Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My TBR Since I Started Blogging

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Ten Books I’ve Had On My TBR Since I Started Blogging

So, the original topic was books we’ve had on our TBR since before we started blogging, but in all honesty, I have no record of what I wanted to read before I started blogging.  There are, however, a lot of books that have been on my to-read list for years, so that’s what I’ll be sharing today!  I went with the first ten books on my TBR on goodreads, and it’s mostly non-fiction (of the historical variety), with a couple of romances thrown in.

TTT Ten Books On My TBR

  1. Elizabeth’s Women by Tracy Borman.  I’m completely fascinated by Elizabeth I, and this has been on my TBR for years.  I’d love to learn more about the women who influenced her.
  2. Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen by Anna Whitelock.  I absolutely love the Tudors, and I don’t know much about “Bloody Mary,” so this book will be read someday.  I don’t know when, but eventually I’ll read it!
  3. Anne Boleyn: Henry VIII’s Obsession by Anne Norton.  Anne Boleyn definitely changed things, and I cannot read enough about her.
  4. Catherine De Medici: Renaissance Queen Of France by Leonie Frieda.  I want to know the story of the woman that I’ve seen portrayed on Reign- which I know isn’t historically accurate, hence wanting to read more about the real people I see on the show.
  5. The Life And Death Of Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives.  Because you can never have too many books on one person. I also like seeing how different historians view one person.
  6. Catherine Of Aragon: Spanish Queen Of Henry VIII by Giles Tremlett.  If I’m going to read about Mary, Elizabeth, and Anne Boleyn, then I need to read about Catherine Of Aragon.
  7. Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery by Eric Ives.  She’s really fascinating- she had such a short-lived reign, and I want to know more about her.
  8. Stonewall by Martin Duberman.  I only vaguely know the events of Stonewall, and I want to know more!  This book seems like a good starting point.
  9. The Rake by Mary Jo Putney.  I tend to like the romances I read, and it seems like a lot of people really like it.
  10. Not Quite A Husband by Sherry Thomas.  I kind of forgot I had this one on my TBR, because it’s been on my TBR for years.  Like every other book on this list.  But maybe one day, I’ll actually read it.

Book Talk: On Not Doing The Goodreads Reading Challenge

Book Talk is a sporadic feature where I talk about bookish things that aren’t book reviews.

Book Talk

This year is the first year since I started blogging in late 2010 that I haven’t participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge.  There wasn’t any particular reason for not doing it, other than just not feeling up for setting a reading goal this year.

However, there are some things I’ve noticed this year, in not doing it.  I know that it’s a random thing to talk about so late in the year, but it seemed like a good time, for some reason.

I’ve noticed that I’m putting far less pressure on myself in the number of books I’m reading.

In the past, I think I felt like I had to be either ahead or maintaining a certain pace, and I think I felt like I was partly reading to a specific number.

I haven’t felt like that at all this year, and I’ve just been reading.  Of course, I was reading in previous years, but with having an actual number of books as a goal, I think I became wrapped up in how many books I was reading, instead of what I was reading.  At least to a degree.

Not thinking about how many books I’m reading has been really freeing.

I have periods where I’m reading a lot, and I also have periods where I’m not reading a lot.  That’s pretty normal, but it’s something I haven’t really thought about this year.  I’m reading when I’m reading, and if I’m not, it’s okay.  If I’m reading, but at a slower pace, that’s okay too.  There’s no pressure, and I don’t feel bad if I’m not reading a lot.

I’ve definitely been paying more attention to what I’m reading, and even though last year, I was paying more attention to the books I’ve been reading, it’s been more of a focus this year than it has been in the past.

Maybe it’s possible to do both, but if I’m being honest with myself, I’d rather focus on what I’m reading instead of how much I’m reading.

I’m definitely open to doing it again, but it’s way too early to decide that!  And if there’s anything I’ve learned this year (and maybe last year too), it’s that there are a lot of different ways to challenge myself when it comes to reading. It’s something that’s working for a lot of people, but I don’t know that it’s something that’s necessarily motivating to me anymore.  It was great while I was doing it, but I’m at the point now, where I don’t necessarily need to read a certain number of books to challenge myself.

