ARC Roundup, Part 2

More recent ARCs--this time, ones I actually enjoyed. #spon | Book reviews by NewberyandBeyond.com
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Note: I received all of the following ARCs through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As I mentioned in my last ARC roundup, I recently went on a kick of NetGalley requests. The last roundup was full of meh books, but this one consists of books I actually enjoyed. Check out these recent releases! (All of the following summaries are taken from NetGalley.)

A Thousand Nights

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

Although I do sometimes enjoy a good fairy tale retelling, sometimes they just don’t catch my interest. This story is a retelling of the Scheherazade myth, which would seem to be a book lover’s dream come true. A thousand nights of stories, told to save a young bride from certain death? Awesome, right?

Unfortunately, in this version of the story, we don’t really get to hear a lot of stories from our main character. Instead, she begins to have magical powers that she can use to see events which are occurring in another place or time, and even the ability to influence these events. She is fighting against dark, demonic powers that she doesn’t even understand, in a desperate bid to save her own life and the lives of the girls in her land.

I found this book interesting while I was reading it, but I didn’t think much about it once I put the book down. Look into it if you’re much more into fairy tale retellings than I am.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

Spinning Starlight

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men shows up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word, and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back? Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans fuses all the heart of the classic tale with a stunning, imaginative world in which a star-crossed family fights for its very survival.

On the other hand, this is a fairy tale retelling I can get behind (even though I’m not at all familiar with the story of the Wild Swans). Set in a futuristic world full of incredible technology, this book explores the life of the most influential teenage girl in the seven realms and what happens when she is suddenly transported to a world she never even knew existed.

Torn between her need to help her brothers and her growing love for Tiav, Liddi must decide how much truth she can tell her new friends–all without the use of her voice. She has to overcome her lifelong inability to live up to her brothers’ genius and the revelation that her parents manipulated her genes, all while coping with her new and disorienting surroundings. Recommended for those who like their science fiction light on the science.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

Gone but Knot Forgotten

Sorting through the estate of a wealthy recluse may sound like a fascinating task, but when the skeletons in the closets turn out to be real, Martha and her quilting pals wish they’d stuck to basting and batting. . .

Martha Rose is stunned when she hears that her best friend from high school has passed away. Her shock doubles when she learns that Harriet Oliver made her the executor of her estate. But when investigators determine that Harriet was murdered, Martha recruits her fellow quilters to help find the culprit. She’s mastered the art of piecing together blocks to create intricate quilts, but piecing together her friend’s murder will prove far more challenging. . .

I have to admit, sometimes I love a good cozy mystery. And while this mystery was nothing mind blowing, I’ve read enough terrible cozy mysteries to know that this one was very well written. Martha is an interesting, curious character, but she’s never so reckless or irritating that I had to roll my eyes at her. Her quilting buddies are likewise upbeat, fun characters who may not be fully fleshed out, but at least they aren’t stereotypes.

Martha’s investigation of her high school friend’s death held my interest until the end. Though the solution wasn’t shocking, I didn’t find it too predictable. Definitely an enjoyable read for cozy mystery fans like myself.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

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