ARC Review: Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi

Title: Star-Touched Stories
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Series: Star-Touched Queen, #2.5
Pages: 304
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: August 7th 2018
*I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway which does not influence my review*

      “Death and Night
      He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.
      Poison and Gold
      Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram’s new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love.
      Rose and Sword
      There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth?”

swirl (2)
Roshani Chokshi’s delicious prose and spellbinding storytelling once again shines in her collection Star-Touched Stories. All three short stories in this collection take place in the same world as The Star-Touched Queen duology. While many novellas or short story collections feel unnecessary, reading Chokshi’s selected tales felt like a real treat. We get the backstory to a The Star-Touched Queen in Death and Night, a look at what happens to the vishakanya Aasha from A Crown of Wishes in Poison and Gold, and a short story featuring Gauri and Vikram in Rose and Sword. These stories reminded me just how much I enjoy Chokshi’s writing and renewed my love for her duology.

The first short story in this collection, Death and Night, is lush and romantic. If you ever wanted to know more about Maya’s previous life as the goddess of Night and how she first met the Lord of Death, this is the story for you. The Lord of Death seeks a bride, but a curse spells doom if he falls in love. Night is an enigma to most who meet her. Her existence a lonely one. Though she ushers in night, she does not have the power to create and shape fate with her own hands. Their meeting does not go smoothly as Night has always dreamed of a union based on love and the Dharma Raja is determined to marry without it. The Lord of Death is both amusingly and endearingly clumsy when it comes to trying to court Night. I loved Night’s sharp tongue and that she isn’t easily moved by the Dharma Raja. This was my favorite novella of the three because of how vivid the world felt and how easily I was able to fall back into The Star-Touched Queen universe.

Aasha was such a curious character in A Crown of Wishes. When I was still hoping for another book in this series, I was hoping to get Aasha’s story. I was delighted to discover that Poison and Gold is about Aasha and her journey discovering her place in a new world. As a vishankanya, Aasha is able to kill with a single touch, but she has taken on another role at Gauri and Vikram’s side. But as loyal as her friends may be to her and she to them, there is unrest in both kingdoms as they are set to unite with their two leaders’ marriage. Aasha must earn her place by their side and is sent to the current Spy Mistress for training. Aasha has been struggling to find where she fits in this world of mortals. Their manners can sometimes be unpredictable and Aasha continues to marvel at how easily they lie. Zahril, the current Spy Mistress, isn’t exactly what Aasha expects. She isn’t friendly, but curt and sometimes merciless. Though most would be unsettled by Zahril, Aasha finds her lack of pretense refreshing. Aasha finally finds a place where she can not only be herself, but where her key to success relies on it. When Aasha begins to develop feelings for Zahril, her secret identity as a vishankanya threatens to unravel their new bond. I loved that both of these characters, who have very different reasons for being closed off, get a chance to be vulnerable with the other. While the first story is about love, this one is about the potential for love and how Aasha and Zahril take those first steps to being open to the possibility of love.

The final story in this collection is Rose and Sword. We get a glance at both the past and future of Gauri and Vikram’s relationship. This one was a personal delight as these two characters were my favorite in the The Star-Touched Queen duology. This story is a little darker than the previous two as a character must venture into the underworld and save a loved one from death. This felt like a bittersweet tale for those who always imagined a happily-ever-after for the two leads of A Crown of Wishes. There’s an underlining bitter honesty to this tale where Gauri must confront the fact that her relationship with Vikram will not always be perfect. They are far too different to always get along and too used to getting their own way. She eventually has to choose whether the time she and Vikram have together is worth all the pain that will come when she loses him. I became unexpectedly emotional while reading this one. It’s amazing what Chokshi can still make me feel for characters I met over a year ago.

Star-Touched Stories is just as enchanting as The Star-Touched Queen duology. Chokshi made me fall in love with her writing each time I picked up this collection. If you are a fan of the original duology, this is an excellent short-story collection that will leave you both satisfied and wanting even more tales from this captivating world.

4/5

★★★★

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The Friday 56: Peluda

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

Ode to Brown Girls With Bangs

“you have always been a scared little girl.

original copycat, first poseur

check out this towel draped over your neck

get a load of this hair

gathered on the white tile floor—

a bunch of dark girls at the basement show

just started smoking

just stated fucking

just started getting really good

at lying to their mothers.”