And in some ways, writing this post was harder than I thought.  It was hard to be at least semi-organized about it, so I decided to just write it and see where it went.

Have an awesome day!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Set At A Boarding School

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Ten Books Set At A Boarding School

This week, we got to pick our top ten books in any setting we wanted, and looking through the books I’ve read on goodreads, I noticed that I’ve read a lot of books set in boarding school (plus a bunch set at private schools).  I knew I had to go for it, and even though a lot of the books are paranormal/fantasy, I knew I had to stick with boarding schools.

  1. A Great And Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray.  I love this Victorian-era fantasy set in a boarding school for young women.  There’s magic and mystery at this school, and it’s a pretty awesome read.
  2. Harry Potter.  Because no list focusing on boarding schools are complete without it.  Also: it’s a magic school in the U.K., and you can’t go wrong with that.
  3. Anna And The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.  My reasons for putting this on the list is basically for the same reason as HP, it would be an incomplete list without it.  And it’s set in Paris, which makes it more amazing.
  4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.  I initially thought the 1st book was okay, but I warmed up to the series after seeing the movie.  I’m glad I gave it another chance because it’s a boarding school for vampires, and it is a pretty fun series.
  5. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger.  It’s set in floating boarding school where young girls get trained in the art of espionage.  It’s really fun!
  6. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins.  It’s a magical boarding school, that also happens to be a reform school for witches, shapeshifters and faeries.  It’s just as fun as Etiquette & Espionage but in a different way.
  7. The School For Good & Evil by Soman Chainani.  It’s a boarding school where fairy tales begin, and it’s definitely a cool take on fairy tales.
  8. The Dreaming by Queenie Chan.  This manga is set in a boarding school in Australia, and it has this whole gothic feel to it.
  9. Wander Dust by Michelle Warren.  This book is set at a boarding school, where the students learn how to travel in time.
  10. Private by Kate Brian.  I’ve only read the first book in this series, and at some point, I do want to finish the series, but there’s definitely a lot of mystery and drama going on at this school.

Book Review: The Beauty Of Darkness by Mary E Pearson

The Beauty Of Darkness CoverBook: The Beauty Of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

Published August 2016 by Henry Holt & Co|688 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Remnant Chronicles #3

Genre: YA Fantasy

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Lia and Rafe have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous – what will happen now? This third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles is not to be missed.

Bestselling author Mary E. Pearson’s combination of intrigue, suspense, romance and action make this a riveting page turner for teens.

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The Beauty Of Darkness  (BoD)was completely amazing!  This is a series that gets better with each book, and after The Heart Of Betrayal (HoB), which I thought was better than The Kiss Of Deception (KoD), I couldn’t wait to read BoD.

Seriously, this book is so good!  I’ve loved Lia since the beginning, and I didn’t care about the love triangle, at least in the sense that I was always Team Lia.  And the love triangle wasn’t annoying like it is in most books, because both Rafe and Kaden bring out different things in Lia.  I was slightly surprised by how things turned out in the romance department, especially for one of the characters, but they all have things they’re dealing with, and I’m glad that things worked out for all of the characters.  They all deserve peace and happiness, and I really felt like things were going to get so much better for Morrighan, Delbreck, and Venda.  Especially Venda, because they truly deserve good things.

I loved Lia’s transformation the most, though.  She’s so different than the Lia we met in KoD.  She’s determined and driven and still caring and full of compassion, and it makes her so awesome that you can’t help but root for her. Even when she doesn’t have a lot of support, she is very determined to help all of the kingdoms and defeat the Komizar so that everyone can have a future.  She doesn’t back down, even when people doubted her, and thought she should do something different.

More than anything, Rafe, Lia and Kaden felt very real and very human.  They weren’t perfect (especially with one thing Rafe did regarding Lia), but I understood why they acted the way they did.  They were flawed, and that was really nice to see, just because sometimes, YA characters don’t come across that way.

