Review: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

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All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.


RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The cruelest and kindest thing a good book does is make you believe you live inside it for the space of a few hundred pages, that you are a part of something, part of its world, not just skating around the edges, too tied up in yourself to join in…until it ends and the illusion winks out, like a snuffed flame, and you’re left marooned, adrift, your head chilled in its absence.

The real world takes a seat at the back, and Rogerson’s imaginary one holds center stage. Continue reading “Review: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson”

Review: Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

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It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart–and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.


RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Like a Love Story is the kind of book I wish I read as a teen when I was still navigating the pathways of my sexuality and needed the kindness of a friend who sits with you in comfort by the fire and can’t change what’s wrong but reminds you that you’re not alone. Continue reading “Review: Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian”

Review: Seven Blades in Black (The Grave of Empires #1) by Sam Sykes

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Sam Sykes returns with a new fantasy that introduces to an unforgettable outcast magician caught between two warring empires.

Among humans, none have power like mages. And among mages, none have will like Sal the Cacophony. Once revered, now vagrant, she walks a wasteland scarred by generations of magical warfare. The Scar, a land torn between powerful empires, is where rogue mages go to disappear, disgraced soldiers go to die and Sal went with a blade, a gun and a list of names she intended to use both on. But vengeance is a flame swift extinguished. Betrayed by those she trusted most, her magic torn from her and awaiting execution, Sal the Cacophony has one last tale to tell before they take her head. All she has left is her name, her story and the weapon she used to carved both.

Vengeance is its own reward.


RATING: 🌟🌟

It is with inexpressible grief that I must confess that this book was yet another disappointment.

The experience of reading this novel is rather cloudy in my memory, as it took me two weeks to finish it. I would often put it in the corner, the way one might lean a broom or umbrella when not using it, and pick up something more griping to read. The story spun a single night the length of many, and when I finally finished it, it was as though I were setting down a heavy weight—I felt light as a ghost. Continue reading “Review: Seven Blades in Black (The Grave of Empires #1) by Sam Sykes”

Review: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

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A literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first . . .

In the small town of Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine—a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos’ small community.

Who or what caused the explosion? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was smoking down by the creek? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? The ensuing trial uncovers unimaginable secrets from that night—trysts in the woods, mysterious notes, child-abuse charges—as well as tense rivalries and alliances among a group of people driven to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.

Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is a thoroughly contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient. An addictive debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng, Miracle Creek is both a twisty page-turner and a deeply moving story about the way inconsequential lies and secrets can add up—with tragic consequences.


RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Where this book lands, it will leave a bruise.

After I finished, I sat there a long time, like a bolt-struck tree seared to its roots. My thoughts would not settle on the well-worn words. I felt as if I needed to do something, but I didn’t know what. A tight, reluctant ache might have eased about my heart ever since, but the impression of the event of Miracle Creek is burned indelibly upon it. Continue reading “Review: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim”

Review: Dig by A.S. King

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The Shoveler, the Freak, CanIHelpYou?, Loretta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress, and First-Class Malcolm. These are the five teenagers lost in the Hemmings family’s maze of tangled secrets. Only a generation removed from being simple Pennsylvania potato farmers, Gottfried and Marla Hemmings managed to trade digging spuds for developing subdivisions and now sit atop a seven-figure bank account, wealth they’ve declined to pass on to their adult children or their teenage grand children.

“Because we want them to thrive,” Marla always says.

What does thriving look like? Like carrying a snow shovel everywhere. Like selling pot at the Arby’s drive-thru window. Like a first class ticket to Jamiaca between cancer treatments. Like a flea-circus in a doublewide. Like the GPS coordinates to a mound of dirt in a New Jersey forest.

As the rot just beneath the surface of the Hemmings precious white suburban respectability begins to spread, the far flung grand children gradually find their ways back to each other, just in time to uncover the terrible cost of maintaining the family name.


RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This book is supposed to be uncomfortable. I’d apologize, but I’m not sorry,” writes King.

Dig is a razor in print form—with just a faintly sheathed seething undercurrent of anger. Continue reading “Review: Dig by A.S. King”

Review: The Huntress by Kate Quinn

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In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted… 

Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.

Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Growing up in post-war Boston, seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes homes with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past—only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family . . . secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear.

In this immersive, heart-wrenching story, Kate Quinn illuminates the consequences of war on individual lives, and the price we pay to seek justice and truth.


RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

I might not be currently lying on the floor physically, but I am lying on the floor spiritually… Continue reading “Review: The Huntress by Kate Quinn”

Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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Truly deserving of the accolade Modern Classic, Donna Tartt’s cult bestseller The Secret History is a remarkable achievement – both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful.

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.


RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

[flings myself onto a chaise lounge and wails dramatically] The fact that I’m not a part of an elitist circle of young scholars quoting Classics over dirty Martinis and toasting to living forever, and who might also be compelled to commit murder because they got too consumed by their Greek homework is the real tragedy here.

“After all, the appeal to stop being yourself, even for a little while, is very great.  To escape the cognitive mode of experience, to transcend the accident of one’s  moment of being.”  Continue reading “Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt”