Showing posts with label ARC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ARC. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

ARC Review: Floriography: An Illustrated Guide To The Victorian Language Of Flowers

50898143Title: Floriography: An Illustrated Guide To The Victorian Language Of Flowers
Series: n/a
Author: Jessica Roux
Source/Format: Publisher; eARC
More Details: Nonfiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Andrews McMeel Publishing; September 15, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
A charming, gorgeously illustrated botanical encyclopedia for your favorite romantic, local witch, bride-to-be, or green-thumbed friend.

The Language of Flowers is a full-color guidebook to the historical uses and secret meanings behind an impressive array of flowers and herbs. The book explores the coded significances associated with various blooms, from flowers for a lover to flowers for an enemy. The language of flowers was historically used as a means of secret communication. It soared in popularity during the 19th century, especially in Victorian England and the U.S., when proper etiquette discouraged open displays of emotion. Mysterious and playful, the language of flowers has roots in everything from the characteristics of the plant to its presence in folklore and history. Researched and illustrated by popular artist Jessica Roux, this book makes a stunning display piece, conversation-starter, or thoughtful gift.
Floriography was a very fascinating read. I’m not too well-versed on flower language, and this book turned out to be a good place to start. This book was arranged in a two page profile style format, with brief definitions to accompany the matching illustration. I do have to note that Roux’s illustrations were gorgeous. The book cover alone is enough of an example of the kind of work put into Floriography, and the overall presentation of the flowers and information was enjoyable to read. It was also cool to find out about all the meanings applied to the flowers and where that sort of came from. I also enjoyed the section on bouquets, as well as the parts that explained what each flower could be paired with and what kind of meaning would come from it.

Floriography was definitely a guidebook. I liked it, and I’m certainly interested in reading more about the subject. If you’ve wanted to learn a little about flower language, or were looking for a place to start—especially in a Victorian era context—then you might want to consider giving this book a try.

About the author....

Jessica Roux is a Nashville-based illustrator and plant and animal enthusiast. She loves exploring in her own backyard and being surrounded by an abundance of nature. Using subdued colors and rhythmic shapes, she renders flora and fauna with intricate detail reminiscent of old-world beauty. 

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Andrews McMeel Publishing) via netgalley for this review, thank you! 

Friday, September 4, 2020

ARC Review: Unbirthday by Liz Braswell

50358479Title: Unbirthday
Series: A Twisted Tale
Author: Liz Braswell
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Fantasy; Retelling; Young Adult
Publisher/Publication Date: Disney-Hyperion; September 1, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
What if Wonderland was in peril and Alice was very, very late?
Alice is different than other eighteen-year-old ladies in Kexford, which is perfectly fine with her. She'd rather spend golden afternoons with her trusty camera or in her aunt Vivian's lively salon, ignoring her sister's wishes that she stop all that "nonsense" and become a "respectable" member of society. Alice is happy to meander to Miss. Yao's teashop or to visit the children playing in the Square. She's also interested in learning more about the young lawyer she met there, but just because she's curious, of course, not because he was sweet and charming. But when Alice develops photographs she has recently taken about town, familiar faces of old suddenly appear in the place of her actual subjects-the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar. There's something eerily off about them, even for Wonderland creatures. And as Alice develops a self-portrait, she finds the most disturbing image of all-a badly-injured dark-haired girl asking for Alice's help. Mary Ann.
Returning to the place of nonsense from her childhood, Alice finds herself on a mission to stop the Queen of Hearts' tyrannical rule and to find her place in both worlds. But will she able to do so . . . before the End of Time?
I’m always on the lookout for a good retelling, especially for Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, which is one of my favorite classic stories. I’ve enjoyed a few retellings for it in the past—like L.L. McKinney’s Nightmare-verse series. So I had high expectations for Unbirthday. Unbirthday feels very much like a continuation of Disney’s 1951 film, Alice in Wonderland. The characters—Mad Hatter, Dormouse, and Dodo—have many similar characteristic (namely in appearance and behavior) to the characters of the movie or they could also more closely resemble those from the original story. With the story being set 11 years after Alice’s initial adventures in Wonderland, so there were differences, namely in the contents of the story. And overall I enjoyed Braswell’s take on an older Alice.

