ARC

A Fantastic Political Fantasy- Master of Restless Shadows Book One by Ginn Hale

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 4/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Freshly graduated Master Physician Narsi Lif-Tahm has left his home in Anacleto and journeyed to the imposing royal capital of Cieloalta intent upon keeping the youthful oath he made to a troubled writer. But in the decade since Narsi gave his pledge, Atreau Vediya has grown from an anonymous delinquent to a man renowned for penning bawdy operas and engaging in scandalous affairs.

What Narsi―and most of the larger world―cannot know is the secret role Atreau plays as spymaster for the Duke of Rauma.

After the Cadeleonian royal bishop launches an unprovoked attack against the witches in neighboring Labara, Atreau will require every resource he can lay his hands upon to avert a war. A physician is exactly what he needs. But with a relentless assassin hunting the city and ancient magic waking, Atreau fears that his actions could cost more than his own honor. The price of peace could be his friends’ lives. “

Review

I received this book as a free ARC from NetGalley and all opinions are completely my own.

People, this book was SOOOOOO amazing! The beginning is a little shaky. Nasri is a bit too idealist for me at the beginning, but he grows on me. The fantasy aspect of this book is based mostly on spells and magic with more fantastical beasts being in the far off distance. The intrigue though. It’s amazing, there’s some death and darkness in this book, but for a political fantasy this book is very light. I mostly don’t like political fantasy, because the dark plotting against each other and graphic nature is too much for me. However, this book has the intrigue without the graphic and/or gratuitous violence.

Let’s start with the characters first because characters are always what really are the draw for me. First, we have Narsi. He’s the optimism in our story, a bright young physician who may be a little too trusting for his own good, but is smart and sincere. Then, Atreau, who is a talented spy who poses as an author of smutty, but historical novels. Fedeles who was once possessed by dark magic and is still trying to recover from the trauma and Atriz, a man who is controlled by another through a mark of obedience. These are just our four mains, there are even more characters that we learn and see that are interesting as well. But, these characters are interesting. They all have their different personalities with secrets and stories to tell. I thought that the attraction between Narsi and Atreau was weak. It’s not really based on much, but a meeting or two. I feel like that about their characters in general. Not that they’re weak or poorly written, but more that we didn’t get a ton of time with them learning their stories. They move along most of the action of the book and so there is minimum development of them. However, Fedeles and Ariz, I yearn for them! Their relationship and what they’ve both experienced is a large part of their part of the story and I love it. I’m a sucker for hurting, but strong men and I want them to make it both out of this alive.

The world building is great, but a bit overwhelming at times. This definitely reads like a story that’s part of a series. Which after doing some more research there are definitely books in the same world as this new book that I think if were read first could make this book a bit easier to understand. There are rich characters with interesting stories that are just mentioned in passing and that can make stuff a bit confusing or hard to follow. There are multiple characters with similar J names not to mention there is also the medieval fantasy problem where one person has multiple titles and names which can make it even more confusing. However, there are written religions in this book that have a well describe history though it slowly is revealed to the reader. I also enjoyed the magic in this book. It’s glanced over a lot, but whenever its included I’m also curious to read more on it. There’s also some mild racism and hints at homophobia. Honestly, it was the worst in the beginning and honestly wasn’t really necessary for the novel to be honest. It’s just kinda shaken off and then never much mentioned again so I think the author could have ditched it all together and it really wouldn’t have been a big deal.

I would say the diversity in this book is pretty good. One of the main characters is a man of color, all of our four main characters appear to be at least bisexual. We also have a side transgender character which I was very impressed with how the author handled to be honest. There was no misgendering or anything. Just comes out as part of the story so I liked that. There are also multiple character characters dealing with trauma. It’s not heavily explored, but is definitely there.

