Shelf Control #15

So this time, it’s been four months since I’ve participated in this post. It’s a new record everyone! 😭💀

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books languishing on our bookshelves created and hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a whole lotta fun, so if you’re interested in participating yourself, click the backlink above.

This week I’m gonna highlight is one I bought because I bought the first book, and I wanted to have the sequel cued up for when I was done with it. It’s Hexed by Kevin Hearne, the second book in the Iron Druid Chronicles.

Hexed by Kevin Hearne

Hexed by Kevin Hearne

Why It Languishes on My Bookshelf

WHEN I GOT IT: October 2023

WHY I WANTED TO READ IT: I bought it preemptively when I bought Hounded, the first book in this series. I wanted to have the sequel ready to go in case I (hopefully) liked it. In fact, I actually kind of expected to like it.

WHY I HAVEN’T READ IT YET: I didn’t like the first book, so I haven’t had any interest in continuing with the series.

WILL I EVER READ IT?: No. I didn’t like the first book, and I really don’t have any interest in reading any of the other Iron Druid Chronicles.

But yeah, thank you for reading and have an awesome day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“The Stardust Thief” by Chelsea Abdullah | Book Review

“The stars, they burn the night

And guide the sheikh’s way…”

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

SERIES: The Sandsea Trilogy (Book #1)

LENGTH: 467 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Orbit Books

RELEASE DATE: 17 May 2022


Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One NightsThe Stardust Thief weaves the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp.

Neither here nor there, but long ago…

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

My Review

“Go to her, go to her, they say,

The star of your eye.

Go to her, go to her,

The compass of your heart.”

Haha, so it’s been a few weeks since my last book review. Whoops. Honestly though, there was a ton of stuff going on last week and the week before, and I seriously had no time to read.

But I’m finally back with another! And what an absolutely stunning book to come back with!

Though it had a bit of a slow start, I ended up absolutely loving The Stardust Thief. The story and the characters were so compelling and interesting. By the halfway point of the book, it was difficult to tear my eyes away from the pages.

Anyway, let’s get into what I liked and didn’t like as much about the novel.

Stuff I Liked

Loulie had buried many things since her mother last told her that story.

Her name. Her past. Her parents.

But the story, she had never forgotten.

The characters were definitely my absolute favorite thing about the book. Loulie al-Nazari was a very interesting and compelling protagonist. I really liked her – she wasn’t like other MC girls that I’ve followed in the best way. She’s rough and jaded, with a tragic past (like several of my least favorite MC girls), but she’s also vulnerable and can’t do everything on her own. And this was a really big part of her character arc, which is something that I really enjoyed following.

Mazen bin Malik was a great deuteragonist, a great foil to Loulie, and had a fun personality. I really liked his character, and he was the first one that I connected with, even before Loulie. His insecurities and desire to break free from his isolation was very relatable to me.

Qadir was excellent, and I loved, loved, loved his and Loulie’s relationship. It was an entirely platonic, wonderfully written found family. I loved how he acted as another foil to Loulie – but in a different way that Mazen was. He was calmer and more contemplative than Loulie was, and it really balanced out their partnership, and helped them work seamlessly as a team.

He curled her fingers around the coin. “Not alone,” he said. “Not anymore.”

Aisha bint Louas was probably my least favorite of the protagonists, but I still really enjoyed her. Most of my character moment and character development tabs went to her, and for good reason. Out of all of the characters here, I feel that she had the most growth.

The thing I liked the most after the characters was definitely the short stories inserted throughout The Stardust Thief. They were told in a very engaging way, and were also expertly woven in to embellish on the actual plot.

The plot itself was also excellent. I loved all of the nods to A Thousand and One Nights, and Abdullah’s writing style. The whole thing was a super engaging adventure story.

Stuff I Didn’t Like

“We all start as cowards. We’re all afraid, Prince. The only difference between a hero and a coward is that one forgets their fear and fights, while the other succumbs to it and flees. Your fear of death does not make you weak. Only human.”

There were only a couple of things that I didn’t care for in the novel. First off – and this is more of an issue with a choice that the publisher made – the pages with the short stories were almost too dark to read the text off of. And as someone who already has some vision issues, it was extremely annoying. If these pages had just been a little bit lighter, it would’ve been fine.

The other thing I didn’t like was how whipped Loulie was about a particular character. Like, she was constantly simping over this man, particularly when they were in the room together. It was all just so awkward and annoying to me, mostly because I don’t feel like we saw enough of them together to justify all of the simping. But yeah, that was really the only other thing that I didn’t care for.

I did find some twists a little predictable (particularly those concerning Qadir), and I figured out most of them before they happened, but I didn’t mind that. It always feels good to get to these parts and find out that I was right. Also, I loved the twist on the title. I feel like you’re led to believe that Loulie is the eponymous Stardust Thief, but it ends up being someone else.

Final Thoughts

“The sun, it warms the sand

And set the sheikh’s heart aflame.

She waits in the shade, the sun says,

The beloved of your dreams.

She waits in the shade. The shade.”

So yeah, I really enjoyed The Stardust Thief and I absolutely recommend it to any and all fantasy fans. It’s so well written, with great characters and a great story. Just read it. Please.

As always, thank you so much for reading, and have an amazing day/night!

See ya ~Mar


Weekly Wrap-Up: 5/8 – 5/14

I had so much going on this weekend (sort of), so I didn’t have the time to post another time. Which kinda sucks, but that’s life.

I did completely reorganize my bookshelves though, so that’s definitely something. Now all the new books I’ve gotten this year have a home!

Anyway, here’s another weekly wrap-up for everyone. Let’s wrap-up last week!

