that was cool. No, I’m not spoiling.

But anyway, I couldn’t recommend this. If you want tension with the fake dating, you won’t get much. If you want the dynamics that existed in the “source material”, you won’t find them. Witty clever banter? Missing! Have some lame chess puns instead. But if you want a fake dating romance between opposites with some mental health/neurodivergent rep, I mean.. this is an option. And maybe it was cute in the middle. I don’t know, I will admit nothing. Will I read on? Probably. Because that’s just how I am.

ASTRID PARKER DOESN’T FAIL by Ashley Herring Blake

An interior designer learns to rebuild her love life from the ground up with zero blueprints in this new romantic comedy by Ashley Herring Blake, author of Delilah Green Doesn’t Care.

For Astrid Parker, failure is unacceptable. Ever since she broke up with her fiancé a year ago, she’s been focused on her career—her friends might say she’s obsessed, but she’s just driven. When Pru Everwood asks her to be the designer for the Everwood Inn’s renovation that will be broadcasted on a popular home improvement show, Innside America, Astrid knows this is the answer to everything that is wrong with her life. It’ll be the perfect distraction from her failed love life, and her perpetually displeased mother might finally give her nod of approval.

However, Astrid never planned on Jordan Everwood, Pru’s granddaughter and lead carpenter for the inn’s renovation, who despises every modern design decision Astrid makes. Jordan is determined to preserve the history of her family’s inn, particularly as the rest of her life is in shambles. When that determination turns into a little light sabotage, ruffling Astrid’s perfect little feathers, the showrunners ask them to play up the tension. But somewhere along the way, their dislike for each other turns into something quite different, and Astrid must decide what success truly means. Is she going to pursue the life that she’s expected to lead, or the one she wants? 


Title : Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail
Author : Ashley Herring Blake
Series : Bright Falls (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 368
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ contemporary romance
Publisher : Piatkus
Release Date : November 22, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

So basically what I learned from skimming reviews of this book is that this one worked where Delilah Green Doesn’t Care didn’t. But the opposite is also true. Those who loved the first in this series, didn’t have a great time with this one. But I’m happy to call this a win (book one was fine for me! lots of potential. just had some issues). And the main reason why? Astrid fucking Parker.

Once again, Blake comes in clutch with her stars. Astrid Parker stole my heart just like her stepsister did. And broke it, too. Much feels were had, some tears were shed. I could agonize over exactly how to describe how much Astrid got to me but honestly she was just great. Her whole self-discovery, her reflection, her relationship with her mother.. everything just worked. And speaking of things that worked, this time I was also on board with the love interest, too. Especially because when something is stirred up as potential conflict.. Jordan, while understandable harbouring some doubts, doesn’t stew and isolate and suspect. She goes to Astrid and they have a conversation sans any drama and conflict (and, actually, there’s a second scene that in any other book would’ve ended with a big blow up and didn’t.. huh). Like adults, gasp. And that’s yet another point in this book’s favour; the immature childish behaviour that plagued Delilah Green Doesn’t Care? None of it existed in this one. Huge plus.

Worth noting, too? The third act breakup actually works. And no, this isn’t me having a character growth moment; I am perfectly fine with the plot point if it makes sense without feeling manufactured or stupid or due to miscommunication. And Blake did it well with this story. So, hah.

Weirdly, for a story that centered around this whole renovation show event, those scenes and the associated characters really don’t stand out in hindsight. They were fine, sometimes fun, especially when there were instances of Astrid and Jordan squaring off for the views, and being encouraged by the showrunner, but it just shows how strong the main characters were to just totally outshine the majority of the plot scenery. Their dynamic, their chemistry, was just that strong. Ten out of ten.

Truly, I have little to no notes about this one. I am just soaking in this good feeling. Definitely recommend. And very glad there are more books to come in this series.

KUSHIEL’S AVATAR by Jacqueline Carey

The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. It’s inhabited by the race that rose from the seed of angels, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman who recognized that she was pricked by Kushiel’s dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. Phèdre’s path has been strange and dangerous. She has lain with princes and pirate kings, battled a wicked temptress, and saved two nations. Through it all, the devoted swordsman Joscelin has been at her side, following the central precept of the angel Cassiel: Protect and serve. 

