Friday, January 14, 2022

ARC Review: Daughter of the Moon Goddes by Sue Lynn Tan

Title: Daughter of the Moon Goddess
Series: The Celestial Kingdom Duology #1
Author: Sue Lynn Tan
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Voyager January 11, 2022

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang'e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind. Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor's son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince. To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.

From the second I heard about Daughter of the Moon Goddess, I knew it was going to be a book I was definitely going to read. I’m not overly familiar with the legend of Chang’e, but I do love stories that take myths/folklore/history and retell or give an alternative look at them in interesting ways.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess was as excellent a story as I thought it would be. There was a lot going on in this book: romance, action, and a desperate and also deeply personal quest. It was hopeful but also bittersweet at times with secrets and betrayal seemingly hidden everywhere. And what a marvelous story it was!

Xingyin is the daughter of the Moon Goddess. She was sheltered from the world beyond the moon, and that wasn’t without good reason either. With the way the story was told, as the reader, I was dropped into the world alongside the character as she embarked on her journey. There was no easy way for her, and the task ahead of her seemed almost impossible to accomplish under the circumstances. I admired Xingyin’s determination and her compassion—which were often tested—as she navigated a world filled with incredibly powerful immortals and the dangerous conflicts that arose between them.

The characters, by and large, were one of my favorite aspects about the story. I enjoyed reading about the hard-won bonds that Xingyin forged with the secondary characters, which heightened the impact—the gravity—of certain scenes. Tan did not hold back with the emotional punches, and I couldn’t help but hope everything would work out for my favorite characters. I was very invested in the story, and I couldn’t get to the end fast enough.

The setting was also really good. The places were detailed: plenty of intricate and vivid descriptions of food, dress, and history.
I had so much fun reading Daughter of the Moon Goddess. It’s the first of a duology, so I’m looking forward to the sequel.

About the author....
Sue Lynn Tan writes fantasy inspired by the myths and legends she fell in love with as a child. Born in Malaysia, she studied in London and France, before settling in Hong Kong with her family. Her love for stories began with a gift from her father, her first compilation of fairytales from around the world. After devouring every fable she could find in the library, she discovered fantasy books – spending much of her childhood lost in magical worlds. When not writing or reading, she enjoys exploring the hills and reservoirs of Hong Kong, the temples, beaches and narrow winding streets here. Her debut, Daughter of the Moon Goddess, will be published by Harper Voyager in early 2022, with a sequel to come. It is an enchanting fantasy of love and family, immortals and magic – inspired by the beloved Chinese legend of Chang’e flying to the moon upon taking the elixir of immortality.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Harper Voyager) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

ARC Review: Crimes and Covers by Amanda Flower

Title: Crimes and Covers
Series: A Magical Bookshop Mystery #5
Author: Amanda Flower
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Cozy Mystery 
Publisher/Publication Date: Crooked Lane Books; January 11, 2022

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
Christmas is coming to the Western New York village of Cascade Springs, and so is the long-awaited wedding of Charming Books proprietor Violet Waverly and police chief David Rainwater. Grandma Daisy and Violet's best friend, Sadie, go all out to make the nuptials the event of the season--whether Violet likes it or not. But the reception becomes memorable for all the wrong reasons when a woman's dead body floats by on the frigid Niagara River. Violet is shocked to recognize the deceased as a mysterious woman who visited Charming Books two days before the wedding, toting a rare first edition of Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Well aware that a mint condition copy could be worth more than $14,000, Violet told the woman she would have to have the book appraised before she could consider buying it. Most displeased, the woman tucked the precious tome under her arm and stormed out of the shop. Now she's dead, and an enigmatic message scrawled in pen upon her palm reads, "They stole my book." It's a confounding case, indeed. But fortunately, Violet can draw on the resources of her bookshop's magical consciousness, which communicates clues to Violet via quotes from Walden. With Emerson the tuxedo cat and Faulkner the crow at her side, Violet sets out to recover the priceless book by solving a murder most transcendental.

