Review: The Priory of the Orange Tree

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Genre: Fantasy
Maturity Level: 4+
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.


Okay. So. It has been a loooooong time since an epic fantasy has lived up to my expectations. But The Priory of the Orange Tree managed to deliver on a stand-alone story that was intriguing, surprising, romantic, and exciting all at once. By the end of the novel I was turning pages so quickly that my brain could barely keep up with my eyeballs.

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Review: Daisy Jones & the Six

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.


There were so many things about Daisy Jones & the Six that took me by surprise that maybe shouldn’t have? Like the drugs. I knew that rock and roll artists in the 70s were in to drugs, but either I wasn’t aware just how bad it was, or Jenkins Reid really played it up. I’m thinking probably I didn’t realize how bad it was. This whole book was so much grittier and darker than I expected, which again, maybe I shouldn’t have been so shocked. My naivete will never cease to amaze, I’m afraid.

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Review: Whiskey When We’re Dry

Whiskey When We’re Dry by John Larison

Genres: Western, Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


In the spring of 1885, seventeen-year-old Jessilyn Harney finds herself orphaned and alone on her family’s homestead. Desperate to fend off starvation and predatory neighbors, she cuts off her hair, binds her chest, saddles her beloved mare, and sets off across the mountains to find her outlaw brother Noah and bring him home. A talented sharpshooter herself, Jess’s quest lands her in the employ of the territory’s violent, capricious Governor, whose militia is also hunting Noah–dead or alive. 

Wrestling with her brother’s outlaw identity, and haunted by questions about her own, Jess must outmaneuver those who underestimate her, ultimately rising to become a hero in her own right.


Let me start off by saying that this was my first western, so this is by no means an especially knowledgeable or well-informed opinion.

I suppose it makes sense to start first with authenticity. Again, bearing in mind that my only context for this novel is Bugs Bunny cartoons, Whiskey When We’re Dry felt to me as authentic as they come. I felt like I was reading some classic like Lonesome Dove, or like I was living in the unsettled California frontier. The dialogue, the scenery, the whiskey, it all rang so true and clear. The Wild West didn’t feel Holleywood-ized, but as bleak and barren and desperate as it must actually have been.

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Review: Gunslinger Girl

Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction (?)
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great….

In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot. 


I’m sorry to say Gunslinger Girl did not live up to my expectations. It was a fun enough book, but it failed to deliver on being a high-octane Western adventure, and there wasn’t anything to make it stand out in the noise of YA adventure novels.

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Review: Enchantée

Enchantée by Gita Trelease

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 3+
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she’s playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…


Thank goodness Enchantée lived up to my expectations! I was so excited for this book: a fantasy set in Revolutionary France, who could resist?! Trelease delivered on everything I was hoping for.

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Review: When You Read This

When You Read This by Mary Adkins

Genres: Chick Lit, Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


For four years, Iris Massey worked side by side with PR maven Smith Simonyi, helping clients perfect their brands. But Iris has died, taken by terminal illness at only thirty-three. Adrift without his friend and colleague, Smith is surprised to discover that in her last six months, Iris created a blog filled with sharp and often funny musings on the end of a life not quite fulfilled. She also made one final request: for Smith to get her posts published as a book. With the help of his charmingly eager, if overbearingly forthright, new intern Carl, Smith tackles the task of fulfilling Iris’s last wish.

Before he can do so, though, he must get the approval of Iris’ big sister Jade, an haute cuisine chef who’s been knocked sideways by her loss. Each carrying their own baggage, Smith and Jade end up on a collision course with their own unresolved pasts and with each other.

Told in a series of e-mails, blog posts, online therapy submissions, text messages, legal correspondence, home-rental bookings, and other snippets of our virtual lives, When You Read This is a deft, captivating romantic comedy—funny, tragic, surprising, and bittersweet—that candidly reveals how we find new beginnings after loss. 


What I loved about this book is that it is just regular people living regular lives. There’s no catch or hook or surprise murder mystery or magic to make this book more interesting. It is literally just people talking to each other. YES.

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Review: An American Marraige

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Genre: Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. In this deft exploration of love, loyalty, race, justice, and both Black masculinity and Black womanhood in 21st century America, Jones achieves that most-elusive of all literary goals: the Great American Novel. 


Wow. What a beautiful book. The writing was so lush, and lovely, and lyrical. I was expecting this to be a powerful book, but I was completely taken by surprise by how incredible the writing was.

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