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Maria Blackrane’s Best Books of 2023

Happy New Year’s Eve! Well, the last day of the year has arrived, and it’s been an awesome reading journey. I struggled to come up with a “Best Of” list of books I read this year.  Instead, I made it easier on myself and did up a list of books I read that came out in 2023 to throw into the spotlight.

Check them out!


A Shade of Madness, by Thiago Abdalla

Avarin tumbles into madness through the shattered ruin of a centuries-old peace.

As griffin riders clash against airships above and hordes of madmen below, Lynn finds herself surrounded by enemies. Ones that will test the limits of her faith. To defeat them, she must risk everything… including her sanity.

Adrian has lost the Legion, but new magics on foreign shores might be the answer he needs to rebuild his army. His return to the Domain will bring vengeance, and the hope that he will finally prove himself to his father.

Nasha’s curse has taken on a new, terrifying shape. She dreads it could be just what the dead goddess needs to escape from Her prison within the Silent Earth. Will she be strong enough to resist, or will Nasha’s curse give rise to the monster she fears to become?

Madness is spreading and it cares not for the borders of men.

A Shade of Madness: Abdalla, Thiago: 9781957237077: Amazon.com: Books

 


The Delve: Time Before #1 (The Time Before) by Dan Fitzgerald

The sword wants what it wants.

The Deepfold mine has gone dark on the eve of war. Without its supply of brightstone, the Maer’s technological advantage over the humans will evaporate. A rising knight named Yglind has earned his Forever Blade and been sent on a quest to uncover the cause of the blackout. Joined by his trusted squire Ardo and a prickly mage named Aene, Yglind hopes to cement his legacy and the Maer’s chance at victory in the coming war.

Inside the Deepfold, they are plunged into a world of bloodshed and chaos. Unknown foes have slaughtered many of the miners, and a gruesome dragon stalks the dark tunnels. While taking refuge in the mine’s impregnable keep, Yglind and Ardo seek solace in each other’s arms and the courage to face the cruel forces arrayed against them.

With their civilization hanging in the balance, they strike out against the invaders as their quest hurtles toward its bloody end.

The Delve is a fast-paced spicy romantic fantasy featuring a variety of LGBTQ characters and relationships. It’s the first in the Time Before trio of linked standalones, set 2,000 years before the Maer Cycle trilogy and the Weirdwater Confluence duology. The series are independent and can be read in any order.

The Delve: Time Before #1 (The Time Before) – Kindle edition by Fitzgerald, Dan. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.


A Woman of the Sword by Anna Smith Spark

A Woman of the Sword is an epic fantasy seen through the eyes of an ordinary woman. Lidae is a daughter, a wife, a mother – and a great warrior born to fight. Her sword is hungry for killing, her right hand is red with blood.

War is very much a woman’s business. But war is not kind to women. And war is not kind to mothers and their sons.

A Woman of the Sword: Smith Spark, Anna: 9781915556042: Amazon.com: Books

 

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 Arca, Book 2 of The Five Queendoms

Return to the Five Queendoms in the sequel to Scorpica, a sweeping epic fantasy that Rebecca Roanhorse called “ambitious and engaging,” in which a centuries-long peace is shattered in a matriarchal society when a decade passes without a single girl being born.

The Drought of Girls has ended, but the rift it broke open between the Queendoms is not so easily healed. Political tensions roil the senate of Paxim, where Queen Heliane vows to make her son Paulus the nation’s first ruling King or die trying. Scorpican troops amass on the border of Arca, ready to attack. And within Arca itself, its young, unready queen finds her court a nest of vipers and her dreams besieged by a mysterious figure with unknown intentions.

As iron and magic clash on the battlefield and powerful women scheme behind the scenes, danger and violence abound. Can anyone stop chaos from ripping the Queendoms apart?

Amazon.com: Arca (Five Queendoms, The Book 2) eBook : Macallister, G.R.: Kindle Store


The Jaguar Path By Anna Stephens

The Empire of Songs reigns supreme.

Across all the lands of Ixachipan, its hypnotic, magical music sounds. Those who battled against the Empire have been enslaved and dispersed, taken far from their friends and their homes.

In the Singing City, Xessa must fight for the entertainment of her captors. Lilla and thousands of warriors are trained to serve as weapons for their enemies. And Tayan is trapped at the heart of the Empire’s power and magic, where the ruthless Enet’s ambition is ever growing.

Each of them harbours a secret hope, waiting for a chance to strike at the Empire from within.

But first they must overcome their own desires. Power can seduce as well as crush. And, in exchange for their loyalty, the Empire promises much.

The Jaguar Path by Anna Stephens (amazon.com)


Merchants of Light and Bone By Erika McCorkle

Sorrow in paradise
A parent’s worst nightmare
When grief drives one to revenge

Living in a tropical paradise with his spouses and kids, Amiere is a merchant of light, a sculptor who carves glowing crystals into spectacular and powerful, demon-killing works of art. When the ground opens up near his idyllic village to reveal a massive supply of crystals, the whole nation of Aloutia celebrates. The merchants are guaranteed money for decades and officials predict Aloutia will be safe from demonkind for generations. But Amiere isn’t rejoicing—when the ground split apart, his seven-year-old daughter fell to her death.

Amiere’s grief turns to rage when an old enemy returns to the village with a young daughter displaying signs of starvation and abuse. Having witnessed his own daughter’s death, Amiere cannot bear the thought of watching another child die, especially when he can prevent it. Unable to ask police for help due to the village’s reputation of hostility toward authority figures, Amiere takes matters into his own hands, even at the risk of being exiled and separated from his family forever.

Amazon.com : merchants of light and bone


Cassiel’s Servant By Jacqueline Carey

In Kushiel’s Dart, a daring young courtesan uncovered a plot to destroy her beloved homeland. But hers is only half the tale. Now see the other half of the heart that lived it.

Cassiel’s Servant is a retelling of cult favorite Kushiel’s Dart from the point of view of Joscelin, Cassiline warrior-priest and protector of Phèdre nó Delaunay. He’s sworn to celibacy and the blade as surely as she’s pledged to pleasure, but the gods they serve have bound them together. When both are betrayed, they must rely on each other to survive.

From his earliest training to captivity amongst their enemies, his journey with Phèdre to avert the conquest of Terre D’Ange shatters body and mind… and brings him an impossible love that he will do anything to keep.

Even if it means breaking all vows and losing his soul.

Amazon.com: Cassiel’s Servant (Kushiel’s Legacy Book 4) eBook : Carey, Jacqueline: Kindle Store

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