The City of Brass- By S.A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1)The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first book of 2018 and wow was it surprising. I’m always a bit hesitant when it comes to massively popular books. I usually end up hating them or am left feeling extremely disappointed. I decided to avoid all reviews and just dive in with no expectations. It was a wise decision! I ended up getting sucked into the story and having that awesome book experience where everything real disappears as you immerse youself in the world unfolding on the pages. I love that feeling!

I do have some conflicting feelings about this book and I honestly think that I was supposed to. This isn’t a neatly packaged story with clear good vs. bad guys. The characters are complex and not always the best people or even likable. For me, this only makes the story more interesting. All in all I gave this book 4 stars out of 5.

Summary-

Nahri lives by her own rules. As a single woman on the streets of Cairo she uses her talent as a con artist to survive. Her cons may look like magic, but they are merely tricks to get enough coin so she can escape to a better life. One fateful day during a cerimonial zar meant to save a young girl she accidentally summons a powerful dijinn warrior.
What happens next is a whirlwind adventure across the desert to the legendary city of brass. But, all is not as it seems as the legendary city of brass that should have been a sanctuary turns into a political prison where treachery and war are ever close by. Nahri is forced to accept that magic is real and that her perceptions of the people closest to her might be her undoing.

Plot, setting, and worldbuilding-

This book is full of action but suffers from not exactly having an over all point. There are times where I felt like I knew the direction the book was taking me and times where I was utterly in the dark. There are so many layers to this tale and while I did mostly enjoy that aspect, I also wanted a clear definition of where this story was headed. That’s mostly a personal thing and not something that I think would ruin the book for other readers. I like my stories to follow a path so this challenged me as a reader and in a good way!

Holy wow, the setting and the world building were fantastic. I felt like I was transported to the desert and could picture every detail of the city and surrounding. I also loved how the author wove Arabic mythology and folklore into the tale. I am so intrigued by traditional tales from Arabia. Some of my favorite fairytale and folklore stories are from this part of the world. So, I was super excited to see elements from my faorite tales come up in this book. The world building and inclusion of this details are what made me stay up and read until the wee hours of the morning!

Characters-

I loved Nahri. She is strong, independant, and sassy. She is not afraid to get what she wants even if that means stealing it! She experiences a ton of growth in this story, but still I feel like there is more I have to know about her.

Dara… how do I even describe him. He is complex and I both loved and hated him throughout the book. I think his story is meant to give you lots of conflicting feels. I won’t go into details because I’m afraid I will give someting away.

Prince Ali- Unreasonably arrogant, still unsure of himself, a force to be reckoned with, and someone that I started off hating and ended up loving to the point of wishing there was a whole book written from his perspective. Not kidding. He is that interesting with the right amount of flaws and depth.

Secondary characters- Here is where the book lost a star. There are lots of characters that I should have cared more about but didn’t because their individual stories were a bit thin. There is so much action in this book that some of the side characters get lost in the mix. I’m hoping that book 2 fills them in a bit more and gives them the proper attention that they deserve.

Final thoughts-

This book does deserve the mountains of praise that have been thrown its way. It is one of the best fantasy books I’ve read that straddles the line between adult and YA fantasy. I think it will have massive amounts of appeal to a large audience. It is definitely a book that would have been on my fantasy and folklore lists at the library where I used to work. It is a complex book that explores how stories are molded and shaped based on the storyteller. History does get written by those who win wars and stories are not always filled with 100% truth. It is a tale that beckons you to consider every facet before you pick a side.

View all my reviews

Flame In The Mist: Book Review

Title: Flame in the Mist

Rating: 4 stars

Mariko is the daughter of a prominent Samurai. Her only duty is to marry well. When her family ships her off to become the wife of one of the Emperors sons, she feels that her future is over. Bound by honor, but cursed with a bright mind and clever spirit, Mariko is conflicted about her future. When her envoy is attacked in the forest by the gang know as the Black Clan her future suddenly takes a drastic change.
Determined to find out who is trying to kill her she dresses as a boy to infiltrate the clan. But what she finds is not what she expects as her loyalty is tested to its limits. A rich lyrical tale set in feudal Japan.

I confess that I was frustrated with this book. I had heard over and over in the publishing world and through bloggers that this was a Mulan retelling. I think that I spend half of the book being super frustrated because that is what I was expecting. I finally decided to view this as a new story with familiar themes and I ended up enjoying quite a bit more.

What I liked:

It took a long time for me to warm up to the story. I confess that I didn’t like Mariko for a long time. She is nothing like your typical Disney princess. (On that note: Stop comparing books to movies! It’s set the reader up for disappointment and frustration) She is logical, independent, and a bit naive. She spends much of the book asking question after question after question. She is also doesn’t spend the book in a romantic fog. Her actions are planned and plotted almost to her demise.! Which is exactly why she drove me crazy and why I ended up loving her story. She grows on you. It’s a nice change of pace from most fairy tale type stories. I love that she feels like a real character with legit flaws instead of a fluffy Mary Sue.