Alice is eighteen in this story, remembers Wonderland fondly as a dream, and looks for magic in her every-day surroundings. Overall, I enjoyed Alice’s perspective here. There was a blend between her regular life as well as her fantastical adventures once she returns to Wonderland. The transition between the two settings was done quite well, and I enjoyed many of the new characters introduced early in the story. Wonderland was full of nonsense and whimsy, and it was all-around pretty fun to read about. Due to the story, however, there was a much darker tone to Wonderland as a whole—in fact, it was downright sinister.

There was a part of the story that dealt a lot with politics—elections, rallies, the candidate, and social injustice—and many of those aspects mirrored real issues that are currently happening. In Unbirthday, Alice was involved with it, and it did take over much of the story outside of Wonderland. However, I did enjoy the complicated connections Alice formed with those around her, and some of my favorite characters included her aunt, Vivian, as well as Katz.

Unbirthday was a great Alice retelling. It had the whimsy and the wonder—and the randomness that’s a hallmark of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland—but it also didn’t shy away from the more serious aspects of its story.

About the author...

After the sort of introverted childhood you would expect from a writer, Liz earned a degree in Egyptology at Brown University and then promptly spent the next ten years producing video games. Finally she caved into fate and wrote Snow and Rx under the name Tracy Lynn, followed by The Nine Lives of Chloe King series under her real name, because by then the assassins hunting her were all dead. She also has short stories in Geektastic and Who Done It and a new series of reimagined fairy tales coming out, starting with A Whole New World—a retelling of Aladdin. She lives in Brooklyn with a husband, two children, a cat, a part-time dog, three fish and five coffee trees she insists will start producing beans any day. You can email her at me@lizbraswell.com.


Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Disney-Hyperion) via Netgalley for this review, thank you!


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

ARC Review: Haunted Heroine by Sarah Kuhn

40740848Title: Haunted Heroine
Series: Heroine Complex #4
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Source/Format: Netgalley (Publisher); eARC
More Details: Urban Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: DAW Books; July 7, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
The fourth book in the smart, snarky, and action-packed Heroine series follows Evie Tanaka, Aveda Jupiter, and Bea Tanaka as they combat a new supernatural threat. 
Everything in Evie Tanaka's life is finally perfect. As a badass superheroine, she defends San Francisco from demon invasion on the regular. Her relationships with superhero partner Aveda Jupiter, little sister Bea, and hot, half-demon husband Nate have never been stronger. Maybe it's possible for a grad school dropout turned put-upon personal assistant turned superhero to have it all? As if things can't get any better, Evie learns she's pregnant. She's overjoyed, but also worried about whether she's cut out for motherhood. Before she can dwell on her dilemma too much, a women's college reports a string of mysterious "hauntings," and Evie and Aveda are called in to investigate. When the hauntings turn deadly, they decide to move into the dorms full-time, going undercover as grad students. As she lives out a bizarre version of her grad school life, Evie can't help but wonder about the road not taken: what would her life be like if she'd stayed here instead of pursuing superheroing with Aveda?
If there was ever a series that needed more books, it was this one. I was excited when Haunted Heroine got announced, and now that I’ve read it I can say for certain that the excitement was well deserved. Haunted Heroine was a fantastic addition to the Heroine Complex series. It was an excellent continuation for the characters of the series—and as they embarked on the next chapter in their story, they were literally and figuratively being haunted by things from the past and present. With this kind of story, it was an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish, and I was rooting for the characters every step of the way.

Haunted Heroine is told from the perspective of Evie Tanaka, one of my favorite characters. Her POV is what introduced the series, and her perspective was just as delightful to read from as the first time around, in Heroine Complex. While the beginning was looking at her future—with her husband, Nate, and her pregnancy—much of the story explored Evie’s past. That also included an old relationship that has haunted (no pun intended) Evie in previous books in the series. It had affected her relationships with others, as well as how she saw herself. So it was great to see it finally addressed. Plus Kuhn’s handling of the emotional side of the character arcs was fantastic. It was one of my favorite aspects about the story, and I felt like a lot of the lingering plot threads from previous stories reached a satisfying resolution.

It was also great to see how the other characters in the series were adjusting to changes in their lives/ what they were currently doing after the end of the third book—including Evie’s younger sister, Bea, Aveda, and everyone else. Evie and Aveda’s friendship has always been one of the highlights of the series, even with the ups and downs. I liked how they were both still working on their friendship, but there was never a doubt that there was a bond there.

