Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Book Review: "City of Souls and Sinners" by Kayla Edwards

Title: City of Souls and Sinners
Author: Kayla Edwards
Series: "House of Devils" #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance 
Page Length: 776 pages
Publication Date: February 21, 2023
Rating: 5 // 5 stars 

City of Souls and Sinners was my #1 most anticipated book of this year and the sequel to my favorite book of 2021, City of Gods and Monsters. This book is set just a few weeks after the explosive finale of the first one and, predictably, I loved it. The sheer range of emotions I went through reading this book was insane and I am desperate for the next book already. Without spoiling anything, let's dive in! 

What I was most looking forward to in this sequel was being reunited with characters that I loved so much from the first book. I'm a very character-driven reader and this series has characters that I just absolutely adore with one of my favorite found family driven stories. Of course, I love our main protagonists, Loren and Darien, but I also love the whole range of side characters, from members of other Darkslaying circles to the friends and found family members getting more of a spotlight. 

Let me just say, being back with Loren and Darien was like a warm hug. The sheer joy that these two brought me was unparalleled. Of course, the entire book wasn't just puppies and rainbows and fun times. There was plenty of angst and moments of conflict that really tested their relationship. But at the heart of all of it, their love for each other was so strong and incredibly moving to me. I love them so much that it hurt sometimes. 

Like I mentioned, I love the side characters almost as much as Loren and Darien. In this book, with also got a new third POV character that I was so excited about. He was one of my favorite side characters in the first book so getting to see inside his head and inside his relationship without looking through the lens of another character was fascinating. His POV also wasn't so prominent that I felt it was taking away from my love for Loren and Darien, though. Additionally, we got to see a lot more of the other members of the House of Devils and other circles. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters we'd been introduced to before on a deeper level in this book. I can only imagine that we will continue to get to know them even better in the third book. 

I already knew that this world was complex and fascinating from the first book. This sequel, however, really expanded the world even further for me. It helped that there was a map included in this one for the city of Angelthene so I was able to visualize it a lot better than I previously had. Even then, in addition to the familiar, we were getting to explore new parts of the city while also learning about what the world (and potentially otherworld?) might look like outside of it. 

Not only was the world expanded just in a literal sense but we also got a lot about different types of magic and how it is blended with science and genetics in this world. It was fascinating but also complicated at times in a way that blew my mind. I'm often in awe of how authors can think up complex magic and world systems like these and this was no exception. One of my favorite thing about Kayla's books thus far is that she gives us the basics and builds on them without going too quickly or giving too much at a time. For example, there's plenty we could have learned in the first book if it had been info-dumped or if the characters had just gone into further detail but it would have overwhelmed me and served no purpose to the plot until now. I like that the world building is layering on top of the basics we already know because I find it a lot easier to retain that way. 

In terms of plot, it was a definite step up from the first book when it comes to tension and conflict. These characters are dealing with the fallout of what happened at the end of the first book, both in regards to their trauma around it but also how it impacted the city and their knowledge of magic. The threads that were left for this book opened up all these new paths that I'm eager to explore as the series goes on. I'll also say, this is one of the only books with miscommunication where I actually thought it was done well. Usually I hate it because it just doesn't make sense but in this context it worked well for me. 

It's hard to talk too much about this book without getting into spoilers or just devolving into a fangirl mess. But at the core of my experience with this book is that I couldn't put it down and I never wanted it to end. The first book became and instant favorite for me and this sequel has just proven to me that the first book was not a fluke and this will be a beloved series for me as it goes on. The characters are everything to me, the story and world is fascinating and complex and so brilliantly thought up, and the writing style just pulls me in and keeps me hostage. 

I loved every second, even if so much of it was angsty, and I cannot wait for the third book to come out hopefully in 2024. This series is a new all-time favorite and if you like urban fantasy, romance, intriguing magical systems, found family, the bodyguard trope, and so many more, you need to add these books to your collection. 

