Hey everyone, I hope your week is off to a great start. I’m still playing review catch up, so I’m back today to share my thoughts on two wonderful sci-fi/fantasy reads from favorite authors that I enjoyed in May. I’ll be moving on to all of my June releases next so stay tuned for even more reviews later this week!
Fourth Wing (The Empyrean, #1) Goodreads
Author: Rebecca Yarros
Publication Date: May 2, 2023
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Red Tower Books)
I read my first Rebecca Yarros book last year and it was a work of historical fiction called The Things We Leave Unfinished. It was a beautifully written story that ended up being one of my favorite reads last year. Needless to say, when I saw how much buzz her new fantasy novel, Fourth Wing, was generating, I had to check it out. Well, I’m here to tell you that the hype for Fourth Wing is definitely real. I don’t know if there’s anything I can say that hasn’t already been said, so I’m just going to touch on what the high points were for me.
🐉 Violet, the underdog heroine. Born with a condition that impacts her joints and muscles, Violet has trained her whole life to work as a scribe in the library. Her mom, the General, has other plans though and at the last minute, assigns Violet to enter the deadly training grounds to become a dragon rider. Not only is Violet physically unsuited to this, but she is also surrounded by fellow cadets who happen to be children of executed traitors, and who would love to see her dead to get back at her mother.
I adored Violet. In the face of truly impossible odds, she’s smart, fierce and resilient. She’s also sassy and sarcastic, which is always a bonus for me.
🐉 Found Family. Even though she’s in a kill-or-be-killed situation, Violet still manages to assemble a wonderful group of loyal friends. Even one she thought would be her mortal enemy but ends up being so much more.
🐉 Dragons. Not only are they massive and awe inspiring, but they also bond with humans and can communicate with them!
🐉 Worldbuilding. From the magic system to the politics to the Hunger Games style training grounds, everything is just *chef’s kiss.”
In the Lives of Puppets Goodreads
Author: TJ Klune
Publication Date: April 25, 2023
Publisher: Tor Books
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
TJ Klune’s latest novel In the Lives of Puppets is a queer retelling of the Pinocchio fairy tale and I don’t think I can even put into words just what a gem of a book it is.
The story follows Vic, the only human character in the book. Vic has been raised by three robots, and they are the only family he has ever known. Klune is a master when it comes to found families and Vic’s family is no exception to that. Giovanni Lawson (Gio), an inventor android, is the father figure in Vic’s life and Gio has Rambo and Nurse Ratched to assist him. Rambo is a little Roomba-style vacuum robot who has anxiety but who also just wants to be as helpful as possible. And then there’s Nurse Ratched, a medical android who often has very sadistic tendencies. (If you’ve read or watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, you know exactly what I’m talking about. This robot is very much like its human counterpart!). I really adored this little family. I loved the father-son vibe between Gio and Vic, and I also thought Rambo and Nurse Ratched were hilarious together since they fought and antagonized one another just like siblings.
In addition to loving the cast of characters, I also really enjoyed how creative and unique In the Lives of Puppets was even though it’s being billed as a retelling. When the story opens, Vic and his robot family have been living peacefully, hidden away in the forest, for years until Vic finds and salvages a decommissioned robot named Hap and learns that Hap and Vic have a shared and disturbing past that involved hunting humans. Things go from bad to worse when Hap accidentally alerts robots from their former lives to Gio’s location and Gio is kidnapped and taken back to his old lab in the City of Electric Dreams. Even though Vic hates that Gio kept his past a secret, he and the rest of his robot family are still determined to save Gio from being reprogrammed back to his former killing ways and so they set off on a dangerous rescue mission. Along the way, Vic realizes he is attracted to Hap but is conflicted since he also feels that Hap betrayed them. Can Vic get past those feelings for the sake of love? I don’t want to give anything away about their adventure, but it’s a wild ride!
As he did with The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door, Klune has created a world full of charming and whimsical characters that will steal your heart, all wrapped in a timely story that will leave you with plenty of food for thought about the relationship between humanity and machines. 4.5 STARS