The City of Lost Fortunes – Bryan Camp

132858982x.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_Jude Dubuisson had always been lucky – he knows that his father was a god, though who exactly he is, he’s never known. But Jude’s managed to use his luck to exist in the supernatural side of New Orleans. Until Katrina came. For the last six years, he’s hidden from his magic. Until he receives a summons from Mourning, the “Management” of New Orleans, and ends up at a card game he was never meant to win, where a god is murdered.

I really enjoyed this book – it’s a great melting pot of the mythologies of all the people that have populated New Orleans over time. You can tell pretty early on what Jude’s journey will have to be, but the steps he takes along the way are surprising.

It’s also an interesting mediation on New Orleans, and what the storm did to the city. Definitely worth a read.

Alif the Unseen – G. Willow Wilson

43a985b2831fe81592b334f6151434f414f4141This was a fun find – I heard about it in an online thread about books not written by white, Western authors. (The author is white, but Muslim.) Alif is a hacker – Alif being his handle, but it’s the name he uses internally, so it’s his name throughout the book. He lives in an unnamed, but repressive, Middle Eastern emirate. His hacking is to help people.

He’s in love with a girl named Inistar, and when she dumps him, in his efforts to avoid her, he creates a computer program that brings him to the attention of the local web police, who want what he’s built. At the same time, he comes into the possession of a book that makes him aware that certain things he’s always thought of as fantasy are very real indeed.

This is a hard book to describe. It’s got a fascinating mix of modern politics and Muslim belief. I enjoyed it – it was nice to get a view into a world that many people in this country view with suspicion, and therefore colors a lot of what we hear about it.

The Queen of Sorrow – Sarah Beth Durst

7bd7e6581fa0d0f596e4d317151434f414f4141This is the last book of the Queens of Renthia, and features three queens- Daleina, Naelin and Merecot. Merecot takes the rather bold step of kidnapping Naelin’s children in order to enlist her help. It turns out there are wild spirits in Merecot’s kingdom of Semo that Merecot can only barely control.

The Sorrow in the title comes from Naelin’s reaction to the taking of the children. That part was a little overblown. It got better once Naelin agrees to go to Semo – it’s interesting to see another land, and you end up getting the back story of why the spirits are the way they are. There’s also a quick interlude that introduces the three queens of the other kingdoms in Renthia, so I suppose the author is leaving the window open to other stories in this world.

The book packed a lot into it – it wasn’t bad, but I almost feel like it could have been better developed, or split into several stories to do justice to everything that she tried to cover.

The Vine Witch – Luanne G. Smith

a084c191561ed7d59732f717441434f414f4141This book is set in an alternate version of the turn of last century where witches can have many talents to help things along in the natural world. Elena is a vine witch – she’s been working at the Chateau Renard since she was a child, and the wines she’s been able to produce have been works of art.

As we start the story though, she’s just been able to emerge from a curse – seven years stuck as a toad. And when she finds her way back to the Chateau, she finds that her mentor, the woman she refers to as Grand-Mere, has had to sell the vineyard. The buyer is a man from the city who does not believe in magic. What he can’t see is that the entire vineyard is also cursed.  So Elena must find a way to convince the new owner to let her help him help the vineyard, as well as find the person that cursed her.

I liked this book – the magic is interesting, and the world shows a lot of promise. It does seem a little rushed – the romance (which you can see 5,000 miles away) was a bit rushed, and there seemed a lot of other opportunities to flesh things out that weren’t taken. The author has another book coming out that centers on one of the other characters – I’ll be interested to see where that goes, and how the world building continues.

Sweep with Me – Ilona Andrews

7d45895c023484f596c37787477434f414f4141We’re back with Dina at the Gertrude Hunt Inn in Texas (after a brief detour to follow her sister Maude’s journey to the Vampire Anocracy). Her boyfriend Sean has joined her at the inn, which is good, but they’ve been summoned to the Innkeeper’s Assembly, which is potentially very, very bad. But that’s quickly cast aside when a Drifan asks to be a guest at the Inn during the Treaty Stay. That’s apparently a bit of an amnesty period when anyone can ask to stay, and it’s really hard to say no.

The Drifan are a somewhat mysterious people with enormous power that rarely venture outside of their homeworlds. (And I’m fairly certain are featured in one of the author’s other series – I’ll be checking that out once I post the epic list of reading I have to catch up on). They’re very dangerous, but hosting them successfully will be very good for the Gertrude Hunt’s reputation.

This is where I was a smidge disappointed in this book. It was over way too quickly, and seemed very much just holding material, a way to pass time to get to something better. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun holding material, but the last book was so very good, I guess I really wanted more with a return to Dina’s story.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns – Rae Carson

006202650x.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_Elisa is God-Chosen – bearing the gem that marks her as special. But she’s never felt special. She’s a princess, but the second daughter, and her older sister has always been the one that will be a great queen. So when Elisa finds herself very suddenly married off to the king of the neighboring kingdom, she’s at a loss for what she’ll do.

She’s immediately caught up in a war – Joya D’Arena has a seaport, and the neighboring kingdom of Invierne desperately wants it. Intrigues abound, and Elisa also finds that being God-Chosen is seen very differently here than it is in her home.

What I liked about this book is even though there’s a Chosen One, and you know she’s going to pull through and save the day, she’s flawed. She’s been drowning her insecurities in food, so she’s in absolutely no shape for most of the adventures that await her, and she’s desperately insecure. I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect characters rendering (reading the reviews of this book online is interesting – I can definitely see where the people that didn’t like it are coming from). But it’s nice to see someone try and play with that trope.

There’s also a pretty heavy religious component, which again, since Elisa is God-Chosen, is actually nice to see. The differences in the theology between Elisa’s home kingdom of Orovalle and the older kingdom of Joya D’Arena are good plot points, if that makes any sense. But I’ll admit, I’ve always been a sucker for good world building.

Soot and Slipper – Kate Stradling

b07q14d878.01._sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_This is a twist on Cinderella. It starts with the step mother asking Eugenie to stay away from the coming masquerade ball – everyone knows that Eugenie is prettier than her two step sisters, and because she will inherit her father’s estate once she comes of age, it’s vitally important that they find themselves good husbands. So as much as Eugenie would like to go, she lets them go without her, because she’s always been kind like that.

I was already sold with this set up, but the author actually manages to take it further – how this ends was amazing! This is probably my favorite Cinderella adaptation (and I don’t give Mercedes Lackey’s The Fairy Godmother a run for its money lightly).