Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Review: The Ascent to Godhood

The Ascent to Godhood The Ascent to Godhood by J.Y. Yang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cheebye! Tell me there is more coming soon!?

Author J.Y. Yang's silkpunk Tensorate series is one of the most creative worlds I've read in recent years. The novellas have been like jewels, rich with slack, political intrigue, and sibling rivalry. Each has felt better than the last, which is saying a lot because the first novella, The Black Tides of Heaven was nominated for the Hugo, Locus, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. (Actually the second novella, The Red Threads of Fortune was a competitor in the Locus Awards against Black Tides!) This fourth novella is perhaps the most accessible and visceral of the series thus far. The Ascent to Godhood gives us Hekate's backstory, as told by her former handmaiden/aide/lover, the formidable Lady Han.

Here's my mental image of Hekate, a sort of Empress Wu...


Lady Han was the woman who knew the Protector best, who both celebrates and mourns the death of the woman who sheltered and trained her for several decades. The complex reasons for her turning on Hekate make for fascinating reading. The reader is quickly immersed in Lady Han's world and you can easily ask who betrayed whom in this world. While some might look at Lady Han's endgame as one of pure revenge, it's not just revenge, even if she fears it is. Her bold, continued use of her title takes your breath away by the time you get to the end of this story, which is... the beginning of a new story, I hope?

My mental image of Lady Han, as she tells this tale:



Yang has managed to build an immense amount of depth of character and a wealth of world-building over the course of four novellas and only 640 pages. Please, Tor.com and JY, tell us that there is more ahead?

"The Slack is everything and everything is the Slack."


You can find my review of the first three Tensorate novellas here.

I received an Uncorrected Proof of this novella in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Review: Hollow Kingdom

Hollow Kingdom Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars bumped to 5 Stars because of the creativity

Kira Jane Buxton's debut offers a funny but often poignant look at the plight of pets left behind by owners after an apocalypse. Told largely through the eyes of a pet crow named S.T. (short for Shit Turd), who is struggling to deal with the zombification of his beloved owner Big Jim, we see animals domestic and wild around the globe adjusting to a post-human world. S.T., aka The One Who Keeps, an impressively bright corvid, tries to safeguard his dog, a bloodhound by the name of Dennis, and eventually a bright and perky Pomeranian named Cinnamon, as they navigate a world in which the humans, called MoFos (thank you, Big Jim), are either ravenously seeking connectivity, I mean grisly sustenance, or busy mutating into... well, I'll leave that for you to discover. The release of animals from the Seattle Zoo by The One Who Opens Doors (can't give their identity away, sorry) further complicates their perils, as does a terrible encounter with The One Who Spits (ditto). Set in Seattle, we meet a wise female octopus named Onida (The One Searched For), a murder of crows leader named Kraai, an African Gray named Ghubari, a tabby called Genghis Cat, and a flock of eagles, as S.T, The One Who Keeps, tries to find answers to what caused the MoFos to become ill, to release trapped domestic pets, and to make his peace with an apocalypse that will change the earth and the Aura (the animal communication network) forever.

The idea of this novel is so wildly creative. Loaded with humor, it did occasionally drag a wee bit due to some repetitiveness in S.T.'s struggles, but it's such a minor quibble overall. The astute reader can early on figure out the origins of the zombification of the human race, but Buxton's exploration through S.T.'s and his companions' eyes is well-rendered and I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

I was fortunate to have received an Advance Review Audiobook from Hachette Audio, via Libro.fm. The audiobook is not to be missed. While a few mispronunciations (satiety, etc) are momentary distractions, narrator Robert Petkoff's voicing of the huge number of characters in this tale is a delight for the listener.

I received a Digital Review Copy, along with a paper copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Review: Desdemona and the Deep

Desdemona and the Deep Desdemona and the Deep by C.S.E. Cooney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lush and imaginative, Desdemona and the Deep makes me eager for the rerelease of the first two novellas in the Dark Breaker series. Cooney's Breaker world is really stunning, with its world flower mix of humans, Gentry and Koboldkin. A dark tale of a daughter trying to undo the evil bargain of her father, my only problem was with Desdemona herself, who is a spoiled daughter of a coal mine baron who oh so spontaneously grows a heart when confronted with her father's sordid means of gaining wealth. The path to Tattercoats Thousandfurs evolves rapidly over the course of a scant 200 pages. It's a beautiful journey, though.

