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Book Review: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of an Empress) by Julie C. Dao

From Goodreads.com

Summary

“Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.

Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and  exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with both breathtaking pain and beauty, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns possesses all the hallmarks of masterful fantasy: dazzling magic, heartbreaking romance, and a world that hangs in the balance. Fans of HeartlessStealing Snow, and Red Queen will devour this stunning debut.”

-From Amazon.com

Review

I’ve been seeing this book everywhere and everyone is raving about it, so naturally, I had to see what they were talking about. This was an absolutely fantastic read and so unlike anything I’ve read in a long time.

First off, we had a strong female character. She was ambitious and not afraid to do what she needed to. She wasn’t a demure lady, what was expected of the time, but was willing to fight and claw her way to the top to become an Empress, or to at least try to get there. She was even willing to turn down love from one of her oldest friends. I kind of liked this because she didn’t fit the regular mold of a female protagonist. Even when they’re badasses they’re generally controlled, though Xifeng was almost evil in her own way!

It did have this kind of Snow White kind of feel about the entire thing, except that it was set in Asia.

It was also interesting where it was set. It felt like China most of the time, and most of the names were Chinese, but you could feel like you were in Japan due to some of the names as well.  But it didn’t really matter. The way that it was set made you just feel like it was a big mush of Asia.

Overall this book was absolutely fantastic. Everyone was raving about it so I had to check it out and I wasn’t disappointed. I highly recommend this one!

Happy Reading!

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Literary Gift for the 21 and Older

I know that it’s a little late now, that Christmas is over, but I had to share this fantastic book that I got for my birthday earlier this month! It’s perfect for any time of the year and if you have a book lover in your life that is turning 21 soon, or is an adult and you just need a creative gift, then I have the perfect gift suggestion for you!

Literary Gift for the 21 and Older

The book is called Tequila Mockingbird and it’s all of this different kinds of cocktails with a literary twist! I mean it honestly doesn’t get much more creative than that! It’s perfect with the collection of different kinds of drinks in it!

It has pictures from the books that the drinks are based off of and then besides the ingredients on how to make the drink, there are witty little captions that go alone with the instructions!

The books is broken into a few sections: ladies, gentlemen, non-alcoholic, warm and some food that you can make that is based off of books as well (I believe that is all the sections). There are also drinking games at at the end which are literary based and absolutely fantastic!!

They have drinking games for when you’re alone, such as taking a shot every time that you find that you committed a sin in the bible, starting at Genesis to group drinking games that take place in the library. Whether they are made up or not, it’s still so funny!

I really do suggest this book as a gift for an adult book lover in your life because it’s hilarious and so creative!

It also looks beautiful on your bookself.

Purchase it here or here!

Happy Reading (or drinking)!

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Tortured Souls: The Legend of Primordium by Clive Barker

“He is a transformer of human flesh; a creator of monsters.”

Tortured Souls by Clive Barker

Summary

”Tortured Souls” is one of the most vividly imagined, tightly compressed novellas ever written by the incomparable Clive Barker. At once violent and erotic, brutal and strangely beautiful, it takes us into the heart of the legendary ”first city” known as Primordium, the site of political upheaval, passionate encounters, and astonishing acts of transformation.

Lurking at the edges of this extravagant tale is the ancient entity known as ”Agonistes,” who accepts the pleas of selected ”Supplicants,” transforming them, through a combination of art, magic, and pain, into avatars of violence and revenge.

The story begins when a freelance assassin named Zarles Krieger commits a routine murder-for-hire. This act will lead him to two life-altering encounters, one with the daughter of his victim, the other with Agonistes himself. This conjunction of the human and the inhuman stands at the center of this instantly absorbing creation.

With great authority and equally great economy, ”Tortured Souls” expands to become a portrait of Primordium itself, with its hierarchies, its hidden mysteries, its shifting power structure, and–most significantly–its indelible cast of characters. A perfectly controlled example of what Barker calls ”the fantastique,” ”Tortured Souls” is something truly special, a story whose imaginative reach and sheer narrative power are evident on every page.”

Review

I don’t generally read horror books as they aren’t my cup of tea generally, however I decided to try Clive Barker earlier this year with his book The Hellbound Heart. The movie Hellraiser is based off of that book, and I wanted to see where the movie came from. It was a pretty creepy read. So of course, during the Halloween Season, I had to find another one of his books. With my course load, I wanted something that I could get through nice and quickly. Tortured Souls fit the bill perfectly.

The book was a while 87 pages. Wow, so long! I know! So I read this book in about 30 minutes and loved every minute it. It captured me and kept me going. It’s a collection of short stories that, woven together, make a larger story. It’s all around this city and this creator Agonistes, who is a creation of God, and then can play with humans and create them to be terrifying. The whole description of what he does to the humans that call for him is terrifying. And gruesome.

But within all of this horror and terror is something beautiful. Two people, who were so twisted by what they had become, found love together. They were able to find comfort together in everything they had done (which was for a cause). But, all good things come to an end and their love was their downfall.

I honestly loved this book and wasn’t really expecting to. Clive Barker is honestly a master when it comes to horror writing. While he doesn’t necessarily scare you with questioning what will happen, you generally blatantly know what is going to happen and that makes it so much scarier. He also has no fear with saying what is happening. He will state the torture going on and he will not be afraid to do so. I quite like the frankness in his writing.

Additionally, he suggests ideas that seem so real! Especially in this book, since it had these godly reference, it kept referencing to God and bits of the Bible. I even had to google some parts of it because it seemed so real, like it could have been an obscure part of religious history that they don’t teach you. Of course his books are about demons and creatures which religions generally do not teach, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if some it was real. But of course, it was not. He writes in such a convincing fashion.