Overall, I liked Haunted Heroine’s story. It took place in October, and the setting—Morgan College—was different from the more familiar urban city setting of San Francisco. The grounds of the college afforded for something of a spooky atmosphere, and it was a perfect place for the latest mystery to play out.

Haunted Heroine is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. If you’re a fan of this series, then this one should be on your TBR list.
About the author....

Sarah Kuhn is the author of the popular Heroine Complex novels—a series starring Asian American superheroines. The first book is a Locus bestseller, an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee, and one of the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog’s Best Books of 2016. Her YA debut, the Japan-set romantic comedy I Love You So Mochi, is a Junior Library Guild selection and a nominee for YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults. She has also penned a variety of short fiction and comics, and her hotly anticipated graphic novel Shadow of the Batgirl is coming out in early 2020 from DC Comics. Additionally, she was a finalist for both the CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) New Writers Award and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. A third generation Japanese American, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and an overflowing closet of vintage treasures.
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Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by the publisher (DAW Books) via netgalley for this review, thank you!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Review: The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire

43233639Title: The Unkindest Tide
Series: October Daye #13
Author: Seanan McGuire
Source/Format: Publisher; Bound ARC
More Details: Urban Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: DAW Books; September 3, 2019

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
Hundreds of years ago, the Selkies made a deal with the sea witch: they would have the sea for as long as she allowed it, and when the time came, she would call in all their debts at once. Many people assumed that day would never come. Those people were wrong. When the Luidaeg—October "Toby" Daye's oldest and most dangerous ally—tells her the time has come for the Selkies to fulfill their side of the bargain, and that Toby must be a part of the process, Toby can't refuse. Literally. The Selkies aren't the only ones in debt to the Luidaeg, and Toby has to pay what she owes like anyone else. They will travel to the fabled Duchy of Ships and call a convocation of the Selkies, telling them to come and meet the Luidaeg's price...or face the consequences. Of course, nothing is that simple. When Dianda Lorden's brother appears to arrest Dianda for treason against the Undersea, when a Selkie woman is stripped of her skin and then murdered, when everything is falling apart, that's when Toby will have to answer the real question of the hour. Is she going to sink? Or is she going to swim?
I took The Unkindest Tides with me while I had jury duty, and suffice it to say, the story kept me thoroughly entertained during breaks. It’s not the first book I’ve read by Seanan McGuire, but it is the only one I’ve gotten around to reading from the October Daye series. Even though it was the 13th book, I read it anyway—partially because I had no time to get to the other 12 novels in the series before the start of my jury duty. Regardless, I had no trouble following the story, getting invested in the characters, or interested in the world. I loved the story, and it’s probably my favorite book I’ve read by McGuire to date.

The synopsis tells a lot about the book, and the story pretty much delivered on every front. The story starts calmly, but it takes off when the Luidaeg arrived and announced that she intended to collect on debts owed to her. There was mystery, action, and a cast of wonderful characters. The world McGuire has created is probably one of my favorite urban fantasy takes on the fae. It was often a strange and interesting world, particularly with how the everyday side you and I would know met with the magical side. One location that was of interest to me was the Duchy of Ships, which is where the book primarily took place. It was such a creative place to set a story, and I thoroughly like all the details about it from the politics to the architecture, and even some of what local life was like for the people who lived there. Also, I like that there were unique characteristics to each kind of fae and the magic present in the story.

Generally speaking, I liked all of the main characters. October Daye was interesting enough, and I liked the relationship she had with Tybalt. They clashed over certain subjects, but I was a fan of the way they talked it out with one another. The Luidaeg was another one of my favorite characters from the story. Her history and that of her children was long and tragic, and I understood why she would want to be “Cousin Annie” as an escape.

I don’t know everything there is to know about the series, and I probably missed a few references to previous books, but overall The Unkindest Tide was a great story. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to diving into the previous books in the series and other novels by Seanan McGuire. Have you read any books from the October Daye series? If so, are you planning to read The Unkindest Tide?



Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher for this review, thank you!