I am in love with Melissa Lozado-Oliva’s poetry. I don’t pick up too much of the genre, but when I saw this poet reading from her collection, Peluda, I knew I had to have it for myself. I’m including the YouTube video of her reciting this above poem, so you can see for yourself how amazing she is. Excerpt taken from page 6 as the collection isn’t 56 pages long. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “One of the most original performance poets of her generation, Melissa Lozada-Oliva has captivated crowds across the country and online with her vivid narratives. Humorous and biting, personal and communal, self-deprecating and unapologetically self-loving, peluda (meaning ‘hairy’ or ‘hairy beast’) is the poet at her best. The book explores the relationship between femininity and body hair as well as the intersections of family, class, the immigrant experience, Latina identity, and much more, all through Lozada-Oliva’s unique lens and striking voice. peluda is a powerful testimony on body image and the triumph over taboo.”

Monthly Wrap-Up: July ’18

MonthlyWrap-UPI actually had a pretty good reading month. I’m so surprised and really pleased. These numbers won’t astound anyone, but for someone who has been struggling to read “enough” books during the last few month, July felt really productive. I read seven books this July; got to a couple of that I’ve been putting off for a while and even snuck in a reread (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before). I’m feeling really good about my summer reading right now, so hopefully this carries into August. It is also the start of the final month of the Summer 2018 Comment Challenge which I cohost with Lonna @ FLYLēF. For August, my partner is Barb @ Booker T’s Farm. I’m really looking forward to interacting with her more over the course of the month.

(Book covers below are linked to my reviews, unless otherwise specified.) 

Favorite Book This Month:

I had some really good reads this month, but my favorite was S.K. Ali’s Saints and Misfits. It was such an unexpected favorite and the protagonist Janna is now among my favorite contemporary characters. My review for this one will go up in August. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

Least Favorite Book This Month:

No book this month received less than three stars.

Reviews Posted This Month:

Read, Review Coming Soon:

(covers linked to Goodreads)

Notable Blog Posts This Month:

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Seafire by Natalie C. Parker – What do you get when you combine pirates and Mad Max: Fury Road? Apparently, it’s this novel. I am beyond stoked for this book.

Summer 2018 Comment Challenge: August Sign-up & August Partners – The final month of this challenge is starting. We’ve had such a fun time with the challenge this year and I’ve met so many wonderful bloggers.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Pride by Ibi Zoboi – If you’re like me, you love discovering new P&P retellings. Be sure to check out this one, it sounds all kinds of amazing.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books in 2018 So Far – Loved sharing my favorite reads so far this year.

2018 Second Quarter Book Haul: How Did This Happen? – I accidentally accumulated far too many books this quarter.

2018 Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag – I finally got a chance to post this tag where I looked back on the first half of the year.

Reading Challenges:

Aside from the Goodreads challenge, I’m only participating in one reading challenge this year.

1. The 2018 Debut Author Challenge is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. I didn’t read any debuts this month which make me feel a little guilty. I am now two books behind schedule >_<

  • Challenge Goal: 12 books; Current Count: 5 books

August Releases I’m Excited For:

Month in Review

How is your summer reading going? Any title your hoping to get to before the season is over? Let me know in the comments and feel free to leave me a link to your own wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to visit.

Top Ten Tuesday: Popular Books that Lived Up to the Hype

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is “Popular Books that Lived Up to the Hype.” This ought to be a fun topic for everyone. Hype is a funny thing. It can make you want to read a book and it can turn you away from one. It can set up a book for failure with unrealistic expectations or turn you into a cynical bookworm who becomes surprised when the book is in fact good. I have been in all these situations and am still not sure how I really feel about hype. I’m torn between two extremes. I’ve been disappointed, but have also been introduced to some amazing reads thanks to hype. Here’s a list of books that I think are really deserving of the hype, so if you haven’t picked them up yet, I’d encourage you to do so. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – I feel like we talked about this book long before its release and still, nothing prepared me for its emotional impact.

2. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I wasn’t even planning to read this one despite the hype because I never finished the Grisha Trilogy (still haven’t), but I won an ARC, so I dove in and it’s one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read.

3. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – I can’t believe I went to so long without reading Simon. I had so many expectations because so many bloggers love this one and I’m happy to say that I fell head over heels in love with this book.

4. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – Schwab is one the most talented fantasy writers out there and anything you pick up by her is going to be amazing, but this one might by my favorite. The world-building and writing astounds me.

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Everything you’ve heard about this one over the course of the last ten years is true. I still think about this book even though I read it once years ago and it remains one I hold really close to my heart.

6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Enchanting. Mesmerizing. Fantastical. There are not enough words to describe how beautiful this novel is.

7. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – This might have been the most talked about book on my Twitter feed last year. I saw so many people defend it fiercely and I didn’t know how I was going to feel, but it turns out it was amazing and I still shake my head trying to figure out why anyone could dislike a character like Dimple.

 8. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katharine Arden – This one was kind of on my radar because everyone was talking about it, but I was kind of afraid it would end up being disappointing. I am so happy to be wrong.

9. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – I picked this one up based on the hype alone. I’m not a fan of fae and I’ve only read one other book by this author, but gosh darn it, this one was just as good as everyone said it was.

10. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – Perhaps the most anticipated read in YA history. I remember adding this to my TBR months and months in advance and after finally picking it up, I can say that it was just as epic as I imagined.

Do you agree with any of these picks? Which book do you think lived up to the hype? Which book didn’t? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

Summer 2018 Comment Challenge: August Partners

The final month of the Summer 2018 Comment Challenge is about to begin. Thank you to everyone who signed up to participate this summer. Your hosts, Lonna @ FLYLēF and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense, are always delighted to see both familiar and new bloggers join us. A final note that July 31st will be the final day to add your sign-up post to the link-up. If you signed up for this upcoming month and can no longer participate, please let either of your hosts know asap, so we can make other arrangements for your partner. Be sure to drop a hello on your partner’s blog and let them how excited you are for the challenge. Have fun and happy commenting!

Note: Any changes made to August’s Comment Challenge partners list will be reflected in this post.

August Link-up: Help us spread the word about this challenge by creating a sign-up post or mention it in a wrap-up post. July 31st is the final day to add your sign-up post link!

COMMENTS (5+)

Katiria @ Kati’s Bookaholic Rambling Reviews + Nicole @ Erlebnisse

Cec @ Yellow Eccentricity + Tanya @ Tanyascreams

Dani @ Perspective of a Writer + Shayna @ Clockwork Bibliotheca

Karis @ KB + Lonna @ FLYLēF

Carolina @ Fictionologyst + Jaymi @ Orange County Readers

COMMENTS (10+)

Vicky @ The Roaring Bookworm + Annemieke @ A Dance with Books

La La @ La La in the Library + Leslie @ Books Are The New Black

Tina @ As Told By Tina + Avery @ RedRocketPanda

Elnade @ Confessions of a Serial Reader + Erica @ Erica Robyn Reads

Rissi @ Finding Wonderland + Lauren @ Always Me

Kaleena @ Reader Voracious + Libby @ DimScreen

Aneesa @ A Crave For Books + Amy @ Quixotic Pixels

Barb @ Booker T’s Farm + Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense

Anne Bennett @ My Head is Full of Books + Christine @ Life With All The Books

Thank you for being a part of the Summer 2018 Comment Challenge! We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know your fellow bloggers. Happy commenting!

The Friday 56: These Ruthless Deeds

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“As I watched her bones heal, the bleeding slow, and the bruises fade away, I let out a heavy sigh of relief. Within a minute, she looked like she might on any normal morning before rising from bed.

I’ve had Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas’s sequel These Ruthless Deeds for quite a while. I ended up rereading the first book and enjoyed it so much more the second time around. This second book was also a treat. You can read my mini-review of this one hereCover is linked to Goodreads. Excerpt taken from page 156.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “England, 1883. Still recovering from a devastating loss, Evelyn is determined to use her powers to save other gifted people from those who would harm them. But when her rescue of a young telekinetic girl goes terribly wrong, Evelyn finds herself indebted to a secret society devoted to recruiting and protecting people like Evelyn and her friends.
      As she follows the Society’s orders, healing the sick and embarking on perilous recruitment missions, Evelyn sees her problems disappear. Her reputation is repaired, her friends are provided for, and her parents are newly wealthy. She reunites with the dashing Mr. Kent and recovers the reclusive Mr. Braddock (who has much less to brood over now that the Society can help him to control his dangerous power). But Evelyn can’t help fearing the Society is more sinister than it appears…”