“Kushiel’s Chosen” by Jacqueline Carey

I finished Kushiel’s Chosen quite a while ago but, as usually happens when I love a book too much, I procrastinated on the review because I don’t know what to say or where to begin. So, as is also usual, I’ve decided to just start typing and hope it all makes sense by the end. 🙃

Kushiel’s Chosen is the second novel in a trilogy that I was introduced to by the Wyrd & Wonder crew, who have hosted readalongs for the first book and this one. It’s a high fantasy story set in a world that is heavily influenced by European culture, history, and mythologies. The story is mostly set in Terre D’Ange, a country peopled by descendants of angels, and focuses on a young woman named Phèdre, who spent most of her childhood growing up in the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, a.k.a. the Night Court, which is dedicated to the service of the angel Naamah. Members of the Night Court are molded into courtesans. They see copulation in service to Naamah as sacred, which Phèdre wholeheartedly believes.

The angels are, of course, regarded as gods. Because Phèdre has a red mote in her eye, she is considered marked by Kushiel, who is considered the punisher among the angels, and god-touched. Kushiel’s chosens are called anguissettes and, due to being chosen by such a god, tend to derive pleasure from pain. Thus, as a servant of Naamah and marked by Kushiel, the services Phèdre partake in are often masochistic.

In addition to all that, Phèdre was also trained as a spy and is often wrapped up in whatever major political machination is in play or is trying to find out about it. So, much of the plot’s drive comes from political intrigue. It all makes for a very compelling read!

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“The Duke and I” by Julia Quinn, narr. by Rosalyn Landor

Yea, I’m one of those who watched and was hooked on Netflix’s Bridgerton. The drama and all the gossiping in it made it very entertaining, but it was the costumes and the acting itself that lured and held my interest throughout.

Since learning that it’s based on a novel, I’ve wanted to read the source material ever since to find out what happens next and to see in what ways it defers from the show. So, when I saw that the audiobook was available at my library, I quickly downloaded and began listening to it. It, too, was very entertaining.

Genre

Romance; Historical Fiction

Series

Bridgertons, book 1

Pubbed

2000

Quick summary

Taking inspiration from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (and probably other classic novels I do not know of), The Duke & I centers on the large Bridgerton family whose matriarch wants to see her children married off well. The story focuses on Daphne Bridgerton, who was recently introduced to society but hasn’t had many suitors, probably because her older brothers (there are three of them) are a bit intimidating.

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“The Colour of Magic” by Terry Pratchett

Surprisingly, I struggled to read this one. I picked it up in February to read for a Turtle Recall readalong, but it took me the entire month of February to complete it. I didn’t expect to struggle so much with a Discworld book.

Genre

Fantasy

Series

Discworld, book 1
Rincewind, book 1

Pubbed

1983

Quick Summary

The Colour of Magic is the first novel in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, a satirical fantasy series set in a flat world that lies on the backs of four large elephants — Berilia, Tubul, Great T’Phon, and Jerakeen — that stand on the pockmarked shell of a giant turtle, the Great A’Tuin, who’s flying through space. It contains four short stories centered on the adventures of Rincewind, a failed wizard who dropped out of Unseen University after learning just one spell, as he tries to protect Twoflower, a tourist visiting Discworld from the Counterweight Continent with his Luggage made of sapient pearwood in tow. The Luggage follows Twoflower wherever he goes.

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“Raybearer” by Jordan Ifueko

I read Raybearer in January for a book club and had a great time with it. The story was easy to fall into, and I loved the worldbuilding. I can’t believe I waited so long to read it.

Well… that’s a lie. It’s YA fantasy and these days I keep assuming that YA fantasy means “YA romance with some fantasy” that I often avoid such books. But stories like Raybearer are getting me interested in YA fantasy again.

Genre

YA Fantasy

Series

Raybearer, book 1

Pubbed

2020

Goodreads summary

Nothing is more important than loyalty. But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

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“Wrapped Up in You” by Talia Hibbert, narr. by Selina Scott-Bennin & Philip Batley

This novella was very popular this past Christmas. Since I was in the mood for romance novels at the time, I added it to my TBR. But I didn’t get to it until this January. I picked it up shortly after completing Hibbert’s Get a Life, Chloe Brown. That story was entertaining and made me want to try more of Hibbert’s work.

I borrowed the audiobook of Wrapped Up in You from the library. Unfortunately, despite the many claims of how good this story is, it didn’t work for me and effectively threw me out of my romance mood.

Genre

Contemporary; Romance

Series

n/a

Pubbed

2020

Goodreads summary

William Reid is nothing special, except for his billion-dollar acting career and his, you know, face. (Apparently, it’s a good one.) Winning ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ was nice, but this Christmas, he has more important goals in mind… like finally winning over his best friend’s little sister, the super-smart and kinda-scary Abbie Farrell.