This novella has made me eager to explore Cooney's lauded anthology Bone Swans. I hope that Tor.com will rerelease the other Dark Breakers works. I would love to see a Sussura the Night Hag story, by the way!

I received an Advance Review Copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Review: Sweep of the Blade

Sweep of the Blade Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fourth installment in Ilona Andrews serialized Innkeeper Chronicles focuses on Maud, innkeeper Dina Demille's older half-sibling. The sisters had a close relationship prior to Maud's marriage and during the events of One Fell Sweep, Dina rushes to the aid of her sister and niece, five year old Helen, with the help of her man Sean and sort-of-friend Arland. Arland, who hangs around after the rescue, is clearly smitten with Maud, who is suffering PTSD after surviving several years of exile on a dry husk of a planet where her she and her daughter saw her husband brutally murdered. Sweep of the Blade follows Maud as she travels to Arland's planet to see if she could live among his people for the sake of her daughter Helen, but also because a small corner of her heart still hopes for love and a warm, safe, and productive life. Arland has incautiously stunned his family by announcing he's arriving with a bride but then that she refused him but to still roll out the red carpet. His family is not thrilled by a long shot because they're in the midst of a high pressure event and because Maud is, horrors, human. (I might add, well... maybe human. Maud has some surprising magic sort of related to the innkeepers)


In Ilona Andrews Innkeeper world, an offshoot of their The Edge series, vampires are a Viking-like people, werewolves are aliens from a lost planet, and a variety of other intelligent alien species like the adorable but cunning furry lees, the chameleon-colored insectoid tatchis, co-exist.

Sweep of the Blade is classic Ilona Andrews, with their trademark action and humor. It's a fun summer vacay read. I could quibble over how troubled but utterly perfect Maud is, how over the top adorable Helen is, how Arland upends his entire life for a human woman he's known for just a few weeks, how the ending just felt a bit rushed, but... naaaah. I love these authors and they can't ever write a bad book. If you're looking for a fun read for your weekend, this. is. it.

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Review: Sophia, Princess Among Beasts

Sophia, Princess Among Beasts Sophia, Princess Among Beasts by James Patterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 Stars for me, bumped to 3 Stars for competent writing

This is the first novel I've read that was co-authored by James Patterson (and Emily Raymond). Although not stated in the promotional material it appears to possibly be targeting the Young Adult market based on subject matter and writing style. Princess Sophia (So-fye-uh on the audio edition) is a headstrong, if goodhearted, young woman who seems to have cost her father his life and kingdom. In a story that seems part cautionary fairy tale, part Goblin Market, Sophia appears to move through separate realms of life and death, trying to work her way back to a kingdom of which she should be Queen. She learns lessons of love and bravery during her travails.

This novel has some interesting elements but the plot just lacked clarity for me. The explanations, such as there are, for Sophia's ability to penetrate the world of the dead, and for the fact that some of the denizens who follow her are beasts or more monster or goblin-like in their appearance are largely lacking. Sophia and her dearest servants are startled about revelations about her long-dead mother, but again, no real explanation. I felt some aspects of the book displayed stunning levels of cruelty, especially to animals but also to people, with the real monsters of the story reveling in their own cruelty. It was not an engaging read for me, as a result. As a result of some of the content, I can't really recommend it as a YA novel unless it's for a reader who likes horror/dark fantasy. Though the ending is positive, there's a lot of darkness in the book to wade through.

CW: animal cruelty, attempted rape, murder, threatened and real eviscerations etc.

The audiobook is read with a British accent by Gemma Dawson, who lends some posh to the story with her narration.


I received a paper copy and an audio copy (Libro.fm) of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Review: The Philosopher's War

The Philosopher's War The Philosopher's War by Tom Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tom Miller's The Philosopher's Flight was one of the most refreshing books I read in 2018. He has followed that debut with a triumphant second novel that continues the bildungsroman account of Robert Canderelli Weekes, a nineteen-year-old sigilrist and rare male practitioner of the magical art called philosophy. Robert's Radcliffe dreams have come to fruition and he's become the first male member of the US Sigilry Rescue and Evacuation Corps. Let me assure you, it is his worst possible nightmare. 