If you enjoy political intrigue, LGBTQ+ representation, and a rich world then this is a great book for you. If you’re looking for a gay Game of Thrones this is not for you. There is as mentioned before lots of politics and scheming even some minor death. However, the intrigue and plots are the main draw to this story as well as the characters not lots of fighting, backstabbing, and generally horrible people.

Master of Restless Shadows will be available soon! October 8, 2019 to be exact. I really loved this book and would highly recommend it!

Reviews

A Heartfelt and Deep Romance- Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Overall enjoyment: 5/5

World building: 2/5

Characterization: 5/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

“What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? “

Review

This book has had a lot of media hype and so I was interested. I read the summary and was intrigued, but book readers if you like romance books or (like me) you aren’t a huge fan of romance, this book is amazing! I generally don’t enjoy romance, because having a plot focused on romance is generally uncompelling to me. This book had so many elements that I enjoyed though. One, it was a relationship that was actually built on deep feelings. Alex and Henry don’t get along at first. The reason seems a bit petty, but we’ve all been there I suppose. But, after they take that first step of friendship it just slowly builds into more. They talk about their families, their worries, and eventually secrets with each other. It’s just beautiful and is so much of what I’ve been trying to find in any book that has a bit of romance in it at all. It made me feel so warm inside. This is the healthy relationship I want to see in novels.

               I want to talk more about these characters. Alex is a biracial man who is the son of the president of the USA. It’s smart, fun, and a bit clueless about his feelings. We get him at his best and sometimes not his best. He’s so full of hope and has big dreams of change. I wish he was real. He’s also bisexual though he doesn’t quite realize that at first. However, this is not a gay for you story. Those always make me a bit squinty eyed and uncomfortable. No, Alex has had an attraction for both genders for a long time, but it just didn’t really sink in. I love this aspect of him. As someone who is also bisexual if nice to read about the confusion and sort of eureka moment in someone who’s in their 20s. It felt more relatable to me since that’s when it also sort of clicked for me.  Then, we have Henry. Henry is soft, anxious, and deep. We don’t even get Henry’s POV, this book is purely from Alex, but we still learn so much about him. Henry has had the weight of being in the royal family really take its toll on him. He shares the hardship with anyone who is told to lie about who they are or pretend to be something they’re not. There’s also a group of family members and friends throughout the book that are just really great. Most everyone if so supportive of these two that it makes me want to cry. Also, we don’t get a ton about him, but just wait until you read about Pez.

               There’s not much world building in this novel since it’s contemporary; however, there was enough with creating a completely new first family and monarchy that I thought it deserved at least a bit of recognition. What I love most about this book and its mirror world of ours is that it’s so hopeful. The current state of the USA has really been hurtful and frustrating and honestly so embarrassing. This book makes me feel hopeful though. That even though there might be those out there who want to be so conservative and traditional that if we pull together out of love and respect for each other we could really build a country that is headed in a direction I would like to see. It gave me a bit more faith in us again for better or worse.

The diversity is nice in this book. Alex is a bisexual who is also biracial. Henry is very gay. We also have some supporting characters who are gay and bisexual as well. Henry also has some briefly mentioned anxiety which is some minor mental health rep.

Overall, this book lived up to the hype. I am in love with it and hope to see more from this author soon. The characters are well-rounded and lovable. The plot is great, a read through it so quickly and easily. It gave me so much hope and all the warm fuzzies. If you have even a little interest in romance (for more than the sex) then I think you will so easily fall in love with this novel. Couldn’t recommend it enough!


Have you read this book? What do you think? Do you love it, hate it, somewhere in between? I’d love to hear your thoughts/feelings.

Authors

Kingdom Cold Blog Tour: Author Interview, Excerpt, and Review!

Hello my lovely readers, welcome to a stop on the Kingdom Cold Blog tour. I’m excited to share this with you! I hope all this information may pique your interest!

Author Interview

Q: What inspired you to write Kingdom Cold?

A: It started as a Wattpad story I was messing around with. I wanted to do an arranged marriage princess book and the story got really popular, so I decided to take it off of Wattpad, edit, and publish it.

