Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Review: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

30237061Title: Daughter of the Burning City
Series: N/A
Author: Amanda Foody
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Harlequin Teen; July 25, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show. But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered. Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear...
I’ve wanted to read Daughter of the Burning City for a while now. I freely admit that I was drawn in by the gorgeous cover and premise, which promised a magical and dangerous circus-y type setting—which is a favorite trope/element of mine that I don’t read often enough. I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would. It was a deeply atmospheric story. There were so many things about it that were cool and unique that I almost wish I’d read it sooner, but it is what it is.

Overall, I liked the story. There was a lot going on between the mystery about who was killing Sorina’s illusion, and the broader conflicts surrounding Gomorrah’s travels through the Up-Mountains. There were a lot of unexpected twists. And the setting was sort of fun—it’s a festival after all—but it carried through on some darker themes. In that way, the burning city lived up to its name. And Foody succeeded at capturing the atmosphere of Gomorrah: the danger and mystery; how something of its nature moves from place to place, and what the way of life was like for the people who lived and worked there. The lore surrounding the smoke that clouds Gomorrah’s sky was as unexpected and cool as the scenery and members of Sorina’s show. There was, of course, a world outside of Gomorrah. There could have been…more to it, but there were clear hints of the landscape and brutal extremism in the Up-Mountain beliefs that often ended in violence.

Now the characters—for the most part, I liked them, particularly Sorina and her illusions. Sorina is a character I would best describe as somewhat naïve, but considering the story, her upbringing, and age, it ultimately worked because it fit with her personality. Now, Sorina is a character without eyes, and some of the expressions used to describe her emotional reactions were a little confusing. Such as when she was crying, but without eyes I wasn’t certain how it worked. I wish that her emotions had been better reflected in her illusion jynx-work. But otherwise, I thought her character and abilities were fine.

I don’t know. There was something about Daughter of the Burning City that I loved, a certain charm to the characters, story, and setting. And I liked the end. It was a satisfying conclusion for the characters, despite some lingering questions. Needless to say, I will definitely read more books by Amanda Foody...

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Longest Book Tag


Today, I’m here to participate in another book tag. I haven’t done one in a long time, but recently I was tagged by Ronnie @ParadiseFound for The Longest Book Tag. And I thought: “Why not?” It’s a short tag. But then, I ran into a dilemma: Some of the longest books I’ve read were ones I didn’t enjoy, and in the end, I made the decision not to include them on this list. Instead, I want to focus on books I did like and ones I'm looking forward to. 

Before I get started, I have to get to the technical details of this post. The nitty gritty: This book tag was originally created by Bewitchingly Paranoid. You can find the original post HERE. You can also check out Ronnie’s post HERE

The rules…
  • Make a list of the 5 longest books you’ve ever read
  • Select 2 of the longest books on your tbr
  • Discuss
  • Tag others
Longest books I’ve read and enjoyed...

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  1. The Lies of Lock Lamora by Scott Lynch; 772 pages
  2. Cold Magic by Kate Elliott; 528 pages
  3. The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams; 815 pages
  4. The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers edited by Hollis Robbins and Henry Louis Gates Jr.; 656 pages
  5. The Diviners by Libba Bray; 578 pages
Longest books on my TBR…

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  1. The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin (I actually read the first book in the omnibus edition, but have yet to get to the other two. So, it’s still on my TBR list.); 1442 pages
  2. Cold Steele by Kate Elliott; 614 pages

My thoughts on long books…

I like long books but don’t think they’re any better or worse than something that has a lower word count. I try not to judge writing based on length. I read short stories and novellas and know that a good story can be told no matter the length.
Who I’m tagging…

Generally...
What are your thoughts on longer books? Does the length of a book matter to you?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Upcoming Albums I'm Waiting For

You know, in early February it occurred to me that in January I failed to talk about the upcoming music I was waiting for during the time I was discussing goals and 2018 books. Music is a regular subject that I and my co-bloggers discuss on the blog, particularly for the weekly meme, Music Monday. So, this post makes sense in the grand scheme of things and is long overdue. Plus, there’s a lot of new music coming out this year by some of my favorite artist…
New album by Grimes — Grimes’s music has a very particular sound. Art Angels (2015) was one of my favorite albums of the year. It includes songs like Butterfly, Realiti (studio and demo version), and Venus Fly featuring Janelle Monáe. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to new music by Grimes.

