Monday, December 28, 2015

A Thousand NightsA Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Thousand Nights was a story that reads more like a long fable. I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for review. I have to admit most of the time I was totally enthralled with this story. Other times I was a little tripped up by some of the world that was created because it was diverse and quite original. It did at times fell a bit slow but nothing that would stop the reader from being a part of the story. One thing I just noticed is that I can only remember one person's name in the story, Lo-Melkhiin. Everyone else was referred to mostly by their position like Sister or Lo-Melkhiin's mother or father. I literally cannot think of the protagonist's name which is odd. I did not realize it when I was reading the story because she also referred to as daughter or sister or daughter of my heart. Strange how when you are living in the moment of the story you do not realize that you don't know the character's name.

Lo-Melkhiin, a king of the lands, has a penchant for marrying and then as soon as his wife dies he goes to the next village and finds another wife to the tune of hundreds of wives. It is so bad that each village literally quakes with fear when he and his soldiers head in the village's direction. In this instance, the protagonist knows that her sister will be chosen and makes the sacrifice to be chosen in her place. It changes everyone in their village, especially her sister who takes on a role that it was not thought that she would take, that of sort of a priestess. With all of the daily prayers from her sister as well as her mother and her sister's mother and likely the prayers of everyone in their village, our protagonist is gifted with a power that has allowed her to live longer than any of the other wives. The reader learns why Lo-Melkhiin is the way he is and why the wives continue to die and we spend the story holding our breath hoping that she makes it another night and hopefully the rest of the nights.

A Thousand Nights has vivid characters that are so well drawn and a world that is so well drawn that I literally missed that I don't remember the names of any of the people or the world but everything in the story still seems to stand out. I would have never thought this story would be something I like as much as I did but, I was drawn to it based upon the synopsis and had to find out what was happening to each of these wives and why. It is a great story with mystery and intrigue.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gambit (The Prodigy Chronicles Book 1)Gambit by C.L. Denault
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gambit was one of those books that I was on the shelf about reading when I saw it on Netgalley. I was not sure if I would be able to read it because I am typically am not a fan of dystopian novels. I decided to give it a chance in exchange for a review and I am definitely happy that I read it. Gambit was awesome! It is the story of Willow Kent that was raised by her parents in one of the outlying areas which seems like it may be formerly Scotland. Willow is a 16 year old girl with a close family and many friends. They own a tavern that is always very packed. In this world, there are messengers that risk their lives to go to an area known as the Core which appears to previously be London. The messengers ride a very long distance by bicycle risking their lives to get news for the outlying areas. There are patrols that move around looking for what is known as prodigies, people with magical gifts that they are required to report to the Core. This concept is dark to me but, it is a dystopian novel. The Core has labs where they study these people where they try to harness these gifts for their own uses.

Willow has secrets that are going to change her entire life and that of her family. She has gifts that the Core want to know about and through their very heavy-handed tactics, they discover and literally rip her from her life. Willow has to determine who she can trust and how to live in this new world that is more like our world but with more advanced technology. The people she meets, Aspen, Duncan, Kane, Joshua, Reece, Gem, Morry and Fenn all play a huge part in how Willow's story moves and it is up to her to harness her gifts and try to take back control of her life. Gambit is an action-packed thrill to read. The characters are well-drawn. The story is interesting and there is also some mystery in it. I have to say I am seriously worried about this arranged marriage and how things will unfold with that, especially given the nature of the relationship between the two families. But, it is politics at its best and worst. I am really looking forward to the next book in this very exciting series!

