Book Review – Ship of Magic

I recently read Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb. This is book one in the fantasy series Liveship Traders.

I have read Robin’s Farseer trilogy before and loved it. You can read my review here.

This story is set in the same world as the Farseer Trilogy, but the magic is very different. Inate objects exhibit these astonishing magical powers, and there are unusual magical beasts.

The characters are rich and varied and written so well. This is Robin’s specialty. She narrates these intricate tales with many characters, each with well-defined traits and motives. I also love how she gives each character the room to breathe in their own bubble. The reader has time to get to know them, and understand them, and fall in love. As a writer, there are many things for me to learn from her.

I was able to easily keep track of each individual tale, and this novel did a fantastic job of keeping me hooked till the end.

Althea has a stunning arc in this book, and so do Kennit and Wintrow. Vivacia is going to be a handful in the next book, and so is Malta. Brashen, Etta, and Kyle, Ronica, and Keffria add depth to the layered book.

I cannot wait to find out more about the Rain Wild Traders, the serpents, Paragon, and the other who showed up in chapter one. There are some nice easter eggs for folks who have read the Farseer Trilogy.

Robin Hobb crafts these complex worlds with astounding characters that tug the reader’s heart. I highly recommend this book to my fellow fantasy lovers.

Do you binge read?

I don’t binge watch shows but I am known to binge read an entire book series. Kindle Unlimited is great for binge reading books and is a monthly digital subscription service.

If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, here are some great novels for you to add to your reading list.

If you love to read historical stories across all genres, these novels let you travel back in time without a time travel machine.

If you love happily ever after or a love story that gives you hope, these novels are for you.
If you like romantic novels set in the past, you are in for a treat.

Why read fiction?

Like many adults, I read a fair share of non-fiction books. Topics range from self-help, philosophy, and history to gardening and cookbooks. Many adults stop reading fiction after the high school days of forced reading. With our busy lives, why read fiction?

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Humans have told stories for millennia, and we started telling stories as soon as we had language. Oral storytelling is how many cultures passed on their ancient myths and legends. Fiction builds on this tradition.

Reading fiction builds empathy. Our imagination translates the words in a book. As a reader, we picture the world, taste the five-course meal, smell the forest floor and feel the character’s pain. We can read about distant lands and cultures and fall in love with a person who only exists on a page. Watching TV does not have the same impact on our minds.

Fiction allows you to escape reality and walk in someone else’s shoes.

Reading science fiction and fantasy is the equivalent of daydreaming. Many scientists began their journey as science fiction readers. Historical fiction allows us to experience the past through stories. A child who dislikes history with dry dates and places might love the same past when told as stories.

There is research to show that reading literary fiction improves the Theory of Mind. Theory of Mind is the human capacity to comprehend that other people hold beliefs and desires and that these may differ from one’s own beliefs and desires. More broadly, their study shows that works of art enhance this critical skill.

Stories are a complex form of communication, and reading stories have a long-lasting effect on the human brain, per this Emory study. Reading fiction helps us better understand others and enhances our ability to keep an open mind, per this Harvard Business Review article.

Finally, reading fiction brings us joy. Overcoming adversity, triumphant underdogs, falling in love, and finding friendships all bring us enjoyment.

Curl up with a novel today and fall in love with a character. I recommend my historical fiction “Heir to Malla” or check out my book reviews for a great read.

Book Review – Glass Sword

This is the second book in the Red Queen series. You can find my review for the first book, Red Queen, here.

What does it say about me that my favorite character in this series so far is Maven. I am drawn to broken characters.

Mare Barrow is our protagonist and our POV character. Somehow, being in her head and reading her thoughts has not endeared her to me.

The story in book two is simple. Find other red blood people with special powers before Maven does.

The author has done a fabulous job introducing so many varied magical elements. There are some intriguing powers among them, more diverse than the silver world.

The various houses all blended in my head, and I did not worry too much about remembering them. I was able to follow the main plot without attention to such details.

This is an epic fantasy tale but not in the scale of Game of thrones or Mistborn. Still, I enjoyed this book and recommend it for fantasy nerds.


Author note: If you are drawn to epic fiction, I recommend my book Heir to Malla, a historical adventure laced with love. It takes place in the fictional land of Magadha, loosely based on medieval India.

Book Review – Digging In

Diggin In is a rare book that emotionally tugged my heart, and the author molded it like clay and breathed new life into it and set it free.

Protagonist Paige experiences a life-altering tragedy, and the story is about how she copes with grief. The author faced a similar tragedy in her life, and her first-hand experience allows her to write with real authority and compassion on this issue.

Humor and hope are weaved skillfully along with grief to create a beautiful tapestry that allows readers to be touched without being drowned in emotions.

I could not put this book down and read it in two sittings. And the story lingers in me still with a pleasant after-taste.

Highly recommend this book for anyone who has lost a loved one and needs a hopeful story to regain your love for life.

