Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday – Favourite Book Settings

Sharing some of my favourite book settings in this post. Some of the places I would absolutely love to visit!

Daevabad from The City of Brass – I mean duh! If Alizayd turned up and said lets go, I would drop everything and absolutely go!

Caraval from Caraval – It seems so magical to go see everything there just as long as I could definitely leave unscathed

Arawiya from We Hunt the Flame – Look let me just go hang out with Altair and eat good food.

Ketterdam from Six of Crows – Would I survive? Who knows? But it will be fun!

The Shire from Lord of the Rings – It just seems so peaceful, I just want to spend my time relaxing and reading there

Camp Half Blood from the Percy Jackson Series – I would love to go hang out with them all!

Lunar from The Lunar Chronicles – Obviously I would visit once Cinder is in charge

San Cristobal from Nocturna – I just want to visit Alfie, Finn and Luka and hang out

City of Noor from The Candle and the Flame – It seems so wonderful and I just want to spend a day walking the streets

L’Edan from The Gilded Wolves – I want to hang out with Laila and Zofia and them all and eat good food, maybe plan a heist or two

Where would you love to visit?

Adult Books, Diverse Books

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri – ARC Review

Thank you to Orbit Books for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.

But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire. 

TW: Discussions of being burned alive

I really loved the story though it was really dark at times. The world that Tasha has created was incredible. I loved that it’s inspired by Indian/Desi culture and all the things that was so familiar to me. From things like the clothes and food to the architecture and language, it was just so wonderful to see it in the book.

The discussions of how colonisation and the oppression of the indigenous populations and erasure of their culture and history was written into the story so well. It was a complex nuanced discussion which we see through both the oppressed and the colonisers and how it has impacted different people and communities. How the oppressed have lost their language and culture how they have become the most vulnerable and poor, unable to live safely and peacefully. How people will have different definitions of what resistance looks like and what lengths people will go to, to put an end to the occupation.

This book has some incredible female characters from Malini who can be ruthless to achieve her goals and kind hearted Priya who will always look out for those she loves and Bhumika who’s powerful in her own way despite people thinking she is weak because she cares for the poor and vulnerable. I loved seeing how women can be powerful in their own way and there isn’t just one “right” way to be strong and powerful.

I loved seeing the different points of view and how these women made a difference in a society that holds little value for women and how they are in many ways better and more resilient than the men in their lives. I am so excited to see where the story will go next after the ending of this book. I am especially looking forward to seeing Malini taking down her brother!

I think my one issue with the story was that I felt the romance between Priya and Malini felt a little forced, I just didn’t find they had chemistry or depth in their relationship past the attraction they had to each other and that they were both fighting for an end to the oppression of their people.

I am still really excited to read the next book especially because I completely fell in love with the world building and the story had me hooked from the beginning and I cannot wait to see where the story will go next.

Diverse Books, YA Books

Sisters of the Snake by Sasha Nanua and Sarena Nanua – ARC Review

Thank you to Harper Teen and netgalley for this arc in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this story and once I started I couldn’t put it down!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A lost princess. A dark puppet master. And a race against time—before all is lost.

Princess Rani longs for a chance to escape her gilded cage and prove herself. Ria is a street urchin, stealing just to keep herself alive.

When these two lives collide, everything turns on its head: because Ria and Rani, orphan and royal, are unmistakably identical.

A deal is struck to switch places—but danger lurks in both worlds, and to save their home, thief and princess must work together. Or watch it all fall into ruin.

This book had me hooked from the first chapter! I loved both Ria and Rani and how each of them have such distinct personalities that it was always easy to see who was who. The world the book is set in was so great, I loved seeing all the desi culture in the book from the clothes and food and everything in between. I was literally craving all my fave desi foods by the time I finished reading and it reminded me of my holidays to Bangladesh and Pakistan and I just loved seeing it all so much!

This book had me reeling from all the revelations and I loved how it was all built up slowly and we slowly piece things together by being able to see both Rani and Ria’s point of view we are able to see the foreshadowing and that build up to that explosive ending!

I will say that as someone who is kinda scared of snakes, the pit was actually terrifying! I would not want to be subjected to that as a way to be executed! Although I did grow to like Shima who was Rani’s familiar. She was sarcastic and sassy and I did love seeing how she looked out for both Rani and Ria.

Both Rani and Ria had great character arcs and had great development from the girls we meet at the beginning to who they become over the course of the story. Rani realises how ignorant she has been about the suffering of her people and the injustices they face and that her family isn’t as great as she thought in how they treat the common people. Ria is an angry person because of all the suffering she has been through and seen all her life. She wants to escape but as the story goes on she realises she can make a difference for those who are stuck there. I am looking forward to seeing how they both are in the next book especially the two of them together as we don’t actually get to see them together much as they swap lives and go in different directions.

Of course we also get a dash of romance though it isn’t the main theme it is there woven into the story and I really enjoyed seeing it develop. I liked both the love interests and how they both believed in and supported Rani and Ria. It was nice seeing love interests who supported the person they loved and believed in them.

I’m really looking forward to the sequel after that ending and to see where the story goes and I hope we get to learn more about the magic system in the book too.

Diverse Books, YA Books

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – ARC Review

Thank you to hodderscape and netgalley for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book and after that ending I’m looking forward to reading the sequel!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Synopsis from goodreads:

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

This book wasn’t what I thought it would be but I still enjoyed it a lot. I really liked Maia and Edan and their dynamic and banter. The world building and the Chinese culture was so beautifully written. I loved the world that Lim has created and the descriptions of the palace and the towns and even the clothes are so beautiful.

Maia is a wonderful character, she is determined and perseveres despite the odds being against her. She is brave despite being afraid and cares deeply for her family and loved ones. She suffers a lot in her life and still grieves for those she lost. And I loved how her grief was shown in the book, it felt so real and relatable and I appreciate that it was shown because often we are told to just “move on.” I loved how she became more confident in herself and her abilities as the story went on as she is exceptionally talented but has been prevented from furthering that because she is a woman but she outshines the best male tailors there.

Edan was a character that grew on me, I didn’t know whether I should trust him at the beginning and if he was truly someone that would help Maia but I ended up really loving his character and snark. He was witty and sarcastic and I loved that. I really loved his banter with Maia and how she gave it back as much as he gave.

Their journey takes us to several different places and it was great to see more of the world and how different the areas are. Maia having to make the dresses from the sun, moon and stars was so interesting and the descriptions of the dresses were breath taking. Honestly I want these dresses please and thank you. I did have some issues with the pacing in the middle, I felt it dragged a little but I really enjoyed the ending and I am looking forward to reading the sequel after the way this book ended!

Diverse Books, YA Books

Oculta by Maya Motayne – ARC Review

Thank you to Hodderscape and Netgalley for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.

This is the sequel to Nocturna and I absolutely adored this book!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

After joining forces to save Castallan from an ancient magical evil, Alfie and Finn haven’t seen each other in months. Alfie is finally stepping up to his role as heir and preparing for an International Peace Summit, while Finn is traveling and reveling in her newfound freedom from Ignacio.

That is, until she’s unexpectedly installed as the new leader of one of Castallan’s powerful crime syndicates.

Just when Finn finds herself back in San Cristobal, Alfie’s plans are also derailed. The mysterious organization responsible for his brother’s murder has resurfaced—and their newest target is the summit. And when these events converge, Finn and Alfie are once again forced to work together to follow the assassins’ trail and preserve Castallan’s hopes for peace with Englass.

But will they be able to stop these sinister foes before a new war threatens their kingdom?

TWs: Violence, death, PTSD, hallucinations, mentions of domestic abuse, blood, gore, panic attacks, grief, mentions of alcohol abuse, racism, slavery and colonisation

This book starts a few months after the events of Nocturna and we see that Finn has left and travelled while also committing a whole host of high end robberies and Alfie is now the crown prince and has accepted this role and is committed to serving his people. They are both leading their own paths and yet their minds wander back to each other and I was LIVING for it.

This book is unapologetically Latinx and I loved it! The culture, the clothes the food the language, just everything was so wonderfully Latinx. We also see the royals from Englassen in this book who are colonisers and while Castallan is now free from their enslavement we can still see the generational trauma and how much of their history was lost because of it. The people of Englassen are still enslaved by the white people there so it isn’t even something that is a distant past. It is something Alfie and his people can still see happening. It was so painfully real to read at times but Maya dealt with it so well and called out the micro aggressions that people of colour still have to deal with even now. It reminded me of a lot of the things I would have to smile and tolerate at my previous work place and the white privilege people benefitted from but refused to acknowledge.

When Luka calls a white woman’s skin mayonnaise colour after they are spoken to in the same way I just had to stop for a minute because it was a lot to see it being called out so clearly in the book. I really appreciate how these discusiions happen in the book and we see how Alfie, Luka and the others have to tolerate a lot of it because they are trying to build a peace treaty with them. We also see those who are opposed to this because they do not want anything to do with the colonisers in their home country. Both sides have valid arguments and Maya leaves it up to us to decide what our own opinions are.

I loved seeing Finn and Alfie work together again and how much they cared for each other but refused to acknowledge it because of who they are. The tension and angst is built so wonderfully through the book and by the end I was literally screaming at them to accept it already! They both had such great character growth too, individually and together. We see Finn battle with her own demons and finally overcome them and Alfie becomes the leader he needs to be for his people.

I also loved seeing more of Luka and how much he has had to endure and how he changed because of the events of Nocturna and the guilt he feels but also his relationship with Alfie felt so real. They fight they disagree yet when they need to they are there for each other. I also loved that the King and Queen are present and a part of Alfie’s life. They are great parents and deeply in love and it was such a nice change to see that in the book.

The last 100 pages and the ending left me a MESS. I am still not over all the revelations and plot twists some of which I did not see coming at all even though when I think back the foreshadowing was there and I was shook. The way this story ends left me with the worst book hangover and I absolutely need the next book asap because the wait is going to kill me.

Everyone go read Nocturna and Oculta!