Thrust into an environment in which he must deal with the prejudice against a male practitioner of sigilry (sexism) and the prejudice against practitioners of sigilry period (a sort of racism, but also sexism, in this alt-history of WWI, where Black Jack Pershing is not a sigilry fan), Robert finds himself in the midst of a great ethical crisis. It puts him at odds with his flame, Danielle, with half the corps, and facing a huge dilemma as the first man to be allowed in the corps. You will recall that in the Great War, warfare was waged with terrible weapons. And so it is with Miller's war, where not only chemical weapons but biological weapons are readied by both the Americans and Germans. The American plan to use a smoke laden with plague on the city of Berlin has Weekes' commander, General Blandings, planning mutiny at best and treason at worst. What side will Robert stand on? And how much will that stand cost him? And let's not forget that while all this is playing out, he is flying rescue missions against sometimes crazy odds. War, in all its heartbreaking dreadfulness, is on full display here.

Introducing a number of delightful new characters, The Philosopher's War offers a rousing sequel to readers who loved the first book. I was also glad of the illustrations, which provide a better understanding of a philosopher's equipment and their fearful weaponry. I'm hoping, (not a spoiler, since we see this early on from the prologue) that we will enjoy a third and possibly fourth novel about the man who will eventually become a Brigadier General and, as of May 1941, be living in exile? Give us more, Dr. Miller, give us more!


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Review: Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun

Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo del Toro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Equal parts darkness and poignant beauty, The Labyrinth of the Faun tells the story of Ofelia, a child who mourns the loss of her father and the seeming absence of her recently remarried and now pregnant mother, Carmen. Ofelia, kind, brave, and terribly lonely, escapes into a world of dark fantasy to escape the reality of her cruel stepfather, the Wolf, Vidal, who is terrorizing his men and the community in which they live. Her story, as the secret Princess Moanna, alternates with ten fairy tales. Set in 1944 Spain, against the backdrop of the post-civil war, this is a rich retelling of the del Toro's lauded 2006 film, Pan's Labyrinth. This magnificently illustrated novel is intended for young adults and some aspects of the story may be too intense for young children.





The audiobook is beautifully narrated, with authentic Castilian pronunciation of names and places,

CW: child death, maternal death, multiple murders


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Monday, July 15, 2019

Review: Recursion

Recursion Recursion by Blake Crouch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”
― Marcel Proust

As anyone who has known someone with Alzheimer's Disease knows, the person we are is defined largely by our memories. Our brains, sponges soaked in neurotransmitters, operate miraculously, making new memories, retrieving old ones, until... until they don't. Loss of one's memory, whether due to a catastrophic event like a traumatic brain injury or to a slow erosion of functioning, like dementia, is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a person, or to those who love them. The role of memory in making a person who they are provides the inception of Recursion, a book about both memory and time travel. Elegantly written, with the feel of literary science fiction, Recursion follows two protagonists, Helena Smith, a neuroscience researcher, and Barry Sutton, a NYC police detective. Helena is pursuing creation of a device that would allow her to record memories, hoping to use the machine to preserve her dementia-suffering mother's memories. Barry is haunted by the case of a woman who commits suicide due to a newly described mental illness, False Memory Syndrome. For the first third of the book, Barry and Helena's chapters alternate until they fatefully cross paths and unite in the effort to prevent the ultimate disaster that is the outcome of her invention. For simply preserving memory is a less ambitious goal than some who know about Helena's "chair" have in mind. From an unscrupulous billionaire to the military, the potential uses of her research can be exploited in deleterious ways. There would be no way to describe these potential uses without spoilers, so I won't even try.

There are aspects of the book that are fascinating yet I was frustrated with several issues in the book. The complete lack of overtly discussed bioethics bothered me early on and even the validity of a researcher testing their methodology on themselves troubled me. (Having a background in research science always makes it a challenge to convince me fictional science is any good.) But beyond that issue, I was puzzled by the relationship between Barry and Helena. I never understood the relationship between them. Whereas a considerable amount of time was spent on Barry's relationship with his daughter Megan and his wife Julia, other than a common cause and a trauma bond, I wasn't really sure what Barry and Helena were doing together. They were from two such different worlds and I didn't feel the bridge they built across their worlds. I also felt that the assured mutual destruction issue near the end was overdone and lacked believability, as it didn't really solve the problems there were to solve.

Overall this was a well-written and sometimes poignant novel. It made me feel just how fragile and temporary we are.

The audiobook, narrated by Jon Lindstrom and Abby Craden, was a pleasure.

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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Review: This Is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Readers of the blog know how much I love Max Gladstone's works (The Craft Sequece and Empress of Forever) and will no doubt recall my strong praise for Amal El-Mohtar's Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Sturgeon-winning short story Seasons of Iron and Glass, in my Hugo nominations post from 2017. Thus, it's hardly a surprise that one of my most anticipated reads for 2019 has been this novella. But it might seem like a stretch since I'm not usually a fan of co-written works, spy novels, or epistolary novels. The unique structure of this novella (more on that account on the actual blog review post) takes every advantage of the writers differing styles. Anyone who has followed these authors' writing, social media, or games (yes, games- Max Gladstone has written some pretty cool games) will know which character is written by which author.

Time War tells the story of Blue and Red, two agents who are on opposite sides of the titular time war, a temporal battle that finds them traveling on the strands of time through history and place. From the myriad Atlantises that Red despises to the perfect London that Blue loves and to which other Londons can only aspire, we travel with these two agents and read letters that begin as taunts but which evolve into the deepest of bonds- love and respect. Red, in all her earnest lethality, is enriched (infiltrated? flipped?) by Blue's appreciation of the niceties of tea, honey, fine writing paper, scented ink, and her philosophical approach to a war that rapidly becomes secondary to their obsessive relationship with one another. Red and Blue are in some ways trapped in the battle between the technotopia known as the Agency, and the vast organic consciousness known as the Garden, having to cover their tracks to obscure their growing bond and their growing questions about what winning the time war would really mean. What if winning a war could cost you everything you care about most? Where do their loyalties lie? Can they find a way to game the system they are entangled in, and change the paradigm of their leaders' respective wars? Is there a way to win?

Full of deft writing, terrible puns, love, heartbreak, and hope, This is How You Lose the Time War is a beautiful novella, unlike anything I've ever read. It's going to receive great acclaim and a slew of award nominations, as it deserves.

I received a Digital Review Copy and a paper review copy from Saga Press in exchange for an honest review.

The audiobook narrated by Cynthia Farrell and the awesome Emily Woo Zeller is just marvelous.


______________________________________




I was fortunate to have the chance to attend Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone's effervescent Readercon30 panel in which they discussed how this book came to be. They had long wanted to write something together and the idea for the novella initially took shape over a dinner in 2017. Describing the situation in which Red and Blue meet as a sort of temporal Cold War, the authors sought a framework that would build on their differing styles and strengths for their respective characters. The authors wrote their sections (El-Mohtar as Blue, Gladstone as Red) in tandem, while spending time together on a writing retreat and on two other occasions. (They actually found they struggled to write when not together.) Since each wrote their character and their character's letters, polishing the novella with recommendations from their agent, DongWon Song, and their editor at Saga Press, Navah Wolfe, was easily accomplished, as neither had to touch the other's passages.

The novella has been optioned for TV, though the authors are unable to discuss any details, as yet. It did sound as if some structural changes might take place, though.

I'm taking bets on award nominations. A trifecta of Hugo, Nebula and Locus noms, anyone?



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Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Thank You Giveaway! Two Years, Ten Thousand Followers



Well, doh, this never got published yesterday. I'm having work done at my house that involves using jackhammers and I think it my brain is not functioning.


My final giveaway for my Blogavesary celebration coincides with reaching ten thousand followers. You guys, I honestly can't believe it! Having a following is what lets me get great ARCs and it's what lets me have those ARCs I give away to you, too! Thank you SO much! Thanks for the engagement, for discussing what you love or hate about a book, and thanks for reading!