Thursday, September 12, 2019

ARC Review: Word to the Wise by Jenn McKinlay

43203098Title: Word to the Wise
Series: Library Lover's Mystery #10
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Cozy Mystery
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley; September 3, 2019

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
It's no-holds-barred murder, in the latest page-turning Library Lover's Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Hitting the Books. 
Lindsey Norris is finally getting married to the man of her dreams--but it's not all roses for Briar Creek's beloved library director, as gardening enthusiast and town newcomer Aaron Grady gives the term "book lover" a whole new meaning. Inappropriate looks and unwelcome late-night visits to Lindsey's house have everyone from the crafternooners to Lindsey's fiancé, Sully, on edge. When Grady's dead body is found staged outside the library and all the clues point to Sully, Lindsey knows it's up to her to dig through the hidden chapters of Grady's previous life to find the real culprit and clear Sully's name. But becoming a thorn in the killer's side is not without its consequences, and the closer Lindsey gets to the truth, the more determined the murderer is to make her just a footnote....
I’ve been looking forward to Jenn McKinlay’s follow-up to Hitting the Books since I read it last year. In Word to the Wise, some of the themes—like harassment and climate change—leaned toward the more timely side. McKinlay nailed the unusual weather patterns, enabling actions of others, the emotional toll, and the disconcerting characterization of characters like Aaron Grady. Because of that, there was an eerie—and sometimes exasperating—feel to the whole story. The mystery was anything but straight forward, and the twists were especially twisty in this one. As such, Word to the Wise was a page-turner. It also turned out to be one of my favorite installments in the Library Lover’s Mystery series.

At first, everything seemed great for Lindsey Norris. She had her job at the library. She was getting married to Sully. And I was happy about the development, because it meant that the romantic subplots of previous books were finally beginning to pay off for the characters. Plus, the stages of wedding preparation were fun, okay. However, once the mystery of who killed Aaron Grady began, some of that happiness evaporated. I liked the mystery here, because the suspects had sufficient motive to want Grady gone. He was a creep who used his reputation as an upstanding citizen as an excuse, a cover, to get away with harassment and stalker behavior. But, just like there was more to Grady, the mystery was also a complex issue. Nothing was as it seemed, and the twists kept coming.

The characters were as great as always. In particular, I liked the library staff who worked for Lindsey, as well as many of the other reoccurring characters. I liked the setting as well. Briar Creek is a small, idyllic coastal town: if you’re familiar with this series, then you know what it’s like, and there isn’t much more to say about it.

Overall, Word to the Wise was an excellent addition to the series. If you’ve read any of the previous books, then this one should be on your TBR List.

About the author...

Jenn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several mystery series and will be debuting a new women's fiction series in June 2017, starting with the title About a Dog. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets and her husband's guitars.



Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by First to Read for this review, thank you!




Tuesday, June 4, 2019

ARC Review: Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey

41555947Title: Magic For Liars
Series: n/a
Author: Sarah Gailey
Source/Format: Bookish First; bound ARC
More Details: Fantasy; Mystery
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor Books; June 4, 2019

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
Sharp, mainstream fantasy meets compelling thrills of investigative noir in this fantasy debut by rising star Sarah Gailey... 
Ivy Gamble has never wanted to be magic. She is perfectly happy with her life—she has an almost-sustainable career as a private investigator, and an empty apartment, and a slight drinking problem. It's a great life and she doesn't wish she was like her estranged sister, the magically gifted professor Tabitha. But when Ivy is hired to investigate the gruesome murder of a faculty member at Tabitha’s private academy, the stalwart detective starts to lose herself in the case, the life she could have had, and the answer to the mystery that seems just out of her reach...
Prior to reading Magic For Liars, I’d heard a lot of good things about Sarah Gailey’s other published work. I hadn't read them, but I was very excited to dive into this book anyway. Magic For Liars is a whodunit style murder mystery set primarily at Osthorne Academy, a boarding school for mages. From the start, it had a promising premise. And while parts of the story tended to be a little more predictable than others, that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.

I liked the writing and pace of the story, as well as the setting. Right away, the prologue introduced the mystery. At first, it seemed like there weren’t any suspects, because the victim was well-liked by students and faculty. However, nothing was as it seemed. And despite Ivy’s idolization of places like Osthorne, they still had as many problems as any other school. She seemed to learn that lesson the hard way, and at times I was waiting for her to let go of her lies—the ones she was beginning to buy into—and focus on the case. As I mentioned above, I was able to kind of guess who the culprit would likely be, just not the motivation behind their actions. So, it wasn’t an issue, because there was so much I generally enjoyed about the book. Also, I was still invested enough in the story to wait around for the big reveal to happen.

Magic was such a big theme in the story. Some of it was kind of whatever goes. However the more academic side with rules and limitations was actually interesting to read about.

