The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst

The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth DurstThe Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst
Published by HarperCollins on May 15th 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 432
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I suppose I’ll need Jastra’s plan after all. Pity.
It would have been nice to avoid murdering anyone.

 

I have really enjoyed this series. I came to the end of The Queen of Sorrow and, aptly, felt a lot of sorrow at having to leave these characters behind. At least the author’s note promises a standalone set in the same world – in Belene this time – so I will get to return to, and explore more of, Renthia.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin KwanCrazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Published by Anchor on May 20th 2014
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 527
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“Imagine wanting to marry a girl from such a family! So disgraceful! Really, Nicky, what would Gong Gong say if he was alive? Madri, this tea needs a little more sugar.”

 

This is some seriously trashy crack-lit. And no that’s not a typo– this book is as addictive and dramatic and ridiculous as you surely imagine it to be. I should probably hate it, but, well… oops.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh

Smoke in the Sun by Renee AhdiehSmoke in the Sun (Flame in the Mist, #2) by Renée Ahdieh
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on June 5th 2018
Pages: 416
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It was a night for magic. A night swirling with mystery, an unknowable energy pulsing in its depths.

 

Okay, I’m going to be honest about something: I remember enjoying the arc I read of Flame in the Mist last year but, before reading this book, I couldn’t remember anything that happened. In fact, I wasn’t sure I was going to continue with the duology. When I was lucky enough to get an arc of this sequel, I figured I’d just give it a shot.

And it all came flooding back to me in a stream of drama, action and royal manipulations! It makes me sad to think I might not have continued with this series and missed out on a lot of enjoyment.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

The Perfect Mother by Aimee MolloyThe Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy
Published by HarperCollins on May 1st 2018
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 336
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I enjoyed this quite a lot.

The Perfect Mother definitely has something of a Moriarty vibe (Liane, not Jim) but I personally found it better paced. I struggled with the slowness and tame domesticity of Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret and Truly Madly Guilty, though I enjoyed the HBO adaptation of Big Little Lies. I would say that this book is more like the latter. It’s predominantly about women and the relationships between them, with the thriller aspect of a missing baby providing the stage on which these complex friendships and loyalties play out.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Little & Lion by Brandy ColbertLittle & Lion by Brandy Colbert
Published by Hachette UK on August 8th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 336
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When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new...the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel's disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself--or worse.

I know how easy it is to believe you’re doing the right thing if you say it to yourself often enough.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

The Good Daughter by Karin SlaughterThe Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
Published by HarperCollins on August 8th 2017
Genres: Mystery & Thriller
Pages: 528
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Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…
Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn's happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville's notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.
Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father's footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it's a case that unleashes the terrible memories she's spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won't stay buried forever…
Packed with twists and turns, brimming with emotion and heart, The Good Daughter is fiction at its most thrilling.

This is the second thriller I’ve read lately that opens with a shitstorm of drama. In the best kind of way, of course. But The Good Daughter is, in some ways, much darker than Stillhouse Lake, and in other ways slower and more character-driven.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail HoneymanEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Published by Cengage Gale on 2017
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 557
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No one's ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond's big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one. Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . The only way to survive is to open your heart.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely 100% fine. She goes to her office job five days a week and then treats herself to a frozen pizza and a bottle of vodka on a weekend. She lives alone and doesn’t have any friends, but that’s okay. She’s doing real well, thank you very much.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman by Leigh BardugoWonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
Published by Random House Children's Books on August 29th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
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She will become one of the world's greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .   Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.   Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn't know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.   Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

“Sister in battle,” murmured Diana, “I am shield and blade to you.”
“And friend.”
“And always your friend.”

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West by Mohsin HamidExit West by Mohsin Hamid
Published by Penguin on March 7th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 240
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In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .

“When we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.”

I thought this book was quietly brutal. And quietly beautiful, as well.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) by Brian Staveley

Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) by Brian StaveleySkullsworn by Brian Staveley
Series: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne
Published by Tor Books on April 25, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, print ARC
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Brian Staveley’s new standalone returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess attempting to join the ranks of the God of Death.
Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer--she is a priestess. At least, she will be a priestess if she manages to pass her final trial.
The problem isn’t the killing. Pyrre has been killing and training to kill, studying with some of the most deadly men and women in the world, since she was eight. The problem, strangely, is love. To pass her Trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including "the one you love / who will not come again."
Pyrre is not sure she’s ever been in love. If she were a member of a different religious order, a less devoted, disciplined order, she might cheat. The Priests of Ananshael, however, don’t look kindly on cheaters. If Pyrre fails to find someone to love, or fails to kill that someone, they will give her to the god.
Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to quit, hates to fail, and so, with a month before her trial begins, she returns to the city of her birth, the place where she long ago offered an abusive father to the god and abandoned a battered brother—in the hope of finding love...and ending it on the edge of her sword.
"A complex and richly detailed world filled with elite soldier-assassins, mystic warrior monks, serpentine politics, and ancient secrets." —Library Journal, starred review, on The Emperor's Blades

“Music is inextricable from its own unmaking. Each note is predicated on the death of those before. Try to hold them all, and you have madness, cacophony, noise.”

I’ve made no bones about how much I love Brian Staveley’s writing, and when I saw he was bringing one of my favorite characters back for her own story I was overjoyed! The bad news is that this took a bit for me to feel pulled in, but full disclaimer – I have been in the most epic of epic reading slumps. Literally the worst slump since I learned how to read. I’m pretty sure that’s what my disconnect was all about but the start was a little heavy, a little purple-y, but that could just be me right now.
This story is about Pyrre, who became one of my ultimate faves in his Unhewn Throne series, and it was super awesome getting inside her head and learning some of her past. This story is set before the Unhewn series and is about Pyrre becoming a Priestess for her god (the god of death). She decides to go back to her homeland to carry out her Trial with Ela and Kossal as her Witnesses. Ela is enchanting and I would happily devour a stand alone or more of just her (please, Brian!!), and Kossal was the perfect compliment to both women. Pyrre, of course, knows that she must give to the god someone for whom she loves but she can’t quite decide what love is and how to get to that point. Ela and Kossal can only do so much to help her understand what love is, and there were some serious philosophical conversations within Pyrre’s own head on this matter. Her story is a tense waiting game to see if she’ll succeed or meet her god.

“The goddess makes us in endlessly different ways. Our Struggles are no more the same than our face.”

Pyrre is fascinating to crawl inside of: her childhood was shocking, her training relentless, her mind a warren of endless entertainment. I loved going between deep philosophical debates on love and worship to seeing her biting humor and adventurous spirit. Seeing her find the one person she might be able to love and going through that journey with her was tough. The synopsis tells us what she has to do so as I’m falling for Ruc I’m all upset that his death is coming and I would go back and forth between glaring at Staveley and feeling sad for Ruc and mad at Pyrre. Even in my horrific slump Brian Staveley knew just how to draw me in.

“All that they have is the old stories, stories of snakes in throats and violets in eyes – those stories are their only weapon, and stories are only weapons if you repeat them.”
“As long as they remained unspoken, they could be denied, disowned, but saying a thing gives it strength.”

This book is a true stand alone but I can’t recommend the Unhewn series enough, Pyrre is a supporting character there so you really can read this without them, but it’s the same world which always makes the reading that much more interesting I think. This book has all that I love in stories: action, adventure, love, sex, humor, myths, legends, and fun. It is an easy read being pretty short for a fantasy which is a great way to break into the genre if you’re not already a fan – or don’t like reading super long books. Brian Staveley is a must-read author.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star