But Phèdre’s plans will put his pledge to the test, for she has never forgotten her childhood friend Hyacinthe. She has spent ten long years searching for the key to free him from his eternal indenture to the Master of Straights, a bargain with the gods to save Phèdre and a nation. The search will take Phèdre and Joscelin across the world and down a fabled river to a forgotten land … and to a power so intense and mysterious, none dare speak its name.


Title : Kushiel’s Avatar
Author : Jacqueline Carey
Series : Phèdre’s Trilogy (book three)
Format : physical
Page Count : 750
Genre : fantasy romance
Publisher : Tor Fantasy
Release Date : March 14 2004

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I’m going to complain a bit about repetition in this series, and most of it seemed to be in this final book (which I guess makes sense as it’s the culmination of this particular series), but here’s my own bit of repeat-y nonsense : the plot for this one came back to me as I read it. Maybe it’s like songs on the radio. You might not hear it for a decade, or think of it in that span of time, but with the sound of the melody, the lyrics are unearthed from within your brain and you can sing along. I guess it’s like that. I’ll stop assuming I have no recollection of things going forward. Here’s hoping Imriel’s Trilogy is likewise buried in my brain somewhere, too. But if not? Hey, bonus, I get to experience it a-new.

Overall, though, this was maybe not the best series to binge. Carey does a good job of weaving in past events, dynamics, and more, multiple times within her books, likely because the page count is so massive that it’s understandable you would forget things along the way. But if you’re reading these ceaselessly, one after the other, by the third one? You’re a bit tired. Not helped by the fact that even if the locales differ, it is a bit samesies in the sense that Phèdre risks all, endures all, poor Joscelin is along for the ride (because vows), they usually have a falling out (some worse, or more dramatic, than others), but eventually all is well. Queen gets mad, Queen forgives, here is your HEA. In that sense, this was the least interesting of the three because there was no real tension, we knew how things would play out almost exactly, which explains why I put this down the most of all three of them, but. But I still picked it back up.

I’ll admit I did skim some of the more story-based mythology as Phèdre traveled from one place to the next seeking knowledge, the Name of God, to rescue her childhood friend. It was a change of pace from the darkness and violence that we had endured prior but equally it did make for an odd balance of a story. But I think that is kind of represented by the whole series. Sex, and violence, and pain, yes, but also religion, and mythology, and learning, and knowledge. It’s a complex and layered universe Carey’s created and you can’t say she didn’t put in the work, and the endless research, in and around the more angsty romantic titilating bits. But even those have purpose. Even in the violence there’s reason and understanding and it’s.. well, it’s a lot.

I will definitely be pushing on with the various series but I am not sad to be taking a break, mayhap even for the rest of the year (little that remains of it). This isn’t a series, or a universe, I could really recommend but it does compel in some ways. It is interesting. And yes, layered, in every way. I don’t want to doubt my younger self but I wonder how much of this I really understand back in the day. But whatever it was, it left an impression because here I am all these years later rereading them. And I’m not mad about it.

This also completes the final series on my Five Series to Finish in 2022 list. Phew. This one was a close call.

A FIRE ENDLESS by Rebecca Ross

The stunning sequel to A River Enchanted finds the human and faerie realms threatened by an immortal enemy whose defeat can only come through fire, song, and heartrending sacrifice.

East and west. Humans and spirits.

The tenuous balance of the Isle of Cadence is under threat from Bane, the spirit of the north wind.

In the west, Adaira struggles to find her place. And, though magic blooms there, the spirits suffer beneath Bane’s harsh power, felt in every gust of wind.

In the east, Jack Tamerlaine is adrift without Adaira, until he acquires a mission destined to lead him back to her. But among the Tamerlaines sickness is spreading and Torin desperately strikes a bargain with the spirits – a folly at any time.

With their very land at risk, all will need to join together to confront Bane. Yet none can challenge the north wind without paying a terrible price, and the sacrifice required may be more than they can bear…


Title : A Fire Endless
Author : Rebecca Ross
Series : Elements of Cadance #2
Format : Hardcover
Page Count : 512
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Harper Voyager
Release Date : December 8, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
Sweeping storyline
Clan battles
Family

Having liked book one but not loved it, A Fire Endless pretty much added a 100 x boost to my interest in this world, the characters and the story. I got swept up straight away with Cadance and the clans with my love for Adaira, Sidra, Jack and Torin increasing. I said when I read book one that it gave me vibes from Marillier’s Sevenwaters tales and that remained true.

