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

Beat The Backlist 2018

One of the perks/pitfalls of being a librarian is the excessive amount of books one tends to aquire. I didn’t manage to complete my Goodreads challenge of 100 books for 2017.  (should I feel shame? nah) I blame it on moving and the fact that the majority of my personal collection being in boxes until October. So, this year I signed up for the Beat the Backlist challenge hosted by NovelKnight.  My goal is to read 75 books off my TBR shelves.  Here is part of my library:

It’s so organized and pretty!! I need to get a scanner from the Library Thing and properly catalog my collection. Till then I plan on keeping record of my books on Goodreads. You can follow my progress on Instagram (msval313) or my Goodreads page: Val Bogert

I am pretty excited about my team’s name:

 

Go team!!

I hope to be posting my book reviews on a regular basis now that we are settled in our new state. Best wishes for 2018 to all my readers! I hope you get lots of bookish gifts for the holidays!

Sincerely-

MsVal

 

April Reading Challenge- Get Graphic

For this month’s reading challenge I wanted to do something fun. I have this monster pile of Graphic Novels and comic books that I am dying to read and April is pretty booked with programming at the library. I don’t really have the time for those big thick novels, but I do know I can get through most of my comic books and graphics. Are you with me?

This is one of my favorite genres to promote. I love doing graphic novel readers advisory with kids and teens. Not only do I get to promote a good story, I get to promote the fantastic artwork. If you haven’t jumped into the graphic pool you are missing out. There is a graphic novel for nearly everyone. From traditional superhero stories, to every day life, fantasy, science fiction, and even graphics about classic books like Shakespeare. Plus, the artwork is a treat and it requires a more attention to detail than a traditional book.

The goal I am setting is to catch up on my comic book subscriptions (aka- huge Star Wars binge) and read some of the newer graphics that keep catching my eye in the teen department. I don’t have a set number for this round so it’s more of a read at your own pace challenge. But, I was encouraged by my dear husband to actually deal with all my comic book boxes that are littering the living room. Challenge accepted!

As always you can Tweet to me if you like: @MsVal313

I would love to hear about what you are reading both good and bad!

 

March Clean Sweep Reading Results

Last month I challenged myself and my readers to do a “Clean sweep” of their bookshelves. The goal of this challenge was to read 15 books on your TBR pile. I am happy to say that I nailed this one and read a total of 17 books!  I am really excited because I always seem to either run out time or energy before I finish any of the challenges I set for myself. This time I was able to read some of the books on my sadly neglected shelves. I still have a ridiculous amount to finish, but such is the life of a Librarian. So many books, so little time..

 

Here is a highlight of what I read in March: Feel free to friend me on Goodreads if you want to see more of what I am reading.

Salt to the Sea- By Ruta Sepetys

5 stars

This was my favorite book. Sepetys is a fantastic author and her historical tales are always a treat. This is no exception. 4 teenagers, 4 secrets, and one terrible event. I honestly (and a bit shamefully) have never heard of the wreck of the Wilhelm Gustloff during WWII. After reading this book I spent quite a bit of time researching this horrible tragedy. Sadly, there are not many books out there about the Wilhelm Gustloff. I recommend this article from Time about the book and her research.

This is a fantastic historical book that will break your heart.

 

 All the Feels- By Danika Stone

5 stars

This book was so much fun and one of my favorite romantic reads of 2016. Check out my review here.

 

 

 Famous Last Words- By Katie Alender

3.5 stars

Willa is seeing things… Ghostly images, dead bodies floating in a pool, sinister messages on the wall. Could these things be connected to the Hollywood killer that is murdering young women and putting their dead bodies into creepy scenes from a movie?

This one was pretty predictable for me. It still was an interesting story and I think that mystery lovers will still like it. It says horror, but it’s pretty light.

 

 The Girl From Everywhere- By Heidi Heilig

3.5 stars

This book promises time travel, high seas adventure, and romance. While it does have all of those things, was expecting more. The time travel aspect is pretty low for a book titled “The Girl From Everywhere.” I think that was my main disappointment. It is a good story and I did like the love interest and the mystery. I really really wanted there to be a ton of time travel and more adventure on the sea.

I can see this being popular with the Doctor Who crowd and with teens who like time travel.

