I scurried around the house, trying to get in in proper order before our friends arrived. They were coming to visit my husband, following his surgery. It was a kind and thoughtful gesture.
Instead, all I could think about was how it was making more work for me, at a time I had enough extra tasks on my plate. I knew my housecleaning standards will never be up to those of our friend’s. And I wasn’t up for her criticism.
Hence the frantic sink-scrubbing and general tidying up.
Then I realized. How foolish. I never have prided myself on how clean my house is or derived any part of my identity on how well I can set out hors d’oeuvres.
I’ve always preferred to read.
So, in the midst of putting away Christmas decorations, laundry, caregiving and the occasional bit of writing, I’ve run true to form and stolen some time to read. These are my favorites this month:
(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you buy the book. You pay the same exact price. Doesn’t make me a lot of money, but it helps to cover the costs of this blog.)
The Girl Who Dared to Think
How do you fight an enemy when they’re inside your mind? That’s the question posed by The Girl who Dared to Think, Liana Castell in Bella Forest’s novel. She’s learned the hard way.
Life for the inhabitants of the Tower, the only thing left on a world destroyed by war, is defined by a number on their wristband. Everyone’s thoughts are monitored, scored and displayed. Liana’s rebellious ideas cause her score to drop to four. She struggles to raise her ranking, before it falls lower and she’s forced to accept drugs that will make her thoughts more acceptable.
The intriguing premise, engaging characters and clever plot twists kept me entertained to the end. So entertained, in fact, that I bought the second in the series. These novels are billed as great for fans of Divergent and the Hunger Games. I would mostly agree. I enjoyed them more than Divergent, not quite as much as Hunger Games.
The Hundredth Queen
18-year-old Kalinda wants to remain a member of the Sisterhood, devoting her life to seclusion and prayer. When the tyrant Rajah Tarek arrives and chooses her to be his 100th wife, she’s torn from all she knows or expected for her life.
Before she can marry the king, she has to fight for her place among the rajah’s other 99 wives and multiple courtesans. Her only friend is her guard, Captain Deven Naik. Affection for Deven and loathing of Tarek, trapped between a marriage she doesn’t want and the prospect of death in battle with the other wives, she learns her only way out is through a hidden, forbidden power within her.
Emily R King’s The Hundredth Queen was an entertaining and fun read. Fans of young adult coming of age fantasy will surely enjoy this one.
Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani took the coming of age fantasy in a different direction. Orphan Hitomi hides her magical abilities while working with the Shadow League, a movement striving to bring down the corrupt Arch Mage Blackflame.
When Hitomi’s mission to rescue a family Blackflame plans to execute goes awry, Hitomi become Blackflame’s prisoner. She’s forced to summon all the power she has to save her life.
Sunbolt was a little darker than the others I read, but still delivered an entertaining and original story.
Fantasy of Frost
I’ve saved my favorite of the four for last, Kelly St Clare’s Fantasy of Frost. Right from the first, I was intrigued. Why was Olina veiled from birth, by her mother, the Queen? Why did her mother loathe her so intensely?
And how could I help but feel for Olina as she fell in love with Prince Kedris of an enemy kingdom, carrying on her romance behind a thick veil? This was one of those books that pulled me in, kept me reading as fast as I could, and breathlessly waiting for the end.