Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books set in another country

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is ten books that take place in another country, which is always a fun one. (And so fitting for March’s Monthly Motif!) We last did this theme back in July of 2016, so I’m keeping my list to books that I’ve read fairly recently. I’m happy to report that it was much easier to find a list of ten books this time around.

🇪🇸 The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee: Monty is from the UK and travels to Spain, Italy, and France.
🇺🇦 #Prettyboy Must Die by Kimberly Reid: Jake is from the US and most of the book takes place in the US, but at the beginning of the book, he’s on a mission in Ukraine.
🇬🇧 My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows: Jane is the seven-day queen of England!

🇯🇵 Seven Days of You by Cecelia Vinesse: Sophia is living out her last week in Japan as the book opens.
🇳🇵 Completely by Ruthie Knox: As the book opens, Rosemary is in Nepal climbing Mt. Everest!
🇦🇺 Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung: This book tells the story of a Chinese immigrant family in Australia.

🇨🇦 Catch and Release by Laura Drewry: This book is part of a series that takes place at a fishing resort in Canada!
🇬🇧 A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: This book is also part of a series. It takes place in a series of parallel Londons.
🇨🇺 Break of Day by Andie J. Christopher: Carla is visiting her aunt in Cuba when a tropical storm strands her with a surly photojournalist.
🇫🇷 The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry: Dolssa is a young woman who hears the voice of God in Inquisition-era France.

Have you read any books recently that are set outside of your home country?

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters who would make great leaders

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  Today’s theme is ten characters who would make great leaders, which is super fitting for election day.


First up we have Darrow from Pierce Brown’s Red Rising saga.  Do I remember a lot about Red Rising?  No, not really, which is one of the reasons that I still haven’t picked up Morning Star.  But do I remember that Darrow was awesome?  Yes, absolutely.

Next up is Starr from Angie Thomas’ bestselling debut, The Hate U Give.  Starr is put in an almost impossible position as the sole witness to her childhood friend’s tragic death.  Stuck between the expectations of her fancy prep school friends and the real-life implications of the shooting in her neighborhood, Starr has to figure out how to do the right thing without letting anybody down or creating any additional problems.

Then there’s Victor from V.E. Schwab’s Vicious, probably the most controversial pick on my list.  It’s true.  Victor’s a villain.  But this guy has serious leadership potential!  And, in his own way, he is the leader of his group of misfits.  (Side note: I cannot wait for the next installment in this series.)


It’s been a long, long time since I read Peter F. Hamilton’s Void series and I honestly remember very little of it, but I do remember Edeard being a great leader.


Both Rose Calloway and Connor Cobalt from Krista & Becca Ritchie’s massive Addicted/Calloway Sisters series easily make the list of great leaders. While Connor is logical, refined, and cunning, Rose is a perfectionist who wouldn’t hesitate to tear out the heart of her enemies (and look great while doing it).


I’m maybe cheating with these last four picks since they actually are official leaders in their books, but next up is Prince Kai from Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series.  It’s true that Kai starts out the series primarily as a love interest for Cinder, but as he grows up, he becomes a strong, morally sound leader who isn’t afraid to stand up for his people.


I’m definitely cheating with Lady Jane Grey, who ruled England for nine days back in the 1500s.  I’m not sure if the real-life Jane Grey was quite as awesome as this fictionalized version, but the Jane from this book made an awesome leader.

And what about Alexander Hamilton?  The amount of attention this guy is getting now is insane.  There are so many books (above: Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz) written about him, a musical so popular that people wait months for tickets, and suddenly everybody is interested in his life. Why was he never president?

Finally, I’m going with Prince Rhy Maresh from V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series.  While Rhy comes across as a flirty playboy as the series begins, he grows as a person and a leader as the series comes to its conclusion.

Who are your favorite fictional leaders?

Top Ten Tuesday: Unique book titles

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is top ten unique book titles, and this is a theme that is very close to my heart.  For better or for worse, I’m often drawn to books with unique titles.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but here are ten uniquely titled books that I’ve reviewed since starting this blog.


👍 A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
👍 Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
👊 The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger


👍 The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane
👍 The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell


👊 Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
👎 The Biology of Luck by Jacob M. Appel
👎 Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez


👍 All the Feels by Danika Stone
👎 The First Fifteen Lives of Harry Augustifteen by Claire North

What are some uniquely titled books that you’ve read?

    Goodreads   Amazon

“Everyone thinks I have a death wish, you know? But I don’t want to die – dying is easy. No, I want to live, but getting close to death is the only way to feel alive. And once you do, it makes you realize that everything you were doing before wasn’t actually living. It was just making do. Call me crazy, but I think we do the best living when the stakes are high.”

It seems like just a few days ago that I read A Darker Shade of Magic, but looking back into my Goodreads history, it looks like it was actually back in December 2014.  (I guess that explains why I was a little fuzzy on the details when I started A Gathering of Shadows.)  Anyway, ADSoM was one of my favorites of 2014, and AGoS will probably be one of my favorites of 2016.

I love this world.

So many fantasy novels delve too far into the romance.  They set their plot aside, particularly in sequels or as the series continues on, for the sole reason of developing their love interests.  One of my favorite things about this book, this series actually, is that the focus is on the action.  The focus is on the magic.  On the different worlds.

Don’t get me wrong, there is some serious romantic tension building between Kell and Lila.  (I’m definitely hoping for some resolution there in the next book!)  But for most of the book, Kell and Lila are on opposite sides of the world.  Even when they’re not, the focus is on the Essen Tasch, a magical tournament bringing all of the (Red) world’s empires together.

It’s not all fun and games, though.  A threat lurks in White London.  Kell and Prince Rhy must deal with the aftermath of the spell that saved Rhy’s life, but bound it to Kell’s.  Add to that a cruel, cruel cliffhanger, and I am eagerly anticipating book three.

Please don’t make me wait too long for it!

Final rating:  ★★★★☆

Book review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Goodreads | Amazon

Four different worlds. Four different Londons. Blood magicians, a feisty thief, and body snatching royalty – just a few of the things you’ll get in A Darker Shade of Magic.

Kell is from Red London, a flourishing empire where magic is celebrated. As an Antari, a blood magician capable of traveling between parallel worlds, his job is to deliver news between Londons. White London is a terrifying, ruthless place where magic is power and people will do anything to gain, or hold onto, what little magic they can. In Grey London, a sad, colorless place with almost no magic remaining, he meets Delilah Bard. Lila is rough around the edges, quick to fight, and hopeful that someday she’ll be able to get away from London and become a true pirate.

Kell and Lila find themselves drawn together as Kell is tricked into an impossible situation involving the fabled Black London, shut off from the world because of a magical plague.

I’ll be honest and say that it took me awhile to get into this one. There was really an awful lot going on – not in a bad way – and it took me a few chapters to immerse myself in Kell’s world. Once I did, the pages flew by as I read as much in one sitting as I possibly could. I loved the whole idea of the Antari, blood magicians who can do just about anything. With a drop of his blood and a few words, Kell can create doors out of nothing, heal the sick and injured, and change the world around him. I look forward to learning more about the Antari in the book(s) to come.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of Lila at the beginning – I thought she was reckless and took far too many stupid risks – I grew to love her toward the end. Schwab develops her character very well, showing the motivation behind her actions and giving her hopes, dreams, and goals. You see, Lila just wants to get out of Grey London. She wants to see the world. She doesn’t want to be stuck in a boring life, doing the same boring things day after day, until she dies. She’d rather live an exciting life, even if it’s dangerous, or even deadly.

Fans of YA and adult fantasy are likely to love A Darker Shade of Magic. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★★☆