Library Loot Wednesday

So this is kind of a sad post – I just picked up the last two books from my hold list at my old library. I still have several books out from my old library, that I’ve been told I can turn in at my new county library and they will make their way back to the proper system, but I don’t think I have any further need to go back to a physical branch. I have to get to know an entirely new set of librarians now!

So my last two books from this library are The Priory of the Orange Tree, which is a feminist political fantasy with dragon riders (and a BEAST of a book, at over 800 pages!) and The Suburban Micro-Farm: Modern Solutions for Busy People. I’ve always been interested in homesteading, and I’ve reviewed a few gardening books in the past. (And I have several more on my shelves!) Most of them are about home farming on a tenth of an acre, or a quarter acre – and here I’m suddenly sitting on just under HALF an acre! I’m held back by the chronic fatigue from my chronic illness, but I’m working on addressing that with my doctor and my diet. I’d like to start small with just a couple of pots this year, and maybe grow slowly. I also have a very large black walnut tree towering over much of the property, and there are a lot of plants that won’t grow near those. So I have to do some research.

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TTT – Books on my Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl; she has a linky on her page with links to everyone’s Top Tens, go see what everyone else is reading this spring!

This week’s topic is the top ten books on my Spring To-Be-Read list. I have 15 books out currently from the library, and those of course are very high on my list to be read. But given that it’s spring, and I have some research to do, I have a few others that are also high on my list.

So first I have a giant new release, that I strongly doubt I’ll be able to renew, so I need to get cracking on it: The Priory of the Orange Tree. It’s an over 800-page fantasy with politics, strong women, and dragons. What’s not to love? Other fantasies this spring, also new releases, are The Gutter Prayer and Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which is around 600 pages, so also a pretty big book.

For The Year of the Asian Reading Challenge, I have Here and Now and Then and The Weight of our Sky. I also have Endless Water, Starless Sky, the sequel to Bright Smoke, Cold Fire, a Romeo and Juliet re-imagining by one of my favorite authors in that genre.

Lastly, I have The Suburban Micro-Farm, and three more gardening books that I own – The Quarter Acre Farm, The Edible Front Yard, and The Backyard Homestead. Since I moved and now have nearly half an acre to work with, I need to do some research!

Book Review: The Girl King

the girl kingThe Girl King
by Mimi Yu
Young Adult/Fantasy
488 pages
Published January 2019

This is one of those books that I realized, far too late, that it wasn’t a standalone novel. Far too few pages left for everything that still needs to be wrapped up, and yep. Only the first book. I’m not sure why I hadn’t realized it wasn’t a standalone. The second book, Empress of Flames, isn’t due out until early 2020, which is far too long to wait! I need to know what happens to these characters!

The Girl King is mainly the story of Lu, eldest daughter of the Emperor of the First Flame. She is expecting to be named heir, and when she isn’t and her cousin (and bully) Set is named instead, she decides not to placidly accept the injustice. She runs away from court, intending to find allies to help her retake the throne. Lu is single-minded and selfish. She doesn’t really pay attention to how her actions affect other people – she doesn’t think twice about leaving her younger, more timid sister to face the court, their mother, and Set on her own. I know that we’re supposed to be cheering for Lu in this book, but in D&D terms, she’s a paladin. She might be right. She’s not very likable. I had far more sympathy for Min, her sister.

Actually, thinking back on it, almost none of these characters did much thinking about how their actions affect other people. The leader of the refugee Gifted did, she had her people to think about. And the triad of rulers of the mythical city were looking out for their people. But Lu really only thinks of herself. Set definitely only thinks about himself. Min is set up to be more sympathetic but is stuck inside her own head. Nok is too consumed with his own private pity party to think much about other people. I love Nok, don’t get me wrong, he was probably my favorite character, but he doesn’t think much about other people other than his mentor.

I feel like it’s reasonable to have one or two self-obsessed characters, but when it’s everyone, I think that might be a writing issue. The story was still great, and I will definitely be reading the second book, but I’m hoping for some character growth and learning about empathy as the story progresses.

From the cover of The Girl King:

IN AN EMPIRE OF FLAMES, THEY MUST RISE FROM THE ASHES.

Sisters Lu and Min have always known their places as princesses of the Empire of the First Flame: assertive Lu will be named her father’s heir and become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while timid Min will lead a quiet life in Lu’s shadow. Until their father names a new heir – their male cousin, Set.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes in search of allies, leaving Min to face the volatile court alone. Lu soon crosses paths with Nokhai, the lone, unlikely survivor of a clan of nomadic wolf shapeshifters. Nok never learned to shift – or to trust the empire that killed his family – but working with Lu might be the only way to unlock his true power. 

As Lu and Nok form a tenuous alliance, Min’s own power awakens, a forbidden magic that could secure Set’s reign . . . or allow her to claim the throne herself. But there can be only one emperor, and each sister’s greatest enemy could very well be the other.