Q: Did you do any research before or during writing Kingdom Cold?

A: I researched King Arthur a lot and details from the time period. About halfway through each book, I go brain dead and I find myself looking up basic words like “chair” or “map”.

Q: Currently, #ownvoices is an important movement in the book community, did you use    any of your own personal experience(s) to shape Charlotte or any other characters in your book?

A: I put a lot of my own experiences into Kingdom Cold, specifically the subtly of certain racially charged situations. Being an African American girl living in South Korea, I found myself trying to include as much of the cultural confusion as I could slip in, because that’s what I experience day to day.

Q: Kingdom Cold is a book containing diverse, multicultural characters. As an author, how important is diverse representation in books to you?

A: I think it’s essential. There are heroes from every culture, customs worth exploring, and battles worth facing–ones that have yet to see the light of day. At times, the world feels so divided and unfair but fiction can be whatever we want it to be. Why not diverse?

Q: If there was one thing you wanted readers to know about Kingdom Cold, what would it be?

A: Kingdom Cold has no heroes and no villains.


Kingdom Come Excerpt


The moment I saw Young, all the power I’d felt moments ago melted away. I was a blood-spattered princess standing amidst a murder scene, one I’d starred in. My gaze met his, and I searched for the horror I felt, in his dark eyes, but couldn’t find it. I glanced over the gentle lines of his expression and drank in the easiness of his parted lips. He exhaled relief and I felt the sudden pull of my body towards him as I breathed it in. I couldn’t discern how he could look upon me, with such reprieve, then I took a step forward. And another. He was my cage, my captor, the death of my freedom, but in one kind glance, in my darkest hour, he granted me a modicum of comfort. I ran to him and threw myself into his arms. I didn’t care that he didn’t embrace me. I didn’t care that his body tightened with discomfort. He was alive and, to me, that meant that my father could be too. “Milly’s over here,” I sniffed as I motioned to the door. I felt the pulse of my hand as I released the fire poker from my finger-numbing grip. It fell to the floor with a clang and I stared at my hands as they shook. Blood was everywhere. It dripped from my fingertips and pooled on the stone floor. As
the adrenaline waned, the horror of what I’d just done sunk in. I bit back the urge to scream. I backed away. “Hey,” Young called, dragging my attention back to him. He shook his head. “Look at me.” My heart pounded as my mind slipped back towards the lifeless heaps on the floor, dragging my gaze to them. “Charlotte,” Young called, but he was a distant voice floating negligibly through the back of my mind. Young stepped in front of me, blocking my view of the corpses. He took a firm grip of my wrist as if to hold me to the earth. I felt the warmth of his breath on my forehead, and the steady beat of his heart as his chest pressed against mine. My body numbed. My gaze crept up to his chin and stopped at his lips. My breath synchronized with his. I lifted my chin, my gaze meeting his. His dark eyes peered down at me, black as a moonless night with just as many stars. I searched them for clues, but if he felt something, he showed nothing at all. Feeling rushed back to my body all at once. I reached for my wrist and pried it out of his hand just in time to feel the bile rise from my stomach. I doubled over and vomited an acid more bitter than the emotions that caused it. When I caught my breath, I stood, feeling a sense of frailty in my legs that wasn’t there before. I looked up at Young. “Where’s—” “He’s still out there,” Young replied, his voice so even and smooth it sounded like a lie. A voice shot out from behind Young. “Prince Young, you found the princess.” A brown-haired boy in a soldier’s uniform approached. He couldn’t have been older than me. He had a baby face, softly curved features, and not a bit of hair on his chin. He looked more like a boy in costume than a warrior. “Leon,” Young said as he walked over to shake his hand. “Yeah, thanks to you.”