Ivy Gamble is a private investigator, and for the most part I liked her characterization. Even though she was solving other people’s issues, she had her own share of problems that—toward the beginning of the book—went largely unaddressed. She drank, resented her sister, was bitter about the magic she didn’t have, and thought about herself in a manner that I could often describe as self-deprecating. Many of her cases involved cheating spouses among other things. So, I could understand her enthusiasm and trepidation about being handed what she considered to be a big and important case that was unlike other’s she’d handled before. The other characters were interesting as well. None of them were perfect. A lot of them had secrets and quirks—like Tabitha Gamble, Mrs. Webb, and others. However, it’s what made them distinctive and memorable. I didn’t even mind the romance subplot.

Magic For Liars was an interesting blend of magic and mystery, and if you’re a fan of that, then I would say give this one a try. I wish there was a sequel, because I would have liked to see more from these characters. Overall, I look forward to reading another book by Sarah Gailey....


About the author...
Permission is granted to freely use either of these photographs for promotional or press purposes so long as they are credited ©   Allan Amato    2019.Hugo award winner Sarah Gailey lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Their nonfiction has been published by Mashable and the Boston Globe, and their fiction has been published internationally. They are a regular contributor for Tor.com and Barnes & Noble. You can find links to their work at www.sarahgailey.com. They tweet@gaileyfrey.
(Photo credit: ©Allan Amato 2019) 



Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by Bookish First and Tor Books for this review, thank you!



Wednesday, February 13, 2019

ARC Review: The Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross

40409247Title: The Beast's Heart
Series: n/a
Author: Leife Shallcross
Source/Format: First to read; eARC
More Details: Fantasy; Retelling
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley; February 12, 2019

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
A sumptuously magical, brand new take on a tale as old as time—read the Beast's side of the story at long last...
I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both. I am the Beast. The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time. My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded. My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart; she taught me how to be human again. And now I might lose her forever....
Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast's heart....

I always look forward to retellings for the usual reasons. So it’s pretty obvious why I wanted to give The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross a try. It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling told from the perspective of the Beast, and I was looking forward to what twists Shallcross would inject into a tale that’s already so familiar. I liked this book. It was long and it followed the general plot of Beauty and the Beast—so, if you know anything about the story, some parts of this one will feel familiar. Yet, The Beast’s Heart was still an interesting retelling.

From the first page, I was drawn in by Shallcross’s writing. It was descriptive and expertly conveyed what the Beast was going through as well as the setting and the magic present in the story. Shallcross did a good job at creating a better picture of the loneliness he went through during the time he spent isolated in a forest and then in his chateau. So, one thing I did see more of was what the Beast was doing before the usual starting point of the story, and when he had time alone thereafter. 
I also liked how Shallcross handled the other parts of the story. With so limited a focus, I was afraid that some of the other characters—like Isabeau’s family—would get lost while the story played out between her and the Beast. But, that wasn’t the case at all. There was a gradual progression of the story for both main and secondary characters. And I have to say that I enjoyed how those parts were ultimately incorporated into the rest of the story. Now, one thing I do have to talk about is how familiar parts of the story felt. Because this was a retelling that closely followed the original tale, it took away some of the surprise that might have come with certain revelations had there been more differences. It wasn’t that big of an issue. Other than that, the story was good. 
Overall, The Beast’s Heart was a solid retelling of Beauty and the Beast. And, if you’re a fan of the original tale, then maybe consider giving this one a try. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to whatever Shallcross writes next....

About the author....

Leife Shallcross’s first novel, The Beast’s Heart, a "luxuriously magical retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale", will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in May 2018. She is also the author of several short stories, including Pretty Jennie Greenteeth, which won the 2016 Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Short Story. Leife has a bit of a thing for fairy tales, and is particularly inspired by those characters that tend to fall into the cracks of the usual stories. She can be found online at leifeshallcross.com and on Twitter @leioss.

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Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by First to Read for this review, thank you!