To celebrate a milestone I never could have believed I'd reach when I started, I'm giving away a book to TWO lucky winners , and YOU GET TO CHOOSE the book. My only requirement is that the book be selected from the list of books I've reviewed in the past two years. Publishers, and especially authors, give me books because they want to sell books, and when those books are good books, I really want to help authors continue to write, which means they have to sell some more books. The easiest way to look through what I've reviewed in the past two years is to either look through my Reading Challenge on Goodreads (links in first comment below), or through my Instagram or Tumblr posts. Looking directly on the blog also works but might take a lot longer with scrolling.

This Giveaway is open to legitimate international entrants. (There have been problems with bot entries on some giveaways.) Entrants must have a valid email address, must Like this Page and must comment *via the Rafflecopter* on this post for their entries to be valid. international winners will have their book shipped from Book Depository. This giveaway begins at 12 Noon EDT on July 10 and ends on Sunday, July 14 at 11:59 PM.



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© Marzie's Reads 2017-2019, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Review: Bethlehem

Bethlehem Bethlehem by Karen Kelly
My rating: 3.25 of 5 stars

3.25 Stars

Bethlehem, the debut novel by Karen Kelly, is an ambitious, multigenerational novel set in the glory days of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, site of Bethlehem Steel Corporation. At one time the BSC was the second largest steel producer in America and one of the great innovators in beam structures used to advance the building of skyscrapers. They were also major producers of ordinance used in WWI and WWII. The novel, which cuts back and forth between 1918-25 (Susannah's early years) and 1962 (Joanna's story intersecting with Susannah's), tells the story of family secrets, deceptions, and illicit love during the Great War period to the lead up of the Great Depression. While the novel presents two interesting periods of in American history, I found it oddly paced (the first half is quite slow) and wanted more from the story, particularly more from Joanna's character. (I felt it was clear that Susannah was Kelly's favorite child?) I would have enjoyed a family tree, at least at the end, to help track family connections, as there are quite a few characters, a number with nicknames.

While some aspects of the plot are haunting in terms of the choices we make and live with, in recent years I've sadly been spoiled by reading very polished historical fiction novels by writers like Martha Hall Kelly, Kate Quinn, and Susan Meissner and Kelly's writing suffers in comparison. Nevertheless, Kelly shows great promise and in tighter editorial hands, I'm sure she will continue to grow as a writer. I'll definitely pick up her next novel.

Memorable quote:

"The fact that some skin doesn't show scars does not mean there haven't been wounds." - Joanna Collier.


I received a Digital Review Copy from St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, July 8, 2019

Cover Reveal for Thorn by Intisar Khanani!

Back in 2016, when I was desperately scraping around for diversion to help me cope with my mother's terminal illness, my friend Suz told me about indie writer Grace Draven. Then we both, through Grace Draven's recommendation, stumbled on Intisar Khanani, another indie author. Intisar had written several shorter works and I read her novel Thorn with delight. What seemed like a writing exercise at the start (it's a Goose Girl retelling of the Brother's Grimm tale) became much, much more. Honestly, it was one of the best fairy tale retellings I'd ever read. I quickly snapped up Sunbolt, Memories of Ash and The Bone Knife  and became completely enchanted with her beautiful writing style. Eventually, I struck up correspondence with her and joined her special band of readers (The Shadow League). It was a delight to hear last year that HarperTeen agreed with everyone else that Intisar's work is something special: they are releasing a new edition of Thorn on March 24th, 2020. I can't wait to read it and review it for you. But, alas, that won't happen until early next year. To whet your appetite, I want to give you a peek at the redesigned cover! Plus, Intisar is offering a giveaway, for which you'll find a link below.

First, let me give you the book's synopsis, and take a look at my review from 2016.


Thorn by Intisar Khanani

A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own.

Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.

But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.

My review from June 2016 was:

"A delightful re-envisioning of the story of the Goose Girl by the Brothers Grimm. In the beginning, it felt as if this novel started as an interesting writing exercise. But the character development was so rich that the reader becomes transported by the story, even though anyone who knows of the original fairy tale knows of its happy ending. This is a story in which magic can be found simply, in a kind heart and a desire for true justice. My only loose end was that we lose track of Falada, the beloved and wise Horse. Where is his head?


An enchanting read by an author I'm so glad to have discovered." 


I'm so excited to see this new edition of the story. The novel has doubled in length! And I love looking at how writers grow and polish earlier works. (Ask me some time about Patricia Briggs' first novel Masques!) 