I really liked that we saw Rafe, Lia and Kaden narrate the book, because with so many things going on, it meant we got to see what was going on with each character.  I really like Pauline as a character, but I’m not sure how I feel about her chapters.  We do get a perspective that we don’t get with the other characters, which I really like, but I didn’t particularly care about what was going on with Mikail.

I’ve really come to love this series, and even though I’m glad I read it (mostly because I needed to know so many things), I’m also sad, because it means there are no more books in this series, and I won’t get to read them for the first time.  There’s always re-reading, and I actually really want to re-read the series now, because I have the feeling that there’s a lot I’m going to pick up on now that the story has come to an end.

The one thing I loved the most in the trilogy was the histories that we see throughout the books, and that was one of my favorite things in BoD.  In this book, we see that the texts we see don’t always give the whole picture, and that some history is hidden away, because it doesn’t support the view or story that those in power want out there. And it’s a reminder that history can be lost in so many ways, whether it’s an oral tradition that no longer gets passed down, or a book that’s hidden or burned because someone doesn’t want it out there.

And she did such a wonderful job at tying all three books together that it’s really hard to pinpoint each thing I loved about the book.  Everything seems like an accurate word, but at the same time, it’s too vague to accurately encompass what I loved about the book.  It seemed more emotional than the previous books, and it was hard not to start crying at a couple of different points.  I loved the details from the first two books that we see in this book, so it’s definitely a good idea to read them first, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve read them.

I haven’t really touched on anything specific, because I don’t want to give anything away.  Just trust me when I say that you need to read this entire series.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

5 stars.  I think it may be the best in the trilogy, and I’m having a hard time deciding if The Beauty Of Darkness or The Heart Of Betrayal is my favorite, because each book was better than the last.

Book Review: Paper And Fire by Rachel Caine

Paper And Fire CoverBook: Paper And Fire by Rachel Caine

Published July 2016 by NAL|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Great Library #2

Genre: YA Alternate History/Steampunk

Blog Graphic-What It's About

In Ink and Bone, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine introduced a world where knowledge is power, and power corrupts absolutely. Now, she continues the story of those who dare to defy the Great Library—and rewrite history…

With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

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This was such a great book!  I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her, and this book was no exception.  You really can’t go wrong with a steampunk world where the Library Of Alexandria still exists, and is in control of, well, everything.

There’s a lot more to the library than I remembered from Ink And Bone, but it’s also been a while, so it’s a little hard to tell if it’s because I remember almost nothing from the first book, or if it’s because we learn more about the Library, or even a combination of both.

I did enjoy it, though, and it’s a lot more simple than I expected it to be.  I think it’s because this book is basically a rescue mission, with a lot of trouble along the way.  It’s definitely a 2nd book, and I’m wondering about certain things that have yet to be answered, and there’s some excitement and magic, but not the way Ink And Bone was exciting and magical.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a really interesting concept, and I like a lot of the ideas we see in the book.

The control of knowledge that we see in Paper And Fire, and how the Library hides so many advancements- it’s really scary and disturbing what lengths they’ll go to in order to control everything.  And what’s sad is that it’s something I can picture happening all too well.  And with the Black Archives, and seeing the Iron Tower and the little snippets of messages and letters before each chapter…the Library has a lot of power, and they may have started off with good intentions, but those in power have changed what the Library should be.

I liked seeing what was going on with Jess and the other characters, but there were a couple points where I found myself wishing that we had chapters narrated by someone other than Jess.  There’s a lot that happens off-the-page, and I think another narrator, even if it’s one or two chapters, would have given another perspective on what was happening.

It also took a while for things to get going, but I’m willing to overlook that (at least a little) because we’re picking up a little bit after where things left off in Ink And Bone.  But once things got going, it got INTERESTING, and there were one or two things that took me by surprise.  Because THEY WEREN’T AT ALL EXPECTED.  At least for me.  Well, maybe one of them might be a little bit obvious, now that I think about it.  But it was hard to tell with this book, because sometimes, you had no idea who to trust.  And I didn’t think it was possible, but Paper And Fire seemed darker and a little more frightening than Ink And Bone, and I think it’s because we learn more about the Library, and how the characters react to some of the things they learn.

