This was another novel that came in a book subscription. I absolutely loved the cover and sprayed edges.

I grew up adoring Aladdin. A lot of that had to do with Robin Williams's genie. But, I loved the story of the lamp. I've always intended to read Arabian Nights.


This novel begins where we meet Loulie, The Midnight Merchant. She's known for procuring illegal, magical items and selling them to the highest bidder. Loulie was orphaned as a young girl, when her wandering tribe was murdered and she was the only one left behind. She only survived because a djinn, who ends up sticking with her as a bodyguard.


Once gaining the sultan's attention, Loulie saves one of the prince's lives. The sultan then charges her with obtaining the famed lamp, and the djinn that lives within it.


I really enjoyed this book. I thought it had fantastic Arab representation. I really felt like I could visualize the culture, from the food references, to the clothing, to the way of life.


As has been my complaint with several reads lately, I found the lack of romance a bit dull. There were hints of it in a couple of places, but it really wasn't romance at all. I'm hopeful that the next novel will bring that forward, because that truly was the only thing missing.


Abbie

This came in my Fairyloot subscription. I really enjoyed The Cruel Prince, so I was hopeful this book would be just as good.

This book was an entirely different genre and type for Black. It's more of an urban fantasy story. Where somewhere in the eighties-ish, someone discovered that shadows could actually have magic. What followed was a litany of seedy enterprises, all with the purpose of gaining power and sway by the use of shadows.


The main character, Charlie Hall, is a badass. She's trying to make better choices, go straight, do things the right way. Even if she spent most of her formative years as a thief and con artist. She has a relatively quiet life. She works at a bar, lives with her younger sister and boyfriend, and ends up sucked into bigger plots.


One of the most interesting things is the shadows.


It has become an enterprise where people personalize their shadows, steal others shadows, and use their shadows to do magic.


It turns out, Charlie's shadow is only beginning its quickening, much to her younger sister's chagrin.


While at work, Charlie is attacked because she's managed to get herself caught up in the search of a missing book. Somehow, her boyfriend shows up, murders the guy, and disposes of his body. Her shy, quiet boyfriend who she rarely sees any emotion from. She chalks it up to his shadow, but, really, there's so much more.


My only real complaint was the lack of romance. Whereas Cruel Prince was full of heat and longing, I really wished we could have seen that more with Charlie and Vince.


Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and can't wait to see how she wraps it up in book two!


Abbie

"They" say never judge a book by its cover. But this one was so pretty I couldn't help myself.

I've been getting away from YA for a while now. Mainly because I write adult romance. I've really been trying to keep in the genre I write. However, the premise of this one seemed really interesting.


The first thing that stuck out to me when reading this one was the trigger warning. The entire premise of the book is based on girls being given to the king as concubines for a year. The author made sure to express that sexual assault was a heavy theme in the book. In getting that warning, I was able to prepare myself for the content.


Overall, this book was fantastic. I'd forgotten that I bought it because it was LGBTQ+.


The main character, Lei, is forcibly removed from her village and taken to the capital, where she is to join eight other girls that have been specially chosen as the king's paper concubines. There are different classes in this world. Paper being human and valued far less than the other classes.


Lei, being the ninth girl in this group that was only supposed to be eight, is treated differently by several of the girls. But, there are a few that she gets along with. As she adjusts to her time in the capital as a paper girl, time passes. The king calls for the girls by sending a slip of paper with their name on it.


Lei is the last one called. The king wines and dines her, then he attempts to have his way. She manages to knock him off kilter and escapes. This is a grave error that won't be overlooked.


While all of this is going on, Lei falls for one of the other girls, Wren. Mysterious and beautiful, Wren sneaks out at night. What Lei discovers is that Wren is the last of her race and was sent here to kill the king.


Overall, this was a fantastically written LGBTQ+ story that had me immediately ordering book two!


Abbie