I also enjoyed the setting and the little twists and turns introduced along the way. There is a slight magical element that I hope, takes a more central role in the next book. The book also reveals itself slowly at a pretty comfortable pace. It isn’t an action packed page turner until the very end! (no spoilers!)

Bonus: NO LOVE TRIANGLES! This story is not romance centric. While there are some pretty steamy scenes, (PG-13) don’t expect this to be a hard core romance from front to cover.

Things that were a bit frustrating:

I love a good backstory and got it with “Wrath and the Dawn.” I felt like this element was missing throughout much of “Flame in the Mist.” There is very little known about the motives of the Black Clan. How did they start? What is their purpose? Are they really good or more a Robin Hood type gang? I think that the author may have done this on purpose to give them a mystical feel.. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work for me. I want to know more about the supposed bad guys before I love or hate them. I’m hoping that their story and backstory takes a front seat in the next book.

Final thoughts:

Once I got past the Mulan thoughts I really enjoyed this book. I’m am very much looking forward to the second. Renee Ahdieh is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors to recommend to readers at the library. I am very much looking forward to sharing this as a great summer read.

Added note: 
This book is pitched as Mulan meets 47 Ronin and I would love if you forget that you ever heard this. Why? Because these comparisons sell it short. This is a story that stands on its own and one that might disappoint you if you are expecting the Disney Mulan treatment. I encourage you to read this as a new story with some familiar themes and only a squint (and you have to squint pretty hard) of Mulan. I have not seen 47 Ronin so I cannot compare it to that movie.

The Glittering Court Paperback Release Day and Giveaway!

I am so excited to share this post with you today! I am part of Penguin’s Paperback Release Day Blitz. The romantic, sometimes scandalous, and often intriguing tale “The Glittering Court” is out today in Paperback. If you have not had a chance to read this one give it a chance. To me, it feels like a blend of historical fiction and fantasy. The second in the series “Midnight Jewel” comes out in June.

The best part about this post?!! There is a giveaway link below for a chance to win one of ten copies of “The Glittering Court.” Good luck!!

Description from publisher: 

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

 

Link to the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GIVEAWAY LEGAL:

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of ten (10) copies of The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead (ARV: $10.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 28, 2017 and 12:00 AM on April 5, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about April 7, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

RICHELLE MEAD is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Vampire Academy series and its spin-off series, Bloodlines. Originally from Michigan, she now lives in Seattle, Washington.

A Free Range Librarian in Denver

Welcome back friends! I have finally made it to Denver, Colorado after 2 long months of packing and selling our house. It has taken every ounce of brain power to leave one life behind and start another. I haven’t had a chance to blog or much less read. My life has been boxes, packing tape, contractors, and goodbyes. It’s nice to finally be a bit settled.

One of my first stops was the Arapahoe Library’s Castlewood Branch for a new library card. This is a smaller branch that reminds me a lot of the Schweitzer Brentwood Branch Library in Springfield, Missouri. The layout is open and welcoming with lots of seating for all ages. I am in love with their maker-space and looking forward to using it now that I’m in a tiny one bedroom apartment. It was really easy to find things and all the librarians have been very friendly. Bonus: You get to choose the color of your library card!!

I’m taking a bit of a break from job hunting right now. My hubby joked that I’m a free range librarian. I’m looking at my options and taking my time with the search. It’s hard to imagine having another library job that was as awesome as my last. I’m feeling a bit lost at the moment as I sit here writing this blog at the library. A huge part of me wants to be behind the desk helping patrons find books or planning a new teen program. For now, I think that I need some sleep and a few more weeks to get to know where I live! All good things are worth the wait.

So, what does this mean for Skipping through the stacks? I plan to do more book reviews and to revisit some of my library programs that I haven’t had a chance to blog about. I’m also going to add some book promos for upcoming titles that I think my readers would love. I also might throw in a craft project or two! I am debating on changing the look of the blog again or even going pro. It’s all up in the air, so be prepared for all of the above!

 

Finally here is a short list of books that I’m loving:

Read:

 

 

The Valiant By Lesley Livingston

Epic gladiator book featuring a kick butt female lead. Romance is a tiny bit predictable, but the twists and turns in this book kept me reading. Review to come.  4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

Currently Reading: 

 

Flame in the Mist vy Renee Ahdieh

Isn’t this cover gorgeous?!! I just started this one and I’m already hooked. It’s publish date is May 16, 2017. I’m so stoked that I got an egalley of this book. Thank you times a billion!! I loved Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger. Be sure to add this to your list of hot summer titles for fantasy readers.