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4 stars.  I really liked it, but I would also re-read the first one if it’s been a while, because the details from Ink And Bone will help a lot with Paper And Fire.

Book Review: Romancing The Duke by Tessa Dare

Romancing The Duke CoverBook: Romancing The Duke by Tessa Dare

Published May 2014 by Avon|370 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Castles Ever After #1

Genre: Adult Romance/Historical Romance

Blog Graphic-What It's About

In the first in Tessa Dare’s captivating Castles Ever After series, a mysterious fortress is the setting for an unlikely love…

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and…Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I was randomly in the mood for romance, so I picked this one up from the library.  I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would, especially since the couple of romance blogs I read really seem to like Tessa Dare.

It did make me smile, though, and I was left wanting to believe that true love and fairy tales exist in real life. Which they do, for some people, and I liked the hopeful feeling that fairy tales are real.

I loved the historical fanboys/fangirls in the book.  That was fun and unexpected, but it’s a good fun and unexpected, and it made me laugh.  But I also liked that Izzy had to act a certain way because of it, and I liked that Ransom hated that she thought she had to live up to their expectations.  I felt for her, because life has not been easy for her, and yet, people want her to remain the sweet, innocent girl that they think she is.  She has fears but she deals with them, and she might not seem like she’s strong, but she is.

And I believed in her and Ransom, even though they are complete opposites, because Izzy is hopeful and romantic, where Ransom is more cynical and distrusting.  They really complement each other, and I loved watching them fall in love.  It’s sweet and adorable, and it builds over the course of the book.

And things haven’t been easy for Ransom either, with being engaged but the engagement being broken off, and with his vision not completely working…he’s nicer than he initially seems.  Izzy really brings out the best in him, even when he tries to fight it and pretend like he doesn’t have feelings for her.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I liked it!  It’s cute and sweet, but I didn’t love it.

Book Review: The Anatomical Shape Of A Heart by Jenn Bennett

The Anatomical Shape Of A Heart CoverBook: The Anatomical Shape Of A Heart by Jenn Bennett

Published November 2015 by Feiwel & Friends|304 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I am so glad I read this book!  I wasn’t sure about it, but I’ve heard some good things about it, so I figured I’d give it a try.  I really liked it, and I wasn’t sure if I would at first.

I loved how the book was about art- I seem to be drawn to books about characters who are into art or music.  But not only that, it was about a girl who LIKES TO DRAW CADAVERS.  Which is really different and quirky, but also really cool, because it makes Bex stand out.  And I like that Jack is a grafitti artist, but I think that’s because of WHY he does it.  It doesn’t make it okay, of course, but I get why he was doing it, and I think it really shows the difference between their styles and how big art really is.

I really liked the relationship that Bex and Jack have.  They start out as friends, and it turns into a more romantic relationship as the book goes on.  It felt really natural, and I loved that it grew into something more, because that seems so rare in YA.  If you want romance, THAT ISN’T INSTA-LOVE, this is a book you want to read, because it couldn’t get any further.  I do think Bex has this manic pixie dream girl vibe going on, so keep that in mind if that’s not your thing.

There are so many other things that I liked about this book:

  • Like, he met her mom before they even kissed.
  • Her mom is around a lot, which is different, because parents tend to be absent.  Which is understandable, given it’s YA, but I liked that we saw her mom quite a bit.  I get why her mom acted the way she did in regards to Bex’s dad, but it also made me a little sad for Bex, who didn’t really get a choice on whether or not she got to have a relationship with her dad.
  • Her brother is really cool, and I love the relationship Bex has with him.  Also, his boyfriend seems cool, and I wish we saw more of him.
  • I felt for Jack, who has a sister with schizophrenia, and I thought how the family dealt with it was true to life, but also really sad.
  • I liked seeing Bex at work, and that she worked to help her family out.
  • There was this minor character we see, who may or may not have a mental illness.  I hope he gets the help he needs.
  •  I loved the humor in the book.  It was awesome!

I also liked that the book is short, but didn’t FEEL short.  There was a lot going on, but things were wrapped up really well, while also feeling like some things were left pretty open.  It was a really good balance.