This sweeping fantasy set against a world of ancient magic and political intrigue weaves an unforgettable story of ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice. 

Friday 56 – The Girl King

the girl kingThe 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 The Girl King, by Mimi Yu, one of the books I’m reading for the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge.

When she looked up, the woman’s face was a chasm of writing light and fire, horrible to behold.

Cold fear seized her, but the sensation quickened into an unbearable heat. The woman’s robes turned to living flames, scorching Min’s arms and neck and setting her hair ablaze. She opened her mouth to cry out and the stranger bent over her, sucking the scream out of her with a cruel, searing kiss –

Min awoke with a start violent enough to chase the nightmare away.

Book Review: The Kingdom of Copper

kingdom of copperThe Kingdom of Copper
by S. A. Chakraborty
Fantasy
620 pages
Published January 2019

I….may have an unpopular opinion on this book. First, I LOVED the first book of this trilogy, The City of Brass. Absolutely loved it. It was one of my favorite books of that year. I like this one significantly less. I think that probably wouldn’t be the case if I had read this in quick succession, but I read City of Brass when it came out, and had to wait a year for this one, in which time I read around 200 more books.

I expected a certain amount of backstory explanation in Kingdom of Copper – and it wasn’t there. I think the book assumes you remember everything that happened in City of Brass – and I most certainly did not. I don’t remember why we have the division between the djinn and the daeva, or really which is which. I know the shafit are part human, part…djinn? Daeva? See that’s the problem. These are very politicky books and forgetting key parts of the political drama makes this book VERY hard to follow. I don’t know WHY there’s conflict between certain people, and I don’t recognize missteps when characters make them because I’ve forgotten who has which opinions.

All the worldbuilding explanations are in the first book, and they aren’t revisited in this one. Had I KNOWN that, I might have re-read City of Brass before this came out, as much as I dislike re-reading anything.

All of that aside, and despite my confusion, I mostly enjoyed this continuation of Nahri’s story. We delved a little more into murky bloodlines, the more recent past of Daevabad, and the more ancient past of Nahri’s healer ancestors, the Nahids.

I still love Nahri, I like Ali a little more, and I like Dara a little less. I am curious to see where the third book leads, especially after the cliffhanger ending of this one. I just might have to re-read both City of Brass and this one before reading the trilogy’s conclusion.

From the cover of The Kingdom of Copper:

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked away from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad – and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there. 

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of a devastating battle, Nahri must forge a new path for herself. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family – and one misstep will doom her tribe.

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins and adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he must rely on the frightening abilities the marid – the unpredictable water spirits – have gifted him. But in doing so, he risks unearthing a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for a great celebration, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior caught between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

Sunday Stuff – Oh What A Chaotic Week It’s Been!

Today marks one week since our big moving day! A bunch of our friends came over and helped us move all our furniture and the vast majority of our stuff. In the last week we’ve made a few car trips back to the old house (it’s only about ten minutes away) to get little stuff that we hadn’t packed yet or that just didn’t pack well. (Like all my plants!)

In the past week we’ve been putting furniture together, unpacking boxes, puzzling the kitchen together, and dealing with new stuff like getting our propane tanks filled. We’ve never had propane heat before, so that was different! We’ve ordered and put up curtains, ordered and had installed a new washer and dryer (and OH they’re sexy!) and celebrated having a dishwasher again.

I’m also making a list of projects we want to do to the house eventually. Yes, already! We want to build a deck, and get a hot tub, and extend the driveway along the house and eventually have a garage built.

We actually went to the Maryland Home & Garden show yesterday to get ideas and references for those things! We have two solar companies scheduled to give us quotes on solar panels, which is something we’ve always wanted to do, an arborist should be calling us to set up an appointment to evaluate our trees, and we have lots of brochures and business cards for other projects. There was a company there with saltwater hot tubs that I am VERY interested in.

So amid all the flurry of moving, I have snuck in a little bit of reading. I managed to finish The Kingdom of Copper, and I will have that review up sometime this week. I’m about two-thirds done with Autism in Heels, so that one should be up soon as well. I won’t be back to every day posts for a little bit, but I plan to be posting every day by April at the latest. I also got a library card for my new county library system! The library branch closest to us is a LOT bigger than my last local branch, though I’m not convinced this county’s inventory is actually better.

HOUSEI LOVE MY NEW HOUSE FOLKS. It’s so awesome. And QUIET. We’re on the end of a long, quiet street. We have a corner lot, so lots of street parking – it’s just amazing. I can’t wait to be totally unpacked so I can get back to blogging! I’ll have to do a post about my reading nook when I finish it, too. 🙂

I’ve also upgraded the blog on WordPress, so I have a few new tools that I need to explore soon.

I’m excited to get fully unpacked and settled into our new house, and I’m excited to get back to regular posting on the blog. I’m probably mostly excited to get back to reading again!