 

 Deception’s Pawn- By Esther Friesner

2.5 stars

This is the second book in of the Deception series that is set in  first century Ireland. For the most part I liked the first book. It had a good adventure with a strong female protagonist. This book  however, was not as good as the first. I felt like the whole book was just other characters constantly commenting on her beauty. Then there was the whole bullying aspect from the other girls. I really struggled to finish this one. It may have been my mood at the time. It is an okay finish to the series. It just doesn’t have that wow factor that I was hoping for.

 

 

What were your favorites for the month of March? I would love to hear about them and maybe add a few more to my TBR pile! Stay tuned for my April Reading Challenge.

 

February Favorites and completing book challenges..

yes we crab

I was invited to a book challenge at work called “Yes we crab.” The goal is to read a select number of books and then work on your blogging habits during the month of February. I decided to try and read 20 books and blog once a week. Needless to say, I didn’t make it. Thankfully this is a low key challenge and nobody is going to come and get me for not finishing. I am happy to say that I did read 10 books and I blogged twice. It was a bit more challenging because I chose lengthy YA chapter books to complete. Usually I am pretty hard on myself with book challenges but this time I am actually pretty proud that I got though half of what I wanted to complete. February was a busy month at work and in my personal life so reading 10 books was pretty awesome!

Most of the time I avoid book challenges. They tend to make me anxious and feel like a bit of a failure when I don’t finish them. Plus, in 2015 I was stuck in the worst book slump ever. I had picked up a few books that were just terrible. After that nothing was appealing and I was burned out.  Completing a book challenge sounded like torture.

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However, “Yes we crab” was a simple enough challenge without the usual guilt trip. This month I am doing my own personal book challenge and calling it the “Clean sweep.” I have stacks of galley books and a huge TBR pile that keeps staring at me from my crowded shelves. I hope that I can clean up at least 15 of them before the month of March ends. Feel free to join. I don’t have any fancy hashtags but you are welcome to tweet me about what you are reading from your own piles. @MsVal313

Here is what I read in February.

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Full list:

The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary: (4.5 stars) If you are a fan of the Studio Ghibli films then this is the book for you. It is charming and full of adventure. I really liked this one! (Full review coming soon)

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins: (3.5 stars) This book is filled with action and lots of romance. Perfect for those teen readers that love to gush over handsome boys and daring deeds. While the romance was not my favorite (so not a romance reader), I did love the action. Aerity is a strong female character that I actually liked despite her brush with insta-love.

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by  Sarvenaz Tash: (4.5 stars) A geeky love story that unfolds at New York City Comic Con. Follow 4 teens as they profess their love for artists, authors, and each other in this fun coming of age story.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi: (3 stars) The words in this book are rich and enthralling like the tapestry they describe. Blending Greek mythology and takes from India, the author takes you on a twisted tale full of colorful characters and plotting demons.

The Red Wing by Jonathan Hickman: (2 stars) This one was just weird. Too much story and not enough book. Very heavy handed on the message of “leave the world a better place.” This easily could have been a longer series. Very disappointed that it’s just one book.

 

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Nathan Fairbairn: (3.5 stars) This one was pretty fun. I enjoyed reading an adult graphic novel. Lots of humor, plenty of adulting, and the graphics are fab.

Trail of the Dead (Killer of Enemies #2) by Joseph Bruchac: (3 stars) This book took me a few weeks. It was not as good as the first in the series and I kept putting it down. I did love the story of Coyote and the additional Native American mythology. That part of the story was very well done.

We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen: (2 stars) This one frustrated me! The characters read way younger than they really are and there are too many themes for such a short book. I don’t know who I would recommend this too because it is complicated mess.

The Isolator, Vol. 1 (The Isolator #1) by Reki Kawahara: (3 stars)  This was my first trip into the “light novel” world. It wasn’t horrible and the story was fairly good. Not a series that I would likely continue but one that I would recommend to my anime fans.

The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh: (5 stars) The Wrath and the Dawn was my absolute favorite read of 2015. I have been anxiously awaiting the final book after a heart wrenching cliffhanger!
This book was everything I wanted it to be. The story is rich and complex just like the first with humor, thrills, daring deeds, strong female characters, and a lush romance. I love what Renee Ahdieh has done with story of “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights.” The ending was almost perfect.

Best wishes on your March reading list!! Feel free to join the “Clean Sweep!”