Joyride by Tinashe—Tinashe is an artist that I sporadically listen to. Her music has been catchy in the past, and there are specific songs that I really love. And then, No Drama happened. I’m so hyped for this album, plain and simple.

Rihanna 9th Studio Album—I’ve listened to Rihanna’s music on and off through the years. But then there was Anti. Anti is my favorite album by Rihanna, and since its release I’ve been eagerly waiting for her next album. No release date yet.

Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe—EXCITED SCREAMING!!! There was rumors of a 2017 release, but it didn't happen. However, last Friday, Janelle Monáe released the title and a short teaser trailer for her upcoming album Dirty Computer.

Cardi B Studio Album—Bodak Yellow was one of the catchiest singles to come out of 2017. I’m looking forward to whatever music Cardi B releases next, whether it’s another single or a full album.

Twenty One Pilots
—Who knows when we’ll get an update on their next album, but I’m willing to patiently wait.

Florence and the Machine 4th studio album—Ceremonials was the album that introduced me to Florence and the Machine. I still love it seven years later. It’s been a while since I’ve heard anything about the band, and I recently checked for news and saw that they’re working on another album. No release date as of when I wrote this post.

Childish Gambino’s next album—I’m sad about this one. I really am. If you google his name + new album, you’ll see that Donald Glover is retiring his Childish Gambino pseudonym after this next album. I’m so sad, but I’m also looking forward to it.
So, that is my list of music I’m looking forward to. I’m certain that as the year goes on more and more music is likely to be added.

What albums are you waiting for?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Music Monday (38): Kendrick Lamar, SZA, & Jorja Smith; a.k.a. This Is About Black Panther; I Have No Regrets

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 

Breana: I thought I had this post all planned out. I'd already decided on which songs I would talk about, but then, the Black Panther movie soundtrack happened and I was done for. Oh well. I have no regrets. But, can we just talk about how awesome All the Stars by Kendrick Lamar and SZA is? Not only that, but the music video is visually stunning...



There are so many good songs from the album. It's hard to choose just two to talk about. My second pick is I Am by Jorja Smith. It's lit.



I have to admit, this is one of my favorite movie soundtracks, and I highly recommend listening to the whole album. It's worth it...

What are you listening to?

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Friday 56 (125) & Book Beginnings: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
30237061Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show. But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered. Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear...
Beginning: "I peek from behind the tattered velvet curtains at the chattering audience, their mouths full of candied pineapple and kettle corn."

56: "Throughout the story, Villiam keeps a stoic expression, as if contemplating a puzzle from one of his books. I don't know how he can keep himself so contained."
Comments: I have finally read Daughter of the Burning City, and liked the story more than I thought I would. I kind of wish there was a sequel. What are you reading this week?


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

26032825Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Little Brown Books for Young Readers; January 2, 2018

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository


Synopsis from Goodreads...

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe...

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences. In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
I have been a fan of Holly Black’s writing for a number of years. I've always particularly enjoyed her books about fairies including The Spiderwick Chronicles (which I read as a kid), the Modern Faerie Tales, and The Darkest Part of the Forest. So, you can imagine how excited I was for The Cruel Prince.

I enjoyed this book. The plot had me hooked from the very first page. One thing I particularly enjoyed about The Cruel Prince was how it expanded the world already established in other books—like Tithe—and some familiar faces appeared briefly in the story.

The Cruel Prince didn’t necessarily offer anything new in terms of fairies—especially if you’ve read books by this author before. It read like Black’s usual take on fey lore with the fairies being cruel tricksters, and their society dark and atmospheric full of magic, danger, and politics. But that’s what I was expecting and it was done so well. What I didn’t expect was how much I liked the majority of Jude’s perspective. For the most part she was okay. I didn’t necessarily like all the decisions she made, and parts of her personality reminded me a little of Hazel from The Darkest Part of the Forest. At some parts, their goals were kind of similar, particularly in the beginning of The Cruel Prince. That being said, their stories were vastly different. It was also interesting to see the courts from the viewpoint of a human forced to live among the nobility of the fey and what daily life would be like for Jude and her twin.

The prince implied in the title, well…I didn’t like his character for about 50% of the book. The title says it all: he was intentionally cruel to Jude to the point of endangering her life. And that crossed the line. However, the twists with his character were unexpected, and he went through some much needed development in book 2 (part 2). I wasn't exactly sympathetic to his character, but he was tolerable.