Young turned to me. “Charlotte, grab Milly. I’m going to… uh,” he tucked his dark hair behind his ear, “clean up.” I nodded and returned to the dining room where I knew Milly was hidden. “Milly, it’s me,” I looked around. “It’s safe.” I said the words, but I wasn’t sure how true they were. Milly crawled out from behind a sofa. Her eyes widened. “You’re covered in blood.” She lifted her arms in front of her body and clutched the hand-carved cross hanging from her neck. “No, it’s okay. I’m fine,” I said, moving toward her. She backed away, terror still in her eyes. “You killed them?” I shook my head. “N-no. I saved us. If I hadn’t done that, they would have—” Blood. So much blood. I shivered. “Passed by,” she whispered. “Milly…” Guilt seared my skin. It was the last emotion in the world I could stomach in this situation. I clenched my jaw with rage. They’d invaded my home, they might have killed my father, they could have killed us. I’d acted in the way that I thought was right, but looking into Milly’s eyes, it was obvious she felt different. Doubt started to creep in. The guilt slithered down my spine as Milly backed away. She thought I was a monster and maybe she was right. The door swung open and Leon and Young hustled in. “Leon has a plan,” Young said. He paused, noticing the tension in the room. His gaze moved from Milly to me. His eyebrow raised and he spoke, “That was a brave thing you did to save your friend, Charlotte.” He turned to Milly, his jaw clenched. “Let’s go.” I felt a warm vibration of gratitude pulse inside me. Before I could give it another thought, Young and Leon ushered Milly and myself out of the room and down the hallway. They carefully checked each corner before moving us along. I stared at Milly’s back and bit down hard on my bottom lip. I wanted to reach out to Milly to tell her it was okay—to let her know we were in this together—but she wouldn’t look at me. I saw the queasy look on her face when she’d seen the bodies of the two Drethen soldiers slumped into the corner in the hallway. It could take a while, but I’d get her back somehow—she was all I had left. We rounded the corner to the staircase in the east tower. The stone platforms wrapped around the tower led up to several bedrooms, one of which I had used to shoot an arrow at the prince when he arrived, and another down to a tunnel below the castle that exited a mile in the opposite direction. If we could make it out, we’d have a decent chance of escaping. I whispered, “I think they’re getting in this way.” Leon nodded and took the lead, followed by Milly, me, and Young just behind me. We descended the stairs into the poorly torch-lit tunnel. We paused at the entrance to listen for the enemy, but all we heard was the occasional drip of something leaking and the distant sounds of battle. We hustled through, still on our guard. The darkness reminded me of the fear I’d felt as a child. My mind always twisted the shadows into monsters. Now, as I trudged along, the monsters took a new form. Did my mother make it out? Was my father really dead? I reached out for Milly’s hair for comfort as it shone in the torchlight as we passed, but I stopped myself as I remembered Young was behind me. We walked single-file in a tense, uninterrupted silence the entire mile, expecting to hear someone shout. As we shuffled through the darkness, I picked at my hands, trying to focus on the faint light at the end as it grew nearer. We stepped out into the sunshine. My eyes locked onto two men in blue standing nearby.


My Review

Overall Enjoyment: 3/5

Worldbuilding: 2/5

Characterization: 4/5

Diversity: 4/5

I was lucky enough to receive this series free of charge as a participant in the Kingdom Cold book tour. Princess Charlotte’s disinterest in marry was the first part of this series that drew me in before I had read anything, but these books are fast-paced with multiple POVs that really draw you in and keep you paying attention.

This book is in fictional, medieval countries that take inspiration from our own countries. It’s not fantasy so there’s not tons of world building in this series, but there are definitely different countries that have their own cultures and norms. It comes through more in the characters we are introduced to then written description.