Monday, March 6, 2023

February 2023 Book Haul

Even though I only read three books in February, I hauled quite a bit more than that. However, a good amount of them were books I ordered literally months and months ago that got delayed or weren't going to ship until now. So it was still a relatively cheap month in terms of buying books. I got ten books this month and I'm excited about all of them, so let's just dive in. 

The first book I got was the Fairyloot edition of Spice Road by Maya Ibrahim. This was in the January YA box and it's one of the most beautiful editions I think they've done. This edition has an alternate cover, artwork on the dust jacket, embossing, stenciled edges, artwork on the endpages, and is signed. I truly just think they've out done themselves on this one. 

The next book I got was A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. It was on sale so I figured I'd just snatch it when it was so cheap. I've seen this book everywhere on TikTok and in all the bookstores. I'm not a huge thriller/mystery fan when it's just that and not mixed with fantasy or romance or anything but I do like it in moderation. I think mainly because I don't like being too scared. YA mysteries tend to be a bit better for me because of that so I'm definitely intrigued to see what the hype is about for this one. 

The next book I got on sale was Hook, Line and Sinker by Tessa Bailey. I got the first book in this romance duology when it was on sale so I'm pretty happy to have gotten this one on sale as well. I've read Tessa Bailey before and enjoyed it so I'm eager to read some of her more recent stuff that seems to be super popular. I might read this one over the summer since it definitely seems like a summer read.

The last book I got on sale was The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston. I've not really seen much about this other than the cover floating around but when I read the description it sounded right up my alley. It's a romance but seems to be a bit more than that and it sounds like it'll be quite funny. I'm not sure when I'll pick it up but it's definitely on my radar for this year. 

Up next, I got Chain of Thorns by Cassandra Clare. This is the third in the Last Hours trilogy, part of the Shadowhunters world. I've been reading Cassandra Clare for over ten years now and it still blows my mind a bit that she's still releasing Shadowhunter books. It also excites me that there's still so much of this world that I haven't read yet. I did order the American first edition to match my entire collection instead of the weird UK edition and it only took a little longer to arrive to me. 

Then I finally got my preorder of the Fairyloot edition of Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan. This is the matching edition to the Fairyloot edition of Daughter of the Moon Goddess, which is quite literally one of the most gorgeous books I own. I ordered this ages ago and it finally shipped recently and then I had to wait to get it from a family member's house so it took a while. But it's now on the shelf next to the first book and it is beautiful. Now I think it's time for me to finally read this duology. 

Up next was (finally) the November Illumicrate book which was The Luminaries by Susan Dennard. This edition is absolutely stunning, with embossing and a fancy cover and stenciled edges. I am a big fan of Susan's books and I was there for the Twitter adventure that this book started as so it's quite exciting to see this book finally in my hands. This edition was stunning and well worth the long wait for it and I can't wait to dive in. 

Then I got probably my most anticipated release of the year, City of Souls and Sinners by Kayla Edwards. This is the sequel to City of Gods and Monsters which was my favorite book of 2022. I've already read this one and absolutely loved it. This world and these characters are so much fun to read about and I loved every moment of being back in it. I cannot wait for the next book, though I know that it's going to be a long ways away. 

Lastly, I finally got my copies of the Illumicrate editions of House of Earth and Blood and House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas. These editions are absolutely gorgeous and I'm obsessed with them. They have stenciled edges, alternate dust jackets, gorgeous embossing, illustrated endpages, and a ribbon bookmark. Plus, the cover of the first book now matches the font style of the sequel which is quite exciting. These editions are beautiful and I'm so happy to add them to my Sarah J. Maas collection. 

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Saturday, March 4, 2023

February 2023 Wrap-Up

We're already two months into the new year. February was another low reading month for me, though I loved all the books I read. I only read three books, one of those being a reread. The others are new favorites. I'm hoping that I'll be able to read more books in March now that we're mostly settled in our new flat. But, for now, let's dive in!