From the handful of cozy mysteries I’ve read this year, usually the story gives our intrepid sleuths some time to breath before—or at least during—their big wedding day. Not so in the case of Crimes and Covers by Amanda Flower. Amidst the wedding joy, an incident that first appeared to be an accident unfolded into a perplexing mystery concerning a signed first edition of Walden by Henry Thoreau.

There was a lot I liked about the story. The sleuthing aspects were good, considering how unusual the case initially appeared to be. I really didn’t know for a while, since the clues supported each scenario. Was it an accident? Or was it something more nefarious? With a book that was worth as much as the copy of Walden was, the list of possibilities was long.

Cascade Springs was yet another small town with a close-knit community. Since the story was set around Christmas, the setting was wintery, though I wouldn’t call this a holiday book. The holiday season was just in the background for much of the story. The focus remained on the mystery and books.

The characters were pretty good here too. I liked Violet’s determination to figure out what happened, as well as her sense of duty toward Charming Books and its tree. The shop was part of her family’s history, and with their care, the place developed an “essence.” I adored the magical aspects of the story, since it deviated a little from what I’ve come across before—with the bookstore being magical rather than Violet. Plus, there was a cat with a habit of escaping the store and a crow that liked to make literary quotes. I have to say that I enjoyed their antics, for the sometimes comedic moments that came from of it.

All-in-all, Crimes and Covers was a great story.

About the author....
Amanda Flower, a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. In addition to being an author, Amanda is librarian in Northeast Ohio.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Crooked Lane Books) via NetGalley for this review, thank you!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year! It's 2022!

Happy New Year! It’s officially 2022. We’re not back to blogging yet, but we’re getting ready for the New Year. We’ll see you later this month. Until then, have a great day, and happy reading!

Saturday, December 25, 2021

The Cookie Book Tag (Round 4)

It's December 25th, so Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! I hope everyone has a great day. The year is almost over, and today we're going to do a book tag. It has been a year to the day since Adri and I participated in the Cookie Book Tag for the third time. And today, we're going to do it again to see how our answers do and don't differ. Before we begin, here are the more technical details about the tag.

The Cookie Book Tag was created by Nicole @ Sorry, I’m Booked. And you can check out the original tag post here: Sorry, I’m Booked, The Cookie Book Tag.

The rules…
  • Link back to the person who tagged you + the creator of this tag 
  • Pick a book that corresponds with the cookies theme 
  • Have fun 
  • Tag 1-3 people

Chocolate Chip: A Classic Book That You Love or Really Enjoyed (interpret classic how you want, it can be a classic written 100 years ago or 20 years ago)

Breana: The Lord of the Rings. I read all three parts this year, and I had a lot of fun with the story. It’s one of my favorites, and I’m glad I took the time to finally get it off my TBR list.

Adri: Treasure Island: fun little (but long) adventure book. If you’re looking for a girl-led remix of the story, then Clash of Steel is the book. I like the family based parts of each story.

Thin Mints: A Fandom That You Really Want to ‘Join’ AND/OR a Hyped-Up Book You Want To Read (your source(s) of a book being hyped can be from anywhere)

Breana: I have a couple of books for this one. In no particular order: Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan, Empty Smiles by Katherine Arden, and The Girl in the Lake by India Hill Brown.

Adri: I’m looking forward to Etta Invincible by Reese Eschmann.

Shortbread: An Author You Can’t Get Enough Of

Breana: Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex series is a favorite of mine. I’ve read up to the current book; although, there was a novella I haven’t gotten to.

Adri: I have two for this one: the late Mary Higgins Clark and Jacqueline West.

Samoas/ Caramel DeLites: An Emotional Rollercoaster (this cookie was hard … so any book that made you feel more than one emotion, strongly. The choice of emotions is up to you)

Breana:  I have to go with You Can Never Tell by Sarah Warburton. I went back and forth between bewilderment and surprise at how the characters got from point A to B to C and to D.

Adri: Her Honor by LaDoris Hazzard Cordell was an emotional rollercoaster. There were moments of sadness, sometimes disgust, but there were those happy moments too. Out of all the books I read this year, this one was the wildest ride I’ve been on.

Oreos: A Book Whose Cover Was Better Than The Story OR Vice Versa, Where The Story Was Better Than Its Cover

Breana: There weren’t any overtly bad covers that I can think of. The one for Aristocracy by William Doyle is kind of plain, but it was a short and informative read.

