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.


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!


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.

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Hobbit Day

This week I am playing catch up on what we have been programming in the library. I have several fun and low cost programs to share with my readers. Feel free to use the ideas at your own library!

My favorite program besides Star Wars Reads Day has to be Hobbit Day. We received a lovely party package from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that made the day even more special. Alas, it was also the last movie from the world of Tolkien (cue sad face) and we wanted to go out with a bang. I partnered with the lovely Miss A who moonlights as our tween librarian, and together we rocked the Shire library style. We also quickly learned that we should never be allowed to work together on anything because I think there was more giggling than actual progress. There was also a fair amount of party Thranduil memes being sent back and forth but I digress..

Our patrons had a blast and we had a wonderful family stay the entire time and call around inviting their friends to join them. The only downside is that I didn’t get more pictures of the event. We were so busy with the quest that I left my camera in my pocket the whole time!

Hobbit party an all ages program:

We decided that this should be an all ages event and hit up Pinterest for some ideas. There are lots of people that have done some amazing birthday parties around all things LOTR. This was our favorite and the inspiration for most of our party: LOTR Party

We used the biggest room in the library and turned it into a mini quest. When the children walked in the they chose whether they wanted to be a Hobbit, an Elf, or a Dwarf. Each race was represented by a different colored leaf with a name written on it. They could tape it on their shirt or wear it as a necklace. They also received the “One ring.”  Once they had those things they started on their quest. The quest was marked by brown paper “stones” with arrows pointing in the right direction.

The Rings

We made these out of paper towel tubes and painted them gold. I used a sharpie to write some squiggles on the sides for the dark writing.

Stop #1- The Dead Marshes


Children had to walk through the treacherous marshes using the secret path. I used some blue bulletin board paper, paper stepping stones, fake and real plants, and lots of leaves. We didn’t want to make it too scary for the little guys.

Stop #2- Shoot the bad guys!

We set up a shooting gallery with the bad guy characters from both LOTR and the Hobbit. Miss A turned the extra scary looking orcs into party orcs with bow-ties and silly hats. The kids then got to either throw rocks at them (giant puff balls) or shoot them with Legolas’s bow. Most of them tried both and there were lots of cheers when they knocked them off the mountain.

Stop #3 – Shelobe’s Lair

For this stop we covered two tables with black sheets and added some spider web and fake spiders. Inside the lair were a bunch of spider eggs (Easter eggs) that either had a spider ring or a bit of web. The kids had to crawl inside and find an egg. When they came out the other side they opened it up and found out if they were safe (spider web) or if they had gotten bit by the spiders (spider ring). If they were bitten they had to be wrapped in toilet paper (web)  before they could continue their journey. This was the second most popular stop and there were lots of giggles.

Stop #4- Riddles in the Dark

I made a guessing game using old jean pockets and filled them with random items. The kids had to feel the outside of the pocket and see if they could guess what was inside.

Stop #5- Mount Doom



Once they got to this stop they had to toss their gold rings into the fires of Mount Doom to save all of Middle Earth. After they had destroyed the ring they got a poster of Gandalf and a ring bookmark to take home. We built the volcano using two huge flower pots and brown paper. We added some red and orange tissue paper and streamers for the lava. The kids really loved it. It ended up being a photo stop for the parents.

After the quest they could do more activities that were set up around the room. We had match the actors to the Dwarves, make a shield, Hobbit trivia, and lots of puzzles and games. We also had music from the movies playing the background.

We had lots of people come and go and it was a very successful party with not a lot of expense. If you are thinking about hosting one of these parties and need some of the trivia questions or puzzles you can find them here:





The Rose Society- By Marie Lu

The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2)The Rose Society by Marie Lu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rating 4 stars-

Wow… this book has left me completely breathless. Adelina Amouteru is quite possibly the most evil villain that you hate to love. Filled with an awesome power that is fed by fear and hate this book explores her revenge in the darkest ways imaginable.

I could not put this one down. I have sat up late hours agonizing over this book and how well it is written. It is a very dark tale and there are no happy outcomes. This is a true villain origin story at it’s finest. I have enjoyed how different this book is and I cannot wait for the next.

This is one that I will recommend to my readers looking for something unique that is dark and twisty and will challenge them to consider what truly makes a villain. Love her or hate her Adelina will challenge what you think about right and wrong.

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Allies and Assassins- Don’t Judge a book by its cover!

Publishing date: May 27th, 2014

Do you ever see a cover and immediately have to read the book? This happens to me nearly every day in the library and when I visit the book store. Some covers can tell you a lot about what the books is about. Some covers leave you scratching your head in confusion. They have nothing to do with the book and you wonder who on earth in the publishing department came up with the idea.  

Take the ARC copy of “Allies & Assassins.” When I first saw this book I thought “Hey, this looks like an awesome fantasy.” It totally has a huge battle ax! Bring on the epic battles! Then I turned it over…. The promo sentence at the top of the back cover says:

Game of Thrones meets Law & Order in Justin Somper’s debut YA novel! 