The characters are what really keep this book moving. They’re all unique with very distinctive voices that definitely give them some depth. I think the alternating POVs is my favorite aspect of this book. You really get a large picture of what is happening and everyone’s motivations. Charlotte’s personality is a bit hot and cold for me at times, but I think that really highlights how young she and sheltered she’s really been. I’m not a huge fan of her and her mom’s dynamic. There’s a bitterness that I just don’t enjoy. I need moms empowering daughters, not dragging them down. Something that did also bother me was the general portrayal of men in these books. Unless there’s a specific reason otherwise all the men in these books are shallow and petty. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a spin-off of Arthurian stories and that was just a general vibe they gave off, but I’m disappointed in the men’s lack of depth. Very one dimensional.

This book is culturally and racially diverse. Charlotte is a character of color as well as Young with both of them being from their own cultures. There are also other characters of color throughout the books. There are also some minor gay characters though nothing really happens with them except period typical homophobia which I wasn’t a huge fan of and some minor mentions of them maybe getting together.

Overall, this series was pretty enjoyable. I think I most enjoyed the first book. The characters have distinctive voices and there’s a bit of internal conflict that made the characters interesting to read. I felt kind meh about the second book in this series. It introduced a lot of new characters and set the scene which was interesting, but it really felt like the book was just to set the stage for the third and final book. The third and final book is where the story starts to really amp up. It’s the climax of the series after all. There are dragons, mages, and the dreaded love triangle. If you like Arthurian spin-offs with a diverse cast then this could be the series for you.


Want to know more?! Check out the other tour stops!

Reviews

A Tough Read- The Love and Lies of Rukshana Ali

Overall enjoyment: 2.5/5

Characterization: 3/5

World building: 3/5

Diversity: 5/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective. 

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?”

Review

I started this book think while there might be a little teenage hardship in this book it would be a fairly light read. I was WRONG!!!! Normally I don’t give book warnings since everyone has their own personal triggers and opinions, but this one got unexpectedly dark. There were definitely times were I almost put this book down. Maybe it was because it hit a bit too close to home for me, but there’s some serious homophobia in this book. If you’re sensitive to that I would encourage you to read with caution. This book starts out light with normal teenage concerns and then hits on some serious topics.

The characters.  Rukshana herself was an interesting character and I love that we were introduced to some of her Bangladesh culture and how that affects her as someone who is a first-generation teenager living in the US. I think it also was very open and honest about the different cultural pressures some girls with more traditional family may experience. There are of course other characters, but they seemed pretty shallow to me. I would say Rukshana’s family gets a little depth especially her grandmother, but I was left wanting more especially about Rukshana’s girlfriend.

World building was minor in that it takes places in the modern world, but there’s so much cultural bits in this book that I feel I was given a look into another experience of what life could be had I been born into a different family. I very much enjoyed it.

Diversity. This book was focused on Rukshana, a Desi lesbian. It also includes other LGBTQ+ characters as well as her family which is as mentioned originally from Bangladesh. Definitely a diverse read!

Overall, I AM GOING TO GIVE SPOILERS! PLEASE SKIP IF WANT TO AVOID!!!!!

I loved the cultural elements of this book and I was really excited to read it, but how the LGBTQ+ elements were handled in this book made it almost impossible for me to enjoy. First, there is really no meaningful relationship between Rukshana and Ariana in my opinion. They’re together in the book, but we never learn how they met or really why Rukshana even loves Ariana so much. They’re either making out, arguing, or apologizing. It was flat for me and really disappointing. Once the mother catches the two girls together Rukshana is tricked into going to Bangladesh with her parents where they hire someone who basically tells the family that Rukshana is controlled by a jinn and they need to do and exorcism. Now, while this was horrifying to read I understand that there can be some importance to having this experience in the novel. I’m not sure if this is being practiced in any part of Bangladesh or anywhere today, but if so then I would want people to know about it and understand what experience men and women from these areas may be having. What I didn’t appreciate was that once Rukshana’s parents realize they were wrong the follow through of regaining trust, apologizing, etc. seemed too brief and easy to me. I wanted more conversation and depth, but it sped all too quickly for me. I also had mixed feelings about the death of Sohail, a closested gay man that Rukshana’s parents want her to marry. I think the author was maybe trying to open our eyes to the struggles of LGBTQ+ youth in Bangladesh and if this character had been more of a focal point with more backstory maybe it would have felt more powerful to me, but I felt like Sohail was only in the books so that his death could make Rukshana’s parents realize how awful it would be if their daughter was murdered. This then makes them realize that they’d rather accept her rather than see her killed. He was a plot point and I have a hard time with that. So, maybe I’m still too raw and emotional about this book to see it objectively. If you see it from a different angle I wouldn’t mind hearing your thoughts and maybe discussing it. I want to like this book and I do love the cultural aspects, but the rest is hard to swallow.