Overall, The Cruel Prince was everything I was hoping it would be. The last few chapters were amazing, and I look forward to what Holly Black has in-store for this story.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Music Monday (37): TLC & Olivia Newton-John

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 

Breana: Lately, I’ve been in a mood where all I want to listen to is older music. As such, my first pick is Physical by Olivia Newton-John. The one I’m talking about today is her live performance at the Sydney Opera House. It’s a gorgeous version of the song; although, if you haven’t heard the original then I recommend giving it a listen too.



My second pick is No Scrubs by TLC. I cannot accurately describe how much I love this song. Also, the esthetic of the music video is still one of my all-time favorites.



Of course, I’ve been listening to more than just the above mentioned songs including music by Samantha Fox, Pretty Poison, and SOS Band, among many others. What are you listening to this week?

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Friday 56 (124) & Book Beginnings: The Universe of Us by Lang Leav

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
29431081Synopsis from Goodreads...

Lang Leav presents a completely new collection of poetry with a celestial theme in The Universe of Us...

Planets, stars, and constellations feature prominently in this beautiful, original poetry collection from Lang Leav. Inspired by the wonders of the universe, the best-selling poetess writes about love and loss, hope and hurt, being lost and found. Lang's poetry encompasses the breadth of emotions we all experience and evokes universal feelings with her skillfully crafted words...
Beginning: "I believe we think more deeply about the universe when we're falling in love. I think the mysterious pull draws you to another person is identical to the one that moves our eyes upward to the stars."

56: "I heard it began snowing in the Sahara and I wanted to tell you that I've changed."
Comments: My first poetry read of 2018, and I enjoyed it. The beginning is from the introduction by Lang Leav. And my 56 is part of a poem named Sahrah, and the irony behind it is that recently it actually did snow in the Sahara Desert. And The Universe of Us was released on October 4, 2016. 

What are you reading this week?


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

January Poetry Roundup

After I made my goal to read more poetry in 2018, I came across the problem of trying to figure out how I wanted to talk about them on the blog. And in the end, I decided that rather than doing a full review post for poetry books—many of them are short—that I would do a single monthly roundup of what I’ve been reading.
The Universe of Us by Lang Leav
  • The first poetry book I tackled in January was The Universe of Us by Lang Leav. Prior to this book, I’d never read anything by Leav but have heard a lot of good things about her work. Suffice it to say, I was interested. I’m not the best judge of what’s good or bad poetry—I haven’t read enough of it—but I enjoyed this collection. There were many poems about love and hurt, among other things. Many of them were relatable, such as Ode to Writers on page 93, which was so true that it almost hurt. Among my other favorites were Your Life, Today, the beautiful simplicity of Shooting Stars, and the truths that loudly resonated in Conversations. All-in-all, The Universe of Us wasn’t a bad one to start with....


The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers edited by Hollis Robins and Henry Louise Gates Jr.

  • Moving on, my second read was this collection edited by Hollis Robins and Henry Louise Gates Jr.. The basics: This book includes everything from poetry to fiction, essays, speeches, and personal accounts, among other things. It's a thought provoking and poignant collection that's an essential must read that also inspires further reading. It's history. And it dealt with accounts of slavery, discrimination after the Civil War, and hope and empowerment through religion and education from the viewpoint of African American women. There was work by writers such as Mary Prince, Pauline Hopkins, Julia Collins, and many others. I also enjoyed the fiction and poetry included in this book like the excerpt from Sarah E. Farro’s 1891 novel, True Love, and Mary E. Ash Lee’s poem, Afmerica (1885). As for the the poetry featured in this book, it's best described as intense. These poems often dealt with subjects that directly correlated with African American Women of the time, and acutely reflected their worries, observations, and hope for a better future—subjects that were reflected throughout the entire collection. As such, The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers was one of my favorite reads from January....

Comments + Looking ahead…

In January, I only got to two poetry books. It was a pretty good start on my goal; although, I hope to get to more than two in February. The good news is that more of  my library holds have come in, and I've compiled a list of which ones to read next....

Do you have any poetry recommendations?

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Friday 56 (123) & Book Beginnings: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
26032825Synopsis from Goodreads...

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe...

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences. In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
Beginning: "On a drowsy Sunday afternoon, a man in a long dark coat hesitated in front of a house on a tree-lined street."

56: "There is always a moment when it begins to move that I can't help grinning. There is something about the sheer impossibility of it, the magnificence of the woods streaking by and the way the ragwort hooves kick up gravel as they leap up into the air, that gives me an electric rush of pure adrenaline."
Comments: I had high hopes for The Cruel Prince and wasn't disappointed. What are you reading this week? 



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