Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: American Royalty (6/28/22)

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is American Royalty by Tracey Livesay!
Expected Release: June 28, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • The recluse (Damien) and the diva (Danielle). I CANNOT WAIT. I want her to drag him out of his shell, and I want him to cozy her up in quiet calm solitude. Look at how he looks at her on the cover! Huge kudos to the artist/designer for it, because I feel like it already tells a story I want to read 🥰 There’s a little splash of social/family drama too since it’s the whole “I want to but we shouldn’t” thing that can make a great tension.
  • Forced proximity! Maybe it’s weird to get excited about that but it’s my FAVORITE romance method (sorry, boyfriend) especially if it comes with a there’s-only-one-bed moment 😍 Considering they’re on the road together for tour I have hiiiiigh hopes!
  • Now add in royalty and music. I am usually hesitant about music-focused books, but also tend to end up loving them, so maybe it’s time I dropped that weird unfounded prejudice. And I’m an absolutely sucker for royalty for sure, so I think I’m ready to go. ^.^

Summary

Sexy, driven rapper Danielle “Duchess” Nelson is on the verge of signing a deal that’ll make her one of the richest women in hip hop. More importantly, it’ll grant her control over her life, something she’s craved for years. But an incident with a rising pop star has gone viral, unfairly putting her deal in jeopardy. Concerned about her image, she’s instructed to work on generating some positive publicity… or else.

A brilliant professor and reclusive royal, Prince Jameson prefers life out of the spotlight, only leaving his ivory tower to attend weddings or funerals. But with the Queen’s children involved in one scandal after another, and Parliament questioning the viability of the monarchy, the Queen is desperate. In a quest for good press, she puts Jameson in charge of a tribute concert in her late husband’s honor. Out of his depth, and resentful of being called to service, he takes the advice of a student. After all, what’s more appropriate for a royal concert than a performer named “Duchess”?

Too late, Jameson discovers the American rapper is popular, sexy, raunchy and not what the Queen wanted, although he’s having an entirely different reaction. Dani knows this is the good exposure she needs to cement her deal and it doesn’t hurt that the royal running things is fine as hell. Thrown together, they give in to the explosive attraction flaring between them. But as the glare of the limelight intensifies and outside forces try to interfere, will the Prince and Duchess be a fairy tale romance for the ages or a disaster of palatial proportions?

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

Recommended: sure
For a very strange atmosphere, for people okay with embracing a bit of confusion, for people okay with doing a little bit of work to figure out what’s going on, for people who adore a fascinating and gothic world. FYI that there’s not a lot of focus on the bone orchard itself, weirdly. More the results of it, the symbol of it.

Summary

Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow. Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain. Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real.

Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself. Now—Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.

If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil—her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart. Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge.

Thoughts

Well, it was weird and absolutely not what I expected. Not bad, but definitely strange. I felt like an outsider the whole time. Sometimes I missed the subtleties of exchanges that were carefully worded between characters to carry secrets. I only understood when someone laid it out plainly later on, or when an action happened that I was confused by and thought about until I connected it to their previous plotting that I had missed. That feeling lasted, and while it should have been more alienating, it was intriguing in a way as well.

I rather liked that this book was not straightforward to me. I rather liked that I felt a bit offkilter, because it put me on more even footing with Charm and the boneghosts. The scheming and intrigue was at times a secret even from me: that’s how clever our characters are.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Verdict: 🔥🚒🧯
I’ve never read a +500 page book so quickly. This book made me less frustrated to wake up before 3am, because I knew I could read it in peace for a while.

Recommended: absolutely!!!
for lovers of magical fantasy, for a lively world of mystical creatures, for court intrigue and royal politicking, for allies and enemies and a lot of places in between

Summary

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…

Thoughts

First of all, WOW. I’m a fool for not reading this sooner, especially when I had a copy on my shelf for a while thinking I would enjoy it but just not getting around to it. Big thanks to the stranger on The Storygraph who invited me to a buddy read to get me into it, finally!! This book blew my socks off, and since it’s currently winter, that’s saying a lot, because I’m ALWAYS wearing socks in winter.

The world in this is of course the biggest strength. There’s the right balance between the little details that flesh it out, and not sinking so deeply into the details that I’m bored and lost in pages and pages of miscellaneous descriptions. The conjurations in the bazaars of Daveabad, for example, were enough to make the city and world feel magical and entrancing, but not so deep that I got sick of it (if ever I could…).

