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Joined 1 year, 5 months ago

Mysteries and histories, mostly. Even better if both. Also into fantasy, foraging, cookery, and art. MG, YA, and NA all good.

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lastblossom's books

2024 Reading Goal

34% complete! lastblossom has read 34 of 100 books.

Keshe Chow: The Girl with No Reflection (2024, Delacorte Press) No rating

A young woman chosen as the crown prince’s bride must travel to the royal palace …

Well-paced with some cool world-building and exciting twists, but has a bit of genre whiplash part way through.

No rating

This feels like two books stitched into one. The front half of the book has all of the vibes of a gothic romance: a young woman moves into an ancient opulent house, finds her husband-to-be cold and standoffish, and soon sees strange things out of the corner of her eye that everyone else insists aren't real. The deeper she digs, the more sinister things become, until her reality is shattered. And then suddenly we're in the second half of the book: an epic, sweeping, Chinese fable filled with mythical creatures, dragon-riding, war, alchemy, court drama, and a big prophecy. I'm not entirely sure what to make of it. I enjoyed both parts on their own. The portion where Ying first visits the mirror world is especially well-written, with a creeping unease and some really unique world building that I loved. There are some big fight pieces and twists in the …

reviewed Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu Vol. 2 by Natsuya Semikawa (Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu, #2)

Natsuya Semikawa: Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu Vol. 2 (Paperback, Udon Entertainment) No rating

Characters and places from the first volume get fleshed out more, while retaining the pleasant low-drama story.

No rating

I called the first volume of this manga comfort food, and the second one follows in the same vein. Food illustrations remain a strong point, although I'd also like to call attention to how well the artist draws hands holding chopsticks. The chapters remain short, sweet, and digestible, with a mix of warmth and humor. The chapter about squid has an ending you can see coming from a mile away, and it still winds up being hilarious. But beyond the disconnected vignettes of vol. 1, we also see stories about recurring characters unfold. Characters have lives and dreams, and sometimes those lives intersect with others at a charming (and supernatural) izakaya. The introduction of a new staff member is a great decision - she's charming and determined, and the chapter where she visits "the other side" was especially fun. If you enjoyed the first one at all, this will charm …

Katie Zhao: Zodiac Rising (2024, Random House Children's Books) No rating

A super packed novel filled with an intriguing ensemble cast, tons of world mythology, and so many plot twists.

No rating

A lot of heist stories are secretly about grief. This one is, instead, overtly about grief, along with identity and living in the diaspora. It's an absolute panoply of the supernatural: Chinese mythology sits at the center, but we've also got vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, the fae, and... more??? It all clicks in better than one would expect, as the varied supernatural elements mirror the world our leads live in. It's a mix of culture and history, and the characters all struggle to find their place in it. It's probably the most relatable part of the story. The less relatable part for me is all the messy romance drama. I'm aware this is a me problem. I've never done well with high drama romances, but if that's your thing, I think you'll be delighted. We've got hot exes, a love triangle, and secrets galore, all set on a dark academia background. …

M.T. Khan: Amir and the Jinn Princess (2024, Walker Books, Limited) No rating

Two perfectly paired leads take on a series of creative challenges for a read that's super fun.

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I love a middle grade book with a clever lead who relies on their wits. It's such a treat that this one has two. Amir is a manipulative genius with a morally gray worldview, and Shamsa is a capricious trickster with a heart of gold. They fit together perfectly as they work together to overcome a series of increasingly tricky tests. I really love the fact that the nature of the tests is varied - everything from physical prowess to poetic nuance shows up, and it was great to see their creativity as they worked together. Amir's personal journey is also a really strong through-line, as he grows from disaffected teen to being fully invested in being involved in the world and its people. The writing is super clean and flows easily, and the character voices all come across as distinct. Overall and incredibly fun read with some great characters. …

Akitaka: Miss Miyazen Would Love to Get Closer to You 1 (2022, Vertical, Incorporated) No rating

A warm high school romance with low stakes and endearing leads.

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Do you love a cute story about blushing leads and mutual pining with just a dash of misunderstanding? Miss Miyazen has got you covered! On the surface, Sakura and Sota would appear to have nothing in common. She's "proper," and he's a "troublemaker." But the truth is they're both just a couple of sweet kids trying to get to know each other. It's an incredibly charming and low drama romance. There's little plot to be seen so far, with the story being largely a set of vignettes about their ongoing attempts (and failures) at trying to get closer. Misunderstandings are in the cute range rather than the frustrating one, punctuated with clean and incredibly cute artwork. If you're looking for a cute high school romance that'll make you feel warm inside, give this one a go.

Thanks to NetGalley and Vertical Comics for a review copy. All thoughts in this …

reviewed The Mummy of Mayfair by Jeri Westerson (Irregular Detective Mysteries, #2)

Jeri Westerson: The Mummy of Mayfair (2024, Severn House) No rating

London, 1895. Although their last high-profile case was a huge success, private detectives Tim Badger …

A fun mystery that builds on all the promise of the first book, while also forging new ground for two budding detectives.

No rating

Timothy Badger and Benjamin Watson are back. This time, they've been hired for a simple job - protect a few Egyptian artifacts from going missing during a fancy party. But when one of the hosts turns up dead, it's up to them to discover if the killer is the curse of the mummy, or something closer to home. I was incredibly neutral about the first book, but it showed enough promise that I wanted to give the second one a go. Well, here we are a year later, and sure enough, that promise is fulfilled. This one reads a lot better! My biggest hangup with the first book was that it seemed very little detective work was happening. Our charming heroes were simply lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to overhear all the big reveals. This time around, they are fully in it …

Sebastien de Castell: Play of Shadows (2021, Quercus) No rating

Plenty of world building supports a layered story about a normal guy caught up in a political game much bigger than him.

No rating

Damelas isn't a hero - he just plays one onstage. Scratch that, he's a bit player and he can barely even get that part right. But he and the ragtag band of actors he hangs out with are immediately sympathetic, very messy, and if you've ever seen a group of actors together, you'll recognize every player in the text here. Ostensibly a story about one man and his quest to not get skewered by a particularly vengeful duelist, the past layers (literally and figuratively) onto Damelas' world, tying the efforts of his small acting troupe into a much larger power struggle. There's a lot to keep up with, and the first half of the book takes a little bit of time to set up all the pieces before setting everything in motion. The back half moves at a much quicker pace, with some big reveals at the end that set …

Emily Wibberley, Austin Siegemund-Broka: Heiress Takes All (2024, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) No rating

A fast-paced heist plot stitched into a lot of complicated family drama.

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If you like your heists with a side of ~drama~, this one's for you. We've got messy parental relationships, squabbling extended family, blackmail, and dash of a love triangle to round it all out. Olivia Owens used to live a life of luxury - full of money, and devoid of meaning. This all changes when her mother divorces her cheating father, and she's left hanging in in the void between them. Kicked out of her family home, and with a mother struggling to make end's meet, she decides to get revenge by stealing millions of dollars from her father, all in the middle of his wedding to his third wife. She cobbles together a group of skilled teens (and one out-of-luck teacher) for her crew, puts together a very serviceable plan, and gets to work. The crew members are all fun and well-written with strong personalities and reasons of their …