Author: S.A. Chakraborty

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Synopsis:

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, and a mysterious gift for healing—are all tricks, both the means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive. 

But when Nahri accidentally summons Dara, an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior, to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to reconsider her beliefs. For Dara tells Nahri an extraordinary 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 birds of prey are more than what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass—a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.


In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments and behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments run deep. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, her arrival threatens to ignite a war that has been simmering for centuries. 

Spurning Dara’s warning of the treachery surrounding her, she embarks on a hesitant friendship with Alizayd, an idealistic prince who dreams of revolutionizing his father’s corrupt regime. All too soon, Nahri 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 to be careful what you wish for . . .

Review:

“A delicious debut that blew my mind in the best way possible.” J.M. Buckler, author of the Seeker of Time series


I started listening to this book on Audible. My mistake. The narrator had a soothing voice, but her execution fell flat. She made Nahri and Ali sound whinny, immature. I was very close to putting the book down for good, but a fellow reader encouraged me to continue the story with the physical copy. What a difference! It hooked me after a few pages. I couldn’t put it down.


Chakraborty is a magician with words. Her vivid details transported me to Daevabad. I found my mouth watering because of her delicious descriptions of Indian cuisine. I had a strong connection with each character. The world-building in the novel is mind-blowing. I see why it got picked up by television producers. I can’t wait to see this series come to life.


Chakraborty writes with powerful emotions and stunning imagery that draws the reader into her novel. Yes, it is a dense book, and I struggled with the pronunciation of names and locations. This is one you don’t rush to finish. You savor each sentence on every page. It’s a work of art.


The author’s pacing was fantastic. Each character had his/her own voice. I didn’t need to read the tags to know who was speaking.


Overall, I adored this book. I loved everything about it.


Readers: perfect for those who enjoy high fantasy, Indian culture, plot twists, subtle romance, memorable characters, and beautiful world-building


Writers: perfect for those looking to elevate their craft. Chakraborty’s series teaches a variety of sentence structures, rich description, world-building, swordplay, believable dialogue, escapism, and emotional showing vs telling.


Triggers/Warnings: some adult language, graphic scenes that some may find disturbing


Grading Scale:

Plot: 5/5

Pacing: 4/5

Escapism Factor: 5/5

Emotional Connection: 5/5

Character Development: 5/5


Star Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Completed Read: 8/31/2020

52 views0 comments

Author: R.F. Kaung

Publisher: Harper Voyager


Synopsis:

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.


But surprises aren’t always good.


Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.


For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .


Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

Review:

“Morally grey characters clash with power-hungry gods in this epic debut.” J.M. Buckler, award-winning author of the Seeker of Time series.

Kaung doesn’t just deliver her readers a handful of morally grey characters, she delivers them a story of epic proportions. Ren, an orphan raised by opium dealers, goes from an externally meek young woman to a badass warrior. No, she didn’t always make the best decisions, and honestly, I’m concerned she’ll go down a destructive path in the next book, but damn, Kaung made me feel her struggles. And let’s not forget about Altan. His internal demons made my stomach churn.

The pacing was fantastic, and the dialogue flowed beautifully. Author Kaung’s writing kept the pages turning. I cared deeply for the characters. I wanted them to succeed and my heart broke when they failed. I loved the balance between action and quiet conversations. On a personal level, one scene rubbed me the wrong way. Eastern culture has taught spiritual students that once they reach a level of enlightenment, negative emotions and desires such as vengeance and attachment dissolved. This was not the case for Ren. It was the opposite. Her 180-degree turn in the book felt out of character. The theme of self-discovery quickly switched to brutal vengeance.

This is NOT a book for the faint-hearted. Kaung pulled graphic, disturbing historical references from The Rape of Nanking. One chapter, in particular, revisits that horrible time period in vivid detail.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading the second book in the series.

Readers: Excellent for those who love a healthy mixture of character/plot-driven books, fast-paced action, morally grey characters, and military strategy.

Writers: Excellent for those who need guidance with pacing, battle scenes, military strategy, dialogue, morbid descriptions, and world-building.

Warnings/Triggers: adult language, self-harm, self-sterilization, graphic imagery, drug abuse, sexual assault/rape. Veterans suffering from PTSD may find certain scenes disturbing.

Grading Scale:

Plot: 4/5

Pacing: 4/5

Escapism Factor: 3/5

Emotional Connection: 3/5

Character Development: 3/5

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Completed Read: 10/11/2020

62 views0 comments

Updated: Oct 25, 2020


Author: Shelby Mahurin

Publisher: Harper Teen

Synopsis:

Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To survive, they need allies. Strong ones. But as Lou becomes increasingly desperate to save those she loves, she turns to a darker side of magic that may cost Reid the one thing he can’t bear to lose. Bound to her always, his vows were clear: where Lou goes, he will go; and where she stays, he will stay.

Until death do they part. 

Review:

“A magical journey that missed the mark.” J.M. Buckler, award-winning author of the Seeker of Time Series

I struggled to finish this book. It’s slow pacing, confusing magic system, and lack of character development left me scratching my head, wondering why I kept turning the pages. I waited for something epic to happen, but it never did. Most of the novel explored Lou and Reid’s developing relationship. Mahurin failed to deliver an engaging plot. Side characters, such as Coco and Ansel, fell flat. I’m not sure why this happened. I loved these characters in the first book but lost interest in them while reading Blood & Honey. I tired of Reid’s moping and Lou’s internal struggle. I wanted to see more of Coco and Lou’s friendship. The author solidified this in book one but dissolved it in book two.

The magic system confused the hell out of me. Magic must follow rules. The system Mahurin created kept changing. Some witches’ magic followed certain rules, while others wrote their own script.

I enjoyed Lou’s snarky attitude and the banter between her and Reid. I just wanted more. More action, more tension, more altercations. Each time a character ran into a problem, they escaped or survived too easily. I became detached from the outcome of the story about halfway through.

Book two leaves the reader on another cliffhanger. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to pique my interest.


Readers: Those looking for an easy YA read about witches and unique magic systems will enjoy this book.

Writers: Helpful for those studying romantic relationships and internal struggle. Relationship drama, banter, and visual descriptions are strong suits of author Mahurin.

Warnings/Triggers: some adult language and adult content

Grading Scale:

Plot: 3/5

Pacing: 3/5

Escapism Factor: 3/5

Emotional Connection: 2/5

Character Development: 2/5

Star Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️

Completed Read: 10/02/2020

87 views0 comments