There was so much to this second installment of the tale and the storyline was strong, complex and magical. I really enjoyed how the fae-folk (spirit) realm crossed over with the human realm and how those fae-folk characters came into more focus. Kae and Hap were particular favourites. In terms of my favourite human characters all the kudos has to go to the women of this piece, namely Sidra who I adored and Adaira whose strength and leadership was epic.

The story of the blight, the Breccon clan and life in that castle was just gripping. The story was told in such a personal way, through the eyes of characters readers already care about, that the pages just flew by even though there were a lot of pages.

The sense of family in this book is so prominent; blood and found. That’s the overwhelming feeling I’m left with at the end. I feel so satisfied about the duology overall and I recommend to all my fantasy reading friends.

Thank you to Harper Voyager and InstaBook Tours for the review copy.

SHADOWFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

“Evil is a completely different creature, Mac. Evil is bad that believes it’s good.” — MacKayla Lane was just a child when she and her sister, Alina, were given up for adoption and banished from Ireland forever. — Twenty years later, Alina is dead and Mac has returned to the country that expelled them to hunt her sister’s murderer. But after discovering that she descends from a bloodline both gifted and cursed, Mac is plunged into a secret history: an ancient conflict between humans and immortals who have lived concealed among us for thousands of years.

What follows is a shocking chain of events with devastating consequences, and now Mac struggles to cope with grief while continuing her mission to acquire and control the Sinsar Dubh — a book of dark, forbidden magic scribed by the mythical Unseelie King, containing the power to create and destroy worlds.

In an epic battle between humans and Fae, the hunter becomes the hunted when the Sinsar Dubh turns on Mac and begins mowing a deadly path through those she loves.

Who can she turn to? Who can she trust? Who is the woman haunting her dreams? More important, who is Mac herself and what is the destiny she glimpses in the black and crimson designs of an ancient tarot card?

From the luxury of the Lord Master’s penthouse to the sordid depths of an Unseelie nightclub, from the erotic bed of her lover to the terrifying bed of the Unseelie King, Mac’s journey will force her to face the truth of her exile, and to make a choice that will either save the world . . . or destroy it


Title : Shadowfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book five)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 617
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Dell
Release Date : January 18, 2011

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2.5 (but rounded up) star review

Despite chomping at the bit back in June, after all the good intentions my buddy and I had to read (more or less..) one of these a month, here we are.. six months later. Whoops? We had the best of intentions but life, y’know?

For me, I was anticipating this book like crazy. Not only because of that intense cliffhanger in book four but this is the book I remember going cuckoo for cocoa puffs over. It wasn’t that I hadn’t loved the first four but book five stood out in my memory. Because so much happens. And, true to that memory, it does. A lot goes on in this book. And, thankfully unlike the last one, things aren’t rushed, Moning lets them breathe a bit with that sizeable jump in page count. And yet, weirdly, maybe we had too much time?

The pacing was a little off in this one. I almost missed the chaotic headlong rush from one action scene to another. Because this was easy to put down, to hope maybe we’ve skipped along by the time I’d picked it back up, as if it was a movie playing on in my absence. There were still some really good parts, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t hold me in thrall like it once had.

Where the book did succeed, a hundred percent? The red herrings. The lead up to how Mac was connected to everything was really good. I’ll admit the whole dreaming of the Cold Place her whole life thing felt a little bit like an afterthought to make it work along the way (unless they were reeeaaally subtle and I missed them but I’m thinking no) but I thought everything else was too good to give it too much side eye. Also, for those keeping track we’re now at Mac 5.0 and she was basically the meme of the goth girl and her sparkly pink sister side by side but instead mixed together in a blender. Or something. I have vague memories that Mac’s identity issues don’t continue to be so wrapped up in her outfits going forward but I have a feeling that’s just wishful thinking.

Also, speaking of lead up, I think I loved the psych-out moment about how Mac’s sister actually died a lot more this time. Moning did a good job making things a lot more than they seemed and therefore a lot more emotionally and morally complex. Also, on a related note, thank christ Rowena is finally dead. She has a character who had long outstayed her welcome and truthfully she was too much an evil villain caricature which didn’t fit considering how layered and complex all the other dark siders are, so. That was lame from start to finish.