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Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Obsidian Tower

In contrast to throwback Thursday, I’m using Fridays to look ahead to books I’m excited for. Today’s book, The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso, is one I stumbled upon organically, and while I skipped it the first time I saw it, I came back later to check it out. AND I AM GLAD I DID.
Expected Release: June 2, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • It has magic, but dark magic, magic gone wrong. Instead of a life of prestige that Ryx should have had, her magic twists into a life-stealing shadow of what it should be. Death to everything she touches is enough of a character problem for her to deal with, but I’m sure things will only get worse for her from there. And I cannot wait.
  • The common plot of a kingdom in takeover, Ryx sounds like she’ll become the unlikely hero who can save her family and the kingdom entirely. This promises fights, and secrets uncovered, and probably plenty of schemes. I adore schemes.
  • Overall, the tone of this sounds darkly woven with intrigue and creative imagining of magic. I am really into the dark worlds of magic right now (always, really) and this sounds like it can perfectly satisfy a craving I didn’t even realize I had. 😍

Summary:
The mage-marked granddaughter of a ruler of Vaskandar, Ryx was destined for power and prestige at the top of Vaskandran society. But her magic is broken; all she can do is uncontrollably drain the life from everything she touches, and Vaskandar has no place for a mage with unusable powers.

Then, one night, two terrible accidents befall her: Ryx accidentally kills a visiting dignitary in self-defense, activating a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle.

Ryx flees, seeking a solution to her deadly magic. She falls in with a group of unlikely magical experts investigating the disturbance in Vaskandar—and Ryx realizes that her family is in danger and her domain is at stake. She and her new colleagues must return to the family stronghold to take control of the artifact that everyone wants to claim—before it destroys the world.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Was this what I expected? No. Not even close. It was so much more.

This was a short read packed with so much. This is a great example of what can be done in ~100 pages. This is something you have to think about, and savor, and should not read passively.

Recommended: yes
For a short read that packs a punch, for beautifully lyrical writing, for a story that emerges through clues and fog and whispers, for a surprisingly gorgeous depiction of a life through objects


Summary:
With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period drama The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a tightly and lushly written narrative about empire, storytelling, and the anger of women. A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.

Thoughts:
Do not make the mistake of thinking that since this is just over 100 pages that it is sparse in detail or not much happens or you would not have time to learn the characters. We get all of that and more, and in such an elegant way, that it’s stunning to think how few times you actually need to turn the page.

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Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Empress of Salt and Fortune

Unlike Throwback Thursday, I’m using Fridays to look ahead to books publishing soon that I’m excited for! Today’s is The Empress of Salt and Fortune, by Nghi Vo. And oh my, does it have promise.
Expected Release: March 24, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • Magic. Throw magic into any book and I’m immediately more likely to want to read it.
  • Revenge. I’ve read Coriolanus and Foul is Fair, okay; I know the pitfalls of vengeance. And yet, I still delight in those who pursue it, for all their faults and failures.
  • Political intrigue. Sometimes tedious, but sometimes exquisite, I trust that Vo will weave me a tale of royalty that I will love like my Korean dramas.
  • Imperial Chinese themes. I love the cultural requirements, the physical setting, and the mindsets that come with it. Plus the usual character traits and growth that accompany it, like the loyalist who turns coat or the man who is but a figurehead for the woman truly controlling it all.

Summary:
A young royal from the far north, is sent south for a political marriage in an empire reminiscent of imperial China. Her brothers are dead, her armies and their war mammoths long defeated and caged behind their borders. Alone and sometimes reviled, she must choose her allies carefully. Rabbit, a handmaiden, sold by her parents to the palace for the lack of five baskets of dye, befriends the emperor’s lonely new wife and gets more than she bargained for. At once feminist high fantasy and an indictment of monarchy, this evocative debut follows the rise of the empress In-yo, who has few resources and fewer friends. She’s a northern daughter in a mage-made summer exile, but she will bend history to her will and bring down her enemies, piece by piece.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – ⭐⭐⭐
Decently entertaining, though mostly predictable and at times not that driving in action. I’ll probably pick up the second one, but not in a huge hurry. Oddly enough, the notes and acknowledgements at the back are what changed my mind on that.

Recommended: for a spare-time casual read
For a decently entertaining story, for a read that you can read between other more enticing books (you won’t mind putting this one down for a bit)

Summary:
Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest. Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge. 

Thoughts:
I had high hopes for the world here, with the caste system on a range of human to demon, but I felt like it didn’t come into much detail besides the general plot point of the unfair system. I love the dedicated lore and explanation behind interesting world features like this, but I wanted more here. The plot itself was solidly meh for me, as it felt like not much actually happened. When things did happen, I was invested in seeing how they would play out, but it was also largely predictable so the motivation through suspense was missing.

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Posted in Cover Roulette

Cover Roulette: Throne of Glass

I did my first cover roulette post a little while ago for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and it was so fun I wanted to do another! Luckily I found another popular series that has had many different editions made, and I wondered…

What other awesome covers have I missed?

Tonight’s featured book is Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas, in homage to one of my favorite young adult fantasy series’ ever. Every book that’s come out has blown me away, and I’m putting off reading the last book because I don’t want it to end. For now, let’s take it back to the beginning and check out some alternate covers.


The Cover I Know

If this doesn’t scream “magic elvish assassin princess” I don’t know what does. It also definitely screams “READ ME, I’M AMAZING” ♥

Continue reading “Cover Roulette: Throne of Glass”