TTT – Books I Loved Without Many Reviews on Goodreads

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. She has a linky on her page with everyone’s posts this week, go find other unappreciated great books! This week’s topic is “Books I Loved with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads” so I’m going to go through my Read list on Goodreads and see what I can find!

So the very first one I see is A Spark of White Fire, with only 288 ratings on Goodreads? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? Oh my god, that book was incredible. It ripped my heart out. It’s only been out since September, so maybe people just haven’t discovered it yet? Wow. JUST GO READ IT PEOPLE.

How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? has 1511 ratings, coming in much closer to the 2k mark, so I’m guessing that’s largely because it’s also new. (BUT FANTASTIC.)

Blanca & Roja also came out recently (October) and has 1229 ratings, so I’m sure that number will go up.

The Brilliant Death only has 774 ratings? WAT. Get on that, people. It is a fantastic, genderfluid political fantasy book with a touch of romance. It’s great.

Give the Dark My Love is one of my lady necromancer books, and at 1351 ratings, more people need to read it!

Alright, I know The Good Demon was a little polarizing, but I personally LOVED the southern gothic feel. It was lyrical and mesmerizing, and only has 480 ratings. If you don’t mind a little suspenseful horror, it’s really a beautiful novel.

HOW DOES UNBROKEN ONLY HAVE 336 RATINGS?! HOW?! This anthology spotlights teenagers living with chronic illnesses, mental illnesses, and disabilities of all kinds. It is an amazing piece of representation and I adore it. I thought it had made a big splash in YA circles, but apparently not as big as I thought.

Alright, all seven of those are fairly recent releases, let’s get challenging for the last three and see if I can find some older books…

Alright, so first we have The Wrong Stars (and its sequel, The Dreaming Stars) at 1766 and 366 ratings, respectively. This is a pair of science fiction novels with a fascinating premise and amazing representation, with a bisexual and demisexual woman as part of its core couple. (The other half is also bi.)

Next up we have Jackalope Wives and Other Stories by T. Kingfisher, also known as Ursula Vernon, at 539 ratings. I didn’t actually write up a review for this book, but I have read it, and really enjoyed it. The author writes magical stories that bring to mind the Wild West and wilderness, where you can only depend on yourself and maybe the hermit up in the mountains. She also has a hilarious Twitter.

Okay, for a really old one, let’s point out The Harrad Experiment. It’s a fiction book that portrays polyamory in a very positive light, and those are rather rare, because fiction thrives on conflict. It first came out in 1966. I have not actually hunted down more of Robert H. Rimmer’s books to see if more of his books feature polyamory, but I adore this one. And it only has 363 ratings on Goodreads.

For an eleventh, because I absolutely loved this book, is Sean Grigsby’s Smoke Eaters. It has 312 ratings currently, and the sequel, Ash Kickers, is due out in July. He writes an amazing future world where firefighters fight dragons, and it is badass. (And I LOVE his covers.)

Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen

the star-touched queenThe Star-Touched Queen
by Roshani Chokshi
Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
342 pages
Published 2016

I’ve had this on my TBR shelf for quite a while, but only got around to reading it because the library finally really wants it back. Oops! And now I’m regretting not reading it sooner because it is OH MY GOD FANTASTIC. This is one of those books that’s going to be hard to talk about without giving things away about the plot, but I’m going to try. Maya is the main character, a princess with a horoscope full of doom for whoever marries her.

She’s in for a surprise when she does marry, though, as she is whisked away from her father’s kingdom to a palace full of hidden doors and a husband who is more than he seems. She’s quickly embroiled in a mystery to find out not only the secrets her husband’s kingdom is hiding, but the secrets behind her own history.

I absolutely love reading non-western fantasy because there are NEW fantasy elements to discover. This book makes heavy use of reincarnation, which is not a common trope in western fantasy. Not reincarnation as karma, anyway. There is fate, and horoscopes, and choosing your own destiny despite those things, and spirit worlds, and OH IT’S JUST SO GOOD.

The second book, about Maya’s sister, came out last March, so I need to read that too.  The same author has written another book set in Paris, The Gilded Wolves, which came out in January and immediately hit the bestseller list. I’m glad, this author is fantastic. I’m not sure I’ll read it though, as the description doesn’t really intrigue me. But The Star-Touched Queen and its sequel, A Crown of Wishes – these are just my cup of tea!

From the cover of The Star-Touched Queen:

FATE AND FORTUNE. POWER AND PASSION. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE THE QUEEN OF A KINGDOM WHEN YOU’RE ONLY SEVENTEEN?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. While Maya is content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and her power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire . . .

But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most . . . including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology, The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

Friday 56 – You Have The Right To Remain Fat

right to remain fatThe Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The rules are simple – turn to page 56 in your current read (or 56% in your e-reader) and post a few non-spoilery sentences.