The book was based on earth, in the past, but also in the present as well.  You’re never really clear when the stories take place. It says that the city where it all occurred, Primordium, came before any other cities. However there were cars and such. It is a creative way to write because it can be now, but it also cannot be. It is a place beyond time.

I absolutely loved this book and it was a perfect book for the Halloween month. It is an adult book because of the nature of the writing and the general themes going on in the book.

I do recommend that you read it, if you like horror books! For that, I give it a while 5 teacups!

rating 5 tea cups mlcwo

Happy Reading!

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Book Review: Citizen Kill by Stephen Clark

Book Review: Citizen Kill by Stephen ClarkRating: 4/5 teacups

Summary

“When a devastating explosion kills the new President’s young son, her administration seeks to finally end the war on terror. CIA black-ops agent Justin Raines is among the recruits in a new program that targets for assassination U.S. citizens suspected of radicalizing Muslims.

Haunted by a botched assignment overseas, Justin is determined to redeem himself through the program. But when he is assigned to kill a mysterious Muslim educator that he believes is innocent, he grows disillusioned. Now he must find a way to prove her innocence and derail the program before they both are assassinated.

This explosive political thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat as Washington stops at nothing to protect the nation from terrorists, while Justin Raines risks everything to protect the nation from Washington.”

-From Amazon.com

Review

I was contacted by Stephen to read his book and at the title, I was hooked. It grabbed my attention immediately. And then I read the summary and I was just so curious as to what the story was about. It was clear that it was going to hit close to home with terrorism and all of these events currently going on in the U.S., but it was definitely worth the read.

Based in reality.
The book is based in reality and has no fantastical aspects. It is completely realistic in how it portrays the government, how it works, and how they operate and the kind of secrets they hold. Of course, it’s not based on fact, but it was interesting to see how this idea was mixed into reality and used the fears that people have in the book.

The topic of conversation was Islamophobia.
The main purpose of the book was the cover the idea of Islamophobia and how just because someone is a Muslim, people seem to assume that they are a terrorist. That was one of the points of the book which I thought was interesting to cover. Of course it is covered in non-fiction books but I haven’t come across it in a fiction book before and it was nice that that kind of issue was addressed.

Action packed.
The story kept you on your toes and kept changes and so you weren’t really sure what to expect next, up until the last pages. It was kind of like real life. You expect something to go one way but it actually ended up going the other, especially with politics and it being an ever-changing ground and you can’t predict what will happen next.

I also really liked the idea that everyone thought that they were the good guy. The bad guy thinks that he is the good guy and the good guy thinks that he is the good guy. Everyone thinks that they are doing what is best for everyone. I liked that that was addressed but it is a true fact of life. Wrong or right, everyone thinks that what they do is to better everyone else, no matter what they are doing.

Overall I really liked the book and will give it 4/5 teacups!

rating four tea cups mlcwo

I would suggest reading it, especially if you like politically fueled reads and ones that keep you turning pages. The chapters were nice and short so you were able to bite through it quickly so it wasn’t a long read.

Happy Reading and let me know what you think!

 

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The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry Summary

“London, 1893. When Cora Seaborne’s husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one, and she never suited the role of society wife. Accompanied by her son Francis – a curious, obsessive boy – she leaves town for Essex, where she hopes fresh air and open space will provide the refuge they need.

When they take lodgings in Colchester, rumours reach them from further up the estuary that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, is immediately enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a previously undiscovered species. As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter’s vicar.

Like Cora, Will is deeply suspicious of the rumours, but he thinks they are founded on moral panic, a flight from real faith. As he tries to calm his parishioners, he and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart, eventually changing each other’s lives in ways entirely unexpected.

Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.”

-From book jacket

Review

This book was an absolutely exquisite read – there really is no other way to put it. First of all, a little bit about the author. She is highly well educated with a PhD in creative writing from Royal Halloway, which is a very well respected university. Additionally, she has been the writer in residence at Gladstone’s Library as well as the UNESCO World City of Literature Writer in Residence in Prague (summarized from book jacket). So clearly she knows her stuff in regards to writing and this is clearly evident within the book.

It is written in an older English kind of style as there are Old English contractions between words, as well as English spelling and longer sentences. It is more like a Jane Austen novel than a newer piece of literature, which I absolutely love. This book is nothing like you will find in the ‘new’ section of your bookstores.

It was definitely a challenging read, to get into it, as it was so different from any other book that one may generally read. It took a few chapters to get into the book and understand the flow of how it would be progressing, but once you did, it was a wonderful story. It was vividly written with beautiful descriptions and you were really able to feel the atmosphere of the book and locations mentioned with great ease.

If you are looking for a book that is fast paced, then this is not your book. It is a very slow story but it keeps you interested. I do not mean slow in a negative way, but there are no fights or action scenes as such. It was a calm book and not once did I have any of my emotions go to an extreme where I had adrenaline pumping or tears streaming down my face. It was all so calm and peaceful which I loved.

There was one small sex scene, which shocked the living daylights out of me. It was so soft and nothing really happened but it was obvious what was happening. And for the time period and what was happening in the story, it shocked me overall and was just so scandalous. In other books I wouldn’t have even batted an eyelash however in this one I was internally going “oh my gosh, wait what?!”

Overall this book was fantastic! It won’t be released in the United States until June 6th, so this is definitely hot off the press. It has been released in the UK for a few months however, like all good things, other countries had to wait for it.

So I do recommend adding this to your wishlist and giving it a buy. It’s an amazing read and a wonderful gift for any book lover in your life. I mean, just look at the cover! Who wouldn’t love to receive a book that was beautiful as that?

Happy Reading and let me know what you all think!