Adri: Like Breana, I don’t really have a book that fits this category this year. But, if I had to choose one, it would be The Way to Go by Kate Ascher. This is because the newer paperback version has a more striking cover than the hardcover, which is what I have.

Tagalongs/ Peanut Butter Patties: A Book That Wasn’t What You Expected (good, bad, or just different, interpret how you wish)

Breana: A book that wasn’t what I expected it to be was Natalie Starkey’s Fire and Ice: The Volcanoes of the Solar System. Going into this book, I had the expectation of a tour of the solar system through volcanoes. The book does just that, but it also dug its heels into the topic and did a deeper exploration of volcanoes on earth as well as how what we know about them can help us understand what’s going on with the geological activity of other planets. It was one of the most fascinating books I’ve read this year.

Adri: When I buy old books from Better World Books (especially sewing and fashion), I usually estimate what it will be about. My recent purchase, The Vogue/Butterick Step-by-Step Guide to Sewing Techniques, was printed in 1989. It blew my mind, because it’s obviously for patterns, but the various sewing techniques help a lot anyway. It’s hard to explain.

Snickerdoodles: A Book You May Never Stop Rereading/ Loving

Breana: Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake. I’m so glad I just bought a copy of the book, because I know I’ll return to it again in the near future. It was another one of my favorite nonfiction reads of 2021, and it was all about fungi.

Adri: Techniques from Casual Clothes from Threads, because there are so many techniques and patterns I want to try myself. So of course I have to read it many-many times.

Bonus: Choose a cookie I didn’t list and make up a question!

Our question from 2018: Monster Cookies have bold flavors and a long and varied list of ingredients such as M&Ms, chocolate chips, peanut butter, oats, and even sometimes raisins. It’s like a handful of cookie types mashed into one monster of a cookie. So… Monster cookie: name a book with a bold and whimsical title or a book title with four or more words.

Breana: I have three for this one: We Hunt the Flame, Six Crimson Cranes, and The Brilliant Abyss.

Adri: Let Me Call You Sweetheart, The Genome Odyssey, Mom & Me & Mom.

That's it for today. We tag you to do the cookie book tag to see how your answers differ (if you've done it before). If you're curious about our original take on the tag and our second and third try at it visit the posts HERE, HERE, and HERE

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

2021 Favorites


It’s almost December 31st. And, as 2021 winds down, it’s also time to talk about all of my favorite things from the year. 

Movies & TV Shows…

Surprisingly, I didn’t watch too many movies or try as many new shows as I thought I would have. I mainly rewatched old favorites when I happened to catch them. What I have, in terms of first time viewing, isn’t enough for it to get its own posts. So…

Some movies: F9, Poltergeist (1982), Nightbooks, Red Notice, Birds of Prey, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venome: Let There Be Carnage.

Some TV shows: Discovery of Witches season 2, SurrealEstate, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Gone For Good, Lost in Space season 2.

Books And Short Stories…

Generally, I liked most of what I read this year. I focused more on nonfiction as well as backlist titles and sequels that I’ve wanted to read. I didn’t get to all of them this year, but that just means I’m going into the New Year with a good-sized TBR list to keep me preoccupied. So, here are my favorite books from 2021.

The short stories...
2021 was a great year for music. It seemed like most of my favorite artists had new music coming out, and I discovered a few new bands and groups I want to follow. Below is a list of all my favorite albums and EPs I listened to in 2021. There is no particular order.
  • Alpha by CL
  • Planet Her by Doja Cat
  • Mini Mix vol. 1 and vol. 2, A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling, and Mercurial World by Magdalena Bay
  • Last Year Was Weird Vol. 3 by Tkay Maidza
  • 1/f and Pink Noise by Laura Mvula
  • If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power by Halsey
  • Scaled and Icey by Twenty One Pilots
  • 2000AND4EVA by Bree Runway
  • The Bitter Truth by Evanescence
  • Montero by Lil Nas X
  • Harenchi by Chanmina

And that’s it. I hope everyone is having a great holiday season. I will see you all in the New Year!

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