Tuesday 5/9: The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook Review

The Frugal Wizard's Handbook for Surviving Medieval England by Brandon Sanderson

Last Tuesday, I reviewed Brandon Sanderson’s new standalone science fantasy novel, The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England. It’s quite the band for such a fun book. I gave it ★★★★☆.

My review of The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook

Wednesday 5/10: WWW Wednesday

On Wednesday, I participated in WWW Wednesday like I usually do. WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

WWW Wednesday 5/10

Thursday 5/11: Books I’ve Read With Zelda Vibes

Thursday was a day that I was excited about. I did a little something different then – I blogged about books I read that reminded me of The Legend of Zelda games (and exposed myself as a huge geek). What can I say, I was excited about May 12th.

Books I’ve Read with The Legend of Zelda Vibes

Friday 5/12: First Line Friday

On Friday, even though it was exceptionally late, I actually managed to participate in First Line Fridays. First Line Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers (formerly) hosted by Wandering Words.

First Line Friday #14

Books I Read Last Week

The Frugal Wizard's Handbook for Surviving Medieval England by Brandon Sanderson
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (The Manga) by Akira Himekawa
(rating is for the entire manga)
The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

Goals for 5/15 – 5/21

So, I didn’t quite meet the goals I set for myself last week, but it was so worth it. (The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is absolutely incredible, and so much fun, and super addicting.) But I’m determined to post two book reviews this week, and gosh darn it, I’m gonna do it! Also, I want to finish The Stardust Thief, and participate in the usual weekly posts I do.

Maybe I’ll do a couple of other posts too, but I’m not quite sure yet. We’ll see what happens.

Anyway, thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“Chance” by Matthew FitzSimmons | Book Review

“So, who’s ready to see me do something crazy?”

Chance by Matthew FitzSimmons

Chance by Matthew FitzSimmons

SERIES: Constance (Book #2)

LENGTH: 313 pages

GENRES: Science Fiction, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Thomas & Mercer

RELEASE DATE: 14 February 2023


A clone plays a dangerous game of life, death, memory, and murder in a twisting thriller by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Matthew FitzSimmons.

Cloning is a luxury for the wealthy. For Chance Harker, it’s a way of getting on with his lives. Five years ago, when he was sixteen, he and his brother, Marley, were murdered in a kidnapping gone wrong. Chance was revived—and his grieving parents met his existence with anger, neglect, and aversion. The public, though? They can’t get enough of the death-defying stunts he has parlayed into a social media spectacle.

But after Chance’s latest “refresh,” he awakens to accusations that he’s killed Lee Conway, a stranger Chance has never met. Has one of his clones? With no memory of his previous selves, and working fast before he’s arrested, Chance digs into Conway’s background, the mysteries of his own life—and death—and the tragic abduction that tore his family apart.

All Chance has to do is stay ahead of the LAPD; his kidnappers, who are back on the hunt; and a growing mob of incensed protesters outraged that a rich clone appears to be getting away with murder.

My Review

There’d been a purpose behind all this once, back at the beginning. Back when he’d stopped being a person and had become “the victim of a terrible crime.” Or, to put it more accurately, the clone of a victim of a terrible crime.

So, before I get into my review, I should probably mention that I jumped right into this series via this book. The second book. But I should also mention that the books in this series were written in such a way, to be also accessible as standalones.

But yeah, I kind of read it out of order. So what?

Anyway, let’s just let the cat out of the bag: I didn’t like this book as much as I’d hoped to. I really thought this was gonna be an easy five star read for me, but it wasn’t. Like, it definitely wasn’t that bad of a book – I did give it three stars. It just wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be.

Let’s start with the stuff I liked. I really liked our protagonist, Chance. He was a bit of an idiot, especially at first, but he was attempting to deal with his trauma, even if it wasn’t in a good way. But his development as a character is nice to follow, and I loved watching him grow and change.

Chance tried to remember the last time his father had hugged him and came up blank.

His complex and strained relationships with his family were also very interesting to read about. These were the most compelling aspects of the novel, in my opinion, and these moments were the primary reason I wanted to see how it all ended.

Other than that, the plot was pretty interesting, and I liked all the science-y world building around the clones and the other futuristic tech.

But yeah, that’s kind of it for the stuff I enjoyed. I didn’t really care about the rest of the characters, or find them interesting. I didn’t even care for the antagonists.

Also, and this might be because I didn’t read the first book, but I didn’t really like Con D’Arcy either. I know that she was the protagonist of the Constance, and that a lot of people seemed to like her, but I just kind of found her annoying. Sorry.

The POV and voice also didn’t feel like it was coming from a 21 year-old guy. You should be able to discern a character’s voice regardless of what POV it’s in. Their personality should shine through more than it does in this book.

Oh and also, Mickey7 did the whole Ship of Theseus clone meditation thing way better.

She looked at him sadly. “Did you know that the more money a person has, the harder it is for them to identify facial expressions in others?

Chance also felt exceedingly preachy at times, and this is the biggest reason why I felt turned off by it. I hate it when the characters appear to be mouthpieces for the author to launch into their opinions and grievances about the world. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just appreciate it with a lot more subtlety. Which is something that this novel didn’t have. At all.

Other minor criticisms include: reiterating the same thing a character said or came to a conclusion about less than a page ago multiple different times; unnatural dialogue; and weird descriptions. I don’t care about what this same-y area looks like describe the goddam characters.

Guys, I just want to enjoy a story. Is that so much to ask?

But nothing stayed hidden forever, did it?

Chance by Matthew FitzSimmons was a very mid, very preachy, sci-fi story set in the near future. I liked a few things about it, but so many things about it irritated me at the same time.

I recommend you definitely read it if you read and enjoyed Constance, and I think you should give it a shot if you like science fiction stuff set in the next few decades.

As always, thank you so much for reading, and have a great day/night!

See ya ~Mar