Wait a second? Game of Thrones and Law and Order? How on earth are those two TV shows related?Also, I don’t know of any (correct me if I am wrong) die hard teen Law and Order fans. The back cover talks about the death of Prince Anders, and how his younger brother and the kingdoms Physician’s apprentice try to solve the murder. There is nothing on the front cover that even hints at this book being a mystery. It is a giant battle ax… a giant… battle.. ax..

So, I decided to read it and see if the book was anything like it’s cover. Verdict… It’s not! However, it is a book that I ended up reading till the early morning hours and it turned out to be pretty decent mystery. Other than this being set in a medieval type land with Princes and Castles, there is no fantasy to be had in this book whatsoever. You can see a tiny bit of Game of Thrones if you squint.. and you have to squint pretty hard. Otherwise it is a mystery novel all the way through.

Moral of the story? Don’t judge a book by it’s totally unrelated cover. Especially as a Librarian!! Readers, if you like mystery that is in a medieval setting you might consider this book. If you are looking for dragons, epic battles, and other fantasy elements this might be a pass. I would love to hear what you think about this one. Do you think that the cover matches the story? What kind of cover should this book have instead?


Fantasy display

I got this idea from Rachel Moani’s wonderful blog about her library journey and work. She is seriously creative and I love her ideas. You have to check her out!

Rachel Moani: The Crafty Life of an Almost Librarian

We have a high population of international students at our elementary school. Lots of the little girls love Princess books and fantasy books. However, other than the Frog Princess, Mulan and Jasmin there are not many multicultural Princesses out there in the Disney realm. I was inspired by Ms. Moani’s Fantasy display here.

My Princess was made using paper and a plastic table cloth to give her a fluffy skirt. I added a gold ribbon belt around her waist and put a book in her hand.

Here she is before I put her in the case. I had to hand stitch her skirt layers together. There is also lots of strategically hidden tape!

I added some fluffy clouds and blue swirls to the background in the case. Then I put up the word “Fantasy” in royal purple letters. Needless to say it was a hit! The little girls and even some boys loved the giant Princess. The best part was a very shy student who grabbed my hand and said “Ms. B, she looks like me!” I have to admit that it brought tears to my eyes. After that we spent lots of time looking for more fantasy and princess books with multicultural characters to add to our collection.

I cannot find any pictures that her with the book in her hand. I also added some fluff under her skirt to make it more 3D.

She is neatly folded in my storage cabinet and ready for a new display this year.  I might even add a Prince for the boys! This display really made me aware of how badly we needed to add to our multicultural collection. I was also very humbling when my sweet students told me that the Princess looked like them or their Moms. This was one of my favorites of 2012.



Book review- Raven Flight: A Shadowfell Novel

* I received this book from NetGalley to preview for free. This does not affect my opinion in anyway.

After a long and arduous journey Neryn has finally arrived at the rebel camp deep in the heart of Shadowfell. There she gains skills that will help her on her quest to seek the Guardians, who are essential to her training as a caller. She is paired with the headstrong warrior named Tali who is her opposite in every way. Together both women travel to the four corners of Alban to seek the Guardians and to gain the support of the Good Folk as they seek to overthrow the King. Not all the Guardians are ready and willing to help, and Neryn must use everything she knows to sway their opinion in her favor. The stakes are ever higher for Flint as he walks a narrow line of deception with the already suspicious King. The strength and mettle of both characters is tested beyond reason in this second installment of the Shadowfell series.

Once again we find Neryn taking several long journeys across the country of Alban. Instead of the steadfast companionship she shared with Flint, she is pair with Tali. I did not care much for Tali in the first book but found myself adding her to my favorite characters list very quickly. She is a very headstrong and stubborn character that balances out Neryn’s caution and quietness. While the characters are not in as much danger in every chapter like they were in first book, Marillier certainly ramps it up at the end.

Another strong point was the development of the Good Folk who are featured more in this book than the last. We get insight into their distrust and get to meet some really amazing characters. I also enjoyed the Guardians who were much more than just god’s with special powers. The challenges that Neryn faced under their instruction was well written and didn’t mince with the consequences of her gift. She learns that every action has a reaction both good and bad. This is something that is often missing in high fantasy books.

Readers looking for more romance in this installment might be disappointed. Flint and Neryn are rarely featured together and when they are, don’t expect sweetness or soft sighs. The reality of their situation is featured prominently and I for one enjoyed this approach. Too many books make the romance fluffy in the midst of war but Marillier does a good job of showing how perilous their relationship really is.

The book ends with a large cliff hanger that will make you wish the next book was already out. The only issue I had was that the journey’s again, are quit long and sometimes the story tends to drag on a bit. However, the character development and final chapters more than make up for it. I recommend this for teens looking for a well rounded and strong fantasy female character that is not wrapped up in fluffy romance. Readers looking for characters that have both flaws and strengths will enjoy this coming of age fantasy series.

Stars- ****