Monday, November 26, 2018

ARC Review: The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

39169409Title: The Mortal Word
Series: The Invisible Library #5
Author: Genevieve Cogman
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Fantasy; Historical
Publisher/Publication Date: Ace; November 27, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

In the latest novel in Genevieve Cogman's historical fantasy series, the fate of worlds lies in the balance. When a dragon is murdered at a peace conference, time-travelling Librarian spy Irene must solve the case to keep the balance between order, chaos . . . and the Library. When Irene returns to London after a relatively straightforward book theft in Vienna, Bradamant informs her that there is a top secret dragon-Fae peace conference in progress that the Library is mediating, but that the second-in-command dragon has been stabbed to death. Tasked with solving the case, Vale and Irene immediately go to 1890s Paris. Once they arrive, it seems that the murder victim had uncovered evidence suggesting that he may have found proof of treachery by one or more Librarians. But to ensure the peace of the conference, some Librarians are already hostages in the dragon and Fae courts. To save the captives, including her parents, Irene must get to the bottom of this murder—but was it dragon, Fae, or even a Librarian who committed the crime?
The Invisible Library is one of those series that keeps getting better and better. And while I’m guilty of not keeping up with this series as much as I should have—and I really need to—I had no problem reading The Mortal Word. This book was fantastic. The mystery kept me guessing and the action and danger made the story that much more exciting. There was a hefty dose of political intrigue and maneuvering as the Dragons, Fae, and Library all came together for a peace conference.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Right from the start, it opens with Irene doing what she does best: retrieving books. But as it quickly became apparent, there was so much more going on this time around. There was a multitude of characters in a situation best described as volatile and high stakes. There were a lot of different sides to keep up with such as the Fae and their nature, some of the inner workings of the Dragon society, and how past animosity came into play while trying to make negotiations. So, there was never a boring moment. I also liked all the details about how the idea for the conference came about + all of the danger that came with it. As such, it was interesting to see how the opposing forces affected the setting—an alternative version of Paris—where the story took place.

The overall plot was fantastic, because, I’m going to be honest, there were a lot of characters with dubious motivations who did a number of questionable actions. It’s one of the things that made the mystery at the core of The Mortal Word as interesting as it was, which was why the buildup to the twists were all that more rewarding by the time the book was over. The ending was a satisfying conclusion to The Mortal Word while also leaving room for the story to continue.

The characters from this series have always been interesting, and there were a lot of familiar faces that appeared in The Mortal Word. Irene is, of course, my favorite character. I like her personality. Her job is pretty cool at times. And I also liked how she handled herself during some of the tensest moments of The Mortal Word. There was also Kai, and while he was present, his role was a little more in the background this time. Although, I enjoyed the moments where Kai and Irene got to interact.

All in all, The Mortal Word is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. It’s effectively renewed my interest in The Invisible Library series. And after that ending, I hope there’s going to be another book after this one. If you’re a fan of this series, then The Mortal Word should be on your TBR list....

About the author...

Genevieve Cogman is a freelance author, who has written for several role-playing game companies. Her work includes GURPS Vorkosigan and contributions to the In Nomine role-playing game line for Steve Jackson Games: contributions to Exalted 2nd Edition and other contributions to the Exalted and Orpheuslines for White Wolf Publishing: Hearts, Swords and Flowers: The Art of Shoujo for Magnum Opus: and contributions to the Dresden Files RPG for Evil Hat Productions. She currently works for the NHS in England in the HSCIC as a clinical classifications specialist. She has had eight books of her series about the multidimensional Library accepted by Tor Books; the first three books, The Invisible Library, The Masked City, The Burning Page, and The Lost Plot are now available: the fifth, The Mortal Word, will be available in November 2018...

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Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by First to Read for this review, thank you!




Thursday, October 25, 2018

ARC Review: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

37584991Title: The Proposal
Series: n/a
Author: Jasmine Guillory
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Contemporary; Romance
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley Books; October 30, 2018
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The author of The Wedding Date serves up a novel about what happens when a public proposal doesn't turn into a happy ending, thanks to a woman who knows exactly how to make one on her own. When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn't come as a surprise--or happen in front of 45,000 people....

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn't the hard part--they've only been dating for five months, and he can't even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans...

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik's rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He's even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik's social media blows up--in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can't be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes...
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory is another cute romance with an excellent cast of diverse characters, and a heroine who finds herself on the wrong side of a story gone viral. And while a public proposal can seem like a sweet idea, The Proposal showed all the ways it could go wrong. Right off the bat—no pun intended—the inciting incident provided the perfect foundation for the rest of the story by adding some early conflict to the plot. And I liked it.

Carlos was one of my favorite characters from The Wedding Date. However, he was only in a supporting role as the best friend of Drew. Here, he’s the main guy, and Guillory fleshed-out his character by adding his backstory and showing more of his family—like his sister, mother, and cousin. I liked Carlos’s family. They were wonderful characters.