Without further adieu, take look at Thorn's beautiful new cover....







And here's a brief excerpt...

I lead the king down to the back entrance to the gardens, and we walk along between plots of dill, thyme, and chives. I wait, knowing he will speak when he is ready.
 “How much does your mother confide in you?” he asks as we near the middle of the gardens.
 I slide a look at him from the corner of my eye. “Enough. My lord.”
 His lips quirk, the first true smile I have seen from him. “Is that honest?”
 I pause beside a bed of borage. “How much do I need to know, my lord? You are here seeking a wife for your son.”
 “I am,” he agrees. “How often do you participate in the discussions between your mother and the council?”
 “I don’t, my lord. You should know I am not . . .” I hesitate, aware that I have no place telling this king what he should or should not know. Or jeopardizing such an alliance for my land.
 “Not what?”
 I struggle to find an appropriate way to finish. “Not—it is not thought my place to attend such meetings.”
 “You would never inherit the throne?”
 I could inherit, it is true, but I doubt the council would allow it given my history—and certainly not now that I might marry into another royal family, one that would be happy to add our lands to their own. Either way, should my brother die, the council would certainly pass over me in favor of our nearest cousin. “It is unlikely,” I say finally.
 “I doubt that,” the king says. “It has been my experience that even young men die. What you mean to say is your council would not accept you should your brother die without issue and you were yet unwed. Why?”
 If he knows all the answers, why is he asking? I look him in the eye and quip, “Perhaps I am too honest, my lord.”
 He laughs. “And too straightforward. You will have to learn to play with your words more.” He reaches out, his fingertips brushing my arm where my brother held me. I flinch back reflexively, as if the bruises have already darkened—as if he could see them through my sleeve. He watches me, his eyes glinting in the sunlight. “Once you are Menaiya’s,” he says, “your brother will never hurt you again.”
~ from Thorn by Intisar Khanani 

Of course, I'm not alone in my praise of Intisar's writing.

Advance Praise

Thorn is a lovely atmospheric fairytale fantasy about a girl and her found family. I loved it!” -
Gail Carriger, New York Times-bestselling author of the Parasol Protectorate series

“Intisar Khanani is in my top five favorite authors writing today. A stunningly talented
storyteller whose lyrical writing just blows my socks off every time I read her.” – Grace Draven,
USA Today bestselling author Eidolon


You can already pre-order Thorn from most booksellers. The hardcover ISBN13 is 9780062835703. The eBook editions in various formats are also already available to pre-order. If you love fairy tale retellings, you won't want to miss this one.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Now, as mentioned above, take a look at Intisar's giveaway, which runs through July 18, celebrating the cover reveal! (This giveaway is not being run through my blog, so please click on the link below the photo!) She's giving away a THORN-inspired prize pack including a great snowy owl enamel pin, a gorgeous "quill" style calligraphy pen set, a hand-painted watercolor feather on a page from Thorn, and a "fairy dust" candle. The prize pack plus a $25 Gift Card will be awarded to one US winner. She is also offering a $25 Gift Card to one non-US winner. Good luck!






Saturday, July 6, 2019

Blogaversary Day 6! The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden



It's Day 6 of my Blogaversary celebration and I'm giving away the FULL hardcover Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden. It's kind of a Grand Prize, with three Winternight-themed candles (Solovei's Oats and Morozko's Magic by The Melting Library and Winternight by Hollow Ever After Apothecary). I'm also including a Vasya quote bookmark from A Touch of Epic, which says "I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed to me." The vendors for the candles and book mark are all small businesses found on Etsy or with their own internet shops.

In order to enter this giveaway, please enter the Rafflecopter below. Remember that you don't have to do all the options if you don't want to- they are just options for entering.



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© Marzie's Reads 2017-2019, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Blogaversary Day 5! An Alice Hoffman Giveaway.


Welcome to Day 5 of my Blogaversary! Today I'm giving away paperback copies of Alice Hoffman's delightful Magic duology: Practical Magic and its prequel, The Rules of Magic, and a beautiful wooden bookmark from Square One Studio in Campton Hollow, New Hampshire. I love Hoffman's unique brand of suburban magic! These books are literary urban fantasy.

