Wednesday, June 26, 2019

2019 5 Star Review #10 - City of Brass

City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
The Daevabad Trilogy, book one
Published Nov 2017 by Harper Voyager

Format Read: eBook I Own

Description from Goodreads:
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .

My Review: 
One of the things I like best about fantasy is that a story can unfold into a beautiful new world when done right.  This book starts out a trilogy in a fantastic new middle eastern world that came alive on the pages.  Not only the beginning that took place in somewhat familiar settings, but the portion that opens up a whole new fantastic realm created by the djinn.  The descriptions were vivid and I wanted to dive in and explore the world myself. 

Additionally, the characters were interesting and the plotline was so rich with political, religious, and ethical layers that I was riveted.  This was an intense reading experience.  In a good way.  I'm so excited to see how things unfold moving into book two.  

Someone had described this book to me as a "gender-bent Aladdin story," and while on the barest surface it certainly meets that description, it is also so much more! Recommended for readers who enjoy rich fantasy and other cultures. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

2019 5 Star Review #9 - Circle of the Moon

Circle of the Moon by Faith Hunter
Soulwood, book four
Published Feb 2019 by Ace

Format Read: Audiobook I Own

Description from Goodreads:
Nell can draw magic from the land around her, and lately she's been using it to help the Psy-Law Enforcement Division, which solves paranormal crimes. Joining the team at PsyLED has allowed her to learn more about her powers and the world she always shunned--and to find true friends.

Head agent Rick LaFleur shifts into a panther when the moon calls him, but this time, something has gone wrong. Rick calls Nell from a riverbank--he's naked, with no memory of how he came to be there, and there's a dead black cat, sacrificed in a witch circle and killed by black magic, lying next to him.

Then more animals turn up dead, and team rushes to investigate. A blood-witch is out to kill. But when it seems as if their leader is involved in the crime, the bonds that hold the team together could shatter at any moment.

My Review: 
This is book four of the series, so I'm going to try not to be spoilery in terms of plot.  

Nell Ingram, our main character, is a woman who was raised in a religious, polygamous cult and only now has her own lands and home because both her childhood husband and his previous wife have passed.  As supernatural occurences happen near her lands, Nell becomes involved with the PsyLED team and eventually trains and becomes a full-fledged member with their branch of the government. 

Nell is a woman who has experienced hardships and mistreatment, but has also experienced care and loyalty.  What she finds with the PsyLED team is a new focus, challenges, friendship, and maybe more.  The team is awesome and the world-building in this series (based off of the Jane Yellowrock world) is phenomenal.  I love seeing Nell navigate her way through things with grit and integrity. 

For those of you who are audiobook listeners, let me tell you this series is an AMAZING listen, too.  The narrator, Khristine Hvam, does a fabulous job bringing out Nell's churchwoman accent and defining the other characters. I love listening to the books in this series. 

Book one in this series, Blood of the Earth, is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and stories about strong women finding their way. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

(Belated) May Challenge Wrap Up Post

2019* Books I Already Own Challenge
So, I'm just full of blogging excuses! My last wrap up post was several weeks late, and again here we are mid-month and I still haven't posted my wrap up from May... All I can say is life happens? Work is busy. Today is actually the first day of summer reading, so we spent the last few weeks prepping like crazy for our busy season at work. I've been reading, I just haven't had time to do things like write blog posts lately. 

Anyway, here's what I read in May:

Audiobooks I Own
Atomic Marriage by Curtis Sittenfeld (novella)
The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King
Faerie Magic by Emma Adams *5 star*
Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff *5 star*
Corpse & Crown by Alisa Kwitney
Imposters by Scott Westerfeld

Physical Books I Own
Kingsbane by Claire Legrand
Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Finale by Stephanie Garber *5 star*

Required Reading
(for work) Murder in the Paperback Parlor by Ellery Adams
(for work) A Friendly Life by S Prestley Blake

Book Borrowed from the Library
A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman

Again, this was a very good month for audiobooks.  I was running around a lot and prepping for my trip into New York City for the Book Expo and so listening was often easier than sitting down to read.  I should mention, though, that I liked two of these audiobooks enough (Aurora Rising and Corpse & Crown) that I actually bought the physical books to add to my Personal Library.  They were both great "reads." 

I also read a bunch of physical books that I really enjoyed this month.  AND I finally finished Priory of the Orange Tree!! I didn't really give myself time to sit down and read big chunks of this book until May, so I literally read this book over a course of six weeks, which is an excruciatingly long time for me. It turned out to be very good, though not as good as I'd hoped.  I was a little disappointed in the end, but then I followed it up with Kingsbane and Finale, both of which were amazing.

Overall, it was a month that sort of passed in a blur, but it was a happy fuzz of good reading, so that's okay.  How was your May in terms of reading?

2019 5 Star Review #8 - Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Published Sept 2018 by Gallery Books

Format Read: Print book from Personal Library

Description from Goodreads:
Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

My Review:
A book that will make you laugh out loud.  There was nothing earth-shattering about the plot of this book, but I loved the characters of Josh and Hazel and their interactions SO much that I LOVED this book with all my heart.

I gushed about it at work on my lunch break. I gushed about it in DMs.  I told anyone I thought would like a funny rom-com to try this book. And now I'm telling you.  

This book had me snorting with laughter. It also had me tearing up.  I felt like emotions were just so genuine in this one and I adored every moment I spent reading it.  I hope that I can find other books by this author that hit me just the same way.  

Highly recommended as a beach read or a holidays read (when you need a little destressing) or really an anytime you need a laugh and a heart full of love kind of read!