Was it predictable?  Yes, but I didn’t care, because I just wanted to keep reading.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, but I did really like it.  I’m glad I gave it a chance!

Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: Top Ten Books For People Who Like The Iron Fey

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Ten Books For People Who Like The Iron Fey

It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve had a TTT rewind, where we get to revisit a past topic.  I’ve decided to revisit books for people who like The Iron Fey, because it is my most popular post ever, and I first did it 4 years ago, followed up by another post last year.

  1. Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older.  He blends Caribbean myths with the world we know really well.  I think people who like really interesting re-tellings will like this one.
  2. The Siren by Kiera Cass.  Sirens don’t seem to be popular as far as re-tellings go, but I like what Cass did with sirens.
  3. A Court Of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J. Maas.  If you like The Iron Fey, you’ll like this dark re-telling of Beauty And The Beast.
  4. And I Darken by Kiersten White.  Even though this is historical fiction, and The Iron Fey isn’t, it’s a good book for people who like The Iron Fey, because White does a gender-bent version of Vlad Dracula, and it’s pretty awesome.
  5. Ink And Bone by Rachel Caine.  Because it’s what the world would be like- if the Library Of Alexandria if it survived, and something about Ink Bone would be a good book for anyone who likes The Iron Fey.
  6. Guardian Of The Dead by Karen Healy.  It’s a good read-alike for The Iron Fey because this girl gets pulled into Maori mythology, and there’s quite a bit of adventure.
  7. Ash by Malinda Lo.  Because it’s such a great re-telling of Cinderella, and people who like the world of TIF will like the world we see in Ash.
  8. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor.  Like Meghan, Sunny gets introduced to a world she never knew existed, and it’s really different than the world she knows.  The setting is really cool, and even though it’s very different then the one in The Iron Fey, it’s just as magical.
  9. An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.  This one might seem random, but there is a certain atmosphere to both books that make me want to pair the two together.
  10. The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye.  This is another recommendation that might seem random, but I think The Crown’s Game is a good book if you like The Iron Fey because something about the politics of both worlds would make for an interesting pairing.

Audio Book Review: The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Mighty Miss Malone CoverBook: The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis, narrated by Bahni Turpin

Published January 2012 by Listening Library|Run Time: 7 hours, 59 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio C.D. from the library

Series: None

Genre: Children’s Historical Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

“We are a family on a journey to a place called wonderful” is the motto of Deza Malone’s family. Deza is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, singled out by teachers for a special path in life. But the Great Depression has hit Gary hard, and there are no jobs for black men. When her beloved father leaves to find work, Deza, Mother, and her older brother Jimmie go in search of him, and end up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan. Jimmie’s beautiful voice inspires him to leave the camp to be a performer, while Deza and Mother find a new home, and cling to the hope that they will find Father. The twists and turns of their story reveal the devastation of the Depression and prove that Deza truly is the Mighty Miss Malone.

Blog Graphic-What It's About

I wasn’t sure what to think about The Mighty Miss Malone at first- I had a hard time getting into it, but as I listened, I did like it more than I thought I would.

I think part of why I had a hard time with it, particularly at the beginning, is that Deza is very much a special snowflake.  She seemed a little too precocious and comes across as condescending.  I think that Deza has been told she’s special so much that she has a hard time handling not doing well on something- like when her best friend does better on an assignment than she does, and she expected her friend to feel bad about it.  She does seem to handle it a little bit better when she’s at a different school, but the book seems to be more about the Great Depression than race or segregation, even though it’s touched on a little bit.

And there were a couple points, especially towards the end, where it seemed like Deza’s love of reading and learning was very much encouraged, but Jimmie’s singing wasn’t really nurtured.  I’m not sure if it’s because the book is about Deza (and not Jimmie), but I definitely got the impression that Deza being good at school was more important than Jimmie being good at singing.

Still, we do see how racism affects her grades, and, more than anything, the book shows what it was like to live during the Great Depression.  It does do a great job of showing that, and I think that’s where the book shines.  It does touch on how hard it was for African-Americans to find work, and how much everything going on affected them.  For that alone, I’d definitely recommend the book, because I think it is something that needs to be talked about.