Nik was also interesting. She was sassy at times, smart, and had a number of great friends who were willing to back her up—whether that was a much needed cupcake, relationship advice, dinner, or simply getting together to talk things over.

The Proposal was more of a slow burn kind of romance. The characters spent a lot of talking and hanging out together. This was a nice touch to the story because it introduced the main characters of The Proposal to me, as the reader, and to each other on page without slowing down the story. The beginning was excellent. However, some of descriptions and dialogue seemed a little repetitive at times. That being said, I didn’t have the same problem with the second half of the story, and since this was an ARC, it may be changed in the final version of the book.

All-in-all, The Proposal was a pretty great read. And I’m looking forward to whatever Guillory writes next....

About the author...

Jasmine Guillory is a graduate of Wellesley College and Stanford Law School. She is a Bay Area native who has towering stacks of books in her living room, a cake recipe for every occasion, and upwards of 50 lipsticks....



Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by First to Read for this review, thank you!




Wednesday, September 19, 2018

ARC Review: The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell

37585026Title: The Lost Carousel of Provence
Series: n/a
Author: Juliet Blackwell
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Historical Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley Books; September 18, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

An artist lost to history, a family abandoned to its secrets, and the woman whose search for meaning unearths it all in a sweeping and expressive story from the New York Times bestselling author of Letters from Paris...

Present day, San Francisco. During her free time, professional photographer Cady Drake shoots local carousels, a hobby inspired by a gift that transformed her childhood: a wooden rabbit supposedly created by master French carver Gustave Bayol a century ago. And when she's offered a freelance assignment for a book on the antique merry-go-rounds of Paris, Cady can't refuse the opportunity to visit the famous carousels for the first time....

1900s, France. In a small town outside of Avignon, a husband and young wife struggle to keep up their ancestral chateau--and start the family they so desperately desire. For the children they hope to have, the Clements hire the famous Bayol to build a carousel, but as the carver and his apprentice work on the beautiful and whimsical creation, fate will entwine them all in unseen ways--for generations to come...

Present day, Provence. As Cady's research leads her to the dilapidated Chateau Clement and its fabled carousel that was lost to the ravages of World War II, she will uncover a shocking truth in a set of one-hundred-year-old photographs that could guide her in reuniting a family torn apart by petty jealousies over several generations.
In 2016, I read a book called Letters from Paris. Before then, I was unfamiliar with books by Juliet Blackwell. I loved Letters from Paris and was ecstatic to see that Blackwell was writing another book with dual storylines, and that it was also set in France. And, oh man, The Lost Carousel of Provence was as good as I was hoping it would be. It was a compelling story about found family, loss, tragedy, love, and second chances spanning across more than a hundred years from past to present.

Blackwell has a way with words. Right from the start, the writing was descriptive with the settings being rife with vividly described scenery. There were other little things too, details about everything from daily life to even the carousels the character, Cady, loved so much. Carousels were a big part of the story, and I liked the fact that the author included so much detailed information about them including how they were constructed—from concept to completion—with mention of work by Bayol and other notable carousels in France.

While the present storyline was good, I also liked the historical aspects of The Lost Carousel of Provence. Blackwell did a good job of setting the tone for these parts with a mix of fiction and historical fact. A loose image of the time period before, during, and after World War 2 in France was presented with the focus on people from one family. The dual storylines featured more than two perspectives, particularly the ones that took place in 1900 and around the 1940s. That being said, there was never a moment where the characters got muddled. The narrators were unique, their stories varied, and I loved how it all eventually connected in the present without being too or immediately obvious how everything was related. And the build up to the reveals and the ending was one of my favorite things about the story.

As I mentioned above, the characters were pretty unique. One of my favorites was Cady. She was a little rough around the edges and had few connections, but the ones she had were genuine. Her chapters were among my favorites. There was also little romance, but it was subtle, very slow burn.

All in all, I enjoyed The Lost Carousel of Provence. And I guess it’s time to read that copy of The Paris Key that’s been sitting on my shelf since 2016....
About the author....

Juliet Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author of Letters from Paris and The Paris Key. She also writes the Witchcraft Mystery series and the Haunted Home Renovation series. As Hailey Lind, Blackwell wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover's Mystery series. A former anthropologist, social worker, and professional artist, Juliet is a California native who has spent time in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France....


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Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by First to Read for this review, thank you!



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