This week’s quote is from You Have The Right To Remain Fat, a 120-page manifesto by Virgie Tovar.

Men feel the right to control what women eat – even women they don’t know. Emma Gray wrote an article in 2014 for the Huffington Post about a male stranger yelling at her as she left a frozen-yogurt shop in New York: “Hey, girl, you shouldn’t be eating that. You’re gonna get fat.” She conceptualized the comment as both a manifestation of men’s perceived right to control and intimidate women in public and this stranger’s perceived right to control what she might look like in the future.

Library Loot Wednesday

right to remain fatI only picked up one book this week, the 128-page manifesto called “You Have the Right to Remain Fat” by Virgie Tovar. A quick read is what I need right now, to fit in between the hustle and bustle of home inspections, paperwork, and packing boxes! We had the last part of the home inspection on Monday, and we close on the house in a week and a half! We’ll be spending the following week doing a few things in the house like installing shower curtain rods and curtains on the bedroom windows, then moving the first weekend in March. We’re both SO EXCITED. I have a reading nook planned in one corner of the bedroom, I just need to find the perfect chair, and a nice small shelf to go beside it. And possibly a reading lamp.

TTT: Favorite Couples

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. She has a linkup on her page with everyone who’s participating, if you want more fantastic couples! This week’s topic is “Favorite Couples.” Since we had “Favorite Platonic Relationships” not too long ago, I stuck with your typical romantic definition of couple.

First off, we have Teo and Cielo (nb/nb) from The Brilliant Death. Both shapeshifting witches who play with gender and together make an amazing couple.

Two of the couples from Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom make this list – Kaz/Inej (m/f) and Jasper/Wylan (m/m). Love them both. I love how devoted the entire group is to each other, but especially Kaz with Inej.

Percy and Monty (m/m) from The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue are an amazing, smartass pair that I love.

The romance between Vika Andreyeva and Nikolai Karimov (f/m) of The Crown’s Game and The Crown’s Fate tore my heart out.

The central couple from The Wrong Stars and The Dreaming Stars, Captain Callie Machedo and Elena, are precious and I love them. They’re also both bisexual women, with Callie being demisexual.

In Starless, we have a nonbinary bodyguard falling in love with their charge, the princess. (nb/f) I love how the princess is understanding of her bodyguard’s confusion about their gender, and doesn’t judge how her bodyguard chooses to present.

Another favorite couple is Anna and Charles from Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series. I love seeing how Anna’s confidence has developed through the series. (f/m)

I can’t write about my favorite literary couples without mentioning Benedict and Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. They are my favorite characters in my favorite Shakespeare play, and the banter between them and from them about each other is some of the best wordplay I have ever read.

I know that’s only nine, but I can’t think of a tenth that I love as much as these.

Book Review: Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix

kingdom of the blazing phoenixKingdom of the Blazing Phoenix
by Julie C. Dao
Young Adult/Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retelling
356 pages
Published November 2018

This is the sequel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, and where Forest was about the rise of the Empress – or the evil stepmother from Snow White – this book is solidly about Snow White. Or Jade, in this case. I enjoyed Forest, but Kingdom is spectacular! It’s hard to like Xifeng in Forest, where she continually makes the decisions that drag her deeper into the evil god’s clutches. Jade, however, is sweet and determined and loyal and good. She is easy to love, and worthy of it. We see a few characters from the first book coming back to help Jade in her quest, and I loved seeing how they had grown in the intervening years.

I do feel like the romantic storyline was kind of shoehorned in. Jade falls in love with no real reason for it. We don’t see what’s so fantastic about her love interest, he isn’t shown as doing anything outstanding, he’s just kind of there and the first male person she’s spent time with. I get why he fell in love with Jade, Jade is amazing. He’s just so bland. So that felt a little odd.

I did enjoy the magic cloak and the quest and the final battle. The scene between Ming and Xifeng at the end was absolutely heartbreaking and made me love Ming even more. He might be my favorite character from both books.

Bottom line, this is an excellent sequel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, and I think it’s better than the first book. You could probably read it without reading Forest, but some of the reveals won’t mean nearly as much, and you’ll miss all the background that makes Xifeng so interesting.

From the cover of Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix:

Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery, while her stepmother, the ruthless Xifeng, rules as Empress of Feng Lu. But the empire is in distress, and its people are sinking into poverty and despair. Even though Jade doesn’t want the crown, she knows she is the only one who can dethrone the Empress and set the world right.

Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. But will the same darkness that took Xifeng take Jade, too? Or will she find the strength within to save herself, her friends, and her empire?

This follow-up to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns brings to a close Xifeng’s dazzling saga and gives readers a satisfying ending to the story that gripped their hearts from its very beginning.