SPOILERS OVER

What do you think about the book? Did you enjoy it? Is it on your TBR? I’d love to hear what you think!

Book Haul

My Summer Book Haul

So, this summer has been pretty crazy for me. However, when I have the rare day off I often find my way back into the book store purchasing books I have no time to read. Whether I can read them or not though I am nonetheless super excited about them! Check out my summer book haul! All title contain a link back to Goodreads if you’re interested in summaries and ratings.

My Physical Books

Spin the Dawn: I got this book as an ARC from Netgalley and I couldn’t be more thrilled by this book. If you enjoy beautifully written mythology and fantasy adventure quests then I really couldn’t recommend this book enough to you. I honestly can’t wait until the next book.

Once & Future: I’ve been waiting for this book ever since I heard about it. I’m not really a big fan of SyFy, but a gender bent Arthurian tale? I’m just too intrigued to pass it up. I’m so excited to read this.

This Time Will Be Different: Not a fantasy novel, but the summary about flower shops and historical inequality seemed so soft, but powerful to me that I wanted to give it a shot.

Gods of Jade and Shadow: Much like Spin the Dawn I got this as an ARC from Netgalley and I just fell in love with it. If you’re interested in some Mayan mythology and some ideas that make you think you’ll fall in love with this book as much as I did.

Kings, Queens, and In-betweens: I tried to get this as an ARC on Netgalley, but unfortunately didn’t get access to it. This seems like the best type of story that anyone whose different might be interested in reading. It seems to be about finding yourself, but without the limitations of labels or expectations.

The Candle and the Flame: I wanted this book if nothing for its beautiful cover, but I kinda lost track of it until I saw it in the bookstore. I’ve always been interested in the silk road and if you’re going to add a fantasy element I can’t wait to see how it reads.

Nocturna: I really hadn’t heard of this story anywhere, but I saw it in the bookstore and it caught my interest. Gods of Jade and Shadow definitely peaked my interest in Latinx-inspired stories and I’m excited to give this story a read.

The Wise Man’s Fear: There is probably going to be zero diversity in this novel, but it’s a continuation of a book I’ve already read and really enjoyed. The storytelling and world building is just phenomenal.


My Netgalley E-books

Blood of the Pack: I can’t really recommend this book. I struggled to get through it, but if you’re intrigued, but lesbian werewolves you may want to check it out.

Wildflowers: Allaha of the Mountain: The summary sounded interesting and it was lgbtqa, but I’m struggling to remain interested.


Have you read any of these book? What do you think? What books have been in your recent book hauls?

ARC

ARC Review- Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Overall enjoyment: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 3/5

Note: A free copy of this book was given to me through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book will be officially released on July 23, 2019.

When I first requested to read this book through Netgalley I thought it was a present-day retelling. Not the case, this novel is set in the 1920s. It’s not a bad thing, but just something I thought might be of interest for others to know. I really enjoyed this story. I love most mythology themed novels, but this one dug deep and asked us to really consider what it means to be human and what it might mean to be a god.