Accepting negative reviews

Writing is a solitary journey. We authors think about our characters constantly. Meera and her world enter my reality while I am cooking—walking—in the shower—waiting at the stoplight. They become our friends and family. Then one day, we share our baby with the outside world, with our heart in our hands.

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Then comes the reality all authors must face and dread—a negative review. Such reviews may turn our fight or flight response. Neither is beneficial for our writing journey. Writing a book review with constructive feedback is an art by itself. We should learn to treat these reviews as gifts and cherish these reviewers. This is not easy, and it is okay to call a friend and have a meltdown. Just keep it off social media.

As writers, we want to improve our craft. Constructive feedback gives us a valuable window into the mind of our readers. While we cannot make everyone happy, it is crucial to know what readers of our genre expect.

If a reviewer is malicious, please ignore and move on. Picking a fight is not worth your sanity. The good news is most reviewers are thoughtful.

So next time you get a negative review, bake bread and take your anger out on the dough. Then take a deep breath and understand it is not personal. Read the review and mine for the gold nuggets to take your writing to the next level.

Keep writing! I am cheering for you and looking for the next book to fall in love with.

Book Review – The Animal Court

Animal Court is featured in the San Diego Library Local Author Showcase, so I was excited to read the book. Author S. Faxon weaves an intricate tapestry of political intrigue in her novel.

Gertrude, the protagonist, is a smart woman who has many ideas to improve the lives of the people of Vitenka. If only the men around her listened to her.

I liked how the author equates the royal court to a court of animals. A weak king Herod, conspirers plotting for their own wealth and success, men waiting in the wings to seize power when the king fails, and a political uprising serves as the backdrop to the tale.

Not only does Gertrude need to unravel the web of treachery. She also needs to listen to her heart. Both are easier said than done.

A weighty set of supporting characters in Galina, Sam, Absalom, Herod, and Breyton keep us engaged and hooked to the story unfolding on the pages. Gertrude is a flawed character with a heart, and that makes her all the more interesting. Plenty of action, drama, and love to get us to turn the pages. Writing a satisfactory ending in a tale like this is not trivial, and the author pulls it off.

Recommend: For readers of political intrigues, historical fiction, and lovers of the game of thrones.

Book Review – Bird by Bird

Anne Lamott welcomes you into her life and bares her mind to you in this book. This is no easy task for most of us. It is almost like shedding one’s clothes and allowing the world to see you vulnerable.

Anne shows a budding writer how to do this with humor and self-deprecation. There is nothing earth-shattering revealed in this book about writing. Most of the advice offered here would be familiar to any aspiring writer or an experienced writer wanting to improve their craft.

Still, I found it useful to read this book, if only to know my struggles as a writer are not unique to me.

Recommend: For aspiring and experienced writers who want to hone their craft.

Writing Update

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While I am editing War of the Three Kings, I have also started writing book three. I just wrapped chapter one of the finale. These characters have been with me for over six years now, so I am heading towards the finish line with mixed emotions. I want to complete the stories of Meera, Jay, and others. I want to write other tales about new characters who are whispering in my ears now. But there is sad music playing in the background (in my mind) as I think of the ending and bidding these characters farewell.


In some ways, this does feel like a mother or father sending their child off to college and mourning the lost childhood. In my case, I do have other stories I want to tell. Those nebulous ideas in my head now will grow into faint outlines and then characters with personalities and back stories and story arcs.

War of the Three Kings: Can Meera keep her secrets past and present from destroying Magadha and the men she loves?

Heir to Malla is available on KindleUnlimited and almost everywhere books are sold.

Book Review – Under the light of the Italian Moon

Inspired by a true story, this book takes the reader through world war Italy. A young girl struggles between her love for a man and her duty to her family. This is my kind of story already.

Nina falls in love with Pietro, and her love is rewarded when he comes back from America to marry her. She remains in Fonzaso after her nuptials while her husband returns to the mines in America. The long-distance romance between husband and wife sustained through letters seem surreal in this age of near-instant communication worldwide. Against the backdrop of Mussolini’s rule and world war, we walk alongside Nina as she comes of age.


The author opens a window into the lives of women in Fonzaso and peals the layers to reveal the family ties that sustain them. The matriarch fills the pages even in her absence. Her sternness masks her gentle acts of kindness. This book is a slow seven-course meal that needs to be savored bite by bite. It immerses the reader into the Italian culture and religion, celebrating the resiliency of her people. The streets came to life for me in the words of the author. I laughed and cried as the author take us on the emotional roller coaster of the war. I could picture myself standing in the warm kitchens where women gathered to cook and gossip.

Recommend: Readers of family memoirs, love stories, and world war dramas would enjoy this tale.


Have you read Heir to Malla yet? It is a medieval fiction laced with love. I am looking forward to sharing my second book in the Land of Magadha series with you readers soon.

I post reviews of books I have read, and you can view all my reviews in GoodReads or here in my blog.