One thing that sort of confused me was when Deza, her mother and her brother arrive in Flint.  They’re supposed to stay with her dad’s mother (her grandmother) but once they get to Flint, there is no mention of her grandmother for the rest of the book.  And if they’re supposed to be staying with relatives there, then why do they stay in the shanty-town, instead of going to find Deza’s grandmother?  Unless I missed something when I was listening to the book, which is possible.  But why have it be part of the book, when it doesn’t even go anywhere, and is never mentioned again?

I wasn’t sure about the narration at first- I definitely didn’t like it, and I think the narration is a big part of why I didn’t like Deza at first.  Deza sounded a lot older than 12, and something about her tone of voice really grated on me, to the point that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep listening.  It did get better over the course of the book, and I do feel bad, because a person has no control over what their voice sounds like.  I definitely won’t be seeking out anything else narrated by Turpin, but for me, I might think twice about an audio book if I know she’s narrating it.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I did like the book, because it does a wonderful job at showing what it was like to be alive during The Great Depression.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of Deza, or the narrator, but it’s a really good look at the Great Depression, and that makes it worth checking out.

Book Review: A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

A Criminal Magic CoverBook: A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

Published February 2016 by Saga Press|432 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Alternate History

Blog Graphic-What It's About

In Lee Kelly’s newest fantasy novel, two young sorcerers experiment with magic and mobsters in 1920s Prohibition when a new elixir is created that turns their lives upside down.

Washington, DC, 1926. Sorcery opponents have succeeded in passing the 18th Amendment, but the Prohibition of magic has only invigorated the city’s underworld. Smuggling rings carry magic contraband in from the coast. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Gangs have even established “magic havens,” secret venues where the public can lose themselves in immersive magic and consume a mind-bending, highly addictive elixir known as “the sorcerer’s shine.”

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from the backwoods of Norfolk County, accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, The Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws. When Joan meets Alex at the Shaws’ magic haven, she discovers a confidante in her fellow partner and he begins to fall under her spell. But when a new breed of the addictive sorcerer’s shine is created within the walls of the magic haven, Joan and Alex are forced to question their allegiances as they become pitted against one another in a dangerous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

When I first heard about this book, I knew I had to read it, because the idea of Prohibition, but with magic, instead of alcohol, was really different but also interesting!

I just love the idea of a world where Prohibition was all about magic, and not alcohol.  It’s really different, and I wanted to keep reading, even when I had finished the book.  I particularly loved the last few chapters, and especially the last chapter.  It was all so unexpected, and for the entire book, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as the ending went.

And it’s interesting is that things are tied up really well, and you know it’s the end of the book, but it’s still just open enough that you’re hoping it’s the first book in a series.  I was surprised to find that’s a stand-alone, because the world was so fascinating that I wanted more, and I couldn’t believe that this was all we were getting.

I loved the world, and I wanted to know more about it.  Considering it’s fantasy, and just over 400 pages, the world-building was pretty good.  You get a really good sense of what magic is like in this world, and how different the magic is for everyone who can do magic.  And I loved the concept of The Shine- and the other products (which seems to be the best way to describe it) that produce a similar effect that Shine does.  In a way, the effects reminded me of someone on drugs, so maybe that would be a slightly better word than products.

Still, I can’t remember if we ever learn why magic was illegal, and if it’s not explained why, then I wish it was something that was explained, because it’s something I really want to know.  And if it was mentioned, then clearly it didn’t stick.

But I really liked the twist on Prohibition, and I think the time period was why it worked as a stand-alone. While there was a lot of world-building, it didn’t need as much because it was a twist on something that already happened.

I really liked Joan and Alex, but I found that I liked Joan’s chapters a lot more than Alex’s.  Alex did have an interesting story, and I liked how their stories came together, but as the book went on, I found that I cared a lot more about Joan than Alex, and I’m not sure why.  Still, they both had such an interesting story that I can’t help but wonder what happened to both of them after the end of the book, and if Prohibition was ever repealed in this world.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, and I’m not sure why, because there are a lot of really interesting and different things about A Criminal Magic.  But I did really like it, and it’s definitely worth checking out!