Happy Valentine’s Day – Crazy Cupid Love! @Amanda_Heger

When a single arrow inspires romance, can you really trust happily ever after?

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Crazy Cupid Love is the first book in a new series, “Let’s Get Mythical,” and, seriously, who can resist all of that word play!? Not me! This is exactly the fun, whimsical story I was searching for to read this holiday! The storyline is utterly charming, where Eros’ descendants are now living among us mere mortals and blending in as matchmakers as we swipe left or right. Eliza Hermann, aka the world’s worst Cupid, has spent her entire life trying to run from the family business – that helping couples find their true love. Liza is an Erosian (a descendant of Eros, the Greek God of Love and Desire) and one of the most powerful Cupids there is. Because of this she has had mishaps all of her life merely by bumping into the wrong person. It’s been quite a problem for her – and her family. Now, however, with the business in trouble,( there’s a lot of cynicism in today’s world and Cupids aren’t exactly on everyone’s favorite list,) and with her father in the hospital recovering from a heart attack, Liza has to renew her Cupid’s license and give match-making a try once again. That is easier said than accomplished, especially when her enchantments begin to fail and cause an outbreak of hate and bickering rather than love.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. This sounds a little fanciful, a tad bit whimsical but isn’t that what love and Valentine’s day is all about? Yes, it is. The story itself is actually very good. It is based on the Greek myth of Eros and the supporting characters, the Fates and Furies, Discords and more, all are authentically based in actual Greek mythological tales. There is a wonderful tie-in with modern artificial intelligence and how it will affect human relationships and love, an underlying romance between Liza and her childhood crush who has moved back and a pretty good mystery regarding the reverse enchantments as well.

I love mythology, from Ovid’s Metamorphosis to Neil Gaiman’s  Norse Mythology. I also adore fairy tale re-creations and Crazy Cupid Love beautifully marries the premise of these all into one delightful book. If you like mythology or fairy tales or even quirky romances, then you will love Crazy Cupid Love.  Regardless, from Macsbooks and The Wisteria House, have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

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Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

Unmarriageable, as many no doubt know, is an entertaining re-telling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – with a twist.

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If you are familiar with the original Austen story, then the premise of Unmarriageable will be familiar to you; it is, in fact, the same. The difference, and what works so well, is that it is set in today’s modern Pakistan. If you are unfamiliar with the history of Pakistan, it once was part of India, separated now after a war for Independence, and is a thriving democracy that still very much is based on its British colonial past that it learned while it was part of  British colonial rule. All that to say, they study English classics more often than many westerners outside of the UK and have a fascination with British literature rarely seen outside of Europe. And, while so much of Pakistan is quite modern, its class structure still is very much stuck in the colonial past. The roles of women, while evolving, still is stuck there as well. That is why this particular setting for this particular book is so utterly fascinating.

Kamal’s writing is tight and, while she doesn’t have a flare for wit like Austen (few do,) her characters are charming and their observations about the Pakistani culture are very much on point. I have several friends from Lahore, Pakistan and while reading Unmarriageable I could hear their voices and see their streets come alive in my mind. Although Kamal now lives in America, her Pakistani roots still very much shine through in her writing and those of us who rarely get a glimpse of the sub-continent are able to see a bit of it through her work.

Whether you are an Austen fan or just a fan of great fiction, you will find Unmarriageable delightful, entertaining as well educational.

My copy was furnished by #Netgalley, #RandomHousePublishing, #BallentineBooks

 

 

Murder at the Mill

Murder at the Mill is a fantastic beginning to a new series featuring Iris Grey, an artist who happens to solve a murder mystery.

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I picked up Murder at the Mill to fulfill the amateur sleuth category for the PopSugar Reading Challenge and thought I was going to get a cute cozy tale. While this is not a “thriller” by any means, it is definitely a good, old fashioned, well told mystery in the style of Agatha Christie. There are lots of twists and turns and red herrings that will keep you guessing until the very end. The characters are very well developed – some very likable and others are simply deplorable – but all very interesting and three dimensional.

I’m excited to have find a new author to love and cannot wait for the next in this series!

Northern Lights by Raymond Strom

There is something magical and a bit thrilling reading the debut novel of an author as brilliant as Raymond Strom, one you know is going to be a rising voice in today’s gritty, contemporary domestic-noir fiction. Northern Lights is a challenging book to read but one that rewards its reader in the end with the satisfaction of knowing characters who are surviving in a world that is meant to cripple or kill them.

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The bleakness of that cover underlies the dark ambiance found throughout Northern Lights. Shane is an androgynous youth in search of the mother who abandoned him years before. His father has died and his uncle has thrown him out of their family home. Before he begins university, Shane takes the summer to go to the last known place his mother lived: Holm, Minnesota. The first person he runs into sums up Shane’s entire existence with the question, “are you a boy or a girl?” It’s a question Shane often asks himself – not necessarily about his physical self but who he is psycho-sexually. As he wanders through town searching for his mother, he discovers those who hate him, accept him, wish to kill him, wish to love him and all parts in between. He cobbles together a group of “misfit” friends who live on the fringe of this small town; who exist in the shades of grey and have you questioning if there are real values of black and white. Although set in the time-frame of the early 90s, the novel has the feel of today’s setting with so much division, so much hate and far too much vilifying based on sexual identity and the color of one’s skin.

I read Northern Lights in one sitting. The narrative was tight and flowed in a such a manner that once I began, I couldn’t bring myself to stop reading until I finished. It was difficult – there is nothing lite or pretty about this book. Small town, rural life in middle America is not what it’s cracked up to be, but then I’m not sure life in America anywhere is any more. People are struggling. Our youth, with few exceptions, are struggling and “at risk,” and no one seems to be noticing or caring. It is easier to get immersed in reality television than it is to get involved in reality. That is the ultimate take-away from Northern Lights: look at these kids, see them, understand them. Look at the people in this town. They are all of us. While I know that this book will not be for everyone, of course, I do wish it was required reading for high school students everywhere; for those who need to read books with characters who are like themselves and for those who need to read books to understand the bullies that they have become.

I am grateful to #Netgalley, #RaymondStrom, and @SimonSchuster for allowing me to read and review Northern Lights.

NOTE: I’m also pleased as punch to be participating in two challenges. One is the Netgalley/Edelweiss 2019 challenge and the other is Pop Sugar’s 2019 Reading Challenge. Northern Lights meets the “Debut Author” prompt for that challenge.