Friday, December 18, 2015

When in RomeWhen in Rome by Amabile Giusti
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It has been a while since I read a book that has made me laugh out loud this much. I received a copy of When in Rome/Pushing 30 through NetGalley in exchange for review. It is the story of Carlotta who is this dynamic, energetic, sarcastic woman who is within months of turning 30 and doesn't realize her own worth. She lives in Rome so we get a bit of a sense of where she is but, this story is more about the people than it is about beautiful Italy. She has a mother, really an entire family that is completely insane. They have family events not dinners or gatherings. Each member of her family is exteremely colorful and different. Well, her mom and sister appear to be carbon copies of each other, tall and glamorous as well as beautiful, while Carlotta is short and small with dark curly hair and more like her father, who incidententally she is closer to as a daughter. Her relationship with both her mother and sister are combative and contentious. She and her sister have issues. Carlotta has these two great friends that are both a bit nuts in their own way as well. Carlotta has a gorgeous roommate named Luca who appears to be a man slut. Unfortunately for Carlotta he is oblivious to her in all ways other than being a friend as he lives his life going from woman to woman without remembering their names. This story has a lot of realism for those of us that struggle with things about ourselves we would like to change or improve, having a better job, a better education, great friends, or just a life that sometimes that is just a little bit large sometimes. You cannot help but love Carlotta as she muddles her way through and starts to figure things out and takes the reader along on the trip giving us laughs along the way. I hope I find more books by Amabile Giusti that are translated into English.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Princess Ever After (Royal Wedding, #2)Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was pretty sure I read this book some time ago but it was still marked as unread on my shelf. Some of it kept striking things in my memory so I guess I did read it but forgot to go back and review it. I hate when I do that because I found this in my Arc shelf which means I owed a review to a very deserving author. I have to admit that this book really resonates with me. It is a story about choices and leaving home. Most of us have to make this decision and even though we find happiness after we make the decision we do not see that happiness when we are making the choice to leave home for the first time. In this case, Reggie Beswick is working in her dream job restoring vintage cars with one her most favorite people in the world, her dad's close friend. She loves her home-town of Tallahassee Florida and the town loves her back. Suddenly she is told that she is the descendant of a princess, her great-grandmother, Alice, whom she knew the first 12 years of her life. It apparently was a closely guarded secret with some memories of hints thrown in here and there. The duchy of Hessenberg needs its royal to come and help them regain their country from an old contract, but it means Reggie has to make a huge decision, step out on faith and go or stay home where things are comfortable. Of course, there is another wrinkle, a great looking man who also happens to be single. Princess Ever After is an endearing story that is great read and, yes, there is talk of faith in God, but that doesn't mean it isn't a great story for everyone! I love great, royal romance stories and this one fits the bill!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Jane Blond International SpyJane Blond International Spy by Brianna Schatt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jane Blond International Spy is a YA book I received as a free ebook in exchange for an honest review. Jane is a 14-year-old teenager who attends a private school where she seems to find trouble everywhere she looks. She is sassy and quick on her feet. She chooses friends that are not ones that girls that are popular tend to choose. Of course, there are different ways of being popular and it seems that Jane's popularity comes more from her run-ins with two students from Uzbekistan that seem to take pride in bullying those that are less fortunate. Jane's best pals are an Inuit student and a brainy student. In this school most of the students are gifted in different ways. Bruce is very smart with computers. Anouk is a student that spends a great deal of time working multiple jobs to support a family that does not seem to function very well and leaves a teenage girl to go to school full-time and work full-time while they remain at home. Anouk still manages to be successful despite pressures from her home life. Bruce is suffering from family problems as well but has a great support system. Another schoolmate who is the son of a British diplomat is missing and so is his father. Jane becomes very involved much to the dismay of her mother and federal authorities. She strikes out on her own with the help of her friend Bruce. She also has the unwitting help of her gray parrot and Jeff, another student in her class that has Aspergers Syndrome.

Jane has family problems of her own that she is working through, a mom that is dating someone she does not like, a dad that is absent because of his own problems and her own propensity to find trouble in all its fashion. It seems a bit surreal most times how dangerous the trouble is and how she manages to extract herself from some of the situations. But, taking Jane Blond International Spy as an action-packed book where things don't necessarily go her way as a chance to read something a bit different that involves one of my favorite sub-genres, spy/espionage, it was an enjoyable fast-paced read.

A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain My rating: 5 of 5 stars  A Twist in Time is proof that the second book in a series can be sometimes jus...