In order to enter for a chance to win, enter the Rafflecopter below. Please remember that the options for entry are just that- options. You don't have to do them all.



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© Marzie's Reads 2017-2019, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Review: This Time Will Be Different

This Time Will Be Different This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Time Will Be Different is an engaging YA novel that tackles the racism that lingers after the WWII internment of Japanese-Americans, reparations, along with a variety of challenges that young people face. CJ is the granddaughter of a man whose life was upended by the internment during WWII. Her mother, Michelle, and aunt, Hannah, are continually battling over old hurts, including the death of their father. Michelle, a pragmatic and cold-seeming executive has beaten the odds, achieving success at a major company in the Silicon Valley in spite of being Japanese, female, and a single parent. Hannah is the far less pragmatic younger sister who, after suffering from cancer at age 22, helps her sister raise her child while running the florist business that's been in the family for many years. The once profitable Heart's Desire flower shop has fallen on difficult times and Michelle has grown weary of keeping the business afloat with her hard-won cash. CJ has found that she has a gift for floral arrangements but what if the business goes under? What are her future plans for the future? When she finds out that the family that basically robbed her family during WWII may buy the shop to convert it into a venture capital development tank, she's outraged. At the same time she is dealing with her best friend Emily looking increasingly like she's falling for the girl that smashed her heart to smithereens in middle school. How much is CJ going to let the past determine her future, or that of her best friend's love life? And what about her own life, after mistakes with her first boyfriend seem to have made her distrustful of having a happy relationship with anyone? It's a long way to learning that while you can't change the past, you could perhaps try to make sure this time will be different.

This novel has frank discussions about teenage drinking, sex, pregnancy, abortion, homosexuality, and topics like racism and implicit bias. While some of the elements (for me, the flower meanings) seemed overdone, the quality of the relationships and CJ's capacity for frank self-examination (maybe with a bit of help from her friends or perhaps a kick from them) are quite well written. 

This book is a very solid summer read for teens and young adults. I will definitely look forward to reading Sugiura's next book.


I received a Digital Review Copy along with a paper review copy from Harper Teen in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment

Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second time I've read Houston's memoir. I remember being fairly stunned by it when I read it as a teenager, and asking my parents about the internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans during WWII. I think it was a little discussed topic until this book became popular in the 1970's. (Since we have German-American friends, I was curious about why the Japanese were singled out but later found that some German-Americans were also interred, as were some Italian-Americans. Nevertheless, the number of Japanese-Americans who lives were upended was much higher.) When I was a teen I just couldn't wrap my head around Wakatsuki Houston's experiences of being locked up as a child. While perhaps less dramatic in the magnitude of suffering that was seen with German concentration camps, the idea that my splendid America kept people in camps with insufficient food, shelter, abysmal medical care, and the resulting disintegration of the Wakatsuki family was shocking to fourteen year old me.

As an adult, I notice different things in her account, such how her father was completely undone by the loss of opportunity and status, his spirit broken by losing everything, or by the perceptions of collaboration/race traitors between the Nisei and Issei internees, or by the domestic violence in her family that ratched up due to the stress of their situation. I'm also struck by the lack of insights into the plight of her siblings, particularly her brothers, who fought in the war for America while their family was locked up in a camp, and by the lack of overt anger, resentment, or perception of rights to reparations in this book. Wakatsuki Houston delivers the facts of her circumstances, including memorable moments like when her mother breaks all their fine china rather than sell it to a salesman who makes an insultingly low offer when the family is being forced to leave their home with few possessions to move to the internment camp, or her family member who bleeds to death after giving birth in Manzanar, due to insufficient obstetric care. Although in some respects her account is simplistic because we see the internment experience through her childhood eyes, I am struck by her insights into her need to choose very classically American hobbies (such as baton twirling) as she matures, in order to remove the taint of her Japanese heritage, her inability to join the Girl Scouts even years after the war ended and the controversy associated with being prom queen, all because of her heritage. My takeaway is that the effect of camps on children, even children housed with their parents, is lingering, complicated, and clearly the emotional scars of child internment don't even have to be because of war. These scars are centered on racism.

While not a perfect book in terms of its depth of analysis (again, it is a very personal account, told from her perspective as a child or young person), the accessibility and simplicity of Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston's story is what makes this a good read for children at this moment in time.