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“Get a Life, Chloe Brown” by Talia Hibbert

I kept hearing about this book last year. It was as if everyone had read a Talia Hibbert novel and loved it, and the one most talked about was this one — Get a Life, Chloe Brown. I hardly read romance novels, but the romance reading bug bit me toward the end of 2020 and its effects carried over into 2021, so I picked up this book in January. Although I didn’t love it as much as everyone else, it made me want to try more of Hibbert’s work.

Genre

Contemporary; Romance

Series

Brown Sistsers, book 1

 

Pubbed

2019

Quick summary

Set in the U.K., this is an enemies-to-lovers story featuring an interracial couple.

After almost getting hit by a car, Chloe plans to reinvigorate her life by making a list to help her “Get a Life,” which includes moving out of her family’s mansion. Chloe is a Black woman who is chronically ill with fibromyalgia. She successfully moves into an apartment with the help of her younger sisters, Dani and Eve, who often tease her about the building’s sexy handyman, Redford “Red” Morgan.

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“The Conductors” by Nicole Glover

I was eager to read this when I first heard of it, so I requested a copy through NetGalley. Much thanks to the publisher (John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books) for granting me access to the e-ARC.

Although I received a copy of this book from NetGalley, it does not influence the thoughts and opinions I share about my reading experience below.

Genre

Historical Fiction; Fantasy; Mystery

Series

Murder and Magic, book 1

Pub

March 2, 2021

Quick Summary

I was eager to read this because whenever I heard of it, I thought of it as historical fantasy about the Underground Railroad. But although it touches on slavery and the experiences characters endured to escape slavery and help others do so, the majority of the story takes place post-Civil War, shortly after slavery was abolished in the U.S.

The story centers on Hetty and Benjy, a married couple living in Philadelphia who people in their community turn to when situations are dire, mostly when someone goes missing or turns up dead. The city’s police is only concerned with White folks’ problems, so Hetty and Benjy serve as detectives for the Black people in their community.

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“The Secret Lives of Church Ladies” by Deesha Philyaw

I like the cover of this book, but because of the title, I avoided picking it up because I assumed it would be a nonfiction book about churchgoing women. Although I am spiritual, I’m not a fan of church communities, so I avoided this book until I couldn’t.

A local book club selected it for its January read, and that’s when I learned that it’s a book of short stories. At first I borrowed the audiobook, narrated by Janina Edwards, from the library. Edwards’s voice was so mellow and soothing and just a treat for my ears. But I quickly realized that this book is one I’d need to physically read so I can pay close attention the prose as well. I was already impressed.

I decided that when I’m ready to reread this book, I’ll certainly pick up the audio version to hear Edwards’s voice again. But to get on with reading the book for the book club, I borrowed a copy from a friend and quickly got swept up in the stories about Black women and their experiences.

Genre

Contemporary; Literary

Series

n/a

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“Renegade’s Magic” by Robin Hobb

Oy vey. I read this with my buddy-reader in all things Hobb — Emily at Embuhleeliest — and thank god for these buddy-reads because I otherwise would not have made it through this story. I’m glad I had someone to talk to about it. Although we both gave this one a similar rating, Emily enjoyed it much more than I did. The entire series centers on the rift between the personalities, Nevare and Soldier Boy, and Nevare’s reluctance and stubbornness to do anything that might help the story to end quickly, so I was annoyed with his character 90% of the time I read this.

Genre

Fantasy

Series

Soldier Son, book 3

Pubbed

2007

Quick summary (spoilers)

This picks up right after the events in Forest Mage. Nevare has FINALLY decided to give his life over to the magic, or so he says. He thinks he knows what the magic wants him to do and expels all the magic Soldier Boy has meticulously stored in his body to create a barricade of sorts to stop the king’s road from advancing toward the ancestor trees. This effort isn’t very effective and, even worse, is costly to Nev because by expelling that much magic, he greatly weakened his body.

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Weekend Reads #111: Recent Books I DNF

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I’m currently reading.

THIS WEEK’S TOPIC

Books I DNF

(FYI: DNF means did not finish.)

I DNF books sometimes. I don’t often talk about them, except to briefly mention them in my monthly wrap-up posts, unless I’ve already formed a strong opinion about what I read. In those cases, I’ll do the whole rate and review thing — even though I DNF’d it. I mention in the review that I didn’t finish the book so that people are aware of that fact.

I didn’t rate the books listed below. I didn’t form a strong opinion about any of them and mostly stopped reading them because the story bored me or the characters annoyed me or I just wasn’t in the mood for what was presented.


The books

The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata

Genre

Historical Fiction

Series

n/a

Pubbed

Continue reading “Weekend Reads #111: Recent Books I DNF”