The characters, as always for me, were a huge selling point. I think the author did a fantastic job of making her characters dynamic. There was no all good or all bad. I really vibed a lot with what Casiopea was feeling as a young woman and I think that really endeared her to me. She’s got a temper, but in this case, it was to her benefit. Then, Hun-KamÉ, honestly, he was probably my favorite. I loved the exploration between godhood and humanity that Moreno-Garcia did with him. While I love stories wrapped in myth I’m also very picky how gods are portrayed. This was a representation I really enjoyed.

World building was minor in that it was 1920s Earth, but the mythology and how it would interact with the world today was beautifully done. It was seamlessly woven. I feel like I learned a lot about certain parts of Mayan mythology.

Diversity. This was based purely on Hispanic/Mayan characters. Casiopea was also our main character. So, double points for having a woman of color as the protagonist!

Overall, if you enjoy the modernization of old gods I’d say you will definitely enjoy this book. Also, if that isn’t your cup of tea, but you enjoy a book that gives you some little bits to think over then you could still very much enjoy this book. It’s deeper than what you first might expect. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for its release this July!

lists

My Top Three 2019 Books…So Far

When you read a lot of books throughout the year it can be hard to keep track of them all not to mention come up with a short list of your favorites. One of my goals this year was to do a top three list of my favorite books for each quarter of this year in order to more easily share with you some books I really enjoyed. This list is only of the books that I’ve read and have been published this year.

  1. Fever King by Victoria Lee. This book is all about power, immigrants, and choices. I think it speaks powerfully to the current political climate the USA is experiencing. This is not an unbiased book. This is a clear calling out in many ways. But, I loved that about it.

2. The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson. This book I think asks the deep question of would you rather have freedom or be well provided for? Maybe a simple question for some, but I appreciated the strong female characters with the traces of fantasy woven in.


3. The Wicked King by Holly Black. There might not have been any large thought provoking questions here, but dang do I enjoy Jude. She’s scrappy and not always morally clean, but I think that’s why I enjoy her so much. The twist always make me happy as well.


Are any of these books among your favorites? If not, what books are on your 2019 top three so far?

lists

Top Five Anthologies to Get Excited About

Hello lovely readers! If you’ve been keeping an eye on my reviews for this blog you will notice that I only post reviews for novels. This is my preferred reading material and I tend to stick with. However, this year I’ve found some anthologies that I think I going to be well worth the read. Note: I haven’t read most of these so I’m going on summary alone.

  1. How long ’til Black Future Month by N. K. Jemisin. I’ve been watching to read this author’s works for a long time, but just haven’t gotten to it. This collection focuses on African Americans who are put into fantastical situations. The summary of this anthology is what really sold me on it.
  2. New Erotica for Feminists by Caitlin Kunkel, Brooke Preston, Fiona Taylor, and Carrie Wittmer. I was intrigued by the title and once again drawn in by the summary. A retelling of some old stories, but also answers to some common questions. It’s cooler than what I make it sound
  3. Black Enough: Stories about being young & black in America by Ibi Zoboi, Tracey Baptiste, Coe Booth, Dhonielle Clayton, Brandy Colbert, Jay Coles, Lamar Giles, and Leah Henderson . As someone who works with a lot of young people I’m always interested in reading about their experiences. I’ve heard lots of good things about this one.
  4. Proud by Juno Dawson, Dean Atta, Fox Benwell, Caroline Bird, Tanya Byrne, Moira Fowley-Doyle, Simon James Green,and David Levithan . A collection of stories and poetry by lgbtq+ authors about the theme of pride
  5. Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft by Tess Sharpe, Jessica Spotwood, Brandy Colbert, Zoriada Cordova, Andrea Cremer, Kate Hart, Emery Lord, and Elizabeth May . diversity and witches? I’m sold.
ARC

ARC Review- The Bird King

Overall enjoyment: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

Set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian peninsula, The Bird King is the story of Fatima, the only remaining Circassian concubine to the sultan, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. 

Hassan has a secret–he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?