 

 

 

 

 

TBR Pile:

 

Some Kind of Happiness- Book Review

Some Kind of HappinessSome Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finley’s only safety lies deep in the heart of Everwood, a story that she keeps secret in her notebook. Her adventures there help her deal when the sadness and blue day threaten to overtake her life. When her parent’s send her off to visit Grandparent’s she has never met, the line between what is real and what is imaginary becomes blurry. Will she have the courage to save her story, her family, and most importantly herself?

This is a beautiful story about heartbreak, family, secrets, and what it’s like to have a sadness that you cannot explain. Finley’s world of Everwood is full of adventure and daring deeds, just like her real life if she can only stop long enough to see it.

What I liked:

This story hit me on a personal level that I did not expect. I could relate to Finley because at 11 I had those same overwhelming feelings that I couldn’t put into words. I created vast worlds and stories so I could escape from my real life and the dark thoughts that were always there. I wish this book had been written back then, because I could have used a story like this in my life. Finley is a great kid and I think middle grade readers who have depression and anxiety will connect with her story. I enjoyed how the plot was revealed within her made up world. It shows the world of depression and anxiety without overwhelming the reader. As a person who has struggled with both from a very young age, I felt it was true to what I experienced growing up.

Minor Issue:

This isn’t as much of a dislike as a quibble I had with the characters. It took me a long time to connect with any other people in the book. They were all pretty one dimensional until about halfway into the story. Later on I could see why the author chose to do this. It is really supposed to be about Finley. As a reader I like to have all the characters fleshed out pretty quickly in a story. For me, it helps me immerse myself in the world. Like I said, it’s more of a personal preference.

Final thoughts:

I really liked this one. It hit me in the feels in a way that I was not expecting because of personal experience. I think this is an important book for MG readers who struggle with feelings of depression and anxiety. It has a good message and a good ending that is true to life.

View all my reviews

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day- Book Review

Ms. Bixby's Last DayMs. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m so glad this book was my last read for 2016. It is full of friendship and life. It also broke my heart in the best possible way. Usually sad MG books are not my thing because rarely do they offer any kind of realistic and uplifting moments. Many have endings that seem contrived and thrown together. When I picked this one up I was worried that it would be one of those books. One of my co-workers highly praised this one as a great middle grade read and make sure I had a box of tissues ready. She wasn’t wrong. It exceeded my expectations.

Topher, Steve, and Brand have one of the “Good ones.” Ms. Bixby is a teacher who makes you want to come to school. She sees the good and is truly one of a kind. When they learn that she is very sick and will leave their school before the end of the year, they come up with the ultimate plan. It will take courage, humor, and some clever negotiating skills to pull it off. Told through through three different perspectives, we learn about how one life can change the future.

What I loved:

Each character except for one, felt like a real person. Topher, Steve, and Brand feel like actual 6th grade boys. Each one has a different story and they all highlight the joys and pitfalls of friendship in the best possible ways. The friendship between the boys was realistic and sweet. It never felt fake or forced. I think that many MG students will find a piece of themselves in this story. I really liked that the story was broken into little bits. It made me want to keep reading. There were little twists and revelations that made the book very hard to put down.

Ms. Bixby is a teacher that all educators should strive to be. She is not perfect, but she is kind and compassionate. Her illness and story really make you feel like there is more to life than awards and accolades. It’s about the lives that you change for the better. Her character made me remember all the wonderful teachers I had growing up who saw more in me than that I saw in myself.

A tiny issue-

The only thing that I didn’t care for was part of the mission that these boys set out on. I felt that their goal of getting all these items off their teacher’s best last day list was pretty realistic except for the alcohol and it’s not for the reason that you think. Their run in with the creepy tattoo guy was the part that didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story. I feel like it could have been left out and the story would have been just as great. They already had a confrontation with a teacher and had a few other more realistic crisis moments thrown their way. The fight with the 28 year old guy was the only thing that didn’t fit. Having him take their money.. sure makes sense. Three 6th graders chasing down a grown man and giving him the beat down? Not so much.
I would have liked it better if they had realized that they didn’t need everything on the list to make a perfect day. But, this part is so minor to the rest of the story that it didn’t affect me that much.

Overall feel-

This is a good one for middle grade students. It is realistic where it counts and has enough humor to overcome the super sad parts. The ending is sweet and well written. It left me a teary sad mess at 1 a.m. I can see this being a classroom read aloud and I think it will turn up on many state award lists in the coming years. It is one of my favorite reads for 2016.

View all my reviews

Holiday YA Books

Are you in the mood for a bit of Holiday Romance? Check out these titles:

festive-holiday

 

Titles:

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares- By Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily- By Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

What Light- By Jay Asher

Ex-Mas- By Kate Brian

Let it snow- By John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Decked with Holly- By Marni Bates

Top Ten Clues you’re Clueless- By Liz Czukas