Quick Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Tell me if you heard this one. A jock, A beauty queen, a brain, an outsider and a criminal all get detention. Yeah, it’s basically the breakfast club except for one of them dies and the other four are the main suspects. The victim in question is Simon. He runs a gossip app that spills all of his fellow students secrets. It just so happens that his next post all involve his detention mates so f course they are all the prime suspects when it’s discovered his death wasn’t accidental. Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy and Nate and nothing in common before this but now they must band together if they are going to figure out what happens but when everyone has secrets, it’s hard to know who to trust. This was a fine mystery to read. The characters are all well fleshed out and vulnerable. They are not innocent but they are also not guilty and court of public opinion can be brutal. It’s an interesting study in social media, bullying and the pressures we put on kids to be perfect. With everyone having cell phones, it only takes a second for a picture to go viral and everyone knows your secrets. Not to mention a really good commentary on toxic masculinity and entitlement culture that goes with it. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything but there are a lot of twists and turns and while I suspected the outcome it didn’t make it any less tragic or upsetting. Well worth the read.

Quick Review: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

Mehr is the illegitimate daughter to the Governor. Her mother is part of the indigenous clan of her home but the Emperor has outlawed their spiirtual practices and this makes Mehr an outsider in her own home but she still practices her mother’s rituals. This of course gets her in trouble, when performs a ritual and garners the attention of the Maha, the power behind the Emperor and is tricked into marrying Amur. The Maha is a very powerful man, seen as a God among his followers and the Empire. His prayers makes the Empire strong and he does this thanks to Mehr and Amur’s people and their rituals. Mehr is a strong and brave woman. She knows this is a fucked up situation but she has limited choices. Choices is a big word in this novel. The ability of choice is sacred so the fact that Mehr’s choice was essentially taken from her is a big deal. Despite this she never stops making choices to figure out ways to save her and Amur from their servitude. She never resigns herself to her situation and gives in. She fights until the end and it’s powerful to see her fully embrace her powers. The other theme of this novel is colonialism. Mehr’s homeland was invaded by the Empire and the Emperor did all that he could to demonize her people’s culture despite the fact the success of the Empire is due to her people’s culture and rituals. It really makes you think how colonist for years have benefited from the resources of the places they colonized while erasing the cultures that they have benefited so much by. Mehr was able to take back the rituals and use them against the Maha and take back that power but so many other cultures are not that lucky.

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens

I finished this book in January’s 24 in 48. And, it was so good. Why am I just reviewing it now? So I can link to it in my Top 5.

This novel is the story of a woman painter, Isobel, who is patronized by fairies. She paints portraits and is always very careful about what she does and what she asks for as payment. That is, until she meets Rook. Then, as it happens in fantasy novels, they get a little close, they get a little familiar, the portrait makes Rook’s people question his authority and then! Bam! Action! Conflict! Excitement!

I really enjoyed this novel. I liked Isobel as a character so much. I liked Isobel and Rook’s relationship. I liked the outside characters enforcing the bs that drove the central conflict. This was a really fun book and I look forward to reading more from Margaret Rogerson.

Quick Review: Welcome to Nightvale

Welcome to Nightvale! A friend made a reference to this and I did’t get it and she was very surprised that I had never listened to the podcast…well, now I’ve listened to this first book. And, it was fun! And, weird. Sooo weird. But, I’m into it. This was a little mystery, I think that’s how you would describe it, set in a town called Nightvale but might be Fox Mulder’s wet dream of a town. Time is weird, people disappear, not everyone seems to age, you have to be careful of lawn flamingos. This was a fun little book. I recommend it, if you also like weird books.

Review: The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Ana is a Fanatasist. One of seven perfect princess in The Kingdom theme park. She and her sisters are hybrids. Perfectly engineered to be what every guests wants them to be and everything that they could ever need is taken care of. Ana loves what she does but she begins to question the Kingdom’s mission when one of her sisters starts to act different and she meets a new worker named Owen. Soon her life gets turned upside down when Owen is missing and presumed dead and Ana is accused of his murder and put on trial. The book’s narrative goes back and fourth between Ana’s first person perspective of her life leading up to the event and transcripts of her trial. Between the two narratives the mystery of what happened to Ana and Owen starts to take place and well things are not what they seem. Ana being partly artificial she only knows at first what she is programmed to know but she is curious in the world and notices when anything is a bit off. It starts when a few of the hybrid animals start to behave aggressively and it leads to public incidents at the park. Then one of her sisters, Nia does something so shocking it really rocks Ana to the core. She finds solace in her new friendship with Owen, a maintenance worker at the park but he is not who she think he is too. As she tries to put together what is going on in the park while also dealing with her new feelings for Owen. It really brings into question what it is to be human. Is Ana a person even though she was created in a lab? Is she capable of love or is she just mimicking emotions she has observed. It is also pretty scary at some of the shit they park does to their Princesses, it’s no wonder they take the drastic measures they do to get out. It’s great story and it has a really satisfying ending. It’s definitely open-ended so if there were to be a sequel there could be.