Next up, Barrons and his men. We finally get a little understanding of that whole mystery (I remembered learning a lot more, maybe that’s to come?) and his motivations for wanting Mac’s help with the book. And truthfully I had completely forgotten this and I fell a liiiiittle in love with him for it. As much as I’ve enjoyed his character this second time around — even if the alpha male on steroids thing isn’t totally my jam anymore so therefore I’m not quite gagging for him the same way — and his secrets, and honestly I do love the dynamic he has with Mac despite, well, despite Mac sometimes, the words-without-words conversations got hella old hella fast in this one. I would be a lot more in love with his ability to finish her sentences or answer questions she has if it happened a lot less infrequently. As is.. just have a damn conversation people!

Now that the main Fever arc is over and we’re heading into where things (as far as I recall..) get weird(er), I do have a little trepidation over the whole Dani thing. I had definitely expected one event to happen in this book but it didn’t so that’s still to come. However, in some ways, I am looking forward to what happens to her because she is not really written all that well. Between the fecks and the weird obsession with her virginity and her mail blasts and more it’s just a little tiring. I just hope the whole switchover lands a little better than I remember it doing.

Seeing as my buddy and I hoped to have finished this series by the end of 2022, I have no idea when the rest of the series will be conquered but look forward (I guess..?) to more of these in the new year!



KUSHIEL’S CHOSEN by Jacqueline Carey

Mighty Kushiel, of rod and weal
Late of the brazen portals
With blood-tipp’d dart a wound unhealed
Pricks the eyen of chosen mortals

The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. The inhabiting race rose from the seed of angels and men, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman, the first to recognize that she is one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. He trained Phèdre in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber—and, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze.

When she stumbled upon a plot that threatened the very foundations of her homeland, she gave up almost everything she held dear to save it. She survived, and lived to have others tell her story, and if they embellished the tale with fabric of mythical splendor, they weren’t far off the mark.

The hands of the gods weigh heavily upon Phèdre’s brow, and they are not finished with her. While the young queen who sits upon the throne is well loved by the people, there are those who believe another should wear the crown… and those who escaped the wrath of the mighty are not yet done with their schemes for power and revenge.


Title : Kushiel’s Chosen
Author : Jacqueline Carey
Series : Phèdre’s Trilogy (book two)
Format : physical
Page Count : 678
Genre : fantasy romance
Publisher : Tor Fantasy
Release Date : April 6, 2002

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

As I said in my review for my reread of book one, I couldn’t actually think of where the story went next. I thought everything I had remembered was contained to book one. But, like has happened before, once I was in this instalment.. it did start to come back. Not all, but some. Having said that, I imagine that’ll be my experience for book three, too, because from here.. I don’t know what comes next. Maybe I’ll remember that one, maybe I won’t. It’s just funny to experience the “nothing nothing noth– oh, wait, here we go” switch.

Now, the question for book one was whether the enjoyment was nostalgia or not and actually in hindsight I don’t think it was the latter. I do think that’s a strong book, with adventure times and romance and intrigue, and this one has much of that as well but somehow didn’t quite land the same way. At least not until closer to the end where things were juicier and the confrontations that had been building for hundreds of pages finally happened.

Part of this feeling could also be attributed to the fact that our lovebirds are at odds and then separated for the majority of this. While I thought their wee confessions in book one kind of out of sync with events, this time? This time their reunion, their feels, everything was perfect. Which I guess means it was worth them going through all those horrid motions up until that point.

And speaking of motions.. the whole Melisande/Phèdre thing perplexes my adult brain. Like, I get it but I don’t get it. And I have to think that ends in book three, though at this time I cannot remember, but like talk about a toxic dynamic and I want to be free of it. But as much as it makes me want to pull a Phèdre and smash my head against the wall, I do have to admire the powerplays and countermoves between these two women. I know this book isn’t that old but it is ancient as far as modern publishing is concerned and I do love that Carey made this main conflict between two women and gave it so many complex layers.

Actually, much of what Carey did, starting with book one, seem to differ much from a lot of fantasy that was written at the time. And even, sadly, up until recently. I couldn’t have predicted how this series would hold up but, again, despite some of the content (which you’ll either run with or run away from), it doesn’t seem to stumble over a lot of the pitfalls of the time. Or, again, it’s nostalgia leaving me blind to them (I will do some review reading once I’m done the third book). This isn’t really a series I would push on anyone but hey, if it sounds like you’re thing and you have time for an epic (or three..), why not try it out.