As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

Review

I was given a free copy of The Bird King by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I started this novel with some hesitation. The concept sounded interesting, but historical fiction is hit or miss with me. This novel was definitely a hit. I would say until towards the end the novel is fairly slow paced. I enjoyed it, but if you’re looking for some fast-paced crazy action this generally won’t be for you. The amount of love and care that I felt from this book was incredible. Just the amount of historical facts sprinkled within the novel was wonderful and then the fantasy elements just blended seamlessly together.

World building. The detail described throughout the book is wonderful. I read it and definitely could imagine the world. I’m not familiar with that time period in history or that particular area at the time, but it was easy to imagine. As a speculative novel there wasn’t anything to crazy from our normal world when it comes to governments, religion, etc.

Characters. This is what really sells the book to me. Wilson focuses most of her attention on mostly three or four character at a time and its perfect. Fatima is amazing. A concubine who was educated and uses that to power her through a tough journey. Hassan, our devote Muslim who draw fantastical maps. I don’t want to give a ton away, but I feel like you do get to really see into who these characters are and to watch them grow. They’re messy and imperfect, but there’s just something I find so interesting about all the characters we meet in this novel. Maybe it’s the realism, but I fall in love with them.

Diversity. This books diversity is mainly through Hassan I would say. He’s a devote Muslim who also happens to be openly gay. There are other characters in the book who are also Muslim in the first half of the book. Fatima I believe would identify as Muslim if asked, but she’s not very religious.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The ending left me feeling a little unsatisfied, but I think it was a realistic way to end it and it is probably the best way to end it. Fatima has some great quotes about women that I really enjoyed. I would call her a determined feminist. If you have any interest at all in historical or speculative fiction I would highly recommend this book! It will be released on March 12th.

Reviews

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

World building: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Diversity: 5/5

Goodreads summary:

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good. 

Review:

So, I’ve been excited about this book for awhile. Magic as a virus rather than a cool mystical force? I was sold. I’ve had the book for a week or two before finishing up my previous book in order to get started on this book. This book didn’t disappoint and I can’t wait for the sequel! This is definitely a relevant book for the current culture of the USA.

The characters. What I think I love most about Lee’s characters is they all have backstories. We might not have fully gotten all of them in this book, but we’ve gotten hints of them. These characters have had it rough maybe not in all the same ways, but they all have reasons for being the way that they are. Let’s start with Noam. I adore Noam. He reminds me of a student I use to have. He’s young and he’s got big ideas and he’s willing to put himself on the line to accomplish what he sees as needing to be done. A+ character. Then we have Dara. We don’t necessarily get a ton of information about him until the end, but I still like him. He’s been in this whole mess of the plot since he was young and he’s got some serious stuff going on. Then, there’s Lehrer. Wow, this dude. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll leave it at that. If you want characters with sad backstories then you’re going to enjoy this. The one thing I was a little bit disappointed about was Noam and Dara. I wanted more build-up and interaction between them where they weren’t at each other’s throats. The ending with them was amazing, but I’m just not quite sure how they got to that level with each other.

Worldbuilding. This is a dystopian futuristic world with hints of fantasy. I initial started reading this book with the assumption that it was more of a fantasy novel, but it’s definitely more speculative fiction. There’s lots of elements that tie into what elements are currently happening in our own world which I personally enjoyed; especially, in regards to immigrants legal or otherwise. It’s hard to describe without going into too much detail, but Lee took the time to craft an interesting, dark history for her world that really spoke to me.

Diversity. It’s everywhere and I love it! Lee via twitter says Dara is Persian. Noam is a bi man whose half Jewish, half Colombian. There are other characters with other elements of diversity throughout the novel that you’ll find out about as you read, but this is probably the book with the best inter-sectional diversity that I’ve read so far. Major props.

If interested you can buy The Fever King by Victoria Lee here.


Have you read this book? Does it sound interesting? What do you think? Is it on your TBR?