Farewell to Manzanar was my June non-fiction read, in part due to my reading current headlines about children in camps, and in part due to reading Misa Sugiura's This Time Will Be Different, a novel of fiction that deals with the legacy of internment for families whose businesses were lost/stolen during the WWII era of internment camps.



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Blogaversary Day 4! Happy 4th of July


Welcome to Day 4 of my Blogaversary. Since we are coinciding with July 4th, and I know a good fraction of my followers enjoy memoirs and biographies, I thought it would be nice to offer memoirs of two of our First Ladies. I have immense admiration for Laura Bush and Michelle Obama. They have worked ardently for child literacy and educational equity around the world. The Laura Bush Foundation for American Libraries is a testament to her lifelong advocacy for literacy. Michelle Obama's Girls Opportunity Alliance reflects the need to make sure girls receive education and opportunity around the world. Women, as mothers, are a child's first teacher. Having an educated mother greatly enhances a child's prospects in the world. (BTW, Michelle Obama's memoir is now the best selling memoir in publishing history.)




~ quote from Michelle Obama


To enter this giveaway for these two hardcover books, enter the Rafflecopter. Entries not made via Rafflecopter are not valid and will be discarded when selecting a winner.

Please remember that all the entry options are options. You don't have to do all of them. Doing more just gives you more chances to win. I try to offer a variety of options because not everyone is on a bunch of different social media platforms.


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© Marzie's Reads 2017-2019, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Blogaversary Day 3!


Today's Giveaway is for my ARC copies of the Waking Land trilogy by Callie Bates! The three fantasy novels tell the stories of Elanna, Jahan and Sophy. To enter this giveaway, enter the Rafflecopter below by logging in with your email or using Facebook.

Please remember that if you don't enter the Rafflecopter your comment below isn't valid. And if I cannot match your name to your entries, I can't verify your entries. If you don't want your name displayed publicly, please email me (marzies.reads@gmail.com) or message me through Facebook, giving me either the content of your comment or some way to distinguish who you are.


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© Marzie's Reads 2017-2019, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Blogaversary Day 2!


Welcome to Day 2 of my Blogaversary! This is a Grishaverse giveaway! This giveaway is for Leigh Bardugo's King of Scars, first book in the Nikolai Lantsov duology. I'm also giving away Leigh's journal designed to help you find your magic in your day to day life, The Severed Moon, and two "Until the Very End" candles with scents inspired by Ravka and the beautiful and brilliant Zoya. In order to enter, follow the steps on the Rafflecopter widget below.  Just commenting directly on this post will not be an entry. Nor will commenting on Facebook or elsewhere on social media.  You can log into the Rafflecopter with either and email or with Facebook.


Today I played hooky, taking my stepmom, who is visiting for a few days, birding in Maine. We went to places like this:





As a result, I'm getting today's giveaway up kind of late. To be honest, it's a sorry not sorry situation. The infusion of beauty was much needed. Take a look at those photos!



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© Marzie's Reads 2017-2019, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Blogaversary Day 1!


This giveaway is now closed and the winner was Heidi!

Welcome to the first day of my 2nd Blogaversary! I'm giving away one of my favorite books I read in 2018, Delia Owens' "Where the Crawdads Sing" along with a shell necklace. And if you'd like the turkey feather, I'll be happy to give that, too! To enter, follow the steps of the Rafflecopter embedded below. If you do not enter the Rafflecopter process, your entries are not valid.

Remember that if you are subscribing to the email newsletter you are looking for the widget in the right side panel that looks like this:


You will need to check your entry and verify the subscription, otherwise you are not subscribed. Unverified entries are not valid. If you aren't really interested in subscribing, just don't. It's only 2 entries. It's really not nice to subscribe just to try to win something and then unsubscribe. You can also subscribe via Bloglovin'. (At this time I have no way of tracking subscriptions through other services like Feedly.)

Please remember that if your username on social media is not recognizably your name, you should email or message me because otherwise if I allow Rafflecopter to determine whose entries are valid, your entry may be discarded inadvertently.

And YAY, two whole years! Thanks for following, and sharing our love of books!



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© Marzie's Reads 2017-2019, All Rights Reserved.

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