Quick Review: The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

This book was stressful from the beginning. I mean that in a good way. From the prologue to the epilogue it is none stop from beginning to end. The setting is a sort of old style wild west world. The girls of this world don’t have autonomy. It’s a rough world and for many families the best thing they can do for their daughters is sell them to the Welcome Houses where they will be feed and sheltered and that is why they are called Good Luck Girls because for many it seen as good luck to work in one of these houses and to be taken care of. In reality though they are being sold into sex slavery. It’s billed as a cross between West World and The Handmaid’s tale. I haven’t seen the former but I know the latter and yeah I can see some similarities. Clementine’s first night as a Sundown girl doesn’t go as planned when she kills her first brag. Her sister Aster leads her and her friends Tansy, Mallow and Violet on an escape but that is just as dangerous as the life they left. With the help from rangeman, Zee they fight their way through the wild terrain. They take some of the power back by robbing the kind of men that used to visit the Welcome Houses to get enough money to remove the favors from their bodies. It’s a powerful statement on how they work together. I thought this was a standalone book but it’s at least a duology as there is a planned sequel. To say I enjoyed it is probably the wrong thing to say because it’s not a pleasant read. What these women go through and have been through is horrifying but also gratifying to see them fight back. I look forward to see what happens next to these ladies as they continue to fight for their freedom and the freedom of others like them.

Quick Review: Children of Virtue of Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Wow. This was gripping from the very beginning. I really love how Tomi Adeyemi has built this world. It is full of such imagination but also so rooted in the the real world. Zelie and Amari completed the ritual to bring back magic but it kinda worked too well. Not only do the Maji have their magic back but Nobles with any Maji ancestries also have magic now. So their enemy is just as powerful and in some cases more powerful. This book really explores how deep the hurt that hatred and bigotry lies and not easy to get over and move on. Amari and Inan both try to get both sides to come together but there are just too many years of hurt and betrayal for either side to trust each other. In fact they are both so sure that the other side is wrong that the only way forward is to eliminate the other. Also the power of grief and how it can really paralyze you to move forward. Pretty much everyone in this book makes big mistakes that will hunt them. Except for Tzain, who is just maybe the best person ever. I really can’t believe it ended the way that it did. It is a much bigger cliff hanger then the first one and I’m not sure I’m okay after reading it. Obviously there is one more book and so the solution couldn’t have been as easy as they thought it should have but the ending was such a twist and confusing mess that it really messes up the reader as much as the characters. I really hope the next books comes out soon.

Review: The Plot to Betray America by Malcolm Nance

Remember, 3,000 years ago, when Larry Wilmore told Milo Yiannopoulos to fuck off? Well, Malcolm Nance was also on that episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. Crazy, right?

Anyway, this book turned out to be a really timely read as it is about Russia, the 2016 US elections, hacking, foreign interference in American politics, and the first family. You know, the people getting patents in China while also working in the White House and shooting endangered sheep. I’m glad I read it because it gave a lot of detailed background on things (like the FBI investigation Crossfire Hurricane) that have been popping up in the news lately. So, if you’re looking to go into Christmas armed to do battle against your conspiracy-theory-believing Uncle (understanding, of course, that a lot of cognitive research notes that “just presenting people facts” is not a particularly effective way to change people’s minds. I know, humans! Why are we like this?!), then this is the book for you. If you’d like a very clearly laid out description of Russia and their involvement in the 2016 elections, I also recommend this. If you’re teetering on the edge of “fuck it” or “burn it all to the ground”, then give this one a pass.

Review: Seared by Suleikha Snyder

Seared by Suleikha Snyder. A Master Chefs romance

So, this is a romance I finished in January…. I know. I am the worst blogger ever and Beth keeps this place afloat. Feel free to roast me in the comments and on twitter. Now, we review!

Naya and Lachlan and step-siblings who have been kept apart by his domineering father. Lachlan is a famous chef. He’s won the awards, had a hot and trendy restaurant in New York, has the TV show and is known for his take-no-shit style of kitchen management. Naya and Lachlan want to be together, but can they be together now that his father is dead? The intrigue! The questions! The insanely steamy romantic interludes!

So, I picked this up because I had just read Tikka Chance on Me, which was so good and hot and cute and exactly what you’d want in a romance. I also really like Suleikha Snyder’s twitter and ig accounts, so I wanted to support an author and content creator I like. I was a little worried about this book because step-siblings in love/lust kind of creeps me out, but that’s just me, no judgement. And, this is heavy D/S, which…meh. But, this book was great. I wanted to know what happened next and I wasn’t mad about all the sexy bits. Not mad at all. They were great. (Which is a huge part of why you read romance on the more erotic end of the spectrum, right? I’m not alone in that, right?) Anyway, this was great and I will definitely read more things by this author.

Quick Review: The Tyrant's Tomb by Rick Riordan

I think what I like about this series is how Rick Riordan really explores how messed up some of these myths are. The things that the Gods do are just really unjustifiable and forces Apollo to face them as a human. For the last four books, Apollo has been living as Lester and all of his fragile human failings. For the first time, he has really mourned the death of a human for the first time. Jason’s death still shocks me because in these type of books, the heroes never die. They always find some way to live, particularly in Rick’s world where he has found some pretty creative loop holes to keep his demigods alive. Kudos for him for bucking his own trend. It’s still sad nonetheless. Jason’s death hangs over all of them, particularly those at Camp Jupiter. Frank, Hazel and Reina are already reeling from the previous battle and now they have to move on without Jason and his leadership. Apollo is grieving and has to face his own mortality. Two of the three Emperor’s are planning on attacking Camp Jupiter, with the last king of Rome. To survive he must come to grips of with some of the worst things he did as a God and the people he hurt along the way. It’s truly touching to see Apollo face his humanity and learn from his mistakes. He knows he can’t change what happened but he’s learning he can be a better person and be better God. There is one book left and I can’t wait to see what is in store for him and Meg. Not to mention, with them going back to New York, means that I’m sure we are going to get another Percy cameo. Yes!